Business Archives - Kara Lambert

Category Archives for "Business"

Growing your business

So often I speak to business owners about their ideal business, their dream business. They know exactly where they want to be but they’re stuck. They think it’s an all or nothing thing. Life isn’t black and white nor is it all or nothing. So what is the most common issue I see with this thinking and how do you get around it?

More often than not, business owners want to grow their business, put on new staff, open a new premises, but they’re worried that they won’t have the continuing income to achieve it.

Many businesses think that they need to save up or otherwise have the money/work behind them before they can expand. That’s just not the case.

Outsourcing

This is probably the easiest one to do.

Looking to put a staff member on? Try outsourcing various jobs rather than putting one person on. This way you will also learn what you are prepared to have someone else do and it will teach you, incrementally, what it’s like to have someone else do the work for you.

The most common barrier put up to outsourcing is the cost. I encourage business owners to focus more on what they can get done with that time they’ve ‘bought’ for themselves by outsourcing rather than the cost of the job itself. Look at what you will earn in that time. Think about how long a task would have taken and look at what you could earn in that time. Now how does outsourcing feel?

Contracting

Similar to outsourcing, is using a contracting company to ‘outsource’ the work.

Many business owners I know are looking to put on another staffer and so using a contractor can be a great way to increase staff on an ad-hoc basis until your business grows to the point where you can put someone on more permanently.

Using a contracting company can mean that you’re not responsible for a person’s entitlements, like you would staff, but you generally pay a higher rate in lieu.

Part-time/temporary work

The next stage up from a contractor would be to put someone on temporarily or part-time. Using a temporary position can mean getting you through the busy periods without worrying about what you’re going to do when things slow down. Using part-time staff means that you have more flexibility of knowing that they’re staff but that they will work for a minimum number of hours in a period, which can be increased under negotiation.

The great thing is that this incremental upgrading approach can also be used for expanding premises.

You might look at hiring a room on an ad-hoc basis, then move to a set time/day each week/month/quarter, and then expand that time. You can then consider a more permanent or larger lease as your business grows.

The thing to remember is that this is all incremental, can be expanded, and there’s no cut or dry approach to expansion. Every business is different, you have different circumstances, what worked for your competitor may not work for you (may not have worked for them either and they could be hiding it).

In the end, look at your numbers, consider these options, and realise that even these decisions aren’t set in concrete and you can change them. As awful as it sounds you can let staff go or break a lease, there are always ways to change.

Why I track my finances and you should too

So you may or may not know that when I was certain that consulting & coaching was the way I was headed, I projected my income out 10 years. Bit of a pipe dream? Maybe but that wasn’t my intention.

I looked at my numbers over a six month period and saw that I had almost doubled my business in that period, so I took the number and multiplied it out – year on year.

So yes, I know it’s ambitious but hey there’s nothing wrong with ambition!

So why did I do it?

Where am I headed financially?

As a new business owner I had no idea where I was headed financially. I knew I needed to bring in more money. I knew that I wanted sustainable growth. But I had no idea what that looked like for my business. So I went back to the numbers I had and used those. Let’s face it, the past is a good indicator for the future.

By projecting my income out 10 years I also knew that there were going to be points where I was going to have to change and perhaps bring new offers into the business – just to achieve the desired growth.  It gives me time to train and develop, things which take time.

To acclimatise to the financial position

Ever think of a dollar figure and get a little scared by the enormity of the number? What if you looked at it every day and you could see how you were progressing towards it and how far you’d come?

So you dream of hitting 5-figures, 6-figures, or 7-figures with your income, right? Because I’ve projected out my income (and I track my progress against it), I can see exactly when I’m set to achieve that figure. I look at my chart most days and I can see those multiple figure incomes coming. I can also see that I’m set to achieve some earlier than anticipate and that is an incredible feeling. I remember when a number seemed unachievable and now I’m shooting past it.

Repeated exposure to your goals creates a more concrete imprint in your mind making it more likely to be achieved.

To keep myself on track

Yep, there are times where I get in a rut. Bills are coming in or forecasted and the income is just not going to cut it. Tracking my income I can see where these things are and I can see with relative certainty where the horizon is for a surplus. It’s nice to see a way out knowing the money is coming.

The other way it keeps me on track is that it pushes me to achieve more, to reach next year’s goal this year, to innovate and grow my business sooner, to stop procrastinating on an idea, to try. Seeing my goals and watching them draw near motivates me to achieve more.

To anticipate business changes.

Projecting and tracking my finances means that I can see where I am likely to need to bring in an accountant or to outsource other functions of my business. By having a financial plan, I can see where I need to make business changes in the future  or if I need to make them sooner.

