Are you running a business that works for you? Or does your business have you running in circles? So many entrepreneurs think that reaching a certain income level will make things easier and finally give them the life they want. Too many of them wonder if it’s really worth it and just want to burn their business to cinders in frustration and start fresh.
Hold up before you burn it down or drastically change anything because you hope someone else’s approach will finally strike gold! We’re winding down the year 2022 and gearing up to help entrepreneurs have their best year in 2023 with the next launch of the Best Year Ever Challenge. So to prepare for it, in this episode I discuss five things to strategically think about to align your business so that it truly works for you as an individual, instead of you for it based on what others tell you to do.
On this episode of Promote Yourself to CEO:
5:19 – What’s your definition of success? I reveal the first area of alignment to think about when deciding what success looks like for you.
9:15 – I discuss the second area of aligned success to look at. I used to struggle with this one!
10:42 – The third area naturally fits us as entrepreneurs and is especially helpful in the beginning. But you’ll want to limit yourself here, and I reveal why.
13:02 – How do you want to feel in your business? I share my thoughts, including what luxurious felt like to me at the time I first went through this exercise.
17:48 – A lot of people talk about flow but not about what it truly looks like. I discuss one area of my personal life where I’ve made sure ease and flow show up.
20:51 – This final thing to take a look at is usually the first thing we entrepreneurs dismiss. But it’s your biggest competitive advantage.
Mentioned in Is Your Business Aligned With YOU?
- Best Year Ever Challenge
- The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul by Danielle LaPorte
- Apply for The CEO Collective
- The CEO Retreat
- The CEO Planner
- Racheal on Instagram and TikTok
- Leave a review on iTunes
Is your business truly working for you? Is it helping you to have the lifestyle you actually want right now? Or do you feel like you have been put on this hamster wheel of “When I get to this level, then I'll finally have the life I want. When I get to this revenue level, then things will get easier. When I get here, then everything will happen”? If this is the case, you might find yourself getting frustrated, and even starting to wonder, “Why am I doing this? Should I just burn it all down?”
Well, before you burn down your business, I want to talk about how we need to be thinking, making more strategic decisions, and aligning our business to what truly works for us as individual human beings running the business. Let's get into it.
Are you ready to grow from solopreneur to CEO? You're in the right place. I'm your host, Racheal Cook. I've spent the last decade helping women entrepreneurs start and scale service-based businesses. If you're serious about building a sustainable business, it's time to put the strategy, systems, and support in place to make it happen. Join me each week for candid conversations about stepping into your role as CEO, the hard lessons learned along the way, and practical profitable strategies to grow a sustainable business without the hustle and burnout.
Hey there, CEO. Today I wanted to have a little bit of a different conversation because I feel like a lot of the entrepreneurs I've been talking to are feeling so bombarded by other people's opinions. They're having a really hard time discerning what is actually the right next step for them in their business. If we can't talk through this and have a game plan for how we're going to move forward in our own businesses in a way that works for you, the individual running the business, then we end up with a lot of people who just want to burn everything down at the end of the year and start from scratch in 2023.
As we're getting ready for the next round of the Plan Your Best Year Ever Challenge, which is our annual five-day planning party to walk away with your 12-month profit plan for 2023, as we have been planning that to kick off coming up soon, I was starting to think about how can we help more entrepreneurs to make sure that their business is truly working for them that is truly aligned with what they want out of their life in their business, the decisions they're making aren't just built on other people's shoulds, other people's “This is what your business should look like. This is what your goal should be. This is what success should look like.”
Because honestly, there are too many of us who focus on other people's definition of success, other people shooting all over us. Then we get there, we accomplish the thing, we do the thing and we still feel unfulfilled. We don't feel successful. We might have a little ego moment where we're like, “Yeah, look at what I accomplished.” But then we go immediately into “Well, now onto the next thing.” There's never any lasting satisfaction or fulfillment in that.
Today, I really wanted to have a conversation with you before we get into planning for the new year, before anyone burns down our business or makes drastic changes, because they're hoping someone else's approach will help them finally crack the code, it probably won't unless you are crystal clear about what your business is here to do for you as an individual. I want to walk through this with you because I am always asking myself these types of questions. If my business isn't working for me, if it's not truly aligned with who I am and how I want to show up in the world, then it feels like I have to work so much harder.
It's like going upstream without a paddle, you're struggling so hard, you're going against the current. There's always something that you're having to do and it takes so much effort. It takes so much effort when you're going upstream. But when you're going downstream, you're going with the flow, and everything is truly aligned, everything becomes easier. Everything becomes more relaxed, everything becomes so much more fun to run. That's what I'm trying to do here is to help everyone understand how they can align their business downstream for you.
