Inspiration can come from so many places if you keep your mind open.
I can remember back to being a little kid and making plans with my friends. You had big ideas and big dreams… you didn’t let the “outrageousness” of the dream hinder you from making the plans, right?
This cracks me up as I think about it… in the 4th grade, one of my best friends and I talked about how we were going to be rock stars. I was really into music when I was a child, I played piano and was in a children’s choir. We spent so much time drawing our outfits and planning our performances (I don’t remember what we were going to call ourselves).
I wish I could remember when we pivoted to the next great idea, but that’s not the point.
The point is how we felt while we were “in it.”
You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?
As entrepreneurs we connect with the excitement of the idea and the planning phases on a regular basis (if we’re lucky). The novelty and excitement can wear off once you start digging in and doing the work, but if it’s right, you keep going.
I’ll admit it… I can be a bit of a nut when it comes to information.
I jokingly said to my therapist that I wish I could get paid to read. Her response? Spot on as always, “well, you do. You take what you’ve read and learned, implement it, and apply that knowledge to what you’re doing.”
That being said, there does come a point where you have to consume much less than you create.
For me, I have routines for consumption. I allow myself time in the morning when I’m having my first coffee, or when I’m having lunch, or even after my work day is over (I tend to leave my office in the late afternoon, and then pick up my laptop again after dinner).
I’ve started creating a little bit more structured process for note taking and gathering. There are things I gather to share and there are things I gather for myself.
All of this has led me to discovering new people and places that inspire me.
What a gift!
For the sake of keeping this somewhat focused, I’m going to use the internet marketing/online marketing space as my example here.
There is no shortage of experts, influencers, or guru’s to follow in this space.
And let’s remove all judgment about how we feel about any of those people… let’s just look at the facts (because I have no doubt some of the people that come to mind when I use those terms may trigger something in you, that’s O.K.).
Like you I’m sure, I have my “go to” people that I follow, read, or listen to.
On one hand, this is great. You know who inspires you, who you resonate with, and what you like about them. On the other hand, it can lead to challenges that create that feeling of being “stuck” in your business.
There are a lot of “names” I’ve followed or listened to in the past that I don’t follow or listen to anymore.
And it’s for one simple reason.
I’ve outgrown them.
When we change and grow the people who brought us to a certain level aren’t necessarily going to be the same ones who take us to the “next level” (that poor saying is so overused and annoying, but it is what it is).
Even when these people have significantly scaled and grown their businesses, what they’re doing may no longer relevant to what you’re doing OR… they’re still serving the same audience (which is smart because they know who they serve and how to help them) and you’re beyond that.
Here’s the challenge with this.
It might be hard to put your finger on it, but as you grow and learn in your business you need to be challenged.
Often what happens is people simply move from tactic to tactic as opposed to going deeper (i.e, they go wider).
I was listening to a podcast episode with Christine Kane this morning on the “Soul Sourced Business Podcast” called “The #1 Problem Behind Your Sales” and I wanted to yell “PREACH GIRL!” as I was listening.
Because it was all about getting really clear on the transformation of what you do for other people (my words, not hers).
I’ve had my fair of business success, but I can absolutely guarantee you that I could have achieved more had I dug deeper instead of always ‘wider’.
The reason most people don’t do this is that it’s not sexy… it’s not fun. It’s a lot of freakin’ hard work to sit and write out features and benefits in your own voice, then tweak it, and edit it. And that’s just the first step (as an example).
People copy what other people are doing because they don’t have the confidence in themselves to practice and get better at clearly defining “what’s in it” for their customers.
This is why it’s imperative to start seeking out other people and places for inspiration.
Marketers who do well know how to sell.
They know how to create compelling stories, copy, and communicate with their audience.
After a while it’s like we put blinders on and buy into this idea that if we just do what they tell us to do it will all work and we’ll have similar success.
And sometimes it does.
But more often than not, it doesn’t.
As an example: Let’s say you purchase a course on webinars. You’ve decided you’re going to go all in with webinars, you have your course you’re going to offer at the end of the webinar, so you purchase an expensive course by a guru who has “crushed it” with webinars.
(Note: I’m not picking on anyone selling webinar courses, I’ve purchased two and they’re hugely valuable).
Here’s the thing…
If you don’t know how to clearly communicate what you do in a way that solves a problem for someone else? It doesn’t matter.
You end up mimicking what is in the course and it falls flat (or doesn’t do the volume you were hoping it would).
Learn to be YOU in your marketing.
