I’ve just recently launched a brand new coaching programme for small businesses and entrepreneurs. Why? Simple, in the last 4 months, as lockdowns started to happen, our clients quickly went from business as usual to panic mode. Suddenly, there was no consistency or creativity in anything they were doing.
As they worried about their finances, revenue streams and their basic needs being met, they wanted to cut costs, and fast. I’ve seen this behaviour before. I started Social INK in 2008, about 3 weeks before Lehman Brothers went under and we started the “new Great Depression”.
Then, it all happened again in 2012 in a slightly different way. 2016 saw the Brexit referendum vote to leave the EU, and this year saw Covid-19 shut the world down completely. Let’s just say, I’m almost getting used to these big shock events.
Talking about Consistency & Creativity
During the lockdown period, I spent 1-2-1 time with over 70 businesses. Between 60 and 90 minutes per business, I would listen, trying to understand what their struggles really were.
There are a few recurring themes that come up, time and time again, especially with small businesses when they are struggling. Some of these include:
- Not knowing what to do next.
- Paralysis by indecision as a result – as they’re not sure what to do, they don’t make any decisions at all, so ultimately end up doing nothing.
- The inability to keep showing up when things are tough – this is harder than it sounds, but also KEY to continuing to run any business – As the expression goes “80% of success in life is showing up”.
- Focusing on the numbers too much – By only thinking about revenue, they start to look at crazy discounts as a way to try to save themselves. Ultimately reducing the effectiveness of the business short term and long term.
- Blaming everything and anything that isn’t within the organisation’s sphere of influence.
- Convincing themselves that nothing will work, or that the situation is completely out of their control.
- Being negative to a point where creative thoughts are all but impossible.
These are a few of the biggest issues that I noted down during more than 100 sessions with over 70 businesses, all small to mid-sized companies.
Now, here’s why I’m only talking about 2 of them today.
What is so important about Consistency and Creativity?
When you start consistently showing up, you start really being present for your business and more importantly for your customers. What that looks like can be very different for each business owner and for each industry or niche. But ultimately, it comes down to the same thing.
Consistency in communication – being there, keeping in touch with clients, suppliers and any other stakeholders. The best and biggest companies in the world kept in touch with as many people as possible during the crisis this year. They didn’t shrink back into their shells and simply hibernate waiting to see what happens next.
By feeding this concept of consistency, you continue to develop all relationships with your audience. By having real conversations, by sharing what’s really going on in your business, by being more vulnerable online, by not faking it till you make it.
Fake it till you make it, in reality often ends up more like fake it till you go bankrupt.
There’s no added bonus for pretending to be successful when in reality you’re struggling. So why not implement the idea of every day, step by step, improving. It’s the “1% a day compounding idea“.
Showing up is 80% of success
If we recognise Pareto’s Rule – the 80/20 rule as it’s also known, we know that 80% of results come from 20% of efforts. It’s a general rule, but you get the idea.
Showing up is the first step. Doing more is second. Even when things get tough, in fact, especially when things get tough, it’s time to double down. Turn up twice as much. Share more than ever before. Explain and be honest. Be a little vulnerable online, you’ll be amazed at how people react and respond to that.
During the lockdown period, I saw businesses raise thousands of pounds by selling vouchers for when they reopen, even though there was a risk that without raising that extra cash they might not reopen at all.
People that were authentic and open, that continued to show up for their customers, audience and followers, really ended up rallying the support of that community around them, rather than shrinking away and almost becoming forgotten by the end of it.
Creativity is a muscle!
I’ve written about this before, and the idea isn’t mine. It was first introduced to me by James Altucher – an awesome writer who looks like a mad scientist (sorry James). His premise was simple if you want to become better at coming up with Ideas, train your brain through exercise. Start by coming up with 10 ideas every day.
Just like jumping on a treadmill for the first time in 10 years, the first day is going to be hard, the second and third will too, but by the 4th and 5th visit, you’re starting to feel better at it. 3 months later you’re training for a 5km run (something that before was completely unthinkable).
And this is where creativity ties in so neatly with consistency.
Consistency & Creativity
If you’re not consistently doing something, chances are it won’t get easier, better, faster or stronger. Whether it’s physical training, mental stimulation or any other activity you decide you want to start doing.
When you consistently decide to keep showing up for your audience, in your marketing, in your business, these actions get stronger and better over time. As a result of doing it more and more, you also become more and more creative.
This 30-day blogging challenge I embarked on is based on these very same principles. If I can consistently show up, my creativity levels are going to rise with that.
So far I’m 9 days in and I haven’t been stuck yet for an idea of something to write about. And as the days go by, writing the articles is becoming easier to.
So for everyone out there that’s working in or owns a small business, I’d love to talk to you about the Consistent Experimenter programme if you’re interested in really changing your mentality and approach to all your marketing. You may even find, like me, that the same principles will overflow into all other aspects of your life like it did in mine.