If you’re anything like me, you start looking forward to summer as soon as the calendar flips to a new year. 😉
Why not take advantage of summer’s slower pace and people’s more casual attitudes and plan to not only take time off but to make some money while you do?
People ask me all the time how I’ve managed to create a 6-figure+ business while only working about 15 hours a week. First, I had to build a solid foundation and set up systems that would support the business as it grew, systems that were either automated or delegated or easily repeatable.
Once I had the foundation and the beginning systems in place, I was constantly looking for ways to leverage my time and talent, and I still do. I could write a book on the many ways we do this in my business (and maybe I will someday) but in this 4-part series, I’m going to share with you some of the most effective ones that you can apply to your business today.
1. Use Google Alerts
Part of using leverage in your business to by being aware of what’s going on out there that has to do with you. Lucky us, we have Google to keep us informed.
Simply set up a Google Alert for your name and the name of your business. You can also set up alerts for specific keywords in your business and for your colleagues. And you should set up alerts for your clients as well. You want to know what your clients are doing. If you see them doing something great you can say, “Yay.” You can also say, “You might want to try something else.”
Letting Google keep you informed of what’s going on in your online world is a great way to leverage your time.
2. Leverage your content
I teach a whole 12-part content leverage system, but you want to at least be leveraging any piece of content you write for your ezine or your blog.
So, if you’re writing an article for your ezine, make sure it goes on your blog. If you’re writing a blog post make sure at least part of it goes in your e-zine. People will read your content in different ways. They’ll read it in your e-zine in their inbox, or on your blog site – or via an RSS feed from your blog to your inbox.
Those are just two ways. Other ways are to turn that content into a podcast, a video, and social media posts, and promote them via those media.
3. Create an email campaign from your sales page
When you’ve created the sales page for your offer, you’ll need to create an e-mail campaign to promote it and your offer.
You’ve done the hard part of writing the sales page itself, even if it’s a short sales page. To leverage that hard work, take pieces of that sales page and repurpose them into your email campaign.
I know we sometimes think we have to do everything fresh and new from scratch. You do not have to do that. Take pieces from what you’ve already written and plug that into your e- mail promotions. Take something from the top. Take a piece of your story. Take the benefit bullets. Tweak them a bit and put them into your emails.
4. Do your ezine differently
If you’re writing an ezine and it’s in HTML and you find that it feels heavy, you’re not getting it done, it takes too much effort, it feels too complicated or you don’t have someone helping you do it then change to text.
Make it easy for yourself. If you struggle with HTML then creating an e-zine that way only translates into lost time and wasted energy.
If you need to do text until you’re ready to hire someone to help you do something prettier then just do text. I promise it won’t hurt you.
Also, if the ezine is just too long, you can make them short.
You don’t need to have seven moving parts. It’s more important that you’re consistent with sending it out on a weekly or twice a month. You can send them once a month if that’s correct for your market. That is more important than having them long.
Do text. Keep it short. Be more consistent about sending it out.
5. Repeat what works
I talk about this a lot. Sometimes it seems obvious. People often don’t do this. We’re too close to it. We can’t see it. That’s why you need other eyes. We get excited about new ideas and keeping things fresh. There’s nothing wrong with that. But don’t forget to review what you’ve done before that worked really well and repeat it.
(Watch for Part 3 in this series next week…)
An annual trip we make each summer is a visit to the spectacular Castle in the Clouds. The Castle’s original name was “Lucknow”, which struck me when the staff posed us for a photo of us in the tea room, complete with period hats. It seems wherever we go with our daughter Chloe, she attracts these opportunities – she’s pulled out of line to get special attention, she’s picked to go on stage, or the line we’re in puts us in the front seat. It happens so often, we couldn’t help but notice it – sure, she’s super cute and friendly (she’ll strike up a conversation with anyone) – but there seems to be something about Chloe that brings her luck now. Now, if we could just bottle that… 😉
Seriously, I’m a believer in creating your own luck (thus why I don’t buy lottery tickets). Actually I don’t usually use the word luck because I think it’s too easy for people to use it as an excuse, and not in a positive way. I’ll share something personal here – I bristle whenever someone says to me how ‘lucky’ I am to have such well-behaved kids. Don’t get me wrong – I know how blessed I am (and those of you who know me or have been reading my ezine for awhile know this too) to have two happy, healthy, whole kids. No one is more grateful for that than I am. And yet, that comment (and similar ones) always comes across to me as if James and I had nothing to do with it, that it’s the luck of the draw that we have well-behaved (most of the time) children. Are you kidding me?
