small business

How learning I have ADHD helped my business

This may sound obvious, but if we were all the same, life and the world would be really boring. We NEED people who are different, who think differently, and who don’t fit into the regular mould of things. Yet… when many of us don’t fit into the mould we often feel badly about ourselves. We get stuck thinking we should be able to do things exactly the same way as others. We beat ourselves up about the things we can’t get done without looking for other ways it can be done.

Learning I had ADHD helped my business.png

I’m here to tell you how my brain is different than your brain, and how I’ve learned to embrace what’s awesome about that. My hope is that what I have learned will impact the potential for you to see and do things differently in your life and business.

How learning I have ADHD has helped my business

I have ADHD and I was only diagnosed in the last few years. ADHD causes me to get distracted easily. I don’t complete things once they get boring. I’m often really bad at detail-oriented tasks. I have a hard time gauging how much time something will take, and I tend to feel deadlines are not real until they are in panic/almost due mode.

Before my diagnosis, I felt a lot of shame about those things. They were things that were hard to deal with in my business and often slowed me down. When I realized that a lot of it was because of how my brain works, SO much of the shame disappeared, and I stopped beating myself up (or at least beat myself up less). Embracing ADHD is what made having ADHD fantastic for my business!

ADHD means I am used to trying new ways of doing things, to complete tasks and to finish things without it always being last minute.

Jessica McCabe from How to ADHD recently wrote a song about how people with ADHD think differently and how it means that sometimes we just have to reframe how we’re thinking. It’s simple: when things don’t work out how we want them to “try different, try again,” and that’s been the key to my life and oftentimes how I coach people.

Over and over again, I talk to people who have a plan of action that they're not getting done. Months and months of not doing the task is only met with, “I just have to do it.” But here’s what I ask, “Do you? “Why will that work now?”

When something isn’t working I challenge you to try something different – what could you do instead to get you to the same goal? I bet there’s something really great that could work. You just need to give yourself permission to think that way.

I have Aphantasia

Every time I’m at an event or participating in an activity that starts with, “close your eyes and picture in your mind… a beach, your best life, how it would look, feel, smell, sound...” the room can probably hear my eyes roll back into my head.

Why? Because I am thinking, great… another activity I can’t do because I have aphantasia and can’t picture/hear/smell anything in my mind’s eye.

But here’s the thing – I’m super creative. I have a great memory. There’s a distinct chance I could tell you what you were wearing and where we were the first time we met, especially if you told me a story. Not being able to hear, see and smell things in my mind doesn’t hamper my ability to do most things in life (other than being able to pull things up in my mind, which sounds kind of amazing and I won’t deny being a bit sad I can’t do it).

What it highlights to me is how differently the brain works for different people. We all have different brains… we have different ways of learning, processing, and creating. That means that there can’t ever be one way to teach people, to ask them to do tasks, to motivate them, etc.

We need to find the right way for each individual person! So again, I challenge you not to get discouraged when something isn’t working for you, but instead ask yourself, what DOES work for you?

For example, I need to write things by hand and keep them in paper folders for my clients. It sounds kind of archaic, but if I don’t have the ability to write by hand I don’t remember things as well.

The brain is a fascinating thing and we need to recognize how differently it works for all of us.

Your brain and my brain aren’t the same, but we all have the ability to find the awesome in what makes us uniquely us and what works best for us.

If you want to talk more about the places you struggle with in your business – where you find yourself procrastinating, not getting things done, or beating yourself up, then book a consultation with me. I’d love to chat about how to find the different ways to make things awesome for you, because I 100% believe it’s possible!

When "comparisitis" gets you down

There are days when you see someone posting all their successes online and you think:

“If they can do it, I can do it!”

When _comparisitis_ gets you down1.png

“Wow, that’s so inspiring - I want to try it too!”

And other days all you think is:

“Where do they find the TIME (the energy/the will) to do any of that?!”

