They hate me, they’re going to sack me, they’re ghosting me, but don’t take things personally. Right? The minute someone goes quiet, wants to change something, or perhaps it’s just one of those days you just seem to take it all personally. Like it’s your fault, they hate you, you’ve done something wrong, you name it. Can we chat for a minute about it? Because I’ve recently realised something.
We each get to choose what, if, and to what degree we take things personally.
(Read that last sentence again)
I realised this after a tough couple of days. A client didn’t keep a meeting, another was talking about working with a different coach (on different topics), and my mind defaulted to “they hate me, they’re going to dump me, they aren’t going to pay their bills”. You name it I went there, and fast!
But as I was driving in my car, one of my favourite thinking chairs, I realised that I was listening to an old story I play in my head. It’s one that feeds my Imposter Syndrome and one that I am working on rewriting. The one that started as a child. The one that says that I’m not good enough and not deserving of the attention others give me. And then I realised that I was making it all about me when what my clients were, rightfully, doing was all about them. I was taking it personally.
This is where I could begin to flip the story. I could also take the action that I needed for my business. I asked for the overdue payment, which was promptly paid. Paying a bill isn’t personal, it’s business; so is asking for payment.
I flipped the story on not being good enough by looking at the reviews I’ve had. It’s a good reminder that we do do good work and we are valued.
I also reminded myself, in a rather frank tone, that this was not about me and was never meant to be. That meant that the old story wasn’t needed, necessary, or even valid.
What I did have to take personally was how I reacted and how quickly I bounced back (fast thankfully). While being self-aware and mindful of the stories helps, I have to admit that it doesn’t always make things easier. I still have to do the work.
So please remember, if you see something online, hear something, or if you hear nothing at all and that causes you to take things personally:
-stop and listen to the story you’re telling yourself and consider if this is really about you or are you relying on some old story that’s not even relevant to the situation
– get off self and get on with your business
– you get to decide what, if, and to what degree you take things personally.
Then, you might just surprise yourself with how fast things turn around.
P.S. I’d love to know how you go with these three tips about not taking things personally.
P.P.S. If you need help with flipping your story, please reach out or book a chat with me.
There are four lessons I learnt from planning and scheduling out two months’ worth of social media content so that I could chill with my family: know what you’ve got, know what they want, and physically map it. I also learnt that it’s healthy for me to do this and my audience is happy for me to do it (and no my reach didn’t suffer).
In November 2020, like many, I was exhausted and I was looking forward to having the family home for Summer holidays. But that posed a problem, what to post in my Facebook Group. I wasn’t too worried about my social media as that had been planned, scheduled, and automated. My Private Facebook Group, however, ran off of the blog posts I wrote each week. If I was going to have a decent break, I needed that to include blogging. What to do?
Know what content you’ve got
I knew that I had A LOT of blog posts to draw on. I’m fortunate that I have blogged weekly for at least 6 years now. While some of the posts are no longer relevant, mostly due to defunct software I blog on, the majority are still relevant.
I don’t have an index of my blog posts, but I do have them all in one spot, all on my website, and all searchable.
I did learn the value of having a catalogue of assets and I developed this over the break so that I know where all my freebies and products are. It certainly is a time saver and it was eye-opening just how many things (and how many landing pages) I had produced (and forgotten).
Know what content your audience wants to see
If you’ve been here a while, you’ll know where I’m headed. For those new to my blog, I’m not one for telling my audience what they want based on what I need to sell. I’m also a big believer in research, science, and psychology and thankfully marketing is finally realising the role of these in their activity.
When I scheduled my content, I knew it had all been written with their self-image at the centre. When I chose what to schedule, I looked at what issues they would confront in their business over the Summer break and I used this to help focus my content.
Bonus: My Facebook Group runs with set topic days. This helps with consistency and is based around the two main topics my members want: tech tips & psychology tips. Set days can help social media scheduling and creates structure (which people like).
Physically map your content plan
Old me is groaning, I used to be the kind of person who flew by the seat of her pants, loved the flexibility, and loathed the time when I needed to write/post/schedule content and nothing came to mind.
This Summer I wanted more time with my family and I also knew that I had a lot of client work to finish before I could chill out. That meant that my content had to be scheduled in any few spare moments I had. That meant I had to find and write out exactly which blog I was sharing on each day for the 8 weeks. Yes, I post 7 days a week in my group. Yes, that meant choosing 56 relevant blog posts for my audience. Yes, it took a while. Yes, I did it bit by bit. Yes, I got into a groove by the end.
I schedule my group posts in the group, my other socials are all done in external scheduling software, and this meant that I either needed to use pen and paper or a spreadsheet to map it all out. As I’m a bullet journal gal, one page of my journal became my content plan.
Bonus: A spreadsheet is a lot easier for this stuff as you can cut and paste links into the content plan and then use them for scheduling.
I filled out an 8×7 dated grid with content, leaving space for seasons greetings, promotions of products and events I was running at the time, and relevant daily hashtags. I also created a hashtag for the #summerseries so that members would know what was live and what was scheduled content.
