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How I got clarity in my business

How I get clarity in my business

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.

how I got business clarity quote mike dooleyBullet 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.

How I got business clarity and quote from Blaise PascalI’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.

why honesty is important to small business

Why honesty is important to small business

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.

HONESTY

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

honesty small business quote trent sheltonI’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

honesty small business quote proverbCan 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.

generosity knowledge small business

5 steps to make generosity a small business benefit

Last week I was having a conversation with a business colleague. She said to me that while she was signing clients for what they wanted, she was giving away her knowledge on what they needed for free. She felt used and that she had given away her best and most valuable information for free.

While it would be simple to say, “just don’t”. The reality is that many small business owners are so passionate about their work that they happily give away their best knowledge. The problem is that it doesn’t pay the bills and feel that their generosity has been taken advantage leaving them feeling used and worthless.

But what if there was a way to not feel used and to still feel generous with your business and actually have it benefit you? Would you want to know how?

There are five steps to the process of not feeling like you’re being used. When in place, not only can you continue your generous nature in your small business but you can actually make it your benefit and even a competitive advantage.

Who holds the knowledge & for what?

Many years ago, when I started live streaming, I was torn about sharing my knowledge, positioning myself as an expert, and giving away the best for free. Then a number of friends starting talking about a book called, Youtility. Eventually I got sick of all the raving and bought it. I made perfect sense.

Youtility, by Jay Baer, is an investigation on how generosity of knowledge in business makes good financial sense. The premise is that as the expert in the field, you will always know more than your clients in the area they come to you for help. When they run out of ability, the law of reciprocity kicks in and they will come to the person who has given them the most (information) to physically solve their problem.

generosity of knowledge quote bill gates

How long?

Do you know how long it takes for your average contact to become a client? For my business, it’s 2 years. While I have people who work with me straight after our first contact, in the main they stick around and consume my content for 2 years before they buy from me.

Knowing how long it takes help me to gain perspective on how much information and how long it will be before I see an ROI on my investment.

Map your knowledge

Do you know where your knowledge sits in the client’s journey? Are they actually looking to solve the problem right now or are they trying to work out exactly what the problem is?

Knowing where a person is in their buyer journey is key to mapping your knowledge. We need different things as we go through life and that tends to follow a cycle of not knowing, knowing, searching, buying, reviewing. Business is no different.

What you need to do is understand and map your knowledge, and how you will happily share it, to your audience as they transition through these different stages. (At the moment, you know this is a problem and you are looking for a solution to feeling bad about showing generosity in your small business)

The other part of their map is how they move through your funnel and move from their hell to your heaven. They will also have their own buyer journey in this larger voyage through your sales funnel. Call it a constant upwards funnel, if you will.

Generosity quote ann frank small businessSeed

Along the mapped funnel, you’re allowed to seed (sell). Plant the idea and leave a breadcrumb trail of tasty morsels to buy. Once they have bought once, they are likely to buy again. It is this seeding and selling, just the little things, that helps you to not feel that your knowledge is being taken for granted.

Shine

Make sure you shine. Reinforce to them why working with you is a great decision by sharing testimonials and reviews from other clients. You can also use case studies to help them on their journey and to show how you helped someone, perhaps just like them, to overcome their problem.

It can be daunting working with someone who is either a total unknown or who you never knew was knowledgeable in a certain area. To sell, straight up, in these circumstances can be off-putting. Imagine going to a butcher to buy sausages only for them to tell you that you needed a haircut and they could do that because they were a hairdresser too. Perhaps you didn’t realise you needed a haircut or perhaps you get a little offended because “what business is it of their’s”.

By following this process, the same one I discussed with my colleague, you will have a better understanding of how generosity is actually a business benefit and how you can use it to be more profitable, and strategic, with your knowledge in your small business.

I’d love to know how you feel about being generous in giving out your knowledge. Let me know in a comment below.

 

 

benefit time off small business

The benefits of taking time off from your small business

So often I hear and see people saying, “I need more time”, “I don’t have enough time”, “I would if only I had the time”. It seems we are consumed with doing and hustling. Even in the grips of a pandemic it wasn’t enough to be, we had to do, renovate, get fit, bake. Where does being and having time off fit?

