Having run many video campaigns for clients, and also speaking on the topic of video frequently, the most common question that is asked ever since video became popular was, “How long should my video be?”
You are going to hate this, but the answer is: IT DEPENDS.
Before you go getting mad at me, there is a reason that I say this. It depends on several factors.
- What are you using it for?
- What platform are you posting it on?
- What are you wanting the end result to be?
Since we live in a world where it is almost impossible to keep people’s attention, obviously the shorter the better. The best thing to do is analyze what your video is for, what platform are you going to publish it on, and how you want your audience to engage with you.
What are you using it for? I typically tell my clients that we want to aim for keeping it no more than 2 minutes. However, some videos may need more time based on what you are talking about. For example if you are doing a demonstration, (remember all those cooking videos from Tasty?), it may take longer than two minutes. Perhaps you are running a class, those videos will definitely be longer than two minutes. If your audience is interested in the topic, and you are engaging from the very beginning, they will stay tuned for the entire video.
Now let’s talk platform. In 2018 Hubspot analyzed thousands of videos from different social media platforms and this is what they found:
- Instagram: 30 seconds
- Twitter: 45 Seconds
- Facebook: 1 minute
- YouTube: 2 minutes
This means you may have to film one particular topic several different ways if you are planning on posting it on multiple platforms. But that extra effort is worth it in order to fully cater to your audience and their ever withering attention spans.
What is the end game? Obviously, it should have some sort of call to action. A clear next step of what you want your audience to do. Do you need to add graphics for this? If so, that may take more time. So again, it depends what the end game is as well.
In short, my mentor and video guru, Lou Bortone, says:
Ultimately, your video should never be any longer than it has to be! Keep it tight and respect your viewer’s time. Shorter is almost always better.
Exactly. Well said Lou. Everyone wants it yesterday, so do your best to make it as short as possible while still accomplishing your goals.
Two weeks ago, the unthinkable happened to business owners: Facebook and Instagram went down for several hours. Everyone was scrambling. Building your following on Facebook or Instagram, or any private company’s site, can be a double-edged sword if their system goes down. Now don’t get me wrong, these platforms are the most widely used and you should DEFINITELY keep using them, but what I am saying is don’t put all your eggs in one basket. All business owners need to consider multiple avenues of marketing other than social media. I have put together a list of several that are still useful and should be included in your marketing repertoire no matter what.
You cannot ignore how valuable it still is to have someone’s email address. Compiling a quality list of current emails is pure gold that you have access to whenever you want, which is priceless. You can set up drip campaigns, send thank you emails, special announcements, congratulatory emails, share testimonials, the list goes on and on. It is also an opportunity to showcase some of your best work. Share video tutorials or perhaps some podcast interviews you have done recently. Note: make sure you are optimizing for mobile devices. Fifty percent of all emails are now opened on a phone, so you want to make sure it opens quickly and is easy to read and follow through on whatever call to action you attach to it.
We are starting to see more and more companies utilize the power of a text. It may take people a few days to check and follow up on email, but let’s face it – we are always checking on whatever text has just come in. This is not a service reserved for just big box stores or larger chains. Small business have the same opportunities to utilize this service at very affordable rates. It is always permission based, so you know people are interested, and the message can lead the receiver anywhere you want them to go, allowing you the opportunity to gather more information in addition to making a sale. Better yet – it applies to all ages since everyone texts. Definitely worth checking out.
When I reference snail mail, what I am specifically referring to are cards. HAND WRITTEN cards. I know there are services out there that do it automatically for birthdays, anniversaries, etc., but what I am referring to are “just checking in” cards. How hard is it to pick out two people a week to just say, “Hey, haven’t talked to you in a while and wanted to know what was new.” Who doesn’t love getting a hand written card in the mail? It is not expensive to have some with your logo printed up. I recommend GotPrint.com. They are very affordable and high quality. Just think of the smile on their face when they see you have thought of them. You never know what it could spark.
