Posts Tagged ‘entrepreneurial’

Why All Business Owners Need A Swift Kick In The Pants

business owners need a swift kick in the pantsLast week I was at a business conference where the whole purpose was to learn how to make more money. Now obviously, the topic tells you why I was there, but what it doesn’t tell you is what else happened.

I got a swift kick in the pants. I got slapped upside the head. And I knew I would – which is precisely why I went.

Being a business coach, I knew that I needed to get back on track. I knew that I am no different than anyone else who has ever run a business that has fallen victim to focusing on everyone else and not themselves.  I am sure it is the same for you. How many of you seem to get caught up in daily life and get pulled in a million directions? Before you know it, the day is over and you have not accomplished half of what was on your to-do list! This is is a pretty normal situation for small business owners. All it seems to take is one phone call or one email to derail the entire day’s agenda. The to-do list just keeps growing because you put things on the back burner that really need to get done.

But the fact of the matter is you have to get all of those things done. You have  to focus on all the tasks at hand – especially the revenue generating tasks. The ones that have the potential to push the business onward and upward. Often these are the tasks that get pushed back the most. They are usually time consuming, and possibly expensive, and sometimes even scary. But the truth is: what you resist, persists. What you focus on grows.

I bet you thought that when you went into business for yourself you would never have to answer to anyone. That is simply not true. There is a reason larger companies have a board of directors or some sort of management – the business needs structure and accountability. There has to be a person, or group of people, to be there to nudge you in the right direction when you are not accomplishing the projects that should be your main focus. Most recently, it was the ALL the people at this conference. The presenter, as well as my peers. Pushing me out of my comfort zone and forcing me to look in the mirror.

But how does one go about creating an accountability plan or finding an accountability partner? However you decide to set it up your accountability plan, you will want to focus on some key elements:

  • Choose someone or a few people who are not afraid to tell you the truth – no matter how painful.
  • Book at the very least a monthly accountability session with them. 
  • Find someone who has strengths where you have weaknesses so they can guide you where you need the most help.
  • Take a look at the systems that run your business. Are they helpful or disruptive and expensive?
  • Determine what is not your skill set and either learn what you need to become better – or delegate and MOVE ON!
  • Work with them to establish SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely)
  • Establish a DEFINITIVE timeline AND deadline for those goals. 
  • Create fair consequences for not achieving those goals. Punishment is not necessary – but there are ALWAYS consequences.

Accountability is a MUST for every small business owner. Why? Because isolation is the enemy of wealth and success. So get comfortable with being uncomfortable. The longer you run from someone holding you accountable, the longer it will take for you to achieve your goals and put your business in the position you want it to be in.  I am thankful this weekend provided me with a swift kick in the behind. I once again have someone who holds me accountable. I also provide accountability services for my clients. It is one of my most favorite things I do.

You know the beautiful thing about accountability? It means you are not alone. It means there are people there to help you.

I would love to help you.

What works for you as a small business owner? What are some ways you have inserted accountability in your business?

 

Want A Thriving Business? Focus on Two Things

thriving businessI am about to celebrate 15 years of being in business with my husband. Our company, MB Tech, Inc., is a technology company that has seen a lot of changes over the years. Since we are planning a lot of fun surprises and taking a walk down memory lane, it has brought up a lot of memories of how we made it this far. Amidst all the planning, the remembering back, and even the day-to-day operations, there is still only one question that I get the most often:

What would you say the secret to your success is?

That’s easy. I can answer that with two words. The first one is DISCIPLINE.

When we first started running our company, we naturally fell into our prospective divisions. He handled all the IT stuff and I handled the sales and marketing. We both had to grow with the technologies that allowed us to do our jobs, but we still stayed focused on what we needed to accomplish in order to make our company grow.

So as the marketing arm, my duties have really grown over the years. I started out networking all the time – at every event I could find. We did not have a brick and mortar – still don’t – so getting out there and putting in the face time was key. Then came email marketing, then came social media, and now the most prevalent – video marketing. Somehow, business owners are expected to maintain a marketing presence and still do whatever it is their business does.