I have written about time mindset & management hacks, making the most of spare time, and scheduling. In this article I want to talk to you about the unseen/unspoken benefits of taking time off from our business.

Here’s some irony for you. As I write this, it’s Friday. I had planned on writing this article on Tuesday, I started it Wednesday, did a little more on Thursday after taking myself out to lunch after a day of running around. Thing is, I had a shocking sleep on Monday night and I knew that if I pushed through I’d do a lack lustre job of the article, so I left it. In fact, I grabbed my laptop, jumped into bed, and logged on to Netflix for a few hours instead. I had to take some time off. In fact, I’ve taken it easy most of this week as we run in to the end of the school term and holidays, I might be steeling myself for the holidays.

Guess what? The sky didn’t fall down in the 90 minutes I went offline. I felt better for chilling out. Sure work emails came in but I was able to answer them after. I even think I was able to offer better answers after. I know I was certainly more patient afterwards. So let’s start there.

Time off and clear thought

Do you write a challenging email or large document and leave it overnight? Clear eyes and a fresh perspective in the morning, right?

Our attention span is getting shorter and pushing through with a task, especially when we are tired or frustrated, actually reduces our ability to focus. In fact, in 2011, a group of psychologists tested this. They found that people who took two sort breaks, and swapped their focus, in a block of 50 minutes actually had no performance loss.

So it seems that just taking the smallest of breaks and shifting your attention to something else is beneficial than ploughing through.

Flashes of brilliance

benefit time off small business quote reed hastingsEver been in a situation where you have to come up with a new idea, topic, product etc? Or have you ever been daydreaming, in the shower, staring out the window and a new idea strikes you from out of the blue?

When we let our minds wander, they can come back with some amazing things. This time off, no matter how small, allows our brains to process the dozens of thoughts and worries that consume us and gives us the “processor space” to actually process them and come up with a viable solution. That can be a new solution to a new problem, a new solution to an old problem, or it can be seeing a problem in a new perspective (and perhaps it no longer being a problem).

Patience

Ever been so tired that EVERY LITTLE THING just annoys you and you honestly believe that the last straw will break you?

I have worked in a number of teams where the culture would be best described as toxic. There were many days when I had to leave my desk and go and walk the city block. I needed the down time, the space, and the distance to regain some patience.

When I took time off in the week to watch some Netflix, I came back more patient and able to deal with the frustrating emails and ongoing niggling issues. I was also able to deal with ongoing delays thanks to the weather.  Having that down time away from the grind and hustle restored my patience.

Energy

Burn out is real. Taking time off from your small business, for a short or long time, gives us back energy. We spend many hours of our day working on and in our businesses. Not to mention those hours at night worrying, wondering, or wishing.

Taking time out, to do nothing or do something that you enjoy, fills up our cup. It gives us energy to be able to do more of the things we need to do, to press on when things get tough, and to handy the speed humps that come out of nowhere.

Heart grows fonder

benefit time off small business quote Dale CarnegieBack in 2014 I took a month out from my business and my family went on a round-the-world holiday. It so happened that it coincided with hubby & I turning 40. In the lead up to it I had to schedule out the content for the month and that was a grind on top of my regular work. It was also a grind because I knew my business wasn’t where or what I wanted it to be. I knew that there had to be more and that I was falling out of love with it.

Not only did I become incredibly clear over that month about what I wanted, but I was also able to rekindle the passion I had for my business. You see, absence can make the heart grow fonder for your small business too. We just need to allow ourselves the space and time to let it happen and to rekindle that flame. I actually wrote about it on my return.

Peace

I find taking time off, for me, from my business can leave me with a sense of peace. It’s odd. It’s this empty but calm feeling. It’s slightly happy and content.

I’m learning to love that feeling of peace. It’s a welcome change to the tight knot of stress, comparison, and angst. I also find that when I have this feeling of peace I am more adaptable, have better answers, and am more resilient.

