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5 things to think about when moving your business forward in 2021

5 things to think about when moving your business forward in 2021

Moving your business forward in 2021 feels like something you should say in a hushed voice.

I suspect, like many of us all around the world you may have experienced a change or two in your personal and professional journeys this last year or so. I know I have and I know that every single client I’ve worked with this year has too.

Trying to figure out what to do right now in order to get where we want to be or get what we want out of it can’t really be done in the same way as before. We need to think and be in a manner we are not used to.

We need to work and think differently.

Different.

It’s a pretty innocuous word all things considered and yet as a species we always balk at being different. In fact it’s one of the many fears that I believe hold us back in money, love, profession, physicality. That fear of what being different really means. Being abandoned and left out, laughed at or disgusted by.

Business has become odd since Covid. Millions of businesses have struggled, many people have faced employment or business hardship the likes of which we may not have seen before. It’s enough to put the fear of God in you about starting or expanding your own business/work.

For all the hardship there have also been people and businesses that have thrived. Though it all feels like you’re up against it, there’s also nothing to say you can’t do it either. Adaption is after all the key to evolution.

6 things to think about when moving your business forward in 2021

Relevant Industry

If you are just thinking of starting a business really paying attention to where the relevance of your business is within the business world will be key. It’s about understanding needs and demands. That’s not to say you have to have the same idea as someone else in order for it to be relevance. You simply need to know that there is a need for it right now and who and where that need is.

If you’re a potential start up or already an established business then refreshing yourself on this will be a useful tool. Take a look at the industries that are thriving now and will continue to be able to thrive and evolve ‘if’ things revert back.

Can your idea fit into one of the thriving industries? Can you pivot or expand to utilise these areas of growth?

Health & Care

For you and if you have them, employees and even for your clients working in a safe way is key, particularly in light of coronavirus. But this is more than just that too. This has been a great eye opener about how we care for our most vulnerable in the workplace as a whole. Now is the time you can think outside the box to protect yourself, your clients and your team.

Mentally, physically and not only in line with regulations but taking it further. Making a work environment and culture that changes the world of work for the better, for all.

Money

Whether you’re starting up or levelling up money is crucial to your success. You SHOULD understand your income and expenses. you SHOULD take responsibility for these in as much as being able to be savvy about your outgoings, understanding the base running costs of your business and what you will need to invest in or remove from your business for it to thrive financially.

Track your money in and out, pay your bills on time and don’t have unnecessary bills. Seek to pay for value rather than convenience.

Finding the gaps financially will stand you in good stead whatever the weather and most importantly, do not be afraid to seek professional advice.

Clients / customers / beta testing

I don’t often tell people to work for free but sometimes it’s essential as part of your research and fine tuning.

You need to understand things from the end users perspective, make sure what you are offering actually is something people want and to fill in the gaps of the things you may not yet know. For instance you may offer mentoring like me but want to change up your offerings.

I regularly offer slightly different mentoring packages that run for a shorter time (for free or significantly reduced) to see whether they work with what clients actually want. It has meant I have honed my packages to 3 simple offerings instead of the 10-20 that I started with and that makes everything simpler!

Alternatively you may provide a hard copy of a resource to a select few people and ask for their feedback having used it. This will give you great insight into the words they use, the way the use it and that feedback can be priceless.

Social Media Marketing

If you don’t have the budget for ads and a team of experts then you need to become that for yourself. Social media offers a prime opportunity to market your business for free the trick? To focus on becoming awesome at one before worrying about using multiple platforms. Learning what you can and taking regular action.

Social media is used every day by millions of people. Understanding which platform the people who would most likely buy your product or service are in is important and there are so many free resources to learning about them too.

Check out the industry, what’s working well and what isn’t. Figure out what kind of voice and imagery you want to use and create eye-catching graphics with easy to digest content. Even if you feel weird posting or even if you feel like you’re that annoying person posting do it anyway. No one is going to knock on your business door if they never really know it exists. The judgement of others (which is pretty minimal tbh) will not make a successful business. Being known, seen and thought of will.

