This time last year, life, as we knew it, changed.
As I sit here and reflect over the past year, and of course acknowledge the trauma that happened to so many, I am also in awe by how many people have shifted and grown their businesses.
Comfort and growth can’t co-exist.
It often takes extreme discomfort for us to make big changes to how we are living and working. And for all the grief and loss that many have encountered, there are many others who have risen up, like a phoenix from the ashes.
I think of all the new experiences that I have bought that I would have never considered before March last year.
Joining fitness classes over zoom is probably something we’ve all done for the first time this past year. But now some fitness professionals are going further and making decisions to staying online; they’ve realised they are now open for a global market (time zones dependant) and have upped their tech skills to have a full TV production suite in their home studios.
This month I booked a magician for my son’s 19th birthday (never too old for a magician, yes!) through an Airbnb experience. An hour’s private show beamed straight to my laptop from a chap over in Japan; it was 4am for him! He told us that his day job was a project manager and in June last year he decided it was time to turn his hobby into his career. He now runs between 3 and 5 shows every few days, to an audience across the world, and is regularly booked for corporate events, as well as families like us.
And last week, I had a virtual photo shoot. Yes … a professional photo shoot through an app that I downloaded on my phone. I was a little sceptical about this but if you are on Instagram, you can see the results on my profile @karenskidmore. I was blown away by the quality of photos and how good Aga was at directing me by only using her voice.
What about me? What new skills and ways of doing business have I adopted?
I’ve always worked predominately online, so working on zoom wasn’t new to me. But I have had to learn how to run my all day workshops virtually, as well as our Mastermind Days for our Momentum Impact members. I’ve decided these work better online – more powerful – and I won’t be travelling into London to run these again, something I would have never considered before last year.
I’m also now working in my Plotting Shed, a new garden office that we built at the end of last year. With my husband now working from home, it became apparent we needed two separate offices. Of course, I volunteered to go outside. And I love it. (Again, you can go see what it looks like on my Insta pics.) It is the most gorgeous space and it makes me smile every time I walk down the garden path to unlock the door each morning.
Would any of these examples that I’ve shared here have happened without the discomfort of the last year?
This past year has pushed many of us to our extreme boundaries. We’ve been forced to step outside of our comfort zones and face, head on, parts (or even everything) about our business that stop working suddenly twelve months ago. You’ve made decisions about where and how to move your business through these last twelve months and, whatever has happened, there’s every chance your business is very different from where it was a year ago.
Acknowledge what you’ve achieved in your business through these uncomfortable months. And know that the potential of what is possible happens because you don’t stay comfortable.
Which leads me to wonder how we can all make sure we take full advantage of a little (or a lot of!) discomfort from time to time so that we can keep moving forward and ensure we are thriving in business.
If you want to discuss what I’ve shared here today and you’re interested in being challenged in what you could achieve, get in touch.
Until next time, do less, be more, play bigger.
Fatigue, stress and hormone imbalances have become serious problems for many business owners, particularly those of us in our 40’s, 50’s and beyond. And it’s caused many to pull back and play small to protect themselves. When we feel exhausted, we can talk ourselves out of plans we feel we don’t have the capacity, confidence or courage to take action on. But this fatigue and fear of not having enough energy is costing us dearly, and over the years I have come to see that our health is the number one investment we need to make in our businesses.
I’ve experienced fatigue over the years and I know only too well how frustrating and costly this exhaustion can be.
I’ve been frustrated and, at times, incredibly angry about how crap I’ve felt as I’ve gone through my midlife changes and there have been long periods of my business when I’ve pulled back and not done the things I wanted to do. When have the right conditions to fuel our vitality, growing profitable, sustainable and scalable businesses is much easier. But in order to do this, we have to understand and know how to work with, rather than against, our own cycles and flow, as well as the cycles and flow of our business, the economy and the planet we live on.
