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Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

Exercise Your “Done” Muscle

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

 

Recently I chatted with my client Bethany about her problems getting things done. She seemed to make little progress on what she said her goals were. She would start a project then get distracted by something else. Or she would start a project, then think another project sounded more exciting and she would shift her focus. And, often she ended up caught because she missed deadlines. Then she felt worse because she let people other than herself down.

As we talked about this, we hit on a number of reasons that were at play: procrastination; the need to be perfect; distractions by other things, aka Bright Shiny Object Syndrome; failure to prioritize. You may have others.

So how can you get the right things done? Here are nine tips for exercising what I call your “done” muscle.

1. Get clear about what it is that you are trying to accomplish. Once you have clarity around your goals and/or a particular project, it is much easier to move forward. As you work, keep your eye on the prize. This will help you make progress.

2. Break your project down into manageable tasks. When you look at a goal or a specific project, it can seem overwhelming. If you can break it down into bite-size pieces, it is always easier to see how you can accomplish it.

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Are you just a …?

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

A couple years ago, I was at a gallery opening with some creative women, and they were each sharing what they did. After hearing one woman say she was a mixed-media artist and another say she was a photograph, the third said, “I’m just a longarm quilter.”

Why did this person’s passion become a “just a?” And why did she think she was “less than”?

If you grew up in the 60s with the women’s liberation movement, you might remember hearing people say “just a housewife.” I can remember thinking I would never be know as “just a.” In actuality, being a housewife is probably the hardest job around, raising healthy, happy and productive kids. It’s definitely not “just a.”

Back to the artists I met. I know that this longarm quilter is not the only one who says “just a” when someone asks what she does.  Maybe she has second thoughts about the phrase, and I hope she does. Maybe she doesn’t.

When I started to reflect on what this woman said, I wondered where she placed her value.

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Give Up Time Management!

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

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Do you ever feel like you are so caught up in the everyday, ongoing activity in your business that you can’t actually find time to make decisions about your business?

Do you take on tasks that you shouldn’t?

Do you really need to be the person who runs to the post office to mail off the patterns you sold?
Do you need to run to the office supply shop when you are out of staples?

If the answer is yes, when do you have time to look at your numbers and make hiring or buying decisions if this is how you spend your time? We all know the answer to that one; you don’t.

While you may not see yourself in the above scenario, I’m sure you aren’t always working smarter in your business. And, it’s not really a function of managing time. We all have the same 24 hours. It’s more about managing energy. You can actually do something about your energy. And, if you can learn how to manage your energy, then you can put attention and focus where they belong — on your business.

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Thank You for Your Business!

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

When was the last time you sent a letter via the US Postal Service to thank someone? When was the last time you received one?

I know that today we are all about digital. However, I think you are missing the boat if you don’t add some higher touch activities to your marketing and/or customer service efforts. By marketing, I don’t mean selling. I mean inviting people get to know, like and trust you.

Personal hand-written notes are the perfect way for you to build that connection. A simple note only requires a few of minutes of your time and a first-class postage stamp.

The rewards for both parties are way beyond that. You will feel good doing this. The recipient will feel appreciated. I’ve seen examples of people sharing their thank you notes on social media or in their blogs, making even more people feel good. What a great example of word-of-mouth marketing. Remember, the more people learn about you, the better.

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Does Your Elevator Speech Need a Lift?

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

 

I live in an area (Washington, DC) where the first question you often hear is, “What do you do?” While it may not always be the first question, at some point it usually comes up. And, I’m sure that’s not unusual in other parts of the country. People are just trying to get to know people they don’t already know.

Do you have an elevator speech? You know, that 30 to 60 seconds or so that explains what you do and will engage the person you are talking with into asking more questions. It’s supposed to be succinct so that you that you could really deliver it in a quick elevator trip.

The problem is that most elevator speeches are boring or long-winded or both. Haven’t you tuned out when someone launched into his or her corporate titles? I remember when I moved some years back, and my new neighbor said, “Hi, I’m Chuck. I’m an attorney.” Yikes! A real conversation starter.

