Who’s Minding The Store?

Posted by on Nov 18 2015

After I got out of the hot tub at 8:30 the one night, I noticed the water level was a little low. Since the hot tub is on the patio, it’s easy to refill right from the outside hose.

So I dutifully trotted over to the hose, dragged it to the hot tub, and started topping it up. It takes a long time for the hot tub to fill, so I left it running and went inside to watch an old movie.

At 10:30 PM, I poked my head outside to call the cat for its dinner. Yikes! The hot tub was over-flowing!

So there I was in my soaking-wet pajamas, bucket in hand, bailing out the hot tub at 10:30 at night. All I can say is thank goodness I live in the countryside; the only ones laughing at my escapades were the skunks and the possums.

I find when I do something really, really stupid, it often has a bigger message. After I dried myself off, I asked myself, “What is this trying to tell me?”

The pattern I found, not just for myself but for a surprisingly large percentage of my clients that week, was that we were all ignoring the basic watch-dogging that needs to happen when you run a business. Things like balancing checkbooks, looking at monthly profit-and-loss statements, reviewing website statistics, planning for marketing campaigns – we were too busy with what was happening “in the moment” to pay attention to business basics.

There’s nothing wrong with being present in the moment. In fact, it’s quite enjoyable to be full present and conscious to what you are doing. As a small business owner, you also need to be paying attention to the future, while simultaneously looking at the bottom line statistics that tell you how you are doing. It’s a lot of hats to juggle, but not paying attention to all these details can be fatal to your business.

So what’s a business owner to do? Find some way to remind yourself of upcoming events and monthly tracking. I created a two-fold system for myself.

  • First, I put a monthly recurring appointment in my Outlook calendar to look at my finances and statistics.
  • Second, I write out all the steps to a project, from concept creation to marketing, and keep that checklist handy so that bits of the project don’t get lost in the zeal of creation.

I also share this project plan with my team so that they can help keep me on track.

Don’t wait until you spring a leak to discover that you aren’t paying attention to all the details. Write them down and refer to your list often so that you can stay on top of things.

And never leave a hose running into a hot tub. It’s a sure-fire setup to a night of bailing out water!


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Category: Business Strategy & Planning
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What Really Happens in a Mastermind Group Meeting? Come, Peek Inside One

Posted by on Nov 11 2015

Are you curious about what REALLY happens inside a mastermind group meeting with all that creative brainstorming and accountability?

An explosion of excitement and ideas rocked a seemingly innocent hotel conference room a few months ago. Over a two-hour span, local business owners learned how to mastermind together. For many it was their first experience being in the Hot Seat and getting help from a mastermind group.

Here’s what participants said to me afterwards:

  • It was incredibly freeing, to share my ideas with the group.
  • I learned from everyone, even when it wasn’t my turn in the Hot Seat.
  • I got so many great ideas, I ran out of paper to take notes.
  • Absolutely eye-opening… I have a whole new insight into a problem that’s been keeping me up at night.

Join me for a free Taste of a Mastermind Group! (You’re going to love eavesdropping on these mastermind Hot Seats.)

In this one-hour mastermind group session, three people will be on the “Hot Seat,” bringing their challenges, questions and idea needs to the group.

This particular mastermind group session will be about running and growing a business, so it will be extra helpful to those of you who are self-employed small business owners. (But even personal and professional development mastermind groups are run the same way, so this is a great chance to peek inside a group meeting and see the inner workings.)

This will be an All-Content-No-Selling teleconference.

You can be assured that our focus will be solely on the Hot Seats and watching a mastermind group in action.

Join me on Monday, November 16 at 2:00 p.m. eastern/11:00 a.m. pacific

Come and see behind-the-curtain into a real mastermind group meeting!

Experience the power of mastermind groups for yourself by attending this free mastermind group session.

Yes, the call will be recorded. If you can’t attend live, register anyway, and I’ll send you a link to the recording of the meeting.

Register here:


If you’ve been curious what a mastermind group meeting is all about, or if you want to see how I run them with my own groups, please join us!


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Category: Start and Run a Mastermind Group

Increase Your Productivity: Institute Quiet Time

Posted by on Oct 28 2015

Are you getting everything done on your To Do list?


Join the crowd.

More and more self-employed entrepreneurs are complaining that email, phone calls, social media, and their beeping-buzzing smart phones are constantly causing interruptions, increasing stress and reducing productivity.

These constant interruptions are costing you productivity — and ultimately income.

