“Consistency is the true foundation of trust. Either keep your promises or do not make them.”
I’m pretty sure that you’ve already heard (several times probably) just how important consistency is in your business. Just how necessary it is to show up in people’s inboxes and news feeds on a regular and consistent basis. You may even be convinced of the arguments for consistency, but try as you might, you still struggle to achieve a consistent level of output in your work. I’m here to tell you that you’re not alone. This is the number one thing I see most business owners struggling with.
The majority of small businesses owners fail to show up consistently in their business whether that’s taking consistent actions aligned with the achievement of business goals or producing content on a regular basis (choosing instead to show up whenever they feel a flash of inspiration). This is all every well for a hobby but if you want to create a successful business that works and provides you with consistent income, you have to become consistent in how you show up for your business. In my experience there is a clear link between the consistency of your output and the consistency of your income.
It’s for this reason that in this post, I want to share five ways I’ve learned to get more consistent in business. But before we get to that, let’s just look at why consistency is so important. People buy from people they know, like and trust. When we operate with consistency, whether that’s in our content creation or our outreach efforts, it allows more people to know us and it allows the people who do know us to like and trust us more.
Put another way, when it comes to your audience, consistency equates to trustworthiness (doing what you said you would do) and reliability (allowing people to rely on you). If we consider the other side of this, when we show up inconsistently, our audience is much more likely to wonder if we are for real. If we can be trusted and if we are reliable enough to invest in.
Understand your resistance to consistency
This is a big one. As a Business Coach, I’ve seen first hand just how much resistance comes up when I bring up the topic of consistency to business owners and I get it, it often requires a greater commitment, more courage and a dedication to our work that we haven’t managed to muster previously.
Understanding why you feel resistance is crucial and might require that you reframe what being consistent means to you.
For example, perhaps currently you see it as something that threatens your creativity. If I force myself to write on a schedule, my words don’t flow and my work suffers. What if instead you saw consistent content creation as a way to master your craft and improve your work and your ability to focus (with the added benefit of deepening the relationship you have with your audience)? Perhaps you see it as a threat to your freedom. If I have to show up consistently I forfeit the freedom to do what I want on any given day. What if instead you saw consistency as a route to even greater freedom? Once a habit in formed, the effort required to do the work is far less. Suddenly writing a weekly newsletter feels simple and fun, rather than laborious and painstaking.
Is there another way to look at consistency that doesn’t leave you feeling constricted and trapped?
Pick one thing to be super consistent with
Where many people fail here is trying to be consistent across the board in their business. They have a list of things that they are trying to be consistent in all at the same time. Newsletter writing, publishing blog posts, writing daily social media posts (across multiple channels!), recording weekly videos and, and, and…you get the idea!
My suggestion here, is that you take one thing, work at getting consistent at that one thing and once you have a pretty well established habit, move onto the next thing. Let me share how this plays out in my business. At the start of this year I set myself several content creation goals, including sending weekly newsletters and publishing weekly blog posts. I knew that, for me, getting into a consistent rhythm with both at the same time was going to be tricky given how busy I am so I decided to focus on one thing. My number one priority up until last month was to never miss sending out my weekly newsletter (so far so good!). Once I felt that this had become completely integrated into my weekly routine, I decided it was time to get consistent with my blog post writing, which led to my decision to do a 30-day challenge, in which I would write 30 posts in 30 days (in case you’re wondering this is post 19 of that 30). After this challenge, I know that writing one post a week will feel like a breeze! And once I achieve a level of consistency in that, I’ll move on to another of my priorities, consistent outreach.
The key is to focus. Pick one thing and work on getting consistent with that until it becomes part of your daily or weekly routine.
Publicly state your commitment
I use this strategy often in my business and that is to publicly share my goals and commitments with colleagues, peers, clients and audience members, so that when I sit down at my desk and the resistance to do what I said I would inevitably arises, I remember just how many people I’ve shared my goal with and it encourages me to get over my niggly self doubts and get the job done.
This is precisely what I did with this content creation challenge and I can promise you, if there weren’t so many people aware of the challenge or involved in it, I’m fairly certain I would have missed a day or two by now. On the days it’s felt the hardest to write (today just so happens to be one of those days), I remember how many people I might inspire, help or reach if I follow through with my goal.
Put it on your calendar
At the beginning of every year, I get out my Business Planner and set my strategic priorities for my business. My two main priorities for 2019 are content creation and outreach. Both of these have recurring slots on my daily calendar. Every morning between 9-10.30am, I have content creation scheduled in my calendar. Most afternoons, between 5-6.30pm, I have a spot reserved for coaching/outreach, that is if I don’t have coaching calls book, that time is to be used to reach out and connect with people.
I recognised at the end of last year that if I wanted to take my business to the next level, I needed to get far more consistent at these two things and that’s why they each have a prominent, recurring slot on my calendar. I’d like you consider what the most important thing for you to get consistent at in your business is? Then ask yourself is that adequately reflected in your calendar?
Don’t break the chain
Jerry Seinfeld, one of the most prolific comedy writers of our time, attributes his global success to the fact that he would write every day using a technique that has become known as the Don’t Break The Chain technique.
At the beginning of each year Seinfeld would hang a large year-at-a-glance calendar above his desk and for every day that he successfully sat down and wrote, he would mark that day on the calendar with a big red X. Before long he would have a chain of Xs and the goal would become to not break break the chain. I’ve found you don’t need to have a calendar for this. I know, for example, that I haven’t missed a weekly letter so far this year or a daily blog post this month, I don’t need to see a string of Xs to know that I don’t want to break that chain.
The truth is that consistency requires practice and patience. You need time for a habit to becomes so ingrained that it no longer requires so much effort from you. But I swear it gets easier. After my first week of blog posts, I couldn’t even begin to imagine how I could write another 23, the effort it had taken to write 7 felt gargantuan. Yet here I am at post 19, with a deep knowing that I’ll achieve my goal. Is it still hard work to write every day? Sure! But having done so for 19 days in a row, it’s also now feels normal, it’s a part of my every day.
So how about you, where in your business would it serve you and your clients/audience is you showed up more consistently?
It doesn’t have to be content creation (although I would argue this should be a priority), it might be consistently reaching out to people, or consistently working on your business. If you feel called to let me know what it is for you, just drop me a line in the comments below.
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