Laurel Anne Stark

How To Write For Your Website To Make It Rain (Money)

Laurel Stark

Whether you’re launching a brand-new website or revamping an existing one, the writing on your website can be the difference between a website that rains (revenue) and one that doesn’t.

The most common mistake business owners make is the failure to answer one simple question for your audience.

Failing to answer this one question means your future customers will leave your website and move on to your competitor’s websites.


(Image credit Meme Generator & Copyright Little Wayne.)

What’s In It For Me?

This is the silent question every website visitor is asking when they land on your website.

If you don’t answer your visitor's questions, relate to their situation, intrigue your visitor or provide value in some way, they will leave your website.

A common mistake...

Many businesses writing text for their websites focus on themselves and their business, instead of putting themselves in the shoes of their prospective customers.

You’ve been to these websites, they go on and on about their products, services and qualifications, but not in a way that meets you where you are or feels relevant to your situation.

Do You Feel My Pain?

Put yourself in your customer's shoes.

Prior to a visitor landing on your website, they’ll often be on Google, searching for a solution to a problem they're having.

Generally their problem will be causing them discomfort, if not pain, otherwise they wouldn't be trying to solve it.

When you're writing the text for your website ask yourself:

  • What discomfort or pain do my customers have ?
  • What language do they use to describe their pain?
  • When and how does this problem show up for them?

Write your website text in the language your customers use, that reflects their pain or discomfort, describing a moment in their life.

On the topic of pain...let's compare two approaches

Consider the product ibuprofen.

If you were writing the text for the website designed to sell more ibuprofen, you could discuss the features of the product: how it lasts a certain amount of time, and it comes in a bottle filled with 80 capsules is more affordable than aspirin etc.

All pretty boring stuff, right?

Or you could paint a picture....describe a beautiful sunny Sunday, and you'd love to go out for a run with your friends, but you can't because your knees are hurting you again, and you're just sick of this, and you're gaining weight, and you're feeling like a big lump, and your life quality has gone downhill.

Writing from your customer's perspective can create a compelling emotional reaction.

Really get into the discomfort or the pain points that your future customers are suffering, try and paint a picture of a moment in time, in a day in the life of your customer.

Then from there describe the transformation they can experience once they utilize what you sell.

An example of a transformation:

Now I've taken ibuprofen, and now I am limber, I can go and play with my grandkids, (if I had grandkids) and I am training for my first triathlon and I feel more confident in my body and I have a better quality of life.

Wow. That is powerful stuff.

That's the difference between crappy copywriting that alienates or bores people and copywriting that engages your audience.

PLEASE LIKE AND SHARE THIS ARTICLE.

I also would love to hear your comments in the box below.

You can subscribe to my channel on YouTube for more online marketing tips, or visit my website for more information about how I help people get better results from their online marketing.

How To Get Your Website To Show Up On Google. Part One: (for Beginners).

Laurel Stark

How To Get Your Website To Show Up On Google. Part One: (for Beginners).

Have you ever wondered "How do I get my website to rank higher on Google?"

It’s a question I get asked a lot so I thought I would answer the question (or at least part of it, in today’s article).

The short answer is that there’s no short answer…

But really, the answer is a big one, so I'm gonna break it up into a couple of different posts for you.
What I’ll cover today are basics and first steps.

 

What do people search for, when they’re looking for what you sell?

Successfully arriving anywhere begins with knowing your destination.

As so with this exercise; the very first thing to do is determine where on Google you want to show up.

What words are your prospective clients typing into Google? Or, what are people searching for when they’ree looking for what you sell?

Typically, people type in a couple different types of words into Google, we call these keywords.

One type is location specific, so things like "vacuum repair, Vancouver," "Vancouver vacuum repair," "Vancouver vacuum sales," so location specific. That's one set.

Another type is kind of like a big ramble. If you think about how you use Google and what you type into Google, then this will give you a pretty good idea. Questions like, "Where do I get my vacuum fixed in Vancouver?" Or,"What's the best vacuum repair store in Vancouver?" These types of things are called long tail keywords.

Ideally, you’ll have a list of two type of keywords, short and/or location specific keywords and long tail keywords, which are more sort of rambles or questions.

Compile a list of these key phrases first and get, 30 as a great place to start.

Then once you have these words, associate each keyword or group of keywords with a page on your website, or the pages that you want to show up on Google in response to those searches.

Put out the welcome mat and turn the lights on.

Making your website friendly and welcoming for Google and for your future customers involve many of the same activities.

There's some pretty obvious stuff that you can start off with to make your website Google friendly. Look at your website from the perspective of whether or not your website is easy to use.

How fast does your website load?

There's a bunch of different things that you can do to get your website to be sped up. One of those things is definitely making sure that your images are compressed. You can do all kinds of speed tests online and website developers can help you speed your site. That's one really basic thing.

Is your website mobile friendly?

Another basic thing is looking and being sure that your website is mobile friendly so if you use a tablet or a phone to access your website, you can actually click on the buttons, it's not impossible to use.

Is your website structure helpful?

Referring back to your list of keywords, all of the pages on your website should answer the questions, or at least be relevant to the key phrases that people are typing into Google.

The three little letters that mean a lot.

Every single page on your website should be what we call "search engine optimized.", or SEO’d if you want to sound like a pro :-)
This means associating a specific target keyword or key phrase to each page and then optimized each page for that keyword or key phrase.

Say for example, we're working with this vacuum store in Vancouver, so on the about page they should use those words quite a bit, and say why they are the best vacuum repair store in Vancouver, and how to find the best vacuum store in Vancouver, like where the address is, et cetera. You want to have a whole bunch of content that actually uses those words people are searching for.

Also, provide images, as they are very helpful.

Search engine optimization is also fairly technical, the page URL, for example, www.johnsvacuums.com/aboutbestvacuumstorevancouver - each page URLshould use the keywords as well.

If you have a WordPress site you can use this plugin called Yoast, it's a fantastic plugin, it basically tells you exactly what to do.

