24 Sep Can You Launch a Business Without A Full Plan?
Jo Dodds talks about the unusual ways she has launched Power to Live More
I’m a big planner. I love the whole process of planning: the new notebook, the schedule, the thought process and the anticipation. The trouble with this is that you can get stuck in planning limbo. Sometimes you just have to just get on and do it, even if there is no full plan as yet. I did this when I launched my PR course back in 2003: I advertised it before I had even written it. Once people had paid for it I just had to get it finished. Jo Dodds has taken a similar approach to her new business venture Power to Live More, so I thought I’d ask her all about it.
Jo I know you have a business already in www.jododdssocialmedia.com but tell me about this new one, www.powertolivemore.com?
I’ve started a new website and business with quite a different focus from my other business. I’ve spent a good few years feeling that I’m not doing what I really should be doing in this world but not quite knowing what that should be! This new business feels like the missing link.
What was happening before you made the change?
I’ve had quite an eclectic career history having spent 18 years in HR and then moving into marketing via setting up a publishing business and then helping small businesses to market their businesses online and latterly via social media. In recent years I’ve started working with larger organisations around social media, back in the HR and employee engagement space.
I was selling social media to SMEs in the early days when they weren’t yet ready to buy and I’ve moved into selling social business to HR professionals who generally aren’t yet ready to consider the need. Towards the end of 2014 I was getting increasingly frustrated with how I seem to like to make things difficult for myself and I was increasingly aware that I was feeling unsettled with my career choices.
Was there a trigger point that made you say “enough is enough” or “now is the time”, or was it steady process?
At the end of 2014 I had an email from Pocket, the app I use to organise my article reading and learning, congratulating me on being in their top 1% of readers based on the volume of words that I’d read in the year – 1,667,769 to be precise!
They also sent me some interesting statistics about what I’d actually been reading. It came as no surprise to read that I focus my reading and learning time on the following topics:
Not entirely what I have been spending my working life doing! It was at that point that I decided I needed to do something about that gap and my new business was born. My new business is POWER to Live More, which is all around using Productivity, Organisation, Wellbeing, Energy and Respect (POWER) to enable you to do more of the things that you want to do in your life whether that be spend more time with your family, focus on a hobby or even to start a business (to Live More).
What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?
The first one was in just getting started, the whole ‘analysis paralysis’ thing, spending too much time just thinking about doing something rather than getting on and doing it. In some ways I used this to my advantage. I acknowledged to myself that a gradual evolution of this business is fine and on that basis starting with small steps that will accumulate into bigger change is fine. They way I’m not waiting on everything being perfect before I get started.
I also looked back over products, tools and books that I’ve bought over the years to give me some structure and to move things forward. For example I listened to some podcasts and read a process document to remind me how to think through and come up with the name for the business. And that process took me a couple of weeks, including brainstorming, bouncing ideas off friends, general thinking whilst out and about, which may have frustrated me but for ‘allowing’ myself to take things slowly in small steps.
The other main challenge, as always, is in finding time to work on the new business whilst continuing with my existing business and other time challenges. By breaking the project down into small steps and creating some focus time each day to action the steps I’m able to move things forward incrementally. I use various tools to help me to do that including Todoist as my task manager and an app on my phone called FocusTime.
What has been the reactions of others?
Those people who know me well think it’s a great idea! Those who don’t may wonder why I’m starting “yet another business”!
I’ve started an email newsletter that goes out every Friday. I haven’t published a regular newsletter since late 2012 and yet when I started it I managed to get 100 people signed up to this new newsletter from my old lists, which was encouraging , which is encouraging. So, I think there is an interest in what I’m doing now.
What about the change has given you the most satisfaction or benefits?
I feel really motivated to work on the business and get things going and it feels congruent with who I am. I feel like the reading and thinking I do outside of my other business interests is now even more useful to me, rather than a distraction or ‘guilty pleasure’!
I know I’m going to really enjoy producing my new podcast. I have hosted a weekly podcast for the Engage for Success movement for over two years, which I enjoy, but this new one will be even more fun given the topics and the people who I will be able to spend time interviewing.
Since making this change I’ve been trying to ‘walk the talk’ even more so I’m getting my business administration organised, my house is getting decluttered and more organised, I’m eating well and looking after myself by sleeping more, and so on. It’s a bit of a virtuous circle in that respect!
How has this gently gently approach worked for you?
It’s working well in that I am moving things forward and feeling that things are developing. Though I still get a little frustrated that I can’t move things quicker but that’s just my natural tendency to want to do everything yesterday!
What decisions have you made or services and products created by doing this?
Interestingly over the summer, whilst trying to juggle the school holidays and work, I’ve been able to take a step back and get really clear about my target market in the new business (entrepreneurs and business owners who work from home), which I think is part of the gradual of the evolution of the new business.
I’m still developing the product side of the business, but again that feels like it’s not outside my grasp now as the business is gradually developing and products and services are starting to ‘naturally’ appear, so I’ll be ready to go live with them once I’ve launched my podcast.
Do you have any advice for anyone in a similar situation?
I think the first piece of advice would be to not give up making changes if things aren’t working or they don’t feel right. And to use your intuition and be more mindful in what you’re doing to enable you to work out what you really want to do. In other words, what of what you do makes you feel good. What do you keep doing that feels like a good fit for you, where you don’t have to make an effort in order to get stuff done. How can you change what you’re doing to enable you to do more of that and less of those things that have the opposite effect?
Remember that you don’t have to do everything overnight and that a gradual process may well be the best choice to keep things moving but not too fast. And do think about your POWER!
You can find out more about what Jo’s doing now at www.powertolivemore.com