The Trap of Working IN Your Business, not ON it

Don’t Get Stuck in the Weeds!

Danger! Danger! Most of us start our entrepreneurial journey with a passion. A passion to serve, to share our expertise, or just for the love of what we do. With that, we jump into our business with both feet, hands and everything else and devote as much time as we can spare for the creation of our baby. But there comes a time when operating from passion and not strategy is going to hold our business growth back – in a big way.

If your desire is to grow and scale your business, then you will need to start looking for other people to do the doing so that you can be doing the visioning and strategic planning.

What are some of the ways and reasons that you are keeping yourself stuck in the weeds?

You LOVE the what of what you do.

There is certainly no shame in that! But if you love it so much that you are still doing the day to day, then there will be a cap to how many new clients and new projects you can take on, and therefore the amount of revenue you can take in.

You like to feel needed.

Looking at a packed to-do list every morning certainly will make you feel like you are needed. It may even give you a sense of security. But is that what creates value in your business and is that the best use of your talents? Perhaps you need a revised vision of how you are needed by providing the strategy and direction for the people who work for you. It’s a shift of focus, but you are needed even MORE at this level.

Chaos becomes your best friend.

When someone asks you how you are doing, how often do you answer “BUSY!” In our fast-paced world, it has become a badge of honor to be “BUSY!” Being super busy can be addictive. And stressful. Be wary of this one, as it’s a great way to reach burn-out fast. You are not doing your business or yourself any good by burning out.

No one can do it as well as you can.

Perfection paralysis or fear of delegation is so common and one of the primary ways of getting in your own way. You are afraid that if you delegate to anyone the task will not be done correctly. You need to accept that there will be many differing ways to get the hoped-for result – not just yours. Be open!

No idea what it would look like if you weren’t the worker bee.

If you have been a solopreneur for any length of time then you may not have any idea of how your business could function any other way. As I pointed out in a previous post, it’s time think like a CEO and move from doing to leading.

In all of these cases, you may be afraid of taking the big leap of bringing in people and creating a team. Bringing on your first part-time or contract person is a big leap to a solopreneur’s identity and can cause a lot of fear, understandably so. Or maybe you have done that and have a small team – maybe even a largish team, but you are still hanging on to too much of the doing.

The skill set you have mastered, and grown so comfortable with to create your business is NOT the same skill set that is required to manage people and think strategically. But you will need a new skill set if you want to grow.

I love helping solopreneurs move into the entrepreneurial realm and start to experience real growth. Let’s schedule a call to discuss your business and how I can help you.

Creating Visibility: Do Your Customers Even Know You Exist?

Tips for Boosting Visibility for Your Biz

Visibility means having your entrepreneurial business be visible to the audience you want to serve. This means being in front of them in any number of ways and creating a strategy for promoting brand awareness that is custom-made for the stage of development your business is in.

This week, I will walk you through two main aspects of visibility strategy: Scaling visibility efforts to match your stage of growth and how to make the most of your networking efforts.

Stage Appropriate Visibility Efforts.  

Your strategy for creating brand visibility needs to be tailored to the stage of development your business is currently in, with an eye towards future growth.

Startup Mode: Your focus should be on awareness and feedback from customers so that you can craft your brand and offer to what your audience wants. Visibility should be one of your top priorities during this stage. After all, no one can work with you if they don’t know you are there!

Validation Mode: (The first active 1-2 years in biz) Your focus should be on positioning and developing expertise to cement who you are and what value you bring to your customers.

Scale Mode: (2+ years in biz). Now you are in a period of growth. You want to be seen as a thought leader to create more demand on a larger scale.

Multiply Mode: When you are ready to max out your growth and reach. You should be looking for ways to elevate your personal brand.

Here are a 5 ways to create visibility that are sure wins, especially in those first few years.

1. Network strategically.

We have all been to networking events that were a waste of time. The attendees were not your target audience, the event was poorly planned, or everyone was just handing out business cards. Not a good use of your time!

Do some research in advance of signing up to attend. Go online to their website and Facebook page, check them out on LinkedIn, find a few members and connect with them directly to get a feel for past events and the overall climate of the organization. Then decide if you want to attend.

