Sunday

Accountability

How do you manage your accountability? When we work for ourselves it's so important that we find a way to be accountable so that we don't get distracted, or work on less critical activities. Watch this short V-Log about Accountability, and check in with how you are keeping yourself accountable.

video

Saturday

Back To School

I've gone back to school and I'm really excited about it! I need to learn some new techniques and approaches for The Success Revolution regarding the on-line side of my business, so I've signed up to a fabulous business school experience doing the Marie Forleo B-School. Over the next two months I may be asking for help and participation, and I may be putting out offers of events, webinars and pdf's for signing up to my list.


Keep your eyes peeled if you want access to free information - and if you want to see my progress as a result of going back to school. It's going to be a fun ride. I've already met one b-schooler who has the potential to help me change my life!

Never heard of B-School? Follow this link to watch Marie Forleo's introductory videos telling you all about it.

5 Tips for the Lone Worker

Something really strange happened to me this week. I encountered someone who became very aggressive very quickly and who got quite violent with me. This isn't something I am used to encountering in life. The experience was quite bizarre, but also eye-opening and I thought I'd share some useful points from the situation in case it helps someone else. Many of us are lone workers in what we do in business, and so it's important to protect ourselves as much as possible.

Stay Calm
When someone gets angry with us or becomes aggressive towards us the natural inclination is to react. Stay calm and name their behaviour. In the situation I was in I told the person I could tell he was angry - at no time did I become angry back though. I controlled my breathing and my emotions.

Call a Friend
When I could see the situation escalating I called my husband and put him on speaker phone - I told him I just wanted him to listen and to say nothing. This changed the mood of the person I was encountering. At this point he had heavily pushed me aside and had clenched fists. By putting my husband onto speaker phone it reminded the man that I wasn't completely alone and that someone knew who I was with.

Suggest a Break
Sometimes people just need time to calm themselves down, so it's worth suggesting time apart until the emotions are not quite so heightened. In the situation I was in this is what we did - and whilst the outcome was no different because the breakdown in communications was too bad for me to want to continue, I at least didn't feel physically threatened anymore.

Know That It's Not Always About You
There are some people who carry anger about things that have happened in their past, or people who have been prepared by others for someone not being nice, or not being easy to get on with. This is their agenda, not yours, and you don't need to carry their shit with you. When someone else's baggage is getting in the way, leave them to carry it themselves.

Get Out
If the situation isn't improving, remove yourself from it altogether. You don't have to subject yourself to aggression - verbal or physical. In my case I have removed myself permanently so that I don't ever encounter the aggressor again.

In an ideal world we won't encounter these kind of situations, but we live in a real world and people get angry for all kinds of reasons, most often reasons that have nothing to do with us. It's worth preparing yourself for what you will do as a lone worker if you ever find yourself in a difficult situation so that you can protect yourself.



Wednesday

Step by Step

It can be hard making a difference in your business, and so for many years now I've played The 10% Game. The idea behind this game is that give yourself achievable targets. Instead of creating targets that are way off in the distance and maybe even scaring the living daylights out of you, The 10% Game allows you to make incremental changes, step by step.

Here's how it works. Assess the various parts of your business where you can make a change. This could be in how you attract business, converting your prospects, sales, and so on. You then create a target around that part of your business so that you can make a 10% change.

For example, I used to talk a lot during my sales appointments. And then I read somewhere that people love a good listener - but how could I listen to my clients if I was too busy talking. I know I talk to fill the gaps, but doing this in sales appointments is not a good idea. So I set myself the target to talk a lot less in my sales appointments - and guess what, I failed! I failed because I made the target too big and unmanageable. Playing The 10% Game made all the difference to me because I was able to look for moments where I could just not speak. It began like this - I told my clients the price, and then I stopped talking (in the past I would explain my price, or talk about how much they were getting for the price). In my head I was able to say "10%" over and over to keep me focused on my aim here.

And you can do The 10% Game with anything in your business. Here are some examples:

  • What can I do to talk to 10% more people this week about my business?
  • What can I do to turn 10% more prospects into clients?
  • What can I do to reduce my business costs by 10%?
  • What can I do to raise my prices by 10%?
  • What can I do to raise my average sales by 10%?
  • What can I do to be 10% more efficient?
  • What can I do to deliver 10% faster to my clients?
Let's face it, for most of us in business it's all about our income level. For the next month you can focus on playing The 10% Game with your business income - each week aim to do something that will make a 10% difference to your income level in your business. Remember though, you have to take action - hoping you can increase your income by 10% is not going to make a difference.  Find a way in which you can make a 10% difference, and take action. Then you'll make a difference.

And if it doesn't work, well, you find another way to play The 10% Game, until you hit upon a success strategy.

I'd love to hear what you do to make a 10% difference to some aspect of your business.

Thursday

Marketing Calendar

We're coming up to the end of the year, so it's time to look ahead at your marketing for next year. Here is a tool to help you from the blog archives - the marketing calendar. Spend a bit of time during the remainder of November working through your marketing activities for next year so that you can market with purpose.

Read about the Marketing Calendar here

Wednesday

Transformation

We had my daughter's wedding blessing and celebration at the weekend, and the vicar talked about the union of two people being a transformation with a purpose. And that got me thinking about transformation in business. When we start up our business we have very strong views about what we're doing, and then many people become very shaky very quickly because things don't take off immediately ... but over time an approach to running the business grows and so it continues.

