Get rich quick schemes. Four hour working weeks. Lounging on a beach while the money pours in. That’s what a lifestyle business is all about, isn’t it? If you believe that, you might have been miss-sold! Here’s what it really takes to get the cash rolling in your direction as a service-led small business owner.

I’VE just come back home after a week in the rolling, Somerset countryside. I woke up to birdsong, surrounded by trees in our little log cabin, beams of sunlight finding their way through the leaves to greet us. Just a few steps away was a beautiful, babbling stream; if we really listened, we could hear the water from our decking.

During this time, I committed the cardinal sin for any entrepreneur or business owner. I switched off social media, stuck the out of office alert on my email and tuned out of ‘coach mode’.

I gradually eased myself back in over the weekend and hit the ground running on Monday. By this morning, I’d taken on two new clients — one for a six month coaching programme, one at top ticket level for the speaker training retreat I’m running later in the year.

I hadn’t ‘pitched’ to either of these wonderful people. I don’t do any cold calling. I don’t hit people with sales messages five minutes after connecting with them on LinkedIn. I don’t employ a telesales team. I don’t have anyone trying to ‘get past the gatekeepers’ and make appointments with decision makers on my behalf.

The real story

By and large, clients find me because of the work I’ve put in — over several years — to grow my personal brand and demonstrate credibility. I’m big on creating visibility, consistency of message, showing up and being seen. Why? Because people can’t come to me for professional help, support and advice if they don’t know I exist. What’s more, people can’t pay me for anything if I’m invisible!

This, ladies and gentlepeople, is where the world is going wrong. Get rich quick schemes — at least as they’re promoted — don’t exist. Or, at least, I’ve never found one.

This, ladies and gentlepeople, is where the world is going wrong. Get rich quick schemes — at least as they’re promoted — don’t exist. Or, at least, I’ve never found one.

You can’t just start your own business, talk about hustling and grinding in a few Facebook groups and expect cash to fall out of the sky. Unless you’re already financially sorted, you will not be able to immediately get a flash, expensive car on contract (unless you’re incredibly foolish!) and the tax man will not provide for your every whim.

Likewise, if you join a network marketing company, you WILL need to put in the effort to sell your product and build a team, and, even if you have team members in New Zealand and Spain, it doesn’t automatically make you an international lifestyle coach with a diamond-encrusted iphone and thousands of people looking to give you their money. It makes you an MLM team leader with team members in other countries. (For the record, I’ve NOTHING against network marketing — there are some amazing organisations out there and brilliant, successful people doing good work — I’ve just seen lots of people selling a dream that doesn’t really exist).

The early bird catches the eye bags

It doesn’t matter how much you get up at 5am, journal, jog, exercise, meditate, engage in mindfulness or submerge yourself in one of those special pools, with the optimum temperature to recharge and restore your body — if you’re not providing anything people actually want/need OR if you’re not taking the time to build your personal brand, the chances of you waking to a million dollar PayPal ping are remote to impossible.

I am now in the position where I do not have to actively sell my services. I never have. At least, not in the traditional sense.

What I have spent years doing is becoming more and more visible and helping as many people as possible along the way. I’ve attracted media coverage, been on TV, radio and in countless magazines and newspapers. I speak across the world and I’ve been an invited speaker at two TEDx events (so far). I keep truth and authenticity at the heart of all I do — I don’t bullshit or embroider the truth. I tell it like it is and use my own journey to inspire and encourage as many people as I can.

Lucky? Me?

You might say I’m lucky, in that I enjoy my work immensely — whether I’m speaking, training, coaching or writing, it doesn’t feel like ‘work’ to me. But, tell me I’m ‘lucky’ to have created enough of a brand that clients come to me and I’ll tell you to stick that luck shit back in your pocket and get real!

The position I’m in with my business now is not the result of ‘luck’. It’s the result of doing the work. I show up on LinkedIn most days, as well as keeping my social channels fresh and updated, doing livestreams, speaking at events, engaging with other people instead of just working on my own ego show.

If you know who you are, you believe in yourself and believe in your product, there’s no reason why you can’t grow as well. But… you’ll need to get over yourself and remember — or realise — that people buy people, so you really do need to care.