To maintain momentum with your networking, shoot for 1-3 events per month to keep yourself in circulation. But not just any event – make it count!

2. Pick an organization to join and go all in.

Sign up and show up! It’s tempting to join several organizations that look promising and then attend meetings and events only sporadically. That does you no good for your visibility; in fact it may even be harmful.

Pick ONE group that you are going to commit to. Organizations like NAWBO, E Women Network, Women’s Networking Alliance all have local chapters. There are also many industry-specific organizations that might be a better fit for your business.

Choose just one to start and make a commitment to get the most value out of your membership by attending events on a regular basis, connecting with other members, and offering to speak or sponsor events to provide value to the group as a whole. The deeper personal connections you will make by investing in quality relationships have much more value in the long run.

3. Be seen consistently.

Choose your medium wisely. You may want to create a podcast, a newsletter, or YouTube videos, but the real value will be in creating content on a consistent and predictable schedule.

You are establishing your brand and consistency sends a message that you are serious about your business, are trustworthy, and can be relied upon.

If you can’t maintain a weekly schedule than appear monthly or bi-monthly. Whatever you choose, stick to your own schedule and you will build a loyal following. It will be small to start but will grow over time.

4. Be of service – Don’t just show up, engage! Connect with the intention of assisting others, not just asking for something. Actions will speak louder than words. You will add to your visibility by being seen as a connector and someone who provides ongoing value, rather than a taker.

5. Advertising? Be careful! This is probably the first thing that we all think of for creating visibility. But no matter what platform you are considering, this will be expensive. Wait until you know what you can afford to pay per lead and make sure your business can truly afford an advertising budget.

Don’t be shy!

The most important thing in business is being visible to your perfect audience. Develop strategies that are appropriate for the stage of growth your business is in. Reach out and develop quality relationships built on adding value for those you come into contact with. Take your time to identify the right organizations to join, and commit to being an active member of that community

Do You Hate Sales? Then Don’t Sell.

Change Your Mindset: Invitation Only

I used to dread the thought of selling. It didn’t fit my personality; I hated feeling spammy or pushy. I just dreaded the whole process. But business doesn’t happen, and revenue doesn’t come in, without the selling.

The game changer for me was moving from selling to inviting. It’s an offer, not a push. Need a visual? Picture an open hand and an inviting gesture, not a grabbing motion followed by a clenching, yanking movement.  To comfortably offer an invitation you have to have confidence in the value of your offer and of yourself. You have to believe that you can help a potential customer in some way. Help them solve a problem, or grow, or get healthy. You have to really know in your heart-of-hearts that you have a product or service that you know can help your prospect.

You have to be so confident in your value that there is no NEED to push.

What would you do with a friend? Invite, don’t push.

There are so many points in the sales process where, if you shift your thinking to offering an invitation, you are far more likely to get to the next stage.

Invite someone to connect on the phone for a Discovery Call. Or an initial conversation. Whatever you want to call it.

While on the call, once you have assessed their needs and if they are a fit for what you have to offer, invite them to hear about your services.

Invite them to choose among the 2 or 3 options you have presented. (That might sound like this: “Of the 3 packages we discussed, which one feels like the right fit for you at this time)? No pushing required!

Invite them to get started with you by scheduling your first appointment, even before you have collected any money.

If they can’t decide or are on the fence, or have to check with someone (and this is a show stopper for many!) that’s OK! Ask them how long they might need for the decision-making, and invite them for a “circle back” call to decide if and when you will be working together. Schedule that call right then and there.

Both of you want to know if you should continue the conversation or not. If they ultimately don’t want to move forward, or if they don’t show up for the call, that’s fine. They were not the right client for you!

None of these steps are pushy. None of these steps have to feel uncomfortable, awkward, or invasive. Invitations are polite and respectful of you, your product/service, AND your prospect.

Sales can be a comfortable and authentic process that feels easy and natural, just like any conversation with someone new. If you walk away without closing, guess what? You now have a new network contact that you can tap in the future because you chose to invite, not push, your offerings.

Speaking of Discovery Sessions,  I’d like to invite you to join me to explore your business and how we can work together.  Click here to schedule a 30-minute call.  I’d love to connect with you to help you grow your business!

