On this episode Josh speaks with Anna Lundberg from One Step Outside. They talk about what business owners need to be thinking about during this crisis to help their business survive. They also discuss what business owners should have thought out before transitioning to another phase of their business or career.
Anna Lundberg is the founder of One Step Outside, where she helps experienced corporate professionals around the world build businesses and create a lifestyle that allows them an unimagined sense of freedom, flexibility, and fulfillment – outside of the 9 to 5.
Since leaving her corporate marketing job in 2013, she’s now reimagining what success looks like and she’s passionate about inspiring and supporting others to do the same. She is the author of Leaving the Corporate 9 to 5 and host of the Reimagining Success podcast.
In today’s episode you will learn about:
- How to know what to do with your business when you are burning out
- What should you do if you want to leave your business
- What business owners need to be thinking about during this crisis to help their business survive
- What business owners should have thought out before transitioning to another phase of their business or career
Narrator: Welcome to “Cracking the Cash Flow Code”, where you’ll learn what it takes to create enough cash to fill the four buckets of profit. You’ll learn what it takes to have enough cash for a great lifestyle, have enough cash for when an emergency strikes, fully fund a growth program and fund your retirement program. When you do this, you’ll have a sale ready company that will allow you to keep or sell your business. This allows you to do what you want with your business, when you want in the way you want.
In Cracking the Cash Flow code, we focus on the four areas of business that let you take your successful business and make it economically and personally sustainable. Your host, Josh Patrick, is going to help us through finding great thought leaders as well as providing insights he’s learned through his 40 years of owning, running, planning, and thinking about what it takes to make a successful business sustainable and allow you to be free of cash flow worries.
Josh: Hey, this is Josh Patrick. You’re Cracking the Cash Flow Code. Today, my guest is Anna Lundberg. Anna is the author of a book and she is the founder of One Step Outside. Instead of me going out with an introduction which I’m going to completely blow we’re going to bring on. Anna, how are you today?
Anna: Hi, Josh. I’m really well, thank you. Thank you for having me.
Josh: My pleasure. Anna, my first question is and you’re an expert, I mean you left your corporate job at Procter and Gamble. You want to do your own thing. You’d never good path at Procter and Gamble. You help business owners sort of do what they want to do in their business. Am I correct in that?
Anna: Yeah, I like that. It’s a simple way of describing it. Absolutely.
Josh: Okay, what if they’re not doing what they want to do after they have a conversation with you? What’s the next step? Because I actually believe that there’s a lot of business owners, a lot of blue collar business owners who walk in my office, they tell me they have to sell their company.
They say, when they say yesterday and the reason they want to sell their company is they’re burned out. They’re bored. They’re not doing what they wanted to do. You have someone like that walk into a conversation with you, what do you tell them or what do you ask them?
Anna: That’s a great clarification there. I think that’s such an interesting insight that you have. I work with people maybe who are early on in the journey, but it’s of course the case that people can be working for a long time. As you say, find that they’re burning out. They thought they had this great idea.
Maybe it’s even financially successful and so on, but they wake up one day and realize, this isn’t actually bringing me the meaningful success, that’s not working with my personal priorities, my family situation, whatever it is. I think the biggest thing to avoid is to rush into something else. I think if they come in and say, “I’m going to sell now. I want to do this other thing.”
I think that’s what you need to sort of hit the pause button and take some time to reflect and really take a step back and understand, what is it? What are the sort of push reasons for why you want to leave what you’re doing now? Then what are the pull reasons? So what are the things you’re trying to escape to and that can be quite frustrating for people because they want to take action really quickly.
The last thing you want to do is rush into something else, invest time and money in another business idea, or, throw out lots of CVs and apply for jobs. Then a few months or years down the line, you’re again waking up, I’m happy in that job. For me, the biggest first step, the biggest next step is to really allow yourself that exploration especially if you’ve been working and burning out for 10, 20 or more years.
You really need to give yourself that time. Ideally, travel obviously right now that’s not so possible, but if you can read take a course, take a break, take a bath, whatever it is you need to do, but just explore and really reflect on what is important to you your values and really the priorities in your life and where you see yourself for the next few years and even decades depending on obviously your age and where you so really the exploration taking that time to reflect before rushing into action.
