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Archive for the ‘Coaching’ Category

Are You Managing Your Time or Is It Managing You?

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

It seems every year many people make a resolution to manage their time better. How about you? Funny thing is that we all have the same 24 hours in the day. Some of us just do a better job of managing ourselves. Here are five tips to help you do that this year:

1. Know what your time is worth. Your goal as a business owner is to turn your time into money, so I think you should know what your time is worth. Here’s an easy way to figure it out. What do you want to make this year from your creative arts business? For our example and easy math for me, let’s say $50,000. Let’s also say you take two weeks vacation, so that leaves 50 weeks a year that you work. Divide the $50,000 by 50 weeks and you get $1,000 a week. Divide that by five days in the week that you plan to work and that gives you $200 a day. Divide that by 5 hours a day that is productive and you get $40 an hour. Let’s double that to cover overhead. Now we have $80 an hour. You can do this with your own goal number. Next step is to ask yourself if the task at hand is worth $80 an hour. A good exercise is to track your activities and look at them in this fashion. Is driving to the post office worth $80 an hour? Is grocery shopping worth $80 an hour? Is cleaning your house worth $80 an hour? Is packing your own patterns worth $80 an hour? You may decide you need to continue doing these tasks, and that’s OK. You just need to know the value of the task.
2. Track your tasks. For the next three to five days, record your business activities. At the end of the day, go back and note whether the activity was A (administrative/technical), M (managerial) or E (entrepreneurial). Then go back and decide whether these tasks could have been deleted, delegated, systematized or automated. Remember your goal is to replace those activities that aren’t valued at your hourly rate, so that you can work on activities that are worth your hourly rate.
3. Try time blocking. This is the idea of pre-assigning blocks of your time for specific activities, and it is one concept that I suggest early on with my clients. It lets your days be more productive because you’ve shifted to an “appointment” mindset with all your activities, not just outside appointments. It also lets you control your time because you decide when activities take place. Here are just a few activities to consider time blocking: quilt intake for longarmers to one afternoon and evening a week; creative time to design your next pattern or quilt; time for bookkeeping; business development (marketing time); and time to write that book that you keep putting off.
4. Plan your day the night before and use a list. At the end of each day, review what worked and didn’t with the day and plan what you need to accomplish the next day. By doing this the night before you’ll start the next day fresh and not spend time trying to figure out what to put on your to-do list. I’ve also heard that you’ll spend less time worrying about the next day at night because it’s preplanned. And, I’ve heard that often your mind will work on those activities and you’ll come up with ideas you wouldn’t otherwise have.
5. Learn to say no. This is a biggie, as it’s so easy to say yes to every opportunity. When you are asked to do something, consider whether it will move you closer to your goals. If so, then it might be appropriate to say yes. If not, can you find other compelling reasons to say yes? If not, then don’t hesitate to say no.

Here are some time management quotes I really like:

“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.”                             H. Jackson Brown
“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.”                          Michael Altshuler
“Never let yesterday use up today.”
                                 Richard H. Nelson

Please share your thoughts on how you get control of your time below.

Want to Play a Bigger Game in 2012?

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

I went on a personal retreat last week. In addition to all the museum visiting, one of the things I did on my retreat was to reflect on all the changes in my business in 2011 and the big plans I have for 2012. I guess you’ve heard about the Creative Arts Business Summit! That would be my big plan. Do you have big plans for 2012? Why not set a plan to play bigger in 2012? Here are some ways to help you.

1. Set a stretch goal.

I’ve often heard of this as a breakthrough goal. The idea is that once you achieve such a goal, you break through to a new level in your business. Look back to a really big goal you set and how you felt when you achieved it. Could you really go back to how you felt before? Look for a goal that would make a really big difference in your business and focus a little each day until you achieve it. It could be writing that book you keep thinking about or getting your portfolio together and actually contacting galleries to show your work or submitting your teaching proposal to a national show.

2. Take action.

Achieving any goal is all about taking action, whether that’s giant steps or baby steps. Both will get you there. Decide today to take some action each day toward your stretch goal. Write down what you plan to do each day.

3. Track your results and make necessary adjustments.

Every day take time to look at what you accomplished that day. I also like to do a weekly review. When you do this and see yourself moving toward your goal, you’ll build your confidence and keep going.

4. Get support.

Support comes in many varieties. It can be a coach (that’s one of my favorite support systems) or mentor. It can be business friends also growing, and you’ll network and encourage each other. It can be a class environment where you learn something to build your business. And, it can be family members if they understand that you are trying to grow. Be sure the people on your support team are people like you, truly invested in their own success and who want you to succeed as well.

