If there’s one resource all entrepreneurs seem to lack, it’s time. There never seems to be enough hours in a day – especially for mompreneurs who are not only running a business, but raising a family, and still trying to find time for themselves.
The good news is that just a few adjustments can free up hours every week (sometimes every day!). How greatÂ would it be to spend thatÂ salvaged time doing something you love instead of repeating the same mundane tasks day in and day out? Pretty great.
Here are some of our favorite productivity hacks to help you make the most out of your busy day.
Streamline Your Finances
For most of us, keeping track of business finances isn’t something we look forward to. No matter how small your empire is, when it comes to taxes and financial management, there’s a lot to consider. And all of it is supremely important. Tangling with Uncle Sam at tax time is not a position you ever want to find yourself in.Â In the event you’re ever audited, it is so helpful to know you’ve got everything in one simple, well-organized place to hand over. Loosely managed finances can take months upon months to gather and present to the IRS. It’s highly stressful and extremely time consuming. Here are some resources to help you keep it all together:
We useÂ Quickbooks for Small BusinessÂ to help manage our finances around here. It helps categorize everything and even provides me with an end of year summary and ready-made Schedule C to take the pressure off of tax time. It also saves me money because I no longer have to pay an accountant for that part of my filing. You can save 50% off using our unique partner link, but only for a short time.
If Quickbooks isn’t your style, considerÂ FreshBooksÂ is another tool you can use to handle your business finances. It’s great for invoicing. You’ll be able to save time by automating the vast majority of your invoicing. It also helps with expenses, projects, payment, and reporting. Give it a test driveÂ absolutelyÂ free for 30 days withÂ this link.
Searching for receipts is a thing of the past. And thank goodness. ShoeboxedÂ is an online expense storage station. It helps you keep everything in orderÂ by allowing youÂ to scan and organize all of your receipts (and business cards) in one convenient place online. No more digging through file cabinets, purses, or folders to find that elusive proof of purchase or sale. They can also help create expense reports, track mileage, and more.
Systems RockÂ founder and systemsÂ guruÂ Natasha Vorompiova is a productivity wizard. We use her free worksheets all the time to keep things streamlined. You can grab your collection of free forms,Â here.
You’d be surprised how much time can be wasted trying to figure out everything for yourself. If you’re in need of a quick ebook cover photo, graphic, Photoshop magic, or some other sort of website tweaking, Fiverr is a great place to get itÂ done on the cheap. Hundreds of professionals are willing to offerÂ what I like to call ‘drive by’ assistance. That is, provide quick fixes to help you check something off your task list. See what they’ve got to offer, here.
Eventually you’ll get to a place where you find that your time is most profitably spent working in your business. That’s when you know it’s time to pay someone else for a few hours so you can get things done as effectively as you can. Care.comÂ is a trustworthy way to find personal help around the house, bothÂ with cleaning or childcare services. Because as we know all too well, your obligations at home don’t stop just because you’re busy working.
Hire a VA. For busy mompreneurs with more ideas and tasks than time, virtual assistants can be a Godsend. And they’re not just for the gurus. You’re probably ready to hire a VA when you’re overwhelmed, tired of doing mundane, repetitive tasks, or feel your time could be more profitably spent elsewhere. We’ve shared some expert tips right here, including a free tracker to help you decide how to best utilize your newfound helper.
Schedule Social Media
Another great way to stay ahead of the game is to schedule your social media posts. I’m a big believer that engaging is an important aspect of social media, but you can’t be present all the time. There are plenty of occasions in between your live posting where you’ll be able to schedule some things ahead of time.Â IÂ use any or all of these tools on a regular basis to help plan ahead and stay consistently on a posting schedule:
If you’re at a loss for content, social media expert Prerna Malik of Content Bistro has developed a huge timesaving tool.Â The Social SpreadÂ is a giant resource library loaded withÂ done-for-you social media updates and images. With over 600 updates, there’s more than enough to last the whole year, and then some. We use it regularly with fantastic success.
Some other tools we use and love are:
GrammarlyÂ is an online editing tool that, as a professional blogger, I couldn’t live without. We acceptÂ guest postsÂ and often get dozens in a given week. By being able to run a guest post through Grammarly, we can see if it was plagiarized from another site. It also helps us check the spelling and grammar of our own post and others’ to ensure we look as professional as possible when presenting content to readers. You can try it free withÂ this link. I use Grammarly every single day, and my kids use it for their school reports as well.
Chrometa is your very own, personal time keeper. When you’re doing what you love, it can be easy to get carried away in a conversation. If you’re a coach or consultant, this automatic time keeping tool is a great way to take control of the time you spend chatting with clients. Chrometa captures your time for you as you work on your PC, Mac, iPhone, and Android. You don’t have to ever start or stop timers; it’s all done for you. Every email you write, every minute you work gets recorded and “automatically” put on your timesheet. Being able to see the amount of time you spend with a client not only helps you bill with confidence, it helps you assess how much time to budget for similar projects in the future.
More than ‘just’ an email service provider, ConvertkitÂ is a new personal favorite business tool of mine. It allows you to segment lists, schedule out dripped content, or ‘sequences’ to welcome new subscribers, and build (and schedule) broadcast messages. If you sell digital goods, you can also link your account toÂ yourÂ GumroadÂ account and segment buyers by their purchases. Everything can be automated, including segmenting lists and sending and organizing broadcast messages to your subscribers. It costs a bit more that what we were paying at our former provider, but the time it’s saved meÂ has been more than worth it. Plus, it just looks so much more professional than many of the other third-party email service providers out there. Since we started sprinkling their embedded custom forms throughout our site, we’ve had a noticeable jump in subscribers.
CarboniteÂ is an online storage hub. For one annual fee,Â I have outsourced the task of constantly downloading my history to an external hard drive to Carbonite’s online storage system. And I am so glad I did. It’s saved me on severalÂ occasions. The most pivotal was recently whenÂ my laptop accidentally collided with a glass of water and fizzled out. I thought I had lost everything (including photos, saved documents, my history, and my client work) but in no time flat, I was able to download everything onto myÂ new computerÂ and restore it completely, just as though nothing everÂ happened. It constantly saves as you’re working, too, so even if your computer crashes mid-sentence, it’ll restore your document right where you left off.Â I’ve relied on Carbonite for more than five years and wouldn’t dream of living without it.
