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Category Archives for Organization

This is What is Killing My Business

I have a bit of a confession to make. I have been feeling a bit burnt out lately 🙂 Maybe it is the time of year – the luster has worn off the new year – and it seems like I’m just working hard but not really seeing spectacular results.

Did you know that when it comes to business – the one thing that really crumbles entrepreneurs – is overwhelm.

It’s a trap.

You and I are a lot alike I think. It is easy to think that working more is working better. You end up ditching the self care to meet the needs of your clients and your family. You are tired and worn out, and before you give up (like I almost did), I want to give you a message.

The key is to work smarter not harder.

Here’s a few quick tips that I am trying to boost my productivity.

1. Structure Your Days: Structure equals a routine of success. If you’re running around like a madman, you’re quickly going to burn out.

Here’s what you do:

Create a routine that fits your lifestyle. Get up at the same time each morning, drink a cup of coffee, check emails when you first get to the office and then leave them. Block out specific times for phone calls – sticking to a routine is key!

2. Quit Trying to Multitask: Multitasking means you’re putting in a half-effort. Stop that.

Here’s what you do:

Focus on one thing at a time, so you don’t have to go back and correct your mistakes later. I discovered a new tool that helps you to schedule tasks in your calendar. It is called Plan. You can get it here – https://getplan.co

3. Take a break: Giving yourself a few moments to wind down throughout the day is necessary for maintaining your productivity… and sanity.

Here’s what you do:

A lot of people convince themselves that breaks are a waste of time when really, pushing yourself can be counterproductive. Give your brain relax time so it can regain fuel by taking a 10 minute break every hour and a half. I like to crank up the music and dance!

Anyway, I don’t want to eat up too much more of your time. I just wanted to share what I’ve been up to in case it helps you!

 

PS – In case you were wondering, I got some help with this system from a fellow Time Traders Club Elite Member, Miriam Ortiz Y Pino. She has also helped another member Dave Kinkead (you can read his story here). Do you need help in your business? Join Time Traders Club – it’s free!

Easter and Do-Overs

One of my favorite Sunday morning rituals is reading Chris Brogan’s newsletter. I have been on Chris’ list for a while, and have enjoyed watching the evolution of his business and content from dealing primarily with social media to getting straight to the heart of what you need to do to be a successful entrepreneur.

Yesterday’s newsletter was all about the power of forgiveness and Easter. Easter is at its core the story of something terrible happening, of forgiveness and starting again. Every religion has a similar story – and chances are, you’ve been through this cycle many times in personal life. It is how you make progress. Sometimes it is easy to get stuck in the “something bad happens” and not make it through to “forgiveness” – or you forgive but get stuck and don’t move on. The growth happens when you take the step to start again.

For example, you might have noticed your email inbox was seeming a little empty last week. I didn’t get the solo biz bites done. This week, I am starting over.

As we end the first quarter of 2016, are you feeling discouraged? Is your business possibly not where you thought it would be at this point? My guess is that there are things you are celebrating and things that you wish you could do over. My challenge to you, is to be gentle with yourself and forgive, then wipe the slate clean and start over.

Not sure where to start? We’ve found that often just a few simple tweaks can make all the difference. We’ll be talking all about that in a webinar on April 6 where we’ll introduce the concept and issue a challenge to you to make six simple swaps and see where they take you.

What Jeff Galloway Taught Me About Business

I ran a marathon once. If you have actually ever met me – this is more surprising than it sounds. As a round, middle aged lady, I don’t exactly fit the “marathon runner” mold.

And, the marathon took me almost 7 hours to complete. So, one might say I didn’t exactly “run” the marathon – I ran and walked and ran and walked… and that is the whole point. But, I took 6 months, I trained and I did it. And, I like the experience so much, I went on to complete a century (100 mile) bike ride and a triathlon. So, if I can do it, ANYONE can 🙂

I owe my first marathon experience to Jeff Galloway.

Jeff Galloway teaches people how to run marathons. His method has even fast runners taking walk breaks every so often. If your body gets breaks, you run faster when you are running. The “real” runners would run 9 minutes and rest 1. Beginners would run a minute then walk a minute. I never got past beginner – but I finished.