It can be a slow and steady progress. That’s incredible.

If you’re looking for more in depth and regular advice on moving your business forward in 2021 then subscribe to my mailing list and I’ll be sure to help you out.

Catch you later,

Amy x

How to be creative and organised

How to be creative and organised

How to be creative and organised at the same time seems like a riddle that someone tells you (after hours of trying to solve it) has no answer.

We have so long designed our lives and businesses in such a way that they are either one or the other. The belief? That fundamentally we are one or the other and that creativity is the opposite of organised and therefore they simply cannot coexist.

Myths:

Creative people are free spirits, messy, chaotic, disorganised but wildly imaginative, open minded and flexible, not always financially stable, have to ‘suffer’ for their art, worked in many jobs. They make and create.

Organised people are rigid, systematic, overly scheduled, neat and tidy, studious, stoic, linear, methodical, structured, close minded, most likely reasonable stable financially, took a specific route in their career journey and stuck to it. They do and get done.

Truth

I think as children, we are encouraged to believe this albeit unintentionally by our adult counterparts. We are labelled as studious or artistic, shy or vivacious and it’s this time where we take one of our first forays into ‘boxing’ ourselves.

In fact I truly believe we all have a unique mix of all the qualities in us. We are all part of the same human spectrum and therefore we embody many different things all at once. We understand we can be hungry and happy at the same time or sad and have excess energy so why too can we not accept that we can be creative AND organised and that those things fluctuate on a daily basis?

I believe it’s why we can have a doctor who is methodical, studious and incredible particular about hygiene and tidiness at work who collects Harry Potter figurines and fills their home with them. One does not negate the other but at time different traits and feelings will expand as the others retract and vice versa. Like wood swelling or shrinking with changing weather conditions.

But why is being creative and organised so important?

When I am working with people as they build their businesses I often find they feel torn between what they want and what they think they should have or should be doing. It’s often this that finds them ‘stuck’ and, as we talk I find they’re bored or lacking in inspiration and there in I see a pretty simple truth.

In catering only to the one part of their personality and needs in their life and business they unintentionally starve the other.

Imagine for a moment that you fed each part of yourself daily. You exercised those muscles that work with those traits and you wholeheartedly accepted that both were essential to feeling fulfilled. Then imagine that you release yourself from the shackles of outdated beliefs about yourselves (that may never have been yours to begin with).

Now, let yourself wonder what you could achieve, what impact you could have unburdened by false narratives.

That’s why it’s essential to allow yourself to be creative and organised.

But how can I be creative and organised?

Good question! It’s definitely baby steps to start, especially if you’ve really leveraged one and have formed an identity around it. Thankfully you still own that identity but let’s see if we can’t help you harness the power of both a little more!

For those who identify as creative

If you are creative and have created a disorganised, free spirit persona then your energy is a whole vibe and that’s awesome but maybe you want to be able to increase the impact and audience for your art (whatever that may be) but aren’t sure you have the ‘boring’ part in you. Maybe you think you will never get that far without either selling out or stunting your creativity.

I get it. Being organised feels like a Chinese finger trap for inspiration but what if you knew that that thing you have/are creating could have untold value to others, that in the very access to it they themselves were inspired to create. What if the act of being creatively organised triggers MORE creative ideas and helps you bring them to life?

Well it ain’t no overnight thing I’ll tell you that much but here are a few things that people I have worked with during mentoring have found useful.

Tips

  1. Lose the distractions wherever possible so that when you create you can 100% create, no business just joy. Distractions are personal but one of my clients got rid of their TV. Another has every Wednesday ‘off’ and uses it to read, have long lunches and leisurely lie ins until she sits down and writes.
  2. Get rid of the ‘to do list’ and think instead about your day as a whole. What might be booked in and non negotiable – a medical appointment or an interview perhaps. Well that’s a block of organised time right there. What else would you like to get done that day? Do you dream of working on that project instead of the other one you have on the go? could that be before or after the non negotiable appointment – when is your creative energy at it’s best?
  3. Keep your ‘kit’ together and easy to access. It doesn’t matter if its on the dining table, in a huge trunk, takes up the spare room or it lives in a shoebox under the sofa – it’s whatever works for you just remember that keeping it together will mean you’re ready when inspiration strikes.
  4. Habit stack. Instead of dedicating 3 hours a day to ‘admin’ and organisation, how about adding mini elements of it into habits you already have? While the kettle is boiling for your morning coffee send some emails. When you’re brushing your teeth at night log your expenses etc wherever you choose to do that. Whilst dinner is in the oven forward your receipts/income etc. to your accountant. When you’re writing in your paper diary a new appointment write a reminder 3 days before too or set a reminder on your calendar for several days before.

