Now that the dust has settled on the festive season, now might be the ideal time to start thinking seriously about what you want to achieve in the coming year. I’ve shared a great deal of blog posts on the topic of goals in the past (here’s a list of twelve of my favourite), so today I plan to keep the advice really simple.
Here it is: start the year with the end in mind.
Why? Because I think it’s far easier to make wise resolutions that are true to who you are and what you want for your business when you come at the process from a different angle. Instead of starting out by thinking about the changes you want to make, I suggest that you begin by considering what you want to achieve.
So, at the end of 2017, where do you want to be? Do you have a clear picture of what you’d ideally like you and your business to look like in twelve month’s time?
Wherever you see yourself, try and be as specific as possible about what that means for you and your business. This process will be far more straight-forward if you think in concrete terms.
For example, do you want to…
…be working in a different industry?
…have opened a new premises?
…be working shorter hours?
…have more employees?
…be working with a wider client base?
…have introduced a new product or service?
…have earned a certain amount of money?
…have relocated your business?
…be focusing on a different kind of work?
…have an industry related Amazon bestseller?
…have a certain number of blog subscribers?
…be enjoying more time off?
…have won an award?
…have created a different kind of income?
…have a successful social media presence?
Once you’ve settled on where you want to be at the end of the year, it’s time to consider what you’ll need to do in order to get there.
What individual steps will you need to take? Are there new habits you need to build? Skills you need to learn? People you need to get on side? Will you need to change the way you work on a daily basis? Will you need to reach out to new potential client bases? Would it be helpful to engage support from other professionals?
The more steps you’re able to break your big dream down into, the better. Big goals are far easier to achieve when they’re split into tiny bitesize chunks! Write down each step and work out what you can do to make it happen: and make this list your business blueprint for the next twelve months.
Can I help to cheer you on with your goals throughout the year ahead? Get in touch to discuss how my services might work for you.
I can’t quite believe it myself, but there are just four weeks left until the end of the year! The beginning of December brings with it all kinds of plans and shopping lists, and this festive planning probably means that January 1st is the last thing you’re thinking about.
Despite this, if you get a few hours of quiet time this week; why not use it to start thinking about your business goals for 2017? Well thought out goals can be an excellent tool to help you stay on track with your business and achieve sustainable organic growth.
Many of us only start thinking about what we want from our business in the year ahead once Christmas is over and the panicked New Year’s Resolution rhetoric starts up in the media.
All that pressure can make it hard to make well thought out decisions that really reflect what we want from our business and our life. A little planning time now could help you make resolutions that feel more true to who you are.
Not sure where to start? I’ve shared many posts in the past that may be helpful. Some are about goal setting, some are about your work/life balance, and some are about determining what you really want from your business.
Hopefully these twelve posts will inspire you to make wise choices for your business in 2017.
1. Don’t Make New Year’s Resolutions for Your Business, Make Wise Choices
2. How to Find the Courage to Make a Big Business Change
3. Seven Signs Your Work/Life Balance Needs Some Attention
4. How to Effectively Prepare Your Business for the End of the Year
5. Are You Sabotaging Your Business by Not Taking Care of Yourself?
6. If You Always Do What You’ve Always Done… Five Ways to Break the Cycle
7. Why Not Bring Playfulness Back into Your Business?
8. Ten Signs That it’s Time to Let Go of What You Know
9. Is it Too Late to Set Goals for This Year?
10. What Big Business Question Are You Asking Yourself… And What Are You Doing About it?
11. Productive Things You Could Do For Your Business in Ninety Minutes
12. Five Tips for Gaining Business Headspace
Feeling inspired? I’d love to hear what you’re challenging yourself to do in 2017. As an added bonus; sharing your plans publicly can be an excellent way to encourage yourself to stick to them!
Why not share your goals with me on the Green Shoots Coaching Facebook page?
Self employment is growing ever more popular. Recent statistics showed that 4.61 million people in the UK are self employed, which is almost as many as work in the public sector. What might be surprising is that huge numbers of these new self-employed people are leaving established careers to set up in business with their spouse.
For some people, working with their husband or wife sounds like a dream. For others, it’s probably more of a nightmare! If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to set up shop with your other half, perhaps now is the time to do it.
