Thursday, May 17, 2012

Who Is In Control?

Are you setting the ground rules for your life or are you letting others set them for you?

Before I started my business I wrote a list of the 'criteria for my life' - not my business, my life. Only after that did I tackle what I wanted my business to look like. All too often we are where we are, not by carefully selected goals and choices, but by opportunities that arise along the way that we respond to. When we respond to opportunities offered to us, the details of those situations are usually on someone else’s terms. The hours and location of work, how we dress, who we work with... all are outside of our control. But once you take the jump into entrepreneurship shouldn’t you be the one steering the boat?

Figure out what you want your life to look like, where and when you work, what type of clients you want to work with, etc. - the big stuff. Here’s a great form to start with for this exercise.

Now to tackle the day to day. Every time someone has a brain fart they tweet it, text it, email it... you get the picture. And then they expect you to respond NOW. Because of the speed and extent of technology it’s all too easy to become a slave to it instead of using it as a tool in your life. Use these wonderful tools of technology in a strategic way, not at the whim of others. If the first thing you do in the morning is to check your email and social media, remember, these are usually someone else’s agenda... not yours.

Try one week with YOU in control - you’ll be amazed the difference in your productivity.
  • Check your email only 2-3 times per day
  • Write down your goals for the day.
  • Plan your day in advance.
  • FOCUS!!! Multi-tasking doesn’t work!
  • Don’t get sucked in to the 'busy' work.
  • Schedule your social media time.
The most important thing: make sure you experience joy in each day.

Originally published in Work Better, Not Harder on May 16, 2012

Thursday, April 26, 2012

It's All About Them

How many times do we have to hear, “It’s all about them?", meaning the customer. It’s all about them! It’s all about them! It’s all about them! Will that do?

So many times I see ads, marketing material, policies, you name it, that have not taken the customer into account. They scream in their messages that they’re all about you, have great customer services, would be nothing without you – but their actions speak louder than their words.

Consider the airlines – all of them! I recently went to Cuba on vacation and imagine our surprise when the flight attendant wouldn’t accept our cash. No siree, cash is no good on the airlines, only credit cards. Is this about the customer? Hardly. It’s about how much easier it is on the airline not to have to make change. And boy, was she nasty about it! (Air Transat) Did my husband and I stay thirsty? No, but that’s not the point. We didn’t want to pay by credit card!

What about all the industries that use acronyms? Give me a break! We don’t all take a course in each industry so that we can understand what all the initials are that you are using, or your industry jargon. Follow the proverbial rule – KISS, Keep It Simple Sweetie (the nice version... you know what I really mean).

And now in the day of social media and online conversations, it’s more important than ever to be clear, concise and simple. We are not living in a bubble. The internet is global so your visitors and friends are from all over the world. When you start an online conversation, remember to put it in context for your connections that may not be in your little corner of the world.

Don’t confuse people. KISS! Remember – It’s all about them!

Originally published in Work Better, Not Harder on April 26, 2012

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Magic Happens in the Hussle

There are lots of 'P's in Marketing – Product, Price, Place and Promotion. Now let me share some other 'P's that I see many entrepreneurs (and people in general) adopt in their lives:

Perfectionism, Paralysis, Procrastination.
Many times I hear the statement, “Oh, I’m a perfectionist” it’s a good thing. It’s not!! The goal to be perfect is IMPOSSIBLE – just like wanting everybody to like you. There are just too many people, with too many different views and opinions, for your work to be perfect to everybody. When you satisfy one person, you irritate or fall short with another – it can’t be any other way. In most cases.

Perfectionism leads to Paralysis or Procrastination to actually DO SOMETHING! You know how I feel about Planning (another 'P') - it sets you up for success, but only if you actually DO SOMETHING with your plan. Strive for excellence, not perfection – and then set systems in place to make you take action. Here are some systems and supports that can Propel (another 'P'!) you into action.

1.     Have a Plan - Know what you want to accomplish and identify the actions it will take for you to get there.
2.     Systems – Set up systems within your business that enable you to DO things with the least amount of effort possible.
3.     Project Manage – Break every project, initiative, event, whatever, into smaller action items. Identify every task needed, who needs to do it, what money or resources you need. Then set a timeline for EACH task. (Click here for the form I use for myself and with my clients.) Which leads me to...
4.     Set Timelines FOR EVERYTHING – Know when you want to start something, when you want to finish it, and when you need something from others. Even when you ask for something from someone else, or are providing something to someone else – set a timeline!
5.     Accountability – What makes you accountable? An accountability buddy, rewarding yourself, a mastermind group, a coach or consultant - what does it take? (I have clients who pay for my services on a monthly basis, not just for the expertise, but because they know if they’re spending money and know we have a meeting coming up, they will get things done. After all, I’m known as the slapper!)
6.     Just DO SOMETHING - Sometimes you should just Ready, Aim, Fire! (I know a business owner who has been in a state of perfectionism, procrastination and paralysis for over a year – no money being made there!)


