A job for life.
That’s what the teachers told me I needed.
I remember it clear as day in the tiny little careers room next to the school library which was lined with cardboard boxes full of pamphlets and brochures…and smelt a bit like old people.
A 60-minute lesson in a room I’d never been in the two and a half years of being at school was going to define my life.
“Nursery Nurse” is what Dr Betts the careers teacher who also doubled up as the Latin teacher at my school and my form teacher (Can’t even remember her name now) had decided I would be.
But I couldn’t stand kids…I had a house full of siblings that got on my nerves, the last thing I wanted to do was be around other peoples stinky kids.
“But it’s regular money” I was told and “everyone will always need childcare” gosh ain’t that the truth.
I knew exactly what I wanted to be when I was 13 I wanted to be a writer and a performer, I wanted to change the world…although I didn’t quite have the awareness that that was even possible.
And so I picked Drama, Child Development (under duress) and Sociology as my options, and buckled down for two years to leave school with my 6 mediocre GCSE.
We never know how the choices we make will ultimately affect our future do we? and yet we make them anyway. We somehow have to just trust that we are doing the right thing, and that we will eventually find our own path.
Job for life? I’ve never held down a proper job for more than 18 months.
I have however spent the last 20 years in the field of community engagement in the designing of group programmes, offline at first and then for the past 10 years online. Helping folks to get involved with things that make the world (or their world) slightly better.
When I used to work as a drama practitioner in my early twenties I learned a very valuable lesson about embracing the chaos, in my naivety, I would go into new groups of young people with a fully formed plan…and the plan never panned out.
The kids would kick off and trash the place (or key my car), the funding would change, the venue would close down, a kid would get pregnant, or locked up, or they would decide 3 weeks in they wanted to do photography not dance and so we would have to adapt our plans.
The magic was in the chaos. The magic was in the ability to adapt.
I had a stint at doing proper work when the Olympics came to town, I worked in local government policy, working on the gamesmaker programme, helping politicians to understand the impact of the games, helping them put things in place….and then for 18 months for a local authority delivering their 2012 strategy.
But alas that didn’t last long either, and I was made redundant the morning after the opening ceremony…7 months pregnant at the time too, truly stuffed.
I was made redundant from various jobs 4 times in 10 years.
The final time was the last straw…if I was going to live a life of uncertainty, I’d rather be in control of that.
Learning to adapt hasn’t been a choice, it has been a lifeline, especially that final time when I realised it wasn’t just me I had to look after anymore. It didn’t matter how cross I got at the people in charge, how unfair it felt or how sorry I felt for myself.
The truth was…nobody was coming to save me.
I had to find the way through, I had to adapt, I had to accept the chaos for what it was…the magic, the thing that would ultimately lead to success….the not knowing.
What’s going on in the world right now is truly scary, and we will all need to adapt, but “let’s not get it twisted” as my young people would say, there are opportunities to be had here too.
Opportunities to switch things up, to become more relevant, to work out what’s really important.
But we need to choose to embrace the chaos first. we need to choose to be OK with it.
Now I know there will be people reading this thinking “Fuck you, Julie, with your online businesses, and your ability to adapt”
The truth is we all need to adapt, all of us ALWAYS. The sooner we realise this, the easier our lives become. That has been my biggest lesson the last 3 weeks.
This need to control, this need to create something once and live off the proceeds for life is over, it’s an old fashioned view of how we progress in life….especially in the world of small business.
We must stay relevant, we must change as the world does, that’s how we stay relevant, that’s how we thrive in challenging times when others choose to focus simply on survival.
So today rather than thinking about how to salvage your old life, look at the situation with fresh eyes, look for the triangle of need…and yes addressing your needs are there too.
As business owners our needs are just as important as everyone elses, and by serving ourselves we ultimately serve others too.
When I turned my fitness blog into a business 7 years ago after being made redundant I did that for me first, yes there was a bigger need, but my immediate need was putting food in my cupboard and ensuring I didn’t go into arrears with my mortgage.
Then came my clients (or potential clients) working out what they needed…they needed a safe space where they could feel at home in the running world…and they needed motivation, inspiration and know-how.
And the final piece in the puzzle?
Well, that was working out how my work helped the wider world, how I could get folks who were not my ideal clients involved in my mission because it mattered in a small way to them too.
