Ep. 73 Use your downtime

use your downtime

In today’s episode, Anna takes a look at how you can use your downtime, with some of the things you can do now that you don’t usually have time for in your business.

If and when you do find yourself with fewer clients and projects for a period of time, there are plenty of things you can be getting on with in the meantime. You know, all those things that you *should* be doing on an ongoing basis but that tend to get neglected…

*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

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Use your downtime

Transcript:

Hello everyone and welcome back to the Re-imagining Success podcast. I hope you’re keeping well. Now, we’re continuing with looking at business models and strategies, survival tactics, resilience, diversification, and so on. And this week I want to talk about how you can use downtime in your business to strengthen your business and to do a lot of those things that we should be doing ongoing. But let’s face it, we have deprioritize or neglected somehow. So you know what, if you have projects being cancelled, if you have less work than usual, because this happens all the time, right? There may be a crisis or recession, but it can happen just because maybe you weren’t actively searching for leads before and you haven’t been so clear in your messaging. It’s just a coincidence. Sometimes life happens and we’re not getting a steady stream of clients as we usually do, right?

For whatever reason, maybe we’ve been unwell or something’s happened, right? So if ever you have projects being cancelled or less work than usual, it sucks. It can be worrying, but it’s also an opportunity to first of all, learn from that. Of course, to do differently next time to make sure that you do have more of a steady stream of clients, but also too, when you really can’t do that to do those things that you’ve been putting off before. So there’s all these sort of cliche things, what we talk about working on your business rather than working in your business. So I want to give you a few ideas on how you can, if you do have downtime, how you can really focus that time on things that will make a difference in the future. And the first one is a big one. I think we need to delve into it more in the coming weeks.

But the first one is really to review your business model, review your results.

Now again, we should be doing this ongoing, I do have a block in my calendar to do this every Friday, certainly once a month. I do it with my team as well. But so important to see, okay, where have things gone well? Where have things not gone so well? Which are your best clients? Which are the ones that aren’t paying on time, that you’re not enjoying? Which projects the same? Are you enjoying the most? Which ones are generating the most income? How can you look at what is working and do more of that? Do you need to diversify? That’s really key and that’s something I do want to focus in on in a separate podcast, but maybe you’ve been completely reliant on a particular kind of client. You’d been freelancing, tied in a particular industry, a particular model, and for whatever reason that particular stream is now gone or at least temporarily dampened, paused, delayed or damaged in some way.

How can you diversify? How can you learn from this and make sure that you’re thinking of creative ways, in which you can use your expertise, use your experience and connections and so on. Still adding value, still solving problems and generating income. So really, again, reviewing results. Now, this is something we do in the Outsider’s Business Accelerator. We do an annual planning. We then do a quarterly planning for the three months coming up and we review then the previous three months. So it’s a continuous thing four times a year at least, right, to review the quarter, your results. It could be things like your metrics in terms of are you growing your email list? Clients, of course, but also conversations, proposals. Maybe you’re looking at attendance to webinars and so on. The numbers in your Facebook group, maybe the number of articles you’ve written, maybe the number of newsletters you’ve sent out, so it could be both sort of the input that you’re putting in and the output, the results, but really reviewing your business.

Basically, you’re doing an audit. Checking in how things are going both in terms of results, in terms of tangible results, income sales, but also in terms of what you’re enjoying, where your energy is. Are you actually in your zone of genius? You may have heard me talk before about your icky-guy. So your icky-guy is this magical place where you’re jumping out of bed for joy to get to work because you’re doing work that you love doing. You’re doing work that you’re really good at, you’re doing work that really has meaning, that is contributing to the world that the world actually needs and you’re doing work that is generating an income, right? And really reviewing where your business sits in those four bubbles as it were, can really help you see, hang on, I’ve gone too much into this direction. I’m doing work that I love, but actually it’s not generating income.

Or I’ve been adding quite a bit of money because I’ve been doing this corporate clients work, but it’s not something I enjoy. It doesn’t feel meaningful to me. So really reviewing your results, reviewing your business model. Are you focused on the right clients? Do you have the credibility and authority with that client group? Look at your marketing and sales funnel, right? So you’re doing the things you need to do to attract new people into the business, to help them get to know, like and trust you to become a credible expert for them so that they actually believe that you can help them. They understand even what you can do to help them. And ultimately, so that they buy from you and they stay loyal customers. So really reviewing results, reviewing business model, reviewing your strategy. Secondly, and this is a specific one, but really reviewing your messaging and your content strategy.

