In today’s episode, Anna gives you a nudge to start taking your business more seriously.
Yes, you want to make this work, and, yes, you may think you’re doing the right things – but are you truly taking your business seriously, or are you still playing, dabbling? If you’re ever going to transition fully out of your 9 to 5 and achieve your ambitious income goals while working for yourself, you have to start treating your business like a business.
*Resources mentioned during the episode*
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
Treat your business like a business
Hello, there. Welcome back to the podcast. I’m so glad that you’re listening and following along and really hope you’re getting value from these episodes. Now, we have been talking the last few weeks about things like the so-called busyness epidemic, that manic checking things off lists, always doing things without really taking a step back to think about should we be doing these things? Should they even be on our list in the first place? Are we really taking action in the direction that we want to be taking action? Are we doing the right things? As well as last week, how to be more disciplined, so getting really clear on why these things are so important to us and actually taking action. I know. Shocker. You have to actually do the work in order to get the results.
Now, this week I want to continue in this vein because what all this boils down to essentially is about running your business as a business owner, really taking it seriously. Whether it’s a side hustle for you or you want it to be your main income stream or maybe it already is, but you’re just not making as much as you want to, it’s so important to shift your mindset to almost act as if it already is a successful business. What would you do? How would you act if you were a successful business owner? Of course, you know me, success is for you to define. But here we’re talking about really consistently bringing in clients, getting the results you want, and earning an income, potentially that full time income, from your business.
Back in episode eight I believe I talked about some mindset shifts that you’ll need to make to succeed in running your own business. I won’t repeat that, but do go back and have a listen. I’ll just list them here so that you get a bit of a feel for the general sort of shifts in terms of how to actually succeed in running your own business. The first one was learning versus getting it right the first time. Because unlike in your full-time job perhaps, there are no obvious next steps, there’s no sort of boss to ask, and you are most likely going to get it wrong in the beginning and that’s okay. Really embracing that learning mindset. Flexibility, again, you’re not going to have the systems and processes that you had in your corporate work and that’s okay.
Long term versus short term. External versus internal.
It’s so easy to get carried away with tweaking your website for the umpteen time and never actually go out and talk to people, engage and sell your products and services. Giving versus taking. If you know me, if you’re part of my ecosystem, you see all the value that I’m giving in terms of this free podcasts, free Facebook group, all sorts of videos and resources, training sessions and so on. Really showing up and giving rather than just being sleazy with your sales and demanding things from people. Really getting to know them, understanding how you can help your audience deliver value and attract them as a customer as they get to know, like, and trust you. Humility versus ego.
You have to really swallow your ego because, again, you are going to make mistakes. People aren’t going to show up to your webinars and lives and things at the beginning, and that’s okay. You just need to keep showing up. Abundance versus scarcity. The fact that someone else is succeeding doesn’t mean you can’t succeed. In fact, if anything, it’s a positive. It means that you absolutely can succeed. If you miss that one or perhaps it’s an important one to listen to again, a few weeks ago we talked about addressing comparanoia, comparanoia, so the excessive comparison with other people. CEO versus super employee and that’s something I want to focus on really today.
Really not just being that junior person who hustles away and does all the things, but taking a step back and actually treating yourself as the CEO. Because let’s face it, you are the CEO of the business. Investing now versus investing later. Now, I’m not saying invest all your savings in fancy websites and expensive programmes and things, but you really need to understand that you do need to invest in growing the business. You need to lean in order to get results. As my coach always used to say, “You can’t drive the car to the destination and then put in the petrol or gas,” as she would have said in America, “you have to actually put the petrol in the tank in order to get to a destination.” There’s no point in saying, “Oh, I’ll invest, I’ll work with somebody when I’m successful.”
No, no. You need to make those choices to invest in order to become successful. I went through those very quickly. But again, I didn’t want to repeat those. I just wanted to refer you back to episode eight where I talked about nine and mindset shifts you’ll need to make to succeed in running your business. Now, today I want to start a little bit with sharing I suppose my own failed journey as not taking my business seriously. I’m sure I’ve shared bits of this in the past, but I want to remind you and also focus in on this particular aspect. When I first started my business as a consultant, it happened very organically. I immediately got big corporate contracts, and I was very lucky that I had the network. I did do all the things I suppose. I briefed a logo from a proper graphic designer.
I got business cards. I got a website. I started blogging. I got all the social media networks and so on.
