Effective Time Management When You LOVE Your Business

Many entrepreneurs absolutely love their business and end up spending most of their waking hours working on their business, working in their business and talking about their business!  While this is great on some levels, it can also strain – or even break – important relationships with friends and family.  Ironically, many entrepreneurs got into business in the first place to create more freedom for these important relationships.

So, how do you solve this dilemma?

Here are a couple of thoughts on balancing life with your business:

  1. Embrace Productivity Enhancers: One way to create more “time” is to get more done during work time.  Here are some tips we use:
    • Use Multiple Computer Monitors: This is a huge time saver. The amount time lost each year by most single monitor users in open, closing and switching windows is at least one full workweek. Using 2 or 3 screens is a big productivity booster. A great app to turn your tablet into another screen for your laptop is Air Display: ($9.99)
    • Only Return Phone Calls/E-mails 2-3 Times per Day: Another big productivity booster is turning off your e-mail/message notification on your computer and PDA and returning calls/e-mails at specific times each day. For example, you could return these between 11 am – 12 noon and 3 pm – 4 pm each day. When you are focusing on a task, each interruption costs you 10-15 minutes of productivity time
  1. Only Work on Tasks Aligned with Your Strengths: Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should!  Many entrepreneurs waste enormous amounts of time on marginal tasks instead of outsourcing, delegating or deleting them because they either don’t have the right team or they aren’t using that team properly.  Don’t fall into this trap.
  1. Schedule a “Digital Detox”: To achieve enduring success as an entrepreneur, you must schedule downtime.  One of our colleagues, who is a very successful 7-figure entrepreneur is fond of saying “the less I work, the more money I make.”  Regularly taking time away from your business by completely unplugging (no iPhone, Blackberry, or e-mail) is crucial.  Letting the constant buzz or “white noise” of business subside actually improves your ability to think strategically, as it allows your subconscious mind space and time to operate.  Combining these strategic timeouts while spending time with family, friends and other important relationships is a powerful 1-2 punch.  We recommend starting with one afternoon a week as soon as possible and expanding from there.  Ultimately, you should aim for taking 1-2 weeks (or more) away from your business!

 

For more information on effective time management when you LOVE your business, be sure to listen to the August 2012 Virtual Jam Session replay.

Must Haves for Mompreneuers (and any start-up, for that matter).

Being a small business owner is both rewarding and challenging. It can be a balancing act between work and family. It can also be a financial challenge.

Here’s a list of top tools to consider for launching your small business or entrepreneurial start-up:

  1. Daycare or family care. Too often we postpone business success because we simply can’t juggle all our responsibilities.  The truth is we need to make a commitment to get help with caring for children, and perhaps enlisting the help of a part time housekeeper to do laundry and dusting, or an assistant to run errands so that we can get a few hours a day to focus on our business.  It’ll take some sacrifice, but it’s time to treat your business like a business, not a hobby.
  2. Ringcentral.com; Phonetag.com; Grasshopper.com.  Get a dedicated phone line and answering services/voicemail for your business use.  If a potential client calls at 6pm, better it goes to your automated phone attendant and voicemail than to hear dinner dishes clanging and dogs barking because you thought it was your mother-in-law calling.
  3. Dedicated workspace.  Even if it’s a corner in the garage, basement or tool shed behind the house, create a workspace that is yours.  Keep it organized and make it inspiring.  You’ll be more productive and feel a greater sense of accomplishment when you tell yourself you’re going to your office, than sitting at the kitchen table among the dirty dishes.
  4. HARO. If you can’t afford a publicist or public relations firm, Helpareporter.com is a must have for any business start-up. Subscribers receive a dozen, or more, queries each day about possible media opportunities. It’s free and it just takes a few minutes to see if a query is a good match for your business.
  5. Supportive spouse/significant-other.  Do we really need to go in to detail with this?
  6. Smart phone.  You’ll need to juggle web browsing, email, and calendars anywhere and at anytime.  iPhone, Blackberry, Android, and other smart phones will multiply your productivity and actually provide some freedom away from the home office.
  7. A good accountant.  Get one right away!  Don’t get trapped into thinking your can do it yourself.  They can offer insight and savings to areas you had no idea existed. A good accountant will make you money in the form of savings and avoiding costly mistakes. They’ll also lend credibility as you can refer to them as part of your team.
  8. Social networks.  Build your brand (whether that’s you or your business) on platforms like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Consumers and clients want to have a connection to the companies they buy from.

 

FLASHPOINTS: What Voices Are You Listening To?

BAG Screen shot 050614Fools tell friends what they want to hear. Mentors tell achievers what they need to hear.

From solopreneurs to industry titans, we all struggle with the tug of time that leaves little margin to find a mentor. It’s easier than ever, however, to identify coaching programs that fit every budget and season of our lives. A simple internet search reveals business personalities, websites and blogs of every ilk dedicated to inspire success seekers with their programs, systems and strategies. Don’t be fooled, however, by those salesy shysters who have a “system” to create wealth or success overnight … check references and do your homework! While it might take some time to find the appropriate mentor to join us on our journey, the time and heartache he or she will save us is worth its weight in … success. What voices are you listening to?

FLASHPOINTS: Describe Yourself In 3 Words…

BAG Screen shot 042914Describe yourself in three words … go!

It’s a common question when you’re writing your bio, interviewing, or entering a competition—but no matter how many times the question is asked, the answer never seems to come any easier. It’s just three words, but for some reason, it’s difficult to commit to writing them down. When listing your three words, you’ll likely realize a couple of things: (1) they change all the time, and (2) we can reinvent ourselves as whomever we want and whenever we want, as often as every single day. They’re just words on a page, but we can turn them into actions and make them part of who we really are. What will be your three words today?

I’m Famous! Well, Almost Famous… (Part 2)

In the last issue of the newsletter, I shared the potential power of – and some of the benefits that busy professionals can derive from – strategic social media use. I realize there may still be some doubters out there, so let me preface the continuation of these thoughts with the following “prime directive” (that’s for you Star Trek fans out there):

Failure to strategically embrace effective social media will virtually guarantee irrelevancy within the next 3-5 years.

While this may sound like a pretty bold statement, it’s happening already…

Tech-savvy start-ups and “early adopter” mature companies are running rings around the competition by connecting directly with clients, customers, prospects, team members, and the press. They by-pass more traditional advertising channels to create deeper, more relevant relationships while leveraging the enormous social media potential in the areas of brand management, product launches, customer service and many others.

Why is this so critical?

The level of “white noise” today is deafening and the majority of promotional messages are simply ignored…lost in the never-ending avalanche of information that bombards us each day.

Only by rising above the appeals to logic at the intellectual level and creating emotional connection on a more intimate, genuine, and transparent level can you break through the “white noise barrier” and make yourself heard to colleagues, team members, clients, customers and prospects.

Unfortunately, many business social media neophytes badly miss the mark when diving into social media, because they treat it like a traditional promotional tool, get predictable results and then start bad-mouthing social media. Don’t be one of them!

Here are three strategies you can implement immediately to more effectively use social media:

1) Strategic Focus:
Before diving into the oft-times treacherous social media waters, spend some time focusing on your strategic goal(s). What are you trying to accomplish? Who are you trying to connect with (and why)? What information are you trying to impart? How do you want to engage people? Most busy professionals never bother with this crucial first step and just dive headlong into the social media pond. This article and Slideshare presentation have some great information on how to develop your strategic focus: Social Media Strategy in 7 Steps

2) Time Focus:
Social media can be a GIANT time suck…especially for those of us that are members of the “Bright, Shiny Object Club!” If your a newbie, please follow the 2 – 20 – 2 Rule: No more than 2 social media platforms for no longer than 20 minutes no more than 2 times per day. Otherwise, it’s too easy to burn up too many unproductive hours in social media surfing. Consider using tools like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck that allow you to enter an update, comment, link or other information in one place and have it be instantly transmitted across most of the popular social media platforms.

3) Build Your KLT Factor:
People do business with people they know, like and trust (the KLT). Done right, social media can be a great conduit for increasing your KLT Factor and you accomplish this by being genuine, transparent, and service-oriented. Don’t be afraid to share a bit about hobbies & interests you have…it humanizes you and can create more meaningful interactions. Don’t use social media as a constant “pitch-fest” or to bludgeon people over the head with solicitations to buy your products or engage your company’s services. That gets real old, real fast! Instead, focus on providing useful, relevant information and endeavor to truly be of service to people. As your KLT Factor grows, those that are a good fit will organically seek you out. A good formula for social media communication is content – content – content – testimonial/success story – service/product offer. In short, earn the right to be heard and you will find easy to cut through the “white noise.”

Here are a few of my favorite social media resources:

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Social Media Marketing (2nd Edition) by Jennifer Abernathy.
This is a great book for social media beginners and veterans alike. Jennifer does a great job taking you step-by-step through building a winning social media marketing approach that makes sense (plus she’s a really cool chick).

Social Media Examiner.
My favorite site to staying up-to-date on social media marketing trends.

Beginner’s Guide to Social Media for Business.
This is a great book for Great Slideshare presentation for CEOs, executives and business owners.

I’m Famous! Well, Almost Famous… (Part 1)

Remember the old “6 Degrees of Separation” rule…built around the hypothesis that you are only six connections away from virtually everyone else on earth?
Well…it’s time to consign that rule to the dustbin of history along with the VCR, the Pontiac brand, and the comb-over (really, guys, just go bald…please).  With the explosion of social media platforms over the last 3-4 years, the new rule is “2 Degrees of Separation.”

Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Klout and Pinterest have radically altered our ability to connect, engage, interact and build relationships with people – both personally and professionally.  They have also introduced a new – and often confusing – communication protocol and rule set that can be VERY intimidating to the uninitiated.

Unfortunately, many business owners and professionals treat social media with a curious combination of trepidation and thinly-veiled contempt.  I am consistently amazed by how many otherwise smart & savvy folks treat these powerful new connection tools as a passing fad.

What should they do instead?  Invest a bit of time and brainpower to explore how they can leverage appropriate tools to improve their business, improve upward mobility within their organization, and even their lives.

Allow me to share a quick personal example (or two)….

I’ve made the strategic decision to focus on Linked In and Facebook in my professional life.  I am by no means a “power-user” – but I have taken the time to become moderately proficient with both mediums over the last several years.

I am currently connected with 786 people on Linked In (affectionately known as “Facebook for Adults”).  Those contacts place me 1 or 2 introductions from over 10.3 million other professionals.  This network has enabled me to engage directly with numerous business thought-leaders, fellow authors, and a minor host of famous people.

I have landed dozens of speaking gigs, business opportunities and client engagements as a direct result of mindful social networking.  In addition, I am currently one introduction from a trusted source away from such “minor” luminaries as:

  • Sir Richard Branson
  • Paul Allen (the “Other Microsoft Guy”)
  • Donald Trump
  • Mark Burnett (Producer of “Survivor” and “The Amazing Race”)
  • Dozens of others

Best of all, the power of social networking provides the opportunity to reach every one of these “movers and shakers” without having to fight through the legions of handlers and roadblocks encountered using more traditional methods.

So, does all this make me famous?  Not by a long shot…

That said, one of my business connections and I are getting ready to pitch a reality TV pilot to Mark Burnett and – thanks to the power of social media – he will take our call when we’re ready!

Make sure to tune into the next blog posting tomorrow for Part 2, where we will discuss 3 critical strategies busy professionals can implement immediately to leverage the benefits of social media, along with a resource guide for the “social media challenged!”

 

FLASHPOINTS: The F-Word…Failure

BAG Screen shot 042214

Forgiveness starts with the most important person: YOURSELF

Having an exceptional life comes with a boatload of decision-making and risk-taking. Sometimes outcomes don’t match expectations, which leads to that dreaded F-word: FAILURE. And as people who take responsibility for our own actions, we’re often quick to point the finger and lay blame on the same person over and over: ourselves. Dwelling on these negative experiences doesn’t make them any less so—in fact, quite the opposite. Yet ignoring failures is also a mistake—we must embrace them, learn, and move on. Most importantly, we must forgive ourselves and let go of the negativity. So, next time the mental blame-game starts, we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves; we’re all only human, after all. How can you embrace your humanity and cut yourself a break?

FAILURE: It’s Not Just For Losers Anymore

Let me start with a somewhat provocative statement: If You’re Not FAILING, You’re Not Moving Far Enough or Fast Enough Towards Your FULLEST POTENTIAL!

Too many so-called self-help, human-potential, self-improvement gurus out there lie to us forget to tell us that reaching for our goals, and achieving success is flipping hard work! All we need to do is give them our 3 easy payments of $69, and all our dreams will be realized! BULL! Please believe this: there is no free ride, no easy path, no quick fix, and no shortcuts to enduring success.

If attaining business success is so easy, why aren’t more people considered successful (both by their own standards, and the outside world)? The truth is, we’ve been sold a sack of crap bill of goods by most of the success charlatans out there. Many of them have never actually run a successful business! Frankly, they’ve made more money by peddling the “products” they’ve developed (books, CDs, etc.) than they have by actually using the “principles” and “techniques” in a legitimate business.

Here is the TRUTH: like anything else in life that’s difficult, when you first try it, YOU’RE GONNA FAIL…you’ll make mistakes…you’ll get frustrated…and you’ll want to quit. Think of anything new or foreign that you’ve tried for the first time as an adult (perhaps a new instrument, sport, or language)…were you an immediate expert, or did you fumble around for a while?

We’ve ALL had setbacks and failures. We can whine, moan, feel sorry for ourselves, and blame others, or we can get ourselves a nice, tall, refreshing glass of “suck-it-up” juice! When we fall short, when we fail, we MUST get up and put one bloody, dusty boot in front of the other and drive on towards our potential…towards success.

I once heard that the most beautiful gift from God is our potential! That’s a powerful statement. It strikes me that among the saddest things about life are the graveyards around world filled with unmet potential. Why? Because most of those people never took action to activate or realize their potential—or they simply gave up before ever reaching their potential.

Failure does not define you—it refines you. Your response to failure, defines you. Never, Never, Never Quit.

Now, go get ‘em!

Larry

Are You Ready For Great Leadership?

Great leaders inspire people to act. They possess a fierce resolve and dogged determination to do what needs to be done to build remarkable organizations, and have a disproportionate affect on the success of their organization. Great leaders have a profound impact on company culture and the morale of every team member. They give team members a sense of hope, purpose & belonging.

Great leaders create a following of people who act, not because they are manipulated or have to, but because they are inspired and want to.

FLASHPOINTS: Trust Yourself and YOUR Vision!

BAG Screen shot 040814When you innovate, you’ve got to be prepared for everyone telling you you’re nuts

—Larry Ellison

Have you ever encountered doubt or disbelief after explaining a monster goal? If not, you’re one of the lucky ones. Have you found yourself on the receiving end of a cringe, eye roll, shake of the head or the “You’re kidding me, right?” look? Don’t fret, it’s just part of the innovation territory. We’re better off being surrounded by people who are open-minded, supportive, and have faith in us. Yet we do need both types of people on our team: ones to warn us and others to bolster us. We should decide to pursue our goals based on our own gut feel, balanced with the proper perspective received from both the negative Nellies and the positive Pollies. How will you dare to be different and trust yourself for your vision?