How to stay motivated when you’re stuck in the day to day operations of your business.
You’re running your business, but you want to move it forward with your next big idea. You have a lightbulb moment and know exactly what you want to do and how to do it.
You are so busy working in your business as it is there is no time to do anything different. You end up feeling completely stuck which leads to feeling totally demotivated and losing the love.
Don’t despair. There is a way. But only if you want it badly enough.
Change your words.
When we find ourselves in a situation like this it’s all too easy to sit down and say “I can’t” and “I don’t have enough time”. This negative chatter eats away at us and gets us starting to believe it.
Change “I can’t” to “How can I?”
Change “I don’t have enough time” to “How can I free up more time?”
These simple changes put us back in a feeling of control and create a positive mindset which will help get us motivated to find a way forward.
Create a plan
Make sure you sit down and write out exactly what your new idea is and when you want it by. Create a plan and a timeline. Start with the end in mind and jot down what you need to do by when. If you want to take a course which will give you new skills in your business, when is the exam date? How many modules in the course? How much time will each module take? Map it all out.
Breaking it down into small chunks will allow you to see realistically how much time you are going to have to put into your new idea each month or week. It’s then up to you to find out how to free up this time to put ideas into action.
Manage your time
- Get out of bed one hour earlier each day to spend on your new idea
- Cut back on social media time which can literally waste hours each day
- Forfeit mind-numbingly mundane tv that you have gotten into the habit of watching
- Take an objective at your business. Are you working effectively or could something be streamlined? Are you doing something out of habit which really won’t have much impact if you stop doing it altogether?
- Do you spend hours cooking in the evenings? Find some quick and easy recipes that take just 30 minutes to prepare and cook. Get the family to do the clearing up after the meal.
If you want your new idea badly enough you will find a way. If you don’t, you will find an excuse. The choice is yours.
I’m a huge fan of having systems in place in my business to save me huge amounts of time, money and stress.
But why do so few small business owners that I meet have them?
Usually, I find it is because it takes time and a level of new learning to design and put together any new system. There are always more pressing things to do. And whilst you have fewer clients in the early days, muddling along like this can be ok.
However, when your business starts to grow, trying to carry on without an effective system in place can cause chaos, headaches and a huge amount of lost income.
Systems get you organised. They help you document everything you do, what you need to do and send you reminders when to do things. They help you to be more professional and to scale your business more efficiently. As your business grows, you can use systems to outsource tasks to others.
If you don’t have any systems set up, I really encourage to set aside some time and get it done. Look at any leaks in your business.
- Have you forgotten to chase up an enquiry or an outstanding payment which has resulted in losing you money?
- Have you lost track of what marketing has worked and what hasn’t?
- Have you lost control of your income and expenditure – a very dangerous place to be!
There are so many easy to use online systems on the market, many of which are free to use. Research some and see what fits best with your business. Stop trying to keep everything in your head which will result in failure and lead to massive stress.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
If you only have a few clients, a simple spreadsheet may do but have a look at online CRM systems such as Capsule or Zoho. These help organise your clients, hold all their notes, emails and documents in one place and set you follow up tasks.
It will take time to get your head around some of these systems, but start slowly and simply and you will soon end up wondering how you ever coped without them. And many systems integrate with each other so you always have access to all your information in one place.
How often do you hear ‘let’s meet for a coffee and a chat’?
Now then, I am more than happy to give an initial free consultation to anyone who needs help. We all need a helping hand at times. But what rankles me are those that you have this chat with who then want to follow it up in more detail over a coffee. They know you can help them but they don’t want to pay.
These people are those that I know personally and because of this connection, they seem to think they can use my services and not have to pay. (The strange thing is that they never offer me free products or services that they sell).
I wrote an article ‘Can I Pick Your Brain’ a while ago now but thought it would be useful to come up with a few more answers to those who don’t value your time or expertise.
For those who think you are dumb and will fall for the coffee invite just for them to bombard you with questions.
