10 Ways to help your small business survive the Coronavirus Pandemic

10 Ways to help your small business survive the Coronavirus Pandemic

It’s REALLY tricky for small and micro businesses right now. Falling sales and cancellations are leaving business owners scared and anxious, worried this will break their little business.

So what can you do to help keep the cash flowing at times like these? It’s time to think like your customers and anticipate their needs. It’s time to be flexible and adapt. It’s time to reframe this crisis and turn it into an opportunity to help and add value while keeping your business going, even if it’s in a different form to usual. Here are some things to think about. Also, you are awesome and you can do this.

  1. Be visible, communicate and reassure. Think about why people are cancelling or not buying and do your best to address those fears. Think about what you can say and do. What will make them feel better? Think about how you can help.
  2. The need for what you sell doesn’t really go away, your customers just can’t (or don’t want to) access it in the usual way. What can you do about it? How can you make it easier for them? How can you help?
  3. Everyone is having to adapt. Everyone is having to find new ways to cope and carry on. How can you change what you offer to suit this new, albeit temporary way of life? What do your customers need right now? How can you help?
  4. Diversify where you can. You can park your current business for a little while if needs be. You are a small business so you can quickly change direction. You have so many skills that others can use, even if you aren’t using them in your current business. What can you offer or create? How can you help?
  5. Look at how you can take your business online. How could it work? What would it look like? This way of working will quickly become the norm so make sure you embrace it where you can. Don’t worry about the tech, there are easy ways to do it. Just get clear on how you need it to work, then figure out the how afterwards.
  6. Turn the cancellations and quiet times into a positive. You just gained precious time to do all the things you never get around to. Create and schedule your social media. Work on building your email list. Write blogs and e-newsletters. Create videos. Work on your business vision and targets. Plan!
  7. Support other small businesses as you would want to be supported. Promote them. Buy from them when you can. Recommend them.
  8. Don’t sit and suffer in silence. Anxiety is amplified when you try to cope alone. Seek out others in the same position. Brainstorm. Support. Chat. Build community. Join my Facebook group! www.facebook.com/groups/takeyourbusinessonline 
  9. Remember this is not forever but it might be for weeks or months. Use your entrepreneurial brain to come up with solutions and embrace them now, not later. Be ahead of the curve.
  10. Keep marketing, more than ever. Businesses that stay visible, add value and keep marketing in tough times are the ones that hit the ground running when times get better.

One way or another we will find a way through this. We might come out the other end of it with a changed business and a changed life. Who knows? Why not treat it as an adventure and an opportunity to use your amazing entrepreneurial skills to help others while keeping your business going? We are in this together. You are awesome.

Love, Claire xx

Are Your Money Beliefs Hurting Your Business?

Are Your Money Beliefs Hurting Your Business?

I was teaching a class about Super Customers recently in my Brilliant Business Academy and a lady asked a really good question at the end.

She said something along the lines of “I make keepsake bears. I couldn’t afford one of my bears. I don’t think people will pay my prices”

Woah! That is a biggie. We had a talk about it on the call. Let me tell you how that went.

There was a whole lot going on here, as you can tell.

This lady – we’ll call her Pam – creates amazing keepsake items and focuses on teddy bears made from items of clothing.

Some of her customers want their child’s baby clothes made into keepsake bears.

Some customers though, have lost loved ones, from babies and children to parents and siblings and want a keepsake bear to hold, to remember their loved one by.

Pam doesn’t just whiz them together. She has special touches she incorporates into her keepsakes, things that make them unique and even more valuable to her customers. The quality is amazing. Her service is amazing. The feedback she gets is amazing.

Some people think she is too expensive, but they are not her Super Customers. Other people think she is worth her weight in gold because she creates something precious to keep when they are going through a sad and tough time – the cost isn’t vaguely an issue.

So why does she think her customers won’t pay her prices?

Maybe because Pam’s confidence in herself isn’t great? Maybe a few of those ‘too expensive’ comments from people hit home even though they weren’t her Super Customers? Or maybe because at the moment money is a bit tight for Pam and luxuries like keepsake bears would be out of her budget for now.

