CEO Time – Is it on Your Calendar?

Plan CEO time to think about your business.

Ah – time to plan…when is there ever enough time to stand back and just think? I may sound like a broken record, but putting a non-negotiable block of time on your calendar for CEO time is the only way this is going to happen.

As entrepreneurs, especially during growth surges, it is easy to get sucked back into working IN your business (“ I just need to get this DONE!”), rather than ON your business (“What is happening in the big picture?”). Your best bet for getting out of the weeds is to plan some think-time.

I’m sure you have a strategic plan for your business or you wouldn’t have made it to year two or beyond. So, let’s assume that’s a given. You also need the discipline of doing a weekly check-in. Pick a time in your schedule when you are at your clear-headed best. For me, that’s early morning, and Friday’s are the day when I’m winding things up. So, Friday morning is my weekly CEO time block on my calendar. I don’t’ take calls, check email, schedule meetings. I’m booked for a solid two hours, sometimes three.

What do you do during your CEO time? Pick a few of these ideas or rotate through them throughout the month so you hit them all:

  • Update your KPIs. Establish what your key performance indicators are and update these at least monthly. This is not just for revenue, but any measure of progress that you deem important. How many strategy sessions did you have? How many client meetings, new email contacts, web visits, and new social media followers did you have? Did you attend any networking events?

 

  • Monthly – Take a look at your profit and loss statement. How are you doing? Are you making a profit? Here is where it comes back to the bottom line!

 

  • Plan – Long and short range. If your 3 to 6-month plan is nailed down, then revisit and make adjustments as necessary. Start making notes about the next 6 months – the first stage before actually setting things in motion. You may have set aside some ideas and projects for later. Start building one or two of those into the next planning phase.

 

  • Set your specific goals for the next month. Can you contact five potential partners for a collaboration, schedule at least one speaking gig, attend one new networking event?

 

  • Build organizational culture. If you have a team, this would be the time to plan team-meeting agendas, team events, and think about the areas where your organizational culture needs to improve.”

 

  • Plan for scaling – Next stage of business. Think about it now as you are growing. Keep on eye on that org chart (fledgling as it may be). Will you need additional team members? What additional professional services will you need add – legal counsel, CPA, salesperson or manager? Are there areas of your biz that are ripe for outsourcing

 

  • Build Playbooks – Processes for scaling. For anything you do more than three times, write down your process in detail or film a training video. Create templates, email copy, or scripts that you can just cut and paste or reuse repeatedly to save time.

 

  • Check in with yourself on your own performance. How am I doing? Am I delegating enough and doing it well? Am I aware of customer needs? Am I on top of team needs and performance? Are you truly spending 80% of your time on things that will move the needle in your business, or are you spending too much time on busywork? Re-visit your top priorities – do they still hold?

 

Pixar studios did a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the film “Finding Nemo.” A few of the lead animators and story creators attribute the success of the movie to “story think time”-cut to a picture of them asleep at their desks. Don’t sleep! But do plan your own story think time, or what I call CEO time, into your schedule today!

Ditch the Distraction – Insert Focus

Staying focused is a learned skill

Growing a business is a roller coaster. Good days, bad days, good months, bad months. As you grow, the balance can tilt to the bad side if you are not careful to protect your strategy, your direction and your “why.” Nothing kills the desire to get out of bed on a workday than if you have lost track of why you are doing all this in the first place.

Keeping focused is a skill that needs to be worked on to improve. It’s similar to meditating – you get better at it as you do it. Here are a few focus killers that you want to be aware of:

Looking over your shoulder at your competition – You are where you are in your business. Hopefully, you have mapped out a strategy for the next 3-6 months that will provide a guide for you. (If not, please email me asap and let’s set up a time to chat!) There will always be competitors, and there will always be other formats, techniques, tricks that others are doing that you are not. Should I be starting to podcast? Why aren’t I doing a weekly Facebook Live? Should I start a YouTube channel? What are they doing that I should be/could be doing? The list can be endless.

As my fabulous son, Sam says. “You be you, mom.” So often this is a lack of confidence in the road that you have chosen for your business. Or you have not clarified what makes your business stand out from the others.

