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Being a business owner carries a lot of responsibility and risk. It may feel like if you're not there, nothing will get done, and you'll lose money. That is likely true if you've not created and established systems to work for you so that you can work on your business instead of at your business. After all, wasn't the entire point of starting your own business to have more freedom? Money is great, but it only goes so far to creating happiness if you're always at work.
Every successful business has something in common with another successful business. That's organization. Every business from a restaurant to a multi-billion dollar corporation has systems in place that they use like clockwork. It might seem boring, but if you have a system for everything, not only will you get better at doing whatever it is you do, but you'll also get faster at it. It's the main driving force behind manufacturing. Those systems can be put in place for whatever it is that you do, too.
Hire, Train, and Empower a Team
If you have good systems in place, it's also simpler to hire a team. By providing your team with training on your systems, and having checklists in place to help them stick to your systems, you'll be able to create a team that can get things done without having to talk to you about anything. The key to this working is also to empower your team. Since you can't possibly foresee every single contingency, give your team the power to handle things within a certain dollar amount without your permission.
Write and Schedule Blog Posts
The greatest invention to come to pass for online marketing is the ability to schedule blog posts. You know you're going to be gone for a specific amount of time, so just pre-write or have written blog posts based on whatever it is you're promoting and pre-schedule them for delivery while you're away. To the world, it'll look like business as usual.
Write and Schedule Social Media Updates
The same thing can be done for all your social media marketing. The truth is, you should be using these automation techniques at all times anyway. If you're a month ahead on blog posts, social media updates, and so forth, almost anything could happen to you and the money would keep flowing for some time.
Automate What You Can
There are so many things that can be automated, from bookkeeping to the entire ordering process. If you've not already automated everything that you can, seek more information until you have many processes on automatic. For instance, you can hire someone to write, edit and post blog posts for you on a regular basis. You can also use software to automatically update your bookkeeping by connecting it to your bank account. In addition, if you sell digital or even physical products, there is always a way to automate the entire process.
Finally, it's important to simply let go. You've trained and empowered your team, scheduled social media and blog posts, automated what you have, established excellent systems, and you've been open with your clients. You might consider conducting some test runs with your team before you've really left to find out how it works. You may be surprised at how well it goes and start taking even more vacations than you thought you ever could.
Many business owners have a really hard time letting their assistant handle various tasks. This is because many business owners have the feeling that if they let their assistant do things they will lose control. Additionally, they feel like no one can do “it,” whatever “it” is, as well as they can. But, most of
the time the truth is if you’ve hired the right assistant they can do it as well as or even better than you can if you let them.
1. Define the Tasks – Be clear about the tasks that you want done and the results you expect up front so that your assistant doesn’t have to ask you too many questions throughout each day. They need to be able to make some decisions on their own or else there is no point in having an assistant.
2. Focus on Deliverables – Instead of worrying about the process and how someone does something, create checklists based off deliverables for every project that you’re involved in so that you can provide some guidance without micromanaging.
3. Hire the Right Assistant – Interview assistants based the type of projects you do so that you will know up front what you want them to do. That will help you hire people with the right expertise so you’ll feel confident turning over things to your assistant.
4. Use a Project Management System – There are many different project management systems such as Basecamp.com, Asana.com and others. It’s imperative that you and your assistant use something like that and not rely on email to keep track of the things that are to be done each day, week and month.
5. Set Milestones and Deadlines – Within the project management system and in concert with your assistant, set milestones and deadlines based on the expectations of what you want them to do. If you turn over work to your assistant that they automatically do each month without too much input for you, so much the better.
6. Check in Regularly – You don’t want to bother each other too often but you can check in for five minutes each morning or once a week; whatever works for you. It will make you feel better and make your assistant more confident to have regular contact with you so that they know what is going on.
7. Provide Adequate Support – Whether it’s a budget to work with, or access to software that makes their job easier, it’s important to provide them with what they need. If you want someone to be your true assistant, they’ll need access to the things you have access to in order to better help you.
8. Motivate and Reward – Provide feedback on a regular basis to your assistant, including positive feedback. That is a good way to motivate and reward him or her. The happier an assistant is, and the more secure they feel within their position with your business, the harder they’ll work on your behalf.
Finally, it’s important to let go of perfection and allow people who are experts in what they do, do what it is that they do. You can’t do everything. No successful CEO does. In fact, most successful CEOs mostly do nothing but delegate tasks to the smart, capable experts that they hired.
