Let’s Talk About Money

Do you still remember what you were doing on Monday 20th July 2020? Chances are you don’t, unless a significant personal event took place on that day, or unless you are Jeff Bezos. Because the Amazon CEO and founder made a total of $13 billion just on that one day.

As solopreneurs, we are not likely to ever see this amount in our bank accounts (and if that was your intention, then I’d suggest the solopreneurial journey is probably not the best way to get there!)

I’m quite well-connected in the world of coaching and self-improvement, and I can tell you (as if you haven’t already noticed…) that there are quite a few ‘wealth coaches’ out there. They will speak to you about terms such as the law of attraction, abundance mindset, a millionaire or ‘wealth’ mindset etc. They will tell you all about the habits of billionaires, the dos and don’ts of successful people, the 5am club etc. 

Modern coaching is obsessed with wealth acquisition and riches. Of course there is nothing wrong with wanting to live a comfortable lifestyle, and having money in your account (or invested in property and bitcoin) is a sure way to get you a ticket to that lifestyle. 

But money is nothing more than an exchange of energy, so the important question to ask yourself is ‘what do I want or need this wealth for?’ Is it to have the freedom to do what you want, to live wherever you want, and work the hours you want (or just retire)? Do you want to give something back to family and friends, and maybe to the local community where you grew up? Do you wish to invest into innovation and technology for the sake of humanity? Or do you just want to enjoy a hedonistic lifestyle, without the stress of work or accountability to others?

Whatever the answer, it’s likely to be driven by your values. They determine not just what you do, but most importantly why you do the things you do. You may be driven towards freedom or towards connection; or driven away from poverty or pain. In each of these scenarios you are likely to have a different (and sometimes complicated) relationship with money.

Studies agree that money makes you happy inasmuch it removes actual (not just perceived!) poverty from your life and adds a sense of security instead, so that you can concentrate on the things you want, rather than the things you must do to survive.

But sometimes, people still act as if they are constantly moving away from the idea of poverty, even if actual poverty is no longer part of their lives. At other times, they might be involved in an imaginary war trying to outsmart others and getting obsessed with constantly ‘winning’. Such attitudes, will make their relationship with money tense and complicated.

Wealth is far from the sole determining factor of happiness and joy. Knowing why you want to acquire it, will help you understand what drives you as a person and will direct the energy of money towards your deepest values, giving you a sense of accomplishment and purpose.      

Wishing you a week full of abundance,
Kostas

PS there are some exciting and interesting discussions in my FREE facebook group right now! Have you checked it out yet? Click here to join the conversations!

How to Waste an Extra Hour a Day

Have you ever wondered what you would do if you were gifted an extra hour in the day? Would you use it to do more exercise, go to the gym or perhaps see more of your family? Or maybe you would spend more time engaging with your hobby, whether it’s playing the piano, crocheting or reading?

The thing is…you probably already know the answer, as there is at least one day in the year where you are gifted this extra hour: every winter, when the clocks go an hour back, you wake up to one day with a bonus hour at your disposal! What do you do with that extra hour? The answer is, probably not very much.

As self employed professionals and solopreneurs, we tend to get lost in the daily details of our actions and often forget about the big picture. Going from chasing up suppliers to providing a service, training staff, finding new customers and keeping existing ones, it often feels like we are constantly jumping from one thing to another without any breathing space or time for reflection.

Because of this, we sometimes lose our alignment with our ‘why’. In our mindlessly going from action to action and ticking off items from our to-do-list, we forget to enjoy ourselves and to feel some of that enthusiasm and energy we should be feeling by doing what we always wanted to do, when we chose to be self-employed and become masters of our destiny.

Whenever you are asking yourself a hypothetical question about what you would do if you were gifted extra time, you are likely to get some recurrent answers.  You might say to yourself  ‘I want to spend more time with my family’, ‘get more sleep’ or ‘exercise more’. Such recurrent answers typically point to driving values, such as creating connection with others, rest and balance, health. These point to themes which are important in your life and can’t be ignored. So start making time for them right now!

If you can’t free up an hour a day, then start with whatever little time you can allocate to this activity. 10-15 minutes of exercise or spending time with family a day, will add up to 70-105 extra minutes a week of doing what is important to you. And that is over an hour of weekly activities that matter to you. 

And doing what matters, is what it’s all about, right?
Kostas

PS there are some exciting and interesting discussions in my FREE Facebook group right now! Have you checked it out yet? Click here to join the conversations!

The Art of Bounce-Ability

For most people, the thought of losing everything they have equates to their worst nightmare. The idea of being deprived of our financial safety net, our health and close relationships is one which is able to make our heads spin and cause us to break out in cold sweat.

Most of us have been raised with deeply ingrained values such as security, stability and  comfort guiding our lives. Since those values dwell on an unconscious level, we are usually not aware of their powerful influence on our decisions, behaviour and ultimately, our results.