5. Watch your mindset.

This one stops a lot of us. “What we think, we become.” said the Buddha. Take action to eliminate negativity and small thinking from your life. Read or listen to uplifting books, leave affirmations where you’ll see them and start a gratitude journal. These seem like simple steps, and they are. They can have a profound effect on your goals.

Lastly, I want to share my favorite resource for planning my year, Your Best Year Yet! by Jinny Ditzler. It’s the book I took on my personal retreat. I’ve recommended it before and everyone who uses this process finds it valuable. I’ve reprinted the review from last year below.

Please share your thoughts below.

What’s Clarity Got to Do With It?

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

Despite the title of this piece sounding rather Tina Turnerish to me, I’ve been thinking a great deal lately about what I want in a variety of areas. In other words, I’ve been looking for clarity. It’s so easy to get bogged down with all the what ifs and fuzzy thinking. Ever been there?

What do you need clarity on? When I work with some clients, that’s our first step. Clarity is really the foundation of success both in your business and your personal life.

You need to be clear on the direction you are going. What is your end goal? If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there?

You need to be clear on who your client is. We can’t be everything to all people, though I do know people who try. In one class I taught, I had a student who wanted to turn every quilter into an appliqué artist. While that was an admirable goal, her time would have been exhausted trying to accomplish this. She would have been more effective targeting beginning quilters to get them started.

You need to be clear on the financial realities of your business. Where does your income come from? What are your expenses? How much do you need to earn to provide support for yourself?

Those are just a few of the many areas that require clarity. I’m sure you can find other areas where you are searching for clarity. It could be something big, like what my coaches call your “Big Why,” or it could be something smaller, like the name of your new pattern.

It’s easy to figure out what you need to be clear on – you hear the muddled voices. How do you find clarity? Here are a few approaches to tune into the right little voice inside so you can listen.

1. Create a vision board. The easy approach is to go through magazines and find things that resonate with you. It could be colors, words, pictures of places you want to visit, quilts you want to make or techniques you want to learn. Glue them onto a piece of poster board and leave it in a place where you’ll see it. I find that just searching for the items to put on my vision board helps me get clearer.

2. Keep a journal. Note your day’s activities, how you felt about what happened, any insights you might have. You might even ask a question and brainstorm on ideas or let the answer just come to you. Go back and read your earlier entries. The more you journal about something, the clearer it becomes.

3. Be grateful. If you are grateful every day, you can start to replace confusion with clarity. I keep a gratitude journal.

4. Spend time alone in nature. You may feel most at peace in a certain type of setting. For me it’s the water. So when I need to gain clarity, I will often sit by the water. Clarity often comes just “being,” and this environment lets me “be.”

5. Let go of the question. Sometimes by no longer putting your attention on something the answer will just come to you.

And, finally remember when I started looking at the letters in the word “success”? For me, the first C is for clarity.

Here’s a quote on clarity from Scottish writer Richard Holloway that I like:

Simplicity, clarity, singleness: These are the attributes that give our lives power and vividness and joy as they are also the marks of great art.

Please share your thoughts on clarity below.

Are You in Your Calendar?

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

I had a busy travel schedule in September, and looking into October, I’ve got Quilt Market in a few weeks. The Fall issue of The Professional Quilter is in the mail, and I’ve got lots of loose ends to tie up. I think my “to do” list is a mile long. Plus, I’m busy working with my meeting planner on scheduling our annual meeting for next March. Wow! Just thinking about it adds to my stress level.

I realize that I like to work hard and can easily neglect taking appropriate care of myself. I know I have good intentions but can slack off. How about you? I thought about ways to be sure I put myself in my calendar and thought I’d share some with you. I’d love to get your feedback on how you care for yourself on the blog.

1. Pay attention to your health. October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As a daughter of a breast cancer survivor, I am aware my family history plays some part. Early this week I called and made an appointment for my annual mammogram. All women have experienced the discomfort of the machine, though not many have had the experience of Leigh Anne Jasheway. She won the Erma Bombeck Award for Humor Writing in 2003 for her true story about her first mammogram when the machine caught on fire. Here’s a link the the article, “The First Time’s Always the Worst.”

