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If any year needed a review, it’s 2020…

Well, 2020 is turning out to be… kind of different.

I’m a big fan of reviewing your business when it feels right to you, but certainly as we stand in the middle of the year, it’s as good a time as any to take a step back, look at where you’ve been, where you are, and where you want to go.

Now, I work with a lot of small business owners, solopreneurs and female founders, and I know that “review your business” can sound intimidating, or that it has to look a certain way. So let’s just clear that up: this is an opportunity FOR YOU to reflect on how your business is working. And it can be an enjoyable, creative, encouraging experience!

You might need to look at some numbers. You might need to think about things that aren’t working so well, which can be uncomfortable. That’s okay and to be expected.

Here are some ideas for how to make your business review feel really good:

  • Carve out some time (I know you’re juggling the kids and the work and the home so time is scarce. You might need a couple of 30 minute sessions rather than an hour. Just book the time with yourself, ask for help with the other stuff, and enjoy it.)
  • Put some music on
  • Light a candle
  • Make a delicious beverage AND have a big glass of water
  • Go for a walk before you start (I find this helpful to shift my energy – 10 minutes is great)
  • Work with your preferences – if you like to hand-write, do that, or have documents open for your notes on your laptop
  • Make sure you’re really comfortable – good chair, warm/cool enough, steady writing surface
  • Turn off allllll the distractions!

You’re going to want to reflect on the different areas and aspects of your business:

  • Your offerings (products, services)
  • Your customers and their experience
  • Your systems and processes – and your team
  • Your marketing and branding
  • Your sales and finances

For each area, you’re going to want to look at numbers, maybe gather some data – give your head the information it needs. AND you’re going to want to consider how you feel about each area – what does your heart say? What’s your intuition telling you? This is where your creativity lies, so make sure you listen to it!

Check in with the stories you’re telling yourself. On one of my retreats, I had a client claim that “sales were shit” over the past year, and I pointed out that she’d said that a number of times, but I wondered if it were true. When she got home and looked at the figures, her sales were actually pretty similar to the year before. We can get really hooked into stories we tell ourselves, and noticing them can set us free to figure out what’s really going on.

Ready to reflect?

In addition to the ideas above, I’ve also put together a few questions for you to reflect on. These are the big, “coachy” questions I’d ask if we were sat together with mugs in hand, pondering the months ahead.​

There are a couple of versions, depending on your stage of business:​

​Feel free to take a photo of your space while you’re doing your review and tag me! Or hit reply and let me know what your review brought up.

I’m here to cheer you on.

The whole damn cake

A few years ago, I was in a relationship that – it turned out – didn’t really work for me. In many ways it was fun and exciting and adventurous, but something was amiss. The guy I was with was kind of aloof, and it felt like, no matter what I did, I didn’t get the love or time or affection I really wanted.

My coach at the time, Rachel Cole (whom I adore), is all about living a well-fed life, and she had the perfect food-based metaphor.

She said, “You feel like you’re gathering up the crumbs from under the table, when what you really want is the whole damn cake.”

Well. Rachel put words to something I had been feeling intensely, but hadn’t been able to articulate. I hadn’t even known I was allowed to want anything other than what I had. (This, for the record, is one of the moments that made me fall in love with coaching…)

In fact, it felt like I’d been wanting the whole damn cake my whole damn life: relationships, work, friendships, family, food – everything.

It wasn’t just this one relationship in which I was gathering the crumbs from someone else’s table. The metaphor applied to almost everything.

This was probably the moment I woke up from my frustration in my job, and started wanting to ask for the whole cake in my career (which brought me to starting my own business…).

I share this story because I’ve heard variations from my clients, too. They want the whole damn cake: the support they really need, the success they really deserve.

We can be guilty of making do with just the crumbs in our businesses as well as our love lives, thinking we don’t deserve even a slice.

Or maybe we kind of forget that there even IS a big old cake available, we’re so used to crumbs.

