Time Management Tips – Turning Down “Great” Opportunities

Time Management Tips - Turning Down Great OpportuntiesOver at M&M Monsters, the marketing site where I collaborate with my bestie, we have spent the last year defining our business goals and product offerings. We have done a lot of soul searching and have picked three main areas to focus on; writing marketing books, speaking at events and consulting with companies about their marketing strategy.

Much in the manner of “ask and you shall receive”, as soon as we hit publish on our first real book on Amazon (we had done ebooks and giveaways prior to this) we got a really exciting offer. A BOOK DEAL from a genuine publisher! The cool thing was that it was not a book we would write spontaneously ourselves!

It had some seriously big upsides for us. The status of having a real book in bookstores, having book-books to hand out, the opportunity to work with a publisher and see the process behind the scenes and there was pay involved! So we have spent a couple of weeks submitting outlines, negotiating contracts, etc. and (as you can probably guess by the title of this post) turning them down!

For me, it was totally a time management and benefits analysis problem, with a little bit of woo-woo thrown in…as in the universe kept sending me messages that getting derailed off of our primary goals could be a bad thing. Here are my top reasons why a great opportunity should sometimes be turned down!

1. Does it fit with your current business goals?

Our goal this year is to write a non-fiction ebook a week and sell them on Amazon. We may branch out and start selling on other sites AFTER the year is up, but dividing our efforts and energies at this stage of the game seems silly. We are on published book number six this week and have the outline for book seven which will go out next week.

The first book was a nightmare of formatting and figuring out how to produce actual words on a page that Amazon would accept. But we sold some and continue to sell some of that one each week!

We now have a great process for publishing and our books are getting better and better each week. We have found a writing style that combines both of our voices and the review and editing is down pat at this point (want to follow along on our book writing journey?)

So YES! A book deal at this point seemed like a great opportunity! It did fit into our current business goals.

2. Does it fit with your current product offerings?

I have always called things outside the scope of what we do a “one off” from the manufacturing world. A one off is something that is outside the scope of what your usual product line is. For our marketing company, doing a ecommerce site like Amazon would be a one off. We don’t deal with shopping carts, SSL certificates or the like when we build a marketing blog for our clients so we would have to learn all about those technologies to do a good job.

The thing is, you cannot charge anyone else for your inexperience. If we were to take that job and it took us twice as long because we didn’t know what the hell we were doing, we could still only charge the customer the going rate. It is not their fault that this isn’t our expertise. (want more? read all about one-offs here)

So our book deal would definitely be a one-off. They were looking for a technical manual with a short paragraph about what to do and then bullet points about the steps to do it. Hmmmmm. As you can tell 600 words into a simple blog post, I am more writery. I like to explain the strategy and reasons why. We went back and forth a bunch with an outline, us adding juicy bits that would help explain the marketing strategy and them cutting them back out and saying that we needed more screen captures and bullet points.

3. Is it a zebra?

There is a great quote that I heard somewhere, “if you hear hoofbeats don’t think zebra it is probably a horse”. Now I know we have bastardized this a bit, but we are constantly looking for zebras in our business. Things that could cause problems down the line if we take them as opportunities.

Years ago we got a marketing client who was “special”. Early on in the process we found that she was unable to grasp even the simplest concepts about online marketing or email. She did not value them because she didn’t use them herself and so could not understand why anyone else would either. We had a six month contract and after six months of almost nightly emails criticizing every aspect of the work we did, we were finally able to let her go back into the wild. Whew.

Now, we sorta, kinda knew from our initial meetings that she would be a little “special”. The signs were there, we just chose to ignore them as it was a time when we needed to get another client on board.

The one thing this zebra and other “special” clients has shown me is that if they say they have worked with three or more marketing people before us and they have all been worthless A-Holes, the problem is probably not with the marketing people. Early in my career I thought I could fix everything and do everything better than anyone else on the planet. So when someone came to me and said that their previous marketing company was lame, I figured I could do better! Not so much…if the client values those marketing people so little they probably won’t get us copy on time, will balk at every idea we give them and will probably require round after round of graphic concepts. Being a little older and a whole lot wiser now, I tend to run from these “opportunities”.

This book writing opportunity felt a little bit like the Social Media Examiner zebra I had already seen.

If you haven’t had a chance to read that post yet, basically I applied to write for the Social Media Examiner and they accepted me! YAY! Then they proceeded to turn down about 20 titles I suggested that I would be good at writing about…BOO. Then they finally picked one! YAY! Then we commenced a month long back and forth of me submitting my writing and them rejecting it because it had words and strategy…are you seeing what I am seeing? I have seen this zebra before and it turned out that we parted ways with me doing a lot of work and getting no glory from it! This book “opportunity” was feeling like that…like we would submit revision after revision, us adding words and them removing them.

4. Do you have a funny feeling that it just isn’t right?

Lastly, is the “Oprah effect” as we like to call it. Oprah was a big talker about how the universe tries to tell you things like your boyfriend is a homicidal maniac who will spend the next 7 years stalking you if you go ahead and marry him. Oprah says it starts with a whisper in the back of your mind telling you that this is not right…then it goes to a murmuring and eventually the universe hits you upside the head with a brick.

I am enthralled with the process of self publishing and how to market books right now and am listening to podcasts about this voraciously. I listen mostly to the Self Publishing Podcast guys because they cuss and have a great time AND great info. So one of their biggest regrets from the last year of successfully publishing a metric shit-ton of books is that they took a book deal and it derailed their efforts because they didn’t have control and they had to keep to the timelines of their publisher.

