This morning I’m flying to Majorca for The Brand Stylist retreat. 4 days away to focus on nothing but how I take my business to the next level. I feel so lucky to have this opportunity. 4 days away feels like a huge indulgence but when the prep notes ask you to bring literally every piece of written or digital content you have about your business you know it's going to be worthwhile.
I tend to forget this, or not let myself remember it, but taking time away from your business is absolutely essential to keep it growing. It seems counter intuitive but there are three reasons why it's hugely valuable.
Time away allows you to:
Real creativity comes from the subconscious mind. Being ‘on’ all the time means we’re working in our conscious minds, constantly thinking and developing decision fatigue. It’s absolutely essential to give yourself the space to switch off and let the ideas flow.
Physically taking a step back to look at where your business is, creating physical distance between you and the day to day gives you a different, more abundant perspective. Taking the time to look at what’s working, what’s not working, what you could do more of, or less of and so on is an incredibly powerful way to create the breakthroughs you need.
Running a business is HARD WORK! Physical time away gives you time to recharge and renew. So when those ideas flow you have the energy you need to put them into action.
Do you ever stop to think about the phrase ‘working for yourself’?
As exciting as it is to be your own boss, we rarely stop to think about the implications.
As your ‘own boss’, how good a boss are you?
Do you motivate yourself every day?
Do you make yourself feel good about the work that you do?
Do you make sure you know exactly what you should be doing every day?
Or do actually make it all quite hard work for yourself?
A lot of the clients I work with come to me feeling frustrated and unsure. They lack the confidence they need to take those big next steps and they end up trying to draw on all sorts of different sources for answers and motivation.
A lot of the things they actually need to make them feel better would normally be done by a great boss. Things like support, advice, a sounding board, direction, course correction, feedback and help making decisions.
When you’re running your own business, by its very nature, you need to play those roles for yourself. No matter how strong your network of business besties, you still need to become incredibly self-reliant.
So let me ask you the question I always ask my clients when they’re in this space…
Are you a good boss?
Working for yourself involves a huge amount of self leadership – whether you run a team or not, you still need to be the best leader you can be to make your business sing.
Here’s some things you should be doing:
Be clear on the bigger picture
I’m sure I’m not alone in having worked for people in the past who were no good at sharing either the long-term vision or what it meant for me. It was frustrating, demotivating and disempowering. Not having clarity on where our work was taking us made it difficult to stay motivated when things got tough.
Be a good boss - Set out a clear longer-term vision so that you know where you’re heading and why. You’ll quickly find that a great many things become easier. You’ll be able to make decisions more quickly and easily with an eye for the long-term. Challenges and set-backs will be easier to deal with as you look at them through the bigger picture lens. And priority setting will become more focussed.
A good leader sets direction within the context of the bigger picture. It’s important that they are able to be clear on ‘how’ you are going to reach that bigger picture and ‘what’ needs to be done to get there.
I see far too many clients bobbling around doing busy work not really having set themselves the clear direction on where their focus should be. For example, if the bigger picture vision is to triple revenue for the year, and the goal within that is to generate a set number of leads for the month, there is no point doing any activity that doesn’t feed into this.
Be a good boss – set yourself clear directions each month. What is your broad focus? What are the things you need to achieve this month? How are you going to achieve those things? How are you going to stay on track and keep focussed even when you face challenges and difficulties.
Giving yourself space to grow
A lot of my clients come to me frustrated out of sheer impatience at not knowing all the answers. A good boss will always give you space to grow as the business changes around you. They will feedback any areas for improvement and should help you create a plan to fill any gaps you have in relation to the role you’re doing.
Be a good boss – Take an objective look at your skill set and experience in relation to what you’re trying to achieve. Do you have all of the skills and knowledge that you need? Are there things you’d like to learn or need to learn? How can you create the time to learn those things and not beat yourself up for not knowing all the answers straight away?
What kind of boss would you be if you never stopped to celebrate the great things your team did? The kind of boss most of my clients are to themselves! Honestly, most of them, myself included simply tick the box, tuck that new client or achievement under their belt and rush off to the next thing on their list.
If you don’t celebrate the successes your subconscious won’t learn to enjoy them and your underlying decision making processes – which are where decisions are made about whether to feel motivated by something – won’t pull you in the direction of success.
Be a good boss – Take the time to celebrate your successes and learn from them. Embed them in your mind. Build up a picture of you as a successful and accomplished business woman.
Next time you're struggling with motivation or feeling overwhelmed and uncertain, ask yourself if you're being the boss you need? Are you giving yourself enough space to lead? Do you need to make it easier to do a good job? Is there anything you're asking yourself to do that you'd question if you were working for someone else?
Before you go - I'm exhibiting at The Business Show on 16th and 17th May at Excel London. It's a fab two day event with literally hundreds of free masterclasses and networking opportunities, speaker events and business advice. Tickets are free and if you visit me on the day (stand 160), you'll be in with the chance of winning a free business strategy planning day worth £1250. If you're still unsure, why not read last week's blog to find out why I think this is an unmissable opportunity.
The one thing I hear time and time again from business owners both new and old, startup or established, big or small is a feeling of overwhelm. A feeling of doing too much, being in too many meetings, trying to succeed on too many fronts.
