Next week, I head to Europe for two and a half weeks. For one and a half of those at the start, I will still be working “in” the business. And for one (at the end), I will be completely off.
I’m calling it the “pause”.
Not quite a full stop, but more? A re-set, re-alignment and re-examination.
A time to stop and re-examine my old “yeses”, and determine whether they still align today.
Because that’s all life is, isn’t it?
Our surroundings, circumstances, lives and businesses – all simply direct results of old “yeses” we committed to at some other time.
And which may (or may not) still serve us.
To do that requires space, and in my view?
A change of circumstance, and of scenery.
Something to jolt you enough OUT of the norm to intentionally consider whether that NORM actually still serves you.
My Pauses to Date
My first intentional pause came when I was two years into my career as a lawyer. I’d just been admitted to the Supreme Court of Queensland, and we celebrated over oysters and champagne.
Only, I felt the niggle.
Something still not quite right.
A lingering sense that I was off track, even though to everyone around me I was on the only RIGHT track.
My pause back then involved booking a one way ticket to South America (much to my parents horror).
And resulted in a complete career 180 – from law, to Sponsor Executive of the Queensland Reds.
“Marketing?!”, everyone said, “REALLY?”
Really, I was able to confidently say – happy in my path and purpose for the first time in years.
Five years into my new career, the niggle came again.
You have a GREAT job, the logical “me” told myself.
A good boss, a “manager” title and working for a brand I truly loved.
“But.. is this it?” My heart replied, “Aren’t you meant for more.. Big things? BIG impact?”
I couldn’t possibly, thought my logical brain.. and so, I did the same thing I did the last time I felt the niggle.. only this time the plane ticket said “Rome, Italy”.
It was there, on a roof top bar called Francos in Positano, that I knew I needed to follow my heart..
And so, my business was born.
I’m five, nearly, six years into business now, and it’s no secret that just recently I started to feel that itch again.
Only this time, when it hit, I knew exactly what I needed to gift myself.
All of which are, of course, more difficult in this season with babies and a high-touch business.. but thankfully possible with a supportive partner and a supportive team.
With the recent closure of Launchpad, I instinctively knew that I required a change of scenery to re-imagine what the next iteration of this business looks like.
And so, back on a plane I go.
Outside of the every day.
Of dirty nappies.
Of Slack dings.
Of fighting fires.
And into new environments to help me think out of the box, because – even if only for a week or two – I am LIVING out of the box.
A Pause Should Be a Necessary Prerequisite for Every New Season
Recently, I have seen many business owners close things down, start new things up, shift and pivot.. all without seemingly taking a breath.
I have pondered whether those same people might well find themselves in the exact same position 12 months from now because they shifted without deep thought.
Here’s my view:
Moving into a new business season requires a new business strategy.
And yet so often, we rush into the next thing.
Because we need to. Because we want to. Because we think we have to.
The trouble with rushing, though, is that it is the time spent SHARPENING the axe (in this case, developing a new strategy) that is ten times more impactful than the time spent chopping the wood (in this case, executing on the new strategy).
The pause is a way to stop, reflect and intentionally ensure that the next strategy is RIGHT before rushing into the roll out.
For me? That involves devising the strategy, yes, but also?
Ensuring that the strategy is 100% “I-feel-it-in-my-soul”, RIGHT FOR ME.
Which brings me to my next point.
The Critical Importance of Product-Market-Founder Fit
You hear business owners so often talk about “product-market fit”, which means building a business that effectively addresses and solves the needs of your intended target audience (and is profitable as a result).
It’s critical, of course.
But the conversation fewer are having (and which I truly believe is the result of much of the burn out, anxiety and “done-ness” I am feeling in many business owners post-pandemic?)
Is product-market-FOUNDER fit.
Because, here’s the thing.
Building a profitable business with product-market fit should be a given.
It feels remiss to need to say that, but unfortunately in a world where too many online founders are talking only about the side of the coin that involves building a business that serves THEM, it’s important to remember that that will NEVER come if you aren’t first ensuring that business serves your people well first.
(You get what you want, when you deliver value and give people what they need).
Once you have this, though?
I truly and whole-heartedly believe that the long-term sustainability of the business also requires that the MODEL also fits the founder, or in other words:
That yes, you are building a business that is profitable because it solves a deep problem, but also?
That you’re delivering it in a package that feels wildly aligned.
Product-market-founder fit means finding a model and way of delivering your thing that feels right for you.
Business is a long game, and without FOUNDER fit in the mix, it becomes very difficult to sustain a model that isn’t aligned OR to scale it without feeling resistance (and which is often something that presents in a faltering offer that on the surface looks structurally sound).
The secret sauce to a profitable and sustainable lifestyle business is, in my opinion, this:
Product/market fit PLUS a model and market that the founder is LIT UP BY and which aligns with them and their unique way of being.
In other words?
Don’t create a self study course if you LOVE people.
Don’t build a high touch group coaching program if you don’t want the trappings.
Don’t create an offer on a topic that doesn’t light you up.
Don’t build something that requires you to spend all day in delivery if marketing is your jam.
Don’t build something low price if you aren’t willing and lit up by spending more of your time marketing.
Or in summary?
Design a business RIGHT FOR YOU.
That lights you up like NOTHING ELSE.
That you’re irrationally obsessed with.
Getting crystal clear on my version of this is the intention of my pause, because I know without a shadow of a doubt that I will be energetically able to sustain the long-run of business when I focus here first.
Getting Clear on What You Want
So, maybe by now you feel inspired to take your own pause?
To re-examine and perhaps realign results of the yeses you are currently living with, and perhaps re-align some of them too?
If this episode resonates, I strongly recommend you do.
As you pause – whether it’s for a day, a week or longer – here’s the question I recommend asking yourself.
It’s the same one that I intend to spend many hours in deep thought further pondering it over the coming weeks, and it’s simply this:
WHAT DO I WANT?
Ask yourself over, and over, and over.
Don’t colour with things like:
… And what will be the most profitable?
… And what are others successfully doing?
… And what should I be doing?
Just the question:
WHAT DO I WANT?
If you struggle (it’s normal to, because so many of us don’t take the time to sit with our uncomfortable thoughts and truly think about whether the thing we’re building is actually TRULY aligned), I recommend flipping it.
WHAT DO I NOT WANT?
Starting with what you DON’T want can actually help the words flow more freely.
This is what I intend to ask myself over the coming weeks, and I can’t wait to share with you the results.
For the first time in a long time, I feel endlessly excited by the possibilities, and proud of my commitment to do the work to live a wildly aligned life – even if doing so requires change and courage.
I’ll let you know what I come up with.