Hmmm…that was the most blatant one, but there were other niggling things that said it was hard to go from loosey goosey writing whatever you want to writing what someone else thought that you should write and that many of the indie authors were turning down book deals from traditional New York City publishers because they could make more money in less time by doing it themselves.

Time Management Tips

So if you have gotten all the way down here and are still looking for time management tips, here are my top tips for this kind of thing!

  • Have ROCK SOLID, TAKE NO PRISONER goals for your business and hold every opportunity up against them to see if it will be a good fit
  • Be willing to take the time UP FRONT to find out everything you can and make sure there isn’t something hiding in there that will bite you in the ass later on
  • Know your limitations…we COULD have written the book, but it would have taken up huge amounts of our work cycles weekly that might be better spent elsewhere
  • Walk away if you get the willies…you are never going to be more excited about an opportunity then at the start, if you feel “weird” at the start, it will never get better

Last but not least, know that something better WILL come along! There is a saying that when God closes a door he opens a window. Today, having finally figured out it wasn’t a good fit and sending my amazing opportunity to two buddies who it would be better for it, it feels like there might not be other opportunities like this again. Having spent a few weeks spinning my wheels, I hope not!

But, I KNOW that the next one to come along will be a better fit and that because I am not doing this one I will have the time and open hand to receive it!

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Time Management Tips – Forms and Crystal Clear Goals

Time Management Tips - Forms and Crystal Clear GoalsHave you ever spent the day “working” only to end it knowing nothing got done and thus feeling like a failure? Without a plan or system for what needs to be accomplished there is no winning and you are setting yourself up for certain doom.

If you haven’t read Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy yet, this is a great way to get motivated. Mr. Tracy is a time management genius and it is well worth your time to read it. He has spent a lifetime developing time management habits that serve him well…I am in awe of his focus.

Steps to organizing your work life and time

These are generally in order and build on each one. Please do not skip a step as you cannot accomplish what you want if you haven’t done all the steps!

Plan Your Time

The very first thing you have to do is get your calendar under control. You can have the best intentions in the world but if there is no time in your day to complete your tasks, you will fail miserably.

Time Management CalendarThis is my calendar.

It is color coded to include Orange – which is the Strategy bits that are what actually make me money and move my business forward. As you can see, my days start with that as I am most productive in the morning and there is no way that I can get off track.

Pink is personal and stuff I have to do (if I don’t feed the little ones and get them off to school, no one will!) Then I have my standing appointments and work for clients that HAS to get done.

So, you are probably a entrepreneur and the idea of locking down your time is opposite of what the dream is. In the dream world, you can spend all day doing what you want when you want it. In the real world, if you are willing to calendar (and hold yourself responsible), you actually get to do everything that you want and more.

When I put something into my calendar, it is sacred. I KNOW that if I do what I am “supposed” to do that day, I can take the kids to the park in the afternoon without feeling guilty. If I DO all my monthly tasks, then I “get” to research marketing and take classes because I am not just wasting time, ignoring what needs to be done!

To Do List

So what should you do to make yourself more productive and organized? Put IN WRITING what you have to accomplish and do those things first!

If you start your day out checking your emails, responding to crisis after crisis, then pop over to Facebook and diddle around there for a bit, you WILL waste immeasurable time accomplishing nothing.

The concepts that you have heard time after time are true. Sit down before you end your day and figure out what the top three things you HAVE to get done the next day are. I do these after I get all my “real” work done (like writing blog posts, doing social media and learning new things!)

Now, you “To Do List” people…here is where it gets hairy. A list of 100 (or a 1,000) things you need to do is a WISH LIST, not a To Do list. Keep that to the side and hidden if you must, but make sure you have a short (I like three things) list of things that you need to do TODAY.

Monthly Goals and Tasks

The next thing you have to do is sit down and figure out what your “theme” for the month is. Our theme this month is “Amazing Social Media” so we have two hours a day dedicated to posting, growing lists and learning about social media. (we use a month because ANYONE can do something for a month and it is long enough to see some results and make the work worth it!)

Things we have included are:

  • Writing (Tara) – One hour per day (this can be on our blogs or as guest posts OR writing sales letters)
  • Pinterest (Rebekah) – One hour per day (she is rocking the Pinterest and sending traffic from there so we gave her a whole blissful hour to work on it daily!)
  • Social media – Half an hour (this is checking in on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Klout, Google+, etc. each day)
  • Sharing and Linking – 15 minutes (I have to make time to comment on “stuff” other people do as I don’t spontaneously do this without prompting)
  • SS Round Table – 15 minutes (sharing our clients social media posts)

Now, that is THREE HOURS out of every one of my days. If I do not get those things done in the morning, I have to stay up late that night and get them done after the kids go to bed (I am an early bird so that is DEFINITELY not something I am going to do daily).

Some notes about this kind of thing:

First off, whether I did this kind of focused work or just floated around, I would still be “working” all day. Just with the time blocked I am actually accomplishing something that I consider important.

Second off, there is something to be said for the old axiom that we underestimate what we can accomplish in 5 years and over estimate what we can do in a month. With this type of focus, I WILL get stuff done this month.

Lastly, by the time the month is done, at least some of this will 1) take less time so I can incorporate it into my daily life for real and 2) I will have developed habits that will serve me well going forward.

How To Actually DO All The Crap You Said You Would

This is where the magic happens. After I get my schedule down and figure what I SAY I am going to do, I make a checklist for the month. My checklist this month has at the top the daily bits for the hours committed that I can check off. We also determined what the optimal things where to do on each of the “special social media” days and put them down as checkboxes to get done.

