Business Slow? Think Like a Farmer

Use Your Downtime to Plan for the Future

Last week I talked about a client of mine – a real estate agent going through her slow period. Our work during that time focused on thinking like a farmer – but what does that mean in practice?

Do you think all a farmer has to do is wait until fall to harvest truckloads of delicious tomatoes, corn or squash? Think again! That farmer has worked hard all year long to prepare for that week or two of big rewards.

She prepared the ground last fall, following last year’s harvest.

She planted seeds in the spring.

She watered, fertilized and protected her fragile crops from pests, drought and poor weather throughout the growing season.

And finally, after months of work, she enjoyed the results of her efforts near the end of the summer.

Your business works the same way with periodic ups and downs. Many businesses experience seasonal fluctuations tied to other rhythms — the school year, the tax year, the calendar year. In other cases, downturns are less predictable but are nonetheless a part of the ride for a successful entrepreneur.

If you take a page from the farmer’s playbook, you’ll soon be reaping the rewards, too!

Preparing the Ground

This is your brand, your voice, your very presence in your market. If you’re just starting out—like that farmer after her harvest—you’ll spend your time simply becoming known. In other words, you should put your energy into preparing the ground.

Hang out with other coaches in your niche. Join forums where your ideal clients spend their time. Build a website and start your mailing list. This is the prep work that will form the foundation of a solid business in the future.

Planting the Seeds

Your seeds are your content and products. With each blog post you write, every product you create, you’re planting a seed you can harvest later. But unlike the farmer, your seeds will produce over and over again, endlessly.

Look for ways to create visibility for you and your brand with public speaking, being interviewed on podcasts or participating on panels that are aligned with your area of expertise. Get yourself out there!

In fact, you’ll likely find that blog posts you wrote years ago will continue to bring in new clients year after year, with no further help from you. Products can be sold over and over again, or reworked into new offers. Podcasts, videos, ebooks and more all continue to work for you, month after month, year after year.

When you think about it that way, it’s easy to see that planting seeds is a critical part of every business.

Nurturing Your Crop

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just “Set it and forget it!”? Unfortunately, that style of business rarely works.

Consistency is the name of the game here – and it’s what will ultimately lead to success. Be sure that you are sending out your email newsletter every week, or month (or whatever cadence you have decided on). Be sure to do a blog post, or Facebook live, or record a video consistently.

You will start to get a following and people will be looking for you, even if you don’t think they are out there! Remember, gurus tell us that only 10% of your readers or followers ever comment (and I think that number is high!), so you have an audience out there, even if it doesn’t appear so.

Instead, you must spend time nurturing:

  • Stay in touch with your email list
  • Update old blog posts with new ideas
  • Study your stats to improve your traffic and conversions
  • Refine your products as you learn more about your customers

It doesn’t take much effort to update your blog posts or tweak your products, and the rewards can be fantastic.

Of course, being a farmer is a long-term investment. The work you do today may not pay off for weeks or months to come. But with a strong history of consistent “farming,” you’ll soon see that those long-term rewards are paying off consistently as well.

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

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!

Know Your Numbers

You Can’t Improve What You Don’t Understand

I know. It feels like hopping on the scale. That dreaded moment that many women agonize over (me too!) when they get on the scale to check their weight. Time’s up! Was I good, or bad? Is there shame or self-doubt? Jubilation?

Body image aside, we need to get over that fear regarding our businesses. You need to know what your numbers are at all times. I strongly recommend at LEAST a monthly check-in. Don’t wait until the end of the quarter or (ye gads!) the end of the year.

If you have ongoing ad campaigns, then tracking those efforts is critical. How else can you improve or eliminate what is below an acceptable metric? How else can you do more of what is working well? You will be investing your time and/or money in your efforts, so measuring on a regular basis is key.

What numbers are we talking about? You get to decide.

Of course, your accountant and the IRS will want to know your revenue and your expenses, so those are a given. One of my favorite books, “Profit First: Transform Your Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine” has recommended healthy percentages of revenue, profit, operating expenses and taxes based on where you are in your business.

But those are not the only things, by far, that you should be tracking. Here are a few key things (frequently called Key Performance Indicators) that you can be measuring monthly, and these will vary based on the business you are in:

 

Revenue
Expenses
Net Profit
New customers or clients
New leads
Size of email list
FB page likes
FB group participants
Instagram followers
Pinterest followers
Podcast interviews conducted
Speaking gigs given
Free discovery calls
Strategy Sessions
Page views
Networking events attended

 

Some of these are very dollar oriented, and others are softer measures, but nonetheless, important to track growth. You are expanding your revenue as well as your visibility (online and offline), so the more improvement on the latter, the more likely it will reflect in revenue.