There are a few things I think really help with this. I've made some notes here that I want to start with five different areas I want you to think about when you're starting to make these big decisions about how you want your business to work for you. Once you answer these things, you'll have a decision-making framework that you can use with any big thing you're trying to do in your business.
The first thing I always think about when I am looking at this “How do I make sure my business is aligned?'” is my definition of success. If you've ever heard me talk through definition of success, you'll notice I don't have the finances as part of the definition of success here because I truly think that money is a terrible yardstick for success. I think when that's all we focus on, then we leapfrog over all these other questions because it becomes “everything is at the expense of making money.”
That's not true because there are areas of your life that you cannot deprioritize to make more money, they have to be the priority as well. Let's think about these five different areas, definition of success that I like to look at. One, your life and your lifestyle. What do you want your life and your lifestyle to look like? Now, yes, this could include things like what it costs to live your lifestyle. We do talk about that in the Plan Your Best Year Ever Challenge, but it's really about how you want your lifestyle to be, what does your day-to-day look like? What does your week look like? How much time do you spend working? How much time do you take off? What are the non-negotiables in your lifestyle? Things that you really must have to feel happy and fulfilled. Then what are the things you might want to upgrade in your lifestyle?
When I look at this, for me, a lot of what I want my life to look like, I've been able to accomplish. It's so amazing when you have done these practices long enough, I can literally bring up the worksheet from years ago and say, “Wow, I've been able to do that. That's so cool.” For me, a lot of the lifestyle that I want, it's very comfortable. It's very casual. It's very chill. I don't ever want to feel rushed, overly busy, or things are always in a panic. I really want things to feel very relaxed. That's probably one of the most important things for me with my personal lifestyle. That informs so much about my business.
I want you to think about your family and your friends, the connections that you have. At the end of the day when we are gone on our deathbed one day, people rarely said, “Well, I wish I spent more time working and less time with my family.” They always say, “I wish I spent more time with my family and friends.” But how often do we deprioritize that, we make business more important than family and friends? We gotta prioritize these and be intentional about these relationships. Because those are the relationships that get us through the hard times. Those are the relationships that truly bring fulfillment in our lives.
I think that means it's all about being intentional. What are the most important relationships to you? What does quality time look like in those relationships? How are you prioritizing that in your life? If you don't ask yourself these questions, time is going to fly by and you will realize you didn't make that happen. For me at this stage in my life, my kids are 12, 12, and 9 and they're at a really fun age, which they're wanting to be connected to me. It's like one minute, they're like a teenager, the next minute they're very sweet and cuddly and still like a little kid.
I want to be there for that because I want to have the type of relationships with my kids where when they're adults, they want to come to me when they're having a hard time, and as a teenager, in college, or whatever, I want them to feel like I'm their person. I have to prioritize time with them. That means making sure I have solo time with them, that we do our mom and me dates, which is one of the most important things I've ever created for my family. I'm always asking myself, “How can we make sure we're investing in those relationships?”
The next thing in the definition of success I look at is your health and wellbeing. Many of you know I have several chronic-health conditions. It actually takes me quite a bit of time every week to maintain my health. I used to struggle with this. I used to push this to the very last thing and when I would get in my work mode, I would not think about my health and wellbeing at all, and then I'd find myself in so much pain, so stressed out, so much anxiety. I realized the only way for me to be successful in business was for me to create a definition of success for my health and wellbeing.
This isn't about the size of my jeans. This isn't about the weight on the scale. This is about how I feel. I'm always asking myself, “What does success look like here?” For me it means feeling good, feeling energy, feeling clear, not having any brain fog but having clarity, feeling in flow. All of the things that I do to maintain that are crucial to my success. Things like drinking enough water, getting enough sleep, actually tracking those things, making sure I'm walking, taking all the medicines I need to take, making sure I'm watching what I'm eating and not eating anything that's going to flare up my chronic pain. Those things are crucially important to me. Believe it or not, they really impact my business.
The next area is creativity and self expression. I think this is an important definition of success to have because when we become entrepreneurs, we usually have this huge creative energy behind us. That helps us get started and that helps it get going. But as you're growing, you actually don't want to screw around with what's working too much. You don't want to be creative all the time because it means you're always tinkering, you're always playing with stuff, and nothing's ever being optimized.
We want to really limit down where we're trying to be creative. In our businesses, we just need one little outlet that we can play around with on an ongoing basis. If we're being creative all the time, it means we're starting all over all the time. We don't want that. The best thing I think to do is to have creativity outside of your business. You don't have to make every creative pursuit a new business either. I also find that having creative time helps me to stay inspired. It helps me to get in flow.
