If you were given the chance to sit with and interview your biggest role model, who would it be and what would you ask him or her? For me, that would be Richard Branson and one of my first questions would be “what is the best business advice you have ever received?” This question would be on the top of my list because I believe we can learn a lot from others who have achieved a level of success that we hope to achieve. Besides, I’d really like to know Richard’s answer to this question.
In the spirit of learning from others, in this article, I am going to share with you my top 5 pieces of business advice I have ever received.
1. “Treat your business like a business, not a hobby.”
This piece of advice came to me during the early years of my travel business. I had just hired a business coach for the first time. It was a huge investment. My coach was asking me how I structured my work day and how I juggled it with taking care of my 2 children – soon to be 3 as I was pregnant with my 3rd. While I had some structure between the 2 roles, the “brick in the face” realization was that I needed to get super clear boundaries between my working hours and my mommy hours. As long as that boundary wasn’t perfectly clear, I would continue to build a big, beautiful hobby for myself. There are other ways people are treating their business like a hobby – no separate legal entity, co-mingling work funds with personal funds, using a personal e-mail address (@gmail.com or @yahoo.com), never investing in marketing education, – but for me, having unclear boundaries around the mommy duties versus the business duties was the big one. The very next day, I began the search for my first Au Pair which is a decision that completely transformed my business and life and still does.
2. “Think Big.”
I was raised to be realistic in my dreams. “Be practical.” “Your pie in the sky thinking will get you nowhere.” And then one day at a mastermind meeting, I was guided through a very powerful exercise. It was called “the biggest check.” We were instructed to write down the dollar amounts of the 3 biggest checks we received that year for payment for our services. In my case, that would have been the 3 biggest commission checks I earned that year. We were told to multiply each one by 10. Now, looking at those 3 dollar amounts with an extra zero at the end of each one, how would our business needs change if our businesses fast forwarded to a place where those were the 3 biggest checks we received in a year? How many employees would we have? What systems would we upgrade to? Would we move into an office? And the list of questions went on. The reason it was such a powerful exercise was that it got us thinking big in a way that we didn’t automatically object or find reasons why we could never get there. Your business can grow to whatever level you want. It’s up to you. But you have to think big and expect big growth for yourself before it can show up. Today, begin thinking bigger than you have ever allowed yourself to think … free of the critical eye; free of the peanut gallery opinions; free of your internal objections and fears.
3. “Strengthen your strengths and delegate your weaknesses.”
I spent a lot of my childhood believing I needed to strengthen my weaknesses. But when I was given the advice to do the opposite and find support to offload the tasks at which I was weak, it resonated so deeply within. A huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. Did you know that for every single task you hate doing, there is someone who loves it and would be blissfully happy doing that everyday? That’s what makes this world beautiful and symbiotic. We are not meant to do it all. We are not meant to do it alone. Why do we think we are? Probably because we all believe in the “Peanut Gallery” who likes to give trophies to those that work the hardest. Get super clear on what your strengths are and set the intention that you will spend 80-90% of your day in those tasks while you delegate the rest. It may not happen tomorrow, but you’ll never reach the light at the end of the tunnel if you don’t start somewhere.
4. “You’re never more clear on what you want than when faced with what you don’t want.”
If you’ve ever found yourself asking the question, why do bad things happen to good people, this is a response that might make you feel better and make sense of it. Believe it or not, your soul wants you to experience contrast so that you have the benefit of clarity of what you want. How else can you create? And it’s true, you are never more clear on what you want than when faced with what you don’t want. For example, the father who is the sole provider for his family of 5 is never more clear on wanting secure employment with a satisfying salary than the day he is laid off without warning. The 33-year old woman who is diagnosed with stage 2 cancer is never more clear on wanting health and well-being than the day of her diagnosis. The trap in which most people get caught is focusing on the problem. In other words, they gut stuck focusing on “what is.” As long as they do this, they will regurgitate their problem. Which leads to piece of advice #5….
5. “Spend less time focusing on where you are and more time focusing on where you are going.”
It’s taken a LOT of contrast for me to finally get and understand that the moment of contrast is the conception point of my dreams. Katie Perry says it best in her song Firework when she says: “after a hurricane, comes a rainbow.” I have figured out that when we human beings ask, it is always given. But we get so caught up in observing the contrast. We feel compelled to tell the story of the contrast. We complain about it. We post on Facebook about it. We start Chat Groups about it. But as long as you are focused on the problem, you will put out the vibe of the problem and thus attract more of it to you. If you want to stop being a regurgitator of your life and start being a deliberate creator of your life, you must put your focus on what you want and not what is. Imagine how crazy it would be to be driving on the highway, coasting along at 70 mph, with your eyes staring straight down at your feet, never looking out the front. But that’s akin to what we do in life as we are keen observers of “what is.” So begin today to spend less time focusing on where you are and more time on where you are going.