Do you feel lucky?

We live at number 13.

I was opening an account with a company recently and on giving them my address, the representative said, “Oooh, unlucky!” Never one to miss an opportunity to share a different way of thinking, I replied, “Not for me.”

What kind of life would I be living to believe that the very home I live in – the one I work hard to create and maintain, the one that supports my family and my business – is unlucky?

That life would be one in which I sit and sulk, hear spooky noises around every corner, jump at the post coming through the letterbox, and generally whine and moan about how things are.

Unlucky could become the story I tell myself, the one I play out from day to day, whether it’s that the milk’s gone off, or that my Instagram post hasn’t reached enough people.

It’s just me. I’m just unlucky.

That’s not I life I lead, though it is one whose shadow has dimmed the light a few times. I’m no stranger to that feeling that nothing’s quite going to plan, that I’m not quite winning. What I’ve learned and come to know is that luck has very little to do with it.

What is luck anyway?

For me, luck is:

(opportunity + visibility) x courage

Especially true in business, there is no magic formula for success, though we know the factors involved. When we create things (products, services) people want and need, when we share them, and when we exchange money for value, business is born.

But the laws of the universe mean that step one and step two don’t always lead to three. We have to get “lucky”.

And that means seeing an opportunity (o + v) and having the courage to act accordingly (x c).

It’s seeing an enquiry pop into your emails and picking up the phone straight away, because this looks like a good one.

It’s telling a story, having that story spotted by a journalist, and saying yes when they ask you for more.

It’s making a space for your creations (or products or services), and knowing that when someone asks you to fulfil an order, you can.

We make our own luck. We plan, and create, and stategise, yes. But we also build belief in ourselves and our creations.

Here’s something true: you can work as hard as you like, sacrifice everything, but if the work isn’t aligned with what you and your customers want and need, or if you don’t believe in the luck equation, you’re not going to get lucky. Not this time.

There’s a whole other post for another day on believing in yourself, and I do believe that’s the courage part of the equation, but just for today, let’s focus on building a lucky mindset.

What do I mean by a lucky mindset? Well, it’s the opportunity and visibility part of the equation. If you’re in your own equivalent of living at number 13, and therefore feeling cursed or unlucky, it becomes incredibly hard to see the opportunities and luck available to us.

And let me say here that your “number 13” story could be anything. I use my example because I hope that you can see that living at number 13 isn’t inherently unlucky. It’s a house number! Well, ditto many of the stories we tell ourselves.

Maybe your story is that you didn’t go to university, or that you’re dyslexic, or that you’re just plain stupid. Maybe you tell yourself that you’re not creative enough, or not “business minded” enough – these are all versions of your very own “number 13” stories.

The lucky mindset is telling a different story – one that lets us see possibility, meaning, purpose, and truth. And, crucially, a story that allows us to know that we can create our own luck. We can do great things despite no university, being dyslexic, or being told that we’re stupid.

If we create our own luck, one of the things we need to know is what “lucky” means to us. If we’re going to spot opportunities, we need to know what we want them to look like.

Here are some questions for you:

  • How would lucky feel to you, tomorrow? If you woke up and had the luckiest day of your life, what would it look like? How would it feel?
  • When was the last time you felt lucky? What was it like? How did you get lucky?
  • What makes you feel unlucky? Do you often tell yourself that you’re unlucky, doomed, or fundamentally flawed? How ready are you to let go of your “number 13” story, whatever it may be?

My dream for you is that you start to feel lucky – not in a fairy godmother way, but because you are wise and talented and worthy of building your business. And because you’ve learned how to see opportunity, and how to have the courage to take it forward.

So start by answering the questions. Dig into them. Talk to a mentor or coach or friend about them. Write them down. Jot your answers in the comments or email me. Let’s figure out what lucky is for you so that you can spot it when it’s knocking at your door.

My door’s number 13. Lucky for all.

Here’s the thing: What’s money got to do with it?

When you’re running a creative business that you pour your heart and soul into, money can feel like both a dirty word and the holy grail.

We can feel totally fine when the bills have been paid, the sales are coming in, and the opportunities feel plentiful – and totally thrown into doubt and worry when things are tight and we’re living hand-to-mouth.

I have been in both places in my business. In fact, I’ve been at both places this year! Being self-employed is like that.

What does money have to do with it? Well, it’s not the only success factor, but it’s certainly a vital one.