Don’t outsource your personal social channels to someone else — use the platforms to share your story, be useful, educating, entertaining. Talk to other people. Listen to what they need. Be of service. Build your tribe!

Share your story with the world not for a cathartic word vomit, but to use your own experiences to inspire and motivate others. What have you learned? How could that support others in the world?

Keep it real!

If you’re running your own business, you need to become the personality behind the brand, and you need to be true.

You won’t win friends and influence people by bragging for the sake of it or being an egomaniac. You won’t win clients by being out of reach. You’re not Branson yet. You’re not living on a private island. Do your own social and talk to people like a human being.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” — Maya Angelou

You know, Maya Angelou once said: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I think that’s one of THE most important things to remember when building a brand or business.

People really do still buy people. That’s how you’ll build your brand. That’s how you MIGHT reach the point where the cash rolls in while you sleep — but it’s not a fast process.

Health IS important

Those things I talked about earlier — the fitness, the journaling, the meditation — they are important, but they’re part of a routine to keep your brain and body — and your spirit! — on track as your brand grows and you get busier. I do all of these things — but they’re not WHY I could take a week off and come back to new clients.

Those practices they help me stay healthy are just for that. They’re for ME. And they DO help me to serve my clients.

Through the wonders of social media and the internet, folks, we’ve been sold a myth. It’s little wonder when we take a step back and realise that many of the people pedalling fast fortune blueprints have made their cash through selling that idea. Ironic, isn’t it? Of course, that’s IF they’ve actually made cash at all. It’s not difficult to take your picture outside an impressive building and pass it off as your own, or set up your little iPhone tripod to capture you leaping out of a random, swish-looking swimming pool to address your fans. I’m not saying these are all fake, but these people COULD be selling you a dream from their parents’ spare bedroom, working on their old college laptop and swigging a Panda Shandy.

Look — here’s a picture of me standing in front of a beautiful mansion. It’s not mine. It’s actually the venue for the next Heart Of Speaking retreat. Honestly, I’m not sure I’d want to own it. Think of the heating bills! 😀

Oh, and that ‘entourage’ picture at the top? They are members of the Sicilian tourist industry who asked to have their picture taken with me after I’d delivered a keynote talk at their conference. Honestly? I was a little bit embarrassed! I was far too worried about looking like a dirty old lech!

It doesn’t happen overnight

There are, I’m sure, some incredibly well oiled people out there, selling some amazing programmes… I just want you to realise that they won’t have reached that point in a few weeks, by investing in a top secret marketing blue print, a demo pack of shampoos and smellies or learning to dupe — sorry, sell — from the stage.

I did just take a week off. I did spend it in Somerset, surrounded by beautiful countryside. Those new clients did come in. But I didn’t drive home in a Ferrari or send out their invoices from a mansion.

For the record, I live in a three bedroom semi in Lincolnshire and I drive a BMW Mini — it’s five years old, has less than 40,000 miles on the clock (at the time of writing) and is very shiny and lots of fun, thank you very much. We do have another grown-up car, but that’s not a Rolls Royce either — it’s a Hyundai, just a few years old and soon to be traded in for a new one — and we love that too — we can get all three dogs into it! You get a lot of bang for your buck with a Hyundai.

If that’s not doing it for you, I do own a Tag watch, though I usually wear my FitBit instead.

Keep it real, people. Follow your own dream and make that happen — don’t be duped into paying for somebody else’s!

#UnleashYourAwesome,

Taz

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Taz Thornton is the author of Awesome Sauce — a free, weekly positive life and business round-up, with good news stories, positivity tips and visibility hacks for your brand. In a few minutes each week, you get a dose of optimism and some awesome advice to get seen and stay happy.

Taz is also a best-selling author, inspirational business speaker and consultant on confidence, personal brand and visibility, award-winning coach (UK’s Best Female Coach 2018 — Best Business Woman Awards), consultant and creator of the #UnleashYourAwesome and #BrandMastery personal and business development programmes, as well as #UNLEASHED — an affordable confidence, content and cashflow building programme for coaches, healers and therapists.

She has been featured on BBC, ITV, in HuffPost, Diva and countless other newspapers, magazines and podcasts. Taz is also a regular columnist for the America Out Loud talkshow network.

Find her on FacebookLinkedInTwitter and Insta.