Blog - Small business consultant
Community and how it helps small business

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

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

Community in front – Your clients

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

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

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

Community beside – You peerschris brogan community quote

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

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

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

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

Community behind – Your business support

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

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

Community surrounding – Your wellbeing groupSeth Godin Community quote

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

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

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

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

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

 

  • May 14, 2021

Avoiding overcommitment and burn out

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

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

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

Fear of letting people down

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

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

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

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

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

Boundaries and burn out

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

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

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

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

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

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

How values can stop overcommitment

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

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

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

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

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

How who you’re attracting leads to burn out

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Small wins build confidenceBuilding confidence quote sam owens

 

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

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

Who is in the Arena with me?

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

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

Get off self

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • April 29, 2021
life balance small business owner

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

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

What’s the solution to finding a life balance?

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

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

So what do I really do?

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

The key to a life balance in small business

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

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

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

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

Boundaries and life balance as a small business owner

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

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

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

What do boundaries look like for me?

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

How do I keep boundaries?

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

  • April 22, 2021
benefits of an holistic business approach

How you can benefit from an holistic business approach

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

What is an holistic business approach?

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

How does an holistic business approach work?

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

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

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

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

What is the benefit of taking an holistic business approach?

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

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

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

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

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

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

How customer service information can be used

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

What customer service information can be used?

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

Customer demographics

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

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

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

Customer notes

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

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

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

Customer testimonials

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

Customer complaints

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

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

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

How customer service information can be used

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

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

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

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

Free Resources you can use your customer service information in:

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

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

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

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

  • April 7, 2021
Fear of not making enough money for your family as a small business owner

Fear of not making enough money for your family as a small business owner

Chatting with a new client last week, I was asking her motivators as it relates to her business, we went through her fears and moved on to her needs, she said she needed to contribute to her family’s budget, I asked her if she had a fear of not making enough money to help her family, the answer was a resounding, “absolutely!”

There are so many reasons why we start a business, one of the key reasons we continue is its ability to provide us with an income. Then the pressure comes in, what if we can’t? It falls on us and our abilities as a business owner to ensure that we are bringing in the sales, watching the expenses and drawing an income. It’s bad enough when we have staff to ensure keep being paid and it’s often then that we put ourselves and our own finances last for the benefit of the business, our suppliers, and our staff.

So where can the fear of not making enough money to help your family come from and what can you and your small business do about it?

Guilt & being a financial burden

The most common reason business owners tell me that fear not contributing to their family income is guilt. It may not be not contributing at all but not contributing enough or what they believe to be enough. They don’t want to be a financial burden and they want to be, if in some part responsible for the financial stability of their family.

I’d like to say that in the current feminist age women say that they want to make their own way or not rely on others, but it’s not true. Men say the same but they are coming from a traditional perspective of needing to have the provider role and not being able to fulfil the role. I think this is an indication of how financial decisions are no longer a gender-based role in families.

Not enoughness & the fear of not making enough money for the family

Fear of not making enough money Louise Penny Beauvoir quoteGuilt is a powerful force, as is money, and when the two come together and people struggle with their financial stability they can begin to question. I know I did. What am I doing? Why am I doing this to my family? I’m not good at this business owner gig, we’d all be better off if I got a J.O.B.

The issue with this thinking is that it comes from a place of comparison, comparing to what was and comparing to other business owners. When our feelings of being inadequate come from what was, we’ve lost sight of why the change was made and the value of what has been gained. When our feelings come from what we think we should be, based on what we see of others, we have lost what is reality. So often what we see online is the curated reality of someone else. I also know that when I go into comparison, I’m often comparing my life with someone who might be single, may not have kids, might have shared custody and so their time is different to my own. It’s not a fair comparison of your financial state.

The adjustment from having financial security

When I resigned from my career to work full-time in my business, I went from being the main income earner to being underpaid for the work I did, I still am. The fear of not making enough money for my family was real. I knew how much money we were ‘losing’ by me having my own business but how was I going to make it?