Searching for Gold: How to Find Great People for Your Company

Where are all the Rock Stars?

When you are growing your team, the one thing I hear most often is “Where do I find good people.” If you have exhausted your friends and family for their connections and come up empty, here are many more ideas. Some may resonate more than others but keep your mind open for new sources of talent that just might be a perfect fit for your team.

Contact mutual connections.

I go to my personal network to find good candidates first. My past and present colleagues know me well. They know to recommend the right type of candidate who would be a good fit for my organization. I also use LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook if we are interviewing a candidate I don’t know to see if there are any mutual connections I can tap for a recommendation.

Incentivize current team to refer new talent.

Members of your current team might be the best source of candidates. A cash award for every prospect recommended who hired and retained, say a year or six months, often works great. Your current team knows what it takes to do the job. They have a vested interest in bringing in people who will contribute to a great company culture.

Look beyond your location.

Technology allows us to connect with people around the world to communicate and collaborate—working with a team is no different. There’s no reason a copywriter, for instance, needs to be physically located in your community. Your potential labor market will grow exponentially if you look beyond geographic limitations.

Ask team members to share on social media.

At my company, we encourage our team to spread the news about open positions on Facebook and LinkedIn. For difficult to hire positions, your team will often put quick messages on their Facebook accounts, such as, “We’re looking for a great web developer who wants a low-key family-friendly place to work. If you know of anyone, please share my contact info!” Informal messages like this can gain incredible reach, and will often bring in people who were not actively looking.

Try a paid search platform like ZipRecruiter.

ZipRecruiter includes resume searching and lets you post on dozens of job boards with a single click. You can easily search for resumes of job seekers who are looking in your zip code and nearby, as well as send them messages directly. There is also a ZipRecruiter feature that matches your posting to profiles in their database (Indeed does this as well). Note that these platforms tend to be better to find team members for entry to mid-level roles over senior positions.

Connect with local colleges & professors.

Some of the best candidates haven’t graduated yet, and to find out who they are, you may need to contact the college dean, career counseling office, or local university professors. Give them a call and ask about top students that they might recommend for your firm. You may also learn that the college has a bulletin board where open positions are posted, or better yet, a dedicated placement resource to assist students in finding jobs. Get to know those folks, and you’ll get a line on the best graduating candidates that may be perfect for your company.

Contact local chapters and organizations.

There are associations and organizations related to every type of field out there. Look for local chapters in your area and get involved in their events and meetings. If an association has accreditations or a certification process, then you know you can find potential candidates with the skill set you are looking for.

Go grassroots.

Try a grassroots recruiting campaign. It’s easy to do and best of all it’s free. Simply create recruiting flyers and post them in your community. You can even target your campaign. The key to success for small business grassroots recruiting is to have an easy way for people for apply to the job on their mobile device, so include a text number in your information. Set up an automated return reply asking for their email address. Most email service providers have this capability.

Look out for talent everywhere.

Keep your radar constantly up for great talent. You can teach specifics, but innate empathy and strong customer service skills are hard to fake. Plus, the best talent usually isn’t actively looking for a job.

Create a paid internship program.

These young minds are thrown right into the mix of client work and get the type of experience a full-time employee would. This allows us to test the waters a bit and find out which of the interns are strong, so when they graduate, we can pluck them the minute they walk off the stage with their diploma. It’s a great farm system.

Look on industry-specific job boards.

One piece of advice for any small business looking to hire is to find job boards and websites that are specific to your industry. They may be hard to find but do some Google searching.

Add a “Hiring” or “Careers” page to your website.

Create a “Hiring” page on your company’s website in case talented people ever come to check you out. Even if you currently don’t need someone in a specific role, it’s a good idea to keep job postings on your site. If someone is interested to look up your company and find the job posting, you know they are already one step ahead of the game when it comes to being an A-Player.

Attend a career fair or virtual job fair.

This may be a bit time consuming, but consider attending these events and find many possible candidates in one spot. Look in your local newspaper, or online through Eventbrite or Time Out, to find career fairs if you are in a major city. Otherwise, consider looking for a virtual career fair to attend, or host your own.