Josh: You just said something I would have found interesting, I want to clarify a little bit more. What do you mean by push or pull?
Anna: Yes, I mean for a lot of us, I work and you mentioned my book leaving the corporate 9 to 5, a lot of people are leaving the corporate jobs. For me as well, I felt like I was on a bit of a conveyor belt. It was a great job and I was earning well and so on, but there was a disconnect with what I wanted to be doing, a bit like the people you described just that I was working for somebody else.
I think in that situation, a lot of us have the push reason which is the reason why we don’t want to do this. I know that this is not what I want to do. It might be a toxic culture. It might be the long commute or the working hours. You’re not making enough money, or you are making lots of money, but you feel like that’s not the most meaningful value to you. Those are the push reasons.
A lot of people are very clear on what they don’t want, but then when you begin to look at but what are you actually escaping to? What’s pulling you? What’s your vision? What are you actually trying to work towards? That’s a bit harder. That’s where it’s looking at sort of defining what does success look like for you?
Again, that’s where looking at sort of people often say things like freedom, and I want flexibility. I want autonomy I want fulfillment. I want to leave a legacy in the world. I want to make a meaningful contribution, whatever that might be. It’s getting clear on both the things that you don’t want that you’re leaving, but also importantly, what are you trying to move towards. Again, rather than just latching on to the next best thing that comes along.
Josh: A lot of people who are in business for 20, 30 years, when they say they want to leave their business, they really don’t have a good sense of what they want to do next. There’s a term called Seller’s Remorse which comes in. Seller’s remorse could be retired remorse, it could be I left my job and I’m sad about that. Because you lose all your social contacts when that happens.
When I’m working with people, I always tell myself that we’re not going to help you avoid seller’s remorse. We can help you manage it, but we can’t help you avoid. I like the idea the push and pull is, you feel like you’re being pushed, because you’re burned out, but the pull is where I think I want to spend some time. If somebody comes to you and they say, “Anna, you know, I really feel like I have to leave where I am right now.” Then you say, “Well, what do you want to do?” They say, “I don’t know.” What’s your next move after that?
Anna: Great question. I do just want to pick up on what you said because I find that really interesting. Again, that seller’s remorse and I think you’re right. We’ve all seen those sort of charts that they share on social media, their ups and downs of being an entrepreneur and having a business and so on. You have this euphoria and excitement of as you said maybe, “I’m retiring or I’m selling my business or I’m quitting my job.” That feels very exciting. The whole world is our [inaudible 00:06:54].
We have all these opportunities and then suddenly sooner rather than later that confidence dips. We miss our friends and colleagues. We no longer have that reason to get out of bed in the morning that can be quite tough. If we’re not careful of course that then either leads to perhaps even mental health issues and so on.
Again, we latch on to something just because we don’t know what we’re doing. We just need to do something. I missed the office, I’m going to launch myself back into a full time job and so on. I think having that sort of confidence and resilience, having the support system around you to know as you said, you can’t avoid this seller’s remorse kind of feeling.
It is going to happen, but know that you will get through it. An image that I learned about years ago, we know the clichéd image of the butterfly that emerges from the cocoon. I came across an article years ago that explained that process, the metamorphosis. What actually happens, it’s not that the larvae just sort of curls off and then the next day, it emerges as beautiful butterfly.
Actually within the cocoon, it breaks down into sort of protein soup. This really painful, disgusting process of breaking down into lots of different bits. Before it can then reconstitute itself and construct the beautiful wings and so on and emerged as a butterfly. I don’t know about you, but that image really helped me to explain to clients, you know what this might be quite painful.
You’re letting go of your entire identity as a CEO or founder of your business, as a senior director in a big corporation, whatever it might be. As much as you know, that isn’t what you want to do anymore that is very difficult to turn your back on. I think as he said, one of the things is just to recognize this is going to be difficult and to sort of stick with it and make sure we have the support system around ourselves.
Maybe mentors, coaches, whatever that might look like just someone to talk to and know that we’re in it for the long haul that we’re sort of moving towards that future vision. That’s the first thing I guess recognizing is going to be difficult.
