One of the most common unintended benefits my small business clients get from coaching is feeling supported. (But not in ways you’d think)
Types of support for small business owners
We’re so used to getting the financial and legal support and these are quite rightly needed and should be provided by an expert.
The thing is that there is more to running a business than making sure it’s above board and paying the bills. In fact, there’s a lot that we pour into running a small business that actually increases our need for support.
As individuals, we know that we most commonly need:
– emotional/mental, and
– spiritual support.
As small business owners, too often we get caught up with the first, draw on our personal lives for the last and forget the middle one. The thing is, it’s the mental and emotional self which can keep us going.
Emotional & psychological support for small business owners
There are recurring themes with my clients, and I honestly don’t believe they are alone in their needs for emotional support with their small business.
You want a safety net
Being a small business owner can be a lonely job, especially when no one else in your family or friendship group are small business owners.
Sometimes you want to know how to (and help with) solving the problems of your world and other times you want someone just to sit there and listen. No commentary, no solutions, just someone to vent at.
Sometimes you want to know that when you are at your lowest of lows, there’s someone there with the know-how of how to dig you out of that hole, dust you off, and set you on the path again. (Oh and to suggest ways on preventing it from happening again)
You want a mirror
As a small business owner, it can be hard to see the forest for the trees. A business coach or mentor can sit there and show you the ways that you can’t see.
When you’ve been knocked down or are beating yourself up, you want someone who will speak kind truth to you, just like you would to someone you cared for.
When you’re being stubborn and not considering all the possibilities and are looking to go in the wrong direction, you need someone who is prepared to stand up and make you reason your way through.
When you ignore advice and fall, you want someone who won’t rub it in your face but will instead walk with you out of it all.
You want a sounding board
As a small business owner part of having support is knowing that the person giving it has either been there, has expertise in the area, or has a good pool of resources to draw on and isn’t afraid to use it. Why? Because part of feeling alone and unsupported is not having a sounding board or the resources when you need them.
Some days, running a small business is like reaching into the junk drawer in the kitchen in the hope that the perfect tool will jump into your hand. You hope you’d bought it all those months ago but you’re just not sure if you really did or if it really exists.
Ok, so as a business coach I may have just referred to myself as a junk drawer and some days it’s like that. More often it’s pre-empting which tool is needed and having it ready. Sometimes it’s fostering links and connections in the knowledge that one day that thing will come in handy. (Geez, it really does sound like a junk drawer)
But in reality, as a small business owner, you don’t know what support you’ll need until you need it. So that means that you need someone who is able to understand your needs and has access to the tools. Not race in and fix it for you but listens and gives you the tools to respond accordingly, it is your business after all.
I started my first business when I was working fulltime, doing my Masters, and had two toddlers. I was the first in my family to start their own business. It was early in 2011, I had recently signed up to Facebook, and I started showing my products on there as many of my friends needed what I had to sell. I did a lot of free courses and coaching sessions and eventually found myself a coach. The rest they say is history.
The thing is, I neglected my emotional and mental support. None of my friends, at the start, had businesses. It’s no surprise that my clients became my friends, I needed them but they weren’t always the best at giving advice because they could only draw on their experience and their junk drawer was all but empty.
Having a business coach or peer mastermind is helpful but you need to make sure that they take care of all of the aspects of support you need, not just the technical. I’m grateful that I have a few business friends now who have a background in mental health to offer me the support I need. But I’m curious if you’re getting the right mix of support to help you and your business? If not, I’m here. You can send me an email, book a quick (and free) coffee catch up, or you can organize more formal business coaching.
I’ve been here for a while, I’ve seen & heard a lot, I have a full drawer, and I want to support you as a small business owner.
It’s said that there are 5 key business drivers: cash, profit, assets, growth and people. If I’m honest, it comes down to one and what drives it: people. So what is the psychology behind staff and customer drivers? By they way, the psychology of marketing is now called neuromarketing.
In the previous blog, I wrote about the psychology of online business and this article is all about the psychology behind the key drivers of a business, or more importantly, the people that make it happen. Let’s lead these horses to water and have them drink.