Bonus tip

Make whatever the boring stuff is as joyful as you can. Create a playlist that you love and feel energised by for when you’re doing that work. Make sure you plan in something you love as a reward for immediately completing it – reward yourself with joy and fun and art and love and embrace it fully knowing you’ve done the stuff you didn’t think you were cut out for.

For those who identify as organised

If you have found yourself fully on the productivity train with linear thinking but know your business and life could benefit from more creativity and ‘outside of the box’ thinking…if only you were a creative type then I feel you. It can feel risky, even frivolous to consider doing something without purpose as such or without an immediate return on investment of your time and money etc. But what if I told you creativity is an amplifier of productivity when nurtured, that it can in fact improve every area of your business and life exponentially because it’s a source of momentum.

The very fact that you have built a business and are building your life the way it is is something of a creative act but, if you want to amplify your life, business and all then here are some things that people I’ve worked with as a mentor have found beneficial.

Tips

  1. First, start reminding yourself that research has discovered that a healthy brain engaged in creativity actually uses both the left and right sides of the brain (much to the dismay of the people still touting that we are either a left brained or right brained personality type) Don’t take my word for it, check out this article from Tara Swart
  2. Habit stacking – This is great for trying to be more creative too. For example, if you know you want to add a blog to your website and want to write, when you’re boiling your morning kettle spend that time coming up with ideas of ways you could help the reader. When you’re drinking your first cup of tea of the day instead of reading the paper or checking out your emails pick up a fiction novel that is outside of your wheelhouse.
  3. Cultivate experiences – go to watch live music, go to a poetry reading, watch a show, become a tourist in your town and immerse yourself in it. Go for a hike or watch the sunrise every morning and then just feel those experiences. No analytics just think about how your body felt during them, how full or peaceful your mind was. Experience these things as fully as you can – this will take practise
  4. Get a hobby unrelated to what you do for work and is in no way beneficial for your family or finances. By that I mean it’s only purpose is to be done by you. Maybe you could get a bunch of puzzles or paint by numbers. Maybe it will be sudoku or learning to play the keyboard. Maybe it will be starting to horse ride. Whatever it is it should be simply for the pursuit of doing it!

Bonus tip

If you find mess or clutter make it hard for you because you’re so organised that’s cool. Embrace it – keep the space where you practise these tidy, check your diary and keep up to date with your emails but then give all of your attention to these, this may mean switching off your phone or TV!

About getting creative and organised

The main thing to remember whichever camp you fall in is that there is no right or wrong way, you can embrace who you are and still do both. In fact you will find that some days you are more one than the other and then other days the pendulum swings the other way.

Like with everything, practise and joy make these so very much easier!

I say it’s time we embrace our multi-faceted natures and let ourselves find true freedom of choice. If you want to hear more, feel free to subscribe to my newsletter!

What do you think? Are you one or the other or a mix of both?

Catch you later,

Amy x

What is the arrival fallacy

What is the arrival fallacy

I was reading an article in Red Magazine some time ago now which mentioned ‘the arrival fallacy’ and with everything going on in the world, the season of ‘new year new me’ fast approaching I think it’s a great time to revisit my thoughts on it. 

The article by Elizabeth Uviebinene introduced me to this concept which I believe (from basic minimal research) was coined by Tal Ben-Shahar, a positive psychology expert. It’s not a new concept as such but it’s definitely one I have thought a lot about over this last year and something I think we could all bear to take stock of at the moment.

