19 Aug Testing & Refining, Miracle-Expecters, Etc.
One of my coaching clients asked me, “When are you done with testing and beta testing? When can I just kick back and let things run on auto-pilot from here on out?” NEVER. Unless you sell your business or want to allow it to run itself into the ground, you are never done with testing.
✔️ A more appropriate analogy is a bicycle with training wheels. As you gain more knowledge and you feel more confident, you can take the training wheels off the bike. But this is different from thinking you never have to test ideas or that you’ll lock a system in and it’ll work forever and ever amen.
✔️ Your target audience may change over time. Likewise, your own personal goals and/or business goals may change, too. A friend of mine sold his business to travel the country in an RV. And then when his son got married and started a family, he decided he no longer wanted to be a rolling stone. Stuff changes. That’s life.
✔️ Part of practicing alchemy in your business involves refinement, sifting and sorting, choosing and leaving alone. If this is something you hate, you may have to determine if entrepreneurship is the right choice for you.
✔️ You should say “no” to more than you say “yes” to, especially once you’re past the early days of your business. In the same way that I do not work with very small, very young start-ups in the middle of pure chaos and confusion, I also don’t work with people who want Signs, Wonders, and Miracles. Turn this water into wine in five minutes or else! Umm, no thanks.
Special intro music: “All I Need is a Miracle” by Mike + The Mechanics.
Need more? Email me: https://causeyconsultingllc.com/contact-causey/
Transcription by Otter.ai. Please forgive any typos!
Welcome to the Causey Consulting Podcast. You can find us online anytime at CauseyConsultingLLC.com. And now, here’s your host Sara Causey. Hello, Hello, and thanks for tuning in. Today I want to talk about testing and refining, which seems pretty appropriate considering last week’s episode was about alchemy and your business. How can we transform pain or setbacks into power? How can we take that time when it feels like the arrow is being pulled back, but yet, we’re going to use that tension to rocket launch forward. Today is about testing and refining. I played you in with some All I need is a miracle by Mike and the Mechanics and I’ll get to why that’s relevant later. You don’t have to say I missed that like old school 1980s supergroup thing, like a band would go on hiatus or they take a break in between albums and so there’d be a spin off group that was really awesome to like Mike and the mechanics was a side project of Mike Rutherford from Genesis. And it had people like Paul Young and Paul Carrick in it. I also remember Duran Duran split off into Arcadia, which was great. And then the power station, which was really amazing. I mean, if you want to hear some awesome guitar work, and some awesome drums and percussion just like some driving guitar and beats, go listen to Some Like It Hot and the cover version that they did have, get it on bang a gong. I love Robert Palmer’s vocals anyway. And so I just I really think he’s awesome in the power station. So there’s a little unsolicited 1980s music info for you. Now we’ll get to the episode. The other day, one of my coaching clients asked me, when am I really out of that testing, and beta testing phase, I’m really ready to just be done with that, and like, be in my business doing my thing day in and day out. And I thought Whoa, there’s probably not going to be an answer to this question that she’s going to enjoy. Because the truth is, we’re never done. We’re never all the way completely done with testing and beta testing, and refining, and sifting and sorting unless you want to go out of business. Unless you want to get stuck in the past or stuck in a mode that’s not working for you anymore, you’re never really going to be done. I love how Esther Hicks says we’re never going to get it finished. And we’re never going to get it wrong. We have so many things in our individual vortex that it could fill up 100 lifetimes or 1000 lifetimes of activity with of our wants and our desires. You’re never going to get all of it finished and you can’t get it wrong. Chill out. That’s really great advice when we’re in the middle of overwhelm, or something has gone haywire. And we’re trying to figure out all the different possible ways that we can make it our fault. We screwed it up. We didn’t do a good enough job. Why didn’t I see this coming? bump-bump. We have to just take a step back and remember, this failure is not permanent. We can recover from it. It’s going to be okay. Take a deep breath. My friend Tanya is multilingual. And I remember asking her at what point did you feel like you had really arrived with a language like At what point do you feel like you’ve totally mastered it, you’re very at ease very calm within it. And you just you know that you’ve got this. And she laughed and said never. I don’t think you ever feel like when you’ve learned how to speak a foreign language that you’ve fully arrived with it because there’s always new vocabulary to learn things change in culture. So things change in the language and sometimes we have to go back and relearn old vocabulary that we didn’t use very much and so we forgot it. There’s never that point where you have arrived. You just get a little better each day at using it feeling more fluid and feeling more comfortable. But yeah, I don’t think you ever just arrived. And so it is in the business world. I would say the minute that you sit back and and feel like Well, I’ve learned everything there is to learn everything can just run on autopilot. Now I’m never gonna have any more questions. There won’t be any