My fatigue began in my late 30’s. I was in full Superwoman mode; mother to two young children and running a successful term-time online coaching business. Then my Dad got sick. After 18 months of going through three rounds of seriously intensive chemo, he died of Lymphoma in the summer of 2010. My parents lived in Devon at the time. Me in Surrey. So I spent the best part of two years driving up and down the A303, sometimes back and forth in one day. It was no surprise that my shoulders seem stuck to my ears from all the driving, and I had consistent chronic neck pain.
My life seemed to take on a black comedy as, if that wasn’t enough to deal with, I had been convinced to take on a 9 month rescue dog because the family wanted a pet. The autumn of that same year of my Dad dying, he got run over by a truck. £6,500 worth of vet bills and reconstructive leg surgery later I was left looking after a lame dog, whilst dealing with our family grief. I tried counselling but one session was enough for me to decide I didn’t have time to let all this grief out so I zipped it all in. And in January 2011, I went headlong back into making my business work again.
I re-designed my business to get away from the constant launching of digital programmes and closed down a membership site product. I knew I didn’t have the capacity or the inclination to spend my time learning and keeping up with the latest digital tactics that I was teaching. And I missed direct contact with clients, being involved with their decision making and simplifying their marketing systems.
My business moved into a one-to-many model and I launched my first group coaching programme in June 2011, The GID Marketing School, which is still offered today as a foundation course for our Momentum business growth programme.
All the changes I was making to my business was working on paper. I was certainly doing less, having more fun and making more money than before. The problem was that I was still in Superwoman; that same driving force I had back in my 30’s was being used in my 40’s. And let’s not forget the trauma of losing my Dad I had buried deep inside of me.
In the summer of 2012 I hit the proverbial wall. I simply couldn’t get out of bed one weekend. I realised that this tiredness I was feeling wasn’t going to be fixed by a few early nights. I would like to be able to give you a happy ending, but unfortunately, my exhaustion confused and depressed me. My GP told me I was fine and that all women my age go through this kind of symptoms and as my blood tests all came back normal she simply suggested I take some iron tablets.
I conveniently blamed my physical state on peri-menopause which gave me permission to believe that all women went through this so just get through it and by the time I’m 52, all will be well. Ha! My saving grace finally came from finding a community called One of Many in 2017 and it was through some deep personal development work that I began to feel alive again and take back control off my physical and mental health issues.
What I’ve come to deeply understand through my fatigue journey is that you can look to others for inspiration on what makes a business work, have the best product funnel set up and following the latest surefire, tried-and-tested marketing system … but if you don’t find the ways to create the right conditions to fuel your vitality whilst you go about growing your business, you’re in danger of boom-and-bust and crashing your body.
That’s entrepreneurial burnout. And it’s rife right now. But it’s not doom and gloom.
The reason I wanted to share my story is to inspire you that there is life, vitality and the full force of creativity on the other side. That once you make the decision to invest in your health and wellbeing for the sake of your business, you will experience it for yourself why it needs to be the number one investment to make before you look at any growth opportunities.
Once my fatigue was under control, my business began to blossom once again and through my teachings around True Profit Business and the work we do with our Momentum members, I feel I am doing my best work yet. Yes, I have invested in systems, processes and my team but it wasn’t until I began to take my health seriously that I experienced the shift in my own business growth.
I still have to manage my health and wellbeing and yes, I do have set backs as I get tempted with bread and cakes, and eating too much sugar. But I stay alert and tuned in to my body because I know, if I want to do the work that I want to do, I have to make sure I have the right rhythms and rituals in place to support my health.
It’s why we now have Health & Wellbeing as one of the five steps in our Grow Strong™ planning process in Momentum; it’s the foundation that each 90 day plan is built up from so that each of our members are clear on what rituals and rhythms they need to support their growth.
So along with their sales targets for the next cycle, they have to submit what they are doing to move, as well as nourish their mind, body and spirits.