Before we look at specific groups of people, I really recommend you look at this article on how a small change in thinking about how to motivate people to drive the action you need works & makes a huge difference. Go read it now and come back! Here’s where you learn more about driving people and understanding the psychology of it: https://www.karalambert.com/business/what-really-drives-business-success/
Psychology of staff drivers
I’ve trained many staff, I consulted with many staff, and I managed staff. The most important lesson I had was when I managed 10 staff. They were beaten and needed support and motivation. So I turned to them. I showed them how they fit within the aims of the Department and asked them what they were passionate about when it came to their work & how the Department helped Veterans. I showed them how as people, they were the most important thing to our business success – because they were.
My staff went from being unmotivated to incredibly productive, happy, having less time off, being consulted more by the business areas we serviced, and they got rid of 2 years’ backlog of work in 3 months. There was no overtime, bonuses, or extra pay. Instead, I made people the most important part of the business. My staff could see where they fit in the direction & success of the Department, they had meaningful work, we had happy ‘clients’ & we were a success.
This proved what I had read in my Masters program on happy staff being the key to having happy clients.
These areas can be as open or closed as you like. You can use them to promote or sell items or events. You control who is accepted into the group. It works like your own business fandom and is perfect for growing a ‘tribe’.
There was a time where Facebook Pages were “dead” and Facebook Groups were the best thing to grow your business. By now I hope you realise that there’s a lot more to it than building the Group and hoping people will come. An active group require active and engaging content & that requires an understanding of your customers’ psychology. Before you go too much further, scoot off and read the following article and come right back: https://www.karalambert.com/facebook/whats-facebook-group-think/
So I’ve covered off running a Facebook Group for your business, what about gaining business from other people’s Facebook Groups? Yes, it can be done and I’ve generated thousands of dollars in revenue from working other groups. Now, this should be part of any business strategy, with or without your own Group. So I encourage you to read this article I wrote on how to use psychology to game posting in other people’s Facebook Groups: https://www.karalambert.com/facebook/responding-facebook-group-post/
Customer satisfaction & psychology
So the customer satisfaction survey results are in and Management come back with the standard, “Customer Satisfaction is slipping. YOU need to get it up!” How often have you been told that you need to lift the customer satisfaction rating for your area, team, or business? Then shook your head and wondered just how to make it happen. There’s no magic wand or crystal ball for this one. It’s totally out of your control if they’re happy with you because you’re doing everything you can; special offers, follow up, personalised service. You’ve pulled out all the stops for the customer. You’re giving it all you’ve got!
Traditionally, improving customer satisfaction takes on the form of “What else can we give them?” or “What else do they need?”
What if I was to tell you that there were 2 more effective ways of improving customer satisfaction than throwing more money and things at the customer. (metaphorically speaking)
70% of Americans say that they look at reviews before they purchase and 90% of customers say that their decision was based on the reviews they read prior to purchasing. Online reviews and other forms of social proof form an important part of a business’ social media marketing. However, as we are talking about the human behaviour of making a purchase, be it online or offline shopping, then we need to consider the psychology of reviews and social proof.
Drivers in Customer avatars, client personas, USPs & use in neuromarketing
To be honest, whatever you call them, you better be including what drives your ideal client. Why? Because understanding why they do and react how they do is as (I’d say more) important than knowing their age/gender/marital status etc.
So why do the standard client avatars fail in my eyes? Here’s the thing. With a degree in psychology, I know that we are more than what we do. I understand that diagnoses and labels give us meaning and structure to our lives, it makes things easier. But labels are just that, they stick on top of a number of behaviours and/or symptoms which make up the labels.
I don’t know about you, but I’m more than the labels society puts on me. Yes, I am a mother, daughter, sister, wife, graduate, business owner; but so are many other women I know. Does that mean that we are all the same? Does that mean that all of our behaviours are the same? No!
So why do marketing experts and business owners still believe that these client profiles based on labels work? At best they are generic, but how are they used and what lies behind them?
These avatars are used to help business owners with their marketing and messaging, what is now being called neuromarketing. They exist to help with what words to use, where to focus marketing efforts; but where does this come from? The business owner’s interpretation of the labels. And this interpretation comes from their lived experience and opinions of these labels. This interpretation comes from our biases. What if they’re wrong?!
So what happens when a business does a standard client avatar exercise and finds it doesn’t work, and I have had many business owners in tears because this is the case but they were lead to believe it would work and was crucial. Their marketing efforts are misguided, they don’t make the money they feel they should, they are demotivated, and some even close their businesses believing they were a failure.
All because they relied on labels rather than what sat behind them.
