Archive for Entrepreneur

It’s Okay to Dream Big and Plan Backwards

It wasn’t too long ago that I watched a video training course by a random online marketer. And I loved her visual planning method…plan it backwards.

She took one of those cheap desk size calendars you can purchase at any office supply store and hung them on her wall. Each month laid out, ready to be written on.

She then used sticky post it notes and planned her quarter…but she didn’t work from the present time. She worked backward from her big goals!

It made complete sense. And more importantly, it took into consideration not just her life/work balance as far as big events on the calendar, but also her finances. She used the BIG ROCK items to plan both her scheduling strategy, but also her pricing schedule.

With this method, she was able to consider all aspects and adjust as new things came up:

  • Early bird pricing.
  • Special offers.
  • Minimum and maximum participants.
  • Upsells.
  • Drip campaigns.
  • Big events and deadlines.

All of this was on her calendar in brightly colored, categorized post its. Easily adjustable as she worked through her plan with the end goal in site.

For a visual learner and planner like myself, it was magic!

Have you begun planning for your new year, your next big adventure or product launch or even for what your future looks like? Considering all of that, looking at the big picture…what a fantastic way to kick your business into high gear and go after all your dreams!

As a detail person, I can help. Share your vision with me and let me help fill in the details. I can help create task lists, manage your team and even provide regular status updates.

The Importance of Sacred Time

When I first heard the term “sacred time,” I thought it must be some religious practice. A custom similar to prayer rituals or meditation. But sacred time is not that at all. Sacred time is a block of time that you protect like it’s your child.

It’s set by you and for you. And you can set it for whatever your greatest need is. It’s a time for just you. Not lunch appointments, kids demands or even mindless TV watching. It’s a productive block of time that you designate.

And it is a life changing practice!

Sacred Time Guidelines

First, off everyone’s sacred time looks different. It feels different. And it serves a very specific and unique purpose for each participant. So these are just guidelines from someone who has been playing with these elements in my own sacred time for a while.

  • Put it on your calendar – reserve a block of time ahead of time. Put it on your calendar before the week craziness starts. It doesn’t have to be long, but it does need to be reserved. It’s important you share this practice with your family. Not just because it may benefit them as well, but more importantly, so that they know you are not going to be available during this time.
  • Make a plan – this is not a nap time or a self care time, you need those too! But this is a time to buckle down and be productive. Whether it’s work, writing, chores or some other task that is either super important or tedious enough it gets neglected but needs to be done. Make a priority list of things to get done during this time.
  • Turn off the noise – put your phone on DND, turn off the TV or radio background noise and maybe even consider a white noisemaker or fan to block out any noisy distractions.
  • Get your supplies – yes, I’m talking about your laptop or cleaning supplies. But FIRST, fix yourself a large glass of lemon water, light a candle, put on some quiet jazz or instrumental music and clean off your workspace of any distractions.
  • Breathe!!! Sit down, but before you dive into to your list, take 5 deep breathes. Clear your mind of everything else. And focus on being right here, right now.
  • Now GO!

For this block of time, it’s you and your mind, you and your goals, you and your work. No noise, no distractions.

This “loneness” may feel odd at first. But I guarantee you will find yourself coming out of it feeling empowered, accomplished and ready to face the world again. And perhaps it will restore your creativity, your energy and your joy as well.

There are lots of resources on sacred time. And whether you use it for growing your business, completing some personal tasks or just tackling things you do not want to do, you will find that setting this time aside is life changing. And very empowering!

Resources

If you want to find out more about Sacred Time, check out these resources:

Julie Stoian: Sacred Time + The 100/50/10 System – I love, love, love her!

Wayne Muller: Sabbath – This book is more about self care and setting aside time for that. But the practice is the same and this book is amazing and easy to read. I highly recommend.

It’s Time to Let Go of the Fear

Fear is…”an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger.” (Webster’s Dictionary)

Fear causes…”fleeing, hiding, or freezing from perceived traumatic events.” (Wikipedia)

I’m willing to bet no one will contradict me on those points. It’s just human nature. Built in, we are literally born with it. Think of the little kids on the playground seeing the tall slide or the teenager asked to call and order food or make an appointment. The hesitation, the wariness and the attempts to get out of it. We’ve all been there.

And for entrepreneurs, bread winners, wow, we definitely have our moments of just freezing or wanting to hide. Second guessing ourselves or escaping, at least temporarily. Putting yourself out there, selling yourself or your product…it can be very scary!

What’s the worst they can say?

In an old blog post, Jasmine Star shared the mantra’s her mother encouraged her to repeat when she was faced with fear. I love that! So much of what we play in our heads on repeat does come from our parents, our formative years.

I think my kids will hear “What’s the worst they can say?” Whenever they are faced with a decision or a crossroads, I always encourage them to try, to ask…the worst that can happen is someone says “NO” and they have to change direction. But at least they tried and aren’t left wondering – would have, could have or should have. You know?!?

Starting Today…Take a Step Forward

My message for you today is take a leap of faith. Whatever has you stuck, has you hiding or is just difficult to move past…take the first step.

Have a little faith in yourself, in your abilities, in your cause and in those around you. Act, Ask or as Nike would say “Just Do It!”

I promise you, the other side of fear is a whole lot better. You will know, you will learn and hopefully you will succeed. If not, there is always tomorrow. Just don’t give up!

The Year I Lost Everything – Lessons Learned from Business Failure

Three years ago, my kids and I were homeless. Thankfully it never went so far as us living in our car or a shelter, but we were wholly dependent on another family for our housing. I had to apply for food stamps. And I have never been so ashamed in my whole life!