It’s the same thing in your business. I’m not ‘lucky’ to have a multiple 6-figure business. I created it, I earned it. And I did that by doing 4 things consistently:
I’m always learning something new or re-learning something I already knew. If you’re not learning, you’re not growing. If you’re not growing, your business won’t grow. The more you grow inside, the more successful your business will be. So whether I’m learning a new marketing tactic or studying ‘divine success’, I know that learning will ultimately show up in the success of my business and my life.
Of course if you don’t implement what you learn, what’s the point? 😉 I implement more often than most, which shows up in my success. I’ve also learned to delegate much more to my team which means we collectively get a lot more done. My coach’s request to you is to pick one thing you’ve been meaning to implement, either choose to do it yourself or decide who to delegate it to, pick a completion date and get it done!
You can’t create a truly lucrative business without leveraging as much of your time and your talent as possible. One way I do this is via my ‘3+’ rule. Whenever I’m trying to decide whether or not to implement something, I ask myself if I’ll be able to use whatever it is I’m considering in three or more ways.
A simple example of this is writing articles about my area of expertise. When I first started out, we would publish the articles in my ezine, make them a blog post, and submit them to article directories. Now, we do those three things as well as post a podcast, submit that to podcast directories including my Artist’s Page at iTunes, submit it to blog directories, and more.
4. Mentoring (with and to)
I’ve had at least one mentor since I was 13 years old. One of the many lessons I learned from him was that I didn’t have to go it alone, that I could ask for help and be given it without strings attached. As I grew up, I’ve had different personal and professional mentors, which is why it’s always an easy decision for me to make that investment, in both time and money, especially when it comes to my business.
And being a mentor to other women entrepreneurs is absolutely part of my path. It brings me great joy and allows me to give them the lift they need to go from where they are to where they want to be.
Which of these four resonates the most with you right now? Pick one and create your own luck by putting it into action right away.
I’d love to know your thoughts on being lucky and these four ideas – please feel free to share them below…
I’ve personally invested over $100k in my own business education (not including my MBA) and I’ve leveraged that investment into well over a half-million dollars in the last few years.
I’ve said before that I will make my million – in my time and on my terms. And because I’m sensing this strong undercurrent of desperation in many business owners about making 6 or 7 figures, I wanted to invite you to take a different tact:
Ask yourself, what’s the least income you can make right now and still live a happy life?
Not ‘I want to make a million dollars by the time I’m 40’ and you’re 39 now and the most you’ve ever made is $50k. Not ‘I want to make 6 figures by the end of 2011’ and your current monthly revenue is $2k.
So, what’s the least you can make that will take you to that very next step in your vision – not the BIG vision – but just the next bump up?
What’s the least amount of money you can bring in that will give your current lifestyle the boost that will make you smile, that will make you feel and know you’re moving forward, and that will continue to motivate you onward?
You see, I’ve been asking myself the same question lately. And the reason is because I’ve been starting to feel really stressed in my business and frankly I’m not having as much fun as I used to in it either.
And because of a few other things that are attributing to this feeling of heaviness that are outside my business, I’ve been feeling a need to shift things. Just small shifts for now, while allowing the bigger shifts to more fully form without pushing them into fruition until next year.
So here’s my answer to this question and how you can figure it out for your own business too:
Step 1: Get cash clear
Get crystal clear on how much money you really need to live the lifestyle that you’re happy with, not the one you’re striving for (I guarantee when you give up this grip, money will flow more abundantly to you).
This may mean having a conversation with a spouse or partner. Do it. Especially if you are in a financial partnership with someone else, you’re likely not the only one feeling the push and the pressure for more. Do yourselves both a favor and figure out what’s the minimum level for you. You may be able to give up or put aside one or more of your current income streams so you can have more of the time freedom you crave, knowing you still have enough to enjoy your life.
Step 2: Be sure all your eggs aren’t in one basket
If you’re relying on high-end pricing and programs to carry your business, you may be setting yourself up for a financial fall. Your clients and customers are being more and more discriminating about where they’re spending their money – and that’s not going to change anytime in the near future, not while our economic outlook is still bleak.