What do you want to pursue? What makes you feel creative? What makes you feel successful in that particular area? Then finally, your personal growth and spirituality. What do you do to fill your own tank, to cultivate a relationship with yourself, to cultivate a relationship with source, God, or the universe, whatever you believe? What does that look like? How do you feel successful in that? I can tell if I haven't been paying attention to this because I usually feel really disconnected and anxious.
But if I've had quiet time, if I've had time to journal, if I've had time to read inspiring material or listen to an inspiring podcast, that makes such an impact in my energy and in my mindset. I'm sharing all of these different elements of definition of success because I think they really inform how I show up in my business and what I prioritize in my business because if it's not helping me to achieve those things, it is a no.
If it is not helping me to achieve having the space for my health and wellbeing, having the time to connect with my family and my friends, if it's taking me away from those things, then it is a no. I think that is huge clarity for a lot of entrepreneurs. That was looking at these different areas of definition of success.
I think another area we need to talk about when it comes to aligning your business is how you want to feel. I love Danielle LaPorte's The Desire Map. When that came out and when her book before that came out talking about core-desired feelings, that really struck me because I am someone who didn't really think about my feelings that often. I was able to, and I actually can still do this, ignore my feelings. I'm pretty good at that.
Asking me how I wanted to feel was really an interesting exercise for me, because it made me stop and think, “Well, how do I want to feel? What are the feelings out there that I want to feel?” Some of the ones I came up with might be a little surprising because I think it's easy to say happy, like we all want to feel happy, yes. But feeling happy all the time isn't realistic either. I realize some of the things that I wanted to feel are very much based on managing my energy, very much based on managing my mindset.
Probably a lot of this is the result of having adrenal fatigue, having a panic disorder, and a lot of trauma in my past, but the things I want to feel most often, I want to feel calm. I want to feel grounded. I want to feel luxurious. When I say luxurious, I chose that word because what felt luxurious to me when I went through this exercise the very first time was the idea of just having so much space and being able to go really slowly through life.
That was a huge contrast coming from corporate America where everything was hustle-hustle-hustle, grind-grind-grind, 80 plus hours a week, and I hated it. I realized I never wanted to duplicate that feeling of everything is urgent all the time. Everything's an emergency all the time. I wanted things to feel luxurious, which to me means slow, intentional. I'm very tactile and sensitive. I need all my senses to feel luxurious. I need things to be soft. I want things to smell good. I want things to be clean. I want there to be comforting music on or relaxing music on. All of those things play into how I want to feel.
This impacts my business. One of my biggest desires in life, and honestly, this is a core need, not even just a desire, this is a need for me is for things to be calm, grounded, slow, and intentional, to be at a very relaxed pace. I find any time I go outside of that in my business, I see my anxiety ratchet up, I see my nerves are on edge. I am no longer focused or able to pay as close of attention as I would like. It's because I'm like ratcheting up all the adrenaline again. I think your feelings play a huge role in how you want to run your business.
Now, obviously, my feelings for my life in general and my business are calm, grounded, slow, intentional, luxurious. I managed to pull that through in a way that feels really good for me. Yours might be different. It might change. Everybody is different. If you think about what are your core-desired feelings just for how you want to move through your life, what does that do for you? What does that tell you that you need to tweak, adjust, or eliminate out of your business?
For me, that tells me I need to manage my calendar really, really religiously. I need to make sure that once I have my model calendar, I stick to it. Because if I don't, things start to get crammed in there, things start to feel rushed. I know that when I'm working with my team, I need to have lots of lead time so I don't feel rushed, so they don't feel rushed. I never want to do that.
This is why we follow the planning process we teach because we don't want there to be emergencies in my business or in yours, so we teach a planning process inside the CEO Collective, at the CEO Retreat, and the upcoming Plan Your Best Year Ever Challenge that is all about how you give yourself space so that you can intentionally grow your business instead of feeling like you're flying by the seat of your pants.
It's a huge shift. It's a huge shift when you're able to do that. It really helps me make those decisions about how I'm going to show up and what we're going to do in my business. I think the other desired feeling I have is I want there to be a lot of ease and flow. There are a lot of people who talk about flow but I don't think we really ever talked about what it means and what it truly looks like.
For me ease and flow is all about how do I remove the obstacles, how do I remove the friction so that things work as effortlessly as possible? Not that everything's going to be effortless, but it can take less effort if we really think about what are the things in our life or our business that are causing friction that we can make easier, how can you let it be easier?
One of the areas in my personal life that shows up a lot is around my food. I have discovered through working with my functional nutritionist that there are some things I have to watch out for. That means I have to be a lot more intentional. I have to be someone now who does food prep and who manages what I'm eating so that I don't flare up the chronic pain I have, and that means I have to pay attention to it.
