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.

 

Facebook Video – Getting Over Your Fears

Facebook Video – Getting Over Your Fears

If you’ve been putting off doing Facebook video because it’s way too scary, this is for you.

In my last blog I shared Facebook expert Mari Smith’s excellent blog post about the changes going on at Facebook and the top things we can do to get Facebook working for us. She was very clear it was all about video and I shared her top 10 tips along with my own input and explanations on using video in your Facebook marketing and business.

I’m going to take those Facebook video tips one by one and show you how you could use them in your business. So, in this blog we’re going to tackle number 1 – focus on video but this is a HUGE topic in itself, so I’ll cover some today and the rest over the next couple of weeks. This is going to be a mammoth FACEBOOK VIDEO MASTERY series, I think you’re going to love it!

Video already takes priority in Facebook’s newsfeed. It’s only going to get bigger.

If you have tried putting videos on your Facebook page you’ll hopefully have found they get much better engagement than other posts? Obviously it depends on what’s IN the video, but if you can crack this, you will get lots of video views, which improves your Facebook page engagement, which in turn helps your page get seen by more people. At a time when it’s harder than ever to get seen on Facebook, it’s definitely worth grabbing video with both hands while its working well.

So, why might you NOT be using videos yet?

Let me take a guess…

Oooh, maybe you feel like you’re not ‘right’ for video. You might think you’d like to lose a bit of weight before going on screen? Maybe you keep telling yourself it would be better if your hair was tidier, or your voice was different or you had a more photogenic ‘look’. Hmm?

Or maybe you’re using the ‘I’m not techie enough’ excuse? I can’t ‘do’ videos! What about the editing? What do I use to record ON? Do I need a tripod? It’s all too scary!

Maybe you’re up for it but you’ve got video block – whenever you think about doing a video, you get stuck on what to make a video about? I mean what could you say that your customers and page fans would want to hear and watch? And what if they don’t like it? Oh heck, what if they laugh at me?

Blimey, what a lot of reasons NOT to do video! If you’ve talked yourself out of it before you recorded a single second  of video I’m not surprised!

But let me share something with you. I’m going to tell you how to work with and around all those reasons and excuses above.

GETTING PAST VIDEO FEARS AND OVERCOMING THE EXCUSES

Creating videos for your business, whether for your website or social media can be a nerve-wracking experience. It triggers all sorts of insecurities within in us about our appearance, our self-worth, our value – so why on EARTH would you want to drag all that up?

What if people laugh at me? What if they think I’m too fat/thin/ugly? What if I sound stupid? What if they think I’m unprofessional? What if my friends / old boss / mother-in-law see it? What will they think? What if people realise I’m just winging it and don’t really know what I’m talking about?

Run away! Run away! Why would you even want to go there? Even I had a wobble with those as I wrote them but do you know what? We all feel like that. Even people who are on TV every day!

But wouldn’t it be great to NOT worry about all those things? I mean, if they are holding you back from doing videos, imagine what else they are stopping you doing?

What if I told you these fears are not important and definitely not worth worrying about? What if I told you nobody really cares what you look like or sound like, as long as there is something for them in the video? What if I told you there are some things you can do to make Facebook video MUCH easier? It’s true!

Remember, it’s not about you

The first thing you have to realise is, it’s not about you.

People don’t watch videos ABOUT YOU unless you are a celebrity (sorry!) unless it’s an ‘about me’ video on your website (which is an awesome idea) but generally in our world, as small business owners (with big ambitions) people watch our videos to get help. They watch our videos to learn something they need to know or to see if they are missing something.

As long as you are sharing something interesting, relevant and of value TO THEM they don’t care what you look like or sound like, as long as they can understand what you’re saying. Occasionally you might get a nasty comment because Facebook does have trolls. I’ll tell you how to deal with them in a mo.

They want to know wiifm

What’s in it for me? Why are you reading this email? To see if I share something that could help you in your business, right? A tip, an idea, a new way of looking at something. Well, that’s the same for your Facebook fans, email subscribers, in fact anyone you come into contact with in your business.

