Entrepreneurial: Entrepreneurship is the New Black
Three hundred and sixty four days. That is how long it has been since 2016 began, and with just two days left in this 366 day leap year, there is so much for me to look back on over my life and business, but even more for me to look forward to. I’ve spent the last few weeks of this year collecting data, analyzing results, and getting in touch with myself to process what I’ve accomplished and get crystal clear on my vision for 2017. So for this final installment of Entrepreneurial for 2016, I want to recap the big picture items of 2016 and what I want going forward in 2017!
In 2016 I:
1. Worked Smarter, Not Harder: This year, I really made progress embodying the philosophy of work smarter, not harder. I can say without a doubt that this year I hustled less, managed my time better, accomplished my work more productively and saw better results. Despite creating just three new products over the course of the year, producing less video content, spending less time on social media, and taking a hiatus over the summer, my business still grew! I accomplished much streamlining my business in 2016 but I still have more work to do!
2. Bought a Home: The biggest event of the year for my husband and I was definitely the purchase of our home. It represents a lot for us as a couple, but also gives us a new foundation to build our lives and even my business upon. Purchasing a home is a big life milestone, one we sacrificed towards for the past few years. We know we were in an a perfect situation to buy that most couples our age aren’t in, as we have no school loans or other personal debt between us, but we are also very smart with our money and made what we hope will end up being a great investment in our future.
3. Grew into myself as a woman and an entrepreneur: When I turned 30 this year, I started seeing myself in a completely new light. I’ve always been confident and mature for my age, but this year I began to see myself less as a girl and more as a woman. I started to own myself, who I am, and what I want, and wasn’t as hesitant doing for myself and giving to myself the things I wanted and needed. Throughout this year, I’ve gained new insight into my business, let go of certain expectations holding me back, and consciously made the decision to put myself first so that I am in a position to help lift others up.
In 2017 I will:
1. Continue to put myself first: With the impact I want to make, it’s crucial that I put myself first to prevent a situation of overwhelm or stagnation. To do this in the future, I will continue to set boundaries that will protect my time and energy from being drained and establish routines to ensure I am reenergizing my mind and body for maximum output!
2. Positively impact more lives: 2016 gave me a real glimpse into the impact my work and business has had on the lives of members of my community and in 2017 I am setting more aggressive goals to serve and teach as many of my community members as possible.
3. Fail Better: I don’t fail enough, this was a fact I came to recognize this year. While not failing may seem like a good thing, I actually think it’s pretty shameful. If I am not failing, that means I am not pushing myself outside of my comfort zone. It means I’m not taking risks with my ideas, and it means that I’m not truly growing. I acknowledge that I play it safe with my ideas, especially with my content and business, because I’m afraid that pushing the envelope may push people away from my brand, but I think I need to just let go of this fear and try to accomplish some ambitious goals with the intent to make them so big or scary for me that my expectation would be failure. If I fail, then clearly I hit the mark! But if I don’t fail, and I don’t hit the mark, it means that achieved something great. I want to try this in 2017, and consolidate my time as much as possible with the everyday minutiae of my business so I can devote significant time and energy towards this.
I hope you have enjoyed this post and the Entrepreneurial Series in 2016! If you want to look back at more installments throughout the months, click here. I also want to know how your year went for your business and what your big picture goals are for next year. Please let me know down in the comments!
Interested in starting an online business to replace your 9-5 or earn you extra income as a #sidehustle in 2017 but aren’t sure how you’d make money online? I’ve assembled a list of 36 Online Business Ideas for you to consider! The list is broken down into six different categories of activities you can perform virtually or remotely as part of an online business. So, take a look at the category of activity that best suits your skills and interests and see if you can come up with a business idea based on my suggestions!
Self Care Coach
Family Life Consultant
YouTube video series
Virtual Master Class
I hope this post gave you some inspiration for options you have moving forward with an online business in 2017! Although this list includes many great examples, many of which are the real online careers of some of my current students and clients within Empire Building, it’s by no means the full extent to how you can earn income online. If you’d like more information on how to build an online business, I’d suggest getting started here!
Now that we have reached the final weeks of the year, I am spending a lot of time in reflection. I’ve been calculating my results for the year and reviewing my content, products and platforms to understand what I’ve done right and wrong over the year to help me build my brand and business. So, I thought I would recap here on the blog my top 5 blog posts, youtube videos and products from the year.
These are the top 5 performing blog posts from 2016 that were also written in 2016! I have a lot of content accumulated in my site, and many of my older posts still drive their fair share of traffic to Strange & Charmed, but I really wanted to understand which newer posts had the best traffic as well. Since you can read each of these for yourself, I won’t recap each, but overall planning and productivity win the day on the blog. I’m glad to see a business post sitting pretty at the top of the list, but I think I would have liked to see more, so I will probably dig deep into #1 to understand how I can replicate it’s success for future posts or optimize current business posts to drive more traffic to the site.
These are the top 5 performing YouTube videos from 2016 that were also posted in 2016! As with the blog posts above, I won’t go into each because you can watch them if you are not familiar with the content, and like my blog, my YouTube channel has many videos posted before 2016 that also do extremely well over the years. Again, I’m pleased to see a business video at the top of this list, but after that, it’s all planning content. Two are specifically Functional Planning related which is a good sign to me that the concept of functional planning is really well understood by my community and a topic I need to create more content around in 2017.