Engage with your scheduled content so your audience knows you still care
Even though I was on holidays, I was still active in my group. In fact, I told my group that I was going to remain active even though all the content they were going to see in the next two months was scheduled.
Bonus: People need to know that they’re important, they want to be part of something bigger, and especially in a service business they want to know you care and are available.
It also meant that I posted new and relevant content as it appeared in my newsfeed. I wanted my members to know that although I was on holidays, I was still watching out for their best interests and keeping them informed. During the holidays, Facebook announced they were trading likes for follows and the whole Google/News/Australian Government fight got tense and I made sure my members knew about these things.
I made sure that I responded to posts and comments like I normally do. My members knew I was on holidays and that meant that every comment I made was time away from family making them feel valued – no one expected me to comment although I told them I’d remain active. It also meant that my group was active in their feed because we were feeding the Facebook algorithm with engagement. That’s always a good thing. I am a firm believer that every response improves the know, like, and trust with members (even those who stalk) and that means they are more likely to buy from me and they definitely advocate for me.
I’m glad I scheduled out my group content. It meant that I revisited my own content. It reinforced that I do help in a lot of different ways. I also learnt the power of indexing the resources I give away and sell.
The break from creating content meant that I was able to look back through my client notes and find those new content nuggets I can develop. I was also able to see where there were holes in my overall content focus.
I will definitely be planning and scheduling out my content next Summer as it really gave me the flexibility I aim for in running my own business.
When I first talk to my clients, one of the things I ask are their goals. The one thing they say their goal is being driven. So I wanted to explore this a little more and look at what it means to be driven as a small business owner.
Being Driven and Achieving
This is probably what most of us think being driven is all about – getting things done. If only just being driven actually achieved anything! The beauty of it is that being driven does allow us to achieve things, if only we actually do the right things.
The most driven people I know understand exactly what it is they are trying to achieve. They are very clear. It doesn’t mean that they are rigid, because they also understand that there can be outside influences impacting on their achievements.
Driven people plan how and what they will do to achieve their goals. Some are prescriptive to a point and others prefer more loose planning, but that doesn’t mean laissez-faire. They know that the best way to achieve something is to plan for it and plan it out.
Once planned, driven small business owners will ensure that every step they take brings them closer to achieving. They also measure and manage these activities so that they know just how much time it has taken and if that time would be better spent elsewhere.
Finally, should it take too much time, or not be a worthwhile use of their time, driven business owners will outsource like a MOFO. They know what their time is worth and how much they will pay to outsource that time. It’s about managing their resource of time.
Driven Businesses are Owned by Self-motivated Business Owners
The next most common belief about being driven is that you need to be self-motivated. Well yes & no. You need to know where you’re going but you can do this by outsourcing motivating yourself to get you going – you still do need a degree of your own get up and go. I tend to find that with my clients who need me to either give them encouragement through to a kick up the bum, that over time they need me less and less. It’s because I ensure that they have the following skills.
Self-motivated and driven small business owners will know what drives them. This is key to motivating anyone. You need to know what gets them going, what keeps them going, and what their Achilles Heel is. Understanding these means that you have a toolbox of means to get people doing what you (or they) need them to do.
When you know how to get them working then you need to know how they best work. This could be location, time of day, environment, learning style. Understanding how you best work will help you get in the flow and keep on keeping on.
Distractions and procrastinating are probably my arch nemeses. Hello Facebook scroll! Driven small business owners understand that sometimes they get distracted and put in a number of techniques and tools to avoid them. Some don’t have certain apps on their phones, or keep to a daily time schedule. Some use pomodoro or time batching to keep them on track. The one thing they know is that they need to be accountable to themselves for their time. They also know that they need downtime and that is programmed in too.
Self-motivation is not beating yourself up to achieve. It requires us to actually ignore the negative self-talk and keep ourselves in the right frame of mind. When someone is trying to motivate us to work, them berating and belittling us doesn’t make us want to work – this is the same for our self-talk.
Overcoming Obstacles while Remaining Driven
Driven people understand that obstacles will occur but they also know that they have to have the skills to overcome them and continue on their way.
The first thing to overcoming obstacles is to actually be open-minded to them. I know that on first glance obstacles have seemed insurmountable and with some clever consideration actually don’t end up being too bad and sometimes are actually a blessing in disguise. Being open-minded about the obstacle is one thing but driven business owners are also open-minded about the solution. They do not believe that “we’ve always done it this way” is actually a good solution, in fact they can see it as an excuse or an obstacle in itself.
Driven business owners are forward-thinking. They want to see the opportunities in situations and will look at obstacles in the same way.
Again, obstacles can often bring a litany of negative self-talk about us always being a failure, unlucky, or the like. Driven businesses don’t buy into this negative talk and have often done a lot of self-work to subdue that noise once and for all.
I have to be honest, all of my clients are driven. They want to succeed. They just need a bit of guidance, especially with negative self-talk, to get them started. And boy how I love watching them succeed from there!
