Hel Reynolds lives in Wales, where she runs a business called Comms Creatives that trains corporate communication professionals to use social media. She's experienced a lot of success already but she's a bit confused as far as how to prioritize in business.
Today we're going to hone in on that keyword: prioritization. This has been a challenge for me personally as a number three on the Enneagram test, so this advice definitely comes from experience. I take Hel through my tips and strategies for prioritizing while still getting to play, particularly my 80/20 rule, avoiding content bloat, and focusing on learning. We even run through a few mental scenarios and ways Hel can validate her ideas with her existing audience before deciding which ones to pursue.
If you're looking to gain a little more clarity and focus in your business, this is the one for you. I can't wait to follow up with Hel down the road and see where she's at!
AP 1174: I Have So Many Options to Grow My Business - Which One(s) Do I Choose to Focus On?
What's up, everybody? Pat Flynn here and welcome to episode 1174 of AskPat 2.0. You're about to listen in on a coaching call between myself and an entrepreneur just like you. You get to sit back, relax, and learn all while somebody else is in the hot seat.
Hey, you get to listen in which is fun. Today, we're talking with Hel Reynolds who owns a company called Comms Creatives. CommsCreatives.com. She helps professionals who are behind people's social media channels and are communicating online.
She helps those professionals with their work. That is a really great thing. However, what's not so great is the problems that Hel brought to us today which is there are so many things that we can do to grow this business. Too many. Because of that, it's overwhelming. We're afraid of taking the wrong direction. We're afraid of choosing the wrong thing. How do we begin to prioritize what we could do to grow a business?
If you've ever felt that way, if you've ever felt like you could go this way or that way or that way over there or this way over here, then this is for you because we unlock a lot of things here today to help know where to move forward and how to move forward. Right?
It's much more about balance and structure versus let's see how much of all this we can do. Right? And then of course, prioritizing choosing the right things. This one I think is going to be a popular one because ...
I know from my own experience, this is something that comes up all the time. Not just here on AskPat but with myself. Why don't we just listen in? Here we go. This is Hel from CommsCreatives.com.
Hey, Hel. Welcome to the AskPat 2.0 Podcast. Thanks so much for joining us today.
Oh, I'm absolutely delighted. Thank you very much. I've been listening for so long. It's great to talk to you.
To you as well. Thank you so much for that. I think before we get into helping you out and helping the listeners out, let's first learn a little bit about you. Who are you and what do you do?
I live in Wales in the UK and I run a business that trains corporate communications professionals to use social media. Back in the day before I set up my business, I worked in local government. A small council in Wales. I used to do kind of general media relations and Myspace came about.
We got the council on Myspace and then kind of everything became a bit more social. I spent part of my career doing social media for our council and now I run a training business and I love it.
I train not-for-profits and usually PR and communications people and not-for-profits, and I did that often face to face. They would ask me to train them and I'd go to their offices and do that and love it. I've got a very creative approach I think and I'm not very corporate.
I always thought that was probably quite a good thing because everything else out there is kind of very dry and corporate. I've been doing that for five year, but about three years ago - I have a condition called psoriatic arthritis. So I was beginning to get really tired going around the country, getting on trains, standing in front of people all the time, so I decided to take the training online. We have an online academy and it's called The Social Media Comms Academy.
In there, we've got a social media course like our flagship course. We do nice, little fun 90-minute master classes every month. We've got a content calendar. It's a lovely place for people to gather.
A lot of the people that we work with, they work in a communications department. They feel a bit misunderstood sometimes because people around them think it's just a case of wanging a story onto Facebook or putting a news article onto Twitter and thinking that works. It's a nice kind of atmosphere of support for each other.
There's probably a little community that you formed as well, right? Like nice friendships forming?
Yeah. Lots of nice friendships. All of us work in similar kind of areas around the not-for-profits. Around the time we went online, my sister quit her job as a primary school teacher and she's come into the business as well.
