Are you a swan in your business?


Strange question I agree, but for the many business owners I meet, this is a familiar picture even if they don’t realise it until I point it out to them.

More often than not running your own business at some point leaves you feeling like a swan: gliding beautifully along on the surface – to all intents and purposes in control and serenely calm about your destiny – but underneath (where no one apart from the other half can see) your legs are thrashing madly away just trying to keep up and keep moving.

I know that feeling too. It’s not nice. So what can you do about it?  Well it firstly depends on why you are thrashing away.

If it is because you feel out of control and swamped by everything you have to do each day then you need to get organised. You can do this yourself or hire one of the most cost effective ways to do this these days: outsource the problem to a professional Virtual Assistant.

Or if it is because your business has taken a hit in recent months and you are starting to get that panicky feeling about where the next customer or sale is coming from then you need to focus.  This is the time when marketing is never more important and more often than not the time when a lot of people slash that particular budget or make impulse decisions about their marketing activity.  Both reactions are wrong.

Whatever the reason you are thrashing about in your business, now’s the time to stop.

Here are five things you can do right now to get back a bit of the glide into your life and cut back on the thrash:

Number 1
STOP panicking about all the things you have to get done and worrying about what you have forgotten to do – sit down, close your email program and make a list.  Yes back to basics – but it works.

To Do ListBy making a list of everything – and I do mean everything – it is right there in front of you and you can see exactly what you have on your plate.  Don’t get overwhelmed though – just take the next step and group similar tasks together.  I tend to have a business to-do list and a personal to-do list.

Then you need to get a fresh piece of paper and write down your tasks in order of priority.  If a task is a big one then break it down into chunks.  (You may well have heard this all before but it is amazing how many people don’t do this and by physically writing it down you are more likely to get it all done and to feel more in control.)
Number 2
Office paperworkSTOP what you are doing right now. OK maybe not right now but you need to schedule a day to get all those tasks you grouped as admin done.  You will be surprised, but if you don’t schedule any meetings, clear your desk completely, turn off your phone and your computer and get straight to it first thing – that you will probably clear all your admin in one day.

I know, you can come up with all sorts of excuses as to why this is not a practical tactic.  But just think – it is just… one… day… Imagine how you will feel if you get it all sorted in one day (bar stops for cups of tea).  How will it feel to turn up at your desk/office the next day and everything is where it should be, there are no more piles of paper here and there and you are once again organised.  Lovely!
Number 3
STOP panicking and get really clear on what your business needs.  Take a piece of paper and write down the one issue that you really have with your business.  Do you need to be earning more than a certain amount each month?  Do you need more clients?

Number 1Whatever it is that you are struggling with in your business – the one thing that is making your legs thrash away like mad – then write this down.

Having your goal written down – and posted somewhere you will see it each day – makes it much more likely that you will achieve that goal.  It will keep you focused and if you use that goal as a guiding light for everything you do (i.e. will this help me get to where I want to be?) then you will start doing more of the right things and stop wasting your times on things that are just that: timewasters.
Number 4
STOP trying to do a million and one things and get focused! Now I mean this in terms of your marketing. It is so easy to get overwhelmed and think that you should be trying to do everything you can to get customers or sales. Wrong!Magnifying Glass

And I also don’t mean that you should only do one type of marketing for your business; this won’t work either.

Take a holistic view to marketing your business and create a range of activities that complement each other and combine to create a powerful strategy that will work.

So, take another piece of paper.  Write down all the different types of marketing you have or would like to do. Then write down next to each type – one or two examples of that activity.   For example, I only go to one offline networking group and one online networking site. This enables me to be extremely focused on that particular strategy and get the most out of it rather than spreading myself too thin.

The same for with social media.  I have eschewed all other types of social media (or Web 2.0 media) apart from my feed reader and Twitter.  Consequently I have given it much more attention and gained nearly 100 followers in just two short weeks. (Twitter guide to getting up and running and getting followers quickly coming soon.)

So by focusing on one or two key activities within a type of marketing strategy you are much more likely to be able to give it the attention it truly deserves and it will pay dividends, rather than the sometimes tempting option of spreading yourself too thin and not really doing anything well.

Number 5

STOP. That’s right just stop and take a breath. It is easy to feel that you have too much to do or that you will never get everything Breathedone.  Well really that’s the essence of life – life goes on and so must you. The key is to be as organised as possible. So go get yourself a diary (old fashioned I know but writing things down will release them from your head and enable you to think more clearly.). I write everything down in a notebook or diary and keep them with me.  I am now in the habit of referring back to them all the time so I know exactly where I am.

For example, when you can’t sleep because you are thinking about everything you have to do the next day – just get up – go write it down and go back to sleep. You’ll be surprised how quickly you nod off, once you get those thoughts out of your head or off your chest so to speak!

So rounding up:

  1. Write down a list of your tasks, group where applicable, prioritise them and break them down in to smaller chunks if needs be.
  2. Take a day – just one day – to get organised. OK it may take longer than that if things are a real mess but the outcome will be the same: relief, satisfaction and a feeling of control.
  3. Write down your key issue with your business and continually ask yourself if what you are doing right now will help you resolve that issue.
  4. Get focused and choose one or two activities for every type of marketing you do rather than trying to do everything and keep up with the Jones’s.  Believe me the Jones’s are thrashing away too and worse because they insist on spreading themselves so thin.
  5. Take a breath, get a diary and write everything down. Release all those worries and thoughts and lists of things to do from your head and start to think clearly.

Good luck – if you think you need some additional help in getting you, your business or your marketing organised then feel free to get in touch.  I work with my clients to achieve more control, focus, deliberation and action in their businesses. I can help you too: or