One of the common things business owners say to me during training on the psychology of social media is that they have an issue with marketing to their customers’ fears. They said that they had paid for neuromarketing advice and been told to market to their ideal client’s fears. But they didn’t like it and in fact, they no longer used that advice. Sound familiar.
This is what annoys me. There is so much information out there which we throw by the wayside but believe it to be true because everyone says it. It’s like learning lemmings. (My Mum would say, if everyone jumped off a cliff would you too?) Ok, so that’s a little harsh but it seems like a big waste of money to pay for advice and not use it because you’re not comfortable with it.
I believe, and teach, that there are five key motivators of human behaviour in neuromarketing (on and offline). One of the motivators is fear. Looking into the research, fear is actually a poor motivator. If you use fear to motivate someone, they will comply and follow, they are not making a choice and they are not using their free will. It is also not the way to build trust or grow a relationship. Fear is not an incentive to take action, it’s an incentive not to. Fear is there to keep us safe.
In the end, I hope that this article (while long) has helped you to understand what drives the two main groups of people your business success depends on. If you would like more tailored advice, I am available to consult and you can book a quick chat through this page: https://www.karalambert.com/business_coaching/
Be gentle on yourself, she thought. The world has shifted access and you, my dear, are at it’s pivot.
Be kind to yourself, she thought. You might want to think you can do it all and you, my dear, can some days and others will be a struggle.
Be wise with yourself, she thought. You happily give out advice and treat those you meet with kindness and you, my dear, deserve the same.
Be true to yourself, she thought. You have spent so long coming to terms with who you are, my dear, and so now you need to be it.
This is uncertain times, she thought. You know you’ve made it through many others, my dear, you shall with this.
This is a time of change, she thought. You know that it’s the world changing, my dear, you only need to change with it and not against it.
This is a testing time, she thought. You know that you can stand the test, my dear, you have depths yet uncharted.
This is a coming of a new time, she thought. You know that it will bring new joy, my dear, you only need to look for it.
And I am asked to do so much, she thought. You know that it is not forever, my dear, it will teach as much as take from you.
And I am tired from it all, she thought. You do not have to rush, my dear, we will wait and you will make it to us.
And I am hurt by what I see, she thought. You are not alone, my dear, you do not have to hurt alone.
And I am worried for what’s to come, she thought. You are right to worry, my dear, for we are facing the unknown.
Kind people walk among us, she thought. You can be one, my dear, you just need to be kind to be one.
Kind thoughts evade us, she thought. You can start them, my dear, you just need to start with yourself.
Kind words heal us, she thought. You can say them, my dear, and sometimes the kindest thing is to listen.
Kind deeds are done between us, she thought. You can do them, my dear, you only need to smile.
I wrote this ode as I struggled to write a blog post for my business. It’s been a month since Covid-19 really took hold here in Australia. It’s been 3 weeks since I pulled my kids from physical schooling to do online learning. It all seems a lot longer.
The other day I did my grocery shopping and one of the shop assistants mentioned how she was overwhelmed. She was tired of it being all she heard of. She was tired of the uncertainty. She was tired of always being worried. She was tired. You see, I asked her how she was and her sigh told me that her “Ok” was far from actually being ok. I asked her if she was “sure” that she was ok and that’s when she told me she was overwhelmed. I’m glad I asked her and grateful I could listen.
You see, outside of my psychology degree, I spent 5 years processing worker’s compensation claims for the Australian Defence Forces. It was my job to listen to the stories the personnel told me. Over the years, I learnt to hear the subtle signs of fatigue and anguish that simmer under “ok”. I learnt that sometimes, just being heard (without fear or judgement) is all people really want and need to feel better. They didn’t need sympathy, placation, but did need to be heard. When we are heard, we know we are no longer alone.
So this isn’t your first rodeo. You’ve either been in business for a while, it’s not your first crack at running your own business, or you’ve spent time working/running a business for someone else and it’s time to make the break and go it alone. To be honest, I feel like I fit across all three. But there’s one thing that keeps you going and that’s the belief that your business will succeed.
If you’d read my article on having a clear direction in your business, you might have sensed that the thing which kept me going was a belief that this would work. Because I honestly do and I know that what I do has a profound impact on my clients. I’m sure you feel the same way about your business.
Business goals vs wanting to believe your business will succeed
Work outside of your belief structure and you feel like a fraud, fake, or phony. You’ll be gripped by dissonance, which has you feeling uncomfortable in your actions and doubting your moves.