When it comes to the products in my shop, I tend to have a good understanding of what items are doing best throughout the year in terms of revenue, but looking back over the majority of 2016, it was interesting for me to see the number of individual purchases. Some of these items are not a shock to me, but others were and I’ve even included a BONUS #6 on this list because when I ran the numbers I was shocked at how many sales this product had over the year.
1. You Got This
It is no surprise to me that the You Got This workbook was the best selling item in my shop in terms of number of individual sales. It’s not even close to any other products, it has sold hundreds of copies this year alone and because of this, I really think I need to decide how I can either make this product even better in 2017 or how I can add another ebook type product to my lineup. I think the ebook format was very popular and with the lower price point on this item, it’s almost a no-brainer type purchase for any of my audience members who are interested in the topic of goal setting.
2. Charmed Life Planner
I guess the Charmed Life Planner being #2 shouldn’t have been a surprise to me. All of my Charmed Life Planners added up do incredibly well, mostly because they are the system I use and prefer, which that means something to my audience. The real shock to me, however, was that not only did the category of the Charmed Life Planner reach the number 2 spot, but the A5/Half Letter version that I use was also #2 in individual product sales. Again, I think this shouldn’t have been a surprise to me, but seeing that the specific size was #2 was pretty interesting.
3. The Digital Styling Lightroom
The fact that any of my higher priced courses or offerings made it to this top 5 list seems pretty incredible to me, and really gives me insight into the fact that my promotional efforts for the course AND my content marketing for my brand overall are working well. I also think this means I shouldn’t be afraid of higher priced products because the market exists for those with in my community and within the ideal audience I am attracting.
4. Planning for Success Master Class
No surprise here with my Master Class. My master class product line in general is a value packed and practical educational experience. This was the first product I created this year after my summer hiatus and it signified my return to normalcy and routine, but it also proved to me that the master class format I had introduced in 2015 was a winner for my audience and business. The feedback I received on this class was phenomenal and I’m so thankful that this relatively new product has done so well over the past few months.
5. Productivity and Planning Master Class
Again, my first master class sitting at #5 is no surprise to me. It had a great year last year at it’s launch and really opened me up to a new product line and way to educate and inform my audience. I absolutely LOVE the master class format and I am excited to create more in 2017!
BONUS 6. Empire Building
Okay- so I had to include this major shocker on the list! In terms of revenue, nothing in my shop touches Empire Building, however, when I ran the numbers and found that it was so close to hitting the top 5, I was shocked. In fact, had I included purchases of the program from within the Online Business Bundle into the overall number of purchases, it would be sitting in at spot #4. It’s amazing to me that this product, my brain child that represents 6 years of research and took me at least 6 months of work to create, is not just a revenue driver, but a sales leader in the shop!
What content and products of mine did you enjoy most in 2016? I’d love to hear from you on what you’d like to see more of from me in the new year!
My Business Planning Process for a Successful New Year
If you run an business online or offline, or intend to start one in 2017, now is the time to start business planning for the new year. I realize that for most people, the idea of business planning can be pretty daunting, and I have to admit, when it comes to my personal planning philosophy, I never like to make planning a stressful or complicated task. So today I want to outline for you my streamlined process for business planning with 5 steps you can take to get your plans mapped out and get a strong start to 2017!
Step 1: Analyze your current/prior year results.
So, if you are staring this process before the new year hits, you want to make sure to capture important information for how your business did this year in order to understand what steps need to be taken in the new year for success. Although you may not have complete full year data at this point, you can begin to collect key information to start the analysis and then fill in the blanks after the year ends. Key information you want to collect and review would be sales data, revenue information, content/traffic numbers, and follower growth. If you are not already tracking your social media statistics to get an understanding of your follower growth, make sure to start asap! I have a video on the topic you can check out here, that will teach you a simple process for tracking your statistics and analyzing them to help you grow your following.
Step 2: Set goals for the new year.
Based on the information and analysis in step 1, you will want to set goals for where you want your business to be in the new year using the same key factors. Set goals for your sales, revenue, content/traffic, and list growth, as well as any new products or offerings you plan to work on in the year to come. If you need additional guidance to help you analyze your current year data and set the right goals for the new year, here is a business planning video I made last year that walks you through my exact process. Block out about an hour and a half for this video, and even more time to collect and process the data! Although this process is streamlined, it’s not necessarily quick, so give yourself a nice block of time to complete this essential business task and I guarantee you will see better results in the new year just from taking this time to focus!
Step 3: Set up your planner and start working out plans before the new year begins.
When it comes to choosing a planner to keep your life and business organized, I think you need to go with what works for you! I use my Charmed Life Planner, and you can see how it is currently set up here, but whatever you choose, I think it’s important that your planner include some key items:
A monthly view
A weekly OR daily view
Master task lists for each month
Expense sheets for each month
Project planning pages and trackers
A notes section or dedicated notebook
Year at a glance calendar for forward planning (get mine here for free)!
Step 4: Get your systems in place.
Systems are just a fancy way of saying a codified process for how you operate and accomplish specific business tasks. Systems are important because they save you time when you have your process worked out and don’t have to make it up as you go each time you complete a business task AND they come in handy if you bring on help for your business because you can easily hand off the system to your worker and they know exactly what needs to be done with little oversight from you. Here are some common business areas that you should have a system in place for, and I suggest downloading my free Online Business Incompletions Trigger List to help you think about where you can implement systems throughout your business:
Step 5: Do some personal development to understand your personality type as a leader.