“Ugh, are they just trying to point out all the things I can’t make happen – is THAT the point of their "braggy" post?! To make me feel terrible? BECAUSE IT’S WORKING!!”

Now… I’m sure most of us, when we think about it calmly, know that all of those second set of responses are not about the other person at all, but more about how we’re feeling about ourselves. We’re SO hard on ourselves. We want ALL THE THINGS but don’t know how to make all the things happen and we resent that other people seem to have it all figured out.

It’s really important to remember:

  • Nobody has it all together – just because they are having great fitness successes does not mean they're not struggling in other areas of their lives.

In every place that it looks like I have it all together, I very likely have an area I have decided to ignore or have dropped balls on. ;)

  • We all have different priorities – someone who is focusing on one area of their business or life in a major way has probably stopped focusing on something else for that period of time, but we don’t take into consideration what OUR priorities are when we feel badly about what other people are doing really well at.
     
  • It’s a constant work in progress – we’re always having to adjust and figure out what the best next step is for ourselves. Make sure to check in with yourself and see if you’re still prioritizing the right things, and if not, what needs to happen next?
     
  • Don’t try to struggle through everything alone – make sure you have your people:  the ones you can talk to when you feel like you’re not doing a good job, the ones who can remind you of all your recent wins and how awesome you are (because you totally are!).

There are a few people in my social feeds who have been making me have "comparisitis"  lately. Particularly when it comes to health stuff (for you it might be getting more sales, more clients, people engaging with other content when people are not engaging with yours). I’ve had to remind myself that it’s because I WANT to be more active and feel like I’m doing the right things for my body, and my resentment towards them is more frustration at myself for not prioritizing that part of my life. So, I’m upping my health on the priority list for 2018 and re-evaluating how I’m spending my time.

I got an Apple watch and I’m working hard to track my steps and move more often. I’m going to go check out a gym I’ve been meaning to check out for a long time. I’m going to make a snowshoeing date with some fellow entrepreneurs. And I’m going to try my best to remember that it’s amazing that the people I know who are focusing on things I’d like to focus on in my life have worked hard, have struggled, and resenting them isn’t doing me any good. I either need to be OK with NOT focusing on that right now, or make some changes to make it happen for myself, because the only person who can make changes in my life is ME.

*Post brought to you by some whiny self-indulgent freak outs while scrolling through Facebook recently.*

What does your schedule look like?

When you think about your schedule – how do you feel?

For many business owners, there’s an UGH feeling that comes up.

Whether it’s having too many things to do, feeling that time is being wasted, or not knowing how to fit everything into your day, there are so many ways that your schedule can feel out of control and not productive. And not being organized with your time will probably lead to decreased productivity, more stress, and less money (UGH).

So let’s talk about it. I’m going to share some tips and tricks that can help you feel a bit more in control of your schedule.

What do you need to get done?

First things first, you need to be clear on your priorities. Think about the tasks you perform regularly and how much time they should, and do, take. Start keeping a list if it doesn’t come to you easily, so you can see how much time you have to work with. For example, just because a large portion of your business needs to focus on client calls doesn’t mean that there isn’t also administration work or content creation that needs to be done.

By mapping out what tasks need to be on your schedule and how much time they need allotted to them, you’ll have a better sense of what to schedule in your week. It doesn’t need to be precise, just a general guesstimate is good to start (but go for specific if that’s easier for you!).

What are your main task categories and approximately what percentage of your time do you need to allocate to them?

What are your main task categories and approximately what percentage of your time do you need to allocate to them?

 

Take care of you

An unhappy you is likely an unproductive you.

Don’t forget to schedule things for yourself, whether it’s something like coffee with clients or friends, the gym, or even the little things like lunch and breaks.  Blocking time for this kind of thing keeps balance in your schedule and gives you a buffer of time to work with.

Take that information and use it to block certain times of the day during your work week. A basic schedule like the one below works fine, or you can schedule in blocks of 15 minutes. If you know that you have to do certain things – whether they take 5 or 45 minutes - dedicate time to it. Commit it to a time and lock it in.  Commit to going to the gym like you commit to a client call – because it’s important.