However, I do have a key piece of advice for you: slow down! It’s wonderful to be enthusiastic about a new venture, but rushing into something could be a mistake. After all, you and your spouse may be perfectly matched to be partners in life… but being partners in business is something else entirely.
I always recommend that couples who are thinking about going into business together take the time to do a ‘viability test’. Taking this extra step before you get too committed to the idea of going into business could save you from far bigger problems further down the line.
This is an excellent way to ensure that you have covered all practicalities before you start.
For your viability test, consider:
Do you and you spouse have the same vision?
It’s important to ask the question why. If you want to go into business to challenge yourself to achieve more, but your partner wants to be self-employed so he can take more holiday time, you may find that your venture is somewhat doomed before it begins! Successful business partners need to have similar scale ambitions.
Do you have complementary skills?
The skill base you and your spouse have to offer between you will impact on how well prepared your business will be. Ideally you’ll both have something of value to bring to the business. Those skills may be the same (for example, two marketers starting a marketing agency together) or they may be different (for example, a super organised administrator and a photographer starting a photo studio together). Either way, you need to be confident that you both have a similar amount to offer.
Do you both feel prepared to handle the other one’s weaknesses?
We all have strengths, yes, but we also all have weaknesses. If you’re planning on going into business with someone, it’s important to be aware of what those weaknesses are. It’s also key for you both to be honest about how able you feel to deal with them in a business setting. For example, you may find your spouse’s scatterbrain tendencies endearing at home… but will you feel the same about them in the office?
Do you thrive in similar environments?
How do you and your other half like to work? It’s wise to make sure you’ve thought about logistics. Every day considerations such as workspaces and schedules will have a big impact on how content you both are within the business.
If you take the time to do a viability test with your spouse, it’s likely that you’ll have built a much stronger base for your business than if you just jumped straight in. You’ll also probably find that the conversations you have during this stage bring up one or more big red flags.
You’ll be able to solve many of these red flag issues with careful consideration and planning. However, in some cases you may come across a problem that you just can’t get around. Sometimes not doing something is the right decision!
If you and your spouse would like some support during the ‘viability test’ process, I’m here to help. Why not get in touch?
One of the most common problems I come across when working with business owners is professionals not charging what they’re worth. I get it. Money is difficult to talk about, and sometimes it can be hard to have the confidence to truly know your worth; especially when you’re offering a premium service.
I’ve experienced this myself. There have been times when I’ve sat down with a potential client for a free thirty minute consultation and really hit it off with them, only to discover that the budget they have in mind doesn’t cover my fees. In these cases it can be really tough to stick to your guns and ignore the little voice in your head that says ‘well, maybe I could offer a discount…’
After all, the more you discount your fees, the more you devalue your service. Charging less than you’re worth could make potential clients question the quality of your service, and could even make bigger and more high-profile clients overlook you completely.
It’s important to remember that it’s okay to not be the cheapest person in your field! After all, If you’re offering a premium service, the reality is that you’re also going to be charging premium prices.
When you charge what you’re worth, a number of things will happen:
1. You’ll want to be clear on value and benefits
Premium services tend to come at a premium price! When you are truly charging what you’re worth, any initial talks you have with clients will be focused on the value and benefits of what you’re offering. A lot of business owners find communicating this difficult, so if you can do it well you’re already off to a head start!
2. People will try and negotiate you down
There will always be people who will respond to your quote with a counter-offer. Though in certain situations there can be a place for this kind of negotiation, in most cases I think it’s wise to stay firm. If you accept a lower fee than you originally asked for, it can seriously devalue what you’re offering.
3. You’ll only work with people who really want to work with you
The best types of clients are the ones who are 100% engaged in the process of working with you. When you truly charge what you’re worth, it’s likely that everyone who makes the decision to work with you will do so because they really believe in what you’re doing, not just because you’re the most affordable option.
4. Your business will be more profitable
When you run a service-based business, you will have serious time limitations on how many clients you can take on. After all: there are only a limited number of hours in the day and days in the week. If you’re always busy but are still not earning what you feel you should be, it’s probably because you’re not charging what you’re worth.
Increasing your prices to really reflect the value you offer to your clients can be a big step. Let me assure you, however, that all the clients I have supported through this process have never looked back.
Not sure where to start? I’d be happy to sit down with you and explore all the many ways your business offers value. Why not get in touch?