While not all of these tools will work with your unique business model, it’s certainly worth investigating those that might. Time is precious. Free up as much of it as you can. Just think about all the things you could so with those extra hours!
What tools do you use to help keep your business running smoothly and efficiently?
This post is sponsored by The UPS Store. For more information, please see the end of this article.
With all you’ve got to do as a small business owner, is networking really worth your time? According to an online study conductedÂ this month by The UPS Store, the answer is a resounding… yes!
When asked what their biggest challenge as an entrepreneur was,Â the top three answers were:
1. Marketing and Branding
31% of respondents stated that marketing and branding their business was their greatest challenge.
How Networking can help
- Exchange opportunities to gain greater exposure.
- Barter your products or services with a copywriter or graphic designer to get a quality brand in exchange for your own goods and services.
- Create an affiliate program and invite your network to join and help promote your offerings.
For example, place an ad on one another’s sites or feature each other on your blogs.
2. A Lack of Time
23% of respondents said they felt challenged to find adequate time to effectively manage their business.
How Networking can help
While we’ve all got 24 hours in the day, sometimes it can feel like someone else in a similar situation has it all under control. To help yourself become more efficient with your time, reach out to fellow entrepreneurs in your marketplace.
- Elicit productivity solutionÂ ideas such as calendars, routines, or recommended services.
- See if anyone in your network has systems they use to help them streamline their workflow.
- Ask industry experts to guest post on your blog. You’ll save the time of having to write a post and you’ll gain the benefit of getting in front of their audience as they share the piece with their own tribe.
3. A Lack of Financial Resources
Nearly one-quarter of respondents (23%) stated that a lack of financial resources was one of their greatest challenges.
How Networking can help
By teaming up and getting creative, you can use your networking efforts to help reduce the cost burden of running your own business.
- Split the cost of a booth, an advertisement, or other general business expenses.
- Co-brand (and co-market) an event with a fellow industry expert.
- BarterÂ products and services with one another.
For example, product sellers can buy packaging materials such as boxes, bubble wrap, and mailing envelopes in greater quantity breakpoints from a vendor at a more reduced rate and split the cost and materials with another retailer who sells similarly sized items.
Since two-thirds of respondents agreed that they view small-business owners as a group that could serve as a collective resource for one another, you shouldn’t have much trouble finding someone to team up with.
This infographic helps tell the story of the role networking plays in the minds of entrepreneurs:
Small business owners crave connection
Half of the respondents (51%) stated that making connectionsÂ would be the most beneficial to them when networking with other small businesses.
Building relationships is what life is all about. This same philosophy echoes true in your business as well. This includes relationships not only with customers but with colleagues. Having healthy relationships with customers is great for business, but the entrepreneurial side of us needs some TLC, too. Sometimes it’s difficult for our non-entrepreneurial friends and family to truly understand what we go through to maintain a healthy business. Having a cache of people who get it is helpful to our psyche and our bottom line. AÂ contingent of like-minded enterprising souls helps small business owners feel both understood and validated.
Because 66% of respondents felt that it was important to form strong relationships with other small-business owners, you shouldn’t have much trouble finding and making connections.
The survey also showed that aÂ majority (61%) would prefer to make their connections through local, in-person meet-ups. From the Better Business Bureau to various industry clubs and organizations, there are a plethora of networking opportunities already in existence in your own community. Seek them out and join the fun. If you can’t find one that suits you, maybe you’ll want to create one. Nothing says leadership like taking the initiative.
No matter how you go about it, networking is an essential ingredient in your success both as a business and as a business owner.
How do you use networking to your advantage?
I am blogging on behalf of The UPS Store and received compensation for my time from The UPS Store for sharing my views in this post. The views expressed here are solely mine.
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The dictionary defines success as the accomplishment of an aim or purpose. This definition suggests that success only stems from accomplishing one thing. Society would have us believe that that one thing is an amazing career. I believe women need to widen their definitions of success to include all of the things in life that are important to them. This will help us deal with the continuing challenges of work-life balance. An Ernst & Young survey showed that 33% of employees worldwide listed that their work-life balance was getting progressively more difficult to manage.
I am a CEO and entrepreneur, but I am also a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend. Excelling in all of those roles is important to me. If I solely focus on building my company to be considered successful, all of the other parts of my life fall by the wayside. I donât have time to make dinner for my husbandâs birthday, call my grandma, or attend my sonâs school functions because I am channeling all of my energy into my company. So despite succeeding in the role of CEO I sometimes feel like a failure in the other aspects of my life.
Does this sound familiar?
Take a step back and decide what roles fulfill you, and make you feel like you are doing a good job at life. Then include those roles in your definition of success. By broadening your definition of success you are giving yourself a new lens to view your day-to-day activities and goals. This new outlook is a way to grow towards fulfilling your own happiness and feeling like you measure up your own standards at the end of the day.
While a broad definition of success is liberating, it can also be overwhelming. It is impossible to be an amazing wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, etc. all at the same time. There are only so many balls we can keep in the air before we drop them all. Trying to be wonder woman will leave you feeling burnt out and more like a failure than a success.
So what is the solution to achieving your own definition of success?
Pinpointing the high value opportunities in each role you have in your definition and scheduling them is the key. Simply writing a to-do list will do more harm than good. A recent article in the Harvard Business Review stated that to-do lists set their creators up for failure and frustration. When you schedule an appointment in your calendar you have made the commitment to complete that task or event at a specific time. Scheduling also makes you realistically determine how much time an activity will take and if you have that amount of time available.
Start scheduling with a monthly overview.
Determine what is the number-one project that needs to be accomplished at work and place that deadline at the end of the month. Then work backwards and schedule the weekly time slots you will need to accomplish that work goal. Next, consider your spouseâs needs. Is there a birthday or special event that is important to celebrate or attend? Put that in your calendar along with a date night. As you look at your childrenâs needs, think about what is most important to them, it could be chaperoning a class field trip, attending a soccer game, or planning a special weekend activity. Again, schedule these things. Finally, determine what your personal high value opportunity is. Do you need a girlâs night or a trip to the salon? Make sure to schedule what is important for you. Having âme timeâ on your calendar gives you something to look forward to, and it allows you to reenergize.
