🎙️Show Notes for Episode 080 of the IC PodcastSep 22, 2022
Last week, I talked about the three components of the successful IC business owners' routine. In this episode, I deep dive into one of those 3 components, which is the Quarterly Business Focus Project.
To recap last week's episode number 79, the three components of the successful IC business owner routine are
- A well-defined set of the run/maintain activities in your business. These are the things you have to do on a daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis to keep your business producing at the current level that it's at.
- The Quarterly Business Focus Project. That's what this episode is focused on.
- A Mindset Practice to uplevel, improve and expand on your business owner mindset.
In Episode 80, I dive into everything you need to know about the Quarterly Business Focus Project.
- what it is,
- why you need one,
- the 8-part anatomy of an effective focus project so that you have the exact formula to build out your focus projects, and
- two very tangible real-life examples of what you should and should not do with a Quarterly Focus Project.
To put this into practice, here are two additional resources to support you with this work.
- A companion PDF, the Successful IC Business Owner Routine, that gives you a detailed list of all the different types of activities that are most effective for your business on a daily, weekly, quarterly, and yearly basis from which you can go choose and figure out what makes the most sense for you in your business.
- I am hosting a Quarterly Success Planning Workshop on September 30, 2022, where I will outline for you the exact process that I teach my clients so that you can hit the ground running in Q4 and finish the year strong.
Key points in the podcast
- [02:03] Recap of EP. 079
- [03:11] Today’s agenda
- [05:17] Check out the Successful IC Business Owner Routine
- [06:36] Register to join the Quarterly Success Planning Workshop
- [09:05] What is a quarterly focus project
- [10:52] Why you need a quarterly focus project
- [14:26] The anatomy of an effective focus project (there are eight components)
- [15:05] Give it a fun title
- [15:43] Create a measurable, objective statement
- [15:56] Create a why statement
- [16:26] Get clear for yourself: The RAM Method
- [17:48] Establish your plan
- [18:09] Create a list of potential obstacles with strategies to overcome each
- [19:45] Bonus Component: Address any lack of knowledge
- [20:19] Outline checkpoints to evaluate and adjust
- [21:57] Pull all of this together into a realistic project plan
- [22:33] Two examples for you to bring this to life
- [22:39] Example #1
- [26:28] Example #2
MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE —
- Check out the Successful IC Business Owner Routine
- Register to join the Quarterly Success Planning Workshop
- Check out the RAM Method
AND FOR MORE RESOURCES SPECIFIC TO THE INDEPENDENT CONSULTANT —
- Discuss working with me as your coach - Click here to schedule your consultation
- Check out my YouTube Podcast Channel
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Welcome to this week's podcast. Can you believe we're on Episode 8, like we've been on this journey together; whether you're brand new to the podcast or have been listening since the beginning, I'm so happy that you're here. And I just can't wait to share today's topic with you. But I feel like that every week as well; I love all of these topics. I love creating this content for you. And I love hearing from you that these episodes are making an impact on your business. When you put the work that I give you each week into action in your business. I know for a fact it will help you move forward toward the nature of a business that you want or the flexibility of the business that you want, the impact of the business that you want, and the income of the business that you want. So that is why I do this. And I know that if you put it into action, it's going to move the needle for you. So today, one of my favorite topics is creating a quarterly focused project for yourself. This is something that I've been doing in my own business for the last several years and something that I teach my clients and am continuously refining. And this is, if I were to look at one tool that makes the biggest difference, this has to be it. So that's why I want to share this with you today in this amazing episode, number 80. It's really a deep dive. So last week, we talked about the three components of the successful icy business owners' routine. If you remember, if you listen to last week's episode, fabulous, we're just taking a deeper dive into one of those three components today, which is the focus project. If you didn't yet catch that episode, not a problem. I'll give you the cliff notes here. And then you can go listen to it later. It's episode 79. The three components of the successful ice business owner routine are having a well-defined set of run and maintain activities in your business; these are the things you have to do on a daily, weekly, monthly quarterly basis to keep your business really producing at the current level that it's at. And then the second component is the focus project. That's what we're going to be diving into the date to today. And then, the last component is having a practice to uplevel and improve and expand on your business owner mindset. So that's the cliff notes of last week's episode number 79. Go back and listen to that if you haven't already. But for today, you're in the right place. We're going to be diving into this concept of a quarterly focus project. I'm going to tell you what it is in more detail, why you need one, why you want to have one, and give you some examples. Very, very tangible real-life examples of what you want to do with a focus project. And what you don't want to do with a focus project, which most of us are doing. Most of us are doing what we don't want to do inadvertently. And I want to point that out to you and help you see what it is that you want to do instead when you're setting and executing against this quarterly focus project. So that's what we have on the docket today. Let me tell you our specific agenda. There are four key points here to this quarterly focus project. The first is what is a quarterly focus project. The second topic of our agenda is why have won the third I'm going to give you the anatomy of an effective focus project, so you know exactly what those elements are. When you're building out your own focus project. I think there are seven of them around there. I'll tell you the exact number when I get to what says I'm on the agenda. And then, finally, we're going to talk through those two real-life examples. So I'm going to tell you some example-focused projects. I'm going to tell you how most independent consultants approach them; they're probably going to sound familiar to you. So you know, and then I'm going to explain to you how to shift those types those projects into something that's so much more impactful for your business. So it looks like a quarterly focused project versus a kind of half-ass project that you put together. And, and is missing two key elements to really make sure that this project that you've chosen makes a difference in your business. Okay. So that is what we're focused on today, those four key points. All right, let's start with Oh before we get started, though, before we get started on what is a quarterly-focused project, I have to tell you two amazing things that I need that I desperately want you to have. The first is the success; of IC business owners' routine. I created it for you last week as part of that episode number 79 on the three components of a successful business owner routine, and I want to make sure that you have it. So if you haven't yet downloaded it, it's related to today's topic. And I want to make it literally gives you every kind of a menu of all the things that you could choose from; you're probably doing some of them consistently, you're probably doing some of them inconsistently, and you want to adjust that. And some you've probably overlooked. And so what I created this massive, basically inventory for you to go look through all of the potential things that you could be doing as part of your business owner routine, and make sure that you've got the right things on your, on your calendar, so that you're making an impact in your business. So go download that. It's on my website, Melisaliberman.com/routine. And we'll put that link in the show notes as well. Okay. And the second thing, which I'm so incredibly excited for you to, for us do together, is I am hosting a quarterly success planning workshop on September 30. If you're listening to this in real time, it's Friday, September 30, 2022. If you're listening to this after the 30th, it doesn't go to the page anyway because I will see when the next one is or get the replay or some other related topic. So nonetheless, this workshop is going to be 90 minutes of you rolling up your sleeves and me walking you through a very specific step-by-step process so that you have your quarterly plan in place for q4. You know exactly what you're doing when you're working on your business. So you're not kind of in that analysis, paralysis or wasting time knowing you need to work on your business, but mostly doing things that are reactive, someone needs a proposal, you're reacting, someone's reaching, you know, you know that you have a potential Phase Two for a client and keep kicking the can down the road, we're gonna take everything that you know, will move the needle in your business in q4 and create a structure for you, so you know exactly what it is that you're doing in a very intentional, proactive way, versus just reacting to whatever's coming at you. So that you can do two things that have more impact in q4 than you've ever had. And finish the year strong. And make sure that you are setting yourself up for success as we move into 2023. I'm going to literally walk you through the step-by-step so that you walk away with the exact plan that you will execute to get the results that you're looking for in q4. So it will be 90 minutes, well worth the time and investments for this workshop. So go over to Melisaliberman.com/quarterly-workshop, and you'll see all of the details there.
