How to Overcome the 4 Most Common Struggles of Every Entrepreneur

While the message and the market of your business may be different, there are some stumbling blocks that seem to pop up for even the seasoned entrepreneur.

Here are four of the ones that I frequently coach on with my private clients:

1. Not moving ahead even when they know what to do.

Almost always, this is a fear-based immobility. Whether it’s fear of failure or fear of success (the later seems more prevalent for entrepreneurs, including myself).

We come up with all kinds of excuses as to why something isn’t getting done, but most often it has nothing to do with anything other than fear of the possible result of moving forward.

If you’re afraid of failing, remember that in our online world, we get to test things out with very little risk. My favorite strategy is to ‘fail fast’. Put it out there, see what happens, tweak until you get the result you want.

If you’re afraid of success, then you need to take a look at your Big Money Why (BMW – see #4) to see how you can make it more powerful and motivating (tip: money is never enough of a motivator, believe it or not). And you need to put a process in place for how you will handle the abundance that’s too come.

2. Being self-disciplined enough to make and stick to self-imposed deadlines.

The wonderful thing about being an entrepreneur is that you’re your own boss. The tricky thing about that is most, if not all, of our deadlines are self-imposed. Which makes them very easy to move, doesn’t it? I know because I’ve struggled with this one more than once.

If we go back to knowing what your emotionally driven motivator is for the success you desire, you’ll be more likely to stick to those self-imposed deadlines – but only if that BMW is strong enough.

Here’s a simple but very powerful tip for you in sticking to your own deadlines: Make them public. When I launched my first info-product, I told my ezine list that they would be able to buy it on a certain date, which gave me about 3 weeks to get it done. And done it was.

3. Claiming leadership status and fully stepping into the role of the CEO of your business.

Once an entrepreneur gets the foundational pieces in place for their business, it’s actually easy to stay in the start-up phase, because it’s comfortable. And because often they don’t know what the next step is, what the next layer of the business should look like, to take them to the next level.

The sooner they can take on the leadership role, by becoming the CEO of their business (even if they don’t call themselves that), the faster the growth of both the entrepreneur and the business.

One of the ways you can step more fully into that role is by delegating. So if you’ve been in business for a couple of years and you’re still doing too much of the managing of it, and especially if you’re doing all the admin work, and you haven’t hired an assistant yet, it’s time. Start with one small project and add from there.

For every task in your business, ask yourself, “Is this something I should be doing?”

Because remember, even if you CAN do something doesn’t mean you SHOULD.

If the answer is no, then pass it off to a capable assistant.

4. Having an emotionally driven motivator for your Big Money Why (BMW).

This is probably the most important one…

Money is NOT enough of a motivator, no matter how much you want it, or are attached to the ’6-Figure’ or “million-dollar’ mark. There has to be a reason behind wanting it, something that is so strong that it drives you and the business forward, no matter what.

If you find things aren’t moving as quickly as you’d like, or it feels too hard much of the time, or you just aren’t using your time and talent effectively, take a look at your Big Money Why. And if you haven’t done this before, then that’s your coaching homework.

In as much detail as possible, write out why you want the financial success you do. Is it to give to your family, is it to give to others, is it to create a charitable foundation, is it to take care of elderly parents, is it to enable your children to get the best education you can give them, is it to travel and expand your world view, is it to buy a nicer home for your family, is it to give experiences to those you love – they are a thousand reasons why, but you need to be very clear of what they are for YOU before you can make them happen.

At my annual Online Business Breakthrough Workshop, we focused a whole session on your Big Money Why, and it’s one of the most powerful sessions for shifting the attendees into passionate action in their business.

This year, we’ll be doing this session virtually as part of my Lively Biz Business Club.

Click here to get on the wait-list to be first to find out when the Club officially opens

I love to know how this resonates with you – share with me your thoughts below…

Setting Intentions: Meet the Universe Half-Way by Deciding What Your Intentions Are

I am a big believer in making decisions and moving forward while course-correcting along the way.

And one of the ways I know my business grows is through making decisions and setting clear intentions.

So every summer while we’re at the lake, I review the last business year, releasing anything that no longer feels good and right for where I’m headed, and take with me the lessons and insights learned along the way while I set new intentions.

Then I get really practical. 😉

I decide what my intentions are for moving closer to my business and lifestyle goals and the big picture decisions that will help get me there. I share these in-depth with my private clients, so I thought it might be helpful to give you an idea of what I mean too.

