“What do they know that I don’t?”

Sometimes, it just feels like everything is going wrong.

  • Your market doesn’t respond to your product the way they have in the past.
  • You’ve doubled your revenue every year … except this year.
  • Your profit has shrunk, cashflow is tight, and you still haven’t seen the ROI on any of your new expenditures.
  • You’ve hired a team, but still find yourself working more than ever … and not on the creative projects you WISH you were working on.

What’s worse is you know there has to be a different way …

… because you look around you and see these people who are crushing it and you ask, “What do they know that I don’t?”

Well, here are four things that I believe make all the difference.

Plus, insights from some of our clients—about how they have used these lessons to close the gaps in their businesses, too.

1. Recognize That Overcoming Obstacles is Simple

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying it’s easy, but the path to overcoming obstacles really is rather simple.

At any given moment, there are only two things that you can do if you want to keep moving forward. You can plan, or you can act.

Ideally, you do both in balance. You plan, and then you act on those plans. And then you adjust your plans based on what your actions have revealed, and then take more action.

Plan, action, plan, action.

Rinse repeat.

It really is that simple.

It may not be easy, but it is simple.

2. Create Plans That You Will NOT Follow It Perfectly

A few years ago, I would have described myself as a “chronic over-planner” who didn’t always follow-through on all my great plans. Maybe you can relate.

What I learned is that I was too focused on making my plan perfect (and then following it perfectly). It was so binding. I felt like I couldn’t make a mistake or miss a step, because then my carefully crafted plan would just fall to pieces.

But what I learned is that the point of planning is not to create something that you can execute flawlessly.

As one of our clients, Lisa Fabrega, says:

I used to believe that I could plan it one way and it would have to be exactly like that but now I know that even once the thing is out there you will get feedback that you will need to pivot a few things or tweak along the way.

She’s exactly right.

3. Create More Constraints

So if the point of a plan is not to create something that you’ll follow step-by-step, what is it?

Well, if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times:

Freedom comes from constraints.

Lacy Boggs, founder of the Content Direction Agency, summed this lesson up really well:

One of the biggest misconceptions about planning I run into in my biz is that people fear if they plan (in my case, their blog posts) they won’t be inspired any more—that they’ll plan the passion right out. Planning actually gives them back time that they otherwise spent waiting for inspiration to strike and stokes the creativity they thought it would drain away.

She explained it to me further with a great analogy: writing free-form verse may seem simpler than writing a sonnet. But when you have the structure and form of a sonnet to follow, you’re actually forced to be more creative.

Freedom—including creative freedom—comes from constraints.

4. Be Accountable for the Result

One of the biggest mindset shifts I had to as I was growing my business is that what I do is not help clients double their profit with half the effort.

No, what I do is this:

I run a company.

My company does the doubling the profit thing; my job as the CEO is to run the company.

What that means is that, at the end of the day, I am accountable for the results that the company achieves. However, when I’m acting in my capacity as a CEO, my job is not to do the work that generates those results. No, my job is to generate those results through my team.

Our client Denise Duffield-Thomas explained this as her biggest lesson, as she grew her business from the $250k mark to $1m+:

Part of your planning should be how you can step further into the CEO role of your business and work more in your Zone of Genius (CEO doesn’t stand for “Chief Everything Officer” by the way).

Successfully planning out a million dollar business is more about what you take OUT of your plan, rather than what you put in.

As you plan out all the tasks and new projects, you want to do, ask yourself ‘Who can do this INSTEAD of me?’

Who, indeed.

(Of course, even Denise needed help seeing the bigger picture answer to this question. You can read more about how we helped her do that, here)

Do This, In EVERY Moment

There’s a lot more than can be said, of course.

But for right now, all I want to drive home is that at any given moment — or maybe I should say at every given moment — you really do only have two options.

There are only two things you can do to move forward, take advantage of your opportunities, and overcome your challenges.

You can make a plan
and/or
You can take action

So here’s your challenge for this moment:

Take 30 seconds right now to do the first — think about the four lessons I outlined above. Pick the one that resonates most deeply with where you are and where you want to go …

… and then go do it.