What to do if you feel you need prioritise health as your next business investment
Perhaps you’ve hit the wall like me back in 2012 and you’re staring at this screen frustrated that your brain fog is so thick you can’t think straight. Perhaps you’ve not hit that wall yet, but you recognise the tiredness is affecting how you think about your business and you’re perhaps pulling yourself back on plans you previously had. Wherever you are at with your current health, if you feel you need prioritise your health, here are some of the things I did to start taking some control back of my energy levels.
1. Recognise you have a health problem
The sooner you stop kidding yourself that everyone else is tired and this is just the way of the world, the sooner you can start helping yourself recover. Start with your GP. And yes, I know from experience, that many GPs are just not equipped to understand and investigate fatigue illnesses or hormonal changes so it can take months, if not years to get the medical help that you need. And you may have to go private if you can afford to pay the fees. I’ve found that hormone testing is best done privately because you’ll simply get better results. If you’re interested in speaking to someone, then I can recommend Nicki Williams from www.happyhormonesforlife.com
But don’t get ahead of yourself and make this a bigger problem than it needs to be. One visit to the GP and a blood test later and you may find you have a real simple medical treatment to follow. The reality is that there’s every chance you’ll have to be making some serious lifestyle changes – what you eat, drink and how you exercise and move – but start somewhere and your GP will hopefully be the place for that.
2. Ask for help and explore your options
I know from experience that fatigue causes confusion, brain fog and decreases your ability to make decisions so you need to ask for help. I battled with this for years. I thought I could fix it all by myself with Google searches and a few books on menopause. But it wasn’t until I started getting recommendations for health practitioners such as kinesiologists and acupuncturists that I started to realise that my fatigue had a shed load of trauma and grief blocked behind it. It wasn’t pretty, that’s for sure, but shifting this blocked energy helped me tremendously to get my physical health back on track.
Explore your options, speak to friends or family members, try out treatments recommended to you and you may surprise yourself with what works for you.
3. Is your business model right?
As the pace of our living gets faster and social media feeds us a stylised version of what business success looks like, we seem to be obsessed by how to get more done in less time. And when we’re not sure exactly what needs to be done, rather than look to our vision and business strategy for answers, we buy into the next “should-be” marketing tactic, funnel or success formula that promises us results but simply distracts us by never-ending to-do lists.
It’s easy to see how a lot of people get trapped by building the wrong business model and end up selling and delivering the wrong products and programmes that only drain them of their energy. It’s why one person’s success formula won’t necessarily work for another.
The more time we spend understanding ourselves and how we work, the easier it becomes to build a business that fuels us. Personality profiling tools such as Talent Dynamics are a really quick and easy way of starting this process and other tools such as Motivational Maps can help us understand what makes us tick. Think of it like packing for a holiday; if you were going on a beach holiday, you wouldn’t be taking your ski jackets with you. It’s the same for your business. If being in front of screens all day drains you, is a digital business really right for you … even though you’ve been told by many experts that passive income is the way to go?
Build a business model that’s right for your being, your values, how your energy flows and the money you need to make the choices of how you spend your time.
4. Know that energy flows and needs replenishing
I have learnt that we have many energy states that we have access to help us thrive and rise to our full potential. Energy isn’t static; you can’t keep it topped up and have it stay there. Nor is to be treated like a credit card; think you can go full pelt for a few weeks and then catch up with sleep at the weekends.
Energy flows in cycles and to help my clients experience how to work with this flow, I teach three different energies to use when they are growing a business: Lean In, Lean Back, Ground.
Giving energy flow form can help you keep going forward with your business growth plans, but without the drive and push energy that can burn us out. When you know which energy to use for different tasks such as visioning, planning and implementing, you’re able to make better decisions and find a simpler flow to working during your week.