2. Watch what you eat. Halloween is just around the corner and then we have Thanksgiving followed by Hanukkah and Christmas. It’s easy to get caught up in celebrations and neglect to pay attention to what you eat. And, since most of us work from home, i.e., near the refrigerator or pantry stash or the leftovers, it’s sometimes hard to eat healthy. Eating healthy keeps you energized and you feel better. For me, I try to follow the meal plan in our 5 Simple Steps to Boost Your Business and Boost Your Health. For the month, we’ve marked it down 15% for non-members, 20% for members.

3. Treat yourself to something special. I have a friend who treats herself a couple of times a month at the local bakery where she enjoys a cup of coffee and whatever just came from the oven. As my treat, I scheduled a massage for later this week. Did you know that it’s Spa Week? Spas all across the U.S are offering $50 treatments. Here’s a link to see if you can find one near you.

4. Get some exercise. I’m actually good about scheduling this one. I walk four miles early every weekday morning with my neighbors. They keep me accountable – you wouldn’t want to let down someone who got up before the crack of dawn – and I start my day energized. You don’t have to aim for my level; as little as a 15 minute walk three times a week makes a difference.

5. Get enough sleep. Busy people sometimes think that sleep is optional. Getting enough sleep is crucial to your well-being. I’ve read that six to eight hours is optimal and that you should go to bed and rise at about the same time each day.

6. Add some down time into your calendar. It could be the 15-minute break mid-afternoon where you make yourself a cup of tea and enjoy a magazine or think about your dreams. It could be a quick walk around the back yard or a 20-minute yoga stretch. A break in your day will help you avoid burnout.

As with each of these ideas, scheduling the time is key. If you don’t pay attention to yourself, you will be tired and stressed out. That doesn’t give you the energy required to run your business. So take time to take care of YOU.

Please share your ideas on how you care for yourself below on our blog.

Is Procrastination Holding You Back?

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Procrastination. We all know what it is: putting obstacles in our own way by handling those low-priority tasks instead of taking action on the high-priority tasks. The Latin roots of the word mean “in favor of” and “tomorrow.”

Dr. Piers Steel, a researcher on the science of motivation and procrastination and the author of The Procrastination Equation, says that procrastination is pervasive, with at least 95% of us procrastinating on a occasional basis. Count me in that group, as I found several ways to extend writing this article.

And we pay a price for procrastination. We miss out on opportunities, we cause ourselves unnecessary suffering, and procrastination also has an economic price. Steel says that procrastination falls into three different categories:

1. Expectancy, i.e., we expect to fail;
2. Value, i.e., we don’t value our work;
3. Time, i.e, we let momentary impulses rule us.

So how do we get beyond procrastination? Here are five tips:

1. Eliminating procrastination is tied to goals. Be sure you have set, clear goals and that you know why you want to accomplish them. You have to know why – your “Big Why.” What value do you attribute to completing these goals? It can also help you to break your big goal into smaller doable goals. And, if you need an extra push, consider finding an accountability partner to work as an external deadline for yourself. I’ve found this to be effective for completing the small doable tasks with my goals.

2. Learn how to prioritize. When you look at your list of activities for the day, which are most important? And, of the most important, are any urgent? One source to consider here is Stephen Covey’s matrix for prioritizing work. He classifies your tasks as urgent and non-urgent and then as important or not important. The problem with procrastination is that we neglect the important but not urgent until they become the fires we need to put out, i.e., important and urgent. We do this by focusing too much time in the not important quadrants.

3. Reward yourself. You can create a system whereby you earn points for each task that is accomplished as you set out, or you can pick a reward for completing the task. This should help focus you on the goal.

4. If low expectancy is one of your problems, try replacing your language. Expect that you will achieve your goals. That in turn will lead to self-confidence and optimism.

5. If impulsivity is your problem, try a technique Dr. Steel calls the “unschedule.”  He asks you to schedule play time into your calendar, being sure the amount of time is reasonable. He also suggests that “you should schedule an activity that represents the temptation you indulge in when you procrastinate.” For example, if you find that when you procrastinate, you surf the Internet, update your Facebook status or watch television, schedule time for that. Steel found that people that he worked with who “unscheduled” were better able to work on the task at hand.

6. Look for reminders that procrastination is a problem. I found the following quote from Victor Kiam – you may remember him as the man who “liked the shaver so much, he bought the company” – that I read periodically to remind myself that I might miss out on something good. Procrastination is opportunity’s assassin. 

Please share your ideas on dealing with procrastination below.

Are You Selling Benefits Not Features?

