It's been said that those who fail to plan, plan to fail. How often do you hear a solopreneur say “Oh, if I only had a little more time!” For me it’s almost daily. It’s so easy to let daily tasks such as customer requests, the telephone, emails, and a million other distractions/duties/details pull you off course from taking time to plan for your success.
Many books are written as well as thousands of classes, masterminds and workshops taunting the importance of scheduling time to work ON your business rather than always working IN your business. But who has time to read all of them when you're working so hard dealing with the minutia of everyday tasks?
Listen carefully. Many of those little tasks that pile up can go away with planning. Planning gives you the opportunity to assess those tasks to determine which can be automated or delegated and to prioritize those that must be handled by you personally. But here's the bottom line.
Until you commit to the self-discipline it takes to do the planning, none of it will matter anyway.
Self-discipline is learned, and a choice we make everyday. One of the easiest tricks to develop self-discipline becoming a servant to your schedule. Block out one hour on Sunday nights each week for the next year for planning. During that time, write in tasks you need to accomplish daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly.
Here's the hardest part. Keep your appointment! At first you may need to force yourself to keep the appointment, but with repetition, a new habit will develop. Use your self-talk to assure you talk yourself into it, rather than out of it. Your family, your business and your future all depend on you keeping this appointment. Don't let everyone down! I often joke with myself that my boss will fire me if I don't do it. The truth is, if I don't plan, there eventually won't be a company for 'my boss' to fire me from, and that's a reality I can't have. I love my freedom too much! So I pick myself up and get to my calendar. Pronto.
Have a file handy (or a pile if you're not organized. Yet!) where you can put all your notes throughout the week regarding things that need to be included in your planning. That will speed up your sessions and assure you stay on track with tasks that need attention. If you have paper notes, lay them out on the floor and prioritize them before you start scheduling. Make notes on them about how much time you think it will take to accomplish them. That way the ones that are bigger priorities will have the time to get them accomplished first. Then write each one of them into your calendar, blocking out enough time for each to be completed.
If someone asks you to do something during one of your planning blocks, you can easily say "I'm sorry, but I see I have something scheduled then. How does (another day/time) look for you?" Serve your clients, family, business and yourself well by serving your schedule first.
Many have heard me ask who is steering the ship of your company, and this is one way to assure the answer is “I am!”
Are you a very different person in business than you are in your personal life? How do you communicate personally when you feel threatened, or in a situation you don't control? As a business owner, entrepreneur or manager, do you truly respond differently at work than you do with your significant other, child or friend?
We each have learned how to communicate as children from the examples demonstrated around us. Some of them were positive role models, but some were very negative. We may have chosen to take some of those styles on subconsciously, or chose to definitely avoid them and seek out a different way. Either way, those communication styles stay with us and become ingrained in us, for better or worse.
Oftentimes we find our communication style "tweaked" along the way by interacting with others. Our teachers or others in power roles over us may have taught us that speaking our mind was frowned upon, and so we shut down rather than expressing our feelings at all. In the alternative, perhaps we felt forced to talk all the time, only to have our feelings negated or threatened. Our response may have been the same, albeit learned in a different way.
How much education do we receive in quality communication styles or conflict resolution, yet we expect our employees to possess it? We are expected by our customers to resolve their conflicts effortlessly, and to know exactly how to communicate in a style they're most willing to receive while expecting them to communicate in a style that doesn't offend us as well.
What communication style and channels do you offer those around you in your workplace? In your personal life? As an entrepreneur, have you analyzed how you resolve conflict in your organization and how to create a truly inviting environment that sees conflict as a means for growth and deepening loyalty? Perhaps it's time to "Evaluate How You Communicate", and offer your employees opportunities to explore different, more productive ways to resolve challenges when they arise. Be the leader in creating healthy environments for self-expression and growth, and you'll see the dividends both in the short-term and long-term.
I often talk with newer entrepreneurs who feel like they've lost control of their company, for many reasons. Sometimes growth is better than expected, and the owner feels like they spend all their time trying to put out the fires connected with exponential growth. Sometimes they've become so busy working IN their business they just don't seem to have the time to actually work ON their business.
When you created your business, you had a vision. Hopefully you also had a plan on how you were going to make that happen. Then you took the helm of the ship and began to steer the ship toward your destination. What took you off course, and how can you get back on track? Without a captain, every ship will veer off course and runs a high risk of crashing into the shoreline and sinking.
