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  • #978883
    ChristinaJames
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    • Total posts: 2
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    Hi all,

    I just wanted to say hi and ask for some advice as I am currently struggling with some really tough questions. I will apologise in advance for the tone of this email. I am really unsure of myself and my future at this stage and I really need to reach out for help.

    I have run my own businesses since I moved to Australia 12 years ago. My first business was a total failure, which saw me left with lots of debt and struggling with depression. I moved on from this with some fantastic lessons about the kind of business I wanted to run and 7 years ago started a new business in the service industry. I don’t want to talk too much about what I do and who I am specifically, as you might understand it is hard to admit to having feelings like this and remaining somewhat anonymous is the only way I can feel like I can be truly honest.

    The business has built pretty slowly and I have always had other part-time work to keep me going. However I built a loyal client base and have a great reputation. Two years ago I went full-time in the business and scraped by – until last year when things really started paying off for me and the business was going great guns – it looked like I was going to be growing significantly.

    Then 2 things happened:

    1) The economy in my State slowed to an almost standstill. Businesses I have talked to said they have had the slowest year for a very long time, some saying slowest they have ever had.

    2) A competitor entered the relatively small market within which I operate. This has happened before and most don’t last very long. My reputation has always kept my business strong and I haven’t had many issues from other competitors. This one is different. They have advertised EVERYWHERE. Everywhere I look they seem to be there – print, internet, billboards in the city, and now they have just announced that they will be advertising on TV. The advertising budget for this business must run into the tens of thousands.

    So for me the last few months have been hell. The business has slowed right down and I am getting very few jobs. Meanwhile this competitor is boasting on their Facebook page about all of the clients they are getting. These are tough times for everybody and yet this person seems to be bucking the trend, I guess due to the blanket advertising, and doing incredibly well. Meanwhile as the pioneer of this industry in this State, and having built up not only my business, but the recognition of this sector – I am the one floundering while this competitor forges ahead.

    My vision for this business was to build it to a certain point and sell it. I have no desire to do what I am doing for the rest of my life and although I am passionate about it – I want to do other things. I was on track in December last year and things were looking great for selling in 2-3 years.

    Right now I am seriously questioning all of the hard work that I have put in over the last 7 years. I am questioning my ability and my suitability as an ‘entrepreneur’. I am single, 30, with no family back up here and very little capital. The sale price of my business was going to be a deposit for my first house…. I won’t go into my entire history but this was a very imporant goal for me and now seems impossible.

    I am not good, and never have been, at self-promotion. I don’t enjoy marketing activities and put them off. I hate networking and rarely do it. I am very approachable and interact well with people (especially one-on-one) but I am naturally introverted and don’t deal well with crowds or having to approach people. Sales and marketing leaves me cold and I often find sales pitches and self-promotion very difficult to deal with from others. The world of aggressive business “go-getters” and endless talk of success puts me off having anything to do with those people and I often wonder why in the hell I struggle on… Perhaps I am just not the right person for small business? I value integrity and quality and I am great at providing an excellent service, but as I discovered with my last business – it is not about quality – it is about who can shout the loudest. And now after a long, hard road with this business I am finding the same thing all over again.

    My website (in my opinion and others) is far superior to the competition and in the past many people have commented that they have gone with me because of the feeling they get from my website and the obvious quality of the service. My prices are a little higher than the competition and I have always sold on quality. The business is currently debt-free but struggling. I have a client list of around 300 and an email list of 200.

    So…. What do I do now? I feel like I have failed massively here. 6 months ago I was so optimistic and thought that my hard work would finally pay off. Now I feel completely lost and feel like I want to give up.

    Does anyone have any advice for me? Can anyone relate? Is my personality profile, coupled with a lack of meaningful capital and a dislike of risk something that means I will NEVER be successful in business?

    Can a person like me ever be a success?

    #1110249
    Jodie McLeod
    Member
    • Total posts: 345
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    Dear Christina,

    Welcome to the Flying Solo forums. I am sorry to hear that you find yourself in this situation, but I think one of the first and foremost steps to getting back on track is to approach someone for help and support – which I’m sure you will receive here – so good on you for taking that step.

    The second most beneficial move would be to get into the mode of positive thinking. Success and negativity don’t mix. You will find plenty of inspiring material on our website to help with boosting your confidence and positivity. You also might be interested in this recent thread, which is all about positivity in micro business.

    You also sound like you could benefit from a bit of sales and marketing advice, however it will be difficult for our members to give targeted advice without knowing a little more about your area of business specifically. Consider sharing a bit more information on your industry and/or market, and you might receive some more helpful feedback.

    Good luck with finding your feet again,

    Jodie

    #1110250
    Anonymous
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    • Total posts: 11,464
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    Hi Christina,

    Apologies that your post got held up in our moderation queue over the weekend – we had some problems with our system.

