Last week, Andrew Fraser and I teamed up again to offer a session to business owners - this time we planned a full day of learning and action taking after hosting our sold-out intro session in December.
We gathered a roomful of passionate and keen entrepreneurs who are ready to grow their business - some have been at it for decades and some are at the beginning. Because growth happens at all stages, in different ways, we built methods and learning to support folks wherever they are.
We all hosted this session at the lovely WorkSpace Bedford. The reception was outstanding and they even gifted our guests with a week of free co-working. if you are looking for a workspace (they offer free co-working on Fridays and there is so much free parking). Follow them over on Instagram @workspacebedford to see how much they love their co-working members...hint: there are often treats waiting for you at the office!
Making a Plan
We started with business planning and I took everyone through my 3 step method. They grabbed their choice of sticky notes and each found a space to map out their plan for the next 90 days. Each person had a unique experience during this session - for some the ideas flowed quickly and with ease. For others, it took time and conversation to start to see a clear direction. I always stress that your planning will not look like the person next you to because you are both running entirely different businesses.
By the end of the session, everyone had lists of organized notes with strategic actions grouped into goals/themes. The last step of the process is to transfer all the details over to a calendar of choice (ie. online, paper, hybrid) to ensure once they leave the room, they are ready for whatever may come up and adapt their plan as needed. Keep reading to see what happens after you leave the room from a planning session.
"Your warm personalities make it easy to feel like we're in a safe professional environment and not have the pressure to have all the answers. Your encouragement of the fact that building a business is an on-going, ever-evolving process is a point that many of us easily lose sight of. Thank you for reminding us!"
This kind of planning is big work that takes critical and strategic thinking...and time. So often, we are flying by the seat of our pants, trying to wear the 12 hats it takes to run our business, that we don’t often make this time to pause and look forward. I'm so proud of these folks who invested the time, money, and energy to show up that day.
Sharing with your Community
Andrew then shared trends, strategies, tips, and tricks regarding all things social media and content creation via the main social platforms. From setting social goals and time expectations to content planning, engagement, and account management he shared details that participants could start implementing right away. There were also a lot of juicy conversations about situations that often come up (ie. online reviews, sharing content, ethics, etc) for anyone using social media these days. Everyone left with a content calendar template and resources to start using it to plan out their social content - many folks stepped up and used the afternoon to fill it out and/or talk about specific situations they are navigating.
There is always so much value in coming together for a collective experience; real connections, support, and ideas come to life. Getting in a room filled with business owners is no exception. For example, hearing how other people use their planners, what systems they implement, and how they build and engage their online community can leave you with nuggets that you just can’t get from doing research or scrolling down an internet rabbit hole.
"I appreciate how much work and love went into planning the experience of this workshop. It was absolutely evident that both of you were considering what information would best benefit a group of incredibly diverse small businesses."
The Hard Truth
As hard as it is to make time to create a plan, it really is the easiest step.
I know, right? You finally find the mental headspace and time in your week to figure out what you need to be doing or stop doing (tip: check out my my Keep Toss Create exercise here before you start planning) and now I’m telling you that you really just did the first step.
I liken this to climbing a mountain (or insert your favorite adventure here) and the fact that with any trip or adventure, you generally take some time to plan for it. Even with those amazing free-spirit road trips, you generally take time to pick a general direction and pack a few essentials to have along the way, right? (swimsuit & car snacks are key to a good road trip, yes?).
The level of planning you do certainly depends on the adventure you want to go on - climbing a mountain or going on an adventure requires you to map out some detailed logistics before you set out. Showing up and mapping out a plan for your business is the same as trip planning. Once you’ve put in the work of creating your 90-day plan...you are at the trailhead.
The next phase is implementing your plan and this really is the most challenging part. This is where the rubber hits the road. This is where things happen that you didn’t plan for. This is where opportunities present themselves. This is where you have to show up and do the hard work. This is where you also have to make time to pause and evaluate.
This is where it all gets real.
There are so many feelings during this implementation phase too. Feeling lonely and isolated as you try to figure out how to manage it all and wondering when to adapt or pivot. It can be overwhelming and you will make mistakes. You’ll also be successful in ways you couldn’t have predicted.
Highs and lows. Ebbs and flows. Peaks and valleys.
Scaling a mountain solo is entirely possible. Implementing your plan on your own is also possible; checking off those to-do items and completing tasks with your head mostly down, is 100% doable. You can grow your business this way, but it will likely take you longer than if you had someone there to support you, strategize with, and share resources along the way.