Any of these would give you pricing wobbles. Combined, they are enough to make anyone doubt themselves.

And Pam could be any of us.
Depending on how we feel on a given day, our confidence in our pricing goes up, down and all around. If we’re feeling a bit broke and sales are thin on the ground, then we might assume everyone else is a bit broke too – our mind does that to us. It projects OUR money beliefs onto other people.

In other words ‘If I can’t afford it, then others probably can’t’ or ‘If I wouldn’t pay that, nobody else would’.

But you know that’s not true, don’t you?

People value different things for different reasons, depending on what is happening in their life.

If I’m not into cycling then a bicycle has no value to me. If my doctor told me to lose weight and get fit quickly, I would probably see the value in that bicycle and even think about upgrading it, because it’s something I need now.

If I haven’t lost a loved one then a keepsake bear might not even enter my thoughts. When I do lose someone dear to me, all of a sudden a keepsake bear seems like a wonderful idea and a way to keep a loved one close, even after they have gone.

And when I look for keepsake bears, I will have a choice. I might only be able to afford a ‘budget’ bear or I might decide to buy a really special one, like the ones Pam makes, even if I have to forgo other expenses or save up.

The thing is, you don’t know what I would pay more for.

You don’t know what I’d save up for.

You don’t know what I value or what is happening in my life.

You are not a mind reader.

All you can do is figure out your Super Customer and speak to them in your marketing.

In Pam’s case, her Super Customer is the bereaved person who is looking for a beautiful, special keepsake created with love and care by someone who knows how hard this is for them.

  • Someone who can guide them through the process of selecting the best fabrics and the best types of clothing to choose.
  • Someone who understands how precious these clothes now are
  • Someone who will handle these precious clothes with love and compassion

Pam does that and her Super Customers don’t care that she is more than twice the price of some other makers.

It’s irrelevant to them. What matters is the experience and how it makes them feel.

So, Pam realised her fear that people wouldn’t pay her prices was unfounded. Actually, for her Super Customers the price is secondary.

All she has to do is speak to them in her marketing. 

  • She needs to tell them what she does, and why.
  • She needs to show them how she creates beautiful keepsakes with care and compassion and tell them she will help them with the really tough bits.
  • She needs to involve them in the journey. Tell them how it will work and how long it will take. Explain how they can add personal, special features if they want.
  • She needs to show off her beautiful makes and her testimonials from happy customers.
  • She needs to be proud of the difference she makes and the joy she brings at a difficult time.
  • The LAST thing she needs to do is assume what they would pay, based on how she is feeling about money at the moment.

And even better, once she changes her marketing to speak to these Super Customers, who will be so happy they found her, she will sell more keepsakes and her money situation will improve. Win win.

And Pam’s question made me think of you.

  • How often have you projected your money beliefs onto your customers?
  • How often have you assumed people won’t pay *that much* because cash is a bit tight in your house at the moment?
  • How often have you thought it’s not worth marketing your products or services because it’s too far from pay day?
  • How often have you caved in and given discounts without thinking about how valuable your products and service really are, to the RIGHT people?
  • Every time you do this, you are devaluing what you sell. Every time you do this you are letting your money beliefs hurt your business.

To the right people – your Super Customers – the price is secondary, because they VALUE what you sell. They might even forgo other expenses or save up for it. Imagine that. Best get stuck into Super Customer marketing, eh?

You are awesome.

Love, Claire xx

PS: That class about Super Customers I mentioned? It’s in my Brilliant Business Academy now and you can get a week’s trial for just £1 HERE. Hope to see you in there, I think you’ll love it!

If you liked this blog post, you will LOVE these easy-to-follow online training classes! Click the image to find out more.

I Should Have Waited For The Bus!

I Should Have Waited For The Bus!

Oh my goodness, what a morning!

Chloe, my 11 year old, went back to school a couple of weeks ago after 3 years of being home-educated. Her decision and she absolutely loves it. Rather than put her into the big town school near where we live, she chose to go to my old school, a little rural Academy in a village about 6 miles away.