Again, the next step is to not rush things. It’s very difficult if I say to you, “Okay, what is it exactly what to do?” People tend to think they need to give a job description, will have the exact business model and that’s not what it’s about. For me, it’s more the parameters. It might be, these are the reasons why I’ve sold my business or I’m selling my business now.
What are the things again that I don’t want? What are the things I do want? Is it that I only want to work three days a week, I don’t want to travel, I do want to travel, I want to work from home, and I love being out and about with clients. Just understand the parameters.
Before you launch into defining exactly the next business you’re going to launch and so on. I think that’s an objectivity in a way. It appeals to a lot of us who have more sort of rational minds, having a bit of a list or a frame for assessing them that all the different ideas and options you might be exploring. I think one good step is to start to think about those personal criteria. Practical things and also income, how much you want to be earning?
Josh: I just want to go back to something you were talking about before. You were talking about a butterfly. I’m happy to be a certified financial transitionist. The woman who founded the financial transition and says to Susan Bradley is we use a butterfly for years as a metaphor for change. The way she talks about it is there’s four stages of transition which is anticipation while you’re anticipating whatever the ending is, and for business owner might be selling the business, and if it is there’s an anticipation for years and years and years and years and then there’s the ending.
I actually sound like this. Then passage is where your butterfly comes out of the cocoon is a very, very messy process which you talked about already. In passages where seller’s remorse happens or retirees remorse happens or you lose something along as a transition in your life. It takes a long time as you’re going through this messy process of figuring out who you’re going to be and what you’re going to be when you grow up this way I put it. Then there’s the new normal so you finally go through that.
We’re in the age of Coronavirus right now. We’re on April 15th in the United States, in the middle of lockdown same thing in Great Britain and hopefully by the time this airs we’ll be out of that. We’ll be wandering around the world again. The truth is, it’s couldn’t be a different world than when we started.
Those four stages we’re living through right now. The stage that we’re in today is ending. We’re not in passage yet. We don’t know what the ending looks like. Until the ending becomes clear, we don’t know where to go. That’s the challenge that all of us are facing. You work with startups and that’s a challenge they have is that they’re in constant flux, almost the first five years in business. It’s kind of an interesting thing. Do you have any thoughts about that?
Anna: Yeah. I think that’s so important. Again, and I love that framework. Recognizing the “you know what you’re not in the beginning”, the passage and so you’re still mending and need to mourn in a way you need to sort of wrap up, let go of your previous identity. The other parallel might be, if you’re coming out of a difficult relationship or a divorce, you probably shouldn’t launch into dating people right away.
You need to sort of mourn the loss of relationship. He’ll lick your wounds and sort of enjoy some single times. I think it’s the same if you’ve left a business or left your job and so on. As you say, right now, a lot of us almost being forced into this situation. Now, there’s so much concern about that. I guess we don’t need to get into the detail. There’s already so much going on and so many people with opinions.
I think, of course, there are opportunities there. Sometimes we’re almost forced into making the decision that we wanted to do and maybe we weren’t quite sort of brave enough to take. I see people come to me who’ve unfortunately been made redundant, independently of COVID. Just generally, of course, that happens in corporations and so on.
Sometimes they will say, “I’m actually really glad because I wanted to leave. Couldn’t quite push myself out of my comfort zone.” If you are in that situation then maybe when you’re ready when you’ve again, you’ve sort of mourned and you’ve had the venting your frustration and this is so unfair because it is a horrible situation for so many of us and it’s so difficult.
Some people of course have to homeschool their children and so on. It’s not the right time to start a business right now. Once you’re out of that, when you’re ready to look for the opportunities and as you said, you have the ending, you can begin to sort of mourn and let go of what you were doing before.
Then you might well come out with a very new perspective and new identity and maybe in a very new direction as you say. Partly that’s sort of forced, but if we look at it the right way, it might be quite an exciting opportunity to do something different which is what wanted to do anyway.
Josh: Do you believe now is a good time to start a business? And if so, why?
