I was speaking with a client the other day and the subject of branding came up. She felt that until she had thought out every detail of her business and offerings, she couldn’t say anything to anyone because she risked being “off brand”.
Before I share the rest of our conversation let me say this…I’m not a branding expert. What I do know, however, is how to represent yourself.
My client is in early stages of forming her business. She’s a little unsure of herself (okay, maybe more than a little). She needs to do many things that are way outside of her comfort zone. She needs to go to networking events and speak with people, design programs to offer clients and ask them to work with her.
These things are hard for many people to do, even those who are one hundred percent sure of what they are doing and have done it hundreds of times.
So here she is, way out on a ledge and looking for her brand to hold onto. It makes sense. I told her that she already had a brand.
Her business barely had a name, how could it have a brand?
I explained to her that her brand was herself. The only thing she had to do in order to stay “on brand” was to not try to fake it.
I made several suggestions to her that apply to you whether you’re at the beginning stages of your business or have a well-established business with a solid brand behind it. Please check in with yourself and use the following guidelines to make sure you are on brand and that the brand you created continues to be right for your business.
Whenever you represent your brand …
1. Be honest.
2. Don’t hide.
3. Be yourself.
4. Don’t worry what other people think.
5. Don’t water down your message.
The bottom line is that if you are always simply you, you will always be on brand. It’s when we pretend that you go off-brand.
What do you think? I’d love to know. Please share with me below.
When something comes up four times over the course of two days I know it’s serious. Entrepreneurs are lousy at taking care of themselves.
- Entrepreneurs routinely work long hours.
- Entrepreneurs often beat themselves up for not doing enough or not doing it well enough.
- Entrepreneurs have a misguided belief that they are the only person who could possibly do “it” right.
- Entrepreneurs feel guilty spending time relaxing when there’s so much work to do.
- Entrepreneurs spend their day worrying about what they missed or what they “should have” done.
The problem is that when you don’t take care of yourself there is nobody to take care of your business. I was speaking with one client who told me that she was totally burned out. She works a full time job and her business was her ticket out, yet no matter what she did she just can’t get herself excited about her business.
Another client I spoke with told me that there is so much going on in his life. He’s running three successful businesses, going through a divorce and has a contract to write a book. He’s incredibly excited about the book and he knows it will lead him to his next big venture. The book is due, but he doesn’t have the time or energy to devote to it.
Let me be very clear here. I’m not saying that as an entrepreneur you don’t have to work and work hard. What I am saying is that when you take care of yourself, your body and brain will work better, and you’ll enjoy what you’re doing.
Here are the solutions my clients and I came up with. Try them out. You may just find that by nurturing yourself, your business will grow in return.
1. Schedule mini vacations. It could be a three-day weekend, or just a random day off once or twice a month. It doesn’t have to be expensive and you don’t have to go anywhere. Simply think about things you haven’t done in a while that you’ve been meaning or wanting to do. Go for a walk in a park. Sit on the beach for a day. Wander through a new store in town. Read a book simply for pleasure. Go to a movie or try a new restaurant. The options are endless
2. Spend time with friends. There are lots of types of friends. What I’m talking about here are the friends that nurture you, not those that you really “should” get together with but those whom you “want” to get together with.
3. Nourish your body. Get enough sleep, eat foods that nourish you and get exercise. The better you take care of your engine the better it will work. Enough said.
4. Take a one-hour break every day. Step away from your work physically and stop thinking about it. Take the time to laugh with someone or cry if you need to. Make yourself a nice lunch, or go for a walk with a friend. Leave work behind.
And most important…
5. Give yourself permission to play. Playtime is creative time. When you let yourself play and don’t worry about perfectionism the fun will come back. You will find yourself excited and motivated to do the work you want to do.
Want to know what happened with the clients that I mentioned earlier? The one with the full time job spoke to her boss and scheduled a one-week vacation in July and a three-day weekend each month until then. My client with the three businesses and a book contract took four days away from work. He gave himself permission to let other people worry about the day-to-day workings of his businesses. He spent the four days writing. To his relief and amazement everything was still working when he got back.
How can you nurture yourself? Let me know below.