It means she needs to get the local bus service which goes past our lane end and yesterday she finally got her bus pass, which was the cause of much excitement.

This morning was going to be her first morning going on THE BUS.

I was going with her as it was her first time and it’s not a school bus, so I wanted to make sure she knew the route and where to get off. We planned things meticulously. The bus is scheduled to arrive at 7.55 so I got up extra early, ran down to feed and muck out the horses, then ran home and got a shower and grabbed some porridge.

Chloe, in the meantime, got up, got a shower, got dressed, made a pancake and was waiting, hair brushed and ready to go at 7.30. All was going to plan.

We wandered happily up to the bus stop and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

7.55 no bus. 8.00 no bus. 8.05, 8.10, 8.12 no bus.

I started to panic as it’s a good 20 minutes in the car to her school. Finally, I bottled it and said, quick, let’s run home and get the car and I’ll drive you to school.

So, off we ran.

I’m not a big runner and I’d already run TO and FROM the stables that morning, so I arrived home slightly frazzled.

I looked for my car keys. Nowhere to be found. A couple of minutes of turning the house upside down and then I remembered I had worn another coat yesterday and they were in the pocket. Gah!

So now it was 20 past and I was stressed out. Chloe didn’t need to be there until 7.45 but it’s a busy road full of tractors and pickups and you can’t go fast, which is probably a good thing.

We finally got into the car, took a deep breath and set off, grumbling at the blummin’ bus and how annoying it was that it hadn’t come. Grr.

We got 2 miles down the road and found ourselves BEHIND THE BUS!

It must have come just after we ran home. When I was panicking about losing my car keys, it was already on the way to school, 15 minutes late but still ahead of frazzled me.

It detoured around one of the villages while we carried on. I got to school, dropped Chloe off and passed the bus coming into the village where the school is, just as I was leaving and only about 5 minutes behind me.

It would have got us there at 8.40 in plenty of time for Chloe to walk over the road and get to registration.

Why am I telling you this? Well, as I was driving home I had a realisation and it made me think of you.

This morning could have been so different.

Until 8.00 all was going so well.

Then I got impatient, thought the system was broken, started to panic and ended up stressed and wasting almost an hour of my morning in the car only to find myself a mere 5 minutes ahead of the bus.

If I had trusted the system (the bus always comes) and been patient, I would have had a calm 20-minute bus ride with Chloe to school. We wouldn’t have had to worry about traffic. We would have got to school in good time and it would have saved me lots of time, worry and energy.

And it made me think of you.

Because this situation is very similar to marketing.

We have an expectation that things will go a certain way, don’t we?

We set up a business, start marketing it and sales will come quickly, right? That’s how it’s supposed to work? We set up a website, write a blog or two, get active on social media and wait for buyers. Except they don’t come, at least not as soon as we would like.

So we panic, think the system is broken and get stressed. Then we waste loads of energy and money trying to rush things through, only to find ourselves where we would have been if we had just trusted the system and been patient.

The ‘system’ in this case is marketing.

It always takes longer than you think. Things rarely go as expected. But the surest way to get your marketing working is to figure out who you should be targeting (your Super Customers) and market to them, day by day, little by little, consistently.

Even if it feels like nothing is working. Even if it feels like you’re talking to nobody. Even if it feels like you’ve been doing this way longer than you’re supposed to and the buyers just aren’t coming.

Here’s the thing. If you’re targeting the right people and putting a consistent stream of marketing out there, talking to your Super Customers, showing your value and reminding them why they need you, it’s got to work.

Like my bus, it might not work when it’s supposed to. It might not be as quick as other ways but your marketing system will get you where you need to be if you’re patient, keep doing what you need to do and trust the system.

Now, I’m off for a big cup of tea and we’ll be trying the bus again tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Love, Claire xx

Are You Caught In A Price Trap?

Are You Caught In A Price Trap?

Did you know that pricing is one of the biggest challenges in business? It’s true! Get it right and your business runs beautifully, attracting lovely customers and making you a great living. Get it wrong and you barely make a profit, even though you’re working like crazy.

