The Importance of Purpose
Recently I had the pleasure to be on a Facebook Live with Dr. Sabrina Starling talking about the importance of finding your personal purpose. I shared that, for me while I figured out what I was supposed to be doing in life, on New Years Eve 2017, I still hadn’t quite figured out the HOW. Since coming to Tap the Potential, I’ve really been able to connect that dots. I knew that being a strategist was my avenue for purpose. I LOVE—like really really LOVE—talking to business owners about what is going on in their business. It’s like air and water for me—essential building blocks of life.
I can go without food. I cannot go without the exchange of ideas, information, and knowledge with other business leaders. I’ve gained so much insight over the many years serving other business leaders, and from my own experience as the owner at Oh My ROI, Inc. The fire in my belly is coming from the energy around sharing strategy through Pumpkin Planning with clients of Tap the Potential.
Pumpkin Planning, A Foundation
Pumpkin Planning is an iterative management process. That fire in the belly is motivating, and energizing and (if you’ve watched the Facebook Live interview) you can see the energy in my face and in my talking points. That is what I want you to find for yourself, because Work supports life, not the other way around!™ And that kind of energy is life giving!
The foundation we build through focusing on the things that are life-affirming, like your personal purpose and vision are largely ignored by other coaches and strategists. But, being a business owner is not often limited to just 20-40 hours a week. There are only 168 hours in a 7 day week and when we are ignoring self-care and don’t have clear focus, our businesses and the stress of knowing we are supporting the lives of others (i.e. employees, employees’ families, our clients, clients’ families, our vendors, etc.) we are easily consuming every single second of the 168 hours in a week. To continue this for the long-term is neither rational nor healthy.
Work Supports Life
That is something I’ve been saying since I read my first Inc. article about a guy who had worked in his business for 25K, even though his top line revenue was over 1.5 million. He was functioning as a CEO, a business leader and had been so for around 30 years but had never prioritized his pay, but he prioritized every other expense in his business. While that article was written more than 25 years ago, it really stuck with me because it happens so often. In that article, the consultant basically had to force him to pay himself an appropriate salary of 125K per year through payroll. The fear of doing that was so real, and the necessity was also very real.
As business owners, we are busy prioritizing everyone else except ourselves and everyone else's lives are more important than our own. We falsely think that eventually we will be OK and the business will take care of us. Unfortunately, while we are busy putting everyone else first, we are forgetting to focus on our own sweet spot.
The sweet spot is what we do best. In the Facebook Live interview, I talked about ikigai, which means “the art of doing something with supreme joy”. I can tell you that doing something that brings you supreme joy is satisfying in and of itself. Just think though, as a business owner, when you are fairly compensated for that thing you do that brings you supreme joy and happiness is exponentially even more so; not for the sake of the money, but because people pay for what they value. Knowing you are being paid for your value fairly means you can then share with those around you generously.
So, how do you get to being paid fairly? As a Pumpkin Plan strategist, I recognize that you dilute your own value by trying to be everything to everyone. The energy you lose by being available to every client that walks through the door, to every employee (whether they add value to your organization or not), to every vendor that expects you to be at their mercy takes energy. In doing so, you are putting them first not because they are important to you. They may be and they may not be.
At this point you don’t know. All you know is that they are calling you with demands and expectations, and for you to solve for them. What would happen if you had focus and clarity? So much clarity that you can recognize when all outside influencers of your energy are all moving towards your shared mission and vision; or, consequently, when they are not? Without that clarity you abdicate the decision making to the outside demands and hottest issues of those around you.
Your Unique Offering
Leading by choice starts with knowing who you (both individually and as a company) are going and whom you are serving. You must be crystal clear on your ideal clients in the marketplace and your secret sauce—that is, your sweet spot—and be better positioned to systematize how you serve these ideal clients. You’ll likely need to innovate to better serve them. Donna Leyens of Pumpkin Plan Your Biz calls this “3 things you must know to grow”: Your Top Clients, Your Unique Offering, and Systems and Processes.
Your Unique Offering is a significant part of what makes you different in the marketplace, and when you get it right, it can make you so unique that your competition doesn’t compare any longer. That is a blue ocean strategy: rather than being compared to the other businesses in your industry, you are easily recognizable to the clients and vendors and employees that share your values, your vision, and your mission. You have a purpose that is larger than you, and is in service to those you are focused on serving.
Leading By Choice
You are now leading by choice rather than default. Instead of feeling like you are at the mercy of all those around you, you are able to choose when you are best able to be of service. By focusing through clarity, you gain more control. I shared the story from the “One Thing of Usain Bolt”, and how he found his purpose, which gave him the means to protect his time and focus on those projects that move him forward in his purpose, his vision, and his mission.