“I would love to meet for coffee. It would great to get away from the office and have a break from the business talk for an hour.”
People who are in the frame of mind that they want everything for free, usually don’t want to meet in their social time.
Say ‘how about we meet for a drink. You could pop over to (somewhere close to you as they usually also want you to go where it’s convenient for them) when I finish work on (insert day). It would a lovely way to wind down after a busy day.”
Both these responses make it clear that you are NOT going to be talking business. It’s quite satisfying when you hear the person on the other end stumbling for a response.
For those that have made it clear they want to pick your brains for nothing
Don’t be afraid of offending these people. They aren’t worried about offending you.
“I’d love to take you up coffee but unfortunately coffee doesn’t pay my bills”
“I’ve never found that discussing business over coffee is the most effective way of giving advice. I’d be more than happy to book you in for an appointment. I’ll email you the details to get you booked in.” Then send them your paid booking link. I promise you won’t hear from them again.
These two responses are more direct but very effective.
Alternatively, “I don’t have time for coffee but more than happy to book you an appointment in my office”. This is slightly softer and keeps the channels of communication open.
An even more softly, softly catch-all answer would be “I’d love to but I’m currently snowed under”.
Ultimately, just be straight with them.
Tell them “If it’s a coffee and a chat I would love to meet up but being open and honest here, if you are just trying to use it as an excuse for free advice, I’ll be a tad offended”. Now let them squirm with embarrassment.
And don’t feel guilty. Remember, if you did all of these free coffee requests, your business would rapidly go downhill and your paying clients would get to hear and get pretty pissed off.
Your business. Your rules.
And just for fun. After initially writing this post, I was sent this which I think is just brilliant!
Do you have any responses you would like to share? Leave them in the comments box below.
Sometimes, when you realise your industry is becoming saturated with competitors, stop trying to fight against them and think how you can turn this into an opportunity.
I always remember meeting the founders of The Soap Kitchen many years ago when the husband and wife team were starting up from their dining table. Over the years, their business grew as did their competitors.
Instead of fighting against them and getting consumed with worry, they looked at the opportunity this presented. They decided to adapt their business model. Rather than continuing to just making soap, they started running workshops teaching their competitors how to make soap. But taking it further, they also started supplying them with the raw materials.
The business exploded and four years ago they moved from their beautiful, but humble dining table to a shop and separate large warehouse with more than 20 staff. It is now the leading DIY soap making supplier in the UK and Europe.
Today I met a lady who offers a service and has been met with a similar problem. She is in the holistic health and wellness industry and it seems like every other person and their dog is now entering this. Her competitors are growing daily.
She recognised she was having to work harder but not seeing any increase in profits so came to see me. Rather than getting in a fluster, she went through everything with me and we soon realised a golden opportunity right under her nose where she could help others entering her profession. She could teach courses on how to get the level that she had reached.
Create opportunities out of problems
Rather than looking at helping her competition adversely affecting her, she saw the opportunity to create more income. This would also raise her profile in the industry giving her business visibility. She would now be integrating with competitors rather than trying to avoid them.
If you’re struggling with competitors, consider what hidden opportunities are out there for you. Don’t let your initial panic make your blind to these. If you’ve been in business for a while, and other new faces are appearing, take advantage of this . See how you can help them whilst creating a new income stream for yourself.
You might surprise yourself and find you enjoy it whilst significantly increasing your profits.
Outsourcing business tasks can really take the pressure off you when building a business and can help you save time and grow your business to the next level.
However, it really saddens me the number of times I see women trying to build their own successful home business and taking the step to outsource some work, only to be ripped off.
I constantly hear stories, where an agreement has been made only to find that very little of the work needed, is completed. The person hired, basically tries to do a runner with the money. So many times, freelances who promise the earth quickly lose interest or are unable to do the work to the standard required. Rather than admitting their inadequacies and refunding monies already paid, they start to ignore emails, phone calls and Facebook messages.
