Signing Clients To Pay Your Bills with Michelle HartzmanJun 22, 2021
I am joined today by my good friend Michelle Hartman to talk about how to stop feeling like you have to frantically sign clients to pay your bills.
So many people feel like their job or their previous life experience doesn't provide them with anything that they bring to the table. But when you sit back and look at it, all of these different things in these careers and these goofy odd-end jobs have shaped us into the person we are today. And it's exactly those reasons why people hire us.
One thing that stuck with me through the years is when I was 18 working at Bath & Bodyworks. I wanted to mess around, I didn’t want to work and I remember telling me “you’re not accomplishing this metric? Is it an issue of will or an issue of skill?”
And that's where I think we get really hard on ourselves, like, should I get this certification? Should I go through this? And should I have all of this year's experience to call myself a coach or this type of entrepreneur? And while Yes, I believe having certain certifications qualifies you to do certain types of work, I do also think it's important to look at your history and longevity of what you are really good at. What do you know? And ultimately, how can you utilize that in your business?
How to start your online business
Kayla: You were working at managing the Salon and Spa at a gym, and then you were handling a team and hematology-oncology? How did you wake up one day and say, I want to have an online business?
My fiance actually became an entrepreneur before I did. I was working this nine to five, I was making about 50k a year. I didn't love it. But it was more money than I had ever made in my life. It was really that moment when my parents told me “if you get a job out of college, it pays the bills.” That's what I was doing. I was showing up every day for a job that I didn't love and I wasn't happy. But I was making money so you don't leave it. And I saw my fiance start his own business. And I didn't know this form of jealousy existed inside of me. I literally think I turned green when he quit his job and started working for himself. And I thought about what most people think about entrepreneurs. I thought he had all this free time. I was telling him to bring coffee to me at work, I was telling him, he could just hang out with me all the time because he was his own boss, he made his schedule. And when I saw him do that, and started actually making money, I looked at him and I said, I want to do something else. I want to make money doing what I love. I want to not be stuck in a nine to five, but I don't know what that looks like. And he had asked me a very real question of what do you love doing? What do you love talking about? Let's start there. And that's ultimately how it started. I said I love helping people. I love changing lives. How can I do that in the situation I'm in right now? And that's ultimately how the idea of becoming an entrepreneur even came to life.
Also, I remember what my father had said to me and my sisters. He said to all four of us when we were kids, “when you get older and you have a job, make sure it's something you like doing.” I didn't understand that at the time. Then, as I got older, and I was in all of these jobs, I started my business at 25. I'm 31 now. At that 25-year-old-age, I remember every morning driving to this job that I didn't love having that thought in my head of my dad warning me as he warned me to do something that you love. And I remember questioning if this is all it will ever be. I'm 25 and this is paying the bills. Is this all my life will ever amount to and when my fiance had been asked that question of Well, what do you love talking about what do you love doing it was almost this permission ship's permission slip to follow through with what my father had once said to us as young kids.
Challenges of starting an online business
Kayla: It has taken your time to build up this business. It sometimes feels like it has happened so fast. But, there are people that are saying “six figures in 6 months”? How do you react to that?
I do believe energy and mindset and belief play a big part in our results. But I will never be the person that tells you that this business happened overnight because it is sure as heck didn't. I have cried more than I ever have cried in my life. I am not an emotional person. But, being an entrepreneur, I have cried more than I ever thought that I would at this point in my life, I have doubted myself more than I ever thought possible. Being an entrepreneur makes you question yourselves and your ability and who you are in ways that you never even imagined. And while it's so beautiful, it certainly takes time to grow to six figures, multiple, six figures. It's a journey that when we get into this we're not ultimately prepared for because it's very glorified when you look at social media, the programs you're investing in, and the people that you admire online.
Kayla: What have been like, even just like two of the most challenging lessons that you've learned that really just rocked your world?
Both happened in 2020. One is really dealing with when your clients leave your world and then hire your mentors.
We're human at the deepest level, we have to remember that we're human beings. I have very deep relationships with my clients, and I care about them and their well-being and who they are as people, while I want them to grow and hire whoever they want. It also is sometimes heartbreaking. And so for me, that was something I really had to step into as a leader and 2020. When I saw that happen with some of my clients, it wasn't, I didn't wish them bad Will I still love my mentor had nothing to do with me. But it was ultimately getting through that moment to be able to not make it anything about me.
The thing that many people don't talk about is clients leaving and or defaulting on payments. In 2020, we did experience two instances where that did happen with one of our programs. And sometimes it's beyond your control. You have a choice now as an entrepreneur of how you want to handle that while also protecting your name and your business and the people that work for you, your other clients, and the fairness behind everything that you offer. That was just one of my biggest growth moments in 2020. But also a realization that even though people are great, they're willing to pay us, and sign contracts. Sometimes it's not always the same heart in that transaction. And it's being able to move through that as well.
The Real Reason for having an online business
Kayla: Before we pressed record, and you mentioned that, it just really stuck out with me about not looking to make money so your clients can pay your bills. Can you tell us about that?
I remember getting into this industry, getting into this whole online world. I had quit my job, I was already making some money in the business, which I'm grateful for. However, it got to a tough time with being sick six months into a year that it constantly felt like where's the next client? Where's the next client? Where's the next money? Where's the next money? And it was this constant rat race, of how am I going to keep this up, which ultimately made me a terrible partner, because I was always stressed and always focused on the business. I was irritable, I was constantly worrying, doubting fearing all the things that many of us feel when we're so attached to our business.