This is my favourite benefit from taking time out of my small business. It’s the one I search for when I know I have a stressful time coming. So this is the one thing I wish for the most for you.

If you are not in the habit of taking time off or feel guilty for it, I want to offer you a permission slip. It’s for you to use how you please. Of course you need to consider how it will impact your business but I often find that some people need physical permission from another person and that is what I’m offering.

Atychiphobia fear of failure in small business

Atychiphobia fear of failure in small business

One of the most common fears I come across with my small business clients is the fear of failure, technically atychiphobia, and they often refer to it as “doing it wrong”. I’m not convinced that they are afraid of mistakes as much as they are afraid of actually failing. Failing themselves and worst of all failing others.

Most common reasons for atychiphobia in small business owners

Too often the reason that small business owners fear failure is the stories that they tell themselves. They talk themselves into believing they will fail. Some of them are so convincing they actually never even try so they never fail.

Imposter Syndrome is another common cause of atychiphobia. I tend to find they go hand in hand; the feeling that we’re not good enough and that we are likely to fail and afraid of failure.

Imposter Syndrome and the fear of failure

People with imposter syndrome work hard and are diligent. They work hard to meet what they believe the expectations are of the person that they’re performing the work for. The problem is, is that they can never live up to those standards because they’re actually not meeting the standards of the person that they’re providing the work for. They’re trying to meet what they believe the standards are.

They hate failing themselves and others, even when it’s only the potential of failing what they perceive the expectations are. They fear being caught out for not achieving these expectations that they believe are being set. It goes a little something like this:

I believe I am expected to do xyz I can’t meet these expectations. I’m not meeting them. I’m going to get caught out, I’ve got to work harder. I’m a fraud. I look I can’t even meet their needs. It’s not happening, I’m not going to do it.

The Imposter Syndrome fear spiral

fear failure Atychiphobia quote JK RowlingWhat happens next is a fear of failure and either:

– a need to cover up for not being able to achieve what they believe they should. They say what they believe is expected of this person that they’re delivering the word true. And they downplay their abilities so that they don’t get rejected. Or,
– they keep being working harder and harder hoping that if they keep this person on side, everything will be okay, they won’t be called out. Or,
-they use charm and perceptiveness. They try and win over the support of the other person to avoid that rejection, perceived failure and to ensure they are still liked and accepted.

The problem is that none of these expectations are real. That means that their failing is not a failure to the other person/people, it’s a failure to themselves and their own expectations. The person with Imposter Syndrome isn’t aware that these are false expectations and by default false failure and false atychiphobia.

Positive reinforcement, Imposter Syndrome & the Fear of Failure

So what do you do if you manage someone like this, you have a friend like this, or you or your partner is like this and you praise them or receive praise? When the good things come out of that other person’s mouth they don’t believe it because they believe that the other person is being nice or wanting more out of them through sweet talking. They also believe that the person offering the complements doesn’t really know what they’re like.

Then they downplay any positive reinforcement that they receive from this person. This is followed up with modesty. No, it wasn’t me. No, it was nothing. This is one thing that I did. It was nothing. It’s Okay. People do that so that they can’t be challenged; so they don’t get into an argument; so they can’t be criticised and feel like a failure.

The result

Results are put back on the other person, no one would be criticised for that and you look like you’re being nice.

The person with the Imposter Syndrome then believes:
– I’ve done a number on them.
– I didn’t achieve the level that I thought I caught short, or they expected me to achieve.
– Yeah, Look, they gave me some great feedback. But realistically, It was nothing.
– And plus, I was just charming them. I didn’t actually mean what I said was trying to keep them on side.
– Until next time.
– Until they actually catch me out.
– Until I fail.

What does the fear of failure do?

fear failure Atychiphobia quote Louise BooneLike Imposter Syndrome, the fear of failure keeps us playing small. It stops us from accepting and acknowledging our skills, our abilities.