If you are haunted by your competition, I highly recommend the book Blue Ocean Shift: Beyond Competing – Proven Steps to Inspire Confidence and Seize New Growth by Kim and Mauborgne. The authors walk you thru the process of defining who you are and how you are different from all the others in your field. It’s a great read – not a distraction, I promise!

It’s not a bad idea to be aware of new ideas, formats, and channels. But save this for “info gathering or self-education” blocks on your calendar. And it’s just that. Not a signal to question what you are doing. Stay strong in your current strategic direction, but set aside possible tests for the NEXT planning cycle.

What are the latest trends? What’s newest that I could be incorporating into my biz model? This is a productivity killer, and I won’t spend too much time on this. Being on the bleeding edge is rarely good for revenue generation. It’s good for PR buzz, media attention, and distraction. Don’t be diverted by what is the newest and greatest. Even the newest iPhone has bugs and needs time to be tested out. Stay open, but not consumed by the latest trends.

Too much input – I find this is a BIG one for the entrepreneurs I work with. We are all inundated with too many emails, podcasts, YouTube videos, and ADVICE. My advice: Cut down the clutter to preserve your clarity. Be ruthless! Pick an hour to go thru your inbox and unsubscribe from any email newsletter that does not provide REAL value to you. Same with YouTube channels and Social Media connections. Pick a guru or two to follow, ignore the rest. Make a short list of e-newsletters, blogs, podcasts or YouTube channels that are really worth following. Unsub from the rest. Cut deep. You will be so happy not to have all those voices coming at you. (Coming soon, my list of favorite podcasts and books.)

As you get more traction in your focus, you will start to notice when you are getting distracted and it will get easier to pull yourself back on track.

I have blocks in my calendar to check email and social media 2x a day. But I notice that I slip back into checking more frequently if I’m doing something that is hard, or I don’t want to do, or I’m just plain bored with what’s on my desk. I find if I take a small break, even a short walk around the block, I can get back on track pretty quickly without the distraction of more thoughts coming into my brain.

Bottom Line: Cut back on all sources of distraction that you can control to maintain your focus on your business and the goals you have established. It’s not always easy, but with practice, we all get better.

Put your own oxygen mask on first

Non-Negotiables in your day and week

Public Service Announcement: It’s your business and it’s your life. The best place to start is by designing your business to fit you personally.

If you’ve come out of a corporate or a traditional business model, you are probably accustomed to a 9-5 (or maybe 7-7?) workday. When I jumped into my entrepreneurial career, I kept to that schedule like a madwoman, and never questioned it. Keeping to a hard-charging schedule was the essence of productivity, wasn’t it? My fear was that if I wasn’t logging the hours, I was not going to get to where I wanted to go.

With age comes wisdom, and after multiple rounds of burn out, and quite a few grey hairs, I’ve changed my perspective.

Work/life balance (a myth right there) is an ongoing negotiation, but you need to begin somewhere. Start by putting a few stakes in the ground for the aspects of your life and biz that are the most important to you, and make them non-negotiable.

For me, it’s 3 things:

Working out. I started working with a personal trainer in the last few months. It felt self-indulgent, vain, and it cost a pretty penny But here’s the thing: I’m in it for the long haul. I hope to live a very long time and I’m the full-time caregiver for my husband. I want to be as healthy and fit as I can well into my 90’s. I had to make a commitment to that long view. I know I work best when I have some accountability and a mentor. I’ve done that in my business life, and I saw that I needed it in my personal life as well. So I’m plunking down hundreds of dollars a month and showing up. Not just for my training sessions, but working out or at least walking almost every day on my own as well.

Honoring my energy cycles. I am an early, early bird. I am at my best, most creative and clear thinking at 7 am. I’m fairly spent after about 3 pm. I’ve mapped out my daily and weekly calendar (more on that next week) to fit that cycle. I start my day at 7. I take a lunch break at noon. I quit at around 3. I don’t work on Friday afternoons because I’m already in “relax mode. I don’t work nights – ever. That’s when I magically turn into a wife and mother and can barely remember what’s going on in my business. But I do work some weekend mornings if I feel like it. That’s my design!

