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One of my favorite shops to visit when I am at my home in St. Michaels, Md., is called Take Me Home. It’s in a charming old house and filled with the most wonderful items.

It is quite a challenge, and one I cannot meet, to leave without a little something.

Recently I picked up some cute cards for my sisters and myself. The cards had our dog breeds on them — a golden retriever, a greyhound, and a havanese. I also got the best napkins to use when I host my book club. They have a “wine stain,” and say “My book club can drink your book club under the table.” We are a serious discussion book club, and we do enjoy a glass of wine with our conversation. 

One of the joys of shopping here is the shopping experience.

The owner opened her shop about ten years ago and has an eclectic mix of items with quotes, whimsical designs, soaps and other household gifts and accessories. While that may seem like an ordinary mix of goods, there is something special about what she finds.

She told me that she puts herself in her customer’s place when she thinks about her merchandise mix. And, she always engages with each person who visits.

Like many retailers, she wants to encourage return business. She can do that with her mix of goods that aren’t found everywhere. And, she has the advantage of being in an area visited by tourists who love to stroll down the town’s streets and shop.

She also does it by creating an experience for her customer that lasts beyond the visit to the store. One way she does this is in her packaging. It does not matter how much you spend (I spent less than $15 on my last trip), the package is special. My purchase was delivered to me in a nice toile-design paper bag with the store label. The item was wrapped in tissue paper and then two decorative papers were stuffed in the top of the bag and it was finished with a satin bow on one bag handle. It looks so good that I almost did not want to share the gifts!

What are you doing to create an experience for your customers? It could be in the packaging. It could be in the greeting you offer when they come into the shop. It could be the invitation to join you for a cup of tea and a sharing of your customer’s latest projects. It could be a nice note you tuck into the shipment with your wholesale orders.

It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. It just has to show that you care.

If your actions have the same as my favorite little shop, you will have lots of repeat business. I cannot wait to check out what is new each time I am in town, and as I said, I do not leave without a little something.

It’s your turn!

How you make your customers’ experience special?

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We’re into the last six months of the year. Just where did the first six months go?!

Our ICAP Members’ Studio peeps regularly look at their numbers. How about you?

Have you look at your numbers for the first six months? What did you discover? Were you on track or were your results not quite what you were expecting?

I talked with one of my private clients recently about this, and she said she needed a cash infusion. I think finding that cash infusion comes down to two items: ideas you didn’t take action on and things you didn’t follow-up on.

Ideas that you didn’t act on

First are those items you didn’t take action on. One of my good friends has something she calls “the $5,000 notebook.” I bet you have a similar notebook full of cash and you don’t even know it.

Do you often make notes of the great ideas you had? You know, the new pattern you wanted to create, the class you think you should develop, the cards to print based on your paintings, the new line of jewelry you want to work on.

And what happens to the idea? In many cases, mine included, it stays on the page in your notebook or journal or on those little yellow sticky notes. And, it stays there because you move onto the next idea and forget that last great idea.

If you are looking for a cash infusion in your business, go back and find that notebook or those slips of paper and look through them. Highlight those good ideas and then start to take action on one of them. You only need one idea, so don’t get bogged down in more than one.

Actions you didn’t follow up on

Next are the things you didn’t follow-up on. We all do this, so don’t feel bad about it.

This can be a gold mine if you go back and look at where you forgot to follow-up. I’ve always heard that the fortune is in the follow-up, and that’s true.

Go back and make a list of people who’ve asked about your products or services in the past. It could even come from that stack of business cards you got at the last trade show that is still sitting on the corner of your desk.

In sales lingo, these are warm leads. They already are familiar with you.

Set aside time to connect with them again. Block a time in your calendar each week for follow-up and stick to it. If you aren’t sure what to say, create a script with bullet points.

Regardless of whether it’s the money in your $5000 notebook or the lack of follow-up, it’s what I call “leaving money on the table.” And we are all leaving money on the table.