Thoughtful, the arrival fallacy, black woman, gazing out of window

So what is the arrival fallacy then?

Simply put the arrival fallacy is the myth that accomplishing your goals is the key to happiness. If you’ve been in my world for a while now you’ll know I love a goal and so this really resonated with me in an unexpected way.

When we talk about goals we often speak as though the getting of the goal is what will determine lasting happiness, lasting success and yet when I was achieving them or indeed my clients were achieving, the feeling of joy was…momentary.

It was when I read the article I realised, with hindsight that my mind (and those of people I followed, admire, my clients and even friends and family) was stuck in a trap of sorts. A trap whereby there was always 1 of 2 outcomes. ‘Failure’ to achieve the goal and therefore the belief that you are less than or worse off because of it – huge disappointment or the accomplishment and then the sense of joy and loss. Loss of a direction, loss of forward momentum, loss of goal.

Having always been a believer in enjoying the journey I wondered how this belief that ‘when I hit that goal, when I get that achievement then I’ll be able to relax, then I’ll be happy’ might be negatively affecting my day to day joy. I’m sharing more about this in my weekly email, you can sign up here.

It negatively affected my day to day in many ways as it happens.

How the arrival mindset affected me

  • Feeling that I was behind other people in my industry
  • My self esteem was fragile
  • Speaking and sharing information in a way that reduced the journey to a necessary evil
  • I enjoyed processes in my business less
  • Feeling like a failure if I didn’t get what or where I wanted 
  • My goals felt heavy
  • Lacking enthusiasm for the day to day
  • I started living for the then and not appreciating the now
  • I was at times incredibly unhappy
  • My anxiety increased
  • I over extended myself over long periods of time to ‘achieve’ and burnout would creep in

The more I shared this theory the more I realised this is in itself a fallacy. Part of the ‘toxic positivity’ movement and that in order to better represent myself, in order to address some of these issues I needed to make some changes.

So how do you adjust your arrival fallacy mindset?

  • Don’t be afraid to set goals for yourself and your business but do so with intention to care for yourself along the way
  • Take time to enjoy the progress and growth you’re making as you work towards the goal
  • Share your enjoyment of the journey rather than the goal itself, shift your focus and you shift your mindset
  • Use your inner dialogue in a better way. I like to say ‘this is so challenging and I like it, it will be a great bonus when I get XYZ’ 
  • Take pleasure wherever you get it (in a healthy way obviously!) 
  • Daily work should and can be fun, figure out what makes it so. Mine is music, friendships and acting like a fool
  • Lots of people believe an appreciation or gratitude practice really helps with this
  • Take time away from your goals and allow yourself to enjoy ‘other’ time too – remember you’re building a life not a checklist

Woman, arms outstretched arms with blue background and balloons. Overcoming The Arrival Fallacy

I really love this quote by Dr Ben-Shahar

“Attaining lasting happiness requires that we enjoy the journey n our way toward a destination we deem valuable. Happiness is not about making it to the peak of the mountain nor is it about climbing aimlessly around the mountain; happiness is the experience of climbing toward the peak.”

If you’re thinking about working together or would love to chat about how you might be able to improve in your unique circumstances head over to my contact page

Catch you later,

Amy x

Imposter syndrome, what if that’s NOT it

Imposter syndrome, what if that’s NOT it

I sat on my bed today incandescent at the sameness of all the posts on social media that were talking about mindset and the dreaded imposter syndrome.

I’ve labelled myself as having imposter syndrome for years. Telling myself as a child that I wasn’t as sporty, smart or attractive as my older sibling and that I would get found out. As a young woman I bemoaned my lack of creativity in comparison to my younger sister who is the most artistic and naturally gifted seer of beauty that I know.

I told myself that the reason I didn’t achieve more was because I lacked confidence and I lacked confidence because I must believe that I was a fraud amongst genuine talent.

If I’m honest, I always thought I was the black sheep of my family, the odd one out of our little brood. I told myself (along with the above) that I wasn’t as hard working as my mum and when I formed other relationships they simply seemed to ‘confirm my worst fears’. I wasn’t as good as I thought that people thought I should be and when found out everything went to shit.