However, all my work came from referrals, so I didn’t sort of have a funnel in place really. I certainly didn’t do any Google Ads, Facebook Ads, whatever. I didn’t do any outreach. I didn’t apply for things. I didn’t do proposals. I had no funnel to speak of, nothing at all. I was lucky, as I said, to get my work by referrals, and I’m sure a lot of you have done that and maybe are doing that too. Now, if you’re good at your job, which I’m sure you are, you will be getting a lot of word of mouth referrals, recommendations, which is fantastic. However, that’s not something you can necessarily rely on.
Unless you very much manage it as a primary strategy and really manage actively, it’s not something that you’re in control of. That’s quite a dangerous place to be and you can’t just sort of suddenly get more recommendations, although, of course, you can ask your clients for referrals and so on. For me, that was sort of successful, but I wasn’t really treating it as a business. However, worse was still to come because after that I realised, hang on, after a couple of years, this is not the reason why I quit my job back in 2013. I didn’t quit my job in order to do the same kind of work with similar kinds of clients, same kind of commute stress, corporate clients, politics, and all that jazz. Then I sort of quit.
Insofar as you can quit working for yourself, I quit that consulting business and I took it on the road. I just have a coaching, I was blogging and all sorts, and that’s what I’m sure I’ve said before. I like to call it my hippie phase because I then thought, “Oh, you don’t need money. It’s not about that.” I was rebounding against I guess this idea of success, the corporate conveyor belt, the promotions, the salary increases, the success and so on, the titles. I was travelling. I was doing the whole digital nomad thing. I was doing business stuff. My two year coaching certification I did in six months. I really put my heart and soul into that. I loved it so much. I got the website up. I was blogging again.
I’m sure I created social platforms again, and I did get a few clients via sort of word of mouth, via, I don’t know, randomly people finding me.
I was very lucky again. However, I just kind of plodded along. I was filling my time. Quite relaxed, but obviously I was travelling at the same time. I spent a lot of time by myself and so I was travelling alone and actually I think I did a lot of hours of work. However, what I realised over time I guess, first of all, I realised a few years later when I started hiring my first freelancer that actually when that freelancer took over a lot of the basic scheduling admin stuff, my week was pretty empty. I had actually been spending a lot of my time on things that really weren’t driving the business.
Yes, of course, publishing the blog and sending emails or so on needed to happen, that was part of my funnel, and nurturing prospects and so on, but that was all that I was doing. I wasn’t having a lot of discovery calls as we call them in coaching with new clients. I wasn’t pitching any articles. I wasn’t doing any kind of business development. I certainly wasn’t looking at my numbers. A little bit of money coming in. Now, the reason I could be so relaxed about this was, first of all, that I was single, no financial obligations, no house, no mortgage, no children, and so on. Nothing. It was just me. I, first of all, worked through my savings, which is not ideal and it’s not something we’re going to say we want to do.
Secondly, I was able to do that because I was still doing corporate contracts and things after a while.
I did those remotely, which was fantastic. I did a bit of sort of consulting ad hoc and that allowed me to bring in that money and that was the case for quite a few years. It was “very easy” for me to just kind of trundle along in the so-called business. But as one of my friends says very harshly but true, “You don’t have a business if you just have the name, the website, the business card, whatever. That’s not the business. The business is making sales.” She measures success in sales. Now, I have a broader definition of success, but I admire and aspire to that simple definition because ultimately it is a successful business if we’re making money from it.
The amounts of money is down to you individually, what you want to be making, but I do think deep down that we want to be making a full-time income from these things. Now, we’re going to be talking a lot about portfolio careers in the coming weeks. I love these, the idea of being multi-passionate, a Renaissance man or woman having different strings to your bow, which means that you don’t have to have a full-time income stream from each and every area that you’re doing. However, overall probably you want to be working for yourself. You want this to over time become your living essentially, right? You want to make money doing things that you love. Isn’t that what we all want?
It is important to have that shift and not to say, “Oh, I don’t need the money because I’ve got this other money coming in, or I’ve still got my full time job and that’s more stable,” and so on. Long story short, it took me several years, many years to really balance I guess and to have the pendulum swing back towards more of the centre, more moderate space where I was balancing on the one hand there’s location independent freedom, focusing on my health, experiencing the world, exploring and so on, on the one hand. On the other hand, sitting down and going, “Hang on a second, this is my business. I want to be earning this much. That means I need these many clients for these programmes and this is what I’m going to do to get those.”