conflicts or challenges. I’m golden from this point forward. Your goose is cooked, you’re not in a good spot. If you can say I will never have any more challenges. I will never have any more questions. That’s a fool’s paradise, my friend. The analogy that I would use is a bicycle with training wheels. That part of the equation I do understand, because we want to feel confident, we want that level of self assurance that whatever comes up, I’ll handle it. If a challenge arises, if a customer has a complaint, if my best employee turns in notice and says they’re moving out of state, and they need to go, I’ll handle it, I will rebound from whatever happens. And I will handle it. When we are young, and we’re learning to ride a bicycle. So often, our parents want us to have the training wheels on, it makes the bicycle more stable. And sometimes I think it just makes them feel better, they feel more at ease that you’re not going to take a tumble. And it’s an exciting day, when the training wheels come off, you get to feel a little bit more grown up and you’re able to balance on the bicycle and do it without the training wheels. And it feels really good. Instead of thinking from the perspective of When am I going to be done testing and beta testing, when will I not have to sift and sort and refine and be open to progress open to change, when can I just run this thing on autopilot and step back, that’s not going to happen unless you sell the business and say to heck with this, I want to do something else, it’s not going to happen. But you will get to a point where you can take the training wheels off, you will have done enough testing and beta testing at the front end that you’ve determined, here’s my target market. Here’s the demographic of client or type of business type of service that I want to offer, here’s who I want to offer it to. I’ve already tested it enough to know that I can make money doing it. Now I can take the training wheels off and really see what this bicycle will do. You’re going to get to that point if you stick with it. But the idea that you’re ever going to be done with testing and refining and keeping aware of market trends and all of that, it just simply won’t happen if you intend to keep the business running. From an HR and staffing point of view. Sometimes I encounter companies and hiring managers that are stuck in the past, the era of the company holding all of the cards, and the candidates are the employees having basically nothing are over. If you have not figured out that your HR department really should be an extension of your marketing department, you’re already multiple steps behind your competition. Sometimes companies think that we live in a bygone era where they’re going to sit back, like the judges on America’s Got Talent and the candidates are going to come through one after another after another and audition for the for the chance for the hope of working at their company. And that’s not how things operate anymore. Candidates are savvier than they ever have been. And they really want to know what’s in it for me. Am I going to grow develop? Am I going to learn more by working here? How much creative autonomy will I have? Will I get an opportunity for upward mobility Will I be better for having worked at this company than if I had never set foot in the door. They’re not going to put up with abuse and 85 interviews and a bunch of nonsense in order to work for your company. And it doesn’t matter if you give them free soda pops and a foosball table, but you’re paying them 20% below market value. Or you expect someone who’s currently gainfully employed in a highly competitive area to go through six different interviews before you will deign to give them a verbal offer. Candidates are not going to put up with that. And what’s more, they will go to social media to out you for having a ridiculous process in the first place. In the business world, we always have to remember that times change and trends change. We can’t bury our head in the sand and pretend otherwise. That’s one of the reasons why I tell you guys to be very careful about leveraging all of your income, or all of your ability to feed yourself and your family on any platform that you do not own and control. Because if you ever got banned or shadow banned, what would you do? Or if that platform suddenly fell out of favor and became passe. And nobody wanted to go there to advertise to make money to buy your program about how to leverage it to get more business and so on and so on. What would you do? It’s important. Oh, excuse me, these Oklahoma allergies are still going on. We’re right now in prime hay fever season. So it’s like no, it’s not COVID. It’s like all the pollen and stuff in the air for people cutting and baling hay. You always want to think about what you would do in that circumstance. Have a plan B, C, D E and so and so on. But for the love of god don’t make the only way for you to provide for yourself and your family, some platform or some social media that you don’t own or control times change. Remember when MySpace was the thing to do? Hello, I’m old enough to remember that your top eight was a big deal. What song were you going to have playing in the background? What skins were you going to have when somebody loaded your page? That was it was cool, it was fun. I remember hearing t pain for the first time on my space. Now, I don’t even know if t pain is popular anymore. And I know that my space isn’t. So it’s like you have to be able to change and flex with the times. an offshoot of that is very much that you’re going to be testing and refining and testing and refining. For as long as you remain in business. If you want to remain in business and be successful, sometimes it seems like things can change so fast. It’s