Are Your Competitors Freaking You Out?

Are Your Competitors Freaking You Out?

What is it about owning a business that turns you into a paranoia queen?

Every time you hear of a competitor doing well, your mind chatter kicks into overtime ‘OMG, everyone is saying great things about her’, ‘Oh no, how can I possibly compete?’ or ‘You’ll never make a living with her around’.

Even worse, you decide not to go to networking events in case there are competitors there.

You spend your time checking out her website, partly in admiration and partly in fear.

You watch her Facebook page and keep a beady eye on how many fans she has.

You become mildly obsessed.

And downhearted. And that’s not good.

The ‘competitor crisis’ gets to the point where you avoid doing things that you need to do to grow your business. Lady, it’s got to stop!

Let me tell you some truths about your competitor

(I do mind-reading as a sideline). She is just like you. She is scared of the same things you are. She worries just like you. She is doing her best to build a business she loves and to make a good living.

She might look more confident, sound more self-assured, feature more often in the papers but I’ll bet you, she’s had to work at it.

She DIDN’T quit when the going got tough. She hung in there when she had bad days. She kept going when it all seems to be crumbling around her and and she didn’t let competitor paranoia stop her.

As a result she’s still in business and has people saying great things about her.

My advice to you:

Let her inspire you not scare you.

There is more than enough business to go around.

You need to find your niche and focus on YOUR stuff, not your competitors’.

Put all your attention on growing your own business and keep going, however tough it gets.

Before you know it, it will be YOU inspiring others with your business success.

Mwah!

Claire x

Find more fabulous marketing tips and ideas for small business owners on The Girls Mean Business website or on our Facebook page 

This Habit Will Make You More Money!

This Habit Will Make You More Money!

I have a confession to make. I used to be scared of numbers when they were related to money. I would rather hide under the table than tackle cashflow forecasts or sales projections – it used to nearly bring me out in hives.

But when I first started working with my coach, Kim Duke, she made me develop some daily numbers habits that have had a huge impact on my business. Kim is the Sales Diva and she thinks like a sales person – she’s always worked with targets and sales forecasts, it’s second nature.

Although I used sales targets in the corporate world for many years I’d never used them for my own business – it’s just me, after all. Sheesh! As if I didn’t have enough to do without updating SPREADSHEETS (yawn). But Kim is a strict coach and I couldn’t hide under the table forever, so I did as she asked.

She made me set up a sales forecast spreadsheet with my targets for each week & month and I update it each time I make a sale. Every time I update it means I’m another step closer to my target.

Now let me share a secret with you.

In the time I’ve been using it, guess what’s happened? I’ve made more money. Lots more money. In fact I’ve made FOUR TIMES more money than I used to make before I had sales targets and my sales forecast sheet. Why? Well remember that saying of mine ‘wherever you place your attention is where the magic happens’? When I placed my attention on my SALES figures, I started to get SALES. MAGIC.

Don’t get me wrong, the sales fairies didn’t just appear and sort it out for me, I had to work for it but I knew what I was aiming for. Before I would have just trundled along and been vaguely aware of how much I was making – today I know to the penny how much in my account.

I haven’t had to change anything radical. I still do business the same way and I’m still me. I still help people; I haven’t turned into a cold-hearted sales machine. The difference for me is that I can now spot opportunities to attract new clients, sell more to existing clients and build my business, that I just didn’t see when I wasn’t focused on my targets.

My challenge to you this week is to set up a really basic spreadsheet (or a notebook if you can’t face spreadsheets) and put your weekly and monthly sales targets on there. Then update it every time you make a sale. Start focusing on what you want to achieve – place your attention on your targets.

You’ll be surprised how your business grows when you develop this nifty little money-making habit – go on, stop hiding from the numbers and give it a try today!

A Quicker Way To Grow Your Business

A Quicker Way To Grow Your Business

When you’re a one-woman band it’s tempting to try and do everything yourself. Run a home, see to the children, do the marketing, social media, book-keeping, legal stuff – oh, yes and actually do the thing you get paid for, too.

Then you find that you’re so busy DOING that you don’t have time for strategy, planning or any of those other vital business-growth activities and as a result, your business stagnates (phew, what a stink!).

But I Can Multi-task!

Yeah, yeah, so can I!

We’re brought up being told that women are great at juggling and that we can make it all work if we just learn to multi-task properly but do you know what?

I don’t WANT to multi-task in business.

I don’t WANT to do it all myself and stretch my already-stretched time even thinner – and so I DON’T!

And neither should you, if you’re serious about growing your business.

If you REALLY want to grow your business, you need to bring in some help.

I don’t mean employ staff necessarily, unless that’s already part of your plan. I’m talking bringing in a bit of help here and there, in the areas you’re struggling. Some people call it outsourcing. Whatever you want to call it, it’s really hard to grow your business without it.

Just because you COULD do everything yourself, doesn’t mean you SHOULD. Look at where you are spending your time. Look at those jobs you HATE. Look at the jobs that take up hours of your time because they’re just not your specialist subject.  And look at the jobs that keep getting pushed to the bottom of the pile and never get done.

Personally, I’m rubbish at keeping my accounts in order so I don’t even bother trying. I have an amazing accountant (who loves her job) who takes all my records and turns them into a set of accounts and then talks me through it all and explains what it all means.

My Little Team

I have a lovely lady who helps me with customer service and makes sure everyone is up to date with payments.

I have a fab designer who creates my little TGMB ladies because I couldn’t do that in a month of Sundays.

I have a lady who helps me with social media and I also employ my little sister as my business manager and Girl Friday.

All apart from my sister work for themselves. All of them are part time. None of them costs me a fortune but ALL of them free up my time and ensure that otherwise neglected jobs get done.

I remember when I first started out in business, though. Money was tight and although I didn’t have enough hours in the day and was falling behind on my admin, I simply couldn’t afford to get help. Or, at least that’s what I thought.

It wasn’t until I realised that according to the laws of Physics it was impossible for me to do everything on my growing list even if I worked without sleep for the next 2 weeks. And THAT wasn’t going to happen. I looked at what was being neglected because either I didn’t have time or I really couldn’t face doing it.

The BIGGIE was credit control.

People who owed me money. I had put it off and put it off and in the meantime I was struggling to make ends meet and yet there were hundreds of pounds of my money out there in unpaid bills.

That was the moment I realised something HAD to give. I called a lady I’d had recommended to me – a virtual assistant and asked her to help, not really knowing what to expect.

And I was really pleasantly surprised. She said she could spend an hour chasing up these people who owed me money and it would cost me £25. So I said yes, please!

In the space of that hour she called all those clients who owed me money, some of them for months.

She was polite and friendly but firm. She didn’t have any of that emotional baggage I had about pestering clients (eek they might not hire me again). She just got on and called them. Within half an hour she had collected payments for £786 and had confirmed dates for another £2500, with notes in her diary to keep chasing them up.

I did the maths.

And then I booked her for a couple of hours each month to keep on top of the credit control. She also updated my cashflow spreadsheet (another job that never used to get done), sorted out my email folders and drafted some standard emails to send out when people owed me money.

Over the next year or two I added on more hours, as I needed them with this lovely VA. I learned that the more I outsourced, the more time I had to do what I was good at AND nothing fell by the wayside.

I’ve never looked back.

And I’d never dream of taking those jobs back now.

These days I think like a business owner and business owners know that if they want to grow their business they can’t do everything themselves – it doesn’t make business sense

Your Challenge

So, my challenge to you is for YOU to see where you are spending your time. Which jobs take forever because you’re not very good at them? Which jobs are getting neglected? Which jobs do you HATE to do?

And where would your time be better spent? What could YOU be doing that would really add value in your business? Where do you get the best return on your time? What are YOU best at?

If you do this, you’ll soon see where the issues and bottlenecks and neglected tasks lie. And if you want to grow your business, my advice is to find someone who’ll get them done for you, give them a trial (it doesn’t have to be forever) and see what difference it makes to your life. You can get on with what you love doing and because of that your business will grow.

 

Why Guilt Is BAD For Your Business

Why Guilt Is BAD For Your Business

Hands up if you’ve ever felt guilty where your business is concerned? Yes, me too.

  • Sometimes I feel guilty when I’m working on my business that I’m not spending time with my daughter.
  • Sometimes I feel guilty I’m neglecting my business when I’m having time out on a weekend.
  • Sometimes I feel guilty I’m not spending enough time with my other half because I’m really focused on the business
  • Sometimes I feel guilty that my house is a mess because I’m BUSY spending time on the business.