And of course, nothing beats face to face check-ins. Networking has always been and will always be my favorite form of keeping in touch. The key to great networking really comes down to one thing: consistency. You have to keep putting yourself out there. Consistently showing up proves to people you are a dedicated business owner, allows you to meet new people on a regular basis, and establishes a great reputation for your company. Stay informed of the local Chamber of Commerce events, Meet Ups, and also do a quick scan of local events on EventBrite. If you join an organization, make sure you can actually attend a majority of their events, otherwise it is a waste of time and money. It should also go without saying – but be prepared. Have plenty of business cards so people know how to get a hold of you after the event.
Marketing is a task that needs to be handled every single day you are running your business. We are lucky we live in a world where that can typically – and effectively – be done online primarily, but what happened a couple weeks ago is a good reminder to have a few other forms of promotion already going on so you are still out there getting the job done no matter what happens in cyber space!
I recently picked up a book again that I had gotten away from. It is called Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert. For those of you who don’t know who she is, she is a well-known author probably best known for her book Eat, Pray, Love. In Big Magic however, she was talking about how to have more energy in your life. Although she was referring to someone personally, 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 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. (I recently wrote a post about this.)
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.
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. And for heavens sake – if it is a task you hate doing, then DELEGATE. It is not a dirty word!
Just Say NO
In the last two years, I made a conscious effort to step down from every board position I had. As this has been going on, I find myself getting questioned thoroughly as to why. And I simply told them the truth: it was time to say YES to ME. I run my company, I am a Mom of two adorable girls that are in the throws of finishing high school and needing a lot more of my attention to prepare them to leave the nest, and I am wanting to explore new interests and don’t want to be in charge of anything that is not necessary for a while.
The response was amazing to me. Not one, but EVERY woman that heard my response was in awe. They all called me courageous and were so proud of the example that I was setting for other women in business. This made me feel good, but at the same time, made me very sad. At what point did we get labeled “SuperWoman”? Why do we, as women, feel if we are not “doing it all” then we are somehow failing ourselves and our families?
I for one, am not going to let the fear of saying one little word cripple me any longer. I am going to start really looking at my responsibilities and prioritizing better. Of course it is a great idea to donate some of your time to worthy causes, but one of the worthy causes that gets your time SHOULD be your family and your livelihood.
“When you stop chasing the wrong things, you give the right things a chance to catch up.”
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 2019 your best year yet!
Admittedly, this title is a bit harsh. Sometimes the truth hurts. But even in its semi-extreme “crassness” – it is 100% accurate.
I am referring to your marketing. I know a lot of people tend to groan when I even bring up this word. It is a rather large, all encompassing task. Marketing can mean a million different things and it can be done a million different ways. There are also a million different books, blogs, newsletters, and magazines all about it. But no matter how you slice it, it really all comes back to one thing:
Are you tracking where people are coming from?
If the answer is no, then you are wasting your time and money on all your efforts. You may as well take some scissors to your money.
I wanted to write about this topic specifically this time because I have seen a consistent pattern with my new and prospective clients as of late. None of them are tracking where their new people are coming from. This is imperative to your marketing plan. If you don’t track, you have no idea which method is working. You have no clue where to keep spending your marketing dollars. So I have come up with a short “best practices” list for tracking your efforts.
1. Front Line Personnel
They represent your company. They are your first line of offense when new people walk in and/or call. I have spent countless hours training my own staff as well. Your front line must understand it is IMPERATIVE to their job that they ask, “How did you find us?” Unfortunately, this is often overlooked or simply not done. We all know there are forms to fill out when we go somewhere new. There is always a line on that form asking “How did you find us?” Quite often it is not filled in. Then it becomes your front line person’s responsibility to ASK. Their job is to make sure all the information on the form is filled out. ESPECIALLY THIS LINE. Make sure your staff knows it is a priority. If new people stop coming, so does their paycheck. If you don’t have a front line – then guess who this person is that needs to ask? YOU!
2. Keep Detailed Records
You have to keep the information about who they are and where they came from in ONE PLACE. This can be done a multitude of different ways, but the important thing is to keep up with it and stay current. In the beginnings of my business, I used a simple spreadsheet on Excel. I made tabs at the bottom, one for each month of the year, and typed the person’s name in the first column and then where they came from in the next column. At the bottom, I would list the totals. Over time, I began to see a pattern of where they were coming from. This information was invaluable! I knew exactly what types of marketing were working for me and where to keep spending my time and money. Obviously, this is pretty basic. You can use various CRM softwares like zoho.com or Hubspot for small business that also have other features that will help. But once again – you have to keep up with it. It will pay off, trust me.
