Last week, I was writing about the difference between being a freelancer, business owner and CEO, and the phrase that seemed to get the biggest reaction was …
“You may think you are a business owner, and call yourself a business owner, but your current work schedule has pushed you back to being a busy freelancer, simply at a higher revenue.”
And yes, several of you shared with me the frustration that even though they may be selling more, they aren’t earning any more. They were busier AND poorer. Ouch!
So what to do?
The usual reactions are to work harder at finding the right marketing strategy; to create a new suite of offers and products so you have more to sell; to go find yourself more customers.
All the above can work but only to a point.
The real shift in your future growth comes from how you are thinking, your behaviour and thus the actions you take.
And this is where your CEO mindset comes in.
Most people start with action, and this is what is celebrated the most in our entrepreneurial culture (you’re killing it … let’s get shit done … you smashed your targets). Of course, action is critical, but if you are already busy, bouncing from one thing to the next, you aren’t really making decisions … you are simply reacting.
And if you are tired and already working to capacity, your ability to think strategically is significantly hampered. Your brain is working super fast, keeping multiple tabs open (and often throughout the night!) and the only thing you are capable of doing is dealing with what’s right in front of you.
Great for dealing with a crisis … not so great for strategy and growing your business.
So how do you begin to switch from crisis management to strategic thinking?
There are three key behaviours that can directly impact your ability to think strategically
- Ability to slow down
- Breaking the YES habit
Today, I want to dive into breaking the YES habit, and how saying yes to everything is great at the start of your business journey, but at some point, hinders you significantly.
When you first start out, saying yes opens you to opportunities and possibilities that you may never have considered before. It gets you your first few clients and projects, and builds your confidence.
But at some point, the clients and projects you say yes to start to pull you in too many directions. And if you don’t have clear boundaries and know the direction you want to be headed, you become reactive and transactional.
You begin to behave like a fast food server … “Would you like fries with that? And a large drink?”
If you are good at what you do, then your diary can fill up over time with projects and delivery, but you speed up, work faster, and eventually you have no space to breathe. And, believe me, a fully booked diary is NOT a good problem to have. It can leave you exhausted at best, and burn out at worst.
If you’ve found yourself heading this way, then there are some quick fix ways of taking back control.
1. Go long
Don’t try to fix your busy diary in the short term; it’s too stressful to try to push back projects (unless of course, this is an emergency health crisis and you really don’t have any other option but to cancel for the sake of your wellbeing!). Go to the point in your diary where the weeks start to be a little clearer.
This may be in two months time or further … no matter … but from wherever it’s starts to clear, block out a dozen or so days for the next three months as non-negotiable, non-bookable days for anyone but you.
Don’t worry about what you are going to do with that time right now … you just need to be sure you have this time blocked out so you stop the habit of saying yes to everything that comes your way. This blocked out time in the future will be critical to give you the space you need to work ON your business, rather being IN it all the time, and to allow for strategic thinking and decision making.
2. Audit your current diary & cancel anything that isn’t business critical
Have you got network meetings or buddy support groups that are no longer serving you? Have you got meetings with people booked in with you who just want to pick your brain, rather than be interested in buying one of your programmes … or want a chat about how you can collaborate together? What have you said yes to because it felt good to say yes at the time, but now with the power of commercial hindsight, it’s just another distraction and a thief of your time?
Batching is one of the most powerful things you can do with your diary, because bouncing from different calls and meetings throughout the day takes a lot of mental energy to switch and transition. Ideally, you want to have sales calls on one day, and client delivery on another; you are showing up differently so stay in sales flow for your sales calls, and then stay in delivery flow for your delivery.
You also don’t want to be squeezing in tasks such as invoicing, proposal writing and content creation in between meetings, sales calls and delivery, so start to book in time chunks to get this work done.
I’d also recommend batching weeks as you start to take back control of your diary. For example, you could have full delivery weeks for three weeks of the month, which could then allow for one clear week of no delivery each month to allow you to have space to work on projects that will build your business.
4. Schedule time in your diary for preparation AND recovery
It’s easy to only put appointments into your diary, and then forget about the before and after. For many of my clients, their work can be full on, especially if they are delivering in person (coaching, training, consulting), and not recognising the need for recovery time means you put yourself on a conveyor belt of doing, doing, doing, and then collapse.
5. Set clear rules for how you want to work
You may be very clear on how you would love to work, but have you written down the rules to make this happen? For example, I hear a lot of people say they want to work less hours. So if you want to NOT work Fridays, when was the last time you said NO to a project or meeting that happened on a Friday.
Stop, write down 3 or 4 rules of how, when, where and with whom you want to work and stick it up on the wall next to your desk. Looking at these rules BEFORE you say yes to anything, will help begin to break your YES habit and set new and better behaviours.
Next week, I want to dive into the importance of trust; trusting yourself, trusting your business and learning to trust others so you break the habit of thinking you have to be the one to do everything yourself.
So for now, comment below and tell me which one of these five things you are going to do today. Then let know next week what difference it’s made to your YES habit.
Until next time, do less, be more, play bigger.