I had a lovely catch up this morning with Catherine Gil, one of my oldest friends, and we were talking about the things we find easy in our businesses and the things that push us outside of our comfort zone. We agreed that being our authentic selves is what serves us best, and anything that doesn’t sit well with us is probably not the way to go.
As a continuation of that conversation, I thought I would write this blog post about how the only “right” way to do things is the way that sits best with you, and people saying they have found “the” way are probably not the answer. I realised though that of course I am just as egotistical as everybody else – I too think I have found “the” way. Rather than try to persuade you of that however, I am going to lay out my Right Way to do Everything and if it sits well with you then we would probably work well together. It is always good to find like-minded people!
- Do what gets you to where you want to be
Oh how straightforward that sounds. Where most people get stuck is that they don’t actually know where they want to be. This can be for two reasons: some people genuinely don’t know what it is that they want, they haven’t had the time to really think about that, they don’t know quite where to start in figuring it out; some people do know what they want but they find it hard to be honest about that, either with themselves or those around them, so they pretend that they want something else. Something that they “should” want, or something they wanted a few years ago. Or something that is convenient because wanting something difficult is scary and they don’t want to rock the boat.
Not having a clear picture of where you want to get to is a real sticking point for making progress in anything, as it makes it so difficult to know which are the right decisions. It is very easy to get caught up in other people’s ideas of the “right” way to do things, because you feel as though if you follow Mr X or Ms Y’s strategy you are bound to get *somewhere* so let’s just go along with that in the hope that clarity somehow emerges. In reality this most often leads to a feeling of going round in circles.
So getting clarity on what it is that you want, and being honest about that, deciding to actually go for it, these are big things. Helping people to get to that point is one of the reasons I am passionate about coaching, as coaching is one of the best tools for gaining that clarity. At any stage in life.
Once you know what it is that you want, do the things that get you there. There are so many things you can focus on as a business owner, yet not all of them should be your priority. If you long for a big social media following, then obviously engaging content should be your focus. If you get clients and referrals and sales without much social media effort, and social media doesn’t bring you joy, then why on earth would you spend your precious time making the perfect Instagram grid? Just because Joe Bloggs did that amazing webinar on Instagram content doesn’t mean that you suddenly have to spend hours planning your images. If it doesn’t get you to where you want to be, it is not important.
I see a fair few posts urging small business owners to do it for love or passion rather than for money. Sure, it’s great to do something you love, and I don’t know anyone who has set up a business doing something they don’t enjoy. Yet making money is vitally important to the majority of business owners, whether that is because they need to earn a living, pay the mortgage, feed the kids, or whether it is because they want to supplement their family finances in order to follow their dreams. No one should be afraid to say “my goal is to make this much money”. Why wouldn’t it be? As long as you are not achieving that by mis-selling insurance policies to vulnerable old ladies you have absolutely nothing to feel guilty about!
Do what gets you to where you want to be. It is hard to go far wrong with that one.
- Do what brings you joy
The things you do in your business do not all have to be goal-focused and outcome-orientated. Sure, we only have so many hours in the day, so if you are spending the majority of them faffing around on Twitter instead of getting through your task list then making progress might be a little difficult! But if you enjoy a bit of social media interaction, go for it, even if it never brings you any sales. If you relish that networking group and feel better for having done it, book on to it regularly – even if you know your ideal client isn’t there.
One of the wonderful things about being your own boss is that you get to be the best boss you have ever had. You do not have to tell yourself that everything has to contribute to the bottom line. You can allow yourself the freedom to do things simply because you enjoy them. Or because you want to experiment. Or because you just feel like it today. Anything that uplifts you is going to make you more effective in your work, because we all perform better when we are happy. I’ve said before that self care is business development, because we cannot perform at our best when we have no reserves. Do what brings you joy, even if it isn’t a part of the carefully crafted game plan.
- Outsource the things you do not like
Clear Day exists to take the annoying crap off your desk so you can focus on what it is you want to be doing. So of course I would recommend that you outsource your admin. I see first hand how much it eases the load on small business owners so they can make progress towards their goals. Yet it is also how I live my life. I have a cleaner, an accountant, I.T. support, legal advice, a graphic designer… Anything I don’t want to do or don’t have the skills to do, I outsource it. There are only so many hours in the day, and I have no interest in spending my precious time cleaning the bathroom, fighting with my email system or crying over my book-keeping. Not when I could be working towards my goals or doing the things I enjoy.
There is an army of incredible freelancers out there who can provide every conceivable service in order to clear your day. Their goal is to make your life easier, and they enjoy doing the things you hate. Do not be afraid to outsource something if it’s not your bag. You do not have to do everything yourself, and trying to do so is likely to pull your focus away from where you want to be.
So that is it. My personal Right Way to do Everything. You will find 100 different versions, as so many people think they have it figured out, and they all want to help you to figure it out too. All I can say is, if you want to get clear on your goals, focus on what brings you joy, and ditch the annoying crap, then it is well worth your getting in touch. Give yourself the gift of a clear day.
Helen Calvert, July 2020