Many small business owners are technically underpaid. It’s a harsh reality when you’re coming from a position of knowing that every hour of work you’re putting in will get you paid, to a situation where you need to undertake work (marketing, quoting, report writing, financials) that are not directly responsible for creating income. Those hours of work, outside your core service or product delivery, can often become resented, points of procrastination, and simply neglected or avoided.

It can be hard moving from having a reliable fortnightly or monthly income to waiting on invoices to be paid so that you can pay invoices, wages, and if there’s some left over, paying yourself. Running on this sort of tight budget can be difficult when previously, your only concern was when the next payday was.

What can you do to help this fear of not contributing to your family income?

I always like to have a (financial) plan of attack. I never fully understand the financial realities of my clients and while I can address the story fuelling their financial fear, I can’t deny that there may be a distinct reality and some serious financial challenge.

Understand your numbers

Fear of not making enough money Dale Carnegie quoteThe key to a fear is the story we tell ourselves about it. The key to unravelling it is the truth and facts about that topic. When it comes to knowing your numbers, it’s important to start with your personal finances. What’s your monthly household income, monthly household payments, the broader financial plan for your family and not just the business cash flow.

Once you understand your personal numbers, you can see if your fear of not contributing enough money is warranted or if you really only need to be concerned and just how much you need to contribute to your family’s finances. Rather than bore you with a blow by blow account of what you need and how to find those numbers, read this article on working out your personal financial plan when you run your own business.

Automate payments

While automated payments of bills and scheduling bill payments might be our first thoughts to give us some financial control, what I mean is to automate paying yourself.

If you know your numbers, personal and business, pay yourself a wage just as you would any staff. This can be anything from a full living wage equal to what you would pay an employee to all you do, through to a set proportion of your business revenue for each period or some fixed and regular ‘minimum wage’ you know the business can support through fluctuations and you can then top up at the end of each/month/quarter etc.

Remove distraction

I mentioned earlier that comparison can feed our fear of not contributing enough money to our family. It’s hard when friends and former colleagues might be buying new cars or going out or away on holiday. Perhaps your business nemesis is flashing their finances over the internet, showing off their latest purchase or declaring they’re closing for the Summer and taking a break. This fear of missing out could be one of the things fuelling your financial fears.

Remember that you started your business and made the break for more than financial reasons. Consider too that you may not be comparing apples with apples and you may work your business around your family while they are single, co-parent, or have a nanny. Their reality is not yours and by judging yourself by their yardstick you’re putting yourself at a disadvantage. Consider taking a social media break from them and unfriend, unlike, unfollow, or use the “take a break” feature and snooze them for 30 days. It will give you more time to focus on your financial future and not theirs.

If you’d like more information on how to address fear stories other than the fear of not making enough money, contact me to organise a free 30 minute chat. If you’d like some other tools in your toolbox to help you with fear, download my free fear resource.

  • April 1, 2021
The need for a coach to understand your business

The need for a coach to understand your business

I painfully understand what it’s like to hire a coach, look up to them as a mentor, only to realise that they don’t understand you, your business, or your vision. The first time it happened, it took over 3 years to overcome the pain and damage they caused.

Imagine entrusting the growth of your business to someone, only to realise that they didn’t understand where you were coming from and could only coach you from how they would run the parts of your business they understood.

It made me question my messaging, my branding, my offers. I changed and worked on all of these and only realised later that it wasn’t me who had it wrong, it was them.

How did I work out that my business coach didn’t understand me?

understand business quote john mcnelisThe first business coach outright told me that they didn’t understand and that no one would understand, or want to, the psychology of social media. While I didn’t work with them after this, I still admired them and their one comment stuck with me for over three years. I worked my business away from the psychology of social media and to teaching strategies and tactics. I hated it and it ended in me breaking down and having to rebuild myself and my business.