But the times we live in are unpredictable. The acronym VUCA is sometimes used to describe the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity of situations we often face in the world we currently live in.

Threats such as global pandemics, climate change and scarcity of resources are likely to affect our stability in the future. Jobs for life can’t be taken for granted any more; people keep moving around from city to city and country to country searching for happiness (I’m speaking from personal experience here, having lived in four different countries); automatization and increased robotization make us more and more redundant in mechanical, predictable jobs.

At the same time, there is a whole new set of skills that become more and more indispensable in the world we live in: skills such as creativity, innovation, flexibility and the ability to quickly pivot when the going gets tough.

Our most important skills however, are our resilience, grit and ability to bounce back from failure or any challenges life brings. With these skills in place, we are able to face pretty much everything and quickly find our way back to our purpose, no matter how far we have strayed.

Why Doing Less Will Help You Achieve More

3 Ways to Beat Procrastination

The 7 Secrets of Successful Entrepreneurs

The Truth About Why Most Start-ups Fail

I’m willing to place a bet that at some point, as someone motivated and determined to improve your personal or professional life, you will have been swayed by a headline similar to those above. We feel an irresistible, almost visceral magnetism towards statements our brains experience as ‘positive advice’, things we need to do in order to become that Super Me.

This explains the recent success behind self-help books and magazines; titles such as the above stimulate primitive parts of our brain, giving us answers to questions we ask to ourselves consciously and unconsciously on a daily basis. They give us things to do in order to create that perfect life and solve the puzzles that preoccupy us.

But do we really need more things to do? Will you beat procrastination just by knowing the 3 ways to beat it, and will you also become a successful entrepreneur once you are in on their seven carefully guarded secrets?

The answer to these questions, lies all around you. Take e.g. one of the most popular and esteemed self-help books of all time: ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ by Stephen Covey. According to Google, the book has sold more than 25 million copies in 40 languages worldwide. Would you trust that reading the book has led to 25 million (more as many borrowed the book, listened to it on audio or bought it from another buyer) leaders, managers and motivated individuals in general to also become highly effective in what they do? Quite doubtful.

Knowing what to do is one thing, doing it is another. And sometimes doing it, is not the answer at all. Sometimes all you need to do is take a step back, and think about your problem with more clarity, looking at the big picture.

I discovered this the hard way when I was running a skin clinic before the pandemic came to shut the business, as it did to many other small businesses. I had acquired this existing clinic which was based on that location for over 12 years, and was quite excited about this. I was determined to make this business work, and was pouring my heart and soul into it, working 7 days a week. I quickly identified what I thought was the problem: pricing. We had the lowest prices in town and weren’t making much profit. So I got advice and assistance and started upgrading my equipment, did some work to the clinic itself to make it look more appealing and modern, focused on the staff delivering premium customer service, trained them to sell a new top quality skincare range, and raised the prices.

And then…crickets. The clients’ response to all these changes was lukewarm, to say the least. Several regular clients even stopped coming, despite us having trained the staff to reach out to them with lovely phone calls, letters in the post and offers they couldn’t possibly resist. This led to great frustration on my part and that of my staff. Could they not see how much better we were than before?

Once I took a step back and looked at the situation with more clarity, I understood the true nature of the problem. The issue was twofold:

  • The clients weren’t visiting the clinic because of the wonderful customer service or the top of the range equipment. They were visiting it because it had the reputation of being the cheapest in town. They were looking for cheap deals, not for quality of service or equipment
  • The only treatments the existing clients were prepared to invest in, were quick fix medical style treatments such as dermal fillers and Botox. They weren’t educated, and therefore not interested, in skincare solutions that require regular maintenance and time investment, such as using clinically effective skincare products in order to maintain the effects of the treatments.

Once I identified the true issue, I applied a two-part solution:

  • I intensified my outbound marketing efforts and invested in a case management system which helped me get new clients in that look more like my ideal clients
  • I used inbound marketing in order to educate people about the role of the nurse so that she could introduce more treatments that are in line with what the existing clients wanted. Furthermore, I encouraged the nurse to also educate people about the importance of skincare maintenance

The solution was there in front of me, but blinded by The Advice, I was looking at the wrong place. My real problem was that I wasn’t yet serving my ideal clients, and didn’t quite understand the existing ones. Once I saw this misunderstanding, the solution to the problem became much clearer. I didn’t need to introduce more things to the clinic. I needed to understand better what the current clients needed, while consistently attracting new ones that fit with how I wanted my clinic to be run.

Clarity of thinking leads to the right solutions. And you would be surprised to find how often that solution means doing less rather than more. Removing thinking that leads to a misunderstanding of the problem, and regularly taking a step back to look at the big picture, might be the single most important skill to help you achieve more at work and in life.

