Finding Focus: The Right Next Step

The Finding Focus Blog Series shows you how to use your brand strategy as a powerful decision-making tool that will help you focus your energy and grow your business.

What if we handled our homes in the same way we so often try to build our businesses?

We’d be hanging art on walls that haven’t even been painted yet. We’d be up at night worrying about “curb appeal” before the house is even built.

It’s one of the biggest disservices we do ourselves as business owners: pursuing new projects before we’ve entirely accomplished our current ones, or tackling the wrong projects altogether — long before we’re actually ready for them. Add a bit of shiny object syndrome, and you have a potent cocktail for ineffectiveness and overwhelm.

When I was considering this topic as part of the Finding Focus series, some words from the impressively prolific John Lee Dumas of Entrepreneur on Fire came to mind. On his show, he regularly describes “focus” as: “Following one course until success.” One course. Until Success.

That’s the idea we’re going to dive into next:

Focusing on the right next step – the one that makes the most sense for you right now.
And following it through until you’ve gotten the most out of it.

This stuff should be obvious and easy… but it’s not. It might even be the hardest thing to do as an online entrepreneur (it’s certainly been one of my biggest struggles), because there are so many valid ways to be growing your business and making money that we feel like we’re missing out if we don’t do them all.

But you already know the real truth: the people that are growing the most and making the most money in their online businesses don’t do it all (or at least didn’t begin by doing it all), and neither should you.

So what should you be doing?

Of course there’s no universal answer to this question, but I do think that there is a flow to things that just makes sense (and saves your sanity). These steps heavily reflect my own hindsight and lessons learned as a business creator. And they assume that you’ve already gained some clarity on your vision and what your business is all about.

I like drawing a parallel to setting up a shop in the physical world.

1) Know what you’re selling, then stock your virtual “shelves.”

I have to admit that I got caught up in the hype of list-building and blogging long before I had done the work to ensure that I actually had something relevant and desirable to sell. This was a mistake, because it set wheels in motion (like the pressure of consistent content) that I didn’t need and wasn’t ready for.

And simply knowing what you are (a coach, a writer, an artist, etc.) isn’t enough for people to understand what they can actually buy from you. Distinct offerings with clear and relevant value propositions are a must before you worry about bringing people through the door.

Now here’s where the “until success” component of the focus equation comes into play – if you’ve created it and they’re not buying, you have to give it a few more tries before moving on to the next thing. My first one-on-one offering was too big and vague (I wanted them to have it all… a common mistake!), and as a result barely sold. I tried breaking it down into two separate offerings, and instantly started seeing amazing results.

Don’t see struggle as a sign that you need to start over from scratch. Give your offers a few iterations before abandoning them for something shiny and new. Small adjustments can make the same offer hit a completely different note with prospective buyers.

Don’t skip this step.

You don’t even need a website for this phase of business building! A simple landing page and use of social media can be more than enough and also keeps you on the ground and real with yourself (versus in ignorant planning and perfecting bliss when you haven’t actually done anything… another state I know far too well!)

2) Set up shop for increased and easy conversion.

Now that you have some tried-and-true services or products to sell, you will reap the benefits of optimizing their virtual home. It’s time to set up your website to effectively capture and cultivate the interest of your audience.

There are really only two kinds of conversions that you need to concern yourself with: A way they can buy from you (or take the first step, like a consultation), and a way they can join your mailing list. If you haven’t fully optimized your mechanisms for supporting these conversions, then this is the next place to be putting in some work.

  • Have you provided some content that helps people know, like, and trust you as a brand? (This doesn’t have to be a blog! It can be a free opt-in, social media interactions, testimonials, or a few videos… there are no rules, just that the content should suit you and reinforce positive feelings.)
  • Do you have the right opt-in? The answer is yes if it successfully encourages people to subscribe and moves them closer to becoming customers or engaged advocates.
  • Is it crystal clear to people how to buy from you? Are there deterrents in the process that are confusing people and turning them away?

You don’t have to (and won’t) have this stuff perfect, but having big gaps in these systems is like have holes in your pockets as you go out and do the work of collecting new interest in your business.

3) Get them in the door!

You know all of those webinars you’ve found yourself signing up for? The ones on getting media attention, Facebook ads, Periscope, and webinars themselves? Now is the time for them!

But not all of them.

Make a commitment right now to free yourself up from the burden of “doing it all” for at least the next 3-6 months. Choose just a few (or less!) ways that you feel most excited and comfortable getting out there in front of your audience, and say “thanks, but no thanks” to everything else for that period of time.

Think back to how you naturally create value, and choose channels to connect with people that suit what you are and how you create. If you’re a visual communicator, perhaps it’ll be all about Instagram for you. If you’re a conversationalist and love interviews (like me), maybe you’ll be meeting me on Blab this year! If you’re all about storytelling in a written form, perhaps you’ll focus heavily on guest posting.

The more traffic you start to get to your site, and interest in who you are and what you’re doing, the more you’re going to be very glad you didn’t start with this step before having the other ones in place. You’ll be ready for the love! And with some action in your little shop, you’ll quickly start gaining the insights you need to further refine your offerings and improve how you engage with and convert visitors.

Put it in Motion

Whether you’re building your business from scratch or amping things up to take your business to the next level, this approach will help you take the right next step.

Finding Focus Action Step:

Start by taking stock of what you already have going on in your business — what is incomplete? What isn’t as successful as it can be?

When you know what you need to create/do/change, then tackle them in this order:

1. Overall business and brand clarity
2. Desired, relevant (proven) products & services
3. An optimized website, sales process & opt-in
4. Active, targeted outreach that suits you (& gets you in front of your audience)