The next coach I felt was giving me business advice that didn’t actually meet my needs. It was as though they were listening for what they would do in what I said, rather than helping me with the issue. I went to a number of events with them and when they started talking over me as I was giving training, I knew that they didn’t understand me or my business. I even spoke to a colleague who witnessed this and they agreed that the coach didn’t understand and my message was clear.

What did I learn from having a mentor that didn’t understand my business?

People listen and react from the place they feel most comfortable, their own drivers.
People listen to respond rather than hear.
When you introduce doubt in someone, be prepared for them to question you or question themselves.
Some people will never understand what you do but the people in your corner should always support what you do.
Staying aligned with my values keeps me happy and focused.

I’m grateful for these lessons but every time it took me 4-6 months to recover from them. That’s a lot of lost time and lost income.

How to know that a business coach understands your business.

A coach should listen and question before they give an opinion. Their opinion should be based on what’s best for your business, not their’s, not their other clients’, yours.

Understand business quote Warren BuffettA coach shouldn’t push an opinion on you. They should tell you why they have a particular opinion and the risks and benefits of adopting (or not) but they should never make you feel like you must.

A coach should call you on your BS but not tell you how to think or what to do.

A coach should advocate for you and your business.

A coach should understand the aims and objectives you and your business have so that they can help you both be the best possible versions.

If a coach doesn’t understand then they should ask questions until they do.

I hope that helps you find someone who understands you and your business so that you avoid some of the set backs and issues I’ve encountered over time. If you want to chat to me and find out if I’d understand you and your business, then please contact me.

  • March 24, 2021
business direction

When you’re needing a better business direction

I’m the first to admit that I sometimes feel like I’m wandering aimlessly in my business, like a boat with no direction floating out to sea. You know there’s nothing wrong with that from time to time, it’s just when your business permanently runs like that directionless and rudderless boat that there can be issues.

Last year, this is exactly where I was. I’d done the goal setting, I was working to an annual and quarterly plan, I broke these down into actionable steps in my bullet journal and yet I still didn’t feel I was going where I needed. My marketing was letting me down.

While goals are great and planning and planners map things out, I was missing the action to actually move me in the direction I wanted.

My clients want growth, more sales, more staff, more income for their lifestyle. So what tools and information do they need to get there? How do they get there? How do they know which direction to take in their business?

Personal income

The first thing a business needs to set their direction is to know how much money they need. Not for their business, first up, but personally. Too often I see business owners running their business like a bank because they don’t know what their budget is, and worse, they don’t live within it.

Do you know how much money your family spends each year? Can you work it out to a monthly, fortnightly, or weekly amount? When you do, make sure you make the calculation based on how many weeks you want to work in your business as you have to save money to live off during your holidays.

Sales needed to generate income

The next number a business needs to determine their direction is how many sales they need to generate their operating expenses, personal income, and a buffer.

Then it’s how many leads that requires, based on their success rate at converting leads to sales. As a guide, most websites convert at 2%. So let’s run some numbers:

You want to generate $100 000
Your average sale is worth $200

You need 100 000/200 = 500 sales

If the only way your clients convert is through your website then:
you need 50 x 500 sales = 25 000 leads

Once you have this number then you need to look at how you generate, capture, and nurture these leads so that you can convert them.

Before you race off and run ads etc, you also need to know how long it takes your business to take them from their first contact through to a sale. For my business, that’s 2 years, meaning that if I want to generate $100 000 in 2021, I needed 25 000 leads in 2019.

So now you’ve got your personal and business numbers how do you make this all happen and set the direction for your business?

Annual Planbusiness direction quote John F Kennedy

As its name suggests, your annual plan is what you are going to do for the year. The goals and targets you want to achieve. The launches you want to have. The metrics you want to achieve. What your marketing & communication focuses are. Your financial goal. How you plan to celebrate. What you learnt from last year.

Your annual plan is a strategic document detailing your business direction for the whole year. It’s a living document, so it can change. It’s overarching, making it not overly descriptive but allowing you to dream big! You should refer back to it at least four times a year, when you do your quarterly planning, but the more the better.

