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Why it's important to overcome imposter syndrome

Why it’s important to overcome imposter syndrome

So often people come to me in the depths of imposter syndrome, they book a time to have me help them overcome imposter syndrome and they cancel before we get started. Why? Generally, it’s because they believe that it’s no longer a problem. The reality is that they are no longer in the depths of it and it’s not causing them issues.

Until it rears its head again.

What is Imposter Syndrome?

I get asked this a lot and I clamber at an answer because how it presents can be so personal, however at its root it is the same:

“Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon, impostorism, fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their skills, talents, or accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.[1] Despite external evidence of their competence, those experiencing this phenomenon remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve all they have achieved.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impostor_syndrome)

Impact of imposter syndrome on business

The most common way I see Imposter Syndrome impacting a business is a lack of marketing. A fear of putting oneself “out there”, fear of criticism, fear of getting it wrong, fear of embarrassment, fear of competitors, not being good enough, not getting any sales. So instead, they don’t market, they don’t promote, they don’t send newsletters. Nothing.

The next way I see Imposter Syndrome appearing is not asking for the sale. I often hear, “but I’m not good at selling”, “selling seems slimey and sleezy”, “what if they say no”, “what if I’m pricing too high”, “I don’t know what to say”. So they don’t. They don’t send the proposal, they don’t put calls to action in emails or social media posts. They don’t sell.

The final way I see it turning up is not achieving goals, and then what’s worse, ‘bashing’ themselves up for not achieving them. They hide behind perfectionism, dreaming too big, leaving it to the last minute, not getting started (which is really a symptom of it all).

So how do they overcome imposter syndrome and repair these gaps in their business? Sometimes automating social media helps, removing the need to post every week or write a call to action on every post. If we set and forget we avoid the pre-post jitters. Getting the business owner to realise that asking for the sale is not about them, it’s about the person receiving the service or product and how it will benefit them. We discuss time management and realistic goals that match their personal drivers and the mission they have for their business; having this alignment brings the goal back to a personal level rather than being at an unrealistic arm’s length. For the biggies, we look at the story that feeds the imposter syndrome and deal with it once and for all. While strategies to overcome blips help along the road, charting a new path that’s based in fact and not belief sees business owners done with the imposter syndrome story that stops them for being that tall poppy, tooting their horn, being pair their worth, stepping into the limelight, and reaching their goals.

Impact of the boss’ imposter syndrome on their staff

I totally understand how overwhelming having staff can be. When I was in my mid-30s I went from being the most junior member of aovercome imposter syndrome quote samuel johnson team to the boss – overnight. It was my first role managing more than one person and I was the second youngest. I was as green as can be! I second-guessed every move I made and wondered how in the heck I was going to achieve all the things my boss wanted me to do. Lucky for you that I did work it out because it was how I came to the system I use to motivate people, it was this role that had me motivating a team no previous manager could.

A boss with imposter syndrome lacks confidence and a boss without confidence struggles to instil confidence in their team. (You can’t pour from an empty cup) When staff lack confidence in the person they are meant to look to for guidance, they can feel unsupported and that there’s no one at the helm and the business lacks or has insufficient leadership. Businesses will be fortunate if staff stay in these situations, it’s likely that they will if they believe in the mission of the business and serving the community.

So how do you overcome imposter syndrome as a boss? Well, you could try faking it until you make it but that is a temporary fix, you’ll likely tire, and it’s likely that your staff will catch you out and you can further damage their trust. Unless you also work on yourself at the same time.  (Like I mentioned in the previous section)

Impact of a business owner’s imposter syndrome on their clients

Much like staff, imposter syndrome can erode trust and confidence. Clients may stay in the long-term because they believe in the business owner and can see past the imposter syndrome. Some will leave because they no longer have the energy or patience to support the business and its owner. Regardless of if the money stays or goes, the trust and confidence has left and what stays is a sense of duty (not the best foundation for any relationship).

The other issue relates back to the business and the lack of marketing, the lack of sales, and the lack of communication. Imposter syndrome can prevent a business owner from undertaking these tasks, as previously discussed. A lack of communication with clients definitely breaks trust, confidence and a sense of being reliable.

So how do you overcome imposter syndrome with your clients? If you can, be honest. Apologise for dropping the ball. A dedicated client will be able to understand, they are the ones you want to keep. If there are particular tasks like invoicing, emails, follow-ups that trigger Imposter Syndrome then look into outsourcing them. There are people out there who enjoy all of the tasks you don’t. And keep working on yourself.

Impact of a business owner’s imposter syndrome on their family & friends

Let’s assume that the friends and family are behind the business owner, wanting them to succeed, supportive, encouraging. Bring in a beloved business owner who they see putting blocks, obstacles, not carrying through with things – it’s heartbreaking. It’s hard to watch someone you believe is so capable hold themselves back. You try to encourage, help, goad, beg, bug, in the end you wonder if it’s all worth it because it all seems to fall on deaf ears. And if the business owner isn’t prepared to do anything about it and they don’t seem bothered by it then why would friends and family continue to be bothered and invest all their time and energy?

So how do you overcome the impact of imposter syndrome with your friends and family? Talk to them. Be honest with them. Ask for their help. Ask for them to call you out when they see you getting in your own way. Ask them to help do the things you struggle to do. You still need to do the work in overcoming your own imposter syndrome, they can be there for you through it but it’s your story and you need to unpack it.

Impact of a business owner’s imposter syndrome on themselves

You’ve got all these grand plans and once again you’ve gotten in your own way and it’s not happened. Social media isn’t being posted.overcome imposter syndrome ellen goodman Emails aren’t sent. Sales proposals aren’t done. All because of the creeping doubt that holds you in your tracks. It’s frustrating, disappointing, infuriating, crushing. It can be a self-fulfilling prophecy that you’re not any good and you’re set to fail, all because you stop yourself from actually doing what you’re more than capable of doing – all thanks to that niggling self-doubt story.

So how do you overcome the impact of imposter syndrome on yourself? Firstly, you’re not alone. Many ambitious people get in their own way. We can be our own worst enemy. Extend yourself the compassion you would to a friend, family member or close colleague. Arm yourself with a toolkit to get you through the bumps. Realise that all of these steps do not resolve the cause of the imposter syndrome and to truly overcome imposter syndrome you need to address the cause – the story you tell yourself about you, your abilities, your worth. I won’t lie, it can be tough and confronting work but when it’s resolved there’s peace.

When a business owner overcomes imposter syndrome

When I talk to business owners about their imposter syndrome and we resolve their story they find confidence, peace, a strong sense of self and their abilities, surety they’ve not felt in years (decades, or ever). Sure some may ‘relapse’ but they can recognise it now and have the skills to walk themselves out of the situation (I relapsed twice).

It can take time learning the skills they’ve avoided for so long. It takes patience building new habits. It takes courage and vulnerability to address the underlying issue rather than sweep it under the carpet.

A business owner who overcomes imposter syndrome is a powerful force, determined, resilient, and capable of achieving more than they ever imagined because their imagination has previously been clouded.

 

  • June 18, 2021

10 ways to stop feeling overwhelmed

I openly admit to feeling overwhelmed from time to time. Sometimes it’s short-lived and other times it hangs around, as I write this it’s hanging around. I wanted to share the top 10 easiest things I do to stop feeling overwhelmed.

1.      Breathe

It might sound silly but a few good, deep breaths can work wonders. In fact, a recent chat with my psychologist had her reminding me that I had forgotten how to breathe.

Too often we take quick and/or shallow breaths. This can add pressure to our heart and reduces the available oxygen to our body and importantly our brain.

Taking slow, deep breaths helps us to feel calm – an important factor to help us stop feeling overwhelmed.

2.      Change the scenery

A change of scenery does wonders for our health. It can disrupt our thoughts long enough for us to forget what was concerning us. Being outside with a cuppa, going barefoot in the grass for 5-10 minutes, or even taking a 30-minute walk can all act as circuit-breakers for mood and thought patterns.

The benefit is that exercise and being outside are shown to increase the happy endorphin hormones which can help stop you feeling overwhelmed.

The other way you can change the scenery is by changing room, task, or getting up and taking a dance break in your office. All are great ways to break out of the pattern you find yourself in and can be the circuit-breaker you need to get back on track.

3.      Boundariesstop feeling overwhelmed quote

Are you saying ‘yes’ to things when you should be saying ‘no’? Are you up late (or early) answering emails or doing work because it’s what you believe is expected?

Boundaries help you to keep the time you have available in check and not overscheduled. Boundaries teach people how to treat us. Boundaries aren’t mean, they’re self-care.

(Did you know that I don’t have work email on my phone, that’s a boundary I’ve had for many years)

4.      Reconsider expectations

We are our own worst enemy. We put the highest expectations on ourselves. So, it’s no wonder that we become overwhelmed when we put this pressure on ourselves.

As business owners, we often feel like we need to do “all the things” but do we? Would we expect a friend, loved one, or staff member to do all we do?

I know that too often I expect too much of myself, more than others do. It’s a key to Imposter Syndrome and reducing my expectations of myself has helped me to stop feeling so overwhelmed.

The other side to this is ensuring that the expectations others have on you and what you do are fair and reasonable. You have the right and should set clear expectations with your clients. Not managing expectations can lead to resentment as well as overwhelm.

5.Time management

Proper time management, including boundaries around procrastination and distraction, was key to me no longer doing things at the last minute or feeling under the pump.

Another thing that has helped me is using a bullet journal and scheduling work for particular days. Rather than one long to-do list, I assign tasks to particular days. This means I can work better with deadlines and it also gives me flexibility. It’s much nicer to see two things scheduled for one day than 10 things for one week.

6.      Schedule time for things you enjoy

Honestly, I’m pretty bad at this when I’m feeling fine, it’s when I’m feeling overwhelmed that I tend to step it up. While it’s not exactly too late then, it would be better if I was consistent. Pre-covid I used to take 3 trips, either interstate or overseas, per year for business; I love to travel and it gave me something to look forward to. Now I’m scheduling time to catch up with friends, time to go to the theatre, time to take myself out for a meal (I highly recommend taking yourself on a date), and I’ve even got a business trip booked in.

Regardless of what you enjoy, book it in! Book that time for you. You need that space where the life pressures are different or minimal and you can just be.

7.      Ask for help

Yeah, I used to be bad at this one too. I always thought that I was better off doing things myself and that the money was better spent elsewhere. Wrong! There really are people out there who love doing the boring jobs you hate and that will do it faster than you would because of it. I also discovered that most of the time, it’s a better use of my money because it frees that time up for me to do more productive tasks that I enjoy.

The other part of this is asking for emotional and psychological help. I’ve done this a lot lately and it has helped me stop feeling overwhelmed personally and consequently in my business. This doesn’t have to mean booking in for counselling, though it can, it can mean reaching out in your community for help. There’s a good chance that someone can help you.

8.      Next best step stop feeling overwhelmed quote Timber Hawkeye

I learnt about this two years ago. I was so caught up with planning, strategizing and doing ‘all the things’ that I was often overwhelmed by the enormity of what lay before me. What I didn’t realise is that all I was required to do was to take my next best step. The beauty of this is that when you take that step, the next will appear before you and then you take that one. It’s also how you eat an elephant.

