Tuesday, 22 April 2014

On minding your tongue to get more out of the adventure

When you've accomplished something with your business, what happens inside of you? When you've met a goal, how do you feel? If you've reached a deadline in time, how do you talk about it to your friends or share it on social media? When the perfect customer walks in to your business life, how do you react?

The most obvious answer would obviously be to be proud of your business, happy about your job, enthusiastic about the future and the challenges and opportunities it brings.

But I bet you there's someone out there who would behave differently. That against all odds after accomplishing something with their business, they pull back to a corner. When they've met a goal, they talk about all the things that went wrong with it. When they've reached a deadline, they beat themselves up over something that happened along the way. When the perfect customer walks in, they're happy to see him walk away and give a sigh of relief.

If this is you, you're not alone. And you're not going crazy.
I'm in there with you.

Talking down your business comes from inside of you. But as much as your business is most probably the fruit of your work, your business is not you and it's weaknesses are not your weaknesses necessarily. And it should never be talked down just because you feel under the weather and you feel you could've done better. 
Doing business is always uncertain, and there is always something you could have done better. Sometimes it's easier and much more rewarding to be the one who gets to say "I told you so" when something goes pear shaped. What's good to take a note of though is that when you talk down your own work, your business is the one who suffers, and the reward for yourself (of bashing your own head to the brick wall) will be short-lived.

You are the spokesperson for your business. You are the living, breathing business card that gives out a message to the outside world. If it weren't for you, your business would not exist. This is/was/may be your dream, and the way you handle the outcome might turn your pretty dream sour just because you feel like saying "I told you so" and prefer being on the safe side.

What to do, then, instead of "I-told-you-so"s?

*Next time someone asks you how your business is doing, stop before you answer "oh, the usual", "slow", "damn that accountant and manufacturer" or "you won't believe what this customer just said". Before you say anything, think how courageous you are for having started a business in the first place. Not many people do that. Then think of something nice to say. Your business is your friend and your ally. 

*Next time you run out of stock because something has been more popular than before, instead of wallowing in "oh, I'm so low in stock and now there's nothing to offer (see the finger pointing this way?!)" run quick and re-order, bash up a factory, or do whatever it takes to get your stock up-to-date and for the next round, perhaps think of a little thing to make your customers' day even better when they're buying from your stock. Make their day, indulge them. They're coming for your product for a reason, and the barrier they have for returning is much easier to get lowered for good while they're making their next purchase or thinking about it. Make them a thank-you card. Or a little note on how to take better care of your product. Or give them a little discount for the next time they come and visit. Or brew them a cuppa and listen in. The options are plain endless and need not cost a fortune (and they need never be tacky and pushing). Make them lovely and fresh, and make them you. It's the thought that counts.

*Next time your perfect customer walks in the (physical or virtual) front door, don't lurk in the corner. Breathe, and softly try the ground beneath your feet. Listen in, be open to new life, and lean into the adventure. 

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Challenge: Choose three

In creating new habits and starting something new there's always the challenge of keeping it all going. Making a new habit automated takes some 30 000 repeats, so it's clear that beginning something new and keeping it going isn't going to last on it's own for too long - it's not sunk into your spine and long term memory until it's repeated a certain amount of times.

The good thing about the statistic is that it *only* takes 30 000 repeats to make something automated. That means getting into reading books, blogging, running a marathon - they're all something one an learn, and they're not at all out of reach for most of us.

There are things and habits in the life of a micropreneur that can be learned too. Ever looked enviously at the fellow business owner who takes good care of her-/himself? Who does yoga every morning or goes to a ballet class? Who eats what you consider to be a healthy diet and goes out for walks in the woods?
Or the one whose desk is always organized no matter which time of the day you visit? Or the one whose marketing ideas are pure genius? Or the one whose shop you go into time and time again simply because it's so gorgeous and the atmosphere is shere bliss?

Rather than wallowing in self pity and thinking you'll never get to where those people are, or thinking it's all right for *them* but it'll never work for *me*, you could try a different sort of approach.

You could do it yourself.

*They* are people, too. Much like yourself. And that makes most of what you admire doable, if only you start by taking one little step at a time.

Designate the next three months for creating new habits. Little, small, insignificantly tiny habits, that allow you to get closer to what you admire. Do not take a bite that's too big, but ease yourself into a new habit with the time that everyone can pinch from their daily schedule.

For the next three months - that is, until early July, decide on three things you are going to concentrate on, daily. Try to form simple deeds that can be accomplished within minutes. Simple deeds that can be made accountable at the end of the day.

If you want to have a healthier life as a micropreneur, you could for example:
-drink one (more) glass of water during your work time
-eat one fruit during your work hours
-stroll once around the block before you start working, every day
-take one 5 minute break in the middle of working to stretch yourself
-exchange one cup of coffee a day to herbal tea

If you want a better organized work space, you could for example:
-try to see is one tea/coffee mug would be enough for you (learn to wash up right after you're done)
-take a 5-10 minute clear up of your space just before the work is done for the day
-take an inventory (5 minutes a day) on your paperwork/email starting from the oldest stuff
-decide to recycle *all* of your paper for three months and dedicate a special place for them
-take on the idea of C A L M and bring a wee bit of it to your work space daily

If you want a blissful atmosphere in your blog/shop/website, you could:
-take notice every time you shop/read anything anywhere of what makes you feel special and good
-journal/mindmap for 10 minutes a day about bliss
-implement one small deed/thing to your work that would make you purr if you were your own customer and keep at it for the whole three months without changes
-search Pinterest for daily inspiration and collect your findings on your own Bliss-Board
-add a wee bit of BLISS to your work space (be it virtual or touchable) daily

I have chosen three different things to concentrate on daily for the past half a year, and have found them very helpful. In three months the deeds will prove their worth, and it's easy to see if they are worth keeping or if they could be replaced with something else. Sometimes three months will make the deed so automated it can be done without thinking and something else can be taken on board too.

Here are my three for the past 6 months:
October-December 2013
1. Spend 3 or 4 mornings at home a week (I start work at noon at the shop, 5 days a week)
2. No more than 20 minutes a day of social media at work (I still suck big time at this)
3. Stop working 15 minutes before going home and spend the remaining time cleaning/organising
January-March 2014
1. Drink one glass of water a day at the shop
2. Spend one hour a week sewing for the shop
3. Bring some C A L M into the shop daily

And now for the three of the current period of April-June 2014:
1. Keep on up with the C A L M -thing
2. Learn/write/read/implement something about marketing/promoting/advertising daily
3. Take back on the 15 minutes of fame cleaning a day

At the end of each day, make yourself accountable. Ask yourself: "Did you eat one fruit today at work". "Did you do a Pinterest search today". "Did you do five minutes of stretching in the middle of the day". "Did you clean/organise for your full 15 minutes of fame".

And I promise you, after three months of wee little deeds, your life as a micropreneur will have changed. Your surroundings change. You change. And most importantly, when you see the little changes, you'll believe the next little step will be possible too.

So what are your three?
And what will they help you with?