The truth is, pretty much every business - whether it is home based or not - needs some form of business license to be legitimate. In most cases you cannot get a business bank account if you don’t have a license. However, localities have different rules and may actually waive the requirement for certain types of businesses. That’s why it’s really important for you to be clear on the type of business you have today, and that you hope to build in the future.
There are different types of licenses and permits for different types of businesses.
General Licenses – To find out if you need this type of license, the best place to look is at your city or county government website for information. If you cannot find the information, try calling the various tax offices that handle business licenses in your area. You can explain to them what type of business you run and they can point you into the right direction.
Professional or Trade Licenses – If you have a license such as a CPA, Law, Cosmetology, and Architect, or you are performing commonly regulated tasks such as child care, then you will likely need a permit to practice in your area. It won’t matter if you conduct your business from your home office or a rented office; you’ll need an additional business license to conduct business.
Home Occupation Permits – In some cities a permit isn’t required if you run a home-based business in which you hold no inventory and see no clients. Be sure to explain carefully to the business tax office what you do so that they can understand and choose the right, if any is needed, license for you. Your neighborhood zoning regulations as well as your home owner’s association rules will be paramount in this case. So be sure to check with any authority that can make rules in this area for you.
Sales Tax Permits – If you sell items that require that you collect tax (and this differs in each state, city and county) then you’ll need a sales tax permit. Sometimes you will be required to collect sales tax even for online digital products and services purchased from those who live in your own state. Your state revenue agency can assist you with these rules and how to be compliant.
Health and Safety Permits – If you have a child care business, a bakery, or deal with potentially dangerous materials, you may need to obtain a health and safety permit of some sort. Some areas are very cognizant of air and water position and will require you to get a permit and have periodic inspections depending on the type of business you are running.
Running your business legally, and obtaining the proper licensing and permits are very important to ensure that you don’t work hard building up a business and then lose it due to taxes and penalties due to unpaid licensure and permits. Seek out information from your local SCORE office or taxing authority to get more information for your particular business idea. In addition, any small business incubator or local college business center can be very helpful.
What happens when a friend dies, a family member is diagnosed with cancer and you are struggling to keep up with your work in a doctoral level program while juggling a host of other things? Extreme Stress!
I found myself in this situation and some days I felt like giving up, throwing in the towel and yelling out to the heavens ‘I Quit’! Feelings of loneliness, increased blood pressure, anxiety and moodiness seemed to hit me in waves. I was near my breaking point but I remembered that I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t the only person to experience stress or extreme stress. I wasn’t going crazy. I was normal.
I had to remind myself that stress is something that everyone encounters at least once in their lifetime - click here to tweet
, it’s just some people may experience it more than others and at different levels of intensity. Stress can come from both internal and external factors. Stressful jobs, grief & loss, financial issues and relationship changes can increase the level of stress one might feel.
There were two truths about stress that I had to face:
Either you manage your stress or it will manage you. While some people are able to manage their stress levels well, others find it difficult. Seek help if you need to, but you must get it under control or else it will tear you down physically and mentally.
Either you let your stress propel you or detain you. Stress can be a motivator or it can cause major challenges in your life. You have the power to decide how you’ll ultimately allow stressful situations to affect your life. I encourage you to take that stressful situation and use it to get you to better place in life.
I faced these truths and then I made a decision. I chose to live the best life that I could. I put everything into perspective, squared my shoulders, held my head up and tackled stress head on. I used my situation to motivate me to achieve my goals.
Here are a few tips that helped me reduce some of the stressors in my life.
Get the proper rest. Your body needs to recharge and rest for the demands of life.
Adopt an eat-well lifestyle. It’s not just about having veggies and a salad it’s more of a mindset of that consist of eating things that keep your body healthy.
Set and maintain healthy boundaries. Saying NO helps you gain freedom and time.
Identify fun activities that provide relaxation. Having fun and relaxing not only frees your mind of worry and anxiety, it refreshes you. It also keeps you looking and feeling youthful.
Forgive. Forgiveness frees up space for you to love more.
Exercise. “Exercise increases your blood flow and oxygen to your brain as well as produce chemicals in your body that are natural painkillers which also allows you to sleep better.”
Being in a zone as most folks would call it, is probably the best way to work. You know that space where you turn on the music or put your headphones on and zone out and focus solely on the thing in front of you. It is a state where you lose complete track of time and and you are one with the task in front of you. Although this state usually feels effortless, it is the mental state where we produce our greatest results. So you could say being in the zone is where peak performance happens.But how can we get into The Zone? And how do we stay there?
