What would happen if you were forced to take time off from working on your business? Would it be no big deal, business as usual? Or more like cue the panic-it'd be Armageddon? Diane Mayor, biz ops specialist, is sharing all about how to prepare your biz for the unexpected even if you're a solopreneur!
Diane Mayor spent over a decade in a corporate career in a fast paced investment bank working behind the scenes in finance on planning, forecasting, projects, new product approvals and operations.
She finally left because it felt like she wasn’t making enough of a difference in the world and instead took all that experience and distilled it into real business essentials for small businesses making a big impact like yours.
Key Takeaways from this Episode
What has your business journey looked like from when you first hung out that digital “come in, we’re open sign” to where you are today?
- My corporate career was great. It was very exciting. I got to work in a lot of places all over the world, but I got to a point where I was like if I didn't come in tomorrow or the next day or the next day, would anything actually happen, you know, in the big machine?
- I went traveling for 18 months and went on this kind of journey of self discovery, as most people who leave corporate do, and found myself very much in the self development/coaching arena.
- That was where I started and it was interesting because it was almost the antithesis of corporate. It was super intuitive and gut feel and you know, you learn the coaching skills anyway in a corporate setting, but now you're just applying it maybe to somebody's life.
- Up until then, I'd been thinking that anything that was remotely related to anything I had done or I had learned in corporate was completely off limits. It was like it was evil. So I transitioned into a more practical behind the scenes business consulting style using all of my skills from corporate over a glass of wine with a friend where she was telling me about her business and I was quietly redesigning it for her essentially on a cocktail napkin.
- Because a lot of entrepreneurs have not had the benefit of corporate experience, so they haven't learnt like best practices kind of on the job, so that was where I stepped in to, and then recently I've niched down further into that looking at something that seems to really be missing for nearly every single entrepreneur, which is contingency planning, being prepared for what's coming around the corner. The big business does really, really well, the small business hasn't really taken on yet.
- I think we forget that at some point we were in love with our corporate jobs, you know that we enjoyed what we did, but the situation around what we did changes versus we hated what we did. Like I still love spreadsheets, I just don't love doing spreadsheets for people who are my boss.
In terms of legacy – what is the big mission you’re here to accomplish with your business?
- Being an accountant, I've sat down and run the numbers and gone like well, that's really hard for me to impact all of these people who need freedom from all of these different things.
- Running the numbers, for me, has built my business to do the thing that I'm the most qualified to do to reach as many people as possible, which is to help the helpers. My mission is to make sure that those people who are helping, all of those people in all of those conditions stay in business. I can impact ten people who each impact 100,000 people and reach a million people. For me to reach a million people on my own is way harder.
What's the #1 burning question you get from your community about contingency and what-if business planning and what do you tell them?
- I get a different question depending on where the person is in their journey
- If they're still at that very kind of establishing themselves solopreneur sort of stage of things, I get but it's just me. How do I prepare for that? There's no one. Normally what I tell those people is to make sure everything that they do is documented so that if somebody is available to step in, they can. It won't be with your special unicorn dust or whatever on it, but it might just keep your business alive. The second thing I tell them to do is to investigate peer relationships, so maybe you're a social media manager, maybe you have a friend or a contact who's also a social media manager and maybe you provide cover for each other.
- More established businesses will come at it from a perspective of well we've survived so far so that we will survive again, so kind of like a what's in it for me to do this kind of perspective, which is an interesting one because while the past is indicative of the future, it's not predictive of the future. Just because you have survived everything up until now, doesn't mean something isn't waiting for you and I guess for them I'm more saying to them think about it from the perspective of if you were planning a crisis where somebody was out of the office unexpectedly, once you've planned that, how much easier is it to plan your team's vacations because you already know who's covering what and when to do it.
- That's kind of the mentality that is abundant in the entrepreneur space, the it can't happen to me or I hope that never happens to me is the other one I hear a lot. And the event self is not negative or positive. Your reaction to whatever that event is what makes it positive or negative. You could have something go really amazingly well like you said like something goes viral and suddenly all the traffic is on your website and it crashes, but you could also have something go badly that you handle so brilliantly that you actually draw people to you because of it.
So shifting gears to marketing – How do you stay motivated and inspired when it comes to content creation?