That was about stepping up my work about the fear of judgement, the fear of judgement and the fear of failure….fears that most of us have felt in our own lives, whether you are a runner or not, overweight or not, a woman or not.
That was the universal concept that helped other people to become ambassadors, supporters, and cheerleaders of my work.
So today I invite you to reassess, to look at the chaos for what it is, and to embrace the uncertainty. I invite you to take a breath and think about how you want to come out of this more resilient, more capable, more connected to your mission.
Go back to basics, go back to who you wanted to be at 8, and 13 and 16
For me that never changed.
I wanted to write, and teach, and change the world.
And guess what? I still hate the idea of doing childcare…my 7-year-old can testament to that while I attempt to home school her.
Embrace the chaos…it’s a magical place to be once you get used to it.
Julie Creffield is a serial entrepreneur and business strategist with a passion for building communities. In April she will be opening the doors to the latest version of her business growth incubator Tribe Builder and will be looking for 25 pioneers who are looking to thrive over the next 3-6 months.
To find out more and secure the earlybird rate get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
Want to experience some of Julie’s special blend of chaos and magic sooner than that, sign up to her next challenge A Grand in Your Hand, which is a 10 day fast-paced sales challenge to make money from your existing expertise and audience. Reduced from £149 to £49
Photo by Random Institute on Unsplash
Emails, emails, emails.
I hate emails just as much as the next person does. They have become sooooo unruly and if there was one thing I could eliminate from my working day it would be the shifting through of emails.
However, it is a necessary evil I guess these days.
Each week I get hundreds of emails from my coaches, my clients, my team and my suppliers and like most people I also find myself on all kind of email marketing lists, and yes 95% of the time I asked to be on them, even if over time I forget why.
I also use email marketing myself as part of my sales process in my business coaching business. I am a writer after all, writing is my passion, and I love communicating in this way, direct into peoples inboxs…and I have a relatively decent open rate too.
I like to think my emails are insightful, entertaining and full of value…and yes they quite often will end with a call to action…a sales link, but that is always followed with a “you can unsubscribe here” button too.
I have an email list of around 5000….I don’t do a lot of “freebie” lead generation, but occasionally I will run a free masterclass or a cheap challenge, and I might get 100 or so new people each time…and often over time those people leave.
No biggy. I don’t really worry about unsubscriber numbers.
My biggest fans and followers tend to stay. They might ignore some of my emails, especially when I’m in a launch, but they know I run a business and I often get comments like,
“loving your emails…good luck with your launch” or “Thank you I really needed to read this today”
But as we keep being reminded, we are living in extraordinary times, and there is a lot of noise and so I do think people are a bit sensitive at the moemnt. The brilliant Elizabeth Gilbert on her Facebook page posted something that read,
“Overreacting about people who are overacting is just another form of overacting”
Anyway. I am in launch. I am selling my programme One to Many which helps coaches and experts take their genius out to the world via a group programme model. This btw is not in response to Corona Virus…this programme was always going to be my focus in 2020…and so I am in fact recruiting for the second cohort of the year.
Last week in an attempt to be helpful I put together an ebook with information about how to start thinking about taking your offline business online…it had 9 different types of group programmes and guidance around price, 9 bits of tech I use, and 9 mindset issues to consider.
More than 200 small business owners downloaded it and on the whole they have been very appreciative…many of them sending me lengthy emails to thank me
I also ran a series of free webinars expanding on the info, to which around 80 people attended and around 60 watched on the replay.
I gave enormous value I reckon, my time for a start, and then there was the humor, the insight, I shared expertise, stories, concepts and ideas normally reserved for my paying clients. I did this because its the right thing to do right now.
But ultimately I am still trying to run a business, I am still in launch mode. I still need to make sales…not so I can jet off to my private island, but so I don’t go under like a lot of business owners are worrying about right now.
So when I got an email today from someone telling me to unsubscribe her immediately because she was sick of my spammy emails…I was a bit like “OK love calm down” (now of course I didn’t say that)….I unsubscribed her as requested and wished her well.
But she was very pissed off with me (2 further emails back made that clear) and I couldn’t work out what for?
For trying to keep a roof over my head, for trying to help people take their business online, for showing my existing clients what a consistent marketing campaign looks like…even when everyone else seems to be afraid to sell?