On the flip side, if you behave in alignment with your beliefs you will be happy, calm, and you will achieve some incredible things. I often achieve more than I expect purely because I’m behaving in alignment with my belief structure.
So rather than the goal of having a successful business, your ability to believe your business will succeed is actually more important. Goals are great, but psychologists know that they are all poor drivers of behaviour (just look at how often New Year’s resolutions fail). However, our belief structure is at the core of driving our behaviour. So believe it can be done and it will.
Believing that your business will succeed when business is failing
When times are tough we often turn the spotlight in on ourselves. We chastise ourselves on the things we could have done differently. We rehash the mistakes we made. We generally get down on ourselves.
I have to be honest, when things go pear-shaped in my business, goals don’t help.
In fact, when I feel like a business failure, my goals are the first to go. They certainly don’t motivate me because it was my goals that I failed to achieve.
In the darkest of times, I’ve had to look very strategically at my business, and I don’t mean income and expenses or most profitable product. I mean where and how my business operates strategically. What is the why (some might call it a mission statement) of my business?
How believing your business will succeed works
When my business has been failing, reconnecting to the core belief of my business (putting the person we need to take action at the hub of our actions) has been key and triggers these steps:
– This reconnection and reaffirming of my why then leads me to look at why my clients come to me.
– From here I can look at my offerings and how I am meeting my client needs
– Then I can add or pivot to meet their needs
– Finally, I again believe that my business will succeed
I’ve been through this process a number of times. Each time I’ve uncovered more about the audience I want to serve, but most importantly I’ve uncovered more about myself & particularly the story I tell myself about success (or failure).
It’s incredibly motivating, knowing more about my audience. It’s also empowering & healing by rewriting the story I tell myself about success/failure. Both of these changes prop me up a little more and prevent me from slipping backwards. It means that I grow in more ways than just achieving a goal would.
A little secret
I always knew that what I had to offer had merit. I always believed that people needed what I have to offer. I always believed that I had a uniqueness. I didn’t always want the success. In fact, I feared it. I feared what it would do to me & my family life.
It wasn’t until I got ok with being me, that the fear of success disappeared. It wasn’t until I addressed the crappy stories I told myself about success in general and my success in particular that I was able to stand and act firmly from my beliefs.
When I talk to my coaching clients about what they fear in business, most of them say that they fear wasting time and/or money. I get it, we work hard for them and when we realise that we’ve wasted time or money it hurts. Imagine all the other things you could have done instead!
I’m not immune to this either. I think something is a great idea, I put resources into it and *poof* it’s not what I expected. I’ve done this with events. I’ve definitely done it with courses. I’ve done it with people. Heck, I’ve even done it looking back over my career!
So why is the fear of wasting time or money such a common thing? Is it that we are so cash or time poor? Is it that we hate missing out and do “all the things”? Is it that we fear regret or making the wrong decision?
Time & money as finite resources
People will say to me, “But there’s only 24 hours in a day” or “money doesn’t grow on trees”. Sure! I only have 5.5 hours in a day to do my work and I know what’s in my bank account and what’s coming in. (Hint: it could always be more) But at the risk of sounding like a Pollyanna, that’s an incredibly closed mindset.
There’s two main ways I see people, including myself, wasting time. Firstly, procrastination. We just don’t do things because well, um, choose any excuse! Essentially, because we are busy getting in our own way. We procrastinate with money the same way, we get in our own way.
Secondly, we waste time with how we think about it. We waste money with how we think of it. What do I mean? We don’t value our time, we don’t prioritise our time. I don’t mean that we don’t schedule it, but if something really mattered – we MAKE time for it. We still have 24 hours. You might think that we then don’t do something else, but the thing is that if that too is a priority, we MAKE time for that too. Humans have an uncanny ability to fill time and make jobs take longer – just because we have time.
We waste money because we don’t value it. This doesn’t mean we don’t save it, but we don’t make it a priority. We don’t take care of it. I see so many people be so flippant with their money management. The same ones say to me, “Kara, you work so hard and deserve the things you have” as though they were somehow less deserving and less hard working. No, I just choose different priorities for my money.
This way of thinking around time and money is a closed mindset, it’s finite. As a parent, I want my children to have an open mindset. One of options and possibilities. We do not live the exact same day over and over, we do control our time and we do control our money. So why do we live as though we are passengers and they are in control? Neither time nor money are actually finite – they continue after we go.