3. Code All Your Materials
QR codes are not dead. They are easy to make and easy to link to wherever you need them to go. Just make sure you make one for each type of marketing material you are creating. For example, put a separate code on your brochures, on every ad you send to a newspaper, every direct mail piece or flyer, coupons and so on. If you don’t want to mess with codes, you can also try using email. Constant Contact is what I recommend and they will track how many people are opening your eblast and where they are clicking if links are included. If you are setting up a web based promotion, set up a specific landing page on your website and then use Google Analytics to track who is visiting that page.
4. Measure Your Mentions
There are free tools on the web that will make you aware of when you or your service are being mentioned. Track your company’s name, your product, your promotion, your service, whatever it is and set up a Google Alert. Then any time someone is searching for what you are selling on Google or Twitter, you will know about it.
5. Cost of Conversion
How much did it cost to run that campaign? How many people came from it? How much money are they spending with you? If they are not spending enough to cover the cost of the marketing campaign and turn a profit – then you need to re-examine that method. You have to track not only the amount you spent, but the time, and other ancillary costs like website fees and labor involved.
Bottom line is – you cannot manage what you cannot measure. If you are not doing something to try to keep track of where your new clients are coming from, then all of your efforts are a waste of time and money. Find a system that works for you, and be diligent on keeping up with it.
Got questions? Need implementation help with this or any other marketing? Contact the Queen Bee today!
It is safe to say that 2018 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 I first started helping people with social media, very few businesses were using it to promote their companies. I had to make up processes to manage it all as I went along. I was literally learning as I went. Think about how far these platforms have come in the last ten years and you can understand why I was flying by the seat of my pants most of the time. I had to learn as I went, come up with programs and packages based on what my 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. 2019 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.
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.
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 practice what I preach and have people who hold 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.
Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. — Aldous Huxley
If you are going to become more successful – you have to face what isn’t working in your business. Over the years, I have coached a lot of entrepreneurs and the one thing that is consistent with all of them: DENIAL. They are stuck, they don’t know how to grow, but when you dig deeper you find they are just in denial of what they already know to be true – something they are doing is just plain not working. But instead of dealing with it, they are in denial over it. They think if they keep their head down and keep pushing forward everything will turn out fine. This couldn’t be further from the truth. So let’s break it down.
“Doing more of what doesn’t work won’t make it work any better” — Charles Givens
A big piece of denial is, in a word, fear. It is based on the notion that something even worse than the current situation not working will happen once they stop doing what they are doing and take action to fix it. Change can be scary and very difficult, but the definition of insanity is to keep doing what you always do and expect a different result. It takes courage to look at your situation and truly assess what worked and what didn’t and then make the proper changes. Just because you were taught or told to do something a certain way does not necessarily mean it will work. You have to get over the fear – you have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. (This was a major piece of advice my coach and mentor told me ten years ago.) The good news is, the more you face uncomfortable situations and deal with them, the better you get at it. Then being uncomfortable just becomes part of your life as you grow more successful.
Shit or get off the pot. –Emil Rombach
Okay, so we know we need to change. The next thing I see once people accept that something needs to change is what I call analysis paralysis. They start looking at different ways they can be doing things and then get overwhelmed with all the options. This freaks them out, which leads back to fear, which leads back to not facing what is not working. The world is full of flat squirrels who couldn’t make up their mind to cross the street.
If you have done your homework, and looked at the numbers, whatever it is cannot possibly be that bad. So what if trying something new doesn’t work? At least you learned what doesn’t work – you faced what wasn’t working and tried something else. Now you know two things that don’t work. However – what if it does? It could be the best thing for your business but you are too stuck analyzing to death every detail and hesitating to pull the trigger to find out. Get over it. Make a decision.
Okay – we need to face what is not working. So what do we do now?