Got that back to school feeling? We’re now officially into September which means the kids are back at school, the evenings are getting shorter and the leaves are starting to change colour. For some people this can be a time of great productivity – especially if you’re celebrating having your home-based workspace all to yourself again now term has started!
However, some of us can find this time of year tricky. It’s not uncommon to come down with a case of the end of summer blues, and this can have a detrimental effect on how effective you’re able to be in your business.
Sound familiar? There are plenty of ways to avoid the blues taking hold! If you’re feeling overly wistful about seeing the back of the summer months, it might be a good idea to keep a few of these ideas in mind.
Avoid going into hibernation with your business
When you’re feeling down, it might seen helpful to immerse yourself in the business side of things. Unfortunately, this is often counter-productive. Trying to distract yourself with work instead of addressing the problem could mean that your blues simmer away under the surface.
Get excited about what’s to come
The weather may be on the turn, but there’s a lot to be excited about come autumn and winter. You may have some big opportunities ahead, professional events and conferences to attend, or even a new goal to focus on.
Recreate the parts of summer you miss
What was it about the summer that you didn’t want to let go? Perhaps you worked at a slower pace, got more fresh air, spent more evenings chatting with loved ones, took more time off, had more time for personal and professional reflection, or worked from a different workspace. Whatever it was, there may be a way you can incorporate more of what you loved about summer into your routine year-round.
Take the opportunity to set some new targets
If you’re in a bit of a rut with your business, setting some dynamic new targets could be an excellent way to give yourself a bit of a boost. I’d recommend thinking about SMART targets and choosing something that helps to get you closer to running your ideal business.
Consider whether you might be suffering from SAD disorder
If you’re really struggling to shake the end of summer blues, it might be worth doing some research on SAD disorder. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of seasonal depression that tends to be at its worst in the colder months. If you think this may be a problem for you, I’d recommend having a chat with your GP.
Do you suffer from the end of summer blues? If so, I’d love to hear what you do to shake them off! Why not share your suggestions on the Green Shoots Coaching Facebook page?
If you’ve never looked into business coaching before now, you might have a few misconceptions about what it is and who it’s for. You may think it’s just for failing businesses, but actually the vast majority of my business clients are running flourishing ones. Equally, you may have assumed that business coaches are only for ‘lonely’ business owners who don’t have a supportive network… but in reality this is far from the case.
Being surrounded by a supportive network is absolutely fantastic. Family members, friends and fellow business owners can all be great to have around, and many business owners find they really are a great resource when it comes to business.
This being said, even the most supportive personal and professional networks have their limitations. The main issue? Family, friends and professional contacts will almost always have a subconscious vested interest in the choices you make.
Let me give you a few examples
Your spouse may have excellent business sense… but they may subconsciously steer you away from any business direction they view as too financially risky.
Your parents may be generally very on-board with your career choice… but they may be less-than-enthusiastic about any decisions that don’t match up with their own ambitions for you.
Your friends may be a great sounding board… but they may not be able to hide their disappointment about potential growth opportunities that involve more time spent away from home.
Your employees might be really insightful about your market… but they may find it difficult to separate any advice they offer from the desire to maintain their own professional status quo.
Your fellow business owners might be full of knowledge and advice… but they may unknowingly be holding back on areas that represent a cross over between your business and theirs.
With all these different agendas and priorities at play, it can be really difficult to find someone who really will offer no judgement and can advise you on business matters with total impartiality.
That’s where business coaches come in
One of the top five reasons new business clients approach me is because they’re looking for a trusted advisor with no vested interest and no hidden agenda. They want to feel that they are being truly listened to, and that they can be totally honest.
Because, of course, when you talk to members of your existing supportive network you, too, are likely to be holding back. You may be wary of showing weakness, admitting disappointments or even letting them in on secret ambitions.
When you make the decision to work with a professional business coach, you can be confident that both you and your advisor are coming to the conversation without that hidden agenda. You don’t need to impress your business coach or protect them from potential problems. Instead, you can have a truly objective conversation about where you are with your business, where you want to be, and the best path to take to get there.
Does this type of supportive relationship sound like it would be useful to you? If it does, please think about getting in touch. I offer a free consultation to every potential client. Take a look at my Are You Ready for Coaching? questionnaire to get started.
As a business coach, I often have to ask difficult questions. One of those questions is this one: is your business stale?