Have you ever gone to a networking event and promised yourself that you’d follow up with everyone you met? Now be honest for a minute…have you?
If you did that’s awesome. Read on to help you keep the conversation going.
If not… well… it’s time to keep that promise and follow up!
The secret to any relationship is the “know, like and trust” factor. This is true for both business and personal relationships. Here are my 3 top strategies to help you get to know the people you just met, let them get to know you and move the relationship forward to be mutually profitable.
- Pick up the phone and call them. This isn’t rocket science but the next piece of it is key… Nobody is going to want to speak with you because of your agenda. When your new contact answers the phone let them know what they will get out of a conversation with you and, if possible, link your reason to something you learned about them when you met.
- If they answer the phone ask them if they are free to speak for a few minutes (DO NOT assume that they are!). Tell them that you enjoyed meeting them and would like to get to know them better to see how you could (insert your reason from #1 here).
- Before you hang up the phone with them outline specific next steps. One of the biggest mistakes I see people making is saying something like “let’s definitely keep in touch.” I’m telling you that’s a sure fire way to never speak with them. Instead say something like, “It’s been great speaking with you. How about we touch base in a week? How does Monday at 2pm work for you?
Oh, and here’s a bonus for you. Honesty is best. If you find yourself a bit behind in following up, fess up. Say something like, “I know it’s been a while and I’ve been meaning to call you. I’m sorry I didn’t. I guess it took me a while to finally get tired of looking at the pile of business cards laying on my desk so here I am.”
Who are you going to get in touch with? Go ahead and share and let’s make it happen!
I said, “Does anyone have any questions for me?”
The response, “Yes Carrie I do. Since you’ve been in business for over ten years will you share the top three things that you believe have led to your success?”
It was a question I didn’t expect so I thought a moment … here’s the answer I shared. The top three things I did to grow my business.
1. Take myself seriously and get support. During the first six months I was in business I figured I could handle it. I thought I “knew” what needed to be done and could just do it. I also decided that, since I was my own boss, I could make all of the rules and have lunch with friends whenever I wanted. After all, one of the main reasons I started my own business was for flexibility, right?
A program I joined about six months after I started my business required me to have a coach. I didn’t even know what a coach was at the time. Since then I have ALWAYS had a coach. Some coaches have been better than others. Some were hired for a specific purpose. ALL have been business coaches. In addition to sharing great ideas, helping me get out of my own head, helping me see my business from the outside and providing me with incredible accountability, these coaches have forced me to take my business seriously. It forced me to take notice of myself and to see myself as a business owner and not a stay at home mom with a side gig. I was forced to think like a business owner. When a friend calls for lunch, there are times I say yes (flexibility is still important) and there are times I say no, because I have business responsibilities to take care of.
2. Ask for the business. It took time for me to get the confidence in my skills and myself, but once I realized that the only way to get business was to ask for it, things went a lot better. There are still times that I hesitate but, for the most part, if I sense that I can help someone, I invite him or her to have a discussion about it. Here’s the thing, unless you ask them to work with you they will still have the problem that they’re having and you will still have no clients.
3. Accept that nothing will ever be perfect. Wow, this one was a tough lesson. I have a Wall Street background. When I worked for the New York Stock Exchange people got fired for making mistakes. It was a very high-pressure environment. The information we shared with our clients and our prospects had to be right.
To be fair, the idea of perfectionism suited me too. I want the work that I produce to be more than just accurate, I want it to be perfect. I want it to look perfect, sound perfect and reflect me, and what I do, perfectly.
Here’s what I’ve learned about perfectionism. It’s an impossibility. I look back at the work that I created ten years ago, and even more recently and shudder.
Some of the imperfections are errors that I missed, but most of the imperfections are examples of things that no longer reflect me, or what I’m doing, because I have grown and changed. Perfectionism implies that there is no way for it to grow or improve. You know, I sure hope I’m not perfect right now. I couldn’t imagine not growing from here.
This does not mean that you should be careless and not pay attention to how things look and sound and do your best, but I also know that if I had not gone ahead with those imperfect things, I would not be where I am today. I would not have grown and the clients that I’ve worked with wouldn’t have had the experience of working with me.