Most of you are creatives and the idea of a set elevator speech is cringe-worthy. After all, elevator speeches can sound so canned and “markety.” Thing is that you have a business and you cannot grow that business if you don’t market.

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Can’t Choose Between Thai and Italian for dinner?

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

 

Last week one of my clients was talking about how worn out she was from making decisions. The decisions themselves might seem small to you. Cathy had to decide between frames for her latest pieces of art, choose a brand of paints to use with a new project, find a photographer to shoot headshots for her website, set a time for an appointment for a potential gallery showing, and consider whether or not to book time for an art retreat. Now it was time to choose an outfit for her gallery opening.

Cathy had made lots of decisions and wasn’t ready to make another. She told me she was opting for an old outfit from the back of her closet. It didn’t fit that well and didn’t showcase her artistic brand in its best light. She said that she just didn’t have the energy to go the store and get something special to wear.

Seems kind of silly on the surface. She had made what we might think of as everyday decisions for her business. The final decision about her outfit was an important decision in her ongoing quest to build a brand, yet she was stuck. I told her she was likely suffering from decision fatigue.

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What’s in Your Rewards Jar?

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

How often do you reward yourself for your work? If you are like many creative entrepreneurs I know, it’s not very often. Sure you accomplish the items on your to-do list, you make progress towards your goals, and you may feel proud about what you are doing. Then, it’s on to the next thing on the list, the next goal.

Many of my clients take part in what I call a Success and Strategies Summit on a weekly basis. I had been taking time to look at what I accomplished and plan ahead on a weekly basis for years. It made a difference in how much I was accomplishing and the confidence level I had. When I started working with private clients and ICAP members, I shared this more formal practice with them. They began to see how important this review was in their own lives and businesses.

A big part of this Summit is celebrating your successes. Did I mention how often we are on to the next thing and don’t do this?

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Are You Working In Your Brilliance?

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

 

This week ICAP had its monthly book discussion, and we chatted about the book Essentialism. Part of the conversation was around what you should be doing as opposed to having someone else do it. Many people have massive to-do lists and don’t stop to think about whether they should be the one doing everything. And, you cannot do it all, as much as you might like to think you can. The problem is, if you are, for example, a pattern designer and are busy doing things like shipping and answering emails, you are not working in your brilliance. What happens is that you become frustrated and your business suffers as a result.

Not delegating for some is really about giving up control. It is hard when you know how to do everything correctly. (Do you really?)

And, you think that by the time you show someone how to do it, you could have done it yourself. Yes, it does take time initially. The end result is worth it.

For others it is not knowing where to start — what to delegate, who to delegate to, and where to find this person you will delegate to.

Here is a system that has worked for me and my clients.

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Do You Suffer From Smorgasbord Syndrome?

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

Someone recently shared in one of our ICAP Facebook groups that she was trying to tackle too many tasks in one day. She added that she tended to overestimate her available time. That meant she was moving uncompleted tasks from one day into the next day’s list. The end result was making new lists and wasting time and energy. She was not alone with this confession, confusion, and remorse.

I refer to this as the “Smorgasbord Syndrome.” As a child, I can remember my parents saying that my eyes were bigger than my stomach when we had big family celebrations. I didn’t want to miss out on anything that might be good. And, of course, even though I probably left little room for dessert, I didn’t want to miss out on any of those, so I added more to my plate when dessert rolled around. You can guess that I probably had my share of stomach aches.

It’s easy to see how this approach translates into your life and business. You think you have more time to accomplish what needs to be accomplished. You keep saying, “yes, pile more on my plate.” Whether you say that to someone who asks you to do something or just to yourself, the end result is the same. Your life and/or business plate is overflowing.

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Focus on MGAs First

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

As a creative entrepreneur you probably struggle with a never ending to-do list. I know I do. Even as your business grows and you have assistance, it can still seem overwhelming to get everything done in the allotted time you have. The goal of your business is to make money. Otherwise you have a hobby.

The key is to put money generating activities (MGAs) at the top of the list.

If you look at the last five things you did in your business, how many were related to sales or marketing in your business? You need to prioritize those activities if you are going to bring income into your business. Remember that money flows where your attention goes. Here are some tips to do that.

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