Strong tracking leads to solid strategy.

Once you are tracking regularly, you will know how many cold calls (or ads, or event attendees, or outreach of any kind) you will need, and at what cost, to yield x number of discovery calls. With time, you will see that 10 free discovery calls will usually net you 2-3 new clients. (A 20-30% conversion is not bad for the early stages. As you get better at sales, or have a seasoned sales team, that number should be much better). Your numbers will be different if you are running a chiropractic business, or a high end consulting firm, but the model holds. This will set you for a realist lead funnel.

Once you have your metrics in place, you will develop some benchmarks that will allow you to create realistic and stretch goals for each area.

You will be able to identify what is going well or which areas need improvement. It will allow you to create an action plan based on results that will allow you to improve.

Think of this exercise as an “aha” moment rather than a call to judgment.

Fastest Path to Growth? Tap Into Your Network

Untapped Gold: How Biz Besties Can Help You Grow

What do you envision when you think of growing your business? Typically it’s new leads or prospecting. But most of us do a really crummy job of utilizing that asset called our network, or our Biz Besties, to really help us grow.

What is a Biz Bestie?

  • You may have met recently or known each other forever, but the connection is unusually strong.
  • You can share anything, without embarrassment, shame etc. Stories of biz mistakes, hiring errors, deep levels of debt, business deals gone wrong.
  • It’s a no holds barred relationship for both of you!

There are three different types of Biz Bestie:

  • Bosom Buddies: These are your best friends. You can tell them about your failures, your debts, your stupid last hire that cost you$$. No shame!
  • Connectors: They know EVERYONE and take special joy in putting people together. Make them happy!
  • Influencers: These folks are industry experts. They know everything in a specific area and are usually happy to share it.

How can you serve each other to build your businesses? (Hint: It’s not about leads!)

  • Assist with locating vendors, suppliers, assistance of all kinds
  • Sounding board for any problems that come up
  • Seek out their specific expertise – knowing you will do the same in kind for them (brainstorming, etc.) Be sensitive – if this kind of advice is how they earn their money. Keep it short – a single specific question or two tops.
  • Referrals! (Duh!) You have to ask?

Make connecting with your network part of your weekly schedule.

One of the techniques that I use to make that happen is “3x2x1.” Schedule a half hour block on your calendar once a week, at least. I first heard this from my real estate broker about how she built her very successful business. Just sayin’, it’s not a new concept.

Here is what it looks like in terms of weekly targets:

  • 3 phone calls. (Or individual emails, but don’t forget about the phone.)
  • 2 handwritten thank you notes. (Who gets mail anymore? Set up a little kit on your desk – cards, a pen, stamps.)
  • 1 face to face encounter. (This could be right in your neighborhood – just integrate a conversation about what you do in your everyday life.)

When you do connect, then let your Biz Besties know what you want them to feel/know/do.

Be sure your conversation is not just a social call (although it can be that as well). Make it count. Here are some things to hit during your connection:

  • How do you want them to feel as a result of connecting with you?
  • What do you want them to know about you and your biz right now? This will change as your business moves forward.
  • What would you like them to do? Do you have an event coming up that you’d like her to know about? Do you need a publisher for a book you are writing? Are you looking for a venue for your next live event? GET SPECIFIC!
  • Always, always offer to help your contact. “What can I do for you?” will cement the relationship and keep the reciprocity going. My fabulous CPA ends every meeting or phone call by asking how she can help me grow my business, and who she can connect me with?

How many of you are thinking “I don’t have the time to nurture my Biz Besties.”

Why not? Make the time. That’s part of your role as the CEO of your business. Your weekly calendar should have slots built in for client time, content creation, team call/building and a CEO time slot. Find a block every week for a Biz Besties half hour. Build your week according to your needs, not the other way around.

What is your mindset when you go to a conference or a networking event?

Do you hate them? I used to until I changed my goals. I now am looking for Biz Bestie material, not leads. Think about building your community, not your prospect pool. It really takes the pressure off.

  • Find one, maybe 2 women that you sense may be a possible Biz Bestie. It’s as easy as finding one or two women that appeal to you. You may like how they look, their hair, jewelry, their smile, or something they said during a session. – Something resonates with you.
  • Make a point of sitting next to them during the next breakout or workshop for more conversation. A little stalking is OK.
  • Be a servant, not a taker. Try to find a way to offer help by sharing a contact or offering a solution to a problem that has worked for you.
  • It’s not about leads. That MAY come later. It’s about building your network of Biz Besties.

Keep connecting and building your network.

