Over the last two months while everything has been put on ice I’ve been thinking about my own business and how it can survive and work into the future.
Time is usually a commodity in short supply, so I decided to use the opportunity to sit down and think about what my business could be and what I wanted it to be. There were a couple of things I discovered, some of which I’ve now formulated into my approach to marketing, a few personal and a few business, but all of which work in tandem.
Personal and Business Become One
What I enjoy most about what I do is not necessarily doing the work, but helping business owners and businesses succeed. Honestly, I’d be happy just to tell people what to do and have no hand in actually doing it… but it doesn’t work like that! So when I had the opportunity to sit down and think about my business it made me realise that one of the things I should try to achieve if I want to reformat my business is to maximise my capability to help businesses owners succeed, while still performing the other elements of the business, but to a lesser extent.
Thinking about this more I started to wonder what the reasoning behind it might be. It seems intuitively obvious, but, when you try to write it down, it’s not so easy. I prefer to do this thing, so I should do more of it… Why? So, I began to look at one of the areas that tends to frame our tastes – our personal value and belief system (finally putting my degree in Philosophy into a practical application!!!) When I looked at my own personal value and belief system and the things I truly hold to be important and my impressions of the world, it started to give a bit more clarity and answer this question I was putting to myself.
One of the things I’ve realised is that, for me, helping and particularly helping through teaching, is something that I value greatly, naturally giving me a lot of satisfaction. Only last week I had the chance to do a marketing strategy training session with a startup owner, and actually felt euphoric after our two or three hour session. It’s cliche to say do what you love and it won’t feel like work at all, but there’s some truth to it, and over the past while I’ve tried to understand how this can be used in any business.
So where does this fit into why I remodelled the business? Well, by structuring the business around my most important value, I feel I can deliver the best service possible, because I’m actually doing something that’s intrinsically part of my nature. The next leap I want to make is to ask if all business owners look at their business through this lens could they create a better success of their business? I’m fully invested in the belief that they can, but I suppose the jury is out on this one as I don’t have enough data to give a valid response. What I’ve decided to do is take this idea and integrate it into an approach to creating a marketing strategy for small and medium sized businesses. If you’re interested, you can sign up and receive the outcome of all this below. I feel by recognising your own values and beliefs and structuring the business’ foundation, messaging and purpose in a likeness of your own personal values and beliefs you will be able to create a stronger message that delivers increased results.
It’s been interesting to look at a few owner run businesses where this tends to naturally occur as the owners effectively are the brand, so they speak with a voice that is true to themselves and shines through in their communications. My discovery has been that I was not necessarily running my business according to my main value and this is the reason I had a nagging feeling that I wasn’t focused on exactly the right thing. By looking at my personal value system and restructuring only slightly what I’m focused on, I already feel much more positive about the direction of the business. I think if you’re questioning the direction of your business this should be one of the first things you consider. Do your values and beliefs match what you’re doing in your business? And on a wider scale do your employees buy into the business values? If not, you might need to pivot, but not for the reason you would have initially thought.
It Actually Takes a Decent Amount of Time to Figure Things Out
It took me three months to figure out and put all of this together… That’s discounting the few previous months when it was on the back of my mind and I’d do a little bit on it every now and again, then put it on the backburner to deal with more important client work. It seems a bit silly that producing three pieces of content and figuring out how I needed to pivot my business would take this long. You’d think it would be a bit more self-evident as to what to do, and a somewhat quicker process.
However, the most difficult part was coming to the realisation that I was a little out of sync with what I could and should be focused on. As a sweeping generality it is difficult to admit being wrong or misguided about something, but once we do changing things can become fairly easy. The other obvious thing is that it’s much easier to do the tasks that make us money immediately versus those intangible ones with a far off return.
You’re not going to have the answer on day one and if you want to produce something you feel is worthwhile it’s going to take you a while. Although, I hope it doesn’t take you three months long!
Processes & Templates
I know many businesses use processes and templates, but I’ve never been one to create or use one. With this free time I decided it might be time to develop a few… And I can see now why businesses use them. I’m still slowly creating a process and template document for everything single thing I do, and, although they are incredibly tedious to create, they are very handy!
Do as I Say, Not as I Do
When it comes to producing content, I’ve been a great one for telling clients what they should be doing, but not doing it myself… This is definitely a time thing (it’s not always, but this is what I tell myself). It’s easier to do the work that has immediate payback so we make less time for the stuff we should be doing for our own business that doesn’t have this instant reward. Kicking off my new content plan, I realistically don’t expect to see any real payback for a couple of years because it takes time to grow something. If only I had started two years ago…
Developing your marketing should be treated in the same way as growing a business. It takes time to establish it, so if you begin with a content strategy you can’t give up just a year in because it’s not having an immediate impact. You will need to give it much longer if it’s to have a chance, just like your business.
This follows on from the last point and came up in a conversation I had recently. Producing content, whether video, written, spoken, etc. is going to put a spotlight on you, and, for many people, that’s going to make you feel uncomfortable. Unfortunately it’s something you have to do!
Now, for me, the idea of doing video induces panic. It is however the most important medium, so I know that eventually I’m going to have to start producing videos and publishing them. *Shudders*. The first one I put up will be a major personal accomplishment! In order to build up the confidence to get to the point of publishing videos, I’m starting off by writing blog posts. What came out of this recent conversation was the idea of starting off where you feel like you will be most comfortable. It’s important to produce content where your audience is, but I think one exception can be made to this. When you’re trying to find your feet, and develop some rhythm to what you publish, it’s more important to do something you feel comfortable with. In this case the best course of action is to start with something you know will be easier for you to master.
“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”Albert Einstein
Now more than ever we need to be open to change, rationally questioning the way we think, looking at how we can sometimes be partial in our opinions. I think by doing this we can unlock the potential in ourselves and our businesses.