What if you treated your business like an experiment?

My Januaries used to be a maelstrom of resolutions:

Six-pack abs by summer & a six-figure business by year end.
A new wardrobe, a new place, a new-improved me—more ballsy, less beige.

Except Failure would inevitably creep in and gnaw away at my freshly made life-rules.

100 sit-ups a day? Maybe tomorrow.
Doubling my rates? Maybe NEXT month.
Launching that new service? Er, maybe a year from now.

I’d always end up feeling like a giant disappointment.

And I hated that.

Until a few Decembers ago, when a conversation with award-winning author Jonathan Fields changed EVERYTHING for me.

Jonathan FieldsIn case you’re not familiar with Jonathan, he’s the man behind Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt Into Fuel For Brilliance—a book hailed as The #1 Personal Development Book in the World.

He’s also spoken at a number of high-profile gigs, like Chris Guillebeau’s World Domination Summit, Inbound, and SXSW.

And let’s not forget The Good Life Project: a weekly web-show designed to help people live more connected, engaged, and aligned lives. (The likes of Brene Brown, Simon Sinek, and Erika Napoletano have all featured as guests.)

 

Back to our phone call.

While the two of us talked, I griped: “I just want to figure out what my THING is.”

I longed to have it all figured out:

The edges of my business smoothed off. 
My next steps mapped out.
The answers piled up in my lap & ready to roll.

But Jonathan suggested I try something else, instead:

“What if . . . you made next year The Year of Experimentation—and treated EVERYTHING as a test?”

 

That advice was liberating, to me.

Giving myself freedom to play was the radical shift I so desperately needed.

It took the pressure off completely. And it helped me tap into ideas I might never have explored otherwise.

And so while I was quiet here last year, I was busy behind the scenes.

I tested new offerings that never made it to the website. I increased my prices & didn’t announce it to the world. I flirted with the idea of creating a new service and later, a new program.

In the end, inundated with client work, the program wound up in the “someday” pile — but that was okay.

Because progress is not perfection. Click to tweet

And, as it turned out, all these tiny experiments opened the door for me to deepen into the work that I do so I could figure out where I wanted to go next.

I learned that failure isn’t fatal.

Far from it.

It’s an opportunity. To adapt. To evolve. And to emerge stronger than ever before.

 

So, the question is . . .

What if you treated YOUR business like an experiment?

What would change for you? And what would you do differently?

Join the conversation in the comments. (I’ll meet you there.)

Nikki

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33 thoughts on “What if you treated your business like an experiment?

  1. Love Jonathan and GLP. His session at WDS in 2013 was also one of my faves.

    I like the experiment idea. In fact, that’s how I try to effect change in my life; I just try and view new things as an experiment so I don’t get caught up in the idea of having to do the new thing forever. (Cause that’s a really scary idea sometimes!)

    I’m not anywhere close to having a business up and running at the moment – I’m still trying to work out my thing by taking painting classes – but I think that trying new things to find what works is a great idea.

  2. Dear Nikki,
    I am about to start my business in March and I am feeling so under pressure to be successful, to make money as soon as possible. This pressure just blocked me so much. My husband told me yesterday, just see it as test, as a game and today you post this in your blog. I am starting to get accostumated to this idea. It is difficult to accept this idea in the first moment but once you get the mindset, I believe that you really get so much freedom and “space” to be creative. I am now curious how my year will be. Thanks for the great post. Leda Horak

    1. That’s so exciting, Leda! But yup, I hear you — it can be a scary transition, too. Love hearing that your husband took the pressure off you like that! And happy to hear this post helped, too. Positive you’ll rock it out, lady! xo.

  3. Nikki, I love reading everything you write. This post certainly hit home (and couldn’t have come at a better time). I think it’s safe to say, I’ve been living in a fear bubble the past couple of weeks. It’s time to shift my mindset! Experimentation = way less pressure & much more fun! Thank you for this. <3

  4. Nikki! That is sooo freeing! The pressure that our websites, emails, branding, pricing, hair and makeup needs to be ON POINT is OLD. It’s play time! Thank you.

  5. Great post, Nikki! This is something that came to me quite recently as a result of gradual realisation of all the time I was wasting trying to work in ways that didn’t suit me rather than spending some time finding out what did. I couldn’t have put it nearly as articulately as Jonathan did to you until I read those words here.

    Thanks & have a great 2015!

  6. You know, this may be the missing piece in my evolution. Instead of thinking I need to hire the next coach/read the latest book/implement a series of best practices, making it all an experiment could be game changing. Me likey.

  7. I love this and feel the huge need for leaping! Everything about my business has been an experiment as I break through everyone’s insistence that the “system is not to be broken” and encouragement to “do it the way everyone else does” … but instead you’re SO right. When you allow yourself to be free and experiment, new doors are bound to open!

    1. I reallyreally hope you don’t succumb to that, Naomi. You bring something totally unique to the table — can’t wait to see the strides you make in your industry!

  8. Nikki, bravo! This is spot on!! When I coach speakers, I invite them to look at the techniques and strategies I share as exactly that: experiments. It can be incredibly fun and rewarding to try a variety of tools to determine which resonates best. If you approach an opportunity in this manner, as simply an experiment, failure does not seem so absolute.

  9. I think experimenting is the key to growing what you do both personally and as a business. However, from a business perspective the results of your experiments need to be measurable. If you can’t measure, you can’t learn. So set measurable success criteria and measure how close you get.

  10. Love this! Exactly how I have always operated but even more so right now. I just finished my first 15 day free challenge where I promised no upsell…so what next? Hmmmm…. and I told myself this morning, its an experiment and I am learning so much! I know that this was hot! And people loved it and next time I will have thought through what comes next. But its all good. Thanks Nikki, I just ordered Jonathan’s book 🙂

  11. Great post, Nikki! I’m in a similar zone and really excited about a shift in perspective. I actually feel more Joy about my work because I’m letting go of most of the should’s and thinking in terms of *a clear plan with room for the unknown* We chose the entrepreneurial path to do life on our own terms, do what we love, and help others–yet we get stuck in the same mental and emotional baggage we left behind. The stuff that restricts us from living fully, creatively and honoring who we are. Experimenting can be an internal shift with the way we think about our work…it doesn’t have to be dramatic to have big impact. Thank you for bringing this topic to life!

  12. Love this, Nikki! I spent 2014 specifically trying new things: new products, new branding, new marketing experiments. I learned SO much! And it felt great giving myself permission to fail–or at least, not be uber-successful right away. It’s driving my husband a bit crazy, because he feels like I should be making more money than I am. But I am really happy with the pace of my business right now. And I’m getting a really good feel for what I enjoy, what works, and what feels icky. I’m looking forward to continuing the experimentation in 2015!

  13. I love this advice – I’m constantly in a state of experimentation, and after 12 years in business, last year I finally found what I truly wanted to focus on. All it took was asking for a referral, taking a meeting, and listening to their needs.

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