As this year is coming to a close, I am gently forcing myself to take some time out to reflect on what has been a huge year. I want to share my top 5 productivity tips that have helped my business to grow. As a business owner that wants to achieve some big goals, it is so easy to keep looking to the next thing ‘to-do’ or jump right onto your next big idea.
On one hand, this is amazing, as it is what drives you forward and is probably the reason for all of your success to date. But what I have come to realise is that you will never be ‘finished’ and nothing will ever be ‘perfect’. If you don’t stop, breathe, look around and acknowledge how far you have come, then how can you truly learn from your experiences?
It is so important to reflect and digest everthing that has happened (good and not so good!) so that you can truly make some mindful and informed decisions for the year ahead.
Sometimes, it is easy to start setting goals because it’s what you think your should be doing. But, this is your life and your journey, it is important to be honest with yourself and ask WHY you want to achieve each goal and if it truly aligns with what you are passionate about.
Being a typical Type A and ‘doer’, this is very hard for me to do (hence the word ‘force’ above!) I need to consciously stop myself and take the time out to reflect. So after some time looking back on 2017, I have compiled this list of productivity tips for getting on track in the new year, things that have made the biggest impact for me in 2017.
Bite Sized Biz Plan
When I started Kady Creative, I was extremely daunted by the concept of a ‘business plan’. I found myself looking for resources online and then creating a document full of jargon that quickly disappeared into the depths of my files never to be seen again. The problem was, a typical business plan just wasn’t working for me. I was not excited by looking at a document that sounded completely irrelevant to me and my business. I am a creative and need things to be visual and easy to understand. This year, I was introduced to the concept of a Quarterly business plan by a close friend and colleague Berleena. I created it in Google docs so that it was something I visited weekly – checking in on my quarterly goals, tracking my progress and keeping monthly notes of what was and was not working. This really worked for me as so much changes in a year – having a plan for the next four months that works for you is where it is at!
Starting my business, I would always hear so much about how invaluable a mentor or coach can be to your business. I never knew how you could find the perfect coach for you and was a little intimidated by trying to research and find someone – plus when you are starting out it is always difficult to figure out if something is worth the investment or if you should keep things lean.
I met my coach Helen Roe in a moment of serendipity when I won a coaching session voucher at New Beginnings Fair. After our first phone call, I knew Helen got my business. She gave me so much relevant advice on that call, it was clear to see she really did her homework and had some valuable feedback. I started working with Helen for the next 3 months and she has been incredible for my business. It is so great to have someone to ask for advice – especially when you are creating your business from scratch and trying to learn on the fly. Having someone that has been there, done that is a good investment. You essentially learn from their past experiences and they can guide you is a way that speeds up your progress and success. At the end of the day, we are all still learning and always still have so much to learn. Having somebody to advise you, that has more experience, is a massive advantage.
- If you are interested in excelling your business fast in the New Year, Helen has just launched an amazing new course out ‘Unleash and Uplevel. It's a group coaching program that unleashes the leader within you and uplevels your business. As a former marketer for CocaCola, Palmolive & Loreal, Helen really knows her stuff. There is even a bonus Kady Creative branding master class!
Your network is your Net Worth
When I started Kady Creative, I would go to so many events, I would be at the opening of an eneveope. While this was great to get out there, it does become a dictraction from your work and at the end of the day – you gotta make some money so you can feed yourelf! I have learned to be a bit more strategic with the events that I go to. I tend to go to 1-2 max per week and usually after work or early mornings.
It is hard at the start to know what you will click with so don’t be hard on yourself if you go to all of these events just to realise you have wasted your time. Keep going until you find the one that works for you and I can honestly say it will lift your game.
This year I joined the Irish Australian Chamber of commerce ‘Emerald Influence’ peer to peer mentoring group and it has been fantastic. There are women in the group from various backgrounds and careers which leads to feedback and advice from a whole new perspective.
Some of the events and groups that have resonated for me have been the Lansdowne Club, Business Chicks, New Beginnings Fair and Like Minded Bitches Drinking Wine facebook group. Try them all, pick a few and watch your network grow (plus meet some incredible new people!).
Laser like focus
Like all creatives and entrepreneurs, I have tonnes of ideas all the time for new businesses, new marketing campaigns and everything in between. I have learned it is so important to prioritise your time and choose carefully what you give your attention to. That is why I love the bite sized business plan (mentioned above). I try to give myself a realistic set of goals for the 4 months and if I get any big ideas during that time, I make a note of them all to come back to in the following quarter. At that time, I re-evauate what I want to focus on.
It can be very challenging to be disciplined with new ideas. They come to you and it is a moment of genius and you are buzzing with excitement. But no idea is going to work (no matter how good) without focus and discipline to carry through.
For the past 18 months, one of my ‘big ideas’ was to co-write, photograph, design and self-publish a 300+ page hardback cookbook with fellow foodie and Sunday Independent journalist Brighid ‘Biddy’ McLaughlin. It has always been a goal of mine to write and design my own book so it has been a dream come through. Now that we are launching Behind the Half Door – Stories of Food and Folk, it is all excitement and parties and celebrations. However, making it was a hard slog! It was hard to explain to people why I didn’t have much free time as it is hard for people to see your vision (and how much work is involved) until they can see the final physical product themselves. Did I have to make sacrifices with other projects and ‘big ideas’? Absolutely. But it has been so worth it to see the real deal and to get such amazing feedback!
We have single handedly gotten into shops all around Ireland and will be in Australian stores in the new year. It has 110% paid off for all of the hard work. But it was so hard to keep that laser like focus for 18 months when it was not ‘urgent’. Everyone can relate to this concept of ‘urgency’ and putting out fires (think: your inbox). While it can seem like everyone is having an emergency and you need to meet all sorts of crazy demands ASAP – this is NOT working smart. It is not going to get you to reach your long term goals. I by no means ignore the situations that come up day to day but take good ole Tim Ferris’ advice and batch your emails (check 2 x day) and set some time each day for you to focus on the bigger picture and building your brand.
As your business grows, it is so important to have systems in place to automate as much as possible and make work plain sailing. Helen Roe really helped me to define my system of onboarding new clients and it has helped no end. Make sure you have a checklist for every service you offer which runs through every point of contact with your customer. It takes a bit of time to do this but will save you heaps of time in the long run!
So, I am so interested to hear what you have learned from 2017? What have been your big productivity tips? Let me know in the comments how you are planning an epic new biz year.