I’m not afraid to sell.
Do you know what I’m afraid of? The fact I get fuck all help as a self-employed business owner with no premises and no staff, I’m afraid because I have no family, or partner to bail me out financially….I’m afraid of not having enough work to keep me afloat, I’m afraid that anyone who has the courage to try and crack on with their core business gets this kind of response.
But no telling people who I do and how I can help them….that to me is not scary, even if they unsubscribe, even if they find me annoying or even spammy…like so what?
What I would say though is it was only one email.
And I am trying not to read too much into it. So to be helpful, here are some pointers for email, and for social media to lessen the noise, the stress, the competition the mess. (PS that’s a line from my spoken word piece which you can watch here)
Don’t like what you see in other people’s communications? Don’t want to be triggered? Or challenged? Not interested in what they have to say? And/or don’t like the way they do business?
It’s quite simple…I do it heaps every day with no fuss or bad feeling.
You don’t need to announce your departure either. Gosh. I unsubscribe to around 50 emails per week imagine the admin of having to tell each and everyone why? It’s already a bit of a ballache as it is. Emails are part and parcel of doing business in this digital world. And unless companies or individuals resubscribe me without permission, I’m good with making my own mind up about what comes into my inbox.
So before you have a hissy fit about receiving information about someone’s business, when you actually signed up for it…take a breath and remember nobody is trying to spam, annoy or aggravate you.
They are just doing their best to run their business. Their business that they probably made a heap of sacrifices for. The baby that has kept them up at night, kept them away from their kids or partners, and probably given them a few extra grey hairs along the way.
The business which they use as a vehicle to unlock their own version of freedom or security….which are both now in question.
JUST UNSUBSCRIBE and move on.
Commenting on how people decide to do business now is not useful, it’s not kind, and it is often based on fear, jealousy and/or a lack of understanding. All we can do right now is what we believe to be right for us and our clients.
So next time you find yourself rolling your eyes at an email, or hearing your mind saying “FFS will she please shut up” just scroll to the bottom of the email and unsubscribe.
And just for clarification, in case you are worrying that your email communications that go out are spammy….I bet you they are not, so get out there and tell people about your stuff….and tell them more than once!!!
Email spam also referred to as junk email, is defined by Wikipedia as unsolicited messages sent in bulk by email.
The name comes from Spam a type of luncheon meat described in a Monty Python Sketch Show as “ubiquitous, unavoidable, and repetitive” and even if yours are as described, further more…spammers tend to collect email addresses from chat rooms, websites, customer lists, newsgroups, and viruses that harvest users’ address books and are also often sold to other spammers.
So for the record lady…my email to you was part of a launch sequence triggered by you enjoying my free resources, rather than spam, you willingly gave me your details and I reckon I maintained my part of the deal.
And just think…in a few months time we could all be eating bloody Spam…and I’m a vegetarian, so I will continue taking my chances on using email marketing to continue to grow my business and put unprocessed food on my table.
Even if the odd one takes offence.
Give us a shout if you’d like to join my cohort of small business owners learning how to design, create, launch and deliver a kick-arse group programme (Its called One to Many)…we even have a 10 days sales challenge…and its OK no spammy email marketing comes as part of that deal….we start this week.
You can book a call here
If you haven’t ever worked on your money mindset I’d suggest you work on it now.
I started working with Denise Duffield Thomas back in 2015…I was broke as a joke, hated rich people, and refused to buy cucumbers because they had doubled in price.
I love fucking cucumber (ok so that sounds a bit wrong)
If you haven’t read Get Rick, Lucky Bitch go read it…and if you hate the title of the book, you probably need to read it more than others
Look people. I am a business owner, an entrepreneur. I make money from selling online programmes. I have made my living doing this for more than 6 years.
Before that, I worked as a freelance artist, trainer and later a consultant on the Olympics. I also come from a very working-class background where most of the men work in a trade, and most of the women are carers of some sort.
Poor money mindset and being hard wired to negativity runs deep…and that is why I knew I needed to get my money mindest right.
When I first started my plus-size fitness business I used to run in person workshops for £39…for less than forty quid these women got…
- A day of my coaching
- A tshirt
- A resource pack
- A goodie bag
- AND LUNCH
What the hell was I thinking?
What I am seeing right now in the world is a whole heap of panic (understandably so) I am seeing whole professions being asked to give their services for free…talk about throw people under a bloody bus.
If you have real expertise and experience you should not be giving that hard-earned asset away…do some freebies, give some resources, allocate some time to help…for sure, but stop charging all together or slash your prices so much that you price everyone else out of the game?
JUST FUCKING STOP.
Yes, things are bloody scary, yes people are out of work, yes we will all need to change how we see things. But the economy won’t ever recover if we all work for a bloody pittance.
Here are the choices I feel we have right now…
- Crack on as if CV didn’t happen
- Crack on with our existing expertise and just tweak the messaging or tactics
- Do something completely different to what you are known for because you are afraid
We will be judged for how we show up now. For the leadership we show. Our people will be watching. And to be fair…our people are the ones most likely to buy from us, its why growing a tribe in the first place is so important FFS.
People will still be spending money, we just need to be more creative about how we position ourselves and the marketing tactics we use.
But here is a thought…whatever your values and your passions were 6 months ago….start there, go back to what you get out of bed for (and no not the eternal search for bog roll) and take some time to think about your next move.
Don’t have the heart to sell right now? Sure thing…
- Invest in your development
- Write your book (check out Write Now) I’m working on one at the moment
- Learn how to create a new aligned income stream (This is what I am genius at btw…just did a 45 minute call with an illustrator, and she now has a kick-arse plan for not only surviving but fucking thriving)
Here’s a thing though.
Please stop making up stories about how people are going to behave in the coming months, we don’t bloody know.
What I do know though is everything we do moving forward is a choice.
- To invest or not invest
- To sell or not to sell
- To discount or not to discount
- To work for free or not to work for free
I’m keeping calm and cracking on.
I will continue to sell my online programmes that help small business owners make more money online.
One to Many starts on Monday and is a fast track way of taking your expertise online using a group programme one to many model. This programme was supposed to be going up in price and I have made the decision to keep it at its current price because it didn’t feel good to put it up…oh and I am offering an extended payment plan.
I am also continuing to invest. I will invest in staff, I will invest in freelance services, I will invest in professional development…because the worst thing I can do personally right now is going into a lack mindset…I’ve been there and it ain’t good for me.
But again no judgement
Do what works for you.
Stay strong, stay safe, and stay sane…most of all though keep selling and keep buying. Let’s keep money inflow between the people who need it most. Money just like baked beans should not be stockpiled…too much of it in your possession gives you wind and loses you friends.
Julie is a serial entrepreneur and expert community engagement expert from East London. Download her FREE guide “9 ways to take your genius online” and give her a shout if you need a bit of a rocket up the arse pep talk
THE DEADLINE FOR ONE TO MANY IS TODAY FOLKS…SO GET IN TOUCH IF YOU WANT MORE INFO (and yes I am shouting…not because I am mad, but because my finger slipped on my keyboard and I can’t be arsed to change it back now ha ha)
Photo by Micheile Henderson on Unsplash
Growing up I was one of 6 kids.
We spent a lot of time in a herd of kids, often with friends from our street, or our cousins, and younger aunties and uncles playing footie at the end of the road or run outs.
Now as much as I love my family…those gatherings were not enough.
I wanted to hang out with others.
I wanted to hang out with folks that were different from me and my family, I also wanted to hang out with people who shared the same interests as me.
When I was around 8 years old I turned my brothers attic room into a public library, its a long story as to why, but I managed to convince everyone down my street to donate their books and I acquired a rubber stamp…and my love of bringing people together for a common goal was born.
I have been a facilitator my whole life.
I spent 12 years working as a freelance artist, trainer and consultant, and I’ve spent the last ten years online bringing people together…whether that’s 50K plus size runners, or 150 entrepreneurs who are shit scared of selling.
People want to be together.
Yes, we want to learn…but mostly we just want to be together.
I help small business owners design group programmes, I help them design campaigns around their business that unite existing and potential customers with a common vision for a greater good.
This is what I do.
I am not tweaking my services for Corona Virus…I am just offering a cohort 2 weeks earlier than planned and freezing the prices (because I’d be a bit of a dick to put them up)
In my running business that although is 90% online, still requires my women to get outside and run, I am launching something called Thrive Inside, where I will be offering a full service of family-friendly fitness, wellbeing and mindset sessions live and direct into peoples homes around the world….and all for £5 per month. (check out the proposition here and support the cause if you like)
Why….because we still need to congregate, we still need to come together with a common goal….we have to have shit to do, shit to think about, people to connect with.
