Learning Objective: Putting Growth Secrets to Work

We often talk about balance, and this usually means ‘the balance between work and play’ or ‘business and spirituality’ or ‘health and wealth’. One balance ratio not so often discussed, however, is the fine line between focus and overwhelm.

Businesses can’t stay static, and neither can entrepreneurs, but on the other hand, with the multiple tornadoes of information hurtling our way from every direction, it’s hard to keep your eyes only on what truly matters. Straying from your goals is easy.

What we often miss in our anxiety to get things right is forethought. That doesn’t just encompass planning; it actually indicates the reverse. It means being ready for unexpected opportunities and having the resources to jump on them. In Boy Scout terms, to harken back to simpler values, it means ‘being prepared’. And the best way to do this is not to become static yourself, but to invest in personal growth and your business.

Step One: The Secret to Healthy Expansion

Forethought is the real secret to what the world calls ‘good luck’. It’s being ready for any opportunity. It’s more than just planning: It’s all about timing, and if you’re not prepared for good luck you will miss stupendous opportunities.

Consider setting aside a portion of your income – say, all proceeds from a specific product or income stream – for a particular investment. You could even assign creation of a new product and funnel all sales to a separate bank account, so it’s entirely out of your view. Not only is the money there for your upcoming project, but it is also still available as an extreme emergency fund if an unexpected opportunity comes along.

This is on top of your regular savings, of course, which are based on two things: Goals and expectations.

For example, you have the goal of going to Bora Bora for your next vacation. You’re able to calculate you need X amount of cash for plane fares, accommodations, meals, tips, and miscellaneous expenses. That is planning.

When you add travel insurance and go for vaccinations because you’ve researched the area and realize you’re going to need to protect yourself against certain tropical diseases, that’s forethought. You don’t know you’re going to trip and break your ankle getting off the plane – but you’re prepared for any health emergency abroad.

It’s like that with your business and personal life too. Get into the habit of asking yourself “what if?” questions and be ready.

For example, you take out medical insurance for yourself and your family. Do the same for your family pets. It’s so easy to sign up for pet insurance, and if you’ve ever had a pet, you know that those veterinary emergencies can flare up in an instant. Your puppy swallows a foreign object. Your aging dog suddenly can’t get up the front steps. Your horse comes down with pigeon fever, necessitating multiple vet visits (that never seem to end) to drain alarming abscesses. Like medical bills, vet bills can knock the most generous budget out of control, so – especially if you don’t have a generous budget – checking out pet health insurance now and signing up for a manageable plan can be a wise precaution.

So what areas of your life and business can you think about now, not only to be ready for opportunities but also to save yourself grief in the future (or at least minimize it?)

Now take the idea of cultivating forethought even further and apply it to your business or career. Where do you need to be free to expand? And just what sort of expansion are we talking about?

  • Hiring the perfect team member at the right time after she suddenly becomes free, when you thought she would never leave her current client?
  • Snapping up a spot that’s opened up with a top coach who is usually fully booked and not taking clients?
  • Accepting a lucrative speaking engagement in another city and not having to worry about plane fares and hotel bills?
  • Saying ‘yes’ to a fantastic JV invitation because you are able to spring into action and have resources created, team members lined up and production costs met?
  • Being able to effortlessly increase your advertising budget for a campaign that is really beginning to take off?

All of these opportunities are ones you can hope for but not plan for. You don’t know if that coach is suddenly going to announce she has room for one more client. You don’t know if you’re going to be invited at the last minute to fill in as guest speaker at the conference of your dreams. But it’s wonderful to be in the position to snap up opportunities when they arise.

Step Two: Think in Percentages

What we’ve just been talking about is something more than forethought: It’s also about creating flexibility. And here’s another secret: If you think in terms of set dollar amounts, you’ll soon find yourself caught in the very opposite — rigid thinking. That’s what makes people quickly

feel trapped and overwhelmed. It can also lead to feelings of inadequacy or even failure, especially if you tend to be a perfectionist. Thinking in terms of dollars only is a trap.

A better idea: Think in percentages. When you use percentages, you don’t have to worry about covering a flat figure every month when income fluctuates. Percentages are flexible without changing the game the way a fixed dollar amount would.

The financial world loves percentages. Percentages give you a better picture of how something is placed in the overall world of your finances – so much so that the accounting world has all these little ‘rules’ about percentages.

The 50/30/20 Rule.

For example, have you heard of the 50/30/20 rule? This system was coined (no pun intended) by Elizabeth Warren, a US senator and bankruptcy expert “named by Time magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World”, according to TheBalance.com. It’s based on budgeting off your after-tax income and allocating:

  • 30% for wants
  • 50% for needs
  • 20% for savings

Read the article for a complete breakdown of how this works – or check out Elizabeth Warren’s book, “All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan.”)

Then there’s also:

  • The 28/36 Rule
    • This one is based off your gross monthly income:
      • Up to 28% on total housing expenses
      • Up to 36% on total debts

Note that the 36% includes car loans and your mortgage. It is all about debt ratio: In fact, this is the rule that lending institutions use to determine whether or not you qualify for a loan or mortgage.

These are just examples to demonstrate the flexibility of using percentages rather than dollar amounts.

Think in percentages, and you’ll have a much more realistic picture of what you can invest for every opportunity that comes along.

Step Three: Invest in Yourself

Investing in yourself is as crucial as investing in your business. First, it allows you to position yourself at the front of your field, ahead of all those who don’t invest in their own growth.