If you use a different color to schedule each roleâs activities in your calendar you will have a visual on your life balance. If you see too much of one color, that indicates that you either need to drop a few scheduled things for that role, or add a few more activities for your other roles. While true balance is rarely attainable, if you do your best to schedule it your life will be less polarized and you will feel more successful.
What if you have a demanding job and very little control over your working hours?
I encourage women to consider entrepreneurship as a way to regain power over the definition of success. Female entrepreneurs have more control over their job security and fulfillment than their corporate peers, which leads to higher levels of happiness. A study from the 2013 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor U.S. Report, found that women business owners ranked twice as happy as their non-entrepreneur, non-business-owner counterparts.
There will never be a perfect formula for being a successful woman. Everyone is different, as should be our definitions of success. Understanding what is important to you and incorporating those things into your own, personal definition of success, and then scheduling the events that are of highest value in each of your individual roles will lead to a happier more successful you.
How do you define success?
There is a pervasive myth that others seem to believe regarding being an entrepreneur. One that I’m sure you can relate to. It goes something like this:
“Oh, how wonderful. I’d love to run my own business. All that flexibility and control over my schedule! I’d be able to spend time doing X, Y, and Z.”
And therein lies the myth of running your own business. Sure, I have the flexibility to work at 10 pm or 6 am (always the former, I don’t do early mornings), to avoid the rush hour commute to meet with a client, to travel, or to work on weekends. The reality (for me) is that being an entrepreneur and running my own business is the hardest I have worked in my whole career.
While corporate life can be challenging, at the end of the day â and there was always an end of the day â I went home to my family, my paycheck arrived on time, and things were OK. The work got done.
As an entrepreneur, the work never stops. There are always ideas for new programs and products. There’s the second book I want to write. And then another invitation to speak at a conference. The client who specifically requests to work with me. Hiring new talent. Sending invoices. Responding to emails. Returning phone calls. The list of things âto do’ never ends. And I love it. Being a successful and busy entrepreneur is the most fun I have ever had. The best job ever. With, thankfully, the best team ever.
However, as my team and business grow, I have to re-evaluate my role and re-assess where I spend my time and energies. The “I do it all” approach is no longer effective or scalable. I am learning to delegate, to let go, and to operate in a new way. I’m taking back control so I can perform better. I’m taking back control so we can perform better.
If you feel like you are being pulled in a million different directions every day and your to-do list usually rivals War and Peace in length, it may be time for you to take back control and perform better, too.
Here are six tips that may help:
For the first few years of running SkyeTeam, I didn’t have a plan beyond paying the bills. I took every opportunity that was presented to me, and I moved from one âshiny object’ to the next. As long as we were having fun, learning, and exceeding our customers’ expectations, it served us well. This year I took back control so that we could perform better. We created a strategic plan (on one piece of paper) that details the areas of the business that we want to focus on for the next three years, and the results we want to achieve. Creating focus and ensuring that everyone on the team understands and is aligned around this strategy has proven transformational. Our success â and that of our clients â is accelerated as we now have a clear filter for the projects that we should be working on â and those that, while fun, are potential distractions. Our approach is two-fold: it’s focused on the business goals, and also our individual goals.
What are the business goals you are striving for?
What are the personal goals you (and your team members) are striving for?
Change your answer
I am quick to say, “yes” to requests that come in. Requests from clients, and those from people who simply want to âpick my brain.’ What inevitably gives is the time I spend at my desk creating powerful content for our sessions. What gives is my time with family and friends.
I took back control to perform better by turning up my turn-down skills. Instead of saying an immediate “yes,” I have learned that I have to give myself permission to say, “Let me think about that” or (heaven forbid) an immediate, “No.” It wasn’t an easy adjustment. I had to learn to say no with style. But having a clear focus allows my team and me to identify better what we should be saying, “yes” to â the opportunities which help us to achieve and further our business and personal goals.
What do you need to start saying, “no” to?
How will you say, “no” in a way that preserves the relationship?
Ask for help
I have previously written about my independence and self-reliance: traits that have helped me to be successful. But these very same traits have also held me back at times as I tried to go it alone. Success is not a solo sport. We are all dependent on others to achieve our goals. Even as a solopreneur, I was dependent on my client relationships, my board of advisors, my allies. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness â it is a sign of strength. The more people who have a vested interest in helping you succeed, the more likely that success is to be achieved and maintained.
What are you successful in spite of?
When (and who) might you ask for help?
Throw a Worry Party
I’ve never spoken to an entrepreneur who hasn’t experienced angst and worry about a business move, ranging from a few butterflies in the stomach to a whole squadron of butterflies flying formation tricks. My âworry meter’ rose considerably in the early days of launching the business. I took back control and perform better because I no longer suffer alone. When I feel those first knots in my stomach, I share my thoughts with my trusted advisors, my allies, the people who can provide perspective, advice, and support as needed.
What is on your worry list right now?
Who is your ally, the person you can turn to for advice and guidance?
Trying to do everything yourself may result in amateur-looking results. Just because I can do something doesn’t mean I should. I’m using a professional bookkeeper instead of spending hours every month reconciling the various bank accounts. I can invest that time in something that helps to grow and move the business forward.
Where should you be leaning on professional help?
What is one thing you need to focus on, and will focus on when you hire your first professional?
Take a Vacation
In our first year of business, I never switched off. My family took a road trip, and I stayed at home because “the business needs me.” TrueâŠ but the family needs me, too. Also: I need me! Taking a vacation has, for me, been one of the most powerful ways of taking back control. Time off provides me with an opportunity to recharge my batteries, gain perspective, and generate more ideas to add to that infernal to-do list. Stepping back and taking a vacation allows me to step back into the business with a renewed vigor and excitement.
When was the last time you took a vacation or short break?
What will you do to include regular vacation time into your life?
