I Am Enough: Letting go of Mom guilt

I am Enough

I was speaking with a colleague the other day about our kids. She has a grown daughter and was a stay at home mom when her daughter was little. She asked me if time with my daughter was going by too fast. People always asked her that and she felt like passed at just the right pace because she was there with her everyday. She had the time to enjoy each phase and look forward to the next.

I thought about that for a moment and realized I feel the same way. Yes, I can’t believe that 3 years have passed since my little girl changed my life forever. But I don’t feel like it’s going TOO fast. Each day sheds light on a new aspect of that little girl’s personality. I’m learning so much about her and I can’t wait to learn more about the person she is going to become. Time has been passing by just right.

It made me feel really good about my commitment to be with her and be present for her. Don’t get me wrong – I’m far from perfect. Every time I have to tell her that I have “one more thing to finish on the computer” or “one more email to send” before we can play, I feel like I’m permanently scarring her in some way (totally didn’t mean to rhyme that!). Like each time I check my phone when we’re watching Frozen for the 152nd time is going to prove to her that I don’t care.

That’s the Mom guilt talking.

If I looked at my life from an objective point of view, I’d notice how I bring her to dance class every week and watch her dance from the waiting room with a proud, goofy smile on my face. I’d notice that we go to story time and pick out new books together. I’d notice all the times that we went to the beach last summer. I’d notice that we pick every fruit we can at the local farm. We visit her friends. We build block castles. We dance around the house. We have hour-long bedtimes with stories and songs…

If I was to be objective, I’d say, I’m doing ok.

Moms spend way too much time feeling guilty. Mom guilt – you know what I’m talking about. It’s the worse kind of guilt. That guilt that comes from feeling like every decision you make has the potential to do irreparable damage to your children. The worry that you’re going to pass on all of the issues that you have from your childhood and they will be unable to function as adults because of it.

“She’s an only child so I have overcompensate by giving her attention all the time. Or I have to get her around kids so she can socialize more.”

“All of her friends her age are starting preschool soon. I wasn’t planning on school for a couple more years. What if she ends up behind?”

“Most of my mom friends make way more money than I do. They must be so much smarter than me. I must not be good enough at…anything.”

Add to that the extra layer of guilt that comes from running a business with kids underfoot. Every minute you spend on your business, you wonder if you should be spending more time with your kids…and vice versa.

In the words of Elsa, I declare “Let It Go”!

LET IT GO

Let go of the worry that you are hurting your child somehow by spending time on your business. Let go of the embarrassment when you’re on the phone with a client and your child won’t stop talking to you, even if just to say “Mommy on the phone?” 100 times.

ENOUGH already!

This is my life. I’m a mom. I run a business. The 2 will overlap. That’s my choice. That’s what’s right for me. Anyone who thinks it’s unprofessional or that it makes me less qualified to do my job isn’t a client that I want to work with. End of story.

Maybe this has caused my business to grow slower than it could have. Maybe we’ll have a few years with less money than we’d like. But I can’t go through everyday with regrets. (Well, I’m trying to have no regrets. It’s a work in progress.) I may not be able to do everything perfectly but I’m trying to do what’s important to me right now. I’m carving out my place in this Mompreneur world, and dealing with my own issues as I go (and boy does running a business AND being a mom bring the issues to the surface).

I am ENOUGH…as I am today. Tomorrow I will grow, and that will also be enough. Stop pushing perfection. Stop fighting with your life and start going with the flow.

I know I only have a few more years home with my daughter before she starts school. My business will always be there. She may not always want extra snuggle time with me. She may not always want to make pancakes together. For now, I’m done apologizing for not doing things “right”. THIS is my right. This is my choice. This is my life.

I’m Letting It Go!

What guilt have you been holding on to? What positive can you replace it with so that you can “Let It Go”. Please share in the comments or on Facebook!

Lessons From My First Year in Business

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Like most people do at the start of a new year, I’ve been spending a lot of time reviewing my wins and losses of the past year. 2014 was my first full year in business. My first year as a solo entrepreneur – a mompreneur. I had no idea what I was getting into. I’m one who looks at myself through negative lenses – no win is ever big enough and all losses are worse in my head than in reality.

“See things as they are. Don’t see them as better than they are and don’t see them as worse than they are.”- Tony Robbins

It’s only by looking at the reality of things that we can learn the lessons we need to learn. Here is what I learned about myself and my business in 2014.

  1. Don’t live in isolation just because you feel like a failure.

    Isolating yourself will make you feel like MORE of a failure.Over the summer, I landed and lost my biggest client to date. The extreme high of getting the gig followed by (3 months later) the kick in the stomach of being told that things aren’t working out, was more than I could handle. It didn’t matter that this client was not my ideal. It didn’t matter that I saw red flags all over the place from day one and that I was NOT happy working for them. It didn’t matter that the final outcome – them deciding to hire someone inhouse to do what I was doing – was truly what they needed.

    I had failed.

    I had an opportunity and I blew it. That started the spiral. The downward, negative, “what am I doing in this business? I’m such a fraud. I’m never going to be more than just a front desk person” spiral. With that came a halt to my marketing and blogging – making me feel like more of a fraud because I wasn’t doing the very things I was telling clients that they should do. I stopped going to networking meetings, avoided calls from other professional friends who would have totally called me out on my actions.

    I took my daughter to the beach instead.

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    Granted, I don’t regret that time at the beach with my baby girl but the rest of the time could have been much more productive.

    Lesson: Don’t isolate. Acknowledge the failure for what it was, learn the lesson and keep going. Get around people who will help you maintain the proper perspective. Stop burying your head in the sand!

  2. Learning is great…in moderation.
    Then, there was the running. Oh, so much running. I participated in 10 races last year, including a 1/2 marathon (a goal that was 3 years in the making). I succumbed to the peer pressure and finally gave running a real effort.

    Races are great. There’s a cult-like community in running. Race day is the chance for runners to get together and celebrate this sport that they love. Daily running, however, is a pretty solitary sport. For me, that lead to more isolation. Lots of time to think…about failures. Lots of time to criticize myself about how I wasn’t even running right because my training time was limited due to a husband that leaves for work by 6am and a toddler in the house and…you get the idea. So, instead, I listened to podcast after podcast to take my mind off of the running and my “failures”. I got so overwhelmed with the influx of new ideas that I was frozen to take any action.

    Lesson: Learn things as you need them. It does no good to listen to training on things that you can’t do for a year or more. It will clutter your thoughts and you’ll lose site of what you’re doing now. It will dilute your focus. Chose 1 or 2 things that you need to learn right now. Things that will have the biggest impact on your life in this moment, and devote a period of time to learning about that and only that. Save the rest for later.

  3. Ask for help.
    I don’t ask for help. From anyone. Ever. I need to be able to handle things on my own. I need to know how to do everything so that I don’t look stupid to others. Asking for help makes me feel stupid.
    The reality is: Who cares if I don’t know something? Who cares if I need to ask for help? The whole VA industry is built on people asking for help with things that they don’t know how to do or want to do. People that ask for help get shit done! They make money! They have the life that they want. They have real businesses – not hobbies that take up way too much of their time and that they have begun to dread.
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    Lesson: Smart people…successful people…happy people ask for help. That’s how they became smart, successful and happy.

  4. If you aren’t true to yourself, you will never be happy or successful.
    This year has been a series of ups and downs. It started strong but with my summertime failure, I lost my way. I got caught up in the failure spiral. I felt torn between the business that I worked so hard to start and one that was swirling in my head just needing to get out. I couldn’t see how to meld the 2 things together. I followed the advice in Lesson #3 and asked for help from people who are killing it in businesses where they are truly THEM! I now have a better idea of how to add more of me into my business and that’s pretty freakin’ exciting.

    Lesson: Stop trying to be what you think others want you to be. Be you. Trust you. The business part will work itself out.

  5. Focus on the right things.
    It’s funny how we can find examples from our lives to prove whatever we believe about ourselves. Feel like a failure? You can find proof for that. Feel not smart enough? There’s proof for that too.
    Feel strong and successful? Not really? But if you wanted to, you could also find proof for that.

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    It’s so sad to see someone let one failure in their life define them for years.

    “I tried to change my career once and it didn’t work.”

    That doesn’t mean that you’re destined to stay miserable for your entire life. Try something new. Maybe all you need is a tweak in what you are currently doing. A 1mm shift today sends you to a completely different outcome 5 years from now.

    So, now, I’m tweaking. I’m shifting my business to reflect who I really am so I can help other people like me. Moms – the ultimate CEOs – who have to manage families, home, finances, errands, relationships, businesses, oh, and have time to take care of themselves too.

    Lesson: There’s power in what we focus on. It grows and expands. It takes up more brain space. Focus on who and what you want to be. You’ll find examples of yourself already being it. That will grow. Failures do not define you. They are only lessons designed to teach you what you need to learn. Learn from them and let the emotion of them go.

The past 3 years have been a whirlwind. Having my daughter and starting my business have made me question every aspect of who I am. These 2 things that have the ability to bring so much excitement and joy also generate immense guilt and self doubt.Being a mompreneur is really hard. Finding balance is really hard. Not feeling like a failure every day is really, REALLY hard.

But it’s so worth it, right?

Being able to stay home with my daughter when she wakes up with a fever makes it worth it. Having a client tell you how much they appreciate everything you do for them…that’s worth it. That’s why we press on…

What did you learn about yourself in your first year of business? Please share in the comments.

7 Questions You Need to Ask Your New VA

Hiring a VA is a big deal. You’ve finally accepted that you can’t do everything yourself and you are ready to dip your toe into the waters of delegation. You’ve found a Virtual Assistant that is qualified to do the tasks that you need done and that you are ready to trust with your business.

fly run girl under grass wood

Not so fast!

Remember that you are both business owners and you may have different ideas of how business is run. You may not have much knowledge in the area that they are going to be helping you with.  What things can you do to make sure that you and your new (soon to be) trusted VA are on the same page?

7 Questions to Ask Your Prospective VA

1. Exactly what will your VA be doing for you? Make sure that you completely understand the scope of work outlined in the contract. Terminology misunderstandings may lead to you not getting exactly what you thought. If there are any words that you are unsure of, ask. Ask, ask, ask…until you are 100% clear on what your VA will be doing.

Solution

2. What are the payment terms?  Obviously, you need to know how much your VA is charging for the work they plan to do. There are some other details that need to be addressed as well. When do they invoice? Are they invoicing for the previous month (work already done) or for the upcoming month (work to be done)? What are the payment terms? How is extra work billed (hourly or by the project)? How do they preferred to be paid (check, paypal, credit card, etc)?

3. What is their time frame for requests to be started and completed? Your VA works for other people too and won’t always be able to accommodate last minute/urgent requests. Find out what their policy is on new requests. Do they need 48 hours notice before starting a new project? 72 hours? A week? A day? It will likely depend on the size of the project as well as their current workload. What is the turnaround time for projects? What is their policy for rush items?  A good rule of thumb is to ask as soon as you know you will need help with the project. Don’t wait until the last minute because your VA may not be able to accommodate your deadline. If your business commonly has last minute needs, then you will need a VA that can work last minute. Some can, some can’t.

4. How do they want you to send requests? Does your VA prefer to requests to be sent via email, phone, entered directly into a task management system? Does the way they prefer conflict with what works for you? It’s better to discuss this in advance and come up with an amicable agreement than to have this be a constant irritation for both of you and have tasks getting lost somewhere. Decide on a method that works for both of you.

5. What is the approval process going to be? How involved in the project do you want/need to be? Are you looking to be completely hands-off? Do you want the opportunity to approve/re-approve the finished product? It will likely depend on they type of project. You may need to be more involved at the start as your VA gets to know you, your business and how you work. Don’t panic if you feel that you are more involved than you want to be at first. If other aspects of the working relationship are positive, give it a few months to work the kinks out of the process. Remember that it is still YOUR business – you are responsible for the final product that goes out into the world (if that’s the case). Don’t you want to approve that first? You also need to discuss when approval is needed by in order to make any edits and meet the deadline. Never assume anything!

