After completing a big, long creative project, when you scan the final draft of a writing project or the layout of a big presentation and finally hit “SEND,” there is a feeling of elation accompanied by a big exhale.
Holding space for such a big idea takes up a lot of time, energy and attention.
Some celebrate by dancing in the living room, others go to sleep with no alarm set for the next day, and still others tune into movies on demand to zone out on 8 consecutive episodes of Outlander.
Once you come up for air, however, and look around at the state of your business, you may notice that not only have you changed, but the needs of your audience and market may have changed.
Creating something new and significant in your body of work makes you look at everything differently, as it should.
Use this new perspective as a natural business planning vista point and recalibrate your business model and direction.
Four Questions to Recalibrate
Your goal in business is to ensure that your advice, methods and tools are the very best solution for the problem your ideal customers share. Because we are always growing as business owners and the world is always changing, we can’t assume that what has always worked in the past is going to continue to work in the future.
Use these four questions to identify the things in your business that need recalibrating.
1. How has my advice changed?
Did you update, revise or create a totally new insight into the advice you give, or the design of your product or service?
My friend Bob Sutton often talks about having “strong ideas, weakly held.”
Sometimes you learn new things or question your assumptions that underpin your body of work. It is so much better to update your work with new insight and perspective than to stubbornly cling to your old advice, afraid you will look foolish for changing your mind.
It will be interesting for your audience to learn about the evolution of your body of work.
2. What have I learned about ideal customer(s) for my work?
Has a new or interesting customer base emerged from your research? Who would be really fun to work with? Which customer base is becoming more difficult to serve effectively and well?
I align to Susan Baier’s Audience Axis method (that I share in my upcoming book The Widest Net) which defines audience by the core problems, challenges and aspirations they face. You can realize you are energized to solve different problems in your business, and still feel great connection and love for the people you served when you had a different business focus.
If you decide to end certain products or services, it will give you the opportunity to build some PB&J partnerships with referral partners who are eager to do the work and serve your beloved customers.
3. What do I really want?
After spending so much time in a deep creative endeavor pushing yourself to your learning and growth edges, you often become aware of the things your soul is yearning for. Pay attention to internal nudges such as:
I really want more space in my calendar.
I want to travel again, and work from different locations.
I want to bring more of my creativity/spirituality/true personality into my work.
I am ready to grow to the next income level in my business.
I want to slow down and savor life more instead of always grinding to the next level.
I am ready to sell my business.
4. What do I absolutely, positively have to fix?
Whenever you have had significant focus on a big project, it is likely that the small (and sometimes not so small) annoyances in your business like broken systems, lack of process or outdated information or policies are starting to cause real problems.
Make a list of all the things that need fixing, pulling from requests or feedback from customers, your own running list of to dos and inspiration and insight you have gotten from others.
Prioritize the list based on these factors:
-What will help your customers most?
-What is costing you major time or money?
-What is the first thing to fix that is key to other processes in your business?
-What will bring you the most peace of mind and joy to have resolved?
Since you have just run a creative marathon, you may need a deep rest before you are ready to dig into the questions.
Let them percolate, and take notes when insight or inspiration strikes.
Don’t pass up the opportunity to make healthy moves.
Recalibrating is essential to your wellbeing, and the health of your business.