This week I plan to go through the notebooks and highlight the ideas I had that could generate cash in my business and take action on one. I’m going to look and see where I should have some follow-up. How about you?

It’s your turn!

Where have you left money on the table and how are you going to find it?

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One day recently I was stopped at a railroad bridge and started thinking about what we learned as kids about crossing the train tracks. Stop, look, and listen. Do you remember that?

The next morning I looked at the mountain of work on my desk – as well as those bright, shiny objects across the room – and wondered where I should start. I picked up the task on the top and started to work.

Shortly I became distracted and found myself on the way to the kitchen for another cup of tea.

Back to my desk. What was I working on?

I actually picked up the pile on the desk and on the bottom was my planner. I am usually quite good about starting my day with looking at what’s on top and reviewing what needs to be done. But not today.

Then my mind drifted back to the railroad bridge. I realized I could put those same words to use with my work.

Stop

Don’t just dive into your day or the first item on your desk. It’s too easy to start with the idea that you want to just move it all along.

Look

See what is scheduled for the day and consider what you need to accomplish and what your priorities are. You don’t want to spend time on “busy work” just so it’s done. You want to spend your time on something that counts.

Listen

Ask yourself if those items are still pertinent or something else needs to be done. Priorities can change and you need to be aware of that.

Putting the words into action

As I went through the day, I thought about those words and how they came into play as I worked. For me, look and listen both meant to give my full attention to something. That certainly was the purpose of looking and listening for the train on the tracks. Keeping those words in mind really let me focus on what needed to get done.

Mid-afternoon I often take a break. It might be to sit with a glass of iced tea and look at a magazine or, as yesterday, to take a walk through the yard. I thought about how I put those same words into action here. I stopped, gave my attention to relaxing, and listened to the sounds around me.

At the end of each day, I try to review what I accomplished and set an agenda for the next day. (Try being the operative word on some days.) Again, it was stopping what I was doing, looking at what I did, and listening to what needed to be done next.

It’s your turn!

How do you put those words into action?

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This is the unofficial first week of the summer. For many people, this is the time to kick back and take it easy. You know the lazy, crazy days of summer! And, sure people do take vacations, but not all of them are gone every day all summer. So, you shouldn’t be either.

If you are trying to grow your business, taking it easy really isn’t an option. And, if you take advantage of the time many people do take it easy, your business will be ahead of the game.

Here are some ideas to kick-up your revenues this summer.

Start off with an intention or goal for the summer 

You have roughly 90 days from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Decide what you what to accomplish in that time. Since we are talking revenue, pick a number and work back from there. Each week start with a weekly goal that will get you to that end result. Review it at the end of the week. It’s important to have a process to generate that revenue. For example, how many calls does it take or how many products do you need to sell to generate “X” dollars?

Review your business journal

Go back through your business journal to look for an idea that you haven’t followed through on. I know you have an idea that could bring in cash if you went back and looked. Check out this blog post I wrote on the Secret of the $5,000 Notebook. If you don’t keep a journal, start keeping one. You’ll be amazed at how many ideas that you either forget or discard that can produce income for your business.

Raise your rates

This may be contrary to what you think you should be doing. I’m sure most of you are not the high cost provider, so you aren’t going to price yourself out of the market. One of my clients, Beth, a longarm quilter, resisted raising her rates for fear she would lose clients. When she finally did, she not only did not lose any clients, she realized she still wasn’t charging enough and raised the rates again. Charging too little for your products and services is an indication of the extent to which you de-value yourself.

Create bundles

Look for ways to bundle your products. If you offer one pattern, consider offering a packet of three. Or add a pattern to a book purchase. Package earrings with a necklace or bracelet. See if your shopping cart has an up-sell feature so you suggest additional products or services. That way your average sale will be higher. This idea works for both online and brick and mortar businesses. If you are stuck figuring out where to bundle, go back through your sales to see what people buy together. Or try brainstorming with a business friend.

Revisit your use of social media

Use social media to add revenue, whether that’s with a Facebook Flash Sale or Facebook or Instagram Ads. You can also use social media to drive sales to your retail brick and mortar for an unplanned sale.

Host an open house or an event

Invite your customers to a special showing of your products. Our local quilt shop hosts an event when her fabric rep is in town so she can show you what’s new. Her customers are excited to be the first to see what’s new, enjoy a treat and also spend time and money in the shop. If you don’t have a brick and mortar shop, you can invite your favorite customers to stop in for a gallery tour of your studio. You can also do something online. Facebook lets you create events. I have a friend who hosted a live event that featured a quiz and prizes. Of course, the customers who win likely wind up purchasing more. Regardless of which approach you take, remember to make the experience fun for the attendees.

Check your numbers

Look at your numbers and review your profitability by product or service. Consider discarding those that do not either create a profit or contribute to the sale of other products or services. Look for ways to lower your expenses so you can increase your net profit. And, look for your big sellers and look for ways to promote more over the summer.

It’s your turn!

Which idea will you use first to build your revenues this summer?

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Last week was such a storm-filled one that I found myself searching for rainbows each time the rain stopped. And, I found a real beauty. I started thinking about the fact that rainbows are dependent on the storm and started comparing that to our business life.

My first thought was that we all have storms in our business, whether that is feeling overwhelmed by our work or not being able to get done what’s on our list because a “crisis” or storm brews. You have times that you are not in control. You also have financial storms, weeks or more with dismal sales.

The thing is all the storms pass, and you hopefully have rainbows: turning those to-dos into ta-das or developing better sales the next week. Is it possible to get to the rainbows without the heavy storms? Maybe yes, maybe no. Here are just a few ideas to consider.

Chart your business activity, specifically your financials

All businesses have sales cycles, times when sales are up and times when sales are down. And, it is often a pattern. If you do not look at what is happening in your business on a regular basis, you can not expect to make adjustments and get to those rainbows. It is about creating a history so that you know that the first two weeks of September are always slow and you can develop a plan of action to combat that.

Predict when you will need to add some additional help

That history will show you more than your sales numbers. If history shows that you are always busy and overwhelmed during December, then plan ahead for help. Also give thought to whether the new hire should start at the beginning of the busy time, where she is thrown into the fire, or whether you need to be available for training, in which case a slower time might be better.

Understand how you work

Are any of those storms because you are not paying specific attention to your needs? For example, do you allow interruptions during the times when you should be working in your brilliance? Or do you do all the “it only takes five minutes” items allowing a storm to brew rather than working on the important tasks, which will take longer?

Be ready for unexpected storms

Do you have a contingency plan, a Plan B or maybe even a Plan C in place? Thinking ahead about the potential storms and having a plan lets you be prepared. It will make a difference.

Still missing the rainbows?

If you find that the rainbows continue to elude you, spend time journaling about the situation or talk it out with a trusted advisor. If you do this, you will probably come to a better understanding and possibly a good solution.

It’s your turn!

Do you ever look for rainbows in your business? What is your tip to find more rainbows?

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Recently I was talking with my client Claire, a needlework designer, about the need to start delegating some of her work. She was overwhelmed with the amount of work on her plate and she felt that she needed to do it all herself.

Claire is like many other small business entrepreneurs  who have a hard time delegating. It is hard to leverage your time to work on your business if you are always working in your business. Claire, like so many small business owners, had a fear of assigning work to others. (Control issues, anyone?) When you looked at this on a deeper level, you can discovered a few common reasons.

First, Claire was afraid that if she had someone else do a task, they would not do it as well as she could. Of course, this is really a story in her head, and it is not necessarily true. Just because you can do something does not mean that you should. Often someone can do the task even better than we can if we just let them. It is about letting each of us work in our brilliance.

Related to that is the fact that Claire really looked at herself like many small business entrepreneurs do, as the technician. If you are familiar with Michael Gerber’s Emyth Mastery, you understand his terms technician, manager and entrepreneur. When you started our businesses, you did everything: design, pattern stuffing, picture framing, marketing, website development, sales, content creation, order fulfillment, and on and on. That was fine in the beginning, only you are trying to grow a business. That requires that you learn how to spend less of your time as the technician, and to do that you need to build a team and delegate.

I think Claire, like many of us, started with a misunderstanding of what delegation is. Delegation is not tossing off the work to someone else without guidelines, a system of checks and balances, and follow-up. That would be abdicating and leaders do not do that.

Prepare to delegate

Your first step is to create a list of routine activities that you are doing as a technician that do not use your brilliance. A few examples could be formatting your weekly newsletter, bookkeeping, editing your videos, or framing your work.

Next, take the time to document the system for one of those. Once you are done with the first one, move onto the second.

Before you delegate

Once you have your task to delegate, it’s important to keep a few things in mind so delegating becomes part of your comfort zone.

1. What is the authority you are giving someone? Remember you are not abdicating all the work and decision making. You are giving a specific amount of authority to someone to do a task. For example, if you own a shop, your manager may have the authority to make decisions that the employees will not. You have to specify what the authority is.

2. What are you delegating from an autonomy standpoint, i.e., what can someone do without oversight or what is the degree of oversight. Andrew Grove, the former chairman of Intel, used the term “task-relevant maturity” when describing how he considered delegation. The person you delegate tasks to should have proven through prior work that they have experience completing that kind of task. It’s not an all or nothing proposition.

3. Do not confuse responsibility and accountability. Responsibility defines the tasks that are part of someones job. Accountability describes the positive or negative consequences for the results of that work. A few examples: A salesperson’s responsibility is selling your product, making a certain number of sales calls, etc. His accountability would be how much he gets paid and whether he gets to keep job based on the amount he sells relative to the sales goal. Your bookkeeper’s responsibility would be keeping the books. Her accountability includes the raise she receives as a result of her accuracy.

4. Consider who you can delegate to and what their brilliance is. If you delegate responsibility to someone who is only adequate at the task, you’ll both be unhappy with the results.

Delegate

If you have identified your tasks to delegate, created the appropriate systems, found the right team member, the next step is to clearly set parameters with that team member. What is the authority, autonomy, responsibility and accountability associated with the task? What are the conditions of your satisfaction with the task completion? Be sure you discuss this with your team member and answer any of her questions.

If you do not set parameters and follow-through on your end, you are likely abdicating not delegating. Your business is not going to grow as it should.

Last, here is a good quote on delegating from John Maxwell:

“If you want to do a few small things right, do them yourself. If you want to do great things and make a big impact, learn to delegate.”

It’s your turn!

Do you find it easy to delegate? What has allowed you to do this?

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Many readers of this post are preparing for International Quilt Market, the annual trade show of the quilting and soft craft industries. You may be preparing for a retail show, an outdoor fair,  a conference, or other trade show. You may be preparing to host, present at, or attend an event.

I have talked with several of my clients preparing for the shows about their challenges, and the topic came up on on a recent monthly ICAP Members’ Studio group coaching call. It seems a lot of people are in a frenzy about what needs to get done.

I believe it comes down to being clear about your intentions for the show. I went to my first quilt industry trade show in 1994. I’ve learned quite a lot over the years about how to get the most from the show. Much of it is being intentional about what I want to have happen while I’m there.

Be intentional

The biggest suggestion I have is to go in with a clear intention of what you want from going to any show. Or for that matter, any event you attend, large or small. What do you want to have happen as a result of your going? Is it more sales? Is it more names on your contact list? Is it to pick up a distributor? Is it to fill holes in the shop inventory? Is it to make specific connections? The clearer you are about what you want, the more likely that you will be focused in that direction. And, the more likely it will happen. 

How do you know how big an intention to create? How big should you think? If you dig into the meaning of intention, you’ll discover that the Latin root means “stretching, purpose.” Keeping that in the back of your mind as you set an intention.