Did you ever wonder why so many important business figures and successful people are often associated with different productivity or personal development habits? It’s because they know that the secret to success doesn’t necessarily lie in your business plan- it’s all about managing your own personal development so you can operate at a higher level! Personal development as a category is a huge topic, so I won’t overwhelm you with a vast number of resources, but instead I want to leave you with two easy personality tests that I think every online business owner should take in order to better understand their strengths and weaknesses. The first is the Myers Briggs Type Test. This test helps you understand your dominant predispositions and from understanding these and your Myers Briggs Personality Type you can understand yourself at a higher level and take action to work on issues or challenges that your personality type faces to make you a more successful individual. In case you are curious, my Myers Briggs Type is ENFJ which means I am an extrovert, that uses my intuition and feelings to judge situations. I wrote a blog post all about the Myers Briggs Test that you can read here to get a link to a great free resource to take the test and get additional information to understand your personality type. The second test I recommend is the Fascination Personality Test developed by Sally Hogshead. This test is geared towards business owners and anyone developing a brand online. It essentially pinpoints different dominant communication styles that people use to attract others to them and their brands. My Fascination Personality Archetype is called the Victor, which means I communicate primarily with prestige and use power as my secondary advantage. Now with both these tests, It’s important to take your time answering the questions, don’t overthink things, but make sure your answers are as accurate to reality as possible because its not about what you “wish” you were like, it’s about understanding your true nature, personality wise, so you can find a clear path to develop yourself to where you want to be.
I hope this process has given you some ideas for steps you can take right now to set your business up for success in the new year. Of course, these are not the only ways you can prep your business, so if you have other suggestions, let me know about them in the comments below. Also, feel free to check out my YouTube video on this topic if you are interested. I’ll leave it linked above.
I know I have mentioned more than a few times that when it comes to writing my blog posts, I tend to batch the work and write my content at least a week ahead of time, but when it comes to this blog post, my monthly entrepreneurial journal entry, I try to hold off on writing this until the end of the month. So, I’m writing this the day before the post goes live- this is as close to living on the edge that I like to come with my blog, but let me tell you, living on the edge is something I did ALOT in November! In so many ways, this month felt like a metamorphosis for me. I actually don’t understand how the person sitting here at the computer right now typing this post is the same person who woke up on November 1st thinking this was going to be the same old same old type of month for me. If I had to select a theme song for November, it would be Let It Go from Frozen, because like the beloved snow queen Elsa, I let a lot of sh*t go this month!
What I Didn’t Do
1. Let myself get distracted: November was a very transformative month for me and as soon as I realized that I had a lot of work to do to reach the other side in one piece, I turned on hermit mode and kept myself lazer focused on the tasks in front of me. I definitely didn’t lock myself in a room all month to avoid distractions, but I gave myself permission to delete or silence the apps, alerts, and even people that often take up too much of my mental energy. Truthfully, it felt like one of the most selfish things I have ever done, but it was too freeing to let other things slip away and just focus on myself. I seriously need to do this more often!
2. Let Fear hold me back: I tend to be the type of person who hates disappointing others and fears letting people down, but I overcame a lot of fear this month to do the things I knew had to be done. I almost feel a little ruthless with some of the decisions I made this month, some of the people I blocked and some of the projects I dropped, but I just mentally blocked out the fear.
3. Give a F*ck: I apologize for being so crass with this one, but vulgarity seems to be the best way for me to sum this up! I still can’t believe some of the things I did this month to make it to the finish line. It wasn’t that I did anything bad, I just did things and made choices I have never experienced before and it was completely liberating to me and my business. Looking back at the month, I almost feel like I was a little too reckless at times, but even now, seeing how things turned out, I feel like I needed to be a little reckless and I’m curious about how things could have turned out if I had been even more reckless! It really was a major change for me when you keep in mind that I’m normally so deliberate and buttoned up.
What I Did Do
1. Ran two promotions (simultaneously): This idea was a little nuts, required a lot of work and preparation on my part, but it completely paid off. So, I ran two promotions that overlapped; one for my Online Business Bundle as part of that Free Workshop I hosted mid-month, and one for my Annual Holiday Sale in my shop that ended yesterday. Because of this decision, I had my best month EVER in the shop… and that was BEFORE the second promotion even started! Financially speaking, I exceeded all kinds of goals I had set for my business, not just in November, but also for 2016 as a whole! After a period of months where I felt like my business had stagnated after my summer off and my move, it was like my business was in full acceleration and forgot to hit the brakes. Of course, I’m now curious to see how I parlay this success into December, but any way I cut it, this year is a major win for me no matter what happens next month!
2. Closed a Facebook Group: Remember how I said this month’s theme song would be Let it go? Well, my #CharmedBiz Collective Facebook Group was one of the things that I let go this month. For a long time I felt like this group didn’t shape up the way I had intended it, and it was completely my own fault. But after spending months trying to keep it alive in one way or another, I finally decided to cut off the dead weight so I could move on with a lighter load. I’m so thankful for this opportunity because now I don’t need to spend mental energy and precious time worrying about the future of the group- it wasn’t working, so I let it go, and now I can pour my energy into bigger and better things.