I was talking to a lady recently, who was working way too many hours for not enough money.

She was burned out, fed up and broke. She knew something had to change before she gave up altogether but she was scared of getting it wrong. She was scared to raise her prices because, even though she wasn’t making any money at the moment, she was convinced if she put up her prices nobody at all would buy. She thought she just needed to work harder and get more customers, but she was already working way too hard.

She was in a price trap where she didn’t have enough hours in the day to make the money she needed and her current business model meant it could never grow.

I had to give her some tough love. I told her she had an expensive hobby, not a business. By the time she factored in all the hours she was working, her hourly rate was a pittance and she wasn’t making a profit. I told her  she was too cheap and giving out all the wrong signals, attracting bargain hunters and people who didn’t value her. And I told her she needed to change things fast before she made herself ill.

My biggest piece of business advice for her was to VALUE herself and her skills and put up her prices a LOT.

She was really shocked but she soon realised what I meant.

What To Do If You’re Attracting The Wrong Buyers

Even though this lady had probably known this for ages, she had been scared to put up her prices because she thought no-one would buy.  And people were buying but they were the wrong people – people who wanted cheap products rather than those who wanted GOOD VALUE (There is a BIG difference). She was marketing (verging on spamming) in local selling groups and trying to compete with cheap prices online and yes, she was selling, but at what cost? Something had to give.

When we worked through the numbers it became very clear very quickly that if she targeted a different type of customer she could charge more for her beautiful products.

She would need to make some big changes starting with her mindset. Instead of thinking of herself as ‘little old me’ who can’t charge much because nobody will pay, she needed to start thinking like a BUSINESS OWNER. Someone who sells an amazing product that the right people will adore and will happily pay a premium for. She had to start valuing her time and skills, her experience and expertise.

We worked together to help her understand her value. The products she created were far better than the stuff selling cheap on Amazon and Ebay and yet she had been trying to compete with them. She realised the people buying those things were buying based purely on price. They weren’t bothered about quality or service, they just wanted a cheap commodity.

Her products were better. They were beautifully made. The quality was amazing, from the sustainable materials she used to her eco-packaging. She was passionate about creating products that would last a long time and even be handed down through families. Her customer service was fantastic.

She quickly realised there were a few different groups of people who would happily pay more, she just had to pick one and start marketing to them.

The Super Customer Marketing Journey

Instead of trying to find customers in local ‘buy and sell’ groups as she had been, she instead needed to figure out where her Super Customers were looking. After a little research we worked out that, with a few changes to her product photography style and some hashtag research, Instagram could really work for her.

She was already using Facebook but her page fans were the wrong sort of people, so she needed to start attracting more of the right people. She could do that by changing her behaviour on Facebook and instead of acting like a bargain-basement business, she needed to reposition herself as an artisan making handmade creations that oozed quality. It would take some time but gradually her fan base would change and Facebook could become a really effective marketing tool for her.

We talked about sharing her journey, from design scribbles to materials, work in progress, finished items, little touches, packaging and also a new focus on her, as a maker. Weaving her story into her online presence, sharing her inspiration, talking about why she did things the way she did, why she loves what she does – that personal thread running through a business is a game-changer. It’s not about price, it’s about the journey of amazing products from idea to completion.

I told her I often buy gorgeous things on Facebook and Instagram exactly because of this approach. Watching a sketch take shape and come to life is magical. Many’s the time I’ve already decided I’m going to buy something even before it’s finished because I feel that I’m part of its journey. From felted bees to oil paintings, embroideries to cookies to make-up bags, I bought them all this way.

She realised she had just got herself into a ‘cheap’ mindset and it nearly broke her AND her business BUT it was reversible. She saw that she could reposition her business and she got very excited. She had looked at other makers featured in magazines and online and never dreamed she could be in the same league and yet, there was nothing stopping her other than her self-belief. Yes, it would take some time but the sooner she started, the sooner it would happen.

Do You See The Shift?

Do you see how things changed from an attitude of ‘I have to be cheap to compete with Ebay sellers’ to ‘I’m a skilled maker and the things I make are unique, beautiful and valuable’? Do you see how that would change a business beyond recognition?