    It has been published now though, and I’m sure there will be others joining Jodie in wishing you all the best and chiming in with a bit of a pep talk.

    If you’d like to brainstorm ideas to help turn things around for your business, please feel free to start a new thread asking for advice – we’ll need to know a bit more about what you do though, obviously.

    Sending lots of positive energy your way,
    Jayne

    #1110251
    Divert To Mobile
    Member
    • Total posts: 2,751
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    Hi ChristinaJames,

    I believe I know the answer and I think you know it too, you say your on the verge of learning the same lesson twice. You are here because you know whats going to happen if you do the same thing as last time and your looking for the confidence to chage your ways.

    There is an important question you need to answer here.
    Are you going to let someon intercept all your hardwork in evolving a market, sit back and do nothing?

    You dont have to do all the marketing yourself, you can hire people – there is in fact a multitude of us here to help you.

    Steve

    #1110252
    Past-Member
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    Hi Christina, many of us have felt like giving up, so you are not alone.
    In thinking about yourself, do you know the ‘why’ you do/love your business? In order to be different to the competition, you need to know that. I found Simon Sinek’s book, Start With Why very helpful. Alternatively, you can also do a short online course which is very insightful and helpful and helps you re-evaluate yourself. Once you know your Why, then you know why you are different to the competition and it helps you to focus on what you should/can do. Be aware of the competition, but don’t let them pull you down.
    Have a look at some of Simon’s videos as well. http://www.startwithwhy.com

    All the best,
    Karen C.

    #1110253
    LifeIsABeach
    Member
    • Total posts: 20
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    ChristinaJames, post: 122753 wrote:
    Hi all,

    1) The economy in my State slowed to an almost standstill. Businesses I have talked to said they have had the slowest year for a very long time, some saying slowest they have ever had.

    2) A competitor entered the relatively small market within which I operate.

    Can a person like me ever be a success?

    Firstly, congratulations for speaking out and voicing your fears. It is not easy to do and you are very brave – I must say. By doing so you have correctly identified the issues and the problems you are facing.

    Secondly, though many don’t want to admit it – but we are in the worst recession ever. Yes some sectors are not affected but most are. So I would not blame you.

    It is very overwhelming when you have a “fully loaded” competitor. But read this it may make you feel better that you are not alone:

    http://tinyurl.com/cgfp38z

    HTH

    #1110254
    AussiePin.com.au
    Member
    • Total posts: 26
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    Hi Christina,

    Don’t be too hard on yourself. Upon reading your post, I totally understand where you’re coming from. This life, when you do think of success, success comes from your mind and reaching your true potential.

    Do you enjoy what you do? Success isn’t measured by what you can achieve in business or what not.. it’s really about what you believe in. After all, everyone passes away anyway one day. Success in life is about how you’re able to achieve your full potential, loving life and helping others through yourself, that’s true success. Anything else is secondary.

    Most people don’t get to earn big and enjoy what they do at the same time, many who says they do have both are lying. Income is only worth one point in the scale of success, you have many other scales to use and try not to base your success around this sole perception.

    At least you’re now debt free, from being majorly in debt, that’s a huge improvement by itself. I believe you do have what it takes. I’m not sure what sector you’re doing your business in, but the business world in many sectors runs on a very violent environment, having sabotages from competitors and stuff.. I’ve seen it happen..

    All the best on your journey in life.

    #1110255
    kathiemt
    Member
    • Total posts: 1,167
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    Christina, I feel for you very much and wish I could help you in some way. I can’t even begin to guess what field you’re in but do relate very much to your feelings for various reasons. I’ll keep watching this thread in the hope that I see things begin to move forward for you again.

    #1110256
    kya
    Member
    • Total posts: 19
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    Dear Christina,

    I am so sorry that you are feeling this way at the moment, it must truly be incredibly hard for you, especially without family support. I have to say that it is wonderful that you did have the courage to seek help in posting in this community!

    First of all, the important thing is your own health and wellbeing. I hope that the stress is not affecting you in a terrible way. If you are suffering from depression I hope that you are able to go to a doctor and perhaps even a business advisor who may be able to suggest ways to improve your situation.

    You sound like a nice caring person and I hope that your situation will change. I am only new to the business game so I don’t want to give my opinion on that side of it because it doesn’t seem appropriate.

    Maybe you need to really think about what is important to you now and how each possible change will affect you. I am sure that many members of the community here will be able to offer you some helpful advice.

    I really wish the best for you.

    #1110257
    affirming
    Member
    • Total posts: 2
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    Hi Christina,

    We can’t control how many other similar businesses are opening up in our area. But we can look at our business and the experience of our clients and ask what can we do to make their experience more valuable, more effective, more productive and even more fun?

    Worrying about the competition, anticipating what they are doing and how this may impact your business – is effectively focusing on something that is outside of your control.