6. What are your VA’s business hours?

Most VAs are not available 24/7. What are their business hours? Respect them. What holidays to they observe? Don’t expect them to respond to requests at 8pm or on the weekend unless they tell you they are available at those times. What is the process if your VA goes on vacation? Do they have a substitute VA lined up that will take over or are you on your own during that time?

7. Does your VA plan to subcontract out all or a portion of your work? Many VAs run Multi-VA businesses. If this is the case, how involved is the owner VA going to be in your work? Will they be checking for quality from their subs? Do you need to make requests to the owner VA or to the VA that’s actually doing the work. Some VA firms allow the subcontractors to be “client facing” and some don’t. Find out how that process works in their business.

Working out these details in advance will make the process of delegating much smoother and will alleviate a lot of unnecessary headaches for both parties. Hash out the details first and then enjoy the extra time you will gain from outsourcing!

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Manage Your Time by “Chunking”

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Is this your To Do list?

I first learned about “Chunking” from Tony Robbins’s “Get the Edge” program many years ago. It had a profound impact on how I view my tasks and how I organize my time. It is also an audio I return to whenever I get off track with my productivity.

“The Power of Chunking = grouping information together into ideally sized
pieces so they can be used effectively to produce the results you want.”

Our brains are easily overwhelmed. We have so much information thrown at us from every direction and so many tasks that need to be done. Have you ever written out a to do list and just stared at it afterwards…paralized. Where do I even begin?
Our brains count items 1, 2, 3, MANY. Anything more than 3 items and it may as well be 20. Overwhelm sets in and when we’re overwhelmed, we fail to take action.

For example, think about when you learned how to drive a car, especially a standard. You have to focus on the brake, the clutch, the gas, steering, the mirrors, look left, look right…AAHHHH!!!! 1, 2, 3…MANY! Those first few times out were exhausting and you felt like you would never be able to drive. I certainly swore I’d never buy a car that was a standard after the nightmare of my first few lessons. What happened after a you gained some experience? All of those different tasks that felt so overwhelming just became 1 item – Driving. Heck, now you can do 2 other things while you’re driving (although, I don’t recommend that).

This principle applies when we look at our own lives. How many goals do you have at one time? How many categories do you break life into? More importantly, how many NEW things do you try to take on at a time? You may have great intentions of starting a blog, a newsletter, Facebook, Twitter, a podcast, a video series… 1, 2, 3, MANY! That’s how you get overwhelmed into inaction.

Instead, try limiting your new endeavors to 2-3 at a time, max. If you’re already blogging, try adding a bi-weekly newsletter and a few Facebook posts. Nothing too crazy. Then, when that feels like one thing – marketing – you can add one more to the mix without too much overwhelm. The same is true with determining your services. When starting out, you may feel like you need to offer more than you’d like to. Doing that, you end up spreading yourself thin and watering down your expertise. You’re efforts will be more focused if you choose 3 services or 3 programs to offer. It will also lead to greater productivity and less feeling scattered in 100 directions keeping track of a dozen different programs or services.

How can you use the Power of Chunking in your business or life? Please share in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!
~Deb

Identify Your Unique Brilliance and Love Your Business Again!

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Business owners need to be constantly learning how to improve their craft and their business. Not to mention finding new ways to make this work/life juggling act less of a struggle. It’s important to take time out to learn new techniques and new ideas and gain a better clarity on how to move forward.

Last week, I took that time and attended (virtually) a 3-day workshop on how to Monetize Your Message hosted by Fabienne Fredrickson of Client Attraction. The nuggets of worthwhile information are too numerous to list in full so I’ll share just one today:

Discover your unique brilliance and do only that.

We all do things within our business that we don’t like and aren’t great at. When you are starting out, this is often necessary. The goal, however, should not be to try to strengthen your weaknesses but rather strengthen your strengths and delegate the rest.