I can tell already that I need a daily checklist for what to do on the half-hour social media days as I ran over on time and just kinda hit the high notes. We will figure that out tomorrow in our weekly meeting.

Want to see our checklist? Amazing Social Media Month!

Some notes about this kind of thing:

Good enough is good enough – because we are not going to be using this for years in our business, it is fine to work with for a month. There ARE things that I would change BUT that would take time away from actually DOING it so they can stay there for a while.

YES, you have to have the checklist. I spent the last couple of months of last year floating around without a checklist. Yep I got stuff done, but not on the scale that I do when I have determined a course of action and then set the measurable goals for completing it.

So there you have it…my best time management tips for getting things done!!! Please feel free to comment if so have a great tip I missed.

Time Management Tips – How To Stop Driving Yourself Crazy

Time management has MANY champions! That nice Brian Tracy is one of my faves with his “eat that frog” book and the late Steven Covey was also an amazing time management flag waver, providing us with tools and ideas that made our lives better.

Time management is NOT easy. Stop beating yourself up, EVERYONE is screwing it up right now and you are not alone. That having been said, I would like you to consider how your life would be different if you managed your time effectively and could stop running around like a chicken with your head cut off!!!

These time management tips are sort of in order…but feel free to skip around as you like!

Stop thinking you can do everything that you NEED to do – It is amazing to me the things I heap on my plate as “need to dos” when I already have a full plate. I decided to write a book, EXACTLY when my business was booming and a family member became injured. Seriously? I still was holding myself accountable to that commitment even though I knew there was NO WAY to accomplish it well (could maybe have done it half assed but that is the topic for a different post). Take a look at your todo list and see what you cross off or save for laters on the need to do side.

Stop thinking you can do everything you WANT to do – Entrepreneur readers, this one is for you! We all see shiney objects every day, things that could be the next great thing and take us to the next level. STOP! For the next 90 days, pick three things to do and master. Start, work on and complete them, then pick three more for the next 90 days. If you have purchased training, no buying any more until you watch and master what you have. If you have a great idea, you need to wait until the next cycle to get it into play. If it is REALLY a great idea it will keep and be even better when you can devote honest time to making it work.

Get a calendar! – SO many people come to me with a list of things to do each day thinking this is a calendar. Nope. A calendar is a way to schedule your time in big blocks so you can accomplish something. A calendar is a way to plan IN ADVANCE what you are going to do and when you are going to do it. I KNOW, you are different, you can’t use a calendar because of “X” (fill in your blank, you have kids, you have tenants, you have a service business, you have a products based business, you don’t know timelines, your suppliers vary). For everyone who thinks that they can’t have a calendar, please seek help. Find a business coach, find a friend who always seems to be “on it”, stop giving yourself permission to let time beat you up and take control.

Time Management Tips - Todos for TodaysBe honest about your todos for todays! – Want the recipe for self hatred and loathing? Give yourself so many things on your daily to do list that you NEVER accomplish them all. Having all those things there hanging out at the end of the day means that you LOST, FALIED, WEREN’T GOOD ENOUGH! Instead have a todo list and then pick your top three things you need to do today, do those, get them done, succeed!

Fall back in love with your business – Schedule time together with what made you pick your industry in the first place. Take a couple of hours of week to learn something, business plan or just think about why you are doing what you are doing. I LOVE MARKETING, but when I spend to much time working at it, that glow fades and I am left with just work. You are your own boss. Tell yourself that being in the now and appreciating how cool your work and company are is important.

REALLY look at how much time something will take – I tend to underestimate how long something I like to do will take and overestimate how long something I dread will take. I had in my head that paying my bills was at least an hour long task. I timed it…sigh….less than 10 minutes. Writing a blog post, scheduled at a half hour or so, ALWAYS takes about an hour with making a picture, seo’ing it, researching keywords, etc. Both are things I need to do for my business, both NEED to be giving the proper amount of time and energy!

Stop procrastinating – Here comes the “eat the frog” moment! If you have something that HAS to get done, stop stalling, finding other things to do, checking your social media and SIT YOUR BUTT DOWN IN CHAIR and DO IT! The world is FULL of distractions and we all have things that are less than fun to do for our business. Quit stalling, do the things that are important, three at a time and in order from most important to least important.

Hold yourself to high standards AND give yourself a break! – Entrepreneurs like us tend to think we can do everything. We tend to think of our failures and what we tried that did not work. Stop that. Right now! My company has a policy of being AMAZING. We try to produce amazing work, and get amazing results for our clients. That having been said, sometimes things go wrong. What you need to do is stop, apologize, make it right and then MOVE ON! Beating yourself up for past failures is not a recipe for success.

Finally, decide to take control of your time. – This is the most important one. A number of years ago I saw a presentation about planner manners by Deb Ward and decided that day to make time management a priority. Since then my life has become more manageable and fun. I have time for work and time for play. I have the ability to give my clients realistic deadlines that we can both live with. I can feel good knowing that I am not letting things fall through the cracks (too often). You can have this too. Stop making excuses about why you can’t and just decide, today, to make it so!

Time Management and Goal Setting – 4th Quarter of 2012

Time management and goal setting time is here again! We are coming into the 4th quarter of the year and with just three months to go, we need to all be looking at our calendars and planning out what we hope to accomplish over the rest of 2012!

My future is so bright I gotta wear shades picture quoteWhat Are You Selling?

First off, let’s talk about what you are selling, is it a product or a service?