    In his book, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” Stephen Covey describes the ‘Circle of Influence’ – the areas where we can actually bring about change – and cites this as the sphere where proactive people focus their efforts.

    Covey believes that, if you place your efforts on the things that you can’t control you create negative stress, placing your efforts on the things that you can do something about,
    creates positive energy, a feeling of control and well-being.

    Shifting your focus away from the competition and back to your own business is critical at this time. Asking yourself, how can I improve my clients experience so that they can spread the word may be more proactive.

    You mention you’re website and the great response that you’ve had from it. That people have gone with you because of the feeling they get from your website and the obvious quality of the service. What else could you be doing that would increase your exposure?

    Your competition I am sure is aware of you – especially if as you’ve said you’ve been the pioneer of this industry in your state. Maybe you could keep away from their Facebook page for the moment – reading their stats is possibly not helping.

    I really feel for you and the stress that you are experiencing at the moment.

    Good Luck and Best Wishes

    #1110258
    ChristinaJames
    Member
    • Total posts: 2
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    Thank you everybody for your kind words and thoughts. I have been overwhelmed by the support here and thank you also to those who have privately messaged me – I will be getting back to you soon.

    I realised once I had written the post that I automatically felt better – perhaps just “getting the demons out” and onto paper helped me to gain some perspective on the situation. I really do appreciate all of the replies and the resources you have linked. I also appreciate the offers of help and advice, and I have gotten some great advice from this forum before, as well as from friends and from colleagues. However I think this post for me was more about being heard and getting some of the frustration about my situation out to those who could understand. I think sometimes we have to truly own our feelings about something to be able to move on from them – and writing that post was owning my feelings head on!

    I have always been grateful for business and marketing advice and I do have so many things I can do and ideas to follow up on – for me it is about having the courage and positive attitude to follow them through and take ACTION. Ideally I am the kind of person that comes up with the ideas and then gets someone else to carry them out!

    On a brighter note, I met with a fellow professional on the weeekend for coffee. She ran a seminar a few weeks back and we got chatting. She has trained for many years in her field and is an expert within my industry (complementary to my business). She told me of her encounter with my competition and how loud, brash and pushy they had been. She also was unhappy with the methods they used and felt that they were quite unprofessional. She felt that she was being pushed to endorse this persons services, when she did not want to have anything to do with them. This person had also been advertising their business at these seminars without even asking her first!

    After a 2 hour coffee (or three) we found that we had a lot in common and she practically begged me not to give up simply because of this person and argued that quaity needs to be retained within the industry and she saw my business as doing that. She also said she wanted to help me out in any way she can, and as I have some skills she is interested in – we will probably become very mutually beneficial to each other – not just for cross promotion but also for business support and motivation. So I feel very positive about that and I also feel that due to her assessment of the way the competition is running their business – there may be some fallout from unhappy customers who are looking for a more professional service.

    So I guess I have learned in the last few days that if you’re feeing like sh!t, it might just be a good idea to be honest about it and express it rather than continue to deny it or feel that somehow you should feel differently.

    Also Steve hit the nail on the head – something didn’t sit right with me about simply backing down from this. I tend to walk away from conflict or agressive competition because it makes me uncomfortable. However if you always do that in your life then you are always the one who becomes controlled by the actions of others. I am not sure how I will deal with this but I don’t think I can just bow out – I need to do something. Even if that means quietly going about my busines, making improvements and being around to catch any fallout customers…

    Lastly, I find it so easy to mistrust my own judgement. Without ever meeting the person in charge of the business, I felt through their website (spelling mistakes, loads of loud colours, busy and terrible grammar), marketing materials and Facebook etc that they were unprofessional and didn’t really know very much. Now that this has been confirmed I wonder how other professionals find this person to deal with and whether they would be grateful for an alternative? If I had trusted my own judgement about this business then perhaps I would not have gotten into such a flap in the first place! And recognised the threat for what it is, and how it may not be as bad as first thought.

    Thank you all again for your input, and apologies for the looong post. I am feeling a lot better. Still very unsure, but much. much better!

    Thanks.

    #1110259
    Anonymous
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    Thanks for the update Christina, and for your appreciative comments. We do have a wonderfully inspiring community here, and it is always very rewarding to everyone to read in such detail how gratefully their efforts of support have been received. :)

    You do sound like you are feeling much better now, and I’m pleased that you’ve been able to change your perspective somewhat.

    I hope you go from strength to strength :)

    Love your work!
    Jayne

    #1110260
    kya
    Member
    • Total posts: 19
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    I am really glad to hear that you were able to meet with your friend and feel much better about your business and your situation. I think it is really wonderful that you are not going to give up and have found posting and talking to your friend as a way to help you, and it is great that you were able to find and use those tools to help yourself. :)

    I really do wish you the best. From the sounds of the competition, they might be popular for the short term because they have advertised so heavily, but it does not sound like they have the attention to detail or the same professionalism you have.

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