Meet Giselle. Giselle runs her own business, and is currently feeling she's about to lose it. Like, run into the jungle, scream, and chase someone tender and wobbly for lunch.
Giselle is drowning in clients, and she can barely handle the amount of sales. She's also blessed with a mind that’s constantly aflame with brilliant ideas. (Cue envious muttering).
On the downside, her business is a hot mess. She was never taught to plan ahead, she has no clue how to deal with invoices, and she sucks bitterly at delegation. And all the bright ideas in her head are getting in the way of her daily to-dos. (We love you, Giselle!).
Either way, Giselle already admitted to herself, and maybe a to couple of friends, or even her business coach, that the time for flying by the seat of her yoga pants is over. Giselle Inc. is in dire need of systems.
But she’s not sure where to start. Everything needs a system! And everybody and their poodle say that there should be systems for every facet of her business. And life, too.
Now Giselle is even more overwhelmed than before. What systems should she get? Her attention, time, and resources are scarce theses days. She can only address the MOST IMPORTANT system or two, but what would these be? There is a simple question that would help Giselle to decide.
WHAT HURTS THE MOST?
By “hurts” I don’t necessarily mean the biggest money leak or the most annoying time suck. Yes, you’ll be wise to address those, but for the moment I’d love to point your attention to “what causes you most resentment”.
What makes you feel guilty, or avoid that thing altogether? It could be the money situation (lackluster sales, or the sheer dread of looking at your budget), or the fact that you never seem to have enough time to make the ideal product. Obviously, if you have such an elephant in the room, this is what you deal with first.
But it could totally be something that looks minor. There are two reasons why minor things that bug you to tears need to be addressed.
Reason one - that seemingly minor annoyance causes so much stress, you aren’t emotionally available to deal with the bigger things in your business. Like a microscopic particle in your eye, it bothers you so much, you can hardly see anything else. Solve that “minor” annoyance, and suddenly you have limitless amounts of energy to do other things - big, fun, and important stuff. Often the solution is putting a system in place. Even more often it will be a very simple system, because it’s a MINOR STUFF.
Reason 2 – that minor thing could be a symptom of a larger problem: say you absolutely HATE sending invoices. It could be the fact that you never mastered addition in Excel, an would be easily fixed. OR it could be a sign that you’re never sure how much to charge, and/or not sure what services you provided for that particular client, how many hours, were there any extras, what price you quoted. In other words, your invoice resentment could stem from a poor record-keeping, or from lack of confidence in your prices, or a bigger issue around your relationship with money.
If it’s the latter scenario, once you start putting a system for THAT MINOR STUFF, you discover the real issues if you’re honest with yourself. This is where the hurt comes from. THIS is what needs a system. Not something everybody said you need.
So to recap:
Whatever you may hear about “the most important thing to put a system around”, you’re better off trusting your gut if you've honestly answered “What hurts the most?”
What causes the biggest resentment, guilt, or avoidance?
It doesn't matter if it’s a “big” topic, or a minor “fly in your soup”.
Treat them both the same way – make it high priority to put a system to take care of the pain point. And let me know in the comments what surprised came up after this short exercise.