This year I’m celebrating 10 years since I left my corporate life to start my own business. I have to tell you that this decade went past in a flash. It hardly seems like 2 minutes ago since I was having that conversation with my boss to tell them my news.
I’d not long gone back to work after maternity leave, and the year was 2010. Here in the UK we were slap bang in the middle of the worst recession we’d seen in ages and life was really tough for a lot of people.
But for some reason, this was the year I decided that I needed to leave. For me it was all about freedom. I’d just had the best part of a year off with my youngest baby. I’d done things I’d never been able to do before like the school drop off, and I wanted so much more than my corporate life could give me.
So, that was it! Decision made!
Since then I’ve run 2 businesses, and had an absolute ball – but it hasn’t all been plain sailing.
There were times when I felt like I was rummaging about in the dark trying all the things.
There were times when I definitely was my own biggest block and got in my own way
And there were times when I wondered what on Earth I was doing.
But here I still am 10 years on, and loving every second.
So, I wanted to share my 10 biggest takeaways in the hope it’ll help you out too….
- Get super specific about your goals
Now, I’m a massive fan of goal setting because, let’s face it without a goal, where are you going? A good goal is like putting in an exact post code into your Sat Nav. All of a sudden you can get there. You’ve clear direction. But the thing is not all goals are created equal. There are goals ‘I want more clients’ and there are super specific goals ‘I want x clients by x date” Guess which one has a bit more oomph behind it?
If you really want to achieve something make your goals as specific as you possibly can. Our brain LOVES a goal and you’ll find that once you’ve got it, you’ll feel like you’re on a mission – and when that happens, you’re much more likely to achieve it.
2. Know your Numbers
So many people shy away from this point but it’s really important to know your numbers. Now, I’m not just talking about finances here (although YES this is absolutely critical!) I’m talking about all the key things you want to measure. I’m a huge fan of the saying “What get’s measured get’s done’. If you can see the numbers of your Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) in your business you can start to see what action you need to take. So take a moment now and write a list of all the things you’re interested in tracking in your business. Eg Sales, Leads, Subscribers to your list; Referrals; Connections on Linkedin etc and create a spreadsheet to start tracking them every month. You’ll now be able to see at a glance exactly what the state of play is and where you need to focus your attention.
3. Create Your Ideal Client Avatar
Quick question – do you know who you’re ideal client is? If you’re reading this with a vague idea it’s time to grab a pen and paper and have another go. The more specific you can be about who your ideal client is the easier it’ll be, as you’ll know where they hang out (so you’re focused in your marketing efforts) what they love to do, and what’s important to them. All of a sudden you’re not spraying in the wind with your marketing and your posts and you’re now talking to a specific person – and best of all, because you’re speaking directly to them, they’ll notice it when they’re scrolling as it’ll stand out from the crowd. This is an exercise that you could go back to time and time again as over time it changes and evolves – so if you think you’ve done it once and you’re OK. Go back and just have a bit of a sense check to make sure it’s all still relevant.
Now, you might be reading this thinking, I’ve not got anyone to delegate to – in which case get someone. This is something I wish I’d done much sooner than I did as I thought that I wasn’t big enough, or it was too expensive. But the thing is that this is a game changer. There are things in your business that only YOU can do, and there are things that are not in your super power. Yes you could do them. But whilst you’re doing that, you’re not focusing on the things that only YOU can do – which is so much more important. Take a look at all the things you’re working on right now that you could pass onto someone else, and then look at the things that you should be working on but you don’t have the time to. Chances are this second list are full of things that will actually make a huge difference. If that’s the case do your research and see how much it’ll cost to hire a Virtual Assistant to help you out – even an hour a month will make all the difference.
5. Guard Your Time
This right here is a BIGGIE!!! You can make more money, but you can’t, no matter how much you try, make more time. So this is the most precious thing you have so PROTECT IT.
6. Say No
Whilst we’re on the subject of time, saying no is a skill that you should absolutely learn – and this also means saying no to yourself!! Yes you might have all the ideas, but you don’t have to do them all now. Yes you might be able volunteer and help at an event – but not if that means sacrificing time to do something you really need to do.
I really struggled with this at first, and then I realised 3 golden questions that really helped me out:
Does it get me closer to my goals?
Do I have to do it?
Do I want to do it?
If the answer isn’t a yes for any of them, it’s an easy no.
7. Focus on the big things first
This is a trap I see so many people fall into (and yes I had to learn this the hard way too!!) of getting busy on the quick wins on your to do list first. I totally get it, it feels great. You feel mega productive and you can cross them off super fast. But the things is that if you’re honest not one of those quick tasks will really make a jot of difference. So, focus on the big things first. I like to follow the ‘One Big Thing’ rule. Pick one task every day that’s going to make a real difference to you, and work on that first. By doing that you’ll start to see results much faster and delegate the smaller stuff (see number 4)
8. Surround yourself with cheerleaders
Running a business can be really lonely. It doesn’t matter whether you’re just starting out, have a small team, or running a huge company, people say this to me all.the.time, and I totally get it. I remember when I first left corporate. I went from working in a massive open plan office with people literally all around me. I had a team, I had peers and friends. I had people in other departments like IT who could fix things I had no clue about….to sitting alone in a room in an empty house.
The silence hit me like a train!!
Now, this isn’t about having company. It’s having people to bounce ideas off of. People to keep you on the straight and narrow. People that will call you out on your rubbish and challenge you. People who will cheer you on. People who you can just have a laugh with.
All of this makes so much difference – and let’s face it, why wouldn’t you want to have people to do all that with?
If you’re reading this and thinking, where do I find these people? They’re everywhere! Groups online. Networking groups. Coaching and Mentoring Groups – By the way if you’re looking for this check out The Smash Your Own Ceiling Collective. The Membership with a difference.
9. Track your wins
If you ever feel like you’re stuck on a hamster wheel and keep thinking ‘I’ve got loads to do’ you need to start doing this. Life is just too short to not enjoy the journey, but it all starts with tracking your wins every single day. My rule is, every win counts no matter how small – and plus not only does this make you feel amazing, but it’s a nice thing to look back on.
10. Work on your mindset
Yes, I’ve saved the best ’til last because this is probably the most important of the list. As Henry Ford said ‘If you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right’ and this is SO. TRUE!!! Your mindset, and how you think is the foundation to everything you do, in all areas of your life, that’s why we should be priming it for success every day.
This is why, I’ve created The Smash Your Own Ceiling BOOTCAMP. An 8 week group programme that takes you through exactly how to prime your mindset for success; massively improve your confidence and stop you from getting in your own way and holding yourself back in all areas of your life.
“This programme has helped in more ways than I can ever explain…this programme and Barbara have completely changed my perspective. It’s impacted on my work, my home, my family and my health and all for the better! You get so much support, Barbara is always on hand and cheering me from the side lines. I understand me a lot better and I’ve “found” my confidence again!
Give it a try…trust in Barbara and the programme and this will change your life!”