I have courage as a core value but it’s also a core skill for my small business. I want to let you in on how I use it to help me and my business.
Courage and conflict
How does Courage in conflict or confrontations help me? It helps me & my business in a few ways:
– stand my ground
– stand up and say my piece
– hold my boundaries
Ok, so not always full on ding-dong arguments, but I do use courage when approaching difficult situations. You see, I’m a recovering people-pleaser, learning to install and maintain boundaries in my personal and business life. I don’t like letting people down and I hate upsetting them. In the past that has meant that I would concede and then feel used (because I was).
It allows me to hold firm with difficult customers. It gives me the strength to keep time for my family. I draw on it when managing contractors (or staff when I had them). It also allows me to knock back opportunities that may appealing but actually don’t support or move my business forward.
Courage in conflict gives me the ability to generally avoid conflict and to often achieve better outcomes than had the conflict occurred.
Courage and leadership
I’ve held a few leadership roles from taking over as Senior Bank Teller after a robbery through to managing a Quality Assurance Team who were close to retirement and had a two-year backlog of work. I have to admit that the mentor roles I’ve had through the years have even required courage.
Now that I run my own small business, I do need to remind myself that I do still have these skills. I tend to forget that I built this muscle and I just need to wake it up – that takes courage. A few years ago I realized just how different I was in the Social Media Marketing space and I had to be ok with that. I’ve now applied that to my role as coach and mentor – and I’m ok with that.
When it comes to leadership, I’ve had to develop the courage to:
– Stand up
– Speak up
– Be different
The other thing I’ve had to be ok with is actually being a leader and mentor. While I do formalize the role in my client work and work with Flinders University, it’s when others see me as a leader but I do not directly work with them. When the person infront of me at a conference tells me that they travelled interstate to hear me speak. When people come up to me and say that I inspire them. This is when Imposter Syndrome hits me hard as I know I’m only being true to myself. This is when I need that courage in my role as a leader the most and to understand that I don’t get to determine if others see me as a leader, that is a role I am given and I need to be ok with that too.
Courage and forward thinking
I’ve recently written about forward thinking and how it helps small business, the thing is that to be a forward thinker you need to have courage. You need to act from a place of courage. You need to trust in that courage.
I can tell you that being out there on your own makes you draw on the courage you have. It will test the courage you have. And when you succeed you will have that courage renewed and reinforced. And that makes it worthwhile.
Courage and growth
One of the unexpected benefits of acting from a place of courage is how you grow, personally and as a business. You will discover things you never realized about yourself. You will also become more self-assured. This has been the best thing for me.
But how can courage help you and your small business grow?
– financial growth, including
– courage to promote your business
– emotional growth, including
– overcoming obstacles, fears, challenges
– learning/experiencing new things
I’m curious to know how you will use courage in your business now? Let me know in an email or leave a comment below.
So most of us in small business like to be ahead of the game. When I stopped to think about it I was reminded of an electrician client who has a strong business belief in being forward thinking. That made me look into what it means to be forward thinking, how it’s shown, and what it means for a small business to be forward thinking.
What’s the meaning of ‘forward thinking’?
Oxford define forward thinking as: favouring innovation and development; progressive.
I believe that most of my clients prefer progressive, with the exception of the electrician who also favours innovation.
I think it’s interesting that they include ‘favours’, as in they don’t follow innovation or progression at all costs, more that given a choice that is what they will choose and within reason. It also means that they don’t exclude lessons from the past or reviewing what has been.
How do you demonstrate ‘forward thinking’?
Forward thinkers are strategic and have a great idea of the future of the business. They may not have it pinned to specifics, but they’re certainly not dwelling on why they’re not there. In fact, because they are forward thinking they will often have many options and pathways to achieve that future.
While you may think of forward thinkers as ‘yes’ people and they often are. They are clear on how that yes or no gets them closer to their goal. Their thinking is open to the possibilities and consequences. They learn from the past and apply that to the now to achieve the future.
Competition is the enemy of forward thinking and copying others is not thinking; both of these close the mind to opportunity. Forward thinkers see others in their field as collaborators and understand that the marketplace allows for competitors to thrive alongside each other because consumers differ.
Forward thinking requires small businesses to be flexible but to also analyse opportunities and behaviours. Small business owners who are forward thinking also realise that they are responsible for their part in this. To demonstrate forward thinking, small business owners need to be able to critically analyse themselves and not just their business or the environment.
How does being ‘forward thinking’ benefit small businesses?
The big thing we dream of with being a forward thinking small business is making it big and being the next Uber or Apple. The good news is that there are more quickly tangible benefits than hitting it big.
I learnt a long time ago to be ok with being in a blue ocean in my small business. That self-assurance was a big win for me. It also taught me to become very clear on who I am, what my business and I stand for and being able to articulate that. All while still being ok with being alone.
Being forward thinking opens many doors you never knew existed. It also requires you to knock on the doors you want to open. For some of us it requires us to find courage in corners we never knew existed and for others to be prepared for any opportunity. Either which way we win at some level.
