It’s a super-common fear in the world of creative entrepreneurs. We have so many ideas and we tend to execute on a LOT of different things, and often really fast. Sometimes, you can’t help but wonder...what are people gonna think of me when if I’m moving on to something else now? And worse--what will happen with people who’ve already purchased from me and trusted me with their money think about my sudden changes of heart? Will they think I’m a super-flake?
You’re probably just a creative person who is expanding, growing, and evolving. But what makes so many of us creative entrepreneurs think that when we want to change, when we’re called another direction...that we’re totally blowing off our commitments and flaking out?
Here’s the thing: when you’re trying to building a business, you want people to see you as reliable. Someone who is trustworthy and steady. Somebody they know they can count on when they need it. Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that people will watch you for months--or even years--before they make a move and buy from you. After all, they want to make sure that you’re the real deal. And obviously, if they see that you’re hopping from business to business, you might not be giving the impression best impression when it comes to that…
But just because you have a change of heart doesn’t mean you’re unreliable. It doesn’t mean that you can’t be trusted. And it doesn’t mean that you don’t keep your promises.
This is where the difference between failing fast and flaking out comes in. And we’re going to decipher the difference between the two. Let’s get to that right now.
It’s pretty simple: you’re flaky if you’re making promises that you don’t keep. For example: if you sell a course, you deliver half of it, and then you don’t finish it. That’s flaky as hell. You took people’s money, they expected a product, you didn’t deliver it, that would definitely be flaky. You make an appointment with somebody, and then you don’t show up to the call. All examples of making promises that you can’t keep. That is flaky.
Which brings me to…..
Think about when you’re executing on a lot of different things at once. You might feel at first like you’re throwing spaghetti against a wall to see what sticks (which feels a lot like a fast drive down flake-out highway). But if you’re failing fast, it’s a lot more calculated than that. You’re executing on things and you’re actually following them through to completion. You’re testing them, you’re launching them, you’re seeing if people buy. And if it doesn’t work, you move on to the next thing. That is failing fast. And it is NOT flaky.
Here’s a quick and easy checklist to help you distinguish between the two…
This doesn’t mean you’re flaking out--all it means is that you’re figuring out what ways of delivering your products and services works best for you. And that’s important stuff to know!
You had to try it in order to know that it didn’t work, right? You followed through, you gave it a fair shot, it didn’t work. So you let it go. And that’s okay.
For example, if you started out in weight loss but now you’re moving towards stress management or adrenal fatigue, that’s okay. That’s evolving, not flaking.
Even when you were selling it with lifetime support. Let me be clear--”lifetime support” means the lifetime of the product, not your lifetime. So, if you’re no longer offering a product or service, you do not need to keep a high level of support.
Makes sense, right? It’s natural to grow and evolve….so why do we as creative entrepreneurs feel that fear of flakery so often? There’s a few more reasons why this happens (in addition to what I already talked about above). Let’s go into those for a minute…
(Which can feel really awkward sometimes). One of my first businesses was a network marketing business selling makeup. Of course, I recruited a lot of friends and family to let me have parties with them, showcase my products, all that stuff. All well and good...but then a few years later I was on to the next thing, selling weight loss and exercise products. Then after that, it was the next thing and the next thing and the next thing. By then it was keeling kind of awkward. What were people going to think about my trying this and that, going from business to business? Would they think not only I was a failure once, but a failure repeatedly?
It was then I realized…...wait, why do I even care what they think?
I mean, seriously. None of these people had the cojones to even start their own business (or very few, at least). And another thing-- just because it looked like a failure from the outside does not mean that it was one. I tried all of these things--I gave them all a fair shake--and realized they weren’t for me. That’s very different from failing.
Last year I created a beginner’s course on how to set up a sales funnel. It was a very basic course (“here’s where to click to set up a funnel”, that sort of thing!). Pretty much a technical course with a little bit of strategy thrown in. It was quite successful and I made a lot of money on it….but for some reason, it started feeling way out of alignment. Sure, I was a big seller. But in the end, it just felt “off”. It was time to let it go.
But what was that gonna look like to the audience I’d grown? Or for that matter, to the people who already bought this thing from me?
Then I came to understand that I just didn’t feel good about selling this anymore. It might have sold well, but something about going on with it was totally out of alignment. So I had to go with my gut on that one.
And finally, the one that might be the biggest fear-factor of all….
What about people making comments like, “so what are you doing NOW?” or, “what’s this NEW thing you’re doing?” You know, the kind of jabs that imply that you can’t stick with anything. And if you already have a secret fear that you really do struggle to follow through with things to the end, that’s probably gonna trigger the hell out of you.
