Next month it will have been three years since I began my business re-brand. The goal was to go from two brands (Fresh Ways Forward and aVara Consulting) to one new brand; bringing everything I do under one umbrella and one website. It was to be simpler, provide a more functional website and enable me to eventually create an online business too. If you’d told me then that the process would still be going now, I would not have believed it. It has been a HUGE process for me; exciting, illuminating, CHALLENGING and very educational!
Right now I want to share some of what I’ve learned and what my personal journey has been like, because even with all I’ve learned as a coach, trainer and business owner so far, there is always plenty more to learn!
Here are some of my learnings; about myself and life in the now-becoming-infamous-rebrand of 2013 – 2014 – 2015 …
- You need to figure out – who are you and why are you here.
My most favourite discovery in this whole process has been my ‘Why’. I kind of knew it, but to really sink into and understand why I get out of bed every day and do what I do has been thrilling and totally rewarding. While my learning has stretched from discovering the art of online marketing to a crash-course in copywriting and DIY video editing, I’ve most loved the discovery of Simon Sinek’s wisdom about finding your ‘Why’ and how it helped me find mine.It has given me clarity about my brand (Start With You), clarity about why I do what I do (because I think you deserve the life you want, in every way) and confidence to have my voice and say what I really think (which is that you really do deserve to have the life you want). Did I mention that?
You may not be surprised when I say that gaining this clarity is not an overnight process. And in fact, it can become clear when you least expect it. Like two days before you launch one brand, and you come upon an idea light-years ahead of the other, and start again. That’s what happened. And we started again. Can you believe it? I was a little gob-smacked myself.But I say a little gob-smacked, because I was more excited than anything – to have the clarity, feel so congruent and to feel like I was finally on the absolute right track. What a feeling!The wondering, the discovering, the time. It’s SO worth the wait.
- Accept that it’s a process. You might need to let go of the timing.
It can feel excruciatingly difficult to be in the unknowing of what will I do with my career, my relationship, this project, that opportunity? But you just have to let yourself be in the process. Clarity will come. It’s your divine right. You just don’t always know when.
- Keeping the balance isn’t easy with constant deadlines: but it’s essential.
The reality is that I could be writing and designing materials all hours of the day and night – more because I LOVE doing it than anything else. I think when something really rocks your socks it’s even harder to keep balance because it’s SO tempting to do it 24/7!I also know that when there is so much to do I just want to keep going until it’s done, and yet the constant activity eventually catches up with me if I’m not keeping the balance. I know when I need a break to recharge (hence the Digital Holiday – see below!). I think the question is: are you planning enough breaks through the year so you don’t hit that point where you NEEEEED one?
- Know what really matters to you.
My fabulous business coach Katrina also made some sense of this for me recently by pointing out the balancing act that occurs in a project between Time / Quality / Cost. It has certainly been a case of juggling those three things, and often prioritising Quality over the others, with Time often coming last on the list. I want to get it right the first time (even if it is a long time!) because of the long-term benefits.Eventually I actually, officially, stopped trying to set a launch date for. I did briefly wonder if that makes good business sense. Let’s face it, I could have set a new date, pushed myself, my designer and the web-developers so that we’re all doing crazy hours, and make it happen faster. But to me that doesn’t make life sense. For my sake and theirs, I’m accepting that it takes what it takes.
- It’s tempting to play the blame game, but it’s a dead-end street.
Things do not always go to plan. People don’t always do what they say they’re going to do. There will always be things outside your control. Make peace with these things, or they will do your head in. Simple, but true.Sometimes it’s so tempting to point the finger at others but in my experience it rarely gets us anywhere. There is hollow satisfaction in saying ‘Well, they didn’t do it properly’. What becomes much more satisfying is in engaging others to play their part as effectively as possible, to build a relationship with them and enrol them to do their best.What can you control? What can you request from others? What can you find out? What can you take action on yourself? How can you handle this in a way that will get the most positive result possible? These are questions worth asking.