Commit To Take Action
There is a difference between interest and commitment. When you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when it’s convenient. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results. — Ken Blanchard
Make a list of what is and what is not working. Ask your staff or your team members what their opinion is. Gather your information. How can you improve? What action steps do I need to take in order to make this change? Once that happens – you have to be 100% committed to those action steps. See it through.
Get Help If You Need It
Because so often when we say we’re unqualified for something, what we’re really saying is that we’re too scared to try it, not that we can’t do it. — Jen Sincero
Another part of fear is fear of the unknown. But you have to move past that fear. If you don’t know how to do something to change your situation, then ask for help. Call a business coach, hire an accountability partner or other professional who does this every day. Enlist in a class that will teach you how to do it. Attend a training – whatever it takes. I guarantee there are tons of training programs online that can assist you in whatever you need to learn if you are wanting to do this yourself. But remember: DELEGATE is NOT a dirty word. If someone else doing what needs to be done gets the ball rolling – then for heaven’s sake hire them. Stay focused on YOUR core genius – what you like to do – and let someone else handle what you don’t want to do.
Yes, it is true it takes a lot of courage and a big leap of faith to face what isn’t working. So tell me – when is the last time you faced what wasn’t working? What action steps did you take to get past it? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
I recently wrote several posts on how to utilize video to market your company. Every year – heck every month – we are seeing massive strides in the way companies are using video to market their business, as well as the platforms making changes allowing you to take your video to the next level.
Facebook Live videos continue to be a game changer, that include adjustments to make the videos shot vertically look better on mobile devices, the watch and scroll feature that allows you to keep watching the video but allowing you to keep scrolling through your feed, and a new app for watching Facebook videos on TV with the use of an Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Samsung Smart TV. Instagram TV is now becoming a game changer as well.
YouTube traffic expanded more than 40% since last year, and continues to have a billion users watching millions of hours every single day. The thing you have to remember is that these are not super high quality edited videos by professionals. These are quick and easy videos that people are simply using cell phones to shoot in many cases. But that is getting it done. The content is out there, you are creating a relationship by being in front of them and it is increasing your credibility.
It is also rumored that Google and Bing are both testing video incorporation into their search results – meaning your Google ad or other content will get better results if it is a video. That is awesome!
Video is really leveling the playing field when it comes to marketing your company. For a small business, video is an inexpensive and relatively quick way to get in front of your target market. It allows you to connect with your audience in ways you never could before. You can answer frequently asked questions, showcase new products, interview happy customers, demonstrate your products, the list goes on and on.
So what are some more ways you can use video to market your business?
- Add video to your marketing emails. Studies show it will boost your click through rate by 200-300%
- Embed videos on landing pages of your website. This will help boost your website’s SEO. Sixty-five percent of people will visit a website after viewing a branded video they find online or via social media channels.
- Start utilizing the Facebook Live video feature. Facebook gives more attention to live video and will therefore make sure it shows up in a person’s feed. For those of you using this feature already, you may have noticed a recent spike in views thanks to this change in their algorithm. Don’t forget to save it to your camera roll on your phone so you can upload it to YouTube for additional exposure.
- Answer emails with a video message. I recently tried this out to a prospective client. I had left phone calls and emails to schedule a meeting and heard nothing. Then I recorded a video and sent that back to their email. They called me back!
Video is the next best thing to being there in person. If you can show up in the flesh, do it on video. It makes a bigger impact than just an email or a text. I am currently in the middle of “post a video a day for the whole month of August” challenge. It is definitely challenging, and although I have missed a couple of days here and there, for the most part I am getting it done. It has been a huge success. I am hearing more from people now than I have all summer long. It is amazing what the power of your face can do!
I recently read a quote that said “To not have any kind of video support and/or strategy that lives with and/or complements your existing communications would be a fool’s errand. It’s time to learn to love video.”
I completely agree. Using video to market your business is definitely not going away and I am sure we will see a lot more this year in technological advances that will make it even more simple to do. Time to quit dragging your feet and get started.
Starting in 2009, I took it upon myself to develop a Business State of the Union. My company had been growing since its inception in 2008, 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 someone I trusted in case something were to happen to me. 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. I am on my 10th year of doing so, and remind everyone annually at this time. 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.