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

Defining your product is key to creating a good marketing plan. To define your product, you consider both its features and its benefits. One of the keys to marketing is to sell the benefits not the features. How do you know the difference?

Features characterize the product; benefits are why we buy the product. Features are easy to describe. Examples could include size, color, design, hours of business, fabric content, years of business experience.

Benefits are more difficult to define. They do, however, answer your customer’s question, “What’s in it for me?” When you buy products, you don’t buy because of a feature; you buy because of a benefit. Benefit is the value attributed to the feature of the product; in other words, it’s the result of the feature. Benefits are not as easy to describe and are often intangible. The most compelling benefits are those that deliver emotional or financial rewards. Emotional rewards let the buyer feel good. Examples could be shopping at an online retailer who donates a percentage of your purchase to a charity you choose or sending a quilt to someone to let you express love. Products that offer financial rewards usually save time or money, offer convenience or make you money.

How do you determine the benefits of your product or service? Start by knowing who your customers are and then look at your product from their point of view. Who are your customers? Are they baby boomers with expendable income? Are they Gen Xers? Are they teens and tweens? Are they working mothers with little free time? You might be trying to reach a variety of groups and need to consider benefits for each of them. Consider also who has purchased your product or service in the past. What does your customer profile tell you about your product? For example, do you sell your product to customers who might be retired and have extra time for long-range projects? Do you sell your product to working mothers who want something quick and easy? Do most of your store’s customers shop after 5 p.m. and on weekends? Ask your customers to help identify your product’s benefits. You could do this informally or with a survey. Your customers might even identify benefits you didn’t consider.

Developing your benefits statement is an ongoing process. As you continue to market your product, be aware of additional benefits. You might ask your customers for suggestions to your product or service. Pay attention to complaints or unsolicited comments about your product. Also, consider what your competition is doing. Additionally, consider how you’ll package your product. You might find a benefit there.

Once you’ve established your benefits statements, you will be able to describe your products in ways that are important to your customer. You will do this in all aspects of promotion, whether that is in creating your marketing collateral, advertising your product, writing articles or speaking one-on-one to customers about your product. You will also be able to differentiate your product from that of your competitors. You will be able to provide a benefit to your customers that your competition cannot. Now you’re on your way to a successful marketing strategy.

Please  share your thoughts on creating your product’s or service’s benefits below on our blog.

Are You Using Testimonials to Build Your Business?

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

Testimonials are a terrific way to help market your quilt or creative arts business. It’s word-of-mouth advertising, only you get to decide who hears it and what is heard. While you may get unsolicited testimonials, it’s a good idea for you to actually ask for a response. In some cases you might want to offer a thank you gift for the comment. Here are some ideas to try:

1. For the fiber artist or longarm quilter who has finished a commission, include a self-addressed stamped reply postcard with the work. Ask for comments that will help you in the future. You might try: Was the communication between quilter and customer adequate? Was the project completed in an appropriate time frame? Encourage the buyer to send you a photo of the quilt in use and ask for any other comments. If you want to thank the person giving you the testimonial, perhaps a small discount on a future order is possible.

2. For the teacher, include an additional comments line on your evaluation form. You’ll not only get ideas to improve your classes, but you’ll also get wonderful and heartfelt comments to use as testimonials.

3. Any book author can tell you how valuable the testimonial blurbs are on the back cover of their book. You will need to ask someone if he or she would be willing to write a blurb and then provide a galley copy of your book for reading. A published book might be a nice thank you for the testimonial.

4. If you sell a product to the general public, you can include a comment card in your packaging. You can request that someone leave a comment on your website or return the comment card via regular mail. Another idea would be to encourage feedback from the user. All products include some written material. You can add a couple sentences about how excited you’ll be to hear back from the user about their experiences with the product. You’ll be surprised at the response you’ll get. I think this would be quite effective for pattern designers.

5. For shop owners it’s easy to get testimonials either with a return card with a purchase or a comment card box somewhere in the store.

After you start receiving these comments, don’t forget to pat yourself on the back. You are delivering a great product and building an ongoing relationship with your customers.

What do you do with the testimonials as you get them? Be sure to include them in all your advertising. Here are some specific ideas:

1. Create a page for testimonials on your website. We have one we call Success Stories. You could also intersperse them throughout your site.

2. Include testimonials in your catalog. For example, a pattern designer might include a testimonial about how easy to follow her instructions are.

3. Include testimonials in your tri-fold brochure if you are are teacher or do commission work. It lets potential customers know the value of your work.