You can download that and then optimize each page accordingly. That's kind of an overview of your on-site optimization that you can do to help your website rank higher in Google.

Another thing, depending on the resources that you have, and the amount of time that you have, but generally I recommend blogging regularly.

This just shows Google that you are relevant site, and contender, and that your site isn't old and outdated. Also gives lots of great content that you can share on social media. It's great for your users as well. I recommend blogging, again, based on those keywords.

Blog for people, not robots!

Now, back in the day, it used to be that you would just write it for the search engines, and all the content on the website, it didn't really matter if a human could read it.

But now, it definitely has to be relevant, it has to be readable, and it has to be useful to the person who is making that search.

It's a tricky balance between making sure that the keywords are in there and it's all based on a particular topic, as well as making sure that it's coded appropriately according to Google, and people would actually stay on the page, and look at it, and find value in what it is that you've written there as well.

How did I do?

If you found this valuable, please consider sharing with your network. In fact, just hit that share button right now and share away.

If you want more information, you can download more free resources here on my website at www.laurelannestark.com.

And if you disagree or think I missed anything, please weigh in in the comments section below.

Thanks for watching!

What The Heck To Post on Social Media (For Business)

Laurel Stark


“What should I post on social media?"

The lady asking this question isn't personally on social media all that much.

She was asking for work and she hadn't posted to any of the business’ social media accounts for six months or so.
This is much more common than you might think.

If you’re in the same situation, I'm going to help walk you through creating a document that's going to completely answer that question for you - for the rest of this year.

 

You will never have to think "Oh Jeez, What do I post on social media?" again!


What we’re going to create is what I call an editorial calendar.

It’s a plan for the year and days of the week we’re going to create in advance, so you stay up to date and have a record of what you’re going to post.
I usually create it as an Excel sheet and I put columns for every single month and have another tab for theme days of the week - like “Sneak a Peek Sundays”

If you don’t have an editorial calendar, following this plan, it will take you, I would say probably, 15 to 20 minutes to sit down and create that calendar.

The 15-20 minutes you spend today will pay off in dividends. Trust me on this one!


Get Festive!

First thing you want to do is grab a calendar, whether it's paper or electronic, and take a look at all the holidays that happen every single year.

I mean, we all know the obvious ones around a typical holiday season. There's smaller ones like St. Patrick's Day that you might want to incorporate.

Once you populate your Excel spreadsheet with all the holidays that are happening in every single year, you're already going to have so many more things that you could possibly post about on social media!

What’s Happening?

Then, I want you to take it a step further and take a look at the news and events that are happening internally within your company.

Perhaps you would attend a trade show every single year at the same time.
Perhaps it's your really busy season every single year at the same time.
Perhaps there's deadlines that your customers need to know about every single year at the same time.
Again, put these events in your editorial calendar so that way next time you take a look at it you know, "Oh. This is what's coming up this month."

Channel Your Inner Photographer

Second thing I want you to do, is start thinking about taking behind the scenes photos.

Put it in your calendar once a week to spend a few minutes taking pictures. People love photos of other people so take photos of your staff, your customers if they'll let you. Post it on social and just do a little introduction as to who we're looking at here.
This helps people to know, like and trust your business by providing a little bit behind the scenes.

Similarly, if you can't get anyone to pose for a photo you can also just take pictures about what's going on around the office. Perhaps someone dropped of donuts or perhaps your parking lot is icy. Seems again, like a little bit of an overshare, but this is the type of stuff that happens on social media, and again, will get people to know, like and trust you.

Change Your Perspective

Then, I want you to put yourself in the shoes of your prospective customers.

What do they care about?
What are they interested in?

In the case of, say for example, you are a contractor, your customers care about making their homes look good.

Perhaps you could share tips and trends about interior decorating or landscaping tips or trends in lighting. Stuff that's going to be valuable for your customers.

Prove It!

Another thing that is really super powerful to share on social media is what I call "social proof."

Social proof is the phenomenon where people make decisions based on the decisions that other people have made. By sharing testimonials and reviews on social media, you convince other people that you're a trustworthy business to do business with.
Even if people are not posting these reviews on social media, you can go into your email and screencap those awesome comments you're getting and share those on social as well.

Put it in your calendar once a week to spend a few minutes gathering and posting testimonials.


Educate & Influence:

Say, for example, you're a drywall company, you can share educational things like, what people need to know before they shop for a drywall contractor.

Perhaps any safety information or certification that's updated and going on. Things like that will really help you to fill up that content calendar with thoughtful, themed content each month.
Once you go through this process once, I promise you will have an editorial calendar that will be fantastic and work for you perfectly.

If you like this article, please share with your network!
You can visit me online for more marketing tips at www.laurelannestark.com

RIP LinkedIN

Laurel Stark

Please, a moment of silence for the business-to-business social media networking site LinkedIN.

You may be thinking, "Laurel, what are you talking about ?  LinkedIn's not dead."

But you know what? I’m predicting it's going to die in relevance, and here's why:

 

The Gloves Are Off! Facebook vs. LinkedIn

Facebook announced recently it’s jumping into the job seeker's marketplace, which was the reason that LinkedIn came to be in the first place - so job seekers could connect with employers and vice versa.

Now, Facebook is going to start letting employers actually post and advertise jobs on the newsfeed of Facebook.

Because pretty much everyone's on Facebook I think they could have a real impact on LinkedIn’s market share.

 

LinkedIn’s going to h - e - double hockey sticks

Hockey analogies aside, sInce LinkedIn was purchased by Microsoft I’ve been pessimistic about LinkedIn.

I don't know about you, but my experience with Microsoft has been absolutely terrible.

It seems like their business model is going to take the LinkedIn contacts that you have and try to integrate them with the contacts that you have if you're using Outlook, and to encourage you to continue to use Microsoft's software.

I don't know about your experience, but Outlook actually just, yeah, killed my computer, so I switched to Mac.

“ Microsoft buying LinkedIn makes me think they’re just going to ruin it. “

Historically, I love LinkedIn in terms of a lead generation source and to get me in front of the people that I am trying to market to, because of course, I'm in the business of helping to other businesses.