Make a point of going to networking events once a month. Revisit ones you have enjoyed in the past, or seek out new ones. Or, commit to one organization and attend the majority of their events to establish a presence.

Can I help you on your path to growing your business? Let’s schedule a call to chat about where you are right now and how I can help you.

Have you KISSed your business lately?

Keep it Simple, Sweetie

Keep it Simple, Sweetie!

One of the things I see with entrepreneurs in the second and third years of their business is a tendency to overcomplicate things.

If you have made it through your first year or two then something is working. Congratulations! Really! Something like 20% of small businesses fail in the first year, and 50% within the first five years. Your products or services are resonating with your target audience often enough that they are keeping you in the black. And that’s when we tend to get cocky.

Before you fall into the rabbit hole of: “If THIS is working, how about this, and that, and more of that?” take a breath and think strategically. Different is not always better. If you want to grow your business, consider the following first:

Where is your revenue coming from? Do more of exactly that, but to a bigger audience. Increase your reach with affiliates, joint venture partners, collaborations of all kinds., online ads, or an increased marketing budget. Spend some energy exploring greater reach rather than something new.

Take a look at client retention. Are you losing more people than you’d like? Are credit card failures killing your profits? Are people signing up for a 3-month program and ditching early (and not paying in full)?

Are you building long-term loyalty? Are you returning to the people who have purchased your least expensive offer and invited them to your higher priced one with a specific value-add, or discount only for them? Focus on making your community feel more like a tribe and less like a number to gain repeat business.

If it’s working, just add on a bit. Add a new level of whatever you are already doing – create an advanced course, develop group coaching or design a Mastermind These offerings should be along the very same lines as your core service with value added for returning clientele.

If you are a local business or service provider – Is it possible to expand your geographic reach? Can you train others to do what you do and bring them under your umbrella? For example, if you have a dog walking service, can you bring established local independent contractor dog walkers into your biz, offering them the benefit of your marketing reach as you expand your terrain?

Value-add – VIP days add another level of service that is related to your current offer. Can you condense the best of what you are offering in a one-day format? These can be offered in person or virtually to also expand your reach geographically.

Add ONE new channel to increase reach. Start a podcast, write a book, create a membership site. Start with one. Get it humming and earning a steady stream of revenue before you branch out again.

Before you expand in any way, take a good hard look and assess whether your main revenue source is going to stand up to growth. Can you scale it? You may need to improve (or add) a dedicated customer service function, or a better onboarding process for new clients, or a stronger collections process. Put your energy here first before branching out.

Different and more is not the answer to growth. If something you are doing in your business is a top revenue stream, think more about how you can do more of THAT, rather than wasting energy creating new things.

Freedom! Map Out Your Week According to You

Create your own work life!

Last week we started with non-negotiables in our life and business. This week, let’s take that a step farther. Establishing a weekly schedule to fit you and your life is a very freeing experience.

I can just hear the screams now:

“But I have so many clients to tend to!”

“But I have so much work to do!”

“But things crop up – there is NO WAY.”

Yes, there is a way – and you are in charge. Keep your calendar for personal and biz in one spot. Really. If you separate them, as I did for years, you will double book, forgetting personal commitments while you are working with your biz calendar as you do most of the day. Put them together – trust me on this!

Weekly: Here is where the magic happens. Plug in blocks for the way you want you’re your week to go. You may have more categories, but at a minimum, include blocks for:

  • Client work (work done by you for your client)
  • Client meetings
  • Team meetings
  • Content creation (blog, podcasts, social media posts, course creation, team meeting agendas, etc.)
  • Email, calendar, and social media management
  • Prospecting
  • CEO time – strategic planning, updating KPIs,
  • NOTHING– blank space for chilling out, breathing. Here’s the spot where other things MIGHT creep in – and that’s ok.

A few key tips:

  • Batch anything that can be batched. Create a month’s worth of blog posts at a time. Only check your email 2x a day and clear the inbox each time. Put your phone on do-not-disturb and only return phone calls 2x a day.
  • Set boundaries with your clients and prospects and stick to them. For example, only take client meetings on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. If you work with an online calendar where clients/patients can schedule themselves, then open up only those times in the scheduler that YOU want to work with clients.
  • Create a template out of anything and everything. Save major time by not having to reinvent the wheel. Is there an email that you are sending out more than once (a pitch, an answer to a question, a thank you)? Create it once so that all you need to do is copy and paste. I’ve created dozens of emails that I keep on file. This saves SO much time. Is there a launch that requires a ton of prep (and what launch doesn’t)? Create a “work-back” schedule in excel detailing each step and the number of days before the launch that it has to occur and save it for the next time. All you should need to do is plug in the launch date, and the rest of the dates should auto-populate. Ta da!
  • Start with your personal energy levels in mind. As I mentioned last week, I’m the most creative in the morning. I schedule all of my content creation blocks before 11 am. If you are not quite at your best until you’ve been up for awhile, schedule client meetings after 1 on a few days.
  • Look at the week as a whole. Let’s be honest –getting back into work mode after a weekend can be slow going. Plan for that on Mondays. Fridays are for winding things up and crossing things off your list. This may not be the day to initiate new things – for yourself or your clients. Go with your own flow.