I understand this can be hard for a solo-preneuer. That is where the discipline comes in. Myself, I have a schedule that I follow to the letter that I follow. Every day, week and month I have a deadline of some sort. And I follow it. I figured out what represented our company the best and I ran with it. For us, this is STILL networking face to face, social media/email and treating the people that know and love us with respect to keep the referrals coming. That is the discipline. But I am a crazy, super Type A individual and actually enjoy this level of organization. I am not not normal.

The fact of the matter is most people are not disciplined to this degree. But what do you do if you simply can’t be everywhere? You have some discipline, but simply not enough hours in the day. I totally get this. It happens. I am no saint, sometimes we are late on the marketing deadlines I set for our company.

This is where the excuses come in. I hear excuses from my clients and colleagues all the time as to why something is not getting done. Excuses and whining WILL NOT GET YOU THERE. Yes, I said it. STOP WHINING. If you want something bad enough, you will find a way to make it happen. If you can’t be the one to get them done – then you have to delegate.

Discipline also means knowing your limitations. No one can do everything. I delegate plenty. In order for a small business to succeed, the next thing you need is to have is someone holding you ACCOUNTABLE. This can be a business coach, peers in your or complementing industries, virtual assistants, etc. who will not only help you accomplish tasks, but to push you to the next level.

I am not suggesting jumping into something blindly. I am saying have a plan. If you need help, call me, call a coach, call a trusted colleague, just call someone. Formulate a plan, realistically plan who is going to do what and when – and then actually do it. This type of DISCIPLINE, partnered with ACCOUNTABILITY is really the secret to any business’ success.

Final thought – don’t get caught up on hiccups. Life is full of hiccups. Roll with it. Don’t let delays, failures, or flat out not knowing how de-rail you. Find someone who can help you. Google it. Do whatever you have to do. Just get back on the horse. I believe in you – you should too.

 

The Cold, Hard, Ugly Truth About Networking

 

truth about networkingI was recently approached by several people about coming to speak at their event about networking. It is very common this time of year to re-focus your efforts on networking and analyzing where you should be spending your time to grow your business. Rather than tell it like it is to a small group, I am choosing to lay it all down and put it out there – the COLD, HARD, UGLY TRUTH about networking.

  1. Everyone’s process is a bit different. Most people shy away from networking because they think this means going to some boring mixer, drinking your glass of wine, passing out business cards, all while collecting some for yourself. Ugh. This IS NOT networking. This is wasting time. Networking does not just happen in meet and greets. Networking DOES NOT have to happen in a certain way. It can be anywhere. I network just about in every situation I am in. The grocery store, the school pick up line when I am getting my kids, chatting with other Moms, talking with the neighbors, all my friends on social media, you name it. Technology certainly has opened some doors for us to keep communicating. The point is – choose strategies that appeal to YOU. Maybe it is face to face events, or a lively LinkedIn Group, or simply making an amazing blog and staying in touch with your followers that comment. The point is – you will shine if you are having fun. People will be drawn to you, and that is really what you are after.
  2. It’s not all about you. It’s about building lasting relationships. This takes time. I once had a job many moons ago where I was required to return with at least five business cards from people I had “connected” with at an event. The proverbial “get in, get out” method, or as some may call speed networking. This will get you no where. You cannot expect to get serious leads EVERY time you go out. Networking takes time and patience.  You have to go into it with the mindset of building relationships. Start conversations with questions. This takes the spotlight off of you in the beginning and allows you to learn something about them in the process. People love to talk about themselves. Then you turn your focus on “what can I do for you” by doing the following:
    Share who you know. This means everyone you have ever met. It is as simple as that. During your chatting, really listen to what the people are doing, involved in, trying to accomplish and think about if there is anyone in your circle of influence or database of people that you think they should meet. People will remember you for making the connection.

    Share what you know. This means your life experiences, your observations, what you just read on Facebook, tips from email newsletters you subscribe to, etc. Share the knowledge that you think will help them in their agenda.

    Share how you feel. Sharing your compassion will always bring you the greatest rewards. Show concern, show empathy. It will not only help you with your bottom line, but also knowing that you are following your heart and your integrity.

