Time Management for Business Owners: Work ON Your Business, Not IN It

time management for business ownersOwning a business can seem like the best thing in the world. But time management for business owners is the key to making it all happen.  When you’re in the planning and dreaming stage, it  may seem like you’ll have more freedom, time and money. In fact, you probably had visions of spending a lot of time at the beach or on the golf course as you made your plans.

Then, reality sets in, and you soon realize that your business is a daily drudge and actually is more demanding than a regular job. You start feeling like you want to run away, escape, and maybe even end your business. But, the truth is, all you really need to do is change a few things so that you can work on your business and not in it.  Time management for business owners is the key to keeping your business and your sanity.  If you make these few changes, you may be surprised at the results.

Tips for Time Management for Business Owners

Change Your Mindset – It can be hard, after years of having an employee mindset, to switch to an ownership and entrepreneurial mindset. It’s time for you to start thinking like an owner, or at least a manager, by setting up systems, delegating tasks, and finding ways to do less but still get more done.  Time management for business owners means being good at facilitating and getting the right people to do the tasks you used to do, not doing them yourself.

Set Up Systems and Standards – When you set up systems and standards, it will be a lot easier to get people to help you with your business. Time management for business owners starts with creating systems for what you do daily.  If you do, you’ll have a clear understanding of what needs to be done each day and which things you must do compared to which things your contractors or employees can do.  What is in your head isn’t always understood until it is systemized and put into words for others  to learn and understand, and ultimately be able to help!

Use the Right Tools – Part of setting up systems is to use technology and other tools to help you make the most of your time. Technology such as email autoresponders, customer management, project management, cloud storage, and more is important to use in order to make the most of your time.

Plan for Success in Advance – Don’t just work by putting out fires.  Instead, make plans of what you’re going to do each day, week, month, quarter and year. Planning out basic tasks and duties far in advance will give you time to include additional tasks at the last minute as your industry demands.  It will also allow for you to set and meet goals.

Outsource Strategically – When you outsource, ask yourself whether or not that particular task needs your special touch. For example, many tasks like customer service, data entry, posting blog posts, social media marketing, and email marketing are all things that someone else can do successfully.

Provide the Right Training – When you outsource to anyone, even though you’ll likely outsource to a specialist, you want to provide training about your business and your unique processes. Don’t control the process or their function, but rather control the due dates, quality, and style in which the deliverables will take so that your branding shows through to the customer.

Delegate and Compensate Fairly – When you outsource to someone, you need to ensure that who you delegate to can do the job, but you also want to pay them fairly. Many business owners make the mistake of thinking they can get something for nothing, or near nothing, and still get what they need. In truth, you get what you pay for. If you want to command higher rates, you need to be willing to pay for expert help.

Attract the Right Clients – One thing that will make your business less of a drudge is if you ensure that your marketing efforts are working to attract the right customers to your business. The right customers will be a joy to work with, and you’ll have fewer fires to put out and fewer mistakes to fix.  Attracting the right clients will grow your business in the right way.

Set Your Fees High Enough – Many small business owners make the mistake of setting their rates too low. You need to set them high enough to provide for your family in the manner you deserve, commensurate with the type of business you have and who your audience is. For example, high end life coaches will pay more for your personalized services than an internet marketer who uses “The 4 Hour Work Week” by Timothy Ferris as their bible.

When you set up the right systems and use the right tools, you’ll be able to manage your business in a successful way that creates the success you deserve.

Streamline Your Sales Funnel

sales funnelWith all of the marketing terms swirling around out there today, you have to remember that the main goal  of any marketing strategy is to convert and make sales. A sales funnel is no different – the final goal is to make sales!. When you are clear on what the point is, you can get clear on what you might need to cut out of your funnels. So many things in marketing funnels can become just extra noise, bells, and whistles that you don’t really need.

How to Simplify Your Sales Funnel:

Plan It Out – The more you plan each funnel out, the better it will work. Draw out how you want the process to work for each situation. Whether people come to the entry point through email, a guest blog post, your website, or elsewhere matters. It matters whether they’re hot or cold leads, a certain segment of your audience or not, and this should be acknowledged through the process.

Identify Segments – When you know the segments you’re dealing with, you’ll be able to create better funnels that are relevant to them. The more relevant the funnel is, the more likely it is to convert the sale.

Qualify Your Leads – Sending unqualified leads to any sales page to go through any sales funnel will not be successful. It’s best to be picky about who you send through your funnels to ensure that you have only targeted audiences to speak to. You’ll improve your conversion rate exponentially.

Combine Steps – Lose extra steps when they’re not needed. If you’ve done the work to qualify people, you don’t need to convince them as much and use as many steps to move them through to the choice to buy. Instead of having them opt in and then sending them a link to a download page, once they buy, send them right to the download/thank you page.

Remove Opt-In Requirement for Buyers – Don’t make people opt in when they decide to make a purchase. Send them right to the shopping cart, let them check out, get their product and choose to opt in as a buyer only if they want to. Incentivize them to opt in without requiring them to do it. They’ve purchased, which is the point.

Avoid Too Many Up-sells – Up-selling is a good thing in most cases, and it will increase your per-checkout totals and revenue substantially. However, too many up-sells can be a real bummer for many buyers. Find unobtrusive ways to include one or two up-sells at the most, or try up-selling after the fact, through the product information.

Include a Confirmation Page / Download Page – Sending your buyers straight to a confirmation page is important so they know that their purchase went through. If you’re selling hard items, keep it as just a confirmation / thank you page, but if you’re selling a digital item, make that confirmation page a download page and thank you page, all in one.

Be Mobile Friendly– The days of putting off your mobile conversion are over. If your website, sales pages, and download pages aren’t mobile, you’re missing out on an untold number of sales, not to mention search engine traffic.

Remove confusing items and clutter from your sales funnels for best results. You don’t need to include every single component possible in every single funnel. For example, if someone wants to buy your product due to attending your webinar, send them right to the shopping cart rather than another sales page. You already have them hooked, so reel them in and finish the sale.  In today’s busy world, prospects crave simplicity – so give them what they want, and make YOUR LIFE easier as well!

Key Components of a Sales Funnel

sales funnelNo matter what type of product or service you promote, the purpose of a sales funnel is always the same:  The purpose of the funnel is to get new leads, turn those leads into buyers, and to get those buyers to buy more.  While there are different configurations for a funnel, there are some key components that should always be included in your sales funnel.

Sales Funnel Basics:

Lead Magnet – This item goes at the widest part of your funnel because it is designed to get people to sign up for your email list. Often times business owners offer a free product or a trial version of a product in order to get people on their list in order to market to them and offer them the real products or services they want to promote and sell. To accomplish this, you’ll need a squeeze page to promote the lead magnet or freebie, an email sign-up form, as well as a download page.

Entry Product – Some people call this the “tripwire” but using this language can unintentionally (and unfairly) evoke a negative connotation. The fact is that this entry level product is an inexpensive product that your audience can buy that will be a low cost comparison to your main products. It will give them a good example of the type of products you sell. But it’s also a good place to add an up-sell opportunity for your buyer.

Email Content – Both the lead magnet and the entry level product put the prospects onto an email list so that they can now learn about everything you offer. You will want the lists segmented so that you can send them the right information. You’ll need to create email content that is designed to send your audience to the next product in line for them and their unique interests.

Product – You’ll need at least one higher-priced product, if not a series of increasingly higher-priced products. This could be an advanced product or course, a private forum and support group, one-on-one coaching services, and more. If you can create a continuity program, it’ll make a great up-sell for either type of list.

Sales Page – Each product needs a sales page that will also need an up-sell (and even perhaps a down-sell) to best utilize the opportunity of connecting with your prospect. You don’t want to turn away any opportunity to connect and make an offer.

When you create each component for your sales funnel, there are several aspects to include with each element to make it complete. You’ll also need to think about how those components flow together to make a complete campaign.  Even though each unique funnel may have a different purpose, they all need to include these key components in order to be effective and grow your business.  Get to know each component and its function so that you become an expert at creating these sales funnels!

Mobile Apps for Business and Your Marketing

mobile apps for businessAs technology advances, mobile apps have become a way of life. It is true that for nearly every purpose in life, there is an app. Business owners also now have more freedom than ever before. Google has announced that as of 2015, mobile traffic actually surpassed desktop traffic. With this in mind, it’s important to stay aware of what type of mobile apps for business you should focus on in the coming year. The following are some things to keep in mind as you look at all of the options available to you.

Things to Consider When Using Mobile Apps for Business

Faster Development – They say that the speed at which technology develops doubles every two to two-and-a-half years. Since that’s the case, expect very quick development for mobile apps in the future. The interconnectedness of apps will improve areas of our lives that we may not even imagine right now.

Wearable Technology – Outside of the Apple Watch and fitness bands, there will be all kinds of wearable technology in the future. You’ll be able to track your mood, other aspects of your health, the health of your pets, and much more. These wearable apps will also start interacting with each other, making them even more useful.

Mobile Banking – Now that we can use our banks online, there are more and more apps that make online banking easier to accomplish. You’ll can now watch your account, transfer money, and do a lot more than ever before with apps, so look for even more advanced options in the future in relation to your business.

Internet of Things – This refers to how physical items can connect with apps and internet-type apps. For example, you can get a special button from Amazon to reorder various items that you use a lot such as laundry detergent. Bringing apps activated by the internet to life in this manner has limitless possibilities for business use.

