In today’s episode, Anna explores how to design your best year ever and how you can set yourself up to have your best year in business in 2020.
We’re talking about how you can create and achieve your absolute best year in business yet, using the five pillars of a sustainable escape plan from the 9 to 5. You really want to always have this vision in mind as you build your business, however far off it may seem today, because otherwise you might get caught up in building something that looks very different. And even if you do manage to achieve it, you’ll be no better off than when you started.
*Resources mentioned during the episode*
The One Step Outside Facebook group– Join us over in the Facebook group to meet like-minded people who are working on reimagining success in their life and business and to get access to direct support and free training sessions from Anna. www.facebook.com/groups/onestepoutside
Okay. Today we’re talking about how you can create and achieve your absolute best year in business yet. I’m going to use the five pillars that I introduced a few episodes ago. So at the end of 2019, the five pillars of a sustainable escape plan from the nine to five, which is very much applicable when you’re in your business in the first few years … that in the end, to be honest, probably longer term as well. Those are the five pillars I use and I’ll begin with number one. Let’s dive straight in.
Number one is establishing of course your personal definition of success.
Now this means your definition of success from a big picture of course; how your business fits into life, in fact, your goals and vision for your life, even independently of your business. But then specifically in terms of your business, there are a few things you can consider.
First of all, for example, I like to look at your values. Your values are really central to who you are. They’re anchored in your fundamental beliefs, desires. And a life and business that isn’t aligned with those values is one that won’t bring fulfilment and happiness and meaningful success. So you really need to reflect on what do you value most in your life? What’s important to you maybe more so than to the people around you? And if there was one thing you’d stand up for no matter the cost, what would that be? One thing you want to protect for yourself or perhaps for others as well.
These values really help you to guide your decisions from the big picture down to the day to day. So maybe you have three core values you come up with or five. Of course that’s a whole other topic, so we won’t go into that now and I appreciate if you haven’t done this exercise before, it’s hard to come up with them right away. But if you fancy it, why not pause and just have a quick reflection on, okay, what do I value? Is it creativity, freedom, security, integrity? Hopefully we all value some of those things like integrity, honesty and so on. But really this will affect the type of projects you want to do, the type of organisations and clients you want to work with, how you want to go about your day and so on. So really getting clear on your values up front will prevent a lot of time wasting and struggles further down the line.
Now the other piece is finding the fun.
I’m really a big believer in the idea that you will do your absolute best work when you enjoy it, which means you’ll have your best business if you find work that you enjoy. Honestly, you’re never going to be truly motivated to do the work if you don’t find some kind of pleasure and meaning in it. And especially when you create your own business, it is going to be hard, let’s be honest, whether it’s the first initial setup phase or then consolidating it and growing and so on.
The whole point of course here is that you’re creating something that you love. That means knowing yourself, knowing what you enjoy. Do you love plugging away at a problem by yourself? Bouncing ideas off people in a team? Do you enjoy writing? Do you prefer to talk to people? What type of work, what type of projects do you most enjoy? What type of people do you enjoy working with? And yes, of course you will need to do some things that you don’t enjoy, at least in the short run but ultimately you want to be building a business around work that you do enjoy so that you can bring the energy and effort that you need to make it a success in the long run.
Speaking of whether or not you enjoy the work, of course I like to talk about the [ikigai00:03:16] guy, which is work that you enjoy on the one hand, but also using your absolute best skills and strengths, creating something that is meaningful, that is needed by the world as it were … it sounds very big and important … and also brings you money so you can monetize it. We’ll look at that in a moment as well. But your ikigai of course is very much relevant here, and that’s a [inaudible 00:03:38] I like to use to define what success looks like for you as well when it comes to the business.
Another aspect to consider is what if it all works out?
I read somewhere that we tend to overestimate what we can do in a day and underestimate what we can do in a year. Or what about three years, five years, 10 years? I like to ask my clients, “If I could wave my magic wand and give you everything you hope for, what would that look like?” Because that’s your real vision, your dream, your, “I don’t quite dare to admit it, but if I were really honest with myself, this is what I would want.” If everything worked out, if I had no fear, no concerns, money wasn’t an issue, et cetera, et cetera, what would this look like for you?