We hide because of it because we don’t want to be caught out. For me, is it was I don’t want to be seen to be too big for my boots. So we downplay everything or play safe. Don’t stand up, don’t stand out. Then you can be caught out. You can’t be acknowledged for things you don’t deserve because you believe you’re a fraud, just waiting for the axe to drop.

In reality, you and your small business stays where it is, or worse goes backwards and proves your fear of failure. All because you couldn’t meet what you perceived were the expectations and didn’t want to be caught out. So you played it safe, made excuses, backed out, and avoided any action to avoid failure. And it worked, of sorts. But then sometimes you feel like the fraud and the failure you fear everyone is seeing you as. And you beat yourself up.

It’s a vicious cycle.

It’s tiring.

I’ve been there.

If you find yourself or someone you know in this position, I encourage you to download this free resource I developed for a local University at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The group was filled with fear and uncertainty and I took the larger toolkit I use to help clients overcome Imposter Syndrome and distilled it into a group of handy tools. I still use these tools today.

When small business growth isn’t all that it seems

In February 2014, I realized that I had the ability to support my friends in small business by teaching them what I knew about the psychology in social media. I ran live events, wrote blogs, live streamed, consulted. Business was great.

By January 2015, I mapped out my growth in my business with the numbers from the months and I was looking to crack the need to charge GST in my second year and the illustrious 6-figure business by my third year.

In September 2016, I did a Facebook Ads course with a well-regarded and successful coach and started to plan how I was going to retire my husband to work in my social media consulting agency. He would run the ads and I would consult on the psychology of engaging organic content.

In February 2017, I closed down my first and other business of 6 years to concentrate solely on consulting. I had also realized that my clients needed information on running a business. I had a number of ongoing business coaching clients and I had to close my books to new social media marketing clients.

In September 2017 I attended my first international conference that was paid for by my business. I attended my second in March 2018.

small business growth quote February 2018, I relaunched my organic Facebook Course as an online drip-fed course.

Looks pretty good huh?

What if I added in the following:
September 2015, I had my first session with a business coach who I knew and trusted and they told me not to focus on the psychology of social media because no-one understands it and just to focus on organic Facebook because I was good at it.

January 2016, my Dad was diagnosed with stage 4 Glioblastoma Multiforme, an aggressive and terminal brain cancer, and so began my time supporting my parents through his disease and treatment.
March 2016, I put myself under the care of a psychologist.
August 2016, my Dad’s cancer metastasized to his spine.
December 2016, my Dad passed away.

January 2017, I realized that I didn’t want to run a Facebook Agency as I didn’t enjoy the repetitive work.
June 2017, I had a meltdown about my business. I hated it. I realized that the work I was doing on organic Facebook wasn’t being true to myself. I was competing with other businesses and I bringing on new clients was difficult because they had been burnt by other social media consultants who promised the stars but didn’t deliver. I had to get back to the psychology of social media and neuromarketing (not that I knew what that meant then).

September 2018, I was away on a business retreat and I again realized that my business still wasn’t where I wanted it to be. I needed to start to look harder at what I actually wanted my business to be and that I had to undo the damage done by confusing my audience with the bad advice I’d received in 2015. I knew that I didn’t want to offer social media marketing services, the main part of my business and what gave me ongoing income.

October 2018, I put my home on the market in preparation to build a new home and moved my family in with my Mum. What I didn’t know was that this would be for 2 years and would see me supporting my Mum through a number of health issues.

January 2019, my son had a series of accidents that saw him hospitalized.

June 2019, I realized that I needed more tailored and focused support for my business and I had to seek support outside my existing network.

January 2020, after 12 months of planning and issues with our builder our house build started.

James Arthur Ray quote small business growth personal growthThat brings us to today where:
– my income is still where it was in 2015
– I’m in my new home
– I’m still supporting my family through health issues
– I have fewer clients
– I’ve moved to more speaking events to lead to consultations
– I’ve turned my back on the hype of social media coaches
– I’ve had to differentiate myself on psychology and become ok with being on my own in this space as it applies to social media and business
– I’ve had to challenge my mindset about how psychology in business is becoming popular and those without qualifications start to see that it’s a growth market

So why am I telling you all of this?