  3. You MUST keep in touch. Otherwise, this networking thing is a complete waste of time. This is also the number one thing most people will not do. They make quality connections, work on building relationships – and then….nothing. Work gets busy, life gets busy, or they simply get lazy. Such a shame. Create a system for yourself and stick to it. I like to use Trello to give myself a to-do list, where I include time in my schedule for a keep in touch strategy. Regardless of how you remind yourself, you have to follow through.

Networking in some form is a must. On the bright side, it can be in many forms. Just stick with what works for you, make sure it’s not all about you, and you will do just fine. Approach every event/encounter with an open mind, making new business contact, and maybe even a friend. You never know who knows who, who they can lead you to, and what can come of that new face from across the room. Those kids that invented the Kevin Bacon game were on to something. Six degrees is not very far. Good advice to take with you to every networking opportunity in the future.

What is your favorite networking strategy? What works best for you?

Lessons 2016 Taught Us – And What To Do About It

key-to-success2It is safe to say that 2016 was quite the year for everyone. Whether you are focusing on politics, pop culture, the economy or simply your own life, I am sure if you take the time to take a look back at your calendar or some of your emails you could refresh your memory on some major events and life lessons that help to make you who you are today. For entrepreneurs, this is a very important task. If we are not learning – we are not growing. We must do what makes us uncomfortable in order to grow and thrive in our business. So I did just that. I took a look at my emails, and my social media posts and here are some great reminders – that I often say to myself – that I think everyone should say to themselves as they embark on the New Year.

Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle. — Abraham Lincoln

This is so true. All too often we get caught in a routine or the new normal. We are stuck in a rut of just doing what is on the schedule and and we lose sight of a goal or a dream. A lot of people have ideas or vision – but not nearly as many actually take the time to get out there and find out what it takes to accomplish that vision. My advice? Time will pass regardless, so why wait on achieving your vision? Right them down your goals and post them in your office. Start at the end and work your way backwards. Get help. Ask questions. Study those who have done something similar. Hustle means, well HUSTLE.

Don’t cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it. – Dr. Laura Schlessinger

I think a lot of entrepreneurs are guilty of this one, including myself. I know it is easy to become gun shy when you mess up. All of the sudden that is the only thing you can focus on and then you spend all of your time focusing on how not to do THAT again. I am here to tell you – don’t waste your time with that. Mistakes are an important part of learning. It is just as important to learn what NOT to do as it is what TO do. When you start to focus on the negative, all you are doing is putting the energy out there that will attract more negativity. Mistakes are simply part of life. Don’t let them hold you back.

A strong spirit transcends rules. — Prince     OR      Either I will find a way or I’ll make one. — Philip Sidney

This one is one of my favorites. I have built my entire company on finding a way. When my husband and I first started helping people with their technology back in 1995, very few people even knew what the Internet was. We had to make up the rules as we went along. We were literally learning as we went. Think about how far technology has come in the last twenty years and you can understand why we were flying by the seat of our pants most of the time. We had to learn as went, come up with programs and packages based on what our clients needed, and find a way to make money at it. Was it scary? Yes. Would I do it again? Yes. I have written about this before: the answer is always yes, and then you find a way.

Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow. – Carrie Fisher

Courage and confidence does not mean there is an absence of fear, but rather there is something more important than the fear. Heard that somewhere, but it is very true. My coach Michael Port always said “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” A little fear never hurt anyone, and I am certain that many successful people still operate with an element of fear. But this quote could not be any more poignant. Just do it. Confidence will follow or possibly a mistake –  but you will learn and grow.

You can reach your goals a hell of a lot faster when you have help. — Lou Bortone

Love this one from my friend Lou. And he is so right. I, myself, was once afraid to ask questions. I was scared to reach out for help. Once I signed up with my first coach, all of that disappeared. If you are waiting to ask someone for help – then STOP IT. Not one person on this earth can possibly know everything, but for some reason I continually see entrepreneurs trying to do everything themselves. INVEST IN YOURSELF. Invest in your education. Whatever it is you need help with, then go get it. Maybe it is mapping out the steps to your next big thing. Maybe you just need some motivation or a slap across the face. Whatever it is  – just do it. This is exactly why I created my Accountability Program. Contact me to learn more. Even if it is not me – just contact someone.

