Sally Ann Miller

Running Better Business Experiments

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I see business as a series of experiments. I do this for two reasons…

First, experiments help you get better at what you do. When you’re constantly improving, your business results will always be trending in the direction you want. Success becomes inevitable

Second, experiments are fun. Viewing your business as a series of experiments reminds you not to take things too seriously. It’s easier to let go of any heaviness and instead grow your business in a way that feels good.

However, many people don’t know how to execute an effective test. They focus on what steps to take but overlook the other three components of an experiment.

So, on this week’s episode I discuss how to run better experiments in business.

What you’ll learn on today’s episode:

  • Why adopting an experimental mindset will transform your business results.
  • The four components of an effective experiment.
  • Why being an introvert is an advantage (HINT: you’re good at processing lots of information!)
  • What not to do when analyzing your experiment results.

Featured on this episode:

The True Self Podcast Series:

Get more information about Business Growth Lab here: sallyannmiller.com/thelab/

Transcript

Welcome to Introverts Thriving in Business, the podcast for introverts who enjoy the comfort of her, hate the idea of selling, and want to create a thriving business on their terms. If you’re ready to go from overwhelmed and anxious, to feeling calm and accomplished in your business, then keep listening. I’m your host, Sally Miller.

Welcome back to the podcast. So this week we’re going to be talking about running experiments in your business. This is something I didn’t actually expect to record podcast episode on. Here’s the deal: very often we forget things that either come naturally to us, or we just know, or we’ve been doing for so long in our lives, we forget that other people aren’t used to doing that thing. Perhaps they don’t have the skills, they’ve never been taught, they’ve never thought about it or just not a thing that comes naturally to them.

And something that comes naturally to me is: running experiments, solving problems, seeing a challenge, coming up with an idea about how to overcome the challenge and then putting that into practice. It’s kind of just the way my brain is made, it’s also probably I’m a product of my education and my professional background, which was very science based very much in computers and technology and business. But I talk a lot about experiments and it’s become really clear to me over time, talking to clients, students, readers, email subscribers, that not everybody, in fact, possibly even most people don’t actually know how to run an experiment, an effective experiment, one that’s helpful to them.

So, that’s what we’ll talk about today. But first of all, a quick recap. Why do I even talk about experiments all the time? Here’s why: I see business as nothing more than a series of experiments. It’s an infinite number of experiments, you’re going to be running for the rest of your business. That is literally how I look at my business is: what problem do I want to solve next? What’s an experiment I can run to try and solve that problem? And the idea behind that is continuous improvement.

So, you’re not just running experiments for the sake of them, you’re running experiments to learn so that you can improve and through continuous improvement, that is how you will keep scaling, whether that’s scaling your income, scaling your impact, just scaling yourself, growing more and more.

So, really, the idea behind running experiments is this idea of continuous improvement. You keep improving, and then results become inevitable in that way. But here’s another side benefit, at least for me and for many of my clients that I’ve worked closely with and I’ve taught them this way of looking at their business, is, it makes business fun, it takes a lot of the heaviness out of business.

Instead of focusing on, “I must get results. I must make this amount of money. I have to sign that next client”, you shift into what I call “Curiosity. Interest”. What will happen if I try this? Will I sign that client? Won’t I? And you become very much more about the game of running your business and having fun. And when you do that, the money and the impact are just natural byproducts of constantly showing up, running more and more experiments, having fun and enjoying yourself in the process and then looking for ways to improve.

So, that’s my pitch, that’s my argument, to convince you that if you are not already running experiments in your business, then now is the time to do so. So, how do you do that? Well, I’m going to go back to basics and I’m going to basically—I’m going to teach you the method you may have learned in school of how to create an experiment.

I’m going to simplify it a little bit. We’re not full-blown scientists, we’re not coming up with the next medical breakthrough, so I’m going to actually break down an experiment—as I’m thinking of it, an experiment into your business into four parts, and then talk about how to do those four part.

So the four parts are: your experiment needs one, a purpose, two, a method, three, results, you need to collect results and four, reach conclusions. So, purpose, method, results, conclusions. Now here’s the crazy thing, and this is how I realized I needed to record this podcast episode. I’ve been talking about experiments a lot, both in my communities, on this podcast, in my books. And what I’ve noticed is most people only do the method part, they skip three out of the four parts of an experiment, they don’t have a purpose, they don’t really gather results and they don’t reach—draw conclusions. They just have a method, a thing they want to go out and try, and then they jump in and go out and try it, which is good. I really want to encourage all of you to be constantly taking action and trying new things, but let’s do it like scientists, let’s do it with purpose.

So, I’m going to go through all four of these components of good experiment in your business, but just be aware if you are missing 1, 2, 3, or maybe even all of these. Because I’ve noticed that most people are focusing very much on the method, but not so much on those other components.