Which would you rather have? Which would you rather be?

As soon as you realise your value and your worth, the energy in your business changes. Your marketing takes on a new feel. Your prices increase to reflect the quality and the journey of your work. You start to make a really nice income AND you attract customers and fans who adore you and your work.

A few weeks after repositioning her business and putting up her prices she started attracting the RIGHT kind of customers. She deleted all her ‘cheap’ posts from social media and gave her website a mini-makeover. She looked on Instagram and Pinterest to see how other makers were using props and lighting in their product photos and she learned fast.

She started sharing her journey. She started building online relationships with other makers and artisans and shared their beautiful work on her social media with no expectation of them returning the favour, but guess what? Some did! And even for those that haven’t (yet) the fact she was sharing their gorgeous (not cheap) things helped to position her and her business in the right way. It elevated the perception of her business into a higher league.

None of this cost her much money – it just took a weekend of online tidying-up, research and learning.

The best thing is it’s going to get better and better for her. She is gaining confidence. She is attracting new fans. She’s enjoying doing her marketing and social media. She is feeling more inspired and creative. And she has to work fewer hours to make the same money. Yes, she lost a few people and had the odd grumbler but her business needed to let them go, they were the wrong fit and were keeping her stuck in the price trap.

So, Why Do Business Owners Struggle With ‘Proper’ Pricing?

Well, I reckon a lack of confidence and that pesky ‘little old me’ syndrome have a lot to answer for when we talk about pricing.  Loads of people accidentally fall into the price trap because they don’t know any better and they don’t feel confident enough to charge what they are worth.

Let’s look at how most people price their products and services – maybe this is how you did it, too?

  • You look at what your competitors are charging and opt for prices just above or just below them, depending on where you believe you rank in the pecking order (which can have damaging consequences if you’ve made the decision on a day when your confidence is low!)
  • Perhaps you’ve asked your friends and family what they think and been greeted by a sharp intake of breath.
  • Maybe you started off well but a catty comment by a ‘bad-fit’ customer knocked your confidence and convinced you you’re too expensive?

This happens all the time. For many small business owners, pricing seems to be a particularly emotive topic and one we take personally.

  • We worry that we don’t have enough experience or we’re not good enough to charge ‘proper’ prices
  • We fixate on what our competitors are charging without questioning whether they are right
  • If we can’t find out what others are charging, we worry we’re getting it completely wrong
  • We also fear being judged by others. After all, perhaps other people might think you’re getting a bit too big for your boots if you put your prices up? You know what I mean, the voice in your head that worries people are saying ‘who does she think she is?’
  • Then of course there’s the fear that you might lose customers or not attract new ones

Do any of these seem like a proper, sensible pricing strategy a ‘proper’ business owner would create? Or do they all seem a bit knee-jerk and random? Hmm?

So, Are You Caught In A Price Trap?

  • Are you working too hard for not enough money?
  • Are your prices based on the value you bring or are they based on what other people are charging?
  • How can you reposition your business to attract better customers who love what you do and are willing to pay for it?
  • Even if you don’t completely scrap your current product or service range, maybe you can create a luxury or VIP tier? You can focus all your marketing on your higher-end offerings. That way you can transition out the ‘bad-fit’ buyers and unprofitable offerings without removing your income (however meagre).

The only way to do it is to do it. Be brave. Dig out that self-confidence and go for it. In a few weeks you could have a completely new business and you won’t look back.

And what’s the worst that can happen?

Nobody buys, right?

Well that’s just a sign that you need to keep tweaking and keep marketing.

  • Make sure you’re walking the talk. Make sure your marketing is up to scratch, that your website reflects your new higher-level business and that your social media is on point.
  • Focus on the VALUE you bring to your Super Customers.
  • Share your journey as you develop your products and services.
  • Engage your audience. Talk about what your products and services do for them. How will they help? What difference will they make? Why are YOUR products and services a cut above the rest?
  • Keep marketing. Keep tweaking. Keep marketing. Repeat.

