Ep. 165 Playing the long game #askanna

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In this week’s podcast, Anna considers the importance of dreaming big and taking action.

It can be hard to dream big and work towards a more ambitious vision when we’re having to focus on the immediate goals and to-dos that are right in front of us. We need to find a way to play the long game, looking ahead to the bolder, more audacious goals that will take time and effort to achieve, and carving out at least a little bit of time, consistently, to get us closer to those goals.

*Resources mentioned during the episode*

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

Playing the long game #askanna


Okay, so we’re back for this month’s Ask Anna Episode. Now, this is where I answer a question from my community, from the Facebook group, from clients, in fact, from you my listeners as well. So if you do have a question for me, please, please ask the question. There is no stupid question and whatever question you have I’m sure there are gazillion other people who would benefit from the answer as well. And it’s really helpful for me as well to know what you guys are struggling with, where you are going to. I’m sure be challenging me on what I’m sharing and really pushing me to narrow down what I’m saying and to make sure I’m offering you as much support as I possibly can. So if you have any questions, email me at podcast@onestepaside.com and I’d really like to answer your questions on a future episode.

I do this once a month, the third episode of each month, or you can get in touch on your favourite social channel. So this month, the question is how, and this comes again and again, right, so how can I stay focused on the long term vision? So, okay, I’ve done the pretty much of a success. I’ve got my big picture. I’ve got my vision board, but how do I stay focused? How do I keep the faith? How do I play the long game? And this is actually something I covered with my business accelerator. Guys I think it was actually end of year 2020. I was looking back at my notes, but something that’s so important that I thought I’d bring it to you guys as well. So, okay, first of all we’re talking about playing the long game, what is the long game? And when we’re talking business in particular, perhaps we say three to five years in fact life as well, right?

Because beyond that, nobody really knows as has been witnessed the last couple of years, there might be a span of thrown into the work. Certainly things will evolve personally and professionally and fully potentially, but having at least a direction, a guiding star, a framework, a vision for the general principles of what you’re trying to achieve and working towards that is really important. When you’re only working on what’s right in front of you and in fact, I had a chat with the clients about this just a few weeks ago, we’re saying it’s easy to get caught in kind of the short termism of just looking at the next quarter, this current project I’m doing right now, this client this next few months. And in particular, when you’re first starting out, you don’t yet have the confidence and the clarity, the… what’s the word I’m looking for, the surety if that’s the word, that your business is going to work and therefore it’s hard to very brazenly go, yes this is my five year vision when you don’t even have any clients yet, let’s say right, but it’s really important that you do.

And because if you’re only being pragmatic and focusing on the thing, that’s right in front of you, you’re never going to build that long term business, or at least you’re not going to build it intentionally as you wanted. And so really important to look ahead and then by all means be pragmatic and flexible in the meantime, but it’s kind of that classic dilemma, the dichotomy, the… I’m getting caught with my words today, apologies, the sort of tug of war I suppose between your present and your future self. Do I eat the donut now or the dime chocolate which I’ve been eating, the cinnamon bun or do I go to the gym, right, or do I work towards the future? Me, you’d probably feel better if I ate the [inaudible 00:03:14]. Okay. Bad example because cinnamon buns are very nourishing and very good for you.

So yeah, do I do my homework now or do I watch TV? And then I sort of have to do my last minute homework tonight at tomorrow morning before school and so on, right. So it’s this idea that it’s a marathon not a sprint. We need to be, especially in business, taking little steps over a long period of time.

As in fact, we do, if we want to get fit or lose weight or whatever ever other thing in the world, I think in life, it’s about those little steps, the micro habits, the micro commitments, the micro changes that we’re making.

And that’s, what’s going to add up to the macro transformation. So playing that long game means in practise that you’re showing up consistently, even when you’re not seeing results, it means that you’re not just, again in business doing a launch, a webinar podcast, whatever once, and then you get disappointed and you go, oh, nobody cares and you never do it again.

It means you have to keep doing it because more people will join. They’ll spread the word. You’ll learn. You’ll get better. And when they’re ready to buy, they’ll buy from you, right. It’s not going for the quick sale today, forcing, pushing, pushing, pushing. It’s rather investing in the long term relationships. There are stats like 3% of prospects are ready to buy now and other numbers like up to 13, 16 touches are acquired before people will actually buy from you. So the fact that you’ve done one live or sent one email, just is not enough, I hate to break it to you if you’re just starting out. So I’ve many times had conversations with potential clients and the good news is after many years there’s no taking things personally, at least very little.