Here are six simple steps that can help get you into the zone:
Step 1: Time - make sure that you give yourself enough time to complete the task. Getting in the zone doesn’t happen instantly. It builds gradually and requires you to focus your mind for at least 1/2 hour uninterrupted. . I personally reach my zone after about 45 to 75 minutes and have been known to stay in a zone for nearly 2-4 hours. This state is where I usually produce my highest quality work and am extremely satisfied once I’m done because I’ve accomplished so much.
Step 2: Environment - you will need a calm, comfortable and distraction free environment to work in. Make sure that you are wearing comfortable and suitable clothing, have been to the bathroom, had a snack and drink and that the temperature is neither too hot or too cold. Trust me, you can’t get into the zone when you’re freezing or sweating or extremely uncomfortable. Then go close the doors, mute the phone and turn off social media.
Step 3: Focus on the Process - while you are working towards an end result (goal), it is essential that you focus on the process itself. By doing this you are able to remove all expectations and restrictive thought patterns so that you can release your creativity and problem solving skills. Dive totally into it what you’re doing. Become one with it.
Step 4: Engage Your Emotions - to be in the zone you need to be alert and fully engaged because it's a positive state of being. Negative emotions will only hamper your ability to get into and remain in the zone. Being passionate about what you’re doing is a common ingredient amongst those who get into the zone more easily.
Step 5: Action - maintain a state of action and keep the momentum going forward. It's important to not stop and think as this will prevent negative emotions such as self-doubt creeping in. You need to remain in a state of immersion in the activity without any awareness of yourself or your ego. Allow your subconscious to completely take over.
Step 6: Practice - "Practice makes perfect" as the saying goes. So by practicing getting into the zone regularly you will create your own set of rituals and cues that will help you get into the zone. Over time these will become second nature and your body will respond by entering the zone more quickly and easily.
If you want to get into the zone and make positive things happen then you can use the six simple steps above to help you. Regular practice will help you create a unique set of cues and rituals to make the process simpler. Achieving a more fulfilling and enriched life is yours for the taking. Now go find your zone.
Like many freelancers, I sort of fell into this journey. I was living my life like most of us do or have before; working a regular job and making no time for my personal goals.
Then one day it happened! Due to a mistake of my own, I lost my job and to make matters worst, I had just found out a week earlier that I was pregnant. I was upset and sad because all I could think was “what am I going to do now?” I fell into a depression. I was back living with my parents, pregnant and now not working. What was I going to do? I applied for so many jobs - nobody called. I was starting to give up and crying myself to sleep a lot of nights.
Then, one day it clicked in my head! I remembered my mom asking my brother and I if we wanted to work with her because she could really use the help and I did not want to go back to working a regular 9-5, pushing my goals and dreams to the side.
I went to my mom and we had a very deep conversation about me working with her. Now, my mom will tell you when I was 16 we tried this and it didn’t work out lol. But now as a 25 year old mom to be, I’ve come to realize that I needed a change, I CRAVED a change. She did not hesitate to tell me that she would fire me - daughter or not lol. I told her I understood because this is her business, her “baby” and so the journey into the virtual assisting world began. My mom helped me get my business setup, gave me a list of training to start with, books to read and has allowed me to work as her Executive Assistant, while also teaching me how to run my own VA business.
I realized in that moment that failing to plan is actually planning to fail. We all go through moments in life when we are uncertain about what to do or what’s going to happen next. But we have to realize that everything we need to overcome those feelings are right inside of us and if we have a solid plan, we can be prepared for the obstacles and challenges that might come our way.
This entire experience has helped me to prepare for not only being a great business owner, but the birth of my son as well. I realize that I HAVE to have a plan more now than ever. I can no longer go through the days, weeks or months blind and expect to be successful. I’ve learned working as a VA, you have to be on your toes at all times, be prepared for the unexpected and be sure you are five steps ahead of your clients whenever possible. And now that I’m about to be a mompreneur, I’m sure I’ll need a whole new balancing act.
As business owners and entrepreneurs, we can sometimes let the day to day grind and putting out fires eat up all our time and forget to set aside time to adequate plan for our business growth, let’s change that today and make a commitment to always carve out time to plan so that we minimize the fails.