So just be aware--if those people are surfacing in your life, it’s probably because you have a fear like that that you might not have seriously considered before. So if you find you’re getting a lot of people asking things like “so what are you up to now”, or “you’re on to something new, are you?”, and you’re finding yourself triggered a lot, maybe that’s something to explore. We’re always afraid of what people think, for whatever reason. But sometimes that just means that there’s something those triggers are trying to tell you, something that might be worth exploring. (For more about this, you might wanna check out the edition of Hippie Friday Lunch Chat about triggers and what they really mean. Check that out right here [link])
But suppose that you really are ready to make some changes, you’ve dismissed the fear of flakery (mostly), and you’re ready to let go of what’s no longer serving you...but you don’t want to let down the people who already entrusted their time and money to you?
When I want to make a change in my business that will affect my current customers, I want to be sure that people are getting the full value of the products they’ve purchased from me or the services they’ve bought from me. And this is where the courtesies come into play. What courtesies would those be?
Recently I announced that I’m closing down the Left-Brained Hippie Facebook group, a group I started back in March of 2016. I’ve been focusing a lot of time on growing it and nurturing it...but decided to close it down by the end of May. So I let people know what was going to happen. I didn’t just want to show up one day, say, “I’m closing my group today, see ya!”. I didn’t want anyone to feel that they’d been left high and dry. I wanted to give people a chance to understand the decision and make a decision to either leave the group or maybe connect with me in another way. Which brings me to...
Perhaps through email, or an alternative place online (in my case, the Woo Crew). Also, offer them something extra to make sure they’re getting fair value for what they bought. For example, if someone bought lifetime access to a course, make sure they have a chance to download it before you delete it forever (because they bought it and should always have access to it). Or another example: let’s say you created a Facebook group for support on a product that you no longer offer. Before you shut down that group for good, maybe offer email support as an alternative. That way they still have a way to connect with you and won’t feel like they’ve been totally abandoned.
Apologies can go such a long way. People usually do understand that you only have a limited amount of energy. They do get that you’re allowed to make decisions in your life and that you will make changes in the direction of your business. When you’ve decided to make a big change that affects your people, an apology works wonders. It only to thanks people for following you so far, but it also shows that you’re genuine. And that you’re aware of any inconvenience that your actions might cause.
So with all of this out with the old, in with the new talk, how do you know when it’s time to make a change in your business? Here’s a few thoughts on that…..
This is probably the number one reason for a change--that is, it doesn’t feel good to sell it anymore. An example would be that funnel program that I was selling last year. It was making a lot of money. It was converting like crazy on webinars. And I could’ve easily put that puppy on autopilot and made money every single month without having really to do anything. But it just it didn’t feel good. Why? Because people were buying this program but they weren’t finishing it. And that was because they had mindset issues that needed to be addressed first. It felt like I was offering people a band-aid for a bullet wound, and that’s why it felt so out of alignment. So that is why I made that change, and I never looked back.
When you feel like you’re making a much bigger investment of your time, energy, and money than you’re getting back, chances are it’s time to let it go. Because you already have so much to do as an entrepreneur, you don’t to be doing things that aren’t making a difference in your business, right? So that’s a pretty obvious one.
Chances are that if you’ve got either of the above going on (out of alignment, no ROI of time, energy, and money), this might be why it feels heavy. But when it goes a step further and becomes something that you actually dread, then chances are its time for a change. And there’s no shame in that whatsoever.
Now, I’m not saying give up when it gets hard. It’s not going to be sunshine and rainbows 100% of the time when you’re an entrepreneur, guaranteed. You WILL need to do things that are uncomfortable. But I am saying re-evaluate from time to time. To really see what is working and what needs to go. And if something needs to go, there’s no shame in that whatsoever.
What’s the bottom line here? Work from a place of integrity and caring, and that will come through in your work. No matter how many different times you change directions in your business, work from a place of caring and integrity. If your clients and customers can feel that, they’re gonna follow you wherever you go. Because they can truly feel that you actually give a shit about them! (Which I assume you do.) You’re not screwing anybody over by making changes to your business at all. It’s your business, it’s your right. That’s why you started a business--so that you can have the power to do this!
So I tell me in the comments--what are your fears around the flake factor? Do you have that fear of flakiness? And are you maybe a little bit less afraid of appearing flaky after reading this? I’d love to open up the conversation and see what your thoughts are. Share in the comments below!