I’ve already shared a few that are mindset pieces, and we’re going to be talking business models in the coming weeks as well. We’re still talking mindset here, so bear in mind that, of course, there are strategies and things that we need to be following and actions. I’m not going to be talking exactly what those actions are today, but more the general approach of how we can embrace the mindset of a successful business owner, how we can actually take our business from hobby to business. The first one is to take imperfect action. I’m sure you hear this a lot. I’m sure it’s one of those catchy things that we see on Instagram quotes and things.
But the point is, as I mentioned in my own case, you don’t want to be spending months tweaking your website or finalising your perfect lead magnet or drafting the absolutely most amazing LinkedIn profile.
Just put something out there. Do something. The amazing thing about the internet is, for example, LinkedIn, if you turn off your privacy settings so that people don’t get that reminder or notification when you change something, you can tweak that every day if you so wanted to. There’s no reason to, once you’ve got to a pretty good place, to keep that to yourself. It’s not going to do any good sitting on your desk in draught. Likewise, if you get to the point you want to write a book, my several books sat in draught form on my computer and my Word document for many months, many years.
Again, as my coach told me at the time, it doesn’t do anyone any good there. Even if it’s a bad book, even if it’s an okay book, it wouldn’t be because I wouldn’t put something out that was bad, it’s going to do so much more. It’s going to be so much more powerful compared to nothing if I actually put it out. Put something out there. Importantly as well, you’re going to see what resonates. You’ll get feedback from people. You’ll see what you enjoy and then you can tweak and refine. By the way, in the meantime, you’re probably also going to get a few clients. It may be imperfect, but as I said, I promote an event and hardly anyone bought tickets, but a couple did. I did webinars where one client would then join my programme, for example.
I launched my programme the first time and actually was it three or four clients joined, despite me not doing all the things. If you’re listening to this and saying, “Hang on, Anna. I do actually have a few clients. I’m not that useless,” that’s amazing, but just think how well you could do if you actually took this seriously and took more imperfect action. That’s one thing. Now, second thing related, and I’ve already mentioned it a few minutes ago, do the work. This is something I’ve been talking a lot about in The Outsiders Business Accelerator. I’m reading the book by Steven Pressfield again, rereading I should say, The War of Art. Not The Art of War, but The War of Art, and it’s all around doing the work, addressing the resistance, and actually doing what you say you’re doing.
One of my clients now has said, “You know what? I was saying, I’m a designer and actually not doing any design work.” For me, I might say I’m a writer. For many years I wanted to be a writer, but was I doing any writing? No. You have to actually do the work. You have to get out of your comfort zone, swallow your ego, pick yourself up from so-called failures, which are not failures. Importantly, again, we won’t get into the details here and, of course, it depends on your business and so on, but you need to identify what your priorities are, create a routine, and then have the discipline to do it every day. Now, initially when I rebelled against the whole corporate framework, the 9:00 to 5:00 and so on, of course, I didn’t want to have that routine and that’s fine.
But what I’ve realised and what my clients realised over time is that actually a bit of routine and structure is what gives you the freedom you’re after. I now have what I call my ideal week. I’ve blocked literally from morning until night, Monday to actually now, it’s just Monday to Friday because I’m back into more of sort of a classic corporate week I suppose, even though I worked for myself in a home, every hour is accounted for, whether it’s lunch or meditation, which I’m not doing at the moment, running, dinner. Bad. Bad. There’s always bad in the morning and the evening, but guest podcasting, writing copy for social media, one-on-one consults, recording my videos, podcasts, writing on my book. Fridays are accounting, reviewing results, strategy and so on.
Right? These things need to be on your calendar. Believe me, if you haven’t embraced this idea yet, if you haven’t realised this yet, having some structure, some routine is what gives you the freedom. Now, the next one is to be the CEO. I mentioned this, don’t be the super employee, but being the CEO. Whether you’re a freelancer, a solopreneur, whatever you like to call yourself, whether you have a team or not, you are the boss. Now, I’m not saying put the CEO founder on your business card because that’s just silly and a lot of tech startups and things do that. By all means, if you want to. It’s not very meaningful.
What I mean with this is that you should be managing the high level priorities, overseeing strategies, reviewing results, bringing in new business, having the external rather than internal focus, not being the super employee who does, does, does.