Being an entrepreneur doesn’t mean that you have to do it all. Success requires that you take back control and do the right stuff at the right time. And the rest of the ideas and to-do list? You can do those tomorrow.
It was a very early, frosty grey morning in January, more than 20 years ago. But so are most mornings in the Boston area that time of year. It was the first day of going back to work after my son was born. I have a child! A son. My son, I said to myself while driving away from him on Route 2, still trying to convince myself that I had become a motherâa dream that became a reality at 37 years old. I am a mother.
The traffic became heavier, then slowed, moving in tighter and closer to my old sedan. Too close! Tailgater! The impulse to open my side window was too much, and a cold fist of air hit me in the face as I yelled out, âBack off! Iâm a mother!â Nobody noticed. But, at that moment, I felt that I was irreplaceably important. I am a mother. My son needs me, and I must be safe. It occurred to me that, if I couldnât have a private motorcade to take me to work, I needed a stronger vehicleâsomething like an armored tank. A mother.
That was my unique turning point, along Route 2, where the traffic had transformed me into believing in my motherhood. It would change how I looked at myself and my choices. But I needed perspective.
I quickly joined a New Mothers group that included many working moms. We guided each other through our self-imposed guilt of leaving our babies, even for part-time jobs. We acknowledged that there was usually more than one right answer to our new-mom questions and neuroses. But most of all, we gave each other a safe place to be ourselves. As a mother who was in love with a child I had always wanted, I thought that I would never ask to be anything else. How could I want more when I had motherhood?
Ten years laterâwith two children, then 10 and 8 years oldâanother turning point happened unexpectedly: my planning book was lost. My lifeâs script to my busy life, gone. Convinced that the answer was a simple replacement, I bolted to the bookstore to get a new one. But this time I faced the person I had become: a busy, uninspired mom.
I love my children, but my planner dictated a routine of carpooling and after-school clubs and sports. I thumbed through the pages of the new planning book. Refill it? Or rewrite it? Could I add something new and meaningful and still be a loving mother? Was it too late to add to my life a dream that I had always imagined? Come on! What kind of mom goes to flight school? Youâre a mother. Go back to what mothers do! I needed perspective.
I called my closest friends to give me guidance and expected that they would tell me to give up on my long-held childhood dreams. Childhood dreams, they would say, are better left where they belong: in childhood. Didnât I have all I needed? But thatâs not what they said. They too thought there had to be more to life and be the mother, woman, and friend to those we love.
Our new group, the Chicks in Charge, vowed to be in charge of our midlife quests. We began our journeys together and shared the fears we had to overcome if we were to succeed. We braved the guilt from inside and out for wanting more and forgave each other for not knowing all the answers. Best of all, we offered each other a safe place to be ourselves. With that, I took off to find my place in the sky, Helen searched her soul for a life beyond illness, and Joan grappled with a disappointing marriage.
I wrote Finding the Wow: How Dreams Take Flight at Midlife to tell about our lives and how profoundly important it is to have a group of friends like the Chicks in Charge. Having your own Chicks in Charge is essential to following your dream. It is what I most wish for you. Please join me at www.findingthewow.com as I tell you the story of how a midlife mom became a pilot.
How to Embrace Your Dream to Do What You Love:
Lesson #1: Do What You Have Always Loved
To get your dream going, loosen your ties to your digital or day planner. It gives guidance but can tie you to so many busy tasks that may bind and gag you from your dreams.
Lesson #2: Pick Great Companions
Surround yourself with people who encourage your passion. They should challenge you too. Together, look at how to make things possible. Critics tell you to quit; friends tell you that the best things can be hard and to keep trying. They know that the importance of being who you want to be requires risk.
Lesson #3: Donât Let Fear Hold You Back
Fears start at a young age. Recall the dark and scary nights when you were very young with âsomethingâ scary under the bed or maybe in the closet. How did any of us survive that? Someone else usually came in and turned on a light, and our courage returned. Whatever your passion is, a lurking monster of the night will get between you and your dreams. Your light masters the dragons that scare you. And most of the scariness lies in not seeing and understanding the truth: The more you learn, the less youâll fear.
Lesson #4: Make Mistakes and Fail Better Than the Last Time
Wanting perfection is often the path to quitting. Itâs hard to be the very best at what you want to do. Some of us will be first and some will be superhuman, but most of us are just human. Perfection is nice but not required to follow your dreams.
Lesson #5: Begin as a Beginner
To live the life you want to live, youâll need to hear more and listen less. That is, when following a dream, heed the calling of your heart and not the critics telling you that your dream is outside of the normâtheir norm. That is the way of life as a beginner. New things must be learned, new people must be met who will teach them, and new surroundings must be experienced. Remember the famous line from The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy said, âThis isnât Kansas …â? Youâll feel the same way. But did she ever really fit in Kansas anyway? Do you?
Lesson #6: Keep Your Sense of Humor
âManners matter. Good looks are a bonus. Humor is a must.â âAnonymous
Becoming a pilot opened more doors, including one that led to my other dreamsâspaceflight. In 2016, an experiment I created will be flown to the International Space Station.
My map to the stars was not completely laid out the day I started to learn to fly. But when you do what you love, thatâs where it leads. Whatever your airplane is, fly it!
For many of us, the ability to completely unplug while we’re away from work has begun to slip away. Such is the modern workforce â with email, Skype, text messages, and Google Hangout, among other channels (not to mention smartphones and laptops), being available at all times has become the norm. This can be challenging enough when you’re trying to maintain a healthy work-life balance and stay engaged with your spouse or children. But what can you do about it when you want to get away for a week or two?
Below are some recommendations that can help you stay productive with work while traveling. If you’re like many working women in today’s workforce, this is the new normal. It may be far from an ideal situation, but these tips can help you make the most of it!
Stick to a Routine and Plan Ahead
If you know that you’re going to have to work on and off while on vacation, make a routine and stick to it. This way, you’ll not only be more productive â having a routine is tremendously efficient and effective â but you’ll enjoy your trip more, too. When you’re spending time with your family, your mind should be in the right place: the “here and now.” Don’t dwell on work when you don’t have to. Set aside an hour (or two) in the morning and an hour in the evening for work, and spend the rest of your vacation with your loved ones.