And it’s taken every minute of these last years to be able to admit this publicly. To put out there just how thoroughly I failed as an entrepreneur. Do you have any idea how humbling that is?

I had been in business for over 10 years at that point. I wasn’t a start up. I had been doing this, the same thing. And in one fell swoop I was wiped out. And I hate to the bearer of bad news, but this can happen and has happened to many entrepreneurs.

And it’s really hard not to give up. Not to hang your head in shame and back track or worse still to give up on your dreams.

But my catastrophic failure as a business owner was one of the best lessons I ever learned. It wasn’t easy. In fact, it was miserable. But in the end, the many lessons I learned about business and about myself were well worth it. Here are a few of the lessons that I think every business owner needs to know.

Lessons Learned from Business Failure

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

As I grew my business, loyal clients took more and more of my time. I grew comfortable. And I stopped marketing, I stopped growing. And when my customers moved on…well, I was left high and dry. Now in my rebuilding phase…I am learning to diversify, to expand my marketing and to vary my clients and their industries. (And I might also be consider diversifying my product offerings.)

Swallow your pride and ask for help.

There is no shame is asking for help. We all need it at some point and in different areas. Reach out to your friends, your business network and tell them what you are looking for, what you have to offer and don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. It’s is amazing how powerful it is to learn you are not alone. And you never know who else might need to know they are not alone as well.

It’s okay to take time and revamp.

Breathe. Take a step back and let your thoughts flow over you. Makes lists. Talk to trusted advisors. Do some studying. And be open to change. Just because you fall down, it doesn’t mean you have to jump right back up. Sit there for a minute, evaluate the circumstances and then dust yourself off before you stand back up and take another stab at it.

There is more than one way to skin a cat.

You’ve heard the saying, never give up, try, try again. But that doesn’t mean you have to try the same thing over and over again. Sometimes you need to think outside the box. Sometimes you have to change paths completely. But hold true to your end goal…supporting your family doing something you love, having the freedom to be where you need or want to be or bringing a new product or service to market. Don’t quit because it didn’t work the way you started…take a look for a different route. And change it up a bit. Embrace what works and drop what doesn’t!

And most important…

Don’t ever give up on you, on your dreams!

Finding Your Ideal Client

Almost every business training I’ve attended over the last few years begins with an emphasis on determining your ideal client, your target audience. Once you have that client in your mind…you create your marketing plan, your products and you go for it.

But the process of defining your ideal client can take on many forms. And frankly, can be very frustrating. Like bang your head against the wall frustrating!

know your target audience

Everyone offers a different checklist, a different method and a different format. But I like Jasmine Star‘s the best. Her focus is on building a relationship, making a connection with the people behind the business. and this really resonates with me as a service provider.

Profiling Your Ideal Client

In a nutshell, she encourages you to speak of your ideal client as a real person:

  • Name them.
  • Recognize their hobbies and interests.
  • Find out where they shop, where they live.
  • What are their dreams, their goals.
  • How old are they, what does their family look like.
  • Seriously, write a whole profile on them.

And then after that, you create your marketing plan as if you are speaking directly to them. Talk to them as if they are your best friend. Address their needs, their goals. Build a relationship with them. Be vulnerable, be real.

Tell them why they need your product or services. Tell them who you are and why they should trust you. Never stop learning about them. And growing with them.

This is relationship marketing…this is why you need to know who your target audience is, who your ideal client is. And it worth the time and effort, even the headache to figure it out!

So tell me…do you know who your ideal client is? And are you ready to set up a targeted marketing campaign using social media, email campaigns and more? Do you need help?

Always Communicate Your Value

As an entrepreneur it is important that you know your value. And I’m not just talking about the hours equals dollars value that is discussed so often. You need to know what you bring to the table.

Ask yourself Why does what I do matter?

Sometimes we are so close to things that we need a different perspective. It is important to recognize what makes you special as you create your marketing message. Your clients are not just investing with you for your time, but also your expertise and access to you.

Instead of focusing your messaging on the features and tangibles, highlight the value of service, the intangibles. What does what you do or provide give to your customer…

  • Will your services or products help your clients produce income?
  • Does your expertise give them back valuable time or resources to focus on other things?
  • Make sure you address “what something is” including all its components but highlight “what something does” and why it matters to your client.
  • Why does what you do matter?

How to Define Your Value

Whether you like it or not, every business owner is in the marketing business. And defining and communicating your value is the first step to producing consistent income.

You must think like a marketer – consider that every activity, every message you send out may lead to a sale. In order to do this, you must focus on two things: your prospective customer and your value.

Your Prospective Customer

Think about your customers challenges, doubts and more importantly their desires and dreams. And then make sure you target your messaging to address those concerns and goals. Your communication must educate and guide them to you. Do not assume they know what you do or how it can help them.

Make sure that you overcome their objections and speak directly to them when you speak or write.

Know What You Bring to the Table

Knowing your value, the value of what you offer and recognizing how to position it is key. And it is an evolving process – recognize that and do not get frustrated.

Position your self and your offers to best meet your prospective clients needs. Translate everything you do into a value, not just a dollar amount. Own your expertise and share it.

Your clients are always going to ask “What’s in it for me?

What are the Results?

It is important that you clearly communicate the results you deliver. These come in two primary forms:

Hard Results – the are the most common and often easily qualified. They are tangible, measurable and provide exact date. Clients understand and expect these. Make sure to communicate them clearly. Ask for testimonials when you deliver. And always be upfront about what they should expect.

Soft Results – while these are not measurable, sometimes that are even more valuable so it’s important you communicate what your client can expect. What goals will you help them fulfill, intangible results can they expect and what emotional state will you help them achieve? Will they be less stressed, have more free time or just get to focus on their own strengths?