It's a common issue, and there's a common cause. Complexity is the downfall of many a business and business leader. In the pursuit of success we do as many things as we can to get the results we want. We launch as many products as possible through as many channels as we can, create as many connections as possible and try and be everywhere at once. It's a kind of commercial spread betting and in the start up stage, it kind of makes sense.
I wrote a post last week asking working mothers what they struggle with most. It got nearly 200 responses, I couldn't keep up. As the responses started to roll in and I got chance to read them all, I noticed they fell into three main themes: mum guilt, time and focus, finances and childcare. It's time to drop the excuses ladies, if you want to take control of your career, you need to FIND A WAY.
Impatience, that familiar mix of slight excitement tinged with frustration. It creates an energy that has nowhere to go, and if you don’t learn to recognise it and manage it, it can be pretty damaging to your success.
It’s definitely my Achilles heel and it has led to several changes in direction for my business as, when things don’t work straight away, I have a tendency to want to move straight on to the next big idea. It's also led to blogs, web copy and Facebook posts being published with glaring typos even though I'm the worlds biggest spelling and grammar pedant - all because I'm too impatient to properly proof read things. For me, broadly, I think my impatience is driven by a need for recognition and results. I’m not very good at plugging away and sticking at things for the long term if I’m not 100% sure they’re going to work out.....
If you're thinking about hiring a coach but don't know where to start, then you're not alone. The coaching landscape is incredibly confusing and extremely competitive. I posted on Facebook this week to do a bit of research on how people choose coaches and it garnered nearly 40 comments, many of which had various different descriptions of what coaching even is. It also attracted several other coaches trying to sell their services!
One of the main issues is that coaching seems to be a bit of a buzz word at the moment. The problem with that is, when people realise that they can add credibility to their offering by adding a word like coach, it becomes misappropriated time and time again. When everyone’s a coach, no one is a coach. I imagine it won’t be long before McDonalds rename their servers food selection coaches.
So if you think you might benefit from the help of a coach, but you don't know where to start, let me help you to cut through some of the crap!
July and August are difficult months from the point of view of how we feel about work. They're months of closing things down. Working in specific chunks of time before holidays, yours or other people's, or before the schools break up. This sort of mood tends to bleed into our own thinking whether we're constricted by holiday dates or not. There's a general feeling of waiting until everything gets going again in September. The sense of urgency that working in specific chunks of time can, at times, be hugely helpful, but there's something about this time of year specifically that just doesn't have that vibe.
This week, I wanted to write in a bit more detail about an area that I really struggled with in particular on this holiday, and that's self doubt. It’s something I help people with every day but that doesn’t mean I’m immune to it myself and when it gets me, it really does it’s worst. I've questioned whether I should even write this post but I see so many women struggling with this every day that I really wanted to share my thoughts.
Holiday… Celebrate? How to manage holiday stress and actually relax!
I’ve just got back from a 10 day break in Majorca. Big picture, it was bliss. 10 days of late starts, long breakfasts, sunny, breezy boat watching from the balcony and afternoons spent by the pool. What could be better? Well to start off with, my head could have been in a much better place. If you, like me, feel as though holiday stress, and the pressure to have an instahappy time makes it feel far from relaxing at times then at least take comfort in the fact that we are not alone – a quick google search on vacation stress returned 179 million results!
Next week, I’m attending a PR event called Soulful PR Live with around 50 other small business owners and entrepreneurs. Run by the UK’s leading PR expert Jan Murray we will get the chance to hear from, and speak to, 8 national journalists from a spectrum that takes in The Sunday Mirror right through to Women’s Hour to find out exactly what sparks their interest.
I should be looking forward to it right? want to create as much buzz around my coaching business as I can and this is a massive opportunity. I know my business has serious potential, I’m a good coach, my clients and testimonials tell me so. I also feel as though there’s still a huge amount we need to do to change the conversation about how women can build stellar careers alongside motherhood and other priorities.
Quite often I get half way through writing a blog post and realise I’m writing it as much to myself as anyone else. This week is no different, and you’re getting this late for precisely that reason! This week I’m writing about fear. It’s the ONE thing that stops you getting what you want. This week it was the one thing that stopped me writing this sooner, I was scared of getting it wrong, scared of not hitting the high standards I set for myself and scared that I wouldn’t be able to tackle this huge subject in few enough words to keep you interested. But here goes...
Think about what you most want in life, or for your career? Why don’t you have it yet?
These are questions I ask a lot. They kick off the coaching relationship. The responses I get are diverse and varied. Financial constraints, concern over what other people might think, a lack of experience or skills, low confidence, a feeling of trepidation, self doubt... no crystal ball!
I don’t know many people who love their job quite as much as I do. I come away from coaching sessions literally buzzing from head to toe. I know, I sound like a maniac, but honestly, there is nothing greater than seeing potential unlocked and dreams being allowed a chance to come true. It really can happen. With the right framework and mindset in place, it is possible to achieve whatever you want.
On the mindset point particularly, in my time as a coach I’ve noticed some recurring themes. To support my clients, I’ve also put many hours into finding out what the most successful women out there have in common. I wanted to share with you the top 5 habits shared by the women who really stand out: