Connections, Coffee & Confidence

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5 Ways to Forecast Change For Your Business

Season 1, Ep. 64

So this one time we stumbled into a beautiful little village in the mountains in Spain. And then we struggled to find our way back out. You can assume we eventually did because here I am writing and podcasting in English with nary a Spanish accent but what the heck does this have to do with business? I pull it together in this episode, all about where to look to forecast change and how to know if the temporary changes you made to your business to survive Covid are going to be enough.


Key Points:

  • Snoop the Competition (8:45)
  • Trend Watch (10:49)
  • Don't Be The Smartest Person in the Room (11:45)
  • Get a Mentor: Not a guru! (12:40)
  • Ask Your Customers (14:02)


Also mentioned in this episode:

  • Have you left a rating & review yet? Please take a moment and do so as it helps bring this podcast and the information to other small business owners (and I'd be forever grateful!) If you're listening on Apple Podcasts (formally iTunes) please rate and review there. If you're not an Apple supporter, you can go to Podchaser: https://www.podchaser.com/podcasts/connections-coffee-confidence-1788572 Thank you so much for your support!


**Hey, are you wondering how to use social media so it helps you reach your goals instead of kill time? Let me show you the exact steps I use to make sure my client’s social media is strategic and cohesive so that you can use the socials to support your business without wasting time and getting frustrated.


Take my half hour masterclass and by the end you'll:

  • have 30 days worth of strategic content ready to be created,
  • know how to create your own messaging to ensure each post or live is pushing you towards ticking off your goals,
  • know my four foundations of creating the visual,
  • and learn a few extra tips to keep you rocking.


I work you through a live example so you can see exactly what I mean and how the method works in real life, not just theoretically. Go to https://www.janicefogarty.com/create-your-social-media-content-strategy to learn more.


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Transcript:

Hello and welcome to today’s episode of Connections, Coffee & Confidence with me, Janice. Growing up, we didn’t do amazing and fancy holidays. Except for that one time there was a big thing at my Dad’s work and he ended up with a ton of credit card points. Those points paid for us to rent a hotel room, one room, for the five of us. But it was next to the pool, which was bat central but whatever, and we thought it was the best thing ever. And it was the first time we got to see Mr. Bean because we were in New Brunswick, Canada’s only bi-lingual province, and the only tv channel we got was French CBC. Mr. Bean, if you’re not familiar, has no talking so it was perfect. Proof you don’t need the perfect holiday to make family memories. But that’s not my point.


I tell you this because now I’m going to tell you a story about this time I went to Spain and I don’t want you to think I don’t still, to this day a good 20 years later, recognize the extreme privilege of international travel. I’m going back to when I lived in Ireland, which is a story for another day, where it’s quite common to pop on a Ryanair flight and jump over to Spain for your holiday.


But this one was a special trip because my now husband and I were going to Spain to meet one of my brothers and his then girlfriend. They had saved up all of their money to do a big backpacking in Europe thing and they were heading to Spain. My husband’s family have a villa so we were going to stay there, spend some time together, exciting because I hadn’t seen him for a year or two at that time and I missed him. 


One day we decided to go exploring, up into the mountains. It was gorgeous, as Spain tends to be. And we found ourselves driving through this little tiny village. No idea what it was called. We didn’t know then, either. No idea how we got there, we were literally just driving to see the sights. It was old, it was high up with views to take your breath away - especially me as I’m afraid of heights. Olive and almond trees everywhere. Just beautiful.


But like all things, it needed to end and we had to go home. Except, there were no road signs. Shouldn’t be too hard, right? As we drove around, we noticed that the stunning vista  we were loving was really similar to the one we had just seen a few minutes earlier. And pretty soon we realized we actually were seeing the same scenery, on repeat.


We asked ourselves: How many roads can there be to get out of this little village? We really stumbled into this hidden gem of a community, shouldn’t be too hard to stumble our way back out, right? Turns out there were loads of little side roads off the main road, none of the directional signs made any sense to us, and the main road seemed to just do a loop around the village. 


So what in the world does this have to do with your business? I’ll pull it together for you after the intro.