She helps with the community management. If I'm teaching live, then she'll do the taking the questions and comments in the chat. She does all the things that I don't do very well. I'm the most disorganized person on earth. Luckily, she's not. She takes on a lot of that kind of stuff as well.
That's really cool. I love that. I'd love to ask you... First of all, social media. You're never going to have things to run out of talking about, right? These things are changing all the time and I'm imagining maybe there's some conversation about Clubhouse recently and all these other new things that are coming out.
There's not a loss of what you could potentially talk about. Of all the things, what would you say is your specialty or what are the top platforms that you seem to just really help people out with? I'm curious.
It's interesting you should say that. When I'm talking about kind of public services and charities, they're not usually using things like TikTok or Clubhouse. They're trying to establish themselves on the main platforms like, really Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn, and Instagram as well but they're interested in developing there.
For me, I feel like what we do really well is help them to understand how to get an audience engaged with them. It's about kind of starting community conversations and thinking more about their audience and what they're interested in talking about rather than what their boss wants them to promote.
It's really a focus on... Instead of being a PR person, who's putting out messages for your organization, you're more of a community manager and you're kind of building relationships.
Yeah. That's a fantastic answer. It almost makes me believe it honestly, it doesn't matter what the platform is. It's about where you can build the best relationships with your customers.
I would imagine that these people feel very empowered once they start to see the connections that they have with their customers, their students, their audiences, to then bring that to their boss and go, "Hey. Here is what everybody's saying." That's so powerful. That's great. Of all that... We're here on AskPat obviously so I'd love to ask you, what's on your mind related to all this? How might I be able to help you today?
I'm loving where the business is going and we've got... In the past year, I've got a nice newsletter following. We've got about 5,000 subscribers there. It's a fun and useful newsletter.
I feel like I'm growing the business. But I want to do everything. I'm going to get really excited by everything. And I want to do a course about every topic that I'm interested in. I want to do a podcast, YouTube show.
I'd love to do it all. And I get excited by things and then sometimes just either don't do it and I should do it - I'm worried that I focus my energy on the wrong things. For me, I want to grow the business.
The question I think is if I'm going to grow this business, what should I prioritize? Because I love it all. I'm a lucky position that I really love what I'm doing and it's just about kind of trying to get a little bit of clarity really on where I'm trying to go.
You said the keyword there which is prioritization. Just as a quick exercise, what approach do you think is better: trying 10 things and putting 10 percent of your energy across all those 10 things, or putting your energy into one of those things and potentially having it not work? Which one do you think would give you the best chance to succeed?
I definitely the one thing and it not work. I do feel like I can make almost anything work, because if I'm putting all my energy into it, then I can adjust until it does work. But for me, sometimes it's fueling the motivation to keep going with something rather than just be attracted by the shiny thing over there.
When it comes to staying on task or keeping that thing going, what do you feel is the reason that happens? Is it actually because of the fact there are other things that you want to try? And that's what's attracting to you? I know that's what's attracting to me often. Or does the thing that was exciting start to not be as exciting anymore because now there's actual grinding and hard work put into it?
Starting a YouTube channel sounds fun. Put yourself on camera. You get views, you can engage with an audience. But then you got the editing and all this other stuff that kind of gets uncovered once you start. Of all those things, which ones do you think are kind of pushing you away from the thing that you said yes to before most?
I think it's a bit of both.
A bit of both.
For instance, with the email newsletter, I was barely putting it out once a month and when I did put it out, people would say, "I love this newsletter." But then I would never get to put it out.
Now I'm doing it weekly. For me, it's kind of a sense of "I know that it's working for us." That helps motivate me to write the weekly newsletter. I know that weekly is good because people are telling me it's not too much, it's not too little.
I feel like I know it — my motivation is often about feedback so I get lots of emails replying to my newsletter saying, "I love this." I think sometimes I can lose motivation if I don't get a quick result which I'm really ... I feel this is like therapy. I've never really thought about that before.
This show is usually more therapeutic than anything. Okay. First of all, you're not alone. This is a very, very common thing. Especially for somebody who's experienced some success, you want more of it, and you know that you can do it on any of them.