To celebrate

This is my favourite thing. I am keen to celebrate success. I enjoy knowing that my hard work has paid off and I recognise that. Let’s face it, not many of us are in the business of making money for money’s sake. So having and tracking my finances means that I can also see that I am achieving and therefore I can celebrate. How I celebrate differs, but it’s never extravagant. And don’t worry, sometimes celebrations are put off on account of a lack of finances that month, but because I track and project, I know when I will be able to celebrate and with what.

So I encourage all business owners to project and track their income. Project out a number of years and track at least weekly. ”Keep an eye on the pennies and the pounds will follow.”

If you’d like a copy of the financial tracker I use, you can

So you may or may not know that when I was certain that consulting & coaching was the way I was headed, I projected my income out 10 years. Bit of a pipe dream? Maybe but that wasn’t my intention.

I looked at my numbers over a six month period and saw that I had almost doubled my business in that period, so I took the number and multiplied it out – year on year.

So yes, I know it’s ambitious but hey there’s nothing wrong with ambition!

So why did I do it?

Where am I headed financially?

As a new business owner I had no idea where I was headed financially. I knew I needed to bring in more money. I knew that I wanted sustainable growth. But I had no idea what that looked like for my business. So I went back to the numbers I had and used those. Let’s face it, the past is a good indicator for the future.

By projecting my income out 10 years I also knew that there were going to be points where I was going to have to change and perhaps bring new offers into the business – just to achieve the desired growth.  It gives me time to train and develop, things which take time.

To acclimatise to the financial position

Ever think of a dollar figure and get a little scared by the enormity of the number? What if you looked at it every day and you could see how you were progressing towards it and how far you’d come?

So you dream of hitting 5-figures, 6-figures, or 7-figures with your income, right? Because I’ve projected out my income (and I track my progress against it), I can see exactly when I’m set to achieve that figure. I look at my chart most days and I can see those multiple figure incomes coming. I can also see that I’m set to achieve some earlier than anticipate and that is an incredible feeling. I remember when a number seemed unachievable and now I’m shooting past it.

Repeated exposure to your goals creates a more concrete imprint in your mind making it more likely to be achieved.

To keep myself on track

Yep, there are times where I get in a rut. Bills are coming in or forecasted and the income is just not going to cut it. Tracking my income I can see where these things are and I can see with relative certainty where the horizon is for a surplus. It’s nice to see a way out knowing the money is coming.

The other way it keeps me on track is that it pushes me to achieve more, to reach next year’s goal this year, to innovate and grow my business sooner, to stop procrastinating on an idea, to try. Seeing my goals and watching them draw near motivates me to achieve more.

To anticipate business changes.

Projecting and tracking my finances means that I can see where I am likely to need to bring in an accountant or to outsource other functions of my business. By having a financial plan, I can see where I need to make business changes in the future  or if I need to make them sooner.

To celebrate

This is my favourite thing. I am keen to celebrate success. I enjoy knowing that my hard work has paid off and I recognise that. Let’s face it, not many of us are in the business of making money for money’s sake. So having and tracking my finances means that I can also see that I am achieving and therefore I can celebrate. How I celebrate differs, but it’s never extravagant. And don’t worry, sometimes celebrations are put off on account of a lack of finances that month, but because I track and project, I know when I will be able to celebrate and with what.

So I encourage all business owners to project and track their income. Project out a number of years and track at least weekly. ”Keep an eye on the pennies and the pounds will follow.”

If you’d like a copy of the financial tracker I use, you can download it here.

The courage and power of the ask

So over the Christmas New Year break I’ve had some time to do some searching and learning. It was a time where everyone was setting their intentions and words for 2018, read my response here, and I was busy learning about one word – Ask.

Growing up I was told to help, make myself useful, don’t be a burden. So that’s what I did. The thing is that that doesn’t completely line up with running or growing a business. So I had to make a change.

It was while I was reading the book Brave: 50 Everyday Acts of Courage to Thrive in Work, Love and Life* by Margie Warrell that I came across her chapter on Asking. I’d just finished Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone* by Brené Brown  and so it was a good transition. But geez Louise did that chapter shake me. I was afraid to ask for what I wanted in business and as such I was playing safe and small. Sound familiar?

The chapter (14 if you’re wondering) Margie’s book talks about asking for what you want and Brené writes about being vulnerable. And that’s the hang up. Other than the years of programming. That’s the issue, to ask we must be vulnerable.

So often we don’t ask for fear of rejection. So instead we say no for the person. But it’s not just asking for the sale that I’ve being working on. Here’s the thing.