Bring the Right Tools
You can’t work properly without the proper tools. Of course, laptops and a smartphones are a given (if you travel often for work, you may want to consider a carrier that offers free data when out of the country , such as T-Mobile); without these, you’ll be all but dead in the water. The carrier offers their users unlimited data and texting in over 140 countries. But you may also want to consider bringing spare batteries and chargers, a portable Mi-Fi wireless router, a portable keyboard (if you’ll be using a tablet), and extra storage, such as a thumb drive or SSD external drive. Think about everything that you might need, prioritize them in order of importance, and pack what you can.
Use Free Wi-Fi Whenever Possible
If your carrier offers free data while abroad, great! If not, you should look into purchasing a data package for the duration of your trip. Not only will you be assured of service when away on vacation, but you can avoid overages, too. Of course, the best way to limit your data use when overseas or abroad is through public or otherwise free Wi-Fi networks. Consider renting an apartment from sites like AirBnB instead of staying in a hotel; usually, the apartment will have free Wi-Fi, whereas many hotels only offer it as an upsell.
Complete Work Ahead of Time
One way to lighten your load when you’re away is to do a bit of heavy lifting in the days and weeks leading up to your trip. It may be a burden to put in some extra hours here and there, but the rewards will be more than worth the effort. Do everything that you can to clear your plate ahead of time, so that when the time comes to walk through those gates at Disneyland (or take that elevator ride to the top of the Eiffel Tower), you’ll be able to enjoy yourself, free of worry.
Solicit Some Help from Co-workers
Believe it or not, if you ask your co-workers for help, you’ll probably get some. It’s common to try and shoulder all of the work yourself â particularly when you’re trying to maintain a leadership role within an organization â but being part of a team means delegating tasks and seeking assistance from others. Let your co-workers, peers, and employees know of your absence in advance, and seek assistance wherever possible. You may be surprised at the reception you receive. And all that’s required of you is to return the favor in the future when one of your co-workers takes a vacation!
What tips do you have for working while traveling? Let us know in the comments.
Have your âto doâ list handy? Right beside you as you read this?
Why am I asking you about your to do list?
Because I want you to throw it away.
Ok, ok, you CAN keep it if you have anything revenue generating on the list. Chances are, you have a bunch of busy items but nothing on your list that relates directly to your bottom line.
And THATâS why your business isnât your dream business (yet).
You are ready to work less, earn more and have more time for FUN, right?
I thought so.
To do that, we need to look at a few things.
There are a few ways (all painless… well, relatively painless) to adjust your to do list so that what you are focusing on directly relates to your bottom line. If you employ just one of these steps, youâll quickly see mega payoff in terms of income, new clients, and free time.
Letâs get started, shall we?
Step 1: Create and follow an actual sales system or sales process
Most solo business owners donât have an actual process that they follow for each sales conversation. As a lover of all things system related, this amazes me. Having a system like this will allow you to easily â and authentically – convert an initial conversation into a paying client. When you donât have one, you feel stressed as you âwing itâ (which leads to the good olâ fraud complex) and it costs you sales.
It costs you clients.
It costs you time.
And your clients lose, too, because they arenât able to experience whatâs possible for them through working with you.
So, Iâm wondering. Do you have a sales system? If not, donât worry â click here to learn my easy 5 step process.
If you do have one, hooray! How often are you referring to it? How often are you practicing, implementing , tweaking and learning what works (and what doesnât)? Whatâs your close ratio? (If you donât know the answer, thatâs OK. Start tracking your sales conversations and compare that number to your new clients coming in. Youâll quickly see trends and will know if your current process needs an upgrade.)
Get Into Action Now:
Use a process for your sales conversations. Track your results. To start, aim for converting at least 30% of your sales conversations into clients.
Step 2: Invite more people to have a âfree consultâ or âstrategy sessionâ with you
Go out and offer a free consult to every single person that you speak with that fits into your target market. Donât ever assume that your ideal clients already know that they can grab a free call consult with you. TELL THEM. Over and over and over again. Put it in your email signature, include it in every e-newsletter that you send out. Offer it when you do a training class. Tattoo it on your forehead.
Remind your referral partners that you offer a no cost initial consult.
Remember: without sales conversations, you arenât making any money. And if you arenât making money, then you have a very expensive hobby.
Get Into Action:
Practice offering your free consult at every opportunity.
Step 3: Set up your consult schedule and have a clear process for follow up
Ick. I know. A process? A schedule? That sounds so annoying. But itâs not, I promise. (Itâs even a little sexy.)
When you schedule time to work solely on your sales conversations, several things happen:
You become âbetterâ at your sales calls when you have them scheduled together because you get into â and embrace – the sales mindset. This means higher conversion rates and itâll be easier to schedule new client conversations.
Alarms will go off if you have NOTHING on your schedule during this time block. Youâll be aware that you need to be generating more leads and more conversations to continue to have a steady flow of income.
Youâll feel relieved because youâll have a scheduled time to check your notes and follow up with prospects that you spoke with previously. Itâll be much harder to avoid when you have time specifically set up for this part of your business.
Get Into Action:
Block off two hours each week that youâll dedicate strictly to your sales consultations and follow up.
Which one of these steps jumps out at you as your next step? Please make your commitment real and share one way youâll shift your âto do listâ focus this week.
Grab your seat at the free webinar airing on May 26th, here.
You and I both know thatÂ there is no one way to have the business and life you want. As moms, we have to take so much into account managing play dates, being Dr. Mom, planning trips, holidays and gifts etc. Not to mention how everyone slept (or didn’t sleep), how healthy everyone is, the age/stage of your kiddos, their emotional needs, YOUR emotional needs…all alongside the realities of getting to the “work” of running your business.
Could there be a better or easier way to make it all work?
Rachel Olsen and I recently got together and wrote a book,Â Odd Mom Entrepreneur Out â Eliminate Guilt, Grow Your Business & Elevate Your Life. We asked some of the most successful Mom Entrepreneurs we know the following question, “What is your best advice for managing a family and a successful business?”
