How Being Busy Is Costing You Business

Man using Mac laptopI’m going to break something to you right here and now: No one actually cares how busy you are. Honestly. No one. And telling people how busy you are is very likely costing you business and opportunities.

I do a lot of events for freelancers and solopreneurs (including this one hosted by the lovely Kate Gaffin’s Connecting to Greatness Group, at WeWork September 30th in Manhattan), mostly telling them why they need to STOP referring to themselves that way, and most importantly stop thinking like one. Most freelancers I know busy—doing stuff they don’t like for not very much money. They endlessly yammer about needing more work, and yet when I’m in a position to share or offer some, I get the Heisman—”Oh I’d love to take it on, but I’m not sure I have the bandwidth,” or “I’m just way too busy,” or “I’m all set for now.”

And they wonder why they’re not making more.

(Just ask Grant Cardone, the beloved author of The 10X Rule, and creator of where I have my show, Solopreneur, which he and I have decided is a lousy name, because you don’t get more credit or money for doing it all yourself.)

I have more work than I know what to do with, yet I never stop seeking out opportunities. Everyone has the same hours in a day, but that’s not how I choose my work. I don’t see myself as just one lowly freelancer whose plate is full. I’m a business; I’ll add more plates if I have to.

It never ceases to amaze me that the people who push away work are often the lowest paid, and who admit to me they don’t have much else going on. One woman I spoke with recently about work I had to offer her said that she just wasn’t sure if she’d have time to take on the work because of her job…a job she admitted she doesn’t like and is planning on leaving.

Will someone please explain this to me? I wasn’t offering her a six-figure job…but there’s potential for ongoing paid work, growth, and the opportunity to show me how great she is, while she keeps her other job or searches for a new one. I can’t think of a better way OUT of a job, in fact, than to show off how great you are to someone new who might recommend you somewhere, or hire you herself! She’s going to think about it.

I would still consider working with her, but she’s hesitant, and thus, so am I. Because this isn’t the first convo like this I’ve had. Other people will tell me a million reasons why they can’t do this or can’t meet that deadline. So many people (women mostly) who are busy pumping the brakes and then wondering why their careers are going under 35 mph.

This is what it means to think small, people. So if you’re looking for work and want ways out of what you’re doing or ways to grow, say yes. If not to me, than someone. Say yes and find a way to do it if it appeals, even a little.

Your clients, as much as they love you, also don’t care how busy you are. As a client, managing your business isn’t my job; it’s yours.

Think of the client/contractor relationship as an open marriage—who and what else you “do” on your time is not my business. I only care about what you and I have going on.

If you continually give off this air of being “so crazy busy,” fact is, I might pass on you altogether for other stuff that comes up. Not only because I don’t want to deal with that drama, but you’ve essentially told me in no uncertain terms that you’re “busy,” which either means you don’t see working with me as a priority, or you can’t manage your time well. And I want someone who does.

Now, my clients don’t think: “Ah, I’ll call that Terri. She’s probably not up to much.” No way. Having higher demand for my services doesn’t mean I make less time for people I want to work with—it just means I can charge more. By making sure you have enough “time” for the clients you have (work that go away like that), you decrease demand, in fact. The only stuff I don’t have time for are the things that I’m either not interested in, are not in my wheelhouse, or don’t pay off in any real way. But that’s stuff no one should have time for.

Your business can be as big as you want it to be—if you’re willing to think and act like one. Find resources. Find a way. You can’t gain momentum in your business if you keep hitting the brakes.

3 Rules of Thought Leadership (by Someone Smarter Than Me)

DanielDiGrizDaniel DiGriz is so smart that after a few minutes of listening to him, you can actually feel yourself getting smarter. Now that is a gift. (Let’s hope it worked.)

The founder of Madpipe, author of All Marketing Is Dead, and self-titled “digital ecologist” (a term he’s had trademarked) has lots of titles, and believes everyone should have a bunch, too, since all social media sites (including LinkedIn) are search engines. Oh, and also because titles don’t matter.

A word about what exactly DiGriz does: He helps clients become thought leaders and create a successful marketing presence in their space—which changes depending on the company. As an external marketing director, he does this through one-on-one coaching, supervision, and training of in-house teams to meet their own marketing needs, which are unique and different from everyone else’s.

Rule #1 of Thought Leadership: Get Over Yourself

The biggest mistake of thought leadership, he says, is this belief that the onus is on everyone else to come to us, read our sites, care about us and what we have to say. In fact, this isn’t about you at all, which is why DiGriz doesn’t spend all that much time talking about himself. It has to do with how you change the world.

“What you are isn’t relevant,” he said. “This is one of the first lessons of thought leadership: It’s not about you. It’s about…what creates a response in the end user.”


Click here to watch interview.

Rule #2: Have An Original Idea

Anyone can be a thought leader, says DiGriz. But thought leaders don’t say, “Yeah, what she said!” You have to have a fresh take and original ideas and insights about the industry right now, and how to make things better.

Knowledge after all, is replaceable, he says. It’s why he doesn’t mind sharing it freely via his blog, his podcast, what have you. Experience, however, is not. And the mark of a pro, he says, brings all of that experience to the table with a defined, intuitive skill set.

Rule #3: Know the Difference Between Being in Charge and Owning the Conversation

Another misconception (and an arrogant one to boot) is that whether you’re in charge of a big company or work for yourself, you’re “the boss” and that makes you important. You’re not the boss: The economy is. That ground is always shifting beneath you, and your success depends on how you can adapt to it.

Which brings me to his book, All Marketing Is Dead—because in fact, he says, it is. And this is where a discussion about marketing becomes one about mortality: Because what holds in the Walking Dead is true for business owners: Traditional marketing tactics, even as we use them, are zombies: stiff, slow, awkward, easy to outrun, consumed only with feeding themselves, and must be killed on the spot.

But that doesn’t mean marketing is going away, or that you or I are in any way above it. If you try to excuse yourself from marketing and all its aspects (social media, outreach, etc), you quite simply aren’t a business owner. In other words, marketing is not a tap you turn on when you need it, but a consistent effort, one that you should make for yourself just as you would if you had thousands of shareholders to answer to.

Thought leaders know this, and thus must continue to adapt and update their efforts, annihilate the stumbling zombies from their strategies and instead find ways to make their marketing elastic, intelligent, human, integrated.

To be a thought leader, says DiGriz, ask yourself: “How can I make the world more effective, raise the bar in my industry and improve the way I communicate about it?”

“You can be a thought leader, introduce new concepts and ideas without getting anyone’s permission. If we can do that, we can lead in our fields, change our industries and grow our business together.

(Watch the full interview with Daniel DiGriz on Solopreneur.)

(Also check out DiGriz’s podcast—on this episode, he had me on to talk about why brands need a spokesperson.)