If you’ve ever reached the end of a year feeling burnt out, overwhelmed, and exhausted then you probably know what it feels like to be out of alignment with your unique ability. But… do you know what your unique ability is? How and how to use it to grow your business?
This is just one of 6 important questions I ask myself every year before I make my marketing plan. 6 questions that help me AVOID burnout, overwhelm, and total exhaustion.
Today I’m breaking down each question the 6 most important questions you can ask yourself, and your team if you have one, every year so that you can build your business more intentionally and without burnout.
Whether it’s just you, you and an assistant, a large team of people supporting you, or you’re leading a direct sales team these 6 questions have the power to be a total game changer for your business.
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005. The 6 questions you need to ask yourself before making your 2021 plan
Well hey there guys, thank you so much for tuning in for another episode of the Build it Like a Business podcast! Today I want to take it way back and share a little bit about my life BEFORE I was a business owner because….When it comes to running a business things are a little bit different than a 9-5. OK, a lot different. And that’s usually a good thing!
Most of the time when you ask someone why they started their business it’s a mix of what they want and what they wanted to get away from. There’s a saying that says if you’re not running towards some thing you’re running from something. And owning a business is a little bit of both.
When I started my business I had just been fired from one of the most toxic work environments of my life.
To make a really long story short my husband had just been offered a job that would require him to go into a training program for six months. During that six month time we would be living in corporate housing a few steps away from where we were currently living. It was November when this happened and we were due to move in a few months at the start of the new year.
I went to my boss and laid all my cards on the table. I explained that this was a really important opportunity for my husband, who at the time was my boyfriend, and told him that I wanted to give him a few months of notice so that I could help him on board and train a new director for his sales team.
He fired me on the spot saying that there was no reason for me to continue building relationships if I was just going to leave anyway.
I left feeling like I had been slapped in the face. I was jobless for the first time since I was 16. To make matters worse out of spite my former boss decided that he would not pay me for that last week of work. Despite taking it up with the state and winning a wage claim he has still not paid me to this day over four years later.
Needless to say, when I started my business I was definitely running from something.
Now nearly half a decade later I’m firmly running towards some thing. Even still though there are some lessons and strategies I learned from my time employed by other people that I carry with me today.
One of those the concept of a yearly review.
This concept I picked up for my time working for Apple. One thing that Apple did really well was focus on growth of It’s employees. Every week we had and our dedicated to learning where we could do anything we wanted to grow ourselves… Take a course, study A new product or some thing relating to the product, shadow somebody if we wanted to… It was amazing. And a practice that I strive to bring to my own business as well.
With this focus on self growth Came opportunities for reflection as well. In particular we did one each year where we reflected on our strengths and weaknesses, events of the past year, our goals, and what was coming up in the future for us.
This your reflection gave managers away to better understand us as real people and get to know our own goals. Are we hoping to move into a bigger role? Were we feeling supported in our current role? Were our strengths being used in the best way possible?
The thing about owning a business that most people love is that we get to be our own boss. We get to design our days around our priorities. And we get to choose our priorities based on the lifestyle that we want to lead. We don’t need to conform to the agenda of a boss or the big picture of someone else’s dream.
And that’s wonderful, and as I experience more of that in my own business I remain grateful.
But… It also means that unless we build in structure it doesn’t exist. And if you show me a business that failed I will show you where they lacked specific and intentional structure, reflection, and action.
So with all of that in mind each year I take an hour to answer some very specific questions for myself… and I have my team answer the same questions as well.
I personally call this a self-reflection. You could think of it as journaling if that something you’re into, and you can do it on paper if you want to. I do it in a google doc and this year I gave it to my team in a Google doc - in the past I’ve given it to my team using a survey.
Whatever you decide to call or how you deliver it, the purpose is to help you gain Insight on your business- both from yourself and those closest to the business. Whether it’s just you and one assistant, or you plus a large team of people supporting you. If you have a team, ask them these questions and you’ll learn things about your business that may surprise you! As business owners were really close to what we're doing. Emotionally, physically, we are all wrapped up in every little thing that's going on in our businesses.
And so our own perception of the business is often different than the perception that others have, even our teams that we work closely with. We're constantly thinking and dreaming about everything that's going on within our businesses and so our own thoughts and perceptions change and evolve all the time. This means that as business owners we're thinking about our products, Services, and goals in a very different way than the members of our teams and those people who support us in our businesses.
