Today I'm pulling back the curtain on one of my most important practices for thinking big in my business (and making sure it always feels good). Having a business meeting with myself!
This might be an unpopular opinion, and I usually don’t like to be so rigid in my business advice, but I believe that in order for your business to grow, in order for it to achieve what you need it to in life, you need to step back. To sit down, take stock, improve and set goals.
That’s not to say that you can’t have a business without doing any of this. In fact, I was “winging it” for several years before I developed the reflective process I'm about to share with you.
But winging it stopped working when I got burnt out, I regularly worked until midnight, I spent a long time answering emails (instead of doing the actual work), and I felt less than fulfilled with what I was doing.
One of the problems, for me, was that I didn’t really see my business as a business at all. It was a way to make money, so I worked and worked as much as I could each day. But it turns out that running a business is a different beast to working for someone else.
You need time to work on the business as well as in it. Otherwise the business takes its own course and you’re left wondering how you got there.
To help make it easier for you to take that important step back and look at the big picture of your business, I've put together a free guide going through the key steps of my business meetings…
So I Forced Myself to Take a Step Back…
After a few years and lots of frustration I started to have mini business meetings with myself (and I’ll tell you more about what that means below). Whole chunks of time where my to-do list, and the day-to-day tasks of the business, didn’t matter. Whole chunks of time to focus on where I was, where I had come from, and where I wanted to go.
And the truth is that it does feel indulgent. When you’re busy moving from one task to the next, and bringing in the money you need to earn, it isn’t always easy to justify this “time out” in your mind.
But the truth is that it’s not time out at all. Taking time away from the everyday is exactly what you need to do if you want to…
- Grow your business (sustainably)
- Work less, and more on the things that bring you joy
- Feel more fulfilled with what you do
- Make the impact you want to make
- Learn to work smarter, instead of always harder
How My “Business Meetings” Have Evolved
Honestly, I can’t remember when I first started this process, and it has evolved over time. At first, it was short and sweet – I didn't yet have the time and knowledge to focus on all the elements I now include. Now it’s more of an event – and one I really look forward to! I (usually) take myself off to London, I sit down in a public place and I make lots of notes, look at lots of numbers, and figure it all out. It feels great!
Let's go back to the beginning… Early in 2011 my husband and I had the idea that we’d like to travel for an extended period of time and run my business from wherever we were. We planned to leave at the end of year, so we had a while to figure out how it would work.
The beauty of a truly online business is that you can work from anywhere, meaning I didn’t need to save up a year’s worth of travel expenses upfront. But I still needed to a decent chunk of money, and I needed a business model that would allow me to work part time around my travels.
This was the first time I remember truly treating my business like a real business. The first time I took that step back and started meeting with myself about the bigger picture. It was harder to escape the day-to-day back then – it always is when you're at the beginning of the process of taking time to work on rather than in your business. But with time it gets more organised and far easier.
What This Process Has Taught Me
Here are some of the real-life results I have seen from this big picture business thinking:
- It set in motion some new financial habits – like tracking my income – that made a huge difference to my mindset and earnings. This is probably the biggest shift I have noticed. And when I get behind on these practices, my income always suffers.
- I started outsourcing, which I had been totally overwhelmed by in the past. And this was the first step to growing my business, massively.
- I started a regular practice of setting and revisiting business values, which makes so much difference to the way I want to feel about my work.
- I have totally surprised myself when I look at my numbers – how my income has grown and changed over time, which products sold best, how my prices have been serving me etc.
- I was even more surprised when I realised that I could do things like apply for a mortgage or switch to a limited company!
- Seeing the numbers on paper put me in a far clearer position to make better decisions about my work going forward. For example, before my travels I turned something I was doing into a monthly offering which earned me more money for less work. This idea only made sense when I was crystal clear on what I was already doing, and how I wanted it to change.
- I’ve set up some specific systems that have majorly simplified my work and saved me lots of time.
- I never would have been able to take my 5 month maternity leave for my business were it not for this big picture business thinking.
- I took time out to look at the bigger picture, and as a result I had more time in my life and business going forward.
So What Do I Do in My Business Meetings? And How Do I Find Time?
I hope I've convinced you that there really is power in stepping back.
But how do you find the time?
It’s very easy to claim that we have “no time”, but it is possible to make the time if we are focused. You will have to force yourself to put a meeting date in your calendar. It's as simple as that, but it makes all the difference. And it may help if you remove yourself from your usual work environment so that your head is totally clear that day.
Although my life was a lot simpler when I started this process in 2011 – I didn’t have a baby or a mortgage! – it was hard for me to make the time because I didn’t actually make that much money. But it was a game-changer for me to pull myself away from short-term money-making activities to consider the long-term picture.
As for what I cover, it's too much to include in this blog post! So I've written an extra free guide for you.
Remember… your business meeting can take as long as you'd like. If you really are strapped for time, start small and built up. Every step you take now will lay the foundations for something bigger in the future.