I’m a BIG believer in the lean start up style of building online businesses. Good enough is good enough has been my mantra for many many years and it’s worked very very well.
There was a time when you didn’t have to be great, when you could simply throw up a crappy squeeze page and drive some traffic to it and that would be enough to make money… But that was before every man and his dog paid £2,000 to be told, “You don’t need talent to succeed.”
That was before the market became flooded with people who well and truly believed that showing up was the same thing as “good enough.”
Now I’ve changed my mind.
Nowadays, you probably do need to be great. Or at least very, very, very good.
But how good do you need to be?
The answer to this question begins with when you enter the market.
Imagine a town with no electricians. (Ridiculous, but just imagine it. Pretend it’s back in the days before being an electrician was mainstream.)
Now imagine you are the Very First sparky. You are going to be rolling in the proverbial clover. People are saying, “Oh my God! Finally, an electrician!” They didn’t care as much how good your work looked. If it wasn’t perfect, at least it was a wire, and now it was theirs.
That was what 2008 was like for most online businesses.
Now, imagine that same sleepy town 50 years later. There are quite a few electricians in town. Some are great. Some are terrible. Some look great, but they’re terrible.
Now you walk into town, and this is your competition. And they’ve all been around longer than you have.
You can’t just throw up your shingle and say “I took this certified electricians training! So, hire me already!” and expect it to work “just because”.
You also can’t charge premium rates (because your Platinum Mastermind Electricians Mentor said “you were worth it” and “you have to respect what you bring to this world”) and expect it to work “just because.”
Yet this is what a lot of the online gurus train you to believe. And in 2008, they may have been right.
But they’re not right anymore.
Here are the things your potential clients think about when they are sizing you up.
Imagine your ideal client – or at least a perfectly good client – looking around to figure out who they are going to hand their money over to today.
- They are thinking about whether you show any signs of longevity – basically, have you been around long enough to prove that you have been doing this for a living?
- They are thinking about whether your website, content, and newsletters communicate a level of expertise that makes them confident you can solve their problems.
- They are thinking about whether they can see evidence of clients you have helped who are similar enough to them to inspire confidence in your services.
- They are thinking about your reputation, and whether they’ve heard enough people talking positively about the paid work you did for them. (Case studies can count here.)
- They are thinking about the level of hustle you put into your business – are you visibly showing up, or is your website or list a ghost town?
- They are thinking about how you communicate your deliverables – in other words, what they get for their money – in terms of the concrete things they care about paying for.
- They are thinking about whether your rate is even worth it in the first place.
- And, most importantly, they are thinking about whether you can make their problem go away.
(Note: “Can you make their problem go away?” is not synonymous with “Can you support them through their time of transition?” Only the very rich and very self-aware will pay for the latter. Pretty much everybody will pay for the former.)
However! It is very important to know this:
This is not an “all or nothing” list of things that you need. You can mitigate weaknesses in one area with strengths in another.
If your reputation is strong enough, you can be the most intermittent blogger in the world, and you don’t need a regular email schedule.
If your deliverables are attractive enough and you have the case studies and testimonials to back up your abilities, you don’t even need a blog.
If you don’t have a reputation at all yet, but you deliver so much content via your website and list that your potential clients can see you as amazingly talented, you can still book clients handily.
In other words, if you can shine in one or two areas well enough, you can get clients even if the other things they’re looking for aren’t necessarily present in any real way.
The important word here, of course, is “if.”
And, I guess, “shine.”
Your guru may say you’re worth £500 an hour or you should sell your stuff at double the price of other shops. That’s not your guru’s call to make.
Your guru doesn’t have a clue in hell what you are worth, but they will probably tell you it’s a really high number.
But it’s not their mortgage on the line if you can’t get clients or customers, but you can’t back your rate down without committing branding suicide.
It’s not their reputation on the line if you don’t have the key pieces of the puzzle in place to support your rates, or fill your books.
You can’t get a client to happily pay you for your services “just because” you feel like you’re worth the money. It doesn’t work that way.
”Worth the money” is determined by the customer, not by you.
You don’t have to be the best in the world to do very well online, but you do need to be very good. You need to invest in not only looking good but also in communicating your worth to your customers.
Your competition sucks!
They’re lazy and want to do the minimum amount possible. Those that make an extra effort (you) will win online.
Now go get ’em tiger!