Last week I made that really big confession about how I tend to fly by the seat of my pants, and how working with some key strategies allows me the freedom to do just that. It was a well-received post. So many of you wrote or commented back to tell me how much you could relate (thank you!) so if you missed the article, you may want to check it out here.
What I found myself replying back to most of you had a bit of a theme to it, so I decided to use that as the subject of my article this week. Just what DO I use to make sure that my business foundation is rock-solid? Surely I don’t really just fly by the seat of my pants.
Or do I?
(insert collective gasp)
Well, before I get too far ahead of myself, let me quickly recap the concept of Flying By The Seat of My Pants.
What I have long-ago discovered about myself was that both Freedom and Security are core drivers for me. I am at my very best when both of these elements are satisfied in my life. As I have said, I am the gal with the gypsy heart that chooses to fly around the Universe all while holding the hand(s) of my anchor(s).
So how does this translate into my business? Do I actually plan anything or are the fifteen years of success that I have enjoyed in my businesses just a fluke of whimsy?
And here’s the thing: I have taken years to find the precise ways and means, and tools and tricks that I need to satisfy my need for security in the business that then allow me the freedom to fly. And here they are:
1. Colleagues I know and trust implicitly. I need people in my corner to cheer for me, and to hold my hand when things take a turn. For years now, I have had the blessing of the support of a few key women with whom I have developed and honed a relationship that allows for mutual sharing and rock-solid advice. We meet regularly — we schedule our time for the whole year in advance — and we treat this as a commitment to ourselves, and to one another. Carol and Julie have seen me through several transitions, and their support has been invaluable. Recently I have added a second group of women with whom I also meet regularly, and their fresh eyes and outlook has also provided me with a sense of grounding and collaboration. Mutually supportive relationships like these are key to my success.
2. A stellar team. Many years ago I hired my first virtual assistant. It was an incredible leap of faith — I had no idea how I would afford to pay her — but I did it and it paid off in spades. Since then, I have had the deep pleasure of working with several key team members both in-office and virtually. I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for their infinite support and dedication. I love to travel, and in order to do so freely, I need to know that everything is being well taken care of at “home” in the office. My immediate team consists of my Chief Of All Things Stephanie, my bookkeeper, Tammy, and my in-house do-er of all tasks, Carla. I also have IT support from Rick, web security with Christine, marketing and design support from India, copy writing with Stella, and the lovely Lisa cleans the office for us. These are the people that help to make sure things keep happening in the business, even in my absence, and they are each gifts in my life.
3. A coach. Yes, I know, it seems somewhat “predictable” that I, as a coach, would say that having a coach is one of the key things that allows me to succeed but it’s true so there it is. Lisa Dennys is my go-to person. When I am not sure if I am making the right choice, if there’s something that’s arisen that isn’t feeling quite right, if I am worried / afraid / concerned about anything, she’s my gal. I’ve lost count of the years that I have worked with her — is it four now? — but I attribute much of my success in business and in life to her unwavering, unbiased support.
4. Systems and processes. Boring, yes, I know, but oh-so-important. We’ve a system for pretty much everything from on-boarding clients to taking payments to marketing. Yes, we need to tweak them (and we do review them all twice yearly), but for the most part, they run without much tampering and provide another important piece of the framework that allows this business to thrive.
5. Intuition. Business intuition is, as you know, the cornerstone of my work and it is also the cornerstone of my success. I don’t simply ask the Magic 8 Ball what I should be doing (or not doing) in order to succeed — I don’t fly by the seat of my pants THAT much! Instead I use the tool of Business Intuition to check in and see: Where are my efforts best placed? Is this idea that I have actually going to fly, and if so, when should I launch it? Is now the time to hire a new team member? What do I need to be doing to reach my income goals in the most efficient and effective way possible next year? Years ago I learned that the single best source of wisdom about how I should be moving my business towards my goals is my business itself, and I haven’t looked back since.
6. Dedication to my brand. In our 2016 recap meeting, Stephanie (my Chief of All Things) said to me: “I know how much client happiness and satisfaction is an important part of your brand. I think we did well last year with this, and I think we can do even better next year.” Most of us think of our brand as being our logo and our colours, but there’s so much more to it than that. I’ve had the pleasure of coaching a brand strategist (Lisa Haggis is incredible at what she does!) and through this experience I have learned even more about the importance of being dedicated to your brand, your brand promises, and the brand experience that you provide. To go into this any deeper is beyond the scope of this article, but you can look Lisa up online and learn more! Suffice to say, I keep my brand promises in my awareness such that I can act from that place as much as possible in every interaction and experience we create.
7. Crystal-clear vision. I know what I am here to “do” on this planet, and more importantly, I know who I am here to “be.” And I am anchored, always, by this knowing. If I could have nothing else on this list of things to keep me feeling secure such that I could fly, then this one thing would be the one I would choose. Once I remember a coach saying that, without their mailing list, they had nothing. I would suggest we could strip that back even further to say that without this vision of Who You Are and What You Are Here To Do, then you would be in even more trouble than if you suddenly lost your mailing list! Now, this vision didn’t come in one single flash. Good Lord, no. It is and was a work in progress, but it is a WORK in progress, meaning I work at it! This is not something that I ever lose sight of or stop honing and perfecting. It is critical to my success, and my enjoyment, in life.
There you have it, folks, seven things I could not do without. It was an incredibly valuable exercise to craft this list for you, and I encourage you to make your own. What are THE key things that sustain you and keep you solidly grounded such that you can fly? I could certainly add more to this list — I didn’t even mention Love! — but I hope that these items prompt some thoughts for you about what your list may hold. I’d love for you to share yours with me as well, for in sharing, we learn.
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Rebecca Liston helps her clients predict, pivot, and compete in an increasingly complex global marketplace. Her clients quickly uncover the root of their challenges and know the actions to take to overcome them. A six-time nominee for the RBC Canadian Woman Entrepreneur Award, Rebecca combines business strategy with intuition, giving her clients the edge on forward-thinking, elegant answers to their most complicated problems. Her clients are entrepreneurs with CEO-mindsets and executives with entrepreneurial instincts. She is based in London, Ontario. What if you could get the answer to your biggest business challenge, in one sitting? Visit rebeccaliston.com to find out more.