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The Encore Entrepreneur



Episode 25: The Top 4 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Adding Something New in Your Business (This Before That Series - Part 3 of 3)

In this third and final episode of our "This Before That" series, Carmen Reed-Gilkison and Deirdre Harter tackle the common tendency entrepreneurs have to jump from one thing to another, creating and doing without having a solid strategy or even a plan in place to ensure they understand whether or not they should do the new thing.

The top four questions to ask yourself are:

  1. Why do you want to start something new?

  2. What is the result you believe it (the new thing) will help you achieve?

  3. Does your data support your assumptions?

  4. Do you have the time to build out the strategy to ensure its success and then implement and maintain it?

Episode Transcript:

[01:41] Deirdre Harter: In this third episode of our “This Before That” series, we're discussing what you need to have in place before adding in something new. Now, in the first episode of this series, we talked about what comes before a website. And in the second episode, we talked about what comes before hiring help. And if you missed these two episodes, you can go back and listen. These are episodes 23 and 24. The whole purpose of this series is to help you avoid missteps that we have personally made and learned the lesson. And so we wanted to kind of help you take the detour around. Some of the things that we find are common issues for entrepreneurs and this is for beginning entrepreneurs. And it also is relevant for those of us who have been in business for a while now. There are many reasons to add in something new into your business, and we're going to talk about what that means and what things are we talking about. And this is especially true as you are growing and evolving. Oftentimes we see women adding in something new for the wrong reasons or at the wrong time. Today we will uncover the right and wrong reasons and four probing questions to ask yourself before you spend your time, energy and money on anything to ensure that you are gaining traction and not losing momentum in your business.

[03:19] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: So today, we want to talk about what comes before adding in something new. And we're referring to something like a new offer, a conversion event, a marketing strategy, or a visibility strategy. Entrepreneurship seems to be the only place where it's normal - and it happens often - that people will just start a new thing. They'll run one workshop, and then they're like, oh, that one was okay, but I'm going to do a whole new one next month. And when we're doing that, when we're in the space of starting something new, because we either think that the thing we did didn't give us the results we wanted, or we think that we heard from someone else and they would want something different. And it sounds so fun to create when we're doing that. We're not giving anything enough time to even give us the data back to know whether or not you should start something new or not. I mean, you have to run something multiple times in order to understand the ebbs and flows of that thing. Because if we think about it, everything we do that we're throwing out there into the world happens at different times of the year. And so what's happening at those different times of the year? Well, there are different seasons during the holidays. Maybe people are rushed during summer vacation. Maybe they're away from their computer. We learned that one, didn't we, Deirdre?

[04:49] Deirdre Harter: Sure did. Yeah. So we'll tell that quick story before we get into some of these other reasons. So this is what happened. We had a workshop that we were running every eight weeks. So we were following the let's run enough times to see if this is really validated and if this is really the right kind of workshop that people want to attend and they're getting a really great result from. So we ran it for several months, and it was working right. Then all of a sudden, I believe it was two workshops back to back, where we were seeing a decline, basically, in engagement and registrations. And so with the first decline, we went ahead and ran it again, but then the second one was much worse, and we did not have anyone join our program. And we felt like, oh, my gosh, this is the wrong thing to do. We shouldn't be doing this. We need to completely change this and go with a completely different topic. So we did that, and guess what? That one did even worse than the ones that we were running before. Well, in hindsight, we decided a couple of things. Number one that we were not going to what I call make any kind of what I call a knee-jerk decision, right? Where you just react to something and immediately head off. We're all for being in action, but you have to have some strategy behind it. We also realized, especially now that we have more summers under our belt, that it was a summer slowdown. It didn't have anything to do with the workshop. It didn't have anything to do with the topic, the content, or even the offer that we made at the end of it. It really was about the time of the year.