Anna: Yeah, I think that’s a great question. I guess it’s so individual, of course, to the person but I would say generally, yes, I do. My whole sort of belief system is based on the fact that running your own business is the best way to have those things that I talked about that most people want. So freedom, flexibility, fulfillment, and what that business looks like will be very different.
Some people might be solopreneurs forever, or freelancers and that sort of a business, or they might be the kind of people you work with which are much bigger organizations. There’s a whole spectrum. I think at no point has there been more technology at our fingertips, more problems to solve, more opportunities for us to start businesses.
Of course, there might be different opportunities now than there were just a few weeks or months ago. Absolutely, in my opinion, I think certainly for the long term. Again, the people I work with maybe in your industry right now, companies don’t have the money to spend on working with you or your products and solutions.
However, we will come out of this. There is light at the end of the tunnel even though we don’t know when we’ll reach that exit of the tunnel. If we’re able to pivot, if we’re able to find the opportunities for the longer term and in the meantime maybe build relationships, build our audience, explore research and so on. Then absolutely in the sort of mid to longer term, there are massive opportunities to be had and to make our businesses more resilient and stronger in the face of future uncertainty because of course, who knows when the next crisis will hit us?
Josh: I can tell you for a second major crisis hits business about every 10 years. I’ve been doing this for 40 years now. I’ve gone through four major, major upheavals. This is probably the biggest upheaval I’ve experienced in my lifetime in business. I’m 67. I started doing this when I was 24.
So 43 years I’ve been looking at this stuff, but we lived through the oil crisis in the 70s which was way before you were born. Then in the late 70s, we had interest rates over 21% which most people don’t realize I remember, but I owe two and a half million dollars at that time. Then we had the 87 crash. We had the.com crash and the [inaudible 00:15:32] crash and now we have Coronavirus.
As part of being in business is having that resiliency of what you’re going to do when disaster strikes. I’ve been preaching to the choir of scenario planning these days which is always a good idea. If you come from corporate America, you know what scenario planning is because that’s part of the game. Small businesses don’t do that.
Anna: That’s very reassuring to hear you talk about that because of course, my generation, I guess we’ve been very small. We haven’t experienced those crisis. I think I heard Simon Sinek talk about the fact that this is not unprecedented. As you said, there been many crises over the years, of course, to some extent the global nature of it hitting everybody at the same time is different and the sudden impact but even there’s disruption.
I’ve done a lot of work consulting with different industries on the digital disruption is happening and of course that’s massive. We only need to look at things, companies like blockbuster, Kodak, Nokia, all the usual suspects and to see what happens when we don’t respond.
I’m so glad you say that because resilience, exactly this, again on a smaller scale, the solopreneurs, freelancers, really looking at the business model and thinking about how to diversify and how to strengthen your business so it can withstand these types of shocks. You’re not dependent on just that one income stream.
As you say, unfortunately, small businesses we tend—especially if you’re a solopreneur, you’re only one person, and how are you supposed to have to do these things, but now perhaps we’re being forced into doing so and that’s a really good thing for making our business come out stronger from the than it was before.
Josh: The thing that comes up to me as we’re talking about is a lot of small experiments. If I’m going to be in business and I’m new in business, or my business has just been blown apart because I can’t do what I’ve normally done before, it’s time to go to fail fast, fail cheap which means you do small experiments, and they work great, but most of them don’t so you have to kind of move on to the next.
Now, there’s a thing in behavioral economics called Sunk Cost. Sunk Cost is a principle where the more effort you put into something, the less opportunity you’re going to have to move away from it when it doesn’t work out.
Instead of spending years into plan your new business, you’re going to launch, start it and see what happens is popping out going to work right the first time you do it, if it does, that causes a whole bunch of other problems which I’ve talked about at length in other podcast episodes, but we’re not going to go into that. The truth is, what you start with, you’re going to have to pivot and you have to pivot, you have to pivot and you’re going to have to pivot.
Although it’s not my favorite world, we’re in the stage of a giant pivot right now. If some people can be really successful, some people aren’t. That’s where— especially with startups, my gosh, with startup you have a blank slate.
Anna: It’s so exciting and inspiring to see what a lot of companies are doing. Of course, taking offline businesses online. You see fitness instructors, and teachers and all these things. Maybe again things that organizations should have been looking at before remote working and so on.