The key to success is learning how to monetize what you had to learn the hard way. — Danelle Brown

Every entrepreneur I know has to learn something the hard way. There is no definitive map to success. It is full of twists and turns that you have to overcome and learn from. Whether it is figuring out how to launch a new product to the masses, writing a book, coming up with a new program, or simply paving the way on something that does not exist yet – if you have the knowledge, then figure out a way to package it and sell it to people that want to do the same thing. Life is full of mentors who went on to teach others how to do what they had to struggle to learn. You could be next.

I could go on and on with inspiring quotes, but I believe you get the idea. 2017 needs to be a game changer for you. I am excited for all of us. So share with me and my readers – what is the next big thing for you? Post it in the comments and let’s all cheer each other on.

 

 

Using Video To Promote Your Business – Part Two: Equipment

using video to promote your businessLast month I got all of you thinking about using video to promote your business. We tackled the first elephant in the room – What do I even talk about in my video? Now that we have that squared away, let’s move on to the number two question that comes up:

What Equipment Do I Need To Make Videos For My Business?

This particular piece can easily get out of hand. I am not here to tell you to go out and start spending a lot of money buying equipment that could possibly scare you and therefore prevent you from following through. So let’s just start with the basics, and then move up from there.

  1. Phones/Mobile Devices: Yes, your smart phone or tablet, as most of you know, is perfectly capable of taking an excellent video. I am a Mac girl, so my experience comes from using an iPhone or an iPad. With all the latest upgrades, especially with the iPhone 7, your phone is VERY capable of taking a high quality video. Once it is on your phone, you can save it or immediately publish it to a social media platform. (We will cover this in more detail in part three.)
  2. Laptop Built In Camera – if you have a Mac, they already come with a built in “iSight Camera.” You can utilize this to record a video to your desktop which you can then publish multiple places, or to go live on Facebook or YouTube. Simple, easy, and right from the comfort of your desk chair. If you have a PC, models will vary, so check to see if you have one.
  3. Video Camera – these are the types you can buy at stores or on Amazon. My camera that I use a lot is an Everio, but you can use a multitude of cameras such as an Olympus, Sony, Panasonic or GoPro. Keep in mind you make sure whatever you buy is compatible with the video software you will need to edit your video and get it ready to publish. These cameras start out at $250 and go up from there depending on the features.
  4. Tripods – If you are using a camera or phone, I definitely recommend getting one of these. No one wants to watch a shaky video. If you are starting small – as I would recommend – you can get a tripod for your iPhone or iPad from caddiebuddy.com. If you have a separate camera, I use the AmazonBasics 60″ Lightweight. It is very versatile and comes with a bag to carry it in.
  5. Microphones – I find when using my iPhone or iPad a microphone is needed. Especially for videos that are done outside. I recommend the Lavalier Microphone. They are small, lightweight, and work with iPhones, Androids or Windows Smartphones. You simply plug it into the headphone jack and you are ready to go.
    If you are doing video from your desktop, my good friend and video guru, Lou Bortone, recommends the Blue Snowball microphone. This is mainly for recording podcasts, or another use would be live videos to YouTube or Facebook.

Do I need any special software to produce these videos now that I have taken them?

Depending on what type of computer you have, chances are you already have the software you need. In my case, I use iMovie which comes standard on every Mac. iMovie allows you to play with the sounds, adjust the brightness, add subtitles, and so on to make your video awesome. If you have a PC, Microsoft has made it difficult for their users since they no longer include Windows Movie Maker. It is possible that your computer may have come with a third party software, but there are so many varieties of movie editing software there are no standards.

I would also encourage you to check out Animoto. Especially if you own a PC. This is a monthly subscription service that is VERY versatile. You can upload pictures, videos, choose your captions, add music and really create a great video that can easily be shared to all your networks with the click of a button. They just last week rolled out new features that include voice-over controls, new customized text controls and more options to create collages and layouts. You can also do a lot of these features with iMovie for free. If you need help with that, fortunately the Apple Store has classes on iMovie that are very inexpensive, and they offer one-on-one training so you can ask as many questions as you want.

Once you become more advanced you can buy more complex video editing software, more advanced cameras, a green screen, you name it. But the reality is – most business owners don’t need all of that. You will do fine just by getting your face and voice out there on a consistent basis while providing good content relevant to your audience.