[06:32] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: That's right. And I will say that doing the new one that we did, that we threw in there, it was a radical change from what we were doing before, and that did give us data. One thing that we're good at is looking at the data. So in that first summer, that was our first summer of Encore Empire, and we had only been in business for a few months at that point, so it was a little bit more scary, right? Because we're like, oh, my gosh, we're the first few workshops that we did, a fluke, you start second guessing everything about yourself, and then I think it was two in a row, and so we were kind of freaking out. But that also was the summer of 2021, and it was the first time things were opening back up after COVID, so we were aware of that, and we were trying to console ourselves with that fact, but it was really difficult because it was hard not to look at it and say if this was good enough, people would be doing it. But in the context of what was going on in the world, this was the first time people had any kind of freedom in like, an entire year. So of course they didn't want to hang out on their computers. They've been doing that. And so collecting the data, I think we're going to talk about that as well as we go forward in this episode. What data you collect, what metrics you track are so important. And making sure that you don't do that knee-jerk reaction, it's easy for us to do. It was easy for we did it. So we're not saying that we're any better or any worse than anyone else, but we did learn that holding the course is much better. And so now, since then, we've run, I don't know, ten more workshops. And we can see now after that many, so ten more after that. So we’ve probably done 15 workshops total; I would say something around there. And so now you could put that you could chart that on a graph, right? And you could see engagement, attendance, and conversion on that, but you can't see it after two or three. And it was after the two or three that we were like, oh, my gosh, something's happening. We need to change this up. And that's kind of the whole point of this episode, is after two or three, you have no idea, and after one, you really have no idea. And so many people will run something one time, and then they change it, and you're just starting over and over again every time, but you're not collecting any data, any meaningful data that really tells you whether or not it is a good thing.

[09:14] Deirdre Harter: Yeah. And Carmen, there's another part of that, too, that we're not saying that you just blindly run it over and over and over again and hope that it works. If it seems like something's not working, the data is going to help. And while you're collecting the data, you can identify something else you could do to improve it, for example. So we're always iterating, right? And every time we run a program, a workshop, a conversion event, any sort of strategy at all, as long as you're paying attention to what's going on and collecting this data. But I think another part is that we don't take the time to analyze. We like to do a debrief after every event that we have. Carmen and I sit down, and we debrief what went well, what didn't go so well, and what we would like to improve for next time. And this can be the solution to the problem in and of itself. And I think that sometimes this might feel boring, right, to sit and analyze and let's change one thing and see if that gives us a better result - if that gets us closer to the result. And in all of this, too, it's important to know what that result is going to be. What do you think about that, Carmen?

[10:34] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: I agree. And when you talk about strategy, I think that's where a lot of people fall off the path is they may hear someone say something, or they think that someone wants to learn something they heard. Maybe two or three people say, yes, I would like to learn this, so they go ahead and build something. But when you hear two or three people say something, what that tells you is it's something to look into and research deeper. But it does not tell you that, okay, two or three people said this and that is a definitive that I should go build the thing out. And the whole premise of all of this is kind of we're trying to bring people back down to Earth, like, let's get grounded before we take off and just haphazardly run and do these things that end up wasting time and costing us money in the future. Right? Because if you're continually spinning your wheels and trying new things and doing all this without collecting the data or without doing the research, that says seven out of ten people that I spoke to want this, that would be much more telling than hearing something from just three people, right? So then when you hear from those seven out of ten people that they want to learn this thing, then you have to craft your offer or your conversion event, your workshop, whatever it is, your messaging, whatever it is, to give them the result they're looking for, or to lead them down the path towards that result. So let's say let's talk about messaging for a second. Messaging. You can give them a quick win in messaging and say, hey, I'll cover this in-depth in my upcoming workshop. And then, during the workshop, you give them another win. That's a deeper win that then shows them how you are the person that can help solve that. So you have to understand what you are leading them to, and the strategy is how you get there.

[12:31] Deirdre Harter: Yeah. And let's talk for a minute about being bored because I think that we hear this all the time, and what ends up happening is that sometimes it's your messaging, sometimes it's the event. We sometimes confuse the repetition with boredom. Right? It's very exciting to be into something brand new, like, oh, I just learned about this. I just heard about this, and I want to do this. And that is great. There is a fine line we all have to walk as entrepreneurs. It's about acting quickly and not acting rashly and without the strategy behind it. I struggled a lot in the beginning with this. I am a fast actor. I hear about something, and I'm like, yes, that's what I'm going to do, and I'm off to the races. How about you, Carmen?