Time and money as symptoms
Here’s another way of looking at it… what if the fear of wasting time or money is actually really a lack of trust in oneself? What if we use time & money like a drug to make ourselves feel better and in the end we just don’t trust ourselves to do better? What if it’s another version of “drowning our sorrows”?
Here’s the thing, if it is – and that’s a story you tell yourself. And you don’t want to do that any more. You can change. I promise it will take work. You will need to look deep to what story you tell yourself about money or your use of time. For me, it was that I had to work hard for money, that time is money, and that I didn’t deserve things unless I worked for them. How’s that for turning money away?!
Time well spent
I recently realized that while sometimes I don’t think I’ve made the best use of my time, that I haven’t prioritised things as I should but there’s a catch. Sometimes the best ideas come when I’m silent and still. Sometimes I need to step back from things to move forward. And all the time I can look back and learn.
You see, we often can’t see the lesson when we’re neck deep in it. It’s only when we step back that we can realise just how far we’ve come, what we’ve learnt and how what we did in the past wasn’t wasted but is applicable to the now.
So maybe some of us are too quick to judge or too harsh on ourselves when it comes to how we spend time or money. Perhaps it’s not that we are wasting time or money, perhaps we just haven’t realized the lesson we need to learn just yet.
So the conversation generally goes a little something like this… “Kara, I know I know my stuff but I don’t believe it. I want that confidence and self-assurance of believing that I know it.” Then I hear the song lyric, “Life is a rollercoaster, we’ve just got to ride it…”
Can I confess? I’m a work in progress. Even I get down on my abilities more than I should. Take for example, I’ve got a couple of speaking engagements at my old Uni, Flinders. Why is it that I’m doubting myself and believing that I’m still that 18 year old undergraduate who failed subjects vs that 30+ year old Masters student who got Distinctions. It’s the same person and I’m much more like my 30 year old self. But no, even I get those self-assurance speed wobbles.
So what is self-assurance? It’s confidence in yourself and your abilities. It’s not arrogance or being stuck up.
And I think it’s these last two things people are really struggling with, self-trust & self-confidence. I know I do.
I think self-assurance, or more the lack of it, is often linked with Imposter Syndrome and waiting to be caught out.
Why is self-assurance important to business owners?
I can’t believe I actually asked that question, but hey I need headings for SEO at least! Anyways, we need it to feel good about ourselves because god knows we’re our own worst enemies but there are some days where we cut ourselves some slack.
I needed self-assurance because I was honestly too damn old to rely on anyone else to hold me up and I needed to do it alone. I realized that if I didn’t have my own back, I was in a pretty sad state. Not to mention, sometimes I’m the only person I can trust. (Sad truth, I’m the one that has the best vision for my business)
Why is self-assurance a goal?
When I first meet with a new client we run through what drives their clients, their staff (if they have them), and finally what drives themselves. The very last thing we talk about is their personal goals for themselves – self-assurance is mentioned as a goal, never a need/belief/value.
Can I be honest, I find that pretty sad. It’s sad that having confidence in our abilities & knowledge is a goal to be attained, not something we need. So what is the difference?
Needs are fundamentals to what we have to do and are a basic driver, think along the lines of food/shelter/safety etc. Goals are nice to have and are not necessary.
So many of us see self-assurance and having confidence in our knowledge and ability as a goal and not something we need to have. That means we’re ok with living in a state of not trusting ourselves, self-doubt, and possibly not having our own backs when things get hard. No wonder when things go pear-shaped we can hit rock bottom really hard and we wonder if it’s all worthwhile.
Why do we put believing in ourselves last? Why does it have such a low priority? Why is it not necessary “self-care”? Are we all martyrs?
I’d love to say that I had the perfect cure for self-assurance. To be honest, it looks different for everyone and the path to it is also as differing. But there’s one thing I know for certain…
Self-Assurance is necessary. We are deserving of self-assurance. Self-assurance should not be put off to be achieved “someday when everything else is in order”.
Self-assurance is one of the cornerstones we rely on to achieve the other goals, because if we don’t believe in ourselves and our abilities – how can we expect anyone else to believe in us?
“Kara, I just need more self-confidence”, “I need to get out of my own way”, “I need to stop holding myself back”. It’s generally what our conversations come down to, no matter what we start with. Generally, it starts with wanting to learn how to promote their small business on social media, then after a little while, the truth comes up. It’s really a lack of self-confidence that is stopping them progressing.
How can a lack of self-confidence show up?
Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can put off until next week. Amiright? You suddenly need to tidy your desk, do some washing, check your emails or social media. Anything. Anything rather than what you’re meant to be doing.
Finding a dozen different things to do rather than doing the one thing that needs doing is a common symptom of many things, including a lack of self-confidence.
I can honestly say that this article has taken me three-times longer to write than any other and the word count is the same. I’ve not gone off to do research, but boy have I procrastinated – so much so that I’ve deleted Facebook from my browser tabs.
Questioning or second-guessing
I know my self-confidence was beaten by a number of people questioning my ability. It got to the point that I questioned my own. You know that thing where you hear something often enough, you begin to believe it. It sucks!
To be honest, I’ve found the constant doubt is draining. Not only does it take a lot of internal dialogue, it takes a lot of energy, and it uses up a lot of time. All things I could be putting to better use elsewhere.
I just need to do xyz. I just need to add ABC. It’s not quite right. It needs to be perfect. Do I have all of them? (Geez, you’d think I was a perfectionist by that last question)
Perfectionism avoids criticism, rejection, shame, and just doing that thing. It takes time and every perfectionist I’ve met (I’m not one, and I feel like the antithesis at times) has said that it is utterly exhausting.
The constant judgement, comparison, and/or questioning means that nothing is ever achieved and that wins are never made and certainly not celebrated. Celebrations don’t occur because things are never good enough.
Perfectionism can be debilitating, depressing and extremely time-consuming.
Getting advice from others
There is a time and a place for everything and this is certainly one of them. Yes, I know that asking for advice in big Facebook Groups is a (marginally) covert way to draw attraction to your brand. It’s a way to create controversy. I’m not talking about this. When you can’t make a decision and you have to ask for advice from others, sometimes you truly don’t know and sometimes you truly don’t trust that you’re making the right decision. Or perhaps you’re always asking the one person for advice. (And it’s not someone on that list, see below)
Deferring to someone can hide a lack of trust in oneself. It can be a symptom of people-pleasing (raises hand here). Some people also do it so they have someone to blame (but that’s unlikely to be anyone reading this as they generally don’t like what I write).
The problem with this habit is that the turn around takes time and the vast majority of the people asked will not have or understand your business (or audience) as well as you. They may have more experience, but that’s the only place they can give advice from and their experiences may not be relevant to you, yours, or your business.
General low self-confidence
In general, low self-confidence can show up as fatigue, tasks taking longer, and a lot of internal dialogue (not a lot of it being constructive). It’s draining – I know because I still battle this. It takes courage and effort to overcome but I promise that each step you take releases you to be more of yourself and that feels incredible.
6 things to do to build self-confidence
First things first
The very first thing is to actually catch yourself doing it. This takes an ability to be mindful and questioning of your thoughts and actions. You may need to put a reminder somewhere that says something along the lines of, “Is this real or is it low confidence?”. Then you can try one, or all, of the following solutions.
Rip the bandage
If procrastination is your pet when it comes to testing your self-confidence then I suggest using Mel Robbin’s 5-second rule. Count to 5 and then start the task.
Never heard of the Pomodoro technique? It’s where you spend a block of time working on a task, anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes, and then you do something you enjoy. The catch is that you must spend all of that active time on the task. Set a timer on your phone and stick to it.
Act from your core beliefs & values rather than reacting from a place of doubt or fear.
A person in your corner
Sometimes it’s easier if we know that someone has our back. Perhaps it’s a safety in numbers thing. I know I feel safer knowing that I have a handful, and I do mean just a few, people who believe in and support me – no matter what.
Who are they for you? Write down their names & keep the list close. When you are feeling uncertain, look at the list or have a chat with them. Most of all know that they believe in you, even when you’re uncertain of yourself.
When we focus on the big goal it can seem insurmountable and we can lose confidence. While we can break a task down into more manageable chunks, we can also break them down into ones that we know we will succeed at. Having had some success at a task can give us the confidence to move forward and try more – to do more. This builds self-confidence. This is exactly why I celebrate the wins in my Facebook Group each Friday.
To overcome a lot of my self-confidence issues, I used Cognitive Behavioural Therapy under the guidance of a psychologist. From there I used the same techniques to uncover and work through further issues as they arose. Rebuilding self-confidence is a journey, most of us have lived with it for years and that takes time to sort through. I want you to know that I am here to help you unpack using the techniques I’ve learnt, tried, and tested. I’d love to help you be more self-confident & I encourage you to check this page out for more information.