And I cannot wait for you to join me in that. So you've got your exact playbook ready to go. Okay, with that, Now let's dive into the related topic, which is the core really focused projects. What is it? It's a project. That this is very obvious. But I want to be sure we're clear here. This is a; you're doing projects all day long for your clients. This is a project for yourself for your own business. This is not related to any client delivery; this is for you and your business; the objective is to advance a lever in your business that's going to make the biggest impact this quarter. So an example of a lever might be increasing the value of your pipeline. Because everything kind of flows down from there, a lever might be increasing, you're adjusting your sales, close rate, those are the types of levers I'm talking about. I'm gonna give you a lot more examples here around this. But it's an A, to repeat the quarterly focus project is a project with an objective of advancing a specific lever in your business that's, that you've identified will make the biggest impact on your goals this quarter, and potentially, you know, in the longer term, usually in the longer term as well, right. It's results driven. I can't emphasize this enough. And I'm going to give you some examples of what I mean by that. It needs to be results driven. And it also is constrained. It's constrained to one specific focus area. That's why it's called the Focus project. This isn't like. I'm going to basically redo my entire business. That's not a quarterly-focused project. Okay, so that's what the quarterly focus project is. Agenda Item number one. Agenda Item number two, why have one? Like, there are so many reasons, there are so many reasons; let me give you a feel. This gives you what I what is called I don't call it, this is a common term, and it gives you a Northstar to help you with prioritization. I know for me, I'm constantly looking, but I, you know, look, at the end of the day, we all want to accomplish so many things, right? I'm sure you have a laundry list of things that you want to accomplish in your business. And it gets very tempting to try to boil the ocean to do all of them. I do this every single day, and I get distracted, and I get tempted. I want to go, you know, some things seem more fun than other things. It's so easy to get off track. You have a North Star, which is this focus project, to literally go back to every day and remind yourself what am I doing again? What am I trying to accomplish? And using that as a guide for yourself as you prioritize and put things and allocate things to your calendar. The focus project helps you know exactly what to focus on. When you've set aside time to work on your business. I hear from so many of you; I work on my business on Mondays, I work on my business on Fridays; when I ask what that means, a lot of times I get kind of a concerted response or concern stare; I'm not 100% What that means sure what that means. Because you're in this reactive mode, like most independent consultants, having a focus project helps you to know exactly what it is to work on your business. When you have two hours a week, sometimes, when you're really working on a lot of client deliver, you might only have one or two hours in the week to work on your business. Let's make the most of it. And that's what this focus project does. It also helps him make it also makes it easier for you to set boundaries for yourself and your boundaries for other people, the most of the time, the boundaries we need are for ourselves, to keep ourselves on track, right? I'm not going to be tempted by the shiny object, and I'm going to commit to the focus project. That's what that boundary looks like. Think about our focus project, something that's depth versus breadth. The deeper you can go in one very specific lever in your business, the more impact you're going to make versus trying to choose three or four of them. The depth versus the breadth. Why else is a focus project imperative for your business?