It doesn’t matter whether you sell HR training or make handbags, the principles are the same. Get really clear on the value you bring. Understand how it makes your Super Customers feel, then charge what you’re REALLY worth.

Let me know how you get on and good luck! You’re awesome.

 

Is Your Motivation In Hibernation?

Is Your Motivation In Hibernation?

Remember all those New Year’s resolutions? You had plans to take on the world and make this year a year to remember. You were going to get tons of new customers, make a load of money (and lose a few pounds at the same time)?

But, now it’s time to actually make it happen, the resolutions have gone by out the window, reality has set in and you’ve gone a bit flat. A lot flat. In fact you just can’t be bothered.

You’re feeling like you just want to curl up in a ball rather than face another pile of paperwork or come up with a miraculous marketing plan. Right?

Motivation? You might as well be speaking Klingon!

I know, it’s tricky to keep motivated when you’re running a business, seeing to the kids, working other jobs, trying to keep on top of housework and keep everyone fed and watered. It’s even worse when the weather is rubbish,  and the New Year festivities feel like a distant memory.

Add in those jobs you really don’t want to do in the business, like writing that blog, doing tax returns, chasing payments, filing all that paperwork or coming up with some bright ideas to drum up more business and it’s no wonder you feel flat as a pancake.

But these things still need doing.

Without them the house would turn into something you see on the reality TV shows, where they have to send in a cleaning team to dig out the kitchen. They would find you in the corner of the dining room trapped under a pile of invoices, business at a standstill, in your pyjamas watching box sets and drinking coffee. However appealing that might sound right now, it’s not going to grow your business.

And you DO want to grow your business, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading business blogs, right? You WANT to snap out of perpetual PJ mode and back into business mode, so you can get the cash flowing and make your dreams come true? 

So what’s a girl to do?

Well, first of all know you are not alone. I go through this a few times a year – mainly after Christmas and after holidays or long weekends. It seems to take me forever to wind down but once I’m wound down, I take a lot of getting going again, no matter much I love my business. I have to drag myself to my desk and try to snap my brain back into work mode, even though it feels like a giant, sluggish marshmallow.

There are a few ways to tackle motivation hibernation. Different options work for me at different times so take a look and see if any of these feel appealing or even vaguely doable. I’ve used them all at different points and although it might take me a bit longer than I’d like to ‘snap’ back into work mode, I get there eventually and so will you.

1. Be kind to yourself

If your number one motivational tactic is beating yourself up because you’re not doing what you’re supposed to, maybe stop that? 

You know what it’s like when you have deadlines and you just aren’t feeling it – the more pressure you put yourself under, the less you feel like doing it and the less creative you are. Adding pressure makes it worse.

Take a step back, understand your body and brain have just had a well-earned and much-needed break and it’s going to take time to get back into the swing of things. Think of it like this – you’re restarting a cold business engine and it’s going to take time to get it warmed up again and working as well as it was before your break. So, stop being so mean to yourself and give yourself a couple of weeks to reacclimatise and fall back in love with your business. You’ll still get stuff done, probably more than you think but you’ll do it without that horrible, counterproductive stress.

2. Do the worst job first

I’m going to suggest two completely contradictory tactics now – I have used both at different times and they both work, it just depends on which feels most appealing at the time. The first is to do the worst job first.

Often the reason we can’t get back into work mode is that we have a horrible or tricky job to tackle once we get started and that immediately puts a dampener on any enthusiasm you managed to muster. It could be a tax return, stock take, filing, invoice chasing or some other job that makes you want to run away and hide in the biscuit tin.

If that feels like a huge black cloud over your business then tackle it. Now. No procrastinating, no excuses, just grab a cuppa, gather whatever tools and energy you need and do it. Once it’s done you will feel AMAZING and it’s a huge block out of the way, leaving you to do the nicer jobs you enjoy without the horrible one looming over you.

3. Do the nicest job first

If you just can’t face doing the horrible jobs first, pick something you enjoy doing in your business and do it, guilt-free. Give yourself a couple of hours or even a couple of days to do what you love (which is probably the reason you set up your business in the first place) without any of the less enjoyable stuff clouding your day.

