Welcome to the Minimalist Business Academy podcast!
If you’ve come here because you were subscribed to the She Breaks The Mold podcast before, I’m thrilled that you decided to join me at my new home.
This episode explains all the things…the changes, the reason I’m obsessed with helping women simplify and streamline their businesses, and what you can expect from future episodes regarding content.
Simply…I want to help you minimize overwhelm, decision fatigue, doubt and confusion so you can spend more time focusing on solving your customers’ problems and building a profitable business that serves you for the long term.
Too many women are struggling to pay themselves because they think entrepreneurship has to be a constant struggle. When we think a thought like that, we create it as our reality.
We spend far too much time worrying about how we’re supposed to do this, and not enough working out what it is we’re actually trying to build in the first place – what success means to us!
Join me every Wednesday as we dive into topics like defining success, time management, how to stop feeling overwhelmed all the time, and how to stop numbing yourself with unhelpful behaviours because you’re avoiding something about your business.
After you listen, read this post if you’d like even more background.
Until next week…
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Minimalist Business Academy podcast: Introduction episode
If you’ve followed me and my podcast for a while (I just passed the two year anniversary in mid-January!) you’ll notice a name and focus change and I want to take a minute to explain what’s new for 2020, why and what you can expect to hear in the future from this show.
First a little background…I’ve been a coach for a few years now. But last year, I enrolled in a new coaching certification program with Brooke Castillo at the Life Coach School and the experience learning from her has been nothing short of life changing. Watching how she runs her business with intention has been one of the most inspiring things about it for me. It’s such a great example that a business that’s successful AND that fits our lives and goals is both possible and available to us if we learn some key tools and shift our thinking a little (or a lot, for some!).
I just launched a new website at janetwhalen.com (Be Ambitious for Her is no more) and the focus for my coaching work there and for this podcast is how to use minimalist concepts (like constraint, defining enough, having a hard why) for Business to help you build a conscious and deliberate life where values and integrity with yourself and your customers are at the top of your priority list on purpose.
It might seem counter-intuitive, but one of the hardest things to do as an entrepreneur is to simplify your business.
Our human brains are incredible complicators.
And there’s nothing like an internet full of entrepreneurial advice to make you think you’re not doing enough, thinking enough or offering enough – all before you even begin to consider what enough or success means to you. Worse still, you worry you’re doing it all wrong.
We internalize all that pressure and spin in indecision, confusion, doubt and drama instead of simply focusing on offering what solves our customers’ problems and provides us with a predictable, profitable bottom line.
My work is about helping you learn to manage your mind so you can solve the pain and problems in your business with more ease. When you can do that more effectively, you’ll be amazed how much space opens up in your brain and in your day for solving your customers’ problems – or even other parts of your life that are important to you.
If you’re like me, you started your business to get more control over your career.
You thought being your own boss meant your life would get easier and you’d have more time for the people and activities that are important to you.
Instead, you’re stressed, too “busy”, lack confidence and autonomy and feel totally out of control. Everything is new for you and it seems like you’ll never catch up with the list of things you need to learn.
You think you must be focusing on the wrong things in your business. Or that everyone else has it figured out but you.
And to top it all off, you were taught to follow rules of large, publicly traded corporations that seek perpetual quarterly growth, productivity at the expense of service and satisfaction, and the business you ended up with doesn’t align with your values: what you really want.
I believe running your business with minimalist strategies can help all of this.
This concept will resonate for you especially if you have a creative, or service based, online businesses that you started because you wanted to help create financial freedom for your family while still being available to your life outside work when they want or need to be – maybe you have young kids and want to be at home when they come home from school, for instance.
It’s still true in 2020 that women in relationships with men are still taking on the majority of household labour which means something has to give at work, in a lot of cases. I’m not a believer in the concept of being able to “have it all at the same time”, but I do think with some thought work, boundaries and working with constraints (more about that in a minute), we can figure out more than we might think.
I’ll admit I scared myself silly about calling renaming the podcast the Minimalist Business Academy. Would you keep listening or make a snap decision that this isn’t for you? Would you think I’ve changed course and am talking about décor and design? Will you worry I’m going to ask you to KonMari your sock drawer?
But I believe in it wholeheartedly and I know there are more of you out there who do or will too, and because I don’t hear a lot of women talking about it publicly yet, I’m going for it here.
So if I’m not talking about minimalist decorating schemes, What in the world AM I talking about?
You’ll love this concept if you believe business doesn’t necessarily have to be bigger to be better, and that as entrepreneurial women, we all get to define what success means for us. If you don’t buy into the entrepreneurial hustle culture and want to build a business that you’ll own and operate into the future, instead of scrambling to scale and sell, this is the podcast for you. So much about entrepreneurial culture these days is built either on the back of Silicon Valley and tech startup world which is famously not very welcoming or supportive of women founders, or it’s too closely tied to Wall Street. By which I mean we’re taught we have to behave like publicly traded companies, many of which are owned by hedge funds and will accept nothing short of perpetual quarterly growth even at the expense of employee and customer satisfaction.
Neither of these is a model for what many of the women I work with want to build and grow. At the same time, we have to learn to focus on profitability and actually paying ourselves so we can stop making ourselves the victim of self-employment and 80-hour work weeks.