My advice? Start with your phone and a tripod of choice. From there you can choose to share it to Facebook Live, YouTube Live, or just save it in your phone and then export it to whichever video software you have on your computer.

Got questions? You can contact me here. Good luck and feel free to share your videos with me!

 

 

Using Video To Promote Your Business – Part One

using video to promote your businessIt seems using video to promote your business is all you see anymore when it comes to fresh ideas for marketing. And with good reason. Video is completely exploding. Just the new features of video inside Facebook alone can make your head swim. Video is really escalating your ability to connect with your followers and fans in ways we weren’t even thinking about as little as a year ago. But you cannot ignore the facts:

  • Videos have a 135% greater organic reach compared to photos.
  • Between April and November of 2015, the amount of daily video views on Facebook doubled from 4 billion to 8 billion.
  • Videos used in emails lead to 200 – 300% increase in click through rates
  • YouTube reports that mobile video consumption rises 100% EVERY year.
  • After watching a video, 64% of users are more likely to buy the product they just watched about.

But enough about that. We know we need to do it, but there are several reasons holding most entrepreneurs back.

They don’t know what to talk about. They think it is hard. They think they don’t have time. They don’t know how to begin.

It is time to change that way of thinking. So I have put together a series of articles that will give you the information you need to start chipping away at this beast one step at a time. I have broken this down into three digestible parts so hopefully you won’t feel overwhelmed.

Today we are focusing on Part 1: What do I talk about in my videos?

Think of videos the same as a blog. Brainstorm relevant topics that your customers or clients want to learn more about. Every video should be educating your audience somehow on either how you can help, or giving valuable answers that will help them accomplish something, thereby painting you as the expert. Below is a list of topics to get you started:

  1. Instructional Videos
    This one is always helpful and typically the most sought after on YouTube. I know everyone reading this article has looked up a video on YouTube to learn how to do something. It is the same with what you do for a living. Show people various ways you can help them, or they can help themselves, by doing a quick instructional video.
  2. Introduce Your Staff
    The best way to get people to know, like and trust you is to get in front of them. Introductory videos to yourself and your staff will help people feel like they already know you, hence feeling like they are your friend. People like to do business with their friends.
  3. Testimonials Of Happy Customers
    EVERYONE reads the reviews on something, so why not put a review in video form? Ask one of your raving fans to let you record them giving a testimonial.
  4. New product announcements
    If your business is constantly getting in new merchandise, stop and take a quick 30 second video about the latest and greatest product available at your store! This works great for restaurants too!
  5. Question & Answer Videos
    This one is super easy. It is just you, sitting in front of the camera, answering commonly asked questions. End each of those videos by giving your viewers opportunities to contact you with more questions. This not only helps your viewers, but it really establishes you as the category authority.

My suggestions is to not jump into something that will overwhelm you. Start with doing a quick video once a week. You can either film four videos in one sitting and release them once a week, or you can make the time to sit in front of the camera weekly. Either way, you are delivering great content on a weekly basis that your followers will come to love and expect. The key here is consistency. Decide how often you will do it and stick to it. I promise – the results you will get will be worth it.

So now that a HUGE piece of what holds people back (the whole, “what do I talk about thing”) is out of the way, the next article in my series will be the next big stumbling block: equipment. I will go over simple ways to get you started – that you probably already own.

Are you feeling better about taking on video? If not, give me a shout and we will figure this out together. 

Three Fears Entrepreneurs Must Overcome

fears entrepreneurs must overcomeWhen I first started my coaching business almost eight years ago, I have to admit I was crazy scared. Even though I had been running a successful company for the past seven years with my husband, I had my fears and doubts about being as successful with this new branch to our company. Every entrepreneur has doubts and reservations, but what makes a successful one is the one that has the ability to not let the fear prevent him or her from pushing forward. Having been coaching entrepreneurs for the past eight years, I am seeing a trend of the types of fear that tend to hold people back, thus preventing growth and success.

Fear Of Change

I know what it is like to not want to change anything out of fear that something will not work, and thus cost you money. But change is inevitable. You have to roll with it. Let’s take technology for example. The world is moving at such a rapid pace, it is imperative that you move with it so you can remain competitive. Don’t let your website become stagnant and outdated. Invest in your technology infrastructure so it is easy to do business with your target market. Learn the best platform of social media so you can speak directly to your audience and form relationships. All of these things can be frightening. I have seen many a business not want to change their website or infrastructure because they are afraid of possible hiccups. Let me be clear – if you don’t stay up to date, your customers or clients will find someone that is.