Forward thinking allows us to see things as they are rather than as others wish we would see them. We think critically. This unfortunately can include ourselves. Forward thinking leads to great personal growth.
How to become a forward thinker?
So if you wish to be a forward thinker or improve your forward thinking skills for yourself and your small business, here are some of the skills I have gathered will help in that journey:
Think critically and from outside your experience, belief and value set
A final word
In 2015 I joined a live streaming community called Blab, on it I discovered Mark Proffitt. Mark took 25 years of research and his work with Apple to develop his approach to innovation called Predictive Innovation. I had the honour of a one-on-one session with Mark, using his system to help me gain clarity on my business. I know how empowering and powerful it is.
One of the things my coaching clients need is to feel secure. When I did a quick search, what came up was the need for emotional safety – it’s more than that. So I’ve gone back to my favourite, Maslow, and his hierarchy of needs to look at allows us to feel secure and how it applies to running a small business.
Psychological purists would say that security only comes in at the second level of safety. I would say that they are taking a narrow definition of security and not applying how the person feels to each level and that’s what I will do.
Physiological Needs & feeling secure
Our physiological needs come back to shelter, food, water, sleep – the basics for survival. As a business owner, we need to feel secure that we can provide these things for our business, ourselves, and/or our family. Small business live, breathe & sleep their business. It’s often the sleep part we neglect; either through stress or through long hours
Alternatively, we can look at these as the basic costs (needs) of survival. In a business that can be wages, a means of securing new business, licenses, insurances, plant, equipment, and materials.
These, and whatever you and your business determine, are the most basic needs. Maslow stated that to feel ‘security’ we must have these met. In business, I meet many small business owners who worry where the money is coming from and as such do not feel secure in their business’ ability to meet their personal or business needs. In turn, this has them questioning their ability, worth and the worth of their business. Sometimes, they’re right in questioning these things. Sometimes it’s their own self-doubt, self-confidence, or imposter syndrome kicking in and leaving them questioning their abilities and by default their ability to provide the security they need.
Safety, small business, and feeling secure
Maslow saw safety and security as things such as:
– physical and emotional safety
– law & order
As a small business owner, I have to say that my business has had a negative impact on each of these; yes, even law & order. The nature of owning and running a small business means that there can be little to no security in these at times.
While we can insure our health and our income, there are rules and the prospect that we may not be able to operate our business as once before. That’s if it’s our own health that fails. Most of us run a small business for the flexibility it offers our family, so what happens when it’s the health of our family that impacts on our business? The health of our staff?
If we consider employment more as a wage or income, then this can be an issue for some business owners. I know that when I ran my first business, I didn’t draw a wage at all. Then there’s having a stable income, or a reserve of money to draw on in lean business times. There’s also having the income to secure staff wages.
Law and order can be tricky. We need to navigate our legal obligations in the course of carrying out our business, having staff, running an online business. There’s a lot to get our heads around.
Stability, hmmm. What to say? I think it’s something we strive for, have for periods of time, and then strive for again. The processes and procedures we put in place provide a framework to give us stability. By it’s nature, running a business means that we become ok with the idea of instability. This can lead to an internal fight of our inherent need for stability and our reality of running a small business.
Love, belonging & being a small business owner
If I’m honest, this is where I struggle (thanks imposter syndrome) as I don’t always feel like I belong. I know I have peers in my industry but I never feel like I measure up. Humans, as social creatures, need to feel like we belong. We need our tribe of like people around us. The irony is that we compare so much that we (ok, I) can alienate ourselves and remove the thing we so deeply desire. (Not to mention the adage of safety in numbers)
Thankfully I have two tools I use when I have clients who feel like they don’t belong. One is a bit of a trade secret (it’s powerful and needs to be individualized, no seriously) and the other you can get in this free download. These two tools help us discover our belonging and from there we can feel secure in our place.
The key to it is leaving comparison at the door. There is no place for it because we just don’t know the reality of who we’re comparing ourselves to. And that’s where I find security.
It’s not just about being ok with me, it’s about being ok with not having a whole heap of people around me; it’s about having the right people.
Esteem & felling secure
Maslow included the following in his need for esteem:
– achievement, and
– acceptance by others.
I look at it as feeling secure with ourselves and our place in ‘the world’. I believe that in order to feel secure here, we need to have the courage to be objective with ourselves and to work on making ourselves secure in this place.
Self-actualisation & small business ownership
This is the ‘holy grail’ of Maslow motivation. Being all we can be. Some might say ‘living our best life’.
When I looked it up the other words used were morality & creativity. I think feeling secure in our morality & creativity would certainly fit; I’m hoping that being moral or creative aren’t only the domain of those of us who are self-actualised. (and I don’t think they are)
Transcendence: the ‘bonus’ level
I had never known of this level until now. Self-actualisation was always the pinnacle & it seems that I was not alone in not knowing about transcendence and self-transcendence.
