A while ago I wrote about the types of clarity a small business needs and why they are important. One of the core goals my clients share is to get clarity of where their business is going, how it will get there, and the skills and tools they need to make it happen. I thought I’d share with you the tips and tools I use to achieve these things for my own business. I hope it helps you in some way.
Types of clarity business needs
Just a quick recap, you can read the full article here, on the three main types of clarity a business needs for success:
- Strategic clarity
- 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.
The first thing I did was to change my mindset around time.
The second thing I did was to read Blue Ocean Strategy.
The third thing I did was to find a business coach.
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.
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