4 Quad Instruction

The above diagram is part of an exercise that is very eye-opening. What are you doing in your business that you hate? What are you downright bad at that could be costing you money?

Get rid of it!

Ideally, you want to work as much as possible in the “Uniquely Brilliant” quadrant. There should only be 4-5 things, at most, that you are uniquely brilliant at. You will likely spend a fair amount of time in the “Really Good” quadrant as well, which is acceptable. Nothing positive will come from the bottom. Nothing. Delegate those items as soon as possible. They won’t make you money and will make you miserable.

Not only will those items not make you money but they will likely LOSE you money by wasting your time and your energy. How much time and energy do you spend just thinking about having to do them or procrastinate about doing them? Hiring help may not cost you as much as you think and will free your time and energy to spend on money-GENERATING activities THAT YOU LOVE!

That creates a business to get excited about again!

You can’t be good at everything. Sorry. I’m feeling the dirty looks from all of my fellow perfectionists out there. But it’s a fact that we need to accept.

Mediocre

I don’t wake up in the morning with the goal of being mediocre…do you?

But what am I brilliant at?

That was my question. I’m sharing this exercise because I struggled with it. It is so ingrained in me to try to do it all and dwell on my failures and inadequacies that I looked at my worksheet with my blank Uniquely Brilliant box and…crickets…. I had no idea what to enter there. I know what I hate and what I’m just ok at. But brilliant? Perfectionists never feel brilliant. So, what’s one to do?

It was suggested to take the Strengthsfinder test. I found my results very interesting and eye opening. The test will generate the 5 areas of strength for you and provide you with a detailed report on what they mean and how you can use them. I highly recommend this if you are so involved with the minutia of your business that you have forgotten what you love about it.

How to use this info to improve your business

When you begin delegating within your business, focus on unloading the tasks in the “Incompetent” quadrant first, followed by “Competent”. Look for team members who are strong where you are weak and who love the tasks you hate. There are actually people out there who LOVE bookkeeping and get excited about doing it! Can you imagine that? Add those people to your team and your business will be unstoppable! Not to mention, you will feel a huge weight lifted and you may even begin to LOVE your business again.

Please fill out your own 4-quadrant worksheet (4 Quad Strengths – Blank) and share in the comments what uniquely brilliant skills you’re going to commit to doing more of and what items you’re going to delegate first.

Thanks for reading!

~Deb

7 Tips for Work at Home Moms

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I just read a great article for work at home moms and needed to share it. Work at home moms (WAHM) have a different set of challenges to deal with and need real strategies in place in order to be productive. When you are always surrounded by work and family and housework, things get blurred together and become overwhelming. This can lead to a world of distraction and lack of focus on anything. Checking email while playing with your kids, having to stop working on that project to get them a snack – it’s enough to make you just want to sit and browse Facebook!

There are some great tips in this article written by Theresa Ceniccola. They are simple strategies that can make a real difference in your productivity, focus and stress level.

Read 7 Tips For Work at Home Moms here…

Please share in the comments how you manage running your business from home with all the distractions that come with that.

Thanks for reading!

5 Tips to Fiercely Profitable Networking

I know, I specialize in content marketing. Why am I bringing up networking?

Last July, I started working with a coach that recommended in-person networking as a viable marketing technique for starting out VAs. I’ve done networking in the past but thought I’d save it for a last resort. After all, my business is “Virtual” so I shouldn’t need to network locally.

Corporate workWrong!

The truth is, a good marketing plan needs to have a variety of tactics – blogging, social media, AND networking all serve their place. A couple of months ago, I finally ventured out into some local networking groups. The results have been fantastic. Funny that my coach was right (coaches are like that). I have made some very promising connections and have signed on new clients already from my groups. Worthwhile, indeed.

Sometimes, though, networking takes time. Just like blogging and social media can take time. Networking isn’t about pushing what you do into someone’s face. It’s about relationships. Make connections. Get to know others with the goal of providing them with referrals. The more you do for others and learn about others, the more likely that they will trust you. Give THEN receive.