Ask for what you want for your customer

The first instance where I used this, I put out a post asking for people to opt in to my freebie. But I did it differently, I told them the things I wanted for them. I asked if that is what they wanted. I asked them to join me to receive it.

That was a powerful post. In fact, in the week that it remained active, meaning it was still getting responses, I had 120 people sign up in under 24 hours and this was in a busy Facebook group of 26 000 members. This was without any paid traffic. I was blown away. In fact I went on to gain 170 sign ups, just because I told them what I wanted for them and I asked them to join me.

I learnt that by asking for what I wanted for them, I showed them that I had listened, I cared, and I was not afraid to say it.

Ask as a follow up

I admit, this one was harder. I don’t follow up. I find it icky. If I don’t hear from someone, I assume that they didn’t like my offer and so I don’t follow up. I don’t ask.

So this is slightly different from asking for the sale, you’ve already done that. This is a check in after. I used to feel that I was being a pest or a bother, I mean let’s face it if they’d liked my offer they would have taken me up there and then. Right? Wrong! Why do you think that their a programs and businesses that follow you up when you click away from a website when you’re checking out. It’s not always that you got cold feet or a change of heart. Sometimes you just get distracted, life happens, and you never get back to it. Sometimes, you need that ‘remember me’ poke to get you back on track.

So I’ve been asking. I’ve been listening. I’ve been using my courage. I’ve been quietening the voice in my head that says, “they didn’t really want you”. But more importantly, I’ve been realising how pointless not asking has been, because more often than not that fear was wrong and all I had to was ask because the people were waiting.

Note: '*' denotes affiliate links to Amazon where a tiny portion of your purchase is returned to me. And by tiny I mean not enough for a coffee. But I thank you all the same. x

Why I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions or Word of the Year

So it’s coming to the end of 2017 and people are looking towards 2018. New Year’s Resolutions are sooo 2010 and over the past 3 years I have been setting a word for the year.

Guess what!

They’re about as useful as Resolutions.

I totally understand the appeal of the word. Resolutions take a lot of thought and they’ve gotten a bad wrap over how they don’t work unless you continuously reinforce them through repetition and inspired action.

So this is where the word of the year comes in.

The idea is that it’s an overarching theme for your year. A theme to inspire action, to drive activity, and to move you through 2018.

Yup.

Not enough for me.

I need something a little more tangible.

I need to see facts and figures.

I need concrete milestones to drive concrete action.

Sound familiar to you?

When I spot and think about it. I spent 5 years working in Quality Assurance. Essentially looking backwards and reviewing action. We had concrete targets to achieve, but our main function was to learn in retrospect and to use that to improve the business going forward.

And here was I wondering why Resolutions and Annual Theme Words weren’t working. It’s no wonder when I have been programmed to look retrospectively and use concrete data to drive progress.

And I know that I can change behaviour. But humour me for a moment as I explain why and how this approach may suit some more than the 100% forwards projecting approach of Resolution and Theme word setting.

In my business, I project my income. I have a projection out for 10 years (now down to 7 as I haven’t made it rolling). It’s based on the first 18 months of growth in my business and now 3 years in, it’s still working. It’s planning for forward growth based on past performance.

I track my income against these projections. I know how much my expected income will be for the remainder of the current year & I know that I will exceed my growth target for this current financial year. You see, I’m a big believer in the saying, “What gets measured gets managed”.

This is planning based on concrete evidenced performance.

In fact, I’m now planning out my income for the following financial year, taking into consideration my expected growth.

So how does this impact on my ability to set a Resolution or Theme Word? Surely I seem strategic enough that I can find a suitable one.

Seems not!

Looking back, as you can see I do, I’ve found that they’ve not been effective. I’ve achieved, I’ve grown, I’ve evolved but not because of a Word or Resolution, but because of activity.

So what am I doing in 2018 and forward instead of yearly Resolutions & Theme Words?

I’m planning more. Through my coaching, I am conducting quarterly planning and projecting and part of that is a word that summarises the activity for that quarter.

So for the first quarter of 2018, I am launching the online version of my Organic Facebook Course. Something I’ve wanted to do for 2 years now; taking my successful face-to-face course and making it available for people outside of where I live. I’m also headed to a Social Media Conference in San Diego, another thing I’ve wanted to do for 2 years.

So my first quarter 2018 is about ‘Action’. Moving on things that I have wanted to do and for various reasons, I haven’t.

Now some will say that this is just the same as setting a Yearly Theme Word or New Year’s Resolution. I would say that it’s retrospective. I’m looking at what I will be doing first to achieve my financial goals and then considering a word which fits that activity. Not a guiding principle to drive my activity.