Find a freelancer.

We were reluctant to try a freelancer but have been pleasantly surprised with the results. We use a platform called Upwork, which tracks freelancer time (including screenshots of their work). You can hire, get reviews, and communicate with them all via this platform. It really gives us a sense of comfort to be able to verify work like that.

The right talent is out there, you just have to know where to look.

The old days when posting a job in the newspaper classifieds section was pretty much the only tool for finding talent are long gone. These days you have to be ready to do a little poking around to find the people that will help you take your biz to the next level.

Finding the right team today means mobilizing your social networks, activating your current workforce, tapping into community organizations, and utilizing online recruiting tools.

When you find the right team, you will realize that the upfront investment of your time was totally worth it!

Do You Have the Right Team for Growing Your Biz?

Plan for growth with the right support

This week I’m starting a series on team building for business growth. I’ll be touching on job descriptions, the hiring process, onboarding, performance reviews, the firing process, and more…Stay tuned!

Today, we will get started with an overview of why the right team is critical to success and a few strategies to start to evaluate the overall health of your team.

No question about it! Growth requires the right team.

In last week’s blog, I talked about moving from being a doer to being a leader. You have to learn to delegate if you want to be a true CEO.

Choosing the right team is one of those make-or-break decisions that can either be the foundation of a successful business, or it’s complete undoing.

It’s easier said than done.

Business growth creates a lot of moving parts which can create confusion when it comes to figuring out where to make changes to keep pace with expansion.

Staffing isn’t a single decision, either. Instead, think of it as a constant process of evaluating the structure of your biz, assessing workflow systems, and making choices about where people best fit in your organization.

On the other hand, if your growth is stalled, or if there is a bottleneck in your business, the first place to look for solutions is within your team.

Do you have enough support?

Business growth can creep up slowly or explode suddenly. Either way, it’s all too easy to get used to chaos, stress, and 12 hour days. Don’t let yourself get to this point! Take a deep breath and consider whether you have enough people in place to actually do all the work.

  • Spend some of your strategic planning time to write down tasks that you are ready to delegate to others. Get busy-work off your plate!
  • Would another full or part-time worker make all the difference?
  • Can you hire a contractor for a short-term project?
  • What processes can be outsourced for less money and overhead than you can provide from within your business?

Are you on the same page with core values?

Finding employees that not only understand but also share, the core values of your biz matters a great deal. After all, they will be representing your brand with every customer they interact with and every word of content they create.

In addition, team cohesion will be strongest with a diverse set of people coming to the table with shared goals. The point is not to fill your ranks with people that all think the same, rather, to find people that can bring their unique perspectives and expertise to the ideas that are at the center of your business’s mission.

 Does everyone know what his or her job responsibilities are?

It isn’t enough for the job responsibilities to be clear in your head as the CEO. Unless your team members have a clear understanding of what they are expected to do, they can’t possibly perform.

  • Have the job responsibilities been clearly communicated to the employee?
  • Are you checking in with a weekly meeting to be sure that they are on track?
  • Have you defined clear benchmarks for success so that your team members can reach growth-oriented goals?

Is everyone doing what they are supposed to do and achieving their goals?

 People may know what they are supposed to be doing, but are they actually doing it? Once again a weekly meeting (at least in the beginning) to check in and see if the employee/contractor truly understands her role, or has questions, will go a long way towards solving potential problems before you both get into trouble.

Is everyone operating in their “Zone of Genius?”

Along those same lines, do you have your people operating in roles that bring out their best assets? Do you know if your bookkeeper is a design wizard? Do you know if your customer service person is fabulous with processes and procedures, but only so-so with customer interaction? Both of these employees may be a great asset to your organization but may be in the wrong roles, or their jobs might need to be adjusted to really take advantage of their strengths.

Do they get along with one another?

Not everyone has to like one another, but they do need to be able to work well together. If there is unhappiness or friction between team members, everyone suffers, and the business will too.. Addressing this head-on with a meeting with all concerned will go a long way to resolving the tension, providing all parties are willing participants. If it the problem persists, it may be time to make a change in personnel.

Are they productive enough?

An employee may know what their job is and be good at it, but perhaps it’s at a snail’s pace–too slow for the growth your biz is facing.