For this business year (for me that’s September-May, with summer being allocated to travel, rest, and creative space), here’s what I’ll be focused on:

1. List Growth.

I’ll be leading a List-Building Mastery monthly training because I’m a firm believer based on my own experience and that of my clients that growing your list supports a thriving business. I’ll be focusing on specific strategies to growing my lists consistently each and every month, so that’s what I’ll be doing with private clients too.

2. Storybrand.

If you don’t know Don Miller’s work, I strongly suggest you check it out here. I’ve been working through this material this summer and it’s been very helpful for gaining so much clarity and definition around what I do and for whom that I’ll be using it with clients this year specifically as well. Don’s free information is a super-helpful place to start if you know you need help in clarifying your message (and don’t we all?).

3. Facebook Growth.

Because Facebook is my main social media channel for connecting with more of my audience, I’ll be working on growing my Facebook page and group and will be sharing what’s working for me, my before-and-after results, and more with private clients. (My personal not-so-secret weapon for all-things-Facebook? Rachel Miller – check her out here).

I see this as imperative to growing my brand-new Lively Biz Business Club membership, which leads me to…

4. Membership.

The Lively Biz Business Club launches this fall (private clients get membership for free, of course), so it’s going to be a lot of membership-focused stuff going forward! I’ve been a part of Stu McLaren’s Tribe for the past few years and it’s been invaluable for helping me create the foundation for what will ultimately be one of my two main revenue streams.

So now that I’ve covered the tangibles, a piece that’s even more important going forward is this…

5. Money Mindset

Yeah, that old clunker is still kicking around. With so much of my mental and emotional energy focused on intense family matters the last 18 months, much of the time I was just letting the flow take me and support me.

That said, without any effort on my part going forward from here, I’m not going to get where I most want to be!

My plan this summer was to focus some time on learning new business growth strategies and making a plan of action for the fall because that’s what I do and what I’m really good at.

However, I found myself reading three different books on money, re-opening a course I invested in over a year ago, and listening to inspirational audiobooks on my walks along the water (namely Rachel Hollis’ Girl, Wash Your Face and Tosha Silver’s Outrageous Openness – both excellent).

So, there you have it – a peek inside what’s happening here at Lively Biz.

I’d love to know what decisions you’re making and intentions you’re setting as well, so please share in the comments. 🙂

Making Decisions (thoughts from the lake)

Good morning from the lake!

The sun has broken through after the storms overnight… there’s so much beauty and peace at this time of day…

Even so, I’m only compelled to get up with the birds when we’re at the lake. 😉

But I do treasure these early mornings at the water, with my journal, sometimes a book, oftentimes just my thoughts – and my coffee. 😉

It usually takes me a couple of weeks to fully decompress and relax into the summer’s ease… but it’s taking quite a bit longer this summer.

The last year has been difficult personally, and I’m just now feeling as though I’m getting my feet back under me. Being at the lake always helps to heal my spirit and for that, I am so grateful.

People often tell us how lucky we are to spend the whole summer at the lake – but I always tell them, it’s not luck. It was a decision to do so a long time ago and then taking action to make it happen.

The first summer we were here for 2 weeks, and now we’re here for almost 3 months. We just kept adding weeks every year until we were staying from Father’s Day to Labor Day.

But it all started with a decision. I knew what I wanted and I decided to make it happen. And this is our 13th summer doing so.

What decision could you make in your life or your business that would bring you more peace, joy, ease, freedom, happiness, laughter, wisdom, abundance?

I’d love to know – please share with me below.

Until next time…

Cheers,
~ A

How to Take the Summers Off

One of the questions I get asked the most is how I take the summers off, so I thought I’d answer that a bit for you in this post.

The purpose of this content is about much more than just taking the summer off – or any extended holiday – it’s to help you get really clear on your plan for the next 6-12 months and beyond, what it’s going to be all about for you, both from a pragmatic view as well as from a big picture view.

You likely know that I take 12 weeks off (half of June, and all of July and August) as vacation to spend it with my family at the lake where I spent my summers growing up.

When I first decided that I wanted to be off for the entire summer, I had to figure out how to make that work and still run and grow my business.

So in the beginning, it was a very slightly working vacation, maybe 10% of the time. So the first time I did this, I did certain things to prepare for it:

1. I decided on what main projects I was going to focus on, two in total.

2. I decided what my VA would focus on, all the admin details that I didn’t want to be troubled with, but that I had a hard time letting go of beforehand.

