Wed, 31 May 2017
Welcome to Season 2 of Natalie Sisson's Quest for Freedom!
I'm delighted to be back and I know you've been missing me...at least 2 people have asked me "Natalie when is your next podcast episode coming out".
So thank you to the two of you, I appreciate it.
Obviously to talk about a business sabbatical and how you can truly have a profitable business that can technically run without you, you need to experience that in full glory for yourself.
Luckily this podcast is about making me the guinea pig of my own experiments in order for us to uncover what true freedom really is.
Since the 1st of April I've been on a business sabbatical and in this episode I reveal all.
Well almost all, I'll tell you the rest when I'm finished my break from my business. But here's what I will share:
Then I went on to answer some great questions from a fan on my Facebook page that watched my previous video on this topic where I shared the realities of it, and why I was extending my sabbatical for another month (which has now turned into 3).
The only thing I'm bringing back is this podcast because it's my baby, and it's helping me to learn and grow real-time by sharing my findings with YOU.
So for the full lowdown you can watch the video below (here it is on my Facebook page) OR listen to the podcast by clicking the button at the top OR you can read the full blog post below this video.
"For those of you who have been following The Suitcase Entrepreneur and my Quest for Freedom, you'll know that I took the entire month of April off my business.
No checking emails, no checking in with the team, no watching anything related to business, not thinking about business and just taking a month off my business, The Suitcase Entrepreneur.
And I then extended it into May. I appreciate it's May now as I record this, but I don't feel like doing a Facebook live video to answer your questions feels like business to me, and I love my business so it's you that I am here for. You guys have helped me build it.
I do think you've got to talk about these things in the moment because several months down the track I may actually forget what it really, really physically feels like to be on a sabbatical right now, and continuing it on through to the end of June.
Next week actually I am going to be taking a digital sabbatical and be totally offline, off the Internet probably for 3 to 5 days. It's been awhile since I've done a digital sabbatical and I just want to disconnect.
And I just want to chill out by the fire, play with my puppy, exercise, read books and think. I want to practice the piano and I want to enjoy myself, which I already have been doing.
Just do more of that.
But today I wanted to answer specifically questions that you guys had from the Reality of a business sabbatical Facebook Live video where I took you behind the scenes.
The first month off was kind of weird.
I was 1) moving into a beautiful new dream lifestyle property, 2) getting a puppy, getting 5 chickens, and setting up an entire house - because when you've lived out of the suitcase for close to 7 years you don't really have much stuff!
And I realized that I still hadn't fully given myself the time out to just enjoy and re-energize and get my verve and my mojo back for everything that I love to do.
The great news is it's starting to happen since I've given myself more space, more time.
I'll admit, I can't ever fully stop. I've been reaching out to networks where I now live and looking at potentially helping getting a co-working space setup, which would be so awesome because I've used so many of them over the years as a digital nomad.
I've just been connecting with more and more people especially women entrepreneurs, getting to know the area and of course, dreaming up lots of visions and ideas for what I would just love to do in the near future.
Not only related to my books that are coming out but also making my Freedom Plan program the best ever and just a bunch of other things that I've been wanting to work on for so long. Now I have the headspace to think about them.
That's one of the huge benefits of a business sabbatical - headspace.
I wanted to answer some questions from Angela Fitradi who posted after my Facebook live a couple of weeks ago, she said,
"I'd love to know how the business runs without you? How often you check in? When you check in? What do you focus on? And how to know what to focus on and what can be managed without your attention?"
So the business runs without me, because as I've been blasting from the rooftops for the last couple of years, you NEED to have sexy systems in place.
Freedom systems are really what I am talking about and ultimately at the end of the day you should have a fantastic website that people can navigate to once they're there, a fantastic sales funnel that takes them on a journey to show them exactly what content they can consume, that they should sign up to receive more email updates from you and what programs and products that you have to offer them that would be really beneficial.
Now I will absolutely say the business has kind of plateaued and even declined a little because I am a huge believer that energy in vs energy out applies to everything you do in life.
So if you are putting energy into your health and fitness, it's going to pay off - if you are doing it right.