Dig deep

After you start to create a list of your intentions, go back and dig deeper. Why are these intentions important to you? Come up with several good reasons besides “it would be cool to have or do … .”

It might be that a specific amount of sales are needed for immediate cash flow. It might be that you cannot grow without adding a distributor. It could be that you need to learn something specific to grow your business. (And, the cool reason is OK, too.)

What will happen in your business if you meet this intention? What will happen in your business if you do not meet this intention? These questions will really help you prioritize your intentions.

Meeting the intention

What do you need in order to make this intention a reality?

Who do you need to become to make this intention a materialize? Many creative arts professionals are introverts and being “on the stage” is hard. Do you need to learn to put that introvert self on hold? Do you need to practice your “elevator speech” so you feel comfortable talking about what you do? Do you need to join Toastmasters to hone your speaking skills?

How will you meet this intention? Create a list of five actions. This could start with listing the booth locations of vendors you need to connect with. It might be to deliver 10 brochures a day to potential customers.

Prioritize and focus

Once you have gone through this process, you might want to prioritize your actions or intentions. After all, you may have several intentions. Then start each day with a focus on what the intention will be and follow through. This puts you in charge of the process, and you’ll see better results.

I have shared the following story with many of my clients over the years. When I gave my first lecture at Quilt Market, I was more than nervous. I had set an intention to give a lecture and submitted a proposal for “Boost Your Business With Email Marketing.” I was thrilled when it was selected. If my intention was to do a great job at the lecture, to get rave reviews so I would be asked back, to promote my business, to get people interested in a future class I was offering, then I definitely had work to do. I considered what actions I needed to take, what qualities I needed to develop, where I needed to shift my mindset, what I needed to learn. By being clear on my intention and what was needed to get me there, I know I offered a wonderful lecture to the more than 150 people who attended. Best of all, I have been on the Quilt Market faculty for many years, and I know I have been able to provide value to help shop owners and other creatives build their businesses.

It did all start with an intention.

It’s your turn!

When did you see setting an intention paid big dividends?

Do you want to receive more information on how to effectively create an intention and plan your next steps? Get our free Intention Strategizer below.
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This week a fabulous group of creative professionals from across North America joined me for our annual Creative Arts Business Summit. They spent three days working on, rather than in, their businesses. They learned new social media strategies, ideas for improving SEO, how to build and nourish customer relationships, plus lots more. By the end of the three days, they all left with a tremendous support network and a revenue plan for the year as well as a 90-day plan to move forward.

When was the last time you attended a workshop, returned excited only to get stuck with what to do first? I know it has happened to me. So much on my list and a sense of overwhelm happens. How do you figure out where to start? Here are some thoughts that will work whether it is a business workshop or an art workshop.

Make a list of the top 5 ideas you got

If you kept a list of the ideas you got at the workshop, it’s probably lengthy. We have an “Aha” page plus insight pages for each of our workshop days at CABS included in a workbook. I know everyone ended up with a lot more than five ideas.

Go back through your notes and pick the top five. This could be a simple update to your Facebook page or a more extensive technique you want to add to your tool box. Pay attention to those that will have the biggest impact on your bottom line or business growth. Once you accomplish these five, you can always go back to your notes and pick up some of the others.

Prioritize the ideas/strategies and set deadlines

You need to determine when all the tasks/to-dos need to be done for the goal you set to be completed. For example, if your idea revolves around a trade show that takes place in four months, you can create a schedule backwards showing when display materials and class materials need to be shipped. Do not forget to build in a little extra time. And, you might find out that not everything on your list will get done, so focus first on those activities that have the greatest impact on your business results.

Make a daily schedule

Take time either first thing in the morning or the night before to plan your day. Then take daily action toward your goals. How you work toward your goals will vary. You may like to work on one project to completion or divide your day into large blocks for different tasks.