It may seem like a lot to ask you to take a morning or afternoon each week to work on the overall vision of your company, but if you don't do it, who will? How much time are you currently devoting to business strategy, marketing planning, research & development of new products, etc.? If you're too busy to do it all, seek out others who can support you to accomplish areas that may not be your strength or can be delegated.
If you don't correct your ship's course now, will your ship be headed toward your destination or the shoreline?
There are many ways we all self-sabbotage, from avoiding tasks we hate to do, making cold calls at 4:30pm on Friday afternoon, to not working closely with a list of tasks to accomplish. What are your own personal ways that you keep yourself from succeeding? What are you doing to get in your own way, or to NOT get out of your own way?
Having a success coach or accountability coach can help you identify those ways you self-sabbotage, and keep you accountable to both yourself and someone else. Knowing you'll be reporting to someone on a regular basis about your progress can keep your feet to the fire.
That process begins however, with a self-assessment. What are your real goals? Are they truly attainable? What do you need to do to accomplish your goals? What are potential road blocks along the way, and how can you mitigate them? Then make a list of everything you need to do to accomplish them, breaking your list down into small, measurable increments with realistic deadlines.
The next step is having someone you trust who has a vested interest in your success meet with you on a regular interval to go over that list, review your progress, discuss creative ways to overcome obstacles and motivate you to stay on task. Make sure you set goals that are attainable between meetings so you feel good about your progress and receive the kudos of success at each meeting.
So what's stopping you from finding your accountability coach today?
“You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.” ― Dr. Seuss
How well do you sleep at night because you love what you do? If you're self-employed and stay up at night because you love what you do and can't wait to do more of it, congratulations! And yet, you still need your sleep. So how do you accomplish both? How do you sate that desire and racing heart AND get your sleep?
Planning is a wonderful thing. Create your things to do list before you go to bed or at the end of your work day. When you have a great plan and you work it, the details fall in line and your brain knows you're going to work on it tomorrow. For the most part.
There are still times when you're lying in bed and the mind races. It doesn't want to wait until tomorrow! So how do you handle all that comes to you at that moment? Do you struggle to push it out? Struggle to remember it until morning? Get up and run to your office to start working before you forget it?
A simple notepad and pen by the bed can save you! No need to turn the light on and wake the rest of the house. If you scribble in the dark, you'll more than likely still be able to read enough of it in the morning. Avoid turning your cell phone on to light up your notepad, as the blue light might do more harm than good. The important thing is to "download" your idea onto the pad, freeing your brain to focus on returning back to sleep.
Here's wishing you a few more winks.
I remember my father sitting me down one night after he came home from work. The company had approached everyone who was 50 years of age or older, telling them to take early retirement or face being terminated in the next six months. He was crushed, having given them many years of service, traveling 3-5 days every week and sacrificing time with his family so Mom and he would have a nice retirement and his family would not have to worry. I will never forget him telling me to take care of myself first, and not to have that level of loyalty for a company any longer because it would not be rewarded. Dad was 49 years old, and because his birthday was close, they had asked him to leave too.
Looking back, I realize that his experience was a signal of very different changes happening in the American workplace. That sense of loyalty between employers and employees was being destroyed by a drive for profits over people. It's been several years since that conversation, and I've carefully watched the shifts take place.
Today, most workers change jobs many times during their careers. Many believe the best way to get a raise is to polish up their resume about every 2-3 years. Because there is little security in the workforce, many now establish small businesses or profitable hobbies on the side, just in case. We've even created a name for it - a "side hustle."
Diversifying one's income stream means a better chance of being able to survive market changes, being 'downsized' out of a job, and political upheavals that affect one's employment. There is a skill set required to start and run a side hustle though, that many do not possess. Unfortunately, it can take years to learn the process, which also continues to change.
Partnering with someone who has that knowledge and experience will shorten your learning curve and increase your chances of success. That's where I come in.
How can you work with a strategic business consultant? The right one can take you from your initial concept through defining and refining it into something that's sexy, smart and will be successful, all the way to your grand opening and beyond. Many specialize in a particular size of business, known as stages. Stage One consultants work with brand new entrepreneurs up to about $1 million in revenue per year. Stage Two consultants work with those who have reached that plateau and are usually looking to expand into different markets, countries, etc.
You can hire a consultant to help you write your business plan, secure financing, set policies and procedures in place, market your business, get free publicity, and so much more. You can hire one on an hourly or per project basis as well. It's up to you and what you feel you need.