At its core we achieve transcendence when we are helping others achieve self-actualisation, when we are focused on others and higher goals which are not self-serving.
Perhaps it’s the company I keep, or the work I do, but the most rewarding thing for me is seeing business owners overcome their own fears that hold them back. Many of my clients do their work because of the result it has for their clients. When I teach others how to overcome fear, I teach them to “get off self” and focus on others. I think we’re all pretty secure in our desire to do this, though I know at times I find it hard accepting the recognition.
The other thing I read about this level is being in a “state of flow”. I’ve read what Martin Selgiman, Jonathan Haidt, and Chip Conley write about flow and how they interpret it in reference to its founder’s, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, thoughts. I have to say that feeling secure being in flow can be difficult. It can be tricky to achieve and readily lost. It takes the previous self work that Maslow outlines to be able to achieve and maintain flow.
Summary: the need to feel secure in small business
So what can I say in summary of our need as small business owners to feel secure?
We are not necessarily in the enviable position many of our friends and family believe or think they see. The laptop lifestyle is not overly secure. That said, there are ways that we can sure it up:
The following is an extract from the 2020 Yellow Social Media Report. I have taken their figures and pulled it into the most relevant numbers for business owners and added some useful insights and commentary.
Overview of general Australian social media usage
84% of Australians use Facebook and 48 % use Instagram. Across the ages only those aged 18-29 used Instagram more.
So if that’s what they use, how do they use social media. Or when? Most of us use social media most in the evening, except 18-29 year olds who prefer the morning. Most of us use social media in the lounge and to catch up with friends an family. Here’s more of a break down of Australia’s social media habits:
64% of us use social media while watching TV
58% while watching a movie
50% while watching the news
32% of us feel excited if our posts receive more likes than normal (it’s not limited to page owners)
13 % of women and 7% of men use social media in the bathroom (I don’t know if that includes toilet)
While we talk about the news, only 14% of us use social media as a news source and 35% of us reacted to a post only to find out it was fake. Incidentally, only 14% of us trust what our friends post online.
What about Australians as consumers and social media use?
82% of consumers followed brands on social media. 68% read online reviews or blogs for opinions and they will read an average of 7 reviews before making a purchase. Of those who read reviews 61% will go on to make a purchase and 80% of those purchases are made online. That said, only 7% will actually write an online review.
When it comes to making a first-time purchase from a brand, 38% of women and 28% of men will stalk a company’s social media before they make the purchase.
Consumers said they were more likely to trust a brand if:
– they interacted positively with their audience (51%)
– the content was relevant & engaging (54%)
– their content was regularly updated (53%)
– 34% women & 36% of men consider page liker numbers
Conversely, 63% of Aussies said they were less likely to use a brand if they were using a social influencer or celebrity in their marketing – except females aged 18-29.
Speaking of marketing and advertising, seems like Aussies really don’t care unless it’s an influencer and then it’s a clear ‘no’ from us:
53% of us ignore social media ads from brands we don’t follow (sorry targeted ads)
48% take no notice of ads at all
40% don’t like ads from brands they follow (I’m not a fan of seeing ads because I like a page)
So what do Australian consumers want on social media?
I’ve already mentioned that we want to be positively interacted with, see relevant & engaging content, and regularly updated social media channels, but it seems that this isn’t enough.
When it comes to the brands we follow, Australians also want the following in their social media:
62% want discounts
47% want giveaways
41% want product information
32% want tips
So it’s good news for business owners, we don’t all want something for nothing, and we do want to hear that you know your stuff and want us to get the most from it.
How Australian businesses use social media
So we now have a good idea on Australian social media usage, what about us business owners who use social media to market our business?
It’s not surprising that 79% of us manage our social media internally, what is a surprise is that 71% DIY our social media as the business owner. So if you DIY your social media, you’re not alone.
37% of Australian businesses run social media ad campaigns, 83% of those on Facebook. Another 25% of Australian businesses don’t allocate any money to social media marketing.
62% of businesses engage with their client feedback on social media, this did surprise me when 71% of us DIY and 51% of consumers say that they like pages that interact with them. I was hoping that this would be a higher percentage and it makes me wonder what is holding business owners back from engaging with their audience on social media.
Only 22% of business owners were frustrated by negative reviews and trolling and 19% of us said that nothing really bothered us about being on social media. So if we’re almost as concerned about trolls as we are not bothered by anything, what stops us?
What I do know is that 63% of business owners believe that their social media sales will increase over the next 12 months and most estimate an average ROI of 13% from their social media.
When you look at what consumers do and business owners do on social media, it makes sense to have some sort of consistent online presence for your business – even if you DIY.
Shannon had been in business a while. In fact, a good 10 years. They were quite successful. Not as much as their parents would like but enough to keep their family and go away on holidays through the year. Shannon is dedicated to the industry. They often give away advice to clients free of charge. Shannon hates to see anyone done wrong.
The problem is, Shannon hates disappointing people, in fact they’re afraid of disappointing others. They hate letting their family down. They hate it when their clients aren’t 100 percent happy with what they’ve done; even though they overdeliver and undercharge as a matter of course.