Don’t let the mind monkeys stop you enjoying it – you will get the ‘horrible’ jobs done soon but for now, it’s time to fall back in love with your business and reconnect with the feelings you had when you started it.

Often this feels like a real treat because our time is usually taken up with business stuff we can’t avoid and don’t necessarily like. Simply spending a little time doing what we love can reinvigorate us, remind us why we do this every day and get us back into work mode in the nicest possible way.

4. Do a brain dump

Sometimes all it takes for us to unlock ‘work mode’ in our brain is to bring a bit of clarity to the situation.

Often after a break (and actually at regular intervals throughout the year) I feel that my head is full of ‘things I must do’.

It’s like when your computer gives you a ‘memory full’ message and refuses to do any more work until you have cleared things out. My brain is stuffed to bursting and I can’t see what I need to do first, or even what I need to do at all because my brain has crammed it all into one big ball of ‘THINGS YOU SHOULD BE DOING NOW, WHY ARE YOU SO RUBBISH?’.

Before I can even begin to do anything productive I need to see what I am dealing with, so I do a brain dump. That involves taking a big sheet of paper or a notebook and writing down everything that is taking up space in my brain. All the tasks. All the ideas. All the nagging doubts. All the appointments you must not forget. Everything. Keep writing until you can’t think of anything else and don’t be surprised if some weird stuff comes out too! My brain dumps include things like:

  • Must set reminder on phone for dentist appointment on Monday
  • I never have parking money. Why do I never have change in the car? I need to sort this.
  • When did I book Chloe in for a dance lesson? Need to find out
  • I must get some bulbs for the living room light, it’s doing my head in
  • Phone mum
  • Phone British Heart Foundation to get those boxes of charity stuff in dining room
  • Buy spinach
  • Get Chloe to do Latin homework

I can keep writing for ages. Those were just the little non-work bits swirling around at the top of my brain, I haven’t even started on the chunky business stuff.

Brain dumps are really useful because they achieve several things at once:

  • They help to free up your brain’s processing power so you can get past the feeling of ‘brain overload’ and see what you are dealing with.
  • They help you to feel more in control of what’s going on.
  • They help you to see what is taking up space in your brain and deal with it.

When I do a brain dump I use my 3DS system – Do, Ditch, Delegate or Schedule. You’ll often find that several things on your list can be done right now, in 2 minutes.  Others can be scheduled into your diary because they need doing, but not now and if you schedule them, you know they are dealt with for now so they don’t need to take up space in your brain. Some can be delegated, some can be crossed off altogether (I actually bought the light bulbs yesterday but for some reason they are still taking up space in my brain). If you’re struggling to get motivated, try doing a brain dump and see if it helps – it usually does for me.

5. Pick a Sticky Note

Another technique to help you break that productivity block and kick-start your motivation is the Pick a Sticky Note method – it’s great if you’re prone to procrastinating and overthinking.

Get a pad of sticky notes and write each task on your to-do list on a different sticky note (if you use erasable pens you can reuse your sticky notes many times). Then stick them all on a wall, then pick one. Don’t look at it, just close your eyes and pick one THEN DO IT. When you’ve done it, if you feel up to it, pick another one and do it. That way there is no room for overthinking, you just take pot luck and let fate decide. No swapping them out either, if this method is going to work you have to take what you get and crack on. It’s very effective and when you run out of work time, gather up those that are left until next time you have a spare hour.

6. Work on your business vision

If you can’t face ‘work’ work, then why not do some dreaming? All in the name of building your business, too! I’m talking about working on your business vision. Your business vision is where you think about where you want your business to be in 12 month, or 5 years or further into the future. It’s all about getting very clear on what success looks like to you and how you want your business and life to look in the future – if you are clear on that then you can create plans and targets to help you achieve it.

To create a business vision you can use a notebook, a sheet of paper or a Pinterest secret board. It’s even better if you can get loved ones involved in this process because what you’re going to do is dream big.

Think about what your business could help you achieve, if you really focused. Holidays? A new home? A new car? What would your family love to be able to have or experience in the next few years? There is no need to worry about the ‘how’ for now – the first step is to get those dreams down where you can see them.

