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How to focus: part 1

If you’re a small business owner, and especially if you’re a one-woman-band / solopreneur, finding focus (and sticking to it) can feel impossible.

A single day can include fulfilling orders, answering emails, scheduling social media posts, ordering stock, trying to fix that thing on your website, wondering whether you should invest in advertising, uploading products, taking photos, and on and on and on.

Whew! Can you see why you feel exhausted?

A big part of my work with clients has been to cut through the noise and find the things they really need to focus on – and then prioritise them.

This week and next, I’m sharing focus tips, reminders, and to dos that will help you to focus and find more ease in your business.

Today: It’s part one, and we’re starting out with WHY a lot of small business owners don’t stay focused. (You may recognise yourself in this list)…

5 Top Reasons Creative Business Owners Don’t Stay Focused:

  • We overestimate what we can do in the short term. We think things will take 10 minutes when they really take half an hour. We think we can get a wide variety of things done in a single day, task-switching merrily. We are wrong.
  • We underestimate what we can do in the long term. We dream small because we’re really tired from all our overestimating in the short term. This is the twin sister of the point above, and they’re both brilliant observations by Gretchen Rubin.
  • We underestimate the effectiveness of focus. The biggest secret of business is that focus actually works. Going all in on one thing feels vulnerable because we think we have to do everything. But time and again, it pays off. Big time.
  • We don’t trust we’ll get to it later. We carry all the to dos over to our daily lists because we think we’ll forget. So we’re just thinking about a million things, all the time.
  • We don’t trust we’ll choose the RIGHT focus. OOOOOOOH, this is a big one. The vulnerability of committing to a thing. Let me tell you: you know what you really want to focus on. You know how to get resources and support if you’re not sure of specific steps.

Sound familiar? All the more reason to start seeing focus as the key that unlocks your potential…

And I’ve been there too! I like shiny things. I like ideas. I like creating. It is HARD to commit to one thing (more on that in a minute). But the last couple of years, and especially the last 12 months, have been more and more focused for my business – and it has massively paid off.

Plus I see this all the time with my clients. The focus of creating a new collection and working towards the launch. Focusing on a clear customer desire and meeting it. The clarity of working on a new website to completion before adding in any other projects.

It works.

Focus actually makes us MORE productive, profitable, and effective. Which leads to more success, happiness, and satisfaction.

By focusing, you get a sense of completion, you start trusting yourself more, and your confidence grows. You work on the things that uniquely right for you – and seriously, that’s just the best.

So here’s what you, dear one-woman-band, need to let go of…

You have to let go of comparison, distractions, and what other people are doing.

Choose two or three projects to focus on at a time and commit to them.

If (when) something else comes up, put it one a “to consider” list for when you have space to take on your next project.

Join me next week, when I’ll be sharing real-life examples of client projects and how to focus them. (And I have some exciting news!)

Do you need to change the journey or the destination?

If you’re a maker, solopreneur, or creative business founder, there’s a possibility that you’ve been reviewing your business and considering your goals for the year.

Chances are, you feel like there are a lot of possibilities, but you maybe haven’t really clarified your vision just yet.

I get it. There are lots of moving parts to business (and life), and 2021 isn’t exactly the most straightforward of times to be living in.

And as humans, we have this amazing ability for our monkey minds to be noisy chatter about all kinds of things that don’t really matter.

So let’s quieten down that voice and cut to the heart of things.

I have a metaphor (full disclosure: I love a metaphor!) that may just help you to see things differently…

The train metaphor

Imagine this year, or perhaps this phase, is a train journey. (Remember them?!)

You’ve got a ticket, you’ve found your seat, you’re ready to enjoy the ride.

Well, maybe you’re ready to enjoy it. Let’s just check in with that, shall we?

Are you headed to a destination you’ve been to before? Is this year looking pretty much like the last? Or are you headed somewhere new?

You can go to the same destination: reach more or less the same financial position, help the same customers, do the same things. For some of my clients, that’s actually really brilliant. For them, I invite them to buy a first class ticket, or maybe take the fast train with fewer stops. (Or even take the slow train and pause along the way…)

If that’s you, perhaps you can imagine how to upgrade your journey this year. Pack better snacks? First class seat? A welcome party when you get there?