Since the acquisition, If you've been posting to Pulse, which is the LinkedIn blogging feature, you may have noticed that only a fraction of the people can actually see your blog posts than before.

Reach has declined, which means you're not going to get as much exposure to your target audience as you would have before Microsoft took over.

 

Alignable, the rookie, might take it away!

Alignable is a relatively new social media networking site for businesses to connect with other local businesses and network within those local groups.

I've been on there playing around for a couple weeks now, and you know, I have to say, I really like it.

There's an ease of use that's there. You can promote your business for free. And so far, I've had a lot of success with it. Their customer service representatives have reached out to me via email and other platforms - amazing!

For these

These three points are just a few reasons LinkedIn is going to end up dying.

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Do you use LinkedIn right now for business-to-business marketing?

Are you thinking about it?

Have you been doing it in the past and not so much now?

Are you going to use Alignable?

Please weigh in with your comments below. I'd love to hear what you have to say about my prediction.

Thanks so much for checking this post out, and you can visit me on my website or YouTube for more online marketing tips at www.laurelannestark.com.


 

What my Dad's Style and your website should have in common

Laurel Stark

Going to the mall as a young teen with my Dad was absolute torture.

I’d ask him to give me a ride and drop me off at the doors, but he’d always insist on entering the building with me.

I’d spend hours getting ready so I could look exactly like my posse of girlfriends, and my Dad would wear track pants WITH his dress shoes.

In PUBLIC.

I was basically a permanent cringe.

When I’d beg him to wear something else - ANYTHING else - he’d shrug his shoulders, refuse and and say, “well, it works for me”.

“It works for me”

Last week I posted an article warning against letting your website become the online equivalent of an 80’s perm.

But being outdated and unfashionable online is totally fine - on ONE condition - that your website is working for you.

By working for you, I mean that it’s positively contributing to you achieving a specific goal.

Most of my clients tell me they want their websites to help them generate revenue.

If that’s your goal, than there are only a few basics you’ll need from your website.

In the case of your website, think like my dad (trends be darned!) to ensure your website works for you.

My big thumbs can’t click these tiny buttons!

It was 2015, in Nanton Alberta that I predicted you would see a decrease in where your website ranks on Google if you don’t have a mobile friendly website.

This may surprise you, but for the last few years, more people use their smartphones than desktops to navigate the web.

In 2017 the majority of web traffic is mobile.

So, if your website is next to impossible for the majority of people online to use, than it’s not exactly functional, is it?

What do I do next?

What action do you want your website visitors to take next?

Whether you want them to call you, give you their email address or shop online, it should be painfully obvious what the next step is.

All the visual indicators and functionality on each page of your website should lead to this action.

An example:

This is my home page.

With the funky orange arrow, you can tell exactly what I want you to do.

(Don’t be shy, you can feel free to head on over there and sign up for free online marketing tips)

Another example. Again using orange, you can tell we want you to Try TILOS.

screen_shot_2017_02_24_at_4.55.54_pm.png

 

I could go on, but I think you get the point.

Yeah? Prove it!

Sure, your website tells me you’re the best around, but I need you to prove it before I spend.

And I am not alone.

Most customers trust online reviews, or what other people say about you.

Take the time to ask for and collect customer reviews and post them on your website.

Literally, no-one can speak as powerfully to your potential customers as your existing ones.

This is called social proof, a phenomenon I discuss on CNN here.

In Summary:

Whether your website is the crocs with socks style or more haute couture, it should be mobile friendly, have a call to action and social proof.

In my opinion, these are the three most important factors in making sure your website works for you and aides in your sales process and revenue generation objectives.

Sharing is caring!

If you found this valuable (or humourous), don’t be shy, share this with your network.

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below…

Is your Dad more stylish than my Dad? 

Did I miss a contender for the top three most important basics for a website in 2017?

What no one will tell you about your brand new website

Laurel Stark

Reading a good book can change your outlook on life.

Philosophically speaking, you may even be a different person than you were before you read the book.

Most of the successful business owners I know are voracious readers, they have coaches and consultants and are in regular attendance at workshops and seminars.

Their growth game is strong.

The continued evolution of their offering, brand, services and approach to business and life has a downside no-one talks about.

Sometimes, you can evolve so fast, the online reflection of your business is outdated as soon as you launch.

Yep. Your website is outdated the minute you launch.

The text, images, wording...call to action, all of it is the product of your reality 3-6 months ago, when you were working to get it launched.

If you’re a perfectionist, or like the feeling of being done, once and for all, or even for this quarter, this can eat away at you.

Whether you change your hair as often as Madonna used to, or you’re committed to providing the best in service you possibly can, you’re going to be out of date.

It’s the side-effect of being an evolving entrepreneur.

And it’s ok!

The web has enabled you to become your own broadcaster - and that’s wonderful.

Just know that it’s iterative. Your website, your headshots, your official bio...all of it.

It’s all progress.

It’s never, ever going to be perfect.

And that’s ok.

Going into your new website development or product design or photo shoot or whatever it is with this knowledge can save you a ton of time and frustration.

It may never, ever, ever feel done, or perfect, or 100%.

But it can be an improvement on the last iteration.

Don’t let great be the enemy of good.  

Just launch your website, then refine it.

Launch and refine, launch and refine, launch and refine. 

That’s the evolutionary way.

But do continue to evolve your online presence on a somewhat regular basis. 

Don’t just give up and settle for the online equivalent of an 80’s perm.

An estimated 3.2 million Canadian entrepreneurs may be suffering from this invisible killer

Laurel Stark

It can start as a cold fist coiled around the heart... 

The acidic feeling expands from the chest to the belly, spreading into the throat, drying the tongue and permeating the limbs.

The heart starts to beat faster, breathing becomes shallow and rapid. Thoughts speed up, become less coherent.

If you’re lucky it stops there.

If you’re not, the feeling of an enormous elephant sitting on your chest makes it hard to breathe.

Vision starts to blacken on the outer edges and terror descends. You can feel the certainty of death’s hot breath on the back of your neck.