Never has this been so important.
My daughter screamed at me at the school gate this morning “I don’t want you to home school me, you are rubbish at maths” I mean she has a point, but that wasn’t actually what she was worried about…she is worried about never seeing her friends again.
So I have arranged with the class teacher to offer a weekly zoom call for all the kids in her class….I spent years getting kids to engage in activities in real life…so this will be a doddle for me.
We must find solutions, we must be creative, and we must find ways of gathering.
Join me at 11am or 2pm today for a FREE workshop on the power of group programmes, or book in a call with me so I can show you how I can help you step up as a leader right now in your business. Your clients need you. The world needs you
So it looks like the whole world is going online.
There is a whole heap of noise…to be fair there always has been.
Everyone will tell you they are an expert, a guru the best…they will use phrases like “most coaches” and “the thing I hate about most xxxx professionals is” rather than just talking about their thing.
Stress and anxiety levels will go up no doubt.
People who have been doing this malarky for a while will be like, “oh shit, everyone else is jumping on the bandwagon” and the newbies will be like “gosh this is all new and confusing how do I compete”
That’s the thing you don’t
There is enough room for us all…honestly.
Plus, there really is only one of you, and the more you tune into who you are and what you have to offer the world right now, the easier the next few months will be.
So some food for thought…
- Don’t rush…first to market doesn’t really mean much
- Don’t fart arse about though…procrastination is a bitch driven by fear, and that will cost you in the longterm
- Trust your gut instinct but also do your due diligence
- Try and buy local or with smaller traders (these guys will be hit hardest and will be most grateful for any purchase you make with them)
- Keep your money mindset in check…if you are afraid to invest in yourself, that will play out in how you view potential clients with thoughts like “well, I’d never pay that myself”
- There are lots of FREE options, but you may want to invest in some things just for speed and ease. A proper URL, unwatermarked images, a proper payment gateway.
- BE HONEST…if this is a beta round, if you are testing something…say so. Don’t pretend to be more experienced or longer in the game than you are…people will see it a mile off, and it will put you under enormous pressure to deliver.
- Ask for help and advice…but don’t take the piss. Giving everything away for FREE right now ain’t going to help the economy. Be OK with paying for professionals. Graphic Designers, VA’s, Coaches…they are small business owners with living expenses to pay too.
- Look after your wellbeing. Get enough sleep. Don’t spend too long in front of your screens. Touch base with your friends and family. Laugh. Cry. Access therapy if you need it…I know I do, I have a team of people I go to when things get tough.
- Make it fun…yes it can feel a bit scary doing something new. But what if you were just playful about the whole thing? What if you saw it as an exciting testing ground. An opportunity to be creative and try something new?
If you are reading this with a clear plan of action and all of the skills you need to take your offline genius online in the next few weeks, then keep calm and crack on…can’t wait to see what you create.
If you know you need some support. If you know there is a massive knowledge gap stopping you from moving forward. If you know you need someone to hold your hand through the process.
Then get in touch. (I have a range of 121 services which can be booked here)
My programme One to Many starts on Monday. This is my group programme for folks wanting to take their expertise online via the group programme route. Where over a 6-8 period we design, create, launch and fill your kick-arse group programme using my unique STORMING process.
Please note, I have 20+ years experience of designing group programmes, a decade of that has been online. I have been working specifically with small business owners for 2 years.
This programme was due to go up in price in April but I have decided not to do this, and to offer extended payment plans if folks should need them. On the 1st April I will also be required to add VAT to the price, so now is a great time to join to A) save yourself some money B) make yourself some money.
I said it at the weekend in a talk I gave about taking your expertise online.
Don’t create something and stick it online because of the Corona Virus, create something awesome, that boosts your credibility and bank balance and impact on this planet, that would be needed even if Corona Virus wasn’t a thing….because trust me the freedom and flexibility that online group programmes give you is going to become so apparent over the next few months…and you will be wondering why you didn’t do it before.
Stuck at home for the next 12 weeks?…wow what a bloody opportunity.
Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash