#041 – 7 Symptoms of Business Self-Sabotage

If you’re ever asking, “how do I get more clients?” or “how do I make more money in my business?” episode 041 is for you!

Enjoy the story.

I get asked the “How do I get clients?” one a lot. I don’t have a magic answer for you, but I’m going to give you 7 symptoms of self-sabotage that can be hurting your business.

I’ve got a lot to say on this topic as a whole, so this will be a bit of an unofficial mini series, so to speak.

First, I have to lead with this:

There’s no one, right way to build a successful business.

It’s so easy to see what others are doing, like: running workshops, using IG stories, spending 20 mins commenting on other people’s Instagram posts before you post so that IG pushes your post out further, running a certain promo, etc. etc. etc.

Right?

It’s so easy to see people doing those things and fall into the trap of feeling like you’re not doing enough or the “right” things, so that must be why you’re not achieving success.

In some cases, you then go buy a course or pay to get help, so that you can do that thing too.

Ahhh. Believe me, I’ve done it. I just bought a program on January 2nd out of that same feeling.

Here’s the thing:

More consumption of knowledge is never going to bring you closer to more clients or more money.

The time you’re spending watching a video or reading a book could be spent on action…

Action and learning from your action and going back at it better than the last time, again and again, is your best strategy. Period. You don’t need to spend a dime to do that.

No class or book will teach you about YOUR business better than looking at + measuring your own actions.

You can start today.

If it’s still not working after several attempts, then you have DATA to look at. Then, and only then, can someone else offer real insight on your, unique business as opposed to simply teaching what worked for them, because there’s a difference.

7 Common Symptoms of Business Self-Sabotage

when creatives aren’t achieving the business results that they want.

You’re going to want answers for these things. I know that. I’m not giving you actions today to work though these things, because I’ve got one BIG action for you at the end. Today is about awareness.

Here they are:

One: You’re trying something once or twice, full heart, and pivot to something else when it doesn’t work.

So by the time you ask for help, you’ve bought about 4 courses on various strategies and you’re all over the place with your efforts.

What bugs me the most about this one is when I see people then blame the program for “not working” for them, when the reality is your expectation for big success is too high out of the gate.

LOTS of strategies will work for you only when you refine them after getting DATA. But people don’t wanna wait for that, so they prematurely switch strategies, and say things like, “using my email list doesn’t work for me” or whatever, when the reality is that you’re not *really* practicing it.

Two: You’re not going deep enough with your ideal clients.

This could be a whole episode, but this is the question that helps me the most (I learned it from Stu McLaren):

What’s their INTERNAL dialogue?

This gets us so much deeper than the surface of their desires and problems that your offer solves. It’s how you speak to their heart.

For my photographer listeners, your clients aren’t buying pictures. They’re buying what those pictures DO for them. At the root of that, is usually a fear or desire that influences them into action and it’s the thing most photographers completely miss in their marketing communication.

Same thing if you’re selling a class or ebook: Your customers aren’t buying your content, they’re buying the transformation that it gives them. It’s your job to identify what that means to them.

I know I said I wasn’t bringing solutions for these things to the table, but I can’t help myself with this one: One way to get there, which I believe most people needing help attracting clients are skipping altogether, is to get on the phone with them.

Have REAL conversations. Stop hiding behind the computer and operating in assumption. Craft the results you get for your clients into success stories.

Three: You don’t actually know how to market & sell online and it’s the basket all your eggs are in.

You’re showing up consistently on social media and updating your website for better messaging, but nothing is coming of it.

There needs to be a path that naturally leads people to the next step — email list, to contact you, etc.

I think sometimes people *know* to do this, but there’s no real system in place, so it’s kind of random and fails.

Can you imagine how much energy you’re burning with all the time posting freely to social media and updating your website that could be spent on creating a clear path from social media to inquiring?

Maybe it’s not even an online thing at all that could be your thing.

Four: Your copy is academic or doesn’t lead people to action.

Copy: copywriting with a W.

How we write online is a big deal. If ever there’s one area I’m telling you to go spend money on, it’s learning copywriting. Copyhackers is a great site for education.

So often, I see people showing up in a way that screams “look at me.”

Marketing isn’t about you; it’s about them: your potential client or customer.

It’s about their desires and problems and their journey to a solution.

Or, I see blog posts, emails, and social media posts that look like an invitation to “skip” rather than read, because they’re a long, wall of text. Unless someone knows what the topic is in the first second and that topic is on their heart, they’re not gonna read it!

And then, there’s no urgency. You might be communicating in a way that calls people to action, but missing on why they need to act NOW.