Here are 5 tips having a FIERCELY profitable networking experience:

  1. Arrive early. Showing up early at an event will give you the opportunity to talk to more people, make more connections and get comfortable with the environment. You have more options to choose where you want to sit and who you’d like to sit with. Sit with different people every time you go.
  2. Ask questions and LISTEN. Your first instinct may be to tell people everything about you so that they will know how great you are and will want to hire you on the spot. Resist this urge. This initial encounter is not the time for a sales pitch. In the spirit of building relationships, use this opportunity to ask questions. “What brings you to this event?”, “What are you hoping to get out of this group?” or “How long have you been coming to this group?” are great conversation starters. Follow up with questions about their business. “Tell me about your business.”, “What is a good referral for you?”, “what is your biggest challenge with your business?” are good questions to learn about the person. Take note of the answers. They may be revealing the very way that you can help them.
  3. Prepare an elevator pitch. Most groups will provide the opportunity for everyone to give a 30 second pitch about something they do. Be prepared. Respect the time limit of the group. In your pitch, give them your name, business name, website, what you specialize in, who is an ideal client for you, and what makes you different from others in your industry. If it’s a group that you attend often and you have gone through your pitch several times, you can deviate by talking about a special you’re offering, a program you are launching or just give a tip relating to something that you do. Don’t take yourself too seriously here. Relax and have fun with it!
  4. Get a card...from people you talk to. It’s great to gather up 50 business cards from one event but did you really talk to that many people? Focus on connecting with a few people each time. Have a real conversation. Don’t just take everyone’s card and slam them with email. Focus on those relationships. Talk to people. Get their card and make a few notes on the back about your conversation. This will be useful when you…
  5. Follow up. Send an email to those that you talked to at the event. I like to try to get these out within 2 business days so they remember who I am and our conversation. A fast way to do this is to create an email template that you can fill in the blanks on and customize based on your conversation. It will save you time from typing out the same information in each email. Again, show interest in something that they said. Offer them some more information on what you do, perhaps directing them to your free offer and getting them on your list (here’s where you add the online marketing piece). If you have a referral for them, pass that on. The goal is to offer value. Show that you listened and offer something that may help them.

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Give more then you ever expect to receive and you will benefit more than you can imagine. Be willing to give it time. Building real relationships doesn’t happen overnight. Finally, be consistent. The people that are at the meetings on a regular basis are the ones that get more referrals.

Try these tips at your next (or first) networking event. Please share in the comments below how it goes or share any other tips you have found helpful for your networking.

Thanks for reading! Much success to you.

 

Marketing Your Business in 30 Minutes a Day

One of the biggest complaints that business owners have with content marketing is…

TIME!

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Time to write posts, time to load posts, time to find images, time to create social media updates, time to engage with followers on your blog and on social media. time to create and send a regular ezine.

It’s OVERWHELMING!

Unless you have a dedicated marketing team or are currently outsourcing your online marketing, you need to fit these tasks in between your client work – you know, the work that makes you money. You need a plan. By creating a plan for your content marketing and scheduling it into your week, you can reduce the overwhelm and increase your consistency, thereby improving your results. 30 minutes a day really can and will make a difference in your business.

Automate!

Automation is the name of the game when it comes to streamlining your marketing plans. Wherever you can, use plug-ins, services and software to get things done quickly and, in some cases, automatically. Keep in mind that in the beginning, it may take more than 30 minutes. You need time to get a feel for what needs to be done each day and to put automation systems and checklists in place. Remember that this time spent up front will save you HOURS down the road.

For example, if you don’t have a supply of blog posts or articles ready to go, it may take you some time to create enough content to use for your website and/or blog posts. The good news is that longer articles can be broken down into smaller blog posts or used as the basis for email messages. Any time you create content, keep in mind how it can be re-purposed later.

Here’s a sample chart with some of the things that you may be implementing in your content marketing strategy and how to allocate your time with these items. This may be adjusted to fit the needs of your business but it will give you a guideline.