3. Celebrated my success: Because of the great success I had in the shop this month, I gave myself permission to celebrate my milestone with a big purchase. Something I have been wanting for a while, but was always a little concerned about buying because of the expense and the lack of necessity. This was one of those reckless moments, but I said F it, did what I wanted and I’m really happy I did. Life is short, we should ALL get in the habit of celebrating our success and milestones while we have the chance!
What I Learned
1. Let it go (and set boundaries!): I definitely have a hard time letting go, but I managed to conquer this fear and let go of nearly everything that wasn’t serving me this month. I feel like I have emotionally, spiritually and physically cleaned house, and it’s one of those amazing feelings where I don’t regret a single thing, and in fact, want to find more things to let go of! By letting go of that which did not serve me in the past, I was able to clear out space for wonderful new things to come into my life. It’s funny how that works! I let go of a lot of random stuff holding me back and I was bestowed a wonderful gift. The universe strives for balance, if you are carrying around too much, it doesn’t want to give you more than you can handle. You need to unpack what you don’t need before you can get all the shiny new stuff the universe wants you to have instead. And in order to keep myself from picking back up anything I let go of this month, I also needed to make sure to erect some boundaries for myself. Boundaries are a new concept for me as well this month- I tend not to use them, but going forward, much of the work I know I need to complete for myself and my own personal development revolves around setting boundaries so I do not let myself acquire too much baggage that doesn’t serve me in the future.
2. Trust the process: I’ve said this before, but trusting the process is a lesson I am constantly learning. We can’t see the future, so making decisions, taking risks, acting recklessly, it all feels uncomfortable. But I have seen time and time again that when I show up and do the work, it all pays off. Even if I do the work and it doesn’t result in success, I always get something important from it. I need to stop playing it safe all the time, and trust the process more, because I know what works for my life and my business, and the more I can focus on doing the work that matters, the more I’ll be rewarded in the end.
3. Luck results when preparation meets opportunity: To sum up this whole month and the big picture lessons I’ve learned, I am reminded of this quote. “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” If you are looking at my life and my business and thinking “she’s just lucky” you seriously misunderstand what it takes to create success in your own life and business. Although this blog post and those like it are my attempt to pull back the curtain so others can get a glimpse at what it takes to be successful in online business, make no mistake that you do not see it all, especially the hours of hard work that go into making my successes a reality. Tweeting, vlogging, and sharing on Instagram are the things I do when I am not heads down with my eyes glued to my work. There is no such thing as luck, we all get exactly what we work for in one form or another.
I hope this rather irreverent installment of my monthly entrepreneurial journal has inspired you to let some things go in your own life and business, and to create a plan to move forward and collect all the rewards that are waiting for you on the other side of that sacrifice! For me, this month has been so transformative and absolutely freeing. So, I’m sure I can expect some challenges to come next month as I adjust and strive to enforce the changes I’ve made this month. I’d love to hear how your month went and what lessons you picked up along the way, so please make sure to share those in the comments below or let me know how my experience this month has inspired you to act!
How to Create a Profitable Online Business in 2017
This time of year is always very special for me and my business because it was two years ago this month that I finally cracked the code on my online business and replaced the monthly salary I had left behind six months prior. You may have heard the story before of How I Left My Job, Built My Online Business & Replaced My Income in Six Months. Of course it’s a very compelling story for what is possible and how you don’t necessarily need a very large following or email list to start making a full time income online. Don’t get me wrong, having a large following or list is amazing and it’s definitely important to continue to grow your following online in order to grow your business, but the truth is, you only need a few very specific things in order to start a business online, and most importantly, to start a profitable business. Whether you are someone who aspires to start a business of their own, is desperate to turn their passion from #sidehustle to 9-5, or is already running a business that isn’t bringing in enough money, you need to understand what really moves the needle in terms of money and sales!
If building an online business in 2017 is a goal of yours or if you already have a business that just isn’t working, I want to invite you to a FREE Online Workshop I am hosting in just a few weeks called How to Create a Profitable Online Business in 2017! In this Live Workshop I am going to share with you The 6 Elements of a Profitable Online Business, what they are, why you need them and how to get started incorporating them into your current or future business for more sales and greater profitability!
They say it’s taboo to talk about money, but if you want a profitable business, you need to get comfortable and knowledgable about what you actually need to make your idea work. So I’m breaking the rules and talking about what’s holding your business back from profits, so you can make your goals a reality in 2017!
Click here to sign up to join me LIVE on Wednesday November 16th, 2016 at 3pm eastern/ 12pm pacific! My plan is to keep this workshop short and sweet, at about an hour before the open Q&A because I know we are getting into a very busy time of year and the last thing any of us need is a long, drawn out lecture! I want this event to be informative and engaging, so I am setting up a private watch page with an enhanced chat feature so that we can all connect, and I’ll be distributing a helpful workbook for you to use to follow along and get some extra value from the event! Of course, you will also get access to the replay of this event for a limited time, so if you can’t make it live on the 16th, don’t stress, I’ve got you covered!
I can’t wait to connect with you live on the 16th! It’s been quite some time since I did a live event and I’m looking forward to providing some great insight and answering all your questions about online business!
Oh October! In so many ways, you are my favorite month. You signal the true start of fall in my world, so I shouldn’t have been surprised that with the change in weather this month, you also brought a lot of change to my business. There is a quote I love that goes “It’s so strong that autumn is so beautiful; yet everything is dying,” and this almost perfectly sums up my month. It was a beautiful month in many ways that brought me clarity and even personal change, but in order to get here I had to watch certain things die. As they say, you win some, you lose some!
