7 min read
Starting a business is the easy part.
You have a great idea, you know you can help someone with your product or service, and you give it a shot. You set things in motion.
The tricky part is, well, what happens next.
Sure, you got yourself a little space on the interwebs and you officially have an online home.
But how do you actually attract people and turn this business idea of yours into something successful you’re proud talking to your friends about?
How do you know the exact steps you need to take to grow your biz?
After a simple search on Google, you’re suddenly facing things like:
“10 ways to grow your business”
“7 secrets to grow your business quickly”
“14 ways to grow your small biz”
With so much advice, tips, and tricks out there, it’s nearly impossible NOT to panic and freak out.
Sally said this, Dorris said that, and the goo-roos you follow all say the money is in this new strategy you absolutely *need* to be using right now.
But with all these things you should be doing, it’s easy to lose sight of something more important: your FOCUS.
And if you’ve ever felt the pressure rising just by the sheer amount of information out there, you probably know exactly what I’m talking about.
How Your Focus Goes Down the Drain
You see, this is where things get super messy.
You wanted some guidance on what your next (biz) baby steps should be, but instead, you’re getting bombarded with a gazillion things you should have been doing, well, since yesterday.
But the problem with this (besides the intense analysis-paralysis going on in your head right now) is that you’re getting distracted by all these options and choices you need to be making.
Instead of slowing down your pace and taking a look at where you are and where you’re headed, you’re focusing on all those shiny tools that promise to make your journey easier when you haven’t even established a clear route for your journey yet.
And if you’ve traveled by land, sea, or air at any point of your life, you’ll agree that each of these options may require slightly different gear and preparation. Right?
Similarly, if you spend your time prepping for a journey only to discover that what you’re taking with you is only going to slow you down, you’ve essentially wasted time for nothing.
The same principle applies to your business.
And I have a feeling you don’t really want to find out that you’ve been wasting your time on techniques and strategies that are not quite right for your business just yet.
In fact, when you spend your time on all the wrong things, you’re slowing yourself down, and any progress you’re trying to make is just not going to happen as fast as you'd like.
So instead of spreading yourself too thin and trying to collect as many shiny objects as you can, hoping it will help you grow your biz, my challenge for you is this:
Focus on one thing that will help you grow. ONE focus point, ONE goal, ONE specific outcome.
How to Regain Your Focus With the Solid Focus Exercise
To figure out exactly what you should be spending your energy on (and what to avoid), try the simple but effective Solid Focus Exercise.
It applies not just to the challenges you’re facing as a creative business owner, but also to any situation where you’re facing too many options and are having a hard time making a decision.
Just a quick heads-up: If you’re not into asking yourself uncomfortable questions and you don’t have the patience to go through a mini-monologue with yourself, you’re probably better off stopping here. Because, as simple as this is it involves a little work on your part.
Awesome! Let’s dive in!
1. Discover where you are right now in your business.
Some of the questions you need to be asking yourself (possible answers included to get the thinking juices flowing) are:
What stage am I currently in?
(Brand new, a few months into this, been doing this for a while... and so on.)
What actions have I taken to get here?
(Started a website, took a course, read 20 blog posts, am active in a few of FB groups...)
How would I describe “here” exactly?
(In a couple of sentences, describe how your situation looks and feels like to you.)
What have I done recently that has brought me great results?
(These will be the things you’ll probably want to be doing again.)
Try to answer each question as if you’re explaining this to a friend and you’re guiding them through your journey so far, so they can get a vivid picture of your current situation, from the very beginning to the point where you are right now.
2. Define your number one priority right now.
What is the single most important thing you want to accomplish over the next 90 days?
Is it to land 15 new clients?
Successfully promote a new course you’re launching?
Grow your email list to [insert number here]?
Gain more exposure for your blog?
Or become the go-to expert in your niche?
I realize you may want more than one thing at this stage, but as hard as it may seem, just try to narrow it down to one. If you could choose only one thing to work on over the next 90 days, and you knew that it was going to help you put all the other pieces together later on, what would you choose?
That’s your number one priority right there.
3. Create a three-step action plan for the next 90 days.
Now that you have your number one priority figured out for the next 90 days, it’s time to break it down and develop a simple three-step action plan you can stick to, without wondering what you should be doing next and without getting sidetracked by anything else in the process.
Let’s say your goal for the next 90 days is to land 15 new clients. (The thought process is the same for any other situation but obviously the action plan will be different in each case.)
Assuming you’ve just started out, you’ve set up your website, and have a portfolio already in place so you can show your work to potential clients, your next steps depend on the answer to this one single question:
What are the three action steps I need to take over the next 90 days so I can land those 15 new clients?
To avoid staring at your blinking cursor (or your blank sheet of paper), I recommend you jot down every idea that comes to mind without giving it too much thought. Just write it all down, and then stop.
When you’re done, ask yourself which of these items are more likely to help you reach your goal. Some things may be more realistic than others for your specific situation, so take that into account as you’re selecting your three items.
For example, crafting a strong email when you respond to a job board ad could be a lot more important than sending out 10 emails to some of your close friends, letting them know you’re looking for clients. Unless your friends have connections with the people you’re looking for, it may make more sense to spend some time on writing a powerful application first.
Also, if you remember reading any helpful articles or blog posts related to your 90-day goal, you may suddenly remember a few tips you can actually apply to your situation.
This is the part where some aspects of all that searching and reading can be useful, mostly because of these three reasons:
1. You’re a lot more focused than you were before.
2. You’re paying attention only to the things that will help you reach your goal
3. You’re more prepared mentally to arrange that information in a way that makes sense to you.
As soon as you have your three actions, you’re good to go.
You can also take each item and break it further down into three smaller action steps, to make it more actionable and easy to apply day after day. This can help minimize the overwhelm and give you an even clearer direction.
Now that you have a roadmap and a clear goal to follow, you’ll know exactly what to take with you and what to leave behind. (Remember those shiny objects?)
Want to give this exercise a try? Grab your fillable worksheet below and give it a shot!
I get you. You want to make your business take off after all the effort and hard work you’ve put into it. Yet the list of things you *have* to do to grow your biz according to all those goo-roos out there can leave you feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and (even worse) embarrassed that you’re not seeing any real results yet.
Keeping all these distractions around, though, will only make things worse. Instead, set a couple of minutes aside to do the Solid Focus exercise, and get clear on what you should be spending your next 90 days on.
I promise that you’ll feel a wave of clarity washing over you, and you’ll finally be able to channel your energy on just the right things, so you can reach that one goal you’re aiming for.
Get your copy of the Solid Focus Exercise and let me know how it goes in the comments below!
Blog Post photo: RAWpixel