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Niche: An Energy Saver for Introverts in Online Business

Have you come across business content that confuses you, or makes you work too hard to figure out exactly what the person does and for who? My guess is yes, of course. We all do. That’s probably because there is no clear niche. So everything feels sort of generic and wishy-washy.

 

When that happens, most of us decide to move on. As a business owner, that is bad news.

 

Introverted women building online service-based businesses will reach out to me because they are struggling to find clients, despite their commitment and effort. Frustration and doubt are starting to take a toll and they know that something needs to change. They usually think it’s about social media strategy or starting to pay for Facebook ads and the like.

 

But when I look at their websites and content, I’ll see different topics directed at different client groups with no real clarity about how it all fits together or what problem is being solved. The language doesn’t really connect. Nothing really stands out.

 

When you make it difficult for your readers to understand that you are here to help THEM with their particular problems, you lose them.

 

When they can’t easily understand, “What’s in it for me?”, they move on to the next option, causing you to spend more energy to keep trying to find a buyer.

 

It’s exhausting. And it’s impossible for an introvert to sustain a business this way.

 

Here’s what I think happens.

 

As a business owner, you have a lot of ideas for how you can help people and you haven’t really honed in on the main client group you want to target. You don’t want to leave anyone out. And you believe that drawing from a larger audience will make it easier to fill your offers.

 

What this really means is that, as an introvert, your precious energy and focus is scattered with a sort of shiny object syndrome.

 

Can you relate?

 

Here’s the thing. Especially for introverts who really do NOT want to do the group networking thing, focusing your energy on addressing one problem for particular people who share that problem makes life easier.

 

Plus, I think it’s more effective to choose a clear niche. Here’s why:

 

We’ve had a really hot and dry summer here in BC so our town has implemented significant water restrictions. On our watering days, my hubby goes out with the hose and sprays down all the garden beds.

 

Alternatively, I go around with a bucket of water and focus on soaking the potted plants.

 

Which ones do you think look healthier today?

 

The garden beds that were given a spray with the hose survived (after he stood out there for an hour each time), but the pots are flourishing (after I took about 5 minutes each time).

 

And I think that’s what we introverts need to do in our businesses too.

 

Selectively and strategically focus our energy and attention on ONE thing that will thrive, versus MANY things that simply survive.

 

Not only will that save us energy, but momentum will build as you start seeing results for your efforts which will help to fuel you.

 

That doesn’t mean you can’t serve others or get creative with your offers. It just means that you are going to choose one specific problem to help a particular type of person with first and focus on them for the next three months minimum (it should be longer but that idea might send you into a panic and you’ll resist choosing a niche at all!).

 

Honing in on a niche is not a lifelong commitment…I also have a tendency to stick to something for two years max and always have new ideas. But trust me when I tell you that, if you are having trouble finding enough clients, it is well worth it to put your blinders on to all the distractions and possibilities for a while.

 

If you value simplicity and minimalism in your life, this is the approach I want you to apply to your business.

 

So the key questions are:

 

  • WHAT specific problem are you especially drawn to helping people address? (Often it’s something that draws on your own experience and pulls on your heartstrings)

 

  • WHO are you especially drawn to working with who is experiencing this problem right now? (Go beyond the usual avatar/demographic checkboxes and think about what’s going on in their life, what they value, what they hope for, where they hang out, etc. Try to think of one real person to use as inspiration.)

 

  • HOW can you reach the lowest hanging fruit that will take the least amount of effort with the biggest impact? (Quickly and easily creating results for happy clients who will actively refer you)

 

When you commit to more niche clarity, you can then easily brainstorm all the ways that you can get in front of these people that do NOT require you to go to generic networking events. That’s good news!

 

I’m happy to talk through this with you as you clarify the target niche for your specific service-based online business. It’s part of what I do in my laser coaching/consulting sessions.

OR, if you already have your business started, feel good about who you want to help, have offers available and plenty of content published…but are not getting clients in the door, I offer Messaging Reviews for Niche Clarity to help you with that!

 

Sending positive energy your way fellow introvert solopreneur…you can do this!

~ Marla

P.S. Do you have your copy of the Be your own business BESTY touchpoint tool yet? 

Knowledge, Procrastination and Energy Drain

Knowledge, Procrastination and Energy Drain“Knowledge is a distraction”, according to Serena Star-Leonard in her book, How to Succeed in 12 Months (ok, I confess I was lured by the title).

I don’t have to look hard for examples in my own life, since my natural introversion is very much at home with learning and thinking – all in my search for the comfort of knowing more.

I value knowledge, wisdom, competence. And there’s always more to learn!

Here’s the thing.

Not only can knowledge be a distraction for me in many ways, the procrastination that sometimes accompanies knowledge-seeking is a serious energy drainer.

It’s all the ideas and unmade decisions that I keep carrying around in my mind, or the actions that I intend to take – someday. Knowing how precious our personal energy is, of course continuing to choose procrastination makes no sense.

In a previous issue of the Wise Introvert newsletter, Tanja Gardner, our guest contributor, shared her practical tips to help introverts manage their own personal energy.

For now, stick with me as we explore knowledge, procrastination, and energy.

I’ll be honest, it’s taken me all day to write this post. I’ve scrapped ideas. Switched topics. All the while, I’ve been weighed down by the pressure of a looming deadline, narrowing the flow that I so often enjoy when I write.

Meanwhile, I’ve been watching and/or listening to a live broadcast of a CreativeLive class…believing that it’s important to learn what’s being taught today (creating digital products). I mean, what if I miss the one key piece of information that will be my big AHA moment! That one bit of knowledge that will catapult me into an overnight success!

Yes, that’s distraction. And no, I didn’t hear the magic secret I’ll use for success.

This inclination to seek more knowledge can be a dangerous crutch.

It’s the choice to stay in a holding pattern, waiting for the time when you know enough to actually take the step toward what you want.

In life and work, it’s crippling. Not only can it drain energy, but it can drain confidence. If you don’t actually DO something, how can you gain momentum?

At some point, you have to accept that you know enough. You don’t have to know everything to be able to offer value for people or to advance in your career. In most cases, expert status is not required.

And, knowledge doesn’t mean that you have full control over the end result anyways. So it’s not a road to perfection (or a guarantee of success, if that’s what you are seeking).

Procrastination is an energy drain (for me) and knowledge-seeking is one of my favourite distractions. How about you? 

What are your “methods for distraction and procrastination”?

And how have they been impacting your energy?

Once you’re aware, you have the power to make changes.

Shame: A Key to Introvert Energy Drain?

I’ve felt it creeping up on me for a few weeks now. It’s the pressure I feel as the official start of the holiday season begins.

Shoulds start taking their toll on me, sapping my energy each day I consider being something I’m not in order to play along with tradition.

What I’ve recently realized is that my shoulds are intertwined with introversion and shame. Ouch.

This weekend will be Thanksgiving in Canada. While I am beyond grateful for my life in all its abundance, my desired expression of that gratitude has nothing to do with the holiday obligations that have been a part of my life (perhaps of our culture).

It’s partially the introvert in me. Attending large group gatherings overwhelms and drains me (even when it’s family). And on the other hand, hosting (even small groups) in my own home feels like a breach of my ‘personal safety zone’ (an invasion of sorts).

I’m sure it has nothing to do with introversion, but I dread meal planning, preparing the house, cooking, getting “dressed”, entertaining, overnights – it feels like I’m getting ready for a performance that holds no meaning for me. So Thanksgiving, which starts the long holiday season that unfolds over the next couple months, feels like the time I need to start putting on my armour. That requires a lot of energy.

Where does the shame come in?

In not feeling good enough, capable enough, sociable enough. I find myself questioning, “What the hell is wrong with me?” and “Why can’t I just be normal?” and “Get over it, it’s no big deal”.

In her book Daring Greatly, Brené Brown describes:

“Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.”

Brown goes on to describe the common responses to shame: fight, flight and/or please. Regardless of which response we choose at a given moment, the end result is disconnection. As an introvert, this was a big ‘aha’ moment.

Well, as I’ve been trying to decide what to do for Thanksgiving, all three responses have run through my imagination:

  • Rebellion (fight);
  • Escape to a private beach-front bed and breakfast for the weekend (flight); or
  • Put on the mask of the “hostess with the mostest” (to please).

Of course, in my mind, I know that none of those choices is ideal (although that B&B does sound wonderful!).

I think back to my mom (also an introvert). She always felt that holidays were important times for families to celebrate together. She would go above and beyond with the baking, cooking, cleaning, decorating – to the point of exhausting herself – to try to make each gathering special. To make us feel special.

It was about connection and memory making. But I think it was about something deeper for her too.

She never got the appreciation (or help) she deserved. I remember how great it was to ‘take in’ all that she created. But since I don’t ever remember contributing, I didn’t realize how hard it was to actually accomplish it. Until it was my turn.