I think this is key.

For these to work you need a key motivator first. Personally, it’s my financial goals. (Don’t worry, money is not my only motivator, it is a tool to achieve my life I am setting for myself.) For me to achieve the flexibility and family balance, increasing my income is key as it reduces the pressure on my husband and gives our family the flexibility we desire.

So I hope this has helped some of you who may not resonate with New Year’s Resolutions or Yearly Theme Words.

If this is you & you have no idea how to get to this place, then I’d like to suggest the following:
1. If you don’t know what your dream business looks like, read the following blog and download the free workbook for it; then
2. If you don’t forecast & track your financial position, read the following blog post and download the Excel sheet I use; then
3. Grab a sheet of paper and write the months for the quarter you are about to head in to (at writing that would be Jan-Mar 2018) & then write what your top 3 business activities are for the period, what your financial goal is for the period, and the one word that represents those activities. Stick it where you can see it while you work.

I have to be honest, popping this up in my line of sight helps. It helps keep me accountable. However, the main thing that helps is having someone to be accountable to – for me that’s my coach. If this sounds like your missing link, then please book a complimentary discovery session with me where we can chat about how I can help you achieve more in 2018.

What I learnt from hiring a coach

At the start of 2017 I knew there were a number of things I ‘had to do’. One of them was to go on a business retreat and get some focus and direction on my business. So I did. I took myself to Sydney for 3 days and I retreated. At the end, the organiser mentioned their coaching program. I didn’t have the money for group coaching, but I knew that I had to have it. I had invested time in my business and I wanted to get things going. So I signed up, this is what I got…

So each fortnight I jump on a group call with my coach, and 3 other women, we listen to the coach’s wisdom and we support & solve the issues we each have faced and plan for the coming week. But that’s what we do, you want to know what I got out of it.

The big one…

I doubled my income the month I decided to start working with my coach. Remember how I said that I didn’t have the money when I made the decision. Well it appeared, and then some! And it kept coming. I’ve gained and lost clients but I haven’t lost income. It keeps coming. I learnt that if I made a commitment to my business, then I would be provided for.

I was held accountable

I do this with my clients but I’m not good with myself. Well guess what, when you’re paying someone and every 2 weeks you have to front them and tell them what you’ve been up to and why you didn’t achieve that really important thing from last week… you better have a really good reason behind it.

I was called on my BS

Now I need this. And it was done with all love and care. But the first few sessions I went into them unprepared. I didn’t know what I wanted help with for the coming fortnight and I rattled off a grocery list, and then some, of my achievements. But I actually wasn’t progressing with my business. I was called out! I then realised that if I was to make the most of the investment, as I had intended, I needed to get real and get honest. You know what happened? The next session I cracked, I cried, I exposed my fears to the group, and from there I grew.  At the end of our sessions for the year, I was thanked for opening up a space where we could be honest and vulnerable. I had lead the way.

I got my shit together

I used to think I had time under control. I was kidding, and let’s face it I still have work to do. My coach told me that ‘my brain isn’t a filing cabinet’ and that I needed to work out a better way to organise my time than my ever growing job list. It was true. Things were slipping by and I was missing client tasks. It wasn’t good. So I found my weekly planner pad and I used the jar/rocks/pebble/sand/water philosophy for my time. Guess what? I had more time than before! I could achieve more.

I could help my clients more

My coach gave us carte blanche to use what we learnt in the sessions with our clients. So I did. What it meant was that I had clients who were able to grow their businesses and secure their family’s financial freedom within a short period of time. Clients went from juggling debt on credit cards and debtors to having all the bills paid, closing off credit card accounts, and having money in the bank.

I learnt about me

I learnt that it was ok to have a niche where no one else was, that was emerging, that being different was ok. Seems odd, but I was always looking to fit into the industry but I wanted to do it differently. I was confounded. That day I was in tears, I learnt that I really only needed 2-3 people who I knew were in the trenches with me and had my back no matter what. I used that, I drew on that. When I went to the US, I discovered just how different I was but how I wasn’t actually alone. There were 3 of us I found, amongst the 21000 people there, who spoke the same language (1 was a keynote & 1 I met in the audience). The more people I spoke to, the more I realised that not only was it ok to be different – I was actually of interest to others in my industry and that being different was my strength.