So now I’m curious… what would your business look like if you incorporated the three things that turned my business around? Go ahead and let me know by clicking here and sharing with me.
It’s like you’re throwing a temper tantrum.
You know what you want to do. You know why you want to do it. You know how to do it. It’s important. The growth of your business depends on it. But, no matter what you do the three-year old kid inside of you is stomping his or her feet screaming “NO!”
“NO! I will not do it!”
“NO! Not now! I have more time!”
“NO! I don’t want to!”
“NO! You can’t make me do it!”
I’m sharing this because this topic came up three times last week and it’s serious.
I am not going to pretend that I know why we have to do battle with our inner child; I just know that it happens. Maybe it’s because we were wronged somewhere along the way, or maybe we were righted? Maybe it’s a natural reaction to fear, uncertainty, excitement or even boredom. Who knows?
What I do know is this, if you don’t get that little kid inside of you to settle down, you’ll never get your work done and you’ll continue to be incredibly frustrated.
There are times when having some “kid” in you is great because it adds to your creative and fun side, but there are other times when you need to “be the adult”.
Here are five ideas my clients and I came up with during our discussions. Go ahead and give them a try.
- Tell the little boy or girl inside that you are a grown up and what you say goes. Then tell them that it’s time to sit down and behave.
- Since one of the reasons you likely started your own business was so that you could be in control (yup the little kid’s power play), pretend that you are an employee instead of a business owner. Look at the work you have to do and do it, for your boss.
- Make a deal with the child inside of you. Tell him or her that if they behave, and get a specific task done, then they get to take a break. (Since I’m a mom with three kids I’ll share this warning with you… make sure that they live up to their side of the bargain before they get the reward.)
- Ask the child inside of you why they don’t want to do it. Is there something that they are afraid of? Is there something that’s new to them? Is it something that is going to be hard or boring? Tell them that everything will be okay because you have resources and people you can ask for help if you need it.
- Take time to play. Don’t try to sit and work from dawn to dusk. Take breaks to move your body and your mind.
Share what your inner child stops you from doing and what do you do to tame him or her?
The cool thing about having your own business is that you get to do whatever you want. You can create a new program if you want. You decide who you will work with and what services you will offer your clients. You decide what you’ll sell and how you want to promote your business. You dictate your marketing activities. You might choose to promote through Facebook, a new website, a contest, networking, attending events, or even some really cool idea that your cousin suggested.
The possibilities are endless. It’s exciting, it’s empowering, it’s overwhelming, it’s mind numbing.
With all of the possibilities, how do you figure out what you’re going to do? How do you keep your eye on your goal and make sure you move down the path that you’ve decided to take?
Here’s what I do when I know I’m heading into a situation where I’m going to be bombarded (in a good way) with a lot of great ideas and opportunities. This system allows me to triage the ideas before I get attached to them, and helps me keep my focus on the direction that is right for me at the moment. I encourage you to give this system a try.
Before heading into an event or situation that is likely going to produce many ideas (such as a marketing training or business growth event) take a few minutes to think about your overall goals for your business AND your overall goals for the event.
For instance… the overall goal for your business may be revenue based; however, your goal for the event may be client or partnership leads. Keep the number of goals (especially for the event) limited to just one or two goals.
Write your goals on separate sheets of paper in a notebook that you will bring with you (or separate pages in a document if you’re bringing a laptop).
The goals should be very specific. How many clients or leads are you looking for? How much revenue do you plan to generate? What type of program do you want to create?
Add one more page to your collection. Label it “Ideas that are super cool but do not track towards my goal”.
As you meet people, sit in sessions, or are exposed to new opportunities, record the ideas based on which goal they will help you to achieve.
This is the most important step because after the event is when the overwhelm often sets in. Review your notes one goal at a time and identify which two ideas are likely to give you the biggest push towards that specific goal. Then check to see if any of the ideas will help you track towards multiple goals. Finally, decide which idea (of the ones you’ve identified) will be the most enjoyable for you to do, and focus your attention there.
The point of all of this is not to do everything. Focus your energy and attention on the ideas and strategies that are most likely to bring you the success you desire. Oh, in case you’re wondering what you should do with the sheet labeled Ideas that are super cool but do not track towards my goal, technically you don’t need them; however, I know it’s human nature to collect things. So go ahead and write them down, then make sure to give yourself permission to recognize them as good ideas that do not belong in your plan.