30 Minutes Marketing Table

ACTIONS
TIME
FREQUENCY
Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, Google+ and the like)
  • Write posts and/or tweets
  • Write comments
15 minutes (depends on how many social sites you focus on)
Every day
Email marketing
  • Create autoresponder      messages
  • Automate opt-in page      collection and email delivery using a service like AWeber or Mailchimp
  • Create ezine, weekly or bi-weekly
30 minutes – depending on frequency and complexity of ezine
Once a week
Content Marketing
  • Write content (yourself or use a service)
  • Check blog comments
10-15 minutes
Every day to create      content until you build up your supply

Check blog daily for      comments
Schedule blog postings once a week

 

Marketing is vital to making a success of your business. Without it, your leads will dry up and you’ll be out of business as quickly as you got into it. There are several strategies that can be implemented depending on your needs. The chart above details a few of them but not all. As you switch out and change strategies, they can be tweaked to complete the necessary tasks in as little as 30 minutes each day. It’s unlikely that you will be able to write a 1000 word blog post in one 30 minute block but you can add a couple hundred words at a time.

And here’s a final tip for you: You, as the business owner, do not have to do all your marketing tasks on your own. Many small business owners find that hiring a virtual assistant for even a few hours per week can free up your time for more important business building efforts – including creating more content.

Please share in the comments what you currently do to market your business online and how much time you spend on it. Are there ways you think you could save time but either automating tasks, creating more streamlined systems or delegating?

Thanks for reading!

 

 

3 Steps to Designing the Life You Want

You know about the importance of setting goals. You’ve likely heard about making your goals S.M.A.R.T. – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time sensitive.

smart goal setting concept

What isn’t always discussed is what needs to come first. Before the goal is set. I’m not referring to finding your “Why”, although that is important as well. I’m talking about the setting the foundation so that you know which goals you should even be pursuing.

I’m talking about setting your Life Priorities.

When creating a plan for your life, you have to know what is most important to you. Without that awareness, it’s harder to be consistent with your decisions. Better yet, WITH that awareness, decision making and goal setting gets so much easier!

For example, let’s say you have determined that your #1 priority is spending time with and being present for your family. Now, let’s say you are presented with a business opportunity that is potentially very lucrative but will take you away from them an extra 15 hours a week. You may decide that the money isn’t worth the sacrifice since it conflicts with your top priority.

You know the feeling when you make a decision and you can feel in your gut that it wasn’t the right one. There’s a good chance that you have that feeling because you are conflicting with one of your top priorities. Getting very clear on what your priorities are is a great way to avoid making choices that you will live to regret.

3 Steps to Priority Awareness

1. Brainstorm: Start by listing all areas of your life that are important to you. What makes you happy? What gives you confidence and makes you proud? What makes you feel good about yourself? What do you want to be remembered for? Faith, family, giving back, creating financial security for my family, health, etc.

2. Choose: Review your list and choose your top 3 in order of importance.

3. Get clear: Create a Mission-type statement about your top priority. Include the reason why you place the greatest importance on that area of your life, how you will honor your priority, what changes you need to make, what actions are inconsistent with your priority. You get the idea.

I’m going to get personal and share a portion of my Priority Statement with you for an example.

“My top priority is to be actively involved in the lives of my husband and daughter; to show through my actions that they are more important than any other personal or professional pursuit; to raise a confident and strong daughter who believes in herself and in her abilities and who believes at her core that she can do anything she is willing to work at and that I will always be a support for her when she needs it; to never pursue anything that is not in the best interest of my family’s emotional well-being, regardless of the financial prospects.”

If you can get crystal clear on this it will put all future decisions into perspective. You can minimize that nagging feeling that you’re neglecting something that is a part of your very being. You can set goals with confidence that you are creating the life that is true to YOU.
Joe-Deb-Hailey-1028My Top Priority

Please share in the comments below what your top priority is and how you plan to honor that priority in your life and in your business.

Thanks for reading!

7 Steps to Delegating Your Way To More Profits and More Time

Why did you become an entrepreneur? Why do any entrepreneurs start on this path? More money. Opportunities to give back. If you’re like me, one of the big factors was time freedom and flexibility.