Trust me when I say I know how hard it is to be honest about questions like these. As business owners we all work incredibly hard on our businesses, and it can be tough to stick our hands up and admit when we’re getting something wrong.
However, that doesn’t mean that we should avoid the difficult questions! After all, one of the biggest problems with business is that our offering can go from wonderful to old hat in what feels like no time at all. There is no staying still in business: we all need to keep moving and innovating in order to maintain our success.
Unfortunately, not all business owners subscribe to this idea. It can be easy to doggedly stick to the same once-winning formula for years and years without looking around to find out whether that’s even what our customers are looking for anymore.
Let me give you an example. I recently met an architect who was great at what he did. He was passionate about his profession and had enjoyed a long career. Problem was: over that long career he’d stuck to what he felt he did best. In this case, what he did best was hand drawn architecture plans. There was certainly a place for these, and some of his customers really valued them, but in sticking to this one style he’d failed to learn newer computer-aided techniques. Rather than accept that he needed to upskill in order to move forward, he’d begun to turn potential customers away when they asked for more modern architecture plans.
Now, you may not be actively turning customers away in your business… but have you considered whether your potential customers are looking for something you’re not offering? It can be incredibly eye-opening to take a look around the marketplace and see what other businesses similar to yours are offering their customers and what seems to be gaining in popularity.
Not sure where to start to make sure your business isn’t getting left behind? The following questions are a great jumping off point to really challenge whether your business needs some new energy.
The good news is that a stale business doesn’t necessarily mean a failing one. There are often really easy ways to breathe new freshness into a business. If this is a problem for you: be assured that the sooner you admit it, the sooner you can start making positive changes.
- Are you keeping up to date with the latest developments in your industry?
- Do you use the communication channels your customers are using?
- Are your competitors offering something you’re not?
- Could you do what you do in a more modern or streamlined way?
- Have you avoided adopting a piece of equipment or software that would make things easier for your customers?
- When was the last time you added a new service or product to your offering?
- Could you re-brand and/or repackage some of your existing services or products to bring them more up to date?
- Have you been asked for a service or product by multiple customers without implementing it?
Do you need help answering difficult questions about your business? That’s what I’m here for! Why not take a look at Taking Care of You, Taking Care of Business, my monthly membership programme for business owners like you?
Whatever your business type, you can probably be pretty confident that your customers talk about you when you’re not there. This might be through the medium of online reviews, social media, or in person to friends and family.
The content of these discussions can have a big impact on the success of your business. Many of us rely on the power of word of mouth… and if all the words that are coming out of those mouths are negative, it’s likely to mean a big drop in the number of new customers that come your way.
Ask any business owner and they’d probably say they’d love to be able to choose what their customers say about them. Wouldn’t you?
Here’s the thing: you can
Okay, so I’m not suggesting you can actually script what your customers say about you when they discuss your services with their friends. But we do have a lot more of an impact on how those conversations go than we might realise. After all, it’s the quality of our products and service provision that informs where those conversations go.
A huge part of this will come down to how good of an impression you’ve made on your customers. So if you want to increase the chance of them saying great things about you, you need to improve the quality of that impression.
Think like a fly on the wall
I’ve got a little trick for thinking about how to manage customer perceptions. Imagine yourself as a fly on the wall when your most recent customer goes home and talks about their experience with your business. Ask yourself honestly: what do you think they’d tell their other half about the service you’d provided? Would they enthuse about it? Or would they be more likely to express disappointment?
Once you’ve given yourself a bit of a reality check, you might want to take the exercise in a different direction. Imagine yourself as the fly on the wall to the absolute best conversation about your business you could hope for. In this ideal world, what would that customer comment on? Would they be thrilled at the quality of your work? Would they comment on how valued they felt as a customer? Would they go on and on about just how much they’d enjoyed the experience?
What can you do to make it happen?
The benefit of this thought exercise is that it gives you a great indication of where you want to improve. Once you have a better grasp on what you want your customers to experience, you’ll be far better placed to work on actually making that a reality.
The key question here is this: what changes can you make to your customer experience to ensure your customers do say all the positive things you want them to? Do you need to improve the quality of your offering? Could you add extra value? Could you make your customer communications more personal? Could you make the process more fun?
The better you’re able to manage your customer experience, the more control you’ll gain over how those customer conversations go.
I’d love to know what you’d like your customers to say about you. What’s the best compliment you can imagine? Share it with me on the Green Shoots Coaching Facebook page.