One caveat. Do not give yourself so much to accomplish that you accomplish nothing or drive yourself into overwhelm. I like to focus on 3 actions each day. If I complete them, I will feel accomplished. I can go back and add more if I have extra time.

Create and use systems if possible

Some of your ideas will require repetitive work and may be perfect for a system. For example, if your idea is to finally start to send out a newsletter, look for ways to systematize it with an online mailing system and to post it in social media automatically.

Not everything on your list will get done

Remember the 80/20 rule. Twenty percent of your activity results in 80 percent of your results. Concentrate on work in the 80 percent — that is where your ROI (return on investment) will be.

Identify your support team

In addition to picking your top five ideas, identify five people with whom you will want to connect going forward. This may be someone who will help you stay accountable and keep progressing. It may be someone who will provide information you need to complete your idea.

Let go of perfectionism.

This is a hard one for me, and maybe it is for you, too. One of my mentors says to work to “good enough.” It might be that you set a timer for some of the tasks and what you accomplish in that time is “good enough.”

Bonus tip

One of my favorite resources for getting things done is Eat That Frog! by Brian Tracy. The book’s title references a quote from Mark Twain: “Eat a live frog every morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”

Brian goes on to offer his own two rules about “frogs,” your most important task. “The first rule of frog eating is this: If you have to eat two frogs, eat the ugliest one first. The second rule of frog eating is this: If you have to eat a live frog at all, it doesn’t pay to sit and look at it for very long.” So when I have lots on my plate, I look for the frog and start there.

It’s your turn!

How do you handle all your big ideas when you get back from a workshop? You may have some tips or entertaining analogies of your own that can help us all.

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A couple of weeks back, I had a conversation with Katie, a long-time client. We talked about boundaries, something that we have talked about over the years. She had, again, agreed to take on the program chair position at her local art guild. The guild was in a real bind since the current chair was having surgery with a long rehab period, and they really needed her, she said. That was on top of Katie’s picking up the slack for one of the moms with snacks at the kids’ soccer games. And, she also lamented a call the day before from a long-time friend who needed someone to talk with. The problem was that the friend was always in a crisis mode and she picked Katie as the go-to person on many occasions.

During our conversation, Katie admitted she was exhausted and felt like her needs, both personal and professional, were taking second place. That was true. She may have had good boundaries, but she was not guarding them. She was giving away her time and energy. What we discussed was a test for Katie to make some changes in her life.

I will admit right up front I could be a better boundary setter. Well maybe not a setter, but rather a keeper. I can set those boundaries; I just do not always stick to them. How about you?

What are boundaries?

This might be the first part of the conversation. If you own property, you understand the concept of boundaries. This is where my property begins and what I am responsible for. It is the same with personal boundaries. It is where you begin and your sense of responsibility begins. Your business will have boundaries, too.

I think that boundaries are a form of self-respect and it travels further. If you don’t respect yourself and your business to create boundaries, how can you expect your customers to respect you?

Why are boundaries hard?

I told you that I’m a good boundary setter but wasn’t always such a good boundary keeper. If you are in the same boat, I think you get stuck in a few places.

You’re afraid you might lose the customer.
You’re afraid it will affect your income in a negative way.
You want people to like you.
You want your customers to be happy so they say good things about you. And they might not come back if you have boundaries.
You don’t want to take the chance to miss out on something.
You don’t appreciate your value.

It can start you on a spiral to forget about keeping your boundaries.

What other fears to do you see?

Here are some guidelines for setting boundaries

Become self-aware

When you get into particular situations, what happens to you? Do you become anxious, lose energy, feel unsure, flee, fight, get overwhelmed, etc. Being aware of how you respond is the first step to learning to set boundaries that work for you.

