Here’s the thing: your sales aren’t shit

First, excuse the language, if it’s not the wording you’d use.

But perhaps you’ve said something like that? “Sales are so bad.” Even if it’s just in your head, if you’ve repeated a phrase similar to this more than three times, we need to talk.

I’ve heard it hundreds – if not thousands – of times from clients who are pretty low on energy, looking for a magic answer or at least some kind of good news. And, truthfully, I’ve been there, too.

I’m not one to sugar-coat things. I don’t like spiritual bypassing or anything similar. (“It’s not that bad! Just look on the bright side!” No, thanks.)

But this is where self-discovery and self-development are incredibly useful. Using awareness of what’s going on in our brains, we can change the story, and change the situation.

Here’s what I mean:

You’ve looked at a number, or several numbers, and something in your brain has said, “Sales are shit.” It’s such a clear and powerful message that you may have questioned it briefly, but it’s basically taken hold.

Then, because it’s not a great feeling, you’ve told someone else. “Sales are kind of shit.” And this person tells you they’re sorry to hear it, or that they’re in a similar position, and you feel not alone. Which feels better than sales-are-shit-and-I’m-all-alone.

So the mantra takes further hold.

And then when you sit down to write a to-do list or you’re thinking about your business, your brain is thinking from this “sales are shit” place. You feel desperate, or uninspired – both sides of the same coin. Maybe you have that frantic energy: you’re getting a lot done, but it’s not really changing sales or changing your mind. Or maybe you just… don’t do very much, because it all feels overwhelming and out of your control.

This story – one that you decided on in the blink of an eye based on something that isn’t the full picture – has become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Want to get out of the downward spiral? There are three essential things to do.

Check the numbers you’re looking at.

If you decided sales are shit based on a two-second glance at a dashboard that doesn’t take your entire business into account, you absolutely need to dive a bit deeper.

If sales are down, you’re likely to be looking at turnover, rather than profit. Which is a false success metric, and is definitely going to give you misinformation about your business and your efforts. Track and look at profit as a marker of where you are, rather than assuming turnover is the same – broadly – as profit. (My business is way down on turnover compared to a couple of years ago, but my profit is significantly higher.)

Check the language you use. Clarity is power.

Okay, so as I said, I’m not one to sugar-coat the truth. Telling yourself things are fine when they’re not won’t help you to improve your business or your situation. We need truth. We need clarity.

But there are ways to phrase things that honour the truth without getting stuck in a story.

First, let’s get the facts. If you’ve looked at the numbers, you’ll hopefully be able to say something like, “My turnover is 30% down on last year.” Or, “My profit has dropped.”

Then there’s something to add…

“My profit has dropped, and I’d like to change that.”

“My turnover is 30% down on last year, and my profit is, too. I’m ready to improve my profit.”

Sticking with true statements, we want one that expresses something true about the situation. You’ve got a fact statement about the numbers, and then it’s best to add something that shares what you want to change. In a positive way, of course!

Get a new game plan.

With a more positive mantra, like, “I’m ready to improve my profit,” you can start to put together a more proactive game plan.

The thing about the “sales are shit” mantra is that it keeps you stuck. You can also get stuck with a positive mantra (even if it’s amazing), if there’s no action that relates to it.

So if you truly are ready to change your profit levels or improve your enjoyment levels, it’s time to get creative about how you want to do that.

I’m pretty clear on something: most business women I know can come up with 3-10 great actions to take if they have half an hour and a positive environment to picture possibilities.

Maybe it’s creative ways to reduce your costs and streamline things. Maybe you can create a more efficient way of fulfilling orders. Maybe (and I say this with many years of experience) you need to put your prices up.

You don’t have to change your entire business overnight. But find a starting place. The second part of your new mantra should encapsulate the way you want to feel, say, a year from now.

When you write your next to do list, include something that is linked to how you want to feel.

What do you think? Does this method resonate with you?

What if you felt aspirational on the inside?

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about two things:

  1. How social media affects us as business owners – who we follow, who we compare ourselves to, what we think we “should” be doing
  2. Taking time out to connect with your inner wisdom on a deeper level – and how working in this way allows us to create more authentic, meaningful businesses

It hit me this morning that these two things are incredibly intertwined.

I created Self Care on Social Media for Business Owners to help people like you and me make sure they’re not too distracted by other people on the internet, and instead to cultivate their own authentic voice.

And I’m running a video series on why and how to take time out of the busy-work in order to cultivate better business alignment. Because I know that that’s the only way to get really clear on what you want.

Ultimately, that thing you see on the internet, on Instagram, on the grapevine – you know, the one you imagine means “true success”? What if that thing wasn’t an aspirational post or a Pinterest board or a beautifully styled image? What if, instead, it was a feeling and a source of power and inspiration within you?