What I Didn’t Do
1. Spend enough time prioritizing myself: Maybe it was because last month, September, was so self-care focused, or maybe it was because once I got back from vacation I felt the time crunch to get work done, but this month I really dropped the ball on taking care of myself. For most of the month my meal schedule was out of wack, dinners were take out, and “me time” was minimal. Because of this, I was sick for most of the month (residual from a cold I caught on my trip), and then around the mid point, I struggled with anxiety and stress as I prepared for my 2017 insert launch. Luckily, the universe is always so kind as to keep challenging you when it knows you need to learn a lesson, so after a few sleep deprived days led me to the edge, I finally realized that what I had been missing was white space, rest, and lush baths!
2. Finish a project that was scheduled: New inserts were not the only product I was hoping to complete this month. I also had a second project on my list that had been there all year, researched and ready to be completed, but I ultimately decided to let it go until next year. I had even spent much of the month working on, trying to make it work and get it done by the due date, but after breaking down from stress and anxiety and lack of self care, I decided that it needed to be shelved. It was a very scary decision to make because my heart wanted to complete it but my head and timing said no. Once I made the decision I felt like a massive weight had been listed and began to see a path out of the overworked mess I was in.
3. Get out of my comfort zone: I know this may sound a bit odd to be on a business recap, but there were things I did and didn’t do this month out of fear and I don’t really advocate living your life or running your business this way. Now that we are at the end of the month I can see that there are some tough or uncomfortable choices ahead of me that if I am able to break out of my comfort zone and reach for them, it could be a major boost for my business. Or I could let myself be controlled by fear and doubt and keep doing what I’m already doing. I’m not doing bad right now, in fact, I think I’m doing pretty well! But I need to face myself going forward and decide if I want pretty well or if I want great and how far I am willing to reach outside my comfort zone to achieve it.
What I Did Do
1. Launched a new product: I was very excited to launch my 2017 inserts because with them came a new addition to my existing lineup. A Full Size US Letter/A4 planner design that had been highly requested by my audience for a while now. It actually took me a long time to really understand and decide what I wanted to do with this design to make it unique, but one day the vision hit me and I was off executing immediately!
2. Ran a promotion: With my 2017 insert launch, I also ran a promotion for my email/newsletter subscribers. Promotions are great, but I had been struggling with how I could give more value to those within my community who are the most invested in me and my business. Ultimately, I decided to give my email subscribers a special discount code in addition to some bundle deals that were made public. It was simple but effective and my insert launch was very successful this year outside of a major tech issue that occurred on launch day.
3. Invested in necessary upgrades: Overall, my insert launch and promotion went great this month in terms of engagement and sales, which I am always grateful for, but when high volumes of traffic came to my shop that morning, it ended up crashing my site! This had happened to me once before with a promotion so I knew what was going on, so I spent the morning on the phone with tech support and ended up investing in some upgrades to my site hosting that would allow for more traffic and resources to be allocated to my site during peak times. It wasn’t necessarily money I was expecting to spend, but I had it and knew it was going to be a good investment for the future of my site.
What I Learned
1. I need to always prioritize myself first: I know this, this isn’t anything new to me and if you look back over the year of these posts, self-care is something I have been working on all year. I wouldn’t say that this month was a self care fail because it’s not a topic that one can fail at if they are constantly trying and learning. You really only fail when you refuse to try or give up completely.
2. Sometimes all signs can be pointing to yes, but the answer is still no: I consider myself a pretty reasonable and logically person, so I run my business with common sense and strategies I see working for me or others in a similar situation. When it comes to my products especially, I love to create, that shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who follows me on different platforms, and when I feel like a product or offer is right, I usually get so excited and worked up about it that I am able to make a plan and execute quickly. But, I’m also an intuitive person, and even when everything seems to be right, right product, right time, right plan, I can always sense when something is off and I need to take a step back. This is basically what happened to me this month with that second project. I loved it, it was the right time, I had a plan that seemed flawless. Logic and reason would tell me, move forward right now with this, work hard, get it done but the more I worked on it, the more I felt like this wasn’t the right time for me to do this project. I have nothing logical to point to, except that I don’t feel like I am able to execute my best on it right now. So for quality sake and for mental clarity’s sake, I put it away and hopefully, I can come back to it in 2017 and knock it out of the park.
3. How important it is to stay on brand: This is another concept that is by no means a new idea to me, but you’d be surprised at how distracting social media and the online business world can be even for someone who is pretty crystal clear on their branding and goals. I’m not sure if this month was a success or a flop for me and my business. On one hand I had a great launch, brought in a respectable income and brought some quality content and products to life. But on the other hand, I had to let go of a project I was passionate about for a very vague reason, and I also felt like I got caught in a trap set by social media that ended up distracting me. That’s why the title of this post is “You Win Some, You Lose Some.” With tools like Instagram and Snapchat its easy to share and consume so much different content. To be honest, most of the content I consume online, is actually not related to the content I create. That may seem odd, but I find that it’s easier for me to create great content when I have kept my eyes on my own paper, and because of that, I like to use different platforms to enjoy content that is more passion or interest driven for me than it is business related. But watching different content means I start wanting to share different content because social media makes you want to share. Then before you know it, you’ve been knocked off course and off brand, and I think this is actually what causes a lot of online businesses and blogs/youtube channels specifically to fail because they had a good thing going that was them, but then they let the world influence them to the point that it changed them. I saw myself falling into this trap this month and made a hard and fast decision to break out of it. I deleted Snapchat off my phone, made some decisions about how I will be using a few other platforms as well, and have basically sworn to myself that I will stick to my content, my brand and my main platforms to give them and my existing following there more time and attention.
