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 The Hermione Effect In Your Business

Why You Need The Hermione Effect In Your Business

Something strange has happened in our house over the last few weeks.

My lovely 8 year old daughter, Chloe, has never been much of a fan of homework. Once she gets into it, she enjoys it but it was the THOUGHT of it that she didn’t like.

Same with piano practise, I had use any means at my disposal to get her to do it but she grumped and grumbled and grouched about it. Once she sits down and gets playing, she LOVES it.

It has felt like a bit of a battle for the last couple of years, if I’m honest.

Then she got into Harry Potter.

We started off with Audio books. Then, a couple of weeks ago I found her up at 7am on a weekend perusing my bookshelf where I’ve got all the Harry Potter books. She picked up the first one and headed off back into her bedroom to read. I didn’t see her for a couple of hours and so it began.

She has decided she is Hermione. 

She’s given herself Hermione as her new extra middle name.

She has decided she loves homework now, doing it as soon as she gets in from school while she waits for her tea. She used to HATE maths – it’s now her favourite subject and she’s doing brilliantly at it.

She voluntarily does piano practise (because that’s what Hermione would do) and even does EXTRA (and enjoys it). She even decided to practise for her spelling test without me nagging her.

I nearly fell off my chair.

She has totally changed the way she sees school and learning – she sees clever, strong, brave, amazing, studious Hermione and she wants to be like her. There are definitely worse role models.

My child has been transformed, in a lovely, happy way. I call it the Hermione effect.

And it made me think of you.

If Chloe can decide she’s Hermione, YOU can decide you’re a successful business owner.

Chloe asks herself ‘what would Hermione do?’ You can ask yourself ‘what would a successful business owner do?’

PRETENDING you are confident, capable and brilliant at business might sound a bit weird but it WORKS! I have living proof in my house of the power of pretending.

It doesn’t matter if you’re 8, 28 or 48 you can still do this.

I did it last night at my ballet class – I pretended I was a graceful ballerina and for an hour I forgot I was 46 with a collection of muffin tops. I felt GREAT AND I danced better because of it. 

So, my challenge to you this week is to forget your fears, get rid of your doubts and PRETEND you’re a brilliant business success. Act like you’re a successful business owner .Think like a successful business owner – before you know it, you’ll BE a successful business owner, making money and hitting your targets .

Thanks, Hermione. 

(PS I’m keeping an eye on her, of course. I know it gets a bit scary after book 3 so we’re having lots of chats:) )

17 Small Business Saturday Marketing Tips

17 Small Business Saturday Marketing Tips

Small Business Saturday is the one time each year when the world’s eyes are on small businesses – certainly in the UK (December 3rd 2016) and the US (November 26th 2016) there are major initiatives backed by Government to encourage people to shop small and/or local. Lots of focus is put on bricks and mortar businesses who are battling with big high-street retailers, especially around Black Friday, but Small Business Saturday is a chance for ANY small business to make your mark and tap into the buzz.

Here are 17 ideas to help you make the most of Small Business Saturday, no matter where you are in the world.

1 – If you have a shop or other premises, download the posters and window stickers from the Small Business Saturday website (here’s the UK ONE and here is the US ONE) for your country and put them up where customers can see them.

2 – Download the Small Business Saturday logo and banners and use them on your website to show you’re taking part.

3 – Create special Small Business Saturday Facebook and Twitter headers using Canva.

4 – Tweet photos of your products, premises, staff and customers using the#SmallBizSatUK or #SmallBusinessSaturday hashtag in your tweets – especially if you have SBS themed pics.

5 – Follow the #SmallBizSatUK or #SmallBusinessSaturday hashtags on Twitter and see what other businesses are doing – see if you get inspired to do something that will work for your business.

6 – Retweet tweets with those hashtags to help other businesses spread the word and there’s a good chance they will do the same for you.

7 – Have a special Small Business Saturday promotion or offer just for that day – mention in your email newsletters and social media posts that you’ll be having a MEGA SBS day and build the buzz!

8 – Ask your customers what promotion they would love to see – maybe give them a choice of 3 or 4 on social media and ask them to vote for which mega deal they’d love to see.

9 – See what is going on in your local area that you can link with – some towns and cities host special SBS events, local newspapers will have special SBS features (be warned they are usually chargeable!) and there may be special Twitter hashtags you can use or town-specific Facebook pages you can use to join in with the local campaign.

10 – Host an event either alone or with other businesses. I’ve seen this done really successfully both on an industry theme (maternity, bridal) and in a local area (a street of shops) where everyone had posters and window stickers on their premises, website and social media. I’ve also seen shops create a ‘trail’ where customers had to visit each shop and take a selfie and the selfies with the most votes on Facebook won a prize, also one where customers got a stamp and full ‘stamp cards’ were entered into a prize draw to win a hamper from the shops involved.

11 – If you can’t do an event, why not just have mince pies, or balloons, or bunting – something that will encourage people to come in and feel part of the celebrations. Invite your local brass band to play in the street or the local majorettes to do their thing – see who’s up for a performance (just let your local council know if you’re doing this in case they need to sort traffic or other issues).

12 – Record a video for social media from you and/or your team all about your Small Business Saturday plans – talk about why you’re doing it and the difference it makes. Don’t get hung up about how you look or sound – just talk from the heart and share why Small Business Saturday matters to you and have a laugh, too. Post it on Facebook, put it on your website, link to it from Twitter, tag your local paper and radio station when you post it on social media so they are aware.

13 – Make the most of trending topics on Facebook – any topic that is trending automatically gets much better reach than other posts so join in the trend!

14 – In the UK the Small Business Saturday team choose 100 businesses to represent all small business – those on the top 100 list get lots of mentions on social media and even get invited to Downing Street. You’ve got to be an early bird to get that one – the results are announced in August each year.