Fear Of What Other People Think

This has happened to me multiple times over the years. Let’s take my website for example. I have never really been a fan of my website. I always put together what I thought was the “proper” business site that would attract my target market. Boy, was I wrong. I was stifling my creativity and my personality. And I did it repeatedly. I thought if I did what I wanted, I would scare off would-be clients. I was completely wrong. I finally stopped caring that I was going to upset someone and embraced what I teach my coaching clients: THE RED VELVET ROPE POLICY. RVR, in an extreme nutshell, means you only work with the clients that energize and inspire you, and motivate you to do your very best work. So I changed my website – from top to bottom. I put together a site that I feel will attract the people I am meant to serve. And I could not be more excited about. But it took guts. It took getting over the fear of what other people will think when they see my website for the first time. Some people may not like it at all – and that is OK! I am clearly not meant to work with them. AND THAT IS OK! You are never going to please absolutely everyone, so stop holding back something you are wanting to do out of that fear.

Fear Of Growth

This is a big stumbling block I see with business owners. They want to grow, but are afraid of what comes along with growth. With growth comes greater responsibility, new systems to learn, new employees, new processes and new challenges. It is easy to sit back and maintain the status quo – but that will never get you anywhere. My advice is that you assemble your very own “Business Dream Team.” If you are taking on growth, you need a team. Schedule appointments to talk with your banker, accountant, tech person, whomever you need, and formulate a plan to move forward. Most importantly – have someone hold you accountable to get it done. That is where I see most business owners mess up. They have big plans, know all the numbers, but get side tracked by life or FEAR and never accomplish their goal. Don’t let fear hold you back. If you need help, get help. You can do it.

I spent a lot of years being fearful and trust me – ain’t nobody got time for that! Embrace your fear head on. Maybe you will mess up. That is okay. At least you have learned what not to do. Don’t let your fear of what could happen – make nothing happen.

Do You Have A Business State Of The Union?

business state of the unionStarting in 2009, I took it upon myself to develop a “Business State of the Union.” Our company had been growing since its inception in 1997, and with the way technology was changing all the time I felt I needed to have everything in one place. I needed to have information available to me or to my husband if something were to happen to either one of us.  Articles have been written that touch on pieces of what was going through my mind. In fact, there was an article from the NY Daily News about having a social media will.

But it is not just about social media. Think about your entire business. The infrastructure, the access, the passwords, the chain of command. What happens to all of that if something unexpectedly happens to you?  Who has access? Where are the passwords?

Setting up your own State of the Union (SOTU) is an essential part of running your business. So let’s go through the basics of what you need to do in order to set up your own personal SOTU.

Step One: Collect all the data.

  1. Business Systems – what technology do you have in place that is a vital part to running your business? Is it a specific software or database? Who has access? Where are the passwords? Does someone else understand how it works?
  2. Social Media –  As it stands, Facebook will not give you access to your loved one’s account when they pass. They will “memorialize the account” so only confirmed friends can see and still post. Now for most people this may not be that big of a deal, but what if you have a lot of Facebook Ads tied to this account? Pictures? You cannot access this without the name and login.  There are types of legislation the will assist in certain cases, but why not avoid it altogether and have your login and password accessible to the person that will need it? This of course also applies to Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, you name it. Gather your logins and passwords to all the social media sites you frequent and list them on your SOTU.
  3. Email – Where is it hosted? What are the passwords? Do you have access to all of the machines, such as home or work laptops, phones, iPads, etc.  where you can log on to the email?
  4. Websites – Again, where is it hosted? What are the logins and passwords? How many domain names do you own, and when do they expire? Where did you register them? This is especially true if your livelihood is tied to your brand and website.
  5. Internet/Back Ups – Gather your logins and passwords to deal with our internet account. Do you know your wireless network password? Do you have a guest account with a password? Do you have a Time Capsule or other back up hard drive that is password protected? You need to know what these are!
  6. Cell Phone Accounts – Again, having access to logins, passwords, and plan information is vital. It is extremely rare that anyone has a land line any more, so you need to be able to get on the carrier’s website and adjust whatever is necessary.
  7. iCloud/iTunes – Apple is typically very helpful in retrieving someone’s music if they have passed, but if you have access to these accounts and can relieve a lot of extra work and aggravation.