It's measurable, so you can evaluate the results along the way, you can adjust, and it becomes a scientific effort here versus this broad sense of it. Work on my business and not really truly knowing what that means. And therefore, diluting your impact is imperative to have one focus project per quarter. So think about it, if you look at the next four quarters, if you were to focus on one specific area of your business and go deep into it, imagine what your business would look like it four quarters from now; it would be night and day difference. And so that's why having a quarterly focus project is so critical to your success. Need I say more? Nothing that could go on all day about this. Let's, let's keep it moving here. Okay, next on our agenda, let's talk about the anatomy of an effective focus project was close, there are eight parts to the anatomy of an effective focus project. Go download that I see success routine; I'm going to put all of these in here; I'm going to update that particular PDF. So if you've already downloaded it, do go download it again after this episode. And if you haven't yet downloaded it, go do that now because that is chock full of everything you need to create that successful business owner routine. So the anatomy of an effective focus project is there eight components. First, let's give it a fun title. You know, what, like a code name, you've probably been part of projects in the past that have a fun code name. Having a hard time remembering an example of one at the moment. But give it a title, something fun that resonates with you that makes you want to do it. That's something that feels like a punishment; give it a fun title. Operation pipeline, I don't know, pick something fun; fun is definitely not my forte; I'm trying to get better at it. But look, make it a fun title, make it something that you want to be doing versus another must-do on your list. So that's number one. Number two, create a measurable, objective statement. I'll give you some examples of that in a moment. So a measurable objective statement for the focus project. Third, why a why statement? Why are you doing this project? Why are you doing this project instead of other projects? I can assure you, your brain is going to want to talk yourself out of it at some point. During the course of executing this project, maybe every single day, being able to go back to why you're doing it is incredibly valuable. That's the third part of the anatomy of the effective focus project. The fourth part is really getting clear for yourself, am I setting a process goal or an outcome goal? Sometimes if there's something big that you're trying to accomplish, it can be easier. Let's just say you wanted to get to a million dollars in your business, that's too big, too big of an example, let's just say that you wanted to be more specific, let's just say that you wanted to create a pipeline of $1.5 million so that you generate $1 million in revenue in a given year, that could be an example. So a pipeline of $1 million.
And let's say your pipeline right now is 500k. So it's really doubling your pipeline is the goal, you might choose to send an outcome goal, I'm going to double the size of my pipeline, or you might choose to set a price that might feel really big, and really hard, and really impossible. If that's the case doesn't have to be, but if that's the case, I will go back to considering a process goal. So the process goal in that example would be I'm going to create work on my pipeline every single day by contacting you know two people and you would know that those numbers two a day in your warm network will lead to your hypothesis is that it would lead to a doubling of a pipeline because maybe you've been doing one a day on average, something like that. That's an example of whether you want to use this as a process goal or an outcome goal. Okay, that was the fourth component. The fifth component is your plan. This is your list of tasks and activities with dates. And people assigned it might just be you, or you might have some, you know, contractors or someone supporting you in certain areas. This is the list of tasks and activities with dates and people to accomplish your objective number six in the anatomy of the effective focus project is having this overlooked all the time. This, if you were to do now if you were to spend very little time on any of the rest of these and spent the bulk of the time here, this is going to really be impactful for you. So what it is, is your list of obstacles, anticipated obstacles, with strategies to overcome each of those obstacles. Spend some time here. Think about your past experience doing a similar project or the same type of project in the past. What was the, What stopped you or slowed you down from getting the results you wanted? Think about the mental side of this. What things have you been thinking in the past about yourself your business about your potential clients that have slowed you down or prevented you from successfully completing this type of project in the past? Think about the logistical obstacles you might face. Usually, one of those is, you know, lack of time, how are you going to plan for that, don't just hope for the best. Make a plan. Be realistic about what the obstacles are going to be, mental, logistical, strategic, or tactical, and then create strategies in advance to overcome those obstacles. Fold those strategies back into your plan as appropriate. That's number six. One of the strategies I want to touch on briefly also is a lack of knowledge; you might not know everything you need to know to be successful. Yet in this particular focus project, be very clear about how we are going to solve that without lack of knowledge. And how