Once you realise that, the whole Facebook video ‘thing’ gets much easier. What do your fans and customers want to know? What could you share that would help them in their life? What would make them take notice? What words or phrases could you use that would grab their attention? What are they thinking about or worrying about that you can help with? What would make them happy? What would they find intriguing?

“Why does my dog eat grass?”
“How long should my baby nap for?”
“Should I send e-newsletters to my customers?”
“How do I deal with email overload?”
“Why aren’t people visiting my website?”
“Why has my silver jewellery gone black?”
“How can cheese help my concentration?”*

*I have no idea how cheese could help your concentration, but if you know the answer then I know a load of people who would love an excuse to eat more cheese!

Think about what your customers and Facebook fans might be putting into Google. Think about what YOU put into Google! I know, right? Weird and random things (if you’re anything like me) but if you can figure out what your fans are bothered about, then YOU can be the person showing up on Facebook videos in their newsfeed with the answers!

What if I get a nasty comment?

It might happen, it might not. Depending on what you’re sharing, you might ‘trigger’ someone who then feels hurt or upset or angry or jealous and makes a nasty comment. The more controversial you are, the more likely this is to happen.

If you’re not controversial and you’re just sharing how you painted your latest picture of a puppy, it probably won’t happen. If you’re talking about vaccinations, politics, parenting, money, anything that people are likely to have strong feelings about, you’re probably going to get all sorts of comments, good and bad.

So what do you do? Well, understand first of all that people are very brave when they are on Facebook and will say things they would NEVER say in real life so they are unlikely to be a real threat. Don’t reply. Don’t bite. Don’t engage. Ban. Delete. Move on. No matter how hurtful a comment might be, don’t let it get to you. Don’t let it hurt you because then they win. Let it slide off and have a way of dealing with it so it doesn’t ruin your day.

As someone who has had ALL sorts of nastiness happen on my Facebook page I can tell you this is easier said than done – but for your own sanity you have to just ban (so they can’t comment any more), THEN delete the comment, then do something that requires you to focus so you can get them out of your head. Whenever you catch yourself dwelling on it, STOP IT. DON’T LET THEM WIN. Focus your precious time and energy on making your business stronger.

If you can’t BEAR the thought (yet) of putting your lovely face on a video, in my next blog (coming soon) I’m going to show you that you don’t have to be ON video to make a video.

And in the following blog  I’m going to give you some great ideas for Facebook videos.

And that’s just part 1! After that we’ll cover video production tips, technology tips, different types and sizes and lengths of video, monetising video, captions, and more! You’ll be a Facebook video pro before you know it.

How To Find Your Missing Mojo After A Break

How To Find Your Missing Mojo After A Break

You know when you’ve got a holiday coming up and you work like CRAZY to get everything prepared for it? You use every available hour and minute to hit those pre-holiday deadlines and then finally, you’re done. All finished. Or as much as you ever will be.

And then you enjoy your holiday break. You wind down. You relax. You leave all thoughts of work and business behind while you take a well-earned rest. You spend time with the family. You catch up on hobbies. You find yourself getting quite used to this ‘doing nothing’ lark.

But then you get a niggling feeling. You know you need to get back into the business. There is marketing to be done. Orders to fulfil. Tax to sort out. Things to make, things to sell.

The only trouble is you feel as FLAT as a pancake.

That rest and relaxation you needed so badly has drained you of all your enthusiasm for your business. Your mojo has vanished and you can’t even vaguely think about doing anything work-related – you simply don’t have the energy for it. Then often you get hit by bugs – cold and flu is my bug of choice each year – because as soon as you relax it’s like your body decides now would be a great time to knock you down, seeing as though you’re having a rest and not so busy. Aaaaaagh!

Then the panic sets in. What if I can’t get rid of this flat feeling? I have so much to do- I need to be DOING but I can’t! I’m wasting so much time doing NOTHING when I’ve got a to-do list as long as my arm. Why did I take that time off? I should have kept going! Guilt! Guilt! Worry! Worry!

STOP! Stop stop stop stop. Wooooah.

There are some things you need to know.