Like me in that relationship, we have to figure out how to ask for more. (And sometimes we have to go someplace else where they sell cakes, because it turns out that this place doesn’t have whole cakes available, or perhaps not the flavour that we really want…)

If you feel like you’ve been gathering crumbs, I invite you to grab a notebook or have a conversation with a friend, and perhaps consider the following questions and ideas, designed to help you ask for, discover, or even bake your own whole damn cake:

What does the cake you want right now look like? If you take the metaphor as far as you can, what do you want from the sponge, the icing, the decorations? What flavour is it? What ingredients does it use? What could these things mean to you?

When you see the cake, take the first bite, enjoy it over a few days – what does that feel like? What would be different if you went from gathering crumbs to having the whole damn cake?

How could you ask for the whole damn cake? Would it be asking for the help you really want, carving out the time to be creative, pricing your products appropriately? Or perhaps something else?

How could you learn to make your own cake? Maybe you’d learn about cultivating your audience and making your marketing really effective so that you get the results you want. Maybe you’d learn about scalable income or wholesaling your products. Maybe you’d learn about adding in strong foundations to your business so that it becomes really enjoyable and satisfying to run (aka eat!).

I share this story and these prompts because we all deserve to have the whole damn cake. We don’t need to scrabble around on the floor for crumbs, left over from someone else’s perfect cake.

My job is to take clients from feeling frustrated, feeling stuck, and feeling overwhelmed to feeling confident, clear, and courageous. Normally this requires heavy doses of defining success on your own terms – making up your OWN recipe, rather than following someone else’s. (You like the darker chocolate for the icing, right? Or the frosted rose petals? Or maybe a perfectly ripe, perfectly organic lemon drizzle…)

The cake, to me, symbolises more joy, more fulfilment, and having business and life in flow.

How about you?

It’s not easy to plan right now…

Am I right? Things are up in the air a lot, there’s not much certainty, and who knows what to do about childcare.

And yet it’s incredibly easy to feel overwhelmed and unfocused in your business.

My opinion? Getting even a mini plan together is a good idea. Which is why I’ve spent the last few weeks working on my new Create Your Mini Business Plan course.

It started with me.

Having had a couple of good months of nursery and getting back into the swing of things, most of my careful business plans went out of the window. I didn’t know what I should be doing.

One of the saddest consequences for me in this #lockdownlife is that I had to postpone my retreat, which was due at the end of March. It was heartbreaking!

But it did remind me of one of the activities we do on the first day of my retreats.

We make a list.

Okay, it’s really simple. And it’s not.

We make a list of things we want more of and things we want less of. It’s deceptively simple, and a great starting point for figuring out what’s most important to our businesses right now.

So I made my own list. It included things like “more profit” and “less stress about money”; “more focus” and “less overwhelm”; “more ways to help my audience” and “less distraction”.

This list also became the starting point for this new course. Because lists have a fabulous way of bringing clarity and focus.

I created a couple of other lists, added some gorgeous goal-setting templates, and then creating a few ways to commit to goals over the coming months. I wrote the workbook and went through it myself, adding details and amending as I went.

Focusing on writing this course meant I had to stop blogging, which I’d somehow managed to do weekly. It meant I could only write down the other ideas coming to me. And I had to accept that I’d only post occasionally on my Instagram feed while I was finishing it up.

Because deciding what we don’t do is just as important as committing to the things we want to achieve.

And now, my friends, it’s ready.

The Create Your Mini Business Plan course is here, and has an optional coaching session you can add at a very special price. It’s an inspiring and actionable guide to prioritising your to-do list and taking your business to the next level.

Check it out here.

There are some exciting bonuses, and tons of email support. Because I know it’s easy to sign up for something and then kind of let it slide.

A freebie

One of the bonuses is a COVID-19 Special Edition Workbook. I shared this over on my Instagram stories while I was writing it, and a quick poll suggested that it would be handy even if you didn’t sign up for the course. So if you’d like the free workbook without signing up for the course, it’s right here:

Whether you sign up for the course or not, you can always make your More / Less list and take it from there. You’d be surprised by how this simple list can show you what you really need.

And of course, I’d love to hear from you if you do!

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