Does that sound like nonsense? Stay with me.

For generations, and especially in the last 100 years, we’ve cultivated our homes, our lives, our clothes, and our spaces to be an outer expression of who we are. We want our spaces to represent a part of us: Comfy sofas demonstrate our passion for relaxation and welcoming guests. Sassy t-shirt slogans let people know we’re sarcastic. A yellow front door tells the world we value joy and fun.

That’s the idea, right?

And if you’re a business owner or creative entrepreneur or a maker, your work is also an expression of who you are – at least in part. (Because we’re really very complex human beings, so that one print you designed probably won’t pack all of it in.)

But what if we reverse engineer it?

Those Instagram posts you like are telling you something about yourself, or a feeling you want to cultivate in your own life and business.

What if, rather than wishing we had the styled, superficial photo, we dug deeper into what it means to us?

Maybe that flatlay of pretty autumnal things is telling you you want to be more creative, just for the hell of it (and not for your business).

Perhaps that new product by that brand you admire is showing you that you want to be really confident in the new things that you launch.

What if that crazy helpful blog series is showing you that you too want to be helpful?

Rather than trying to replicate the content or the look or the aesthetic, what if we sink deeper into the feeling we have within us? From where I’m sitting, going inward and exploring it internally will help us get to a unique and authentic expression of something that’s never been seen before.

So I think I’m coming to understand that there’s wisdom in combining these two things: taking good care of yourself on social media by noticing where you slip into envy and comparison AND going deeper to explore what these external indicators really mean for you.

That aspirational feeling is inside you. It isn’t in the yellow door or the perfectly styled flatlay. It’s within you. And it deserves exploration and expression.

What do you think? Am I rambling, or is there something here?

Jenny x

Here’s the thing: fear is the biggest distraction

I spent Monday in what I would, in previous years, called a daze. I drank tea, I wrote, I read. I made a rather pathetic attempt at writing emails. A lot of the day was spent staring into space.

Sounds productive, huh?

Actually, it was. And like so much of life, the difference between utterly unproductive and deeply clarifying, productive work could not be seen on the outside. Had you seen me, you’d have thought I was wasting a day.

On the inside, it felt like I was synthesising a whole load of ideas, wisdom, thoughts, needs, and wants. Something was shifting, but the only way to allow it to happen was to be quiet and highly unproductive.

By the time I went to bed, a thought had bubbled up from all this contemplation and it said: All you’re doing is trying not to get hurt.

And, reader, it was 100% correct.

All I have been doing this year is trying to avoid getting hurt. I have played it safe, taken small, calculated risks, mostly about things I don’t care about too much.

I have spent a large proportion of my time this year trying to limit the amount of hurt possible. At the end of last year, I did get hurt – I got hurt in my business. And I have been trying to rebuild things differently, and mostly succeeding, except I haven’t been doing what I’m meant to do.

Fear has distracted me from writing, from planning things I cannot wait to do, from letting go of the things that are getting in the way.

Social media doesn’t distract me – fear does.

Fear tells me that I’m stuck. That I just can’t find the answer. That perhaps there is no answer and I should go and get a job. (Fear knows how to twist the knife, doesn’t it?)

Fear has kept me tweaking projects, refining things that just don’t matter, because to actually try to do something I really want – that will hurt.

Failing at something I wasn’t really that bothered about in the first place is much less painful than even the idea that I might fail at something important.

Also – failure is inevitable. Fear is the one who tells me it’s awful and avoidable, if only I were good enough. Fear tells me that failing means no one will like me and I’ll never be happy again.

Failure is simply part of the landscape – as certain as breathing, sleeping, waking.

So here’s the thing:

This year, for me, has been my life’s lesson in getting back up. The phase I’m in now is how to get beyond survival and into thriving.

Fear has been there every step of the way and, left unchecked, it would keep me stuck and working too hard at things that don’t matter.

And I know that I’ve read articles similar to this one and nodded my head and thought, “Yeah, musn’t let fear get in the way,” while doing everything Fear told me to do. So I know you might do the same, and that’s okay. We can only do it when we can do it.

But in case this hits you at a moment when you’re open to hearing it, I hope you’ll know that failure is part of the programme, and that Fear can’t hold it over us for the rest of time.

I hope you’ll see maybe just one small way that you’re holding yourself back because of Fear.

I hope you’ll know that you’re not alone. That successful, authentic, creative, ambitious people get all caught up in Fear, too.

You don’t have to change a single thing today. You can just notice.

Me? I’m going to start by tipping the balance towards the things that really matter. I can’t wait to fail at them.

optin-cup

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