It’s a rare professional who loves every aspect of their job, but just because you don’t like something doesn’t stop it from needing to be done.
Jon Dale, director of Small Fish Business Coaching, takes a no-nonsense approach to confronting your excuses for what they are.
Excuse #1: “I don’t have time.”
Often the tasks brokers enjoy doing are the ones that have more urgent consequences – dealing with your existing clients, processing current applications etc – whereas jobs such as marketing and prospecting new clients can often be postponed.
“Nobody is going to shout at you if you put your marketing off until tomorrow,” says Dale. “But if you don’t do Mr Jones’ mortgage, he’s going to be pretty pissed off.”
This makes it easier for brokers to ignore these deferrable tasks under the guise of concentrating on more urgent matters. What’s key to understand here, says Dale, is one doesn’t exclude the other.
“People waste a lot of time, and the reality is you can fit it in. Doing some sales and marketing doesn’t really mean that all of your customers are going to have a shit time forever from now on.”
Do the urgent tasks, says Dale, but schedule in time for the things you don’t like eg. ‘From 10-12am tomorrow I will call X amount of prospective clients’.
“What happens then is they realise it’s not true that they stop doing all the other stuff. Things carry on going as before, but the change they’re looking for also comes.”
Excuse #2: “I already tried that.”
So maybe you have tried tackling these tasks before, and maybe things didn’t work out so well.
“So many people have been damaged by an experience they’ve had,” says Dale. “Maybe they’ve taken out an ad and spent their $300 and not got any calls, so they think ads don’t work. In reality, that ad didn’t work, but it’s not quite the same thing. By no means have we established that ads in general don’t work or that they will never work for you.”
This kind of resistance often comes out of embarrassment over past errors, and this only serves to add to the fear of what can be a daunting task.
“Most people say they don’t know what is going to work, they’re uncomfortable not knowing and they’re scared of wasting time, making mistakes and looking like a fool. The reality is most of it does work and it’s not that hard, but it is a bit scary.”
As a broker selling a service, it’s hard not to take every ‘no’ as a personal rejection, says Dale, but it’s important to understand that most things in business involve a process of trial and error – some with more errors than others.
Excuse #3: “Nobody else can do it as well as I can.”
If you really, really don’t want to do something, and you have the resources to do so, outsourcing or delegating to someone else is a great option, says Dale.
“We all think we have to do everything but you can get someone else to do it if you want. It costs money, so everything is a trade-off, but for example I don’t like admin or bookwork so I pay someone else to do it.”
This can often be a struggle for brokers if they have tendencies to micromanage every task, but if you hire the right person, you can learn to have faith in them. The key is having some realism, says Dale.
“Getting someone else to do something that you do really well doesn’t really mean that it’s going to be crap forever and everyone is going to hate you and your service is going to drop,” says Dale.
Excuse #4: “What jobs? I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
When there’s nobody around to call you up on it, denial can be a little too easy, says Dale.
“[Business owners] usually understand when I point it out, they know they’ve been hiding from it or ignoring it or pretending they’ve got better things to do.
“If I say to someone ‘How many times today has your business asked someone to consider what you do?’ and they reply ‘None’, it’s a bit hard to hide from that.”
If you’re in a situation where you really are the only one that can tackle a task, and outsourcing isn’t an option, it’s time to take a reality check, says Dale.
Break the tasks up into achievable chunks, and then find someone to hold you accountable for completing them – whether that be a business coach, a sales manager, another broker or a partner.
“Look at the activity and not the end result. Rather than try and persuade yourself you need to turn into a sales and marketing demon and be amazing at it, do something like make two calls a day. When you do that and you get a few coffee meetings and people are generally supportive and nice, you continue to expand your circle and suddenly calling two strangers a day is a habit - and business comes out of it.”
It’s not always easy to hear, says Dale, but sometimes you need to face some hard truths as a business owner.
“If it was easy everybody would be doing it. You can either do it or get a job for an organisation where somebody else does all the hard bits. If you want to work for yourself you’re going to have to spend at least some time doing the things you don’t like – suck it up and get on with it.”
Small Fish Business Coaching is an established provider of business coaching services to small businesses in Australia and the United States. For more info visit smallfish.com.au