In the past 12 months, I have made huge strides in becoming more consistent in my business and I wanted to share some of my findings. I am going to assume that you already know your audience, mission and values….if you don’t – start there! If however you are ready to take the next step, or you’re just interested in what you could achieve if you were consistent in your business then read on…
Create a process that works for you
For the first two years of my business, I used a spreadsheet to keep track of what I wanted to achieve year on year, cross-referenced with a bunch of Google docs that gave me the information outlined above. It kind of worked for me but I still found it hard to find things easily.
In year three I discovered the 12 Week Year and put all my efforts into one spreadsheet which I updated daily. This was an improvement for sure but I still felt I was missing something. This year I have kept the 12-week year process, still using the one spreadsheet but have also integrated Asana – a platform to help you keep track of your tasks. I am a month in and it seems to be working.
On a daily basis, I score the tasks I set out to achieve that day, giving me some numbers to crunch and I get reminders to my email and calendar so I can see where I should be.
It sounds a bit intense but it works for me. I spend a few hours every 12 weeks planning the next 12 weeks and about 15 mins maximum a week reflecting on what I have achieved. Having such a detailed plan might seem restrictive but I have found it freeing to know what I need to be doing by when rather than aimlessly doing things and not understanding how they fit in.
Get an accountability partner
The original reason I joined Drive the Network was to ‘meet’ other business owners locally. Since I have joined however I have realised I get so much more. Subconsciously I was looking for accountability – and guess what, I get it. Every week there are posts to ask what you want to achieve in the week ahead and one to ask if you achieved it. In fact, I love these posts so much I have incorporated them into the groups I run myself on LinkedIn and Facebook.
In addition, I have joined a slack group which encourages me to write down the top things I want to achieve each day and then check in at the end of the day to see how I am getting on. This works two-fold for me. I can take my daily tasks from Asana and be really clear on what I need to be doing and I am accountable to others.
This accountability forces me to be more consistent than if I didn’t have it. I have someone to answer to and that helps me.
Any comfort zone you had before you were employed swiftly disappears when you become self-employed! Consistently challenging myself to do the things which scare me helps my business grow. From having to work out what’s wrong with my computer to actually charging people for my services, there are always scary decisions to be made. It helps me grow as a person and that helps me across my life. I have faced up to truths that hurt but I can see how far I have come.
I am not saying it’s easy…so many times I have procrastinated for months, sometimes even years before facing my fears but when I have, it’s not been as bad as I thought. Why? Because it’s OK to make a mistake (or more) and/or to grow in your business. The key is support and listening to others and their wisdom. Rarely do we face a problem or barrier that has never been faced before – sure, it is unique to us but someone, somewhere has been there and done a similar thing. Search for their story and get inspired. (Alternatively, you could hire an excellent business coach…hmmm, I know of one who could help!)
Create space for yourself
Have I mentioned I hate the word ‘hustle’? I think busy feels better than it should and we subscribe to being as busy as we can in all aspects of our lives. One thing I have learned as a small business owner is that there are different types of busy and too busy = overwhelmed.
Being consistent in your business can include scheduling in regular breaks, saying no to projects that don’t light you up or delegating to others. It can be a promise to yourself that you will create space for yourself to breathe. This space allows us to refill our cups and to focus on what we want and need to do to grow our business. We spend so much time working in our business that we often to forget to work on our business. We forget why we are doing this in the first place.
This is critical for me when it comes to being consistent in my business. I understand when I do my best work, how I work to deadlines, what makes me procrastinate and how I self-sabotage. I also understand what motivates me so that I can set goals and rewards. All these things make me a better businesswoman (not to mention better [insert role of choice]).
Knowing all this helps me in practical actions, but it also allows me to be authentic. I had a conversation at a women’s event I was at recently. I was one of five speakers and I was up last. Panic set in about what I was going to say – the topic I had prepared seemed woefully off. I reminded myself that I am good at what I do, that people had come to hear me talk and decided I would stick to my topic but I would add in some more of my story. I did it and it felt great. Three people came up and said how authentic I had been. That was all I could ask for. I had been vulnerable, real and courageous – everything I tell my clients to be and it felt good.