If feeling energy flow is new to you, then I recommend you first start tracking your energy cycles and flow that happen throughout the day, week and month. It can be hard to do if you are particularly fatigued so it may be that you need to action steps 1 and 2 first before you try this. But what you will find is that some tasks you do in your business light you up and some suck you down. At some points of the day you feel alive and at other times you may just want to crawl back under your duvet. For women, your monthly cycles have a direct impact on our energy so if you haven’t done so already, starting tracking these immediately.
I’m no bean eating, juicing goddess!
If you know me, you’ll know I’m certainly not some bean-eating, juicing goddess who gets up every morning and starts her day with yoga and meditation. I’ve tried but it’s simply not me. If that is your thing, great …. but you may be pleased to know you don’t need to be all zen in order to create zen in your life.
What I do know is that without creating the space in your week to work on your vitality, the vision we have for our business just doesn’t happen. And this is what I want to help you stop from happening. Because when you are exhausted, you pull yourself back; you will talk yourself out of plans you feel you don’t have the capacity, confidence or courage to take action on.
If you want to discuss this with me and what you can do to redirect yourself and your business, get in touch or book in for a 30 minute zoom call. I’d love to help if I can.
Until next time, do less, be more, play bigger.
Your business instinct is far stronger than you give it credit for.
However, if you are worn out and feeling frazzled (and hey, don’t we find ourselves at the end of our tethers most days right now!) it’s easy to find yourself fire-fighting your way through your business week.
I want to give you an opportunity to recalibrate and define clearly what it is you need from your business to enable you to grow. In my book, True Profit Business, I teach a model for growth that at its core has something I call The True Profit Compass.
A compass is an instrument used for navigation, but it doesn’t tell you which direction to go in. It aligns you to your magnetic north so you can orientate yourself before deciding where to do next.
The True Profit Compass works exactly like this. It aligns you to your magnetic north – your business instinct – and helps you make decisions to design and run your business to serve you, rather than burn you out.
There are three energies at play in this compass; money, impact and creativity. And it’s money that I want to focus on with you today. Although money may not be your core driving motivator for growing your business, there’s no doubt you have a need for money coming in.
I look at money being split into two sections: the time and income needed to help you flourish.
Your time is a limited resource, which often goes unchecked and undervalued. It’s important you consider what boundaries you want to set, and the systems and business model needed to give you the time that you want.
For income you may not need much income for day-to-day living. However, I don’t know many people who started their own business to just ‘get by’ so let’s get you clear on what you need, as well as the amount you want to fulfil your wealth goals and life plan. Plus if you plan to grow, you will absolutely need money for investment in your business growth and expansion (hiring people, putting in systems & marketing budget) so you have to consider how big a business you really want to have one day.
Let’s dive into each one and give you a framework in order to work out what time and income is best for you.
What hours are you prepared to work?
Very few clients that I’ve worked with over the years have stopped to think how their ideal week or month could look; they have often allowed their business week to be shaped by what their business gives them. If you could reset your work schedule for six months from now, how would it look; how would you spend your time, what hours would you work and which days would you take off?
What is your capacity and availability for taking on new clients or selling new programmes?
I often hear business owners asking for more clients, but they haven’t stopped to consider how many clients would give them a ‘full’ business. Think of your business like a hotel booking sheet. A hotel will have a finite number of rooms to sell for every day of the week. No matter what you sell, you will find there will be an optimum level of clients or products or programmes you can sell, whilst still maintaining the level of service you want to give.
If you choose to maximise your sales and compete on price, you are going to find this a tough marketing strategy; competition is going to be tight and you have to ensure you have the distribution channels or delivery systems in place to keep up with the demand. For most of you reading this, you will have better success in thinking in terms of optimising your sales and deciding how many clients or customers you can serve in any one week, month or programme.
By doing your sales numbers this way, you can work your charge rates and prices back from here once you’ve decided how much you want to earn.
What are you not prepared to sacrifice?
- Are your Fridays sacred?
- Do you have to pick up children every day at 3.30pm?
- Are you happy to work during the weekends but you want two days off during the week?