15 – Tell everyone you know that you’re part of Small Business Saturday and ask them to support you – if you don’t ask, you don’t get and they are not mind readers.

16 – See if you can get some PR coverage – there’s a good chance your local media will already be doing something and, let’s face it, they are going to cover the most interesting/exciting/newsworthy events so make yours one or all of the above! You just need to drop them a tweet or an email letting them know your plans and see if they are interested – be brave!

17 – Be proud. Shout about your business. This is the ONE day of the year when the world makes it easy for you to be seen and heard as a small business so make the most of it!!

Remember, once you’re in the marketing swing of things, don’t let it rest there.

Just because Small Business Saturday is over doesn’t mean you stop shouting – make the most of the buzz and energy you created and build on it. Keep tweeting, posting and shouting. Keep in touch with the media you contacted and tell them about other interesting things you’re up to, after all you know them now.

Keep up the momentum. Small Business Saturday is not just a day, it’s a leg up and it’s up to YOU not to waste it. What are you waiting for?

45 Things You Can Outsource To A Virtual Assistant

45 Things You Can Outsource To A Virtual Assistant

Have you ever wanted to get some help in your business but were put off because it felt too hard?

  • Where would you find the right person?
  • How do you know if you can trust them?
  • How long will it take for them to ‘get’ what you need?
  • Will it be quicker just to do it yourself?
  • What happens if it goes wrong?

The thought of using another person to ‘do’ part of your business is nerve-wracking – of course it it, we know our business better than anyone and it’s our baby.

BUT there comes a point quite quickly where we realise we can’t do everything. What we WANT to do is the thing we set up in business to do – what we NEED to do is everything else from admin to legal, marketing to accounts. And although they are necessary, they are not the best use of our time.

Our time is BEST spent doing our thing. The thing we sell.

When we first start out, we tend to have very little money and so we feel like we MUST do everything ourselves.

When we’ve been going a little while and we have customers and orders, life gets a bit frantic. Things suffer.

  • The accounting gets left to the side because we don’t have time and then the end of the tax year comes around and we suddenly have a year’s worth of figures to do by yesterday. Eeeek!
  • The marketing doesn’t happen. We have fits and starts. We post a few bits to Facebook, tweet a bit and send out one e-newsletter (that took the best part of a week to get our head around and we’re left with chewed nails and a permanently perplexed forehead)
  • The client files are done when we are left with no option.
  • The blogging just doesn’t happen.
  • And as for making updating our website, well that’s a distant dream.

If this is sounding familiar then you are not alone – this happens to nearly every business owner at some point. It’s what you do next that makes the difference.

If you can see the bigger picture and you realise that getting those ‘bad fit’ jobs off your to-do list and outsourced to someone who can do them quickly and efficiently, you will free up valuable time to spend on the things that you do best. That means you can grow your business.

If you stay stuck at the point where you are always fighting the ‘bad fit’ jobs, you will never get the breathing space you need in your business. If you don’t get that breathing space, you never have time to plan or think – and without time to think and plan it’s really, really hard to scale up your business.

What Can I Outsource?

One of the biggest reasons people get stuck with outsourcing is that they don’t know where to start. They aren’t sure what they COULD outsource even if they wanted to. That’s why I’ve put together this list for you of things I’ve outsourced and you could too.
Remember, virtual assistants have different skill sets, so find one who can manage a particular task or role rather than looking for a ‘one size fits all’ person.

Hiring a virtual assistant for even just one or two hours can free up HOURS of your valuable time – things that take you a LONG time to do (because they aren’t your favourite thing and you’ve been avoiding them forever) will take a virtual assistant far less time because a) they don’t hate them and b) they do this all the time so they are good at it.

One last thing – put a trial in place so that BOTH of you can see if you’re a good fit. If not, you can part without issue – that’s what trials are for.

So, without further ado, here are 45 things you can outsource to a virtual assistant.

1. Inbox detox

I read recently that spam makes up over 80% of all emails sent worldwide – I can vouch for this as I seem to attract a few hundred each day. Also, it’s really tempting to sign up to ‘business expert’ subscriptions and newsletters but do you ever get time to read them? If your inbox is full of spam, newsletters and noise you’re probably missing genuine messages and enquiries – you need to take back control. A VA can do this for you by sorting out all those folders, unsubscribing from newsletters you keep forgetting to unsubscribe from, putting you some systems in place and giving you sight of the important stuff.

2. Importing databases

Setting up new software? Starting an e-newsletter? Anything like this usually means you need to import lists or databases – doing all that stuff with .csv files and spreadsheets that brings you out in hives. If you get it wrong it sends your software haywire – best to get it right first time. Why not get a VA to do it for you? It won’t take them long and they can focus on the task in hand rather than being pulled in all directions trying to run a business.

3. Creating reports

Sales reports, postage cost reports, mileage reports – any reports you need – give them the info and off they’ll go!

4. Transcribing audios

Record your client notes and get them transcribed to save you typing them up. Interviewed someone or done an online class? Get it transcribed by a virtual assistant so you can use it for other things (e-books, blogs, videos). Recording voice memos on your phone is easy peasy and will save you tons of time you can spend on other things.

5. Creating forms

Opt in forms, website forms, survey forms, expense forms, mileage forms – any forms you need – they take a little time and patience to set up and that’s something that’s in short supply for most business owners so use a VA to do it for you.

6. Preparing meeting minutes

Do you REALLY want to spend time going through those 23 pages of scribble from the meeting turning it into a beautifully clear set of minutes? Do you? If not, see if you can find a sympathetic VA with a talent for deciphering scrawl and they will have it done in no time.

7. Preparing presentations

Powerpoint slides. They have been the downfall of many a happy business owner. A few hours later and many curses and tears later they give up because the animations didn’t work and they got ambushed by WordArt. It’s not pretty. Whiz your logo and notes over to a VA and let them do it properly.

8. Travel planning

Trains, planes, hire cars, hotels, holidays, sightseeing… That.

9. SEO

Doing all that ‘behind the scenes’ work on your website, optimising blogs, adding keywords, all those important things you never have time to do but that make all the difference to getting found on Google. Just do it – there are VAs who specialise in web work and know this like the back of their hand and when you start appearing in key Google searches and getting more enquiries and sales, the investment in a VA will be paid back several times over.

10. Formatting blogs

You know how blogs need proof-reading? They need headings and images? How about embedded links and a bit of SEO work? No? Ooh, best find a VA who does! Blogs can be an amazing part of your marketing, attracting web visitors, positioning you as an expert and showing you know your stuff so it’s definitely worth going the extra mile and getting them looking great.

11. Formatting e-books

E-books are a brilliant marketing asset whether you’re selling them or giving them away for free in exchange for email addresses to build your list. No matter which, you need to make them look professional – this is the first impression most people will have of your business. I don’t mean you have to pay a graphic designer to whip them up but you DO need to get a consistent style and feel (and they need to be error free and grammatically correct). If you aren’t confident, find someone who can do it for you.

12. Diary management

If you just want to be given a ‘to-do’ and ‘to be’ list each day, there are VAs who will act like your PA, in other words they will manage and protect your time, book in your appointments and keep you right. Not everyone needs this but you will definitely know if you do!

13. Moderating blogs

Blogs are fantastic marketing tools but they are living documents. People will find them long after you’ve written them and if you’ve done it right, you’ll get lots of comments (which is a GOOD thing). My advice is moderate every comment rather than automatically allowing people to post  – a VA can do this for you.

14. Research

Need some statistics for a presentation or sales page or some figures for a client document? Or maybe you need to find some quotes for your FB page or get some information for a client report. If you don’t have time to do the research, a VA will happily do this for you – you just need to give them a time and money budget in advance.

15. Organising Dropbox

Dropbox can quickly turn into a disaster zone with files everywhere, duplicates taking up space and a complete lack of order, leaving you with a headache and lots of time wasted looking for things. Get a VA to set up folders, come up with a naming system and generally tidy up.

16. Data entry

Got a list of people who attended your event and gave you their email address on a sheet of paper? Someone has to input them into your database and a VA can do it quickly and accurately.

17. Creating spreadsheets

If Excel brings you out in hives then shout for a VA who knows her way around spreadsheets. You might think you can live your life without spreadsheets but if you’re honest, I’m sure you could do with some nifty cashflow or management account spreadsheets at the very least, not to mention record keeping, PR contacts, or even your list of tweets you need to schedule. Rather than battling with Excel, find a VA who can do the set up for you – they can even brand for you it if you ask nicely.

18. Checking voicemail

If you’re out and about with clients, at events or in meetings, who is keeping an eye on your phone? Even if you don’t want to stretch to call handling, it doesn’t hurt to get someone to check your office and mobile voicemail at regular intervals and either deal with the queries or put them into your to-do list.

19. Project management

Whether you’re organising a launch, going through a rebrand or working with a team to make something happen, a VA can help with the organisation and project management. You need one person who knows what is supposed to be happened and who is supposed to be doing it, and by when, and if you don’t have the bandwidth then a VA could do it for you.

20. Sending client invoices

You know you need to do it but it’s SO hard to find time! And yet it’s the lifeblood of your business – if you don’t invoice, you don’t get paid. Get a VA to sort it for you – it might take you a bit of time to set up between you but in the (not so) long run you’ll wonder how you ever managed. Some business owners I know do it via dictation – they record their hours and billing info onto a voice record on their phone, email it to their VA and the invoices come back to get checked then get sent. Easy peasy.

21. Credit control

Yeah, OK, so invoicing is only half of the equation. The other half is making sure they get paid. The thing about chasing invoice payments is it feels so PERSONAL – one day you’re treating your lovely clients like royalty and giving great service, the next you’re on the phone reminding them their payment is late. I know, it feels kind of odd. This was the first ever thing I used a VA for. My VA didn’t have to worry about emotions or guilt – she handled it in a very straightforward, matter-of-fact way and guess what? She got the cash in. Time after time. No brainer, if you ask me.

22. Receptionist duties

Maybe you want to look and act like a bigger company. Maybe you just want to make sure all your calls are getting handled. Maybe you only need a receptionist / meeter-greeter occasionally when clients come to your office. Whatever the case, just book your VA, brief them on the task and let them take care of it. You look awesome, your clients feel looked after and you only had to pay for a couple of hours of a VA’s time rather than having a full time member of staff.

23. Uploading to YouTube

You’ve made the videos, you just need to get them out there but it’s a hassle and you don’t have time to sit and upload them all to YouTube, put in the descriptions and make sure they are doing their thing. A VA could sort that for you – you stick them into a Dropbox, they upload them and before you know it, you’ll be a YouTube star.

24. Scheduling Tweets

Hootsuite anyone? Or Buffer, maybe? You know they are there, you know you need to schedule some tweets but who has time to sit and upload them? Not you. But a VA could. Just sayin’.

25. Moderating FB comments

If you’re struggling to keep up with your Facebook page, you’re losing out on sales. When you have a popular post and people are asking questions about your product or service, you need to be on the ball with your replies. They are sales waiting to happen but if you don’t get around to it, quickly, you’ll miss out. Set up a VA as an Editor on your Facebook page and they can handle most of the replies and field anything to you that needs your personal attention.

26. Newsletter creation

I’ve known grown women waste a whole week trying to get their newsletter to look nice. A week! Imagine! That’s not uncommon by the way – it’s very easy to waste a lot of time going around in circles trying to get your newsletter set up if you’re not arty and you don’t know what you’re doing. Get a VA to sort it – you know it makes sense.

27. Newsletter sending

You’ve got the template sorted, your email is ready to go if only you had a list of people to send it to…get your VA to upload your customer list for you and schedule your newsletter to go out when you want. And while they’re at it, ask them to check the stats afterwards for you and tell you what worked and what didn’t.

28. Press release writing

Not very good with words? Stuck for what to say? Tell a VA your story and ask them to turn it into a beautiful press release. You can tweak it afterwards if needs be but the hard work will have been done – it’s much easier to amend a release than start with a blank page.

29. Press release distribution

A VA can send out your press release but they can do far more. They can research publications that are a good fit for your target audience (your Super Customer) and make you a shortlist to work from. They can get contact details of the key personnel and even create a spreadsheet for you containing all the information. They can send out the releases if you like or you can get in touch with individual publications and build relationships, if you want. The main thing is, just get on with it – fame is just around the corner!

30. Setting up a podcast

If you want to start a podcast but the whole ‘techie’ thing baffles you (or scares you witless) then find a podcasty VA. There are some FAB techie VAs out there who know their way around all the software and tools AND can keep you right on other podcasting questions. Don’t struggle in silence, find a VA who already does this and save yourself hours of podcasty pain!

31. Editing audio files

The best podcasts have a snazzy introduction and ‘outro’ – it makes them sound far more professional. The thing is, to add them to your podcast recording requires an element of tech wizardry and using audio editing software can be tricky. Actually that’s an understatement. It can make you cry tears of frustration and throw your laptop in the sink. A techie VA can sort it for you quickly and efficiently – what are you waiting for?

32. Updating website

You know how you’ve been meaning to update the prices on your website for ages? And those new product images you mean to upload last month, remember? They aren’t going to magic themselves onto your website but they NEARLY can if you hire a VA to do your website updates for you. Just check your VA knows their way around your particular type of website and pass over that update list – you’ll feel a huge sense of relief and your website will thank you for it.

33. Proofreading

If you have an important letter or email to send, you don’t want glaring mistakes or spelling errors spoiling the effect. If you’re paying good money for brochures or fliers to be printed, you don’t want to repent at leisure when you see loads of typos upon opening the box. Let an eagle-eyed VA take the uncertainty away and make sure you get it right first time!

34. Setting up FB ads

Facebook Ads are the nemesis of many an unsuspecting business owner. You think you know what you’re doing and then BAM!  A chunk of money leaves your bank account to pay for FB ads and you’ve seen nothing for your hard-earned cash. And then just when you think you’ve got it sussed, FB goes and changes the rules. Aaaagh! You could give it up as a bad job; or you could hand it over to a VA who knows what they are doing and can work with you on budgets and targeting to make your ads amazing.

35. Monitoring FB ads

Setting up Facebook ads is one challenge; keeping an eye on them and tweaking them for optimum performance is another and for most people, it’s a step to far. But, if you do this, you can save loads of money and figure out how to get your best ads performing better – BUT it takes time and patience, which is something most business owners have in short supply. A social media-savvy VA can do this for you AND you’ll learn something in the process.

36. Creating autoresponders

Autoresponders are emails that go out automatically to your customers or email subscribers for a specific reason, such as welcoming them to your business or telling them what to expect from their purchase. There are LOADS of brilliant ways to use autoresponders and the right VA will already know most of them – find someone who has already done this for other clients and bring their experience and expertise into your business.

37. Scheduling autoresponders

Autoresponders are a two step task – first of all you have to write them, then you need to plug them into your email software and schedule them to go out on the right days at the right time in the right order. It takes an organised, patient person to do this and if that’s not you, find someone who can do it for you.

38. Creating Canva images

Canva is an amazing, mostly free graphics programme for beginners that lets you create everything from social media images to blog headers, e-books to brochures and everything in between. It is loads of fun to play with but it can be a serious time drain as you tinker with images. By all means have a play but if you are serious about getting images created, find an arty VA, give them a brief and let them loose on your image list.

39. Basic bookkeeping

Rather than collecting bags full of receipts and steeling yourself for a day of torture when your accounting deadline looms, why not put each month’s receipts into a ‘month’ envelope (or even take photos of each one) and send it off to a VA to input into your accounting software or a spreadsheet. That way it won’t build up and the cost of the VA will be more than justified when you get your life back…

40. Spreadsheet formulae

Remember those spreadsheets we discussed earlier? If you use a VA they won’t just set up your spreadsheet, they can also add – wait for it – *formulae* (said in a reverent whisper) because formulae make magic things happen, are in the realms of secret languages and spells….Seriously, getting my Twitter character-counter spreadsheet from my VA was a happy moment and it was all done with formulae.

41. Reminder services

Do you keep forgetting birthdays? Or missing booking deadlines for those events you wanted to attend? I get it, life is busy but if you had an organised VA, THEY could set up reminders for you and nag you until you do what you need to do OR do it for you. Money well spent, I think you’ll find.

42. Customer service emails

If it’s taking you too long to get back to customers with quotes or answers to questions, hire a VA to do it for you. Give them a ‘cheat sheet’ and your pricing structure, ask them to check with you before they send and watch your customer service levels soar…

43. Sending greetings cards

How long is it since you sent thank you cards to your customers? Or birthday cards to your favourite client? How about a ‘good luck in your new home’ card to the supplier who just moved into bigger premises? Cards like this in the mail make people smile. Making people smile is good for everyone. Task a VA with sending out the cards on your behalf – you can even ask them to compile a ‘birthday’ list for your top clients!

44. Managing events

If you’re running an event, there are lots of things that need to be covered. From finding and liaising with the venue, setting up the ticketing and payments, marketing the event, dealing with enquiries, even manning the reception desk on the day  – are YOU going to do it? If not, best get a VA involved early on and it will run like clockwork.

45. Ask them! You might be surprised!

Every Virtual Assistant has their own unique combination of experience, expertise, skills and knowledge so why not schedule in some time to have a Skype or a coffee and chat about what they can do and what they HAVE DONE in the past. A chat like this could give you some great ideas for your business and you’re talking to the person who can make it happen. Awesome stuff!

There are LOADS of other things a VA could do for your business, I’ve really just scratched the surface.

How Do You Find A Good Virtual Assistant?

There are a several associations that train VAs and these can be a good place to start – just Google Virtual Assistant association or training and see what comes up.

Google the specialism you want – if you need a VA who specialises in podcasting then put that into the search bar – any good VA worth their salt will make sure they show up in searches for their expert topic.

Ask in groups – if you’re a member of any networking, business or Facebook groups, see if any names get put forward. Word of mouth is a great way to find a gem of a VA.

Remember – not every VA will be right for your business and not every VA can do every single thing you need – you might have to use a few different VAs for different areas of your business, and that’s fine. Also, it doesn’t have to be forever – put trials in place, keep talking and work in out. Neither of you are mind readers so good communication will make sure you’re both getting what you need.

Finally – when you find a good VA, don’t let them go! A great VA is an asset to your business and can make a big positive difference to your bottom line.

Where To Start Using A VA

Pick ONE task that’s been sitting on your desk for ages and find a VA to do it for you. Most VAs will take on one-off projects and it will give you an affordable way to see if working with a VA works for you (while ticking another item off your to-do list). If the first one goes OK, keep handing over small jobs until you’re confident you have the right person and then think about putting something more regular in place.

8 Easy Ways To Get Laser Focus Right When You Need It

8 Easy Ways To Get Laser Focus Right When You Need It

People say ‘FOCUS’ is the magic ingredient in any successful business and they’re not wrong, but they make it sound like it’s EASY! And it isn’t! Being able to focus when you feel like you barely have time to turn around, is not easy. Trying to find space in your brain to focus on just one thing, when you’re trying to juggle life, business, children and other jobs is tricky!

The trouble is, without focus you’ll struggle to get anything done. Jobs take far longer to do when you’re trying to do a dozen other things at the same time. Even the simplest tasks can take hours, if you’re being pulled in all directions when actually they would take just a few minutes if you were able to focus on them. Life is easier when you can focus. Business is easier when you can focus.

So how DO you get the focus you need to get stuff done and build your business?

Well, I’m no focus guru but I am a mum and a business owner and I’ve learned how to do this (or I would have gone crazy) so I’ve put together 8 tips for you to help you find more time and do more with it. Give them a try, one or two of them could seriously help you build your business, reduce stress and help you get more done. What’s not to love?

1. Stop multi-tasking!

Women are brilliant at multi-tasking. We’re told this as we grow up. It’s like a badge of honour and we sometimes feel like we’re scoring major girl points, the more we can boast we can do at the same time. And in life, it’s great to do that – I often make tea while helping with homework, while making a dentist appointment and answering quick work messages on my phone – I’m sure you’re the same. We HAVE to do it or the day would run away with us, but in business it’s different.

I was talking to a woman recently on Skype and I could see she was busy working on something while I was talking to her ‘Oh keep talking’ she said ‘I can do this while I’m listening’. But she wasn’t quite with me. I didn’t feel listened to. And it mattered.

Maybe you CAN do invoices while you’re helping a customer, but you’re opening yourself up to making mistakes and to be honest, you would get the invoicing done far quicker and more accurately if you blocked out 10 or 15 minutes and just did it, without spreading yourself thin.

We often kid ourselves into thinking we’re getting more done by multi-tasking, but we often end up just spending a lot of time spinning our wheels – things take longer, mistakes are made. So, my advice for what it’s worth is to give ONE thing your full attention, even just for 10 or 15 minutes and just do it. Give it your full attention because that’s when the magic happens. You get more done but because you’re focusing fully, you see ways to improve, you come up with ideas, you remember things you had meant to do ages ago – it’s great!

2. Finish tasks that are easily completed.

You know that my mantra is ‘don’t get it perfect, get it finished?’ Well I mean it! Most of the time you’re having trouble staying focused is because there a bunch of little things on your mind that you know you need to do.

Get a pad and pen and write down everything that can be completed in under 10 minutes, then finish everything on the list before you start on a project that requires more focus.

This doesn’t mean that every time something comes up that would take less than ten minutes to do, you do it. You simply batch everything together that requires ten minutes of time or less. And don’t agonise or keep putting it off because it’s not perfect – just get the darned thing done! Finished!

3. Stay in the now.

As much as you can, practice focusing your attention on the present moment. I know that person really annoyed you last week. I know you might be worried about something coming up soon. But being bothered about something that happened in the past (that you can’t change) and being worried about something that might happen in the future – you have no control over them. The only thing you have control over is what you are doing right now – how you are feeling, how you react, what is getting your energy – you can change that right now.  And the things you DO and DECIDE right now have a big impact on what WILL happen.

Don’t dwell on ‘might haves’, and ‘should haves’ and ‘if onlys’ – don’t let the baggage of the past hold you back. Focus on what you are doing and can do right now and let the other ‘stuff’ go.

4. Respond, don’t react.

We’re busy. Often the person who shouts the loudest gets seen to first – that’s how life works, right?

Here’s a thought; instead of reacting to the latest ‘urgent’ email or phonecall, take time to think. If you keep reacting, then you’re not being productive.

Work out what YOU need to do each day and protect your work time while you’re doing it. Don’t immediately react to requests or messages, instead only check messages when it suits your schedule and don’t feel that you have to come back to people immediately. It’s perfectly OK to sit on an email for a couple of days while you consider your options or get something more important finished. Take control of your time – respond in a way that’s right for you and your business instead of reacting.

5. Declutter your workspace.

It’s really hard to focus and be organised when your workspace is a mess. If you have piles of papers, empty cups, unpaid bills, and other ‘stuff’ piled up and around you, how can you expect to think clearly, let alone find anything? Declutter your workspace. Do it now. You will feel so much better once it’s done and you’ll find it easier to concentrate too.

6. Love what you do.

If you don’t love what you’re doing then you’re going to have a really hard time staying focused. A lot of the time we can’t focus because we really don’t WANT to. We’re bored. Or we really don’t like what we have to do. And yet as soon as we have a job we’re looking forward to, we have no trouble finding the time and space to focus, right?

If you don’t love your business, do something else because that feeling will only get worse. If there are certain parts of your business you don’t like, then find a way to either get rid of them altogether or outsource them. There is always a way, you just have to be open-minded and creative. Spending your time and energy on something you really don’t enjoy or actively dislike is a sure fire way to make an unhappy, unproductive, unfocused you. Time to face up to it and do something about it, eh?

7. Distinguish between urgent and important.

What’s important in your business? What’s urgent?

They are not always the same thing.

Important things are running your business properly, managing your money, creating great products or services, getting more customers, providing great service, keeping on top of your tax – they are all really important. But most of the time they are not urgent, especially if you deal with them regularly and don’t leave things till the last minute.

Urgent things tend to be of our own making. Oh no! That tax return is due in tomorrow and I need to find all my receipts and call my accountant and find my government website login but I’ve forgotten the password and they will only send a replacement out in the mail…yes I’ve been there too. But it was only urgent because I hadn’t treated it as important before, and had it all sorted out well in advance. It wasn’t unexpected.

In business there aren’t many URGENT AND UNEXPECTED things. Most of the time, urgent things are just important things that we’ve forgotten about or ignored.

It’s really hard to focus when everything seems or feels urgent. So stop creating urgent things. You can do this!

8. Set a timer.

If you really need to get something done and you keep getting distracted, set yourself a deadline. There are loads of free timer apps online or for your phone. Set yourself a time limit of 10, 20 or 30 minutes and focus on that ONE job for that period of time until the buzzer goes. It’s amazing how much you can get done when you’re up against a deadline!

I do this all the time and I’m always amazed how productive AND focused I am when I’m trying to beat the clock!

What are YOUR top focus tips?

I’d love to read them – pop them in the comments and share the focus love!

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.

How To Squish A Mind Monkey

How To Squish A Mind Monkey

Have you ever had a little voice in your head tell you ‘you’re not good enough’, ‘you’re not clever enough’, ‘you’re RUBBISH at business’ or (in my case) ‘you’re a BAD mother’…?

If so, brace yourself – you’ve just been attacked by a mind monkey.

Mind monkeys are nasty little creatures that live in your head.

They love putting a stop to your plans. Their favourite thing is to put you off trying anything new or different or challenging – they want to keep you STUCK where you are and they will say ANYTHING to keep you there.

Let me explain.

Without going into the psychology of this (because I’m DEFINITELY not qualified to do that) here’s the thing about mind monkeys.

When you are growing up, you learn things.

Lots of things.

About life, about behaviour.

About love, money, joy, looks, weight, everything. You learn about all of these things from your parents or relatives or carers, your teachers, your friends, from TV, radio, books and magazines – you learn from everyone around you and from your own experiences.

These become your beliefs

For example, if your parents didn’t have a lot of money they might have said ‘money doesn’t grow on trees’ or ‘we’re not meant to be rich’. So you, naturally, as a child will take on these beliefs about money and YOU will grow up believing the same thing.

Maybe when you were 13 your teacher told you that you were definitely not artistic or not very good at maths. You will take that information, file it away in your subconscious and it will form a belief that could stay with you for the rest of your life.

And whenever you come to do something that involves the THING (art, maths, money) all these old beliefs flood back into your head in the form of mind monkeys. Their job is to stop you making a fool of yourself (because, remember your belief is you’re no good at it) so they want to STOP YOU by, basically, scaring the pants off you and knocking your confidence out from under you.

What does this have to do with business?

Well, mind monkeys are around in business too, great crowds of them, trying to stop you stepping out of your comfort zone and making a success of yourself.

So when your teacher told 13 year old you that you weren’t very good at maths, guess what happens when you have to do cashflow forecasting or manage budgets in your business? Panic! That’s what!

The mind monkeys come out and start shouting ‘you can’t do that! You’re RUBBISH at maths! You don’t even know one end of a spreadsheet from another, what do you think you’re doing? Stop now, before you make a fool of yourself!’

So you do. You give up because it feels hard and after all, you’re not a maths-type of person and you let the mind monkeys win.

When you start pricing your products or services, all your old beliefs about your own worth get tested. If you’re not feeling particularly confident, or if you’ve taken a few knocks along the way, the mind monkeys are going to gang up on you and start yelling ‘Who is going to pay THAT? Nobody, that’s who! Why would they pay YOU that? You’re just a nobody! There are far better people than you, why on earth would they choose you?’ 

Does this sound familiar by the way?

Yup, me too. I had a HORRIBLE run-in with a mind monkey a few years ago.

In my case, at my very first networking meeting when I was already terrified (I’m pretty shy!) and nervous and unsure of what to expect, the very first person I met was a guy with a woodworking business.

I’d got there early because I didn’t want to walk into a room full of people so he was the first to arrive. I can still remember his name even though it was 2005. His name was Tim.

I was grabbing a coffee and he came up and said ‘hi, so what do you do then?’

‘I’m a marketing consultant’, I replied, smiling.

And then he uttered 5 words that FLOORED me. Those 5 words stuck with me, limited my beliefs, messed with my head, influenced my pricing and killed what little confidence I had. For 7 years.

He said ‘oh God, not another one’.

I seem to remember squeaking something and running away – I couldn’t hear what else he said because my mind monkeys were DEAFENING.

‘Told you! What the heck where you thinking? Why on earth did you bother coming here, you stupid woman? See? There are millions of marketing consultants and everyone is totally sick of them. People HATE marketing consultants. And you’re not even a good one. How are you going to compete? You’ll never make a living. Why did you leave your job, you IDIOT’ 

And so, a brand new set of totally crap beliefs was formed, in the space of 10 seconds

I don’t remember anything else about that meeting.

But I remembered Tim’s words. For 7 years. It was THAT long before I realised how much of an impact his very rude, throwaway comment was still having on me all that time later.

It took me 7 years of struggling in business to get my confidence back, to realise he was talking rubbish and to make up my OWN brand new set of beliefs about my business and about myself.

How I Killed My Mind Monkey

I called him Tim. It was the least I could do.

I decided I had to tackle this horrible belief set once and for all.

First of all I looked at what had ACTUALLY happened.

He had said ‘oh God, not another one’.

So, in my head, I started to argue with my mind monkey (I know, it sounds crazy but this is what I do when I get a mind monkey attack and it works!)

I put some CONTEXT around his comment and what my mind monkey was saying – maybe he was having a bad day. Maybe he’d had a BAD experience with a marketing consultant. Maybe he’d been married to a marketing consultant and had a messy divorce. Maybe he secretly WANTED to be a marketing consultant but had failed. Or maybe he was just a rude, grumpy sod who happened to be the first EVER person I spoke to at my first EVER networking meeting.

I put some FACTS around it – My mind monkeys had gone crazy but in the 7 years since TIM, I realised there weren’t many marketing consultants at all around where I live, and as marketing consultants go I was a pretty good one.

I looked at the EVIDENCE I had to show I didn’t deserve to feel bad. I looked at my Book Of Awesome (that’s next week’s blog – you definitely need one), at my results with clients, at what I had achieved, at my testimonials – I made myself feel REALLY GOOD and REALLY CONFIDENT.

I looked at my PLAN – I had a plan to build my business and it was GREAT. No matter what the mind monkey was telling me about not being good enough, he couldn’t argue with my plan.

I came to see the comment for what it was. A comment. By a rude man. Who was wrong. 

By arguing with that mind monkey and proving him wrong, I could feel him shrinking. His voice got quieter and his power over me diminished.

I visualised this mind monkey called Tim, who looked a bit like a woodworker from Yorkshire, and I squished him in my mind. You know when you play that game where you get someone in the distance and line them up between your finger and thumb and pretend to squish them (or is that just me?!) well, I did that. I squished him, till he was gone.*

*other mind monkey extermination methods are available – zapping with a zap gun or bashing with a big mind monkey hammer are also very effective.

And even though Tim the mind monkey tried to come and visit a couple of times after that, I was ready for him with my evidence and my plan and my arguments, so he didn’t stick around long.

What Are YOUR Mind Monkeys Telling You?

Are you suffering with money or pricing mind monkeys? ‘Not Good Enough’ mind monkeys? ‘Too old’ mind monkeys? ‘Who the heck will listen to you?’ mind monkeys?

Step One

The first step in getting rid of your mind monkeys is to recognise them for what they are. Those nasty, critical little voices in your head are NOT helpful, they are mind monkeys and you don’t have to listen to them.

Step Two

The second step is to realise mind monkeys LIE. They lie because they are keeping you stuck by throwing OLD, OUT OF DATE BELIEFS at you. What they are saying is NO LONGER TRUE. You can shut them up and form new beliefs about yourself and your business RIGHT NOW. THIS INSTANT. NO, really, right now – go on, do it! Whatever your biggest mind monkey is telling you about an OLD belief that’s keeping you stuck, change that belief. It’s no longer needed. It’s surplus to requirements. Thank you, very much.

Step Three

The third step is to argue with them and throw context and fact and evidence at them – to prove to yourself and to them that you’re AWESOME, you’re more than capable of running this business and you’re doing just fine.

Step Four

And the last step, prior to squishing the mind monkey in question is to ask it one of my favourite questions.

WHAT’S THE WORST THAT CAN HAPPEN?

This question usually makes mind monkeys spontaneously combust, thus saving you the trouble of squishing them.

The worst that can happen is rarely as bad as we think and when we face up to it, we realise we could probably cope.

 

Mind Monkey Advanced Level:

The other thing you need to know is eventually you will WELCOME the mind monkeys.

Why? Well because they ONLY appear when you are stepping out of your comfort zone, when you’re feeling vulnerable or nervous.

It means you’re right on the edge of some BIG personal growth. The trick is to squish them and keep going – your mission is to stretch that comfort zone till you can’t see the edges any more.

Congratulations!

I can send you off into the world now as a fully qualified mind monkey exterminator and before you go you need to know – TODAY IS NATIONAL MIND MONKEY EXTERMINATION DAY! I think that deserves a cake. 

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!