I could go on and on with the list of different programs, products, services like PayPal, Amazon and various people like lawyers and insurance agents, but you get the idea.

Step 2: Where To Store It

Now that you have all of this technical data in one place, what do you do with it? First, I recommend using an encrypted system to store all of your vital passwords. We use and recommend Passpack. Passpack.com is a password management system that will allow you to manage and organize your passwords, create accounts for family members or team members, and it is all encrypted and secure.

Next, it is time to create the official SOTU: a Word document or Excel spreadsheet that lists the physical location as to where to find your important documents, such as wills, life insurance policies, bank accounts and so on, and then also include your Passpack account information. This document can be as simple or as thorough as you want it to be. Then you find a place to put it.

My husband and I have placed our SOTU onto Dropbox, which is not only accessible to us both, but makes it easy to update the information. I also have a hand written copy that I keep with the wills in a safety deposit box – just because I am anal like that.

Step 3: Update on an annual basis.

For us, that just happens to be every August. Set a date on your calendar – one that you will stick to. It only takes us less than an hour to go over any changes to passwords, business systems, bank accounts, etc. Just a small amount of time can really save you a lot of grief and struggle in the long run.

The SOTU is very personal since everyone utilizes technology and social media in different ways. Honestly – you don’t need to be a business owner to have one. Everyone should. Get your info together and then pick a person in charge.

So how many of you have a SOTU? Am I the only one? Did I get your wheels spinning? What are your thoughts?

4 Things Every Successful Entrepreneur Should Have

successful entrepreneurs

Barbara Corcoran: She is one of my mentors even though she doesn’t know it!

Recently my husband and I celebrated our 14th year in business, and I have been doing a lot of reflecting on what has made us successful entrepreneurs. During that time, I have poured myself in everything I could get my hands on from blogs, online classes, in person classes, certifications, webinars, books, networking events and just plain evolving with the times. We have definitely had our teaching moments that included some bumps and bruises along the way! So with that in mind, I would like to share some of my favorite teaching moments and tips with you in hopes that I can help a fellow entrepreneur.

Accountability Partners
This is number one for a reason. It is easy to get caught up in the day to day operations and to let some of your tasks slide. Running a business requires having a lot of balls in the air and sometimes, certain important aspects will inevitably get put on the back burner – on then to never get moved to the front burner. It is imperative that you have someone holding your feet to the fire to get all the important tasks done. Not only that, you need someone to hold you accountable for your “Next Big Thing.” In order to be successful, you have to grow. In order to grow, you need an Accountability Partner. Typically this is a business coach of some sort that is trained to help you put processes in place to grow your business, or perhaps and investor. A great book on this topic you can check out is called No More Excuses: The Five Accountabilities for Personal and Organizational Growth. Nine years ago I new I need help to grow so I called a business coach. Every successful entrepreneur has someone that is holding them accountable. If you don’t, it is time to get one. I would love to help.

Mentors
A mentor is not necessarily the same thing as an accountability partner. A mentor, however, is definitely someone you look up to, admire, and want to emulate. I find that when I get stuck in a rut or am maybe feeling a little lost that a visit to my mentor will help get me energized and re-motivated. Your mentor could be anyone. A peer in business, someone that was in your field that is not retired, a family member, a teacher or professor of some sort, or anyone that energizes and inspires you to do your best work. Could even be someone you admire from afar but watch how they run their business (a/k/a Barbara.)  Take a moment to think about who that is, and pay them a visit.

A Dream Team
In my book that I wrote for couples that work together, I refer to this as my “Board of Directors.” Entrepreneurs that are getting it done will surround themselves with people who know more than they do – and can help them in the areas where they are lacking. Some suggestions are your technology guy (because there is no successful business without successful and seamless technology), your banker, your accountant and your lawyer. It should also include someone who has knowledge that can help your business specifically depending on your trade. Then at least once a year minimum, get these people together for a board meeting and let them know how you are doing and what you need help to do next. Have them brainstorm with you. Don’t assume if your business is small that you can’t act like a larger business. These people are here to help you grow. So let them.

