Back when I first became an online entrepreneur, my ‘business strategy’ (if you could call it that!) was to create a whole range of different products and services, and try to make them all as profitable as possible. To do this, I worked hard to cultivate my expertise across a number of different areas, I targeted a variety of different niches, and I poured my heart and soul into every single bit of it.
To a certain extent, I enjoyed it – I really did. Getting to explore lots of areas was fun, and I always had something new and exciting to focus on. Not to mention, I was getting traction on a lot of those different projects, which was insanely gratifying. In fact, from the outside, an objective observer would likely have labelled my business (and by extension, me) as a ‘success’ because I was ticking those all-important boxes we online biz owners strive for: I was location independent, I had an ever-growing tribe, I was featured in the mainstream media, I’d cracked six figures… As a business owner, I had it all – didn’t I?
But behind all that progress, there was another, equally-as-important truth: I was stretching myself too thin.
There were so many different areas of my business that required my attention and energy that I was starting to burn myself out. Though I was passionate about my work and the women I was helping, there were definitely times that I started to resent the busy, chained-to-my-laptop lifestyle I’d unwittingly created for myself (even though ‘lifestyle’ was actually the #1 reason why I’d started my own business in the first place)… I began to have a sinking feeling that at a certain point, something would have to give.
‘Crunch time’ came when my eldest daughter was around 3 years old, and my husband and I decided we wanted to start trying for another baby. Knowing that soon I’d be even more stretched for time and energy (newborns don’t exactly make for an easy work-life balance!), I was forced to take a good, hard look at the way I was running my business and my life.
The reality hit me over the head like a lightning bolt: I knew what kind of mother/wife/person I wanted to be, and I knew what kind of income I wanted to earn… And I also knew that the way my business was set up at that time, there was simply no way I could have both those things at once.
It seemed like the ultimate ‘either or’ situation: EITHER I could focus on being a good mum (and have lots of time and energy to devote to my family), OR I could focus on building my business by continuing to work harder and harder. I was stuck in that paradigm of thinking that the only way to make more money was to throw as much time and energy at my work as possible, so for ages, those two competing desires seemed completely mutually exclusive.
Luckily, the possibility of a new baby caused me to look at things with fresh eyes and I was able to come up with a solution that would change the way I approached my business. To be honest, I don’t quite remember how the answer clicked into place – from memory, I think I had been toying with the idea by myself for a little bit, then had it suggested to me by my coach and a number of business friends, and I’m sure there was a timely sprinkling of magic dust from the Universe too. Whatever the source, the solution crystallised in my mind with absolute clarity:
If I wanted to get better results in my business without compromising what was important in my personal life, I needed to stop spreading my energy in multiple directions and start honing in on ONE thing – whatever was MOST important to move my business forward – and then let the rest go.
It didn’t actually matter what that one thing was: theoretically, I could have chosen to focus on my consulting work or coaching or speaking and turned any of them into my one driving force.
But to be honest, there was never any doubt: no sooner had the solution swam into my mind, I knew I wanted to focus solely on e-Courses, because they’d always given me so much more leverage and impact than anything else in my business.
So I set about strategically gearing my entire business around this one particular income stream. But my singular focus didn’t stop there – it went deeper. Much deeper…
I also needed to choose which ONE e-Course to focus on (at that stage, I was running quite a few). Then I needed to apply the ‘rule of ONE’ to every area of my operations too to find the one thing that would move me forward the most in my marketing, advertising, blogging, and audience building. It was all about asking myself which activity was going to give me the biggest ROI in terms of time and energy, and then committing to that one action.
I even took this idea to a micro level: on those days where life got crazy and things seemed out of control, all I had to do was choose the ONE thing I could do that day to move forward with as much ease and momentum as possible. If I at least got that thing done, I knew I was still on track and the world wouldn’t fall apart.
This idea of focusing with laser-sharp precision on the ONE most important thing for my business was revolutionary to me at the time.
And you know what? It freaking worked.
My first launch after that decision was my biggest ever (despite having a newborn baby at the time!). And the launch after that was even bigger. And the launch after that more than doubled the previous launch. (Yep, even though I was already in the ‘six figure’ realm.) The power of singular focus was mind-blowing… I was a total convert. I went from $150k in 2014 to over $400k in 2015!
As it turned out, I wasn’t the only one who’d discovered the effectiveness of this approach – loads of crazy-successful entrepreneurs live and breathe by this rule. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Elon Musk and Oprah Winfrey are just a few examples. I’m currently reading a book called ‘The One Thing’ by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan, which distils the entire principle down into one potent question: “What is the ONE Thing you can do such that by doing it, everything else would be either easier or unnecessary?”
Ask yourself this question, they say, and you can achieve anything… and I agree.
In fact, this idea of focusing on only one thing made such a massive impact to my business that it became the basis for the Mastermind program I developed and launched last year. In it, I teach women how to take ONE e-Course and turn it into the lucrative backbone of their entire business – it’s all about harnessing the power of doing a single thing, and doing it really, really well. (And let me just say: the ladies’ results speak for themselves – this approach works.)
So if you’re feeling stretched too thin – or aren’t getting the kind of results you want in your business – try utilising this incredibly powerful principle for yourself. Here are three things you can do today to help you put it into practice:
Look at your to-do list right now and get honest with yourself.
Grab your notebook and start journalling: What things are you only doing because you feel like you ‘should’ do them? What tasks do you really not enjoy doing? What activities take up a whole lot of your time for not much return? Write out whatever answers come up, even if you can’t yet see a way to let any of your tasks go. Identifying these energy drains is the first step to changing your business.
Start saying no.
Focusing on one thing requires the steadfast ability to say ‘no’ – even when it’s awkward, even when you feel uncomfortable, even when you risk disappointing other people. Look through your inbox right this minute: what can you say no to today to give you more time and energy to focus on your real priorities?
Get expert help to take your ONE thing next level.
If you’re only doing one thing, then you damn well better make sure you’re doing it right! It’s essential to get the expert help you need to ensure you’re not taking the long road (or worse, the wrong road) to get where you want to be.
If e-Courses are your passion and you want to focus on building one flagship e-Course that’s strong enough to support your whole business, the next round of my Ultimate e-Course Mastermind will begin in January of 2016. (To get on the list, click here.)
Our 2015 cohort experienced amazing results, with women doubling their enrolment numbers, or earning more revenue than they ever had before, or having their biggest launch ever. One gorgeous participant – who already had a 6-figure business – more than DOUBLED her income ‘as a direct result of this mastermind program’ (her words, not mine).
So there you have it: the one simple question that’s helped me double my business revenue while allowing me to be the kind of person and mum I want to be.