9.      Reduce comparison

In the early days of my business, I used to watch and learn. The problem with that was that I would compare. I would look at where these other business coaches were at and I would not only feel inadequate but totally overwhelmed with what I believed I should be doing and how to get there.

It eventually got to the stage where I had to stop watching. When I stopped watching, I had nothing to compare to and so I eventually stopped feeling overwhelmed about where I wasn’t at in my business compared to others.

10. Talk to someone

You’re not alone. Running a business can be a lonely business, especially when you’re the only one in your friendship group and/or family (me) who runs a business. They just don’t understand and honestly, why would they. But you’re actually not alone. The best thing I did was to join two communities of business owners, one local and one global, where we lend an ear and guidance to our fellow business owners.

Talk to a professional. Too often I see posts in groups looking for free advice. Did you know that most professional services, designers, web developers, accountants, lawyers, bookkeepers, and coaches, will offer a free initial consult? Ask them!

Talk to a professional. When you can’t stop feeling overwhelmed, please seek professional help from your medical practitioner, mental health professional, or mental health helpline. You don’t have to keep feeling this way.

  • June 11, 2021
Lessons in self-reliance from a business consultant

What over five years as a business consultant has taught me about self-reliance

The tyranny of being a small business owner is that we want to be self-reliant and at the start this self-reliance is pretty much all we have. At the start of my own journey I had to do it all. Over time I’ve seen and learnt many things about being self-reliant and I wanted to share them with you.

What is self-reliance

Self-reliance is generally understood as our reliance on our own abilities and resources than those of others.

As a small business owner, this has self-reliance looking more like us wearing many hats. To be honest, that was me in the early days. I felt like I had to do all the things. As I looked around myself, all my business friends were also doing all the things. It was normal, almost expected.

What self-reliance isn’t

What I’ve realised over time is that self-reliance is more than what you do, it’s understanding your skills and your time; trusting these and making the best use of them. Self-reliance is deeply knowing yourself and your abilities and where your time is best spent.

This means that self-reliance when you’re a small business is not doing it all.

I learnt this in my time as part of group coaching. Every fortnight we went through what we did and every time my colleagues were surprised with how much I got done. I was exhausted but I somewhat wore it as a badge of honour. I was surprised how far they were able to grow their businesses and a lot of the time it was because they were outsourcing tasks and concentrating on what they did best (and earning handsomely to boot).

Why it’s needed

Over my time as a business consultant, I have watched business owners grow and develop their self-reliance. As a result, I have seen them develop a core of skills that not only helps them on a personal level but also in their business. Self-reliance quote Robin Williams

Self-reliant business owners are:
confident
– reliable
skill builders, and
– trustworthy.

They know who they are, know what they need, and have the skills to get what they want. It’s not arrogance, it’s a sure confidence in themselves. It’s not surprising that self-reliance is a goal most of my clients have for themselves and their business.

What you need for it

When it comes to what I’ve needed my business coaching clients to have and draw on when we are working on self-reliance, what is it that we work on?

First of all, they need to have a willingness and ability to learn and change. Self-reliance is a journey, it’s a muscle you work at and develop. That also means that it needs grit. Business owners wanting to develop self-reliance need grit, meaning having courage and resolve, to grow not just their business but themselves. Resolve benefits greatly from reflectiveness, you can’t just want to be better you need to understand what needs to change and how you could do better. The issue with reflectiveness is that it requires us to be honest with ourselves, not only critically but caringly. We can’t grow and change without being honest with ourselves. It’s also difficult to be reliant on someone who you know isn’t honest with you, including yourself. Finally, we need boundaries – we need to know when enough is enough or we are out of our depth. That takes many of these qualities and if we know we are boundaried and they are there to support ourselves it is easier to become self-reliant as we know where we stand, we trust it, and we know why.

The negative impact of a lack of self-reliance and its skills has on small business

Self-reliance quote Patricia Sampson

Ok, so we think a lack of self-reliance means that we’re unreliable, won’t get things done, and will probably be doomed to hustle and grind to get what we need done. Probably, but what I’ve seen a lack of self-reliance in my business consulting show up as is:
– not getting the help or support you need
– not managing out time/procrastinating
– not valuing ourselves or our time/energy
– a worsening of imposter syndrome

In all it can lead to a horrid spiral of doubt and inaction, all because we can’t trust nor rely on ourselves.

Impact of Imposter Syndrome on self-reliance

I want to dig a little deeper on self-reliance and imposter syndrome. People with imposter syndrome, myself included, feel like we need to do it all, do it alone, and do it right. We hold ourselves to a higher standard than others do of us and because of that we feel like we have to be some sort of Superhuman/hero. We often don’t want to let people down, often for fear of being caught out as a phoney (another aspect of Imposter Syndrome). In the end we end up expecting too much of ourselves and we break down because we are overwhelmed and burnt out.

Self-reliance is not doing all the things. Remember, it’s also knowing yourself so well that you know when it’s not appropriate or worthwhile for you to do various things. This is not a failing or a weakness, it’s a strength.

Self-reliance helps you know, trust, and have confidence in yourself. It’s a powerful tool against the thoughts you have with imposter syndrome, though I’m finding it a hard habit to crack.

Self-reliance helps with boundaries. I find boundaries can be tricky business when it comes to building them for my coaching clients, we want to help ‘all the people, all the time’. Except we can’t and when we try we can burn out. When supporting people through imposter syndrome, I often work on a boundary of who they need to listen to for feedback and input as they often try and please everyone. Boundaries stop this and focus on whose feedback or opinion really matters.