First of all, this is totally normal

I feel like this every Christmas and every summer and every blummin holiday and I LOVE my business, just like you. But having some time off messes with your mind. We are so used to being in a flurry of activity, being crazy busy and playing catch up all the time that once we stop our brain and body let out a sigh of relief (metaphorically speaking).

Second, it doesn’t last forever

It will pass and there are things you can do to help that happen.

Third, this is your body telling you to take it easy

Running on adrenaline shouldn’t be your normal state, and yet for most of us business owners it is. It’s a safety mechanism and a warning.

So what can you do about it?

  1. Well the first thing you can do is shut up those mind monkeys that are telling you you’re ‘wasting’ precious time by having a rest. You’re not. You’re looking after yourself and the business can wait.
  2. Remember why you are doing this. You’re building a business BECAUSE you want that precious time with the family, you want that precious ‘me’ time, you WANT to be able to have time off. And yet when you get it, you can’t enjoy it. So, enjoy it.
  3. Keep a notebook or planner handy so when your brain goes into overdrive or the mind monkeys make you panic, you can write down things you need to remember and you can tackle them when you’re back at work.
  4. Give yourself a specific day to start back in the business – say you’ll start back on THIS date and stick to it. The rest of the time don’t bother with business stuff, just enjoy yourself and stop worrying knowing you can deal with the business on that specific day. It’s about setting boundaries.
  5. Don’t let customers bully or pressure you into going back earlier than planned. Boundaries, remember? You’re off until THIS date and you can help them then. If they are the right sort of customer for you, they will understand. If they don’t understand and start getting nasty, you are well rid!
  6. Start with the fun stuff. Then do something you’re not looking forward to so much. Then another fun thing. That way you can enjoy getting back into work but also don’t store all the horrible jobs up. Mix them up and treat yourself in between.
  7. Treat yourself to a planning day. No pressure. Nothing but big dreams and grand plans. Do some colouring, make a vision board, work out how you would love to spend your time each day. Get yourself reinvigorated and excited about what lies ahead.
  8. Finally, stop comparing yourself. It’s not about what everyone else is doing. It’s about you doing your best with what you have. You’re not ‘falling behind’. You’re not leaving things too late. You’re not wasting time or letting yourself down. You’re having a much needed break that will give you the energy to keep going later.

 

Oh, and you’re a business owner. You are running your own business. That means you are officially awesome.

When you are ready I have a load of blogs and articles and resources to help you get back into the swing of things. I’ve also got my fab 2017 Awesome Marketing Planner System if that’s what you need. But for now go back to having a rest, stop worrying, start having fun and I’ll see you on the other side. Happy zonking!

 

 

How To Deal With Copycats

How To Deal With Copycats

I had a question this week from a lady saying someone had copied her entire business, from her website to her social media posts – there were just enough differences for it not to be a direct duplication (she had used slightly different images) but to the casual observer, they may as well have been the same business.

This was no coincidence. The copycat had been a ‘fan’ of this lady’s business for a while and clearly loved it so much that she decided she’d do exactly the same thing.

Now, I totally understand what this feels like. I’ve had it done to me several times, even by people who should know better, but here’s the thing. It’s complicated.

It can drive you mad or it can drive you on. It’s your choice.

I’ve had weeks where I’ve been CONSUMED by someone copying me. It’s driven me crazy. I’ve deliberated about what to say to them. I’ve thought about how to respond. I’ve grumped and grouched and grumbled about the CHEEK of them. How bloody dare they?

The trouble is, when I’ve done that I’ve been SO consumed by grouching and anger that I didn’t focus on my business. Blogs went unwritten. Plans weren’t actioned. I was too distracted.

Which is interesting.

Because the actual copycat didn’t NEED to have any effect on my business. I could have ignored them. I could have put them out of my mind and let them stew. I could have chosen not to give them any attention or energy.

But by grouching and grumbling, and looking through their social media and website to see exactly HOW much stuff they had copied I gave them LOADS of energy. I also got myself totally wound up. And MY business suffered because of that.

So I actually LET the copycat harm my business when I didn’t need to let it happen.

