In any area of life, if you want to sustain well-being, discipline is required. Specific actions, when done consistently, allow you to thrive.
In physical health, the disciplines may include: eating nutritiously, exercising adequately, sleeping enough, and loving relationships.
When it comes to authentic business, there are 7 disciplines that I recommend. In my group coaching program, I work with participants to consistently track their actions in these 7 areas -- Joyful Productivity, Content Creation, Collaboration, Paid Distribution, Audience Research, Offer Rhythm, Customer Feedback.
In this blog post I'll describe each of these...
1. Joyful Productivity
This is the foundation for any thriving business: the ability to work in a focused, joyful way, and in balance with rest and play.
Joyful productivity involves practices that fuel one’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
It is also about how we approach every moment of work. Are we just trying to “get it done”? Or can we see this very moment as being connected to our higher purpose?
Can we bring a bit more joy, diligence, and love to this moment of work? This is an important part of joyful productivity.
In other words, it’s about practicing our ability to master our energy everyday.
One related habit I’ve developed is the energy reboot: intentional breathing for 30 seconds, multiple times a day, to bring me back to the remembrance of a higher purpose in this moment.
Another activity for joyful productivity that I encourage for all my clients, and that I do myself, is to journal at least once a week about Celebrations (what progress to appreciate in your business activities) and Learnings (what “aha!” moments, new tools, and very importantly any “mistakes/failures” that you can reframe as beneficial lessons learned.) This dual practice of Celebration & Learning keeps us moving forward effectively and joyfully.
For more, read my best posts about Joyful Productivity
2. Consistent Content Creation
If you've read any of my content, you know how much I preach the importance of consistent content creation, such as writing, making videos, or recording podcasts.
This is the second discipline to practice and master.
Essentially, the habit of creating content will help you to keep exploring your authentic message and strengthening your authentic voice.
And it's the resonance of your voice and message that attract your true fans and keep them coming back.
And without a true fan base, there’s no authentic business. Yet with enough true fans, you’ll never be in want.
Start creating consistent authentic content today.
3. Paid Content Distribution
There’s often the fantasy that if you just build it, they will come. If you just create content, people will find you.
In reality, that’s rarely how it works. There are always exceptions, but for most of us, including me, paid distribution is necessary.
As one of my readers Suzanna Stinnett wrote, "Paid distribution = wings." Exactly.
It’s reasonable to expect that you need to spend some money to build you business. Paid ads to distribute your content is one of the best ways to spend your business-building dollars.
This is why I’ve included this as one of the disciplines. If you’re not using paid ads of some kind, you are unnecessarily holding yourself back from reaching the thousands of people who need your message and voice right now.
My favorite method of content distribution method is Facebook. (I teach an online course on Facebook ads.)
I wouldn’t recommend Twitter or Linkedin Ads. In my experience they are very expensive and difficult to get any results.
However, besides Facebook Ads, I’d also recommend considering Instagram ads (images or 1-minute videos), Youtube ads (videos of any length, especially shorter ones), or Google ads for your blog posts and any webpage.
These first 3 disciplines are so important that even when I'm recovering from an illness, and paring my work down to the minimum, I still make sure I do these first 3 disciplines.
When I started my business, nobody in my industry knew me, I had no audience or email list, yet I grew my business to full-time income within my first year.
The main outreach method I used was collaborations or JV's (joint ventures).
In recent years, I've somewhat neglected collaborations, but I'm returning to this important activity. For businesses either new or mature, good collaborations create much more benefit than the effort takes.
This is why I recommend to all my clients that they should be doing at least 1 collaboration per month. Ideally, one per week.
Read more: The Why and How of Simple Collaborations to Grow Your Business
5. Audience Research
Once you’re getting some engagement on your content (e.g. people liking it on social media) then it’s time to start your practice of audience research.
How do you know if you are reaching the right people? You’ve got to study a few of the social media profiles of the people who are "liking" your content or commenting on it.
Ideally, you would also talk with at least a few of your audience members 1-1 to see what they are needing at this time, that you might be able to provide.
If you neglect an ongoing rhythm of audience research, you may well be building the wrong audience.
Even if you’re building the right audience, without 1-1 conversations with them, you’ll never get intimate enough with their needs and wants to know what you should be offering in your products/services, or how to frame your marketing.
Every month, I try to do at least two to four “fan interviews”, which are one-to-one conversations with my fans, to discover what they’ve bought (related to my niche), what’s working for them in terms of products/services, what’s not working, and what they’re still looking for.
Here’s my invitation: if you have bought at least one of my courses (George Kao’s Courses) and you haven't yet done a fan interview with me, you can schedule it here. Then you can experience what a “fan interview” is like!
6. Offer rhythm
With content creation, collaboration, and paid distribution, you build an audience. With audience research, you get clearer about what products/services you should create or sell.
Once you get into the above practices, it’s very important to start a routine of “making offers”, or letting your audience know about your products and services.
People usually either sell too often, or sell too rarely.
My recommendation is that you make 1 offer or call-to-action for every 5-10 pieces of content. You can bend those numbers a bit, but overall it’s a good ratio between content and selling.
For example, on the George Kao Facebook Page, you’ll see that each week I post 7 pieces of content and 1 offer or call to action (on Wednesdays). During my course launches, I may post an extra call-to-action that week (on Sunday).
Your "offer" or "call to action" could be:
7. Client / Customer Feedback
Finally, you need to create a feedback loop of your product/service delivery.
In other words: What’s working well about your products/services, according to your customers? What can be improved?
Create an ongoing practice of seeking feedback (positive and constructive) from your customers about your offerings. You’ll sometimes get glowing testimonials, which encourage you to keep going, and helps your marketing.
Sometimes, you’ll get honest feedback about how your products/services can be better. Those are important to take note, especially if more than one customer gives you the same piece of feedback!
You can automate some of this feedback-getting. For example, I use AcuityScheduling which can automatically send a follow-up email after each appointment. I use the automated follow-up email to ask: what went well in our session, and what I can improve on.
I also have a recurring reminder for myself to post a feedback request, occasionally, to my group coaching program. The responses help me to keep improving the program year after year, and during the year as well.
These 7 disciplines, when implemented into your business, create a very effective engine of vitality and continued growth.
I encourage you to re-read this post slowly, and take action one step at a time!
If you would like my personal support to customize and install these practices into your business, consider applying for my group coaching program.
George Kao is a Marketing Coach for small business owners, especially solopreneurs such as Coaches and Mentors. He focuses on ethical & effective ways to grow one's platform and build true livelihood.
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