I work with you along the way - joining you on this adventure - so that when you are feeling lost, I can bring up your map and be there with you as you re-route.
When an opportunity comes up and aligns perfectly with your values, I am there to celebrate with you.
When you inevitably stumble and fall, I am there to help you up. I'm there to help you figure out what happened and how you might be more strategic going forward.
I’m also there to pull out the metaphorical trail mix when your energy is low and you’re not sure you’re even on the same path anymore - I’m there with you.
If you are tired of going at it alone and want to have someone by your side to help navigate this adventure of running a business, please reach out and we can talk about what it's like to work together.
Feelings of failure
Failure (noun): an act or instance of failing or proving unsuccessful; lack of success
When we think of failure, the feelings we associate with it are usually uncomfortable at best and brutally negative at worst. We have this narrative running through our minds that ‘failure is bad’ and we have been fed this line in our culture for so long from family, friends, trusted leaders, academics, mentors...you name it.
I reached out to you and asked ‘’what emotion do you feel when you think of failure?” and the responses were mostly what I anticipated; guilt, fatigue, disappointment, worthlessness, shame, fear, judgment, inferiority, incompetence, and on and on. I hear the same story from clients as we debrief the seasons and situations in their work.
How many decisions do you make a day? Adults make on average 35,000 decisions each day and researchers at Cornell University have concluded that we make 226.7 decisions each day on just food alone.
Yes, some days, deciding what to make for lunch can feel draining...but so often it’s those BIG decisions lurking around in the back of your mind that takes up so much of your time and energy.
That’s time and energy that you could be using to move your business forward - making it what you know it can be.
I've been there. I have let decisions stick around for way too long, eating up my creativity, inspiration, and my motivation.
There are now 2 weeks left of 2019...and yes, the end of the decade.
I've been hearing so many people share their wins and challenges of 2019 lately as we start planning for their big dreamy goals for 2020.
Have you taken a moment to jot down some of your big moments of the past year yet? What are the things you are really proud of?
Andrew Fraser (PR Consultant & Social Storyteller) and I had such a great morning connecting with a roomful of business owners, organizations, freelancers, and entrepreneurs who were ready to start thinking about their goals for 2020, reflect on their past year and get really clear on what their social storytelling will look like going into the next year.
When I think back to the Balance & Boundaries event, I find myself smiling, nodding, and taking a deep breath.
I’m smiling because it felt so damn good to hear three successful women in our business community share such real, honest, and relatable stories to a roomful of over 35 entrepreneurs.
While this may look like a laundry basket filled with bread, it is actually so much more than that.
It is community, business, nourishment and education.
I can tell you that I do not look (or feel!) this happy at a traditional networking event. I've been to so many of them, in different cities/towns/provinces, and have decided to create the kind of networking event I would be excited to go to...and I'm so happy to trusted my gut to go with it!
While I have enjoyed meeting new people and deepening connections with folks I already know in networking events, there is something about the very traditional networking event that often makes me cringe. I think it is in part due to the pressure to talk with as many people as we can, finding someone interesting to talk to and feeling worried about what you'll actually talk about when you do meet them (and let's be honest...how to leave a conversation that isn't filling you up!).
Creating space for reflection is priceless especially when you are busy making decisions, taking chances, and growing and/or scaling your business.
It may seem counterintuitive to slow down just as you are speeding up but pausing regularly, as you are moving your business forward, can be hugely beneficial.
And all too often, we take time to think about why we failed and not as often to think about how we succeeded. Especially once it’s over and you are moved on to the next thing, right?
In my past work, I supported complex systems change work as a Developmental Evaluator with a national youth engagement project, called YouthScape. Think, many community groups working together in order to do better at engaging young people in their communities and organizations.
It was my job to deeply listen, watch and pose questions, nudge gently, and share observations, so that changes could be made in real time and not wait until the end of the initiative.
I think setting intentions may be the gateway to manifesting.
I can get behind the woo woo and my close friends would tell you I’m more woo woo that I think. I really do believe that good things happen to good people and that a positive mindset can make a difference in helping you move forward.
Nearly 10 years ago, we packed up our life in BC and drove across the country to the South Shore with all our worldly possessions (mainly our bikes, boats and surfboards) piled in and on top our little car...arriving mid-January in Lunenburg. We also had no jobs, no friends/family in the area or even a long term place to live. However, within 4 months we both had full-time work in our fields (he found a teaching job and I started working at the local women’s center), a short term rental and our eyes on a dream house that became our current home.