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!

“Are your clients like me?”

I’ve had a few calls with potential new clients recently. Mostly women wanting to take stock, refine their plans, and work on overcoming some blocks in their business while things are… different.

I was reflecting on the themes coming up for these brilliant humans in business, curious to see whether these times are bringing up anything specific for creatives and small businesses.

Perhaps this was also on their minds too because I did spot a theme: several of the women I’ve spoken to asked a variation on the question, “Are your clients like me?”

Do other people struggle with this?

Am I unusual?

Is this unfixable, or can you help?

Am I in the right place?

My work isn’t for everyone, and there are certain things I don’t help with. I’m not an expert in Facebook ads. I’m not an accountant or an HR specialist. I’m not a designer or a web developer. There are plenty of wonderful experts out there who specialise in this kind of work.

I’m also not a coach who is purely focused on six-figure turnover, on churning out hundreds of products for the masses, or on making a quick quid with no substance. I’m sure there are business coaches and mentors out there who can help with that. (Though I don’t know that I can recommend one…)

So if I’m answering, “Am I in the right place?” there are several factors to my answer.

But if you’re wondering if you’re the only one struggling with confidence, getting organised, creating a sustainable business, making the right decisions for you, or cutting out the noise, you are definitely not alone. My clients are like you.

And while I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s “fixable”, my work is here to help you dial up the volume on your authentic voice, your unique offerings, your fabulous skills, and turn the volume DOWN on the noise that distracts you from success.

I LOVE to help creative humans define their own success.

I’m a sucker for asking questions that delve deeper, and listening to allllll the answers.

And I delight in giving business owners compassionate accountability and structure to get them taking action in the right direction for them.

If you’re wondering if my clients are like you, here’s an incomplete but quick overview of my clients:

  • My clients are mostly women with creative businesses, though I have a couple of non-creative business owners and women considering starting a business in the future
  • My clients have a hunch they could be earning more, doing better, or feeling happier, but they’re not quite sure how to get there
  • My clients have a lot of thoughts, and usually apologise for saying too much, or that it’s all “a mess” (when really this is a key part of the work we do together)
  • My clients usually need a little nudge towards more confidence to do the thing they really want to do or are scared of doing
  • My clients sometimes need to ask uncomfortable questions, and be gently encouraged out of their comfort zone
  • My clients usually need or want homework, accountability, and clarity on the most important thing for them to do

We’re all humans in business. We all need support from time to time, whether it’s help setting up a new website, or creating a business strategy, or getting out of our own way.

If you’re looking for support, I’d love to hear from you – even if you’re not sure I’m the right person! Chances are I can recommend someone who is.

You can also join me on Mondays at 12pm for a group call to get a taste of what it’s like to work with me. Join Progress not Perfection – my group programme – currently Pay What You Can and I’ll share all the call details!

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