I hope you can see how self-reliance can help your business, and perhaps even how I might be able to help you and your business. If that is the case, please contact me or as a first step, grab my free resource to help you with imposter syndrome and then look at growing your self-reliance.

  • May 28, 2021
effectiveness small business

Reminder: Your effectiveness in Small Business is NOT a reflection of your competitors’

I remember my first debate on effectiveness. I was doing post-graduate study and the question was if it was better to be effective or efficient. At the time I thought effectiveness was more important to business, most of the class said efficient. Effectiveness is, at its essence, doing the right thing right. My clients and broader audience value this in their business. The thing that we tend to think it depends upon is the effectiveness of our competitors and how our small business measures up to theirs. It doesn’t. I wanted to remind you why and what is important to determining the effectiveness of your small business.

Why your competitors’ effectiveness doesn’t matter to your small business

You competitors rarely put money in your pockets or pay your bills. While for some, competition can spur them on, your competitor will be looking back at you trying to replicate or beat them and continuing on their way.

When you look to what your competitors are doing, you are relying on what they want to show online or tell you in conversation or comment. Is what they show you all of their reality? Is what they show really showing effectiveness?

What they show you and lead you to believe is a function of how effective they are, however what you don’t always see is:effectiveness small business
– advertising
– hours/how they spend their day
– revenue is not the same as profit, and that
– metrics don’t always equal money.

While your competitor is in your industry, there is a good chance that you both service a different type of client. While they might be exceptional with their client base, it may not translate to your own. Not to mention that your clients are yours because of you.

What is effectiveness for your small business?

Effectiveness for a small business is more than just making sales and meeting targets. It’s having a business that meets your (and your business’) drivers – your needs, beliefs, values, and goals. An effective business also doesn’t feed the remaining driver – your fears, but it does help to overcome them. When a business achieves these, they are profitable and meet targets, not only because your goals are achieved.

When your business is effective for you, you can feel more confident, less fear, less imposter syndrome. Why? Because your business is doing the right thing right. It’s doing what you set out to achieve. It’s successful in more than just a financial way. And your business is a reflection of you.

What is effectiveness for your clients?

Earlier I mentioned that many years ago I chose effectiveness over efficiency, doing the right thing right. But who determines what is ‘right’ and what makes it right? Each and every client, each and every time. So how do you know what’s right? I often get asked this when I’m working on engaging social media (neuromarketing) with my clients. They want to know how they can discover what is right for their clients. The good thing is that once you work out what engages your clients for one thing, you can use it for so many others – like what they believe effectiveness.

So how do you know what is effectiveness for your clients? Hopefully they tell you in their feedback, reviews, or testimonials. They can say in their comments, shares, or recommendations when describing what it’s like to work with you. They will tell you your effectiveness and it will fit into one of the following five categories, which also happen to be what drives their behaviour at a deep psychological level:

  • Values
  • Beliefs
  • Goals
  • Needs
  • Overcome fears

Let’s have a look at some of them:

Fears Needs Beliefs Values Goals
Cost less than expected On-time Good quality Kind Felt supported
Didn’t waste my time Worked first time It was worthwhile Honest Felt good about myself
Made me feel safe Reliable Good service Knowledgeable staff It improved xyz
I felt heard/understood Trustworthy Approachable Clearly explained Felt welcomed
I didn’t feel stupid Straight talking Enthusiastic Professional Value for money

 

While all of these may not be ways your clients see effectiveness in your small business, they are some of the ways that businesses showeffectiveness small business john maxwell quote their effectiveness. Not all clients are concerned with getting the cheapest or best value for money and not all clients who see that as effectiveness are your best clients.

I hope you can see that these are the outcomes you should be aiming for to show and know the effectiveness of your small business. They are how your clients see you and your brand. Do you notice that in some cases they can be in direct opposition to how your competition services the same marketplace and that they rarely have anything to do with your competitors?

While Jeff Bezos said, “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room,” I think it’s a measure of the effectiveness of your business and not just how good your marketing is. While good news travels fast, bad news travels faster (and further). It is what your clients say that matter most. They are the best gauge of your effectiveness as they become repeat customers and brand advocates.

If you would like to understand more about how your clients see your effectiveness and how you can use this to your advantage, you can book a free call with me and I can give you a personalised insight.

 

  • May 21, 2021
Community and how it helps small business

The parts to a successful business community and how it helps small business

When business owners talk about community, they often think of a Facebook Group they run for their business. I want to expand this to show how the various types of community help, even to sell and not be a Facebook Group. I wanted you to know that you are not alone and that there is community around you. They say it takes a village to raise a child, many of us see our businesses as our baby and that still takes a village.

Community in front – Your clients

Your clients are integral community. Your clients are in front of you, across a counter, the floor, a phone call, a video call, a website – they are in front of you. They are looking to you to solve their problem but don’t forget that they are your community and can also solve your problems.

Your clients can be mobilised to advocate on your behalf, they are the best unpaid sales staff you will ever have – word of mouth sells. They are perfect for market research as they already know and trust you and are generally willing to help you help them.

Your clients deserve your attention and your efforts as it’s easier and cheaper to retain a client than to gain one. The aftercare you offer them, be it a direct follow-up, blog, social media post, Facebook group, or other outreach deserves your care and attention as if they were a first-time client. Your communications should always meet their needs but remember that their needs don’t stop once they are in your community. All of your communication with them needs to address their needs so that you demonstrate with your community that you are still engaged, interested, and prepared to act on their needs.

Community beside – You peerschris brogan community quote

I fully admit that there is competition, but there can be a community. Your peers understand the trials of your industry. Your peers can offer guidance when you need help. Good peers want you to succeed because they understand that you each serve the public in slightly different ways (and that’s how they like it) and that there is enough for all. Your peers also act as sales staff, referring clients when their books are full or they aren’t quite the right fit.

