What are you doing to grow your business this year?
Wait. Let me guess:
You’re doing more.
Doing more is rarely the answer to the question, “How do I grow my business?”
But… it seems like it should be the answer. So it’s the first tactic we consider.
“Well, I could sell a few more of this package, add a new revenue stream here, and raise the price on this offer a little.”
“If I posted on social media more, more people would follow me. If I came up with a few more lead magnets, I could grow my list more.”
These are all logical thoughts. I have thought them myself.
I still think those thoughts and have to notice, stop myself, and come up with a more creative plan.
The reason I need to come up with a more creative plan than just “doing more” is because “doing more” splits my attention and my resources. I end up with a bunch of irons in the fire but not enough fire to heat them all up. I’m not sure if that metaphor holds up but you get the idea.
I might have a whole list of offers I can sell… but they’re all underperforming.
I might have a bunch of social media posts pre-scheduled to go out every morning… but they’re all unremarkable.
I might have a Dropbox folder full of lead magnets… but they’re all underwhelming.
And not only has my “doing more” created a landslide of unexceptional output, but I’ve also ended up overworked and overwhelmed—and so has my team. My resources are stretched thin and I feel exhausted all the time.
This is not the path to success—no matter how you define it.
I know we’re on the same page about that.
In my experience, the answer to “How do I grow my business?” is to strip away all of the “more” I’ve added in so I can focus my attention on one or a few things that have the potential to fill all of the business’s needs.
It appears that this strategy is going to take longer to produce results. But all it does is circumvent the false success that you initial feel when you’re doing more—all of the small wins that come before the big low of feeling hopelessly overwhelmed.
At worst, paring down takes the same amount of time with less heartache than doing more. At best, it saves you loads of time.
This reminds me of something I talk about in The Commitment Blueprint called The Overcommitment-Undercommitment Cycle.
At the top of the cycle, we say “yes” to new ideas, responsibilities, and projects over and over again because we want to feel useful and validated.
As the reality of all of those commitments catches up to us, we start to feel our resources being stretched thinner and thinner.
Eventually, we’re forced to either reduce the effort that we’re putting into all of the commitments we’ve made or we end up burnt out (and often, physically sick).
At that point, we can’t help but see all of the ways we’re not achieving what we want to achieve, not being as useful as we think we should be, and not feeling the external validation that comes from being the superhero who always says “yes.”
So what do we do?
We start saying “yes” all over again!
Ugh. What a way to live (and work).
My guess is that you can feel this cycle in your bones—whether you’re living it right now or whether it’s an experience that taught you some tough lessons.
But it might not be a cycle you’re able to identify in the actual structure of your business yet.
Here’s how I see it:
We create new offers, packages, and revenue streams in order to grow. We say “yes” to all of the different ways we could make more money and serve more people—not just because we want to earn more and serve more but because we’re also wanting to prove to ourselves that this business thing is working and feel the validation that comes from each sale.
Initially, this creates some results. Maybe we do make more money. Maybe we do feel more validated and useful with every sale we make or offer we create.
But then our resources start to get stretch thin. Our schedules fill up, our to-do lists get longer & longer, we start to lose the ability to keep it all straight.
Without adequate resources to keep it all going, we’re forced to compromise our plan and settle for fewer results. Each offer might still be bringing in revenue, each social media channel might still be adding a few followers to your audience, each lead magnet might still attract a few subscribers—but the results are underwhelming.
That’s when we start to feel like we’re not doing enough to make it all work. We could be even more useful, create things that are even more valuable. And so the cycle starts again.
If you’re having an “oh sh*t” moment because I’ve just described your 2021 plans, be gentle with yourself. This is not intuitive—or rather, it is intuitive but we receive so many messages to the contrary that we’ve lost track of that intuition.
You don’t need my permission but I will tell you that it is absolutely okay to revisit your plans with this in mind. Planning, after all, is a learning process.
You don’t have to do more to earn more. You don’t have to do more to be more useful. You don’t have to do more to increase your impact, make a bigger difference, and go deeper.
I’ve got a few recommendations for what to do if you find yourself caught up in this cycle.
First—and this can be hard: start over. Clean slate. From scratch.
Rebuild your business model or marketing plans or whatever it is you’ve treated with a do-more approach from the ground up. Every time you take a look at what you have, you’re going to be tempted to add on to it instead of streamlining or even abandoning it.
Second, consider how you really want to be serving your people and how you really want to be spending your time. Build out a model or a plan based on what you really want (this is where the clean slate really comes in handy). It might not seem feasible or realistic but you need a starting place and a chance to get creative.
Finally, examine the gap between what you’re working with now and what you’d like to work towards (at least for now). What could you get rid of that takes you a few steps closer to your goal? What could you reorganize to create a stepping stone to the new model?
You can create an interim plan in the gap between what you have now and what you want to have—just make sure your interim plan isn’t organized around doing more, too.
Giving yourself a chance to pull back and look for how you can offer less, post less, and do less is how you really make a plan to grow your business.
If you’re on the fence about what you’ve planned for this year…
…or it’s felt like planning just wasn’t in the cards after 2020…
We’d love to help. We’re offering The Commitment Blueprint live 1 more time before we take a break to work on a self-paced version. When you join us for this January cohort, you’ll name your personal commitments, craft your strategic priorities, plan your projects, and structure your work with a supportive community by your side.
The Commitment Blueprint is January 12, 14, 19, and 21 at 4pm ET/1pm PT. Flexible pricing is available.