From Slowmentum to Momentum - a Sustainable Approach For Solopreneurs
- by Urszula Richards
- 9 January 2020
Maybe it's the urgency and scarcity messaging of sales pitches.
Maybe it's a cash flow crisis.
Whatever it is, it is not uncommon to see people ‘screech in’ to a business program in a state of high expectations and full of energy, only to find that despite their hard work, outcomes, results are slow to appear.
Most of us don’t expect great results without working hard. But on the flip side, we feel that if we do work really hard, we should reap the rewards, right?
The thing about being a solopreneur though, is that we need to be across so many disciplines, make so many decisions and learn so many new things, that hard work alone does not guarantee success.
There are lots of reasons for this.
- We may have the wrong business model (working hard, but in the wrong direction or on the wrong things)
- There may be things we need to know and implement which we don’t (eg financials, online marketing, sales).
- And then there’s the things which we have tried to implement but don’t seem to be working, and we don’t know why.
For example - many people will say - “Email marketing doesn’t work - no one wants my emails” or "Facebook Ads are a scam and don’t work".
Is it that they don’t work, or that you haven’t been able to spend the time learning how to understand and execute these complex skills effectively?
Let’s take email marketing as an example, and start with the mechanics.
- We need to have (and know how to build) an email list/database,
- We need to learn how to segment a database (not sending everything to everyone)
- We need to know how to set up a campaign (there are many options of campaign type, and we need to know which type is appropriate for our purposes)
- We need to know how to use, modify or design a template (or get that done for us)
- We need to know how to have a ‘clean’ list, so that deliverability of emails is optimised
- We need to know how to find, select, optimise and upload images into the software
- We need to know how to add text and content to the email template
That is just some of the technical elements of email marketing.
Then there is the even more important content of the emails. We need to master not only the mechanics but the messaging.
Many people struggle through the technical execution of sending an email and manage to get eventually get it sent, but then are disappointed with their email marketing results.
Firstly, many people don’t know what a realistic ‘open’ rate is. While it varies from industry and service, someone who is lamenting about ‘only’ a 30% open rate may be surprised to learn that this is exceedingly good in most contexts.
Secondly there is knowing what makes people open an email in the first place.
The number one factor is who it is from.
This is followed closely by the subject line of your email. The subject line in an email is the ‘official gatekeeper’ of people’s attention. It determines whether someone will open your email. It doesn’t matter how good the rest of your email is, or how much time you have put into it.
Next is the ability to write in a way which keeps your reader interested.
Email communications are different to writing in other contexts, so while you may be an accomplished writer, you may need to learn a different way of writing for this kind of communication.
One tip I give to everyone who is learning email marketing is to send themselves test emails. Not just to see if your emails ‘look’ ok, but to experience how they feel. It always amazes me that something I think sounds one way when I’m writing it, feels completely different to when I’m receiving it.
If it’s an important communication, I sent it to others for feedback too before sending a mass message.
This ‘email marketing’ is just one an example of the technical and the messaging knowledge to achieve good results in this online business world.
A practice, and practise
Back to the momentum achieved by starting slow. We need to develop a ‘practice & practise’ around what we are doing.
Practice because it needs to be an ongoing continuous execution, and practise because it is an endless cycle of continuous improvement until it becomes an ingrained skill or habit.
With email marketing, for example, we come unstuck because we try to learn & execute both the technical elements of email marketing software, and the actual message simultaneously. These two elements use opposite parts of the brain.
No wonder it feels so hard. The left and the right brain are simultaneously engaged and fighting for attention. (This is the case with much online marketing in fact - the technical execution and the messaging).
If you have found this online stuff difficult, this is likely to be one of the main reasons.
The yoga analogy
I love to use yoga practice as a way of demonstrating the process of learning and mastering something.
In your first yoga class, you will not feel competent. Or zen. In fact you will need to push through seeing others gracefully execute what seem like easy looking moves which are anything but when you try to do them! Everything which is done masterfully may look easy, but when you’re starting out, it won’t feel that way. The very first step in mastering something is to not give up at the beginning :)
Secondly, the yoga teacher will demonstrate an entire sequence of moves. This is so you know what is coming and what to expect. When you first follow this sequence though, you are unlikely to remember or move smoothly from one pose to another, and this is absolutely fine. The purpose is to understand the sequence of the moves, not to execute them perfectly. It is also the point of being in the class and watching the teacher.
Often in the next stage of the class, the teacher will make us focus on a particular pose. This helps our bodies ’settle’ into the pose and get some tips about how to execute it better. We may be focussed on how our bodies are aligned at one time, or on how far we can stretch another time. Whatever it is, there is guidance about focusing on a specific element of a pose.
In another round, we may speed it up a bit. The focus may be on how to transition from one post to another, or on how to use our breath to help with endurance and flow.
By the end of the class, we find that we are flowing much faster, freer and have a whole lot more strength and flexibility than we had at the beginning.
Back to the email marketing
There are many separate elements which need to be pulled together to make email marketing work. We won’t get it right the first time, but completing a sequence is an important first step in its own right. The next round can focus on the messaging. Perhaps after that we can learn how to segment our database to make our messaging even more relevant to people on our list.
The truth about both yoga and email marketing, is that it is commitment to an ongoing practice which will give us the results we are after.
Showing up, not getting put off by the wobbles, doing it imperfectly but being determined to learn and improve over many years has meant that yoga has now become a habit and a practice which supports me, rather than it feeling like something which is hard. Sessions are still hard, but the fact that I have been doing it for many years means that no matter what that particular class is like, the overwhelming benefits of the ongoing practice over time have had a very positive impact on me.
There are two extra factors which have helped me with my yoga, and which are worth articulating for solopreneurs.
- Booking in. There is an app on my phone where I can book into the classes I intend to attend each week. Even though I know it is an automated system, I always get a pang of guilt if I am booked in and get a ‘we missed you at yoga’ email for missing a class. There is something about scheduling and putting it in your calendar which has a great effect on showing up and truly committing time
- Having a teacher. For me this is the key to my yoga practice. I have books, apps and YouTube’s on yoga, but I just can’t seem to consistently use these. The thing I love about having a teacher is I simply show up. She has worked out the sequence, she can guide me, she can correct and inspire me and I just need to do, not think. As a solopreneur, I can’t explain what a relief that is.
The slowmentum to momentum is the basis of how I love to work with clients. No hype, just solid, steady skill, knowledge and habit development which can’t help but build a solid foundation and beyond for your solo business.
If any of this sounds like it resonates with you, feel free to reach out and get in touch. I’d love to hear your experiences of solopreneurship, where you’re getting stuck or just feel free to say hi and stay in touch.