Try to be really specific too – rather than saying ‘holiday’ say ‘A holiday at Disneyland, in the hotel where giraffes look through the windows and where we can afford to get those VIP queue-jump tickets’ When you think of what you want, imagine how it would be and include all the details in words or pictures that will really bring the dream to life.

Finally, and this makes it real, put a price to it. How much do you need to save for a holiday like that? How much of a deposit would you need for your dream house? By adding money/costs into the mix you can turn those into specific, meaningful targets to work towards in your business.

If that doesn’t get you motivated into work mode again, I don’t know what will!

7. Do some preparation and planning

If you’re not ready to tackle your to-do list, can you do some preparation?

  • If you can’t face writing a blog or a newsletter, can you come up with the rough topics for the next few? Can you maybe come up with titles? Even scope them out? 
  • If you can’t face your tax return, can you stick on the radio and at least get all your receipts together and sort them into date order?
  • If you can’t face a stock check, can you set up the spreadsheet on your computer or print off your check list?

Don’t underestimate the power of preparation – when it comes to doing ‘the actual job’ you will be happy you took time to prepare as it will save you time later. 

8. Go for a walk and listen to a podcast

There are some days I just can’t be bothered with work but I also don’t want to waste my precious work time (these days are usually when I’m tired or getting over a bug) so I stick on my wellies, grab my phone and headphones and take the dog out for a walk. I’ve always got a couple of podcasts downloaded and in my case I usually choose not to listen to business coaching podcasts. I prefer things like The Infinite Monkey Cage with Professor Brian Cox, or BBC Business podcasts where they tell stories of different businesses or industries around the world, or History Hit podcasts with Dan Snow.

I immerse myself for a while in something totally unrelated to my business, something I can learn from and enjoy with no pressure and get some fresh air and exercise at the same time.

If I do nothing else productive all day, I have still managed to keep my brain active and more often than not, it will spark an idea or a thought that will help my business later. That’s where the Notes app on my phone comes in handy!

If I get REALLY inspired then I stop and let Meg the dog have a run around while I use my Otter app to dictate my idea. That’s how some pages in my Awesome Marketing Planner were born.

9. Watch a motivational video

If it’s horrible weather or you can’t (or don’t want to) leave the house, get onto YouTube and look for TED talks, or whatever motivational speaker you prefer. Watch some feel-good videos, raise your mood and know you are doing a great thing for your business. Creating a positive mindset is a wonderful investment that will reap rewards far into the future.

The best thing is, you don’t have to take any action. You can watch motivational videos for the sake of it, as many as you like. No pressure, just enjoy them for what they are. If you do get inspired, you can scribble a note or two to look at later but just raising your mood is enough when you’re feeling flat and demotivated. A few days of that and you’ll be making your own motivational videos as you power through your marketing.

10. Look at your Book of Awesome

If you haven’t got a Book of Awesome, read this blog I wrote about it. In short, it’s a book where you collect all the lovely, positive, complimentary things people have said about you and your business. Your Book of Awesome is something to dig out and dip into when you’re feeling flat or sad – and especially if you’ve just had a ‘bad customer’ experience that has left you wondering why you bother and doubting your ability. Reading about the joy you have brought, the difference your business has made, the lives you have improved even in just a tiny way – it makes your heart sing and it’s good for the soul.

If you don’t have one, create one now. Treat yourself to the prettiest notebook you can find or decorate a boring one so just looking at it makes you happy. Print off lovely reviews and feedback. Write down things people have said to you.

Make it a book about all the amazing things your business has done and why you matter (you definitely, absolutely matter). And when you need to, when times are tough and you’re feeling flat, demotivated or defeated, dig out your Book of Awesome and read it. Properly read it. Think about how those people were feeling when they said or wrote those words. You’re awesome.

 

If all else fails, come into my This Girl Means Business free Facebook group and join in. Help other people if you can. Ask for help if you want. Do what makes you happy, knowing you’re among likeminded awesome business owners who totally get how you feel. You can do this.