- Do you always want to have July and August off?
Decide what time you aren’t prepared to give away so you can set those boundaries in place now and avoid frustration or resentment at a later date.
What changes do you want to make in the future to the way you spend your time now?
For some of you, making changes to your current schedule may not be feasible. If you are booked up with work for the next few months, run a busy clinic or see clients in a regular time slot every week or month, then you may need to look at your diary for three or four months hence.
If you want to move your diary schedule around in the future, what will it look like and when do you want to do it? And I’d recommend blocking out this time now before you find yourself filling it with more client work!
I avoid asking my clients to decide how much money you think your business can or should make. When setting money goals, it’s often your ego that makes these decisions because of external influences; it’s important to be inspired but if all you see, read or hear is success defined by six or seven figures, then this will have an influence on when you believe your business will be successful. What I want you to do here is take a more inward approach to how much income you need and want to make from your business.
Let me share a story about a client I recently worked; she came to me with a financial target of £100,000. But once we worked out how much she needed to live on, how much she wanted to invest in her business and how many clients she actually wanted to work with at any one point, it turned out she didn’t need to stretch herself to find £100,000 in sales over the next year; her actual financial target was only £65,000.
This was her third year in business and, although she had achieved great things, she was exhausted by selling too many low-priced programmes and dealing with a 6,000 strong Facebook community. Once we had worked out her income streams, simplified her products and programmes to give her less to sell, and mapped out her marketing campaigns for the year ahead, she was visibly more relaxed; she had far less to do than she thought she’d end up with.
It turned out that the initial financial target of £100,000 came from the pressure she had been putting on herself to be seen as successful by her peer group, and if I’d been focused on helping her achieve her original six-figure target, she would have ended up burnt out and putting in the wrong growth strategy.
She still wanted to grow a six-figure business at some point, but her growth strategy for the next year was about simplifying and restructuring her business model so she had a stronger and more sustainable foundation from which to build on in the following two years.
This is why it’s important to know your financial needs right now, as well as what you want to achieve, and keep reviewing them as you grow. Don’t chase figures based on what you think is expected of you or your business.
How much income do you need right now?
If you haven’t done so already, you need to work this out. Not in your head; sit down with your bank statements, your bills and a calculator. If you are living with someone else, this may be a joint conversation. If you need to get a grip on your credit card debt or long-term savings plans, get help and speak to a financial advisor.
Too many business owners don’t know what they need to earn and are simply going about their sales on a wing and a prayer.
How much income do you want in the future?
Is there a savings pot you want to fill up? Have you got short- term savings you want to build for a holiday? Or perhaps longer-term savings for investing in a second property or pension? Again, get help from a financial advisor if you need to. Don’t wishfully think what you want; work out what that figure needs to be and over what time period you could work towards it.
What does your business need to sell to give you these income figures?
Once you’ve worked out your income figures, how does this translate into turnover figures? Remember, your income is different from profit (you have to pay tax), which is different from turnover (you have expenses). So once again, if you haven’t got these figures clear yet, work them out.
This money work is a big part of what we do in Momentum, our business growth programme. Yes, sales targets are set but without doing the work on what net/gross profit, business costs and forecasted income, you could be building a business on shifting sands; whatever growth in sales you get one quarter, disappear in the next because you haven’t got a solid money foundation in place.
What short-term ‘costs’ will give you long-term ‘gains’?
You may be in a period of growth in your business where your expenses are high because you are investing in new systems, processes or hiring team members. A lack of cashflow is what causes most businesses to fail, so rather than waiting to sell ‘enough’, do you need to seek external financing to fund your growth plan? If so, what options can you look at or how much do you need?
Working through this framework will help give you your magnetic north. You’ll find more about how to work through the energies of creativity and impact in my book, True Profit Business. But in terms of money, I hope that you can see how this can help stop you chasing pie-in-the-sky figures that are often fed to us by what we see on our social feeds, and now have realistic and sustainable figures to work towards, whilst still giving you opportunities to stretch.
