the spiral of businesses

The Business Spiral, part 1

Progress in your business isn’t linear.

It’s a spiral, in which the same challenges and motifs and yippee-skippy moments and frustrations tend to reappear, each time at a higher and more sophisticated level.

If you think of progress as linear, you tend to feel pissed off, stressed and inadequate when déjà vu shows up. But… but… I did this already! It should be solved! Did I not do it right?

When you think of progress as spiral, that goes away. It’s more, Oh look, here’s this again. I’ve stayed in the game long enough to be back here again. Neat.

The second one is a much nicer feeling. (You’re doing it right, remember.)

But what does the spiral look like? Here’s my theory.

Care of the lovely Ashley, here is it in graphic form.

the spiral of businesses

These are the major stages every business (and business owner!) goes through over and over again. Let’s get acquainted with the first two.

The Foundations Stage

Welcome to Uncertaintyville, population you. This is the stage where the business is invented (and reinvented), where the foundations are set and the great question “So, what’s your business about?” is answered. This stage is both exciting and overwhelming, with the Curse of Potential biting at your toes.

Here you decide on the shape of your Why, What, Who and How. These answers always morph over time, but the essence is decided here.

What this stage is marked by:

  • Frustration
  • High levels of uncertainty
  • Continual change as you refine your ideas
  • Indecisiveness
  • Alternating waves of manic joy and crippling despair

Challenges to manage while you’re going through this stage:

  • Not settling too soon
  • Dancing with uncertainty
  • Bringing your ideas into cohesion
  • How to edit instead of mutilate
  • Not driving everyone you love insane

Opportunities to exploit while you’re in this stage:

  • Anything is possible!
  • No, seriously, anything!
  • Integrating ideas in new and amazing ways
  • Creating the thing you want to exist
  • Stepping up into beautiful authority
  • Madly experimenting

Resources to help you through this stage

I’m collecting resources to help you choose the right foundations, and build them strong. Many of the resources are mine, because this has been my thang for quite awhile.

The Planning Stage

Once you’ve built the foundations, and can accurately describe your Why, What, Who and How, then it’s time to figure out the specifics of your business. (To Facebook or not to Facebook, that is the question.) This stage is much calmer, with most of the parameters laid out, but you can still go completely bonkers here.

What this stage is marked by:

  • Too many ideas
  • Mental vapourlock
  • Explaining to the dog
  • Sheet after sheet of notes and mindmaps
  • Violent iteration

Challenges to manage while you’re going through this stage:

  • Opportunity overwhelm
  • Envy and comparisons
  • The urge to tone it down
  • Obsessively filling the toolbox
  • Self-sabotage
  • Analysis paralysis

Opportunities to exploit while you’re in this stage:

  • Breaking the “rules”
  • Synthesising information into your own solution
  • The beginner’s mind
  • Blazing your own trail
  • Connecting through energy and enthusiasm

Resources to help you through this stage

I’m collecting resources to help you create an amazing business and marketing plan. The list as I’m writing is small but kick-ass, and it will keep growing as I find and check over more amazingpants possibilities.

That’s enough to chew on for now, I think!

We’ll come back next time and keep exploring the spiral. (Part 2 can be found hyah.)

In the meantime, there are so many things I want to tell you! But I shall be ruthless. (Sorry, Ruth.)

I’ve opened admissions early for my absolutely favouritest course, The Pilot Light. If you’re in the Foundations/Planning Stages, this course will help you build the most soul-nourishing, flow-tastic and profitable business that you could dare to dream about.

There’s only 12 spots available. If you’re ready to create a truly blazing business, then go have a look and maybe apply. (The application isn’t tricky, although you do have to tell me a joke.)

Rock on,
Catherine

P.S. If you’re interested in all the new changes, you can learn more about them here.

Changes at Cash and Joy (and why you need to know!)

Splash (explore!)
Hello there, wonderfabulous.

Like the new design? It’s by my Canadian soul-twin, the ridiculously amazing Amanda of Violetminded Design. I loved the old design (by the also fantabulous Rhiannon of Brand Harmony Studio) but so much has changed in the year since it went live that I felt the need for a new look to reflect the new awesomeness.

But that’s not all that’s changing over here, nosiree Bob.

I’ve put a buttload of thought into how I can serve you more effectively, wonderfabulous. And I’ve made squoodles of changes in line with my conclusions.

Let me give you the guided tour!

The Radiant Resources Guide

One of the realisations I’ve been wrasslin’ with for the last while is that I have historically offered resources that really only work for one very specific phase of your business: the building/rebuilding phase. And while I DO have clients who have already gone through that stage and are getting my help with maintaining their consistent magnificence, we’ve had to make up our own custom packages.

That’s gonna change.

There’s a brand-spanking-new Radiant Resources page. I figured out what the stages are (well, what I think they are) in the spiral of business evolution, described each stage and its challenges and opportunities, and gathered resources that are designed to help you through each stage.

Some of them are mine (duh), but the list will also feature personally-road-tested-made-of-liquid-awesome offerings from other (amazing) businesses.

There are two new offerings! *confetti*

There’s The Business Joyfinder, for people who have lost the mojo from their business and would like it back right damn now, please.

And… *excited drum roll* I’m opening enrollments early for my ABSOLUTE FAVOURITEST AND BESTESTEST work – The Pilot Light. There’s only 12 seats available, and I’m hoping to have bums on all of them before the end of the year.

… and there will be SO MANY MORE offerings on the way.

I am partnering with the ludicrously talented designer Ashley Inzer (Any image you like on this website? Probably hers.) Together, we fight crime will be helping you develop the practices of consistent business magnificence, with lots of specific, no-bullshit resources.

It’s going to be MEGA, people. MEGA.

Also upgrading: the newsletter.

The old newsletter was fun, and a lot of people liked it. (Thank you!) But I really think I can do better than entertaining.

How about mind-blowing?

How about revolutionary?

How about incandescent?

Girl’s gotta dream, yo.

And my dream is that I can create resources that will rock the everliving fuck out of your business while I’m sleeping or working with clients or writing the next resource or playing World of Warcraft or eating a burrito.

So I’ve created a new list, Rise and Shine. When you join it, you’ll get access to zero-puff, electrifying, revolutionising resources (again, with awesome designinating by the lovely Ashley). These aren’t the kind of resources that make you say, “Hah. Good point. Yeah.” Nope, these are Wil. E. Coyote ACME-brand rocket-skates, except without the tendency to crash into mountains.

And wonderful newsletter subscribers, YES. You will have to sign up for the new list – it’s on my new and spiffy email system.

Also-ly (is TOO a word)…

Starting now, I’ll be giving away one free hour-long session each week to people who need some de-stuckification but don’t have the cashola. I called this scheme The Numinous Fund. Go check it out if you’re in need, wonderfabulous.

And lastly…

Thank you to everyone who has helped me do this long enough to need a website redesign!

You rock on toast. J’adore to the max.

P.S. Noticed something that ain’t quite right? Let me know so’s we can fix it!

Creative Commons License photo credit: Grégoire Lannoy

You are never back at the beginning

whirl and reach out

We shall never cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time. – T.S. Eliot

You say to me, “I can’t believe this, but I had a look at my old notes, and this new idea I’ve had for this course is actually an idea I had, like, two years ago!”

You say to me, “I’m so embarassed to tell you this, but I’ve realised where I actually want to be is back in my Day Job.”

You say to me, “I’m back at the first business idea I came up with! Why do I have to be so indecisive?”

You tell me this like I’m supposed to pick you up by the scrap of the neck and shake you like a puppy, yelling. As if you are the puppy, sitting shamefaced next to a spreading patch of dampness on the rug.

But you (and T.S. Eliot, except not really) are wrong. You aren’t coming back to the same place. You haven’t gone wandering off to end back where you came from.

Because progress is a spiral, remember? You are coming back to a place that feels familiar, because it’s the same spot on the spiral.

Except this time… you’re a level further up.

This time you have the resources to actually implement the idea you had two years ago.

This time you can articulate the problems that urged you to leave your Day Job in the first place, and know how to make sure they don’t happen again.

This time you’ve quietly filled in the tiny holes in your plan so the new business is actionable.

It’s working. It’s working.

You’re doing it right.

Now go away and kick some more ass.

Creative Commons License photo credit: procsilas

10 lessons every entrepreneur has to learn

Superbokehtheorie

This is a story about you, my lovely. Pay attention to what you say, “Well, duh” to – those are the lessons you’ve already learned, and well done.

And pay double attention to the ideas you violently recoil from – those are lessons that will be coming, I promise.