If you’ve been hanging out here in my blog or over on social media, you’ll probably know that I believe in defining success in a whole host of ways, but financial success is definitely a factor of any business.

One thing I know for sure: the difference between a creative hobby and a creative business is in the profit.

Another thing I know for sure: you don’t have to turn a profit in the first year to have a successful business.

So how do we define success?

Well, financial success looks different for different people and businesses. You might want to make enough money to cover your expenses and contribute to your household expenses. Perhaps you’re the sole earner in your household and your business needs to cover a family’s worth. (These are both true for clients I work with.)

Sometimes, turnover is important, especially when you’re in your first 1-2 years of business. You’ve got to get that top line up and prove that people want to buy your products. Because you’ll be investing in your business, you might not turn a profit overall, so turnover is the key number to look at.

More often, it’s about profit. It’s entirely possible to turnover £250,000 a year and make no money or profit yourself. It’s easy to get caught up in big numbers that look great in the short or long term, and yet, unless you’re a not for profit, it’s the bottom line that matters. Selling 100 items a day? Great! Paying for every sale through advertising and negating your profit margin? Not so great, unless you’re developing a long-term, loyal customer base.

I like to define financial success as financial freedom. Because that’s why I went into business, and it captures something of the feeling I want from the work I do. I want to be able to pay the bills easily, provide a stable base for my life, and create a home and life that fills me up.

Non-financial success

When identifying the figures that feel like success to us, it’s also important to define other factors of success. When I do this with clients, it’s about understanding the values we hold and how they manifest.

Is it important to create an eco-friendly business? Perhaps you want to help grow the local economy? Maybe you’re invested in bringing more meaningful gifting to customers?

These – and many more – are the values that are going to make your business uniquely successful. Create your own list of values and understand how you’re going to bring them to life.

For me, success is helping clients find that lightbulb moment of clarity – suddenly seeing where and how they want to be. Even more success is helping them to uncover how to make it happen and holding them accountable. I define success as helping others to heal behaviours, emotions and patterns that hold them back from the business and life they truly want.

What does success look like for you?

I’d love to hear. Hit the comments, and tell me your most successful moment this year.

Until soon,
Jenny x

 

PS Looking to get clearer on your profit margins and price your products effectively? Take a look at my mini course, Pricing for Profit, just £20+VAT, or free when you join Progress not Perfection.

Breaking the downward spiral – and creating an upward cycle instead

There’s a theme that comes up regularly when I’m talking to clients, whether it’s a one-to-one conversation, or in my group coaching programme, or on retreats.

It’s the dilemma of shifting the flow from a vaguely (and sometimes worrying) downward spiral – low sales, low motivation, low energy – to a positive, regenerative, profitable cycle of business.

We often get stuck on the hamster wheel. We’re overworked, underpaid, with too much to do, which means we don’t have the energy or resources to make a change. We tell ourselves we have to keep going, but not much is working and we seem to be more defeated, further behind, less successful every time we check.

This is a place of short-term, of scarcity, and of fear. It doesn’t tend to generate orders or new ideas or clear focus for what to do next. It can feel like we’re trapped. We certainly aren’t sure if our business will survive when we’re in this place.

Because orders are low, we’re risk averse. We don’t want to invest in new products or in support that could help get us out of this downward spiral, in case we can’t afford it. In case it doesn’t help.

In this place, it’s almost impossible to shorten the to-do list or discover a place of clarity. Everything could be the answer; nothing is definitely the answer.

We can wind up sleepless, doubtful, stressed, anxious, and with no idea how we even got there.

Nerves fray. Tempers rise. Moods darken.

Downward spiral.

The other place (I feel a bit The Good Place, but that’s another story…). The other place, is generative. Everything you do adds to your business. That product you invest in makes money, creating the next wave of investment.

With the wind at your back, it’s easy to keep up momentum – it’s easier to retain customers than find and engage new ones. Each good day allows you to feel better about the next day. You can take the positive results of yesterday, believe in yourself, and put your energy behind your next (brilliant) idea.

It doesn’t matter which item you check off your to-do list next, because they’re all good ideas, making great strides in your business. They’re all going to pay off.

Asking for support feels like a choice you can make when you’re ready, and you can even indulge yourself by asking for exactly what you need, in the perfect timeframe and with just the right person. You can afford to invest in getting the right support for your business, and you get to choose how and when you do.