I'm that Stage One consultant. I love the excitement, anticipation and hard work of setting a strong foundation. I play with business models and concepts like holograms in my head, every day of the week. I love the challenge of creating something from a small kernel, and giving birth to new fledglings and then watching them fly. That's what feeds my desire to do what I do.
Where do your passions lie? If you could provide an additional income stream by doing what you love, would you do it? What would that look like? Hmmm....
If you're looking for funds to start or boost your small business, now is the time to get moving! May is a big month for budding entrepeneurs! It's Small Business Month, which means that many agencies and organizations catering to start-ups and small businesses run contests offering thousands of dollars in grants to the winners. Some require well-thought-out business plans while others require creative videos explaining what you do and why they should give you the money. Do your research - who's offering how much and what do you need to do to qualify. Also check into what strings may be attached to the winners. Are there requests for advertising rights to use your name, your product's likeness, required ongoing coaching with their executives/investors, or even do they take a financial interest in your organization? If you don't have time to research these potential funding sources, contact someone who can. There IS money available for you to achieve your dreams; you just need to know where to go to find it.
What does it mean? Why am I talking about spirituality on a business website? Because we are still spiritual beings in addition to being business owners, moms, dads, and all the other roles we play. Because we as business owners are in a unique position to make a world of difference. The ability to make global impacts lie in our hands.
Imagine a business that combines your personal values with regard to how people or animals should be treated, or is actively minimizing your environmental footprint, for instance. Imagine a restaurant that serves a certain number of free meals to the homeless each day, or a professional grooming business that also grooms homeless people's pets for free. That's what I'm talking about - expressing your spirituality in an active way to benefit society as a whole.
Why would someone do that? Yes, it feels good to do it. But in addition, there are financial benefits to doing so, it's a great marketing strategy to set your business apart from your competitors, and the goodwill earned in the eyes of customers and employees is priceless. Just ask Caribou, Google, Microsoft, Ben & Jerry's, and Starbucks for starters.
Interested in doing something like this but not sure what it would look like? Or how to make it work? Perhaps ways to enlist others in your cause as well? I'm here to help.
Do you have dreams and goals you'd like to attain? I'm sure you do; we all do. One of the ways some folks assure they are able to achieve those goals, is to establish a clear vision of what that actually looks like, and then to use their mind and the Law of Attraction to make it happen. Vision boards are great tools to reinforce the vision you have on a daily basis.
When someone creates a business plan, they create a very specific written description of the business. A vision board is a visual plan for your mind's eye. It's another way for you to subconsciously focus your mind, your energy, and to attract that goal to you with images of what you want to achieve, have, do, be. There's a specific art and science to the process of creating one, and my friend Mary Ganong is coordinating a four hour workshop for January 6, 2018 for people who are interested in creating their own vision boards. I will be there to help her, and you, determine what you want in life, how you want to get there, and then create a vision board to help you get there.
In addition, there are a few bonuses for those who sign up, including a complimentary follow-up session with me; 50% off Reiki and energy healing with Lisa Harris Gore; and business owners receive a complimentary session to design the perfect gift for Warm Welcome Home gift bags and 1 month free advertising.
The fee is $75. Please contact me for more information and I can send you the registration form. Attendees must register before December 31st.
I recently read an article in which someone asked Richard Branson how he overcomes feelings of inferiority when faced with someone else's credentials. You see, Richard Branson has dyslexia. In fact, he never completed secondary school. His response was classic.
""It’s a shame that people shut down ideas because they’re worried about being crushed by people who are supposedly better educated than them. This is all about fear of failure. In my opinion, entrepreneurial drive beats a fancy degree anytime... Following my passion gave me drive and purpose. My mind opened up and so my world." - Richard Branson.
What Richard Branson DOES have, is the passion that drove him to succeed against the odds. I believe in it. One of the very first things I measure when I meet a budding entrepreneur or one that's struggling is their passion for their idea. Whether we succeed together depends on it.
I admit I'm afraid of failing too, but I believe it's a beautiful thing. That, coupled with my passion for what I do, drives me harder toward my purpose and goals. It doesn't have to cripple you! You can take that energy and put it in a place that propels you forward. Admitting you have it takes a bite out of the power it has to hold you back. What you choose to do with it afterward will determine your success.
Ronnie Roll has started several businesses from the "I Have An Idea" stage to grand openings and beyond. Her passion is helping others achieve their dreams, and her art mediums are business modeling and food.