So how would your business end up, assuming it all goes completely according to plan. Or beyond your wildest imagination, what would be your role in that business? Would you have a big team of employees or associates doing the work while you’re managing them from afar, or maybe focusing on business development? Or do you want to actually build something but then extricate yourself so that you can sell your business and move on to the next idea? Or do you love the work and you want to always be doing it however successful you get? So you don’t want that massive team that you’re outsourcing to. You want to be really in there, maybe having more of a boutiquey kind of business.
You really want to always have this vision in mind as you build your business however far off it may seem today, because otherwise you might get caught up in building something that looks very different. And even if you do manage to achieve it, you’ll be no better off than when you started. I often talk about Stephen Covey’s quote, which is, “It doesn’t matter how fast you’re moving, if you’re heading in the wrong direction.” So if you’re building an incredible business that’s nothing like what you want, then obviously that’s not particularly meaningful and that’s not what we want to do here.
Those are some considerations in terms of coming up with your personal definition of success when it comes to your business.
Now the second piece is to build your confidence and resilience.
This is all around mindset. In order to have your best year, you need to believe that that is possible first of all. You need to believe that you have a great idea. Let’s say if you’re just starting out, if you’ve been in business for a while, you need to believe that you can scale, that you can grow, that you can get more clients, that you can charge more and so on. So the confidence piece is really important. I have a solution to a certain type of person’s organization’s problem and I am the right person to deliver that. I have the credibility, the experience, the skill, the strength and so on. That’s something that’s really important to work on.
There are a number of things you can do to develop your confidence. It could be little things like saving notes and emails and so on, getting reviews, testimonials from your past and existing clients. And you know what; now and then just looking at those. Either putting them up on a board so you can see them or having them in a jar and just dipping into that whenever you need that extra boost.
You can also sit down and map out why you are the right person for this, so all your skills, your strengths, your soft skills, your hard skills, your qualifications. Not just the traditional formal accolades and things, but really all the reasons; your incredible belief and conviction and commitment to this, the fact that you’ve maybe been through this transition yourself and so on. So really building up your confidence that you are the right person to do this. This is something you can perhaps find your own solution for in terms of maybe you need a mantra, a positive affirmation, meditation, whatever it is, but this is incredibly important.
If you don’t feel that you have these skills and so on then obviously that’s something to consider. Maybe you do need a formal course or something like that to fill the gap, to give yourself that extra push, the extra elements of confidence and to really feel like, yes, I do have the formal justification or formal accolades, acronyms or whatever it is to back that up. So if that is something that is important to you and/or important to your clients, then by all means, look at that as well.
That’s the confidence piece.
Now the second piece is resilience. We all hear about the feast or famine cycle of freelancers about, of course the dips … I’m sure you see those charts and I like them all the time on Instagram, LinkedIn, and so on, the roller coaster ride that is the entrepreneurial journey. Whether you think of yourself as an entrepreneur or not, it’s, “Hooray, I’ve got an amazing idea. I’m free. Oh, it’s not going so well. Oh wait, I’ve got a client. Oh, and what do I do next? Oh my gosh. And this happened,” dah dah dah. It’s very much this sort of depths of despair, up to an incredible high, lots of so-called failures, mistakes, and above all you might feel really isolated because they’re going through all of this yourself.
So part of the success that you’re going to want to work towards is being resilient. Embracing those so-called failures because they’re not failures. We just need to swallow our ego to some extent, keep showing up, keep tweaking, keep putting ourselves out there until we find the right people, we find the right message, they find us rather, and we build that business. It always takes longer than we think, but that’s part of it; swallowing our ego.
It might also be that you need to work with a coach, that you need to definitely find a community, so you need that support as well from friends, from family, but more likely from other people, from people who are going through similar things, from people who are a couple of years ahead of you. So finding mentors, a coach, an online or offline community, a mastermind group, whatever that is, that’s incredibly important to help you build your resilience. Again, it’s also a mindset piece of course, to recognise and to not take it personally when things don’t quite go as you want.
The more people we talk to, the more okay it is that some of them say no because we know that they’re just one of many people we’re talking to. And at some point some will say yes, and if it’s not a yes right now, it might be a yes later or it’s just not the right fit and so on. We need to expand our horizon a little bit to talk to more people, take a bit of a step back, have more of an objective view of it, and almost take the emotion out of it so that we’re taking action every day on our business and so on without necessarily getting completely ecstatic and likewise devastated when we get a client or don’t get a client.
