I hope you’re ready for some Micro Business tips today. If you’ve been up to date on the blogs I try to provide for VA Staffer, they’re always packed with good ideas to grow your business so that you’ll need us more to support you!
Today is just another gold mine from one of our very own clients Indigo Ocean Dutton who I interviewed today with some really good nuggets that can be applied to practically ANY business. Ironically, I think most of my clients provide me more support than I provide them, and Indigo is definitely one of those. She’s a business strategy consultant at Awaken Business Consulting and the host of Conscious Business Leaders TV (CBL-TV).
Micro Business tips we’ll learn today:
What things hold micro business owners back?
What are Left and Right brain skills, and how does that apply to my business?
Failure in business, how many times is enough before you make it?
Advice for early stages of business development.
How to handle a growing business, when to expand?
How do you manage time with so many projects?
Indigo has advanced business “chops.” Former business consulting clients have included both sole proprietors and corporations in the Fortune 100. She is also the founder of the Phone Buddies Online Peer Counseling community and author of “Being Bliss.” Her degrees include a BA from Brown University in International Commerce and an MA from the CA Institute of Integral Studies in Counseling Psychology. She has served on the boards of several non-profits serving youths and also taught meditation to incarcerated teens. Her deepest commitment is contributing to greater joy, prosperity, and fulfillment in the world, one person/company at a time.
With that huge introduction, let’s get into some Micro Business tips!
Everyone knows that for a micro enterprise to grow it needs good marketing, but what are some blindspots you commonly see holding micro business owners back?
Effective marketing is definitely essential for an early stage micro business. You simply have to get people to know that you exist and that you solve the problem they have (or provide the delight that they want), or there will be no business. The problem comes when this leads people to think that when their business revenue is stagnating it is because they need more marketing. That would be like being hungry but thinking it just means you need to drink more water. The food of business, what truly sustains it and allows it to grow strong, are the systems and processes that make up the business of business. The more a micro business grows, the more essential it becomes that owners know how to run a business, not just launch one successfully.
In your work you talk about balancing left and right brain skills. What exactly does that mean, and why would a micro business / business leader need to do it?
Well first you start with the foundational belief that if we have the skills, we are meant to use them. It is within our capacity for good reason, and it all has the potential to benefit us if we learn how to use it effectively. Then let’s look at what those skills are and how they might help an entrepreneur. Left brain skills are thought of as involving analytical reasoning. We use those skills when doing trend analysis, seeing what is working in the business based on the data we’re collecting (or setting up the systems that will collect that data in the first place). We use our left brain to ask the right questions and know how to effectively work with the factual answers we get.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Our left brain to ask the right questions and know how to work with the factual answers we get.” quote=”We use our left brain to ask the right questions and know how to effectively work with the factual answers we get.”]
In contrast, right brain skills are those intuitions and insights you can’t quite trace to any source. How do you know? You can’t explain it. But you know, and if you ignore that knowing, because you can’t justify it with the left brain, usually you lose. You miss an opportunity that you couldn’t possibly have seen coming. You zig when you needed to zag. You basically just let yourself live as if you are much less than your full potential. I could give so many examples of things that have happened for me and my clients that some might call miraculous. But magic is just science that can’t be understood by analytical reasoning. If you want more “magic” in your business, for things to come to you easily and for work to be really fun business, then develop your ability to clearly hear, accurately interpret, then confidently follow the knowledge coming to you from your right brain.
How many times did you “fail” in business before you succeeded, and what do you think made the difference?
Oh gosh. So many times. I did a lot of different things wrong in early business ventures… not sufficiently reducing expenses, underestimating how long it would be to reach a high enough level of profitability to not need other income, expecting customers to see the same value I saw without actually testing my idea in the market, so many things. So part of it was that I just needed to learn to stop making those mistakes.
But part was honestly that I got business training from professional business consultants. You can spend many years trying to teach yourself to read, and if you’re smart enough you’ll eventually get it, but why would you put yourself through that when you could just hire a reading teacher? It isn’t as if you’re the first person to ever learn to read, nor the first person to ever start a micro business.
I’d like to say I eventually realized this, but actually it was that I gained a very rare technical certification and after I did the first of several business consulting firms I would eventually work for recruited me and trained me to be a business consultant. It was working in business consulting firms, being trained by them, then getting to go into some pretty successful businesses to help them become even more successful, that really taught me how much I had not known before.
If you were going to give one primary piece of advice to people in the early stages of growing a micro business or any business, what would it be?
Find the kind of marketing you love to do, and do just that. Don’t spread yourself thin. Don’t chase every shiny object. There is far too much information out there for you to specialize in every type of marketing you could do simply because it works for someone. Related to that, measure your results and adjust accordingly.
How about a business that is up-leveling in terms of growing staff or expanding into new business offerings?
Once there is a system for marketing and sales in place that is bringing in a steady flow of revenue, even if it isn’t as high a rate as you would like, the way to grow has to change focus. It is no longer about more marketing to put more people into the sales pipeline. There will be another round of that later if you handle this next phase properly, but what is really needed for growth in this up-leveling stage are effective systems.
Do you know how to anticipate your cash flow? Do you know which lead sources return the highest ROI? Do you know the seasonal patterns to demand? Is there a consistent way in which all this gets tracked and decisions made based on the data? Does everyone complete the same task in the same way, or are people winging it? Do you have adequate staff for the next phase of your growth and are they trained and supported for success? How will you effectively manage a growing team? These are the kinds of questions you want to be asking yourself.
You have a lot going on. How do you manage your time for success?
I use a combination approach. I definitely practice what I preach, so a balance of left and right brain is essential in all I do. I have an electronic To Do list that I add things to as I think about them. I review the next day the night before and visualize myself having great fun with what’s on my plate. Then as I move through each day, I take the To Do list as a guide, but not script. I often move things from day to day or even week to week, because new insights and inspirations emerge that have more energy. I do what feels best to do when it feels best to do it.
Occasionally there will be something I never really want to do that simply reaches the point where it must get done. I have a process I use at those times to work through the psycho-emotional resistance that is causing me to not want to do it. It takes about 10-15 minutes to do the process, and by the end of it I am consistently able to enjoy doing whatever I’ve set my mind to do.
Between the structure of the To Do list and the flow of each day being guided by joy, not only does everything that needs doing get done when it needs to, but I’ve left room for the miracles. And incredible things do happen in my business rather frequently. I hope sometime I get to share some stories with you.
It was an absolute pleasure speaking with Indigo Ocean Dutton and providing the VA Staffer family some great insight to managing and growing their micro business to success. It’s crazy how many start-ups, entrepreneurs or “micro businesses” that we support and having an expert like her is great to have around.
If you need more Indigo, connect with her at AwakenBusinessConsulting.com to advance your business through a private program customized to your business’s needs or her new mastermind group.