Sometimes, this feeling will send you to the Emergency room, so certain is the threat of a heart attack.

 

It’s a panic attack.

 

The bigger, burlier brother of anxiety, stress and worry.

It’s cousin also ascends from the dark. Marked by a lethargy, a heavy blanket of despair, fatigue and a marked lack of motivation.

Depression. Sadness, Grief, The blues.

Whatever you choose to call these twin states of struggle, chances are, if you run your own business, odds are about 3 in 4 you’ve felt this way.

A study by Dr. Michael Freeman of the University of Berekely, CA, USA has, for the first time, provided quantifiable data that entrepreneurs are much more likely than non-entrepreneurs to suffer from one or more mental illnesses.

The study was released in March 2015 and found that a staggering 72% of entrepreneurs are directly affected by mental illnesses like ADD, ADHD, Depression, Bipolar Disorder and Addiction..

That’s right...

72% of Entrepreneurs are directly affected by mental illness.

Canada is second only to the US in the rates of entrepreneurship worldwide with 13% of the population as entrepreneurs.

(and third worldwide in amount of coffee consumed - a coincidence - I think not).

If these numbers are universal that means of the 4.5 million entrepreneurs in Canada 3.2 million Canadian entrepreneurs are suffering from one or more mental illnesses.

That’s staggering.

If it were any other illness, I think it would get a lot more press.

3.2 Million Canadian Entrepreneurs May Suffer From One or more Mental Illnesses.

So, why does this matter?

As Dr. Michael Freeman so eloquently stated: “Entrepreneurs create the vast majority of new jobs, pull economies out of recessions, introduce useful products and services, and create prosperity."

Despite this, my research indicates that in Canada, there is a distinct lack of supports pertaining specifically to entrepreneurial mental health.

During my interview with Dr. Freeman, I asked him if he would agree that there appears to be a gap in the supports provided for entrepreneurs as it relates to their mental health.

He does agree - there's a distinct lack of support for entrepreneur's mental health.

Awareness days like January 25th “Let’s Talk” are critical to help reduce the stigma of mental illness, spread awareness to help small business owners and entrepreneurs understand they may be at a significantly higher risk of mental illness, and provide critical funding for anti-suicide support programs.

The anti-suicide support programs are critical, as the number of suicides in the entrepreneurial tech community don't appear to be slowing down.

What can you do?

Spread the word!

Share this article with a small business owner or entrepreneur you may know.

Using the hashtag #BellLetstalk Jan 25th and Bell Media will donate 5 cents for every mention of this hashtag on Twitter & Instagram to much needed mental health initiatives.

Join me on Facebook live, 11:30 PST January 25th for Bell Media Let’s Talk Day, where I’ll be diving into my interview with Dr. Michael Freeman, and spreading awareness for the importance of mental health support.

Case Study: Behind The Scenes of A Multilingual E-Commerce Website Launch

Laurel Stark

Friday January 6th 2017 at 12pm I clicked the refresh button on my browser and was overcome with excitement - my latest project was live and ready for public consumption.

www.tilosamericas.com is one of the larger projects I’ve worked on. Here I am sharing behind the scenes of what went into creating this multi-lingual ecommerce website.


 

Snapshot: the e-commerce website by the numbers:

Serves 23 countries, in 2 languages, over 72 pages with approx. 20,000 words, selling 22 products, completed in 7 weeks.

 

E-commerce website - client overview:
 

TILOS is a very specialized software tool that makes planning, executing and controlling linear infrastructure projects easier and more profitable.  

 

Petroglyph Project Analytics recently became the Authorized Dealer of TILOS across the Americas - North, Central and South America - and needed increased exposure online to get in front of their customers.

 

Objective:

 

Create a new website that would:

 

  • Be found on search engines.

 

  • Communicate the unique benefits of TILOS in a way that would generate leads and sales, across multiple cultures and languages.


 

E-commerce website- process:

 

Strategy First:
 

First, we worked to understand the target audience: what problems they were having, what questions they asked through different phases of their buying process, what they’d already tried and how TILOS could positively impact their daily work.  

 

Then, we got really clear on the benefits TILOS offers, specifically how it solves the target’s pain points in a way that is unique within the marketplace, who else was using the product and what they were saying about it.

 

Lastly, we conducted comprehensive keyword research to determine what the target customers were typing into search engines when they were looking for a solution to the problem TILOS solved. We also looked at the amount of demand for each keyword or phrase as well as the amount of competition for each phrase to create a nice balance of high traffic and very niche terms to target.

 

Creating The Brand:

 

It was really interesting to develop the key benefit statements and create the brand and identify the imagery to associate with each benefit statement.

 

We needed a message that could be instantly understood across multiple cultures and languages and decided to deliver the message with the use of vivid and stunning images of animals. This was a bold move in the conservative area of civil engineering, but one that dramatically conveys the message in a way that makes this website a memorable stand out from the sea of boring software websites.

 

Creating and Translating the Text.

 

Based on the target keywords and best practices for search optimization, a total of 72 pages were written and then translated into Spanish.

 

Finalizing the Design:

 

Now that we had the text and images, we crafted each page of the website around one purpose: asking the website visitor to take action.

 

The entire website is crafted around the call to action, which is for the visitor to request a free trial version of the software.

 

The call to action buttons and links are prominent and frequent - it’s obvious what the next logical step should be.

 

Additionally, we had to find a way to present a huge volume of content in a visually appealing way that wouldn’t intimidate website visitors. Some pages are close to 3,000 words! The use of visuals in the form of icons instantly transmit the message in a way that facilitates the scanning-instead-of-reading behaviour of online users today.

 

Building the Site:

 

Creating a multi-currency, multi-country, multi-lingual e-commerce website is not a simple task!

 

We built the website in Wordpress and painstakingly developed the functionality that would identify the user’s location and language, displaying the correct text, product info and pricing as well as relevant taxes for each location.

 

The site also offers, administrator on-page search engine optimization support, social media sharing, blogging and lead-capture email newsletter integration capabilities as well as the integration with Salesforce and Desk.