INTRO


Now, before I close the Spanish mountain top driving loop for you, I want to have a quick word about the masterclass I just released. If you’re interested in learning more about how to use social media to grow your business, as a tool to effectively reach your business goals; if you need a better strategy than only to batch create when the stars align and your hair is amazing but you’re scrambling for things to say; if you’ve been trying to use social media for your business but just aren’t seeing the results you want; I have something for you. I’ve created a half hour masterclass where I teach you my method for creating strategic messaging and using it in my clients’ social media to move them towards their business goals. I include my four foundations for each post and even walk you through a real Facebook post, breaking it down so you see each element in action. The strategy works for all platforms and businesses, and you finish it not only knowing my exact method but also with 30 strategic post topics, designed by you to push your business forward. There’s more information on my website at janicefogarty.com and I’ll link to it in the shownotes.


Ok, Spain. We were very reluctant to try any of these side roads to who knows where. None of them were looking any more prominent than the others because logically wouldn’t you   expect a road to a larger town or a highway to be bigger or somehow special? Fortunately, we weren’t the only ones seeing the same thing on repeat. A very old gentleman noticed we had driven past him a few times already. On the next pass, he was in his truck and ready for us. He tooted his horn and waved for us to follow him. So we did. And he drove us down the same road and a few minutes later pulled over to the right side of the road while indicating left. Then he hopped out and started waving and pointing for us to go left. Which turned out to be the road back to where we needed to be to get to the highway to get home. Bless his heart.


And sometimes we reach this place in our business where we’re driving around and around, thinking everything is just fine. Until we realize it’s not. Until we realize our problem, our challenge. And in business, when we’re following the same path all of the time, it often means we’re missing what else is happening. Sometimes following the same path also means it’s harder for us to get off that beaten track, even if we have someone waving us off in another direction.


Lots of us changed direction when Covid hit, to some degree or another. Some of us went crazy bananas and took this as a chance to do something so different to our norm. Some of us just kind of tweaked what we were doing already or slowed way down while we tried to retain some sort of security. 


But the world is still changing and things probably are never going back to the way they were. So the changes or tweaks you made as a temporary measure, they may now look like not enough. They were fine for the interim but time is moving on and you gotta ask: will they stand the test of time?


This is the moment when we really need to start paying attention, gathering information and clues to what might be happening, what new changes might be coming down the road and how we can deal with them. How they might impact or even improve our business. We don’t want to be like the board of Blockbuster and have the CEO tell us we should move to a subscription model, only to dismiss the idea. The joys of being small is that we can continue to make changes as we see fit. The trick is being paying attention and remaining open to the information presented.


But where do we pay attention? Who will be our guru now? And how we can we trust any one guru?


I have five suggestions for us to use to gather reliable information to digest. Five ideas to of places to gather our clues starting with some basic snooping. 


First port of call is to look at competitors. Very few of us are doing something unique so odds are there is someone else you can look at. You might even know your competition and this is where you put your relationship skills to use, and ask to meet to discuss. Not only is it so helpful to network with someone who just gets what you do but it’s also helpful to see if someone else’s experiences and practises match your own. With any luck, they are trying something different and you can gauge from each other which is the way forward or even adapt the method even further. But you can also do the step-removed snooping and check out their online presence. Maybe they offer a different package, use different language, whatever and you can have a think about whether they are just targeting a different client and that’s totally cool, but are they targeting a different client because they know something you don’t? Are they targeting mid-size companies because smaller businesses don’t have the funds to pay for your service, for example? A word of caution - don’t get caught up in the they’re doing something different, it must be better oh my God I suck trap. Don’t do it. Maybe something safer to do is to look at similar businesses in the same industry or sector. So if you’re a family lawyer, a professional, you look at other professionals. Be it a real estate law practise or an accountancy firm. If they are somewhat comparable, have a look at how they are operating. Are they moving to operate online? Scaling back their services? Niching more? Why do you think that might be? And is it applicable to your business? If you're a hairdresser, check and see what the personal trainers or nail techs are doing. You want to look for a comparable type of business that has been successful, growing steadily, and is known for being progressive. What are they doing and can you do it too?


Another method that doesn’t require you to leave your chair is to check online research and data resources. There are companies out there whose entire business model is to watch trends, to gather the data and analyse it; many will create sector- or industry-specific forecasts based on the data which you can use to base your decisions from. Now, full reports are usually for purchase but sometimes they are free or the excerpt will give you enough of a clue as to whether you want to purchase or even give you an overview, a feel for how things are predicted to go. Try your professional association if you belong to one or check companies like Bloomberg for these reports. Google it and see what comes up; you never know which PhD or Masters candidate just published their comprehensive review on exactly what you’re looking to learn. Honestly, I’ve been surprised a few times exactly that way. 