It's like, "Let's do all of them." I think that we have to kind of rewind a little bit and go, "Okay. What are all the options out there?" Let's lay them all out on the table and let's start to make some smart decisions in terms of where we want to move forward.
I always take it from a calendar approach because I want to know that... Okay, if I say yes to this thing, what does that actually do to my calendar? Do I have even room for it? How much of it can I actually put in there?
When I see what that one thing that I'm just... Again, not choosing it. I'm just seeing what happens in the calendar. I can go, "Wow. If I choose this one thing, then all these other things aren't even a thing that I can even think about doing."
I can't do all of them. How important is this thing? Let's try it with idea number two and put that one in there. Oh, that one seems a little bit more manageable and I have a team member who says that they can help out too. This one we might be able to do.
What I always do is with each new thing... Number one, I don't do the new thing until the old thing has been optimized. Why that's important is because then I can get more time that I don't feel like I'm trying to find but I'm actually earning more time back to then use into something else.
That's where I would start no matter what. No matter what the thing is that you're going to do next, optimize the systems and the protocols and things that you have now.
You sound like you're very much like me. A little bit disorganized but very, very motivated. If you have a right-hand person to help you stay organized, whether that's your sister or somebody else or an integrator of some kind or online business manager ...
That's where I got most of my time back. Hiring Matt to do a lot of that stuff that I just don't want to do or I'm not good at so that I can be in creation mode a little bit more. That's what it sounds like you love is the creation and the correspondence with people.
You're probably ... I don't know if you've taken an Enneagram test but you sound like an Enneagram three to me because you're just like me. You thrive off of realizing that you're providing value to others and you love that recognition and love that feedback.
For me, a lot of threes on the Enneagram scale are visionaries. They're forward-thinkers but we're not so good at actually putting things into motion that we have in our head and this is where having outside help can help you.
Part of optimization is that, thus opening up more time to experiment and try things. I allow myself to try one thing but I dedicate that extra time I have to that one thing. In fact, it's actually even more scientific than this: I spend 80 percent of my time doing the things that I'm supposed to do and I allow myself 20 percent of the time to play, to experiment, to mess around with one other thing. And I always go, "Okay. How long am I going to try this thing out? What does success with this look like and by when?"
If that doesn't happen or I'm going to check in with myself at that point to see if it's even worth going, I'm going to be okay letting go of that if I need to let go of it, or I'm now going to integrate that thing that I was doing in my 20 percent into the other things I was doing and then try to optimize that so that it gets integrated and then I can get more time to do the next thing.
That's how I always do it. The SwitchPod which was an invention, a physical product. I wanted to play with that. It was the bright, shiny thing to me and I'm like, "Okay. I like bright, shiny things, and I'm going to allow myself for a bright, shiny thing with 20 percent of my time."
For me, that was one day a week that I can focus and I can play and I can experiment knowing that if it were to fail, that's okay because I've given myself permission to just try and experiment, and that allows me to scratch that itch while still making sure everything else is taken care of.
To me, that's the right way to do it as opposed to just either flying by the seat of your pants and just trying whatever, whenever you feel like it, or also what often happens is I'm going to neglect everything else I said yes to already and spend 80 percent of my time on the new thing. That's not good either.
Is this helping a little bit in terms of how we might be able to structure things in a way where you can still play but also get other things done?
It is because I like the idea about having an end date where you reevaluate or you look at it because I think I would get the sense of "If I'm going to do that but I still want to do everything else." At least I can say, "I'll just put that on the back burner."
And then I can come back to that as one of my projects before. I don't know if it's a British thing, I fanny about a lot that I just ... I get an idea-
We call it fannying about.
Oh, you're fannying about it, okay.
For instance, I do these little cartoons and I love them because I get instant feedback from my audience and they love them, but then I'll get an idea from that cartoon and then I'll end up writing a blog post but that'll get half written and then I'll go and do something else but I'll have another idea. I think the idea of focusing in on something but knowing I'm not stuck to it forever is quite nice. I like that.
