These may just look like a (handsome) pair of window shutters to you, but to me, they represent a huge change in my pattern of thinking about money and my business.
Who knew that home improvements could be so profound?
These beauties have some biz wisdom to share with you.
#1 You do have enough money to have that.
‘You don't have enough money to buy that,' ‘we can't afford it,' ‘we can make do with something else.'
I have spent most of my adult life regurgitating the money mantras my parents taught me:
♦ ‘Rich people are mean, crooks, or mean crooks.'
♦ ‘We’re not the sort of people who spend money on things like that.'
♦ ‘You could make do without, with less, or with something cheaper.'
In the last few months, I’ve read a lot of books, worked with a lovely lady (Tania Angelis) and done a lot of reflecting, to become aware of those mantras, understand how the are holding me back, and then let them go.
I have wanted shutters across the doors that open out onto the back garden, for 10 years (that's how long we've lived here). But they cost a fraction short of £1k. My parents would never ever have spent that kind of money on a window dressing (you can get a nice set of curtains for £50 from the catalogue don't you know).
Besides, since I left my corporate job seven years ago, I'd been scraping less than £1k a month as a freelancer, and then in the first year of my business, Worditude Ltd.
I couldn't spend a month's salary on something for my home.
Long story massively abbreviated, I believed this: I didn’t earn enough money to justify buying something I wanted.
When the truth was closer to: I was self-limiting my earnings, so that I could deny myself the things I wanted.
Once I gave myself permission to splash out on the shutters, my mind was open to a whole new range of income earning possibilities.
But I don’t want you to think this is all money mindset stuff. It is important. You need to nail that early on, or you’ll be self-limiting, and self-sabotaging all over the place.
Buuuuuutttt. I still had to dooooo something about it. Having a growth, abundant, money-welcoming, self-loving mindset helps me to run my business better. But I do still run my business. Market my business. Find clients. Work with my clients. Deliver for my clients.
#2 Steve Jobs didn’t sulk in a corner telling everyone he could manage just fine on his own.
At a networking Christmas party, I met Nadia Finer, a biz coach. I liked her, but I had a big problem with her. She wanted to HELP me. The nerve of it! How could she think I needed help? Didn't she know I can do e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g myself?
We kept in touch. She still wanted to help. Clearly she wasn't a fast learner. I was sooooooo determined to make it solo.
And I did. In January this year, I doubled my income…..and nearly killed myself doing it. I was working all day, every day, even weekends.
So in February, I crumpled and joined Nadia's Project Profit program. It was then that I decided I’d buy the shutters, and follow Nadia’s guidance to get my income level to a point where I could actually pay for them.
I’m not going into the details of how I changed my business. Because what you need, will most likely be different. But I will say that I wouldn’t have made those changes on my own.
I doubt Steve Jobs sat behind his desk saying ‘no, I don’t want any help, I can do this all by myself.' That’s how I feel sometimes. That I want to do it all solo, so I can proudly say I built this business single-handedly. But there won’t be a prize at the end of my life, a big fat medal bestowed at the pearly gates declaring ‘Laura - she did it all by her own self.'
Please please stop thinking you’ve got to do it all on your own. There's only so many books you can read, systems you can learn, hours you can work. Seek guidance from expert helpers.
Which leads nicely to…
#3 Do what you’re good at, let others do the rest
The company that supplied and fitted these shutters sell one thing and one thing only - shutters. Not blinds. Not curtains. Shutters.
They’re a thriving business, with a small, but happy workforce. Within the company, they specialise further. There’s Lisa, the friendly sales lady who advises and takes the initial measurements. Steve that measures again to within a millimetre accuracy, and Nick, who fits the shutters. Every now and then they shadow each other on a job so they can learn. They are aware of how their role fits into the wider shutter-fitting journey. But they specialise.
Sure it would be handy if they could’ve put a set of shelves up while they were here. But I appreciate that I had specialists in my home doing a specialist job to a high standard, that only a specialist could achieve.
There are many add-on services I could offer my clients (web design, social media), but I don’t, because they are not my thing. I’ve always felt a bit icky about that as if I should be a one-stop-shop, but the shutters are reassuring me (every time I gaze lovingly at them) that specialisation is something to be proud of.
#4 You can’t polish a turd, and if you try, you’ll get poop all over you
When I was a corporate cubicle prisoner (a Project Manager) we had an in-joke in the Project Management department - you can’t polish a turd, and if you do, you’ll get…..all over you.
I had forgotten all about that delightfully vivid nugget of wisdom until a conversation with Steve, the measurer. He was full of tales of woe about people ringing up asking them to come and fit shutters they had ordered online from a well-known national DIY chain. But no, they won’t do it. Never Not ever. They know that no matter how talented their fitters are, they can’t make up for poor measurements and lousy construction and they don’t want their brand associated with that mess.
Likewise, sometimes a project pops up, where as much as I want to help, I know it’s a really bad idea to get involved. This happened last year when I became involved in a sports website for far too long because it was a sport I loved. But in the end, I realised the foundations of the business were not sound, and no matter how hard I worked (and I worked h-a-r-d) I couldn’t make it a success.
#5 People love a story they can relate to.
I posted a photo of my shutters in a Facebook Group with a synopsis of how they came to be in my home.
It got 216 reactions and 72 comments in 5 days. Every morning I woke up, turned on the WiFi connection and my phone went ping ping ping. I thought it was going to vibrate itself to death!
I’d felt awkward posting about it. Maybe nobody cared I’d got a new set of shutters. Maybe they all had shutters already.
And often I see posts about six figure incomes, tropical retreats….erm so shutters - not that inspiring right?
It turns out that shutters aren’t just inspiring - they are something way more important. They are relatable. The lovely ladies reading my post related to my story because they had something they yearned for but denied themselves, and a small home improvement was a dream they could reach out and touch.
So in summary (because after 1,200 words there’s a good chance you’ve forgotten what I said at the start of this post).
♦ #1 Mindset matters, but it isn’t a magic bullet. Getting your thinking straight when it comes to money is important. But that’s not it.
♦ #2 Accept help. I know you need it because everyone needs help with something (if what you need help with is communicating with your audience, click here).
♦ #3 Specialise. Knowing what you don’t do well is as important as knowing what you excel at. Draw a ring around your zone of genius. Sell to people who want that. Refer prospects to someone else when they need something different.
♦ #4 Stay away from stinky looking projects. One of the many bonuses of being self-employed is that you get to choose the work you do. Choose wisely.
♦ #5 Stay relatable to your audience. Inspiring is good. Inspiring + relatable is dynamite.
Tell me I’m not alone. If there’s something you’ve lusted over but denied yourself. Or if you've had a real life experience that's taught you heaps about running a business, I want to hear about it.