When you clearly identify who you are, and begin to define who you are serving, it becomes easier to reach them. That’s right. I said easier, not necessarily easy. As I mentioned earlier in this article, you’ll want to review the three things you need to know to grow: Ideally, as you are refining your business (and your life!) you’ll review Your Unique Offering and Your Top Clients every 6 months. At minimum, you’ll want a review every 12 months to make sure you are on the right track.
If you don’t have it quite right, it is normal to stall. My recommendation in that case is to check in with these pieces to see what is working and what might need to be adjusted. In that way, Pumpkin Planning is an iterative management process of review and refining. If you have stalled, now is the right time to begin to review. If you experience price pressure, it is time to review: What is working? What has changed? Where are you off track? What is going right?
Setting Up the Ideal Client List
Assessing your top clients helps narrow your focus to those people who can benefit from your Unique offering best. Sure you can serve others, but weighing the pros and cons of serving those outside your area of expertise versus the resources that you have and the systems and processes that you have currently makes for better decision making about capacity. Some of our clients are overwhelmed with the workload they have (which can be a great problem to have, but a problem nonetheless).
When you don't know whom you serve best, the journey may lead you to make decisions to expand, which can be costly. It will affect you with all of your resources, time, energy, and staffing when you are serving too many people. If you are finding yourself a bit pinched with time, and resources, serving more clients won’t solve the problem.
In the Facebook Live, I talked to Dr. Sabrina about serving the squeaky wheels in your business and what that does to your resources from the energy perspective. It puts you back in the position of being at everyone’s beck and call, which then puts added pressure on you to be all things to all people.
What you want to do instead is review your top client profile, and refine who you are serving. That might mean you have to let go of a line of revenue, or a service you have offered for a long time. Considerations such as proximity to your location could help with time and expenses, for example. For the few clients you are serving, are you staffing more? Keeping supplies on hand that you only use a few times a year? These are examples of thinking critically about the why behind where you’re going and what brought you to this point. These are examples of drains on resources, which in the end are not doing you or your team any favors.
Upon completing the Intro to Pumpkin Planning course, the consistent review will be a natural progression from knowing this process. Typically, 20% of your clients provide 80% of your revenue. Focusing your attention on serving the heck out of the top 20% of your clients naturally eliminates the squeaky wheels.
Focus on what you do want rather than what you don’t want. This always brings more desirable results. Creating capacity so you can focus on innovation in your systems and processes makes more sense strategically than adding more people to keep serving everyone. Learning when to raise prices and how to add more value to your ideal clients will get you there faster (and with more self respect than underpaying yourself). Curious about Pumpkin Planning? Check out our Free Webinar!
You may also want to check out a recent Profit By Design Podcast: Pumpkin Plan Your Biz: A New and Stronger Normal with Donna Leyens.
Get in front of this now. Assess your level of entrepreneurial burnout and the health of your business. It's time to get your life back!
Stacey Seguin, Strategist at Tap the Potential
As a life-long learner, I’ve had many careers, as a certified corporate paralegal, a help desk manager working with shrink wrap and proprietary software, training and supporting 24/7/365 in a WAN environment, and starting multiple businesses including a lifestyle brand for girls ages 10-13.
I’m a calculated risk-taker.
Profitability brings stability. As a business owner, it becomes a way of life to ride the roller coaster of cash flow management. After 15 years of bootstrapping a multi-million dollar nationwide service provider in the private investigative industry, I know first hand the common experience of skipped paychecks and fear over making the next payroll. I have done the money dance at the post office weekly hoping those promised checks were actually delivered today.
I thrive in an environment of possibility and optimism, and can weather the stress of the unknown, but why do that when there is a better way?
That is what I found as a certified Profit First Professional. A better way. Being a business owner impacts every aspect of your personal life and your success in business is directly tied to your success as a human being.
Working on number management is only a part of what makes a business successful. In 2016 I discovered that Donna Leyens of the Provendus Group had co-created the tools and resources based on the Pumpkin Plan principles with Mike Michalowicz for business owners to bring three essential elements together- 1) knowing who you are as a business leader, 2) who your top clients are and 3) very precisely what you do for them. I knew immediately I’d found my calling as a Provendus Strategist linking everything I know about what makes a business exponentially great.
Experience, insight, and problem solving are my starting point for navigating business challenges. I eat sleep and breathe business and crave conversations with business owners.
My purpose is to bring insight and wisdom to guide direction and decision making for other business leaders and get tremendous satisfaction when helping others advance their goals.