In my blog post Choose One Project, I talk about the myth of multitasking. Talking on the phone and answering emails at the same time decreases your overall productivity. So does popping into social media sites while you’re trying to focus on an important project or task. It causes twice the number of errors when you multitask or allow interruptions to your task.

By allowing all these interruptions, you are losing TWO hours a day of productive time. Ouch!

The Solution

Many large corporations like Intel, IBM, and Deloitte & Touche are instituting something called Quiet Time: a block of time in which you cannot send or read emails, and may not make or receive phone calls (unless they are related to the specific project you’re working on).

Small business owners can do this, too!

I started to do this last year:

  • Core Productivity times are 9AM – 2:30 PM. All private client calls, group mentoring calls, classes, and project work are done during these hours.
  • Every Friday was “class design and book writing day.” No client or prospect appointments, no emails from 9:00 – 2:30, no phone calls at all.
  • Emails are handled twice a day – at 8:00 and 2:30.
  • Each day, return phone calls are handled after 2:30 PM (which is great because of the time zone differences between East and West coast).
  • When I really, really needed to work on a project in a deeply focused way, I’d bring my laptop to the lake, park or library, taking my work to a quiet environment without possible distractions. (I particularly like the lake because there’s no Wi-Fi there! :))

The Results of My Quiet Time Test

In a 12-month period, I designed and launched three new classes (including a 9-week class which was a whopper to design), wrote one new ebook, designed two new websites, and overall had a much happier and more satisfied lifestyle and work environment. Awesome!

Lest you think that you will be less productive in getting through your emails and phone calls if you institute Quiet Time in your business, think again. Having fixed times each day for email and phone calls increases your productivity, actually reducing the amount of time you spend on emails and phone calls. (I found I could get through 30-40 emails in a solid, planned hour, which would have taken me two hours if I had answered them in a scattered fashion throughout the day.)

If you are frustrated because you’re not accomplishing your projects and tasks, you need to schedule Quiet Time into each day. You will be happier and feel more fulfilled by your work if you do.

How About You?

Do you regularly block out time to get projects done? What are you doing to increase your productivity without getting burned out? I’d love to hear your stories and ideas!


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Category: Managing Projects, Tasks & Time, Running a Strong & Efficient Business
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The I Love Lucy Guide to Marketing

Posted by on Oct 20 2015

In the 1950s television show, Lucy has one overriding goal: to break into show biz and to get Ricky to put her in his nightclub act. The thousands of wacky and inventive ways she went about trying to achieve this goal is what made the TV show so hilarious.

Here’s what Lucy can teach you about marketing: there are no silver bullets, no magical “one perfect technique” that will help you achieve your marketing goals. (We all wish there was one ideal marketing technique that will send flood of customers your way, don’t we?) I work with clients in 48 different industries and I’m hearing the same story from them over and over again: you have to use multiple marketing techniques in a coordinated, integrated fashion, because people will come to you through all those channels.

I had seven prospective client phone calls this week. Where did they come from? Five different marketing techniques!

  • One came because she’d been a subscriber to my email newsletter for several years
  • Another came because our connection on Facebook
  • One came from an article I was interviewed for, in Entrepreneur Magazine
  • Two came from people Googling “small business coach”
  • The final two came from word-of-mouth referrals from other clients

The other thing my successful clients are doing is tracking the results of their marketing efforts and making tweaks along the way. Don’t spend all your time being busy “doing” your marketing that you never step back and look at the big picture. Put on your CEO hat and be strategic about your marketing.

Ask yourself:

  1. Have my marketing goals changed, or will they change in the coming year?
  2. In the past 12 months, which marketing techniques have brought the most customers?
  3. Are there any marketing techniques that used to work well, but now are not as strong?
  4. Are my marketing techniques up-to-date, or could some of them use a tweak and a facelift?
  5. Which marketing techniques take the most time, and can I delegate some of the work to others to free myself up?

And take a tip from Lucy: if at first the results aren’t stellar, take a step back and look for another creative way to achieve your goals. Above all, never give up on what you really, really want!

P.S. If you’re spending all your time being busy doing work for your business, then you’re not acting like a business owner, you’re acting like an employee. Give yourself the gift of “CEO Time” each week to plan and implement your big goals.


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Category: Business Strategy & Planning, Marketing

5 Smart Tips to Re-engage Inactive Customers

Posted by on Oct 09 2015

Do you have people on your mailing list who don’t open your emails? Do you have connections on social media who don’t respond to your posts?

Consider creating a re-engagement campaign to reconnect with them. First, if you can, segment your list and target your re-engagement campaign only to those who are inactive. That will help you to focus your efforts. Then, create ways to reconnect with them and put the ideas into a campaign.

