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The Art of Tidying Up… My Business and My Life

Well, It’s January and it seems like everywhere I look someone is cleaning out a closet, watching the Marie Kondo Nextflix episodes or talking about cleansing, changing or removing something from their life or business practices.

I was curious to see if this would influence my life or business and when. Over the summer I had found myself in a situation where I needed to empty my closets for some work being done on my home.

It was an amazing opportunity to clean out, throw away and remove items that were no longer serving a purpose – or sparking joy as Marie would say.

Now, 6 months later – I don’t feel like that was final and as I look around my cozy little home office I am finding so many things that are cluttering up my space and my mind.

On the homepage of this website (my internet home). I talk about how many clients call me because they are overwhelmed by noise. The noise of tools, resources, coaches, consultants and the internet telling them how they should run their business.

What happens when I find myself getting sucked into the noise? Last week that is exactly what happened. I looked at something online that made me the subject of every email marketer, business guru, 6 figure rainmaker and everyone in between’s remarketing campaign.

I was literally bombarded with ads including case studies of 6 figure coaches (Who wanted me to pay $10K for a mastermind!) Email marketing gurus who made a million dollars with smoke, mirrors and a 6 email drip sequence, and everyone in between.

So, instead of getting sucked into the rabbit hole of every digital marketing trick or MLM scheme I hid ads, unfollowed the creators and did what I coach all of my clients to do. I put my head down, I refined my plan and I feel ready to take on 2019 as a business owner creating content and marketing in a way that sparks joy.

On 2018: Reflections of a New Business Owner

2018 has been one of the busiest years of my life and career.

In 12 short months I have started a new job, been through a significant reduction in force, two mergers, losing a job, unemployment and finishing the year with a profitable first quarter as a business owner. During this time, I also expanded my family and adopted my partner in all things including my business, my dog, Charlie.

In the most cliche manner ever, I am now going to tell you the most valuable lessons I learned through all of it.

Fake it till you make it (everyone else does).

When I first started working for the Digital Marketing agency I was overwhelmed to say the least. At a big enterprise, when you do a project you spend a LOT of time planning and checking in on progress. Managing digital projects is like changing a tire while the car is moving by comparison. A big change in technique for a Project Manager. Now add about 25 projects, 20 people and the merging of three teams at once — I was in uncharted territory. My CEO reminded me that Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg all at one point felt the way I did . – they had never done it before either. And now, even though there are millions of business owners all over the world and they all started somewhere, no one is running the same business as I am. All I can do is take all of the experience I have and bring it to clients who need it. I have tools, training and experience enough to carry me forward. And if that fails, I can always look at some of the mistakes I made along the way and just do the opposite of what I did before!

You will fall flat on your face (probably multiple times) and it will not be a big deal.

I got fired in 2018. Even writing this makes my stomach knot up again. But it shouldn’t. Almost everyone I know has been fired once in their life and nobody died, everyone has come back from it and either learned some important lessons, or found a role that was a better fit for them. I always thought getting fired was the absolute worst thing that could happen to a person. I thought it only happened to people who “deserved it”. But now that I’ve been through it, I can honestly say it was one of the best things that ever happened. I was in a job that wasn’t a good fit, working more hours then were good for my health and most importantly, I hadn’t smiled at work in months. Once the bruises on my ego faded and I’d had some time to clear my head getting fired felt like a blessing. I spent the summer bonding with my new puppy, and shaping a future that would give me financial stability and a life and career I loved. The old cliche is true, failure is neither fatal or final (but with the right perspective it can lead to some fun).

You have more power and control than you think you do.

My whole career I felt like I had to do all the right things, climb the ladder, navigate the politics and wait for the promotion or new opportunity. My salary, benefits and promotional opportunities were at the mercy of my employer. I learned the benefit of having multiple revenue streams, not putting all my eggs in one basket and using every talent I had (while discovering new ones). This year was really about stepping into my own power and being clear when something wasn’t working for me while asking for more of the things that were working well.