You wish it was ‘one of those days’, only because it’s been weeks and months of feeling like you’re going nowhere in your business. You feel like things will never get better. In fact, there are times you find yourself opening up the job websites and searching for a 9-5 because it will never get better.
I understand. I had big plans for 2016, it was going to be my year! I had had a run of successful workshops in 2015 and I was ready to go big. Except that before we even hit the end of January, my Dad was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Bam! I thought, “My life will never get better”. In fact, I couldn’t even look for a job because I knew my parents needed me and I just had to tread water and do the best I could.
It may never get better
Here’s the thing. My Dad did die. After 10 months and many admissions to hospital, cancer got the better of him and my life changed forever.
But that’s the thing. My life as I knew it never got better, it got different. There was now a new normal for my life.
Think of it this way, if you’re old enough. Remember borrowing a library book and grabbing the card, having it date stamped? Now we download books straight to our phone. Remember dial-up internet & waiting for someone to get off the phone or a phone call coming through and booting your connection? Now even our fridge is connected to the internet & phone calls only interrupt us if we’re live-streaming on our mobile phones. We have a new normal. And boy don’t we know it when it’s taken away. We thought it would never get better than dial-up & now we wait overnight for the latest phone.
You will adapt to this new normal, even though it may not get better per your ‘old’ normal or look like you’d planned.
What to do when you realise it may never get better
People say, “This too shall pass” and it does but how do you actually get through the passing time?
When it comes to business, while you do it for you, you also do it for others. So take some time and get off self. In business, your business is so much more about other people than it is yourself. Go volunteer. Go do something nice for a long-standing client. Turn your focus outwards. Did you know that it’s been shown that people who volunteer their time or do a good deed for someone will feel happy long after the overthinking is complete?
When we feel that things will never get better, we are looking inwards. Now there’s nothing wrong with a little internal navel-gazing so long as we are using it to move forward and grow. But that’s generally not the mindset we are in when we are wading through this space.
Turning your energy outwards is a pattern interrupt and it’s a 180 on your mindset. I’m all in favour of doing these things when you’re stuck.
Pattern interrupts, like Mel Robbins’ 5-second rule, can break a spiral and move us to a new place – fast. It also removes any thinking or overthinking, we might be doing. It cuts one thing off and replaces it with another.
Doing a 180, moving from self to others, is no normal distraction technique.
You can also do a 180 and write it all down. I’ve suggested taking a common practice or belief in your industry and writing something in direct opposition to it. This flipped thinking forces you to take a different perspective and gets you looking at a situation for a whole other viewpoint. (And sometimes we need to take a new perspective)
The final word when you think it’s never going to get better
Talk to your/an accountant to check your financials.
Talk to your/a lawyer about any legal complications.
Talk to a friend in business.
Talk to a friend who has your back.
Too often in business, especially in small, micro, or family businesses, we feel like we are all alone and we have to do it all. We’re not and we don’t.
When my Dad was sick, I saw a psychologist. When I was lost in my business last year, I spoke with a messaging expert. When I was ready to grow my business in 2017, I hired a business coach.
Gather people around you. The people who support you. The people who will hold your faith in you until you can do it alone. The people who will tell you the truth because you need to hear it and not because they need to feel good saying it. I know I now have a different type of better, one I never imagined, and it’s growing on me.
So often in business, we sit, sometimes with our head in our hands, thinking that it has to get better. That business has to get better. That, this work-life balance has to get better. That life just has to get better. But it’s not all doom and gloom. I’ll let you in on a few secrets on how (business) life can get better.
You’ve hit the bottom and now you are hanging on to your belief that it has to get better. It’s the light at the end of the tunnel. Perhaps you’ve had a glimmer of hope through a great conversation, a fab sale, or it’s just that window through to the future where your goals do become your reality. Now what?
It has to get better when you’re clear on things
I don’t mean getting clear on goals. Goals are more like a carrot dangling in front of your nose, nice to lure you along but not so great on keeping you on the straight and narrow.
The biggest changes come in my clients, and myself, when laser-focused and totally in sync with values. Why? Values are our guiding principles, sort of like ethics. If we miss a goal or take a bit longer to achieve them, most of us will be ok. If we are out of sync with our values, we feel down, unmotivated, lost, agitated. Psychologists call it dissonance, but it’s essentially our head and our heart being out of alignment.
