Recently I was interviewed by Helen Cross of SwitchMyBusiness who told me she’d be stalking me on social media for some time. Helen is my nicest stalker ever because she went on to say “Judith overflows with sage business wisdom and is a surefire source of motivational nuggets that just make you feel better about everything.”
Helen picked my business on Brexit, balance and why working harder isn’t always better. I have her permission to reproduce the interview here.
HI JUDITH! FOR THOSE WHO DON’T ALREADY KNOW YOU, TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF
My name is Judith Morgan. I have been self-employed for forty years.
I started my own accountancy business when I was 22 and sold it twenty years later. I then took a few years off work while I worked out what I wanted to do next, until I discovered business coaching and set about starting another business which is now fifteen years old.
These are not the only businesses I have built – I have created and sold businesses in travel, cleaning and catering too.
I used to think I was an accountant, now I realise I am an entrepreneur.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO COACHING SMALL BUSINESSES?
When I discovered coaching I realised it was something I had always just naturally done for my accounting clients and it came free with me doing their VAT return!
I dropped the delivery vehicle and moved over purely to the coaching.
WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST PROBLEMS YOUR CLIENTS TEND TO FACE?
When I first started my clients wanted me to show them how to start and build a business, but that’s the – relatively – easy bit.
These days I find I am called upon increasingly to help and support them through all sorts of emotional and psychological issues and matters of a personal development nature such as procrastination, perfectionism, coping with guilt and fears and emotions and things like being deserving of success, fear of failure and money blocks.
How to charge is a big one. I teach them how to do that right from the get-go but it usually takes them a couple of years to agree with me!
Initially they think they have to be cheap to get work and be competitive, then they learn they can’t make a sustainable living on that basis and are prepared to charge what they are really worth.
IS THERE ONE SINGLE THING – A CHARACTERISTIC, A STRUGGLE, A DESIRE – THAT UNITES ALL OF YOUR CLIENTS?
Yes, it’s about the desire to create a uniquely wonderful life and self-employment is a central part of that – the freedom to work when and how they want and to remove the cap on their earnings which a job had created.
Freedom is what everyone says they want but once I drill down into that it usually means something different to everyone, just as success does.
WE’VE SEEN A LOT OF POLITICAL UPHEAVAL IN THE LAST YEAR. HAS THIS AFFECTED YOUR CLIENTS?
Yes, emotionally. Me too!
If you are self-employed and working mostly alone from home then being sideswiped by upsetting political outcomes and developments has cost many of us a day or even a week.
There are other things too of course like the value of the pound and I think people generally feel more uncertain and more questioning about the meaning of life when values which are important to them are being eroded every day.
YOU SAY THAT YOUR RAISON D’ETRE IS TO ‘EMPOWER, INSPIRE AND UPLIFT SO THAT RUNNING YOUR OWN BUSINESS AND/OR HAVING A WONDERFUL LIFE BECOMES LIGHTER AND EASIER’. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO BUSINESS OWNERS WHO FEEL THAT LIVING A ‘LIGHTER AND EASIER’ LIFE IS IMPOSSIBLE?
Most of us have been brought up to believe that success involves lots and lots of hard work. That’s one way.
It is certainly a way that I have found to work and one I fall back on now and again.
But I have also discovered that it isn’t this way for everyone and many people achieve the results they want in a much easier and lighter way.
The old way is hard-wired based on values taught to us by previous generations where that made more sense perhaps. But that’s conditioning we can unlearn if we want to. I can show clients how, if they are open and willing. Usually they become more up for that once they discover endless hard work leads to burnout and illness.
Charging more to fewer clients, for instance, is both easier and lighter and makes the business more successful because those who are willing to pay more already understand how to be a better client – they trust you more and leave you to get on with your work without constant interruption and changes.
The skint and the scarce generally make a very demanding client. So that one simple change can take your business into a whole other dimension.
ARE SOME OF THE PROBLEMS SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS FACE – SUCH AS THE PRESSURE TO ACHIEVE – SELF IMPOSED?
Yes, I would go so far as to say that almost all problems are self-imposed.
That was the point I was making earlier about business being easy, it’s emotions which are hard!
We resist it being easy, I have no idea why, so we make it harder for ourselves with all the psychological stuff.
I don’t think we know we are doing that a lot of the time and happily that’s something that coaching can help you to unpick.
DO YOU BELIEVE WORK LIFE BALANCE IS POSSIBLE FOR SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS?
Yes. Ish. We can work out what that is for each of us individually and set our intentions to get to that place which I find constantly changes anyway.
We want things to be the best they can be most of the time, whilst being prepared to experience a little rough with our smooth.
I think work life balance is jargon which isn’t helpful but we all know what we want, what we enjoy and what we don’t and we want more of the former and less of the latter. We can make that happen by chipping away at the bad stuff and feelings, replacing a bad client with a good one, looking after ourselves and our needs etc.
For me, I need lots and lots of quiet time to do nothing very much except think and read and rest. And I’ve realised that the more I do that the better I can serve my clients and myself in every way. It’s counter-intuitive perhaps, but less is always more in the end.
YOU USE SOCIAL MEDIA AND ONLINE MARKETING TO GREAT EFFECT – YOU HAVE A BLOG, A PODCAST AND A NEWSLETTER. HOW IMPORTANT DO YOU FEEL THAT ONLINE MARKETING IS TO SMALL BUSINESSES NOWADAYS?
For me it is vital because I wanted to create a virtual business which would travel with me throughout the world and enable me to work with global clients too.
Whenever I take on a new client who I feel is focussed very much on their local area and that is a restriction to them, I always try to open their eyes to the potential of a global market if they want it.
It is a very affordable way to market your own business, your products and services, and I think everyone can learn to love marketing too, there’s always a way. My clients refer to it as “blowing your own trumpet”, I don’t see it like that.
For me it’s a matter of being on fire with how much you love what you do and how you can help people and just sharing that message.
Online marketing can be a long game but I think it must happen even if you are doing other things which might meet a more urgent need. Offline marketing can be a long game too, and which route you choose might depend upon your personality – introvert or extrovert?
WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO CONSIDER WHEN BUILDING A PERSONAL BRAND?
Being truthful to your audience about who and what you are.
Sharing your personality.
It isn’t an all or nothing thing, you never have to be naked and tell the world anything you don’t want them to know, but you can’t fake it either.
Being vulnerable is strangely attractive and your reader/potential client wants to be able to know, like and trust you, and also relate to who you are too.
A so-called guru who is too advanced, too perfect, is off putting. Just be your best self and allow potential clients and customers to enjoy you.
WHAT IS YOUR ONE FAIL SAFE MOTIVATION TRICK?
I don’t believe in motivation, I prefer inspiration.
But if a client is really stuck a current favourite expression of mine is “just do what’s in front of you today”. This gets us out of fretting about the past or the future. What one thing can we do today to make a difference, however small? That usually gets the ball rolling and makes you feel good enough about yourself and/or your work to do a bit more and before you know it you are on a roll and feeling great again.
If in doubt go for a walk or a run or a swim or a drive, or take a shower or a nap, or put on some music.
There’s always something which we know raises our vibration and allows some nugget of creativity to creep into the equation.
FINALLY, WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE SMALL BUSINESS GURU?
I am not 100% sure but it will involve more writing and more travel I think.
Ask me again in a month and this entrepreneur will probably have changed her mind again!