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 What you thought your entrepreneur life would be

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What your entrepreneur life actually is

Here’s the Catch 22: A successful business that allows you the freedom to set your own schedule probably also consumes way more time than your 40-hour/week job did.

Figures…

What now? Entrepreneurs are known for trying to do everything themselves. We’re a resourceful bunch. Especially us moms that feel they need to do everything for everyone. Hiring help is a last resort in our minds.

ENOUGH!

Not only is that causing you more stress but it is restricting your income potential. You only have so many hours to work. Wasting half of your working hours doing non-billable tasks is just silly!

When you’re ready to take the step to delegating and outsourcing (and if you’re reading this, I suspect you’re close), here are 7 steps to doing so successfully and profitably.

    1. BE AWARE: Track everything you spend time on in a week (business and home). Also list what should have also been done (or that you would have liked to do) that you didn’t do because of lack of time.
    2. CHOOSE: Star the items that you LOVE! These are things that are your top strengths, things that you would do for free because you love them that much. If you don’t have items like that in your job, that’s a bigger issue for another day. If you’re in that boat, for now just star the items that directly make you money or lead to sales.
    3. REMOVE: Of the rest, choose the tasks that you hate or struggle with the most or things that you need to be doing but aren’t (like marketing). Include household things that you hate. There’s no “Good Mom” handbook that says that your kids will be more successful if you clean the house or do the laundry yourself! I know, I know…you can’t afford it. I’m getting to that.
    4. SYSTEMS: Create detailed systems and processes associated with these tasks so that they can be delegated. Having a system in place means less time spent training, fixing mistakes and paying someone to “figure it out”. Systems make the transition smoother for all involved.
    5. HIRE: Here’s the fun part. Here’s where you get your time back and grow your business at the same time. For business help, virtual assistants are a great way to go. You can hire the person with the skills you need and hire them for the tasks you need, when you need it.You can find qualified VAs online at IVAA.org. You can expect to pay anywhere from $25/hr – $100/hr depending on the level of expertise needed for the task.If you’re in need of help and have a tighter budget, Elance is a decent option. There is a higher likelihood that you may find VAs in other countries, which may present a language barrier, but many are very qualified. Remember, though, the adage that you get what you pay for. A $5/hr VA may not provide the level of quality that you’d like for your marketing endeavors but may do just fine for online research.Keep in mind what your hourly rates are. If you make $100+/hr, spending $35/hour for a VA makes complete sense. Heck, $50/hr even makes sense. Not to mention the saved frustrations from doing things that you don’t like and are not good at. You don’t have to delegate a large amount of work to start. Start with a couple of hours a month or 1 hour a week. Delegate your most hated or “not getting done” task. Remember that it may only take a trained VA only 1 hour to do what may take you 4 hours to figure out. That’s a big waste of your time. Start thinking like a CEO and not like someone who has just created a JOB for yourself.
    6. TRAIN: Even the most experienced VA needs to learn how YOU do business. This involves using the systems you documented. Give them your manual for reference and there will be no question how you like things done. Trust me, this will save you headaches in the long run from miscommunications and misunderstandings. If you are hiring someone to do something that you don’t know how to do, assign them the task of documenting the system they use so that you can use that for the next person.
    7. ENJOY YOUR EXTRA TIME: Spend your VA-saved time on a priority. Spend it on money-generating tasks for your business. Spend it with your family. Make that time count and it will go a long way to alleviating the guilt that we are so good at putting on ourselves.

You didn’t start your business with the goal of working 12-hour days and struggling to take time off. It’s time to step back and evaluate what can change. What can you hand over to someone else? What will you do to advance your business during that extra time? Maybe you’re happy with the level of your business but you just want some more time for your family. That’s the beauty of entrepreneurship. You can design a business that fits the lifestyle you want. That’s why we started this crazy journey in the first place.

Entrepreneur

Please share in the comments the biggest, most hated task that you would like to delegate first. How and when are you going to take that step?

Thanks for reading! Much success to you!