In-App Purchasing – This is going to become even more important as mobile devices and set communities surrounding a particular product now enable reordering or add-on ordering. This is very popular within the gaming community, but it will spread even more through other types of apps.

HTML5 – By the end of 2016 there will be over two billion mobile devices accessing the net and browsing using HTML5. It’s more important to use this technology to build websites than anything else. It works better than other methods, and it’s important that you adopt it sooner rather than later.

Google Apps – Google’s Apps for Work is getting better and more powerful. If you haven’t checked it out yet, it’s important that you do. There are many options for business use.

As the number of people who own mobile smartphones increases, social networking, in-app marketing, location-based services, mobile search, mobile commerce, object recognition, and mobile payments will all become the norm. In light of these advancements, it’s imperative that you check out the mobile apps for business available to you so you can stay on the cutting edge with your marketing strategies.

Productivity Software to Make You More Efficient!

productivty softwareWhen it comes to running a lean business, the name of the game is efficiency. You want to use productivity software that increase your efficiency and help you do more in less time.

A few Productivity Software Solutions We Love

PayPal – This is a no-brainer today, as many people like paying for their online purchases via PayPal. There are other online payment processors and certainly you need more than one, but PayPal is going to be the one most people choose to use. Link – https://www.paypal.com/

Go Daddy Bookkeeping – This is single entry bookkeeping that helps you keep track of income and expenses automatically. It connects with FreshBooks, PayPal and your bank to help eliminate data entry issues. Link – https://bookkeeping.godaddy.com/

FreshBooks – This is an invoicing system with some project management, budgeting, and accounting features. You can use it with many other types of bookkeeping apps like Go Daddy Bookkeeping, but also with some others that you might like. It offers time tracking and the ability to manage a team’s work. Link – http://www.freshbooks.com/

Basecamp – This is project management software that is low cost, and people love it. It helps arrange tasks, reminders, and more. Your clients can sign in too, or you can just use it to manage a team of contractors. Link – https://basecamp.com/

TeamworkPM – This is another project management tool to use that will do all the things Basecamp does. It is more designed for working with teams and clients who don’t like signing on to anything and prefer using email. Link – https://www.teamwork.com/

Microsoft Office 365 – Using MS Office is almost essential when working from home. Although you can use some free services like OpenOffice.org, MS Office is still the main one that most people use. And you’ll need it. Instead of buying the software outright you can use the online service for a monthly fee. What’s wonderful about that is that you do not have to worry about updates. Link – https://products.office.com/

Dropbox.com – This is a file sharing and storing solution that works great with your clients and team. It’s not expensive and they even have a free version. They have also developed a project business version. Link – https://dropbox.com/

Evernote – This is free software that enables you to keep track of notes from the web, voice, photos, and more, even handwritten notes. This is great for planning and organizing new products and services. Link – https://evernote.com/

Hootsuite – If you manage social media for others, or yourself, using a service that allows you to automate some issues will cut down on the time that you use for doing things. Link – https://hootsuite.com/

Zendesk – If you have a lot of customer service issues, this is a great way to set up a ticketing system. Ticketing systems will save you a lot of time and effort. Link – https://www.zendesk.com/

Mozy – This is a backup system that will save you from disaster. Saving on an external drive is not good enough; it’s safer and better to save your computer’s files in the cloud. Then if you lose your entire home, computer, external drive and all, your work is safe. Link – https://mozy.com/

WordPress.org – Starting a website with WordPress.org self-hosted website is very important. And, outside of special platforms like membership sites (for example the New Rainmaker platform) and personalized websites, it’s free. Link – https://wordpress.org/

AWeber – Whether you use AWeber or another autoresponder service is not as important as actually using one. The time you can save, plus the ability to easily stay lawful in your communications with others, is amazing. Link – http://www.aweber.com/

You don’t need every one of these pieces of software to run a lean business as some of them do the same thing. Choose which of these productivity software applications work best for your niche and the way you have designed your work flow. Remember that the more efficient you can become using software, the leaner your business can become.

How to Become a Master Delegator

delegateDelegation is an important skill for any business owner to master, but it’s especially important for small business owners who have very little time and extra money to devote to bottlenecks, accidental duplication of efforts, and missed deadlines.

If you learn to delegate well, you’ll have more time to devote your energy to more important tasks, provide employment for another person, and (since it’s likely someone else can do the tasks better than you) make yourself look even more amazing due to the good choices you make.

Identify Blocks to Delegation – One of the first things to do is figure out what causes you to be fearful of delegation. Usually the reasons have to do with perfectionism, self-protection, lack of a workable system in place and being unsure of which tasks to delegate.

Set Up a Fail-Safe System – Before you even start delegating, it’s important to set up a system of some sort – like Basecamp or another online project management system. Keep in mind some of the people you outsource to may have their own system which you can use. This is especially true of online business managers or project managers.