Quarterly Plan

Like an annual plan, a quarterly plan does what it says, it’s a plan of your business direction for a quarter (3-months) of the year. What it should do is take an aspect of your annual plan and map it out for the three months. It should include financial targets, sales targets, lead targets, who you’re getting support from, and the tools you’re using to keep your business on track.

Your quarterly plan should include self-care activities and how you plan to celebrate. It should also include what and why you didn’t achieve things in the previous quarter, what you learnt from that and how you’ll fix it. (Don’t keep passing things from one quarter to the next, if it’s been bumped twice you need to look at if it’s a priority and why you keep bumping it and make it a priority).

Marketing Plan

Your marketing plan, do you have one written down? This is where I fell down. I had all these great things planned in my annual and quarterly plans but no plan to make it happen. If I wanted sales, to launch, or to grow, I had to market to make it happen.

There are many ways to plan and to plan marketing, I needed something to show me a year in advance what I was focusing on and how my blog and other marketing & communication channels were going to support the direction I had for my business. I needed to see a tangible line between the two.

Marketing plans should include topics, platforms for distribution, dates, and objectives. They are there as a guide.

My annual plan is flexible, I can shift objectives and topics if my annual or quarterly plans change. In all honesty, it’s very much a set and forget until I action each marketing task.

Weekly Plan

All this planning bubbles down to a weekly plan, I skip monthly plans in preference for quarterly. In it I record income, appointments, meetings, tasks, family stuff. You name it, if I need it to happen that week, it goes in the book.

I used to have a task list, but eventually got overwhelmed by the ever-growing list. I can pencil things in for certain dates, and bump them; but just as you need to watch bumped items in the quarterly plan, the weekly plan is the same.

I also keep quick notes, ideas for books or offers, research, anything really that catches my fancy. That’s the joy and flexibility of it being in one place. (Did I tell you I use a bullet journal system for all of it?)

Overall, the aim of the weekly plan is to combine the tasks you need to do with actionable steps to achieve the larger aims of your quarterly and annual plans.

Action – personal, outsourcingDirection small business quote James Dean

So, you know what direction to steer your business in and have a system of actionable steps, now to take the action.

Some people are great once they’ve stepped out of their game plan and others can become overwhelmed and start a procrastination spiral. While I’m not here to tell you how to get out of that, what I can suggest is one way to avoid it – don’t do it.

I don’t mean don’t spiral, I mean don’t do all the tasks (actually, I mean don’t spiral nor do all the tasks). I know as a business owner, I feel that I have to complete all of the tasks because I am responsible for the direction and activities of my business. While it’s true, I don’t have to do them all. I don’t even have to write these blogs, I do it because I enjoy it. Your business is the same. If a task that will help you move forward is not one you enjoy or is not an efficient use of your time, or you’ve bumped it twice in your planning – outsource it.

I’ve outsourced image and workbook creation, funnel mapping, accounting, brand photography, branding, and many others. It comes down to valuing my time and realising that while I can do most of these things, my time is better applied elsewhere and deriving an income.

Forgiveness and fixing it when you don’t get to it or questioning if it’s in the best interests

I’ve mentioned a few times about taking action when you’ve bumped something a few times. Here’s the thing, don’t beat yourself up on either bumping it or ditching it. Work out why it happened and keep moving.

At the time of writing, I have 2 tasks that I have moved 3 times in my weekly planning, I should have actually scheduled them for a specific date. I keep moving them because it’s not their time.

I will often think something is a fabulous idea and start working on it only to realise that it’s only fabulous because I admired the person doing it, not that it was needed or helpful to my business.

At the moment, I’m tired, like many we are now 12 months into the covid pandemic and we’re tired. I need to acknowledge that things will take longer and I need to show the kindness to myself that I’d show my clients.

I’ve also outsourced my motivation. I spent two years working with a business coach who helped me take the steps and also held faith in me until I could hold it alone. If you need that person, I can help.