HereÂ are some of their responses:
Elena Lipson, Self-Care Mentor and Coach:
Make sure you sit down with your partner and have the important conversation about expectations, money, time and what kind of support you need. Get super clear on what’s do-able. Do you need your partner to cook dinner each night, do laundry, help around the house, or maybe hire some help? Since I started my business I’ve hired someone to clean for me, allowed hubby to take over dinner and bedtime on the nights he’s home, and share my travel calendar way in advance so that we can both plan for childcare as needed. I think so many arguments and miscommunication can be avoided if you just sit down together and share needs, expectations and fears. Otherwise they tend to bubble up, become massive triggers for each of you and build resentment. Which is NEVER good for your sex life (another major key to a successful business).
April Perry, Co-Founder, Power of Moms:
I block out time to “just be” with my family. Before school while everyone is getting ready, after school when we have our daily smoothie, and before, during, and after dinner until it’s time for bed. The TV is generally off, I’m not on my phone, and I’m able to be present. That alone enables me to have plenty of time with my family. It’s not always easy to do that!
Liz Goodgold, Founder, RedFIRE Branding:
As a mom, we know the value of positive reinforcement. Instead of only criticizing our kids or employees, we recognize the power of finding the good. Women are also unbelievably great at empathy; we recognize otherâs feelings and care. At no point should we stop being ourselves and adopt the roles of somebody else.
Mindee Hardin, Inventor Boogie Wipes:
Take off one hat before you put the other one on. You cannot mother and run your business at it’s best when you are trying to do them both at the same time. Set a schedule of work time (someone else is caring for the kids) and play/mom time. Â Guilt trips are gut checks, if you feel guilt when you are working, you did not give enough of your love and presence to your kids recently and vice versa. If you are with your kids and feel like your business is suffering and you are not on top of your tasks, you either need to schedule more work time or lower other peopleâs expectations of you â meaning stop making people think you are going to answer emails and phone calls all day long and respond right away. And â take a deep breath, this time of mothering these jumping beans in temporary itâs less than 10% of your life, everything will be OK. Give yourself permission to love mothering as much as working.
Rachel Olsen, Best Mom Products and Co-Author,Â Odd Mom Entrepreneur Out:
There isn’t extra time to put any energy or effort into tasks, projects or volunteer activities that don’t serve a purpose you are deeply passionate about. Â Motherhood magnifies what is important. Doubling up means you double up where your skills and your values meet. For example, I really think through all the opportunities in my life like the roles I want to take on at my daughterâs school. Â This year, I chose to be the PR Chair for the PTA because it is a natural way for me to use my skills and give back that makes sense. Â This is where values meet skills.
FleschĂ© Hesch, Founder, TheBizyMom.com and Co-Author,Â Odd Mom Entrepreneur Out:
You cannot do it all by yourself! Decide what you love to do and where you can share your biggest gifts and strengths and get help for the rest. Get extremely clear about family time and work time and be ruthless about guarding that schedule for yourself. This requires being crystal clear about your priorities and goals and letting everyone in your life know how to best support you.
What are your favorite strategies for managing your family and business at the same time? Share your suggestions or questions in the comments below.
I regularly speak to solo foodie entrepreneurs and like many other small businesses, one theme that keeps popping up is perfectionism.Â Quite a few of you acknowledge that you are perfectionists and have trouble letting others help you in your business.
Perfectionism can be great asset in your business, it means you are creating quality products, caring about what you do.Â But it can hinder you if you want to grow and need to let go of some tasks to make room for others.Â For most business that sell physical products, there comes a point where to make more you need to get help, you can only make so much of your product by yourself.Â
Time is often your most limiting resource.
But hiring staff or outsourcing can be scary, you donât want to let down your customers or damage your reputation.Â Getting prepared and feeling in control of the process can help you overcome some of these fears and one of the first steps to take is to work out what you would actually want to either hire staff for or outsource.
What should you outsource or hire people to do?
I have six questions I get people to ask of themselves when deciding to get help with their food business, whether itâs by hiring someone in or outsourcing an activity and any business can use these same questions.
Sit down with a piece of paper and ask yourself these two questions:
- What do I love doing in my business?
- What do I hate doing in my business?
Then make a note next to the tasks that take you a lot of time taking you away from doing what you love versus quick jobs that you only do every now and again.
Once you have these written down and noted if they are quick to do or time consuming then pop them in the following matrix:
This then gives you a great framework to consider what to outsource and when to hire staff:
The aim is to keep you doing what you love and are good at and stop doing what you donât like.Â You may need to hire someone to help you with what you love but to keep you in love with your business, it is great if you can keep doing the creating you love.
This is a fairly simple model and there are some additional questions you should ask yourself:
- What tasks make your business unique?
- What tasks do you do that generate the most sales?
- What do you think it would be easy to find someone to do that you would also feel comfortable trusting them to do?
Looking at these 3 questions in more detail:
- What tasks make your business unique?
This is what makes say your sauce stand out from others in the market?Â You are probably going to want to keep mixing the secret recipe in house as much as you can. Or maybe you make beautifulÂ templates for social media graphics for clients â that creative process that is uniquely you.
- What tasks do you do that generate the most sales?Â
By this I mean, what tasks do you do that actually bring you customers and get them handing over the cash?Â Are you great at demonstrating to new clients that you understand their needs and are ideal to provide the services they need?Â Then you may want to keep discovery calls in house while hiring staff to follow the process of getting contracts signed and the client onboard.
- What would it be easy to find someone to do?
This question has three elements:
- What do you feel you can document well in your business where decisions don’t generally have to be made on a case by case basis by you?
- What activities are often outsourced or staff hired in to do by other businesses and so it is going to be easier to find someone who already has skills.
- Is the task big enough to outsource or hire someone to do?Â If something only takes you half an hour per week then finding someone willing to spend half an hour a week on it and the hassle of actually doing contracts is probably going to outweigh any benefit of outsourcing or hiring.Â And in some places, hiring laws may mean you canât hire someone for such a small amount of time.Â But if you have a group of similar small tasks then you can look at bundling.
