Welcome to The Pivot Pod, where we'll figure out together what's next for small business. Hosted by Frances Cook, with a new expert on each episode. Today it's a business coach on why you shouldn't get lost in the weeds.
The world of business is often a tightrope, where you're constantly looking for what will help your business keep its balance, while avoiding things that will knock you off course.
While the rope is looking a little frayed lately, it is still true that there are parts of the economy doing well that you can lean into, and parts that you'll want to steer clear of.
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On the latest Pivot Pod I talked to Phil Holland, from Love Your Business, who has been coaching small businesses through exactly this dilemma.
Here are his top five tips.
1. Fight uncertainty with a plan
Holland recommends starting by identifying your big-picture vision of where you want to take the business.
After that, set up the simplest plan you can to get it there.
Simplicity is key, in order to fight the overwhelm that can often accompany uncertainty.
"It's the old story, control what you can control. There's a lot of things I see people stressing about massively, and going into massive overrun, when they have no control over it," he said.
"So why sit there and stress, when you could actually work on the things that you can control."
2. Use the three by three by three system
After deciding on that big picture vision, Holland recommends identifying three goals. Then set three strategies to help you achieve them, and three tasks for each of those strategies.
He says it's another way to keep your business efforts simple and streamlined, at a time when you could easily be paralysed by overwhelm.
"The old KISS, keep it simple stupid, is so important for business at the moment.
"It stops our brain from overthinking things. The human brain is our biggest asset, but also our biggest liability.
"At the moment overthinking is just huge."
3. Write down goals, and have a way to measure when they're achieved
Writing down your goals gives you more clarity.
Once you're clear and focused on where you want to go, you're better primed to notice opportunities as they come up.
"It's like anything, if you want to buy a new car, say it's a red VW. All of a sudden, you'll see them everywhere," Holland said.
"The same with your goals. So I always get clients to write down their goals, keep them really simple, but also have a measure point on there.
"And forget the how. Most people go straight to the how, say 'how am I going to do that?'
"People sabotage or discount a goal because they get stuck in the how.
"But the how always shows up. You set a goal, and then someone walks past the next day with something, and you think 'well how did they know'?"
4. Work on your business, not just in it
Working in your business is sorting the day-to-day things that need doing, but Holland says it's also crucial to set aside time for working on the business.
That can help you spot problems before they happen, and set the overall direction of the business, rather than getting stuck in the weeds.
"It's the stuff that's going to generate growth in the business," Holland said.
"It's creating a strategic plan. I have for a lot of clients coffee KPIs, how many coffees are you having a week with potential referral sources, or business partners, or new big clients?
"You might be busy but still have one coffee meeting a week."
5. Stop worrying about asking for help
Sometimes we're too worried about what people will think of us to be able to stop and ask those around us for their help and support.
But Holland said it was crucial to get ideas and input from people you trust, as sometimes when you're thinking about your own business, it's hard to remove the blinkers.
"I had a lady who runs a travel business, so she's obviously in a fair bit of trouble. But she didn't seek any help or support for the first two months.
"She ultimately said, 'well, I was embarrassed'. It was only when the wage subsidies ran out that she was prepared to do something about it," he said.
"When the inner critic says, 'oh but what will people think', have you ever noticed humans love to help?
"Kiwis particularly, we love to help and support. It's just huge out there, but you've got to be open to it."
Listen to the full interview on The Pivot Pod here