I had to have this real moment after you're one of asking myself, why did I become an entrepreneur, it was for freedom. It wasn't to feel like my business was running me. And it wasn't to feel like I was depending on other people to pay my bills. I had to really look inward. And I also had to take an overview of the business of what wasn't working, in order to get it to a place where it was significantly funding my life. Prioritizing and setting up my business in a way that does create recurring revenue that feels sustainable, that is sustainable, and brings in money, whether I'm launching or not, has really been my huge goal over the last three and a half years in my business.
Launching and Payments Plans, essentials parts of having an online business
Kayla: Can you explain what launching means and how it looks in your business?
This is gonna look different for everyone. I just want to preface that I'm not shitting on anyone's business model. And I say this, some people have the energy to launch all the time, and we see it in the online space, they just have that exterior go and they thrive off of launching all of the time. And while I think that's amazing. And sometimes I wish I was one of those people, I'm just not, I like my space. I like silence. I like not being on social media. Even though I'm an online business owner, it doesn't feel good for me to feel so attached to a program launch to fund my business. It’s so much pressure on everything I was doing in creating, which ultimately didn't make business feel fun, it didn't feel creative, it didn't feel like what I wanted it to feel.
So, I set my business up in a way where my clients can come into my world, but ultimately, they can stay with me for an extended period of time. And the work that I do in the business realm. My clients usually want to stay for a longer amount of time because the longer that they're with me the greater result that they get. I've really honed in on clients who want to stay for a longer amount of time and I've really mastered that customer journey for my clients to be able to stay and continue to pay me and that then creates sustainability in my business but also allows them more growth. It's a double-edged win. But while doing that my business has become more sustainable because I have more people paying me money. I have more people on payment plans. I have more people staying in my world for a longer amount of time that I don't always need to be launching to get new people into my world.
Kayla: Do you have a certain philosophy on setting up payment plans? Or how long should they be?
I think it's trial and error, even for me. Before 2020, I was really offering payment plans that were the length of the program, maybe one month extended from the program. When 2020 happened, I had changed some programs to offer longer payment plans like an eight-month and a 10 month. Now the way in which we do that is case by case. It's not something that I market, it's not something that I have on sales pages. It's a case-by-case scenario that we will offer that.
The reason I say this is because of what was happening because the way in which I have my business set up is that my clients join programs, and they want to stay with me. And then it was getting messy because they were maybe on an eight-month payment plan, and then they wanted to join the next program and all the payments were like piling up.
So for us now we just offer payment plans that are the length of the program, if not one month extended from the program, just because it allows my clients to have that paid off, and then continue into the next program if they desire to. If not, then they go, it's good to invest in somebody else. And they don't have to continue worrying about paying me and so it really was trial and error for us.
Kayla: Where do you recommend people get started with payment plans? Or business in general?
Creating an offer. The biggest thing is taking your ideas and writing them down. And it's really getting clear on what you want to do.
- How am I going to do it now?
- Who is this for?
- What's the transformation?
- What's the problem that it solves?
- What's the result that they're going to get?
- How do I want to take them through this journey?
- How do I want to communicate with my clients? Where do I want to communicate with them? Is it going to be a group? Is it going to be one-to-one?
- How much of my time is this going to take in coaching them?
Then from there, you can price the offer. But I personally have never priced anything without knowing what I'm creating or selling first.
Kayla: What are some of your best advice in the online space of dealing with a situation where someone isn't happy or just having those awkward conversations about you know, payments, or any of that?
The biggest thing is being open to feedback. It's really hard to be open to feedback, especially in our own businesses, because it's our work, we love it. We can't place blame on anybody else but ourselves when it comes to constructive criticism and feedback.
The second thing is listening to most people when they're unhappy, and I learned this from my corporate jobs. They just want to be heard, it's most likely that most of the time, they don't actually want to be reimbursed most of the time, they don't want to not work with you, most of the time, they just want to be heard. And they just want someone to listen to them. And you'll be surprised. Most of the time when they're frustrated or pissed off. It usually doesn't have anything to do with you. It's probably something happening outside of them. And you're just the sounding board because they paid you and you're the coach, and they're kind of laying their stuff on you.
Most of the time we can, as coaches, feel when your clients are off or when they're not really communicating with you. Most people don't actually know how to communicate the ending of something. And so for me, well, it could have been an amicable ending with both of those clients, they both just disappeared. And so for me, that was almost heartbreaking, because they could feel the ending, and I could feel the ending abruptly. It was ending, you know, not to the full term of the contract. And that was what both parties wanted. But I think what we have to normalize in this industry is being adults and having conversations around ending relationships properly because this is a very small world that we live in. People know one another and people talk and so if from a coaching perspective, being a good coach to have that conversation amicably with a client, but also from a consumer standpoint, as a client, it is very easy to get in a reputation that you are a troublesome client, and people won't want to take you on either if you're constantly not having conversations about the tough stuff with your current mentors.
Something that I share with my clients whenever they go through difficult times, and I've had to really practice myself is that we tend to want to respond right away because of our emotions. I always have to just coach myself through this and obviously lean on my mentors. And the same with my clients is when tough things happen, allow yourself space to think about how you actually want to respond. Because you will respond first with emotions. And it could have been a probably easier and more peaceful conversation had you allowed yourself to process what may be that client said or the tough situation before you responded and it probably could have ended a bit better had you allowed yourself to think the process and then react to whatever that moment was that has happened.
That's something we have to remember in tough situations. You have to operate as a business owner right now. Not with your emotions but for what's best for the business.