Community beside – Your peers who aren’t in your field

If peers are your right-hand support, then other business owners are on the left. They understand the trials and joys of being a business owner. They will refer clients, cheer you on, and pick you up when things get rough. You might have friends who are business owners, clients as business owners, or network with other business owners.

While other business owners might not be able to understand precisely what it’s like to be in your industry, we all have different pressures and issues with staff or clients. The benefit of your business peer community is that they can offer a different perspective to industry issues that you might not have considered.

Community behind – Your business support

As business owners, we have a variety of businesses watching our backs, supporting our businesses, and helping us move towards our goals. They applaud us, even if we don’t hear, when we succeed and dust us off when we fall. These are the coaches, accountants, bookkeepers, lawyers, VAs, and other businesses that help us run our business.

These people are often an invisible cheer squad. Just because you don’t always see them, don’t forget them. Turn to your backup crew for guidance, after all that’s why you initially engaged them.

Community surrounding – Your wellbeing groupSeth Godin Community quote

All around us are our friends, family, and those we turn to for support (including medical professionals). These people are our community, they are our village. While they may not understand what happens in our business or what it’s like to run a business, they can understand us and what we need as a person.

The community around us will often pull us up, give us a reality check, wipe our tears, help us heal, and generally mend and soothe when we are broken.

The community around us will celebrate us even if they don’t understand why. They celebrate because whatever it is, is a big deal to us and we are celebrating. This is why I celebrate wins in my Facebook Group every week.

I hope now you realise that you’re not alone, that others in your field can be your support team, that your clients are your community (outside of a Facebook Group) and that there are people cheering you on – even if you don’t hear us.

If you are looking for a community of business owner peers who value the psychology in business, I would encourage you to join my free Facebook Group. I hope to see you soon.

 

  • May 14, 2021

Avoiding overcommitment and burn out

You’ve done it again, promised to do something you didn’t particularly want to do. You’re shuffling time in your calendar like it’s deckchairs on the Titanic. Your eyebags are considered excess baggage. You’re worn out, looking for a break, and on the edge of burn out because you’re overcommitted – again.

It seems no matter who I talk to people are worn out and many because they’re doing too many things, some they don’t want to do. Perhaps it’s because in this post-COVID life we’ve become self-reliant or perhaps we’re scared that we won’t have enough money, clients, etc to pay the bills.

What can we do to prevent overcommitment and potential burn out?

Fear of letting people down

As a recovering people pleaser, this is one that I’ve been working on for many years. It can be sticky and complicated. Mine comes with a lot of childhood baggage.

If the request is from a long-standing client, I will bend over backwards to accommodate their needs. I will also feel bad if there just isn’t a possible way to do it.

If the request is for a new client and I’m not going to hit sales targets, I will often take on a client who doesn’t quite fit my business. The flags might even go up beforehand, signalling we’re not a good match, and I’ll generally ignore them – because money.

I have had to learn not to let other people dictate the terms of my business. When I say yes to someone, especially when I’m feeling overcommitted, I’m saying no to someone else. That someone else is often me or my family. When you run your own business so that you can prioritise your family or choose the life you lead, saying no to yourself or your family is a cardinal failure.

It’s in these times that we need to value ourselves more. Value our time more. The reality is that the people we say yes to are often not our best or ideal clients.

Boundaries and burn out

Emails at 10 pm. Phone calls at 7 am. The whole hustle culture makes us believe that if we’re not doing something every waking minuteSam Keen overcommited burn out quote then we’re wasting our time and slipping behind. Throw in social media posts from our competitors making us believe that they are “winning at life, doing the grind” and we can feel utterly inadequate.

Thing is that the more we give, the more people take – and keep taking. In the end, especially when you add it to any other reason why you’re burning the candle at both ends, you end up burnt out with nothing to give.

I used to be that person who worked school hours and then after the kids went to bed until 2 or 3 am. Then one day I went to pick my kids up from school, I was exhausted, and I couldn’t remember if the lights at a pedestrian crossing I went through was red or green. It was then I knew I needed to stop.

Putting in boundaries shouldn’t come from hitting rock bottom. Boundaries aren’t there to penalise or punish you or your clients. Boundaries are there to show others that you value your time and yourself and you are prepared to stand up for both. If you’re not prepared to stand up for yourself, why should anyone else?

The key to boundaries is knowing when to have them set in stone and when you can make them stretch, like a rubber band. When I say “when”, I probably mean for whom. You know those pushy clients, the ones who want stuff for peanuts and yesterday? Yeah, they’re not the ones who get the rubber band boundaries, especially not when you think you need their money.

Personally, I find boundaries are best when they come from a solid place. Mine comes from my reason for starting my own business, flexibility and to be there for my family, and from my values, courage, integrity, honesty, family. Boundaries should support not only why you’re running your own business but also what keeps you running your own business, your values.

How values can stop overcommitment

I know I harp on about values, a lot, but to be fair they work. Working within our values keep us true to ourselves and our business. Values guide and ground us.

Our core value is the one we use when our back’s to the wall and we really need to take action. We then have other values we use to guide our actions. Most of us have three to five values we rely on.

As I mentioned earlier, values support the boundaries we need to be able to continue to do the work we want to do. Values can also work as their own boundaries. For example, if like me, you have family as a value then family time and flexibility for your family will form boundaries.

Values, such as integrity, especially when you decide enough is enough protect you from overcommitment. If you decide that you no longer wish to feel stressed because you’re doing too much, it’s hard to have integrity and break promises to yourself.

Not sure what your values are, grab this list and choose your top one and top three.