It doesn’t stop there.

I’ve been known to sneak into the bathroom at children’s birthday parties to catch up on work emails, so the other mums don’t think I’m antisocial.

I’ve pretended to be ill while answering the door because I’ve been so busy making the most of a quiet day, working on my business that my house looks like a tip and I feel I need an excuse to explain it away.

I’ve dealt with waves of guilt about being away overnight on the odd occasion I need to travel for business, especially after the inevitable tearful, emotional bedtime phone call from my 8 year old.

Guilt is a bugger.

Guilt is horrible.

It doesn’t help anything and just piles on the pressure when you could really do without it.

It makes us feel sad, annoyed and distracted. It drains us of energy we could have put to much better use. When we’re feeling guilty, we are not enjoying what we are doing there and then.

You can’t enjoy time with your family if you’re feeling guilty about not working on your business.

You can’t enjoy the time you spend on your business if you’re feeling guilty about not giving your family your full attention.

So you’re never fully focused on what you’re doing and you’re beating yourself up about not being good enough. What’s THAT all about?

And where does all this guilt come from?

Well, I guess some of it comes from society – there are lots of views out there about how we should live our life. It doesn’t mean we have to listen to them, though.

Some of it is undoubtedly self-inflicted. We girls are experts at beating ourselves up about one thing or other – we put far too much pressure on ourselves and burden ourselves with unrealistic expectations about what we SHOULD be doing. We compare ourselves with others. Even worse, we compare ourselves with people on the TV, celebrities and stars. We look around for ways to prove we’re not good enough.

The thing is, GUILT doesn’t help anyone or anything. It’s a destructive, useless emotion that doesn’t make a single outcome any better.

It’s actually REALLY bad for your business.

Why?

Well, because you’re feeling guilty, you’re not focusing properly on what you’re doing. This means you’re not being very productive. Things take longer. You don’t do them as well as you could because you’re trying to minimise the time you’re spending working.

You can’t enjoy your work time so you’re missing out on all the lovely fun and creative energy you could be using, if only those pesky guilt mind monkeys would do one. You don’t get to celebrate or show off or shout about your achievements because you feel guilty about spending time on your business.

You don’t get to think like a business owner and that’s a shame because thinking like a business owner gives you Super Powers. That’s a whole different blog.

So How Do We Ditch The Dratted Guilt?

Well, first of all you have to realise you are doing the best you can.

Your version of life is very different to everyone else’s. Your circumstances are unique to you. There is NO POINT COMPARING yourself with other people, let alone celebrities (things are NEVER as they seem on the TV). You are doing the best you can with your circumstances and your life.

Yes, there’s a bit of juggling involved. Yes, you might get the odd grumpy comment or woeful look but remember you are doing this for the family. To create a better life for you all. You can’t create that better life if nothing changes – you HAVE to work on the business or it will never grow.

Secondly, you have to communicate.

Stop bottling it up. Stop feeling like you have to sneak work time. Have a family meeting and talk about your vision for the business and what you want to achieve, AND how it will help everyone in the family. Help them see you’re not being selfish or silly, you’re using your precious time to create something wonderful for you all.

Third, find a balance so everyone knows where they stand.

Set some work hours and STICK TO THEM. If every evening between 8 & 9.30pm is your business time, then crack on and get as much done in that 90 minutes as you possibly can. That way your other half knows they can get to see you after 9.30 and you won’t be trying to sneak away or begrudge having to leave your work. If mornings between 10 and 12 are your key business times, then tell people (family, friends, anyone who might be inclined to drop by or call you for a chat) so they know to leave you alone until you’re free. You won’t need to feel guilty – your business will be getting fixed bursts of attention and everyone else knows you’re available outside of those hours.

Guilt can’t strike if there is no reason to feel guilty. And if everyone knows where they stand, if everyone gets the time they need (including YOU) and if your business is getting regular bursts of energy and attention there IS NO REASON to feel guilty.

And finally, why not decide NOT to feel guilty?

It is a simple decision but you’ll be surprised at how quickly it changes things.  Once you decide to let the guilt go, you can enjoy your time no matter what you’re doing. Remind yourself you are doing the best you can with what you have. There’s no room for guilt in your life – channel your energy into building your brilliant business and if the guilt mind monkeys strike, tell them to bog off, you’re too busy being awesome to worry about them!