And maybe you’re changing the destination…

The thing about trains is that there are a lot of them. You could go somewhere nearby, or you could board a train to another country and get halfway around the world.

Where will your ticket take you this year?

Is it close to where you’ve been before, or somewhere new?

Are you taking a stopping train through somewhere beautiful? Or a fast train to somewhere vibrant and exciting?

Where would you like to end up? And how can you make the journey smooth, enjoyable, and totally right for you?

The journey matters

We get caught up in the destination a lot – and that’s important. Especially when you have business goals that feed into the quality of your life.

But we spend a lot of time on metaphorical trains, moving from one place to another.

So my invitation for you today is to consider how you could make your journey work better for you.

You don’t have to take the same old train, sit in the same old seat, feel the same old weariness. We’re not commuters, worn in by habit and trying to get everything done as quickly as possible.

Instead, see the full possibility of what’s available to you. Trains headed in all kinds of directions. A ticket to platform 9 3/4. Trains through beautiful countryside with stunning views. Journeys that are just as much fun as the destination.

I can’t wait to hear if this helps you think differently about your business and plans for the year ahead! I’d love to know more about the train you’re on.

And if you enjoyed this metaphor, you might also like this one about cake, this one about cooking, and this one about movies.

It’s not too late (or too crazy) to plan for 2021

I mentioned recently in my weekly pep talks (over on IGTV) that I get reallllllly opinionated in January, in particular about the semi-aggressive planning culture we live in.

I feel like a mama bear protecting all my bear cubs (aka clients, colleagues, and friends) who are just recovering from a busy Christmas in retail, just starting to get back on their feet, and only just able to start reflecting on the last six or so weeks.

If you’re a maker or a female founder of a product-based business, you do not need to have a comprehensive plan for the year on 1st January.

In fact, I think the best business plans aren’t thrown together in a fit of panic or needing something to cling to. Instead, they’re made with integrity, with consideration, and with full awareness of who, where and what you are.

As I write this, we’re not even halfway through January (and a dramatic January at that), and already it can feel like it’s not worth planning at all – the window of opportunity has gone.

And any plans you did make might have gone out the window – so why bother.

It is never too late to make a plan, find your focus, and commit to the future you really want.

But is it too crazy?

Okay. So the plans you made this time last year might be laughing in your face. 2020 was no year for plans going exactly as anticipated.

But you know what? Plans rarely get pulled off without a hitch.

Even if you don’t stick to a plan, or life takes you away from it because of a pandemic or a family illness or really anything else, it is so valuable to have a focus.

It’s 2021, and I think we all know that the world is unpredictable. We’re not expecting much “normal life” – as much as we’re longing for it and hoping for it.

Why bother? Why bother making a plan? Why not take one day at a time, go with the flow, and try to do anything too specific or too big?

Because having a focus and a direction helps. It helps your mental health, your inner business strength, and your bottom line.

You can still take one day at a time, flexing with lockdown rules, homeschooling, sales, and your own needs.

But have a direction that you’ve chosen with intent, whether that’s a product range you’re focusing on, or a marketing strategy you want to give yourself to 100%, or staying really committed to a specific turnover number.

I don’t know what focus is right for you, but I do know that you’ll reap rewards when you choose one thing.

Having a plan means taking your limitations into account.

Having a plan means it’s easier to adapt when needed.

Having a plan means you’ll know what to do in those 20 minutes you have to catch up on things (hello, parent/business juggle).

Ultimately, your plan works best when it integrates with your creativity, your intuition, and your impulses. They’re valuable assets, and they need structure in order to thrive.

I need a plan! What should it be?

Ah, you’re in the right place.

Come and join me for a 5 day challenge to create a business plan that’s designed to give you a more resilient business in 2021.

It’s totally free, and we’ll spend time reflecting on where you are, how lockdown life has affected you, and where you (really) want to go from here. Then we’ll sift through your dreams, your possibilities, and your practical limitations, to discover your focus for right now. We’ll map out a unique-to-you plan that builds in strength, courage, and creativity.

The Better Business Plan takes place in the last week of January, Monday 25th to Friday 29th, with live coaching every day, as well as a private space on Instagram for support and questions. Not to mention a workbook for you to work through and keep as your 2021 map.

Don’t miss this transformative event!

>>> Read more and register here. <<<

I can’t wait to see you there!

Jenny x

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