There’s no pressure for me, if they say no or not right now many times, I don’t want to say always, but very often they have come back later. They said, you know what, right now it’s not the right investment for me or I’m too busy with the move with the baby, with whatever, and then they’ll come back later. Or someone who took me up on a pro bono offer did lots of free workshops and then they actually, they came to join, to pay, to be part of my paid programmes and worst case they have become amazing ambassadors recommending me to others. So even if they never pay me, they have brought in via referral other clients, right. So it’s really powerful to build that long term relationship, nurture those relationships, follow up, stay on their radar, so when it’s time to buy, whether this is a business client to corporate client company or an individual rule, you are going to be top of mind. By the way, it’s also building relationships with your existing and past clients, right.

You might be cross-selling to something complimentary that’ll help them, maybe it’s a group programme and they do well to work with you one to one. So you upselling them to help them stay loyal, to recommend you and so on, right. So the fact that you’ve worked with someone baster, that’s not it, right. They finished your course, they finished your programme, see you, that’s it, now sail offer to the sunset as nice as that is. There’s more you can do to support them with community, with other resources, with accountability implementation and so on. So what else do you need to do when you’re playing the long game?

Well, you need to make pragmatic choices in the short term, as I said because that’s what’s going to allow you to keep going in the long term.

If we’re too idealistic and naive, I suppose if we’re too perfect “Nope, no I’m only going to work with the absolute perfect ideal client. I’m not going to take on any project that don’t a hundred percent fit my vision.”, it sounds great and maybe if you have a lot of savings and a lot of certainty that this is going to work out, which of course none of us ever do then by all means.

But there is an element of pragmatism. Yes, I have my north star. I know what I’m working towards, but in the meantime I’m taking on projects that might not be a hundred percent where I want to be, but they’re taking me in the right direction. So whether it’s the nature of the work or the money they’re paying me or the type of client, that’s taking me a new direction towards the direction of that three to five year vision that I have. But importantly, it is also about saying no qualifying clients filtering out the clients who are not a good fit, because if they don’t value work, if they’re not ready to pay you, if they don’t share your values and ethics and so you don’t want to be taking on whoever, whatever comes along. And that’s only going to bite you in the bottom, in the short term, not to mention the long term, you’ll be building a business based on awful clients, which is not something you want to do.

So you know, it is an art not a science here because you are having to trust, I guess your intuition for, “yes, this is a project that actually, no, it’s not a hundred percent what I want, but it feels like I feel a pull in this direction. It’s exciting. It’s going to help me, either with the income I get from this, I’m going to then be able to do something that I want to be able to do in terms of my actual passion or it’s this type of client. I’m so excited about working with this client”, whatever that dimension is. But never, ever has a client felt intuitive that there is the wrong client and then gone back and thought, oh, I was wrong, right.

That was a bit wordy. But my point was, if you have a sense that this is a project you shouldn’t be taking on, you shouldn’t be discounting your services. This is going to be awful again and again, I see this with clients in my group, progress one to one, you are going to regret it, never is your intuition wrong, I promise you. And I know it’s so hard and you probably need to learn it in practise. I had a client again, just before Christmas say, look a tick on this project, we’d all said in the group it doesn’t sound like you should be taking this on really tight timings, underpaying, unclear, blah, blah, blah. It’s very easy with hindsight to say, you shouldn’t take that on and there’s no judgement  because we’ve all been there. You may have to learn it by through experiencing that pain yourself. But it is important that you do and then learn to be able to say no to those because otherwise you’re really not setting yourself up for long term success.

It also means, and this is an interesting one. This is perhaps, well, definitely a very important insight. When you are concerned and stressed, right? One other question at the start was how can I keep the faith? If you’re at the early days of your business, your new sort of career direction, and you’re not earning a lot and you’re worried it’s not working, the last thing you want to do is go with your natural impulse, which is to pull back and stress and retreat and focus on something else and procrastinate or spend time looking for another job or something, right. What you need to do is double down and do more, lean in, do more not less. It means showing up even more. It means doing more sales calls, more sales posts, more videos, more lives. I’m not saying pushing yourself to the point of burnout.