Streamline Your Processes – Go through the processes you use to do the tasks now, and write them down so that you can figure out how to streamline the processes. However, do keep in mind that contractors are mostly concerned with deliverables, so this process is more for your benefit to find out what types of things you can delegate. An example would be repetitive tasks like email management.

Hire the Right People for the Job – When you know what tasks you want to outsource, it’s important to find the right people for the job or task. To get the most bang for your buck, choose someone to do it who likes doing it, wants to do it, and considers it their expertise. In other words, don’t expect to hire someone who can do everything perfectly. Hire several people to do one or two things each perfectly.

Give Clear Instructions – Provide the contractor with the requirements, deadlines, scope of authority, purpose, goals and objectives, potential problems, and tools available to them (if any are needed such as passwords and sign-on information).

Ask for Feedback – Open up the communication by asking the contractor if they have any questions based on your instructions. That way they won’t be worried about asking anything even if it’s “stupid.” The worst thing you can do is criticize a contractor for asking a question. And of course, you need to get back to them quickly with your answers.

Focus on Deliverables – In many cases, contractors want you to focus more on deadlines and deliverables than too many details. How they get something done should not be as important as the result of what they got done.

Give Constructive Feedback – As often as is practicable give feedback to your contractors. This is especially true if you would like something done differently than what they turned in but you still want to keep working with the person. Give the feedback by giving compliments on what is good, then what could be better, and finally something good again to help build up the confidence of the contractor.

Allow for Mistakes – The fact is, no one is perfect and contractors will sometimes misunderstand directions. As long as something isn’t blatant such as constant missed deadlines, poor quality of work and so forth, sometimes people make mistakes. If your contractors are afraid of making mistakes, sometimes it will stifle their creativity. So be open to new ideas and potential mistakes, while also being clear on your expectations.

Finally, the best way to become a master delegator is to let go and just do it. Start with something small such as outsourcing your email customer service, eBook writing, report writing, blog post writing, article writing, social media marketing, and graphic design for projects. Write a list of everything that needs to be done to launch one of your products and try to outsource as much of as you can to see how it comes together. The more you do it, the more you’ll want to do it.

5 Powerful Mindset Success Strategies 

mindsetBuilding a business is a fantastic and challenging experience. You can wake up exhilarated to begin your day and go to bed feeling overwhelmed and frustrated. The key to success is to maintain a positive, yes you can do it, mindset.

5 keys to help you create and sustain
a positive mindset

Easier said than done, right? Here are 5 keys to help you create and sustain a positive mindset so you attain the success you desire.

1. Surround yourself with successful and positive people. The influence people have over our own personal energy is amazing. Moods and attitudes are so easily spread – think about how much of a difference a simple smile from a stranger can make for your day and then magnify it 1000 times to demonstrate the power of positive and successful friends, family and associates. When you have people around you who inspire you, believe in you and want you to succeed, there’s no room for doubts and even when they creep up, they’re quickly swept away.

2. Create a mantra or an affirmation. Repeating positive affirmations has been shown to get people through tough times and to actually help them truly believe what they’re saying.

For example, “I am building a powerful and profitable business.” Many of the most esteemed business professionals have used the same affirmation strategy to attain their success. To find the right affirmations for you, consider writing a quick list of your doubts, insecurities and complaints. These can then be quickly turned into affirmations.

For example, if you write that you’re always feeling disorganized then your affirmation would be, “I am organized and in control.” Repeat your affirmations several times a day and feel the power of positive thinking.

3. Capture negative thoughts. We all have negative thoughts from time to time, however, negative thoughts and emotions can derail us and prevent us from achieving all we desire. Of course catching those negative thoughts takes practice and persistence. When you find yourself thinking negative thoughts or having negative emotions, find a trigger to turn them around. The affirmations mentioned above are a great way to turn the negative into the positive. You can also find quick pick me ups like a favorite song, a walk outside in the fresh air, or some exercise to help improve your mood.

4. Set goals/intentions and then be willing to let it go. The law of attraction says that we attract what we focus on the most. However, desperation, needing your business to be a success, sends mixed messages and a lot of negativity into the universe. Set your goals and intentions and then let them go. A certain amount of faith in yourself and in the power of attraction is necessary. Give it a try.

5. Be grateful. Gratitude is perhaps the single most powerful and positive tool for success. When you’re grateful for all of the wonderful things and people in your life the challenges you face seem significantly less important and are more easily dealt with.

Consider keeping a gratitude journal and make a practice of entering into it daily. That way, when you’re facing challenges a quick peek at all the amazing things in your life will make you feel as if you can tackle anything. Additionally, an attitude of gratitude helps you maintain a positive perspective and to face challenges as opportunities rather than obstacles.

Success is within your reach and with the right mindset you can accomplish anything you set your sights on. Embrace these five powerful mind success strategies and you’ll build a better business and live a happier, more satisfying life.