Speaking of professional organizations and networking, what about networking with your professional organization? Or with community business leaders? You want to find a room, physical or otherwise, where you are not the smartest person. Where people have different experiences, different paths and glean what you can from them. Try Quora or Reddit; blogs, podcasts or the social feeds of industry influencers or thought leaders. Places where the chitchat’s happening. You’re listening for and asking about things they’ve been doing differently, processes they've been changing, things that haven’t been working or seem not to be working like they used to. 


And if the idea of talking to lots of people is a bit overwhelming, try a mentor. Many business associations offer a mentoring program and often your local government-led business centres do as well. You can even just approach someone you’ve admired and ask. And it should be a safe ask for you, too, because it’s a flattering thing for most people to be considered mentor material. What you’re looking for is the opportunity to pick the brains of someone who has been there done that and maybe even seen some of the current trends that she knows are just that - a trend. She - or he - might be able to tell you which things remain constant in business, what used to work that is coming back into favour or even see that you are, in fact, knocking it out of the park and be who you need to remind you to celebrate your accomplishments. I had asked earlier who will be your guru and I just want to take a moment and suggest your mentor not be a guru. You need someone who can balance you out, push you forward, and answer your questions. They are not the be all and end all when it comes to information because one person’s experiences are just that - one person’s experiences. So a mentor - not a guru.


And you know what source might be the easiest to tap for information? Your current client base. The people you have already worked with in the past or are working with right now. Have a think about what people have been coming to you with or what they’ve been talking about as you’ve engaged with them. Have a few people been mentioning the same things or asking the same questions?  Or just ask them what’s changing in their lives and how you can help make it easier. Have you noticed that one of your services just isn’t really getting much uptake over the last few months or year? Maybe it’s time to re-evaluate based on current trends or just ask a trusted customer, someone you really thought would benefit from that service or product, why they didn’t purchase. Obviously, frame it as a help to you and not scolding for not buying your clearly amazing thing. But ask. Because the information is probably good. And if it involves something you can control or work with, then you know what to do.


But here’s the thing. You’re the boss of your business. You were smart enough to get where you are. You’re smart enough to know to keep scanning the environment for opportunities and threats. So you’re smart enough to take the information you’ve gathered from your sources and evaluate it. To take the time, step back and mull it over. To watch for the signs of change and if you don't understand the signs you see, to look for someone who is willing to help. Not everyone is as lucky as we were to have someone notice you’re lost and wave you in the right direction out of the good of their heart, sometimes you have to ask. Which reminds me of another trip to Spain with my husband where we ended up in a different travel-related challenge that ended up with us climbing and jumping off of an 8 or 9 foot fence to a dusty alley while a busload of passengers yelled to ask where we were going. But that’s another story, for a different time.


If you enjoyed this episode I’d love you to bits and pieces if you could leave a review on itunes, and if you don’t do Apple, you can leave a review on Podchaser; I’ll leave the links in the shownotes.


And until next week my friend, thanks for listening.




I love Landish products because I appreciate a natural approach to my well-being and love to support Canadian. We drink 5 Mushroom Hot Chocolate every night - except when we feel like it's a Golden Latte kind of night! (And Pure Canadian Marine Collagen is a staple in my morning smoothie.) By using my referral link, you can get 20% off of your first order --> https://bit.ly/2SEOqzl