That’s confidence and resilience.
Now the third one to help you get the best results you ever have in your business, is to look at your business model and to make sure that it’s set up in order to get you the results you want.
This is a massive topic and it’s not something you can talk about in a few minutes. But of course in a nutshell, a business model is how you’re going to run your business, who your customers are, what products and services you’re going to offer, how you’re going to make money. These different pieces are going to build on each other to ultimately deliver your version of success. That will include financial targets, the logistics of when and where you work and any other aspects that are important to you.
This is something, of course you need to dedicate proper time to look at. It’s something we do, for example, in my programmes one-on-one as well as in my business accelerator. If that’s something you feel is a big area to work on, then you can apply at onestepoutside.com/accelerate; onestepoutside.com/accelerate. Really this is crucial in order to make sure that the products and services you’re selling do add up to the revenue target that you have.
Maybe you need to look at multiple income streams. You need to look at how you can leverage your time so you’re not just working one-on-one. You can maybe launch a group programme or some kind of service that you can deliver to more people. You probably need to raise your prices. You need to recognise that you can’t work even if you wanted to 40 hours a week, whatever it is, I think it’s 2000 hours a year they say generally because that’s only a couple of weeks of holiday. As you know, when you work for yourself, you also have to consider sick days, not to mention holiday and working on the business, so admin, accounting, business development, marketing, sales and so on. So if your prices are based on you working every single hour of every single day, that’s just never going to get you to where you want.
Again, lots of questions here and really something that merits a lot more time. But you really need to sit down and look at your financials, look at your client that [inaudible 00:11:42] to make sure that they can afford working with you, that they can see a need, an urgent need to work with you and so on. So really looking at and having the right business model in place because otherwise all the other stuff around is not going to get you to where you need to get to.
Now the fourth pillar is having an effective platform.
This is really building your brand so that you’re attracting and not chasing clients. That’s whatever you decide to do in your business career, you have that presence, you have that connection with people, you have the network, you have that personal branding platform that you can use as a springboard to making the next step in your career or your business. That means having a presence on key social media platforms. It means creating and engaging on interesting content and so on. It might mean, who knows, having a podcast, writing and publishing a book, which of course is easier than ever before, just self-publishing a book, just putting out short posts on LinkedIn let’s say, creating videos, having a Facebook group, whatever that is.
But we need to have that platform where we are attracting people to our message, to the mission of our business, and ultimately of course that means bringing people into our funnel of what we might call marketing through to sales and so on so people get to know who you are, get to like you, get to know what you’re about, what you do, get to trust that you have the credibility as we were talking about a moment ago, that you really have the capacity and ability to help them with whatever it is you say you can do and then that you can [inaudible 00:13:23] them, persuade them, bring them on board to actually pay as a client.
Of course, that’s again like the business model, very fundamental, very complex, but something again that we can talk about if it’s not something you feel confident about. Again, there’s the accelerator, onestepoutside.com/accelerate, or you can book a consultation with me and we can have a chat about how I can support you with that.
Now the final piece is one of my favourites and it’s so important, for you to have your best year ever. This means that you’re not just going to work yourself into the ground, hustle away, stress and ignore, disregard and neglect all the other areas of your life. So your personal relationships, your partner, your children, your parents, your cousin, who knows who else, your sister, your brother, your dog, and neglecting your health and so on. Now I might be joking here, but it’s so important.
You need to set and above all, stick to boundaries between work and life, especially when you’re working from home. Especially when you don’t have that really clear distinction between an office that you commute into and coming home, you need to make sure that you know where your job finishes and where your life starts. Maybe you need some rules, really some concrete boundaries in terms of blocking your calendar, for example, so you’re only available certain hours. What can you do to help you stick to that plan? So maybe as I have done, you can turn off the notifications on your phone, close down your laptop at a certain time, only check during those predefined intervals in your calendar.