Money pressures can break us.
And when we don’t give ourselves this opportunity of spending time to fuel our business instinct and working on our navigations from our True Profit Compass, we end up exhausting ourselves. Burn out is not a rite of passage to success … you can design your business to work FOR you and what it is you want out of life.
Until next time, do less, be more and play bigger.
You know far more than you give yourself credit for.
However, trusting yourself to know this and using your intuition to help you grow a business is not a natural way for many of us.
If you are like a lot of people who I work with, you have spent much of your professional career thinking your way through challenges and problems. Your default setting has been to seek answers externally (AKA ask other people what they think) and engage your frontal lobe, the part of your brain behind your forehead where you access to process information, analyse, think and plan.
You probably already use phrases such as ‘I knew in my gut that it was the right thing to do’ or ‘I felt the tug on my heart strings’. But using these insights in a business context often get swept away and ignored.
In doing some digging around for some quotes on intuition, I came across this article from Harvard Business Review from way back in 2003.
“The trust in intuition is understandable. People have always sought to put their faith in mystical forces when confronted with earthly confusion. But it’s also dangerous. Intuition has its place in decision making – you should not ignore your instincts any more than you should ignore your conscience – but anyone who thinks that intuition is a substitute for reason is indulging in a risky delusion.”
I’d like to think that using our intuition in business has come a long way since this article was first published, but if you are a Gen X like me, it’s hard to get away from the cultural programming we’ve had.
We have grown up in a culture that favours logic; at school we were programmed into learning, sitting in rows and changing lessons each time the school bell rang, followed by working our up a hierarchical career path that celebrated success measured by numbers and time.
Today, we have access to an endless supply of productivity apps, automation systems and bluetooth devices all designed to send us constant notifications and help us do more in less time. Our smartphones can tell us how well we are eating, sleeping and exercising, which means we don’t have to think for ourselves.
And when it comes to our business and marketing, we look to the algorithms to make decisions on when to launch a new programme or what content to create.
But first, why is your intuition so important to access?
If you allow yourself the space to connect and access your inner wisdom, you often find far simpler and easier answers to your challenges and problems. There’s no need to spend days analysing spreadsheets or writing up lengthy reports.
The answer often comes through as a clear path forward; it just feels right.
The official definition of intuition is:
“the ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning.”
And if we go back in time to see the origins of the word in mid-15c:
intuicioun, “insight, direct or immediate cognition, spiritual perception,”
“Hang on … instinct? spiritual? Are you going down the woo-woo route and telling me that all we need is to simply burn incense sticks and spend our time meditating on problems?”
No. Spend too much of your time going within, and there’s no doubt you can find yourself ‘away with the fairies’. Very little action happens and if you then find it hard articulate or communicate your business direction with your team or customers, it all becomes very ethereal.
Logic still has a place and can helpfully sanity check ideas, bring concepts to form and create the structure, process and systems to allow you to run your business with ease. But without giving yourself the opportunity to open yourself up to feeling, listening and sensing what your instinct can tell you, you are missing out on some of the simplest and easiest options available to you and your business.
Your intuition will always have your back. It’s giving you feedback and insight into what is right for you, the person you are and what it is you truly want out of life.
So how to go about learning how to access your intuition?
For me, I have had a crazy relationship with my logic head.
I am naturally wired to be ruled by my head, which serves me well when working with clients and working through business infrastructure and systems quickly, and seeing the commercial opportunities linked with a bigger vision. However, when left unchecked, I can power on through and forget to take breaks to conserve my energy.
I crashed and burned when I was in my early 40’s, so I have learnt the hard way. When this happened, I realised I had lost all my connection with myself from the neck down. Burn out can do that to you! I remember being a class teaching pelvic floor exercise and sobbing silently into my yoga mat when I realised I could not engage any muscles in my pelvis area; there were no connections between my brain and core muscles. So was it any surprise that my intuition had very little chance of being heard?