To your success,
Jacquelynne A. Young is a virtual assistant serving coaches, consultants, and business managers. Prior to starting her Virtual Assistant business, Jacquelynne spent 5 years working in different customer service roles. She understands the importance of making and keeping customers and clients happy! Jacquelynne has served 6 years and counting in the United States Army Reserve as an 88M (Motor Transport Operator). Serving in the military has taught Jacquelynne many skills such as critical thinking, how to adapt to change, thinking on your feet, and being responsive to name a few.
Selah - pause and think on that word for a minute.
Uncertainty….unpredictable...unreliable….fickleness…. There are so many ways we can give voice to how that word makes us feel.
This month’s blog was inspired by my son. Last month, he told me that he felt as if though his whole life was filled with uncertainty. So I challenged him to write about it as a way to give voice to his feelings and create an outlet to move past it. Listen (or read shall I say), as he shares his story.
“I felt as if though my life was filled with uncertainty. I was given the idea to write about it from my mom. So I pressed power on a computer in my home and began to search but not really knowing what I was searching for.
I started with the definition of uncertainty, which is “the state of being uncertain.” Then I looked up quotes that surrounded uncertainty and the one that caught my eye was “Feeling unsure and lost is part of your path, don't avoid it. See what those feelings are showing you and use it. Take a breath. You’ll be okay. Even if you don’t feel ok all the time.”
Dealing With Uncertainty In Life
As I continued my search, I came across a website with a title that read Dealing with uncertainty in Life, which gave me advice on focusing more on planning and preparing than having an already set outcome. It also stated that learning stress techniques (i.e. reading a book or watching a movie) can help. Or when feeling too overwhelmed just taking the time to breathe and regroup saying, “When you slow down and look at the bigger picture, you often find that things are not as bad as they seem.”
Uncertainty in life for everyone like me will happen. It’s how we deal with it that is important. No matter the type of uncertainty, it’s best to plan and not let yourself be weighed down by it. Stay positive and upbeat. Give yourself something to work on. Don't expect a picture perfect outcome just a positive one.”
What Uncertainty Taught Me
Wow! What great insights. How many of you can relate to this in your business? Did you start 2018 a little uncertain of how this year would go?
How many times have you felt uncertain about getting the next client or heck even the very first client if you are just starting out? What about the uncertainty that creeps in after you create that big audacious money goal? OR the uncertainty of selling your products and/or services? Could it be the uncertainty around a new launch of something in your business - will people buy or join after all the work you put in?
What I’ve learned being on the entrepreneurial journey is that we are the ones who give meaning to the uncertainty when it arises. We cannot allow uncertainty to create fear, anxiety and stagnation in us - we must explore what those feelings are showing us and use it. Take a deep breath and know that everything will be okay.
Life happens to us all right? It’s so easy to lose focus and feel like we are all over the place. Without focus we become impatient with ourselves, anxious about things that aren’t getting done and eventually we are not achieving tasks that could take us to the next rung of success.
Lack of focus usually impacts all areas of our lives. If you’re not able to focus at work, you’re likely to be irritable and anxious at home. If you’re not focusing on your relationships as much as you should, it could impact your work. It’s a vicious cycle that must be broken before you can achieve the success of which you’re capable. Focus involves prioritizing what’s important in your life. If you’re having trouble in one area of your life, it may be more important to change the focus on the problem area for awhile. For example, if you’re having trouble with a child, work may need to take a back seat to focusing on getting help for the child. Success in business, work and relationships depends on how you prioritize your focus. Focus helps us keep from trying to accomplish too much at one time and can mean that we do a job better simply because we’re giving it all of our attention. Some of us begin a job or task with a lot of focus and then the shine wears off and we become bored. For example, many people are passionate about a business that they’ve started and accomplish tasks with enthusiasm and energy. Sacrifices are made so the business can become successful – long hours and neglecting our personal lives may ensue. After the business is up and running, we may become lackadaisical because now the challenges aren’t so much fun. We’re tired because we lost sleep and didn’t take care of ourselves by exercising and eating a healthy diet. Loss of interest and lack of focus is the predominant reason that many businesses fail within a short time of opening. We lose focus on the goals we wanted to achieve and scatter our energies and attention because we were unclear about the goals in the first place. Keeping the focus on our business goals can make the difference between success and failure. When focus becomes unbalanced, the problems begin. A truly successful person balances their focus between business and career and their personal life so that neither lacks the attention it deserves. Where has your focused waned and how will you get it back? It’s ok to pause and re-evaluate and begin again so that you are more focused.
Hope this helps to motivate you! If you would like more tips and strategies like the above, click here to join our mailing list and download your free assessment.
