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!

The beauty of working with a coach or mentor

Before I dive in, just a note about language: I’m currently pondering my own relationship with the words “coach” and “mentor”. I believe they’re different, but I also believe I do both. So please forgive that I use both in this article. Other business mentors or coaches probably have different opinions on this distinction.

As I return from maternity leave, I’ve had some pretty good reminders of what it’s like to start up in business. All that excitement, but also all those questions you have: Should I do this thing? What about that? How do I prioritise? Who am I targeting? What should I focus on?

And on and on…

Just like when I first started out, I’ve had to become my first client again. I sit with my own questions, and I ask myself what I’d ask a client. What’s really important this year, this month, this week? Who’s going to benefit most from my work? How do I really want to show up?

It’s incredibly easy to get taken over by questions, fire-fighting and comparison, or even imposter syndrome.

Here are a few ways working with a good mentor or coach can help:

They’ll hear what’s really important to you.

A good coach is trained to hear what you’re saying beneath the actual words you say. You might feel like you’re just talking or perhaps have a bit of verbal diarrhea, but those of us with an attuned ear hear so much. And we reflect that back to you. Or we ask a pertinent question. We help to guide you towards clarity.

They’ll help you stay focused and accountable.

Usually, with all the listening and the questions and the talking, we reach a point where we know the focus you need. You see it, too. There’s a first step, and a second, and you take it from there. A good mentor will help you find a way to take that first step, and stay accountable a few steps down the line, so you don’t get distracted by things that aren’t on your important list.

They’ll see things you don’t.

A fresh pair of eyes on your business and your personal strengths and weaknesses can be invaluable. A business coach will spot opportunities you haven’t, and will share insights on your business structure, marketing, customers, brand and more (depending on their unique skills). If you run your business without a partner or business manager, this can give you so much: more money and profit, more energy, more enthusiasm – and less time-wasting.

You’ll learn how to work through decisions and problems.

Sometimes, you might work with a mentor to get through a big change or a big decision in your business. But if you work with someone over a longer period of time – say six months or more – you learn so much about how to approach different situations. Making one decision is great, but learning the skill of decision-making has a long-term payoff. A coach has insights and questions and ways of thinking about things that will boost your business skills for years to come.

They’ll champion you and your business goals.

The thing about having a coach is that they’re on your team. Which is exactly what you need if you’re a business of one! Friends and family are great, but coaches have the professional and business knowledge so that they not only boost your mood, but also get you doing the best things for your business. It’s such a relief to know someone is on your side.

I could probably go on and on! Depending on where you are in your business journey, there are loads of ways a business mentor or coach can help you. If you’re starting out, they can help you get going. If you’re building on the early years, they can help you find your stride. If you’re considering a shift or pivot, they can help you see and make that transition.

There are so many options

There are loads of business mentors and coaches available these days (certainly many more than when I started in 2014!). Find someone you like, who has experience that will help you, who says the things you need to hear.

If that person is me, or could be me, I’d love to hear from you. I work with business owners (mostly women) who are in various stages of business, usually creative. I help them to understand themselves and their businesses better, in order to make better business decisions.

Get in touch and set up a free chat to find out if we’re a good fit!

(Thinking of becoming a mentor or wanting to improve or establish your mentoring business? I’m going to be launching some resources for you later this year. Get in touch to get the info when it’s ready!)

Behind the scenes: my Creative Business Day Retreat

Earlier in May, I hosted a wonderfully nourishing Creative Business Day Retreat at Paus, just outside Cambridge.

Having created and hosted six retreat weekends over the last five years, it felt like high time to offer a day retreat that would inspire, remove challenges, and rejuvenate!

The day started with tea and coffee, and a few introductions. I had a very prompt group (or should that be lots of luck with the traffic!) so we had plenty of time to chat and get to know one another.

My job at any retreat is to listen deeply to the needs of the women who gather and make sure they leave with some insight, clarity and practical suggestions for actions to take. So as I guide everyone through introducing themselves and their businesses, I’m listening out for themes and clues for what they really need.

I use meditation to help us all get really present, and to bypass the monkey minds that keep us stuck in fear and old habits. At my weekend retreats, I lead groups through regular meditations and longer visualisations, but as this day retreat was shorter, I kept things pretty focused!

Another tradition of the retreat is the gift of a star with a word on it. It’s a little bit of magic, but also an important symbol: a token to remind guests of their insight and clarity when they leave. Each word is carefully chosen, but ultimately goes to the person who needs in most.

Once we’re all settled in, I lead the group through some writing prompts. For this retreat, it was all about where you are now and where you want to get to. After we spend about an hour digging into some pretty big questions, each person has the opportunity to share with the group, and get some coaching from me.

This is where we really uncover the things that have held us back, that we haven’t been able to see before. Yes, there were tears. Yes, my hormones meant that I was also tearing up! But it’s good. These shifts are important.

Writing prompts sound very simple and straightforward, but the truth is there’s a lot of power behind them. I go deep – asking things in different ways and looking for fresh perspectives. It’s rare that guests don’t find something useful during these workshops.

After a delicious and nourishing lunch, guests had access to the incredible outdoor hot tubs at Paus, as well as time to reflect on the insights of the morning.

We had a little closing ceremony, including a meditation and some declarations of things we’re leaving behind as we go onwards. And of course some happy-sad goodbyes!

The day retreat was such a lovely way to celebrate my last in-person work before my maternity leave, and I loved spending the day at Paus.

If you’re interested in my next Creative Business Retreat Weekend in March 2020, I currently have two places left.

And for more information about future events, you can sign up to my newsletter.

Fancy a private retreat or workshop for a small number of friends or colleagues, get in touch!

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