It is so funny to think that if you are selling a product, the rest of the year HAS to be about putting money in your pocket. Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) is typically the time that the big retailers “go into the black” sales-wise and the rest of their profits come from the end of the year. If you are a product kind of kid, make sure that your ONLY goal is to sell, sell, sell. Some things to consider….networking and in-person events will tail off after Thanksgiving…heck, who are we kidding, they will probably peter out right after Halloween so get out there for the next six weeks and show your stuff in person!!!

If you are a service seller, make sure you have sales goals early in this quarter and then a solid plan as to what you are going to produce and have in place so that you can hit the ground running January 2 when everyone else is just thinking about getting back on the treadmill.

The Holidays

Okay, let’s call a spade a spade, we all look forward to the holidays as a time to spend with our friends and families. The lure of shopping and decorating and parties is siren song that is hard to resist. If you have ever been to my house, you know it takes about 4 days to get all the decorating in place and to have everything ready to go for when my Daddy comes to visit.

I tell you this not because I want to brag about my FABULOUS decor (okay, just a little), but to show you that I am not all nose to the grindstone ALL the time. That having been said, I cannot afford to take off two months. Not only would my pocketbook suffer, but the three months that it would take to get going again would be practically un-overcomable!

One of my coaching clients said it perfectly yesterday, “It’s a tossup, but I am trying to juggle husband, work, my family etc. The calendaring is really helping me to see how little time I do have to work. So I must really make that time pay off.”

WOW! So proud that I am getting tingles!!!! You CAN have a fabulous life and a fabulous time, BUT if you are in business you MUST also make time to make money or you will soon be out of business.

Time Management and Sales GoalsSetting Some Goals

So here are some concrete things to do TODAY to get your business in order for the rest of the year…

  • Sit down with a calendar and mark all the things you have until the end of the year. Put your personal stuff in first. Have to pick up your Daddy at the airport, mark the rest of the day OFF. Setting up the tree the day after Thanksgiving, give yourself a break and mark the day OFF.
  • Now that you have all that filled in, go back and figure out what you need to do to make that time off available! I do blog posts for our clients on Mondays. The Monday before Christmas is Christmas Eve and I guarantee you I will NOT be sitting doing blog Monday. That having been said, I had to put 4 hours in on the Thursday BEFORE to schedule them out. There will be NO wiggle room. I will have to sit my butt down in the chair and crank them out. Get an invite to a party that day, NOPE, can’t come because I don’t want to mess up Christmas Eve with my family! It’s all about choices!!!
  • Next put in all your obligations that you have. I have speaking events and networking that I have to attend. I have classes that I teach in person and online. Those all have to go in there.
  • Now I need to see what I have identified as items I want to have done before the end of the year. For my business it is a robust Hospitality Marketing program, my book finished and some info products done. Because I will have free time when everyone else is flitting around, I am going to crank these out and win the day BUT I have to have them in my calendar or they will be wishes, not goals!

So hopefully that helps light a fire under your ass and gets you thinking about what you need to do to finish the year strong. If you need some help getting this in order, I have a one hour, $247 marketing consult that REALLY does help!

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Small Business Marketing – Creating New Habits

{EAV:5da08477a9fda337} – funny little empire avenue thingy to verify my blog! Oh the things I will do to be popular on social media…:)

Small business marketing is a grind. If you were looking for something more uplifting and easy, move along, nothing to see here.

Small Business Marketing - How To Get Things DoneBUT, if you want to learn how to grow a marketing empire or really start creating some new habits…this is the post for you! Creating new habits is easy, it is not simple but it is easy. Just start doing it, TODAY!

Let’s start with the creating new habits timelines that I am talking about:

  • One week – you should feel GREAT if you are successful at doing your new “habits” for a week. One day, bah, anyone can do a day, but doing it for a whole workweek, that is SOMETHING!
  • Three months – this is the timeline that I use for setting habits in place and goal setting. Three months is a good amount of time because you can see the end of it and it doesn’t feel like forever!
  • One year – this is how long I use to judge if something is working, GASP! Yes, that is right, I use a social network or blog or make videos and products about something for A WHOLE YEAR before I give up on it! The reason for this is, if I don’t I am just jumping around after shiney objects all willy-nilly getting nowhere – more about this later!

Creating New Habits – See If They Are Worthwhile!

Ok, I am great for making bold pronouncements of new habits that I want start (cleaning my kitchen sink is a biggie!). But for business, I have to make sure that what I am setting in stone is a good habit to have, that it will help me sell more and that it will actually ACCOMPLISH something.

Watch any webinar and you will find something you are not doing right now, that if you could start doing it would make you a ton of money! I love webinars and watched one the other day about affiliate marketing (where you promote other people’s products). I thought, hum, if I just found a product every day, wrote a post about it, pinned a picture on Pinterest and talked about it on Facebook, damn I could be rich in three months!

But….hmmmm. I have my own products I haven’t promoted to the best of ability. I have lists of social media and friend contacts who would disappear if I spammed them with a new product a day and MOST IMPORTANT, I would not enjoy doing that every day. Sigh…another one bites the dust.

So what new habits ARE appropriate for me? Well, one is sending a personal note a day. I did this before and it got me business but then I was busy and stopped (that one ever happened to you?) Another one is to work on an ebook or information product every day. I could go on and on, in fact I have a list in front of me and am working out which are going to make the short list for the next three month period!

Creating New Habits – Be Realistic About Your Time!