Good things come

I learnt that with time and space, what I need will come.  I ‘needed’ to move to more coaching and less managing. I was scared. I liked the security of the consistent income. I learnt that I didn’t have to give that away to move to where I was drawn. I could do it incrementally, but I had to let go of it. I had to show up the way I wanted to be seen and offer myself as that. So that is where I’m headed. It has only been since October that I have decided, it’s slow, but the shift is happening. I have been tested by the draw back, but I’m serious in pursuing this passion and I seriously adore what I get out of coaching. So good things are here and more is to come.

Did I expect this outcome? Well I hoped for it. I know that I had seen it in my own clients, but that was ‘different’ in my eyes. I had hoped for the accountability, I had dreamed about the income growth, it was the personal growth that came in 6 short months which has me excited. I’m excited for the year to come, I’m excited for my clients, and I’m excited for me.

Outsourcing and goals

Do you have a Procrastination Pixie? What about a Nearly Done Nymph? Or a Get To It Gnome? In my Facebook Group we’ve been discussing outsourcing and I thought I chat a little more about it over here on the blog.

So what is outsourcing? It can be anything from getting a book-keeper or VA or social media manager to run a business function for you, through to getting someone to do some one off task.

Most business owners think that outsourcing is an all or nothing affair and that it’s going to be costly. Outsourcing is only expensive if you don’t use the time you gain to generate income - then it costs you money!

I’m a late comer to outsourcing, even when I worked a 9-5 desk job I didn’t outsource, not even a cleaner. The change came when I realised I would get 80-90% of the work done and I wouldn’t do the last bit to get it out there.

I sat and thought on it for a while. I couldn’t work out what it was. I wasn’t afraid of putting myself out there. I did know that I had a thing where if I was learning a new ‘thing’ that once I realised I knew enough, I would leave it. That was my issue, I was a ‘near enough is good enough’ but that issue included the execution. So I outsourced the execution of things. The big block was my website.

I’ve been building & maintaining websites since 2000. It’s something I know how to do but don’t always enjoy it, I’d rather be coaching in all honesty. So when I realised that making some small changes to my site was taking hours when it should be taking minutes, thanks Procrastination Pixie, I outsourced.

When I decided that I needed to develop a waitlist page for my Organic Facebook Course and that the Nearly Done Nymph would likely halt me pressing publish on the page, I outsourced the whole damn page.

What I discovered was that while I can build my own website, I don’t always love it and I drag my heels on it. It’s a necessary evil for my business but my Pixies & Nymphs often hold me back from achieving my goal. That had to stop! I need my site to help run my business. The outsourcing didn’t stop there, there was the Grand-Daddy of all outsources!

The biggest outsource I’ve committed to is accountability. I’ve hired a business coach and I have to report in every 2 weeks against my goals for the fortnight. And believe me I get called on my BS if I don’t. So outsourcing this has kept my Get To It Gnome at bay. Boy have I stepped up too! In fact, from the month I decided to start with my coach, my income sky rocketed, I exceeded my financial goal for the 16/17 financial year and I’m set to exceed my goal for the 17/18 financial year. This happened because I outsourced my accountability and I’m being held to a higher standard.

Here’s the other reason why I’m writing about outsourcing now. I’ve been talking about goal setting for 2018 in my group and I have been chatting about not just setting the goal itself but ensuring that you work out the steps you need to do to get there. There’s one thing saying your goal is to have a 7-figure business, but it’s another thing to know what steps you have to take to get those 7-figures. It’s taking a pie-in-the-sky goal and turning it into a realistic and achievable milestone.

So how does outsourcing fit in achieving your goals?

Outsourcing tasks does a number of things.

For me it gives me space to do the things I prefer to do but doesn’t stop me from achieving what I want to achieve.
It doubles my time because the time from the task I outsource is then given back to me to work on other things, thanks Procrastination Pixie.
It makes me work harder on achieving the goal because I have to generate the money to pay for the tasks I outsource.

I openly admit that the control freak in me had trust issues to outsource. Perhaps it was the Pixie, the Nymph, and the Gnome hoping for one last ditch attempt to derail me. Little did they realise that I’m dogged in achieving my goals and I worked out how to get the better of them.

If you’d like to learn how I set my goals, I’ve reopened access to my goal setting work. It’s now available for immediate download and is a workbook and 30 minute training video. You can access it now over HERE.

My favourite video tools for small business

Ever seen those viral videos on Facebook and thought, “I wonder how I’d record myself?” I have to be honest, my original videos were done with a digital camcorder. While not in a professional studio, I promise there is an easier way.

Here are the video recording tools I use

Facebook Live - Live streaming video

It’s no surprise that I use this since I love live streaming. I love the interaction and the ease of recording from my phone (yes I also go live from my laptop).

I will often run a Facebook Live, save the video to my gallery and upload it from there so that I can have it on my Youtube channel or repurpose it into a blog.

