Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Stress, Money and Making Better Decisions

Well helloooo Sydney (and anyone else who's reading this),

You'll notice it's been a while since I posted a blog and that's simply because I've been super-fly busy. What a turnaround the last 8 weeks have been.

Grab a cup of tea and let me fill you in…

So, at the end of last year I began editing and blogging about Jacqueline Harrison's book How To Create A Business From Nothing. So far the experience has taken me on a journey that could only have been invented by Roald Dahl or Einstein. It's utterly magic, albeit fantastical and occasionally involves things I don't understand. Like how the Universe works.

To say life is good would be like saying Mount Fuji is a small lump in the ground.

The most recent amazing turn happened when I began writing my 2013/2014 marketing plan. I recently acquired a mentor (actually I have three), but Colin Grainger who is a successful engineering consultant (and a damn fine poet), asked me to do some homework as part of my mentorship. He requested that I compile a document showing how much money I was going to earn in the coming year and who I intended to get the money from.

Ooh, sounds scary but fun.

It's interesting stuff this mentoring business because it's got me thinking differently. It's helping me realise how important it is to understand where my next deal is coming from. Creating a clear idea about who and what types of business I will target and putting a dollar value next to their name has stretched my mind (and how I do business) in a big way.

Here's the lowdown: Basic maths tells me that in order to double what I earned last year I need to bring in at least $2k per week. Every week. Right, that's easier than thinking I have to bring in $100k in 12 months. Good start. I wrote down the jobs I currently have in progress and added the ones that are in the pipeline. OK, not bad, I'm about a third of the way there but I can clearly see that I am also using up a third of my time on these jobs, and they are only from my publishing work. Remember, I have three streams I'm tending to: publishing, blogging and workshops.


The rest of my week is already chock full with researching and writing company procedures and marketing papers, so I made a decision. I decided that it will be in my best interest to plan a couple of big deals that will bring in greater income, over a longer time frame. This will allow me to subcontract some of my work which will free me up to do more prospecting and big-deal making.

Hmm, so big deals must be how this big-money stuff works.

[clunk] Penny drops…

Wow! I have never thought like this before! I've only ever reacted to work coming in, but now I am becoming a real business woman and thinking about who I will pitch to in order to bring in maximum cash-flow with the least amount of time and effort (by me). The workload can be large and probably will, but it can't all me done by me. That's no different to me doing reflexology for someone for an hour.

Higgins, I think we just struck Gold!

Looking at my workload in this way got me excited but I'll admit I also felt a bit stressed. Oh dear, how am I going to do this? My ideas are bigger than my bank account and I'm already time poor. A common issue for entrepreneurs is not having a team to call on when you are in start up phase. So, I called a friend. I filled her in on my dilemma: Basically I've got three jobs, one is full time and kinda two jobs in one (publishing consultant and setting up publishing company). One is part time (running workshops) and one is currently more like a hobby (this blog).

Main problem: I only have two hands and one brain.

"Get one of those desk planner things," she said. "That way you'll be able to see whether you've got any gaps coming up which will help you feel more relaxed when you're busy." Yes! This immediately felt like a great idea. Sure, I keep a diary and write to-do lists and plan my day at the beginning and recap at the end. But I've never looked for gaps before. I've always just filled them.

I know, it's so easy when you've just read it, right…

As I mapped out my week I saw something that could be wiped clear: Toastmasters. I joined Toastmasters two weeks ago as part of my 'running inspirational workshops' plan. I thought it would be excellent practice for public speaking and I'd be making great business connections without trying. And of course I loved it! I dived straight in on day one, skipping to the front to give an impromptu speech with only 12 seconds notice. I was in my element, a whole room full of people being forced to listen to me!


Realistically though, at this stage of the game, I don't need to spend half a day giving speeches when I still have two thirds of my income to earn.


I regretfully contacted my Toastmaster sponsor and gave my apologies. I told her I had pressing work commitments and that I would be back when I was able to commit. My sponsor was very understanding and actually gave me some advice. She shared with me that in her also very busy work life she has made a commitment to spend every Wednesday afternoon sailing. It's her gift to herself for all the hard work she does. Nice.

Well, well, sounds like she looked for some gaps and instead of filling them with stress or more work (which as we know there always is when you're running your own show), she has committed to herself to get out on Sydney Harbour and Have Fun.

Again, what great advice.

With that idea resonating in my mind, I took another look at my week. With Toastmasters gone, I have a full morning back that I can fill with something more productive. Being as I already have two fun things planned for myself this weekend I will be filling that time with work. Writing this blog has been added into my evening time slot (when I would have been preparing my speech) and now I still have tomorrow morning, which is great.

And just like that, my anxiety has diminished.

If you haven't seen them yourself, there are two great lessons here. The first one is Seeing Things Differently. I hadn't ever looked at writing a marketing plan in the way Colin mentored me to do. It's already resulted in a phone call to an ex-publishing colleague of mine who I approached about writing another book. This is a high-profile client and the idea that we brainstormed, coupled with her media profile and my publishing nounce could result in another big deal for us both.

The second point is Doing Things Differently. When it came to planning my weeks ahead I had never thought to look for gaps. Knowing there are gaps has an incredibly calming effect on the mind as does clearing something from your diary, (or rescheduling it), if you can see it is not vital to your greater plan.

These two seemingly small decisions may have been glaringly obvious to you, but to me, they have just opened a very large door that holds a very big key to a very grand future.

I can just feel it.