Building a business over time is like a strand of elastic – it expands as you bring in new skills, people, projects clients and products – and contracts when consolidation, refocus, budgeting and next-level thinking is required. You may often get to peaks of feeling completely stressed out, pushed in all directions, things are not working well and you’re stuck for ideas and solutions. As an entrepreneur, this can be a lonely period where you’re too afraid to show vulnerability or just don’t know where to turn to next.
These ‘tight spots’ are the times we are most challenged – mentally, physically and financially – in our business. Highs, lows, learnings and discovery, challenges and wins. This can happen quarterly, monthly, annually or over a three-year life span. I’ve had it happen in a matter of weeks!
Regardless of the product or service, the pace of the industry, or if it’s a one (wo)man show – this expand/contract model applies to any business that is serious about growth and development. I call this the VITALITY SHIFT – from chaos to calm. Here’s how to get there:
1. OWN IT! Where are you right now (survival mode)?
The first step is acknowledging the tight spot. Own it! It’s natural to hit road blocks. Take the time to stop and do a chemistry check: don’t bury your issues in paperwork or in bottle of wine at the end of the day. Chances are, if you’re not sleeping, get distracted easily and have a constant knot in your stomach, something’s out of whack.
Time to give you and your business a health check and look at where the tight spot actually is. Identify the real issues and road blocks. Get the facts and stats onto a giant sheet of paper and get the emotion and subconscious sabotage out of the way:
- What is the real issue?
- What are one or two NEXT steps you can do to help to address this?
- Write them up on a giant Post-it note and make sure they are visible.
3. Awareness – step back and ask
- Do you have all the info and resources you need to hand?
- Is this a completely new challenge you may need to get some expert or friendly advice on?
- Identify your strengths. Where might you need to ask for help?
- Engagement and action – make a plan
- What do you need to start? What’s the absolute first step on your list? Don’t try and get it all figured out – just list the FIRST thing you need to do to move forward.
- Do you have the resources, support and elements around you? If not, what/who do you need and how can you get this? Identify the skills, experience and exact support you need.
- Delegate and empower others around you by leading by example and giving clear, concise communication on what you need, where things are at, and the desired outcome.
Make it transparent. Better out than in. Each week I write out a “Crap sheet” on a giant Post-it note and assign action points to elements that are taking valuable mental hard-drive space. Ditch the ‘stories’ and internal dialogue, and address any issues with clarity and conviction. We need to lean out a little and recognise when we hit tight spots and what they really mean. This challenge, discomfort or hard-knock period is there for you to learn and grow as a person and a leader. What learnings are you taking with you to move forward, what elements can you leave behind that no longer serve you? This is the time to think like a true CEO and focus on facts not fiction. Experience a shift – you have a plan, know your resources, understand the issues, and break it down.
So what’s the end result of this five-step process? Ultimately, you are back in the driver’s seat. You now have:
- A toolkit for tight spots.
- A feeling of liberation and control. Once you see the phases, recognise where you are at and plan accordingly.
- Personal connection and understanding. Nothing beats a sense of knowing – it restores harmony, reduces internal chatter, and allows you to own up to where you are at.
- Respect and authenticity. Being accountable is the number-one rule. If you can’t lead by example, how can you expect others to follow you?
- Self belief! Trust yourself in this process. We know more than we usually give ourselves credit for, so slow down and create space to make great decisions from within.
Nikki Fogden-Moore specialises in coaching high achievers to bring business and personal vitality to life. Engaging in next-level thinking to create harmony and purpose, she has been running corporate vitality programs for over a decade internationally. Visit www.thevitalitycoach.com.au for more information.