You can also download your Facebook Live videos and then upload them to other channels.

COST - FREE

Debut Video Capture

I use the Debut Video Capture from Australian Company, NCH Software to quickly record my screen. You have a number of different views you can record, be it a set area, active window or full screen.

I like how Debut Video Capture quickly integrates with their video editing software – Video Pad. Better still, Video Pad can load directly into a number of video platforms, including YouTube. I really like this function as it saves logging in or moving to another window.

You can also overlay text or your webcam video. The webcam overlay is great so you can still see your face when sharing your screen. Perfect for video tutorials.

COST - $50 AUD

Adobe Spark Video

I love that Adobe Spark have mobile apps (IOS only) and that means that I can make videos on the run. I have used their templated videos to run Facebook Video ads with a voice over.

Adobe Spark Suite gives you access to the Adobe images suite and a multitude of templated designs. Of course, you can design your own from scratch.

Adobe Spark Video has a library of music to use as backing or you can dub over your video of transitioning images.

Cost - FREE

Lumen 5 - Blog to Video conversion

Lumen5 is my latest find and I am a little smitten with shiny new toy syndrome.

With Lumen5 I can take a blog post URL or text and put it in and out pops a video. Ok, so there’s a little work to do in there.

With the manual upload, you input the link or text and then you can add new slides and slide text to cover off the points in the uploaded content. The great thing is that it will import the linked images for you to use and it will also find related images and video to have in the slide backgrounds. Yes! You get video in video. It certainly makes for a more entertaining production.

You can then add background music from their library, upload music or you can dub over the top.

It gets better!

The Lumen5 video tool will also take an RSS feed and turn your feed into templated videos. Now that’s a hands off approach to video creation that I can applaud. The templates draw text from the posts into the template. You can then edit, change images/video and add the audio. A much faster result.

Most Lumen5 video sits in under a minute. This is great for a quick teaser to your content. Upload it to YouTube etc and embed with your blog for an overview for those who don’t like reading!

COST – FREE (so long as you don’t mind their branding)

Zoom - Video Conference & Webinar

I use Zoom for video meetings & training. I love the record feature and how it brings my webcam in over my screen when screensharing.

I use Zoom recordings to repurpose the trainings I do using Zoom.

COST – FREE to $28/mth AUD

Save

How to overcome the fear of success – for small business

Ever dream so big, set the goals, put the plan into place only to realise as it’s about to realise that you’re scared witless (or rhymes with) about it actually succeeding. Yeah that’s me.

Back in February 2016 I heard about Inbound, a major marketing conference in the US. I had just shifted my branding over, redone my website, and I had big plans for my business. “Why not reward myself?”, I thought with a trip. I spoke to friends about different social media & marketing conferences and Inbound came up as the one to attend for those who were already in marketing. So I decided that 2017 would be the year I attended.

In mid-2016 I toyed with the idea of attending in September 2016 but for various reasons that never happened, & I kept my 2017 goal.

Around comes 2017 and my business is growing and I find out that some of my favourite speakers (Michelle Obama & Brené Brown) are keynotes. Well, my need to get to Inbound went up a notch. I had to be there. These were bucket list speakers.

I bootstrap my business, meaning there is no capital investment outside of the income it generates. I had to work for those tickets.

Here’s the thing. All along, all through my career, I always thought the only way I would get overseas for work was if my boss paid for me. (Well I did work for the government) Now that never happened and in 3 short years of business, I find myself paying to go overseas.

So why am I so afraid? I’ve even lived in the US. I travelled between Australia & the US alone, so it’s not that. It is precisely what this trip represents.

Success

I have succeeded in achieving a goal I had never had for myself prior to starting my own business and one that seemed improbable.

Yes, I do have an overall fear of success. That’s why all of this is making me anxious just as it’s about to occur. Now don’t worry, I’m not a self-sabotager. I will be getting on that plane and attending that conference.

But what has got me stumped is this fear of success.

For many years I was told not to shine to bright, give others a turn, don’t get too big for my boots. I always thought that this was why I had a fear of success. I thought it was the self-talk tape I had had programmed.  Perhaps a little.

Then I thought it was actually a fear of failure. You know the whole, but what if I fail and fall flat on my face thing! Nope, not that either. While I used to say that failure was familiar, in a self-deprecating manner, and it’s true that I am no stranger to failure. I’m actually ok with failure. I learnt long ago to live without regret, which frees me from fearing failure. I am also incredibly resilient which means that I fail, I get up, I brush myself off, and I get on my way.

So it’s not a fear of failure in the guise of not fearing success.