[13:32] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: Same thing. Same here. And it actually serves us well, I think, on one hand. But when you talk about the boredom, that's such a good point because repetition, while it may seem boring to you because you're hearing the message over and over again, it's absolutely not boring to the people who you're serving. You have to remember, we always want new people in our world. So those new people need to hear that message that you're talking about or attend that workshop or whatever. And to go back to what you said before about Debriefing, that's where that iteration comes in, where you don't have to start brand new, but you can look at it and determine, was there something that was confusing to the attendees of this workshop? How can we make it less confusing? How can we add clarity? Or was there something that everyone kept stumbling over that they could not achieve this one step? And that's what you and I did, Deidre. And to me, that was really rewarding because what you get to do is you get to say, okay, this one concept was confusing to people. And so let's either I think we tried on one of them, we tried to explain the concept in a more clear manner, but it was still confusing. And so we decided to take that out altogether. Well, that was over the course of three workshops. So the first one we ran and people had a little bit of difficulty with it. So the second one, we tried to clarify it, and then the third one, we took it out altogether. So you're three in, and you've made these changes, and then it makes going through the workshop and watching how people are engaging with your content and the way you're explaining it a lot more fun. So then it's not boring to you anymore because you're trying to assess the level of competency and understanding that these people have with what you're teaching them. And that's critical to you being able to make a sale.

[15:31] Deirdre Harter: That's right. And this parallels to your programs and your offers for your clients a lot of times we think, oh, I've got this one program, and I've made a few sales, but I need to make more sales. So I'm just going to go create a whole other offer or a whole other program. But what we need to stop and do first is how can ask yourself the question, and we're going to have some probing questions that you guys can take notes on here in a minute. But one of the questions is, ‘Have I done everything, every step necessary to know that to make this work?” In other words, and I think a lot of times, we kind of skip some steps, right? Like I know I'll be given example here of myself sometimes when I'm looking at we need to have more consultation calls, we need to have more sales, it's easy to jump and say, oh, we need a whole new strategy here, or we've got to do some completely different kinds of tactics. But when I go back, we've hit those moments, and I've gone back and looked at the steps that we've laid out on what I know I need to be doing according to metrics. So let's say that if you enroll clients in your service-based business through consultation calls, discovery calls, or organic, basically not sending them directly to a sales page, if you need to have a conversation first, the metrics surrounding this are how many people do you need to have a conversation with? And then, in order to have those conversations, how many people do you need to connect with and start the conversation, whether it's through email or it's through direct message on social? But there are some metrics that, over time, we see, and you've probably heard about these like you have to talk to X number of people before you get the yes, right? And so if I go back and look, I need to first ask myself, have I done that? Have I done enough of it? Because I think, sometimes we feel like we did enough of it, but when we look at the actual data, we didn't really. And so we have to always optimize and ensure we've done every part of that process first before we can even decide if it's working or not.

[17:58] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: That's right. And that really goes back to what we talked about in episode 24, which was what needs to be in place before you hire someone. And we talked about SOPs and procedures and understanding what works. So those procedures not only help you prepare to hire a team and get that support you need, but they also are critical in understanding what steps to take going forward. I mean, you have to know that you've done the thing and if you're not tracking any kind of metric at all and you're just going off the feeling of, man, it seems like I've done this so much. I think I remember one of our clients was like, I felt like I was on 100 connection calls, but when I counted them, there were only five or something. And it's like when we're relying on our memory, that's not a metric. Our memory is not a metric. That could be a thing because that's not it. It has to be cold, hard facts. The data doesn't lie, and it removes emotion from it. And when we're feeling like, oh, my gosh, I did all that already, or, oh, my gosh, I've done this for so long, that is emotion. That's telling us that that's not data.

[19:10] Deirdre Harter: Yeah, that's exactly right. So let's talk about some of these questions that you can ask yourself to make sure that you're not adding in something new, whether that is an offer, a program, a conversion event, a visibility strategy, a marketing strategy. What we're talking about are the big things. We're not talking about small things that improve productivity or improve your client success. What we're talking about are the really big projects, the things that are going to take a good amount of time, energy, and most likely money in order to implement into your business. It doesn't always require money, but everything requires time and energy on our parts. And we actually need to be much more protective of the time and energy side of the equation than the money side of the equation. But that is a whole other other discussion. So, Carmen, what are some of these questions we can ask ourselves to stay out of this?