Yeah. It's a season, right? It's a season. In this season of Hel's show, you're going to get cartoons every week for three months. That's this season. Next season it'll be something else. Maybe, or you might find that it actually takes off like the SwitchPod did and you're like, "Okay. This actually turned out way better than I thought. Let's lean more into it."
Or "Hey, that was fun. I was able to sort of satisfy my taste buds. Let's try another dish now and be okay with that." I think what this means is just embracing that this is just who you are but putting some structure around it so that, like you said, there's an end date.
I don't want you to regret doing it. That's the thing. We don't want to have regrets about our decisions. Even if it doesn't work out, you don't regret it because you probably you're going to learn something and now you can move on to the next cool thing after that.
Do you have any kind of criteria for how you pick what you're going to do in that one day a week? Are you trying to focus towards anything specific or just playing, or how do you do it?
It depends. With the SwitchPod, which again was that physical product that me and my videographer invented, that was very much play because that had nothing to do with my existing business. That was very much on the outside and I was just more curious than anything.
I also felt like ... I guess in a way it is relevant because I could learn and pass on that information to my audience and have now a new part of the brand be like, "Oh, I also did physical products and I can help you learn about that too or Kickstarter or whatever."
It was kind of relevant but it was honestly more play more than anything. There have been other things like, "Oh, let me write a book." I didn't need to write a book, I just felt the need to and I was like, "Okay. I'm going to dedicate 20 percent of my time," which was not one day a week but it was more like one hour a day just to stay consistent with the writing, and the drive for that was actually what my audience was asking for more than anything.
Knowing that if I just kind of put everything down and wrote a book that I would be neglecting all the things I said yes to ... Let me have this be the next project. Which also helps with another thing. It also helps with learning, right?
If I'm writing a book, I don't need to learn about Pinterest or how physical products work or Clubhouse. All I'm going to focus on learning about is writing a book because that's the one thing that is new to me that I'm learning about.
I think a lot of people, perhaps even listeners right now, experience content bloat where we're just absorbing everything. That doesn't help when we absorb everything. When we absorb the just-right things for the things that are just right in front of us, that is just-in-time learning and that's what's helped me a lot too.
That's really useful. It's nice to know that you do it as well and that you make time to play as well as do projects that you think probably have more of a focus to do with your business because we're called Comms Creatives because we're supposed to play and create.
Yeah. I think I just get frustrated sometimes that I think maybe I'm just not doing the right thing because I want to do everything. I'm afraid that I'm missing this kind of magical thing that will grow my business into something else.
Yeah. That's the FOMO part of it, right? It's hard because we compare what we're doing to somebody else who's doing something similar and they talk about a strategy and we're like, "I need to do that."
It's hard because we're apples and oranges and we're different. We have different timelines. I think experimenting knowing that things may not work out and being okay with that is really the key. Knowing that you either get the result you want or the lesson that you needed, right? Either way, you're moving forward and the next time you choose something, you now have a lot more at your disposal from previous experiences.
The truth is if you try something and it doesn't work, is the business going to fail and completely fall over? No. Right? Which sometimes we think about, it's like, "Oh, if I don't do this, everything's going to be ruined."
Allow for yourself to play. I tried The ONE Thing. Gary Keller and Jay Papasan's book, The ONE Thing. I can't do that just... I'm programmed to want to do everything just like you so I have to create boundaries around this need of mine and that's been really helpful.
That's brilliant. Thank you. I think that's nice. It's something I can also discuss with Lesley, my sister, so that we can kind of plan it into the diary. For me, it's the motivation to keep going and I think if I know that it's something that's defined like that, then it'll definitely help but I don't know what it's going to be yet.
On that regard, I love to imagine what success would be like with each of those things. Pick one thing to insert into the 20 percent and go, "Okay, what would life be like a year from now if that went exactly the way it was supposed to? What does that mean now for the business? What's happening, what's my day like?"