A State Of The Union
This one is a topic that no one ever likes to talk about. But the reality is, you will not be here forever and someone needs to know how to get to the important documents, passwords and processes that run your business. Put all of this information into a document or system that someone can have access to. That’s right: every password, every login, every program you use should be documented somewhere so the person you trust does not have to jump through hoops to help deal with the day to day of your business. This is here for your protection, as well as your family. If you are in an accident and are going to be out of the loop for a while, you will want someone to be able to be YOU. If this person is not your spouse, then it should be someone who is there that you can trust. Sit them down once a year and go over your “state of the union.” Make sure they have access to everything. Trust me, you do not want to wait on companies like Google or Facebook to release information when time is of the essence. Plan ahead.

I never dreamed I would be an entrepreneur, and quite honestly went kicking and screaming along the way. But through my many stubborn years of learning the hard way, I managed to pick up these plus many more golden nuggets that have contributed to my husband’s and my success. And now I cannot imagine my life any other way. But I want to hear from YOU. What are some habits that you feel have made you successful as an entrepreneur? Share them in the comments below!

What Are You Spending Your Energy On While Running Your Business?

What-Is-A-Home-Energy-AuditLast night I was skimming through my Facebook feed one final time before I shut the tech down for the night and came across a particularly poignant post from Elizabeth Gilbert. For those of you who don’t know she is a well-known author, probably best known for her book Eat, Pray, Love, and has recently been on tour with Oprah Winfrey while releasing her newest book, Big Magic. She was talking about how to have more energy in your life. I thought it was a fabulous article that focuses  on you as a person, but it made me think: where am I spending all of my energy in my business?

It is so easy to get caught up in what we think we are supposed to be doing. We read articles, blogs, and books. We watch videos and take online classes. We typically listen to whatever catches our eye and spend time coming up with plans based on the latest and greatest promotions and methods. I have a radical idea here.

Stop it.

#1: Stop chasing what everyone says you are supposed to be doing and really evaluate WHAT WORKS FOR YOU.

I know you are thinking, how do I do this though? Sadly, there really isn’t a quick and easy answer. I don’t care what anyone says. In order to know what really works for you, you have to come up with a plan of attack based on what you do best and what your target market really is looking for. Develop a marketing plan on how you will educate people that you are the person to give them what they are looking for, and then TRACK AND MEASURE your efforts.

That is why this is not a quick and easy answer. Tracking and measuring takes time. You need to be consistent with your approach and your methods at a minimum of one quarter. You cannot try something once and give up. You have to be consistent with how you are marketing yourself, what you are promoting, and then providing whatever that is. When that is all said and done, you do what is commonly called a “Monday Morning Quarterback”  recap where you assess what went right, and what went wrong. Once you have this data, you can make a decision on how to move forward. Then you look at the next step.

 #2: Did you enjoy it? Was it fun?

Most entrepreneurs start out with excitement and a fire in their belly because they love what they do. But all too often they get caught up in those latest and greatest ways to promote themselves and they start to loose sight of why they started their business in the first place. Running your own business is supposed to be fun! A lot of work, yes, but definitely fun! If you are finding yourself dreading getting out of bed to go run your business, then the time is now to re-evaluate. Just because one method is working like gang busters for someone else does not mean it will work that way for you. Maybe that method is correct, but you just need someone else to carry it out while you focus on something that YOU love to do. My coach and mentor, Michael Port, often says he wants you to have a mad love affair with your business. He could not be more correct. If you don’t even remember why you became an entrepreneur then it is time to stop the madness and focus on where your energy is going and if it is doing you any good. Again, the only way to know this is to TRACK AND MEASURE, and then have a brutally honest conversation with yourself to determine if you had fun.

So I ask you: what are you spending your energy on while running your business? What can you let go of and do differently? What will make you fall in love with your business all over again?

Helping entrepreneurs get clarity and focus is one of my favorite parts of my business. If you are looking for some guidance and are interested in learning how I can help with customized strategy sessions, contact me today so we can make 2016 your best year yet!