I was the perfect carrier of that ugly fucking albatross ‘imposter syndrome’

If you checked back through my old school reports there are frequent mentions of my need to be more confident in order to succeed and with hindsight I see that I simply grew to believe what I was told.

As I sat on my bed at 3pm this Tuesday afternoon in August 2020 (what a freaking decade this year has been) I’m mindlessly scrolling Instagram. I’m just whiling away some time before a call with one of my best friends and my feed was filled with coaches declaring my issue is imposter syndrome and giving me tips on how to beat it.

Internally screaming I yelled “STOP TELLING ME WHO I AM AND WHAT I HAVE” and with my whole body I could feel that they were wrong.

On every level. Wrong.

It’s NOT Imposter Syndrome – The Epipheny

I realised with a smack in the face of shock that I had been wrong all these years too.

It irritated me so much that my face began to hurt from scowling at my screen. Oh the ridiculousness of it all. I asked myself; What if my 38 years on this planet haven’t been plagued by a lack of confidence or imposter syndrome. In fact…what if it’s the opposite?

What if I feel to the very core of my being that I am in fact a font of untapped potential and what if that potential has been bubbling away inside of me just like hot lava in a volcano? What if I haven’t lacked self belief but have simply been afraid of the collateral damage and lack of control should I ever allow that hot lava of potential to burst forth from deep inside me?

I jumped up from my bed with a gusto that I normally only really feel when there’s some kind of buffet.

If I know how much I have to give, that I’m super smart, empathetic, capable, funny, kind, skilled, and all the other things I’ve pretended not to be by jumping onto the imposter syndrome bandwagon, what does this mean?

After years of smothering myself in the myth of my imposter syndrome, reminiscent of dousing myself in Charlie Red when doing the walk of shame all those years ago, I’m just not sure what that makes me.

Does this knowledge make me arrogant? Too big for my boots? Up myself? Stupid? Snooty? Aggressive? A bitch? Ridiculous? An embarrassment to myself?

Is this what I think people who know who they are, are?

This bizarre turn of events has taken me somewhere I hadn’t expected to go today. All these thoughts whirring around in my head and the volcano is starting to shift. In fact, I feel quite emotional. Like I’ve just discovered that I have been taking the toughest route possible when I needn’t have.

I’m overwhelmed with the thought of this and I’m not sure where this has been leading me in terms of writing this blog post for you. I have just experienced a revelation that I am utterly different to the person I thought I was and it’s crazy making.

So here’s what I know and this is ultimately why I’m sharing this with you. So that you can know this too.

There’s a thing we all do as humans, we soak up the knowledge, beliefs and thoughts of the people we spend the most time with. Often, we don’t even think to challenge it and particularly so when it comes to our belief of our capabilities and the truth of us. Why?

I’ve just realised I can totally redefine everything I want to about myself. Just because I believed it for so long does not make it true.

So just remember, to build a truly authentic life that enables us to care for our body and mental health, to build a life that we desire and can wholeheartedly live for we MUST question the beliefs we hold about ourselves and shed the outdated tomes given to us by others.

We are who we are and we get to live as such.

Sometimes people are just wrong.

Catch you later,

Amy x

p.s. If you’re interested in working together then dependant on where you’re at in your biz I have a service you might find helpful. Click on the one that best describes you and it’ll take you to the relevant service. Starting out, Growing, Up-Levelling

3 tips to growing your audience as a new freelancer/entrepreneur

3 tips to growing your audience as a new freelancer/entrepreneur

You’ve made the choice to start a business or a side hustle. Congratulations, it’s so exciting. Now’s the time to grow your audience.

You don’t need me to tell you that now you’re going to creating content and posting on social media to try to drum up some business. Are you struggling to get any movement on it? Is this affecting your confidence and does it feel like you’re getting nowhere fast?

I understand. It can make you want to abandon your social media accounts altogether. And eurgh, aren’t you just sick of hearing ‘consistency is key’

If you’re interested in working with me or have any questions then please do contact me.