- Own the process and solutioning.
Because things don’t always go to plan, and things are not always in our control, sometimes we really do need to take the steering wheel. I guess this is the balance between what you can and can’t control. Keeping your hands on the steering wheel of what you can control is what really matters. I think how we see ourselves in our role plays a part here. One day I caught myself thinking perhaps I was being a bit demanding as a client with my design contractors. I needed to ask for what I needed a few times, and it gets to feel a little like you’re harassing people!The reality is that it is my job to ask for what is needed: asking nicely and professionally (I haven’t yelled at anyone in a whole year of this project), but asking nevertheless.
- Have a coach!!
It’s true that sometimes you can’t see the wood for the trees, and I don’t know what I’d do without my business coach. It’s about having the support of someone who is fighting your corner – totally there for You You You, PLUS someone who knows more than you do; what you don’t know you don’t know. It is our blind spots that are our most limiting – they are also our biggest opportunities.I always feel so excited when something comes into view that I hadn’t seen before, that I can then start to explore and learn. This rebranding process has helped me learn a ton of stuff, and pushed all sorts of buttons for me – fears, doubts, fears! As each one has surfaced, I’ve rubbed my hands together and gone to work. What an opportunity to clear out the cobwebs of old patterns and beliefs, and learn stuff you didn’t know you needed to learn.
- Hold the vision no matter what.
When I was 19 and had completed the first two years of my four-year Business Management degree, I decided to leave university – to my parent’s horror. I didn’t know if I would return or not, just that I was bored and uninspired. I spent the year working and figuring out what next; my vision was to love what I was doing. I held that vision, eventually figured it out, and returned to Uni the following summer – this time majoring in Human Resources. I graduated with first-class honours – and I know it was because I was doing papers in subjects I had a natural affinity for and was really passionate about. But I had to hold the vision for myself, and this rebrand has made me do that all over again.No one else will hold the vision like you can. There will be the odd skeptic, worry wart (every family has at least one), pessimist and doubter. There will be delays, ill contractors, technology challenges, the occasional early labour (yes, we had one of those) and you will change your mind about more than one thing, more than once. The trick is to hold fast to the vision. Keep seeing it in your mind’s eye and hold the sign up. Speak it out loud – be the megaphone. Pick your metaphor. Any way you can, hold the vision!
- Ask for advice, don’t feel you have to take it.
I love getting advice from others. I’ve asked clients for feedback on the new brand, friends, family. Gosh, my Mum was part of my biggest eureka conversation around my ‘Why’. It was great. But it wasn’t all opinion I could act on, or that I agreed with. And that’s ok.What’s not ok is if I feel compelled to incorporate it, believe it or make decisions by it purely because I asked for it in the first place.It’s great to ask for advice. You get to decide what you do with it.
- Don’t use a big project to beat yourself up.
Big projects? Things go wrong. We stuff things up. We say one thing and realise it’s going to be different. Eeek. I know a few years ago I would have given myself a really hard time about not launching in July as I’d originally planned. My inner tirade would have felt icky and critical and draining. Fortunately I’ve not fallen into that cycle of brow beating myself in the midst of this seemingly never-ending process. Instead I’m really rather philosophical about it. It will happen when it is time.What has been helpful however, is to stop occasionally and check – is this decision a healthy functional one or am I delaying? Is it that old fear of being a tall poppy lurking around again, or should we really hold off on designing those materials? A good old feedback sandwich can be a beaut – “One thing I’m really pleased with is how my voice is coming through in my copywriting (positive), one thing I would do differently next time is assume it will take longer than I think (improvement) and overall this has been one of the best learning experiences of my career (overall positive).When you’re working on a big project – from a business venture to being a new parent – don’t give yourself a hard time. It sucks the life out of you. It stops you from learning. It’s takes out the fun.Be nice, be supportive. Add energy. Enjoy the ride!