3. I went through all my files and only brought those with me that I had to have to work on those 2 main projects. (As a back-up, I used a remote access program in case I had to get something on my desktop).

4. I clean up my laptop and rigged it for wireless.

5. I let my clients and customers know (more than once) that I was on vacation, that I would respond to emails but that it might take a little longer than usual, but that I was also living this model.

Those were basically the things I did to get ready.

What happened?

Much to my surprise, because I think I was so busy-busy all the time that I wasn’t moving forward very quickly with anything and spent a lot of time putting out fires, I was actually MORE productive – and MORE profitable – during those summer weeks than I had been the previous 6 months working from my home office.

So what was different?

1. I chose two main projects to focus on that only I could do (writing my book and my membership program) and either let the rest go (absolutely nothing negative happened as a result) or delegated it.

So I was really focused on my ‘genius’ work, which is what will always bring your more money sooner than focusing on fixing your website or other admin tasks you shouldn’t be doing.

2. I had scheduled work time. This was a biggee for me. At home, I worked when the kids slept (naptime or nighttime) and then all kinds of in-between time when they were playing by themselves or when Daddy was taking care of them.

During those early summers of implementing this model, I only worked a total of about 2 hours a day, between pre-wake-up time and post-bedtime, 3-4 days a week. I get up at 5:30am and work for an hour or so before the kids get up, but that’s also my time to sit on the dock,watch the loons and write in my journal, and drink my coffee while it’s still hot.

When I worked it was only on those one or two projects, and answering emails that were a priority, like those from Platinum clients. Anything else I did was a bonus. I wasn’t stressed at all, and when I was with kids, I was completely focused on them, not on the business.

Since then, I’ve restructured my business so that I don’t offer anything ‘live’ with me while I’m off for the summer, my coaching and training programs end around Memorial Day weekend, and the only work I do over the summer is write the personal note in my ezine each week. Almost everything else is done and queued up before Memorial Day or is delegated to my team to take care of while I’m off.

There’s quote a bit more to it than this, of course, but if you’re seeking to take more time off, whatever time of year it is and for whatever reason, this should get you thinking about the first steps to take so you can do it too.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this – comment below or share in our Facebook group here

5 Simple Steps to Creating a Fresh Compelling Opt-in

Is your main free content opt-in in need of a refresh or replacement?

Yup, mine too!

So while I’ve been working on mine, I thought I’d share the process to help you too. 🙂

Here are 5 simple steps to creating a fresh and compelling opt-in.

Step 1. Choose it

Before you create a new free content opt-in, be sure it’s something your audience wants. If you don’t know what that is, just ask them.

– Ask them

Ask your prospects a simple, open-ended question, like “What’s your biggest challenge with building your business online?” or “What’s the one thing you’d like to learn more about that relates to balancing your work and family life?”

Tailor the question to your area of expertise and use the answers you get to help spark ideas for your new freebie.

– Do a simple survey that asks 1-10 questions using a survey tool like Survey Monkey.

This allows you to ask more specific questions to elicit more specific responses – very cool!

Tip: To entice people to share their thoughts with you, offer them a free gift for answering your question or taking your survey. It’s also a nice way to say thank you for their time.

Put this question to your market:

– periodically in your email communications
– ask them on social media
– as an autoresponder when they sign up for your freebie

Remember, your market will tell you what it wants, if you’ll just ask them. 😉

Step 2: Write it

Once you know the topic of your freebie based on your research, it’s time to write it.

(Even if you’re filming a video, you’ll still need some form of written content to to help your viewers consumer your content – plus it doubles as your script).

I find the easiest way to create new content is to write an outline first, and then fill it in.

How about a simple outline to follow?

– Title (make this benefit-oriented)
– Intro paragraph (3-5 sentences; describe the problem and why your reader needs to solve it)
– 3-10 info bullets (your solution to the problem broken down)
– Closing paragraph (3-5 sentence summary)
– Call-to-Action (what should they do next? Tell them here)

Remember to keep it short so your reader actually consumes your content.

Step 3. Design it

Once you’re done writing your content, decide how to package it for your subscriber.

Here’s some of the most simple and highest-converting options:

Checklist
Cheat Sheet
Short Guide
One-Page Blueprint
MP3
Infographic

If design is not your forte, use Canva, Designsta, or Fiverr.