like the ground shifts beneath our feet. And just when we get to that point of like, Okay, I think I have a pretty good picture here. I think I’ve got a good handle of what’s going on. Another puzzle piece drops out of the Jenga. And you’re like, Okay, well, maybe not. You I have to say that, for me. 2020, all things considered, was not a terrible year, even in the midst of the pandemic, and all of this chaos and leaving my corporate job to get in the canoe, and hope that I could navigate the choppy waters, I did it. I made it work. And I was able to see better income and better results for myself than I ever would have if I had stayed at that corporate job. Does that mean it was easy? Hell no. Does that mean that I wasn’t scared to death at various points in time? I definitely was, I still remember the conversation that I had with my best friend Johnny, when I knew the time was growing nice to shove off from the corporate world and really be in my business full time, your permission to freak out a safe space to just wigged out about this, and then feel the fear and do it anyway. Because I know. I’m gonna have to leave the ship the structure of the ship in order to get in this canoe and roll my way, hopefully to shore hopefully to an island where I can really build something for myself, but it’s still scary when the time comes. But I’m by no means an isolated story. I mean, there are plenty of companies like Tim Ferriss calls recession babies, companies that were built out of really difficult, treacherous economic times, when it seemed like the worst possible thing you could do would be to leave the safety of a quote, corporate job and go out on your own yet, plenty of people have done it. So my success story is not an anomaly or a blip on the radar. A lot of people have been able to accomplish that. 2021 has been a strange year. It’s been a good year, I’ve had a lot of good things that have happened. But at the same time, I’ve had to do a lot of testing and beta testing and refining and going back into the lab and breaking things and trying to identify Okay, where where did this go wrong? I thought that I was clear, I thought that I had laid out the rules of engagement to be absolutely unmistakable, absolutely, not open for misinterpretation, and yet to where did the train leave the tracks. And so it’s given me even more opportunities to hone in and clamp down and refine even further. If you’re a frequent tuner, enter, then I know you’ve heard me talk before about not working with very young and very small startup companies, the energy behind all of that is too chaotic and frenetic. For me, it just doesn’t match the way that I prefer to work. And that’s one of the things that you have to evaluate for yourself, you have to weigh out is the amount of money that I’m going to make from doing this project or this gig going to be worth whatever emotional or physical stress and strain that I’m going to experience from it. And again, guys, you know, I am money motivated, but money’s not everything is somebody could pile a dump truck of cash in your front yard and the things that they want you to do to be able to access that money might just be a bridge too far. It might be things that you’re just simply not willing to do. You might tell them to take their dump truck of money and haul it back from whence they came because it’s just not worth what it’s going to put you through in order to get there. And for me, I’ve been able to sift and sort and get even clearer on companies that I will and will not work with and for what reason what what kind of projects Am I willing to take on at what kind of Bill rate and with what kind of terms and conditions and with what kind of work style I think sometimes solopreneurs and people that freelance and gig, they get too much into that sort of Walmart or Costco mentality of take all comers, any money is good money, any project is good. Anybody that gets on the phone with me and says all the right things is an ideal client. And that’s just simply not true. I want to really caution you against that take all comers cast a wide net, anybody with money in their pocket is our potential customer. That is not true. Unless you are one of those huge big box retailers where you’ve got something for everyone. And anybody can come shop on Amazon and find what they need. Anybody can walk into a Walmart and find whatever it is they’re looking for on the cheap. Unless that’s you, then you don’t need to operate with the same mentality that those big box huge discount retailers operate with, it’s not going to serve you well. You cannot be as one single person, all things to all people all the time, you will burn out and you will stress out if you try. That is yet another reason why continuing to test and beta test and refine, do your sifting and sorting, get your clarifications on things, it’s so important. And it continues to be important throughout the different seasons of your business. And frankly, throughout the different seasons of your life. I have a friend who ran a successful business for about 10 years. And both of his sons were in college, and they were both on scholarships kind of making their own way at school. And he and his wife started to talk about early retirement, they were getting that itch to like travel and get up and go and do and see. They were empty nesters that didn’t feel like they really had anything compelling keeping them where they were and they wanted to get out. And it’s funny because my friend said like I never thought in a million years that I would ever want to sell my company. To me, I just thought I would always run it, it would be my baby, it would be my income provider. And that would be that. But things changed. So he was able to successfully sell his