Now, I understand that sometimes the copycat is someone you know. Sometimes it’s someone in the same town or social circle. Sometimes they are too close for comfort. Which makes it awkward.

I understand that sometimes trademarks or plagiarism are involved and you have to take them seriously and go legal. I understand that people stealing your photos is definitely NOT ON.

But, here’s the thing.

You are the original. You are the one being copied. And it’s up to YOU to rise above it.

You can choose to bicker and grumble and fight, but your business will suffer.

Or you can raise your game. As Michelle Obama said ‘when they go low, we go high’ (my absolutely new favourite quote ever).

So however angry and annoyed and frustrated you feel, you can choose to direct that energy at them or you can choose to use it to fuel your business.

You can choose to GO HIGH.

What does that look like?

It means you don’t get emotional with them. It means you deal with them like a business owner and keep things professional. You can email them and tell them to cease and desist from using your photos and intellectual property – it’s good to get legal advice on this if you can afford it. RocketLawyer sells templates online for all the main legal letter types in the UK.

It means you don’t lower yourself to their level and have a slanging match.

It means you stop looking at their stuff and stop thinking about them. It’s not easy but it’s your choice to do so. Block them on social media and unfollow their accounts. Choose not to look at their website or Etsy shop or whatever. Choose not to have them in your life. If you need to keep an eye on whether they are stealing your images, ask a friend to do it for you so you don’t get consumed, then go back to point one and deal with them professionally and without emotion.

That way you’re not driving yourself mad.

It means raising your game by coming up with new, better, things that are YOU, through and through. Develop your brand so that people know you for it. Put all your energy into making your business strong and well-known. Put your energy and passion into creating something that nobody else can come close to. Be the original.

There will always be copycats. And the better-known you become, the more copycats you will attract. But they don’t have your passion. They don’t have your ideas. They don’t have your experience and knowledge and imagination.

They are not you.

And because they are just copying and not putting their own ideas and imagination and passion into their business, they are setting themselves up to fail. I see it time and time again.

A business like that can only compete on price, which is a bad business model – they can’t compete on being better or different or unusual because they are copying someone else.

So, it’s a tough one but here are my thoughts.

It will HURT when you find someone blatantly copying you.

It can drive you mad or it can drive you on. It’s your choice.

I would choose to put the energy into MY business.

I would choose not to fight, but to HARNESS my anger and frustration and make my business even better.

I would choose to go HIGH.

Why You Need A Book Of Awesome (And How To Make One)

Why You Need A Book Of Awesome (And How To Make One)

Have you ever had a day when you fell out of love with your business?  When it all felt too hard? Maybe a mean customer had a dig because they were in a bad mood. Perhaps things just keep going wrong. Maybe you’re just tired and grumpy and need a break.

The thing is, we ALL get those bad days. No matter how long you’re in business, it never goes away, it’s just a different level of bad day.

It can be really hard to snap out of a bad day; to get your enthusiasm back when you really don’t feel like going on but I have something that might help. I recommend all my clients do this as soon as they start trading, even if their first bad day is a long way in the future- just so it’s there, in case.

I’m talking about a Book Of Awesome – it’s the name I came up with for something you can easily create to help lift your mood and get you back in the business groove.

What’s A Book Of Awesome?

A Book Of Awesome is a book of all the lovely things people have said about your business. All the testimonials. All the nice comments on your Facebook page. All the complimentary messages people have sent. All the lovely things people have said to your face, or said to you or about you on the phone.

It’s a book dedicated to YOU and YOUR BUSINESS.

And if that sounds a bit weird and self-indulgent, I promise there’s a very good business reason for doing this.

Why You Need A Book Of Awesome

If you’ve been through a bad day in your business you’ll know how difficult it can be to snap out of it.

What starts off as a bad day can actually turn into something much worse and I don’t just mean a bad week or a bad month, although that often happens and it’s horrible. No, I’m talking about the knock-on effects a bad day can have on our business.

Because our energy is all wrong while we are down and fed up and sad or hurt or annoyed, our productivity goes right down. We don’t feel like working. We would rather feel sorry for ourselves and have a bit of a business duvet day. Which turns into two days. Then three.