A big part of my recovery journey, and understanding my midlife hormonal changes and menopause shifts, became looking at how to connect with my body. I stopped running and started dance classes instead. Nia Dance has become a regular part of my fitness routine now, connecting me to my hips and allowing me to literally shake away tension in my body.
I tried my hand at meditating but to be honest, it’s not a practice that I find much time for. I know that goes against the trends but I prefer a slow walk through the trees and spending my time watching the sun set, rather than sitting still, trying to calm my mind.
I’ve come to realise that, although every one of us has the ability to connect with our intuition, I have had to work at how to do this. And I know from speaking to many other business owners over the years, that I am not alone.
So here are my four simple steps that got me started.
1) Take the time to know yourself.
There are a tonne of psychometric tests and personality profiles available, often affordable and without the need to attend lengthy programmes. My favourite ones include MBTI Basics, Insights, Talent Dynamics (and also called Wealth Dynamics) and Human Design. Profiling oneself is not about trying to fit in.
Each one of us is unique and we don’t arrive on this planet with an operations manual. So the more we can understand our idiosyncratic quirks and behaviour traits, the less it becomes about what others expect of us and more about what it is that we want and value.
2) Spend more time in your body.
Many of you will exercise for the sake of fitness and health, measuring success by steps or sweat. But because so much business is often solved in our heads, these kinds of exercises can feed the logic brain. Spending time on moving your body consciously can really help you connect with the neural pathways that run around your body.
Movement such as dance – prancing around the kitchen rather than following a structured class – and slower walking focused on your posture – noticing how your feet connect with the ground with each step – can be simple ways of sensing your body and spending time ‘out of your head’.
3) Recognise that fear is different from intuition
… and sometimes it can be good to take the moment to ask the fear what it may be trying to tell you. Is there anything that you can put in place to make your next steps less risky for you? Perhaps you need more time to put your decision into action … maybe you need to hire some help.
If you choose to ignore your fears, you may find that you pull yourself back from taking action. So use your fear to shine a light on anything that you may avoid simply because it feels uncomfortable as this can be helpful in making sure you don’t avoid taking action on your decisions.
4) Create content without an agenda.
So much focus is given to the call to action and making sure whatever content we create in our business has a purpose. This can stifle creativity and stop many of us from exploring our ideas and methodology of our work. I’ve seen clients of mine flourish when I suggest that they blog without agenda; just write for the hell of it and see what comes out. I find writing incredibly cathartic and helps me form my ideas. Journaling can be incredibly powerful for this, too.
But if writing isn’t your thing then tune in to what form feels good for you; it could be that you paint or doodle your ideas. The important thing is that you give yourself permission to create for you … and you alone. This doesn’t have to be published or be made into a marketing campaign; you are simply allowing your creativity to come into a form that allows you to see patterns and recognise the power of who you are and what it is you want to express.
I believe that now, more than ever, is the time for you to place more emphasis on what’s within you and who you are.
Much of the expert space – coaches, consultants, trainers, designers, creatives- is now over-crowded, and the few market leaders rising to the top are simply being copied; their marketing and branding being bastardised.
Rather than looking outward first and choosing how you run your business based on logic success metrics, such as having to have a 6 figure business, give yourself the space to design and grow your business starting from within you and being clear on who you are and what you stand for.
I get that it may be easier to ask other people for answers to your questions about your business, but be aware that for every person you ask, you are going to get different answers.
When you start from within, and learn to trust your instinct, you can design and grow the right business that will support and enable you to show up and realise your full potential. And, in my experience, you’ll have an easier ride, reduce your mental bandwidth and feel less stressed in the process.
Until next time, do less, be more and play bigger.
Do you believe referrals are good for business?
I’m guessing that that the majority of answers to this are going to be a big, fat yes. It’s always lovely to have new clients come to you because you’ve been recommended.
