Confused about what you should work on next?
How do I know what the next right thing to do is in my business?
That not knowing—it’s an anxiety that many of us feel, particularly those of us who run our own businesses.
In my work as a business consultant and coach, I am asked variations of this question—what’s the next right thing?—all the time:
“How should I empower my team to make better decisions?”
“What should I do to grow my legal practice?”
“How do I work with the kind of clients that I want to?”
These are useful questions, but sometimes they can lead consultants, coaches, and mentors to what writer Michael Bungay Stanier calls the “Advice Trap” (also the name of his new book).
This is particularly true if such questions are paired with the frequent companion question, “How have other people solved this problem?”.
The answer is: it doesn’t really matter.
Sure, it’s good to look around and see what other people are doing.
But other people… well, they’re not you!
The things that brought them to their problem are different than what brought you to the problem (even if it looks the same). Your superpowers are different than theirs; so are your challenges.
So, what to do?
I was recently working with a lawyer who was trying to figure out where to place her marketing focus. She already has a niche and a successful practice, but she wants to attract more of the right kinds of clients.
What should she focus on? Video? Facebook ads? Blog posts? A newsletter?
The answer is: no one knows.
Sure, there are experts in each of these fields who would provide their own point of view.
But the real answer is: try, measure, and reflect.
When I was an undergrad working in a biochemistry lab, my professor used to say that his favorite experiment was one that yielded insight regardless of the outcome.
To do that in the business world, you have to have a bit of a system. You have to try something for long enough to know whether or not it’s working.
You have to choose a strategy and change a small part of your approach as you go along—the text of an ad, for example—rather than jumping between strategies before you’ve gathered enough data to tell whether something is working or not.
It’s not limited to marketing, either. You can develop experiments to evaluate a product before you launch it, to expand your business, or even to focus your practice around a specific niche.
I’ll share more about my own tests next week, but, in the meantime, I’m curious: what do you want to test next?
Originally published at https://www.chrisclearfield.com on October 1, 2020.