Two strategies that have completely changed my business:

Scheduling blocks of time for content creation on a consistent basis. I have a lot of content creation time built into my calendar since I create a lot. I’m no longer panicking about “OMG, when am I going to get that weekly blog post done, when am I going to prepare that presentation I’m giving next month?” I’ve scheduled consistent time for it and it all gets done. Wow – what a concept!

CEO time – Being a true CEO (strategic, having the long vision, planning) takes an unencumbered mind and a free schedule. It’s a critical part of your business. Make sure you have blocked out time weekly or risk getting lost in all the details of day-to-day operations.

Run your business, don’t let it run you. By mapping out a weekly schedule, you will be in charge.

Create a Strategy? But I’ve got one!

Hold up! Let’s pick that one apart.

Did you actually start with a well thought out strategy about your business for the first year or so, or did you just jump right into your passion? Most entrepreneurs dive into their business because they have a burning desire to teach, coach, provide a service, or sell a product they feel is truly needed and will benefit their customers. Something that is, of course, absolutely fabulous! After all, if real enthusiasm for the impact of their efforts isn’t at the core, why would anyone go through the hard work and risk of building a business in the first place?

Even if you did craft one from the start, the strategy launched your business with might not be serving you anymore. It may need some major tweaking, or possibly a complete revamp. If your business has survived a full year, you probably have a good idea of what’s working and what’s not. 80% of entrepreneurs starting a business fail within the first 18 months.  The bottom line is that most entrepreneurs will not make it past their first year. If you are still in business – kudos! Now let’s make sure that you are ready for years 2 and beyond.

The first year can be greased by passion and excitement, but when the nitty-gritty of the day-to-day and hard work sink in, things may look quite a bit different. That new perspective is a gift! Take advantage of it to make sure your plan is serving your life and business TODAY. Here’s how:

Revisit. Make sure your biz strategy fits your family life. Your whole life. How much do you want to work? Do you have kids, or aging parents, or a husband who travels a lot? What are the aspects of your home life that are impacted by the time and energy you invest in your business? I usually ask my clients to start there. If it doesn’t work for everyone, it’s not going to work, period.

Revisit – Make sure your biz strategy fits you personally. Do you want to work evenings or weekends? Perhaps you only want to work 9 months out of the year and take summers off. One of my early mentors only wanted to work 3 days a week to leave time for her very rich personal life. She had a booming business but said no to many things in order to keep her 3-day-only schedule. It’s your choice. It’s your life. Make it your strategy!

Revisit – Make sure your biz strategy is a short and long-range view of your business. If your strategy was to create online courses but found that you didn’t have enough of a base to make that happen consistently, you may need to regroup. Focus on list building and smaller offers first, then revisit the course idea in year 2. If your online store is just creeping along in sales, how else can you get your product to market? Your short-term strategy may be to start looking for distributors or joint venture partners to assist with your reach to develop stronger store sales. Your short and long-range visions need to be calibrated to the reality of your business as it stands today.

Revisit – nail down 6-12 months. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase: “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” Map out at least the next 6 months in great detail, and develop a general roadmap for the next full year. What will your offers be and when do you expect them? How will you promote them? What will your revenue and expense streams look like 6 months out? Have a general idea of how that will phase into the next 6 months, building on the first. Small businesses and entrepreneurs can have so many variables to contend with that mapping out a full year might be unrealistic. Give yourself the grace to take it piece by piece.

Will that 6-month strategy change or is this locked in? Well, yes, and yes. Be thorough in your 6 -month plan – mapping out as many tactics, cash and time requirements as you can, to truly realize your goals. Don’t be distracted by new/different ideas. Save that for another time. Stay dedicated to your defined strategy. That said if you find that a major piece of that strategy needs tweaking, or is not working, be ready to dive back in and make the needed corrections. Keep your focus on being profitable and growing your business. Unless things aren’t working, stick to your plan!

Wrap Up:

Whether you started your business with a solid plan, or just jumped right in following your passions, it may be time to revisit your short and long-term business strategies. If you have made it a year then you are doing something right! But failing to adjust to the new reality of your business as it stands today could cost you growth as you move into year 2 and beyond.