Okay. Come back to realtime. Let's do the same thing with B and C and D. You might find that you time travel into timeline C and it's just like, "That's not what I want." Okay. Let's just even get rid of that idea. Let's throw it out of the window.
That can help because what ultimately matters is not just how this affects your business, but it's how it affects your life, your lifestyle, you, your happiness, your stress. That can be a great thought experiment to help you understand which ones to go forward with too.
Secondly, finding some data to go behind them. Once you validate it for yourself as a good idea, validating it in the market. Maybe, you have this beautiful email list, maybe you run a survey. "Here are three things that we're thinking of doing." Maybe you go to the audience and go, "Which ones of these do you feel would be most useful for you?" Now again, you're getting validation which you want from your audience and you like, now when you create the thing, it's no longer a guess, it's based on data and you can go back to them and say, "Hey, you all said you wanted this. Here it is. We've built it for you. Let us know what you think."
It'll be very interesting to see how people respond after having been involved in that decision-making process. They might feel even more connected to it.
I love that and I've got such a lovely, loyal community of people. I don't know. Of course I should ask them. Why have I not thought of that? That was brilliant.
It's probably because you have 50 other ideas. That's why.
Yeah. That's really useful. I think just asking people what they want as well solves a problem for me because I like the feedback where people tell me that it's been useful or it's helped them have a laugh even. If they're telling me that they want it, it'll probably be a bit motivating for me to give it to them.
Well I feel like we unlocked a lot today and I'm really excited to see what you do with this. It's still going to be challenging. You're still going to have to battle yourself essentially as you make decisions, but now you have some more constraints to go through it and some direction. I'm very happy about that. Hel, before you go, can you share with everybody where they can go to find your business and learn more about you?
Oh, yeah. Please. Thanks. They can go to CommsCreatives.com. That's our website. You can find me, Hel Reynolds, on Twitter. I'm @HelReynolds. I'm on everywhere @HelReynolds really. The Helen Reynolds was already taken when I went to Twitter.
Helen with Hel. That's where I am with the rest. I love a big challenge. Social media.
All right. We'll reach out to Hel, That's H-E-L and then Reynolds with a Y. Thank you so much for today and for opening up and sharing because I think this is going to help a lot of other people too.
Best of luck to you and hopefully we can catch up with you again in a future Where Are They Now? episode. I'd love to see what comes out of this. It'd be really interesting.
Oh, this is brilliant. Thank you so much. There's a thrill to be on here. Thanks.
Thank you. I'm thrilled you're here. Thank you.
All right. I hope you enjoyed that coaching call with Hel. Again, you can find her at CommsCreatives.com as well as her sister, Lesley. They together are in South Wales working on this business together which is super cool.
I love family businesses like this and tag-teaming on it. To Hel and Lesley, congrats on the success of your business and I hope this helps you move forward and understand how to prioritize and what to do to begin to grow and scale this thing in the way that you want.
Best of luck to you and I hope we can reach out to you again in the future to do one of those follow-up episodes. I think that'd be a lot of fun. Speaking of a lot of fun, It'd be really fun to chat with you, the listener. I'd love to potentially coach you just like I coached Hel today.
All you have to do to potentially make that happen would be to go to AskPat.com. There's an application button there that you could fill out. Send me a little voicemail. Tell me about what's going on and then we might reach out to you and get you on the show.
I'll do it for free so long as you allow us to share it in front of others because that's what helps all of us win. As you can tell, we can learn a lot from hearing about other people who are going through similar things or who have gone through things that perhaps we might be going through in the future.
That's what it's about. Helping each other, serving the community. Again, thank you so much for coming, for listening. I appreciate you and I look forward to serving you next week. Make sure you hit that subscribe button if you haven't already, and as always, Team Flynn for the win. Peace out.
Thanks for listening to AskPat at AskPat.com. I'm your host, Pat Flynn. Sound design and editing by Paul Grigoras. Our senior producer is Sara Jane Hess, our series producer is David Grabowski, and our executive producer is Matt Gartland. AskPat is a production of SPI Media. We'll catch you for the next session.