For things to get better – live in alignment
So how well are you in alignment with your values? Do you know what your guiding values are? That one thing that keeps you on track. That one principle you know will get you making the right decision & taking the right action – every time!
I use mine a lot. Ok, so my guiding value is courage. My guiding value has had me travel alone to the US multiple times. My guiding value of courage has had me speak at a social media conference, directly after Facebook. My guiding value of courage has me as a Mentor at my old University. My guiding value of courage is getting me to my goals, without it I’d be wishing for these goals rather than making it happen.
One of the other things people say to me is that they don’t have enough time. Things will get better when you have more time. We seem to dream up all these business goals we’ll achieve when we have more time. As if it’s some golden bullet. As if it’s something someone will deliver to us. Do I have to be the bearer of bad tidings?
For things to get better – make the time
Bahahahaha, make the time she says! Like I can do that! What if I told you there are a few secrets you can use to make time.
For things to get better – change your thoughts on time
I’m for real & this is one of the biggest game-changers I’ve ever had. I changed my mindset about time. You would know that some times time seems to fly right by and other times it drags. When we feel like there’s never enough time, there isn’t.
Here’s the thing, when I changed my mindset to always believing that I had enough time & then working towards it – I did. Whenever I’m worried that I’ll be late, I take a deep breath and remind myself that I’ll have plenty of time – and I’m on time or early.
It has to get better when you have someone to talk to
Running your own business can be lonely, especially when no one else in your friends or family run a business. They have no idea! They think that you’re not only raking it in but you’re the luckiest person in the world because you set your own hours and can take long lunches. Shame they don’t see the late nights, endless coffees, and the constant worry as to balancing the bills & the clients.
For things to get better – have someone in your corner
My husband just couldn’t understand why I was constantly working at 2 am. He didn’t understand why I “put up with crap clients”. He didn’t understand why I needed to do a particular training. Why would he! He didn’t have or share my vision and he didn’t run a business. So I joined some free Facebook Groups, did you know I have one, and eventually I hired a business coach.
And there I found my tribe! I was no longer alone. In fact, I was surrounded by so many other business owners sick to the eye teeth of explaining why to their partners.
Be warned though, not all tribes are created equal. Some will last you to fill a reason (generally to fill a knowledge gap), some will last you a season (generally to fill some growing pains of your own or the business’), and then others will last you a lifetime.
You will learn quickly which ones will fill your cup, which ones will drain your pockets, which ones will steal your energy, and which ones will waste your time. And I do refer to groups and coaches with that.
Be ok with saying goodbye, knowing that their time has come and that you have acted in alignment with your values for your greater good.
Business is so confusing! You’re choked with overwhelm. What to promote and what to write on social media. How to manage staff & get them to do what you need them to do while keeping them & your customers happy & still turning a profit. Then there’s the laundry list of thoughts streaming through your head, pulling you in different directions. Throw in regular life and it’s no wonder small business owners feel utterly overwhelmed.
As a small business owner, we are all about our industry and our niche. We have that knowledge down. Then we throw in those things we know we should do, like promoting our business and the wheels come off. This is where most people come to me and it goes something like this…
“Kara, I know (insert social media platform name, generally Facebook) is meant to work for me and my business but I have no idea what to write or when to post so that people click & buy; and then I don’t want to spend all day on (insert platform) because then I won’t get the work done that I actually really need to get done. This part of my business is so confusing!”
“Business is so confusing!” And the overwhelm begins…
“Kara, but I don’t know what to say! What if I get it wrong? What if they hate me? I’m not good at writing!”
And there it is! The heart of the issue. They don’t trust themselves. They are worried about criticism. They don’t want to blow their own trumpet. They’re afraid of being publicly called out. And I understand.
It takes courage to put yourself out there in public. You need to be ok with being vulnerable. You need to trust yourself.
Ouch! That hurts. And yes, it’s true. 90% of people who come to me with this issue really have a problem with being vulnerable & talking themselves up. Who can blame them! Especially if they’re Australian, and they usually are, and have lived a lifetime of tall poppy syndrome where you’re told not to speak up, brag, or big-note yourself. (Surely, it’s not just me)
Here’s the irony. The solution to what to write and how to stop worrying about what will happen when you do is exactly the same.
The solution when you’re in deep
Please hear me out.
When you think about it, both require someone to do something. Getting someone to click on your social media post. Actually posting. They both rely on getting someone to do something you want them to do, even if that someone is you!