you're not going to sell the lack of knowledge. Watching 1000 YouTube videos, you know, there's a point of diminishing returns, right? So be very clear with yourself about how you're going to satisfy that lack of knowledge and then fold that back into your plan. Okay, number seven checkpoints to evaluate and adjust. Again, this is not this focus project is not going to go perfectly this focus project is not going to go smoothly. This focus project, you might not get the results that you're looking for right away, and you might start feeling discouraged. Set yourself up mentally and structurally in this focus project, to just take some checkpoints here, give yourself the permission that you know what along the way. So I'm gonna go perfectly; it's not gonna go smoothly; I'm going to set some checkpoints so that I can just evaluate without self-judgment and adjust as necessary. Just plan to fail. That's so much better than trying to avoid failure. And then feeling shitty when you feel like you're failing. And the project isn't going well. Just plan ahead so that this isn't gonna go as exactly as I want it to. And how am I going to handle that? I'm going to set up checkpoints. So I evaluate and adjust. And somehow I don't have, you know, kind of like go
into this Pat like is you know, this tunnel is like this tunnel sometimes where you just kind of like go into this tunnel, you know, you want to accomplish a certain goal, you kind of hope for the best, you do some things hoping that they'll work. And then, all of a sudden, you pop out of the tunnel night, 90 days later. It's like, what just happened to me? I don't know, right? Let's set ourselves up for these checkpoints so that you can evaluate and adjust moving forward and really fine-tune your process so that you're getting ultimately getting the results that you want. And then number eight, create, pull up, pull all of this together into a realistic project plan. Again, you've got the plan, you've got the strategies to overcome the obstacles, and you've got your checkpoints in place. Put it on the calendar, and make sure that you have space on your calendar to execute this plan. And if you don't, then you've got to make the plan smaller. You've got to get someone to help you. Whatever the answer is, you know how to handle when a project plan doesn't fit into the timeline, right? So those are the eight components of the anatomy of an effective focus project. Okay, let's wrap up here with two examples for you to bring this to life. The first is a lot of times I hear from you and your independent consultants, I need to in I need to create a pipeline for myself, I need to improve my pipeline, I need to make it so my pipeline is more steady and not so feast or famine. Those are the kinds of things I hear. Then I hear well; I'm just not sure how right this is the typical scenario, then I'll tell you what the focus project approach would look like. So the typical scenario is I need to figure out how to create a pipeline for my business. I don't know how; I'm not sure if the best way is. I keep creating this, like feast or famine for myself, you get into analysis, paralysis, and ultimately, all of that just snowballs into the status quo, still doing the same thing over and over again. And getting obviously the same results. When you take and implement the quarterly focused project approach, it will look like this. Instead, it would look like as you're setting an objective for yourself, I will create a pipeline valued at $750,000 Within three the next three months of working on it 30 minutes per day. That's a quarterly focused project. I don't even probably need to go any further. You can hear the difference between that, and I need to figure out how to create a pipeline for my business, which is the typical way we set you to know, set aside time in our to work on our consulting business. So the quarterly focused project approach in this example of a pipeline, again, I will create a pipeline valued at $750,000, within the next three months working on it, 30 minutes per day, free create an initial hypothesis for yourself, okay, I'm going to work on this 30 minutes per day, I'll give you a couple of examples from clients, one of my clients created something that she calls a three by two. So her hypothesis is if I reach out to three people in my warm network and reconnect with them two times a week,
then I know that I'm going to create that, that result that I want in my pipeline, that measurable result in my pipeline. That's her initial hypothesis, she went and put it into place, and she ended up getting the results that she was looking for. Great, the initial hypothesis works. If it doesn't work, then you just re-iterate; maybe you turn it into a three-by-three. For another example, I've created something that I call the RAM method. This is a method that you can implement in your business to spend 26 minutes a day; it's time-boxed for you to create a pipeline for yourself that is consistent and is really doable within the amount of time that you have available in a given day, you can go download that we'll put the link in the show notes, I think it's Melisaliberman.com/RAM, if I recall correctly, R A M stands for three separate activities. I have a client who put that into place. And he started building a pipeline very quickly. So these are some examples of how you would put this into practice to build a pipeline valued at 750k, within three months, as an example. And then you schedule this in your calendar so that you know exactly what there's a space for everything. Right. That's an example of what it looks like to have a typical project versus a quarterly-focused project. And obviously, there's a lot more about that; we want to make