So I promised to tell you what I think the biggest lesson from my business sabbatical was as well as the result that I got from it. And for me it’s this: it’s time for me to back me. To believe in myself.
I think it’s time for us all to back ourselves.
And what do I even mean by that?
Basically, to me, it’s about serving up your own delicious cocktail, alcoholic or non-alcoholic and being happy with what you are drinking. It’s like drinking your own goodness. It’s talking about you and why you rock versus everybody else.
So basically it’s being a bit of a celebrity in your own right and believing in yourself!
I think I’ve mentioned this in the past couple of episodes where I talked about the Power of a Business Sabbatical, is that the biggest thing for me in having time off and away from my business is, that I had to get past some really bad feelings when I got to thinking.
I’m talking about the dangerous and pointless ‘comparison game’ or thoughts like ‘What have I actually done? What have I actually achieved? Have I made an impact? Who am I to have built this business over 7 years? Oh my goodness. I’ve done nothing!’
Yes, all this crap came out of it.
Once I got through this little moment of self-doubt I was like, ‘Wait a minute. I’ve done some pretty fantastic things. I’ve published a best selling book on Amazon. And that’s now been picked up by Simon & Schuster and the third edition is coming out this September!
I finally got to speak on stage at TEDx and I get paid to speak around the world.
I’ve built a multiple six figure business that has been that way for several years and I’ve been in business for 7 years. That’s no mean feat!
I started reading back through people’s lovely emails and just seeing the impact that I’ve made.
And then I even put a post up on Facebook a couple of weeks back before ending this business sabbatical, when I was having a little moment of doubt and asked:
‘What is it that you actually think is my superpower?’
It was absolutely overwhelmingly beautiful how many people commented and how they saw me versus how I saw myself.
The long and the short of what I took away from all of these people commenting: friends and clients and just people on Facebook was, “Natalie I think you help people to believe in themselves. You show them what’s possible and how amazing they can be.”
That came through as one of the most common aspects of my superpower.
Which is so incredible right? Because I wouldn’t have necessarily seen myself that way and inspire people to take action. Yet that is exactly what I desire to do, day in and day out.
I have a broad depth of knowledge across a range of topics that helps entrepreneurs to build and design their perfect freedom lifestyle and business.
Believing in yourself
I think the most important thing about the business sabbatical was to step back, reflect and come back to this point of I have built and designed a business that I love that fits and supports my ideal lifestyle.
At the time that I’m recording this I am sitting in front of a gorgeous fireplace. My puppy is sleeping to my right. The sun has gone down. It’s been a beautiful day.
I’ve co-worked with a friend. We’ve come up with some entrepreneur business ideas about where we want to head next, grow and what we want to be doing next.
So I am excited again and I’ve got my mojo back. I’m almost over being sick and I am ready to drink my own Koolaid in the best possible way.
So what are the results of my Business Sabbatical?
From a Google Analytics point of view, website visits have actually gone up and down over the space of that three months, which shows that if you stop posting content on your blog which we’d pretty much have done throughout May, June and July, if you got great organic reach and you’ve got excellent content and articles from years before, your traffic is going to remain pretty consistent.
People are still going to be finding you on your site.
My email optins have stayed fairly consistent and because I haven’t been emailing at all and that my team didn’t email much I’ve had way fewer unsubscribes. So my net positive effect is pretty good.
I canned all my advertising during the last three months so I haven’t actively promoted outside of my normal social media posts my assistant does.
I’ve only just started doing interviews again, so basically over the three months there was a net gain in website traffic after a dip thanks to some Google algorithms that probably didn’t help, and then my traffic came back.
My subscribers have stayed pretty consistent and I haven’t lost as many because I haven’t been emailing as much.
And from an online sales point of view, that dropped quite significantly. Because I wasn’t promoting anything. I wasn’t doing anything new. I wasn’t actually there behind my business. There were no Facebook ads going on. There was no other form of advertising and as I mentioned the content stopped as well.
I am actually quite happy that the months have been fairly good when I look at the sponsorship for this podcast and online sales continued to come in, as well as other affiliate sales that came through during that time.
So it has been a really positive three business months.
Now I am raring to go to really amp up the revenue, amp up the business impact and also I have a couple of businesses in mind that I will be embarking on, researching, validating and prototyping for the first time in seven years of just having one business.
I guess that gives you some insight behind a business sabbatical. For me it wasn’t a massive growth during that time, nor did I expect it to be.
I actually expected a decline in my business if I am going to be really honest but luckily it sailed pretty steady. Slight dips and then growth.