An important thing as well, how are you going to commit to actually pushing back and learning to say no to projects, to deadlines that interfere with your non-working hours? Or coming back full circle that aren’t a fit for your values, for your business plan and so on? Because that’s in a way the biggest boundary, biggest barrier to having your best year. It’s you. It’s you not allowing that to happen. It’s you saying yes to things that aren’t a fit for your amazing strategy that you put in place. So ultimately by the end of the year, you go, “Hang on a second, I haven’t actually created what I had planned,” even though you could have because you’ve just been tempted to say yes to these projects. Or clients have come along and you go, “Oh, I need to do that because it’s flattering. They’re asking me for help.” Or, “I can’t really say no to that. I need the money,” and so on.
I know it’s difficult, but setting those boundaries, saying no to the wrong things, create space in your mind, in your calendar, in your life for the incredible exciting projects, clients and experiences that are going to get you to where you want it to be.
Those are the five pillars in terms of getting really clear on your personal definition of success, your vision for your business and how that fits into your life. Building your confidence and resilience to deal with any inevitable setbacks. Developing the right business model in terms of pricing, working with the right types of clients, having the right mix of products and services and so on. Creating that long term platform, your personal brand where you’re attracting clients and nurturing them through to working with you. And then finally having that work/life integration that’s really going to work for you. Having boundaries, learning to say no.
And then finally, as a little bonus step or pillar, to have your best year you need to look at really what could get in the way.
So looking at these five pillars I’ve talked about, where do you think you’ve got the biggest gaps? Maybe you need the most help in terms of setting your vision because actually you know all the other stuff but it’s very difficult to do these things by yourself. So you need to partner with someone and you need to work with someone else who can ask you those probing questions. Maybe that’s where you need to develop more clarity on what your vision is for the business, because then you know, as soon as you have the vision, you’ll run with it and you’ll make it happen and you’re incredible at that. Perhaps that’s you.
Or maybe all of the business model, the branding platform, that sounds a bit complex. That’s not something you feel comfortable with. Maybe that’s where you need help. Or perhaps, and this is often the case, it’s this last point when work/life integration, boundaries, time management, discipline, and that’s where you’re getting stuck.
Importantly, there will inevitably be ups and downs and there will be areas here that you’re perhaps struggling with and you are going to need a lot of support. Again, that support might take the form of a community, maybe online or offline, where you’re going to find like-minded people to cheer you on and help you stay motivated. Of course the One Step Outside Facebook group is a great place to start. So you can find that by searching One Step Outside on Facebook.
You can find podcasts like this one and books to help you immerse yourself in a topic and build your confidence that yes, you can do it. Of course getting the right mentor and coach to inspire and guide you through the next phase. To be honest, I think you’d need all three. You need the community, you need the course or the podcast, the books, and you need a mentor or coach.
Again, be honest with yourself. Have a think about what challenges you’re going to come up with, come up against, where your knowledge and skills gaps are and where and how you can get the help you need.
Hope those five pillars and that little extra encouragement to get the support you’re after is helpful in terms of getting your best year, creating, achieving your best year in business yet in 2020. Best of luck with that and I look forward to hearing how you get on. I’ll see you next week. Bye for now.
Connect with Anna:
If you’re ready to start to reimagine what success could look like for you, here are some of the ways in which Anna can support you:
Get private mentoring for your business – Partnering with a business coach can help you see those blind spots and get both external accountability and expert guidance to take your business to where you want it to be. www.onestepoutside.com/freeconsultation
Get private career coaching – Individual coaching is fully tailored to your specific goals and desires so we can create the programme that works best for you, with the support that you need to move forwards. www.onestepoutside.com/claritycall
Grab a copy of Leaving the Corporate 9 to 5 – After interviewing 50 people who have left the corporate 9 to 5 to forge their own path, Anna has collected their stories in a book that will inspire you with the possibilities that are out there and reassure you that you’re not alone in looking for an alternative. www.leavingthecorporate9to5.com
Join the One Step Outside the 9 to 5 Business Incubator – This is your roadmap to transitioning from a corporate job into setting up a meaningful business that will bring you more freedom, flexibility and fulfilment outside of the corporate 9 to 5. www.onestepoutside.com/9to5
Level up with The Outsiders Business Accelerator – This is a mastermind for entrepreneurs, freelancers and small business owners who want to create a long-term sustainable brand and business. www.onestepoutside.com/accelerate