Few people are celebrating or telling the secrets of small businesses who tick along successfully and even somewhat anonymously. I imagine them giggling to themselves about the business advice we see on social media, except for the fact that they’re probably too focused on running their successful organizations to notice or care what everyone else thinks of them. When you consider that any business under about $20 million in revenue a year is considered small, that’s the vast majority of businesses.
What if we wrote books about them? What might we find? Slow and steady focus on profitability vs perpetual growth? A focus on values vs ego? A great understanding of what business they’re really in and who they serve? Calling their customers by name instead of “followers” or “subscribers”?
I’m obsessed with the idea that business owning and operating can be simpler. Maybe not always easier, but certainly simpler and more efficient.
Brooke Castillo teaches a concept that as humans we generally experience life as 50% good, and 50% bad. Obviously not something we can scientifically prove, but it gets at the idea that we all suffer sometimes and we all have wonderful experiences sometimes. Our pain comes from expecting that it should be 90/10 good to bad. Or that someone else has the 90/10 experience while we’re stuck with 50/50. Or 30/70.
I believe it’s the same in business. Maybe you left your corporate job because you lacked freedom, felt like you weren’t in control of your career, had a terrible boss, you weren’t making enough money…whatever the combinations of your experiences were. You started your own business to escape all that and you imagined this would relieve you of all those painful experiences. It probably never occurred to you that it would just open up completely new ones you hadn’t considered, bringing the balance of good to bad right back to that 50/50 mix again.
What if you knew that the 50% hard stuff quite literally HAS to be there so you can better appreciate the 50% that’s good or even great? Or that so much of the stress and overwhelm and frustration you feel about your business comes directly from not fully getting this? You believe it should be a different – better somehow – and so it’s frustrating that you can’t make that other imaginary way real for you.
The truth is, your business, just like your life, will be a constant process of decision-making, change, learning, growth and even stagnation sometimes. You will hit plateaus. And other days you’ll feel like you’re riding a bike downhill with the wind at your back. It’s when we expect it to be something OTHER than this that we feel pain and frustration. Surely it’s not like this for everyone else right?
Except that it is.
Add to that no one told you that YOU get to define success for yourself!? Not the markets, not a book by your favourite marketing guru…no one. There’s so much freedom in all that possibility it can stop you in your tracks and even overwhelm you if you’ve never taken the time to examine what it is you’re trying to build – what you really want. What does enough mean? How will you know what milestones to celebrate if all you see in front of you is a never-ending mountain to climb with no summit or other side in sight?
So…what to do about it?
That’s where this podcast and my new minimalist business coaching philosophy comes in.
In the coming weeks, we’ll talk about using constraint to help you minimize frustration, doubt, decision fatigue and overwhelm. We’ll look at time management, systems and simplifying. And I’ll address profit, debt, growth and how to stop numbing out on activities you typically rely on when you’re avoiding working on everything I’ve just mentioned 😉 You’ll learn to think about the work you really love to do – and figure out how to best build a business that lets you do that.
If you haven’t ever heard it, I’ll leave you with the Parable of the Fisherman and the businessman as inspiration:
There was once a businessman who was sitting by the beach in a small fishing village.
As he sat, he saw a fisherman rowing a small boat towards the shore having caught quite few big fish.
The businessman was impressed and asked the fisherman, “How long does it take you to catch so many fish?”
The fisherman replied, “Oh, just a short while.”
“Then why don’t you stay longer at sea and catch even more?” The businessman was astonished.
“This is enough to support my family’s needs,” the fisherman said.
The businessman then asked, “So, what do you do for the rest of the day?”
The fisherman replied, “Well, I usually wake up early in the morning, go out to sea and catch a few fish, then go back and play with my kids. In the afternoon, I spend time with my wife, and evening comes, I join my friends in the village for a drink — we play guitar, sing and dance throughout the night.”
The businessman offered a suggestion to the fisherman.
“I am a business expert. I could help you to become a more successful person. From now on, you should spend more time at sea and try to catch as many fish as possible. When you have saved enough money, you could buy a bigger boat and catch even more fish. Soon you will be able to afford to buy more boats, set up your own company, your own production plant for canned food and distribution network. By then, you will have moved out of this village and to the big city, where you can set up a HQ to manage your other branches.”
The fisherman continues, “And after that?”
The businessman laughs heartily,
“That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions.”
The fisherman asks, “How long would that take?”
The businessman replied: “Oh about 15-20 years”
The fisherman asks, “And after that?”
The businessman says, “After that, you can finally retire, you can move to a house by the fishing village, wake up early in the morning, catch a few fish, then return home to play with kids, spend time with your wife, and when evening comes, you can join your friends for a drink, play the guitar, sing and dance throughout the night!”
The fisherman was puzzled, “Isn’t that what I am doing now?”
What do you want to be doing now? I want to help you do it.
I hope you’ll join me again next week, but in the meantime, follow me at @janetwhalencoaching on instagram and facebook, and @JWhalencoaching on twitter.
And if you’d like to receive notifications of new podcast episodes straight to your inbox every Wednesday, go to janetwhalen.com/subscribe and sign up.
Thanks so much for listening! I can’t wait to share more of this minimalist business journey with you.