Not in a better way, but in a different way. From a different perspective. And while you can ask these questions and have conversations about them it's really helpful to take time to sit down and write out your answers. I find that when I do this I dig so much deeper than I can when I'm talking. When I'm talking I'm thinking about what my next sentence is going to be I'm thinking about the flow of the conversation. But when I'm writing I don't have to worry about that. All I need to do is think about the one thing I'm typing or writing at that time. I can pause without worrying about another person waiting for me to speak, and I can take time to think, and I can change my mind mid-sentence if I want to. It's a way to give yourself, and if you're having team members do this as well it's a way to give them, a judgement free zone to reflect and share their thoughts.
I love to do this, at least for myself, before I do my marketing plan for the year. this year only I was able to do it before I worked on my marketing plan because I just didn't send it to my team in time. and that's okay, just like everything else there's no perfect way to do it. I've just found that over time when at least I can do my own reflection before I work on my marketing plan I'm able to be more intentional.
The other thing to note here is that I’m talking about having a team as in people working for you or with you - maybe a virtual assistant, a copywriter, that kind of support. But if you’re in direct sales and you have a team consultants or reps under you I would highly encourage you to make a few simple tweaks to these questions and ask them of your direct sales team as well. I’m going to share them in the perspective of how I ask myself as well as how I ask people working with me, but these can give you some incredible insight into how your team functions and views you as a leader that can really help you understand how to serve, motivate, and support them as well.
So let's go ahead and dive in. Today I want to share with you the the 6 questions I ask myself, and my team, before I make my plan for the new year.
WHAT IS YOUR UNIQUE ABILITY
The first question I asked is “what would you say is your unique ability or the most valuable asset that you bring to Anchor design Co?”
The reason I ask this question is because what I'm doing right now might not necessarily line up with what my unique ability is. For example, last year I spent a lot of time answering emails and all of that time managing my inbox made it really hard for me to spend time making our products and services better. The result was that I had a lot of goals and ideas that I wanted to work on but I couldn't because I was spending my time on something that was not my unique ability.
When I answered this question for myself and came to understand that my unique ability is truly being the Visionary within my company it became clear that I needed to delegate management of my inbox. once I did I was able to better serve my customers because they received faster responses from someone who was 100% dedicated 2 serving them through email and I was able to give our products and services the time and attention they needed in order to grow so that our clients could get bigger and better results.
And the same goes for my team. Over the year they may have learned that their unique ability lies in one area but their day-to-day tasks don't actually incorporate that. So this question helps me understand for myself and for the people that I'm working with what unique ability we each have. And most importantly what we see our own unique ability as.
Last year I learned through asking this question that my assistance unique ability was writing. She loved telling stories and wanted to grow in that ability. I may not have known that without asking this question and she may not have thought to bring it up. As a result she was able to spread her wings an exercise her unique ability writing blog posts and emails for our product launches.
Is can also be incredibly helpful to ask of your direct sales team to. And by team in this case I mean the consultant or wraps that either you have recruited to your team or someone on your team has recruited. In some companies this might be referred to as your downline. I better understanding the unique and amazing abilities of each and every person on your team you will learn how to better coach and support them as they themselves become leaders and grow their own businesses. You'll know what strength they have and can utilize, and you also know where they're going to need extra help or might need to learn how to delegate themselves.
And so with that I encourage you to take the time to really think. What is your unique ability? What is the one thing that you're best at, most passionate about? what is your secret sauce, the thing that makes you special within your business?
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’RE CURRENTLY IN A ROLE WHERE YOUR UNIQUE ABILITY IS BEING UTILIZED TO IT’S FULLEST?
And that brings us to the second question which is “ do you feel like you're currently in a role where you unique ability is being utilized to its fullest?”
Because as you saw with the examples that I gave from my own business what you do on a day-to-day basis and what your unique ability is might not currently lineup. And that alignment is key for growth and ultimately success. When you're able to be in complete alignment with your unique ability you're more productive, the work you do is of a higher quality, and you're truly able to serve your business in the best way possible. when you are able to work in alignment with your unique ability you're able to release the stress that comes from being out of alignment, that comes from constantly doing something that doesn't fit right oh, that isn't your strength.
That's not to say that you don't need to do hard things or that you can delegate anything that feels uncomfortable. But when you know what your unique ability is and you're clear on what your role needs to look like in order to be in alignment with your unique ability you can be intentional about what you say yes to and what you do delegate so that you feel less stress and more confidence.
WHAT 5 VALUES DO YOU PRIORITIZE IN A COMPANY THAT YOU CHOOSE TO WORK FOR?
The third question is “ what five values do you prioritize in a company that you choose to work for?”
This question is a really good temperature check on the culture within your company. In general, you'll know pretty quickly whether or not your company prioritizes those values. and while it's not necessarily your responsibility as the business owner to mold your business to the values of your team it's absolutely important to understand what they're looking for and what they care about. You might realize that they care about something that you do too that you can be more intentional about. You might even realize that someone on your team is not a good cultural fit.