Because we’re out of the business having our very own pity party, things start to slip. We get behind on making or creating, on marketing, on admin. So when we finally DO ‘snap out of it’, we are miles behind and have a huge catch-up job to do.

And then there’s the THING – the thing that set off your bad day in the first place. That nasty comment or bad review, that grumpy customer or glimpse of a competitor’s stuff that made you feel inferior. THAT doesn’t go away. It sits there and festers in your head, or eats away at your brain, consuming your thoughts to the point where you are totally distracted and can’t get anything done.

If you get stuck in this horrible place that started off as a bad day (and by the way, it happens so easily because you’re working alone and have nobody to talk to about it) then your confidence plummets, everything seems pointless and you wonder why you bother. And THAT is a sure fire way to break a business.

This is where your Book Of Awesome comes in.

This book is more than a book. It’s a treasure chest of joy and happiness. It’s packed full of wonderful, positive energy.

One glance reminds you why you are doing this. You can see the difference you’ve made to people’s lives. You can see the happiness you have brought to others. You can see what they think about you and your business – the positive things. You can see how AWESOME you are. And it’s OK to celebrate this and indulge yourself in it – in fact it’s not just OK, it’s ESSENTIAL.

Reading your Book Of Awesome is a reminder of why you set up this business. It’s a reminder of why you do this, through good days and bad. And it’s a gentle but firm shove back into your business, accompanied by warm, fuzzy thoughts.

How To Make A Book Of Awesome

Well, it’s as easy as you might imagine.

  • First of all you need a beautiful notebook. One that feels too good to use. The one you’ve had your eye on, that you were going to treat yourself to – or the one you’ve had stashed away for a special occasion. This notebook has to make you smile. It doesn’t need to be expensive, but it does have to be especially gorgeous.
  • Secondly, you have to set aside an hour. Just an hour out of your life. And in that hour you go through your emails, your Facebook page, your messages, your texts, your reviews and you look for all the lovely & complimentary things that everyone has ever said about your business. All of them.
  • Then either print them off and stick them into your notebook along with the name and date of the person concerned, or just copy out the words by hand with a particularly gorgeous pen (obviously it has to be a special pen, that makes you smile).
  • Now take some colouring pens and doodle pretty patterns wherever you like in the notebook. Draw little frames around the lovely words. Make some art out of it. Draw balloons and flowers, draw whatever makes you happy. Get the kids involved if you want. This book has to make you smile.
  • Then, when you’ve added all the lovely words about your business you can find, you find a page near the back or inside the front cover where it’s easily found and you create your BIG WHY PAGE. You remind yourself why you started this business and what the big dream is. You can write it, or stick photos of the kids in there, or print pictures off and stick them in – there is no wrong way, you just create a page that sums up for you why this business matters to YOU.

How To Use Your Book Of Awesome

When you’re feeling fed up or hurt or down or defeated, dig out that book.

Have a break. Grab a cuppa. Raid the kids’ chocolate stash and start reading. Read all those lovely comments about your business and think about when you received them. Think about how happy those customers were. Think about how it felt when you did that job, or made that sale. Think about the good times (hmm sounds a bit like a dodgy eighties song from my youth). You get the idea.

Your Book Of Awesome is your antidote to crap. It’s your wake up call. It’s your gentle shove back into business, to do what you do best for customers who need you. It’s a business saver. And you need one.

No business owner should have to tackle a bad day without a Book Of Awesome. It’s time to make yours happen.

3 Things To Do When You’re Feeling Stuck

3 Things To Do When You’re Feeling Stuck

Why does that happen?

One day we’re full of enthusiasm, bursting with energy and raring to go. We feel like we can take on the world!

The next day we wake up and feel, well, STUCK! Like we’ve lost the plot. We feel blank, panicky and scared. We feel overwhelmed and fed up. And most of all we can’t think what we need to do next, so we just stay where we are, in that stuck place.

The trouble is, being stuck is bad for business.