The same applies to your business. If you are putting tons of energy into the right areas as Jeff Walker was saying the other day in his video, as in you've got to strategize and prioritize into the right areas not just throwing yourself at everything, but if you are putting the energy into your business in the right places, it will grow.
Naturally when you take a step back from your business you will find it doesn't grow as much.
To recap, I would say a fantastic website or place that people can land on whether it's landing pages, sales pages, and a great sales funnel really helps once all those things are automated.
And outside of that some key team members, definitely starting with a virtual assistant who can do your customer service, check your emails for you, answer on your behalf and to answer your question more candidly, Angela, anything that Angeline can answer, my awesome assistant, we have some template canned responses and the things that are more important like somebody not being able to access the program or something not working, Angeline knows my business.
She's been with me for almost 3 years now, in a part-time capacity and so she knows where the resources are or how to help my community. That's been hugely helpful and I have a small team around the world, and most of them right now are kind of on a break as well.
But if we do need to communicate, we do it typically through Slack. I am doing my best to not login to email at all, but essentially Slack is a place where we can just communicate briefly.
And they all have their team objectives that they've been working on. Our marketing and editorial calendar, we know what's coming out, we know what's working and we have been reviewing that.
I asked my team, especially Debashish to review that while I was off on my break and come back to me with some recommendations so that when I am back properly we can change strategies or direction.
So how often do I check in?
For the first month, I didn't want to be contacted at all. Typically I'd say if you are going on a sabbatical, the point is to be offline, but once a month is probably more than enough.
Or if you feel that's a little too infrequent or you really want to know things then probably every week and just make it a short check in and make sure you know what you are asking for.
Your other question was, how do you know what to focus on and what can be managed without your attention?
Most stuff can be managed without my attention. It's only when I am creating new content or launching something that really all my attention needs to be on that and I need to be driving my team.
But outside of that I've worked very hard over the years to set up Sexy Operating Procedures (SOP) and some really great strategies and direction for my team to be empowered to do their things and to do them really well.
Right now, I am focusing on my own learning and my own growth and understanding different areas that maybe I just haven't put aside the time to actually delve into. I am doing several online courses myself around The Science of Happiness through Berkeley University via the edX platform, and around health and nutrition through Dr Libby.
I am learning or I will be learning (when I am off my sabbatical) more around e-commerce and getting up to speed on social media trends and tactics.
And I think most things don't need to be managed by you. So the best thing to focus on would probably be partnerships and key relationships. But even those have been really well managed by my team because they know that I've dealt with these people for years and they can often answer their questions that those partners would like to ask me.
I think it's nurturing those relationships that's the key stuff that you still do want to focus on.
And the next part of your question, have there been any situations where your absence has created a situation and has your business income and finances has been affected by your absence?
On the second part, absolutely as I said energy in vs energy out. But I've been pleasantly surprised that it's been earning really, really well over the last couple of months without me there so that proves I don't always need to be there!
And to answer your question about has my absence created a situation? I think it has probably provided relief to my team. They are probably enjoying the break from Natalieville to be really honest you know.
I think there have been no situations that have arisen. I wasn't expecting anything major as we had pretty much planned out a year ahead so I don't expect any hurdles or anything that would come up and so therefore no situations.
The only situation caused by you not being in your business for awhile would be a lack of clarity around expectations, priorities, objectives and milestones while you are not there.
Who to contact? Who to reach out to? How to move forward on projects if you are not the person who's absolutely able to drive them like you normally would be. So those are the sort of things that you probably want to think about.
I hope that's given you guys some insight and I just wanted to pop in and say hello to my beautiful freedomist community and give you some understanding behind what a business sabbatical is.
You can make it whatever you want really but the point is to take time out from your business to get the creative juices flowing and to really just actually come back to your roots and focus on what you loved about your business in the first place and that has been so enlightening for me so far. "
Stay tuned for the next episode of Season 2 where I talk with other entrepreneurs about burnout and their business sabbaticals like Jason Van Orden
"Eventually I had to stop and ask myself why there was that waning in motivation. I'm sure partly I was maybe scared a little bit to look at that but what does it mean? What if I ended up figuring out I've got the wrong business or that I am done with this business."
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