You’re not supposed to be executing as we used to call out Procter and Gamble. As an assistant brand manager at the beginning, you’d be the junior person. You’d just be doing, doing, doing. When you then got promoted to brand manager, you’re supposed to take a step back. You’re supposed to manage the strategies. You’re supposed to delegate. You’re supposed to manage your employees. Now, again, if you don’t have employees, you kind of so do that.
However, I would encourage you, and you can go back to the episode on outsourcing again, whether you’re a solopreneur or not, I would recommend that you start tentatively outsourcing your accounting, of course, to a professional accountant, getting some admin support, maybe having someone do graphic design for you, social media scheduling, and so on. There are also systems you can use now. Technology can help you in the way that almost a team could as well. The be the CEO. Now, as the CEO, you need to know your numbers. Even if you’re off track, boo hoo, it’s better to know it now and to be able to do something about it rather than putting your head in the sand. Know your targets. Even if they’re low, build it up. You know what?
I don’t need to earn a full-time income with this until two, three years from now. Fine, but let’s still amp it up or ramp it up, whatever the expression is. Let’s say I’m just doing round numbers for ease. People often say, “Oh, I want six figures.” Fine. Six figures in two, three years time, that means you make 100,000 in three years from now, that means maybe you’re making 75,000 in year two, and year one you’re making 50,000, 40,000, whatever that may be. It depends on your business, but try to break it down. Give yourself targets. It could be just having three clients a month is your goal or your first client for now. However small it is, however high, know your numbers. If you can see, hang on a second, it’s the end of the quarter almost now, as we’re recording this, I’m off track.
What do I need to do? Well, I need to make sure I’m having more consults. I need to make sure I’m chatting to people about my programme, which is opening up soon. You need to actually do the work as well, as we said. Then finally, be in it for the long haul. Work towards that big picture vision. It’s okay to make detours as long as you don’t lose sight of what you’re ultimately working towards. Take those little steps. Pick yourself up from so-called failures when things don’t quite go as you want them to. We’ll be talking about developing your resilience next week. Know that you’re working the long haul. Maybe right now you’re not very well. You can’t do as much in your business as you wanted. Maybe you’re really busy in your full-time job or your other work and that’s taking away from your business.
That’s okay because you know. this is going to work at some point. Not yet, not tomorrow maybe, but you know you’re in it for the long haul, you’re going to work towards that big picture vision, and you’re going to make it work. In summary, take imperfect action, do the work, be the CEO, know your numbers, and be in it for the long haul. Hopefully you found one or more, maybe all of those calls to action important resonating for you. Really important to take your business from hobby to business if you want to. Now, if you are happy having the business as a hobby, as a side hustle, by all means, but even so I think you want to get good results from it.
Really powerful to shift that mindset from treating it as just something that you’re doing and dabbling and so on to actually becoming the CEO and stepping up into that role.
Now, if you are interested in finding a community, getting the support you need to do justice, to take your business to become a real business, to make it into your full-time income stream, if you’re listening to this live and even if not, then please do go to onestepoutside.com/accelerate, onestepoutside.com/accelerate. The Outsiders Business Accelerator is my group programme where you get monthly training, monthly live calls, and a LinkedIn group, so a supportive community of like-minded business owners who are working on the five pillars that we’ve talked about here on the podcast before.
Really getting clear on your definition of success for the business and in the context of broader life, developing your confidence and resilience, identifying and refining and developing the right business model for you, really building that long-term brand platform, and importantly, making all this work for you in terms of work-life integration. Again, have a look at onestepoutside.com/accelerate. You can apply there. We can have a call if you’d like to discuss if it is the right fit for you. We are now, again, if you’re listening to this live, opening up for the April start. I open up three times a year, four times a year, sorry, every quarter. Even if you’re not sure if it’s right right now, let’s have a call now, chat about it, and then you can always take the steps.
We can work out what steps need to take to get ready. But really the whole point of the programme is to help you get ready. If you already have the idea, the website, the social media, maybe you’re already doing some things, you’re doing a lot of things, maybe you’re doing all the things, not quite getting the results you want, or you want to get them faster, then this is a really fantastic opportunity to work with me and work with these other business owners in a kind of mastermind format and really take your business to becoming a real business. Thank you so much for listening, and 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
Up-level with the Fast-track your business programme – This is your guide to taking your business from surviving to thriving and making sure that you achieve the freedom, flexibility and fulfilment that you dreamed of when you started. www.onestepoutside.com/fasttrack