So sometimes, and I’ve certainly fallen foul of this one, you can just be generating regurgitating staff, just manically posting on all the social channels, sending lots of emails, putting stuff out there without really taking a step back and thinking, hang on a second, what am I actually writing about? What am I posting? Is this actually on point, I guess, for my mission? Is it actually building the longterm brand platform that I want to be building? Am I attracting the right people to the business? Is this really what I should be continuing with? Because if you’re spending lots of time and for a while, I was doing weekly blog posts and emails and Facebook lives. I now do a podcast and I had books and all sorts of posts everywhere. If you’re doing all that stuff and it’s not getting you the results.

Speaking of results, then you really want to be freeing up time either, you want to then take time off work and do something else or you want to be certainly shifting that time to be much more focused on something that will make a difference.

So, if you have downtime in your business, it’s a perfect opportunity to review your messaging, review your content strategy. Specifically, of course, you can have a look at your website. That’s one of those favourite things you can do when you have a bit of time. You can look at your imagery. Is it really reflecting your brand as it stands? Do you feel like it’s attracting people to your business? Is it communicating what you want it to communicate? Is it on point, is it on message? Again, the copywriting as well, whether you’ve done it, whether someone else has done it.

Is it effective? Is it up to date? Because maybe you wrote it years ago or months ago when you had a different client target in mind. Maybe you’ve got an award on there that you shouldn’t have or you have awards that you haven’t put on there. Is it all up to dates? Is it all as clean and effective and on brand as it can be? And the same with your social channels. So again, consistent imagery across LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, bios, they need to be up to date and consistent. Your LinkedIn profile, are these things actually speaking to your ideal clients? Are they really representing you as you want to be represented? Is it really clear what you do? Is that sort of that clear elevator pitch for people to get? Aha, I know right away what Anna does and I want to work with her. So, reviewing your messaging and content strategy.

Now, next is documenting. So this is incredibly important.

So both, and it sounds weird if you’re solopreneur, if you’re working for yourself, why on earth should I bother to document? It’s just me, right? But number one, it really helps you to avoid reinventing the wheel every time you sit down to do something. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat down and gone, “Oh, what should I talk about? And where should I do this, that and the other?” If you actually document it, again, that messaging, the brand, the content strategy you have, then you’ll be able to know exactly, okay, I’ve got these five content themes I always talk about. For me, for example, I now have the five pillars of sustainable escape plan, so I’m talking about your personal definition of success. Of course, this whole podcast is about re-imagining success.

I’m talking about developing your confidence and resilience. I’m talking about finding the right business model. Again, something we’re talking about in the coming weeks. I’m talking about building a longterm brand platform, both your personal brand and your business brand, and I’m looking at work life integrations that could be systems and outsourcing, productivity, managing a family home and so on. So, documenting your strategies can really help you to stay focused and not reinvent the wheel. Documenting your strategies and processes can help you if you’re briefing a graphic designer, if you want a book cover, if you’ve got someone on live, if you’ve got someone reading your website, you can then tell them, this is my brand, this is my client. And you’ve got all that in a lovely little folder. And also, and again, you might think that you’re never going to hire people, but I would encourage you to think differently.

Even if you’re working with a freelancer, a VA, a graphic design, or whatever it might be, you want to be able to onboard them to your brand, to your business, and to have the processes really clearly outlined. So I use Google Drive, basically are the freelancers I work with, I have documents where we really document all the tasks and things that they do. And I’ve also used ScreenFlow for that. It’s just a screen recording software that I’ve recorded myself initially. This is when I’m publishing a blog post. I do this, I press that, and then I schedule there, and this is me doing my emails and whatever. So it doesn’t take any extra time. You literally hit record, you do the thing, and then you put it up there and then you have all that documented. So again, it helps you stay focused.

It helps you when you’re briefing other people, designers and so on. And when you inevitably hire someone, whether it’s a freelancer or an actual team, then you have those processes documented. It will be so helpful if for whatever reason you’re unwell or taking time off maternity or paternity, whatever it might be, so that you can really take a step back from the business and someone else can easily take over as well. Not to mention if as a theoretical thing, just in case you’re listening and you want to do this, if you ever want to sell your business, then you know it’s really important to document those things too.

If you ever want to short term or long term, take a step back from the day-to-day and this is going to be absolutely critical to documenting. Next, is automating as well. This is one of those things that depending on if you’re sort of tech savvy and passionate I guess about these things, you might go straight in and get all the fancy software and set everything up from day one, and it’s easy to do that, it’s easy to get all caught up and I’ve got to do these email sequences and webinars and so on, publishing, but maybe you’ve been doing everything manually.

Well again, if you have this downtime, now is the time when you can actually set up systems.