1.     Set up a system of accountability. I suggest you do this first because it will actually help you to do the following steps.
2.     Identify one thing you’ve wanted to do but haven’t because of one excuse or another. (Notice I didn’t say reason?)
3.     Before you do anything else, what is ONE thing you can do in the next 24 hours as a step forward with this goal?
4.     Take this form and break down your goal into tasks and set timelines to each task. Some of the tasks will require a form of their own.
5.     Start setting timelines to everything.
Let me know if this kick in the butt has helped get you started on something... I’d love to hear from you.

Originally published in New Life Business Newsletter April 2012

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Outsourcing Solution

More and more companies are choosing to outsource services that may have typically been performed by employees. There are many benefits to this option for the organization. The following issues are being considered and measured when choosing a service solution:

1.     The services being outsourced may be required on a part-time or sporadic basis, making outsourcing the logical financial winner.
2.     Outsourcing allows organizations to retain specialized expertise that they may not be able to afford on a full time basis.
3.     Relationships and contracts with freelancers or contractors are more easily terminated with little or no financial ramification.
4.     What you see is what you pay! No employee benefits, payroll costs, or government submissions.
5.     There’s a shortage of skilled labour and it’s only going to get worse. With the onslaught of the retiring baby boomers in huge numbers and those entering the work force in much smaller numbers, the sustainability of the current numbers in the workforce is impossible. Employers will have to fight for employees so, when possible, contract work will be a great solution.
6.     Freelancers and contractors ARE business owners and understand that their client’s satisfaction equals their success.
7.     Freelancers and contractors are usually much more flexible with their time than employees.
8.     Freelancers and contractors have access to other resources and can often act as the project manager, making them just one contact for multiple services, and sometimes at a much better rate than the organization could get on their own.
9.     Contracting out opens doors to fresh ideas and new solutions.

As you can see, contracting out can be a viable and timely decision!

Originally published in Work Better, Not Harder on February 14, 2012

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Show Up and Follow Up

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “90% of Success is just showing up”. This means simply doing, being engaged, following through. You don’t have to be smarter, richer, better looking, more well connected... none of this. Just decide what you’re going to do and then DO IT!

When you consider the number of people that don’t follow through with their plans, it is staggering. By you just putting that one foot in front of the other and taking the steps that others aren’t prepared to do, you’ve beat your competition by a mile. It takes so little effort to be better than most, so why not just commit to following through this year and see what happens.

There are some key areas where “Showing Up” will make soooo much difference.

If you’re going for a glass of wine and some munchies and chatting with your friends or the people you already know - just stay home or go to dinner with them! Networking is about learning about the character and competencies of others and for them to learn about yours. Pull up your sleeves and get in there - volunteer on committees, be a speaker, hang up coats, help with registration… get involved, really involved.

It’s great to develop a plan and put it on nice paper in a pretty binder but, if it stays on the shelf after that, it’s just a waste of time and resources. Work the plan! After the Big Picture Vision, you need to break down each initiative or goal into monthly, weekly and daily action items - and then you need to DO THEM! If you don’t have the personal discipline or motivation to get it done on your own, create a system to provide a system of accountability for you - with a colleague or a professional. If you’re paying someone to help you stay on track, it’s more likely that you’ll do what you need to do when there’s pride or money on the line.

Follow Up
Don’t drop the ball. The hardest part is getting the ball in the air and small action steps after that are all that’s required to keep it there. When you don’t follow up on your promises or commitments, either to yourself or others, your character and integrity are questioned - it’s as simple as that. If you have too much happening and things are falling through the cracks, you need to develop a system to ensure you follow through. That may mean operational systems, hiring, outsourcing, or perhaps just not overextending yourself.

Take the time right now, at the beginning of the year, to tackle your niggly naggly issues, one at a time if necessary. Get focused, focused, focused! Set goals, follow through, and then reward yourself handsomely!

Originally published in New Life Business Newsletter January 26 2012