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

How To Wipe Out Overwhelm

How often do you find yourself in this scenario?

It’s Monday morning and you’re all geared up for a productive week ahead. You’ve got your to-do list (massive as it is) at the ready and you sit down at your desk to start checking things off.

As you begin to read down your list, you start to feel something in your gut. It’s not a physical pain necessarily, just a feeling of something heavy starting to grow. You ignore it and continue reading your list, making stars next to the things that seem to be the most important to get done that day.

But the more you do this, the heavier that feeling gets, until it starts creeping up to your shoulders and finally settles in your head. All that enthusiasm you had when you first sat down is gone and the only thing you feel now is utter and complete overwhelm.

Sound familiar? I’ve been there, too, so I understand.

And it’s not that all the tasks on your list aren’t wonderful and/or doable. There are simply too many of them – and they all seem important right now – to expect that you can accomplish them all in the hours you have to work in any single day.

So what happens? You do a little of this, a little of that, and you really never complete a single project!

But you don’t have to let another week pass without really accomplishing anything. Simply create a Priority Card.

A Priority Card will help you organize all your tasks in a way that will SHOW you every day what you should focus on.

There are a lot of details that will threaten to take your mind off your priorities (this is where a virtual assistant can be of immense value), but those details are not necessarily what will move you forward in your business. To do that, you need to consistently focus on completing the projects that will move your business ahead big-time.

You can create a system for helping you focus on your priorities in a number of ways, but I’m going to give you mine. I only work about 15 hours a week on my business, so adjust your own plan accordingly.

At the beginning of each week, I choose 3 projects with looming deadlines (self-imposed as they may be) from my master task list (which really is so massive that it has its own notebook).

For example, at the moment, I am working on a sales page, content for a program, and a new offer.

On a colored index card, I write down those projects and prop the card in a standing clip holder, right in front of my computer screen. When I start to feel that sense of overwhelm, or when I find myself getting distracted by new ideas or other tasks (all of which seem important), I remind myself to look at my Priority Card and focus only on what’s written there.

Once I started using my Priority Card, my own business growth leapt forward ten times faster than when I was doing a little of this and a little of that, working on a dozen things, but taking much too long to actually complete just one project.

Know you won’t be able to stick to this process 100% of the time, but even 80% will help you make dramatic strides in your business growth. You’ll actually finish the projects you set out to do, and you’ll not only feel great about doing so, you’ll be inspired to do it again, and again, and again. Once you make this shift, you’ve learned the secret to wiping out overwhelm for yourself and your business!

Want to know more of my best tips for beating overwhelm and simplifying everything in your business so it’s less stressful and much more fun?

Be sure to check out my Lively Biz Business Club – get on the wait list here.

Where Are You Missing Leverage in Your Business? (Part 1)

If you’re a woman entrepreneur who’s building a leveraged online business so you can keep your family first, this is for you.

As the same, I’m always looking for ways to leverage what’s already working in my business to improve my results so I can grow my business more quickly without more effort.

Where in your business could you do the same? Take this mini-assessment to find out.

__ 1. Do you know your priorities?

You need to know the highest-payoff activities to focus on in your business before you can fully leverage them for a far greater result.

If you often feel scattered, and that you’re too often flying by the seat of your pants, and you would LOVE to have a much more streamlined and simplified process for creating flow in your business on every level, it starts with knowing and focusing only on what matters.

What’s your #1 highest-payoff activity in your business today?


__ 2. Are your sales lacking?

If you’re not making as many sales as you want, there’s likely some missing pieces in your sales flow. I’m sure you know that just putting something out there online does not equal a successful offer. There are several critical pieces you need to have in place first, and then a strategy to convert from offer to sale.

What is the #1 missing piece in your sales process today?


__ 3. Do you abandon your current clients/customers?

It is far easier to sell something to someone who has already bought from you, and yet this is one of the most common places where entrepreneurs leave money on the table.

What is the natural next step you could offer to your current clients/customers?