Shannon is not their real name and I know Shannon as both male and female. Traditionally people pleasers, although they may not think they are, Shannons are kind hearted and often taken advantage of. Unfortunately, this causes them to feel used, undervalued, warn out, and at its worst, a business failure.
What normally happens next is that Shannon retreats; from friends, family, and their business. They wonder why they bother and doubt becomes their constant companion. Getting out of this spiral can be difficult. They can’t fake it out, because honestly they’ve generally faked their way in (more on this in a minute).
So how does Shannon, or anyone, who fears disappointing others actually get stuff done when in the depths of this doubt darkness?
There are three key things we can do when we are afraid of disappointing people. The good thing is that it really doesn’t matter who the people are or what the situation is, we are all people and these three things will help.
When we are afraid of disappointing people, we rely on what we believe the other person’s expectations are. (incidentally this is one of the core behaviours of imposter syndrome).
Perhaps we don’t want to disappoint our family. We’re worried what they’d say or how they’d react. While some of this can be based on past behaviour, it’s still never 100% guaranteed. We’re afraid that they will be disappointed and that our actions will be the cause.
The thing is, do we ever truly know how other people will behave? Our behaviour changes with how tired or hungry we are, how well we slept, if we’d been in an argument earlier that day, if we had a good morning, if we’re feeling sick, if we actually want to be there, if we feel comfortable. There are many biological and situational factors that impact how we react to situations. We can not know all of these and how they will impact on how we expect a person will react vs how they actually will.
However, Shannon adjusts their behaviour on the off chance that they might disappoint the person because they believe that they will somehow upset them by not meeting what Shannon believes to be the expectations of that person. Shannon tiptoes and adjusts to meet something that quite probably doesn’t exist and is all made up in their mind.
What Shannon could do is to actually ask what is expected, they know what is expected by their clients as that’s what they are being paid to deliver. If they deliver that, the customer is happy, anything more is a bonus, and overdelivering to avoid disappointment isn’t necessary and can create unease on both parties.
Boundaries counter the fear of disappointing others
When we are unsure of what people are expecting we need to either fill that knowledge gap or install our own knowledge. And we need to be ok with that.
People who overdeliver and feel used often lack boundaries and the ability to say no to even themselves. This inability to know when enough is enough leads to doing too much and burning out.
Shannon isn’t always that great at saying no. They will do whatever possible to keep their kids, extended family, and clients happy. If a client complains they will instantly cut their prices, thereby showing their client that their time, expertise, and overall worth are not worthwhile and they don’t value them. The vast majority of the time, that client does not return or recommend Shannon. Why? Not because of the service they received but because they got what they wanted and at a lower price.
Because Shannon is a people pleaser and is afraid of disappointing, they would rather undervalue themselves, put themselves second, and teach others that they can do the same.
When Shannon looks to put boundaries in place, they worry that people will not like it, that they will lose customers (and money), and that this will all negatively impact on their business leading to them disappointing their family.
However, if Shannon valued their time/service/knowledge/expertise, they wouldn’t be discounting or even entering into that conversation with their clients. The cycle would stop right there.
Boundaries come from understanding our core values, living in alignment with them and rewriting the stories that lead us to people pleasing. Doing this core work to come back to our core of who we are makes setting boundaries a lot easier.
Listening to the right people
Perhaps Shannon listens to their Dad who is an accountant, or their Uncle who runs an unrelated business, or their spouse who has little or nothing to do with their business, or their friend who has their best intentions at heart but really doesn’t know all the things that go on behind the scenes. All of these people not only influence what Shannon does but also what they believe they should be doing. Because all of these people mean so much, on a personal level, to Shannon they fear disappointing them.
Now I’m not saying that Shannon needs to go and find an expert, coach, or whatever. What I am suggesting is that they look at the source. Dad the accountant will be offering ‘advice’ from their perspective on what Shannon should do in their business because it’s their child, whereas an independent accountant may offer slightly different advice or that Shannon may take the advice differently from an independent person.
What works for one person in one particular situation may not in another. What’s good for me may not necessarily be good for you.
We all come into a situation with our own particular drivers and that influences what we say and how we interpret what is said. That does not mean that Shannon should surround themselves with “yes men”, but they should realise the source and if that source has a particular point of view or vested interest.
When Shannon puts in boundaries, understands where these people are coming from, and recognises that they may have made an error in their perceived expectations then they will understand that they have the power to control not just themselves but also situations and how they respond. Shannon understands that while they had a fear of disappointing people that:
– it may not have happened in the first place
– they are not responsible for the happiness of others
– they are allowed to be happy
– they can do what is best for themselves
– there are people out there who do have their best interest at heart and they belong in their company.
Side note: I am learning that the fear of disappointing people can be linked to people pleasing and the need to belong. We all deserve to belong. We all need people to create a sense of belonging. It should not occur at our expense.
