My family calls me lazy. My partner teases me for being disorganised, but then again he would, because he’s one of those annoying over-organised, super productive people, who manages grocery shopping, cooking, laundry and will soon be taking charge of home schooling, seeing as how he has little, or no, work right now (he’s also self-employed).
He makes me look bad. I’m no superwoman. I’m not likely to ever morph into one of those hyper-optimised, Type-A personalities. I’m a big fan of sleeping and reading and sitting on my hands when the school calls for volunteers (I’m not their gal).
But, there are several rituals and habits I’ve adopted over the last 12 years in business that have helped me grow my business and keep the leads coming in, even when times are tough.
Monday morning check-in
Every Monday morning, I check in with my accountability buddies to share my top three tasks of the week and witness others declaring theirs’. These top three tasks are not everyday things and client work, but instead focus on creating leverage, making sales, and mass communications (rather than replying to one person via email).
Sharing and declaring these top three tasks gives me, and the group, accountability to actually get these things done.
Part of growing your business is your ‘stop doing’ pile – those habits, routines or people in your life who are taking you away from the life you want. These can be people with a bad attitude and too much money baggage that are contagious to your enthusiasm.
I’ve been using external accountability for as long as I remember. I used to share with my Facebook page 10 years ago when I was planning to put on a digital marketing course somewhere. It made it real and it meant I had to pull my finger out and actually make it happen.
Focus on the numbers
Since I began my business, I’ve always set myself monthly revenue goals. I coach my clients to set revenue goals and track key numbers, including the number of inquiries.
Too often, we fixate on random, unimportant metrics, such as social media fans, while neglecting to track fundamental metrics such as amount billed per month, profit margin, and numbers of inquiries or leads into the business.
Focusing on your key numbers – and forgetting about the rest – keeps you earning.
“That which is measured improves” (Karl Pearson).
You’ll be amazed by the simple act of tracking these metrics will improve them.
Write stuff down
Writing helps you think. And it’s the essential first step to making a vague idea a new reality. If I have a good idea that’s taking up space, squatting in my brain, I’ll sketch it out on paper (with a pencil, not a pen. Or alternatively, a coloured marker on a big piece of recycled paper.).
I first stumbled upon this trick when I had two young babies at home and was trying to run my business and keep all the plates spinning. I used to talk to myself out loud, write things down, and leave clues in rooms, to help myself remember to do certain things.
Writing things down frees your brain to focus on more interesting things.
Deadlines and diaries
One huge struggle for many new business owners is the lack of deadlines. We need to create these ourselves – not to create a stick with which to beat ourselves, but so we can adequately plan, and put our head down to get stuff done.
I teach my clients to regularly schedule CEO dates with themselves – once a month at a minimum. This is sacrosanct time – for planning, brainstorming and thinking.
These CEO dates are recurring calendar entries, alongside exercise classes, social media scheduling, and creativity dates. Everything goes in the diary – which frees up my brain for more interesting things.
Take breaks and create a buffer
Years ago, I taught a course in Melbourne and asked the group to start planning their business year ahead – first step: put in your holidays and time off. A woman started to protest: “I’ve only just started my business and can’t see how I’m going to take time off, I’ve got so much to do.” Before I’d even taken a breath to respond, the entire room of business owners told her why breaks and holidays were essential for business owners.
I often work 1-2 hours in the morning, then take 1-2 hours out for breakfast, kid-drop-offs and exercise, then work another 2-3 hours, then take off at least half an hour for lunch. I build breaks into my day and have a repertoire of things to do for these, including a walk in my garden, a handstand or three, cooking or watering my plants.
When my workload is particularly intense, I’ll book a massage, either after the period ends or in the middle of it. This buffer creates headspace within which to recuperate.
Never stop hustling
Hustling is not working 24/7. Hustling is keeping in communication with people, following up, pitching and quoting.
I never stop hustling because that’s how marketing and rapport-building works. I can’t just reach out when I need something – it stinks of neediness and it’s not generous. I’m committed to a bare minimum marketing schedule.
I’m not committed to marketing; I’m committed to people, and relationships take time and effort.
Feed your joy
‘Joy powers people powers business’ – this is one of my business values. Joy is necessary every single day. Luckily it’s easy to practice.
I practice joy through kissing, hugging, dancing, jumping, laughing, noticing things, singing loudly, reading a novel in bed, or writing. You might practice joy differently.
Don’t underestimate the power of joy – if you’re out of practice, give it a go and make it a daily thing.
I don’t want to be a wealthy workaholic with no friends. What’s the point of building my business if I can’t appreciate the time, money, creativity and flexibility it gives?
Follow the momentum
When good things happen in business, I follow the momentum and do the next brave thing straight away. Many people don’t, perhaps because they don’t want to “tempt fate” or they figure they don’t need to.
But the best time to pitch someone is when someone else has just said “yes”. When I’ve booked one webinar, I want to book the next one straight away. If I’ve just finished presenting a new course, I’m itching to present it again, because it’ll be better and I’ll enjoy it more.
Momentum begets momentum, joy begets joy, success begets success.
There are plenty of scary things in business. Plenty of confusing or boring or complicated things. But when things are going your way, get on a roll by following the momentum.
Find your optimum routine and daily rhythm, surround yourself with like-minded people-in-business who will cheer you on, focus on your strengths and note your progress. As business owners, we’re not taking the easy route. We’re taking the worthy one.