__ 4. Do you leave your prospects hanging?

70% of your sales are in the follow-up. Don’t leave your potential clients and customers hanging just because your offer went live. Keep touching base with them, making sure they don’t feel abandoned, that you truly do want to help them.

Where in your current or next offer could you add a follow-up process?


__ 5. Do you have an “easy yes” offer?

Do you have a way to work with your market that’s an easy yes for them? I’m not talking about private work at your highest level. I’m talking about being able to experience your work in a way that leverages your time yet supports your client as well?

What simple product or program could you create that walks your client through your process in a do-it-yourself way?

These are just 5 areas to be looking at where you could up the ante on what you already have in place in your business – or what you should have in place to create the success you desire. We’ll cover 5 more in Part 2, but in the meantime, spend some time figuring out for yourself where you can apply the above to start seeing better results for less effort.

If you want my help in answering these questions with you, be sure to get on the wait list for the brand-new Lively Biz Business Club that’s opening soon!

 

What To Do When Your Best Laid Plans Go Awry…

 

If you’re running your own business, you’re going to have days, weeks, even months, when Life Interrupts and shifts all of your best laid plans.

Of course, the beauty of being your own boss is that you have a great amount of freedom and flexibility, so how do you roll with it when all those plans go awry?

Here are 3 simple ways to ride it out with as much ease and grace as possible:

1. Let Go

Planned on getting that sales page done? Wanted to finish writing those final chapters of your book? Hoped to attend a networking event? Set up to shoot that video series? Write your new free taste? Offer a new program?

But then Life threw a wrench into your plans and so nothing happened. A child or a parent is sick and needs you, your computer died, you got the flu, your child is having trouble in school, you’ve had a fight with a loved one, or some other emotional or physical upheaval has occurred.

I’m a planner, and I’ve learned, especially once I had the kids, that things don’t often go to plan. And if I don’t want to be frustrated and stressed, then I need to be flexible and patient (and yes, that’s still hard sometimes).

The only thing you can do when your heart, mind and energy is needed elsewhere is to go with it.

Let go of the plan and go where you are needed.

2. The ‘One Thing’ Rule

I want to share with you one of my secrets to my enduring success that you can apply when your plan gets knocked off-track or you find yourself with little time to work on your business.

Ask yourself this one simple question:

What’s the ONE THING I can do today to move my business forward?

When you simply don’t have the capacity or the time to work your plan, there is often one thing that you can do that will make you feel that you accomplished something in that day, which will help to fortify you moving forward.

3. Get support

Of course, sailing more smoothly through troubled waters requires support – family, friend, colleague, mentor, and business assistant support.

When Life is tumultuous, reach out for the support you need to help you through. Whether it’s a shoulder to lean on, a vent session, an emergency call, or adding another team member – reach out and support yourself by asking for whatever kind of help you need.

And remember, tomorrow is another day. 🙂

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this – share them with me below…

How to Not Get Wet When the Business Coaching Bubble Bursts

Connecting with my colleagues on a Facebook thread recently, there was a conversation about business coaches who post photos of their big houses, exotic trips, private jets (ok, that’s mostly just Frank Kern (and it’s so totally him, I can handle it)), and of course, the obligatory convertible shot – not that there’s anything wrong with that – I have a Jeep and I’ve taken my own top-off shots to share. 😉

But this thread was more about using these lifestyle photos in ads, mostly all of them with the promise of a 6-figure+ income.

(I still don’t get the ad that shows a pair of red high heel promising coaches how to get more clients – what do those spiked heels have to do with growing your business?)

I’ve been in this business for 15+ years, and I’ve watched the market become saturated with every form of business coach imaginable (general, sales, marketing, social media, etc.).

Basically it’s coaches coaching coaches on how to make money coaching.

Being around the block for awhile, I’ve sensed and seen the bubbles bursting (remember those $100k programs?) and this one is most definitely brimming.

It’s already happening – coaches who are closing up shop, moving from entrepreneur to employee again, deciding it’s time to do something else.

And that’s ok…

But if you’re a business coach who’s actually good at what you do, then the ‘everyone’s a (business) coach’ conundrum can hurt you.