Sometimes you can solve this kind of problem with some additional training. For example, they may need support with organizational skills, or perhaps productivity tools will provide a much-needed boost.

Or…they may just be in the wrong job. (Stay tuned for a future blog post in this series that will discuss the firing process.)

Do you enjoy working with each member of your team?

If this is not the case take a good look at your hiring process (more on that in a later post). If you as the CEO are not happy with your people, your business will reflect that friction.

Does drama get in the way of any of them taking care of business? This is one of my pet peeves. My assumption is that we are all adults and professionals here. If someone consistently acts or reacts, from a point of emotion, rather than clear thinking, and if they are repeatedly upsetting others in the organization, this must be addressed. If this is the case with any of your team members, let them know early that this kind of behavior has been noted and is not acceptable. If you don’t see vast improvement cut them loose, for everyone’s sake.

Is your organizational structure keeping pace with growth?

Typically we hire with a specific job description and certain responsibilities in mind. However, a business is not a static organization. As your biz grows, staffing is a moving target. You must be willing and ready to evolve to keep up.

It’s your job as the CEO to regularly examine the functional needs of your business and make changes accordingly.

Once or twice a year, take a fresh look at what needs to be done functionally at this stage of your business to support your growth and then see if you have people assigned to those tasks. If not, you have no choice but to move the tasks around to fit the personnel you have or create new positions to bring on the talent you need to thrive.

A strong team is essential for your business growth. Incredible creativity and productivity come when a team is working together and is accountable to each other and you. A team can meet or even exceed your expectations when they are clear on what you want. A winning team works together and gets you that much closer to being about to take a vacation without worrying.

Invest in and support your team and they will contribute to your thriving, growing business.

Are you a True CEO? Move From Doing to Leading

Time to Put on Your Big Girl Pants!

In 2003 I had a booming media buying agency. Business seemed to be rolling in faster than I could keep up with. I was a one-woman band for the first few years and loved every part of the business. But now I was drowning! I knew I needed some help, but wasn’t sure what kind or how much.   I had to do SOMETHING!

I hired 2 people – one a second-in-command (now I would call that an Online Business Manager) who took on as much as I could give her. The second was a part-time admin who dealt with invoicing and various back-end details.

After defining their roles and training each of them (which took a bit of time!), I took a step back and realized that a huge amount of work had been shifted from my desk to theirs. That was just what I wanted, but what I didn’t expect was how I was going to feel about it.

I would go home at night thinking:

“If I’m no longer the one DOING all the work – then what value am I bringing to the business? What am I going to do now?”

 It was a major identity crisis for me! I had spent the past 3 years of my business as the DOER. It was what I was good at, and I loved it – perhaps too much, which was why I was struggling now. It was what people paid me for. It was the place I knew best and felt the most comfortable.

And suddenly here I was – less doing on my plate and feeling like I wanted to take it all back because I didn’t know what else to do with myself!

Thankfully I had a great coach at the time who walked me through this and helped me to redefine my identity from WORKER-BEE to LEADER. It was a process to realize that I could still provide huge value by sharing my knowledge and expertise with my staff instead of being the person doing the work.

I find that when people struggle with delegation it can be based on a number of different things, but is often based on an underlying fear of losing their identity. If they aren’t careful, entrepreneurs can default to ‘taking it all back’ simply to hold on to that comfort zone.

If you are suffering from the same issue, here are some ideas:

  • Notice it – We can’t change that which we can’t see!
  • Honor it – Your identity has been the foundation of your success to date and it deserves to be honored! Also acknowledge the amount of expertise that got you here.
  • Redefine it – What new identity will serve the next level of your growth? Maybe it’s the shift from DOER to ADVISOR (like it was for me.) Maybe it is something else.
  • Shift it – This is key! Operate as though the new identity is in place. Make decisions from the position of being a leader. Spend your time in that new identity. It will probably be really uncomfortable to make this shift and the lure of going back to your old identity may be strong, but the only way to make the change is to stay in that mindset until your new identity becomes your norm. And it will happen!