Especially if you're a new business owner or a solopreneur you may never have thought about company values before. Or you may have heard it brought up but not had a chance to really dig in and make a decision about what values are a priority in your business. this question is a great time to start making that decision.
it might feel a little bit over-the-top to set company values if it's just you and you don't have a team yet. But I would encourage you to take the time to map out your values and write them down somewhere where you can see them every day. These values become the filters through which every decision you make friends.
One of our company values at anchor design Co is sustainability. So when I'm creating a new product or service I always ask “ is this sustainable? Will a client who signs up for this today still be able to use this 5 years from now? On the most difficult day will this still be easy to use our clients?”
If the answer to any of those questions is no then it doesn't stand up to our company’s value of sustainability. That means that it has to be adjusted until the answer to all three of those questions is yes or it’s not an idea that can be brought to life.
By asking this question of yourself even if you already do know what your company values are you can make sure that you're creating a business that you actually want to be a part of for the Long Haul. And if in this process you realize that there is a value missing from your business that is important to you you now know so that you can build that into the business you're creating everyday.
3 BIGGEST ISSUES
The fourth question to ask yourself and your team is “ What would you say are the 3 biggest issues standing in the way of the Anchor Design Co.'s success today?”
This one's a little bit obvious... It's always important to get a handle on what's really holding you back. But if you work with other people, even if it's just someone doing one or two hours of work for you a week or maybe a few hours a month, it can be really helpful to ask what they see I standing in the way of your success because people from the outside looking in will often see things really differently than we see them as the business owner in the thick of it all. When you're really close to something, the way the owner of any business is, it can be hard to differentiate between what feels like an issue and what actually is an issue. The things that have the biggest emotional impact often feel like they must be the biggest hurdle but that's not necessarily the case. Just because something makes an emotional impact doesn't mean it's actually the biggest thing. And when you're really close to something it's very hard to separate yourself from that emotion. So hearing what other people who are not quite as close to it as you are can help you see more of a bird's eye view and get a well-rounded picture. Even if you don't mind up agreeing that those are your biggest hurdles it's good to know what the people closest to you see as hurdles so that you can watch and see if they require more of your attention in the future.
WHERE DO YOU WANT TO SEE THE BUSINESS IN 2 YEARS?
The next and fifth question to ask yourself and your team if you have one is “where do you want to see the business in 2 years? in Revenue, size, Services, offerings, and even people.”
This is so important for yourself because you've got to know what you're working towards. When you know what you're ultimately working towards in the near but still distant future you can tailor all of your actions to help you get there. But if you don't know what you're working towards, if you don't have some general idea of where you're going then you're most likely going to waste time along the way. And that's not to say you won't waste time anyway... It happens. But you can be more intentional when you're able to run your actions through the filter of “ does this contribute to my big picture goals or is this just a side road that's going to cost me time and energy.”
this is important to ask your team because much like questions three and four it gives you a temperature check on how your team is experiencing your business. It lets you know if you are being clear about your goals, and it also helps you understand their own long-term thoughts about the business. I don't know about you but I want to surround myself with people who genuinely care and are invested in what we're doing. I want to work with people who have an opinion and are excited about contributing to a bigger goal.
What I don't want is people who are just showing up for a paycheck, or people who think of my business as a stop along the way to something else. I know and recognize that no one is going to care about the business as much as I do. That's part of being a business owner, but I do want people who are invested in not only what's happening today but what's happening in the future of the business as well.
the other thing that this does is it can also let you know where your team needs help. Last year when I asked this question my assistant who was doing both copyrighting and Manning our inbox said that in the future she could see the company having a separate person for Manning the inbox. Paired with her other answer I learned that man in the inbox was not what she considered her strength and it was something that she wasn't looking forward to doing long-term. It's not that she wasn't happy to help or didn't see the value in supporting the business in that way at the time... But she was able to express to me that it wasn't the way that she saw herself using her unique talents within the business. And that's the kind of thing that's so helpful to know now a year or two years before I might ever take action on it because I can be thinking about that. When I'm considering how to invest in the business and who we need to bring onto the team in order to run smoothly and efficiently I now know that this is something I need to consider.
HOW WILL YOUR SUCCESS WITH ANCHOR DESIGN CO. INFLUENCE YOUR LIFE?
And last but not least the 6th question to ask is “ how will your success with anchor design Co influence your life?”
from a leadership perspective this is one of The most insightful questions that you can ask to understand the motivation and drive I've both yourself and your team.