What goals are you tracking towards right now? What strategy are you going to embrace to help you meet that goal? Share them with the world and make them real by commenting below.
We’ve all heard that going to events and networking is very important. Meeting someone in person is generally a much faster and effective way to get to know him or her than through online methods.
There are some people who are born networkers. I’m not one of them. I didn’t like networking until I found a few strategies that helped me feel more comfortable and make them more fun and yes…rewarding.
Here are the top 7 strategies that I use myself, AND of course share with my clients, for enjoying (and getting the most out of) networking events.
- Smile. Before you step out of your car or hotel room, take a deep breath and smile. Purposefully “turn it on”. Bring that smile into the room with you and keep it there.
- Rescue someone. You’re not the only one who doesn’t enjoy going to networking events. There is almost always someone standing off to the side or alone. Go over to them and make them feel comfortable. They will appreciate being rescued and you will have someone who wants to talk with you. Then, if you see other people just standing around invite them to join your new group. You’ll be looked upon as a connector.
- Don’t worry about what you’re going to say. Learn about your new friend. You can start the conversation by complimenting a piece of jewelry, mentioning the artwork in the room or asking them why they came. Let them talk. When the time is right the conversation will naturally turn to you and you’ll be able to share.
- Relax. Remember that this is nothing more than a conversation. Don’t try to sell. Don’t try to impress, just get to know each other and be yourself. People buy from people they know, like and trust. Establish a relationship. Get to know each other.
- Don’t try to meet everyone. It’s not a competition. Personally, I prefer to get to know a few people well than to have superficial conversations with everyone.
- Follow up. It’s more important for you to get his or her contact information than for you to give your card to everyone you meet. The truth is that very few people follow up after networking events. Tell your new friend how and when you’ll be in touch after the event so that they expect it.
- Attend the same networking group regularly. The more often you go the better you will know the people, the easier it will be and the more business you will get from it.
What are your favorite networking strategies? Share them with me.
I was teaching a class the other day and one of the participants said … it’s like brain hoarding.
You’ve got so many amazing ideas, so many cool things you want to do. So many opportunities you want to take advantage of. You don’t want to let them go.
The problem… like hoarding, is that you end up with too much. It gets to the point that you no longer know what you have, or where you have it. You lose all sense of priority and don’t know what’s really important. You stop considering what will you have the most fun doing or what will give you the best return on your investment of time and energy. You lose sight of what will bring you closest to your goal.
Entrepreneurs are really creative. In fact, it’s your ideas that got you into business in the first place. The trouble comes in when you try to do all of your ideas. It’s confusing AND overwhelming to you and your customers.
I’ve seen it happen again and again. You wake up in the morning ready to go. You’ve already decided, “Today’s the day.” It might be the day that you’re going to clear off your to-do list. Maybe you’ll spend the day making sales calls. Or maybe it’s the day that you’re finally going to tackle the new program that you’re creating. Whatever it is… “Today’s the day.”
Then…the day is over. You’ve been busy all day. You have not accomplished what you set out to do. You’ve been here before; unfortunately it’s familiar territory. “Oh well,” you think, “I guess I’ll do it tomorrow.”
I have found that there are three key things that land us in “What the heck happened? Where did the time go?” syndrome (okay, there are more than three but these are the biggies). Keep an eye out for them and you’ll be much more likely to accomplish your goals.
Mistake #1: Starting your day with email. Plain and simple… Most emails that you receive are someone else’s priority. When we start our day with email we put those priorities in front of our own. And It’s incredibly easy to get sucked into email and spend hours at it. If you absolutely must check your email at the beginning of the day, decide what you are looking for and what type of emails you will respond to, then set a timer for yourself to limit the amount of time you spend at it before getting to your own priorities.
