Let me introduce to you, one of my clients, Melanie*. (Not her real name).
Melanie is a bookkeeper running a small business. She wants to grow her client base but no matter how much she learns about marketing… she still doesn't wake up in the morning, jump out of bed and shout: “I can't wait to get out there and sell my services today!”
Melanie is frustrated. She’s suffering from cognitive dissonance.
Cognitive dissonance is the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioural decisions and attitude change. – The Dictionary
Melanie subconsciously knows there is a mismatch between her goals and the actions she takes each day.
Reality check: if Melanie wants new clients she doesn't need to know marketing. She needs to do marketing.
But Melanie finds it hard to take action because she doesn't feel confident.
In one of our sessions she said to me,”Amy, you're confident. Can you teach me to be more like you?”
And I said, “No!…. But…yes.”
Learning to be confident is a waste of time because it's not a problem, it's a symptom.
Here's how I helped Melanie figure out what was causing her lack of confidence so she could know what to do about it.
I spoke to her about five other things that she is better off focusing on. Those things are competence, vision, accountability, perserverance and courage. Let me explain.
Melanie thinks she is a great bookkeeper. Sometimes. Other days she doubts herself. It's easy enough for her to show up to a client one day feeling on top of the world, but then she gets criticised or questioned about something. And her confidence plummets!
You need to feel confident in your abilities, so other people will feel confident too. I find that an external, trusted source can help you know for sure what you’re good at. You might test your bookkeeping skills by taking a skills test. Or you could ask a client or colleague for feedback to help you grow. You need to find out exactly what it is that you’re great at, and what you need to work on. You also need to discover when you need to walk away from something. Then you can approach people as an expert in your field, instead of someone who is second-guessing themselves.
Competent people are confident people.
Melanie knows deep down she has a vision for her business. But she's not very good at talking about it. When someone asks her what her vision is for the future, or if she has to write her business plan, she feels confused. She fumbles her words and ends up putting it back in the ‘do it later (aka, never)' basket.
Here’s the thing… if you want to achieve your business vision, you can’t keep it all to yourself. When you share it with others, you’ll get the support you need to see it through. When you stop trying to do everything yourself, business gets a lot less frustrating and exhausting… and a whole lot more rewarding and successful.
Your vision can't happen if you can't articulate it.
Melanie sees feedback as something to be avoided. So she does everything she can to make it look like she knows what she’s doing in her own business. She’s scared that if anyone finds out she doesn't know everything about business, she might lose her credibility.
The truth is, nobody can be successful unless they let other people in. Anyone can sign up for an online course or read a book, but meeting regularly with someone who is committed to your best interested can help you stay accountable and implement what you’re learning. That’s when you’ll start making real progress on achieving your goals.. and you’ll avoid some costly mistakes!
Like a camera can't take a photo of itself without a mirror, we can't discern our own errors.
Melanie thinks if she just works hard and does a good job for her clients, she’ll eventually have a successful business. As long as she sticks at it, running her business will eventually become easy.
Time for a reality check. You’ll always have problems in business. If you realise and accept that problems are just another part of being in business, they’re not such an issue anymore! And in fact, they’re sometimes blessings in disguise. Problems motivate you to persevere, which builds your strength and character. And as you overcome your problems, you’ll become more capable of handling bigger problems along the way.
Don't give up before the miracle happens.
Melanie worries there’s something wrong with her because she feels afraid or nervous before she meets with a new client. Or when she has a very challenging job ahead of her. She believes that some people are “just good that these things” and she’s doomed to just be average forever.
Here’s the thing…
Confidence is a feeling. Courage is an action.
Yup! Feelings come and go. But when you consistently take action even when you don’t feel like it, you defeat two ancient enemies; fear and procrastination.
And when you do…one day, you will wake up in the morning, jump out of bed and shout, “I can't wait to get out there and sell my services today!”
Well… maybe that's going a bit too far. But you get my point!
Over to you… What do you feel afraid of doing in your business? What are you procrastinating about? And how would things look if you practised being courageous instead of trying to be confident? I'd love to hear from you and if you post in the comments I'll reply to you!
P.S. I've put together a few resources to help you. A “stress test” you can take to see how stressed you are and how that could be affecting your work performance or putting you at risk of serious health issues. A business plan template to help you to do things in the right order. If you have any questions join The Savvy Bookkeeper Facebook Group.