But the most important thing to do is if you’re feeling worried about not making up, then lean in, do more. The last thing you want to do is pull back then and doubt yourself and so on, right? And of course, this requires you to have the right strategy and plan in place. But that’s really, really important, again if there’s one thing that will make a difference, it’s leaning in, yes, it’s uncomfortable, but that is what’s going to ultimately make your business work, right, not pulling back. Another aspect of playing that long game and helping you to keep the faith is, as I said, having the strategies, but also having the systems, the processes that are going to make your business work in the future. So it might seem time consuming now, but it’s going to help you to run more smoothly in the future, right.

It’s going to mean that you free up your time. You don’t have to keep reinventing the wheel. Things are super clear and easily, easy to follow because they’re all documented and so on. It also means with outsourcing and you can learn to delegate admin tasks, things that aren’t quite in your wheelhouse, so that you can focus on what’s really important. You can start small, but you’re building and you may not want to as I don’t want to at the moment at least, build up a huge team organisation, but still having a loose structure of a virtual assistant and admin assistant to social media person, freelancers who are supporting you, designers, whatever really allows you to get the time freedom that we talked about last week, the financial wealth and the time wealth, and allow you to focus on what you’re already passionate about, and it will make a difference.

So it also means blocking time in your calendar to take the bird’s eye view, not just hustle, hustle, doing the day to day emails, the busy work and so on, but actually what needs doing the stuff that’s if you know the Eisenhower matrix or the urgent important grid, it’s a thing that are important, but not yet urgent.

So reviewing your strategy, tracking your results, planning ahead. It also means working to build a long term brand, having that vision investing in things like let’s say, creating a podcast, writing a book and so on, developing a framework and so on. Of course, creating great content it’s not just going for the easy sell or copying what someone else is doing, the short term. It’s really working out how you are unique and how you are going to be in a way pioneering, what’s your contribution going to be.

And then focusing really proactively on where you want your brand and business to be in the future, rather than where it happens to be today. It also means creating content that’s going to be evergreen. It means creating programmes that will work in the future, not just one off that I do it now live and never again, right. I do a webinar, I can record it, I can run it again. I use the same framework, I develop a course, record it that people can then watch. I develop a membership programme, whatever that looks like, but really investing in creating things for long term and not just one off. Now, it also importantly means, and I’ll wrap up in a minute with this one because I’ve thrown so thoughts at you with this question, but it’s an important one. It means embracing a growth mindset as Carol Dweck would say, Carol Dweck rather than the fixed mindset.

So I don’t know yet, but I will find out it means I’m going to mess in coaching training to up skill to learn, to get the support I need. It means I’m going to take care of myself. And again, we talked last speak about the physical and mental wealth, your health, your social wealth, your family, your relationships, it may mean slower progress in your business, in the short term, in the long term you’re setting yourself up for success in making this sustainable and enjoyable above all. Now, of course there is an element potentially of sacrifice and delayed gratification. So maybe rather than that Netflix or Amazon prime binge I’m sitting here and recording podcast episodes, it means maybe rather than buying that $1,000 handbag that I’ve got my eye on, I’m going to take the time to invest the money in the business for the future, or invest in and put some money aside for my pension, et cetera.

There is an element again of that kind of tug of war in your present self and your future self. And then of course, looking ahead to possible challenges that may come up and being adaptable, building that resilience, being willing to pivot and change where needed in order to be relevant. So the question there, in terms of how can I keep the faith? What should I be doing? How do I balance the long term of the short term? I’ve given you a few ideas there and it’s one of those episodes probably that you want to listen to again, a lot of nuggets in there, one or many of which may make all the difference in your business. But the key question I want to ask you is, are you playing the long game? Have you become, and if so, where have being distracted by the short term gain versus the big important win that actually matters?

How can you shift to focus more on that big picture, the future, what might possibly get in the way? Where could you get distracted by a shiny object, trying to create new things, prioritising the wrong things, getting distracted and confused and frustrated and so on and latching onto things because you are desperate and concern and so on for getting about the structure, the consistency that you need to build the momentum that is ultimately going to get you out of this situation of being stuck.

So what might get in the way and what help do you need? So again, as an Ask Anna Episode, if you do have any questions for me on this or on something else, of course, do you get in touch podcast@onestepaside.com? And if you are feeling like you don’t have that structure and clear strategy and support and accountability in place to play the long game, because that is so, so powerful and so important, then do get in touch as well. Of course, I have my ongoing business accelerator mastermind, which provides exactly that kind of implementation and community support. And of course there’s always the opportunity to work with me one to one as well. So thanks for much for that question. Thank you for listening. Best of luck. And I’ll see you back here for another episode next week. Bye for now.

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


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