4 Easy but Powerful Ways to Create More Success in Your Business in Less Time

Here’s a question I get asked all the time:

“I don’t know you how do it, Alicia…with two little ones to care for and so few hours in the day to actually focus on your work. Somehow you manage to write your weekly ezine, hold a bunch of teleseminars each month, run your group and private coaching programs, AND be creating and promoting new offers and new products all the time. I’m so impressed and inspired by you, but more than that, I want to know how you do it all!?”

To be honest, sometimes I wonder myself! Something I often say to other, especially new, mothers is, “despite what everyone tells you to do, do whatever works for YOU.” In a way, that’s how I started running my business after I had my daughter. I just did whatever worked. I still do.

When she got a bit older, it was easier to manage both being a fulltime mother along with running a successful business. Then enter baby #2 and it was back to square one. It’s not easy but it is possible. And here’s what’s really interesting (mompreneurs, take note): I started making about $3k more each month since having my son – and I’m working LESS.

A client once pointed out to me that it seems the biggest growths in my business have been when I’ve been having babies – and she’s right!

Over time, I’ve figured out how to get the most important things done while still being able to focus the majority of my time on my family (after all, that’s one of the reasons why I went into business for myself in the first place).

Here are just a few of them:

1. Setting my work hours

My typical work day looks like this: I get organized the night before for the next day. This jump-starts my day and makes sure that when I do get those tiny pockets of time to get something done, I know exactly what to do. This makes me feel like I’m accomplishing stuff in-between drop-off and pick-up from school, making crafts, playing trains, making dinner, etc.

When I started my business, I didn’t get any real work done until naptime. I worked for about a total of an hour or so while the kids napped, five days a week. Then I put in some more time after they went to bed at night, whether I was leading a teleseminar or catching up on emails. My biggest block of focused time, usually reserved for writing and product creation, was on Saturdays, when I worked approximately 4 hours.

During a perfect week, that gave me about 12 hours of time dedicated to business. However, there’s never a perfect week (one or the other doesn’t nap, I have some pressing non-business-related task that I can only take care of when they’re sleeping, one of them is sick, etc.), so my best guess is that this gives me about 8-10 productive hours to work on my business each week.

Now that the kids are both in school, my dedicated work time is a couple of hours in the morning until I pick my son up at noon, a little at naptime, and sometimes in the evening (again if I’m hosting a teleseminar) or on a Saturday, if I have a launch going on.

So, although my hours have shifted, the amount of hours is still relatively the same – about 15 hours a week.

So how do I decide what to focus on that will move my business forward the fastest in that limited amount of time each week? I use what I call a Priority Card…

2. Using 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. Like I said, 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 to 5 projects with looming deadlines (self-imposed as they may be) from my master task list (which really is so massive that I write it on a 8.5 x 14 legal pad). For example, at the moment, I am working on my annual Online Business Breakthrough Workshop.

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 leaped 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.

3. Ignoring the phone

I’m serious when I say that I ignore the phone. Some of my clients get heart palpitations when I tell them that I NEVER jump when the phone rings and suggest they do the same. I don’t even have the ringer turned on on the business line. Does this mean I miss some important calls? Probably. But my virtual assistant checks my messages in a timely manner, takes care of what she can, and forwards the rest to me. I then email or call people back at a more convenient time for me.

4. Quick consults

When a prospective client wanted to speak with me about ‘just a few questions’, I used to gladly schedule a time to talk. But instead of a few questions, I’d be on the phone for at least a half hour, basically giving a free coaching/consulting session, and being frustrated with myself for not valuing my time more.

And up until a few years ago, when a potential client or customer requested to talk with me further about working with me or about one of my products, they could schedule a time to talk for a much smaller fee than my usual hourly rate, and if they decided to go forward with working with me, they could apply the fee they paid towards the program or product they were interested in. This was fair and valued both our time and investment in the process.