Mistake #2: Doing one thing first. I think of all the mistakes this is the biggest, and we’ve all done it. Here’s what happens. You have a goal in mind. Let’s say you need to make a phone call to follow up with a potential client. You’re ready to make the call, but you decide to do one thing first. What happens is that “one thing” expands into many things and it pulls you off track. You end up forgetting what you needed to do or it gets to be too late to do it. The day ends and you still haven’t made that call. My suggestion here is quite simple. Recognize that this is something you are susceptible to and become aware of when you do it. You can start by asking yourself if what you’re doing is a what you want to be doing or is it “one thing first.”
Mistake #3: Starting off without a clear plan or objective. This is the quickest way to get pulled down a rabbit hole. The very first thing you do each day (and ideally the last thing you do in the evening when you close up shop) needs to be to decide what you’re going to do. Here are some thoughts to consider that will help you create your plan. What are your overall priorities? What project is going to move you closest to that priority? What steps are you going to be taking to move that project further along? The more specific you can be, the better it will be for you and the easier it will be for you to stay on track.
I’ve shared the three biggest mistakes I see entrepreneurs make every day in their business. These mistakes are stopping you from reaching your income goals. They are stopping you from reaching your business goals. Tell me what are you going to do differently TODAY to keep you on track and let’s make it happen.
At the beginning of February I committed to a new challenge at my gym… to run (or walk) a total of 144 miles over three months. It amounts to 12 miles a week. It was a big commitment for me. I already spend about four hours a week at the gym in classes that I don’t want to give up. To add the additional running, it means another three hours a week.
When I got off the treadmill the other day, I saw a woman I know. She was involved in a conversation while I was running my last two miles of the week. She made a joke about how she was chatting while I was running. I told her that I needed to log my miles for the challenge. Her response was, “Oh that, I signed up for it, too, but I was on vacation last week and this week I’ve been really busy and…”
It started me thinking, what’s the difference between her and me? Why am I getting the running in and she’s not?
And, my thinking went further because (total transparency here) there have been plenty of times I’ve made commitments that I have not followed through on. So, why am I following through THIS time as opposed to other times?
I believe that there are five key components that you need to put in place, to set yourself up for success, when you make a commitment. I am going to relate them here to both my running and your business.
- Understand why you’re doing it. For my running, I’m doing it because I want a new physical challenge to keep my mind and body engaged. I am also working very hard at getting more fit since I feel better when I’m in better shape. For your business consider why you do what you do. Why are you embarking on a new project or initiative? What do you want to achieve by accomplishing it?
- What do you need to do to make it happen? This is a big one. Break the whole goal up into smaller steps. Running 144 miles is a lot and certainly too much for me to even think about tackling. Breaking it down into a smaller, 12 mile a week, goal has made it much less intimidating. In your business many of the projects you take on are big. What can you do to break them down into smaller pieces? One of my favorite questions to ask is: how would you suggest someone else manage the project?
- How are you going to do it…what’s the plan? Let’s be real here… just breaking down your goals into smaller chunks doesn’t get the work done. I had to create the time to actually DO the work. I broke my 12-mile a week commitment into four chunks (4 miles on Sunday, 2 miles on Tuesday, 4 miles on Thursday and 2 miles on Saturday). What can you do to structure your time to help you get the steps of your project done? My suggestion to you is to be realistic. Don’t make your daily steps so large that you’ll find yourself overwhelmed by them. Small progress regularly is more effective than occasional fast bursts.
- Track your results. As I get off the treadmill, I track how far I went and how long it took on a sheet posted on a very visible wall. Watch your progress and assess regularly to see if you need to make any changes (I’m working towards two 5-mile days and one 2-mile day). What numbers can you track in your business? Are you moving towards your goal? Is your goal still realistic? Are you looking at it regularly?
- Support. I think out of all of them, this is the most important. Find a team of cheerleaders who know what you’re doing and support you. Also find a mentor, guide or coach. Ask questions when you have them so you don’t waste your time or energy running in circles (or in my case getting injured). Use your mentors and cheerleaders to keep you moving forward and leave the naysayers behind.
Now imagine if you take these steps to your business. What goal can you put in your sights? Why do you want it? What can you do to make it happen?
I’ve only been at this for one month and I’m already seeing results. I’ve seen my stamina increase (I can run further) and I am seeing my speed increase. I’m looking forward to seeing where I’m at come the end of April.
What goal are you going to commit to? Share it with me to make it real.