Just for a moment, close your eyes and picture the dining room in your home.
What kind of table do you have? What wood is it made from? How many chairs will fit around it (comfortably)?
Visualize that table set for a dinner party. Choose the Placemats. Dishes. Silverware. Napkins. What kind of decor did you go with? Is it casual? Or formal? Was there a theme?
Now imagine your guests arrive, one or two at a time. You open your door and welcome them in.
They each take their seat at the table and you begin to serve the meal.
Over the next two to three hours, you get the chance to spend quality time with all your guests.
What kinds of conversations do you have? Are they deep and meaningful? Are you sharing stories?
Now let’s imagine a dining hall.
The room is vast and the ceilings are tall. There are rows and rows of tables and chairs.
Go ahead and decorate them. You’ve got loads of help, of course. Lots of staff to carry out your orders. What kind of room do you create?
Is it fancy-shmancy? Or more like a winter lodge? What kind of food will you have? Entertainment?
And how many quality conversations will you be able to have with your guests? How many stories will you have time to listen to?
My preference is for the smaller party — the one I host in my dining room.
It’s not necessarily superior to a dining hall. It’s just a better fit for me.
See, I crave deeper, more meaningful relationships and quality time with my guests. With my clients, too.
This idea to focus on filling a smaller space first is something that Tara Gentile calls “The Livingroom Strategy,” a valid option to the “Stadium Strategy” business model.
Whatever we decide to call this concept (it certainly isn’t new), we don’t give it nearly enough attention.
In fact, I tried to Google “Why you don’t need a big list to grow your business,” and got nothing but results on…(wait for it)…How to grow a big honkin’ list.
And here’s why: the folks who glorify MORE (e.g., your traditional Internet Marketers), are spending scads of precious time and money to convince you that bigger is better.
They have no compunction about seeing you as simply part of their larger cash machine.
They’re huge promoters of the idea that you must must must think BIG. Especially if you ever hope to create a “6 or 7-figure” income.
You hear things like, Grow a ginormous mailing list. Attract thousands of Facebook fans. And, “crush it” with a landslide of daily traffic to your website. (Sound familiar?)
Truth: You don’t need that many clients to make a really good living.
Even if you decide to leverage yourself by creating a fabulous 1-to-many program, you probably only need about three, maybe four dozen clients in a given year.
It depends, of course, on the kind of projects you do, but if you crunch the numbers, I’m pretty sure you’ll agree.
So why do you still beat yourself up over the size of your mailing list?
Why are you buying programs that teach you how to fill a stadium or dining hall when you really only need to fill a dining room? At least right now?
The Mindful Way to Grow Your Business
Ask yourself the following questions to see if your marketing and business ideas are aligned with who you want to be and what you want to create in the world.
Do You Believe in an Abundant Universe?
At the heart of the world’s short-term focus is a fundamental belief that there’s Not Enough.
Not enough jobs. Not enough money. Not enough time.
Not enough connections to the right people.
Not enough knowledge or experience or options.
There’s a pervasive feeling that there’s an answer somewhere OUT THERE (instead of IN HERE), and that’s really why we keep downloading all those free PDFs.
The next time you get the urge to take one of those programs or download a free PDF, make sure you ask yourself if that urge springs from a valid place inside you.
If it doesn’t, you’ve got full permission to walk away.
Have You Put the Cart Before the Horse?
It’s also important to take the time to figure out your core platform or branding message before you invest hundreds or thousands of dollars on tools or marketing materials.
Understand that finding your voice takes time. It’s like making soup — sometimes you just need to let things simmer for a while in order to figure out what you’re really all about.
Know — really know — that blueprints, roadmaps and recipes can only get you so far. To find true, long-term success, you’ll have to experiment and play with the ingredients in your business kitchen.
Be okay being an apprentice for a time. Be okay with learning the ropes and not needing to be ‘discovered’ and famous tomorrow.
Put some basic systems in place so that when more people arrive at your door (and they will), you’ll be prepared to greet them.
Don’t rush to write your book, start your podcast or create your products. Slow down a bit so you can focus on crafting what you do to make it even better (so that it really helps people).
Have You Created Meaningful Relationships With Your Existing Connections?
It takes a while to build trust with people we’ve just met. And to discover who they really are.
Spend some focused energy ensuring your existing connections are solid before you attempt to pile on more. You might find you’re already friends with exactly the right number and kinds of folks.
Are You Working With the Right Clients? And Are You the Right Person for Them?
Instead of pressuring people to buy right now, encourage them to sleep on it and sit with it to make sure it’s really a fit for them.
It’s crucial to acknowledge and honor each potential client’s unique right timing to work with us (or not).
It means we slow down our conversations with potential clients and really listen. Instead of pushing, we lean back. Instead of starting to give advice, we get more curious about their situation. Instead of skipping over a challenge, we go deeply into exploring it.
Take time to figure out what kinds of clients are actually a perfect fit for you, too.
Remember that, in terms of relationships with clients, forever matters more than today.
Are You Enjoying the Process?
It’s not enough to just accept that you sometimes need to slow down. You also want to enjoy it. To relish the present moment.
And make sure that you inject some fun into each and every day. If it’s not fun, we might as well get jobs, right?
Speaking of Jobs…
It might be okay (even wonderful!) for you to have a day job while you build up your business. Even a part-time gig to relieve the money pressures will go a long way toward making the process more enjoyable.
Hustling is not a sustainable space to be in. That doesn’t mean you don’t ever do it. It just means you need to have time and space to relax and listen to your heart.
This is what I like to call Slow Marketing.
And it’s high time we gave this path some serious consideration.
This post is part of the October Word Carnival. Our theme this month is “Jekylls and Hydes: Two-sides of a Coin.” You can read all the other fabulous opinions here.