The person hiring is left with a looming deadline, out of pocket so financially unable to hire someone else and in a sense of abandonment and despair.
Please, if you are going to hire a freelancer, do a few things to protect yourself from the same happening to you.
Agree to Terms and Conditions
Whenever outsourcing any work, before you do anything else agree clear, WRITTEN AND SIGNED, terms and conditions. This needs to include:
- the scope of the work with exactly what is going to be done by whom and when (including any information you need to supply to the freelancer),
- a deadline for the work to be completed,
- how much it is going to cost and
- what happens if either party is unhappy and wishes to cancel.
Do not rely on word of mouth and trust. So many times, agreements have been verbal as a person has seemed so wonderful and the relationship has been on trust, only for it to go horribly wrong. I have known ladies feel embarrassed about asking for T’s & C’s. Really? You are running a business and you need to protect it. If anyone tries to fob you off saying you don’t this, run for the hills.
Read reviews and testimonials
Read their testimonials and contact some of the people who have written them to make sure the reviews are genuine. Yes, it’s a sad world we live in that some people make them up.
Interview them. Yep! You are hiring someone so it’s perfectly ok to speak to them and conduct an interview. Ask them what they would do if they had an emergency and couldn’t complete the work on time. Ask them how many times they have had cancellations or had to refund a client. You can tell a lot from whether they answer quickly and confidently or start to pause and stumble over their words. Listen to your gut feeling when speaking with them.
Start with a sample piece of work
Consider asking anyone you are outsourcing work to, to do a small sample piece of work so you can test out their standards and service. Don’t expect them to do this for free but pay them for a small section of the project that you need help with.
Pay in instalments
Pay in instalments. Don’t ever pay in full upfront. Agree on stage payments. That way, if something starts to go wrong, you can stop your payments until the situation is fixed. Alternatively, you can cancel the agreement altogether (again, make sure this is covered in your written contract.)
Look at payment options
Think about how you pay. If you use PayPal if there is a dispute, and you can prove your case, you should be able to get your money back within a reasonable timescale.
In essence, take time to do your research before hiring anyone and use the checks above before signing on the dotted line and handing over your hard-earned money. I’ve been bitten myself in the past, so I am speaking from experience. It’s horrible when it happens but it makes you much savvier when hiring in the future.
Do you have a story to share on your own experience? Leave a comment below. I would love to hear about it whether good or bad.
Are you aware that having the wrong email address could be losing you business? And no, I don’t mean wrong as in misspelled.
So often, I come across someone whose business I like the look of, I go their website, love what I see and go to the contact page. And therein lies the problem. Their email address ends in @hotmail.com or gmail.com.
But why is this a problem?
It makes you look unprofessional
Firstly, it makes you look unprofessional. Your website may give out all the right signals but can be instantly let down by an amateur email address. Whenever I see one of these email addresses, I instantly change my impression of the company and don’t view it in such a professional light. If you have a specific domain name for your business, use this for your emails also.
You may be viewed as spam
Secondly, if you are sending emails with a @Hotmail, @Gmail or similar, there is a much higher chance your mail will get blocked at the other end. Many companies have blocks on these emails as they have a high chance of being spam. You don’t want to be tarred with the same spam brush, do you? If I ever see an email come in from a Hotmail or Gmail account from a business, I simply delete it.
You are missing a marketing opportunity
Thirdly, if you use a specific email address ending in your domain name when you send out emails to contacts they may just become curious and check out your website. Another simple way of helping drive traffic to your site. I’ve done this before with people I have been in contact with and then become a buyer. It’s a no-brainer!
If you don’t have a professional email address, go set one up now. Usually, you can get one free through your domain provider and it’s not difficult to set up. And if you are afraid of having to check in to different email accounts for both your personal and business emails, you can simply forward your emails to one single account.
Remember, it’s the small things that can make a big difference.