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My favourite Greek word is ‘euthymia’. The word, as defined in Seneca’s essays means:
Believing in yourself and trusting you are on the right path, and not being in doubt by following the myriad footpaths of those wandering in every direction.
I believe that if you don’t define exactly who you are and what you want to achieve, you will become so side-tracked that you end up pursuing other people’s interests, short term goals, or you will carry out actions that don’t progress your journey.
Here are four ways you can be side-tracked along with the ways to avoid it happening to you.
If you follow 300 people on Instagram, and once per year every one of your followers posts about something really cool they have done, you will go through the year seeing a daily occurrence of someone else doing something cool. An award someone won, a country they visited, recognition they earned, a spectacular view they saw. You might be fooled, therefore, into thinking that cool things happen to other people all the time. You might go one step further and compare all the things that you see on Instagram to your own life, and you might decide that it’s not that good in comparison.
It’s easy to see the daily lives of others and start to believe that they have things we want for ourselves. Instagram envy is a real thing. But actually, there are trade-offs made all the time and it’s important not to forget that. Don’t compare your behind-the-scenes with someone else’s edited showreel. It won’t lead anywhere good.
If your own vision of who you are and where you want to be is absolutely crystal clear, nothing you see on Instagram can make you question it. You can follow a friend’s travels around the world with interest, but zero envy. You can genuinely be happy for them and the path that they have chosen to be on, without feeling like you want parts of it for yourself.
- Trying to sell to everyone
Not only do you need to be crystal clear on your vision and how you’re going to get there, you need to be crystal clear on who your audience is. If not, you will end up trying to sell to everyone. I once met someone who hand-created beautiful shoes. When I asked who his target audience was, he said: “anyone with feet”.
In your business, your target audience might be women aged 25-30. Then you meet someone selling products to 35-40 year olds and you think how you can adapt your offering to capture that market too. Before you know it, your original audience isn’t as keen and your second audience doesn’t believe your products were designed for them.
The children’s storybooks I wrote are for 6-9 year-old English-speaking kids. Yes, we could create a picture book for younger kids. Yes, we could write novellas for teenagers, but first we are focusing on 6-9 year olds only, and our entire brand is aimed there.
Accept that not everyone is in your target audience and that’s fine. Sometimes you will need to turn potential customers down in order that you can best look after your current ones. Freelance marketing consultant Tami Brehse wrote an article to explain when exactly you should turn down work. One of those times is “when the work doesn’t fit your niche”. She’s right.
It might feel difficult to turn down potential work or potential new income streams, but the cost of taking on every piece of work you are offered is just too high. Being able to say “sorry, I can’t help you with this” is a strong play. You’re not someone who flits around following any old opportunity – you know your plan and you’re sticking to it.
- Taking too much advice
It’s easy to be side-tracked by taking too much advice. Someone asks about your business and you tell them. They give you their idea of how your management structure should work. They talk about a revolutionary incentive scheme you should try. They tell you what worked for their business. It is incredibly easy for other people to give business or life advice, even if they know very little about you, your business and even your sector.
If you’re not crystal clear on your purpose and confident of how you execute it, you are at risk of taking other people’s opinions and advice on board, even if they are not right for you. Being advised by multiple sources means you could end up straddling strategies, confusing your customers and your team.
Solution: take the advice from the people whose life you want. Take the advice of those who have actual experience of what they are saying. Take advice from the actions of people and not just their words.
- “We could do this”
You meet someone whose business has ‘synergy’ with yours and now they want to create something that both of your audiences will be interested in. That could be another business, or a change to your main one. I’m not knocking joint ventures, but do them after you’ve made it and not before. Sure, you could do x, y and z. But if you do all three then you’ll have a mediocre x, y and z when you could have a fantastic x. One at a time is the way. You don’t have to do everything. Stay laser focussed on the one thing that will make the biggest difference.
Software as a service (SAAS) companies often have document called a product roadmap. When one of their users says “you could add x new feature”, they add it onto the product roadmap. Each potential fix or feature then follows a feasibility study to work out the exact route of the product roadmap along with timescales. Some potential features are ignored entirely, because they don’t fit with the vision of the brand or they don’t make a big enough difference. When an idea pops into your head of something you could do, write it down, put it to one side, and then focus on what you need to now. If the “could do” idea is really that amazing you won’t be able to stop thinking about it. If you forget about it quickly then maybe you shouldn’t consider it in the first place.
Create and define your vision for your business, your life and your success. Have confidence in your ability to follow the path to your goals and enjoy the journey it takes you on. Use other people’s success as inspiration. Take the right advice and ideas on board. But, at all costs, don’t be distracted.
December 17, 2018 at 08:25AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs