Sometimes I feel that as a business owner I’m called to be super human. There’s often so much to do, and so little time to do it that setting a list of priorities is the only way to survive. I’ve gotten pretty good at being able to recognize when something needs to shift, when something is a priority, an opportunity, and a distraction and I’ve seen many business owners struggle and suffer by NOT knowing the difference.
The good news is, it can all be solved with a calendar and schedule. I know that seems overly simplistic and possibly not even real, but stick with me, I’ll explain exactly how this concept can change your life.
Let’s face it, building and managing a brand (i.e., your business) requires a lot of energy. The more energy you have, the more you can do. The less energy you have, the less you can do (or the worse you are at it!). I try to keep my energy at a high by eating well (I’m vegan and sugar free) and making sure I get at least some moderate amount of exercise, but that’s not enough.
When there’s a deadline, an issue comes up, or I catch a case of “the blahs” I rely on my calendar to get me through successfully. Throw a husband, children or family in the mix and things get dicey. My husband Darren fought against the concept of us “making an appointment” with each other for a long time. Until he realized that having me as a calm, focused and happy wife was a better thing than the alternative.
Time blocking is a process of grouping the tasks that you have to do together in a set of blocks. The length of the blocks are totally up to you. For instance, there will be the “time with family” block, the “sleeping” block, the “cleaning” block, the “speaking to clients” block, the “reviewing financials” block etc.
Time blocking works best when you stick to the schedule consistently. For me, that means I do seasonal blocks. My time blocks change when it’s warmer outside, or when it’s colder. I’m on the East Coast so I inherently have less energy in the winter, so I change my schedule accordingly. If you’re on the West Coast you may not have that challenge.
Here’s how I organize mine:
1) Start with a full 24/7 weekly calendar. Each day of the week, and each hour of the day. It’s easiest to just print every day of the week on 1 sheet of paper.
2) Brain dump the categories you want to block. Here are some to get you started: sleeping, eating, preparing food, bathing and dressing, travel to work, travel from work, work, free time, entertainment, family time, chores, walking the dog, etc.
3) Now look at your categories to see which you can break down further. For instance, with work you can break it down to staff meetings, client calls, administrative work, production work, lunch break, free time (in case of emergencies), marketing, follow up, etc.
4) Now, in order of priorities, start to allocate how much time you wish to give to each of these categories and block your calendar. I like 9 hours sleep each day, so my calendar is blocked from 10:30 pm – 7:30 am for sleep each day. My next big priority is time with family, which happens (don’t judge me) for 1.5 hours each evening, and most of my weekend. This may seem low, but it’s realistic for me, I have no guilt around it, and it works.
5) Once all of your blocks are in, edit and adjust to make sure they are logical and actually work. Do you spend more time talking to clients than being productive? That means you’ll want to group your client calls, and limit them to a minimal time that gets the job done.
Now that you have the gist of it download my time block calendar, which includes a blank template, and work on yours today. You can get really creative with it. use colored highlighters to identify certain categories. Do it in Google Calendar and code it and print it (just create a second calendar in your settings). I bet if you do this for just 2 weeks you’ll be energized and charged more than you are today and you’ll (hopefully) call me and thank me for it.
That’s it for now. Enjoy the process and use it to build an exciting life! As you work on it come back here to post any questions if you get stuck, or just let me know how it’s going.
You know we launched Booster shots last week, something we’ve been doing for our clients for years now which we just opened up to those like you with existing brands. Taking the money-making tasks off your to do list so that you can focus on what you love most about your business is a joy for you and fun for us!
Brad and Molly discuss how much easier it is to work together as a couple by having a little help. Molly’s very much a creative, while Brad is a “creative conservative” – together they now get what matters done by putting it into their Booster Shots program.
I’ve been excited about today for many reasons. It’s Easter, and my church is launching a new location in my city (closer to me), and with it being the last day of the first quarter BOOSTER SHOTS launches today!
My clients have been getting Booster Shots for quite a while but now you get to partner with us at just $97/month to get the money making tasks on your To Do List done! I expect the available spots in this program to fill up fast so if you’re tired of doing everything alone and need help to boost your income take a look.
I have never seen a program like this before, but knowing the market like I do there will be plenty of imitators and copy cats on the horizon soon. Get in on this innovative and ground-breaking service at the source! See what it’s about in the video below:
Whenever I start working with a new client I create a private review area for them to access the suite of materials we are going to create together. It’s like a mini website portal for them to view and respond to things as we progress through the project. Of course, I know html, so it’s easy for me to create this specialized experience for them. I also use one to work with my assistants. They love it so much I’ve been on the lookout for something like this, available online, so that I can share it with you and help you extend a special brand experience. Well… I’ve found it. One of my clients has been using a software called ProofHub to manage her clients with great success, so I wanted to add this to your list of resources today.
Proofhub.com provides software for your project management and collaboration needs. With it you can set deadlines, mark important events, milestones or even put important meetings on the calendar.
Beyond that, for your team you can create to-do lists, add tasks, set priority and set deadlines. If your business is anything like mine, some projects can have multiple players so the feature that lets you assign people responsible to complete certain tasks, have them post comments with each task and have robust discussions will be helpful. Let me know how you like it if you try it, ok?
So here’s what happens: Online forms can be a pain. You need security, you need customization, permissions, validation and simplicity. Even for the most gifted coder, it’s not easy.
Wufoo.com comes to the rescue on this one. There’s some limitations with the no cost form, but they have different options and paid tiers that you can choose from if, once you try to free one you decide you just gotta have more of it for your events and marketing.
Enjoy the boost.
If you’re just starting out or looking to sell a few products online a great way to get started until you reach a consistent volume is to use a low cost shopping cart solution.
E-Junkie is a great way for you to get started! I’ve had my eye on e-junkie for several years and have not heard any serious complaints about them. I’ve bought many products from merchants that use their system and have never had issues with security or delivery.
What’s unique about them is that you pay according to the file storage that you use, so if you have just a few pdfs that total less than 50MB you’d only pay $5/month! If you haven’t found a logical reason to use one of their more high priced competitors (like 1 Shopping Cart) I urge you to give them a try. They can even manage your affiliates too!
The LIFT Foundation System – Legal, Insurance, Financial and Tax
With the new year etching in I’ve had a lot of conversations about colleagues who are now looking to incorporate, or trademark, or expand offices, etc. When I speak with them I ALWAYS recommend this ONE SYSTEM to help them along. The LIFT system is the only information product that I have regrets about. I should have found out about this system before I started my business… or at least in the second year. I didn’t find out about it until the end of my second year, and as a result had to start all over in a lot of things. I hope to help someone new or ramping up with my insight here:
I took a cold hard look at my business and it’s systems and realized that I needed a stronger foundation for growth. I came to this decision in the process of negotiating a new client contract (and my biggest client contract to date — Six figures!). In the process of negotiating this contract (it was massive) I realized I had some holes in my foundation that, if not plugged in quickly, would make it crumble.
What I ended up finding in my search was Alexis Martin Neely’s LIFT Foundation system. It has everything you need as a business of ANY size to get your legal, insurance, financial and tax systems in order. After spending more than five figures (it was nearly $30k) in masterminding groups, networking and events I realized THIS is the first thing that I should have invested in and implemented in my business.
But… I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Now I know, and now I’m soaring sweetie! If you want to make sure you’re set up for success and prepared for the new year I urge you to get Alexis’ system… even if you think you currently have these systems in place. It will help you know the questions to ask and the language to use when working with your team so that you don’t miss some costly human error.
If you have been operating as a sole proprietor (like I had) or worse, under your personal name, do whatever you can to get this system and use these guidelines to build your team, on your own time and within your budget now… so that you keep more money and have less headaches in the future.
I promise you, this system is worth thousands more than Alexis is charging for it. If you want more info or have any questions, just call me and I’ll tell you all about what I discovered. Do it now, while the year is still young.
Marketing is all about testing, so try it for a few months. If it works for you great — if not, you’ll have learned something in the meantime. But I guarantee you, you’ll thank me for this resource!
If this post was able to help you in any way please comment below and also join my mailing list. I promise not to send you endless spam. I’m not one of those “sell, sell, sell” type of businesses. I will always strive to only send you something that I feel will build you up and help you on your business journey. I am currently developing some new ideas and would love to be able to make you one of the first to hear about them! The newsletter sign up is at http://www.brandexcitement.com/subscribe.
Increase your site traffic with Submit Edge
Often one of the first things I do when a new client comes to me is to find out their online footprint by searching to see how much traffic they’re generating online. Usually they are new to tracking and measuring so they don’t have analytics installed in their system. The old way of doing SEO was to get you listed with a bunch of directories and leave the work to them. Well… we live in the content generation now, and you need resources and information in order to be found.
To get found you need a combination of great content and great partners. You need other sites that are vouching for you and linking to you, and you need people to stay on your site longer so that the search engines will consider your site a valuable resource.
A few years ago I found a great resources called Submit Edge. Since that time they’ve expanded their services and I think that it’s worthwhile for you to take a look. Be sure you’re showing up as much as possible online and that you are every where you want to be. Go to http://www.submitedge.com and take a look at which services might be right for you in where you are in your business now. I don’t get a commission or fee for telling you about this, I’m just spreading the word. It’s low cost and well worth it! They even have a cute little video explaining the whole process. Enjoy the boost.
If this post was able to help you in any way please join my mailing list. I promise not to send you endless spam. I’m not one of those “sell, sell, sell” type of businesses. I will always strive to only send you something that I feel will build you up and help you on your business journey. I am currently developing some new ideas and would love to be able to make you one of the first to hear about them! The newsletter sign up is at http://www.brandexcitement.com/subscribe.