 

Launching the site:

 

Once the website went live, we submitted the sitemap to Google and verified the website with Google search console. The target search keywords and terms were added to a tracking software to report on where the site is ranking for key terms within the first 30 days of launch.

 

What it took:

 

From my perspective, as the lead web marketing strategist, copywriter and project manager on this project, I’ve slept, ate, and dreamed TILOS americas.com over these past 7 weeks.

 

It’s been an incredible journey, from a pile of dense technical white papers to a world-class online presence.

 

The team I worked with included: one extremely talented website developer, one lovely translator, two brilliant SEO and content experts and a very much appreciated Office Ninja.


 

Where we’re going from here:

 

We’ll be monitoring the initial search ranking performance of the just-launched site very closely and augmenting where needed with off-site search ranking tactics.

What the client says:


 

Work with me:
 

Do you want better results from your online marketing? Let’s chat! Visit me at

http://www.laurelastark.com/web-marketing-consultant-services/

 

 

Overcome overwhelm - quickly! - in 5 easy steps.

Laurel Stark

It is the season to feel overwhelmed!

Between getting things done before the holidays start, and the added pressure of holiday-related activities like parties and get togethers, overwhelm can creep in and ruin even the most festive activities.

Before you climb under your covers, check out these 5 tips for overcoming overwhelm, quickly!

What to do when you feel overwhelmed:

1. Brain dump.

The first thing I do when I feel overwhelmed is write out a comprehensive list of all the things I am thinking about that I need to do.

I call it a brain dump.

This first step reduces stress almost immediately.

Instead of thinking about all the things you need to do, you can see them in front you. Now you do something about them.


2. Prioritize

 

Now that I have my list, I start numbering all my to-dos in order of priority and time sensitivity.

This step is also phenomenal at reducing stress as it shows me exactly what I need to be working on today and what can wait until a later date.


3. Delegate


Once I have my list prioritized I can look for items I can delegate.

If you’ve ever worked with me, you know that I am a huge fan of delegating anything you’re not excellent at.


4 pointers for effective delegation:

Delegating can be tricky unless you incorporate these 4 elements into each ask:

  • What you need done, including any and all details, resources, passwords or context that would be needed to complete the task.
     

  • When you need it done by- specifically- so, clarify by end of day or in the morning.

  • What the person you're delegating to can use their judgement on, and what elements you would like done exactly as you ask.
     

  • Communication expectations: how and when they can contact you if they have questions and if you need them to confirm they've received your note.

 

4.  Defer:


I notice I think about to-dos that are a lower priority or not as time sensitive just as much as lower priority items.

Making a decision to move things into the next week or "someday" also reduced my feeling of overwhelm.
 

I’ve also noticed that sometimes things just take care of themselves if you don’t do them for a long enough period. Or, it may be a sign that the items you aren’t completing are things you don’t actually need to do.



5 .Schedule


Once I have my brain dump list, my to-do’s listed by priority and items I can delegate or defer organized,  I start blocking off times in my calendar for specific tasks, based on priority level.

I find grouping similar tasks together speeds up efficiency, such as doing errands all in the same area in one trip, or making a bunch of phone calls in a row.

I take into account when I am most often high or low energy and other factors that contribute to how quickly I can accomplish tasks.

For me, I find it's best to perform more difficult tasks first thing in the morning, for example.

It’s thought that the times between 10am-2pm are the most energetic for most people.

Feeling overwhelmed is normal.

 

Small business owners wear a lot of hats and work hard.

As a society, we seem to worship at the altar of always-connected and busy, busy, busy.

It would be impossible not to feel overwhelmed at least some of the time.

In fact, in a recent survey of my community and clients, feeling overwhelmed was the #1 most commonly experienced challenge small business owners reported. (see chart above)

The key to not letting overwhelm negatively impact your performance, is to deal with it quickly, before it becomes paralysis.

Causes of Overwhelm:

Sometimes we’re overwhelmed because of how we feel, as opposed to the state of external affairs. Not enough sleep, water or adequate nutrition can contribute to feeling less than competent staring at a giant list.

That being said other times, behaviors that don’t serve us contribute to overwhelm:


People pleasing:

Saying yes when you really mean no equals more items on your to-do list than you need. Practice the art of saying “no thank-you”.

 

Perfectionism / Indecisiveness:

Delivering something imperfect is better than never delivering at all. Imperfect action trumps perfect paralysis every-time.

 

Lack of clear goals/focus:

If you don’t know where you’re going or what you’re trying to accomplish, it can be easy to become scattered, with multiple competing priorities pulling you in different directions.

This is why a plan, whether for your business or your week, can be incredibly effective in helping you determine what makes it on your to-do list and what doesn’t.

 

Inaccurate understanding of capacity:

It’s taken me a long time to realize that the output I imagine myself capable is entirely inaccurate. Having a realistic view of how long things will take, and leaving gaps in your calendar for things to go wrong or fires to pop up, will help keep you on schedule.

 

Distractions:

The enemies of productivity: distraction and multitasking are harder than ever to avoid. To get things done without interruption, close all the tabs on your browser, close your door, pop in some headphones, turn off your phone and set a timer - focusing for even just 30 minutes at a time is a powerful tool to help you destroy your to-do list.

"To transcend duality is the kingly view. To conquer distractions is a royal practice.”- Osho, The Book of Tantra

How do you deal with being overwhelmed? Are there any tips I missed? Please share!

Online Sales Funnel: Review & Case Study

Laurel Stark

Client Overview:

 

Mieke Lily Van Orden is the creative force behind Flux & Stone, a line of handmade artisan jewellery designed to make women feel beautiful.

Based in Victoria, BC, Mieke built her business over the last 4 years by showcasing her work in person at various shows and markets around BC.

Objective:

Mieke was active online, but wasn’t making any sales from her website or online efforts.

She wanted to start making sales from the web, and wanted to work less than her customary 12 hour market days, without compromising her revenue.