So how do we stand out and thrive and not be part of the bubble when it bursts?

Show your credentials

I don’t necessarily believe that you have to have an MBA to be a business coach, but if you do – tell people.

If you have a successful background in business BEFORE you became a coach – tell people.

If you’ve logged time doing what you do successfully for yourself and your clients – tell people.

I earned my MBA in Leadership. I’ve been in business for myself in one form or another since 2001 (really, since I was 12). I was on the Board of Directors for a university for several years, helping to grow its strategic marketing and financial standing. I was a senior level public relations and marketing director. I’ve been in sales. I have credentials in the field of business law. I’ve worked with hundreds of clients who’ve successfully built businesses of their own – both on and offline – for over 15 years.

I’m going to continue to be successful because I actually know what I’m doing. There, I said it. And you should say it too.

Do things differently

I absolutely believe in following a proven system or process to get started in business. There simply are foundational pieces that must be in place and critical operations that must occur as the business grows. That’s true for ALL businesses.

And then there’s the point of customizing for growth. That’s when your coaching needs to be customized for your clients.

And if you do that, make sure you let people know.

Not just in terms of helping your client to create something that’s truly in alignment with who they are and their work and purpose on the planet… but also if you do the running of the business differently too.

Yes, I customized, particularly with my private clients. And I’ve saved my clients thousands of dollars by sharing with them how they can get the same result they’re looking for, for a far lower expense, in regards to their business operations.

And I make it ok for them to do so. I don’t tell them they have to hire this certain person, or invest in this particular service, or buy this piece of software or equipment, or else they aren’t ‘playing big enough’ – ugh.

I run a lean business (<$500/mo) and make very good money on the other side. My clients do too. If you do these things for your clients, make sure you tell people.

Diversify your clientele

When meeting someone outside of business circles and asked what I do, I usually reply, “I’m a business coach” because it just makes small talk easier.

When asked who I work with, though, this is where it gets interesting…

While there was a period of time when many of my clients were business coaches (though they may call themselves something more specific) who were coaching more business coaches who were… you get the idea… over the last several years, my private clientele has become much more diversified.

One client focuses on helping nurses reconnect with the passion they once felt for nursing so they can enjoy being a nurse again.

Another client empowers her clients to follow their soul’s guidance so they can lead an expression-filled life of joy.

Another client is coaching women leaders to be the leaders in their own life.

And another is taking her success with owning and operating two Montessori schools online, through offering a way for families to bring Montessori teaching into the home.

In fact, none of my current clients are coaching coaches on how to make money.

Make sure that your proverbial client eggs aren’t all in one basket either.

Do your due diligence

Just because someone spent $5k on a photo shoot or have fabulous aerial videos shot from a drone doesn’t mean they know what they’re talking about when it comes to helping you succeed in your business.

I know more than one business coach who had THE photos done – full glamour shots – that really give off the impression of wealth and success… and yet, I also know they’re drowning in debt and can’t pay their bills.

On the other hand, I know another business coach who invested in the most amazing drone-shot videos for a recent launch of his program. Did his ‘impression’ live up to his promise? Yes, and then some… how do I know? Because I invested in that program and it’s been worth every penny.

So it’s not to say that a coach who’s spent money on professional, polished, branded, even slick marketing isn’t worth your hard-earned cash – just know WHO you’re investing in before you do.

Do your due diligence.

Business coaching is always going to be a viable enterprise, but as the industry evolves, especially in this virtual arena, it’s up to us to have the gumption to stand out, stand up, and show up, if we want to thrive outside the bubble.

Are you being pushed or pulled to grow?

(click play to listen)

Mo chara (my friend),

Have you ever taken the time to notice the plot twists of your life?

Those defining moments that change everything – either a lot or a little.