Make no mistake, being a leader requires a completely different skill set than you have been relying on up to now. It may help you to hire a coach for this process. Or perhaps consider enrolling in leadership training, to build your new skills and your confidence.

Realize that this transformation will not happen overnight. It’s like any muscle that needs to be strengthened – It will get stronger if you keep using it.

Get Out of Your Own Way – Pt. 2

Obstacles to Business Growth

Part 2 of 2.

Last week I covered 4 obstacles that can get in your way. This week, I’m finishing up with the final 4.

5. “I have a good sense of where I want my business to go, but can’t figure out how to get there”

This is when growth and transition are the hardest. The processes, procedures and structures you carefully put in place for the first stage of your business may not be right for your next stage of growth.

This is THE time to look outside of yourself for support, direction and new ideas. You can’t possibly know everything! Join a Mastermind or Group Coaching program. Seek one that is a paid program (skin in the game creates a more focused result). If you can, find one that has several members that are more advanced in their business than you are. Be sure you are a bit outside your comfort zone so that you have to stretch to participate. You will grow and your business will thrive as a result.

Find a Business Coach, even for a short period of time (3-6 months is the shortest I would recommend) to help you see beyond your own walls. Others have been where you are.

6. Who am I to….

 Imposter Syndrome rears its ugly head at every stage of business, no matter how successful you are. If you feel you need more courses, training, certifications, degrees etc to establish your credibility, spend some time documenting the experience you DO have that create your expertise.

What jobs, clients, life experiences have you had that add up to true expertise? You are valued by the results you produce, not for the certifications and degrees that you have.

7. I don’t have any MONEY!

 It takes some money to start a business. Start with what you can afford, and grow from there.

Seek out Free resources first. There hundreds of podcasts, blogs, free courses, and apps and tools available online. There are groups like the SBDC, and SCORE who offer free counseling. Take advantage of those!

Source for money. There are ways to get money when you need it. The SBA offers loans at a very reasonable rate. Some banks are more small business friendly than others. Friends and family (although those choices can be fraught with issues), or your own credit cards are potential sources for start-up costs.

You can always find a part-time job or start contracting with your area of expertise until your cash flow crunch is behind you. I’ve done it – It’s not the end of the world. It’s a transitional solution to a short-term problem.

8. I’m too late to the party. (It’s all been done before.)

 It has all been done before, but not by you. It’s VERY rare that a business concept will be a one and only. You will always have competition. But you will have your own spin on your niche too. Let your personality shine, develop your own methodology and framework to the services that you provide, and stand out from the crowd.

Each one of these obstacles can be overcome with mindset shifts or changes in your approach to your business. I’m always here to help you figure out how to overcome your obstacles and create and grow a profitable business. Contact me for a free call, and let’s discuss.

 

Get Out of Your Own Way – Obstacles to Biz Growth

8 Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make

Part 1 of 2

Every business goes through stages, from the seed of an idea to startup, to increasing levels of maturity and growth. Each stage has its challenges, and none are easier than the last.

In those transition periods, things can feel out of control. Many of your carefully crafted processes are no longer working, and you and your business just feel like you are bursting at the seams.

These are growing pains, as my mom used to call it. Businesses, at all stages, have them.

After working with hundreds of small business owners in the past 7 years, here are the most common obstacles I’ve heard about time and time again, and what you can do about them. Do you hear yourself in any or all of these complaints?

1.“Everyone is starting a podcast (or virtual summit, or YouTube channel). I should too!”

Bright Shiny Object Syndrome can strike at any time, and at any and all stages of your business. When you look around you at your competitors or others that you feel are in your league, they seem to be doing more, accomplishing more, are more famous, earning more, doing more than you are.

Just stop. If you are still in business after a year or two, you are doing just fine. And you are enough!

Create a thoughtful, just-right-for-you strategic plan for your business and stick to it. Earmark new projects, platforms or courses for the next time you are in planning mode. This is your business. Design it for yourself, not everyone else.

2. “The only one who can do it is ME ME ME!”

You built this business by yourself and know every inch of it. You know what needs to be done and can do it faster and more accurately than anyone else. But if most of the tactical work is being done, or closely supervised by you, you are severely hampering your own growth. At some point, you will need to let go and train others to fill in for the majority of your functions, so that you can act as a true CEO.