Be sure to have different ways in which you can serve your market, not just one-on-one. Offer lower priced programs and products to help more people as well as to diversify your cash flow.
Step 3: Build your business around your life
This is a mindset shift for many people. But if you’re in business for yourself, isn’t it so you can design the life you want to live? Not so you can work more, but so you can work less, and still enjoy a great life with the income to support it?
In order to do that, you have to schedule your life first, then your business-building activities around that. This is how I’ve been able to take off almost 3 months every summer for the last 6 years. My business doesn’t suffer; in fact, it grows because of my commitment to this principle.
Figure out how to make the money you want for the next level of your business (again, not the BIG vision, just the next bump up) in the time that is left after you’ve planned the life you want to live first. Then ask for the support or hire the team you need to help you make this happen.
When you put your life first, the time towards what makes you happy, the focus on just the next bump while you tend to LIVING, all the ‘more’ you want (which we all want, by the way – we are all here to grow and to be, do, and have more) will come. This I know for sure.
I’d love to know your thoughts on this – please leave your comments below.
Are you working too hard in your business? If you’re an entrepreneur, you probably are, especially if you’re in the early stages of your business building. And you’re not alone.
Here’s an example from my own client files:
I was recently working with a client who was a real go-getter, very serious about being in business for herself, and marketing only to a more affluent clientele. She wanted to increase her reach into that market online. And she was considering adding article marketing to her mix.
At this stage in her business, she was already doing quite well. She was close to making 6 figures and charging 5 times as much as her counterparts – and getting it easily. But she wasn’t satisfied. She really wanted to break the $100k mark before the third anniversary of her business, which was coming up in just a few months.
When she asked me, “What is the quickest, most cost-effective way to regularly market articles?” and then told me she planned to do this work herself, I stopped her.
“You know, just because you can do this task, doesn’t mean you should…”
She was quiet for a moment before asking me to elaborate.
“I know your writing is high quality and of high value to your market, and I definitely think you should be getting that content out there, to the appropriate places that will bring you the highest return-on-investment for your efforts. But I don’t think you should be doing this yourself. It’s not a good use of your time or your energy. What do you think?”
After a bit more discussion, she agreed to hire someone to do this for her.
As you read this, did you think of perhaps one task that you routinely do (or that falls by the wayside because you can never just get to it) that you know is ‘below your pay grade’ and yet you continue to waste time and energy on it (even if that time and energy is just thinking about how you’re NOT getting it done?)?
This concept was (still is, from time to time) difficult for me to grasp when my own coach shone a light on it for me. But since I’ve tried to be aware of how much effort I really need to put into a task to get the result I want, it’s opened up space for things to flow more effortlessly and more quickly than ever.
Do you spend more time than necessary responding to emails? Do you write two paragraphs when a two-sentence response would suffice? Do you respond to emails that actually don’t require a response? Do you check email every 5 minutes (come on, fess up!)? What if you didn’t do any of these things and still had a handle on your inbox? You can – just follow Tina’s system to Escape from Email Hell (see Alicia Recommends).
Are you writing blog posts that are long? Maybe it even feels cumbersome to try to write a post the length of an article. Don’t – keep them short and pithy. Make sure your keywords are in the content and it doesn’t matter how long your posts are to the search engines – and your readers will probably appreciate shorter posts as well. Better yet, turn your weekly ezine articles into blog posts to save even more time and energy.
Are you constantly updating your website? Does it really need to be revamped so often? More to the point, is this something you have to do yourself? No. Most virtual assistants can make website updates for you at a much lower cost to your time and energy than you doing it yourself.
4. Customer/Client Relations
Who responds to questions and comments from your clients and customers? Are you processing refunds, working out payment glitches, resending download links, answering the same questions about your programs over and over, or any other task that could easily be passed off to a capable assistant? You can quickly and easily train someone to respond to these inquiries in your voice by having them shadow you via blind-copying them on each email you send out. Then reverse the process and voila – another time and energy drain has been removed from your shoulders.
If you’ve been a client of mine, it’s very likely you’ve heard one of my mantras, “Done is better than perfect.” I usually follow that with, “And it’s never going to be all done.” So choose to cause yourself less stress and DO LESS. Experiment with this and see how much more productive you’ll actually be. Think of just one thing that you could do the easy way instead of the hard way, or delegate to an assistant, or better yet, take off your ‘must-do’ list altogether.