Looking back at my month now that I’ve reached the end is a funny thing. There was a lot of struggle this month, but from where I am standing right now, I feel more empowered and prepared than ever for the future. Most of all, I feel very clear on where I am going, a feeling I don’t often get in my business, and one I am sure I will soon lose as I begin working on new plans and projects. So, for now, I am going to do what I can to capture my ideas and goals for how I want to move forward for the end of the year and what I want to achieve moving into 2017!
Why Kim Kardashian’s Terrifying Robbery was a Wake Up Call for Us All!
You could definitely say I’m a fan of Kim Kardashian. Not just Kim, but really her whole family, at least the ones you frequently see on their reality shows. Love them or hate them, they are all very beautiful, have entertaining personalities and family dynamics, and are undeniably business and social media savvy. Which is why when news broke of Kim Kardashian’s terrifying robbery at gunpoint, I was personally shaken. As someone who works online, puts much of themselves on the internet, and relies on social media to run my business, I began to question my online activities and if my social media habits were putting me at risk for a similarly terrifying situation. To be clear, I do not think I am anything close to Kim Kardashian. Her and her families fame and fortune is far beyond my wildest dreams and expectations, however, I do believe that you, me and everyone we know on social media should consider Kim’s misfortune a wake up call for the way we each share online. In our age of total interconnectivity, it honestly only takes one person, one bad apple paying too much attention to our feeds for each of us to be in a similarly terrifying ordeal. And while the chances of something like that ever happening to any of us are truly slim, the truth is, we are all vulnerable on social media. So, after giving serious thought to this situation and what it means for me, my friends, family and followers online, I have a few insights and lessons I want to share to hopefully keep all of us safer!
1. Turn off location services
Humans are creatures of habit and I bet that the majority of content you have shared on your social media feeds were posted from places you frequent. We post from our homes, jobs, favorite restaurants and local hangouts. Although many of these locations may be “public” that is no reason to geo tag your current location so everyone of your followers know where you are and where you are not at any given time. I understand wanting to tag your location if you are at a very special event, but other than in rare circumstances, keep your location services off when you post to social media so ill-advised followers don’t begin to learn your routines and invade your personal privacy by showing up out of the blue to meet you.
2. Don’t share travel details publicly
I learned this one years ago and am still always shocked at the number of posts I see sharing travel details on social media. No matter if your social media accounts are private and you are sure that you know every one of your followers, you should never share travel details on social media. In case you weren’t aware, there are people who target individuals and families they KNOW will be away from home for extended periods of time and rob them. This has been a common practice for years, even before social media, with people who scan the obituary section of the newspaper to get details on local funerals so that they could burglarize an unoccupied home at a time when all the family members would be absent. If you think that’s despicable, consider the fact that many unauthorized home entries and robberies are perpetrated by friends and neighbors who know your travel plans, what valuables you own and are familiar with the layout of your home. We need to have a little collective common sense with these issues and as much as it’s exciting to post about your upcoming vacation and share photos in real time while you are away, you are taking a tremendous risk that someone you know and trust is taking advantage of the opportunity you have flaunted in their feed. Now, I’m not perfect with this one either, and I realize the temptation to share a post or picture in the moment is made simpler by our wifi and data connections, but even when I went away recently and shared details and posts, I did so knowing full well that my husband was working from home while I was away so my home wasn’t in imminent danger.
3. Delay sensitive posts
Of course, there are safe ways to share and situations where we can enjoy social media without putting ourselves in danger. One way we can do this is by delaying sensitive posts so that we are not giving away important location details in real time. Using social media schedulers like one of my free favorites, Hootsuite, means we can capture our moments and schedule them to go live once we have left a location. No one needs to know precisely where you are to enjoy a fun snap from a concert or event, and your great photo won’t get any fewer likes if you post it the next day. Getting into the habit of delaying your posts is a good way to share while retaining a level of privacy that is critical to your safety and well being.
4. Get some sort of security system
The most shocking detail of the Kim Kardashian robbery is certainly the fact that she was alone in a hotel room without any form of security, despite traveling with a bodyguard. Hindsight is 20/20 and of course there have been numerous interviews and reports from professional celebrity bodyguards and security experts that say a lack of security was truly at fault for this event. Now, you and I most likely don’t require a bodyguard, however, we could all up level our personal security at home and while traveling with the aid of modern technology. Potentially lethal forms of protection aside, it is relatively easy and inexpensive to install and travel with personal and home security systems. Installing a home security system was a top priority for my husband and I when we purchased our home, and the upfront and ongoing cost to do so is truly minimal in comparison to how much more secure we know we, our dog and our possessions are now at home. But what are the options for personal security outside the home and when traveling? This article outlines some awesome hi-tech security systems that you can wear via clothing, jewelry or attach to purses or keychains. Although there is some variety in these gadgets, many protect the wearer by creating audible and/or silent alerts that transmit your location and/or live audio feeds to trusted friends and authorities that can come to your aid in an emergency. When traveling, simple things like luggage tags, locks and hotel safe’s can keep our belongings secure by creating a simple barrier that will deter the average thief or opportunist. Additionally, simple door alarms and window pressure sensors are portable and inexpensive ways to provide an alert to a potential threat no matter where you are.