Here’s some tips:

  1. Ask them a question, especially the most straight-forward one: “Are you still interested in receiving my newsletters/tips?”
  2. Offer them a special discount.
  3. Send out a survey to find out what they’re up to and where they could use some help.
  4. Create a contest and invite them to play along.
  5. Write to them individually with a personalized email, or better yet, a real letter. (I still get excited when I get a letter in the mail with real handwriting!)

The extra effort you make to re-engage with your audience will reap huge rewards. And if they choose to unsubscribe from your list or disconnect from you on social media, be diplomatic and thankful. They might not be a prospective customer any more, but their friends and colleagues might.

Find out why they’re disengaged

Part of this process is to find out why they aren’t connecting with you. There’s two scenarios:

  1. They no longer need your service or product.
  2. They do need your service or product, but there’s something holding them back from connecting with you.

It could be that they’re too busy or distracted to read your marketing materials, or it could be that your marketing materials (including your content marketing) don’t interest them. Maybe they feel you’re emailing them too often (or not often enough!). By opening a dialogue with them, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of your audience, which can trigger a smarter marketing plan.



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Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Marketing

Choose One Project

Posted by on Oct 01 2015

I’m just like you — just like every entrepreneur I know. I have a million ideas and I want to do them ALL right away!

But I learned an important and enlightening lesson last year that I’d like to share with you. By focusing all my attention, energy, time and resources on One Big Project, I increased my income — and more importantly, I was happier and more relaxed.

I was shocked!

Even though experts had been telling me for years to focus on just one thing, I didn’t want to give up my freedom and creativity. I liked having multiple projects to work on. It made me feel vibrant and alive.

But it also made me feel unproductive, cranky, overwhelmed, and a nervous wreck. And guilty because I was having a hard time completing just one of those projects to my satisfaction. Hmmmm.

Imagine you are driving down a busy highway at rush hour. Now imagine that there are three other people in the car with you, all trying to have a conversation with you. Now your cell phone rings. In between all this talking, ideas pop into your head so you pull out your mobile device to type in some text notes.

Crazy, right? You’ll have a car accident any minute now.

Yet that’s exactly what you’re doing to your business when you try to focus on multiple projects or multiple goals simultaneously.

Multi-tasking Myth

In the 1740s, Lord Chesterfield said, “There is time enough for everything in the course of the day, if you do but one thing at once — but there is not time enough in the year if you will do two things at a time.”

Doing more than one thing at once doesn’t get more done and doesn’t make you more efficient. Recent studies by several research teams prove this point.

According to researchers at the University of Michigan, when you toggle between multiple tasks or multiple projects, you are using what’s known as the “executive control” process. This mental CEO has to choose priorities and allocate thinking/creativity resources. The more you switch between tasks, the longer it takes to re-focus attention and resources.

David E. Meyer, a cognitive scientist at the University of Michigan said in a recent New York Times article, “Multitasking is going to slow you down, increasing the chances of mistakes.” When it comes to your business, mistakes will cost you. Can you afford to lose time or money?

On a practical level, working on multiple projects simultaneously made me feel scattered, out-of-control, and diffused my intellectual and creative abilities. When I slowed down and focused on one major project for a full two months I felt more in control, much more relaxed, my confidence soared, and I was able to get the project completed a full four weeks ahead of schedule. It was as if I had been released from a multi-tasking prison of my own making.

Talk about freedom!

Choose One, Master It, Move On

In his book, “Getting Things Done,” David Allen suggests you create a list of “Areas of Focus.” Start by looking at the areas you manage in your business (you can create a separate list for your personal life). In business you may have these areas: marketing, customer contact, product/service development, operations/administration, long-range planning/strategy, etc.

Next, list all your possible projects in each of these areas. Once you have your full projects list, look them over and ask yourself:

  • Which project will most likely lead me towards my large business goals?
  • Which project will lead me in the direction I want to take for my business?
  • Which project am I ready to tackle now?
  • Which project inspires me?
  • Which project scares me?

Then choose one project that will have the biggest impact on the success of your business. If it scares you, ask yourself why. Figure out where you’ll need some help or some education in order to complete that project.

In speaking with some of my mastermind group members about this subject last week, they reminded me that you don’t have to focus on one thing for an entire year. Try it for three months or six months, and see what results you are getting, both financial and emotional.

Once you complete a project or master a new skill, then you can move on to the next one on your list. In this way, you can have both things in your life: a successful business and getting multiple things done in one year.

First, choose one project. Finish it. Then move on to the next.


20 comments for now

Category: Business Strategy & Planning

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