Here are some things that I’ve done that have really helped me.

Tip #1 Grow your audience by being patient

Grow your audience is slow like a turtle

Consistency could best be described as ‘patient persistence’ when it comes to your social media. In order to see the benefit of your work you need to keep doing it and wait. In fact, it can take 90 days (3 months) to see whether a content strategy is successful. Remember, if you stop and start another, you are pushing back your results.

In 2019 I struggled and didn’t want to use Instagram stories. However, I knew it needed to be part of my strategy.

I began posting a picture of my morning cup of tea and my bed hair and it became ‘a thing’. I stopped a couple of months ago and it was the highest volume of DMs I’ve ever had asking if I was ok. People expected me to show up.

Tip #2 Treat others how you want to be treated

Be kind

Do you want people to comment on your posts? Maybe you want people to like, save or share them?

Here’s what to do. Comment on other peoples posts, like, save and share other peoples posts. Two phrases I use a lot are; “when you give more you get more” and “when you get more you give more”

For example, if you find your ideal clients on Instagram spend time interacting on their posts. It’s kind, it’s connective and it naturally encourages the same behaviour. If you set your schedule to include a social media ‘power hour’ then make sure you’re allocating some engagement time on there.

Tip #3 Don’t forget to look after the ones you already have

Quality

Focusing so much on getting new customers causes some businesses to falter. Evidence of this is when I feel left behind or ignored and it has resulted in me taking my custom away from them (think of a well known TV subscription service)

Spend time thinking about the people who have already invested in you by following you. Who are they? What could you do that helps them? Have you been responsive to their posts and content?

It’s much easier to build a relationship with people who have already connected with you so don’t forget to nurture them too.

Bonus!

Here’s a freebie for you, My 10 steps to increase the visibility of your business – if you’re looking to grow your audience this is the one!

Catch you later,

Amy x

 

Flexible working – the future of business

Flexible working – the future of business

I believe in flexible working. There are a few exceptions to the rule but many jobs can be done from the comfort of our homes.

Flexible working from a laptop in a cafe. Woman with coffeeBefore starting my own business I worked for Taylor Wimpey as Customer Relations Manager in the Eastern Region. Importantly, they understood that times and lifestyles change and so too does the impact of work on your health.

The chairman made it clear, as a business they had a responsibility to their employees.

Whilst I wasn’t entirely ‘flexible’ in my career with TW, I realised something about myself. I could never go back to not working with more flexibility.

Taking that one step further, I quit and started my own business in 2018.

A rude awakening

This year, a global pandemic rudely interrupted ‘business as usual’. Dragging those against working from home into the 21st century with a slap. In March 2020 the UK went full on lock down.

With fear and urgency, businesses began the ‘radical’ shift to working from home where possible. The impact of which is going to reach farther than we can currently anticipate.

O2’s recent survey The Flexible future of work, 45% of the workforce believe there’ll be a permanent increase in it. Whilst, a significant 33% expect to increase the amount of work from home by 3 days.

For me, flexible working was not simply about being a single parent and working around my child. Importantly for me, working from home allowed me to stay physically and mentally well as well as financially supporting us.

There are times when working from home or, working at different times is the best option.

Why I advocate for flexible working

Woman flexibly working from her table with laptop and notebook

I write often about my desire to captain my own ship. Read about that in my post about finding myself and work/life balance. I spent a long time frustrated. Surrounded by men with antiquated values that didn’t mirror the backdrop of digital connectivity that the wider world relished.

It’s true. The UK government are feeding us their plans and easing the lock down. Many employers have already begun to draw their employees back into their places of work. There is benefit to this face to face working but I can’t help but wonder.

What will the future of work look like post Covid-19?

My hope that businesses use this as an opportunity to improve their systems and processes. I hope that employees will experience the benefit of it with opportunities for flexible working. It’s time businesses supported their staff with a holistic approach to work life balance.

What do you think?

Catch you later,

Amy x

(views expressed in this article are my own and do not necessarily express those of any businesses or government bodies mentioned)