5. Keep valuables off your feed
A final action we can take to minimize ourselves as potential targets on social media is to keep our valuable possessions off our social feeds. I know this one can seem especially difficult because the nature of social media is to share and so often what we are sharing are purchases and products we enjoy, however, we all need to expand our common sense on this point and be careful not to overshare or highlight valuables that may draw unwanted attention. In the case of Kim Kardashian, it has been speculated that the robbers where targeting her specifically due to a very valuable ring she had been sharing on social media. It’s one thing to take a selfie wearing your favorite piece of jewelry, but quite another to post precise details of quality and value, and engaging in that type of behavior regularly may encourage attention we don’t want. Again, this is something I too have been guilty of in the past and I’m not here to tell people what they should or shouldn’t post. Let this just serve as a reminder to all of us that our behavior can be a contributing factor in why we may be targeted. Again, there are so many examples of opportunistic criminals that found themselves in the right place at the right time with the right information, and we shouldn’t assume that it won’t happen to us. So, let’s just be smart with what we share.
I know this post was a bit of a different pace for my content, however, my purpose as a creator is first and foremost to ensure I am educating my audience, and as social media is such a prevalent topic I cover, I felt personally moved to share these ideas with you in real time. I hope you gained some insight from this post and if you find this information valuable, I would urge you to share it with friends and family on your social media feeds so that we can spread the word on this important message and keep our loved ones safe. If you have any additional insight or tips you would like to share with the community, please do so in the comments so that this post can become a resource for others.
September has really been a very successful month for me and my business in a number of ways. After getting back into the groove of work and productivity in August, I have not only kept the ball rolling, but I have also taken some positive steps to help me build habits and routines for success in my life. Here is a summary of how it all went down in September!
What I Didn’t Do
1. Let Myself Get Stressed Out:This month my husband and I had a few unexpected issues with our new home that really shook us up, and although I definitely had a few ugly cry moments, I was surprised at how well I handled the stress that can come with unexpected home repairs. If you follow me on Snapchat you probably know, things actually ended up working out better than expected, but I was impressed by how I managed to keep a positive mindset during the whole ordeal and take things one day and one minute at a time.
2. Worry About Being Perfect: I’m not perfect, you’re not perfect, my business isn’t perfect, homes aren’t perfect! Although I have always been a fan of the quote “Done is Better than Perfect,” I feel like I lived through that a bit more this month. Two specific things that I applied this to were my Planning for Success Master Class and my Work Week Vlog. I realize that I am pretty good at product development, but I ALWAYS worry when I launch a new info product about how it will be received. After all, when it comes to information and knowledge, there is so much out there and a lot of it is free, so I tend to get a bit neurotic when I launch a class. But I actually took some time during the process to sit and think about how I go through this cycle with every info product and it really helped me to quick breakthrough the fear so I could create. In the end the class was a smashing success and the reviews are through the roof with positive feedback! Same goes with my Vlog that went live on the 18th. I don’t like to vlog, I don’t think I’m good at it, and as the clips began to add up I was concerned that no one would want to watch it because it was close to an hour and that everyone would think the content was trash. But, done is better than perfect, so I hit publish and was pleased to see another positive reaction from my audience. They really are the best, but I just need to keep reminding myself that fear is part of the creation process and use previous examples to keep me focused on getting the job done!
3. Confuse My Priorities: Priorities were a pretty major topic in my life this month and I took many steps to be crystal clear with mine. I did a really good job of keeping those priorities in balance and because of it, this month really felt like my life was falling into place. I never really thought of my life as feeling out of place or out of sync, but keeping my priorities straight really brought a profound sense of clarity to me that I can’t say I have experienced thus far in my life.
What I Did Do
1. Focused on Self Care: It was Self Care September, after all, and so I specifically took action on self care items I had been neglecting. This all goes back to my priorities and that my number one priority is ME! If I’m not taken care of, I can’t do much for anyone else or for my business.
2. Established a Regular Meal Routine: This was one of the big self care items I tackled this month and I’m very proud to say that all month, I did an excellent job eating regular and healthy meals! You may think this is an odd thing to have to build into a routine, but for me, I have a tendency to wake up and get to work and forget to eat until nearly dinner time. This bad habit ended up creating a terrible cycle of binging and overeating that led me to weight gain and a lack of structure in my day. Meal times are so important to help you structure your day, I think most people may take this for granted. Regular work breaks are necessary and for most people, a growling stomach would be an internal alarm to stop working and get a bite to eat, but for me, there is some disconnect between my belly and my brain that makes this hard for me. Luckily, I have started this great routine for myself and will regular oversight and maintenance, I hope to keep it going strong!
3. Took a Vacation: Earlier this summer, my mother, sister and I planned a girls trip to celebrate my sisters 21st birthday (yes, we are nearly a decade apart in age). At the time, I thought to myself the end of September would be a good time because it was near her birthday and by September, I thought I would have everything in order with my new house. Of course, that was wishful thinking, but despite moments where I have felt like canceling on this trip due to work or house obligations, I’m glad I didn’t. I’ve been reminded so many time this month that there is no “right time” for any specific thing. We have to make the time, keep the plans, and live or else our lives will pass us by.
