Recently, I was invited to join Heather Simpson on her podcast, She Leads Me. Here are some of the tidbits I shared that will help you on your entrepreneurial journey and create business success.
The Origins of FieryFX
I am a business and marketing consultant, and FieryFX is “boutique” on purpose because we only work with just a handful of clients. I started by doing websites and found that wildly unfulfilling—because I don’t like building things that don’t get results. Unfortunately, most business owners don’t actually know what they need from their website. That’s kind of how we transitioned to more consulting and strategy. I help clients when they are ready to make that move to create business success and broader impact. Usually, they’ve been successful and built their business, but they’re out of time and energy. They need a plan. I help them to put together a strategic plan and execute it through marketing. And then, because I love analytics and reporting, I help them figure out if what we’re doing is getting results. It’s part art, part science.
My joy is in helping purpose-driven women achieve the impact and influence they seek. Typically, our clients are speakers, authors, and coaches. They have a purpose and are in business to make a mark on the world. The point they need me is when they’ve been able to create business success at some level but haven’t made the impact they’re trying to make because they just don’t have the reach. They haven’t figured out how to scale that influence and impact.
It usually comes down to the phases of our business. We build from the ground up, but most business owners are building without a blueprint. FieryFX comes in as the architect and general contractor on building out your business. We get really clear on what it is that you’re looking for. And then we make a plan to make your business work for what you want.
The Discovery Phase to Create Business Success
When working with clients, we start with a lot of upfront discovery. That’s why we start with strategy and discovery: No matter who you are, it’s impossible to see the label from inside the bottle. We can’t pierce the bubble without someone else saying it’s there and needs to be popped.
We start new clients with three one-hour sessions. During that time, I ask that you are open and willing because I’m going to really get into your brain and get it all. There’s nothing to prepare for, but I want to get past all the armor and walls you’ve put up to the gooey center and pull that out to get really clear about what you’re trying to do.
Making the Right Digital Decision
When I start working with clients, I caution them against “shoulding” on themselves. We don’t have time for should-haves. Instead, what we’re going to do is get clear on what you need to create business success.
I came from an 18-year career in corporate technology. My life has always been at the intersection of marketing and technology. I got my marketing degree and took C++ coding classes. Then, in the corporate world, I started working on websites. That was followed by product development. We had more than 10 million accounts and had to make decisions on behalf of those users. That’s sort of what shaped my approach when it comes to how to define the right digital decisions to create business success.
These days, most of us start research by Googling things. But that’s not going to give you the results you want. Instead, when we work together, you want to forget everything you think you know about the solution. We want to get really clear about the problem you’re trying to solve. What is the real need you have? That real need may not be a CRM; it might be that you need to keep track of sales and you’re forgetting to follow up. When you’re clear on the problem, you’re going to start asking other people you know, like, and trust about how they are solving that problem. You’re not going to ask, “What CRM are you using?” You would ask, “How do you remember to follow up with clients who asked you to call back at a future point? How do you keep track of your prospects? What are you using to manage your website?” The way in which we ask the question elicits a different answer.
Look at How You’re Approaching Your Situation
If we start with a problem-first approach, as opposed to a solution-first approach, we’re more likely to get something that actually fits your needs. I like to tell my clients that there’s good and bad news. The good news is that there are a million ways to solve this. But the bad news is that there are a million ways to solve this. Getting really clear on your needs and the problem that you’re trying to solve is what has to happen first.
After that, the other layer there is what we need to work with. Typically, you will already have thing that you’re using.
For me, when it came to solving the particular problem about where I wasn’t sending more than 10 emails in the last week or following up, I had to remember to do that again, or I needed to check in with someone about getting a CRM. But then I took a step back. I thought, before I get all wrapped up in the terminology, what do I actually need? For me, I don’t have a large team to interface with, so most of my communication is happening through my Gmail inbox. It would be really handy to have something there that helped me keep track of my sales. I went out into the world and found Streak. It lives in my inbox and manages my pipelines. And now I have seven or eight pipelines for different types of business, speaking opportunities, or podcasts. I also have a team, and I can share that with them. But it all starts with the problem you’re trying to solve. If I had started looking for a CRM, I probably would have gone off and found something that I didn’t really need, like Salesforce.
Talk to the Right People and Ask the Right Questions
We live in an amazing time when there are so many different ways to solve our problems. We cannot start with the solution; we need to start with a very specific problem at hand. Once you get to the point where you know what you need and you know what it needs to work with, you can start talking to people. But if you go to your friend who’s still working in corporate, that’s not the right context. You need to ask the people in the same context that you’re in to get some ideas to truly create business success.
Also, be sure that the solution is something you’ll actually use. I may have just handed you the perfect thing that solves every problem you have. But if you’re not going to use it—for whatever reason—don’t pick that.
Be Open to Find the Solution
If you or your team has a system that works now, and you feel it will work for you later, that’s great. But if there is a gut-level resistance, that’s something to address. I run into that a lot with project-management tools. There are hundreds of these tools, with the top ones being Teamwork, Asana, and Trello. Each works a little differently. But you need to choose one that works the way your brain works. Or you may need to check in with your team because you might be at a point in your business where you are not necessarily the day-to-day user of the system.
