Growing your business requires work. There’s no shortcut to it. It’s inconvenient. It’s hard. It takes us out of our comfort zones. It requires sacrifice and compromise, and while we believe that we know this going in, I’m not sure that any entrepreneur really knew what they were truly signing up for when they started their business.

As a business owner I know that one of the first things to go out the window when I’m struggling in my business is any kind of self-care. How long have you been thinking about starting an exercise routine? How many times have you said; “I’ll start my diet tomorrow?”  Some people can’t function without a daily gym visit.  Some of us quit smoking and stayed quit. Maybe you wanted to stop drinking so much this year, or you wanted to spend more time with your kids, or carve out time for a hobby you put aside when you started your entrepreneur journey. Are you setting goals? Are you achieving them? And if not, why is that? What are you refusing to do (or to not do?) to achieve them?

The importance of setting goals

I set both a personal and a business goal this year, and I really wanted to achieve them. I knew that I couldn’t achieve them without making changes, and the changes I needed to make I should have made a long time ago, but I was happy, and I was complacent. “Everything is fine. No need to mess with things.” Until, unfortunately, there was a need to mess with things. You wouldn’t wait until your house was engulfed in flame before you went to find water or a fire extinguisher, but many of us have a high tolerance for pain. We are quite literally sitting in the house and pretending the curtains aren’t on fire.

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My biggest personal and business goals overlapped – I wanted to save 20 percent of my income this year and maintain a minimum 20 percent gross profit. We’re seven months into the year, and I’m happy to say I have managed to do that and then some.

I wish I could tell you that I made that choice because I just woke up one day and decided it was time to save money. Nope. On our five-year business anniversary I missed payroll. For the first time ever. It turned out to be an accounting error, but it was scary enough that I realized that if I didn’t change RIGHT NOW I might lose everything that I had spent years building.

People pick and choose what they want to focus on

Like everyone, I get to pick and choose what I want to focus on. A cash crisis is a pretty good motivator. Saving money isn’t easy, but it’s pretty simple. Turns out, you just spend less money. I met with someone in my peer group weekly for accountability, and we reviewed every penny I’d spent that week. I’ve managed to save more than I had planned to.  I focused my attention on it, and it “magically” happened. Saving money became my rallying cry for the year. It’s made an 800% difference in my bottom line.  It took focus, sacrifice, and discipline. And it worked. However, it only worked because I did something differently.

I took 20 percent of every paycheck and automatically transferred it into an account I haven’t touched. I don’t go to Starbucks. I make my own lunch. I fly Spirit or whatever airline is fastest and cheapest. I stay at 3-star hotels instead of 5-star hotels. I fly in on the day of the event, I fly out the day it ends. I eat the free hotel breakfast. I did a lot of things I didn’t enjoy – I don’t like flying red eyes, but they are cheaper. I don’t like getting up at 3:00 AM to catch the first flight out, and I don’t like running to the airport at 3:00 PM when my channel friends are starting to get their shine on at the hotel bar. I gave up a lot of things that I really liked – I like a $200.00 steak and I like wearing designer clothes, and I like five star hotels and Sephora binges. Not only did I save money, I cleared up most of my debt. In only seven months of behaving just a little bit differently.

“If you want something you’ve never had, you must do something you’ve never done”

The saying “if you want something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done” applies in every area of your life. I look at my credit card statements now. I look at my bank balances. I choose one thing or the other instead of doing both. Maybe other people have been doing this their entire lives – I haven’t. It’s new to me, it’s a learned behavior.

What is that you’re struggling with that seems to be common sense to other people? Changing my personal behavior allowed me to change my business. That’s the big secret. Your business only grows if you do. 

How does this relate to cold calling for managed services? Well, if you’re going in to Q4 planning to use the exact same marketing approaches (or no marketing approach at all) that haven’t helped you grow your business for the last few years, maybe it’s time for you to start doing something differently, so you can experience different results.

Cold calling every day is simple for me – I’ve been doing it every day for 20 years. It’s not challenging – maybe cold calling for me is your saving money – you knew from the beginning you had to do it to be successful long term. Well, now you get to do something that maybe sounds unpleasant and will challenge you to overcome some long-held habits or in this case, beliefs. In the same way that looking at money differently changed my business, looking at marketing differently can change yours.

“Cold calling is dead!”

Is it? Because you’re still reading this, and I suspect that’s because your current marketing approach just isn’t getting it done.  If you are struggling in your business right now, your knee jerk reaction might be: “That’s ridiculous, just making some cold calls every day isn’t going to save my quarter, or my business!”

If you had told me at the beginning of the year that all I had to do to achieve my goal for the year was give up one coffee a day, stop going out for lunch, and stop adding two extra days on to every trip I took throughout the year, I wouldn’t have believed you. You don’t have to wait until your business is in crisis, either – starting to make just one hour of cold calls every day can change your entire business in less than one year.

You may not feel comfortable making cold calls. You don’t have to figure it all out at once. Get an accountability partner.  Commit to making ten calls a day. Report your progress. Do it every day. Much like the way I now like watching my bank balance go up a little bit every week, you’re going to start looking forward to the challenge of finding new and better ways to reach your prospects by phone and seeing your follow up calls pay off with new deals.

I’m sure you probably hate the idea of cold calling as much as I hated the idea of flying unreliable budget airlines. That’s okay – do it anyhow, achieve your goals. Once making ten calls a day feels like nothing (like not going to Starbucks every day), then you can make 20 calls a day (stop going to Starbucks and pack your lunch.) And before you know it, you have a prospecting routine and a full pipeline, and new clients. Do something different, get different results! Try it.

(And while you’re at it, get back to the gym, go get a physical, meditate, read more and stop eating so much junk. When your business booms you’re going to want to live for a long, long time to enjoy it.)

Photo: fongbeerredhot / Shutterstock.

Carrie Simpson

Posted by Carrie Simpson

Carrie Simpson is the founder of Managed Sales Pros, a lead generation firm dedicated to providing new business opportunities for MSPs. Carrie teaches IT firms how to build, manage, and grow their sales pipelines. You can follow Carrie on Twitter @sales_pros and connect with her on LinkedIn. 

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