All is not what it seems when it comes to business growth

If all I’d told you was what I had outlined in the first list you’d think my business was an incredible success. If all you’d seen was my financial growth you’d consider me a failure.

Many years ago, when listening to an influential Australian business coach, I realized that not all was what it seemed. Her 7-figure business was built on debt and 6-figures of advertising costs.

Small business growth is personal

As small business owners we are so much of our business.

So why is it that we ignore the importance of personal growth in business growth?

Had it not been for me breaking down and having to become very clear on my drivers, especially my values, I’d either be stuck with a business I hated or not in business at all!

Financial growth isn’t all there is to small business growth

I have two money quotes that stick in my head, “rich people don’t get there by spending carelessly” and “you need to spend money to make money”. You might think they contradict each other, but I think they are complementary.

Every overseas business trip I’ve taken, I’ve grown. I’ve learnt more about my chosen field, I’ve learnt about which field I want to be in and I’ve learnt the most about myself.

Working with business coaches and specialists to help me grow my business, I have learnt a lot about the field I want to be in.

Both travel and coaching have been large expenses to my business and have provided me with great personal growth and allowed me to position my business appropriately so it can grow.

While all of my growth has been an inside job, using my skills and working on me, I do appreciate that it’s not always.

What I do know is that my clients who have broken glass ceilings have done it on the back of personal growth. And that’s where I come in.

So how do you account for personal growth when it comes to being part of your business growth?

7 tips to improve your perseverance in small business

I hope by now you know me for providing frank advice and I have to be honest, some days persevering in small business is just hard. The majority of the time our friends and family just don’t get it and there are days where it all seems easier to pack it all in and get a J.O.B.

The other day I asked the members of my Facebook Group how they persevere in their small business. I’ve taken some of their responses and my own tips and made this list of seven tips for persevering as a small business owner.

It’s not personal

Can I be honest? This is the hardest one for me. I take things to heart. I’m a recovering people-pleaser. Not taking things personally is a muscle I’m learning to flex.

When things get hard, there’s knockbacks, it’s hard not to take it personally. To feel like a failure. To doubt ourselves. To talk harshly to ourselves.

The thing is, there are a lot of things which influence our small business success, we are not the only one. You could have done all that was possible and it still could have gone wrong. If it’s a bad interaction with a client, staff member, contractor or supplier; remember that they all have their own drivers and own influencers and we all have bad days.

In the end, it’s about business, it’s not personal. (Even though we are so much of our business)

Take responsibility for your actions

Ok, so it’s not personal but we all have a part to play. Part of persevering is understanding the role we play. That can be for good or bad.

When I asked my group what persevering was to them and their small business, taking responsibility for their actions was one response.

The other part I see to taking responsibility for your actions and persevering in small business is that it’s taking a step up. It’s backing yourself. It’s backing your business. It’s being objective. It’s being the business owner your business needs you, and your clients deserve, you to be.

Facing the knockbacks head on

Ok, so it’s not personal, we’ve taken responsibility for the role we had to play, what about next time? When it comes to knockbacks and rejections in small business sometimes persevering and tacking the knockback head-on. And this is why this was one of the skills my group identified as necessary to persevere as a small business owner.

The first part to tackle is any fear of rejection. Fear is our most basic driver and it needs to be in check before we can progress. I have identified six steps to handling a fear of rejection, review them and then come back.

When we face the knockbacks head-on, and live to tell the tale, we are adding to our success story and growing our resilience. It boosts our confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth. All necessary parts of our mindset as a successful small business owner.

Pushing back against the inner voice

I hinted to it earlier with the fear of rejection. Our brains hate gaps and love filling them with stories. That’s our inner voice.

Our inner voice speaks to us with the stories we have heard, been led to believe, or makeup ourselves about ourselves. Pushing back against our inner voice was the most common way my group identified to persevere in business.

To get through some things we need to quieten that inner voice, sometimes that means pushing back, sometimes it means challenging it. It’s a process. Done well it will stick with you for your lifetime and the inner voice will only fill you with good and encouraging stories. Your own person sheer squad.

