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

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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