sure that you've got those eight components of the project really detailed out. But that gives you a high-level example. A couple of high-level examples. Okay, let's couple more things here. Let's talk about one more example. And then we'll pull all this together. So the second example I want to share with you is this happens so often, especially when clients first come to work with me; a lot of times, they're in the middle of some kind of website update. So the project, like in the typical scenario is I need to update my website. And so you're either doing it yourself or managing some kind of a contractor who's helping you. And oftentimes, this project leads into some crazy black hole from for, you know, for us, it happens over and over again. It's like a never-ending project. So the way you would shift that website project into a quarterly focused project approach is some; let me give you two examples of what this might look like. The first example is I will create version two of my website, so it captures 10 inbound leads per month. Now depending on the nature of your business model, it could be one inbound lead per month, it could be 20 Depends on obviously what you've got to map that back to your business model to create that initial hypothesis. And then the tasks attached to this would be things like focusing on SEO, having some kind of a downloadable PDF or reason for people to give you their emails, you've got them as a lead, and also having some kind of promotion plan for the new website, it's not good enough to just create the new website and hope people see it if your goal is to create more leads through the website. So that's an example of shifting from, I need to update my website and feeling like you just have to need to, for whatever reason, into making it a quarterly focused project that moves one of the levers in your business, in this case, creating inbound leads. A second example of shifting your website project into a quarterly focus project would be for level looking at your website and price per website as part of your sales process. So the reason why you would want to, in this case, in this example, you may want to update your website is because you see it as part of the web of your sales process. So you may say you may structure your focus project around updating your website into version two. So that prospective clients will go to it. So you would add that to part of your sales process to validate your expertise. Now, let me just take a pause here and ask if that's really true. 99 times out of 100, I find that as part of your sales process, and no one's ever going to your website. So you might decide to scratch this as a quarterly focused project just from that kind of that double checking with yourself.
But it, let's say that you really do have a hypothesis that updating your website is going to help with your sales process. Even for your own mental state, you're embarrassed by your current website, and you want it to at least look better so that you don't feel embarrassed by it. So first of all, just be honest with yourself, that's the reason. And so then create your focus project around that as an example, right? Like, I just, the reason why I'm doing this is that I don't want to be embarrassed if a potential client were to look at it. And so that's what that's the guiding principle around my focus project. So I'm going to timebox the work, I'm going to do B minus work, I'm not going to perfect this thing, I'm just going to know exactly what it means to not be embarrassed and do that work. And the rest is nice to have and goes into a backlog. And you may say to yourself; I acknowledge that I'm foregoing other priorities because I'm trying to make myself feel better. And I'm good with that. Just be super honest with yourself. Don't tell yourself like this website is going to help you sell more, you know, more consulting services when all of the data and experience that I have, and you probably have too dependent, you know, obviously there are exceptions based on your business model. But it's rare; it's very rare that that would be the case. Some of you have business models where that is more important. But for the most part, it's not going to help you sell anything, but it will make you feel better. And you just acknowledging that that's the case. So those are some examples of how to turn a quote-unquote; I need to update my website project into a quarterly focused project, creating very specific statements for yourself and plans and implementing those eight parts that I shared with you earlier. Okay, that is what I have for you today. Be sure to go really start thinking about this quarterly focus project for yourself for q4. Think about the anatomy of the focus project and really spend some time on that. And this is going to be a component of our quarterly success planning workshop. So if you want to spend 90 minutes with me, and in a workshop format, hammer this thing out and have the opportunity to ask questions, it will be well worth your time and investment. So go over to Melisaliberman.com/quarterly-workshop. And that will be part of our workshop process and make sure that you have a very clear playbook for the next quarter to come. So I can't wait to see you there. And in the meantime, go download that routine. Melisaliberman.com/routine. It has those three components of the successful icy business owner routine all laid out for you. And like I said, I'm going to go refresh it this week. So You've got already got version two that has all of this in it for you, so you know exactly how to put a successful business owner routine in place for you and your business, alright thanks for joining today, and I'll see you again next week. Take care.