You might immediately think that the answer to this is really just your why but for me it's not. Your why is really big, it trumps everything. And in some regards it's too big for the everyday. Yes, your why is the ultimate fuel to the fire. But before you can ultimately fulfil your why there are going to be so many stops along the way and that's what this question is about. In what way will your business influence your life if you are successful. What is on the line if you're not?
if you're asking these questions of your team, whether that's a team of people who are working with you or your direct sales team, this gives you a huge amount of insight into how you can support your team so that they can do their best work while also reaching their own goals. Everyone has a bigger picture and often, it stays behind closed doors, but when you take the time to really get to know and understand the people you are working with, or even the people that have joined your direct sales team, and then use that to in turn serve them and support them then you’re creating a culture of trust and to me thats the most important value you can have within a business.
Every year I ask myself that these six questions plus 5 additional questions as I review my past year and prepare for the upcoming year. Before I ever put a pen to paper on my marketing plan I always reflect on these questions so that I can be intentional, and purposeful with every action I take during the upcoming year. These questions help me reset my goals and bring me back down to earth after whatever the previous year brought to the table. Whether I'm on a high from hitting a goal or a low from missing the mark this is my opportunity for a clean slate and a fresh, renewed perspective of both myself and my business, as well as the team that is supporting me.
My challenge to you today is to find time to answer these questions. To really sit with them, and consider your answers. To push yourself to answer each question thoughtfully and to the absolute fullest. Challenge yourself to write answers to each question until there are no more words to put on paper. Call it journaling call it reflection call it reviewing... But whatever you do don't skip it.
To help you get started, to help you take action, I've gone ahead and put all of these six questions that we talked about today plus 5 additional questions that I love to ask myself and my team onto my website and you can download them totally free from AnchorDesignCo.com/5.
And if you're feeling extra Brave come on over to the build it like a business Facebook group and share a post with the number one thing you learned about your business when answering these questions. I’d love to know if this felt eye opening for you, if you found something through these questions that made an impact on how you view your business, and would love to dig into this deeper with you in the Facebook group!
I hope that you love this episode and that you leave today feeling empowered to step into your role as a leader in your business, even if it's just a leader of yourself. If you found this episode helpful I would be so incredibly appreciative if you would give the podcast a 5 star rating and write a super quick review! Here’s to an amazing week… bye for now!
Okay, We're over halfway through here are the questions that we have so far just to do a check in. We have question 1, what would you say is your unique ability or the most valuable asset you bring to the company?
Then we have question 2, do you feel like you're currently in a role where your unique ability is being utilized to its fullest?
And question number 3, what are the five values you prioritize most in a company that you choose to work for?
Question number four was, what do you perceive as the vision for anchor design Co?
Question 5 was what would you say are the three biggest issues standing in the way of anchor design co’s success?
And finally we just did question 6 which was where do you want to see anchor design Co brand in two years?
The Fourth question to ask is “ what do you perceive as the vision for anchor design Co”
and you know to change my business name with your business name. It's just way easier for me to say it with my business name then it is for me to try and leave a blank.
Anyway, the fourth question is “ what do you perceive as the vision for anchor design Co.”
At the end of a long year this is one of the most important questions that you can ask yourself and if you have a team it's one of the most important questions that you can ask them as well. By the time heavy-hitting year ends whether you met your goals or you missed them, getting clear on your vision is so important. When you lose sight of your ultimate big picture Vision it makes every step you take that much harder.
Pretty much every business has a vision, and if you don't I would encourage you to use this time to figure out what your company vision is. Some might call these goals but I really see them as visions. To me a company vision or a vision for your business is less about metrics and more about impact. It's the type of business that you are becoming not the numbers you want to hit. It's not just a list of your values it's what culminates when those values come together. Your vision is who you're going to be as a business not what you're going to do.
So at the end of the year it's really easy for a company Vision to get muddled. To get lost in the highs and lows of everything that happened over the past year. And this year especially, with all that has gone on politically, socially, and with the pandemic... I would be surprised if anyone didn't need to revisit their vision for their company.
That's not to say it has to change, but when so much has happened good to get familiar with it again. To get on board with it. To make sure that your actions are leading to that vision.
And if you're asking this of your team this will give you insight into how you're communicating that Vision as a leader. Does your team understand what the vision of the company is? If not you now know that you have an opportunity to better communicate that Vision. Whether it's more clearly, more often, or maybe it's that you have never shared it before and so it's time to have that conversation.
When you're asking yourself this question, and when your hearing responses to this question from your team, think about whether your current actions, products, and services align with your big picture vision and look for opportunities to work that Vision into what you do on a day-to-day basis.
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Short & sweet episode highlights
The awful thing my former boss did to me right before I started my business
One of the most important things I learned working for Apple
The 6 questions I ask myself and my team every year before I make my marketing plan
How to ask yourself, even if you don’t have a team
Which questions you should also ask your direct sales team, if you have one
The specific purpose behind each and every question
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