If you have high resistance yet your team feels that a particular software is the solution, you may have to choose it, especially if they’re the primary users.
Find a Business BFF
It’s key to have that really important person with whom you can be really transparent. That person will give you the actual, honest feedback you need. But you need to be at or near the same place. Like Brené Brown says, if they’re not in the ring with you, their feedback isn’t as valuable.
Luckily for me, I met my business BFF early on, and she has been an invaluable resource for me.
Keep in mind that if you’re leaning on family and friends, their priority is our safety above all else. If they view the thing that we’re doing as risky and full of pitfalls, they may not offer the advice and support we need. It may be well intentioned, but it’s not what you need. Finding people in the arena who are fighting a fight similar to yours and taking the epic adventure you’re trying to take will be a better fit for your business BFF.
If you’re looking for the person for you, you need to get out there. When we are working from home, we tend to be isolated. We list all the reasons not to go out in the world and meet people or be around people or expose ourselves to the opportunity to meet people.
When I went out and found working groups and people meeting up for all sorts of reasons, I expanded my network. It was like pulling on the thread of a sweater. I would find a person and pull on that thread. Then I would find all the places they were connected. It really is about that network. For me, it was thinking about it differently from the way I had thought about it when I was in corporate.
Common Sticking Points in the Journey to Create Business Success
While every business owner is on her own journey, there are some common sticking points that seem to get people. One is the website platform. Since there’s such a technical aspect to a website, most people will either DIY all the way or go full delegation from the beginning. DIY is great, but there’s a point where that’s not the best use of your time and you need to hire out. But when you outsource the decision from the get-go, you can get stuck with a platform you don’t understand, can’t use, and are just frustrated with. This typically happens with website platforms and email automation. I’ve also seen it with shopping cart solutions.
When it comes to technology decisions for your website, shopping cart, email automation, and marketing automation, you need to advocate for yourself and ask if it will be a good fit for your business. Who else do you know who’s implemented this solution? And how will it work for your processes?
This is why it’s so important to start with strategy—because there are a million ways to do anything, and I don’t want to tell you what you need without first knowing what it is you need.
Remember: There are not usually bad choices; there are bad fit choices. For instance, I love WordPress and use it for most of our clients, but there are some that just don’t need WordPress and all of its functionality.
When it comes to websites, I tell clients they have about a 24-month window for things to evolve and change. It’s not like you need a whole-new site every two years, but your business will change, as will technology. In 24 months, there are probably going to be some significant things that need to happen with your online presence to ensure it’s up to date.
How I Stay Up to Date with Technology
I totally geek out with all of the new things that are coming down the pike. Currently, I’m experimenting with an AI bot named Sonia. She looks at my calendar and dials into all my calls to transcribe them. She’s on the verge of being able to take on action items and meeting notes. Now, I’m experimenting with Sonia at this point and wouldn’t advocate for my clients to start using this AI. But I like playing with it.
To create business success personally, I also seek out solutions for things that irritate me. Right now, that’s business banking. I’m calling all the financial tech solutions to find the right thing.
It all comes very naturally to me. But I also keep up with groups to discuss what’s new, what works, and what doesn’t.
Resources to Help Create Business Success
When I read Daring Greatly by Brené Brown, I just felt there was so much good stuff there. She also has a Netflix special, The Call to Courage, which is a fantastic watch. She covers some of the things she talks about in her book, which is why I can’t recommend it enough for perspective.
Another book that really helped me get out of my PTSD about planning from corporate is The 12-week Year by Brian Morgan. I hadn’t planned for about the first five years of my business, but after reading this, I realized I could just take it 12 weeks at a time and break it down that way. It really helped me wrap my head around a different way to approach planning.
Traction by Gabriel Weinberg is the book where the idea of an entrepreneurial operating system is introduced. The book is really talking about larger corporate businesses, but the framework and elements of the entrepreneurial operating system are so cool.
Another resource that has been really great to create business success is journaling. I had a challenge with that at the beginning, so I bought The Five-minute Journal.. There are prompts, and it helped me create a better habit I could build from.
The last resource I’ll share is a clipboard manager for your computer. If you copy things and paste them, your clipboard manager keeps all of that. I use Ditto for Windows, which is free, and there are plenty for Mac as well. I don’t know how I lived without this. I even use an app called Paste on my iPhone, which does the same thing.
Top 3 Tips for Your Business
1. Find your community.
If I could go back and do something differently, it would have been to find my community sooner, like when I started my business. Going on the ride alone is no fun. Find your community, which will probably change over time. Allowing yourself to be authentic, real, and candid with a group—and receiving brutal honesty in return—is vital.
2. Ride your ride.
The more I allowed myself to really be who I was, the more joy I had. I was able to release everyone else’s expectations and get clear about what I wanted. That took a lot of work.
3. Keep upgrading yourself.
The woman who walked out of her corporate job and started a business was not the woman capable of having the business she ultimately wanted. I had to upgrade to create business success. I have to constantly be upgrading myself. I have to keep looking for ways to improve and step into my big dream.