business, his wife took an early retirement from her job. And they sold their house, bought one of those rv motorhome things. And they set out for the open road and they traveled around the country, they did their own thing. They lived beneath their means and just had a lot of fun. So then, in another season of life, their oldest son graduated from college, got his first corporate job, married his girlfriend, and a couple of years into the marriage, they started talking about trying to have a family. Well, at that point, my friend and his wife decided that they didn’t want to be rolling stones that gathered no moss anymore, they were ready to step into that role of grandma and grandpa and they wanted to have a house again. So they sold the rv motorhome pulled some money out of savings and bought a house to be closer to the Son, the daughter in law and these future grandkids. And it’s funny because my friend decided, Well, you know, I’m kind of hanging out at the house here, I’m sort of like to do something again. So he started another business that turned into a success story. My point in telling you all this is you are going to go through different seasons of life, just like you’re gonna go through different seasons of your business. Never say never to things there may come a day when you decide you do want to sell your business or there may come a day that you decide you want to go sort of split it off in a different direction, the way that it’s been going has worked well and you’ve enjoyed it. But it’s time for a change. I’m not going to paint some bogus sunshine and roses picture here for you. There may be times in the early days of your business when you are testing and beta testing that you take on some clients that are people that you really wish that perhaps you had never encountered. But in order to gain credibility, to have a book of business and to honestly determine who you enjoy working with and who you don’t enjoy working with, you’re probably going to have some of those contrasting experiences. Or if you get into a situation where you need to do what the crisis demands, you may need to take on some extra business and work more hours than you really want to or deal with some people who are perhaps less than ideal. In a perfect world, you really wouldn’t want to work with them. But you’re doing it in order to get the money. You have a hospital bill that needs to be paid, you have a car repair, that’s expensive. You need to do some home renovation or home improvement. And you’re just simply stepping up for this point in time saying I’m going to bite the bullet and do what the crisis demands. Because the money is of greater importance than sort of sifting and sorting and being selective. Sometimes in life that’s going to happen. I don’t advocate that is your day to day normal function in your business. I really think that we ought to be aiming for clients that are ideal that treat us with dignity and respect. We genuinely enjoy the work that we’re doing. And outside of a crisis mode, we’re really not overloading ourselves with too much work. And we’re not dealing with people that we just look like we have to hold our nose the whole time that we’re interacting with them, because they just don’t treat us very well. That shouldn’t be the default setting of your business. Are you ever going to get away from testing and sifting and sorting? Nope, no way around that. One of the reasons why I played you in with all I need as a miracle is because I have concluded that for me, and my business, people who are looking for signs, wonders and miracles, they’ve gotten themselves into a bad situation, and they want you as a consultant or a freelancer to give them a bailout, not a type of client for me. No, thank you. I would caution all of you listening today, regardless of what line of work you’re in, whether you’re a graphic designer, you are an attorney, you are an HR professional, whatever industry that you serve as Just be careful with people who want you to turn water into wine and to walk on water as though you are Jesus Himself. Because no matter what you do with people like that, it’s going to be nigh on impossible to please them. What are some signals of someone that’s looking for signs, wonders and miracles that you need to be aware of? Now, this is by no means an exhaustive or comprehensive list. Nor am I telling you that anything that happens from this list is automatically a danger sign. I’m simply telling you, from my experience, what I have seen, and things that you just want to keep in mind, let’s just call this information for your decision making. do with it what you will, I’m just putting it out there based on my own personal experiences. Number one, they they won’t tell you up front, what’s happened, they will often lead you in to working with them by telling you that they’re too busy and they’re overwhelmed. They need help. This might seem like a bit of a callous example. And it’s also going to tell you that I’ve probably watched too much true crime TV, too much dateline and such. But they lead you in with this idea of I’m vulnerable, I’m overloaded, I need help. Please help me they play into that need the very human decent need of wanting to help another person, seeing someone in distress and wanting to help alleviate that distress to comfort them to feel compassion for them. It’s why somebody like Ted Bundy would have his arm in a sling. Or he would pretend to be incapacitated in some way and need help. Oh, look, my arm is broken. I need you to help load these groceries into my trunk. And then the next thing you know, you’re on a ride that you’re not going to come back from. So just be careful with somebody that Oh, I just I’m so busy. I’m so overwhelmed. I’ve just got all this work to do. I’ve