We all have them – some of those moments for me were when my mom surmounted a childhood belief that she wasn’t wanted and chose instead to value her own existence, even in the face of danger; when a treasured mentor disappeared unexpectedly from my life only to return 7 years later at a place neither expected the other to be; the letting in of someone who was destined to break my heart, but being able to recognize the soul connection anyway; a breakdown on a street corner in Helsinki when I finally realized I was the only one responsible for my life; finding out my father had cancer the first time – and all the other times since; being fired from my last job and taking the leap into entrepreneurship; the saddest moment of ending my first marriage even though it was right for both of us; saying yes to another man with the absolute knowing it was for a lifetime; deciding to have a child and the heartbreak and stress of it taking so damn long to conceive, then having another and it NOT taking any time at all, all while learning how to be a parent…

Every single moment happened because I needed to grow – and the Universe was going to either push me out of the situation or pull me forward into something else to make sure it happened one way or another.

And every single time, it was scary as hell.

If your current situation feels something like this, it’s probably time for a new level of growth for you too.

Maybe this is not a new feeling for you. It’s likely this has been nudging you – or eating at you – for awhile.

And maybe you’re scared. That’s normal. The best piece of advice I’ve ever received was ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’… as cliche as that sounds – it’s also true.

And whenever these pivotal moments happen – whether they are put upon us or we make a conscious choice that changes things, it’s also normal to worry that things are going to get worse instead of better, that it won’t be positive growth, but a downward spiral to something else you don’t want in your life.

And sometimes that does happen – it does get worse before it gets better.

That afternoon in Helsinki when I realized I was truly on my own, I had to go dark for about a year. I barely connected with my family or my friends. I had to go inward, to see if I had it in me to stand on my own two feet, to face ‘what’s the worst that could happen’ so that I knew, in the depths of my being, that I would be ok, no matter what.

And all of that was necessary in order for me to grow into the woman who could, in fact, stand on her own (and then had to learn how to let someone else help her again – thank goodness for a patient and secure husband), who could make choices that were her own, not someone else’s, to be a successful entrepreneur, to be a significantly better wife the second time, a reconnected and loving daughter again, and a pretty good mom most of the time.

But how do you know when it’s time for this kind of a shift?

You know. You know right now reading this if it’s time for you. Don’t you? 😉

But if you’re unsure, check in with how you feel. Think of the current situation where you feel it might be time to move things in some way. How does its current state make you feel?

For example, if you’re feeling stuck and stagnant in your business, is it because you need to just take some time away to regroup and refresh so you can come back with renewed energy?

Or is it more than that? Has the feeling of being stuck and stagnant, fairly unmotivated, less creative, all-around less jazzed about your business been poking at you for some time now?

Does your brain say ‘keep the status quo’ but your heart says ‘dear one, it’s time to move on’?

If this is resonating at all, you already have one foot on the train to the next stop on your soul journey.

And if other people are noticing that something seems different, whether they can put their finger on it or not, that can be an indicator that it’s time to get your train ticket to your next destination. And, it needs to be said that even if they don’t like it, remember that it’s not theirs to be bothered about – it’s yours. Your life, your heart, your spirit, your business, your body, your everything.

If this is landing, it’s probably time to take a gentle jump forward. By gentle, I mean, be kind to yourself and take it one step at a time. By jump, I mean into some thing or some way of ‘new’.

The first thing that came to mind to you just now is what what you need to do.
Yeah, you say, sounds great, Alicia, but what about the FEAR?
Well, you know what I’m going to say, right?Feel the fear and do it anyway.

Because that’s the only way.

The fear is always going to be there, it’s always going to try to keep us safe and in status quo, in our comfortable minimum.

But the only way we’ll ever live the extraordinary lives we’re meant to is to recognize it for what it is – fear – and move forward regardless.I remember when I left my last job, making $43k a year with benefits, and going out on my own, with no safety net. I was also deeply in debt, cut off from my family by choice, and living with the constant stress of not enough of anything.

But I also knew if I held onto that little spark of hope, I could do anything. Somewhere deep inside, I knew I would be fine. If I just kept at it, kept putting one foot in front of the other, and keep moving through the fear, all would be well – eventually.

And through it all, I rose. And I’m on the cusp of the next rising. And so are you.

You’ll need to take a deep breath, give your fear a nod, and step forward towards the next place in your journey.

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