Just about everyone who is self-employed has made a very conscious decision to move away from standard employment. Though there are exceptions, it’s much harder to ‘accidentally’ find yourself in a position of self-employment than it is to fall into a more mainstream career path!
This simple fact is something I often find myself reminding clients of. Running a business can be draining and at some point most of us will lose sight of exactly why we chose to do it. At these times I believe it’s really helpful to remind yourself of your ‘reason why.’
Before I became self-employed, I was working in a people development career I loved… but the standard model of employment no longer felt right for me. After a lot of soul searching, I realised that gaining total control over my time would give me the flexibility I really wanted. Ultimately, this was the reason why I moved from a more standard career to self-employment.
The business owners I know and have worked with all have very different reasons why. These have included:
In the beginning, we all had a big ‘reason why’ like this. Unfortunately, the everyday minutiae of self-employment can get on top of even the best of us – and many of us go for months and months without remembering what that reason was.
- Wanting to be more creative in their daily life
- Wanting more financial freedom
- Wanting to build a better work/life balance
- Wanting to take their skills in a different direction
- Wanting to work around health problems
- Wanting to be less fixed to a geographical location
- Wanting more control over the work they take on
- Wanting to work flexibly around family
- Wanting to be less constrained by industry policy and conventions
- Wanting to have a more varied career
- Wanting to work from home
- Wanting to explore a big idea
- Wanting less restrictions on their career
- Wanting to fit their work around a major ambition
Recently I’ve worked with two different clients who have admitted they’re no longer enjoying their business. In both cases we discovered, after a lot of discussion, that they had all but forgotten about the reason they were attracted to self-employment in the first place. Reconnecting with their original reason why, and working to incorporate it back into the businesses they’re running today, really helped both business owners to reconnect with their business and the joy of self-employment.
Are you experiencing something similar?
My recommendation is to get away from your desk for half an hour and really think about your mindset when you came into self-employment. What attracted you to this type of career? What were your aspirations? What was it that made you take the final leap?
Once you’ve remembered your own reason why, take an honest look at your working habits and consider whether the way you are currently running your business is honouring it.
If it isn’t, it may be time for you to make some changes! Does this sound daunting? It doesn’t have to be. Take a look at my tips for finding the courage to make a big business change.
I don’t think you’ll be at all surprised to hear that I’m no superhero. I’m a business owner, just like many of my coaching clients, and I experience a lot of the same stresses and concerns. I’ve also had my fair share of bad mental habits, though I know how important is is to proactively address each one as soon as I become aware of it.
In the past, one of my most common bad mental habits was a tendency to wallow in failure. When something goes wrong it’s so easy to get caught up in reliving it. Near obsession can set in with the question of how you could have avoided it, what you could’ve done differently, or how your decisions put you at fault.
Sound familiar? I bet it does. Almost all of us have been known to throw ourselves a pity party from time to time!
But here’s the thing: the time you spend caught up in that pity party is completely wasted. It’s not productive, it’s certainly not enjoyable and it stops you from moving forward.
Many years ago, a wise business mentor reminded me of a very simple fact: what’s done is done. Once you’ve made a mistake, there’s nothing you can do to totally undo it.
Instead, the only sensible response to failure is to reach a place of acceptance as soon as possible. The sooner you can look your mistake in the eye, shake it off and move on, the better.
This is such a straightforward piece of advice, but it had a big impact on me. It helped me realise how pointless my ‘wallowing’ time had been, and how important it was to forgive myself (and the circumstances) and move on.
Once I started aiming for acceptance as soon as possible, I realised how much of a time saver this was. No longer was I wasting days of important time looking backwards and feeling bad: reaching acceptance allowed me to step straight into a more resourceful and solution-finding mode.
This had two key benefits:
One. I was then in a much better position to address any fall out from my original mistake and make amends if necessary.
Two. My mental space was clear to process what I’d learnt and start work on the next project.
I’m very grateful to that wise business mentor for passing on this simple piece of advice. It’s made a huge difference to my productivity over the years, and I now pass it on to countless other business owners who need to hear the same thing.
Have you ever been given a nugget of advice that should’ve been obvious, but wasn’t? I’d love to hear it if so. Share your little gems in the comments below, or pop on over to the Green Shoots Coaching Facebook page.