What does that look like? It means building CEO time into your schedule. Block off a half-day each week, a full day each month, and perhaps a weekend each quarter for planning your future next steps. These are strategic planning blocks, not doing blocks. In fact a CEO doesn’t do much day-to-day doing. A CEO is creating content, finding and nurturing high level partnerships, planning and strategizing the future.

3. “I am EXHAUSTED”

Owning and running a business is not easy. We all know that. Especially in times of transition, it’s easy to run on all cylinders, work more than a normal workweek, and not pay attention to anything but your rapidly growing business. You will burn out, and your family and your business will suffer.

Before you get to that stage, build self-care into your schedule.   Decide what replenishes you. Is it time with your family, incorporating exercise into your life, a walk, reading a book, going to a movie? Schedule repeating blocks of time on your calendar and make this non-negotiable.

4. “My to-do list just grows and grows”

The common thread I see with female entrepreneurs at all levels of business is that they have forgotten the KISS principle (Keep it Simple, Sweetie). In the rush to find new revenue streams, build new packages and courses, new formats for their content, streamlining what’s already in place goes right out the window.

Have a strategic plan and stick with it. You will have built your next 6 months or year during your CEO time. Once that is in place, don’t deviate. Find the top 3 tasks (or one task!) that you, as the true CEO need to accomplish each day. Don’t build out another activity until the ones already in place are smooth as silk, with processes in place and the correct team members making it happen.

If you find your own to-dos are getting out of hand, stop and re-evaluate. Are you doing more than you initially planned for in your strategy? Do you have the right or enough support staff underneath you? Are they getting the job done? Do they know what they should be doing and what your expectations are? Consider outsourcing some of the tasks if you are not ready to expand your team.

Stay tuned for 4 more common mistakes in next week’s blog!

Has Content Creation Become a Chore? You Need a System.

Content Creation Made Easy: 4 Simple Steps

My biz is content heavy. In January of 2018, I made a commitment to doing a weekly blog post.  Talk about a stretch goal!

This seemed absolutely impossible, as the most I had been able to do previously was a post every 3-4 weeks.  But I knew that consistency builds visibility, fans, and engagement.

I was on a mission to make it happen.  But I had to find a process or structure that was going work for me so that I was not tearing my hair out.  Been there? Read on!

This is a game changer, my friends: Weekly content creation doesn’t have to be a dreaded chore!

Want a free sample of the Content Calendar Template? Just click the button below

How many times have you wandered into the kitchen to start dinner for your family and thought, “There’s nothing in the fridge – what am I going to make for dinner?”   Another panic moment I’ve experienced far too often.

The solution?  Create menus before building a grocery list and go on a  grocery run once or twice a week. Doing the pre-planning is the hard part, and the pre-dinner time is just execution (and joy, if you like to cook!).

Using the same principle, I created a content calendar for myself in the very beginning and this has saved my bacon and my sanity many times.  I plan 3-4 months in advance, plenty of time to continuously add detail to content as it comes to me, and have found that the rhythm of weekly content creation is now totally manageable.  

Here is the process in a nutshell:

Nail the broad strokes FIRST.

Create 8-10 categories that will capture all of your content goals. If you are a Google keyword master, you might start there. I did some research on Amazon and checked out other blogs on entrepreneurship to see what topics came up repeatedly and made my choices.  The research took less than an hour.

By taking the time to make sure you have the breadth of coverage on issues that matter to your service or product in advance, you can let go of the fear that you might miss something important.

Choose ENGAGING topics.

Come up with 4-5 ideas for posts within each category, each covering a vital topic in a fun and engaging way. Sitting down once and doing 4 to 6 months worth of ideas will take a big weight off of your shoulders. The hard thinking is behind you. “OMG, what am I going to write about THIS week?!!” The panic part of the process is completely eliminated.

Now that you have your ideas on paper, you have a place to add details to your content as it comes to you, well in advance of your publishing deadlines.

Now your thinking like a true CEO! This is the kind of strategic planning that makes the difference between long-term success and a flash-in-the-pan.

Repurpose in multiple formats.  

