How do you arrive at the thing or things to focus on every day?
There are innumerable items that float through my brain every day, usually just at the time the alarm goes off (if I’m lucky and don’t wake up early…). Living in a particularly woodsy area of the Pacific Northwest, I liken them to looking out my window and seeing all of the trees and such swaying in the wind. I can’t count them all, but they all attract some bit of attention and, at the same time, join in a constantly moving vista that can leave me a bit awestruck and frozen first thing in the morning. They are pretty as trees, but when translated into the metaphor of all the items and actions vying for my attention and prioritization, it’s overwhelming.
Some things are easy. Morning routine (everything to the point where I’m ready to “go to work”, whatever that looks like today…), followed by checking my calendar AGAIN (I’ve already looked at it a couple of times to triple check when my first meeting is, if there is one…). Like you, some days have more than others. The days that have one or no meetings are more difficult, really. Relatively “open” days require me to inspect the pile of things to do and, minding my own best times for productivity and creative work, prioritize and dig in accordingly. Not always easy.
We all want things to be easy. And it’s not just business, American or Western Society that defaults to easy. While I still worked at Microsoft, one of my managers got our entire team “Easy Buttons.” You pressed the Big Red Button and a voice said, “That Was Easy!”
We have a few things working against us:
- The problems and challenges we face today (business, societal and personal) are complex with no simple answers. The kind of effort required to tackle them can’t be splintered into micro-moments of attention (better known as “multi-tasking”…). We need big blocks of time, and lots of them, to work through these things.
- Our culture prizes Fast, Immediate, Responsive, 24/7/365 over taking the time to gain the ability to learn hard things more quickly and produce at an elite level (so we move past “good enough” to “WOW!”).
- The difficulty of measuring the complex over the simple (an example – “audience engagement” versus a Facebook page “Like”).
- The tendency to answer a simpler question when confronted with a difficult one (more on that shortly…).
As business owners and entrepreneurs, what does this mean?
You are Very, Very Good at what you do!
That’s one of the reasons you started your business. You’re good at it and you love to do it. So, becoming your own boss seemed like the way to focus in on this passion and expertise, and deliver the benefits to others who are willing to pay you for it. Seems simple, right?
You read a few books, talked to some other friends and maybe even a few other business owners….even took a class or seminar. They shared their experiences and support for this move in your professional life and told you, “GO FOR IT!” You did some research and maybe even made your proof-of-concept available to some people, getting feedback and valuable input. None of this was easy, and you discovered a few things that set you back a bit and maybe even discouraged you, but you are determined….no turning back!
Dealing with Change is a Class-A Pain!
First, what does change mean to you, your life, and your business? Is it rapid, gradual, ignored, accepted or the object of ‘magical thinking‘?
Second, how do you manage? Can you really manage without engaging a fortune teller and hoping against hope you can see the future and get ahead of the unknown?
Lastly, how do you feel about it? What does this mean for your business? I’ll get to that…
“Easy” is a temptation.
I work with many clients who take the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) approach to their digital and social media marketing, because “How hard could it be? It’s just Facebook??!” Besides, they each have a business to run, customers to satisfy and entice, meetings to attend and maybe even employees to work with.
After spending time with each of them to discern their business and marketing goals, I begin to walk them through some of the opportunities and challenges they face and the different ways to optimize and engage, based on the goals and resources available. As we begin to dig into the strategy and planning, each of these business people begin to see the advantages of “doing it right” and where their current process might be falling short, hurting their business.
Does anyone actually WANT to deal with customer support?
I mean, really……
When you hear the words “customer support,” what’s the first picture that springs to mind?
- The dreaded support phone call. Sure, a lot of support is offered over the web, via email and social media, live chat and sometimes even on-site (although that’s usually an expensive option and a last resort…).
- Something has gone quite wrong, you are no longer able to do what you want or need to do with some piece of equipment or service, and you are utterly STUCK (and losing time on that deadline) until it gets fixed or replaced.
- As the owner, you feel totally responsible for what happens with your product and service, but you dread the call from the customer who is having problems. You feel like it reflects on not only the quality of your business, but on your personal efforts. Besides, it pops up, totally unwelcome, in the middle of your day when you have a LOT of other things already planned out….disruption-city!
- Oh, and you (as owner) are scared to death that this problem will end up online, and in other word-of-mouth scenarios, and give your business a black eye….
So how do you work through this? Rise above this and, as a friend of mine says, “Zen it!”
How uncomfortable are you with your audience?
I have spent a large portion of my life in front of audiences as a musician, as an educator, as a speaker, and, going way back, as an actor (think “the class play in junior high school“…), so I have worked with and observed audiences in a lot of different ways and scenarios. If you read my blog regularly you might think that my concept of an audience versus some other social construct is a little lower than, say, a community.