Just a quick recap, you can read the full article here, on the three main types of clarity a business needs for success:
Clarity in communication
Clarity of self
Tools for strategic clarity
Strategic clarity is where are we going and how are we going to get there? After 12 years of working in the Australian Federal Government, five in quality assurance, you’d think that I’d have the strategy for my business down pat. Let’s say it took a while. I mentally pushed back against it for the first five years of business and then I became utterly overwhelmed.
Between the endless to-do list and the reactive nature of my business, something had to give. It was me. I had a meltdown at how much I had to do and how little time I seemed to have to do it in.
From here I was able to get my head around how time works, how to be ok at being alone in business, and how to get organised. And then the world opened to me.
My coach was big on planning, annual, quarterly, weekly, time blocking. Queue pushback from the public servant still kicking around in me. I did the annual and quarterly planning as these were familiar beast, but the weekly planning and time blocking was still a step too far.
As my business grew and the years ticked past, I felt that familiar pang of not getting everything done that I needed. I felt pressured, befuddled, and that I was spinning my wheels. Where was the clarity I once had? I looked at my practices and realised that I was physically scattered. A notebook for this and that, calendar here and there. I was all over the shop. I needed to have things written down and in one spot too. A digital calendar worked well for appointments and time sensitive tasks, but not for the things I could do in anytime in a particular week. Enter bullet journaling.
Bullet journaling gave me a way to pull my planning into one place and it made me plan my week. I’m still not into calendar blocking, but I do block my weeks into consulting and non-consulting weeks. What the bullet journal does is that it removes the overwhelm of too many lists, the worry that things will slip through the crack and that I only need to flip through my journal to look at my strategic objectives for my business, annual, and quarterly plan and even what I did 3 weeks ago.
Recently I got stuck into a string of books. I had wanted to read Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh for a while. In it he mentioned Peak by Chip Conley. Well, if it’s good enough for the guy who set up Zappo’s then it’s good enough for me! Well I was impressed. The story goes through how he used Maslow to grow a boutique hotel change in Silicon Valley during the Tech Bubble Collapse. Chip’s book has helped me to come to a clearer understanding of my clients and how to bring this into my business strategy. I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for that strategic edge to their customer experience and service.
How I get clarity in my business communication
Clarity of communication avoids confusion. Clarity of communication creates and builds relationships. Clarity of communication tells people where they stand and sets expectations. Clarity of communication drives action. All of these aspects are necessary to having a profitable business.
I had always believed that the way to communicate, build relationships with my audience and grow a profitable business was through freely providing advice and support. I had come from a government agency that relied on its name for helping and supporting the community. You can imagine the kick back I got in the early day telling me that I should charge for my knowledge and that I was selling myself short, or worse that I was undercutting that market. At the time I was using a community live streaming platform, Blab, and one of the members was promoting their book. Well, after a number of my friends had mentioned the book I just had to check it out. I wasn’t disappointed. Youtility, by Jay Baer, reassured me that my communication strategy was the right approach. It gave me the clarity that my communication strategy would lead me to the business outcomes I wanted and knew possible.
Through my years of managing my social media and providing social media management services, I realised that human psychology was key to good online communication. Over a period of time, I remembered how I motivated my staff and I looked at how this matched with motivating clients. It was the same. I shouldn’t have been surprised because staff use social media and email and my clients are someone’s staff. This is when my model of motivation came about. The model allows me to clearly communicate how my services meet the various client drivers my audience has and therefore I have more engaging content, less miscommunication and stronger client relationships.
Early this year I realised that although my audience loved my content, I wasn’t strategic about it. This meant that I had no communication clarity in my business and I felt overwhelmed, confused, and without direction. (Can you see the flags?) I realised that I needed to map my communication to my business strategy so that I had a clear link between the content I was writing and the objectives I wanted to meet. The thing is, I wanted something that fit on an A4 sheet of paper, covered all the places I published my content and included my motivation model. I’m happy to say that I’ve done it and I’ve even been able to adapt it to fit as a double page spread in my bullet journal. This clarity of what I’m writing and where I’ve published has reduced my stress and allows me to map my communication to my funnel and ultimately my sales.
How I got clarity of self
Who are you? What do you stand for? What change do you want to make in your world? What keeps you up at night? Like your business, being clear with yourself helps keep you on the right path, but it also all helps you to identify areas for growth. Being clear on who you are and what you stand for gives you the ability to the take anything that upsets or angers you and allows you to then see why you feel that way and if this is something you need to work on in yourself.
I’ve previously spoken about how I listened to someone I shouldn’t and as a result I was left feeling lost in my business. I was running a profitable business but I hated it. I had let someone convince me to have the business I didn’t want and to be something I never wanted to be. I was miserable. After two years I broke down, I couldn’t live a lie any more and I decided it was time to honour my business and to seek clarity around who I was and the difference I wanted to make with my business. IT. WAS. PAINFUL.