I don’t mean to sound judgy or mean, but I see “Book Now: Spots are Limited” so often and 90% of the time, it just comes across as desperation or false scarcity.

Yeah, there’s some businesses where that works and the person is wildly popular and sell out in a matter of hours. But if that’s not typical for YOUR business, don’t use their strategy. There’s more authentic ways to create urgency.

Five: Your business is an afterthought.

You’re so into growing the creative side of your business…

(sub-symptom: Sometimes, I see the same people complaining about their business LIVING in FB groups for photographers all day. That’s not serving your business.)

…or maybe it’s that you have family responsibilities or a full time job or whatever, that you’re not actually dedicating time to grow your business, much less, learning which of your actions impact your business best.

Again, I’m not here to dole out answers or solutions, this is about awareness today. Two more…

Six: You’re not tracking your business efforts.

You’re showing up in your business, but not paying attention to what’s working & what’s not. That means, you’re blind.

The next episode, 042, is about this, I’ll share how I set my intentions & what I track. Everything.

Seven: You’ve let go of 1:1 interaction.

Online or off, either way, your method of communication operation now leans on Facebook and Instagram.

Reaching out to people 1:1 is a high impact action inside of your business. This includes both potential & past clients or customers, as well as, brands you may want to collaborate with.

I think people let this go out of two reasons:

  1. It may feel scary. You might feel like you don’t know what to say or you don’t want to bother people you don’t know all that well. I get that.
  2. It’s just a dropped habit and you need to start again.

In the Marketing Makeover Bundle (freebie), I’ve included a list for your important contacts. USE IT.

Again, those 7 Common Symptoms of Business Self-Sabotage are:

  1. You’re trying something once or twice, full heart, and pivot to something else when it doesn’t work.
  2. You’re not going deep enough with your ideal clients.
  3. You don’t actually know how to market & sell online and it’s the basket all your eggs are in.
  4. Your copy is academic or doesn’t lead people to action.
  5. Your business is an afterthought.
  6. You’re not tracking your business efforts.
  7. You’ve let go of 1:1 interaction.

I’d love to hear from you. Tell me which of those feels most true for you.

The intention here isn’t to make you feel bad about yourself, but to spark a higher sense of awareness in your business actions.

Maybe, to spark more responsibility in how you’ve been showing up if you’re quick to find reasons why your business isn’t working.

Quick story:

It’s taken me awhile, but there’s a piece of advice from Amy Porterfield that I ignored: go deep, not wide.

There’s another podcast, I don’t remember it, but it talked about for ONE year practicing 1 method for lead generation, 1 traffic source, 1 offer and a couple only one other things I forget.

So, about 2 years ago, I started to realize just how all over the place I was. I’ve condensed my offerings and have reduced what was on my plate, so I could add things back in when the rest of the business was solid & ready.

I’m not perfect, but now that I really reflect on these things regularly, set intentions monthly, & track everything, I can make better choices in how I spend my time.

I mean, isn’t time our most precious asset?

So here’s your big action for this week – answer these GUT CHECK Q’s:

  • Where are you spending time in your business that’s rewarding?
  • Where are you spending time in your business that wastes your time?
  • Which of these 7 symptoms are true for you? Which are not you?
  • What can you commit to saying yes to?
  • What can you let go… even if it’s putting it on a shelf for now?

Example:

I just started posting on IG again, but let me tell you, I generated multiple 5 figures in my business in November & December without being on social media.

I’m telling you this, because most of the time we tell ourself stories about why we “should” spend our time here and there, when the reality is that it’s just a comfort habit.

We’ve all got ‘em!

One of mine that I have a hard time breaking is in creating content vs. sharing my content. Idk. I’m working on it.

Awareness is a gift.

It’s an opportunity to show up differently and achieve different results. Or, to stay in your lane doing more of the same if it’s working.

Leave a rating & review before you go and I’ll see ya next week about tracking your business.

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7 Symptoms of Business Self-Sabotage for Creative Entrepreneurs and Documentary Photographers

 

Author: MarieMasse
I help client documentary photographers fine-tune their workflow + marketing game, so their work is filled with sessions that represent their voice + client values while earning a living. I shoot undirected, off-beat stories that aren’t preserved often enough (like the story of couples before starting a fam or becoming empty-nesters – a dream project of mine), so my clients’ old box of photos is a meaningful, visual diary of their life + legacy to leave behind.

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  • I think analyzing how your efforts are working is one of the hardest parts of business. Maybe that’s why people choose to avoid doing it? That’s where research and online courses can be helpful, if you don’t get mired in information and forget to take action. Great podcast, Marie!