Map out how you will re-purpose the same content to get the most visibility. Don’t be afraid to post the same content in multiple formats. Your audience will want to engage with you in the format that they prefer.  Some people are visual learners (hence the video and FB Lives), while others prefer to read.  

Share your blog post in your newsletter.  Create a variety of posts and graphics so you can post on social media over the next week. Do a Facebook Live or record a video of the content of your blog post.  Upload to Facebook and YouTube. If you do a podcast, you can just read the blog post for some quick content.

Remember, your email newsletter probably has about a 20% open rate, so 80% of your audience didn’t read your email. But they may see the post on your blog, or your FB page, or on other social media platforms. The more ways that you can share a single piece of content, the more likely your target audience will find you and engage.

Thoroughly think through your new content once, and publish it in several formats. Now that is Bang-for-the-Buck right there!

While you’re at it…

I also use the same content calendar spreadsheet for even more content using the same helpful categories. I jot down ideas for new presentations, webinars and training sessions.  I create content upgrades (lead magnets) that I can use to get more email sign-ups. I shoot for one per month and a topic that is related to an upcoming blog post. By the end of the year, I’ll have 12 new lead magnets to use throughout the year! That’s golden.

By dedicating some time to the pre-planning, the creation of weekly content doesn’t have to make you crazy!  

Wanting more?

Want to see my system in more detail? I have a sample content calendar that I’d like you to have. It includes a detailed look at just how my system works and some additional tips to make it work for you. Click here to subscribe

Imposter Syndrome – Flip the Script!

Feel Like a Fraud? It Happens to the Best of Us.

 

When I start working with clients, one of the first subjects we deal with is mindset. One of the topics that always, always comes up for the female entrepreneur is “Who am I to think I can do this?” …or teach this, or provide this service, or whatever. The fear is all the same. And, if you let that fear run your show, it will keep you from reaching for your dreams.

Here is the Definition:

Wikipedia: Impostor Syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenonfraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a psychosomatic pattern in which people doubt their accomplishments and have a persistent, often internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.

The truth is, the further you go in your business or career, the more risks you may have to take, and the more likely it is that Imposter Syndrome will show up. If you have experienced feeling like a fraud at any point in your life or career, chances are you have chalked up your accomplishments to luck, charm, connections, or some other external factor.

Psychologists tell us that the personality types most likely to have Imposter Syndrome are perfectionists and overachievers That’s right: The superwomen. That sounds like most entrepreneurs to me!

So let’s talk about how to break through it.

Identify what is shaking your confidence. The more you can pinpoint and define the issue, the more able you are to confront it head on with some actionable solutions.

Remember your real life value and all that you have achieved. I’ve started a “Look back 2018” document where I record everything that I have accomplished, big or little, biz or personal. I add to it on an ongoing basis. It builds confidence!

Stop comparing yourself to others. I know, easier said than done. There will always be someone else that is farther along than you are, so what’s the point? Stay focused on your own path and capacities. You may need to opt out of newsletters, and curtail your social media habit to keep your eyes on the prize.

Look at your own language, both internal and external. “I think, I feel, it may just be me, but….” Stop right there. Consciously upgrade your language with more confident, assertive phrases and you will reframe your own self-image. “In my opinion,” “I have a question, and I’m sure I’m not the only one,” are examples that communicate much more strength. Be on the lookout for words and phrases you can eliminate or tweak.

Understand that there is no “right way.” I’m sure there are multiple techniques for conducting specific surgeries! If you perceive that someone has “cracked the code,” or are the ultimate expert, try looking to them for guidance and influence, rather than making yourself wrong.

Take a calculated risk. What would you do if you were not afraid or insecure? Write it down, tell someone else, and take even a small step in a new direction. If you don’t succeed, so what? Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Don’t let Imposter Syndrome rob you of your own progress and ultimate success.

Everyone starts somewhere. Your perspective and point of view will be unique and will resonate with just the right people. If it doesn’t, then they are not the right client or customer for you.

Think you are the only one? Famous actors, artists, CEO’s and the most successful people are the most likely to experience Imposter Syndrome. Consider it a symptom of success. You are in good company! But manage it so it is only a tiny voice that does not cripple your progress. Assume the power pose! You got this!