Thriving Even When You Feel Desperate For Business


If you’ve been a business owner for any length of time, you may have, at some point, felt desperate to get that next client or customer. 

Maybe desperation is too strong a word, but most of the entrepreneurs I’ve chatted with have at least felt discouraged in their quest to grow or even start their business. I know, from first-hand experience, that discouragement can quickly turn into desperation. And it’s said that desperation is a stinky cologne. So when you get to the point of feeling desperate, people can “smell” it on you, and it will start to repel those clients and customers you’re so eager to attract. 

During those hard times, it can get increasingly more difficult to know where to put your energy. Your vision may get clouded and you’ll start to conserve all your energy so that you only spend it on the RIGHT things—the things that will produce the result you’re looking for, i.e. more business. But who knows what will give you the most payoff? Not knowing can then lead to paralysis where you just stall from being overwhelmed, or worse, panic. How do you know that all the time, effort, and resources you’ll put into your marketing efforts, networking, and business development will actually result in new business? 

Here are some things to do when you feel desperate for business: 

1. Use this time to re-evaluate. 

If your business is slow, that means you have some time to look at your situation and what you can do to get things rolling again. It’s tempting to take the shotgun approach and send out mass emails or mailers, reach out to colleagues, or invest in some quick ads. I’m not saying those things are bad, but if you don’t also take some of this downtime to analyze and strategize what you could be doing better overall, you will end up in the dreaded feast or famine situation again real soon.

We all need to accept responsibility when we’re at this stage. There’s always room for improvement and no room for blame or excuses. 

You may want to ask yourself, as I’ve had to do at times in my own business, why things have slowed down and what can you do about it. Why should clients and customers even care to go to your business when they have so many other options? Why should they give you their attention at all in the first place? 

How can you intentionally develop better relationships with your customers? This question is a biggie as it gets us more in the mindset of relationship versus transaction. Building fantastic relationships with potential clients will lead to more business. Transactional thinking (just trying to make the next sale) doesn't have the longevity like building relationships do. 

Which brings me to my next point. 


2. Build relationships by giving value. 

If there’s one thing I’m learning as a business owner, it’s that I must aim to give value to my clients in every interaction I have with them, even before they hire me. My marketing, free consultations and any other times I connect with potential clients are opportunities to give them something of value—a resource, a helpful tip, a listening ear, a referral, etc. It’s about helping them reach their goal or solve their problem, not about me making a sale. The product or service I offer is only a small piece of the value I should be giving. 

Think of the last product or service you purchased that you were thrilled with—you were SO incredibly happy with it that you tell others about it every chance you get. Now, retrace your steps and note the value you received at every interaction you had with that business leading up to your purchase. Most likely, the businesses and brands that you are head over heels for gave you value beyond just the product or service you purchased. 

Examples of value you may have received:

- You learned something new for free from their YouTube video or blog before you made a purchase.

- You got a free tip, inspiration, insight, or resource from their website, a phone call with them, or their social media. 

- They helped you feel comfortable and confident with your purchase by being patient, answering questions, and giving you all the information you need to make the right decision. 

- You received quick help from their exceptional customer service team. 

By looking at your own experiences with businesses you love, you can start to get an idea of how you can build trust and give more value to your potential clients and customers so that you can attract more. In asking yourself these questions about purchases you’ve made, you can continually gain new insights as to where you can wisely invest your efforts.


3. Share your process to establish yourself as an expert. 

You don’t have to share your proprietary information to establish yourself as an expert, but sharing stories about how your products are made, or what goes into the services you provide tells the world that you know what you’re doing. You most likely have perfected a process and craft that you and your team have immense knowledge of. Why keep that hidden? Plus, it gives value to your potential clients and customers by increasing their trust in you, building a relationship with them through transparency, and teaching them something new.

Some people shy away from giving away all their secrets. Others share everything they know and how they got to where they are in hopes to lift others up (they give value!). A friend once told me that they were at a party and the founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, was there. He was asked how he got to where he was. He told them EVERYTHING and when he was asked by one of the guests why he gave away all his secrets, he said something like “cause no one will actually do it.” 

It took a lot of hard work for you to get to where you are at. And if you share your process in how you got there, you will establish yourself as an expert who knows what they’re doing while opening the door to let people in and trust you and your business. Don’t underestimate the value of transparency.  

Check out this video about sharing your process. It’s especially helpful if you do any type of creative work and can be adapted to just about any business. 

These tips won’t get you clients right away, but they are meant to help change your mindset to get out of the pit of despair and desperation. And when you are in the right mindset, you’ll be more creative, and your valuable content you develop be done with an energy that is attractive to those who encounter it. The goal is to develop a relationship with your audience, and you can’t do that if you’re focused on yourself, your problems, and desperate to make the next sale. That’s not a sustainable business model (or life-model, for that matter). But focusing on other people will yield you a rich harvest if you don’t give up.

- Melinda Livsey
Owner/Brand Strategist

I talk a lot about giving value and sharing your process and I try my best to practice what I preach. That’s why I started a personal email newsletter where I share what I’m doing to grow my branding business. I go over what I’m trying out in my marketing, sales, how I do branding, and things I’m learning along the way. 

It’s one thing to hear about someone’s journey when they already have reached their destination.

It’s another to go on that journey with them.

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About the author:

Melinda Livsey is a brand strategist, designer, and educator based in sunny Southern California. She’s the founder of Marks and Maker, co-founder of Pre-lance, and co-host on the Futur. Find her hanging out on Instagram and say hello!