My final caveat on this matrix is that you need to do the big picture strategic stuff in your business, regardless of how you feel about it.Â Hire a bookkeeper to do your books and a tax accountant to do your tax return.Â But you need to be reviewing your results, seeing how much you’re making with which products or services, and making decisions about how to take your business forward.Â Hire someone to do your social media, but make sure you set the tone and values of your brand that you want them to promote.
There is one other area of outsourcing that you might want to think about to gain more time; outsourcing jobs in your personal life.Â Want to spend an extra hour on your business?Â Then maybe hiring a cleaner would work for you or hiring a cook to make your meals for the week.
Get creative with where you need help and spend time doing what you love!
Some people just have it; that special something that instantly draws us to them. AÂ conversational style, that energy, that spark of life that makes us want to be in their presence.
Charismatic people build and sustain relationships with people they come in contact with. They make those people feel more important and often inspire great loyalty or work output from them. Even if you are not naturally charismatic you can train yourself to be.
Here are 7 important traits of charismatic people that you can try to incorporate into your daily life:
1. Eye Contact
Remarkably charismatic people instinctively know that success is not about how we dress, itâs about what we do. When someone is speaking with you, look them in the eye, this is a crucial component of any conversation. The speaker feels important, is more engaged with what they are saying and feels appreciated by you, their listener. If you are talking, looking someone in the eye, it will focus their attention and allow you the opportunity to gage whether your point is being received. If you are giving a presentation, donât focus on one person but try to make eye contact with many members of the audience, it will make the event more personal and will engage the whole audience in your speech.
2. Listen Actively
Put your phone away, donât check it at all! Â The people you are conversing with deserve your undivided attention. Connecting with other people is disrupted by connecting with stuff. Gadgets inhibit active listening and diminish the speakerâs importance. Active listening consists of two components, providing your undivided attention and engaging with the speaker. Ask questions, seem interested in what is being said. By asking questions people will open up to you more and remember and think of you as a good listener. Being a good listener is often equated with being a positive person. Paul Sacco, Ph.D., an assistant professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work studied the habits of active listeners and found that many of us only listen with 25% efficiency. Good listeners maintain eye contact, nod their head, ask relevant questions but most importantly spend more time listening than talking.
3. Smile for Real
This may sound clichĂ© but we can all tell the difference between a genuine smile and a fake smile. The fake smile is that thin lipped upturn of the mouth. It conveys a sense of tolerance. People who smile with their eyes and mouth exude more positivity and happiness. Julia Roberts has a smile that radiates from within. People with big, inviting smiles make others feel more at ease and receptive to conversing with them.
4. Remember Names
Remembering names can be tricky for many of us. For some of us, introductions go in one ear and out the other! Â We donât know who we are talking to and are too embarrassed to ask. Imagine how impressive it is if someone we have only met once before approaches us and knows our name, as well as our partner and childrenâs names. We are trying to figure out who they are but they seemingly know our whole life story, we immediately think, âWe must be important and specialâ. There are a number of tricks charismatic people use to remember names. When you meet someone for the first time and they introduce themselves immediately use their name in your reply. âHi Mark, itâs nice to meet you, Mark.â Â End your conversation by using their name again, it will make them feel special and remembered. You can always cheat later and put a descriptive word in your phone next to the personâs name.
5. Stand Tall and Straight
People with good posture who stand up tall seem more confident. If you walk around with stooped shoulders and your head down it puts off an aura of stay away, donât come near me, I am boring and uninteresting. If you stand straight with your head held high and your shoulders back you are inviting others to you. You are creating an opportunity to be seen and space for others to engage with you. For those of you who need help improving your posture, consider getting a trampoline or inversion table and jumping for 10 minutes every morning.
6. Speak Clearly and With Meaning
Take your time, speak at a comfortable rate, use words sparingly and with due consideration. Remember you are striving for a greater degree of active listening which means less talking. Communicate your points clearly and concisely, know the objective of your words. One of the most famous communicators and a naturally charismatic individual, Martin Luther King, Jr., knew how to speak clearly to one person or a large gathering of people. His words were always chosen carefully to have the greatest impact on his audience. You have to go to the meeting or you get to go to the meeting and meet some new and interesting clients. Which statement is sending a positive, confident and happy message out into the world and which one is the opposite?
7. A Little Humility
You know youâre great, but why toot your own horn? We all want to interact with positive, happy people. Donât miss out on an opportunity to praise other people for their contributions, work or effort. Donât talk badly about someone you know, donât talk behind their back and donât laugh at other people. Friends may enjoy a little gossip at first but then they will start worrying you are exposing their secrets too or worse laughing at them behind their backs.
Invite people in, find out what they know, shine the spotlight on someone other than yourself. You can take steps to improve your charisma and achieve better business results and increased personal success. Always make your audience, your co-workers, your clients, and your family feel like they are the most important person in the room.
If your goal is to achieve more charisma in your life, take your cue from famous, charismatic leaders like Nelson Mandela and Mother Theresa. Make eye contact and listen first, the rest will follow. You are on your way to irresistible charisma.
When you think about how youâve learned what youâve needed to get through life, Iâm sure you picked up a few things in schoolâŠ and Iâm sure you learned a lot from your family. But really, think about how much we learn from stories!
We tell ourselves (and others) stories about how to live our lives, work through our career, or raise our families. But what happens when you get to the next chapter of your storyâwhen the kids leaveâŠwhen youâre facing retirementâŠwhen it is simply time for a changeâŠyou have to figure out the âwhatâs next?â
When I walked away from a successful market research business that I had acquired, developed, and merged, it was an opportunity to write a new story for myself. It was time to try something different, but I had a lot of questions, questions that other leaders and executives were also struggling to answer. For example, what led me to the decision to leave? More importantly, how did I decide what would be next?
It didnât take many rounds of coffee and lunches to understand the very successful executives and business owners I was meeting with were not wondering about my exit plans. They were wondering about theirs. Like me, some were at the top of their respective careers and nearing age-driven considerations.
Those conversations and questions were fascinatingâand overwhelming. But before long, my expertise and experience as a consumer behaviorist in market research took over.