One day one step

Just do one thing that gets you closer to your goal. Some days you just don’t want to. This is one place my group and I agreed. (On not feeling the love and the solution) We all agreed that persevering in our small business came down to doing one action every day that moves the needle, no matter how small. We also agreed that sometimes persevering in small business also came down to taking it one day, one step at a time.

Values

For me, one of the things that keep me going in my business when things get tough is my core value. I really love values as I find that they are my guiding principles. When I feel bumped off course or swayed my core values restore me to my path. If I feel doubtful, they guide my action. Being clear on and keeping my actions consistent with my values helps me to persevere in my business.

Have a community around you that lifts you up

It’s lonely at the top. It can also be lonely as you work your way there as a small business owner. I mentioned at the start that friends and family often don’t understand. This is where a community comes into play. I have been a paid member of a few and have my own communities I foster. Either way, owner or member, having a community to help you celebrate the good times, pick you up in the tough times, and answer your questions when you’re stuck. (Yes, my group does this for me as an owner)

The caveat is that they must lift you up. They don’t have to be in your industry (or they can be). They don’t have to be the same gender (or they can be). They just need to lift you up. It’s the people who lift you up who help you to persevere when you run a small business.

What I’d love to know now is which of these you rely on and which you will bring in to your business?

Organic Facebook engagement (neuromarketing case study)

Penny (not her real name) was the owner of a children’s business. She had 10 000 fans on her Facebook page but low organic engagement. With that many fans she expected to at least get some likes and comments on her page, but no.

Penny had tried ads to increase her sales numbers and to engage more of her audience, but it didn’t work. All she did was make Facebook richer and increase the costs of her business. Not what she needed or expected for her business.

Penny’s business wasn’t new. It had a solid client base and was well regarded in the marketplace. She had good like numbers. She ticked all the boxes of what most people would expect for a successful business but her social media was letting her down. She needed her social media to gain new clients and to engage existing clients for new products and services.

How we increased the organic Facebook engagement

There were four main problems to fix to ensure we had high engaging organic Facebook content. There was the most common mistake I find business owners make, so don’t feel bad if you are doing the same. Then there was meeting the three key scientifically proven parts to engaging social media. Finally, I sprinkled some neuroscience magic over it all to seal the relationship with the new fans.

Customer neuromarketing assessment

Too often, businesses forget that it’s a person they are connecting with online. That means that we need to understand and appeal to what engages the audience. When it comes to business, even a competitors’ audience can have a slightly different psychological approach needed to engage an audience.

Previous research shows that to have highly engaging content you need to appeal to the self-image of the audience. What I did with Penny was a comprehensive psychological profiling of her audience to ensure that when we used a neuromarketing approach to her content, we were delivering highly effective posts.

Once the profiling was complete, I was able to develop a social media content calendar to meet the various marketing objectives.

 

Timing of content to increase organic engagement

Posting at the wrong time is the most common error businesses make with their organic content. While you may see various infographics touting “the best time” to post online, the best time is actually found in your Facebook Page Insights.

In Australia, Yellow have previously produced reports detailing when the various age brackets of the Australian population are online. If your page is new and has limited Insights, or if you’ve previously bought fans, or you’re trying to target a different audience, I strongly suggest reading the findings of their reports.

In Penny’s case, I took the various content types we’d uncovered in the psychological profiling and scheduled the content accordingly. Doing it this way meant that we were appealing to the differing audience behaviours through the day and providing them with relevant and engaging content to match these times. (Perfectly in line with what Facebook wants for the platform)

Organic content planning

I have to admit, until recently I never planned out my content. I was the kind of person who scheduled from one week to the next but it never aligned with my strategic business objectives.

For Penny, we planned out content to meet the strategic objectives of the business, to incorporate lead times, and to promote community involvement and thereby appealing to the core audience psychology and the scientific principles of engaging content.

Organic Engagement on Facebook posts

The final piece was to trigger the audience’s neurochemicals and to create a stronger bond between the audience and the brand.