And those systems might be email sequences. If someone downloads a document from you, some kind of resource or watches a video, you can send them email sequences so they can get to know who you are. Even just automating your weekly or monthly newsletter write can be really helpful to take some time off your already busy schedule. Social publishing can be really helpful. We use sort of Facebook Native Publisher, we use Plannerly for Instagram. I have used Boffo, it’s a Hootsuite in the past. You can think of tools that you want to use, but obviously schedule things so it goes out. You might do it in advance, before you go on holiday and you might just do it so it goes out to different times and so on.

Now, I have an article about systems. If you search, “Onestepoutside.com Systems,” onestepoutside.com systems, it should come up. It’s about creating systems in your business to give you more freedom and flexibility. And so that should be interesting in terms of automation. So okay, we’ve looked at reviewing results and your strategy, your business model, reviewing your messaging and content strategy, reviewing your channels, so your website and your social media, your Facebook, your LinkedIn, your Instagram, YouTube, whatever it is. Maybe you want to, by the way, up level your brand, right? So from time-to-time I change the look and feel of the banners. Maybe the colorings, sort of if it looks a bit childish, a bit sort of amateur, and you want to really up level that to be more professional, right? It doesn’t mean that you have to mess with some money.

It could be if you can afford to, you can brief a designer or you can do something else yourself in Canva, for example. That’s a great free tool, Canva. But really optimising, up-levelling your brand across your website and social channels. Documenting processes, strategies and so on. That’s a great thing to do when you’ve got some downtime. Automating as well, so setting up systems and email sequences and social publishing and so on. Now, the final one that I want to mention as well is of course really thinking about, and this comes back to the first one in terms of your business model, what are the things that you can create that are going to take a bit longer? But again, if you have a lot of downtime in your business, then this is the time to do it, but maybe it is that you want to write a book. Write a book that’s actually going to advance your business.

So not just, I mean by all means if you want to write a novel, but we’re talking here business, that’s talking to your ideal client, that can be a sort of point of market entry, low cost product that your potential clients can buy and then learn about you and then potentially work with you afterwards. So maybe this is the time when you could be finally flushing out, structuring, outlining, and even writing a book. Maybe you’ve always wanted to launch a podcast and now is the time to learn about the tech involved, to really plan some content episodes and to start recording, start batch creating content. And by the way, that’s something we could all be doing now. Batch recording, podcasts, videos, writing blog posts, we can finally get ahead of ourselves. I always advise people to be about three months out, but to be honest, I’ve never managed that myself.

I think with uncertainty, especially now, and with changing things, maybe actually a month is enough in terms of actually recording. Of course, you can plan strategy for further in advance, but really in the short term at least maybe a month is enough to actually record things, because you don’t want to make it irrelevant in the future. Maybe you really want to develop a course or even a membership site, a membership programme, right? So these are things that, yes, will take time, but now is a time, if you have that downtime, if you have less work than usual, sit down, grab, I’ve got this little white board that I bought an Amazon next to me here or grab a massive piece of paper or even do it online if you want, but I prefer to use pen and paper, or pen and whiteboard, chalk board, whatever it is.

Really brainstorm ideate, as it’s called, all the different ideas of what can you do, again, to diversify your business model, to really look at different income streams. Is it a book? Is it a product? If you usually provide services, is it a service if you usually provide products, is it an online course, a programme? Now, I’m not saying you should be spending months and months on something that may or may not work. This is a whole other topic. But as with anything, we want to test, validate, make sure there’s a need, but if you know that your existing clients or community have been begging you for an online version of your in-person event or some kind of course to learn X, Y, Z, or it’s something that you’ve really wanted to do for years and you know there’s a need for it, then this is the opportunity, right?

This is the time when you can begin to plan that out. Look into the technology you need to start recording, creating content.

So, that’s the big one, of course. But again, reviewing your strategy, reviewing your messaging content and your different channels, documenting processes, automating, creating systems, and finally, really batch creating content, creating those things that take longer, that usually you wouldn’t get to. But, now is your opportunity.

Phew, I feel like that was a bit of a steam roller train coming over you there, so I hope that wasn’t too intense. You can get in touch at podcast@onestepoutside.com. If you have other things you’d be maybe spending time on that you think other people would benefit from, or as ever, if you have questions for me as well, what you should be focusing on in your business or anything else that I can answer at the moment. Thank you so much for listening and I hope this has given you some ideas of how you can prioritise your time, how you can really use this as an opportunity to get ahead in your business rather than just to sort of survive, as we said a few weeks ago. Best of luck. Take care and I will see you next week. Bye for now.

Connect with Anna:

www.onestepoutside.com

www.facebook.com/onestepoutside

www.instagram.com/annaselundberg

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

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