So what is it about my fear of success?

The paradoxical thing about success, unlike failure, is that it can never truly be achieved. Once you’ve achieved a certain level of success, a new one appears. And I think that’s it. My fear of success is actually that I can never attain it, but don’t confuse it with felling like I will fail, it’s not that. It’s fleeting and surpassed by a new goal. I’m afraid of something I believe doesn’t exist because while I achieve a goal, success has moved. It’s a mirage that jumps along the road of progress to a new point.

So what to do about my fear of success?

Well I’ve acknowledged it and that’s always a good step.

I’ve called it what it is, the never ending fear.

So what does psychology say when overcoming fears, generally it’s exposure therapy. Repeatedly putting yourself in a position to encounter the fear while still in a safe environment. That goes against those things I was told growing up of not showing off.

But I have to lean into my fear of success. Just like getting over a fear of flying (not that I have that, heights yes). I have to work that muscle.

So I’m heading to the US to attend that conference. I’m doing it on my own dollar. I’ve leaned in to success and I’ve actually applied to be a speaker at a conference in Canada in 2018, speaking on consumer behaviour on Facebook.

So what’s my advice to those of you who fear success?

Look at your track record. Look at how far you’ve come. If you fear success, remember it is an incremental upgrade and that means you’re already successful. So lean in, there’s nothing to fear.

 

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3 tips to maximise your first media coverage

During the week I asked my friends and my Facebook group: What they would do next after their business was featured on national tv. I was wondering how and if businesses had thought about maximising their media coverage. The results were interesting.

For most it would be their first media coverage and to be honest, it can be daunting. While not necessarily press coverage, I remember seeing my first piece of associated press and not only was I over the moon, but I was completely daunted by the company I was keeping. Seems my reactions were not dissimilar to those I asked.

Most small business owners said that they would celebrate, cry, scream; essentially we all run through a range of emotions. Which is perfectly normal when we get that first media coverage, but then what? How do the best small business maximise their media coverage?

Get your website ready to cope with the media coverage

Some of the people said they’d check to make sure that their website could handle the increased traffic after receiving the press coverage. While the ability to handle the load is important, you need to maximise the press coverage too. Here are a few tips to ensure your website is ready not just for the rush of customers but the associated press too:
- add a link to your media page
- add excerpts to your media page
- add excerpts to other pages or blog posts
- add their logo to your site to say “As seen in”

By adding these points through your site, you maximise the kudos appearing in the media has and it shows associated press that you are interested and will share their press coverage.

Share the press coverage

Only one person said that they would upload it to their social media, they said their Facebook business page first and then their Instagram. No one mentioned uploading the media coverage to YouTube.

The thing is you can’t and shouldn’t just share the press coverage once to each channel and forget it. Here are some ideas:
- share the whole piece of media coverage
- share screenshots with quotes taken from the piece
- share excerpts of your press coverage
- share the story from the media outlet’s channels
- thank and participate in conversations about your media coverage, and

do all of these across all of your social media channels a number of times. The amazing thing about social media, is that your fans will celebrate your media coverage with you and won’t mind if you mix things up and keep your social media posts relevant and engaging. So ask them to share!

Don’t forget to share with your email list too!

Chase associated press coverage

It might seem odd but it’s easier to get press coverage once you’ve already had it. Now you might not get good results straight away and pitching the same story generally has little appeal to associated press, but you need to strike and set seeds while your name is still buzzing.

There are a few ways small business can get their business ideas in front of associated press channels. You can call or email the appropriate desks in the media outlet. You can also monitor sites such as Help A Reporter Out (HARO) and Sourcebottle, where journalists post opportunities to be featured in the media. If you'd like to read more on media pitches, have a read of my interview with Kellie O'Brien.

Write a note to the journalist who featured you. A personal note of thanks is rare and shows that you took the time to put pen to paper and appreciate their work.

In the end, your first media coverage can be daunting but it’s important for the best small business to maximise the spotlight and put their business ideas out there. This media coverage affords you the opportunity to grow your small business and the best small business will run with these opportunities. Media coverage is part of achieving your business goals and growing your business and perhaps if you’re not sure what you’d do if the spotlight was turned on you then you might want to consider getting clear on your business goals and what you would do if you were featured in your local press.

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3 sure fire steps to increasing profits

I realise that it’s just gone tax time here in Australia and many have looked at their bottom line and wondered where all that money has gone. Expenses are creeping up and margins are sliding down. So it’s no wonder that I’m often asked how to increase profits. Well, there’s three way. (no I won’t say they’re easy)

There are three main ways I walk my business coaching clients through looking to increase their profit margin. In the main, you can decrease costs, increase the number of jobs/services you do, or you can increase your prices/spend. Before you jump headlong, you need to have your last Profit & Loss statement printed, you need to know how many hours you worked last financial year (or a good idea how many you would have liked to), and you’ll need to know what the average industry rate is for your field. Got it? Let’s go!