Now they’re being forced into that. I think, a lot of companies are going to come out with very different ways of working. I think that’s a very good thing as well, so we can be more productive. Again, as you said, there will be winners in this. I’m not necessarily being opportunistic and taking advantage on an empathetic way, but really looking at the opportunity solving problems and coming out stronger.
It is really exciting to see the changes that are happening so quickly. As you said, little experiments not sort of investing in years and hundreds of thousands of dollars into something that may or may not work, but just put something up there and see what their sponsors and see what happens.
Josh: Anna, what type of businesses are your favorites to work with?
Anna: Favorite? That’s a tricky one. To be honest, I’m going to dodge the question because I just like working with the individual, I guess. I think for me, the whole point is that you as the individual are defining what success looks like for you and then we help you build that for you.
I think it’s so exciting now compared to when I was in a corporate job where I was just sort of working in my little ivory tower on PowerPoint presentations and Excel documents and so on. To really hear what people have in mind for their future and it’s so exciting. People are so inspiring. Every person you meet has some incredible idea.
For their own personal reasons, but also now I think there’s a loss of sort of waking up to how we can contribute more significantly to the world, the environment, whatever it might be. If I can play a sort of small part in helping them achieve that vision, I’m having a much bigger impact than if I was just over here in my corner, trying to make my own little difference by myself. Dodging your question a little bit, but I just think it’s so exciting to hear what plans and ideas people have and then sort of see them bring them to life and help them do so.
Josh: Sounds to me like your favorite is actually solopreneurs to work with, because the person is the business.
Anna: Yes, and no. I mean, I guess I would always encourage them to potentially build a team. However, loose that is around and I have worked and I do work with people who have bigger teams. I guess why I talk about the individual is not so much just the solopreneur, but more that of course, I’m working with people often transitioning and I’m working with them as an individual, what’s going to work for them personally. That has been on an individual basis.
Of course, the business itself could potentially be larger and sometimes they have a larger role within an organization as well. I think it’s always important to start from you as the individual and your purpose and what it is that’s important to you and then looking externally to see how that can be brought to life in the business. Definitely, I prefer to work with smaller businesses. I guess most because of that sort of interpersonal, and one on one contact compared to the massive corporations that I used to work with.
Josh: Cool. Anna, if somebody wanted to find you and work with you, do you have a way for them to do so?
Anna: Absolutely, the best thing to do is if you’ve been interested in sort of the ideas we’ve been tossing back and forth and this idea of reimagining successful yourself. As you said, maybe at different points, it could be that you’re considering leaving your job.
It could also be that you’re retiring and looking for a new idea or you’re looking at selling your business then you can listen to my podcasts as well. I’ve got a podcast called Reimagining Success with Anna Lindbergh. You can find that in all the usual podcast apps. That’s probably the best place to start.
Josh: That’s cool. One of the things I’ve been doing in this time, although I hate doing it. I’ve gotten very good at disaster planning. The reason I got very good is because I went through several disasters in my own business where I came within microseconds going bankrupt. I know some strategies and tricks that you can use to keep yourself solving when you’re running out of cash.
I mean, the rule I have in business is never run out of cash, never run out of cash, never run out of cash. Unfortunately, in today’s environment that rule is being broken all over the place. There are things that you can do if you want to save your business. Below this podcast and on YouTube just below the video, there’s a link that you can click on. It has a free 20 minute call with me so just do it.
We’ll have a conversation about what would make your life a little bit better and your business more sustainable. So this is Josh Patrick. We’re with Anna Lundberg. You’re at Cracking the Cash Flow Code. Thanks a lot for stopping by. I hope to see you back here really soon.
Narrator: You’ve been listening to the “Cracking the Cash Flow Code” where we ask the question, “What would it take for your business to still be around a hundred years from now?”
If you’ve liked what you’ve heard and want more information, please contact Josh Patrick at 802-846-1264 extension 102. Or visit us on our website at www.sustainablebusiness.co. Or you can send Josh an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for listening and we hope to see you at Cracking the Cash Flow Code in the near future.