Solution:

 

Mieke & worked together over the course of 3 months to develop an optimized online sales funnel.

 

First we looked at what was working about her business, and what wasn’t.

  1. What customers were most profitable, and what areas of her business were causing profit leaks.

  2. What her existing sales process was, and how we could recreate that process online.

  3. What we could do to easily & quickly increase repeat business.

  4. What her existing online marketing process was.

  5. What parts of her website weren’t working or were neglected and needed to be updated.

  6. What her schedule was like and her strengths and preferences for what she should be delegating.

  7. Where she got stuck executing on strategy.

 

Then we created her online marketing plan which would show her exactly how to:

  1. Get in front of her target customers online.

  2. Increase repeat business from her current customers.

  3. Steadily build her email list of fans, customers and prospective customers.

  4. Leverage the time she was spending at markets to contribute to her online efforts.

  5. Schedule in various online marketing deliverables, in a way that worked for her based on daily, weekly and monthly tasks.

 

Lastly, we developed the online assets she needed to execute after we stopped working together:

  1. A new website showcasing her best selling items, where she could easily add new products from her phone.

  2. An email marketing campaign and list building strategy.

  3. A content calendar for her social media, including blog post topics

  4. A social media strategy and automated scheduling system.

 

Outcome:

 

I think Mieke and I both thought we’d be working solely on her online marketing, but what happened was I deployed my experience in creating business systems and optimizing operations to create a work day for Mieke that would be effective in optimizing her sales as well as her time.

Based on her routine what was already working for her and what she didn't like we devised a program schedule and a system to help her stay on top of regular social media posts blogging and adding new inventory to her website.

We set her up with an easy to follow system of to-do’s each week and month and set her up with administrative support in the areas where she needed to delegate.

We also set up a comprehensive post sales follow-up system for her wholesale customers which were by far her most profitable area.

 

What The Client Says About Working With Me:

 

 

 

“To start with the woman just got me organized in a way that I hadn’t been before, and helped me schedule my life in a way that I hadn’t before.  What I thought I wanted from her, I actually got a whole different thing. Which was learning how to organize my life in a professional manner which will benefit me for years to come.
Would I recommend? Yes, Totally! I think that the things she taught me are so invaluable. I didn’t even use my google calendar before I met this woman. I’d wake up every day I'd wake up and think to myself, what are all the things I need to get done today and I would try and organize them all in my brain and all the time I was like forgetting somebody or forgetting something or not getting something done, and things were always taking longer and more energy than needed them to.
And these simple steps that this woman has shown me how to put everything into place and now I just wake up and I look at this calendar and I look at the schedule we've written out.
And I think that that is the most beautiful part of working with this woman is that she holds you accountable until she actually sees you change" 

Check out Mieke’s new website at www.fluxandstone.com

If you would like to explore working with me to optimize your operations market and marketing for increased pleasure and profit please contact me !

Otherwise please join me in congratulating Mieke on presenting her beautiful work online in a way that she can be proud of.

I Keep Thinking Of You

Laurel Stark

My business turns 10 at the end of the month. (Wowza!) and I've been reflecting on all the things I've learned and what I want to make happen in this next decade. But I've gotta be honest...

I can't stop thinking about you...

See, I could NOT have made it to this milestone without your support. 

I am working on a ton of exciting new projects to help you grow your business in 2017 and I can’t wait to share them with you . . . so I’m going to spill the beans on one of them right now!

Very soon, I’m going to be rolling out a brand new book. 

I’ve taken all my past workshops and recharged them with updated guidance, new strategies and all the latest tips and tools that I’ve come to rely on for my own business.

But before I can release this new book, I need your help!

I want to get crystal clear about where you need help in your business.

  • The struggles, setbacks, and frustrations you've experienced  

  • The areas where you could use extra support

  • The questions you find yourself asking, that you wish you could get answers to
     

I’m designing this book just for you…that’s why I’ve got to know these things

If I know exactly what kind of struggles you’ve had with growing your business, I can tailor this book specifically to what you need right now.
 

Would you be so kind as to take 5 minutes to fill out this super-short survey?
 

If you do, I’ve got something for you in return! If you fill out the survey, I’ll enter you into the draw to win a new ipad mini - the winner will be selected November 30th. (And, you'll be first in line to get a complimentary copy of the book.)
 

Click here to take the survey and get entered to win a free ipad mini and a free copy of my new book.

 

ALL my best,


- Laurel
 

Win this iPad Mini

Laurel Stark
Win this brand new, 16gig iPad Mini 2. 

Win this brand new, 16gig iPad Mini 2. 

10 years ago, this November 30th, I started my agency, The New Media Group. 

A decade in business is a long time, and I am so grateful to my clients, team members and all those who supported me in my journey.

I want to give back and say thank-you.

The thing is, a lot has changed in 10 years and I don't want to assume I know what you need or want or would like, so I thought I'd ask!

I know your time is valuable and I want to make it worth your while to tell me how I can serve you.

If you're a small business owner, entrepreneur or self-employed, enter to win this iPad mini, simply by following these 3 easy steps.

1. Share this post on social media

2. Tag a friend that's an entrepreneur or small business owner

3. Fill out this quick survey, and tell me how I can best serve you in the next decade

 

I will be doing the draw November 30th and will have the iPad in the mail and over to you before the holidays.

Good luck!

 

What To Do When You've Outgrown Your Business

Laurel Stark
What To Do When You've Outgrown Your Business

You know how to make money.

You've been running your business for awhile, and by all appearances, you're a success.

The thing is, there's this feeling. The feeling that you're heart just isn't in this anymore.

You've tried to ignore it and  rationalize it, but it just gets stronger.

The way you're spending your days just feels "ugh". Whether it's because you seem to be constantly on the verge of burnout (lame). Or you have a gnawing sensation you have something else you should be doing.

It's called the golden handcuffs.

When you're business is working, on paper, the profits are there and demand is constant, it can be really really difficult to admit your business is not working for you personally.

And what a disheartening feeling.

You started your business so you could do things your way; have the freedom and enjoyment of directing your own destiny.

