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Stuck in Neutral

Guest post by licensed Right-Brain Business Plan® Facilitator Cass Mullane

I recently wrapped up a budgeting webinar series for a group of brand new entrepreneurs. It was enlightening. Normally I have about a 60% engagement rate from attendees of this particular series: they do the homework, schedule the laser sessions and send me emails. But this time I had only about 30% who were fully engaged. So, I asked them why. Here’s what they said.

Fear Of The Unknown
For most, fear of the unknown was the number one reason they were not engaged. As new entrepreneurs they imagined that the task of creating a budget to be huge and horrible. They let the fear grow into some kind of big monster that paralyzed their progress. The fact is, once they got started, creating a plan to manage their moola turned out to be simpler than they expected and was empowering for them.

So I gave them a soft place to land. I had them call me or email me when they got stuck and we’d work through whatever was tripping them up. I also set up a few open Q&A calls so they could talk to their peers who were struggling through some of the same issues. When they realized that they were not alone, they moved ahead.
They discovered that creating a budget was not that hard, it was just unfamiliar. Once they got past the unfamiliarity, the whole process became less of a chore and more of a game. Their mindset changed from “I have to do this,” to “I want to do this.” That simple shift made the fear dissipate.

The number two reason people were not fully engaged was overwhelm. Being new business owners, they were facing a boatload of new challenges and responsibilities. Add to that the regular demands of life and, badda boom, we have overwhelm.

When you experience overwhelm, there’s an increase in stress and often a quick shift into neutral where nothing gets done. That’s when those mind monkeys start swinging around inside your head telling you that you’ll never get through it all and that you should just stop working.

The key here is to break the tasks down into manageable bites. Here are two reasons why:
1. When you have manageable bites you automatically have a sequence laid out for you of which bites to take and when
2. You have only one very small thing to focus on and it’s doable.
What the new entrepreneurs did was use sticky notes to map out the steps, then posted pictures of their notes as they completed them. It was a great boost each time someone nailed a step and it was fun to see the colorful ‘done’ stickies accumulating as the budgets were created. Things were getting accomplished and they could see the progress, so the overwhelm went away.

The Result
Now they’ve bonded. This group, more than any other, has created bonds that I’m sure will continue as they move ahead developing their businesses. They’ve shared the journey of getting through their first budget together. They’ve also experienced the boost that belonging to a supportive group can bring to their level of confidence and their determination to carry on despite challenges.

So what will you do when faced with the next unfamiliar task? Will you let the fear of the unknown stop you in your tracks or will you push through and make the process into a game? And what will you do when overwhelm hits you? Will you hit the pause button and check out or will you break the work into small manageable pieces then post pictures of your progress?

I’m hoping you’ll break it down and inject some fun into your business. Here’s to getting out of neutral and shifting into drive!

Cass Mullane’s calm, comfortable approach consistently yields positive results for clients. Her business and personal coaching practice, www.ProsperCreatively.com, specializes in delivering solid left brain business skills to right brainers and creatives in a fun, visual way. She’s a best selling author, textile and mixed media artist and creator of the Cool Stuff Jar coaching program. You can also visit Cass on Facebook!
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