When you are at the cutting edge of your field, you become instantly more desirable as a coach, as a speaker, as a JV partner and as someone to follow and trust. People look to you for the latest. They turn to you for the truth.

This commitment to learning and growing, coupled with a willingness to look at what mythologist Joseph Campbell called the Shadow, a basic human archetype, enables you to keep your promise to your client, satisfying her expectations and needs with integrity and clarity while growing your business.

The most important thing you need to do, to prepare for this type of investment, doesn’t involve money at all:

  • Decide on your primary goal and priorities for yourself and your business.
  • Get rid of all those courses you’ve bought instead of investing in one-on-one coaching. (If you can’t bear to delete them, move them onto a separate memory stick or hard drive.)
  • Explore your own weaknesses:
    • The things you avoid
    • The things that make you angry, anxious, jealous, judgmental or even feeling confused and uncertain
    • The things that ‘trigger’ you
  • Decide which type of coach best serves your growth needs at this time
  • Make an absolute commitment to do the work

Don’t choose a coach who supports all your comfort areas. That’s not the area where growth lives. Find a coach who will help you deal with those areas of discomfort – and be ready to work hard, feel uncomfortable and face things you’d rather avoid. You already practice deep listening on your clients, but this is where you have to practice deep listening to yourself.

This is the real way to root out deep, negative mindset beliefs and experience growth that makes a difference.

Try meditation and journaling also. Putting words down on paper helps you think them through. Meditation teaches you to slow down and be aware of yourself in body, mind and spirit. 

Start by checking out the singer Jewel’s Never Broken site. Jewel is an amazing entrepreneur in her own right and with her Never Broken program, she moves into the realm of coaching. She rose from childhood homelessness, abuse and poverty to self-awareness and study at an incredibly early age.

Once you’ve signed up (for free), you can view a short video where she demonstrates in moments two really simple and grounding breathing techniques. You can do these at any time during the day, and they provide a good prelude for deeper meditation. You can complete her course with progressive lessons in exploring and getting in touch with yourself; all beautifully laid out and so easy to complete and save.

The site is basically a high-end mindfulness course… for free.

Step Four: Invest in Your Brand

Along with making a commitment to self-awareness and growth, resolve also to keep investing in your brand. This ensures that you are able to correctly identify and attract a better-quality client, charge premium prices, boost your reputation, attract top-quality guest experts and JV partners, and boost the perceived value of your services, packages and products.

Ways to invest in your brand:

  • Track your traffic and metrics
  • Ensure your brand is visually branded and reinforced across all platforms with consistency
  • Keep your website interactive and fresh
  • Use only top-quality, original graphics, photos, artwork
  • Use only top-quality, targeted content
  • Represent your brand powerfully via social media
  • Get a professional photoshoot

Don’t be afraid to spend money on perfecting your brand – but don’t think you have to pay top dollar for everything either. As long as every element representing your brand is top quality, it really doesn’t matter what it costs.

For example, instead of spending thousands on web design, rebrand your website by switching to a sophisticated and beautifully functional theme such as Launch and Sell.

These are themes custom-designed for female entrepreneurs – including coaches. For $119.00 USD you will get a superb result, and they are easy to work with if you have any familiarity at all with WordPress.

Step Five: Invest in Your Infrastructure

Invest in new tools to help you work better, more accurately, and faster… with one big caveat. Don’t invest in an app or SaaS:

  • Because it’s the latest fad
  • Because you’ve been talked into it by slick sales techniques
  • Until you’re sure that key team members know how to use it or are willing to invest time in learning
  • Unless you are willing to pay for time for key team members to learn it (or unless you are willing to spend the time learning how to make the most of it)
  • Without careful research
  • Without calculating its estimated ROI
  • Without ensuring it will replace or integrate with systems and tools you already use

Nowadays, these conditions are what ninety percent of online purchasers ignore, and that’s a quick way to have a tool that’s never installed, abandoned within a day or two of installation, or isn’t compatible with your other SaaS or apps (or with your virtual assistant, who works better with other tools!)

Ignoring any of these conditions leads to confusion, hard-drive clutter, and wasting money that you could be investing in much better ways.

Step Six: Invest in Travel

Have you always wanted to travel? Now may be the time!

One of the best ways to invest in yourself lies in stepping outside your geographical safety zones. So, write that bucket list and decide where do you want to go? What state? What country?

Visit that friend overseas. Go see the cathedral at Amalfi. Take that cruise to Alaska or visit the ends of the earth in Patagonia.

Open yourself up to new cultures, new experiences, new people and new foods. Take reasonable precautions – vaccines, safety procedures, and so forth – but make a resolution to leave your phobias, preconceptions, and food preferences and routines behind. No, you don’t have to eat a sheep’s eyeball if you don’t want to, but do be prepared to treat everything as an adventure.

Adventures are sometimes fun, sometimes alarming – but they always broaden your horizons and take you outside yourself with great memories, gratitude and stories.

(And be sure to keep a travel journal – your trip will be great blog and email fodder, as well as providing you with awesome Instagram photos and Facebook videos.)

Step Seven: Invest in Your Community

One of the best ways to free yourself from financial stress involves giving away. Even if it’s only ten dollars a month because you’re temporarily between clients, donate. Find a cause you really believe in, and make that monthly commitment.

Donate your time (if you have any). Help with community projects or donate your expertise to local business organizations.

This creates balance in your money mindset. You get to see the difference giving makes.

And this is often the last step before you are ready for wealth; ready to enjoy the power for good that controlling your money offers.

So, realize that real wealth isn’t always about making money, and be prepared to enjoy the feeling that freedom from stressful financial habits brings.