Playing Music Benefits Your Mental Health

Have you ever regretted not having had the opportunity to learn to play your favourite songs on your favourite musical instrument? Maybe at some point in the past you were motivated to learn an instrument, but life got in the way with all its challenges and busy demands?

There is increasing evidence on the benefits of being engaged with music on our mental health. And, it seems, the benefits not only come from listening to music, but also from playing music.

In a fascinating conversation with professional musician and ‘musical de-stressor’ Mark Deeks, we discussed the healing powers of music and the benefits on our mental health of singing in a choir or learning to play the piano.

Mark also dispelled some common myths which are holding back busy people from learning to play the piano. These range from ‘I don’t have the time’ (you can make progress just by devoting 15 minutes a day on playing) to ‘I will need to figure out how to play scales and play classical music’ (Mark teaches a method which doesn’t require either).

Mark has spent more than 20 years working as a musical director, pianist, arranger and teacher, and has built a really diverse group of musicians as a client base. From artists such as Faye Tozer of Steps to black metal bands Winterfylleth (a band Mark ended up joining) and Drudkh. He has given Lenny Henry piano lessons, and written versions of songs by metal stars Sonata Arctica for symphony orchestra and choir.

 You can find information about Mark’s ‘Not Another Piano’ Book here

Solopreneurs looking to beat overwhelm and create a life of freedom, clarity of purpose and accountability, join my FREE facebook group here

The Art of Conversational Sales

Most of us solopreneurs are in it for the love of what we do. Typically we are experts in the services we provide, whether we are therapists, coaches, artists or small business owners. This leads us into countless enjoyable conversations with our clients, patients and fans.

However, conducting a sales conversation typically feels like an entirely different matter. The context in which we often conduct such conversations seems to be very different, and this often makes us dread these conversations. 

I recently spoke with hypnotherapist and sales expert Philip Carrington-Spence about the art of conversational sales for coaches and therapists. In this almost hourly live chat we discussed some typical pain points for solopreneurs when it comes to making sales calls. If you are wondering how to improve your sales skills then I strongly recommend you taking some time to watch the enclosed video and find out:

  • Why sales conversations needn’t be boring and dry
  • Why you shouldn’t be afraid to charge high ticket prices
  • The number one tip for conducting successful and natural sales conversations
  • Why you should be aiming to get a lot of ‘no’s’, despite of what the sales guru’s say

Check it out below, and as ever I would love to hear your feedback!
Kostas  

PS Coaches and therapists wishing to learn more about the art of conversational sales, join Phil’s group for like-minded professionals here.

PS2 Solopreneurs such as small business owners, therapists and creatives wishing to beat overwhelm and find clarity of purpose, accountability and freedom in their lives, join my group for like-minded professionals here.

How Comfortably Do You Sit?

We all love our comfort, and dwell in it most of the time. Unfortunately, in order to make all important changes to our lives, to become experts in our field or to learn something new, we will need to get out of it. And there in the cold, outside that comfort zone, that’s where fear resides.

Having the right strategies and tactics is one thing; sure, you need clear and smart goals and an action plan to take you from vision to action. But I have seen time and again people with the most sophisticated action plans failing to realise them when these plans leave the drawing board and enter the real world.

Unless you have a strong and determined mindset; unless you are committed to invest time and effort until you excel in achieving what you desire and turn actions to habits; unless you are prepared to continue making mistakes and learning from them over and again, you will revert back from your fear zone to your comfort zone. 

But the see-saw can go either way. If you continue adjusting your balance, it will eventually tip forward rather than back, pushing you into your growth zone. And that’s where magic happens 💫

You’ve got this!
Kostas

PS there are some exciting and interesting discussions right now in my FREE facebook group for solopreneurs seeking clarity and freedom ! Have you checked it out yet? Click here to join the conversations!

Tell Me Why I Don’t Like Mondays

Like the song suggests, research has shown that Monday is the least productive and most hated day of the week.

The problem with Mondays is….that they come after Sundays. Many people associate the former with the start of new to-do-lists, projects that need to be started or resumed, chasing up suppliers, getting dreaded emails from accountants or creditors that need to be actioned etc. Sundays on the other side, are days of relaxation, reflection, rest and family time.

The key to changing this lies in how you prepare for the week. You can remove a lot of the Monday morning overwhelm and stress by planning the day’s tasks in advance.

As a solopreneur, your day of reflection is typically a Sunday. I find Sunday evenings the ideal time to set 15-30 minutes aside to plan the week ahead. Write down three important tasks you want to complete every day that week, starting on Monday. Yes, three only!

Adding more than three tasks to your daily to-do-list, is likely to dilute your results and reduce your effectiveness. The more tasks in the list, the less chance that you will get them done! It’s likely that you will choose the most ‘fun’ tasks to start with and end up just doing them, ignoring or postponing the things you know deep down will make a bigger difference to your results, but take you out of your comfort zone because they are not ‘fun’.

