Is It Time to Hit Refresh on Your Business? My Check-in Process
At the beginning of the year I set myself a word for 2019, that word was flourish. The intention behind it was to focus on bursting out of the chrysalis that I’d built last year, to stretch my wings, put out new shoots and grow. In other words, I’d spent least year pivoting my business, building up my content and nurturing my audience. I was ready to get on with doing the work I love, working with clients.
Part of this whole flourish thing was knowing I was leaving my 9-5 to take my business full time. But when I did leave my job, I went through a period of significant change which felt like navigating some choppy waters. I made some knee jerk changes in my business and lost my focus on some of the most important stuff.
Now, it feels like the waves have settled and it’s the morning after the storm, I’ve had a moment to check the charts and realise I’ve drifted off course a little.
It was time to hit refresh, check in with the direction I was going in and make a fresh 12-week plan for the next quarter of the year.
Part of the magic of planning in 12-month chunks is that it offers a natural opportunity each quarter to open up the bonnet on your business, check the oil and water and see how everything’s going. Here’s what that looked like for me at this mid-point in the year.
Brain dump - Get everything in your head down on paper, the project ideas, the things that might not be working, the nagging feelings that sit in your stomach.
There were a few things this brought up, first, the drift I’d made from my core strengths and focus around planning and second, the work I was enjoying most. I’d discovered that I do my best work when I can connect with people on a personal level and dig into their businesses with them to unveil how best to move forward. This was something that was missing from running my course, I felt separated from the people who were taking it, by the wall that was my course. I realised that I needed to focus on doing the kind of work where I can form real connections with people and work with them directly to find clarity, make an action plan and make it happen.
Remember the big picture - Go back to that vision of the lifestyle you long for, if you’re not sure what that is, journal or vision board it out and reflect on whether the work you’re doing is helping you get closer to that vision.
What I’m creating here is a lifestyle business, a business that can bring me the lifestyle I really want to live. That lifestyle doesn’t require me to turn over six-figures, it doesn’t need me to take on assistants, it means keeping things simple. It also means I can afford to go deep with my work rather than wide, and stick to doing what I do best – helping creative business owners find clarity, make a plan and make it happen.
Go Back to Basics - check in with your why, your values, your strengths, your mission and ask yourself, is your work aligned with all of that right now?
Whenever I feel myself drifting I go back to my brand document, it’s a simple document that details things like the colours and fonts I use. Most importantly it summarises my why, my values, my strengths, my mission, my target audience, where I bring value in my work and all of that good stuff. This reminded me that, again my core strengths lie around creating clarity and planning, yes I have a lot of experience around side-hustling, but that is my experience, not my core strength and I remembered that what I want to be known for is planning, not necessarily being the side-hustle ‘expert’.
Look at the numbers - income and outgoings, website visits, most popular piece of recent marketing content, mailing list subscribers
In my monthly review process I collect some stats about my business, things like number of mailing list subscribers, number of website visits. But, this is where my ah-ha moment came up, I wasn’t looking at the numbers that actually matter, the bottom line! How had I missed that!? After growing my business as a side-hustle for so long I’d got used to being able to support it with my 9-5 income, but I don’t have one of those anymore! Yes, I’ve been keeping my accounting document up to date but other than that I hadn’t been paying much attention to the actual numbers in that document.
Rate your business - out of 10, give yourself a score for how each area of your business is going. Think about marketing, sales, your learning and development, branding etc
This again highlighted that I was neglecting the most important part of running a business, making it pay, which none of us want to admit but it’s kind of essential. As creatives we often feel that we do our work for the love and we forget that in order to do the work we love, we need to be supported either by a separate income stream or by the work itself.
I had been thinking that if I focused on my marketing and providing value, the money would follow. Whilst this is true to a degree and my mentoring spaces have certainly been filling up as a result of that approach, I didn’t have an intentional plan around HOW that marketing and providing value for people was leading to the cash coming in.
As it always does, all of this digging spat out some obvious focus areas for the next few months;
Double down on planning - go deeper, not wider with my work.
Focus on expanding my comfort zone around selling and talking about my work.
The nationwide workshop tour, of course! This is a great opportunity to do more of the work I love most, connecting with people on a personal level and working with them to create a route map for their business.
Sometimes you need to take the bricks apart, inspect them, toss the broken, worn down ones and put the rest back together in a more organised fashion.
That’s exactly how I feel after checking under the bonnet of my business and putting together a fresh 12-week plan for the next few months. There were some themes that kept coming up in those exercises that made it so obvious where I needed to be focussing moving forwards. The fog has lifted, and I'm taking forward a feeling of calm and focus and what I need to do over the next few months to flourish.
Sometimes you'll drift in your business too and that's ok, natural even, particularly during times of change. The important thing is recognising it, and then figuring out what needs to change moving forwards. It’s a bit like hitting refresh on that web page where the pictures haven’t loaded properly, the words are all over the place and the loading symbol is spinning around.
If you feel like you’re drifting right now, run through the exercises above and journal out your answers, that should kick up some common themes that you can focus on over the next few months.
If you’d like a little more support with creating a route map forward for your business, I’m running a series of workshops over the summer and autumn to help you get clarity on what that route forward looks like and together we’ll create a 12-week action plan to level up your business. You can find out more and book a space on here >>