- I'm kind of lucky in that nobody really talks about what I talk about, so for me, I can be listening to a business book on Audible or a podcast and somebody will say something and it'll spark an idea for me, but because I'm taking it into the realm of like what if planning and how would I react or what would that mean for someone's business, there's no chance I'm copying their idea and I know like other writers who write columns and blogs and guest posts actually will shut themselves off from content when they're writing so as to not accidentally think it was your own thought that you had.
- For me, I am not short of inspiration for content. Motivation I think was a big one for me and that was about finding what clicked for me as content. I'm more the micro blogger on Instagram than I am the prolific blogger on my website. Now in some ways that's actually harder to stay motivated because that's content like almost every single day versus you know, maybe once a week, but it's shorter, but finding that with that immediate feedback that I get from the comments and the engagements works a lot better to keep me motivated than not knowing if people have read something, not knowing how they've responded to it in a more traditional blog.
Can you walk us through a typical content creation day for you? What’s your process for creating new content look like?
- It's actually really amusing because I sat down today and I was like okay, content day, here we go! I'm definitely what I call the inspired content writer in that if it's not the day, it's not going to happen. Like I am not … I can't produce content on a schedule, it just doesn't work for me, but if I allow myself the space and I'm inspired, I can spend like eight hours writing content once I get into the groove. I think for me when I'm attempting to have a content day and it goes well, then usually what it starts off with really strangely is a bit of a dance party. I like to have some 80s music blaring and a bit of a … Just to get rid of all the anxiety I feel when I first look at that white screen.
- Because I know today might not be the day, so I kind of am like … I'll relax myself. Then let's assume it's the day that it's going to happen, I've usually got a stack of ideas already so as I've been listening to podcasts or reading books or things have occurred to me in the shower, they're usually stored as notes and those have gone into a Trello board ready for me to pick. What I'll do is I'll pick the idea that I'm the most excited about because the idea is to get something on paper as quickly as possible and I'll just free write. I'll free write against the clock, which I actually learned from you, which works brilliantly for my competitive nature. I'll give myself 15 minutes or 20 minutes and I'll race the clock to basically write a blog post where I'm not really caring too much about grammar or spelling or is that the best way to say something.
- Sometimes that will continue in with me feeling really in the zone with that content and I'll finish it, so I'll actually go through it and rewrite it and make it look good. Sometimes I'll be like okay, that's enough on that one and I'll pick the next idea that I'm excited about just to keep momentum going.
How would you define a content empire as it relates to your own business and what you’ve built?
- I think a content empire is your message being out in the world and associated with you. It's not a push for clients, it's a natural progression of clients through your content to working with you.
What is the best way for someone to get started with life-proofing their businesses?
- I would say as entrepreneurs, we have a couple of main risks. The first risk that we have, all of us have it, and that is that we cannot work in our business. For most of us, that is our biggest risk and that's the risk we need to tackle first. Now, you may or may not be able to get coverage, but the one thing that you can do in that space is document everything you do and document it at an incredibly granular level. This was the standard operating procedures that everybody avoids doing, that everybody thinks they don't have time to do, that live in everybody's heads. I want you to think, if this is you, I want you to think that you actually won't be in your business for an extended period of time, for whatever reason.
- Maybe you have been kidnapped by your partner, taken to a Caribbean resort where there is no WiFi and your phone got left on the aeroplane, so there's no way for your business to be in touch with you. I want you to document as if I'm going to go into your business and I'm going to run it for you while you're away.
- [Believing you're irreplaceable] Because that is how you start. You start and you're it. You're holding it together with like glue and a prayer basically, and it is, once it works, like you struggle for so long that once it works, you're like I am it. Like this is amazing, look at me, I've built this business. You see it in … It's a natural corporate structure as well, like people start to believe their indispensable in their jobs and I think that was probably one of the best pieces of advice I ever got and I got it really early in my corporate career was that nobody is indispensable. If you feel like you're indispensable in your business, when you're not available, your business is not available, and somebody else outside your business will step in.
- I have a what if business plan checklist, so it goes through the nine things that I think that people need to have in their arsenal to prepare themselves for this. One of the sections does talk about systems and that's on my website, totally free, and it's a really easy, maybe ten minute job to just really think about your business from a completely different perspective from what you're used to.
Latest content or marketing tool discovery? Phrase generator
Most profound business book you’ve read? E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber
What is one marketing trend that you're passing on for now? YouTube
2018 or 2019 planner of choice? I am not a planner person.
Where would you invest $5,000 in your business today? Access to somebody one on one, depending on whatever area of my business I needed it, I would pay for one on one time.