[20:15] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: Yeah. So you would have to ask yourself, Why do you want to start something new? And we're not saying I should also throw this in here that you never do something new. We're not saying that at all. What we're saying is, don't do that knee-jerk, oh, my gosh, I need to start something new. It's like, that's what these questions are about. So why do you want to start something new? Be honest with yourself. And then the second question is, What is the result you believe it will help you achieve? So you have your why, and then why will this thing help you? You got to write that down. And then, Does your data support your assumptions? So you are assuming that this new thing is going to help you achieve something. Can you tie that back to data that says, yes, indeed? Seven out of ten people say they do want this thing or whatever other kind of data that you have, and not just data from one thing. We told you our story about we ran our workshop two times in a row, and there weren't that many attendees, and we didn't make sales. And it was like, oh, my gosh, what's going on? Well, data from those two times is too limited for us to make a decision, and we made a decision anyway because we fall prey to all those human emotions that everyone else does too. Right? So data over time, I think that's the biggest thing is over time you'll start understanding where the patterns are in something. But you can't do it if you've done it for less than a year, honestly. So then the fourth question is, Do you have the time to build out the strategy to ensure it's successful and then implement and maintain it? And I think we've seen this a lot of times too with our clients. Deidre is someone will say, I ran a workshop. Oh, I'm going to go do this joint venture over here. Oh, here's another workshop. I'm going to start a new networking event next month. And so they've got like five or six things that they're juggling on top of all the other things that you're doing as an entrepreneur. And you have got to make sure that you have time to build the strategy to make this one new thing work, to ensure that it's successful, and then to implement and maintain it. And maintaining it means to run it over and over again to collect the data, right?

[22:34] Deirdre Harter: That's right. And I think this is the piece that we really never stop to think about. We can do the hard push, right? As entrepreneurs, we're used to that. We're like, okay, I'm just going to clear the decks, make this thing happen, I'm going to put it together. We're great at that, but really, and we go, I can get the 8 hours I need to do this, and that's great, but that's build-out, right? It is not about implementation, and we're not even thinking about maintaining it. And this is what we were saying earlier, that you have to make sure that you're not just piling onto an already overloaded plate, right? You've got to get some room, you have to take some things off, or you're going to have to get a second plate, and you're going to need a helper to hold it with you.

[23:25] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: Right! And I think that's exactly right. People don't consider all of it. They only look at the build-out part, and they're like, I can throw together a thing. I can throw together a weekend retreat. I can do that. But they don't think about any of the - another thing they don't think about is the promotion period, right? So there's a whole… if something is going to be successful, and that's what we're talking about. Do you have time to build out the strategies to ensure it's successful? It's not just about the event or the product that you create. It's about everything that leads up to it to get people there. That's promotion, that's marketing. How much time do you need? And we go into this in our marketing methodology workshop. It's critical. People don't ever leave themselves enough time unless you're mapping it out in an appropriate manner.

[24:12] Deirdre Harter: That's right. So I'm going to recap these questions. If you guys are taking notes, I'm going to say this again so you can write these down the questions to ask yourself are: 

  1. Why do you want to start something new? 

  2. What is the result you believe it will help you achieve? 

  3. Does your data support your assumptions? 

  4. Do you have the time to build out the strategy to ensure its success and then implement and maintain it? 

Now, we would love to invite you to our Marketing Methodology Workshop. This is a workshop where it answers these questions, the same questions that we are asking you to ask yourself. You also want to ask yourself, when it comes to marketing, what is it that you want to accomplish? What result do you want to get, and are you currently getting it? With your marketing strategy, we are going to teach you the framework that is going to help you on a year after year after year basis. This is a system, basically. So this is something that it will grow with you; it will change with you, but it is going to save you a whole lot of time, and it's going to give you that direction and to ensure that the implementation piece is always there. So join us for our next marketing methodology workshop. You can register by going to https://encoreempire.com/mmw

[25:53] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: See you there.

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