I don’t know how she did it. I do know that I can’t keep up. And I find that, as each year passes, I feel less willing to try to keep the traditions alive. Then I feel guilty (i.e. I am considering doing something bad by saying ‘no more’), and the shame response kicks into full motion (i.e. I am bad).

In truth, I’m happy to take a walk with my little family (a trio), enjoy nature and a few authentic moments with each other, and call it day. Add a good cup of coffee and some pumpkin pie and I’m a very happy gal. Fire on the beach – I’m over the moon. That’s my version of celebrating Thanksgiving.

Indecision and grappling with feelings of “not enough-ness” drains my energy.

So how will I find peace amongst holidays, introversion and shame?

As I keep reading Daring Greatly (which I highly recommend by the way), it becomes clear that empathy and vulnerability are better responses than I’ve been considering. So I suppose that’s why I’m writing…

Can you relate? Know that you’re not alone. We’re all doing our best to work through the confusion and to be more true. Be as kind to yourself as you are to others.

Happy Thanksgiving! I AM GRATEFUL…

Wise Introvert Guest Posts

guest-postsI enjoy opportunities to reach out to new readers by writing guest posts for other sites.

Contact me to discuss topic ideas & availability.

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How to Survive Group Travel When You Are an Introvert

I wrote this post when I was a ‘virtual house sitter’ for Shannon and Eric at 2 Travel Everywhere while they were hiking in Spain.

The main message? If you’re an introvert and want to travel, but hesitate to go fully solo (when your usual travel buddies can’t make it), group travel can be a great option. I offer 7 tips for survival.

And, if you’re interested in reading about the BVI sailing trip I mentioned, you’ll find that article here.

Why Alone Time is a Non-Negotiable for Introverts

Why Alone Time is a Non-Negotiable for IntrovertsAlone time is a non-negotiable for introverts because we need it for our very survival. Too dramatic? No.

Whether a full-on retreat or time scheduled for ourselves throughout our regular weekly routine, introverts need to be alone if we want to fill up our energy tanks so we can share our goodness with the world.

Alone time, solitude, offers the gift of “disengagement from the immediate demands of other people“. The amount of alone time you create is up to you. Only you know how much you need.

I can already hear your “ya but’s”.

Ya but: I’m too busy. My family needs me. My business needs me. I can’t afford to take time off work. If I took as much alone time as I wanted, people would think I’m a hermit. I should be spending my time with others. What will people think?

I’m going to ask you to stop making judgments about yourself (and stop listening to judgments others might make of you) and just create space for alone time. Just do it.

I understand the guilt. I understand the criticism. I also know from personal experience that the best thing you can do is trust your intuition and give yourself the time and space you need for self-care. Forget about what anyone else thinks. In the end, it doesn’t matter.

For me, this has been lifelong learning, but it finally sunk in over five years ago when I was feeling exhausted from my stressful job and also torn because I really wanted to be living a different lifestyle. My choice to go go go without self-care led me to burnout (again – although I didn’t know it at the time). I thought what I was doing was “proper”.

It was clear that my idea of what “responsible” and “committed” looked like had to change. I had to become central to the equation.

It shouldn’t take courage to commit to alone time. But it does.

How will you build more alone time into your life?

Travel?

An hour to yourself at the end of the day?

A daily walk?

You don’t have to feel like an empty shell just going through the motions of life trying to live up to norms or expectations. Do yourself, and everyone else, a favour and find the courage to schedule the alone time you need to be your best self.

My hope for you is that you will put systems into place so that adequate amounts of alone time become the norm rather than the exception (an afterthought, if it’s convenient).

And when those ya but’s start showing up, just imagine a mini-me sitting on your shoulder, nudging you to trust your intuition.

I’ll be whispering – Make your need for alone time a priority. Connect with your wisdom. Show up for yourself. It’s necessary.

P.S. Just so you know that I really walk the talk, in a few days my husband and daughter (an extravert and an ambivert) will be flying to Ontario to visit both our large families for what has become an annual face-to-face. I love them all and enjoy our time together, but this time, I’m staying home. Alone (well, my cat is here). And I can’t tell you how happy I am to commit to myself this way, even though I’ll miss them.

Go ahead and criticize. I know what I need most right now. Space and time to move to my own rhythm. My introvert rhythm. To tap into clarity, creativity, strength, and re-connecting with my self. Permission to say no (to others/yes to myself) has become a non-negotiable. My radical act of love.

How about you?