April 2020, my bed was crowded with my clients’ voices in my head. Every night, I’d consciously draw a circle around myself to stop business owner dilemmas following me into my dreams.
Since everything changed with the Covid pandemic in March 2020, I’ve answered 2,634 questions from business owners who were dealing with their clients’ panicking, their staff being laid off or put on indefinite leave, and their bricks-and-mortar businesses suddenly moving online.
As a business coach with numerous clients, I had to stay strong and give confidence so that my clients could do similarly for their clients. If everyone collapses, problems exacerbate. Perhaps you relate?
If you’re overwhelmed and ready for change, let’s look at how to move into clarity, and intentionally set your direction for the year to come.
Reignite the fire
As a business coach, I spend a lot of time listening to women telling me all the ways in which they don’t want to grow. More often than not, this is a coping mechanism rather than the truth.
When women in business tell me that they don’t want to grow, or they just wasn’t to refine what they’re doing, oftentimes the truth is:
- They feel alienated by the rah rah propaganda of hustle culture
- They’re sorely lacking emotional and practical support to do what they want to do
- They’re licking their wounds from having tried and failed in the past
- They’re feeling guilty or stressed about the clash of expectations from their multiple roles, both new and emerging, and a hangover from hundreds of years of what it means to be a woman.
How do I know this? Because I see it all day, every day. And, if someone was truly satisfied doing what they were doing, they wouldn’t be talking to me in the first place.
Part-and-parcel of working with me is unashamed cheering and support to help women in business to embrace their ambitions, which is still a dirty word for women.
To openly want what you want in business (and life) is half the game to actually getting it.
Reset your nervous system
A few years ago, I started taking a retreat by myself, away from my family. I love to do bushwalking, meandering down streets to gawk at people’s gardens, and staring at the sea. It’s a fantastic reset for my nervous system.
When your nervous system is under stress, you don’t make good decisions. In fact, you may make more rash decisions in the hope of removing the decision from your plate.
Every quarter, I facilitate quarterly business planning workshops. The first thing we do is take a breath, sitting in silence to calm ourselves and turn nervous energy into centred focus. Then we move onto reviewing and reflecting.
Don’t rush the process of finding your centre before you move into making big decisions.
Schedule in holidays and buffer
Many course participants have looked at me like I have two heads when I ask people in planning sessions to first schedule in time off and holidays. But without a big team, it’s impossible for you to keep all the balls in the air without buffer in which to breath.
By scheduling in buffer time around your busiest periods, and making sure you’ve got time off to look forward to, you’re far more likely to do brave, bold things.
Track your key metrics
In my Hustle & Heart program, we track the number of leads into the business per month, key marketing activities, and monthly revenue. These are your bare minimum metrics.
You can also track your time, where your best clients are coming from, your website visitor numbers, your email list growth, your email open rate, your pitches and outreach, the number of times you’ve appeared in front of other people’s audiences.
Simply put, tracking key metrics enables you to make (far) better decisions in business.
Write a ‘stop doing’ list
Part of our planning process in is to write ourselves a ‘stop doing’ list. This could include cutting your low-profit offerings, setting yourself a minimum job value to stop taking on tiny jobs, stopping mindless ‘research’ procrastination, or stopping lifestyle routines, such as going to bed too late, working in the evenings or on weekends, or not getting enough practical help.
Your ‘stop doing’ list will reduce your overwhelm. It’ll free up your time and headspace, and it helps you affirm what you value – and what you don’t.
Redesigning your business
As a business owner, you are in charge. Don’t like mornings? Hate working evenings? Love working weekends? There’s no rulebook. You can redesign your business so that it works for your life, not shoehorn your life around your business.
Part of this involves better understanding the seasons and their effect on you, working to your strengths, better understanding your business, and evolving it so that it gives you what you need.
Turning a dream into a map
We take vague hopes, desires or dreams, and turn these into concrete goals: goals that are specific, measurable and time-bound. Then we take these goals and turn them into a map, so that each week, we know exactly what task to do (a task that takes no more than an hour) to move closer towards realising our goals.
This is where most people get stuck, and most people want help. In client sessions, I help people take something vague and turn it into an action plan of small steps. Once this is done, we use our group to hold ourselves accountable each week to do the tasks on our plans.
And in this way, we bite off more than we can chew, and get into the practice of chewing deliberately, calmly, methodically, and with lots of people to support us and cheer us on.