April 10, 2017. Something needed to happen, and quickly. Cyclone Debbie had torn through the Whitsundays and trashed our boats, which meant no income. For, like, who knew how long? Jobs in town were scarce and, the truth is, I wasn’t keen on most of those anyway. I decided to jump back into the world of communication that I’d loved as a freelance editor, only leveling up.
The thing is, starting from scratch in a town that knows tourism and beer but isn’t too up to date on creating much else should have been daunting. How on earth would I get momentum in time? Who did I know who’d want my skills?
I discovered two major things at the right time.
The first was a high-quality VA course that covered all major funnel, email and web platforms to get me up to speed. Designed as a ten-week course, I think, I did nothing else over the Easter weekend (poor Hugo, our dog, probably thought he was going to die of neglect under my desk for those four days), and worked through every bit of the content. Lifetime access meant I’ve jumped back in and brushed up on pertinent details as necessary to get a job done. Thanks to Emily Hirsh for putting together such fabulous material, and for your mentoring since.
I absolutely loved the course material and started to feel a little bit ready. Yet there was still something in me that was unsure how to define what it is I wanted to do.
In nine weeks.
Armed with a couple of Masters’ Degrees and truckloads of experience in engineering and physics, Lindsey has made a point of studying how adults learn. Recognizing that it can be tricky to plan everything at the beginning when one doesn’t know what questions should be asked, the 5F Flight Plan allows for getting started + jumping back to revise and re-imagine as things unfold. Which suits my non-linear brain very nicely.
Here’s the breakdown of how the 5F Flight Plan’s principles worked (and continues to work) for me in establishing and growing McKee Creative:
This one’s a biggie when running any business, of course, because focusing on income-generating activities is key. It would be way too easy to give in to the ‘impostor syndrome’ and keep thinking we need to master ‘just one more short course’ before we can bring value to our clients. That’s rubbish. Instead, I’ve learned to schedule time every day to contact people who could use my services, and ask them to keep me in mind should they know somebody else who wants what I do.
Creating a ‘lead magnet’ is a key in sales funnels. Naturally, I created the products I wished I had myself. ‘Sign your first paying clients in 14 days’ was the PDF chock-full of the techniques I use myself, and ‘8 ways to get your Local Business Seen Online’ has proved a winner for clients.
Lindsey nailed me with surgical precision on this one during a Zoom call. “Usually I tell people to set a timer to get something done. But with you, I want you to set a timer to tell you when to stop!”
It’s true. I want so badly to do the best job possible that I’ll go way overboard and end up not properly compensating myself for my time. I say compensating ‘myself’, because I’ve done enough as a freelance editor to know I work efficiently and that clients are very happy with the results. So, it’s my issue; not my clients’. To settle that, I no longer quote ‘per hour’, but instead give a fixed price for the job, allowing for a couple of revisions. That way the client has the peace of mind that comes with a certain allocation of funds, and I don’t waste energy worrying about the pace at which I work.
With new tools being released quicker than you can say ‘launch’, there can be loads of pressure to keep on top of them all. Which equates to way too much time figuring apps out on the net, if you’re not careful. I’ve learned that a better approach is to stick to a few updates from genuine leaders in the field and sort the rest out on an ‘as needed’ basis. The core principles of persuasive communication are timeless.
Lindsey has a great tip here – the ‘do next’ idea. For some, that means leaving a post-it note with One Thing to do the next day on the project. For me, it means setting out my daily plan the night before so that I can get rolling in the morning.
I certainly got started in a hurry. I knew I should have a website that had professional photos; I knew I should put a business plan together. I like websites and proper photos and business plans. But sometimes it’s a matter of using what one has and improving from there. So, I threw a Facebook page together, announced my services and started to tell all my friends they needed to like it! I knew most of them wouldn’t need to engage me, but you never know who knows someone who does.
That was enough to start with three clients, which was a great encouragement to keep going.
Putting McKee Creative out into the world allowed me to get feedback on:
- how I pitched to clients
- which clients I ought to pitch to
- once I did a rather average self-made website with photos of Whitehaven Beach (my ‘backyard’) because I had none of myself, the lovely Nora Wendel of The Photo Forest took me to task and emphasised that I needed photos of me NOW because, otherwise, how do people know who they’re buying from? I knew that, but Nora pushed me to get over the ‘I can’t pay for that right now’ obstacle and rope my man into snapping a couple of shots in the bush behind our house. It wasn’t too inconvenient for him; we head out there each evening with a beer to walk Hugo, anyway.
- Streamlining my own systems. It’s one thing to do that for others; quite another to make sure I do that for myself. Getting better at that each week. “Kaizen,” I tell myself. Continuous incremental improvement. And this is the beauty of the 5F Flight Plan – when in FIELD TEST mode and learning to better streamline my systems, I looped right back to FOCUS to stay on track.
This is the bit I still forget to do. And, of course, Lindsey has pointed that out. I’m supposed to celebrate the ‘wins’, even the small achievements. Celebrating helps one keep up the momentum. Rather naturally driven, I tend to turn the page in the diary and just get on with it. Celebrations are indeed, in order, Lindsey! I did try to celebrate today … went to the kitchen and told my man, ‘hey, remember how I said I needed to engage a new client this week? Well, I did. So I’m celebrating.’
‘Is that it?’ he said. ‘This is you, celebrating?’
Guess I’ll work on that.
Thank you, Lindsey. The 5F Flight Plan is cool (and free). I love that it can be adapted to any ‘ambitiously fun project’. And I’m grateful that it’s helped me launch McKee Creative.
If you download the 5F Flight Plan, I’d love to hear how you use it!