Yet, little by little, without you even noticing, your business has turned into a monster you created that doesn't accurately reflect the life you want to live.

You're doing things that provoke seething resentment and you've been running on caffeine and adrenaline for too long. You find yourself saying yes to things you don't want to do. Your vision and clarity of focus are waning. You feel a bit lost.

You've worked your butt off to get here, and you should be grateful, you think. Especially given that it's better than it was...the money is better, you're not working quite so much as you used to. The fear around making the bills has disappeared somewhat.

But, in your bones, you know It's not really working.

You want more.

But here lies the problem. Exactly how do you make the changes to renovate your business so it serves you?

Does it mean walking away from what you've built. Turning away hard won revenue?

Feeling trapped in your own business is a really awful feeling.

The good news is, this is exactly where you're supposed to be.

These feelings are the sign you're ready for bigger things. To step into the life and business you deserve.

Maybe what you long for is more time off, feeling like you're making a bigger difference in people's lives or having more flexibility.

Or maybe you simply want to get paid what you're worth.

To get to where you want to go, first you have to know where you're going- what's missing, what you want- and what's working about your business and life now.

Often, when I'm working with my clients to create an online sales funnel, these topics come up.

Many times, it's about optimizing the sales funnel, business operations and the finances around what's already working.

Recreating your business doesn't necessarily mean abandoning it - but renovating it- to better suit what you're passionate about, the people you want to work with and what you're really good at

What's amazing about this formula is that most of the time, it points the way to not only more enjoyment, but more profits.

Life is too short to settle. Especially in the business you built.

If this post resonated with you, why not take a few minutes and write down what's working and what isn't in your business.

It's the first step to a more fulfilling and profitable working life.

If you would like to talk to me about optimizing your business by leveraging my 13+ years of sales, online marketing and entrepreneurship experience, please get in touch with me via my website at www.laurelannestark.com

3 Advanced LinkedIn Moves For Salespeople

Laurel Stark
Image courtesy of Strong Social

Image courtesy of Strong Social

LinkedIn is by far the world's best social networking tool for business-to-business salespeople.

The users have an average household income of over $100,000 and the specific intention of connecting for business purposes. 

If you're already on LinkedIn and comfortable with the basics of sharing and posting, why not try these 3 advanced moves to boost your profile views and exposure to your target market?

Solicit Recommendations on LinkedIn:

The presence of many written recommendations on your profile help build trust with prospects. After all, if you've done business with others and it's worked out well, the perceived risk is lower than if you didn't have existing recommendations.

How to solicit recommendations in LinkedIn.

There's two ways to do this. The first (and frankly, more complicated) is to request recommendations inside LinkedIn. 

To do this, you would go to the top right and click on your profile photo.

From the menu that appears, click on Privacy & Settings.

Then at the bottom of that page, click on "Go To Previous Version of Settings" (I haven't been able to find where recommendations are in the new settings)

You'll see on the bottom right "Manage Recommendations" - click on this, and from there you can request recommendations from up to 3 people at a time.

A copy & Paste template to ask for recommendations on LinkedIn via email.

Send your contact an email with the following text copied and pasted. 

(Don't forget to replace my LinkedIn profile link with your own.)

You can endorse me on LinkedIn here: https://ca.linkedin.com/in/laurellindsay  by following the steps below:

  • Go to the profile of the 1st-degree connection you'd like to recommend.
  • Move your cursor over the Down arrow next to the button in the top section of the profile. The button name may vary.
  • Select Recommend.
  • Follow the steps to write the recommendation.
  • Click Send.

If you could comment on the following, I sure would appreciate it: 

  • The Problem You Had
  • How I Helped
  • The Outcome
  • What You Would Tell Others Considering Hiring Me/ Would You Recommend Me.

Networking & Advertising In Groups.

One of my favourite LinkedIn tools is the search bar. 

You can search for your target market in groups and then share, comment and like the posts within the various groups that have a membership consisting of your target market.

 

Online, half the battle is locating your target market, with LinkedIn groups it makes it easy.

You can also create an ad to display to particular groups. Targeting this effectively is a marketer's dream, let me tell you!

Publishing On LinkedIn

Although LinkedIn Pulse views have dropped dramatically over the last year, I believe it's still worth your while to post articles to LinkedIn.

Why Publish Articles on LinkedIn?

Published posts give you the opportunity to be optimized for search (both within LinkedIn and on Google), give you the chance to link back to your website and provide an increase in credibility by positioning you as an expert in your field.

In short, publishing posts on LinkedIn may give you more exposure, credibility and traffic to your website.

You can publish a post by going clicking on the Home button on the top left, then on the orange Write an Article button. 

Be sure to include:

  • An eye catching image
  • A title that piques curiosity
  • Links back to your website

Why Publish Presentations on LinkedIn

You probably have a bunch of powerpoint presentations you've created over the years. 

Don't let them languish, gathering dust on your hard drive!

By publishing your presentations, you add even more credibility and exposure on yet another website - slideshare! 

How to publish presentations on LinkedIn:

Go to www.slideshare.net , and sign up using your LinkedIn account. 

From there, publish your powerpoint (or keynote, or Google sheets presentation) on Slideshare.

As you can see, two of these slides have had over 500 views. Not bad for a powerpoint presentation!

Once you've uploaded your document, click the share button and copy the link. 

Then head over to LinkedIn and click on Add Publications. 

Fill out the remaining details, paste in the link and click Publish.

If you've found this article useful, please share with your network!

Thanks!

 

 

 

 

 

May Cause Sads: When The Price Of Success Is Too High

Laurel Stark

It's a familiar scene: the ambitious, young business person works determinedly at their laptop.

The desk that surrounds them is littered with empty Red Bull cans and coffee cups.

There they are, grinding it out, hustling, pushing. Meeting that deadline and hitting those numbers.

It's such a commonplace occurrence that it hardly bears mention.

"Sacrifice for success" is such an accepted and glorified narrative. A close cousin to the beloved rags to riches story.
The sacrifices of many start up or even established business owners is well understood, and even expected -- long working hours, not a lot of sleep, nonexistent social life, sporadic nutrition.