By engaging with the audience on the page’s content, I was able to use my understanding of how our brain works when using social media to improve the relationship and feeling of the audience towards the company.

A client who feels closer and more aligned with a brand, the result of these neurochemicals, is more likely to buy from that company.

 

 

Result

So what was the result of the neuromarketing assessment, content plan, scheduling and organic engagement?

When most pages have reach and engagement of between 2 – 5%, Penny’s page had the following:

Minimum average post reach by follower – 20%
Median average post reach by follower – 60%
Minimum average post engagement by follower – 76%
Median average post engagement by follower – 110%

Of course, there were posts that “went viral” and totally blew the numbers up. But to be honest, I never aim for viral posts because, where do you go from there?

I’d like to say that Penny is still with me; like many of my clients, I get them to a great place and they take their social media in house. I can tell you that she is not following the strategy or the neuromarketing we did. If only she’d done my course, she would have had all the skills at her fingertips (or her staff’s).

I can tell you that I achieve the same results regardless of the industry. I’ve got tradies to beauticians booked out for a month in advance with the same techniques. The beauty is that I can consult and train your staff, or you can learn the skills to use in your own business (or even start up your own social media agency) just reach out for more information or with any questions.

earing your competitor as a competitive advantage in small business

Fearing the competition wins is a competitive advantage in small business

One of my small business coaching clients is deathly afraid that their competition will beat them, that they will get the sale, win the contract, get over the line before them. They see it as a disadvantage to themselves that they lose out. But what if fearing the competition is actually a competitive advantage to running a small business?

Keeps you motivated

I have to be honest, I sometimes use fear of competitors as my competitive advantage, and ultimately theirs, to motivate my clients. It works particularly well when they are being indecisive and I know that missing out or disappointing people is a key driver of theirs.

Often we can become caught up in our own head, our own doom, our own moping. Sometimes we need something to take our attention off of ourselves and to put it externally to motivate ourselves to move forward.

I want to put in a word of caution, these tactics work best when used sparingly and when we need to quickly ‘flip the switch’ on our thoughts and behaviours.

Keeps you in tune with what the market wants

When we check in with competitors, we hope to see them delivering what the market wants. Sometimes this is true. However, if we dig a little deeper and look at their social media comments and reviews we can see if this is actually the case. I can tell you that fearing a competitor who isn’t meeting the needs of the customers is not a competitive advantage.

Quote on competitive advantage in small business When we look at the reviews and comments you can even see:
– what sort of customer service they offer
– if they are active on social media which indicates to customers their interest in marketing and growth
– gaps in product or service
– opportunities to improve market share, or
– places to focus efforts.

So when you watch a competitor you fear, remember to look at it as a way to achieve or get closer to your goals, and make sure that your actions align with your values (not theirs).

Keeps you focused on your end game or goal

When you’re worried about losing to your competitor, you better have a good idea of what you are actually losing. That means knowing where you’re headed, your goals, and how you planned on getting there.

There’s no competitive advantage in small business in doing things that don’t help you get to where you want to be. I’ve also been around enough underhanded competitors to know that they will throw outlines to see if they can reel you in but in reality, the bait you took isn’t actually part of their goals either. And there you’ve gone swallowing it hook, line, and sinker!

Do you know what your goals are? Do you have a plan? No! Then best get that sorted.

Lifts cortisol

Fear invokes cortisol, a stress hormone. While there is such a thing as too much of a good thing, a peak of cortisol can sharpen your attention and help increase your blood sugar (generally in readiness to fight or flee).

In small business, this surge of cortisol can awaken your brain and sharpen your focus on the situation. This could make it easier for you, when used with the earlier points, to make a decision on how to use your competitor as your competitive advantage.

Final word on fearing your competitor as a competitive advantage in small business

Pin quote Brian Tracy about competitive advantage in small businessThe best way to achieve a competitive advantage in this situation is when you are:
– you ensure that you’re not making the same mistakes (especially social media mistakes) as they are making
– you are acting with you and your business’ best interest at heart and not out of vindictiveness or jealousy
– incredibly clear on what you want for your business
your personal and business drivers
– you stay in alignment with your drivers, particularly your values.