Better to have three important tasks in your daily to-do-list, and get only one done, than eight tasks of which you finish five, none of which is essential! Be honest to yourself and pick out next week the tasks you know you really need to complete. Then focus on completing them as early in the day as possible. ‘Eat That Frog’ like a wise man said! You will be amazed at the results, and the more you put this into practice, the less overwhelmed and stressed you will feel at the start of the week. 
Go get ’em!

Here’s to a productive and exciting week,
Kostas
PS there are some exciting and interesting discussions right now in my FREE facebook group for solopreneurs seeking clarity and freedom ! Have you checked it out yet? Click here to join the conversations!

What is your relationship with time?

Have you ever wondered why some people get so much more done, despite having exactly the same available time as you do ?

Time might feel like a linear concept for most of us, but this is mostly an illusion. In reality, you are the source of your time and therefore you can create all the time you need for what is important to you.

Especially in our western societies, it has become a badge of honour to be ‘busy’. But when you take a closer look around, you will see that most busy people are merely busy fools. They are extremely busy doing the wrong thing purely for the purpose of being too busy to confront and do what they really need to do.

It might sound counterintuitive to suggest that busyness is a form of laziness, but this is exactly the case. Consider this: 5-10% of what you do is responsible for 90-95% of your results. If you want to be a successful business owner, then the factors that will determine your success are the effectiveness of your marketing, the number of conversations you have with your ideal customers, and your skills in convincing people that you have a solution to their problem. Most importantly, that their problem is expensive enough to invest in!

As an artist, your success is largely determined by your ability to network with influential people in your niche in order to get access to these prestigious gigs, gallery exhibitions and high profile fairs, as well as your ability to convince the right people that your art is worth investing in as it will embellish their lives.

These are all activities that will take you out of your comfort zone. However, your ability to work hard on the other 90-95% doesn’t give you a competitive advantage. You will find that most solopreneurs work as hard as you do.

Don’t let time be a constraint on what you can achieve. Instead of complaining about not having time, ask yourself: “how can I make happen what I want to achieve within my self-imposed limitations such as working two hours a day, or when kids are asleep, during the holidays etc?” If you don’t have the answer, this is not a sign to give up. Reflect until you find a way. This is important stuff.

I don’t like New Year resolutions; if something is important enough, then why wait until the 1st January, or any other arbitrary date to start working towards achieving it? However, if you do decide to make a resolution this year, then decide to focus on the 5-10% that makes the difference in your business and life and I promise, this will make 2021 extraordinary. Continue to focus on the 90-95% that doesn’t make the difference and your year will be similar to the previous ones. Your choice either way!

Not Another Cemetery Of Dreams

It’s that time of the year again when resolutions are being made. The previous two weeks, rested in the knowledge of our well-deserved break, our brains plotted the Big Escape from our bad habits and mediocre activities, just like an exhausted prisoner planning his escape from Alcatraz. With a fresh mind, we have promised ourselves the world. Chances are that you will have planned one or more of the following triumphant resolutions for 2021:

  • I will stop smoking
  • I will lose weight
  • I will start taking massive action in order to take my business to where it needs to be
  • I will see my friends and family more often
  • I will set myself more challenging goals
  • I will create more art
  • I will work smarter, not harder
  • I will spend more time with the children
  • etc, etc

Looking back at your majestic goals for 2021, you lie back contented with a big grin on your face and a warm glow in your belly, thereby forgetting that you had promised yourself the same (or something similar) last year, and the year before, etc.

Resolutions don’t work. There, I said it. You might see some short term results due to the placebo effect of your enthusiasm, a bit like an underperforming football team that suddenly gets two good results after the coach is fired, only to return to mediocrity a few weeks later. The results won’t last.

The problem lies with the way resolutions are formulated. As you can see in all of the statements above, they are all stated in a future tense. It’s something that will happen in the future. But this gives your unconscious mind the wrong signal: if it’s something that will happen in the future, it means that it’s not happening yet. And if it’s not yet happening, it is no more than a possibility, so why even try? (our unconscious is notoriously lazy)

Why wait for an arbitrary date in the future to start taking action? What is the message you unconsciously give to yourself when you state that you will start doing it later? How is your unconscious mind supposed to take something seriously when the command it is given states ‘this is a goal I will start pursuing as of the 1st January of next year’?

If you really want to achieve your goals in 2021, then start planning now. The best time for planning is yesterday, the second best time today. Set yourself a compelling goal that is aligned to your vision and values. Then break down the goal into smaller steps, and decide what is the first step you are going to take TODAY to get your closer to your destination. Small steps might seem insignificant in the big scheme of things, but you will be surprised to see how much of a difference they will have made by the end of the year, if these steps are taken consistently every single day.