Confidence is Necessary, Fragile, and Sexy as Hell

Confidence is Necessary, Fragile, and Sexy as Hell

One of the first things I tell new entrepreneurs is that they are entirely unprepared for the sheer volume of decisions they’re going to have to make. I follow that up with the fact that most of those decisions only really matter if you don’t make them, and that consistency makes up for a myriad of failings.

But some decisions are foundational. Who are you trying to serve? What does your business stand for? How are you different than everyone else who does the same thing?

There aren’t any right or wrong answers to most of these questions, but the answers will help provide a foundation for the flood of decisions you’ll have to make down the line.

There aren’t any right or wrong answers to most of these questions, but the answers will help provide a foundation for the flood of decisions you’ll have to make down the line.

Confidence Makes Future Decisions Easier

You’re going to have to figure out some branding, which includes colors and fonts. It’s much more important to pick a combination and stick with them than it is to ensure you’ve picked the perfect combination.

But some decisions—like what product or service you’re going to offer—are tremendously important. Your offer should solve a problem for someone, but is it the right problem? Are people willing to pay enough to solve this problem to make it a viable business? Is there an ancillary audience—outside your target demographic—that might also benefit from the service?

These are the decisions that make the difference between success and failure. If you don’t have a good definition of success, you can’t possibly make effective decisions.

You Can’t Go Confidently in the Direction of a Vague Goal

If you’re coming from the world of corporate cube farms, you have, no doubt, been involved in goal-setting exercises that were precisely as much of a waste of time as you thought.

That wasn’t because goal-setting is a waste of time, it was because you weren’t empowered to make the decisions that determined whether you were going to hit the goals.

That wasn’t because goal-setting is a waste of time, it was because you weren’t empowered to make the decisions that determined whether you were going to hit the goals.

When you’re trying to make a success of a business, it is essential to know what success looks like. For folks working a side-hustle, success might mean bringing in a few hundred extra dollars a month to pay off student loans quicker. To others, it might mean establishing a client base that will inoculate you against the prospect of losing your day job. To others it might mean generating enough income to quit the day job.

And to others, money might not even be a significant factor. Some businesses hope to provide a service while staying viable.

Interim Goals are Key

But—and this is a big but—knowing the top-line goal is often not enough. You have to know the steps along the way. Knowing that you want to make enough to quit your day job means you’ll probably want to focus on providing a product rather than a service because products scale more quickly.

That said, quitting your day job is more complicated than just coming up with a product, driving traffic to the sales page, and raking in the profit. While every product should support the overall goal of replacing your day-job income, that doesn’t mean you’re going to be trying to get the maximum profit from every product you create.

Have you ever noticed that when you’re buying things online, you often have three options? There’s a barebones option, a reliable option with most of the bells and whistles, and a premium option with more bells and whistles than you’re probably ever going to need.

Most people are going to buy the middle option. There’s a decent chance the higher and lower options were created to sell more of the middle option.

Most people are going to buy the middle option. There’s a decent chance the higher and lower options were created to sell more of the middle option.

The folks behind those products made them knowing they weren’t going to make the maximum profit on them. If they’re a small enough business, they might have made that product not thinking they’d sell ANY. And that’s okay.

Whenever you make a big decision, having a specific goal in mind will make the process easier.

How is it Sexy?

Your customers want to deal with someone who knows what the hell they’re doing. You wouldn’t hire a plumber who couldn’t plumb, or an electrician that wasn’t up on building codes. Neither will your customers. If you want them to give you money, you have to give them confidence.

Don’t pretend you have credentials you don’t. Tell them what you’re good at, why you’re good at it, and how you can help them.

The best way to do that is to display it yourself. Don’t lie to potential customers. Don’t pretend you have credentials you don’t. Tell them what you’re good at, why you’re good at it, and how you can help them. Then quote a price and convince them you’re worth it.

Impostor Syndrome is Real and Crippling

It’s easy to feel like a fraud when you’ve never done it before. Who are you to think you can run a successful business? Who are you to believe you can solve people’s problems? Why don’t you go back to your day job, keep your head down, and pay off your student loans when you retire? It’s not like you deserve the good life anyway, is it?

Well, of course it is. You deserve the good life just as much as the people who are born into it. You just have to work hard to get it. You have to take risks, step out of your comfort zone, and all the other clichés you hear from motivational speakers.

Those motivational speakers aren’t wrong, but they often forget to go beyond the cliché.

There are three questions I ask people thinking about starting a new business.

  • What do you love?
  • What are you good at?
  • What will people pay for?

If you can find the intersection of those three things, you have the foundation of a business, and you can move forward knowing that you’re not an impostor.

You’ll still feel like one from time to time. I’m convinced that everyone does, but when you feel like that, ask yourself if you’d trust someone else with your skills to do the job. If you would, just keep going.

Confidence Stems from Clear Goals, Data and Expertise

Developing the confidence to make crucial decisions isn’t an exact science. You can’t simply plug a bunch of numbers into a spreadsheet and have it pop out a decision.

Even with decisions that are heavily influenced by cold data—like which Facebook ad to fund—you have to know what metrics you’re looking for. Simply aiming for the most clicks might not be it.

If you’re making a big marketing push, you might want to pay extra to make sure your ad gets displayed widely so you can get the most clicks. If you’re looking to boost your background traffic, you might accept fewer clicks to lower the cost per click. It all depends on your specific goals for that ad.

Chances are, you’re not an expert at Facebook ads. I know I’m not, but I’m looking at running some shortly. How am I going to make ads when I haven’t got the expertise?

I’m going to borrow expertise. I’ve been doing some research on what works and what doesn’t. I’ll be looking at the kinds of graphics and headlines that get clicks, and I’ll make up several samples that comply with the best practices.

Then I’ll test, compare, tweak, re-test, and analyze all the metrics with an eye to driving more traffic to my sales pages.

You don’t have to be an expert to start. There’s a decent argument to be made that you can’t be an expert when you start, but that doesn’t mean you have to start at square zero. You can borrow expertise.

You don’t have to be an expert to start. There’s a decent argument to be made that you can’t be an expert when you start, but that doesn’t mean you have to start at square zero. You can borrow expertise.

Or Buy It

As it turns out, I sell expertise. I can’t help you with Facebook ads and I’m not a business coach, but I am a pro-grade copywriter. That means I have the expertise to ensure that your website isn’t killing your business.

All of your marketing efforts ultimately bring potential customers to your website or sales page and ask them to make a purchase. If the content on your site is sub-par, none of your marketing efforts will work and you’ll wonder why.

It could be your offer. It could be your ads. It could be that you’ve misread your target audience. It could be a lot of things. You’ll want to investigate them all, but you should start with your website because nothing will matter if it’s not good enough.

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