If you are like most business owners, you are either really busy or really bored. New biz owners often do not have clients to work with, do not know what will work small business marketing wise and have nothing but time to devote to marketing. You guys, do a lot of different things to find out what you like to do and what works, then finesse later.

This part is actually for the really busy small biz owners (like me). If I had my way, I would do nothing all day but research marketing ideas, check them out, write about them, make videos and get Sonic sodas to keep me going.

Unfortunately, no one has stepped up to pay me for drinking soda, so back to work I go. My work work is running a social media marketing company that works with small biz owners. A lot of the time that means talking with clients, paying bills, making sure we are on track, talking to prospective clients and setting up social media empires for other people. No sodas and no researching.

So any new habits need to have realistic timelines to fit into my super busy schedule! With that in mind, I am adding a personal note and doing custom graphics for blog posts (like the one on this post). This will increase my visibility on a medium I already use (blogging) and add a new area (Pinterest). The personal notes are just a no brainer for me, I like stamps and going to the post office! I ordered a bunch of notecards with my new branding on them.

Still in the realm of time, remember that something that you just start doing always seems harder than doing nothing (deep, right?) The first time you do a custom picture you have to get a graphic, find a quote, do the formatting, size it, say dammit that was wrong, re-size it, save it, post it, etc. The next time you have all those bits already done so it takes half the time. By the forth or fifth time, you will have a plan and a system and be cruising. Too often we take the time amount that comes with the FIRST time we do something and brand our new habit with that HUGE number!

Creating New Habits – Make It Easy To Succeed

If you made it down to here you are probably well on your way to making your new habits stick (willing to listen to all this creating new habits talk means you are committed – or should be committed, it is a toss up!)

To make it easier to do your new habit, make sure you make it easy. For example, I went to the post office and bought two sheets of stamps, put my cards right next to me on the desk and had return address labels printed. Kind of takes the pain out of sending personal notes when I can do it in 3 minutes without leaving my desk!

Online I will oftentimes make a folder on my browser (Chrome or Firefox) with all the pages I need bookmarked there. I can then just right click and open them up all at once. Soooo, for my social media I have a folder with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Klout bookmarked. Simply by right clicking and saying “open all bookmarks”, each of these pages is opened and ready to fly through!

Creating New Habits – Making It Stick

Because I am careful about what I add to my list of todos, I generally can make a new habit stick pretty quickly. But this is the part that I promised to come back to…if it makes the list, I do it for a YEAR! EEEK!

Being an entrepreneur and working with entrepreneurs, I KNOW how fun it is to chase shiney squirrels. Seriously, coming up with a new product, service, plan, strategy, idea, concept…all in my sweet spot. BUT, the problem with that is the herky-jerky stop start that never gives anything time to get off the ground!

Since I decided that I LOVE Pinterest, I am giving her a year. I am going to make videos, like pictures, share pins, etc. for a YEAR. If I do three pins a day for the work year that is 5 (days a week) X 3 (pins a day) X 50 (weeks in a year). That is 750 opportunities to connect with someone new, share something and even have fun doing it. If I do videos about how-tos even once every couple of weeks, that will be 20 plus Pinterest videos.

How often have you decided to do something, tried it for a couple of weeks (or a couple of days) and then decided that it didn’t work? Exercise is like that for me, if I don’t have a 6 pack abs after THREE STRAIGHT DAYS of doing situps, I slither back to my slothful ways. Marketing is like that too! I will see people do three blog posts, no one comments, they say it is stupid and give up. That makes as much sense as exercising for and hour and a half and expecting to look like Jennifer Anniston!

Here is your mission if you choose to accept it…figure out one new marketing habit that you are going to embrace for the next three months! It can be phone calls, door knocking, personal notes, sending a daily email, Facebook, Pinterest, postcards. I don’t care what it is, you have to pinky swear that you will do it every work day for the next three months. No whining about, “its hard”, no crybaby, “but no one likes me”. Just do it!

If you could use a little help creating new habits, or heck even thinking about WHAT your new habits should be, check out my marketing coaching programs – they start with a tiny commitment of an hour and go up to 3 months!

Small Business Marketing – Having A Plan

So today I am working on small business marketing plans for some of our clients. While I love the thrill of coming up with new ideas, the most important part to assuring success to have a rock solid, laid out, step-by-step plan!

Small Business Marketing PlanI am a student of time management and goal setting who uses tools everyday to make my life a little easier (I help my coaching clients with this too!). That having been said, I spend a lot of time watching other people work and it generally looks like this:

  • Get up sometime, have some coffee, check some emails….SHIT, there are problems
  • Put out a fire, stress, run late for a meeting…SHIT, I don’t have everything ready
  • Duck into the meeting, event or appointment, apologize for being late, apologize for not having all your stuff
  • Rush out, get to the office, check your voicemail….SHIT, there are problems
  • Etc, Etc, Etc

Instead of that, what if you had a plan for your entire business and knew every morning what the most important things were overall. These could be getting speaking events if you are a speaker, geting listings if you are a Realtor, selling product if you are in direct sales, lead generating if you are a sales person. I KNOW, sounds simple right? BUT if you think about your number one, most important job for your business, I would be willing to bet you do that MUCH less often than you think you do!

Everyday something will come up that will try to knock you off your goals. Problems, opportunities, shiney squirrels and all kinds of things are much more interesting than putting your nose to the wheel and grinding out what you need to do to succeed.
Small Business Marketing Doodle

small business branding consulationSometimes, all it takes is someone looking at your business with a fresh set of eyes to see what you need to do to get to the next level. Sit down with us for an hour and come away with REAL action items that will get you on the road to business success.