It's amazing how much some people manage to get done, while others seem to be stuck in a rut without enough time in the day to accomplish much of anything. But, here's the secret. Everyone has the same amount of time in every single day. It's one way in which we are all created equal. Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day. Here are 8 things you can do now to manage your time better:
Track Your Activities for a Week
To get a real picture of how you spend your time, try tracking everything you do for at least one week. Use a small recorder to record when you start and stop any task, and include the time. Alternatively, just use an old-fashioned pad and paper. Don't change anything for now; just live your life as you do.
Now look at how you spent your time. Organize each thing that you did into urgent, important, family, fun, and time suckers. Some things that are fun might fall into the category of time sucking and that's okay, because you can place limits on some things to still allow yourself to have fun without going overboard into time wasting.
Assign All Important Tasks to a "To-Do" List
Everything that is urgent and important should be scheduled. Some urgent and important things will also be family things. Put it all into the schedule. Give it the amount of time you think it will take, adding a few minutes for padding to avoid run over and missed deadlines.
Schedule Fun Time
Don't forget to put time for fun into your schedule. Fun often goes with family and friends and it is a very important part of your life. The trick is to schedule the right amount of time and the right amount of fun, without intruding on the important and urgent tasks and activities that you also must do.
Spend Time Each Night and Morning in Planning Mode
Take the time each evening to evaluate how your day went, decide what could have been done better, or what needs longer or shorter times to accomplish. If you do this you will get better at creating a plan. Each morning take the time to look over your schedule to remind yourself what is coming up so you don't forget anything. Never rely on just memory or you will get off track.
Create a Plan of Action for Each Activity
It doesn't matter if the plan is for family time, for business, or something else - if you create a plan of attack for each item on your to-do list, you'll accomplish it faster with fewer problems. One of the biggest time wasters is jumping from item to item. Stick to one thing at a time until it's done and you'll feel as if you have a lot more time in your day.
Train Others to Respect Your Time
If you have a business, especially if you work from home, you will often find that other people seem to lack respect for your time. The real issue is that you've not taught people to respect your time. As Oprah (or maybe it was Dr. Phil) once said, "You teach people how to treat you." Are you teaching people to respect your time? If not, it's time to start doing so.
Never underestimate the power of delegation for getting more time in your day. A good assistant can almost double your time. So while you can't actually get more time, remember that everyone has the same 24 hours. You can create a situation where you duplicate yourself by hiring an assistant or outsourcing some mundane tasks such as housework or lawn care. There is no such thing as a successful CEO who doesn't delegate.
Finally, it's important to always be realistic about what can really be accomplished in any given amount of time. No matter how much you want to be, you're not superwoman (or man) - you're just a human who is doing their best to manage the resources they have. If something doesn't get done today, move it to tomorrow. As you get better at scheduling, you'll get it down to a science on how long it really takes you to do any particular task and you'll have fewer days where you don't succeed.
It is so easy to tell yourself that you are going to accomplish something new, but what happens when this task takes longer than you had allowed for? Your motivation starts to disappear and quite often you give up on the idea altogether.
It definitely can be hard to stay focused on certain things. Weight loss is a fine example of this. If you have ever tried to lose weight you know your enthusiasm is so high for the first week or two. As you make lifestyle changes the pounds drop off quickly and you are feeling great about your efforts.
A few weeks into your diet you plateau and don’t lose any weight. You start to eat a little more or stop exercising as much and then before you know it you have abandoned your goal and have gone back to your old habits.
There are several reasons for this. First you may not have recognized that plateauing is a perfectly normal occurrence when it comes to losing weight. Secondly, did you use not losing any weight as an excuse to have that extra treat or to miss a workout? Your mind can do wonderful things and is capable of coming up with hundreds of reasons to not do something.
To stay motivated and focus you can do a number of things including:
• Set smaller goals • Keep a calendar or use a planner • Share your goals with someone else • Join a group of people with the same goals
By creating smaller goals you won’t feel as overwhelmed when your results start to dwindle or slow down. If you break this down further into weekly targets you can easily stay focused longer. It isn’t as hard to do something new from a Monday to Friday as it is to think about doing it for months at a time.
Next, be honest with yourself. If you have had any success at all before you hit that plateau then congratulate yourself on that achievement. Focus on what you have done and not where you have to go! This is why it is often a good reason to keep a written journal or notebook of “wins.” When you are feeling down take a look at them and remember what you did accomplish.
By changing your mindset to be more positive you can stay focused on your goals.