 

How To Stop Comparing Yourself To Other Business Owners

How To Stop Comparing Yourself To Other Business Owners

OK admit it – how many times lately have you looked at someone else’s website, or products, or business card or shopfront and thought to yourself, with a heavy heart ‘she’s better than me’?

And how often have you thought about doing something new or different and then thought ‘I can’t do that because…I’m not clever / businesslike / techie / young  enough?’ (delete as appropriate)

OK we need to talk.

I was chatting to a lady in one of my Facebook groups recently and she admitted that the BIGGEST THING holding her back was that she kept comparing herself to other people and coming up short.

In fact she was really hard on herself.

  • She would browse competitors’ websites and pick faults with her own.
  • She would look on Pinterest and see a hundred beautifully shot products that were ‘better’ than hers.
  • She’d find herself trawling Facebook looking to see who was making what, how much they were charging and whether she thought she was as good as them.
  • If it wasn’t the products she felt inferior about, it was their marketing, their copywriting, their design work.

When I asked her how often she found herself checking out other people’s stuff, she said ‘I do it every day’.

When we chatted about it, it turned out she was spending at least half an hour (that she would admit to) and probably more that she was in denial about, EVERY DAY measuring herself against other businesses and people and feeling fed up.

Let’s do some maths – 30 minutes every day, for 5 days per week is 2.5 hours per week (and let’s be honest, it was probably WAY more than that). That’s 10 hours per month. That’s 120 hours per year. That’s 5 DAYS A YEAR!

5 days a year NOT working on her business. 5 days a year NOT having a rest. 5 days a year NOT doing something that made her feel good or helped her build her business. 5 days a year beating herself up.

Makes you think, doesn’t it?

When we put it in perspective like this, she went very quiet and then got quite upset.

She realised she was wasting time and not JUST wasting it, actually spending time on things that were harming her business because that’s exactly what was happening.

When you spend time measuring yourself  against other people or feeling you’re not good enough that’s you’re choosing to spend making yourself feel bad.

When you get obsessed with what your competitors are doing, thats time and energy you’re not spending on YOUR business.

When you waste 5 days a year dragging yourself down and feeling inferior, that’s not healthy and it doesn’t make you happy. And it all starts with spending half an hour a day ‘just checking’ what everyone else is doing. Before you know it, it becomes a habit. Then it turns into a little obsession. Then it turns into 5 days a year of self-sabotage.

So, I want to ask YOU something. Are YOU guilty of this? Are YOU falling into a habit of ‘just checking’ other people’s stuff and wishing you were them?

If so, I want to challenge you. Ready?

I want you to spend HALF AN HOUR PER DAY working ON your business or ON yourself – making yourself feel great and helping your business to grow. No checking competitors (it doesn’t matter what they are doing), no beating yourself up.

If you spend 30 minutes every day on POSITIVE things rather than NEGATIVE things, you’ll see a BIG CHANGE in your business and your life, very quickly.

Are you up for the challenge?

She’s Better Than Me

She’s Better Than Me

OK admit it – how many times lately have you looked at someone else’s website, or products, or business card or shopfront and thought to yourself, with a heavy heart ‘she’s better than me’?

And how often have you thought about doing something new or different and then thought ‘I can’t do that because…I’m not clever / businesslike / techie / young  enough?’ (delete as appropriate)

OK we need to talk.

I was chatting to a lady in one of my Facebook groups recently and she admitted that the BIGGEST THING holding her back was that she kept comparing herself to other people and coming up short.

In fact she was really hard on herself.

  • She would browse competitors’ websites and pick faults with her own.
  • She would look on Pinterest and see a hundred beautifully shot products that were ‘better’ than hers.
  • She’d find herself trawling Facebook looking to see who was making what, how much they were charging and whether she thought she was as good as them.
  • If it wasn’t the products she felt inferior about, it was their marketing, their copywriting, their design work.

When I asked her how often she found herself checking out other people’s stuff, she said ‘I do it every day’.

When we chatted about it, it turned out she was spending at least half an hour (that she would admit to) and probably more that she was in denial about, EVERY DAY measuring herself against other businesses and people and feeling fed up.

Let’s do some maths – 30 minutes every day, for 5 days per week is 2.5 hours per week (and let’s be honest, it was probably WAY more than that). That’s 10 hours per month. That’s 120 hours per year. That’s 5 DAYS A YEAR!

5 days a year NOT working on her business. 5 days a year NOT having a rest. 5 days a year NOT doing something that made her feel good or helped her build her business. 5 days a year beating herself up.

Makes you think, doesn’t it?

When we put it in perspective like this, she went very quiet and then got quite upset.

She realised she was wasting time and not JUST wasting it, actually spending time on things that were harming her business because that’s exactly what was happening.

When you spend time measuring yourself  against other people or feeling you’re not good enough that’s you’re choosing to spend making yourself feel bad.

When you get obsessed with what your competitors are doing, thats time and energy you’re not spending on YOUR business.

When you waste 5 days a year dragging yourself down and feeling inferior, that’s not healthy and it doesn’t make you happy. And it all starts with spending half an hour a day ‘just checking’ what everyone else is doing. Before you know it, it becomes a habit. Then it turns into a little obsession. Then it turns into 5 days a year of self-sabotage.

So, I want to ask YOU something. Are YOU guilty of this? Are YOU falling into a habit of ‘just checking’ other people’s stuff and wishing you were them?

If so, I want to challenge you. Ready?

I want you to spend HALF AN HOUR PER DAY working ON your business or ON yourself – making yourself feel great and helping your business to grow. No checking competitors (it doesn’t matter what they are doing), no beating yourself up.

If you spend 30 minutes every day on POSITIVE things rather than NEGATIVE things, you’ll see a BIG CHANGE in your business and your life, very quickly.

Are you up for the challenge?