4. Include testimonials in any of your print ads. Study ads in magazines to see how testimonials are used.

5. Include testimonials on your product packaging, if space permits. It might be limited to just a few lines, but it could make a difference in someone buying the product.

Lastly, remember you don’t have to use the whole testimonial. You can use an excerpt, just be sure to keep it in context.

How do you gather and use testimonials in your business? Please leave a reply and share your experiences.

Six Reason to Hire a Coach or Mentor

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Last week I signed up to work with a new mentor, Fabienne Frederickson, when I joined her Platinum Coaching Program. Fabienne is known as the “Client Attraction Mentor on Marketing & Mindset.”

I’m a big believer in seeking help from mentors for business and personal growth, and I can’t wait to see where I go in the next year. Here are five good reasons to work with a coach or mentor.

1. A coach helps you think and play bigger. Because a coach isn’t involved in the nitty-gritty aspects of your business, she doesn’t get bogged down in your day-to-day details. She can see the big – and bigger – picture. This is particularly enhanced with a mastermind group. I’ve been amazed at how large my coaches and mastermind partners want me to play. Yes, it can be scary, but once you start thinking big, it’s impossible to go back.

2. A coach can keep you accountable. Your coach can help you keep on track by having you report weekly on your accomplishments. She’s able to help you make a commitment and stick to it. One of my coaching clients remarked that she’s accomplished more in the first two weeks than she did in six months and attributes it to having to be accountable to me on a weekly basis.

3. A coach can be another source of creative ideas and feedback. During one of our monthly calls recently, someone asked for a suggestion about how to do a video of her machine quilting studio. It was easy for me to think about how to approach this, and she loved the idea I came up with. It’s always easier to look at someone else’s business, and a different perspective can make the difference.

4. A coach can help you create your vision and, more specifically, a road map to get there. We all have dreams. Accomplishing them is something else. A coach can help you get clear about what’s important to you and set a plan for achievement.

5. A coach can help you build on your strengths, learn how to attack obstacles, and look for opportunities to grow your business. Yes, we all have roadblocks to growth, business or personal. A coach can help you identify what is hindering your progress and help you focus your thinking process toward growth.

6. A coach is also your personal cheerleader, ready to encourage and motivate you toward your goals.

In the end what a coach does is challenge you to be your best. And, if you put your best self out there, you’ll grow, both personally and professionally, and you’ll help more people.

I love this quote from Marianne Williamson about playing big, letting our lights shine. Perhaps you can relate:

I love this quote from Marianne Williamson about playing big, letting our lights shine. Perhaps you can relate:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light,
not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about
shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant
to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously
give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.

Please share your thoughts on our blog and if you are interested in exploring our coaching program, here’s a link.

The International Association of Professional Quilters offers resources and networking opportunities for you to create a success from your quilting business.  Learn about all the benefits of IAPQ membership and join here.

The Road to Authenticity is Through Awareness

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

by Sheri McConnell
Excerpted from Smart Women Know Their Why

Authenticity or the state of being real not only feels good, is easy to manage (let’s face it, you don’t have to remember who you were pretending to be!) and more importantly, it leads to new levels of awareness and growth. When you are willing to just be yourself in your relationships (business and otherwise) everyone wins because the energy vibration is much higher. When we give into the expectations of others, we begin to die. So authenticity is really about being faithful to the internal rather than external.

So many of my customers and yours really want to do business with people they like, they know, and most importantly trust. Being authentic is peaceful and profitable. Follow the four part path below to become more aware and practice authenticity:

Before anything and before everything comes decision. Let the universe know you are ready to be real and to grow. Trust me, you will be heard.

Two-Focus on the “Why”
After decision, remember to stop and take time for the most important question of all. Why? See chapter two for help during your journey along this part of the path.

Three-Commit and Recommit
Did I mention that you would have to decide over and over again and well, you never get to stop asking “why?” Not if you want to grow.

Four-Let the Universe Flow Through You
Ahhh. The entire reason you are taking your journey is because of this part of the path. Bliss and joy are your rewards. This part of the path is what makes being an entrepreneur somewhat of a manic experience because the highs can be addictive and all consuming. When the universe flows through you, time literally disappears and you forget about all the other parts of the path.

To learn more about Sheri McConnell and her new book, visit Smart Women Know Their Why.

The International Association of Professional Quilters offers resources and networking opportunities for you to create a success from your quilting business. Learn about all the benefits of IAPQ membership and join here.

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