I hadn’t quite come up with my motivator model, it was there as something I wanted and knew was needed but I didn’t have the guts to go ahead with it. I did however have my skills in psychology and I had previously undergone treatment for anxiety, so I knew that I had the skills to get through whatever it was that was holding me back. The short of it is that I did get myself through it and I was able to develop a system that I now use for clients who have fears, imposter syndrome, or otherwise stories they tell themselves which hold them back from all they (and their business) can be.
When I had clarity in myself, I then knew what my business was meant to be and do. It was then that I was able to develop the motivation model and I realised that there was one key to it that helped me stay on track in my business and with myself – my values.
Unlike beliefs, values are hard to change. I see them as the compass to our behaviour. When we fall out of line with our values we feel lost and can become overwhelmed. When we are behaving in line with our values we stay true and can weather the course laid out in front of us.
I recently bought the book, Dare to Lead by Brene Brown. While it’s directed at managers, I honestly got a lot out of it for myself. The big takeaways for me was how our values are important to how we work and are perceived by others and how empathy is so incredibly important for success and successful relationships.
I hope this article has helped you with some ideas on how to gain clarity in your business. If you have any questions, please leave me a comment below or email me.
*Note: this article contains Amazon affiliate links. I will receive a small payment for purchases you make through my links.
I can’t believe that I am having to write this but since it is one of the core values of my clients, I think it’s important. When I googled “honesty small business” what came up was honesty and integrity. I thought it was an interesting result because I really don’t see them as one in the same. So I thought I’d look at a couple of definitions.
The quality or fact of being honest; uprightness and fairness.
truthfulness, sincerity, or frankness.
freedom from deceit or fraud.
Upright, fair, truthful, sincere, frank, free of deceit or fraud. The only word here that has me thinking of integrity is ‘upright’. So I thought, what if we look at the other parts of honesty and see how it applies and benefits small business. It’s all good spouting that honesty is good for small business, I know I need to know why.
Honesty, fairness and small business
Let’s not confuse fair with being equitable or even. In this instance fairness in honesty is similar to being ‘just’ or ‘true’.
As a business owner, it’s important to be fair with any person you come into contact with. Though it’s more important to be fair with yourself.
I think what is crucial to the ability to do this is an understanding of what is just or true (or honest) for each of us. Acknowledging and understanding that this differs from person to person, from customer to owner to staff (and when we shift between these roles) is important to how effective we are with fairness.
This continues on to the realisation that it is what is just, true, fair, or honest for the other person and ensuring that our actions and words align with this.
I have found that all of this is incredibly true and powerful when managing staff. The realisation that it can differ for my staff to myself and to the business is important to how successful I was and how happy and effective my staff were.
I encourage you to go back and have a look at what drives business owners, customers, and staff to get the full benefit from honesty to this ends.
Truth, freedom from deceit and honesty in small business
I’ve bundled truth & freedom from deceit together as they are much of a muchness. To be frank (see what I did there) they are the core of my definition of honesty.
I was watching Patrick Mouratoglou on Netflix the other night and he said how he lied to Serena Williams to get her to play better. He said it was ok because it had the desired effect. While she went on to win the tournament, I’m still not convinced that all clients would be happy if you told them a lie, even if it was what they needed to hear, so that it had the right outcome.
The reason I say this is that it can impact a relationship. “I did it because it was the best thing for you” only goes so far on a bed of deceit. What then happens is that we begin to question what other lies have been told or if we can trust all the things that you say or do.
Now imagine it was a staff member. How does that impact a strong employee/employer relationship? Pretty rocky ground to be building on.
Sincerity and honesty in small business
I honestly had to look up a definition of sincerity. It came back with “freedom from hypocrisy”. People who know me well know that hypocrisy is a pet peeve of mine. I can’t stand it.
Rules for one and not another. Double standards. Do as I say and not as I do. To me, this is hypocrisy. Preferential treatment can create resentment and distrust by those not benefiting. Even those people who are simple observers can feel this way.
With so much of business life played out online, why would we want to create resentment? This does not mean that preferential treatment should not be given to members, VIPs and the like. This system provides a known framework where observers will understand that preference is being given for a reason. It’s when it happens without this framework that businesses can trip up.
Frankness and honesty in small business
Can I be honest? Yep, I’m frank. But there is a fine line between it and being rude. There is a right way to tell someone the truth, and it isn’t in a feedback sandwich.
Again, being frank really relies on understanding what drives that other person in the particular situation. It differs for each of us and from situation to situation. (and no that’s not hypocrisy)
Having been on the receiving end of frank (and fearless) advice, I honestly respect the person more for having the courage to deliver the information. It takes skill, insight, and courage to effectively pull it off. It also strengthens a relationship knowing that the other person feels so strongly for you that they are willing to risk something to tell you something that you may not want to but need to hear.
Why is honesty important to small business?
It’s a relationship and business builder. It can be a point of difference. It shows a deep understanding and commitment to the receiver. It’s a skill builder.
If you’d like to understand more about what drives you, your customers, or your staff so that you can effectively use honesty in your business, then I encourage you to book a free preliminary 30 minute call.