Nicola: Judith, what’s our Business Challenge of the week this week, then?
Judith: Something that I’m calling “doing things the wrong way round”.
Nicola: Oh yes.
Judith: Let me explain what I mean by this. My clients often come in a fog of confusion and they tell me that they don’t want to start on anything until they have clarity and direction, and they don’t feel sure about anything so they spend a lot of time procrastinating and looking for certainty. I think it works precisely the opposite way around, which is you have to start in the fog of uncertainty and with lack of clarity and not knowing, and the clarity and direction and certainty all come when you’re in traction, when you’re in action, when you’re moving. It’s quite difficult for me to persuade my clients to do that. Any tips, any thoughts, starting, let’s just start and see what happens. Let’s be prepared to experiment, prepared to get egg on our face, prepared to tweak it as we go. What do you say to your people, Nicola?
Nicola: It’s interesting, with internet marketing you have to work backwards. I was talking to Susanne Jorgensen yesterday and she’s putting something new together, and I said “What you need to do first is the Thank You page, and then you work backwards from there”. In fact, you have to work backwards from the Thank You page to the sales page after they’ve bought. You’ve got to begin with the end in mind as Stephen Covey would say, because each step of internet marketing relies on someone going to something else and you can’t set up bit three until you’ve set up bit four. You actually start with bit six and work backwards. I said to her, “Here’s the list of what you will need to do in the right order” and then she said, “So what am I doing?” And I said, “Well if you read from six as if it was one, then you will see what you are going to be doing.” It took a while for it to sink in.
The other thing I’m reminded of, because you know, I’ve recently had to start again recently, it feels recently but it was in 2010, had to start again, and I was a new word to some degree as well, in that fog of uncertainty of what to do next. I think if we’d have known Steve Jobs’ quote of, “You can only join up the dots in retrospect,” then it would have been slightly easier to cope with the fog of uncertainty. It’s true, absolutely every action has an effect on something else and draws you forward to the next dot, as it were. If you think about your business success, or life, or career, as a series of dots – but you can’t see where the next dot is – you can only get to the next dot by taking the action on the dot before it.
Judith: I certainly wish I had known that Steve Jobs quote yesterday when I was writing the blog post about this. I think it is, in a real world business, you’ve got an inkling about what you want to do, but you’re in this … Maybe it’s to do with what we were talking about last week – this fogginess, uncertainty – I think it’s all sort of fear about this, that, and the other, and my job is to get them moving in some direction, and to trust that any first steps will lead somewhere. I totally agree about joining – that’s exactly the point – you start with the end in mind, I’m telling them it’s the wrong way around, Steve Jobs is saying we can only join up the dots in retrospect, that’s exactly it. It doesn’t work the way we want it to work, we’ve got to start.
Nicola: My mentor Rich Schefren, he calls it the “entrepreneurial uncertainty”, and he actually said that one of the most difficult things for people to cope with when they’re starting out as an entrepreneur is the fact that they’re never going to be certain of things. I went to see Andy just after we closed The Money Gym and I said, “What shall I do next? Just tell me what will work and I’ll do it” and he said, “That’s not how it works unfortunately.”
Judith: That’s right.
Nicola: And he said, “I know I do this, but you’re not about to do it” and I said, “Well, what is it?” He said, “I go and bang on every High Street shop and offer to make them a website,” I said, “No, I’m never going to do that.” He said, “Exactly. What would work for you wouldn’t work for me and vice versa.“
Nicola: That is the hardest thing to deal with. When I was talking the other week about sending out those emails, throwing digital mud at a wall, I called it, I didn’t know if it was going to work, but one thing’s for sure, and I remind myself of this every time I’m feeling scared or scarce or whatever – uncertain or insecure, one thing’s for certain, if you don’t do anything, nothing’s going to happen. Get moving, momentum.
Judith: Yes, and I think sometimes something small can be incredibly powerful, and I often suggest to my clients that they do something small. They kind of go, “Pfft,”, as if it’s not worth doing. I’ve got a lovely client, she’s going to make a fabulous coach, a much better one than I am because she’s a better listener and more soulful. She is one of the ones in the fog of uncertainty and she’s doing this brilliant thing where everyday she takes her dog for a walk, beautiful dog, beautiful countryside, and she takes three or four wonderful photographs and shares them on Facebook.
Absolutely everybody loves them. People comment on Facebook, so there’s some kind of engagement there. Strangers who she meets, who’ve never commented on Facebook, say to her in the flesh, “Uh, I really love those photographs you’re putting up on Facebook.” It’s just a talking point, it’s the beginning of engagement with a community, some of whom will eventually sign up and pay her money to be her clients, and it looks like such a small thing – “I’m walking the dog, I’m taking a beautiful photograph” – but the photographs – I couldn’t take a beautiful photograph, so…
Nicola: No you couldn’t.
Judith: It already demonstrates that she can see things, she’s got an eye, she’s quite artistic. Her whole ethos is about love, there’s love in these photographs, they’re lovingly shared. That sounds small, but it’s massive. Do you get that?
Nicola: It is, and one of the things that I always say, we’ve got the habit of action and momentum now, but I always say to my clients, it seems to be all or nothing thinking. It’s black and white, all or nothing thinking.
Judith: I always remind them that between A and Zed, there’s B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J … Yes.
Nicola: The other story I always tell is about my first-ever car, which was a gold Nissan Micro, I think. It didn’t have any power steering and it-
Judith: Oh, Nicola, I’m so sorry, you’re going to have to talk to yourself, my doorbell’s ringing.
Nicola: Okay. Well, I’ll tell everyone else about my Nissan Micro then. What happened was it didn’t have any power steering, and it was an absolute beast to park, but the thing I found very quickly was it was always much more easy to direct and park and change direction if it was moving, even a tiny, tiny, slow bit. It made it much easier to pull the wheel and to get the angles you needed to park. This is the point – if you’re moving, no matter how slowly, or no matter how hesitantly, it’s so much easier to change direction if you need to when you’re in motion.
The trick is to just get in motion and trust that if you do need to change direction, it will be much, much easier. If you don’t need to change direction, fantastic, you can just carry on down the motorway. I think with Judith’s abrupt departure we’ll bring to an end that client challenge, I think we’ve covered that one quite nicely, so we’ll move onto the next section.