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Why I Do Things Backwards

One of my very first business coaches, who I hired to help me get through a block I was experiencing  in a part of my business, once gave me some very good advice.  

The coach told me to do things backwards.  
More precisely the coach said...

“Do things in a backwards order, instead of the order you would normally do them”

I was as confused about that as you probably are right now so I will use a real life example to make sense of it.
The problem that I was having at the time was about running my online marketing workshops for local businesses.

Running live workshops was a core part of my business and at the time I was struggling a little bit - not only with organising and running the workshops but also about marketing and getting people to attend.  
Because I recognised I was having this problem I hired a business coach to help me get through it faster than I could myself: it is always a good idea to get a fresh opinion from someone else who can give you unbiased advice.
I explained to the coach that the way I would develop my workshops meant...

  • That I created the content first
  • Then I would book the conference room or training room where the workshop would be run
  • Then I would start marketing the workshop. 
The last thing I would do would be to...

  • Take payments from people who wanted to come along
  • Take a survey of their expectations - what they want to get out of the workshop and...
  • How I could make it as personal and as relevant as possible for them.

Once I had explained how I created and planned my workshops the surprising advice,“do things backwards”  made me completely rethink how I was doing things.

And that is when it got interesting.
Because of the way I was approaching things I was dealing with two main problems:
  1. Sometimes not enough people bought the workshop - by which point I had wasted time preparing content, finding a room and paying a deposit (which I often lost) and in surveying the participants, people said they wanted to learn things that were not actually covered in the content I had prepared.  
  2. That meant I had to go back and redo the plans for the workshop,  and spending double the time preparing the content.
On both counts, I was losing time and being unproductive.
Taking the advice from my coach, the next time I ran a workshop I approached - as much as possible - the tasks backwards.  
First, I took payments from people, which felt a bit strange but in reality, it didn't matter because people who expressed  interest had already bought into the concept of what I was offering.
Second, with these early adopters as a starting point  I marketed the next workshop with minimal information, and not even a venue booked.  

Eventually after a  few weeks I knew exactly how many people had bought the workshop, and I knew exactly what size of training room I needed to book.  

This  saved me money and time because I wasn't paying for a room that was too big;  I knew exactly what I needed based on receipts and how many people were attending.
Third, only then did I survey the clients, and was able to tailor the content to their needs, essentially filling out the skeleton course structure I had offered them in the first place.
So that is how started to do things backwards and I have always used this process ever since.
Give it a go yourself and see if it helps you to plan things in a more effective way!

Suraj Sodha

Suraj Sodha

International Speaker & Internet Entrepreneur

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