How who you’re attracting leads to burn out

Let’s be honest, the quickest thing to have you overcommitted is clients who are wrong for you and your business. Let’s call them time-Burnout quote Najwa Zebianwasters, cheapskates, and “well I can help them” clients; in the end, they’re the ones that really aren’t for you.

I’ve had them. The social media management client I took on because I felt like I needed the money, even though I’d promised myself not to take any more social media management clients. The person who wanted to be done with their fears once and for all, who bumped bookings, asked for multiple freebies at the last minute and when presented with a contract never signed because “I’ve spoken with a girlfriend and it’s all good now” (let’s see how long that lasts).

It was actually this last one that had me looking at the person I was attracting. Was I targeting people too early in their journey through fear? You betcha. My marketing was targeting a person who was too early in their journey. I was attracting the person who couldn’t pay and didn’t value the results I gave. Sound familiar?

While I know that your marketing needs to address the issues each person has at the stage they are in in the buyer lifecycle, it should still be attracting the right client.

It’s not fool-proof, the wrong ones still get through, but you need to know the flags and warning signs for your industry and yourself and respect yourself and your boundaries and not work with them.

If you’re still feeling burnt out, then the other thing I can suggest is my toolkit. It’s full of resources to help you top up your cup and it’s a free download.

  • May 6, 2021
Four lessons I learned from building my confidence as a small business owner

Four lessons I learned from building my confidence as a small business owner

Building my confidence is a work in progress. I still struggle with sending big invoices, contacting new leads, and promoting my services 1:1. I still struggle with Imposter Syndrome and not being liked. I am still a people pleaser. But I’m getting better and I wanted to share with you the four things I’ve learnt that help me the most.

Small wins build confidenceBuilding confidence quote sam owens

 

This is currently on high rotation in my home, the small win. What’s something small that can be done, especially if it’s part of something larger I’m feeling intimidated by, that will get the win. When I’m down deep in the ditch and I can just see a little light, I know that one little step can pick me up. One little win can start a bigger snowball forming. One small act can light a fire.

I use this with my teenage kids when they say that they are hopeless and can’t do anything right. Sometimes we can’t see the forest and it’s all dark. Having one small win shows us that we are capable and often sparks the feeling that we know we can do more.

Who is in the Arena with me?

I learnt this one many years ago. I first used it when I was encountering trolls and was feeling intimidated online. It comes from Theodore Roosevelt’s ‘Man in the Arena’ speech. I listed 3 (you can have up to 5) people who are in the arena and who have my back and put me back in the arena, no matter what. When I feel intimidated, threatened, or trolled I look at these names and if the person who is making me doubt myself doesn’t have their name on my list then I don’t pay attention to what they are saying.

Over the years I’ve gone from having the list of names under my laptop, to in my purse, and now I don’t have to carry them to be reminded. I know who has my back, who is in my Arena, and that gives me the confidence to continue to be who I am.

Get off self

This is one of my constant cries when I am about to get on stage. I love speaking but I still get the jitters before I take the stage. I’ve recently started using this when I’m about to talk to a new lead – get off self.

What I do is that I remind myself that what I am about to do is not about me, it’s about the people I’m about to help. Many years ago, before one of my first speaking engagements, a speaking coach told me that my audience did not deserve my nerves. It’s true. The self-doubt I was feeling fuelled my nerves. The thing is that when I am speaking, the organiser wants me there. When I’m talking to a lead, that person wants to learn from me. While these sentences look like they are about me, the active person is actually not me – it’s them.

By switching my focus off of myself and on to the people I am about to serve, I lose any nervousness and I gain confidence. I know my stuff and they have come to me to learn it and I need to make my thoughts all about them and getting that knowledge to them.

How values are key to building confidenceBuilding confidence quote Franklin D Roosevelt

Sometimes I can just kick myself for having the core value of courage. It makes slinking back into the shadows really hard at times. Seasoned readers will know that I call our core values our compass. It holds us true and keeps us traveling in the right direction.

When we act from our core value we are being authentic and true to ourselves. When we act from our values, we achieve; when we achieve we build our confidence in our abilities.

You might think that it’s all well and good when my core value is courage, what if it’s something else? Let me tell you about a client whose core value is family. He felt stuck and monopolised in an ongoing business agreement. He felt undervalued by the client and wanted to leave. We were doing work on his mindset to help him after the move and I worked with him to uncover what his core value was – family. When we’d done this, I asked him how staying with this client helped his family. He agreed that it didn’t. He had other clients available but this one monopolised his time, he didn’t want to lose the income but he was by not being able to service the other clients. I helped him draft an email, terminating their ongoing commitment. Soon after, he signed a new client at a higher price point, he is happier, and he is making changes to his life so that he and his family can be happier.

You see, you don’t have to have courage as a value, you just have to act from the one that you dig into when your back’s to the wall.

Look, I don’t always have all the confidence in the world, or that I seem to have on stage (I am actually an introvert). What I do have for these times is a set of tools to help me improve. I know I’m improving because I’ve gotten on stage infront of 100-odd women to talk about fear, I’ve submitted invoices to train some of Australia’s top media agencies, and I’m parenting teens (and if any of you have been there you’ll know how often your heart is in your throat). If you’d like a few other tools, then grab my toolkit for 10 free tools to help you in building your confidence.

  • April 29, 2021
life balance small business owner

Finding the life balance in doing vs being when running a small business

It’s school holidays at the moment. It’s the one time that I struggle most with my life balance and doing vs being. I juggle the hat of a mum to two teens and small business owner. I find it hard because I look at what I want to be doing, what others in my industry are doing and I feel inadequate.

What’s the solution to finding a life balance?