But how often do we transform with direction and purpose? When did you last check out if your business is going in the right direction? When did you check out the purpose behind your business? When did you last check out if you need to do something differently to reach a better outcome ... or reach the desired outcome in a different way?

It's time to consider transformation in your business, and make changes with purpose so that you can achieve long-term success.

Tuesday

Structure is the Foundation

I'm ex Human Resources - which is both good and bad. Amongst the good things of having spent more than 20 years working in HR is that I have learned how critical structure is to how we do things. Although equally, a bad thing about HR can be how limiting structure is when it's used to avoid getting things done!

In terms of the good aspects of structure, though, how can this help in business? I've found that by having a structure I know what routine elements can and will happen in a routine manner - and in turn this takes pressure off me and allows certain parts of the business to flow. This means that there is more mental capacity to deal with the unusual, and fire fighting becomes an emergency rather than a way of working.

In developing a structure, it's important to assess which parts of your work are regular and therefore can become part of a routine process. Then identify a workflow that can be adopted so that you follow the structure or process in a routine manner. For example, you could make one day a week your paperwork day when you send out all invoices, pay all incoming invoices, and inputting receipts and payments into your bookkeeping system. Another day can be set aside for marketing and networking and so on. Alternatively you business may be suited to creating a batch processing approach - this is where you group tasks together and automate processes so that they operate with little input from you. For example you could write all your blog posts on one day but schedule them appear once a week over a 4 week period.

Take a real look at your business and be honest with yourself about the structure you currently have, and what structure you could put in place to create a strong foundation to how you operate.

And the word of caution about structure being bad? If you spend more time developing your structures and systems then you are letting them get in the way of running your business. Be careful to stay in control of you business through using select structures. Don't let the structure become 'the thing' - your business is 'the thing'.

Monday

Think - Just Think

When did you last stop and think? We are generally so busy keeping on top of things that we spend most of our time reacting. But this isn't necessarily the best way to do business. Just taking 5 minutes a day to think will improve your productivity immeasurably. So imagine what stopping for 30 minutes to just think will do for your business.

A useful tool to aid your thinking time is to journal. Writing a stream of consciousness (this is where you write without censoring what is appearing on the page, without putting a spin onto it, without interfering with the subconscious or unconscious thought process) can free up your thoughts, and illustrate to you some deeper messages that you need to address in your business and your life.

So next time you are tempted to react, give yourself 5 minutes to think. And if you're feeling really brave, get up half an hour early each day to allow yourself some REAL thinking time.

Sunday

Collecting Payments

Have you considered how you can make it easy for your customers to pay you? People like to pay as simply and securely as possibly - if this wasn't the case, Amazon wouldn't have created 'One-Click' and ebay wouldn't have set up their version of the same thing.

What are you doing that makes it easy for your clients to pay you? If you haven't done it already you need a Paypal account (or something similar) to receive e-payments. Other things you can consider are bank transfer payments (or BACS), and card machines for credit and debit card payments (there are many of these available now such as iZettle, and Paypal has recently released its version) that you can use via your phone or tablet.

Make sure you take the time to research what is on the market and ensure you are using the payment system that best suits your business.

Saturday

Six Tips for Getting Started in Business


Getting Started in Business

It’s tough at the beginning – you’ve got an idea, a bit of skill, and friends and family who love what you do. How are you going to get started in business and make money from this?
  1. First things first – make sure you set up in business in a legal way. Register with the tax office, get insured, keep accounts, open a bank account for your business funds to go into. Assuming you’ve got all that in place, what’s next?
  2. I’m convinced many people go about setting up their business back to front – all too often new business owners have 2 questions they ask when a new client comes their way. How much should I charge? How should I go about delivering this product or service? If you’re asking these questions you’re not ready to be in business. So how should you do it?
  3. I am a believer in knowing what you’re doing before you take on a job – I don’t think it’s right to attempt a job that you have no idea how to do. Paying clients are not for practicing on. So as you get things started on your business, practice, practice, practice, and then practice some more. When things are quiet (which they will be in the early days) you could moan about it, or you could hone your skills. Then when a job comes along you know what you're doing. And whilst you’re at it, as you practice, put a good strong workflow in place so that you can manage your time well.
  4. That done, the next thing is to make sure you know what you are selling and how much you are selling it for. You can’t guess at your pricing, you need to know how much income you can survive on and factor that in to your prices, as well as an apportionment of your costs of running your business, plus the cost of the products to you, and your time. Now, it’s easy to think you can undercut those who are already in business in your field – after all, we’re over-charging, aren’t we? Well no, we’re not, we are priced in a way we know we can survive in business – and it’s not bad to make money! When you are tempted to work for free or a little above cost remember that not only do you make it difficult for others established in your industry, you also make it difficult for yourself to grow and become established.
  5. For products, be sure you are delivering products that match your target market – you can sell expensive products cheaply for a while, but you won’t be in business for long as your profit margin will be too low. Choose products that fit with the kind of business you are.
  6. Pricing and products in place, it’s then all about getting your name out there – network, talk about what you do, showcase your work on a blog and Facebook business page, raise your profile. But remember, networking with other business owners online, sitting at your computer, and hiding away from the public is all unlikely to get your business known. You have to get out there and let people know you’re in business.