So the first one was purpose. What do I mean by purpose in an experiment? Well, this is similar to your aim, sometimes it’s a problem you’re trying to solve, an example of a purpose for business experiment might be a problem you want to solve is to get another 100 email subscribers. Are you on your first 100 email subscribers? That would be a purpose for running a business experiment. Sometimes, it could be—I’m doing a much bigger experiment right now, and I talked about this a couple of podcast episodes back, where the challenge I want to solve is helping more of my paying students get results faster. So that is the purpose of this much bigger experiment, that is a much bigger problem to solve, but I’m coming up with lots of theories around how I can help my students get more results, and I’m going to go test those out.

So, you need to start with a purpose or an aim, alright? What is the why? Why are you doing this? It really surprises me that when I talk to people and they want to try something new in their business, when I ask them, “well, why do you want to do that?” They don’t have a crystal-clear idea about why. Perhaps it’s just something they’ve seen other people do in their industry and it kind of looks cool. It’s the new shiny object, right? I’ve talked about that before, shiny object syndrome.

Or maybe they have a vague idea, but they’ll give me like three or four purposes. “Well, I want to build my email list and I need to make more money and…” they’ll give me all these different reasons. I’m saying that you narrow down to one clear defined purpose for running your experiment. So that’s the first thing, why do you want to run this experiment? What is the purpose? What is it that you want to test out? What is your theory or objective? Because when you gather results and draw conclusions, you want to refer back to your original purpose and see, “Okay, did it help me or did it not help me? And how much did it help me?” So that’s where you start.

Then you go to your method, which is where most people jump in. These are the steps and we don’t need to get fancy here, but I do recommend you write them down, write down the steps you’re going to take to run a test in your business, to run your experiment. So, a bigger experiment is often a launch, and I always encourage my students to write down their launch process.

Again, this doesn’t have to be over the top. My launch processes in the past have looked like a series of steps in a spreadsheet and a timeline of when I’m going to do these things. So, I’m going to send this number of emails on these days, I’m going to run a free workshop on this day.

That is what I mean by the steps, all right? So, write down the steps. What are you going to do? Because your memory can’t be relied on, you’re going to think you know exactly what you did, but when you rely on your memory to go back and you’re looking at the conclusions, you’re looking at the results and you’re reaching conclusions about the experiment and you just rely on your memory about what you did, your memory’s going to tell lies, it’s going to blank out those three emails you decided not to send, for example, it’s going to accidentally forget about the fact that you spent hours designing, let’s say, content for Instagram and posting on Instagram. Your brain is especially going to forget the things that didn’t work. So, write down the steps, again, you don’t have to spend hours doing this, but yes, you can do it in a spreadsheet like I did, do it in a journal, but what are the steps you’re going to take to run this experiment? That’s your method.

Then the third part, obviously, you then go execute, then you go run your experiment. This could be a one-day experiment, it could be a 20-day launch, all right? Different experiments will take different durations. There are small experiments, big experiments. So, you run it, and then you need to collect results, get data, get the facts. You want to be very objective here. Don’t draw any conclusions yet, just gather what data you can.

Also, look at quantitative data, but also look at qualitative data. What do I mean by that? Well, the quantitative data, that’s the obvious stuff. That number of email open, number of new customers, dollars earned. Factual data that you can collect, that’s relevant to your original purpose, go collect that data, but also look at the qualitative stuff.

I love to ask my students to look at—how did you feel during this experiment? Did it feel natural and light? Did it feel closed and forced? Because remember the entire series that I did on this podcast, a few episodes back, it was four episodes long called “The True Self Series.”

I really want to encourage you to tap into your true self, your heart center. Don’t be just forcing your way in your business, don’t just be copying others who are nothing like you, but really be tapping into your truth. So, look at how you feel as you’re doing something. Another of my favorite phrases is, “Clarity comes from action.” This is both clarity from a quantitative perspective, from the factual perspective, from observable results that you can measure, but it’s also clarity about yourself. What comes easily to you? Where do you shine? When are you at your best? When is it that you feel great and you can see people are responding to you? Those things are naturally linked. So gather those results, and then finally you want to reach conclusions from your results.

Now don’t overdo this, don’t get into over analysis, don’t get obsessive, but look at what can you do more of? What worked? What should you do less of? What didn’t work? And what can you tweak? What can you do differently next time? There’s a really important conclusion you want to reach on any experiment you run. Go do more of what feels good and get the quantitative results you want. But don’t keep hammering away at something, if it feels awful to you, and if it’s frankly just not working anymore, that’s time to pivot, tweak, and go and run another experiment.

Now, I know this sounds so simple, but this really felt like a necessary episode that I needed to record. So to recap, and then I’m going to give you some example experiments and some words of warnings, but to recap, business is nothing more than a series of experiments, but to run experiments effectively by which I mean experiments that are going to be moving you closer and closer to the results you want in your business. You need to have all four components, a purpose for each experiment you run.

Why are you doing it? A method, the steps you’re going to follow. You then execute on those steps and then you gather data qualitative and quantitative, and you draw conclusions so you can iterate for improvement, so you can continuously keep on getting better at what you’re doing in your business, better at creating results, at serving your clients, at helping people, at generating valuable content, valuable products and services that make a real difference in the world.