Some would say stop comparing, run your own race, stay in your own lane, unfollow, switch off. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve given the same advice. But what happens when that race is all in your head and you know that others are struggling and it’s more about you not being where you want to be and achieving your goals?

life balance quote SadghuruDid you know that I think that work/life balance is a crock? There, I’ve said it. I don’t believe it. I’ve studied, raised toddlers, worked in corporate, and started a business – all at the same time. Work/life balance is a crock. It’s a lie we tell ourselves and it’s something that’s different for everyone depending on our individual circumstances. Not to mention that ‘balance’ infers equality and equilibrium. When we know that no two days are ever “equal”, how can we expect that we can achieve equality between work and life within just one of those days. There has to be give and take, rather than balance.

So what do I really do?

I give myself a break. I cut myself some slack. I give myself the compassion I’d give any other parent who is trying to do all the things and keep their business going. I also remind myself of why I actually started my own small business, to be there for my family.

The key to a life balance in small business

That’s the key, I started my business to “be there”. When I lose track of just being for the sake of doing, I lose balance. When I look at what others are doing and compare with how I am being and doing, I lose balance. When I’m spending time with family or friends, supporting them, and the TV is on and I get distracted then I’m doing (watching TV) over being (present and attentive), I’ve lost balance.

We can ‘be’ as small business owners, it’s generally called flow. Where things come easily, time is irrelevant, and we are happy. (Another reason I think the concept of work/life balance is a crock because being in flow is living life, it’s peaceful, it’s enjoyable).

As a small business owner we are used to planning, goal setting, and delivering – our business life is controlled with doing. If you add in keeping up with competitors, then that’s another doing but when it involves social media monitoring then it can become being (especially when it’s at night and you’re in that social media scroll). We have trained ourselves to be in a fairly constant state of doing.

Being however gives us peace. Being makes us content. Being can make us happy (remember what I wrote about flow). Achieving a sense of being requires focus, skill, but mostly boundaries. This is where I feel we lose the life balance as a small business owner.

Boundaries and life balance as a small business owner

life balance quote Cara DelvingneEveryone has to set their own boundaries. What works for one may not for another as our lives differ. While we all have the same 24 hours in the day, we all have different responsibilities, support structures, and resources available. This is why we need different boundaries.

Boundaries start with the terms and conditions of sale in your business and employment documents with staff. Boundaries extend to when you will take phone calls, emails, or messages from staff, colleagues, and customers. Boundaries also go to when you stop work, if you have work emails on your phone (hint: I don’t), and if you work weekends. Boundaries are not just if you’ll take a call when you’re on leave (you do take holidays, right).

Boundaries help us see the line between doing and being and set some rules around a life balance. The issue with boundaries is that we need to respect them and use them. If we don’t they become pointless.

What do boundaries look like for me?

In school holidays it’s working before my kids get up. It’s days or afternoons off. It’s working when they are at their friends’ places. It’s scheduling work around holidays. It’s not working on a Saturday but 2-3 hours on a Sunday afternoon. It’s no work emails on my phone but access via messenger. I don’t admit to having it 100% right but I know it’s better for me than working every day until 2am, getting sick, and being crabby. I know that sometimes my kids watch TV all day and others we spend the whole day out. I wouldn’t call it life balance, I call it give and take. It’s like playing tug-of-war with my priorities, time, family, and business; sometimes one is stronger than another.

How do I keep boundaries?

Honestly, sometimes I fail. It’s generally around my kids as they will generally get priority. I slip most of all when I’m not working in alignment with my core value of courage. I call our core values our compass, it’s what keeps us on track and guided. When we get off track, well we can become lost, scared, questioning. My values also stop a lot of the fear that can rise up to distract me. Boundaries are easiest when I’m being true to myself. Do you know what I mean? Have you felt that? If not, use the tools in my fear toolbox to help.

  • April 22, 2021
benefits of an holistic business approach

How you can benefit from an holistic business approach

The other day I saw a post asking why tradies spend 16 hours a week on admin tasks. The point the poster wanted to make was that they should be outsourcing. The issue with that is when a business owner has a high need for control to feel safe, then outsourcing can be difficult. Not to mention if they’d been burnt before or if they just don’t have the funds or if they actually enjoy the admin tasks. The poster was not taking an holistic approach to business, they were outcomes focused. So what is an holistic business approach and why does it matter?

What is an holistic business approach?

An holistic approach, to anything, considers all the parts and all the influences upon it. In business, an holistic approach is more than money, systems, outputs, and bottom line; it’s also the staff, their drivers, the customers, their drivers, the owner/s, and their drivers.

How does an holistic business approach work?

Consider the post I spoke of at the start, the one where tradies do 16 hours of admin work a week, the one where the poster was making the point that they should outsource. The original poster was interested in reducing the time spent on what they saw was unproductive time, potentially billable time. It’s a purely financial consideration of less time on admin work = more time for other things (including clients).

holistic business approach akaksha agarwal quoteAn holistic business approach would consider:

  • Is the amount of time taken reasonable
  • Are all of the tasks necessary
  • Do all of the tasks need to be done by the owner
  • Does the owner want to do the tasks
  • Does the owner enjoy doing the tasks
  • What experience does the owner have with having someone else do these tasks
  • What is driving their thoughts around doing the tasks
  • What is driving their thoughts around having someone else do the tasks
  • What other influences are there on them keeping on doing the tasks (finances, time)
  • What other influences are there on them having someone else doing the tasks (finances, time)

An holistic approach to a business issue can look more complex, and sometimes it is, but some of these questions can be quick to answer. It’s more than a pros and cons list and more than a SWOT analysis as it takes into consideration what motivates a person to do (or not) a task.

What is the benefit of taking an holistic business approach?