In the end, your business direction depends on you. You need to be clear on where you’re headed, why you’re headed, and what you’re going to get out of it. While dreams are free, action pays the bills. Keep planning and keep moving forward.

  • March 19, 2021
business insight and how you can improve it

Using business insight and how you can improve your skills

One of the reasons my clients love me, so they say, is because of my business insight. On a personal level, people can find me intimidating is because of my ability to pinpoint an issue and go straight to that point. And that had me thinking about what skills I use, that I can help you with, that will help you hone your business insight.

What is business insight?

Business insight is when one takes raw data, processed information and applies experience to derive an advantage (insight) for your business. This insight can be actionable, able to be acted upon or be a detailed action, or informative and may be used in the future to inform other insight.

What specific skills do I use to form my business insight?

I did think of originally writing that I wished you could have my years of experience and tertiary qualifications, I actually wouldn’t wish that on anyone. I once ran through all the roles I had in my 12-year public service career and the listener couldn’t believe that I did all of the tasks. I’ve done A LOT, experienced some stuff that I really should never have been put through, and to be honest I wouldn’t wish the tears I shed on anyone else.

Yet outside of the experience and qualifications, there are a few skills you can use, right now, to improve your business insight.

Perspective-takingbusiness insight quote jaggi vasudev

Perspective-taking is a two-step process where you have to listen to hear what is being said and what is not being said (that bit comes with experience and practice) and then be able to empathise and put yourself in the place of the other person.

You have to park your own drivers and be able to tap into their drivers and how the story and problem they are describing would impact them.

A great first step in this skill is to listen, repeat back a summarised version starting with “So what I am hearing is” and also include, “So I guess that makes you feel/means to you that”. A person will then confirm if you’ve heard them correctly and that your ability to apply that to their drivers is correct. Parents: have a go with your kids, you’ll be surprised what you hear.

Objectivity

A little adjunct to perspective-taking is being objective, this can be particularly hard if you’ve had similar experiences or you’re close to the other person.

I know that when my objectivity goes out the window, my fact-checking is wrong and I need to listen for the factual words I’m being told.

I often find that the more emotive a conversation, the harder it is to be objective.

I learnt the saying “just the facts, ma’am” when I was working in compensation and had to summarise evidence to counter claims from lawyers. My objectivity really focuses on the ability to differentiate fact, fiction, and emotion.

I can find that some people get flustered by having to keep on the facts, but I know that it helps to get to the nub of the problem sooner. (and with greater clarity)

Analyticalbusiness insight quote

I’ve been told I can be too analytical, meaning that I’m somehow insensitive. I have to tell you that that can not be further from the truth. It’s just that when I’m in work mode, sometimes I need to be analytical and remove emotion so that I can solve an issue.

Being analytical can go anywhere from a list of pros and cons, by mine will generally weigh up implications, opportunities, risks etc. against current circumstances and the drivers of the owners and the business. My aim is to always move a business towards its full potential and goals and being analytical can mean doing less, seemingly going backwards, and letting staff go so that the business can benefit in the long term. (I’m a firm believer in short term pain for long term gain)

Holistic

My insight must take into the personal drivers of the owner and their health, physical, mental, spiritual, and financial. Too often I see businesses making decisions that do not support the financial health of the owner. Or I’m confronted with business owners at breaking point because they have worked themselves to exhaustion.

Being able to take an holistic approach requires the ability to perspective take. You have to be able to read what is left unsaid. And you have to leave any preconceived notions on how you would react in the same situation at the door. It takes practice.

Improving your business insight is more than coming up with new perspectives and ideas, it’s also about improving your insight into yourself and I firmly believe that this is where we personally win when helping others gain insight in their business, I know I do.

P.S. If you need help with these skills, please contact me, and if you are looking for someone to go right to the nub of the problem and provide insight for your business, then I’d love to show you how I can do that for you.

  • March 12, 2021
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