1. Keep moving or die.

Like sharks, businesses have to keep moving forward.

That means that every week that you spend just getting through your work is actually a bad week.

No matter how frantic your inbox, you constantly need to be planning and working toward the next thing.

2. There are far fewer rules than we think.

In my opinion, there are really only three vital rules for business.

  1. Create something of value.
  2. Find people who appreciate the value.
  3. Sell it to them at a price commensurate with that value.

That’s it.

A colleague of mine told me recently about someone in the wellness industry who charges $30,000 for one session. And while that makes my brain go wobbly, I realise that all that says is that TO ME the value and the price are not aligned. To that practitioner and her clients, the value is clearly worth the price.

So they pay it. And (presumably) they get more than $30,000 of value from their session. So they’re both happy.

And that’s the point of exchanges.

Extra note: it’s the buyer’s assessment of value that matters. You, who can easily create the thing you’re offering, will never ever value it as highly as them. So ignore you, and listen to them.

(Are my rules missing something? Tell me in the comments.)

3. There is a big enough audience for you to do the work you want to do.

How many buyers do you need?

Ten a month, maybe, if you’re a coach.

A hundred a month, possibly, if you sell goods.

You know how many people have an internet connection and speak the same language as you? Let’s use a woefully underestimated number: 400 million.

Say it aloud: 400,000,000.

Four hundred million.

As long as it passes Rule #1, it doesn’t matter what you’re selling: there will be enough people to buy it.

You still have to find them. But they are out there, looking for you.

4. It’s really not about you.

I got a piece of criticism lately that filled me with pity, because it was so very clearly not about me. It was about the person who wrote it, and their experiences, and how they felt. I was nothing more than a big white sheet on which their views could be projected.

But this is also true for every bit of praise.

5. Eventually, you have to leave the beaten track.

You can’t follow in Cinderella’s footsteps and get her results: there’s only one prince, and Cinders has already married him.

To succeed – instead of just doing sortakinda okay – you need to blaze your own trail.

Thus, there will always be a point where you abandon the wisdom of all of your mentors and inspirations.

Good mentors will encourage this – rip-off artists will tell you that you’re doomed if you go your own way.

*wave*

6. Money isn’t evil.

Money is a form of power, and all power is morally neutral.

What we do to obtain that power, and how we use it? That’s different.

But you are in charge of your actions. Money isn’t the devil that made you do it.

You are.

7. Consistency is vital.

  • A business isn’t built in one offering.
  • A marketing campaign does not happen in one tweet.
  • One testimonial does not a recommendation make.
  • You don’t build a following from one amazing post.

Because we can all be magnificent sometimes.

It’s consistent magnificence that builds your reputation, your business, and your bank account.

8. Self-care is NOT optional.

The single biggest capital investment in your business is… you.

Many of us threw away the user’s manual and decided that we could run indefinitely with no maintenance at all.

9. Start wide, then narrow down.

When you’re entering a new endeavour, say yes to every (legal) suggestion.

  • Guest post? Sure.
  • Custom offering? Heck yeah!
  • Meetup? Why not?
  • New client? Bring it on!

But as you learn, as you experience, as you realise that large business clients are a giant ball of suck, or people who ask for six revisions are actually going to need twenty… then you start adding filters.

Filters like:

  • I should never do client sessions after lunch.
  • No clients who will debate endlessly. Get it done or GTFO!
  • I don’t touch Adwords.
  • Only invoice people who we’ve worked with before. (Except Sofie.)
  • Natural fabrics only.
  • Three revisions max!

These filters have two purposes: they save your sanity, and allow you to start targeting in on your absolute best work.

Love them, respect them – every single horrible client experience you have ever had is due to inadequate (or ignored) filters.

10. Your business will be as sane as you are.

Sane, well-adjusted people build sane, well-adjusted businesses.

Crazy people build crazy businesses.

When things go awry, sane businesses struggle. Crazy businesses fold.

11. The bonus lesson

Tell us one more vital lesson you’ve had to learn. Bonus points if you have one that I’ve haven’t learned yet…

Good news, lovelies: since I was incapacitated by illness and exploding computer last week, I’ve decided to keep the doors open for Cash and Joy Foundations for one more week, AND bring back the four-payment option. So if you are sick of having a love-hate relationship with your business and are ready to ROCK IT THE HELL OUT, then sign up today!

Creative Commons License photo credit: eriwst