I really attribute that to fantastic systems, to having great sales funnels in place, to having a small and nimble team and for a wonderful community who continue to support me throughout.
It just shows that after seven years in business all the things that you’ve done leading up to that point stand you in good stead, that if you really have a good foundations nothing tragic is going to happen and that by not being actively behind or running your business it will not die.
It will not fall over without you if you’ve put those systems in place.
I feel pretty happy about that.
On this important point, I wanted to share with you an excerpt from my friend Amy Schmittauer, the vlogging boss.
I saw her blog post about how she hasn’t had a break in 2 years and how she was giving herself permission to go on a two week vacation. In this blog post she almost sounded like she had to convince herself that that was a good thing.
So I asked her to record her favorite part of the blog post, I Haven’t Made a Decision Like This in a Long Time. Here are her nuggets of wisdom.
“This is typical practice for me. Fit in the free time when I can. Fit in family when it works out.
One of the things I most Iooked forward to when I started working for myself full-time in 2011 was the fact that I could decide to do this whenever I wanted. Not having to worry about whether a boss approved of it 2-weeks ahead of time.
I can take the afternoon. I can take the day. I can take a week.
Hell. I can take a vacation.
It’s not very often that I actually take advantage of my business ownership perks though. I love what I do and it keeps me busy and fulfilled. Genuinely.
But upon coming back from a business trip last week, I was exhausted. I started to think about how I’ve been feeling lately. So tired and busy. I’ve been talking about 2017 like it’s already over and it’s May!
We have multiple trips and events planned every month for the rest of the year such as speaking engagements, client business trips, family visits, our wedding and the parties around it. So. Much. Awesome.
Our honeymoon is planned for January of next year because that’s the earliest we’ve been able to fit it in. I finally started to wrap my mind around that while on this plane ride home and thought , “Is that going to be the next time I get to just take a break?”.
It suddenly became an overwhelming feeling. A tired feeling. Then I thought, “when was the last time I took a vacation?”
To finish off, I want to share a couple of things back when I was talking to my friend Lauren Parsons, and we were discussing what I’ve learned out of this experience and what I wanted to do.
She summarized it in an email back to me and I thought I’d share it here, as this was around 2 months ago but it still stands:
- You mentioned being in a transition period career wise with your move back to NZ. (I had no idea how much an impact that has actually made on me. How much changing your entire life can mess with your identity)
- Following a lack of energy which started Sept 2016 you want to move towards more people coming to you, more off line, in person. Fewer people, bigger results.
- 1 year from now you want to:
- Have had a successful re-launch of my updated Suitcase Entrepreneur book (It’s happening in September)
- Work as a paid writer, speaker and influencer
- Successfully rely on my properties for income
- Be able to invest my time as I wish and volunteer in ways that are fulfilling that I choose
- Be able to enjoy the right balance of art, fitness, time with my puppy, Kayla and to create the retreat lifestyle property that I want (and of course Josh!)
- Spend 3-5 days at home enjoying nature/animals etc with some national travel and one international trip each year at least
- Ultimately to feel light hearted, joyful, powerful, energised (by my work and people I spend time with) and in alignment with my purpose
- The biggest barrier may be me – saying yes to things and busyness
We talked about scheduling in time for the key things that I WANT to have in my life and prioritising these first which includes focusing on ‘Reclaiming My Time’ through:
- 1 hour per day invested in learning
- 2+ hours being active outdoors (in every season)
- 3-4 hours of focused effective work time
Something that came out of this is I said I will complete my own Perfect Day exercise that I take all my Freedom Plan members through and my three year vision – working title Freedom Vision Map.
At the time when I chatted with Lauren about this, I just couldn’t complete it. There was nothing concrete there that made me want to jump up and do it.
I am really pleased to say that over the weekend when I was in Melbourne with Josh, the four days that I had out there were just fantastic and were so good for me just to get away from it all, and go into the new city, have a timeout and just be in a new environment.
On Monday we were so motivated we sat back and did our three year plan together in the space of half an hour or an hour.
So now I am going to put that into my Freedom Vision Map and I am going to share it with you guys. It’s the first time in a couple of years that I’ve done one and it’s going to be completely different to my last one where I’ve achieved a lot of that. My whole emphasis has changed now.
I hope you’ve enjoyed coming along with me on this ride of the sabbatical.
And now back into work and to several different areas that I’m looking at, that I’ll be sharing here soon.
I hope that you’ve been able to hear my process as I’ve been going through this and understand and learn from it just as much as I have.
As I said, you will consider taking time out for you to get perspective, to get creative, to get re-energized and to totally make sure that you are aligned with what you truly want out of life.
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