Click the link to find out more about our 1 Hour Marketing
Coaching call
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Small Business Marketing Doodle

Soooo…. here is my hope for you today:

  • Start work everyday at the same time
  • If you work at home, get dressed, no jammies!
  • Write down the three most important things to do today BEFORE you do anything else
  • Have daily things you have to get done BEFORE you do anything else (blogging, social media, send personal notes, make phone calls)
  • THEN check your emails or voicemails! If there is something you can do in 2 minutes or less, do that, if it will take more of your time or soul, put it on the list of your todos AFTER your three important things
  • Get to work!

Okay, we didn’t even touch your calendar, but that is a post for another day!

If you are serious about your business and sales, you HAVE to have a plan EVERY day to stay on track and get ahead. I KNOW, your business is different. You have emergencies that you have to deal with immediately OR you HAVE to be available 24/7 OR you can’t have a calendar and a schedule because every day is different OR you are too busy to make a plan.

I hate to tell you this but that is everyone’s life. You are not different…you are just making excuses. So, vow today to start putting yourself and your business goals first and everything else will fall into place!

I KNOW, the dream of owning your own business was to be free as a little birdy, but I have to say, if you schedule and plan and stick to it, you are MUCH more free, guilt free, time free and stress free than if you are chasing your tail and running around and around after every shiney squirrel that comes along!!!

Setting Goals for 2012 | Small Business Marketing

Setting Goals for 2012 | Small Business Marketing – As a small business marketing expert, I am asked all the time about what to do and THEN am asked how the heck they are going to find the time to accomplish all of those goals. I find that having written goals and calendaring them is the only way to win!

So we are going to talk about how to find and focus on your goals, then how to implement them day to day on a consistent basis!

Small Business Marketing Goal SettingI LOVE the picture in this post because it is EXACTLY how you should start.

Think of everything you have to do, all your todo lists and everything else and put them in a drawer. I do not have hard numbers to throw around, but I know at least 50% of my HUGE tasks lists never get implemented. Either I do the item and forget that it is done, it expires a sad death because it wasn’t done in time to be effective or other things are more important. So I recommend turning everything upside down and figuring out what you like to do and what makes you money FIRST!

Here is a Small Business Marketing Productivity Form 3 Squares I send out to people who are members of my community (you can sign up on the home page if you are not already getting great stuff like this in your inbox!) Basically, you need to put your three main business focuses in the three squares and the figure out your tasks based on what you have said are your goals, instead of using the “what fire should I put out today” approach.

Picking the top three things that matter most to your business each day makes sure you stay on track! I consider and then write down what I have to do today and then make sure they get done. Sounds easy but I am busy like everyone else and things pop up which try to distract me. Having those in front of me makes a HUGE difference!

One thing for my long term goals. I follow that nice Brian Tracy and he says that if you do not have written goals, you just have dreams. It is great to write down your long term goals, but if you do not do something EVERY DAY (big or tiny) to move towards them, then you are never going to get there. Seriously, there are ALWAYS things that pop up which will see more important than something that is 3 years away. Stop putting your important things last and work on them daily.

Okay, so now I know what is important to my business and what my long term and short term goals are. So how do I get there from here? GRIND IT OUT!

If you are looking for some magic bullet that will make work less, well worky, this is not the place for you. I get a lot done because I am willing to plan and then execute against that plan, grinding away every day. So here are my daily tasks for Marketing Artfully for the first 3 months of 2012! Feel free to add them to your todos or make up your own BUT you have to have specific numbers attached or life will get in the way!

Daily Goals

  • facebook, comment or post
  • twitter, comment or post
  • linkedin, comment or post
  • google+, comment or post
  • haro.com email to see if someone needs an expert or speaker
  • answer all emails twice a day (no rollovers, schedule, answer or evernote!)
  • schedule speaking events or client meetings
  • print all materials needed
  • do one thing for social media marketing
  • do one thing for small business marketing coaching
  • do one thing for speaking

note: the checking social media takes about 15 minutes (I set a 20 minute timer and that is all I get), the bottom three are my three squares so I have to do something every day, emails overwhelm me so I am going to have a policy of one-touching them!

Weekly Goals

  • write three blog posts a week for Marketing Artfully
  • client blog posts
  • back up the spreadsheet
  • comment on 10 blog posts (for backlinks)
  • 2 in person events (speaking, networking, classes)

Monthly Goals

  • client marketing plans
  • videos for clients
  • check bank account

So how does this work in the “real world”? I calendar EVERYTHING! I have a wonderful assistant who schedules things for me BUT she can’t if I don’t have things in there so I am super vigilant.

Small Business Marketing - CalendaringI will tell you now, once you put all your “must dos” on your calendar, it starts to look like there won’t be time for anything else. Here is where you have to GET REAL! If you have things that have to get done, and having them on your calendar makes you overwhelmed, maybe you have too many must dos!

Seriously, whether or not you acknowledge them, these things still take time up from your week, whether you calendar them or NOT. This is how we get so overwhelmed. So you have a couple of choices:

  • Tighten up your goals even more so there is time to accomplish at least most of your tasks or…
  • Magically add more time to the day (okay, this one is a little snarky but true!)

What I tend to do is put time in the calendar for things I have to do and then move it around if my assistant needs to schedule something else (like a client call or appointment with a human). It is important to note that you cannot just delete the time (you still had it as important to your business, remember?). You just need to move it around to fit your actual schedule that week!