Start with simple boundaries or limits

Start to think about what is negotiable and non-negotiable for you. How do you want to run your business? Some simple boundaries for you might be:

Not working past 7 pm
Saying no to extra commitments (or even learning how to say no)
Saying no to rush orders or adding a fee
Not taking personal calls during business hours
Not staying late at the shop for that customer who can never get there on time
Not waiting for late-comers to your class
Specific times to answer emails
Not working on weekends
Not going down the social media rabbit hole during work hours

 As your business changes and grows, so will your boundaries.

Don’t defend

Once you set your boundaries, you do not need to defend your position. It just is. If someone questions you on it, you just repeat your position. 

Stay committed to your course

If you give in this once, you will find yourself giving in again and again. You end up feeling guilty if you don’t. (I think that is often a woman people-pleasing guilt issue.) People will start to ignore your needs. And, you end up back in those feelings I outlined in self-awareness above.

I’m not saying you won’t ever have an exception. I know I have some. But be clear with yourself why this is an exception and don’t let it become a rule. Remember why you set the boundaries in the first place. 

Boundaries are a system

You know I like to talk about creating systems in your business. Systems support the business and let you get more done. If you think about it, boundaries are really just systems that help you live your life the best way. They put you in charge of your life. They also help you manage your business the best way for you.

More resources

If you want to read more on boundaries, I read a wonderful little book. It is called Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No To Take Control of Your Life by Dr. Henry Cloud and John Townsend.

If you are not a boundary setter, make a commitment to start this week. Set some standards or boundaries for yourself. Just one boundary and build on that. It will make a big difference.

It’s Your Turn!

How do you handle boundary setting and keeping?

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A few years back at our home on the Chesapeake Bay I replaced five KnockOut® rose bushes. For years they had been beautiful bushes, full of continuous color, and tall enough to provide a barrier between our patio and our neighbor’s. Best of all, this rose variety was supposed to be disease resistant and did not need spraying. I am not one for heavy garden maintenance, so it was wonderful to have inherited these easy-care varieties with our home purchase.

The problem was that a couple years earlier we noticed these bright, thick red shoots. Our landscaper suggested pruning and that is what we did with the hope that we could get rid of the rose rosette disease, as it is known.

Unfortunately, the virus spread to the whole plant and we ended up having to pull up all five plants and start over. This time, we choose not to plant the roses.

So, what does this have to do with business? Just like with roses in your garden, your business can use a good pruning if you want it to bloom and prosper. And, you want to do the pruning before it becomes necessary to take more drastic action.

Here are some random thoughts on pruning in your business. Many of these were gleaned from a walk through my yard.

Pruning aids in clarity.

I have a lovely star magnolia outside my office window, and I get it seriously pruned by an arborist every few years. This lets more light in, the tree is healthier, and it grows stronger.

When you let more light into your business, you are likely to see what needs to grow.

Pruning lets you create or re-create.

Have you ever been to a topiary garden? Ladew Gardens in Maryland is one of the “10 incredible topiary gardens around the world,” according to Architectural Digest. It is filled with swans adorning the hedges and dogs racing across the lawn that are meticulously maintained.

By pruning, you are able to create something new, and that applies in your business. You have the ability to create whatever business you want.

Regular pruning means less to pick up.

I have some huge oaks in the back yard and a row of pine trees. All need to have the canopy raised. This will accomplish several things: no place for leaves to get trapped, removal of dead wood and better looking trees.

In your business you might have things that could be eliminated that would make for a cleaner business. This could be difficult vendors. It might be a product line that no longer gets sales, yet you hang on to it. It might be all the noise of information that comes into your inbox in the form of emails or all the social media posts.

Do not put off pruning.

Many of us think that if we keep all the parts of our business, it is a good idea. Instead we should look at what is not working and prune it,  so the good has space to blossom.

As you practice pruning in your business, it also lets you look at what it is you should be focusing on. In the beginning, I said yes to lots of work. Today because I have pruned along the way and figured out what I want to create, it is easier to say no to some work. Pruning lets you keep what is working and allows it to thrive, while getting rid of what is not working.

It’s your turn!

Where do you need to do some pruning in your business?

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