Now, however, prospects can talk with my virtual assistant should they need more information about any of my programs or products. If someone is interested in working with me one-on-one, they need to apply for a private coaching spot and if I feel it’s a good fit, we set up an interview to discuss moving forward.

BONUS: Make and use lists

I’d be lost without my lists! I’d never remember to do anything if I didn’t write it down. I keep a bunch of reporter’s notebooks around the house and anytime I think of something I need to do, I write it down in whatever room I’m in – whether it’s business or personal. Then I periodically gather the lists and separate them into three main lists; personal, business, and other (which includes the “someday I’d like to…” stuff; things that aren’t a priority but that I want to remember to do at some point), and check things off in priority order from there.

If you start applying some of these steps now, I guarantee the number of productive hours you spend on your business will increase. And you’ll also feel less overwhelmed and lessed stressed about trying to get it all done!

I’d love to know which one of these resonates the most with you – share with me below…

Simple Product Creation

Once you’ve figured out your niche (or you’ve at least narrowed it down significantly), it’s time to figure out what problems they are struggling with, and what they want by way of solutions. Remember, if you will only ask your market, it wants to help you create the products it wants to buy!

How do you find out what your target market wants? There are several ways to get this information and use it to help you create an offering that will solve your niche’s problems and make a profit for you at the same time.

The best way is to do your research. The most critical research to do is to join the conversations that your market is having:

Here are two ways to do this:

1. Simple: 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 niche and use the information you receive to help spark ideas for new products and services.

2. Almost as Simple: Do a simple survey…

…that asks 1-10 questions using a survey tool like Zoomerang or Survey Monkey. This allows you to ask more specific questions to elicit more specific responses. Doing a survey like this really helps you to NOT waste your time creating offerings your target market simply doesn’t want.

Once you’ve figure out what your niche’s problems are, you can create or find the solutions to solve those problems. Your solution can be packaged in a variety of ways: an ecourse, a PDF manual, an ebook, an audio download and/or CD, group programs, teleseminars, e-manuals, etc.

Here’s a very simple process to follow to create a product to add to you funnel quickly:

1. Do a free or paid live class on your product

Once you’ve done your research and you’ve chosen a topic your target market is interested in knowing more about, offer a 1-hour teleclass on that topic. Cover three points and offer your solutions. Most important is to make sure you record the teleseminar, as this is what leads to a product for you.

As you’re designing your outline for the class, do so in a way that creates notes for your participant. (If you’re a member of my Coaching Cafe, you know that I give very detailed class notes, so you know what I mean by this).

As the end of your live teleclass, you’ll have the recording and notes to then…

2. Package it virtually.

Now you have the audio recording and notes to offer as a bundled product and…

3. Package it into a tangible product.

You can then take it up a notch and turn it into a physical product and offer it that way as another income stream for you.

And here are some of my other favorite tips for simple product creation:

– If you don’t have a list or access to a list, you can offer a free class on a topic and then charge people for the product down the road, or afterwards.
– Another option is to have someone interview you on your topic to create your product. You can offer the questions along with the interviewee’s questions. This is a good strategy if you don’t think you can get enough people on a call.

– You can record any live classes or workshops you’re holding as well, and re-package those presentations virtually or tangibly.

– Try to record everything so you always have the option to offer it at some level down the road.

– Promote your teleclass to your list, via colleagues who are willing to spread the word (especially if it’s free) and at teleclass listing services.

– Promote on the discussion lists and groups that you’re a part of, promote it there with permission and on the appropriate day.

– Pricing: If this is a new process for you, if you’re offering your topic for the first time and sort of feeling out your market, go with the lower end. If you’re putting together a 90-minute class with lots of comprehensive step-by-step information, charge more.

– When it comes to creating your big-ticket item, they can be created from all these little products along the way. So, if you were creating a product a month or every other month, that gives you 6-12 products at the end of the year that can be packaged together into your big ticket item.