So, I wanted to add some word of warnings and some examples, because I see everything in your business as an experiment. And by that, I mean big actions in your business and small. So, an example of a small experiment would be sending a newsletter or posting on social media. It could be literally something that takes you 10 minutes or one hour to do, but that is still an experiment. If you’re sending a newsletter or posting on social media, you can apply these four steps. Why am I doing it? What’s my purpose of sending this newsletter or writing this post? Be really clear about why you’re doing it, what are the steps?

We don’t need to over engineer this, you don’t need to write it down, we all know how to post on the social or send an email. But what are the steps? What are you going to do? Perhaps in your email, you’re going to change the call to action, to encourage people, to reach out and inquire about your service or product, and then gather the results. Look at how many people engage, how many opens, how many clicks, how many likes, how many people take the action you wanted them to take? If you had a call to action. How many people did reach out and ask a question? How many people did book a discovery call with you?

How many people purchased or clicked on a sales link or clicked through and listened to your podcast episode, whatever the purpose of that email was. And then draw conclusions. Did it feel great while you were writing that email or did it feel kind of icky? Did it feel forced? Did you not really feel quite like you? What about the number of opens? Are more people opening certain emails than others, are more people clicking on links or responding to certain types of content.

You’ve got to learn from it. An experiment can also be big, it can be an entire new product or service, it could be a launch or could be somewhere in the middle. Like I said, I’m running an experiment right now and it’s quite long in duration, because I’m doing a lot of research and I’d say it’s a middle-sized experiment.

So, the experiment is: I’m trying to solve the problem of how I can help even more of my students in business growth lab, get even bigger and faster results. How can I help people get better results? Get more results, how can I reduce the dropout rate? This is my experiment, I’m running this, it’s a medium-sized one, I’m not completely recreating my program.

The core content’s staying the same, but I’m very much looking at how can I deliver it differently to solve this problem of helping more people get more results. And if you’re curious about my thinking that’s going on, go back to the podcast episode, it was two weeks ago when I talked about getting clients results. I’ll link to that in the show notes.

So some word of warning—let’s finish up on some things that I see people doing wrong, and one of the big ones is, and this is going to sound like a little bit of a contradiction, but please don’t get over into overanalysis, don’t over analyze your results. So my community of introverts, we tend to be very introspective. We tend to be always looking inside and analyzing and assessing, we’re quite cautious before taking action.

So, this episode could resonate quite deeply with you if you’re an introvert, because you might really resonate with the idea of running experiments, collecting information, and then learning from the results. But there’s a danger for us that we can get stuck in over analysis. Sometimes that manifests at the beginning of the process and you get really stuck in over analysis of your method. And to be honest, I’ve been in danger of doing that with what I’m trying to do at the moment with my program,

It has been very tempting to go down many rabbit holes that I find fascinating, about learning and improving and helping people get results, all right? So, I’m having to constantly remind myself to not get too deep into that over-analysis that will keep me from action. And then the other place where I see a lot of people get stuck is, putting too much stock into the results. So when you’re in the phase, the step four of an experiment, the conclusions, what conclusions can you reach? It’s really tempting to get stuck in over analysis here and to put too much stop in the data we’ve gathered.

And I mean, let’s be honest here. If you’ve only had one person respond, let’s say your experiment was posting on social media and you asked people to reach out to book a consult with you for a service that you sell or for coaching. Let’s say just one person who reached out. We can get very stuck in over analysis of that data point of one. It could mean a good, it could be like if you’ve only got a very small audience, one person reaching out could be really good. And it will mean that you can draw conclusions that perhaps that type of content is positive, but really how much can we draw from that single data point? So, don’t hold too tight, don’t go too deep, don’t go into over analysis, reach some sensible conclusions, and then go run that next experiment. Put your energy into continuing to improve and staying in action.

So, last of all, I want to sense—kind of linked to this idea of not over-analyzing, don’t get too judgemental with yourself. Like I said right at the beginning of this episode, one of the reasons that I’m a huge fan of seeing business as a series of experiments is it helps us tap into curiosity and enjoy the process of running a business, and get out of this attachment of results, “I must succeed.” Getting out of that success culture that I’ve talked about in the past, and just enjoying the process.

But when we’re analyzing, it’s also tempting to get into self-judgment, to draw conclusions about who you are and your value as a business person, based on the results you’re getting at in your business. And I don’t want you to use this process for those reasons, because that’s only going to backfire and you’re going to stop having fun in your business. And that’s what we’re here for. Okay guys, that is all I have for you this week. So go run some more experiments in your business. I’ll see you next time.

If you’re ready to thrive in business, I want to invite you to join Business Growth Lab. This is my group program where I teach you the exact process I and my students have used to grow profitable businesses we love. When you join the lab, you get lifetime access to everything you need to grow a six-figure business, the training, expert coaching, accountability, and community. The approach we take is scientific. We don’t dabble in business, and we don’t waste time. You’ll create your business on a solid foundation, using proven methods. To join, go to www.sallyannmiller.com/thelab. We’ll see you inside.

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