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Season 1, Ep. 69
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If you're not an Apple supporter, you can go toPodchaser: https://www.podchaser.com/podcasts/connections-coffee-confidence-1788572Thank you so much for your support!**Hey, are you wondering how to use social media so it helps you reach your goals instead of kill time?Let me show you the exact steps I use to make sure my client’s social media is strategic and cohesive so that you can use the socials to support your business without wasting time and getting frustrated.Go tohttps://www.janicefogarty.com/create-your-social-media-content-strategyto learn more.My Products:Don't Waste Your Breathguide on creating your own strategic messaging, based onyourbusiness goals. Get this download and learn how to speak clearly and with purpose about your business. (https://janicefogarty.podia.com/dont-waste-your-breath-get-your-best-message-across)Thinking about taking advantage of all the podcasts as opportunities to get your message out? 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It’s a fast food chain that yes, offers hot food but the real beauty is that they offer treats like blizzards where they take their ice cream (actually ice milk but we aren’t going to split hairs here) and blitz it with candy pieces and flavours of your choice, and dipped ice cream cones, and sundaes and banana splits and my personal favorite the peanut buster parfait - layers of ice cream with hot fudge sauce and peanuts. So when a new DQ opened up in the town I lived in in high school, I took myself down and got a job. Just like that, I fulfilled one of my life’s goals.Fortunately, I had other goals left to conquer such as becoming a published author. And I’ve been published publicly before, in magazines and newspapers in Canada and Ireland, but not under my own name. Because I usually do for others what you do for your own business, write. You might not think of yourself as a writer, you might shudder in horror or laugh your head off at the idea of you being a writer but trust me when I say, you are a writer.Off the top of my head, I know you write emails, text messages, social media posts for sure. And you probably write product or service descriptions, maybe a sales page, website or landing page words...you write.Something that is often asked about when people join my private facebook group is writing - getting confident in writing, knowing what to write about, how to do those things with comfort and ease. Okay, comfort and ease are my words but people ask about writing a lot. And when I talk to them, it’s because they aren’t comfortable, it doesn’t come easy and therefore it’s hard.So today I am bringing you ten tips on gaining writing confidence. These aren't in a strategic order, you don’t need to start at number one and master it before you move to number two; not at all. You pick what you need as you need it, work on it, try it out. The tip you focus on could well depend on the situation you find yourself in and that’s just right, too.So I’ll start with this tip I’ll call number one and it’s sort of ironically called get started. The worst thing to do is to stare at that blinking cursor, the one that seems to reappear in a slow laughing rhythm. Put some words down and break that rhythm. Often the first few words are the hardest or the least sensible or the most muddled but they are words and those words lead to more and better words. And that’s what you’re after. So get started.The second tip is for you to Practise. Keep doing it. You might not feel like writing or rewriting that sales page, and that’s cool. But if you know it’s something that needs to be done, take a practise run at it. You aren’t committing to anything, you’re practising. Take the pressure off the act of writing, just try it out. And if some gold happens to fly from your finger tips well, that’s a bonus. Copy and paste it into the real version of whatever you were practising. You may have expected me to say practise like write the same thing fifteen times. And if that works for you, then do it. I know I write about four or five, sometimes more titles for my episodes. But any more than that and I drive myself crazy. I use a headline analyzer and check the SEO and the readability for each title, pick the one that works the best and roll. But I always have those practise headlines to help me.Another note about practise is that Seth Godin has written in his blog every day for well over a decade. And he talks about how not every post is solid gold. But it’s practise. And if it works for him to show up and practise every day, there’s probably no harm in us trying it more days than not, eh?The third tip is do not expect perfection. There’s nothing to kill that creativity, to stifle your ability to access words from your brain, than the pressure of writing and making it super awesome. And awesome on the first go. Ugh. It is better to be done and done well now then to be perfect in, well, you and I know things are never going to be perfect. So do it to the best of your ability and move on.Fourth is a common piece of advice from me: Have a point. Nothing helps focus your work like, well, having a focus. When you have a goal that you’re working towards, you’ll find it much easier to decide what to say and to say it well. This is where my eguide on messaging can help you - a workbook that walks you from your goals to your messaging and helps you find that focus. I’ll link to it in the shownotes and you can also just go to janicefogarty.com to see for yourself. But when you know what you’re talking about, when you know what the end result will be, that will always help shape what you actually say.Fifth is to keep in mind who you're talking to. It’s much easier to communicate with someone when you know who they are. Have you ever gone to a party that your friend begged you to go to with them, where you don’t really know anyone other than that one friend? And then you don’t quite know how to speak to people straightaway. But once you’ve had a chance to chitchat a bit, get to know a little bit about the crowd, it’s easier to talk. You know if you’re in a room full of masters degrees, entrepreneurs, stay at home parents, married couples, single parents, employees, friends or colleagues or whoever. Once you know who you’re talking to, you know how to communicate with them. It’s