I just finished a two-month executive sales course with HubSpot called Pipeline Generation Bootcamp. Together with a handful of other agency owners who participated in the training led by Dan Tyre, we learned sales principles and hands-on techniques for building a more consistent funnel of new business.
It was a valuable experience. But the most important thing I learned is what led me to take Dan’s course in the first place:
I was suffering from self-limiting beliefs that were holding me – and Idea Grove – back.
Because What If
We all battle self-limiting beliefs in our lives. They are often ingrained in childhood. If we let them, they can follow us almost from cradle to grave.
You can’t trust people -- because what if you are betrayed?
You refuse to fall in love -- because what if your heart gets broken?
You won’t pursue your dreams -- because what if you fail?
You don’t get invested in your job -- because what if you get fired?
Putting a Ceiling on Growth
I started thinking about this topic a few months ago. I had just made some changes to strengthen Idea Grove’s leadership team, so I could focus less on work for individual clients and more on improving and scaling the agency for the future. When I stopped to look at the agency’s trajectory over the past few years, it hit me:
We had been limiting our own growth. We were preventing ourselves from achieving our true potential.
It was there in the numbers. Every year but one since 2011, Idea Grove’s revenues had grown by approximately the same amount: $500,000. As we finish out 2017, it’s the same story – our revenues have grown from $2.5 million to $3 million.
I’m grateful for this growth, of course. It’s been enough to get us in the Inc. 5000 three years in a row.
Still, I thought: why $500,000 but never more than that? Why every year?
It was because we didn’t want to sell. We were afraid of rejection. A self-limiting belief.
It was because we were scared to grow too fast. A fear of failure. A self-limiting belief.
And so we have grown almost despite ourselves. We have grown 5x since 2011 solely on client referrals and organic website traffic. There have been no sales calls. There has been no advertising. There has been no PR.
How much larger might Idea Grove be right now, I asked myself, if I hadn’t been afraid?
Brilliant Cobbler, Shoeless Children
Look, after all, at what we had done for our clients:
Idea Grove began working with RiseSmart when they had two employees. They were pre-product, pre-revenue, pre-website. We were the growth agency that helped them climb to industry thought leadership and a $100 million acquisition by Randstad.
It was the same story with ShopSavvy. A young guy had built an Android app while moonlighting from his day job, and it had won an award from Google. He joined with a partner and decided to turn it into a business. We had them in TechCrunch, the New York Times and everywhere else before you knew it. We drove downloads through the roof. They ended up becoming the best-known brand in their space (just Google “ShopSavvy” during the holiday shopping season to see for yourself.) And they topped things with a lucrative exit.
We’ve been helping brands large and small reach their growth dreams ever since.
And yet, we were somehow the cobbler’s children who had no shoes. Was I more comfortable helping others reach for the stars than helping my own company?
Are You Limiting Your Own PR and Marketing Efforts?
Whether or not you own your own business, I’m sure many of you can identify with the challenges I’m describing. I see it every day when talking with our prospects.
Idea Grove works with B2B technology companies. Sometimes they do sexy stuff: Internet of Things, 3D printing, biometrics, Amazon Alexa. Other times, they are in technologies that don’t get as much attention, like data centers, storage, software testing and the like.
What I’ve found is that, when I talk about PR with B2B tech marketers, they often think their companies don’t deserve to get attention from the media. They don’t think it’s possible to produce content about their complex products that is even readable or watchable, let alone engaging or fun.
For example, I had a call the other day with a woman from a real estate investment company, seeking some help with press releases. Her employer mainly issued announcements when they bought a new warehouse; none of these got much media attention. But as we talked, I realized her company was actually doing something quite topical and interesting – buying facilities to accelerate e-commerce logistics, to help consumers receive their purchases faster.
Who wouldn’t be interested in that?
I’ve heard it from client prospects, directly or indirectly, a thousand times: “What we do is pretty boring.” The most fun I have in my job is demonstrating to them that this isn’t true, and that with a little digging, you can find a compelling story in virtually any business.
Let’s Do It – Together
So, why don’t you and I overcome our self-limiting beliefs together?
Idea Grove is going to grow and scale in a big way over the next two to three years. And we’re going to do that by helping our clients to grow even faster.