Speaking to these people makes the whole selling process just easier, doesn’t it?
But here’s a slightly bigger question to ask you; have you ever stopped to consider whether your referrals today are the right clients for your future growth?
Here’s the thing about referrals; referrals often come to you based on what an existing or previous client has told them.
And as so many of you have morphed, and even possibly reinvented your business over the past few months, adapting to our new virtual way of working, many of your potential referrals may not be the right client for you going forward.
When someone comes recommended to you, you are being recommended based on your present or past performance, rather than what you’re capable of delivering in the future. Unless you are consciously aware of this, saying yes to every referral can keep you and your work in the past.
Let me give you an example.
One of Momentum members came to us last year having built up a solid marketing consultancy. She was doing well, working with several clients managing their Facebook ads. On one hand it was good money, but on the other hand she was working too many hours, always switched on and admitted to responding to messages from some clients 24/7.
Her work boundaries were non-existent and, for the quality of work she was able to deliver, she was hugely undercharging.
So guess what; any referrals were coming from her existing clients who loved her ‘always on’ service and good value pricing, and she was saying yes to work that was keeping her so busy, she didn’t have time to think about where she was heading.
Another member who has joined us this month, had a similar situation with her training company. She is booked solid for the next four months, which on one hand is amazing (especially considering how many training companies are struggling to adapt well to remote working), but on the other hand, has made her feel she’s lost some of the direction of where she’s headed.
She had pivoted her business to deliver everything remotely and although she was getting plenty of work, she realised she was falling into the trap of ‘order taking’; giving the client what they wanted and how they wanted it, rather than spending the time to develop her commercial opportunities to grow and scale.
Of course, I am not suggesting that you don’t take work from referrals. A good referral marketing strategy is GOLD! But most business owners take referrals passively, rather than thinking through a process to have it as a strategy for growth.
Order taking is great if you are a freelancer and you are happy to do what ever work comes your way. But working as a freelancer can keep you working hard, without having any say in the direction you want to take your business.
So here are some things for you to consider to ensure your referrals are a marketing strategy, and help avoid unconscious ‘order taking’.
1) Be thankful for your referrals, but be careful not to be overly grateful.
It can be humbling to have someone tell you how wonderful they’ve heard you are. But if you are overly grateful (AKA you tell yourself how lucky you are to get this work rather than appreciate the fact that it was your expertise and results that made it easy for someone to recommend you), it’s easy to let your boundaries slip, especially around the price and time they want from you.
You want to be of service to your clients, not a servant.
2) Know that’s OK to say NO to a referral.
If the person isn’t right for you going forward, then know that it’s OK not to accept the work. I know we want to be nice people, but taking on work for the only reason that you don’t want to miss out any income opportunity, can lead you to working hard for little profit.
3) Do your present and past clients know who it is you want to work with going forward?
When was the last time you asked them for an introduction to a specific kind of person? Or let them know about the direction you are headed this year?
Remember, your past clients will know you for who you were ‘back then’, so if you’ve morphed your business over the past year, then let them know the work that you want this year and ask them if they know of anyone.
(BTW Asking for referrals is something very few people do and yet can be the easiest way to find yourself more of the right clients … so yes, ask!)
4) Give yourself space to know where it is you are headed with your business this year.
Being busy with client work is obviously good for the money flow, but if you aren’t giving yourself time to reflect, review and connect with your bigger vision on how you want your business to work for you, it’s easy to keep on taking orders and working harder and harder.
This is one of the big reasons why many come to work with me. They are at a pivotable moment in their business; doing OK but, like the proverbial swan, when I dig into how their business is running (the systems, team, processes and revenue model), they are working way too hard, often with the wrong clients.
If you know you need help in finding the space (and then what you actually do when you get in that space!), get in touch. I’d love to see if I can help.
Until next time, do less, be more and play bigger.