So, does this seem a little overwhelming? I have been finessing this plan over the course of about 5 years so starting today it WILL be overwhelming. That having been said, it is SO PRODUCTIVE and vital to your success that it is worthwhile taking the time TODAY to implement it!

If you would like to have some help with your goal setting for your small business, I have a special, one hour marketing consult where we will sit down with YOUR business and discuss EXACTLY what you should do. I have done HUNDREDS of these and have a model for what works and you WILL walk away with concrete goals for what to do! Check out the link or give me a call today (727-415-9165) to sign up or find out more!

Finally, I want to wish you all a happy and prosperous 2012, here’s hoping that you get going goal setting for 2012 and that you small business marketing makes you many sales in the coming year!

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Time Management – There Is NO Multitasking

Time management and multitasking are opposites of each other. The idea that you, as a human, can concentrate and be effective doing multiple tasks at once is the height of hubris and impossible!

Multitasking is the erroneous thought that you can accomplish two things at once. According to the Mirriam Webster Dictionary, multitasking is:

  • the concurrent performance of several jobs by a computer (notice the computer part)
  • the performance of multiple tasks at one time

It first showed up in language about 1966 when computer science types found out that machines could do two things at once concurrently. Sigh. This was the start of people saying all chirpy, “I am multitasking”.

In the real world, you can only do one thing at a time effectively. Think about it, brain surgeons do not perform surgery AND try to balance their business books on the side. They do not monitor their cell phones to see if they got an email or check their texts to see if someone sent them a message. They do one thing, operate.

I speak a lot and I am always astounded when someone in the class stops paying attention to me and starts texting or emailing while I am talking. Seriously? You probably paid good money to be in my class and now you can’t take 2 hours out of your “super important, the world will fall apart if I am not available 24 hours a day life?”

Doing one thing at a time is hard. It requires that you “live in the now” and pay attention to what you are doing or who is around you. It requires that you get over thinking that it is selfish to do what you want, when you want (or need) to do it. It requires closing doors, turning off phones and concentrating OR turning off phones and paying attention to the people who are near you. Period.

Multitasking At In Person Events

This is not a logical place to start but trying to multitask at in person events is a HUGE issue for my small business owners.

Picture this – you put a networking, training or one-on-one meeting in your calendar, taking time away from your todo list or your family. When you get there, you check your cell phone just before heading in and something HORRENDOUS has happened, you lost a client or a sale, your bank sent you a notice that your account was hacked, your kid texted that she was dating a Hell’s Angel, whatever. Now you have to go in there and “be social”. Not going to happen.

So no phones before or during the event. Turn them off, put them in your pocket or purse OR better yet, leave it in the car.

Time Management - No MultitaskingNext is a HUGE problem for most people, remembering names. How the hell do you expect to remember someone’s name if you are “processing” a million things in your head. Stop trying to use tricks to remember people’s names and just focus on them when they introduce themselves. Listen to what they do and remember them. If you are meeting a lot of people, take their card and make a note of their name, what they say they do (which may be different than what their business card says) and then something interesting about them.

One of the things that is so striking to me is how brilliant people are perceived and how they became successful. I have heard about Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Richard Branson that one of the amazing things about them is that they were present when they talked to people. When someone they met says, “they acted like I was the only person in the room”, what they are really saying is that they paid attention to them. Mostly it comes with the note that the time was under a minute, but just that attention for a minute made a huge difference.

Multitasking and Work

Okay, this is a huge one. Common lore says you can accomplish more if you are doing multiple work projects at the same time, either small todos all at once, or big projects over the same timeline. You switch back and forth, miraculously accomplishing twice as much as you would if you did one thing, finished it and then moved onto the next. Seriously, this DOES NOT HAPPEN. What happens is you then have more things, partly done and nothing is FINISHED.

Try this for a week. Make a list of the top three things that are the highest and best use of your time for your business today (mine today are: write a blog post, check, scan back two contracts, not yet, and do client work). These are a mix of moving my business forward (getting new eyeballs on my website with a blog post), working on my business (getting contracts finalized) and doing my “job” in my business (doing client work). Too often we take our eyes off the big picture and get mired in how much work we have to do. My todo list is crazy like yours, but there is no sense whining about it, just do those three things and then move on to the next most important three things like the little engine that could and you will move forward, I promise!

What you need to know this minute is ALL successful people are busy. Take a poll and ask people who you admire what their todo lists look like. EVERYONE who is in the process of doing something really great has a list a mile long. It is how YOU handle it and how YOU feel about it that makes a difference.

Multitasking and Smart People

Okay, I am a relative smarty, but my expertise lies in marketing and small business coaching so why should you listen to me. Because smart people say it too! Here are some facts from science types to peruse if you are still not convinced:

  • Multitasking: Switching costs – “In the mid-1990s, Robert Rogers, PhD, and Stephen Monsell, D.Phil, found that even when people had to switch completely predictably between two tasks every two or four trials, they were still slower on task-switch than on task-repeat trials. Moreover, increasing the time available between trials for preparation reduced but did not eliminate the cost of switching. There thus appear to be two parts to the switch cost — one attributable to the time taken to adjust the mental control settings (which can be done in advance it there is time), and another part due to competition due to carry-over of the control settings from the previous trial (apparently immune to preparation).”
  • Is Multitasking More Efficient? Shifting Mental Gears Costs Time, Especially When Shifting to Less Familiar Tasks – Rule activation itself takes significant amounts of time, several tenths of a second — which can add up when people switch back and forth repeatedly between tasks. Thus, multitasking may seem more efficient on the surface, but may actually take more time in the end.
  • Mini-multitaskers: For young people, a tendency to multitask may impoverish learning, productivity and even friendships. – “Plus switching itself takes a toll: As you’re switching, says Meyer, you’re not concentrating on either task. And you need a mental warm-up to resume the suspended task…As a result, the efficiency of getting the task done is much less than if you concentrated on one task from start to finish, says Meyer.”