The same principle works when you are trying to get things done. When I try to hammer out 15 blog posts all at once, I get tired, I get distracted, the siren of Facebook calls my name.

When I set a timer for 30 minutes, I work much harder knowing my time is limited. My favorite app for managing this is Pomodone – http://pomodoneapp.com/ – it connects to both Asana and ToDoist – so I can pull tasks in, work on them and check them off.

sbh-pomodone

At the end of each of my running breaks, I really looked forward to talking with the other people in my group. I met a lot very interesting people from Coast Guard officers, to nuns to reality stars while training. It was worth running for the 60 second long conversation breaks. When I’m working, I look forward to 5 minutes with Facebook or Google. Or, just having the opportunity to get up, stretch my legs and make myself some hot chocolate. And, I find I get a lot more done.

Do you use a timer when you work? What method works best for you? Reply and let me know.

Do You Have To Do’s Flying Everywhere?

Are you a member of more than one team? If you are, you probably are getting your to do’s from more than one “collaborative workspace”.  I have tasks in Asana, Basecamp, Trello, and ToDoIst.

With all of those lists, it is really hard to figure out what you actually have to do. And, it is even harder to remember to check the tasks off when you are done.

Making a Taco of Your Tasks

Enter Taco 🙂 Taco is a free app that puts all of your tasks from all of your different to do lists in one place. You can check it out here: https://tacoapp.com/

The thing that I really like about Taco is it has filters so that you can see exactly the tasks that you want to see. Leaving the tasks unfiltered in one giant list can get a bit overwhelming.

Taco also allows you to embed our own links and widgets. I have a widget with my calendar on my taco app page as well as links to pages that I visit often. Taco creates a mini-Kanban for you where you can pull tasks across as you are working on them.

sbh-taco

Watching the Sunrise

sbh-sunrise

If you are less of a list person, and like calendars better – Sunrise – http://sunrise.am will also put in all of your tasks and add them to your calendar (but they need to be due on a specific day to show up).

Sunrise helpfully creates links back to each of the tasks on the calendar so that you can go back to the original task list when when finished and check off the task. And, unlike taco.app, Sunrise is available across platforms. There is a desktop app, and ios app, a Facebook app and of course, it integrates with all things Windows (Sunrise was recently acquired by Microsoft).

Do you work on multiple teams? How do you wrangle your tasks? Leave your answer in the comments section and let us know.

operations

5 Basic Areas of Operations in a Solo Business

You are getting ready to become a full fledged solo business hacker. You are ready to create some experiments and try to make your business better, but where should you start? How many experiments should you do at once?

A good guideline is to do one experiment at a time is each of the following five areas of operation:

Mission This is the core area of your business – the thing that people pay you to do. For example, if you are a social media consultant – social media would be your area of expertise. If you are business coach, your area of expertise would be business coaching. This is usually the thing you love to do the most – but can’t find enough time to do because you are doing everything else in your business too. Experiments here are about changing your process to get better results for your clients.

Marketing/Sales This is about getting the word out, conversion and sales. Experiments in this area include adding more content to your blog, posting more or differently to social media, trying a new mix of social media channels. You can get plenty of ideas for marketing hacks by googling growth hacking and using some of those ideas.

Operations This is the nuts and bolts, bread and butter part of your business. This where time spent creating processes goes. It is also about profit, loss, finances, keeping records, etc. Experiments in this area are how to improve your record keeping, how to eliminate costs by doing things more efficiently, etc.

Capabilities This is the training and development part of your business. Experiments here are learning adventures. If you like to learn, this is where you can get ideas for new experiments. You can also expand your capabilities by hiring or trading with other people.

Connections This is one of the most important areas of your business and includes building relationships with clients and prospects – but also finding a way to approach and befriend influencers. Experiments in the connections area might include how the level of thank you gift you send influences renewals and referrals. Or, perhaps you can experiment with new systems of reaching out to potential influencers. Just remember to measure what you are doing.