The hustle is important but other things are more important.

Adopting a puppy changes your world in ways you can’t even begin to imagine if you’ve never owned a dog. Charlie demanded tons of playtime, loves being outdoors (when it’s 75 degrees and sunny), and watching him experience new things brings me joy like I’ve never experienced. One of my fondest memories was the last warm day this year. We closed the office – put on every auto responder we have and just enjoyed an afternoon out and about in our neighborhood. I never would have been able to do this if I still had a traditional 9 to 5.

You don’t have to be the best at anything you just have to do it.

In a similar vein to done is better than perfect, you don’t have to wait until you’ve won all the awards or gotten all of the certifications to make a change. Skills transfer, mentors are always available and going back to lesson number one, sometimes it’s okay to fake it until you make it. (As long as you’re taking calculated and strategic risks and have some manner of safety net).

I ended 2018 on a very high note, a full client roster heading into the new year, a great relationship with my new puppy and a plan to hit aggressive personal, professional and financial goals in 2019. I am looking forward to working with new clients and partners as I continue to learn and grow my business.

You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there will always be someone who hates peaches. – Dita Von Teese

In sales, a lot of times you’ll hear businesses who are new technology or industry “disruptors” say they have no competition. 

This is a sentiment I wholeheartedly disagree with. In many cases companies have pretty direct competition. Even if a product or service out there can’t get the same results as you can, you are still competing with everything else your prospect can do with his or her dollar. 

In 2008 Kyra Johannsen and Lian Tal opened Body and Pole. One of the first pole dancing fitness studios in the heart of New York City. They essentially started the pole fitness trend on the east coast. The next 10 years saw their studio grow from one 750 square foot classroom with 1 class running at a time to over 10,000 square feet. They have added aerial classes on silks, hoop, and hammock and run hundreds of classes a week. Students come from all over the world to train with them. 

While Body and Pole is considered the gold standard for this type of training on the east coast, and perhaps around the world, instructors there work hard to constantly raise the bar. In their ElevatED education program, where they train teachers, Johannsen and her colleagues constantly remind new instructors who their competition is. They say you aren’t just competing with other instructors but you are competing with everything else your students could be doing with their time or money. 

Now, I am sure you are saying to yourself what does that have to do with ME and MY business? I’m not planning to open a pole dancing studio (or maybe you are, but that’s another blog post for another day). What if you adopted the same mindset for your business? 

How would you market yourself if you knew you were competing with ANYTHING else your customers could do with those dollars? You might be thinking but I am a B2B business and my customers can’t live without me! 

Let’s say you’ve been providing marketing strategy to a law firm for 10 years. Your strategies have a clear ROI and the firm is happy. What happens when the CMO retires and the new guy comes in and decides the firm is only going to focus on SEO and brings in a new agency? You didn’t lost your contract to another marketer – you lost to company leadership reallocating the budget. 

Try it this week – ask yourself what else could your clients do with the money they spend on your product or service. Let me know in the comments how it goes. Will you change your strategy or communication going forward?

Storyteller

Close your eyes and picture a salesperson. What do you see? Did your mind wander to a cheap used car lot? Did you see emails and LinkedIn messages with badly crafted sales pitches? 

Now, close your eyes and think of a storyteller. Do you see a kindergarten teacher with a circle of eager students hanging on her every word? Did you see the Obamas, giving passionate speeches during a tense presidential election? Or are you thinking about Oprah Winfrey, Barbara Walters or any other journalist sharing an impactful story with their audience? 

I challenge you to think of sales more like you think of story telling. The best salespeople can tell their stories in a way that solves a problem, entertains and delights a client all at the same time. 

The best salespeople aren’t just there to push a product or service, they genuinely want to make connections with those around them and leave the world a better place. This is the topic I will be exploring through this blog. I’ll be sharing examples, tips and best practices. If you have a thought or would like to contribute please don’t hesitate to drop a comment or send me an email.