Having it in your schedule also takes away the guilt of doing something you feel like you shouldn’t be. If it’s in your schedule, it’s accounted for. If you decide to do it on the fly, you may feel like you’re shirking more important responsibilities.

Can you block off your week to make sure all the things that you HAVE to get done have a specific time and are prioritized?

Can you block off your week to make sure all the things that you HAVE to get done have a specific time and are prioritized?

Appointments that work for you

When it comes to filling in time that you have dedicated to appointments with clients, make suggestions based on your preferred availability instead of working solely around your clients’ schedules.

Maybe you decide Tuesdays are your days for client calls. Start with the 8 am slot, then then 10 am slot, then the 1 pm slot, etc. Once you fill a day of appointments, start another day. This is far more effective for you than a call at 10 on Monday, a call at 1 on Tuesday and a call at 3 on Friday. It means you can dedicate other days and times to focusing on other tasks – admin, writing, development, outreach, networking, etc.

While there are always exceptions, try to keep in control of your own schedule so you can work efficiently. Many of us hesitate to “boss people around” by suggesting a time to meet instead of working with their schedule, but valuing your time and being assertive about your needs will streamline your entire process and benefit the client in the long run.

Pick appointment days and appointment slots and give people times instead of letting them rule your schedule.

Pick appointment days and appointment slots and give people times instead of letting them rule your schedule.

Systems

This isn’t a natural one for me because I tend to be a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants person but systems can REALLY help in so many ways. They help you know what to expect of yourself and they help other people know what to expect of you.

For those with multiple clients in particular, set up an operating system with each to determine how you will spend their allotted time. Include details about the nature and timing of the tasks to be done, their expectations, your expectations, and the amount of communication to occur between you. For example, let them know what time of day or week you will be working on things for them so they don’t think they always have access to you (I know of someone who would only answer emails one day a week for one kind of task. You were not to expect an answer from her on any other day of the week. It was simply the way she worked and people had to work with that).

Set expectations for turn around time. If someone takes four days to give you feedback on something when they were supposed to get back to you in two, the timelines are no longer the same and you shouldn’t be expected to work within them.

Work together so you are both on the same page about how the job is going to look from a time perspective, and be willing to bill for your time. It’s not worth it if you’re worn out and not making money!

What will you try first?

Remember that not all these tips work for everyone. Experiment with and adapt different techniques until you find something that works for you and your business. You and your clients will benefit from being more organized and efficient, and less stressed. Leave me a comment and tell me if you use any of these, or which you’ll try out first!

PIVOT

Last spring I paid two great people to spend the day with me planning out the next few months of my business. We spent a day in a room mapping out sequences of emails and sales funnels that lead people from freebies to great content to paid courses. It was a great plan - I was really excited. We not only mapped out the sequences, but also the topics and brainstormed all of the pieces that had to be written and by whom.

I never took action. I had all of the plans up on my wall so I could see them on a daily basis and every day I would look at them and then focus on something else.

Finally, I realized that I didn't really want to do it. I realized that it wasn't actually the right plan for me. It was a great plan for someone who wanted to focus on moving lots of people through a variety of free content into paid online programs, but that wasn't what I really wanted to be doing.

Now, don't get me wrong. I have a bunch of online courses I'm really proud of and I'm going to continue to sell them whenever appropriate because I believe there is value in the course material and it's all still valid. But the reason that I'm telling you this story is because I know I'm not alone. I know that many entrepreneurs spend hours upon hours planning something in their business, and then they realize they don't actually want what they have. And they feel badly about it. And they think maybe they should do that thing even though they don't love the idea. Even though they are resisting it.

Why does this happen and what should you do about it?

Remember your WHY

I'm a huge fan of the book It Starts With Why by Simon Sinek. The book is about knowing what your core values are and how they play out in your business. When you have a solid grasp on your why and you use that to create a strong vision for your business, it's easier to decide what IS a fit and what isn't for your business, and if you're on the right track or if you need to make some shifts.

Step back and evaluate

So many business owners get busy working in their business that they don't have time to work on their business. And when they ARE working on their business, they're doing the day-to-day things to keep going. Sometimes you need to take a full step back and evaluate where you're at. Is it where you meant to be or did you end up there accidentally following the currents driving your business forward?

Ask yourself if you're doing the thing you meant to be doing when you started your business. Are you enjoying what you're doing? Can you see where you're headed in the next year, two years and five years? If that feels difficult on your own, consider getting someone (like a business coach) to help you figure it out.

Know that it's OK to change your mind

Sometimes we simply decide we want to head in a different direction. I've heard the word "pivot" a lot in the business world lately and I have to say, I love it. You can change the direction of your business - pivot the sail - 5 degrees or 180 degrees. It's a word that allows you to realize that change of direction, big or small, may be the right choice for you. You aren't necessarily turning back, you're just changing course, and any good business owner needs to know that that's part of business, and that it's OK.

Welcome the changes and the shifts, even if it means you're going somewhere you never expected to be. Life, and business are like that.

If you're looking for help figuring any of this out, book a free consultation with me to see if any of my Mastermind or one-on-one programs are a good fit for you.

 

You have more to say than you realize

Show me what you've got to say - I bet it's really good!

Show me what you've got to say - I bet it's really good!

There's a common piece of advice given by big name marketers that says you should only write when you have something to say. It's meant to be applied everywhere - your blog, your newsletter, and social networks. In theory, it makes sense: Don't overload/bore/waste your audience's time with content that you share just to have content to share.

For a small business, with a small audience, that's trying to build up engagement, this is not good advice. Here's why:

1) It requires a critical mass of engaged followers/subscribers.

The marketers who say this have all done their time, building up a good sized audience that trusts their expertise. They have loyal followings that look for their content and interact with it when it comes. As a small business owner, it takes time to build that kind of relationship with your audience. To remain successful with a "write when you have something to say" strategy, you need a critical mass following you. Can your business grow if 50% of your followers convert to paying customers? Depending on the size of your audience and what you do, many can say yes to that. The reality is that most businesses won't convert nearly that many people. So, how many people would it take to build your business to the level you want to reach? Now, you'll likely have to grow an audience that is at least 20 times that size (or more!). That's why it's important that you know that when content isn't delivered regularly, your audience will not grow consistently or as fast.

2) Credibility starts with visibility.

The point of posting content regularly is to keep your business and expert content top of mind with your audience. If they don't see or hear from you on a regular basis, they can't learn to trust what you have to say. Whether you're sending a newsletter, writing a blog post, or posting to social media, each of those touch points is an opportunity to provide value that builds your credibility as an expert in your field. As your audience sees the information you share, they will respond in various ways: by filtering it out or ignoring it, reading it, taking some kind of action - like, comment, share, tweet, or apply it to their work. Each of these responses is important - some can be measured and give valuable insight to you for future content. Stay visible with your content by delivering consistent 

3) You have more to say than you realize.

Has anyone ever said, "There's a reason we have two ears and one mouth," to you? Human nature is that we like to talk and some people need a gentle reminder that listening is important too. It's a rare person who truly doesn't like or want to talk. Posting content without thought or for the sake of putting something out there isn't valuable to you or anyone else. But if you think about the interactions you have with your customers and clients each day, how many times did you find you had nothing to say to them? What about associates? 

On January 13, 2015, Lara and I are leading a Content Mindset Workshop that will help you see how much content you truly have. Whether you've been creating content for many years or you're just starting out, we have some exciting plans for this day that will help you look at the creation of content from a different angle. We're going to spend time teaching about various types of content, and tools and tactics that can help you create more effective content. You'll walk away at the end of day with content to use for your business. We strongly believe that you have more to say and this workshop is designed to draw those things out of you - for the benefit of your audience and your business.

Join us - I promise you won't regret it!