Archive for February, 2015

Self Sabotaged by Research

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A woman in one of my mastermind groups posed a question recently: Why did she spend all her time doing research and never actually get on with doing the thing she was researching?

She loved looking up information, finding resources, interviewing people, gathering facts. But taking these facts and applying them to her business seemed to always be put on the back burner.

It’s called “analysis paralysis.” The idea is this: if I could just gather this information, if I could just find that fact, if I could make this checklist a bit longer — you get the drift. As a small business coach, I see this my clients get caught in this trap all the time.

The cause is simple: It’s easier for many people to research than to do the action work because gathering research is often a successful task, while acting on the research is fraught with the possibility of failure, stress, or pressure. We stay in the research mode because it’s safe and we get a lot of positive feelings about having uncovered the information we need.

Don’t get me wrong, research is vital. I’ve seen many businesses fail to thrive because they haven’t done the marketing research necessary to see if people want to buy the service or product they want to sell.

The key, as always, is balance. When you find yourself doing more and more research, then you can bet you’re procrastinating on the “doing” side of things. You have two choices:

  1. Try to figure out why you’re not doing the work, or
  2. Just do the work.

Either choice is valid, but guess what? Choice 1 is still “research!” 🙂

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Category: Running a Strong & Efficient Business
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Demystifying the Art of Action Planning

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Do you have an area in your business where you want to grow, change, be more successful? Sometimes it feels like you can’t get there fast enough.

Setting goals can seem intimidating until you realize goals are simply stated outcomes: be more profitable, finish a big project, launch a new service, or help more clients. It’s more than a mere wish list; it’s stating what you want from life.

The trick is to get from goal setting to goal attainment. That’s where we hit potholes and brick walls. Being a planner rather than a jumper will get you results quicker.

Start with Big Picture Goals

Before you jump into details, start with big outcomes you want for your business this year. People often confused goals with projects, and the easiest way to split them apart is to ask yourself the question, “Why do you want to do this? What outcome are you hoping to get?”

For instance, you might say that one of your goals is to launch a new class for your audience. But there’s a reason you’re launching this new class, right? Maybe it’s a free class to build your mailing list. Maybe it’s a paid class to show your expert status and build income. By asking yourself why you want to achieve something, you get to your core goals.

ACTION STEP: Step back for a moment and write down three big picture goals you have for this year.

Brainstorm Your Projects

Now that you have your goals in mind, let’s talk about how to achieve them. There are many paths that will lead you to the same goal, and choosing your projects wisely will help you get where you’re going.

Start by brainstorming all the projects that can help you achieve the same goal (don’t worry at this point about committing to a project, just write down as many as possible to limber up your creative juices).

For instance, say that one of your goals is to build your expert platform. You could boost your blog audience, write a book, teach a class, do more speaking engagements, start a column in a national magazine or website, hire a PR firm, or create a podcast. All of these things will show you’re an authority in your field.

How do you know which projects are the best ones to tackle? Here’s a checklist to help you decide:

  • Which ones inspire and excite you?
  • Which ones align with your personality and skill set?
  • Which ones match the way your audience likes to connect with you?
  • Which ones fit your budget?
  • Which ones are likely to get you to your goals the fastest?

ACTION STEP: Pick one or two projects to work on this year.

You can always add more later, but choosing too many projects will overwhelm you and cause you to lose focus.

Start the year right: don’t overburden yourself.

Tap Your Task List

ACTION STEP: Take one of your projects and begin writing a To Do list of tasks needed to accomplish that project.

Next to each task indicate whether it’s a task you will do or whether you’ll need to outsource it to someone else. Also note whether a task will require a specific resource, like hiring someone to update your website, or taking a class to learn a new skill.

Say that your project is to create a new class. Tasks might include writing a lesson plan, creating worksheets or a student guide, selecting a teaching method, picking dates for the class, setting a price for the class, creating a marketing plan for the class, etc.

ACTION STEP: Organize the tasks into a logical order.

For example, you’ll need to write a lesson plan so you know how long the class is, and what you’ll cover, before you can set the price. You’ll need to write the sales copy before the sales page can be put up on your website.

ACTION STEP: Take an educated guess as to how long each task will take.

Tally up those tasks and the timing for each one, and calculate when the project is likely to be finished. Allow for some “stretch time” in your action planning; you never know when you’ll hit a bump in the road that might delay your project.

Get Moving, It’s Easy

You have an action plan for your project. That’s great!

Now it’s time to start implementing that plan. This can be the place where people freeze. You look at your To Do list and it feels like climbing Mount Everest.

The problem is we look at the whole action plan and automatically think we have to do every single action all at the same time. Our intellectual brain knows that’s not possible, but our emotional brain sees it that way.

ACTION STEP: Look for one action you can take right now. Just one action, no more.

If your task is to write your sales page, your one action might be to write the headline. If your task is to set your price, your one action could be to calculate your costs so you know your class will be profitable.

By breaking project and tasks into smaller and smaller increments, we achieve everything – on time, on budget, and with grace and satisfaction.

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Category: Business Strategy & Planning