I knew that getting people together to talk about it might offer some clues on how to answer these questions. I put together an experimental workshop where I brought together a group of executives to explore the rational and emotional underpinnings of exiting a career.
First, it was clear from the discussion redesigning life wouldnât be an event; it would be a process. Second, there was great power in community. Several in that workshop said they felt so relieved talking with their peers, people like them, who didnât have clear answers, but being with one another seemed to give many of them a sense of hope and courage.
The more I spoke to business owners and leaders, the more I saw patterns in how they tackled their own process of renewal and reinvention.
Here are just a few of the stories of women who found a new way to their âLife 2.0.â:
I was at the top of my game in the advertising and marketing world. Iâd managed advertising for some of the most well recognized brands in the U.S and around the world. Iâd served as president and COO of an agency. It was great, but I was ready for a change. For years, Iâd split my time between working and volunteering for more than ten arts and culture nonprofits. As I was thinking about leaving behind my career, I knew that I was really interested in moving away from working for money to working for meaning. Just before I left the corporate world, I put a plan in place to let the non-profit community know that I was interested in making a move. Sure enough, the years of experience working in volunteer roles served me well as I stepped up to lead other volunteers. On top of that, all my years in the professional world gave me the skills to find an organization thatâs going to fit my purpose and passion. âAdvertising Executive and Advocate for the ArtsÂ
For over 30-plus years, Iâd owned a very successful training development company, and I was getting ready to sell it. I was totally prepared and ready to move on to new ventures. After due diligence, I had several promising buyersâbut I was never so surprised as when my daughter, who was a teacher, asked if I would consider selling the business to her! And thatâs exactly what happened. Iâm still available for consulting, but the business is now fully my daughters. After I passed it on to her, I took three months off to enjoy the beach and host a wedding and Iâm now back in the game of starting up a new business. Assuming the concept takes off, Iâm hoping to build it and sell it, but not to become consumed by it. âBusiness Owner and Entrepreneur
I enjoyed the kind of high-flying career many dream about â I was working in the entertainment industry, and over the years, Iâd developed a business that was doing a billion dollars in gross sales with a workforce of only fifty people. Lean and mean! But after a merger, my division became part of a larger entity, and the new management wasnât all that great. I told my financial advisor about this, who said, âDo what you want. Youâre well-set enough that you donât have to work.â Wellâso I did it. I started an organization to point girls toward careers in politics, something that had always been a life-long passion. Itâs been great to make this into something big, but thatâs not the end of the story! Iâm transitioning away from the day-to day handling of the organization and getting back into the world of entertainment. This time, itâs on my own terms, where I can keep my freedom and do exactly what I want to do in that space. âEntertainment Executive and Youth Leadership Developer
Things seemed pretty goodâI owned a small business, and life and work seemed to be churning along at a rapid but comfortable clip. At least it seemed like that until the day that my husband told me he no longer wanted to be married to me. Apparently, heâd always felt lost in my shadow and was looking for a different life and life partnership. About three years later came the breast cancer diagnosis. Surgery followed, and thirty rounds of radiation plus three months of chemo. I never imagined this would be part of my life. It completely changed my outlook, and while Iâm still devoted to my business, I think much more carefully about what Iâm getting out of my work. All this experience led me to pursue the dream of holding semi-annual retreats for women centered on developing better self-care: physically, spiritually, and mentally. âBusiness Partner, Facilitator and Survivor
Those are just a few stories, but they show that these women are redefining what âretirementâ is. Itâs much more about writing a new story, recalibrating to a new reality rather than retiring!Â By blending a purpose and a passion, there are so many possibilities for finding your Life 2.0., and I wish you the best as you start your own process of reinvention and recalibration.
Like many of you, I work from home, alone. We live in a safe community devoid of a lot of criminal activity, but, sometimes the occasional noise or random stranger wandering through the neighborhood gets me can get me a bit paranoid throughout the day. We decided to get a home security system. We connected with MyFox who allowed us to shared a product for our honest review.
In their own words:
“With the MyFox Smart Home Alarm Security System, you can prevent break-ins before they happen thanks to door and window vibration analysis that can tell the difference between normal events and potential threats. If the IntelliTAG door and window sensor analyzes vibrations specific to break-in attempts, it immediately triggers a 110dB siren and ensures your home remains safe. In addition to better home security, the MyFox home alarm provides a seamless user experience. It is easy to install and use. It includes a wireless keyfob that goes on your keychain or child’s backpack that automatically disables the system when you enter your home and notifies you when your kids get back home from school. No need for you or the babysitter to type in a security code on the wall to get in and no more false alarms. MyFox also allows you to create your MyFox Community; a trusted network of family, friends, and neighbors to grant them access to your system so they can keep an eye on your home when you are away.”
I love it because:
It’s easy to set up.
We had it installed and ready to go in no time. No tools required- we just unpacked our components, downloaded the app, and connected the WiFi.
It has a free smart phone app (for use with iPhones and Androids) that helps keep me appraised of any goings-on on the homefront,Â Push notifications keep me updated on whether or not the alarm is an emergency or not.
Meaning, there are no monthly fees. We get alerts directly from the home base as to any potential issues.Â We can use the keyfob to arm or disarm the system remotely.
As with most things in life, prevention is key.Â It has anti-intrusion sensors that alert us to a possible break-in before it happens by sensing the unique vibrations in an entry point.Â As soon as the vibration is measured, the 110 decibel alarm will sound before someone actually breaks in.
There are several hardware components available, including aÂ hub, a siren, an IntelliTAG sensor, a camera, and aÂ key fob. Everything is centralized in the hub (aka, the Link) that works off WiFi and an encrypted signal.
The camera recordings are stored on Myfox secured cloud servers for playback from anywhere. You can also link it to your Google Drive account for even more storage, if needed.
After looking for a home security system for a while, I’m glad we wound up with MyFox. It’s aÂ greatÂ option for those that want a proactive, self-monitored home security system. It has several component options to help you customize it to your own situation. Add more cameras, fobs, and sensors as needed. Overall, it’s a highly recommended purchase for those seeking security while working from the comforts of home.