- 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? A common one that comes to mind is Quickbooks. But this can also include any type of industry software that helps you run your business.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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. I 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.
Last year I even placed everything “in order of importance” to the best of my ability, just to make it easier on my executor. I have placed my SOTU onto Dropbox, which is not only accessible to me and my executor, but makes it easy to update the information. I also have a printed 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 me, that just happens to be every July or August. Set a date on your calendar – one that you will stick to. It only takes me 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. I make all of my Accountability Program clients do this.
So consider this your annual reminder! How many of you have a SOTU? Am I the only one? Did I get your wheels spinning? What are your thoughts?
School is out. The pool is open. It is a beautiful day. But you have to still run your business. And you still have to make money. I find the summer time distractions are the hardest ones to overcome as an entrepreneur. What is a girl to do when all you want to do is sit poolside with your fruity beverage? How do you stay focused? So I came up with a list of tips last year that I found helped me. I have since learned more and wanted to share them with you!
1. Adjust Your Schedule
One of the main reasons most of us became our own boss is to have the ability to make our own schedule. When I coach clients however, I often see them still adhering to the 9-5 that they left. I, myself, have fallen victim to the guilt if I am not pulling the eight hour day during a specific time. Let me let you in on a little secret: you can work during hours other than 9-5. Shhh…..
Seriously though. Maybe you get up earlier in the day and work a few hours, take breaks for the kids, and then work some more. Maybe you work in the morning and the evening, but take the afternoon off. What I typically do is put the summer schedule into the calendar, and then book my appointments and times I need to be in the office around it. There are more hours in the day than just 9-5, so use them!
2. Make A To-Do List
I am a HUGE fan of lists. Lists help me stay focused on my tasks. They help me remember every detail. They hold me accountable to the things I know I HAVE to get done. There is something about seeing it on the list that really motivates me to get it done so I can do the best part: CROSSING IT OFF! I know we have a lot of ways to keep lists, but there is something so empowering about physically crossing off an item on your list. I feel such a sense of accomplishment when I do it. It also serves as a reward! I got everything pertinent on the list done, now I can be poolside! A way to do this online is to use Trello. Big fan of this one too.
3. Take A Look At Your Technology
So you want to take a break but you are still waiting on that ever important email. With all of the technology available to us today, you can make your office mobile any time you wish. But you have to have the right technology in place to do it. Take a look at your smart phone, is it up to the task? If not, now would be a great time to upgrade.
How are you saving your documents? Do you utilize cloud based services like Dropbox to access your documents from anywhere? Cloud based systems are often free or low cost so you don’t have to be beholden to your desktop or laptop. Just access them from your smart phone or iPad and move on.
4. Take A Class
Sometimes, a little knowledge will go a long way. I find that taking an online class or webinar that will teach me something renews my goals and helps me focus on my vision. Clients definitely will be thrilled that you are staying current with your craft. Knowledge is power. Another reason this one works well is that a lot of entrepreneurs experience a slow down in business due to clients being out of town. So take advantage of the time and sign up for a class and learn something new. It will motivate you to stay on target, and who knows? Whatever it is you learn will help you make additions to your current offerings which equals more money! Who wouldn’t want to make more money?
5. Friday Fun Day
Don’t underestimate the ability to just take a moment and enjoy what life has to offer. Friday Fun Day is what we call it in my house. Every Friday, I try to schedule something fun for the kids and I to do. It means if I get my work done, I can have a reward. Friday Fun Day means a well deserved break, even if I just can’t make poolside happen during the week. I try to mix up what we do with fun outings or some sort of fun activity at home if the weather is not cooperating.
6. Get An Accountability Partner
I have talked about this many times, but it is especially important when you have extra distractions going on. You can adjust your schedule, make to-do lists, examine technology and take classes all you want – if you actually DO THEM. Big ideas are great – but the success lies in the EXECUTION. An accountability partner makes sure you stick to your goals and helps you to have skin in the game. I have one – you should too. I would be happy to help you as well.
I would love to hear some of your tips. What gets you motivated in the summer? What helps you stay on task so you can take some time off and enjoy the weather? Post your thoughts in the comments below! Happy Summer everyone!