I was guest speaker for a group of business owners in Canada and one of the attendees asked a question that I think you would love to consider in your business. The owner was looking to make some changes to her staff of 10 and expand her brand power while at the same time narrowing her niche and allowing her team to handle more responsibilities. We discussed the strategy to do so and then I told her to enlist the help of her team as brand ambassadors.
Whether you have a team of 1, 10 or 100 you should tap into the power of Brand Ambassadors for your business. What is a brand ambassador? They can be your paid or unpaid sales force, always out in the marketplace conveying your worth and presenting you as you would present yourself. When most people think of brand ambassadors they think of the promotional models or hosts that pass out flyers and giveaways at expos and large events, but they’re much more than that.
You probably already have a team of brand ambassadors in your clients, past clients, prospects, partners and fans. What you now have to do is formally enlist their help in building awareness, experiences and engagement for the community. Statistics show that people are more likely to purchase when they are persuaded by reviews from other people. So how do you start?
1) Incorporate Brand Education
Usually the most education a staff member or partner gets is at the beginning of the brand relationship. Without periodic updates and education as the brand identity progresses and gets refined things get disjointed. You want to rely on your staff for carrying through with the look, feel and personality of your brand. By incorporating period “training sessions” your staff feels including in the success of the brand and are able to carry out the engagement of your brand as if it were their own. It also allows you to identify when your values are not aligned with those of someone else (a big brand barrier)
2) Enlist Your Clients As Part of Your Team
Happy clients make the best brand ambassadors and are easy to enlist. You can start by gathering testimonials and then staying in touch with them. As you make changes and accomplishments in your business be sure to inform them and let them know. Another way to enlist your clients as brand ambassadors is by developing a ‘review team’ – a small group of people that you run new materials and services by to assess what really resonates with them. Since they’ve used your services in the past and are on the receiving end, they can tell you what will and won’t be appealing to others that you serve.
3) Give Them All Some Motivation
How you choose to reward your employees versus your unpaid sales force is a matter of personal preference (and budget). For employees you can support simple perks such as commissions, recognition, awards, gifts, time off and promotions. For your unpaid sales force you may need to get a bit more creative. Most of the time clients are looking for a) cash back b) discounts and c) special treatment d) exposure. Work once of these perks into your invitation for ambassadorship and you’ll be set.
So, how should you invite your clients to be brand ambassadors? Here’s a template to get you started:
I have some really exciting news that I’d like to share with you and out of all of my clients you’ve been selected to partner with me in a unique and very exciting way. First of all, things are expanding here at [company name] and as the buzz has been building we’ve started to become more aware of our silent spokespeople. With the work we’ve done for you, the joy that we had in the process and your honest and insightful posture we feel that you’d be a great brand ambassador.
What does that mean? Basically it means you get us… you get our value, our promise and our personality. We’d like you to be our eyes and ears as we move forward with new products and services and we promise to reward you in a way that benefits you the most. Though our needs will change, our message will remain the same and we need you to help us keep our finger on the pulse of the marketplace.
Here’s what it will look like:
Sometimes we’ll send you a description of a new product or service we’re offering and we’d like you to review and and tell us if it makes sense, if it doesn’t add any value, if it’s priced inappropriately or if it’s just too vague. This helps us to be the best at what we do and we know you’ll see the elements that we can see because we’re so close to the project. In exchange, we want to reward you with cash, discounts, a nice day at the spa or exposure for your business. You decide. We value your input and your time, so we’ll leave that up to you.
I hope you’ll consider it and let us know if we can partner in this way. Think about it and we’ll give you a call in a few days to see what you’re thinking. In the meantime, if you have any questions about it or prefer to shelve this offer for another time, just drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or just give us a ring.
Thanks for being such an asset [Name], either way, we’re glad you’re on our side.
Sincerely, Principal, [Company Name]
Ready to enlist Brand Ambassadors? If you need help or want to run things by me to review them, don’t hesitate to get in touch 🙂
When you feel like you’ve got a good thing going you always want to share it right? On your website one of the things you can do is add an application, somewhat like a social sharing tool, to have your visitors share your website page with others. Doing so takes advantage of everyone’s affinity to peer-to-peer networking. One great tool that I’m investigating is SmartAddon.com. Smart Add On allows you to add simple script to your website so that visitors to your page can share it with their friends by email.
Imagine the impact of just one visitor to your site each day sharing the page with 2 or more of their friends? Amazing. There’s a free version and an upgraded version for a small monthly fee. I suggest you start with the free version and then if you want full branding power, choose the upgrade.
Marketing is all about testing, so try it for a few months. If it works for you great — if not, you’ll have learned something in the meantime and you didn’t have to go out of pocket to do it. This new technology is just one of the many ways the team here at Brand Excitement will be kicking off some new things in the new year. What experiments, data driven or otherwise, will you be implementing this year?