I’d like to know if you use any of these strategies in your business? I admit that using social media to show gaps and opportunities is a handy competitive advantage.

why is risk taking important in small business

Why is risk taking important in small business?

The other day I polled the members of my Facebook group about risk taking in their small business. A resounding 80% of them said that they were risk-takers but took calculated risks (10% didn’t like taking risk and 10% were ‘go hard or go home’). It made me think why risk-taking is important in small business and what calculated risks look like.

Before I start, I want to clarify that this blog isn’t about legal, financial, strategic, operational, compliance, or reputational risk. These are specific types of risks. This article is about the process of taking calculated risks in small business, things to consider, and why it’s important as a small business owner.

Why is it important to take risks in small business?

Most often, I see small business owners taking risk when they are at a ‘growth edge’ and are about to do something new or expand. Without it, their business stays put and they can lose competitive advantage. Without it, they question what may have been.

Risk-taking is a step to growth. It shows confidence in your brand and your business. Risk-taking can act as a ‘shot across the bow’ to competitors. It can show customers that you’re dedicated to the progress and longevity of your business and will invest in a future relationship.

What happens when you don’t take risk as a small business owner?

I get it, change can be scary and taking risks gets a bad name – other than being risky. There’s comfort, surety and familiarity (and we know what’s said about the last one) in where we are and not taking risks. But what are the “risks” in not taking risks?

risk taking small business estee lauder quoteStay where you are

By not taking risks you avoid opportunity and stay where you are. Now that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll never get to the same point you would have taking the risk, it generally means that it can take longer.

Don’t innovate

When taking risks involves trying something new, not taking them means that you don’t innovate. The joy of these risks is that they are often iterative; you take the risk, find that something needs to be changed, you innovate and perhaps take another risk.

Lose to competitors

For some business owners, the idea that their competitors will beat them to an innovation or new sector of the market is unbearable. For these business owners, they can become consumed by the ‘what ifs’ and ‘if only’ of what could have been theirs.

Steps to small business risk-taking

I have to be honest, sometimes I’m a seat of my pants/gut feeling kind of gal. But as you know, the majority of business owners interviewed said that they are calculated risk-takers. So, for those of us out there, I wanted to put together some key steps to taking calculated risks.

Know your drivers

Taking action out of the decision to act on risk comes from us having a clear understanding of what drives us and our business. It’s important to not only know our goals and how the risk will help us achieve or near them but also the fears and needs we may need to negotiate along the way.

Does it align with your values

I’ve said it before, values are our compass, they keep us true and when we fall out of line we have a feeling of dissonance. If you are clear on your personal and business values and how the risk, your feeling toward them, and the action needed to align with your values, then the decision can become crystal clear.

For example, one of my values is courage. Sometimes I’m unsure of taking a particular risk and it’s often through fear. However, when I act from my value of courage, fear disappears and action becomes simple.

Will it help you achieve or get closer to your goals

It seems odd to have to say this but in all honesty, we do get caught up in FOMO and wanting to be part of the crowd or jump on the latest thing. I liken it to buying something you didn’t need and will never use because it was on sale. Sure you saved money but you still wasted the money you did spend (and yes you could have wasted more but in all likelihood, the price helped you not buy it originally).

Unless the risk-taking will get you closer to your goal – so what?

Consider a SWOT analysis

Not heard of it? Think of it as an upmarket version of a pros & cons list. Except… you consider the:
– strengths
– weaknesses
– opportunities
– threats
of the risk-taking action to your business.

When I do this, I include financial and legal implications in the relevant sections. It’s important to include these as they form part of a calculated risk.

Go/No go

Finally, it’s a decision if you’re going to go through with it. No regrets! You’ve taken a calculated risk based on the best information you had on hand at the time.

I hope this has helped. The one place businesses get stuck is determining their drivers. If you need help with that, please email me. In the meantime, I’d love to hear about where a calculated risk has paid off for you and your business. (For me it was leaving my public sector career to set up this business)

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