Any fear is quickly taken care of by a straightforward and achievable solution. You might wonder about it for a couple of days, but then you’re ready to solve it.

This is kind of what people imagine about being on the right side of a mysterious algorithm: the more you sell, the higher you appear, the more you sell, and so on.

This is the upward spiral.

The truth is we’re usually moving between these two directions at any given moment. Neither is 100% realistic or true.

We’re never running into the ground as quickly as we think. And the world isn’t as charmed as we imagine others experience it to be. Worry-free business? Rare. Like unicorn rare.

But there is some truth in it. Partly because that first situation I described is when we’re stuck in the short-term (and fear), and not focused enough on the long-term.

We can achieve more in the long-term than we imagine. But to do so we have to break the cycle of constantly focusing on the couple of weeks in front of us and make a plan that gets us to where we really want to be.

I’ll say this: when you have a long-term plan and are working towards it, it’s much easier to be in the present moment and enjoy your work and life. That’s not the same as being stuck in the short-term. Let’s not confuse the calm, clarity and connection of presence with the urgency, scarcity of short-term thinking.

In fact, presence can be one of the ways out of short-term thinking. Presence can get us focused on one thing at a time, rather than tripping up over ourselves to answer emails while creating a bestseller and writing a wholesale pitch and trying to post something brilliant on Facebook.

Presence is the first step to stop the hamster wheel of short-term thinking.

Step 1: Give yourself presence.

The first thing I recommend is to pause. Be present in this moment. Notice where you are. Are you in the hamster wheel, on the downward spiral? Are you on a positive cycle? Are you somewhere in between? Find yourself on the spectrum.

Step 2: Remember this piece of therapy wisdom:

If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.

In other words, if you want things to change, you have to change them. If you’re not getting the results you want from the actions you’re taking, it’s time to change the actions.

Step 3: Get clear.

Before you make a change, make sure you’re really clear on the results you want. What do you actually want to change? How do you want to feel? What do you want to be true?

Meditate, visualise, take yourself to a coffee shop or a quiet place, and write it all down. Let yourself be really honest about what you actually want, what success would actually feel like and look like.

Maybe you want a certain turnover figure. Maybe you want to get sales from a specific place or type of customer.

Maybe you want to have more time with the kids. Maybe you’d like to venture into speaking at events or being invited to guest post on someone’s blog.

Be as specific and clear as you can. Let it simmer.

Step 4: Be really honest.

Throw out anything that isn’t getting you closer to those dreams.

The free work you’re doing, when you’re not even making enough money to cover your expenses? Out.

The constant development of products you don’t love because it’s kind of fitting the bill right now? Stop.

The need for perfection that holds you back from getting the good work done? Hold it right there.

You know. Deep down, you know what’s holding you back, but you have to see it. You have to see how you’ve been getting in your own way or not seeing the problem clearly enough.

Maybe you’re building sales up to a new level, but you don’t know how yet. Be really honest about the skills you need, the things you need to learn, the way you want to get there. How you get there is as important as getting there.

Maybe you feeling like you’re trying to learn, but nothing’s coming together yet. If you genuinely haven’t learnt anything in the time you’ve been trying, it’s time to try in a different way. Channel your inner Hermione. Make a learning chart. Give yourself gold stars.

Step 5: Give yourself enough time.

Change doesn’t happen overnight. If you’re trying to shift gears, you need to give yourself time to learn, to change, to see results. Be generous with it. Stop thinking short-term, and give yourself longer deadlines, broken down into really, truly, genuinely bite-sized chunks. You’re human. It’s time to stop hoping you’re a unicorn.

And a bonus step: Remind yourself daily what you’re working towards.

Give yourself gold stars for even showing up. Reward each tiny piece of progress. Get yourself a buddy and cheer each other on. Hire a coach or assistant who’ll help keep you motivated and accountable.

Put up your goals on the wall. Remind yourself that you’re doing things differently. And it takes time.

Change your perspective on this. Set yourself free from the hamster wheel. Give yourself the gift of long-term success.

This feels a bit soap-boxy but I know that these things change the course of a business, because I’ve seen it happen. I’ve done it myself, in my own business.

Have a question or need some support? Get in touch. I would 100% love to hear from you.

Now good luck. I’m cheering you on.

Jenny x

PS Interested in getting regular encouragement and cheerleading and motivation and structure? Consider joining Progress not Perfection, my group coaching programme.

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