If you would like to find out more about implementing time management (anti multitasking) practices in your business, give us a call today to find out about our Small Business Coaching or Company Productivity Programs 727-415-9165

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Small Business Marketing Where Do You Find The Time

Small business marketing takes time. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but… Now you can farm some of it out to take a little less time, but that is only after you have spent a while understanding it first.

Recently I have read and listened to a couple of neat talks on finding time to do small business marketing that I thought would be fun to share with you! One of the things that has become pretty obvious to me is that time spent watching TV could be better used growing my business. Huh.

Now I am not imune to the television, I like a nice home show as much as the next gal. I DO know that my TV watching has taken a pretty precipitous decline over the last few years. My husband and I have even flirted with canceling cable and watching movies, internet shows and the like.

According to Clay’s keynote below, as a country we spend 100 Million Hours a weekend watching television ads. Argg.

As a marketer I bet you are wondering why I am anti-ad, that seems REALLY off base. Well I am not anti-ad, I am anti unrelated advertising that does not improve my life. Seeing ads for franken-foods that will knock me off of my semi-veggie plan do not help. Seeing ads for baby products do not help. Cars that I do not want and can not afford to drive (I am curb-knocking driver) are silly.

I DO like the internet ads that I see. They are generally related to something I am already interested in. When one of my favorite blogger suggests a product, generally it has something to with a topic I am enthused about. Think about that when you are developing products or “wasting time” blogging. Your audience WILL be interested in what you want to talk about and they may be interested in something you want to sell.

I know that entrepreneurs and small business marketers are interested in my Do-It-Yourself small business marketing product that I launched this month because they clicked on google ads. Soooo if I spend my time writing about small business marketing, there is a good chance I will find more people who are interested in that and will sell more more of them.

That hunt to be specific and get more business is WAY more interesting to me than watching the final season of Lost or morning talk shows. Sorry TV, I am too busy growing my business to pay attention to you!


Clay Shirky idea of cognitive surplus is REALLY interesting. He talks about how many extra hours we have when we do not spend so much time watching TV.

Gary Vaynerchuk is the first one that I heard talking about how people would choose the internet over having TV. This is just one of Gary Vaynerchuk’s keynote speeches that I listen to when I need a kick in the ass!

Focus Schmocus – How to get things done!

You have a million things you HAVE to do TODAY. You need to finish your paperwork, call some clients, send a newsletter, read an article, do some more paperwork, call that icky client, start your taxes, arggg!

I can tell you that there are probably only two or three things that you HAVE to do today to grow your business, sell something or get a new prospect. Those are the only things you HAVE to do today! (If you owe money to the IRS you may HAVE to talk to them today – you have my permission!)

So if you only have a few things you HAVE to do, you must WANT to do all that other busy work you have set up for yourself, right? We humans are funny creatures, we like to keep busy, to feel needed, to do important work. If we have lots to do we can justify to ourselves not getting some vital things done.

That ends today people! Today you need to figure out the top 3 things that you need to do for your business and EVERY day, before you do anything else, those things have to be done!

For my business, my top three things are:

  1. Lead generating – writing blog posts, attending mastermind sessions, writing articles, emailing prospects
  2. Strategic planning – getting the systems in place so that when opportunity knocks I am ready
  3. Writing Ebooks or speaking in person – this is my actual physical work!

If you are a realtor, yours may look like this:

  • Lead generating – holding open houses, blogging about a neighborhood, sending out emails to your database, sending a newsletter, calling your prospects or clients and asking for referrals, attending network events
  • Strategic planning – organizing your calendar, targeting neighborhoods or niches, working on your database, setting up automatic emails to your prospects
  • Actual Realtor Work – taking listings, signing buyer broker agreements, showing houses, servicing your listings, writing contracts, negotiating contracts, and attending closings

Doing anything other than those things is a waste of your valuable time! You need to make sure that something from those lists is on your calendar every day!

Write these things out and hang them on the wall. Anytime something comes in that seems urgent, hold it up to your list and see if it something you HAVE to do…you may be surprised how much you have been doing that is unnecessary busywork that you just have a habit of doing.

Where should you spend your time?

Time is money. I know, it is trite but true! I had a client ask me today if I thought she should spend some of her time on adding her real estate listings to a website. (See my response on Active Rain)

It made me think about what I spend my precious time on. Sometimes I spend time with my friends and favorite clients (good), sometimes I spend it lead generating (good), sometimes I spend it writing blog posts (good) and sometimes I spend it doing something that ultimately does not benefit my business (bad).

When I was an active Realtor I got lots of emails from companies that would “let” me post my listings on their site. They would then sell that feed to other sites who wanted real estate listings. While it did give my listings more exposure, I could have done that all day, everyday, rather than spending my time doing actual things that could sell my listings like contacting other realtors, marketing the home, attending pitch sessions, holding open houses and a million other things besides posting my listings on sites that had no traffic.

Are you doing something that you “could” do rather than stuff you “should” do? DO NOT get me wrong, I am an early adopter who likes to try new marketing efforts BUT if what I am doing does not benefit me dollar for time then I should focus on dollar productive activities and save my energy for things that have a chance of working for me!