part of being strategic as a communicator, you know who your audience is.Tip number six for gaining confidence in writing is to ask yourself why the person you’re talking to cares. It’s not the same as what’s your point; this tip is about the audience, the person or people you’re speaking to in your writing. You can think of it as being generous with your intentions, if that makes it easier for you. It’s often easier to write when we hold in our minds what it is the recipient will find value in from your words. It’s not just a sales tactic, it’s helpful in all writing.Tip number seven is to give it time and space. This is a phrase I’ve borrowed from child psychology but it exactly describes what works for me every single time. This is commonly known as editing but honestly, I struggle to edit my own words. I read it exactly as it’s meant to be read or spoken, I go off of what was in my head versus what’s actually on the page or screen so I miss the goofs; my brain fills in what was supposed to be there so I miss the gaps. I need to give my work time as in, don’t rush the edit to publish, and space as in think of something different, do something else, before I go back to edit so I can do so with a clear brain that may have forgotten the details that were flowing through me, making it easier to catch what I originally missed putting down. Sometimes that’s not possible, I know I’m not the only one who mmmm shall we say doesn’t always plan the best or is stricken with inspiration that you simply must post right this minute which doesn’t allow for time and space editing or life simply happens and you gotta publish now or it becomes less timely and you’ve missed making your impact.That’s where tip 8 comes in. Say it. So this works in two ways, you pick which suits you. First, whatever you’ve written, whatever for, whoever for, read it out loud - not in your head - out loud! And you’ll catch what you’ve missed, at least most of it. When I was a speechwriter for a government minister, you can bet your last dollar that I not only paid attention to how she spoke, her rhythms and her speaking style, but I also read every speech out loud before handing it over to anyone else. So I caught the things, the awkward phrases that read well on the page but people don’t really speak like that, or the less than perfect word to make that point. Reading it out loud made it, whatever it was, better. Try it.The second way this works is to say it out loud first, then transcribe it. I like to write. I had someone reach out to me from my past for help and in the third email he commented that he didn’t remember me being so chatty. And that’s because I’m comfortable in my writing. But also because I’m over forty, I'm a mom to three neurodiverse boys, and wife to someone with a strong personality; I’m not the exact same person who he knew all those years ago. Same as you - your experiences shape your voice. So if your voice comes more naturally to you when you speak or sing or whatever verbal exercise works for you, then do that and take what you need for your posts. You might think you’re only good at going live when your communications strength comes from actual verbalization but that’s not re-using your content creation in the most efficient way. Go back over some of your really great lives and pull the quotes or even full paragraphs worth of words and repurpose them into posts. They’ll be brilliant because they’ll capture your best voice and your message and they’ll appeal to those in your audience who prefer to read than listen.Tip number nine on how to write with more confidence is to personalize it. It might be another way of saying be authentic but it feels less catch-phrase-of-the-moment and more, well, like me. How would you say that to a friend, to your sister, to that co-worker you used to really enjoy chatting and having a laugh with? When you can speak as you would to someone you’re comfortable with? How would you say it then? Can you capture that for your material? Can you relate it to something that has happened to you or worked for you or you’ve seen in others? And sometimes it’s easier to speak about something that happened to us like it happened to someone else and that’s ok, you’ll tell that story in a wonderfully clear way because you have full confidence in the details. And that clarity, those details, make the communications feel good for both you and your audience. When you feel good, you’ll be more confident to do it again.Last but not least, perhaps the most important tip of all actually, is number ten. Have fun. Seriously. When’s the last time you were just living in that moment, laughing your head off or feeling so full up with contentment, at peace and smiling because that’s where you were meant to be at that moment. Not concerned about if you had the right word, if you looked good, what someone might think. What platform, what time of day, what clothing, what setting, what style of delivery feels really good for you? Do that. Sure you can’t always choose what’s the most fun but you can recapture that feeling of having fun and inject it into whatever you’re doing in the moment. Try saying to yourself straight up and out loud: holy heck, I am having fun! I am frigging loving this. Or however you might speak to yourself in moments of great enjoyment. Your brain will follow along. It wants what’s best for you and if you tell it you are having fun writing copy for your sale page or product descriptions, well it’s all in on the fun and won’t notice that you’re doing work. The better you feel doing that work, the more confident you’ll become in doing it.So there you have it, my top ten tips for gaining confidence in your writing. And really, I think you can extrapolate these tips to all communications. You want confidence when you communicate. That doesn’t mean you aren’t nervous sometimes or you aren’t scared every once in a while; it means that you do it anyway, and that you just do your best to do better every time you try. So don’t forget if you want help on your messaging, you can download my guide and workbook from my website or you can pop me an email and we can book an appointment to see where I can help. In the meantime, I really want to know which tip stood out to you the most. Write it down and tag me on Instagram at janiceefogarty so I can see! And until next week my friend, have a fan freaking tastic rest of your day.