What I Learned
1. To Shake it Off: Something I have been noticing lately is how I don’t seem to let little everyday issues upset me as much as they may have before. Overall, I think my stress level has just plummeted recently and because of it, I don’t let the drama or negativity that is prevalent on the internet affect me personally. I think when you stop taking things personally you end up being so much happier.
2. The Importance of Taking Care of Myself: It’s pretty much common knowledge that taking care of yourself is important, but honestly, for me it was never really a common practice. Yes, I did engage in self care regularly in the past, and take time off for myself and spend time on my own hobbies, but I think that there is a mindset shift that happens when you truly understand that you haven’t been taking care of yourself and you really need to. So far my progress has been good, I’ve visited my Drs for some lingering health issues that I have been ignoring, I’ve started eating regular balanced meals, and I’ve kept up this mindset that I’m a priority and need to deal with my issues first and not last. I’d say it has resulted in this reduced stress, positive mindset I’m currently in. Will it last forever? Probably not. But am I seeing first hand the positive effects that routines and good habits have in your life? Absolutely. So when I do eventually fall off the wagon, which I’m sure will happen one day, I think this experience will help me get back on quicker.
3. To Optimize My Space: Now that we are settled into our new home and this feels like a more permanent home to me than any of my apartments ever did, I have spent a good amount of time this month understanding how I can optimize my space. Not just in my office and my home, but even in my business. If you watched my Work Week Vlog you may have seen my new robotic vacuum cleaner that I ordered in order to optimize my home care after I was faced with the problem of having so much more space and surfaces that need care. Hopefully, the robot will help me automate some of my chores so I don’t feel like taking care of my home is my second full time job! In terms of my business, I’ve been asking myself how I can optimize my brand, my income streams, my work, all to help me remain clear on my goals and find a direct path to execute on my plans. I’ve outlined and brainstormed a few projects and general plans this month that I want to work on through the end of the year to really help me start the new year with a fresh take on my business.
So that is my recap for September. I hope you found some nuggets of information in their and some examples that may help you think about managing your entrepreneurial lifestyle a little more productively. Of course, I want to hear how your month went, so please share your insight from September in the comments.
5 Business Automation Tools to Utilize While You Are On Vacation
In a few days, I’ll be on a cruise ship on my way to Bermuda for a girl’s trip with my mother and sister, so naturally, right now my mind is focused on getting my business ready for my absence. Although I have taken a few vacations since starting my business full time, this vacation is a little different because I won’t be on land for most of it, and therefore, I have no idea how reliable my internet connection will be. Because the ship charges you a wifi fee per device, I won’t be bringing my laptop with me, just my iPhone. So, I am taking steps now to make sure everything runs smoothly while I’m away. Since I’m a solopreneur, I normally rely on a number of different automation tools to help me run my business on the day-to-day but if you aren’t already streamlining your business like this, give these automation tools a try the next time you go on vacation!
Email Autoresponder: Many different email applications give you the ability to set up an email autoresponder, an out of office email reply that will automatically generate a canned response to any incoming emails.. If you are going on vacation or will be out of the office for a significant period of time (more than a weekend or sick day) I highly recommend setting up this function to reply to emails on your behalf while you are busy. The response doesn’t have to be complicated, a simple notification of the time you will be away from your business will suffice, but I also like to include links to the FAQ and/or resource pages of my website that may address common issues and concerns. If you don’t have a FAQ or resource page on your website, I highly suggest compiling one because they are easy links you can share with your customers that address common issues they may be able to troubleshoot on their own!
MailChimp: I use MailChimp to manage my email list, and since I pay for a monthly plan, I have the ability to create automated email campaigns and schedule emails in advance. These are two very useful features that help me get ahead on my work and allow me to run a marketing campaign even when I am out of office. Nothing is better than coming back to work after a vacation to see new sales that generated while you were away!
Edgar: I recently started using the social media scheduler Edgar to automatically publish posts and content to some of my less used social feeds and it has really helped me to boost sales and keep a constant presence on the platforms I don’t actively create for. I love that it stores and recycles content for me so I don’t have to create and batch upload new posts in order to fill my feed. It’s such a time saver and easy marketing tool for any online business that wants to have a presence on multiple platforms but doesn’t have the time to create unique content for each.
HootSuite: Hootsuite is another social media scheduler that I tend to use for one platform only, Instagram. As you may already know, Instagram does not allow for auto publishing of images, so to get around this Hootsuite gives you the ability to preplan out your post and set’s an alarm telling you when its time to post so you can go into the app and quickly share your content. It’s not a perfect solution to automating Instagram, but it’s the best solution I have found that does not compromise your Instagram account. Beware of any apps that say they will automatically post to Instagram for you because until Instagram gives this function the green light, you are risking closure of your account by using these sorts of apps that store your login information and publish for you.
Paypal: To process my online payments I always use Paypal. I have it fully integrated into my site so I never have to send a manual invoice or actively collect payment from customers- it’s all done for me automatically! If you don’t currently use a system to automatically process payments, I would suggest checking out Paypal as it’s very easy to use and integrates into many different online sales platforms.
Okay, so those are some automation tools I use on a daily basis to run my business and ensure my business is running smoothly even when I’m on vacation! I’d love to hear your automation tips, so feel free to leave me a comment below.