Family time. This will differ for all of us, but unless you build it into your schedule, it’s going to slip away or be given a lower priority. Every year I block out planned family vacation time. When my kids were smaller, I blocked out every event that I knew about – school plays, field trips, days off, birthday parties, etc. These became un-moveable blocks of time in my schedule (for the most part…there are always exceptions). Evenings, (for me that’s after 3 pm,) are for family. I plan and cook dinners, spend time just hanging out with them without thoughts of business creeping in. It’s cherished time and I don’t take it lightly! Down time – being completely away from biz refreshes me for the next day.

These 3 changes have been game changers for me. I had to give myself permission to make my work life fit into my personal life. Not the other way around.

Next week I’m going to go into more detail on this principle: How to map out your week and month to fit your business and life for the most efficient, productive and powerful results. Plus a happy life. Stay tuned!

From Chaos to Clarity – My Story

Businesses evolve and grow, and mine is no exception. I had been providing Facebook Ad Strategy and implementation up until a few months ago. (Why look; my last blog post and newsletter was in June of 2017! Not good.) But I began to realize this business model just was not working for me.

 

The more clients I worked with, the more I realized that FB Ads were just one tiny piece of a much bigger picture. The ad and the strategy behind the campaign were only as good as the landing page. The landing page was a reflection of the client’s positioning of the brand. The offer was frequently a muddled reflection of the entrepreneurs’ positioning.

In truth, I turned away more clients than I took on because their business was not ready to run ads, either financially or strategically. And I didn’t want to help them throw away money! I wanted to help my fabulous clients with the whole picture – way before a Facebook ad came into play.

I’m a strategist at heart; that’s my “zone of genius” (Sigh, I’m a tad sick of that phrase, but it makes a point). I wanted to work with these women earlier in their planning and on a bigger scale so I could truly help them grow. And FB Ads was not a solution for many entrepreneurs.

So I took a step back (4 months worth) to re-evaluate my biz and my own areas of expertise and what I wanted to offer the world. To say I was in a bit of chaos in an understatement. I see this in so many entrepreneurs who are at a transition or growth stage of their business.

Every business goes through stages: From the seed of an idea, through initial startup, followed by progressive levels of maturity and growth. Each stage has its unique challenges, and none are easier than the last.

During these transition periods, things can feel out of control. Many of your carefully crafted processes are no longer working, and you and your company just feel like it is bursting at the seams.

“These are growing pains.” as my mom used to say. Growing pains are an unavoidable part of a thriving business at all stages of development. However, with some wisdom and strategy, you can make the most of these transitions while minimizing the pain of expansion.

The first step to clarity is to ask yourself these questions:

  • Where are you right now in your business? You have to be honest. If you’re not honest, you’re not ready or willing for the change you crave.
  • Where do you want to go? What do you want your biz to look like? (Or, did you jump in and just start looking for customers and take on any and all of them?)
  • Why did you start this business in the first place? Are your expectations being met?” It takes a lot of work to be an entrepreneur! Have you re-evaluated your why, now that you are in the midst of it, to confirm that you still feel your biz is worth all the effort?
  • How will you get there?

I can help you with that last question. I’ve owned and grown 4 online businesses in the last 10 years, and have been through all stages of entrepreneurial growth. You may be thriving but exhausted, or unfocused, or struggling to identify your next revenue opportunity.

I’d like to invite you to download my short e-book “From Chaos to Clarity – 5 Solutions”. It could just be the first step to help you see more clearly to the next stage of growth.

What are you struggling with in your business right now? I would love to hear from you directly so I can get a sense of the specific issues you are facing right now. Shoot me an email at elyse@elysetager.com or post in the comments below and let’s talk.

How to Get Over the Fear of Creating Videos

Today we are talking about video and specifically how to get over your fear of being on camera. We have been talking in the past few weeks about how important video is not only in Facebook Ads but in your business in general. But many women are not brave about hopping in front of the camera.

Today I’m delighted to be joined by my friend and colleague SaCola Lehr. SaCola is known in the online world as a Video Launch Strategist and creator of “From Introverted to Video Powerhouse”, where she helps coaches, consultants, and other online female entrepreneurs bring their words and visions to life by using video.