Well, I'm someone who doesn't like to do food prep. I don't like to do any of that. How can I make this easy for me? One is we've come up with a list of rinse-and-repeat meals. We have a list of things that if we're going to cook for one meal, we'll do a double batch so we have another meal for later that week. We've made sure that these are things that use a lot of the same ingredients. If I'm going to prep a bunch of veggies, I've got enough there for a couple of meals. We make sure that we have our freezer stocked with things that now we can dump into the crock pot or something. We've tried to make it easy by planning in advance.
Same concept applies to your business. How can you let it be easy? Instead of overcomplicating things, how can you make it simpler? How can you simplify things? How can you build a system? How can you batch things so that it runs smoother? There are so many things you can do in your business to reduce the friction and to simplify.
Honestly, that's why I love systems so much. It's why I talk so much about how you need to simplify, streamline, and systematize because when you do those things, your business becomes so much easier. Your team knows exactly how to handle things. Your clients have a lot less friction, they're able to have a better experience working with you. Things were able to happen with less stress. That's what we all want.
Your feelings, how do you want your business to feel? If you're not sure, I would encourage you to think through that. Danielle LaPorte recommended five-core-desired feelings, but you can have more or less, it doesn't matter to me. I know a lot of people like doing the word of the year, but I ended up on four to five or six but they're all the same slow, intentional, luxurious. You can get where I'm going here and that really dictates so much about how I run my business and the decisions I make for my business as I'm moving forward.
The next area I think when it comes to looking at your business and how your business can work best for you is looking at your strengths. How do you do what you do the best at? What do you need in order to be the best at what you do? Your strengths are usually the first thing we dismiss because I think a lot of us believe that if we're good at something, everyone else must be good at that. That is not true. If you're good at something, and this comes really easily to you, that is an area of strength.
When you develop that area of strength, it develops exponentially, you get exponentially better at it. An area of weakness, when you try to work on it, it only increases a tiny bit incrementally. Your area of strength is your biggest competitive advantage. This is the thing that you can do better than pretty much anybody. If we lean into that, suddenly, everything becomes easier because it comes easily for you.
An example of this for me, this has honestly changed my entire business, I'm great at planning. I'm great at systems. I'm great at streamlining things, putting a system behind it, rinse and repeat. That is what I have done for 15 years in this business. It took me until 2018 to actually talk through with clients my 90-day planning process. Suddenly my business transformed because I leaned into something that I am amazing at. It is my unfair advantage. This is the thing I can do better than pretty much anyone out there.
I think this is something, as you're looking at your business next year, you want to be asking yourself, “What is truly in my zone of genius? What are my best strengths that I need to lean into?” This will help you decide what you should do more of and what you should do less of. I decided this next year—and this was a really hard decision for me—I've had a huge influx of people reaching out and asking for one-on-one consulting. I realized that while I'm really good at that, I don't feel like it's my zone of genius and at the same time, it's also holding me back from my core-desired feelings and my definition of success a little bit.
I found that by saying yes to a couple of these one-on-one clients when I wasn't really planning on it, I actually ended up feeling less like my core-desired feelings. Instead of feeling like I had a lot of space and I had a lot of bandwidth, I started to feel a little more crunched for time because it was adding on and I needed to take something away in order to add that on.
Now I can be much more intentional as I go into planning the next year. I will not add any one-on-one again until I decide to take something away. I think that's really important to remember that when you're adding something into your business as you're planning the next year, ask yourself your definition of success, your core-desired feelings, your strengths. As you're looking at your business next year, what do you need to add or what do you need to take away? If you're adding something, is it going to impact any of these things we just talked about? Do you need to take something away in order to make space for it?
It is so easy to continue adding and adding and adding and never asking yourself “Where do I need to prune back? Where do I need to simplify? Where do I need to streamline things so that everything flows with more ease and with less stress?” I hope this was a helpful conversation for you. I know I covered a lot of ground here. But I really think through these things quite often, and because this has just become such a huge part of my process, I don't always articulate it. That's why I wanted to sit down and record this for you.
I'm always thinking about this when I'm talking to my clients and making sure that the decisions they're making are truly the right fit for them and they aren't hijacking their decision-making process by buying into all the should-dos, or what you need to do from other people. Remember other people's definition of success is theirs, it is not yours. You need to get that clarity for yourself. We each need to have that clarity for ourselves in order to make the best decision for ourselves as we move forward.
Please let me know what you think about this episode. Tag me on Instagram @racheal.cook. Let me know your ahas, your insights, and your thoughts. I would love to hear how this might impact you as you are starting to think ahead for 2023. Please don't forget, Plan Your Best Year Ever is coming up soon. It is actually coming up. October 24th is when we are going to run this live. You can get all the details at theceocollective.com/bye. We'd love to see you there. I'm going to be hosting a pop-up Facebook group to coach you through that entire week of October 24th to planning the best year in your business, one that's actually aligned so that your business is working for you.