just been so many projects. I’ve just got so many search assignments, and I need all this oil, like, be aware, don’t automatically assume that what they’re telling you is the truth of the situation. As Tim Gunn likes to say on Project Runway, you want to use your editing I be consider consider that they may be telling you the truth on that, or they may not. Number two, there is little or no haggling over the price or the terms. They want you to hurry up and get started ASAP. Right now today, right now, right now right now, even before a contract has been signed. That’s very important. Because let’s think about this for a second. Let’s stroke our imaginary father time beards here together and think about why that would be why would they want you to hurry up and get started. They’ll pay any amount of money that you quote them. And they don’t need to sign any scope of work or any terms and conditions. Why? Why might that be? Well, sometimes people won’t haggle or ask any questions because they have no intention of paying the bill. It’s sort of like the old school Dine and dash, when somebody would go into a restaurant order whatever they wanted, with no thought to the price, because they were planning on slipping out the back door and not paying the bill. You want to be really careful there. The other thing is, if there’s no sign scope of work, there’s no signed contract. You don’t have much of a leg to stand on legally, if that person just splits and doesn’t pay you they want to argue with you or they just ghost you and you’re sitting there going Hello, is this invoice ever gonna get paid? So be really careful there. Number three, they often start out being super polite and agreeable. But then it all goes Jekyll and Hyde later and you feel like you’ve been through a mind warp. So initially, these people have the tendency like oh my God, thank you. You are helping me out so much. This is great. I’m so glad that I can offload this work to you and I know that it’s going to be done. And so they’re all happy and it’s peaches and cream and it’s yay and you feel good. You know, you feel That you have stepped in and help this person who genuinely needs the help. And it’s going to be your good deed you feel good about everything that’s going on, which makes it even more terrifying when they pull the rug out from underneath you. How come you didn’t find 5 Tony Starks in a 24 hour per od, I asked you to find a geniu playboy billionaire philanthrop st who’s willing to wo k $11 an hour, no benefits. They need to be able to live within five mile radius of some back ater town highly undesirab e that nobody wants to be in. How come you weren’t able to f nd 50 Tony Stark’s for me in backwater USA. Why did you f il me in this task? And you’re s tting there? Like, Is this or real? Is Ashton Kutcher gonn jump out of the bushes an tell me that I’m being pumped? ecause this doesn’t even make a y sense right now? When? W y? Why would you even think that there are 50 Tony Stark’s vailable for 11 bucks an hour in the middle of nowhere, like, hat kind of sounds like it’s y ur bad, not my bad, I’m jus saying. But if you don’t enjo playing those kinds of weird m nd warping games with people, which quite frankly, I don’ , this is not a type of client for you. For they often pay lat , or they don’t pay at all, and hen they blame it on you. Ess ntially, they want to set you u as the Fall Guy. So one of he ways that this can manifest in HR and staffing is someti es you’ll have a third part staffing person that takes n super weird searches, or hings that are just frankly impo sible, like the Tony Stark e ample. Or it could be go find me someone who is a hairdress r, store cashier, TIG welder, f y cook, rocket scientists, medic l doctor, all in one body, we re going to pay them $50,000 a ear, and we need to have at lea t 10 people like that to look at within the next 24 hours. And i ‘s like, okay, they want to be able to go to the client and say, well, it’s not my fault. You know, I I hired a consultant who could supposedly help me do this, and that person just did not deliver, they could not find that hairdresser, rocket scientists, fry, cook, whatever, with within 24 hours. And so it’s their fault, not my fault. So they want to use you as a scapegoat and, and say, well, you weren’t able to find this miracle for me, you did not turn water into wine. So therefore, I’m not going to pay your invoice. And it’s like, oh, my God, that’s not a headache that you want. That’s not trouble that you want to borrow. So my advice is, again, based on my own personal experience of sifting, and sorting, testing, refining, if you find somebody who wants you to perform an impossible task, regardless of how much they’re claiming, they’re going to pay you, it’s so much better for you to walk in the opposite direction than it is to get tempted whether you’re tempted to help them because you’re genuinely an empathic person, or you’re, you’re tempted by the money, tempted by the challenge of it all. Be careful there. That may be a level of stress that you just simply don’t need in your life. are you ever gonna get to a point in your business where you’re done testing and refining? getting clear? Being able to say I really have an awesome idea of who I love working with and who I don’t love working with? No, not unless you’re planning to close it down, run it in the ground or sell it. Testing, beta testing, refining, sifting, and sorting is going to be part of your life as a successful business person for the duration of that business. As the saying goes, it is what it is. We hope you enjoyed today’s episode. If you haven’t already, please take a quick second to subscribe to this podcast and share it with your friends. Thanks for tuning in. We’ll see you next time.