More Profit : Decreasing costs

Ok, so it sounds like it’s easily enough done but you’d be surprised how often it’s not. For example, I’d been holding onto a US$99/month piece of software that I needed for one client when if I had read the fineprint the free version would have worked. So, I cancelled and saved myself over $1000 a year!

My favourite place to start is insurances, yes I understand that if you have them then you need them but do you have to pay that much? One coaching client wanted to join the industry body but couldn’t afford it. We looked at it and realised that one of the perks was cheaper insurances and so they saved themselves the membership. The membership also gave them 6 months of free access to a piece of software they were paying for monthly, there’s another saving.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling you to join your local chapter if you’re not going to get benefit; it then just becomes a cost.

You need to objectively and systematically go through your expenses list and work out where you can make savings. Can you change internet or phone provider (this is something I’ve done this year)? Could you buy larger amounts of stationery? Would you be better off on a commercial postage plan? Could some of the things you buy be bought using reward points?

This might seem like a thankless task, but you will thank me next financial year when you reap the benefit of reduced costs.

More Profit : Increased number of jobs/services

I am not asking you to give up sleep or weekends. I promise you. In fact, I have recently increased my client load by 50% but I now work fewer hours. How do I do it?

You would be surprised just how much time we waste on various things:
- social media
- emails & message alerts
- thinking what we had to do
- planning our week

I know it’s ironic that I put social media first, and yes I spend a ridiculous amount of time on it, but there are times (like now) where I actually turn it off.  I wrote about this a while ago, but I switch it off and then rely on my devices for notifications. They sit on my desk and I can see them out the corner of my eye, but it takes longer to log into them than having a tab open on my browser.

Did you know that I have my devices on silent, even my laptop?! Every single ping & bing takes my attention, like Pavlov’s dog, away from my task and then it takes me time to get back into the groove. This is why I have a smart watch, and even that only buzzes. What I suggest is muting your computer, except for watching videos, and see how it works for you. When I started I also switched my phone to vibrate, this is handy for those in the service industry who need to answer calls but can’t always. Alternatively, set up your phone so that when you are in an appointment that your phone is put to ‘Do Not Disturb’ and only emergency contacts will get through. Then you can block out time as appointments and go undisturbed.

Make a to-do list, or better still, make a to do schedule each week with your appointments, tasks, and other obligations. I’ve recently done this and found I then spend the time I used to use trying to remember or think of tasks, actually achieving them. It also means that I can see when I have slower periods, I can block in some ‘me time’, or I can work on those passion projects. Having time mapped and scheduled doesn’t make you more rigid in your time use, it actually makes you more flexible as you know when you can move things to.

So now that I’ve given you hints on how to make more time, what do you do with it? Well you can book more jobs in, look for more prospects, or you can work on additional services to increase the spend of your existing clients. All increase the jobs you do.

More Profit : Charge more

Now this is often the first change people make, but I always have it as the last. Why? I prefer efficiency gains first. I like efficiency gains as they will often be long lasting and can be cumulative. There’s generally only one way to go when you solely rely on increasing your prices.

There are a few ways I have helped businesses increase fees, but in the main it comes down to knowing your cost per unit (be that physical item or hour of your time), how much you want to earn in the coming period, and how much time you want to dedicate to making that money.

It does come down to straight maths:
- total expenses/total hours
- total expenses/number of products

From there you need to add a markup, it’s this markup which is your profit. For most business I have them double their costs and then compare it to the industry. In product based businesses we normally add 20-30% to arrive at the wholesale cost and then double wholesale to arrive at the retail price; we still then look at the marketplace and consider what the market will bear.

So you’ve done that? How do you feel with the end figure? Not enough, less than your current charge (if so go look at the first 2 tasks again), feel sick to your stomach because it’s too much. You need to then sit with this figure for a few days, think about it periodically and write down any fears or objections that pop into your head. From there consider the likelihood of them eventuating, you could change the wording to “What would I do if (fear) happened?”, you can discuss it with a friend or mentor, or we can discuss it in the Facebook Group.

In the end, the aim of this exercise is to increase your profit so that you can achieve the goals you have for your business and yourself. If you have no idea what that is, then I suggest downloading my Dream Business worksheet or we can set a time to discuss moving you through this into a more profitable business.

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