If nothing else an holistic approach takes a little longer and considers more things, that means that the decision you make is more considered and can avoid rash decisions.

An holistic approach to business can bring forward issues and opportunities you may never have considered. For example, in a management role I took an holistic approach to managing an unmotivated team and discovered that most had aging parents with complex health needs, many were approaching retirement and counting down the hours, all wanted to leave a legacy and felt undervalued. Had I not taken this holistic approach to our business team I would have never found out why they were doing the bare minimum. I would have been ignoring the key motivators of my staff and would have continued a behaviour of minimal compliance rather than self-motivated and happy staff. (Happy staff are more productive and result in happy clients who spend more)

holistic business approach shingeo shingoAn open holistic business is concerned about the people who make their business what it is. They want their staff to be content and passionate about their work. Their job is to be more than just a pay cheque. That means that they are concerned about the welfare of their staff outside of work, they know that our lives are more than what we do. They know that having happy staff means having happy clients. They know that happy clients spend more money and refer more people.

An holistic business approach takes a human centred approach to their marketing. They understand that it’s a person who is buying from them, a person who is engaging with their marketing, and so it’s a person and what drives them which is at the centre and most important. While it’s great to describe the features and benefits, it’s their relevance to the client that matters most.

Using an holistic business approach is considered, it’s complete, it can take time, it considers more than just the bottom line, it can have people doing more with less and being happier (the staff I managed did this), it’s not a knee jerk reaction, it’s systematic and repeatable. I can help you with this, contact me to find out how.

  • April 15, 2021
how customer service information can be used

How customer service information can be used

My clients pride themselves on their customer service, it’s one of their core beliefs. Little do they know that their customer service information can be used to inform, create, streamline, and differentiate their business; giving them a competitive edge.

What customer service information can be used?

Good, bad, or indifferent our interactions with our customers and the service we provide gives us a lot of data we can use to succeed. Let’s take a look at some of the information you’ve got and how you can use it.

Customer demographics

Let’s start with who they are and where they are. Your customer demographics, age, gender, location will tell you some good information about where they are in their life and where you will find them. You can use this information to easily target marketing as people like to live and hang out with people similar to themselves. You could target mail or social media marketing based on where your customers live to help you gain more customers.

Looking at other information, such as gender and/or age you can niche your marketing further to save yourself money and help attract a more aligned client.

One of the best customer service planning tools to do this is your website pixels, Facebook or Google, and their analytics. Both Facebook and Google allow you to retarget and find more clients like those who have already been, loved, booked, or bought through your website. Best of all is that using this information reduces your ad cost considerably.

Customer notes

marketing without data customer service information Dan Zarrella quoteThe notes you take when a client first contacts you can give you a lot of information into not just what they want from you but what made them act on it. One of the favourite questions I’ve been taught but wished I used more often, is “why me and why now”. This customer service information tells us what it was about you or your business above all the others they’ve seen and what made them make that decision now.  Over time you will be able to inform where to put marketing efforts if it was a platform they keep saying they saw you on; or target your message if there’s a theme to why they’ve acted now. There’s much power in striking while the iron is hot.

A little while ago, I went through my client notes and wrote down all of the issues people had come to me with. I could see trends and gaps. I’ve already used this information to help change some of my marketing and I will use it when I go on to plan my next 12 months of marketing. I’ve also taken this information to refine my services and introduce new products and offers. Your customer notes hold a wealth of information on what your clients actually want vs what they say they want, or worse, what you think they want.

The benefit of using their notes is that you’re often directly repeating what motivates them to take action back to them and this is key to engaging social media content.

Customer testimonials

I admit to having a template for my testimonials, I find that while most people are willing, many don’t know what to say. Things like, “what had they tried before” or “ how was our business different” or “how did they feel after working with our business” all gives us customer service information we can use, especially in our marketing. This information tells us what our point of difference is and can help us write content for social media and our website.

Customer complaints

I bet this is where your thoughts first went, I know mine did when I started thinking about this blog on how customer service information can be used. What we can do better gives us the opportunity to improve, so long as we’re open to hearing the feedback in the first place.

While I understand that some people just complain and there’s just no pleasing others, perhaps with some better questioning at the start or expectation setting you might have been able to ‘weed out’ or redirect those clients you’d rather not work with. There is plenty of work out there and you don’t have to take every client. In fact, it’s better for you, your business, and often that client if you don’t take their work.

Even if their complaints are truthful, we can always improve. I’ve developed this free checklist of 20 ways to deliver exceptional customer service.

How customer service information can be used

customer service information quote Max LevchinI’ve addressed how you can use your customer service information as I’ve addressed the types of information you would be gathering. The key is to remember that while the content is written about your business, it’s actually about your client. This is the power of using customer service information. It’s your client’s experience of your business.

Use this information, in their words, from their perspective to speak to others just like them. Use it to find more clients through their demographics. Use their words in your marketing, be it on social media, in emails, or on your website.

Repeating information back to a client makes them feel heard and validated, it gives them a sense of belonging. All of these are basic human needs and things we need to start and build lasting relationships. As business owners we should be looking to long-lasting relationships as the cost and time it takes to acquire a new customer can be quite great.

The customer service information we gather provides us with a window into what drives our customers to work with us and then we can repeat this to gain more clients and grow our business. You can read more about what drives your customers to take action in this fundamentals blog post.

Free Resources you can use your customer service information in:

Facebook Marketing: https://www.karalambert.com/organic-facebook-course/

Exceptional customer service checklist: https://www.karalambert.com/business/exceptional-customer-service-free-checklist

Define your selling point: https://www.karalambert.com/business/point-difference-selling-point/

Understand what motivates people: https://www.karalambert.com/study/motivators/

  • April 7, 2021
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