Remember, you want to limit the number of hacks you are trying at any one time so you don’t get overwhelmed. Do two or three (choose the areas where you need the most help), or do one from each area. Keep tweaking and you’ll be sure to see results.

Biz Hack Manual

Writing Your Solo Biz Hacking “Field Manual”

A question we always ask our guest on the Paycheck to Passion podcast, is “if you were to travel back in time and tell your past self something that would help them, what would it be?” The answer 90% of the time is “chill out – it will all be OK” sometimes it is “don’t wait to get a coach”. My answer is a bit different. I would tell myself to start documenting my systems from day one and create a “field manual” for my business.

What is a field manual?

A field manual is basically an operations manual for your business. It is a document that lays out what you do in your business and how it is done. Theoretically, if something happened to you, they could pick up the manual and run the business. They wouldn’t be tweaking or improving, but they could get the basic day to day work done.

Why do you need a field manual?

The primary reason to create a field manual is to save yourself time. Instead of trying to figure out how to do the same task again and again, you can simply pull out your checklist and get it done. A good field manual will also make it easier for you to delegate since you already have written out the steps that need to be taken. Your training time will be cut in half with a good set of directions. You will get better results because your team won’t have to read your mind. Finally, having your procedures laid out in a checklist gives you something to improve upon. If you do a task a different way each time, there is no way to tweak it to make it work better.

Creating Your Field Manual

A field manual is simply a set of checklists for your business. Here are the steps for easily creating each process document:

  • Record yourself doing the task using a screencasting tool. I like snagit for short screencasts.
  • Watch the video and write down the steps. Pause during important steps and get a screenshot.
  • Give the process to someone else to try using your instructions. This is really important – it helps you discover the steps that are missing.
  • Revise the steps each time you do the task and see improvements or tweaks that can be made.

 

Have your Team Help

If you have a team, they can help you create procedures for your business. The person writing the initial procedure should always be the person who does the task on a regular basis.

  • Have the team member responsible for the task create the checklist.
  • The person doing the checklist should give it to another team member to review.
  • Once the process is documented and checked, have the team members give you a draft to review.

Keeping the procedures fresh

Creating a field manual is not a “one and done” task. For it to be useful, it needs to be updated as you try more experiments and find out what works on your business. Put a date on your calendar to review the procedures quarterly. Also, each team member should be responsible for suggesting improvements to all processes.

organization charting

Your Solo Biz Organizational Chart

Do your eyes start to glaze over when somebody starts to talk to you about having an organizational chart for your business? Or, do you just sort say to yourself – “that would be nice… but since right now, my name would be in every single square, what would be the point?” Before you stop reading, I want you to pay attention.

Your solo business organizational chart is not a personnel management document — it is a road map for the future of your business.

Creating your organizational chart helps you to visualize the different parts of your business and start to create accountability systems for each of those areas. Here’s why that is helpful:

  • It allows you to define your business (and your mission) more clearly.
  • It gives you clarity — you’ll know exactly what needs to get done in your business (even the stuff that you don’t like doing yourself).
  • You will have a roadmap for future growth. When it does come time to hire your expand your team, you’ll know exactly what the team member needs to do.

Here’s how to get started creating your organizational chart:

  • Buy a package of index cards and keep them by your desk while you work on your business.
  • As you do your work, write each task that you do on an index card. Examples: “write blog post”, “edit blog post”, promote via social media”. At the end of the week, you will likely have huge pile of cards (as business owners we wear many hats!).
  • Take the cards and sort them into 4 or 5 general piles. For most businesses those piles would be something like, mission (your core service), marketing/sales, operations, financial.
  • Create subcategories from each of the main areas. Further sort the tasks into the subcategories.
  • Create an org chart or outline on your computer.

As you create new systems for your business, you can put them under the appropriate sub category in your new organizational chart. That way, when you hire someone you’ll have a training plan ready to go.

Even if you never plan to hire anyone, you can use the org chart as a punch list for a quarterly review. Go through each of the different functions on the chart and ask yourself what is working? What could use improvement. By using your org chart as a review guide, you’ll be sure to review the whole business and not miss out on tweaks that could make you additional profit.