Dig deep with a shitty first draft of everything you do and have the patience to work through it.
Once you start doing this it’s like the world opens up and you see things differently.
This has happened to me more times than I can count.
Because I decided to go deeper, I needed to find new teachers, mentors, people to follow who could help me get better.
For me that’s been digging into copywriting, writing, and communicating in a way that truly connects with people.
Coaches, course creators, and marketers who don’t communicate that you have to have this piece dialed in are doing you a disservice.
It’s not their responsibility to teach you everything, but if it’s clear who the program/product is for then it’s up to each individual.
I know I got a little sidetracked here, so let’s get back to finding inspiration.
First, you need to have a little “come to Jesus” moment with yourself.
A friend and I have been using the terms “adulting” or as my therapist says “parenting yourself.”
You’re the only one who knows if you’re wasting hours scrolling on social media instead of writing the post, email, course, doing the client work, etc.
And not to be a Debby Downer, but I would guess that if you looked back on something a year ago and had stuck with the commitment you made to yourself to stick with something, you’d be in a different place today.
My “come to Jesus” moment was simply making sure I blocked the time to do the work.
Ever since I started my business I’ve had resistance to creating a super structured schedule.
I told myself a plethora of stories and justified that “this is why I work for myself”… blah, blah, blah.
Even though I’ve always gone to my office, I’m at my desk by a certain time, etc. I knew that I could make better use of my time.
I use what I call ‘gentle structure’ in my life. I truly need a certain amount of white space in my life so I make sure to take that. Outside of that, I hold myself to a different standard to “do the work.”
The more I dig in and do the work, the more excited I get.
Having recently made the decision to focus in on email marketing and newsletters through my personal brand (I announced this in a recent issue of #FtheHustle), I feel like a kid in a candy store.
I felt like I was competing with myself with the Content Creators Planner. We talk about, teach, and focus on all things content marketing with that brand. I was constantly struggling with where I should do what…
My excitement level is so high with this decision that it reminds me of when I first started my business (anyone else remember that ignorance is bliss feeling?), only now I have a totally solid foundation, skillset AND… I have an audience.
For the last 13 years, I’ve continued to #JustShowUP and put one foot in front of the other. Could I have been more strategic?
But you don’t know what you don’t know. It’s perfectly O.K.. to figure it out as you go.
Here’s what I would recommend as a starting point to finding new inspiration. I’m going to bullet list these here but go into more detail in the actual podcast, so be sure to listen 😉 .
- Social media: share, respond, engage and ask questions.
- Facebook groups or other communities: choose to participate! Especially in groups or communities for courses and products you’ve purchased!
- Newsletters: holy moly… so many opportunities here. It can be a bit of a rabbit hole, so don’t say I didn’t warn you.
*Suggestion* create a new Gmail address for newsletter subscriptions.
- Ads: this might sound crazy, but I do a little backward hacking here. If I see an ad for something (example: an email marketing product) and I’ve never heard of the person or company, I may click through on the ad (to dig into the copy and messaging), but often I just search them and go to their website.
- Podcasts: I have discovered so many new people by listening to podcasts where they were the guest! Dig a little deeper after you’ve listened to an episode and find out more about the guest.
*Suggestion* tweet to them or send them a message that you listened to them on a podcast and that you enjoyed the show!
- Different industries: step outside your comfort zone and read something about an industry, product, or market that you’re NOT in. For example: maybe you don’t have an e-commerce store but you think you “might” want to try someday. Find someone in that space you can follow, listen to, get inspiration from.
- Hobbies: my love of lettering, journals, and planning are what gave me the idea for the Content Creators Planner. #nuffsaid
- Your OWN list! Start having conversations with people you’ve never talked to before. Ask for people to reply, ask them to tell you where they’re stuck
- Build-in public: this is a new one for me, but I think I’m going to do it with the 3rd newsletter I’m launching.
Whew… that’s a pretty decent start wouldn’t you say?
There is something SO fun about stepping outside of your comfort zone. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and same ol’ same ol’.
Growth doesn’t happen when you don’t stretch or push yourself a little bit. You don’t have to be hard on yourself, you simply need to be honest with yourself.
There’s no right or wrong, good or bad here.
Another question my therapist asked me once, that quite frankly, stung a little bit, was “Do you really want this?”
Lastly, I wish there was a way to really express how amazing you will feel by doing this for yourself. Who you become in the process and the level of trust this creates within is truly priceless.
It will give you everything you need to continue reaching for what you want.
I’m rooting for you!