Not only does it stop you getting things done, it also plays havoc with your confidence. You get that little voice in your head telling you you’re not good enough to do this. The more you try to get unstuck, the more you panic when it doesn’t work and before you know it you’re in a full-blown crisis and feel like you will NEVER be able to make this business work.

What can we do to get UNstuck?

Well, first of all you might find that it’s nothing to do with the business.

Your being stuck might be to do with everything else APART FROM the business, but it’s the business where you feel the effects.

It’s difficult to focus on your business when you’re working full-time in another job, have a young family or elderly parents to care for. It’s REALLY hard to focus on your business when you have money worries or health worries.

It’s HARD to find the time, ANY time to spend on building our business when so many people and things need your attention.

Let’s face it, the only ‘ME’ time some of us have is after 10pm once we’ve seen to everyone else and by that time we’re too exhausted to think, let alone do something useful for our business.

If you’re anything like me you’ll often find yourself falling asleep while putting the kids to bed and then waking up an hour later feeling totally groggy & disoriented and completely unable to do anything useful for the rest of the night.

And that’s not even touching on the rest of the stuff we have to do – mums or otherwise – just to keep the house going, people and pets fed and watered and life carrying on as usual.

No wonder we’re worn out!

I know you’re amazing (you’re running a business, despite everything else you have going on in your life), but I also think you have to be realistic about your situation.

If you’re constantly trying to prove to the world that you’re an all-singing, all-dancing superstar every moment of every day, pretty soon you’re going to get tired.

And when you get tired, you get stuck.

Head of finance, social media queen, marketing guru, super saleswoman, team leader, designer, manufacturer – how are you supposed to be ALL of these things at once?

Again, this usually happens by necessity at first because finances are tight, but even as your business grows you may tell yourself ‘this is how I’ve always done things’.

The thing is, if you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got.

How Can You Get Unstuck?

1. Well, you could ask for help!

It won’t kill you to put your fierce independence to one side occasionally and admit you could do with some moral support and hands on help.

And don’t be afraid to outsource, swap skills, seek a mentor, work with a coach or ask for opinions on your Facebook page – anything that will help you share the load.

[Tweet “When you’re caught up in the details of your business, you can lose sight of the big picture “]

2. You Could MAKE An Hour To MAKE A Plan

Every day, I work with incredible, capable, determined women who have forgotten to take a moment to think about their goals for the future and where they want to take their business.

If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know which direction is the right direction?

It’s like expecting your sat nav to guide you from A to B when it doesn’t know where B is! You would just drive aimlessly or end up going round in circles. When you set clear goals, you will find yourself becoming unstuck and sometimes everything else needs to wait – if you can MAKE an hour to do this, you’ll SAVE many hours down the line.

3. Get Rid Of The Mind Monkeys

Mind monkey chatter – those little voices in your head. Those disempowering, nagging, miserable beliefs that rattle about when you least expect it and certainly could do without it – ‘You’re not good enough’, ‘you’re not clever enough’, ‘you can’t charge that’, ‘when are you going to get a proper job?’– you know the ones I mean.

Mind monkeys play on your worries and insecurities and take you down when you least expect it. The thing is, mind monkeys love it when you’re feeling confused. They love it when you are floundering. They HATE plans. So guess what you’re going to do? Look to the point above and make a plan – the mind monkeys can’t come and cause panic if you know WHAT you need to do, WHEN and HOW you need to do it.

To ‘unstick’ your business, you have to challenge those monkeys – gag them, shoot them, send them on a one-way ticket into outer space. They’re not welcome here.

My best advice when you’re stuck is to be kind to yourself.

To stop beating yourself up.

You’re doing the BEST you can in your unique circumstances and sometimes it means you go slower than you would like, and sometimes it means you need to park up for a short time while you clear your path of obstacles. We all have to do it from time to time. Life doesn’t stop, the business will still be there when you come back.

Once things calm down a little you’ll feel ready to tackle the business again – not only that but the time you spend NOT focusing on your business will sometimes actually help your brain come up with loads of new ideas, so when you DO come back you’ll be raring to go. It’s never usually as bad as you think – your job is to look after yourself amidst the drama and make sure you can hit the ground running when the time is right. Look after you, awesome business girl!