Step 4. Deliver it

Once your freebie is ready to be released, create a thank you page on your website and then upload your freebie to that page on your website, like this –> http://aliciaforest.com/thank-you/

If you’re creating a stand-alone opt-in page, I highly recommend (and use for all my opt-ins) Leadpages.

Step 5. Promote it

Yay! You’ve done the hard work, so now it’s just a matter of letting your market know your fresh and compelling opt-in is available.

The first thing I like to do is send it to my existing list (it’s a surprise bonus to them for already being on my list) and share it in my paid program groups. I’ll ask them to share the opt-in page with their circles as well.

Then we set up an automated system for sending the URL to the opt-in page on a consistent basis so we can consistently build my list.

That might look something like this:

– 1 Tweet per day
– 1 Facebook Page post per week
– 1 Free Facebook Group post per week (my group)
– 1 LinkedIn post per week
– 1 Google+ post per week
– 1 Instagram post per week
– Facebook Groups I belong to made up of my market posts as allowed

There you have it… 5 simple steps to creating a fresh compelling opt-in!

When yours is ready, I’d love to see it. Feel free to share it in the comments below… 🙂

If this was helpful, I’d love it if you’d share it using the buttons below – thanks so much!

Get my personal List-Building System, Ignite Your List for 1/2 off here

What to do when you’re in the Mediocre Middle (4 steps to marketing your way out)

During a recent conversation with my husband James about business and life, this phrase dropped into my mind: Mediocre Middle

What’s the Mediocre Middle?

At my live event, I talk about the Comfortable Minimum (which I’ll write about in a future post).

Mediocre Middle struck me as a place where it’s not comfortable but it’s sustainable with very little effort.

It’s not extraordinary, but ordinary.

It’s vanilla versus wild berry walnut with salted caramel drizzle.

In Latin, mediocris is a compound of the adjective medius, “half” or “in the middle,” and ocris, “rugged mountain.”

Something that is mediocre is only midway up a mountain or rises up to only half a mountain’s height—the thing goes just halfway to the highest point of excellence.

When we don’t have a high level of enthusiasm for what we do, or we lose our enthusiasm for our business, we get stuck at or start sliding down into the Mediocre Middle.

And, my friend, it’s a slippery, slippery slope.

If this is resonating, here’s your 4-step protocol for getting out of the Mediocre Middle.

Step 1: Identify what’s going on in your business that you don’t absolutely love or enjoy

In the spirit of Marie Kondo’s decluttering advice, first, make a list of all the offers and income streams and activities, etc. you do in your business.

For each one, ask yourself if it sparks joy, and if it doesn’t, thank it for its service and delete or delegate it immediately.

For example, if running your online course no longer brings you joy, it’s time to let it go and make space for something that does.

Or if populating your social media platforms with content doesn’t float your boat, delegate it to a capable assistant.

Step 2: Organize and prioritize what remains

What’s left should only be the things you truly enjoy offering, leading or doing.

Organize and prioritize them into your newly-opened space, both physically in your office, on your computer, and on your calendar.

Just a note here: Ideally, there should be no ‘sometimes’ or ‘maybes’ on this list. If your business is in transition from one business model to another, there may be some ‘not yet’ items on your list to let go of, so for those, commit to an exit plan and a date when you plan to be done with them for sure.

Step 3: Realign your marketing message

Now that you’ve pruned your business, it’s time to take a close look at your marketing message and make sure that it still aligns with what you offer to the world and to whom you offer it to.

Part of being in the Mediocre Middle is having a marketing message that’s only ‘half-way up the mountain’.

Make your message more succinct, more impactful and more specific to your market, and then refresh or create a new opt-in to further lift you to the summit.

Step 4: Take a stand and share it often

One of the fastest ways to move from the ordinary to the extraordinary is to take a stand for your message and your market and to speak publicly often about it.

You don’t need to shout it from the rooftops. Even quiet stands can have great impact. The point is to have one.

Ask yourself: What do you believe it? What are your values? What do you know to be true? What would you go to the mat defending? What’s your philosophy as it pertains to your business, your life, even your purpose on this planet?

Once you answer those questions for yourself, start sharing more about your answers with your market.

What will happen is that more of your perfect people will start finding and connecting with you, and your audience will grow much more easily.

Truth-telling time: Are you in the Mediocre Middle?

If you are, what are you willing to do to move out of mediocrity today?

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