All to attain a future vision of success. A goal. A target.

More sales. Get the business funded. Triple the bottom line revenues.

And yet, often when the lofty goal is achieved, the feeling our hero experiences can be anticlimactic.

Instead of the much anticipated, soaring feeling of success, happiness and accomplishment, our hard working entrepreneur feels an empty disappointment; another hollow victory.

It's confusing and even embarrassing to admit this -- that the tremendous sacrifices have not produced the expected feeling of success or fulfillment.

The assumed happiness and feeling of satisfaction that would result from the achievement did not in fact appear.

This can be so embarrassing that many of us push it away. I must have done it wrong, somehow.

The next ambition will produce the feeling of satisfaction, it’s decided. It must. So we immediately set our sights on the next horizon and trudge ever forward.

And our hero continues on. The years go by and she does succeed. From the outside it looks like she has everything she needs to feel happy and fulfilled.

But because she doesn't, she pushes harder, on to the next glittering success.

The continuous, habitual sacrifice of the present moment's happiness and wellbeing for some future achievement can be a dangerous habit.

 

If happiness and fulfillment is only available in the future, conditionally, than it may never arrive.

This is how midlife crises occur.

Suddenly you wake up one day and realize you've sacrificed too much for your outer success.

Playing by the rules has you winning someone else's game.

Maybe the wake up call occurs due to a health concern -- burnout or cancer.

Or maybe there is no wake up call.  And instead, your regrets join those documented deathbed laments.

 

"I worked too much, I did what was expected of me instead of what I was true to my heart."

 

The drive to continually achieve, whether it's making ever increasing sums of money or hitting ever increasing growth targets, isn't a bad thing.

 

What's dangerous is that many of us can get caught in the cycle of striving without really examining whether or not the path we are walking is contributing to our fulfillment, joy, happiness and wellbeing.

 

Small decisions made each day make a life. Habits, including the habit of mindlessly striving, shape our days.

 

Honestly looking at how you're living your life -- the life you created for yourself -- can be frightening.

 

I've heard whispered confessions from many clients...

 

  • "I haven't taken a vacation in over five years"

  • "I don't have time to eat breakfast"

  • "I can't actually work any harder than I am without getting sick"

 

These truths may be indicators of future regret...

The choice seems to be happy now or successful later- and that's simply not true. You can have both. But you have to choose it.

After all, didn't you start your business to be the author of your own destiny? To make your own rules?

Tell me...HERE

Are you sacrificing too much?

What are you working so hard for ?

Do you find yourself constantly chasing the next accomplishment?

 

Own your own business and like the sound of taking Friday's off? Here's how to make that happen.

Laurel Stark

 

Does taking Fridays off sound awesome to you? I thought so.

Especially with Labour Day behind us, and summer fading. It can feel a lot like it's time to get back down to business. 

But did you know you can actually get more done by working less?

Yup.

Sweden even made it official and converted to a 6 hour work day.

So, if you're working nine to five, Monday to Friday, and you own your own business, then you have basically created yourself a job.

Hey, you started your own business so you could have more freedom and control over your business!

The very first thing you need to do is get really, really clear on what you're trying to accomplish:

What's going to move your business forward this quarter? (By quarter I mean three months.)  

Write down your quarterly goals, just three of them, things that you are going to accomplish in this three month time.

Then from there, every single week on Sunday, I like to do it Sundays or Monday morning, write down three things you will do this week that are going to help you advance your quarterly goal.

Then break those down into little mini-tasks that you can then put into your weekly calendar.

(Shout out to Andrew Barber-Starkey at ProCoach who taught me about this system)

Focus on just the 3 most important things:

Then from there, every day the first thing you do every single day is the hard three things that will help you achieve your weekly goals.

Do the hardest three things, and everything else will feel like a breeze. If you just do those things, you'll be able to take Fridays off starting right away.

It's like that analogy with the glass bottle where you can't put in the sand and then the water and then try to fit in the big rocks. 

If you put in the big rocks, your big priorities first, then put in the little rocks, then put in the sand, then fit in the water, it all fits, but not if you don't do it in the right order.

Bulk create tasks:

Okay, a couple more things that you can do here is to bulk create tasks.

If you have things that you can combine together that you can do a bunch of at one time, then certainly start doing that.

Even when it comes to errands, I don't do errands unless I can a bunch of them done in one trip, instead of making multiple trips back and forth.

Same thing with the weekly videos I make.

Many of you know that I actually film anywhere from four to eight all in one day.

That way I don't have to get all the gear set up and do all the things that will be a drain on my time, when I could just do a bulk chunk of work at one time.

Systemize Repetitive Tasks:

Another thing is if you do have repetitive tasks in your business, and I know you do, systemize them and document each and every step required to do them. 

It will take you an extra few minutes the first time, but with each subsequent time you do it, you'll be able to do it faster and easier because you're referring to your checklist instead of using your brain, or reinventing how to do it every time.

BONUS: If you have a checklist of exactly how to do that thing right, then that also gives you the ability to delegate it to a virtual assistant.

Delegate:

You can get virtual assistants now worldwide.

They're very, very affordable, and that way you can delegate some of those tasks that you don't need to be doing, because you're golfing. It's Friday!

( Check out fancyhands.com or upwork.com for a ton of affordable virtual assistants. )

 

Destroy Distractions:

Lastly, because I'm always on social media, to get anything done I turn my phone off for a lot of the day. I close all the other tabs on my computer, and I just focus on what I'm doing.

Otherwise email and social media can eat your entire day away.

And as fun as refreshing your Facebook feed is, it's not as good as taking Friday off work. Focus. Do those three hard tasks right away.

Delegate the stuff that you shouldn't be doing, and you will find you have a lot more time in your business. 

Like this post?

Sharing is caring. Please click the share button & spread the working-less love!

 

25 Ways To Beat Entrepreneurial Exhaustion

Laurel Stark

Entrepreneurs have a really hard job.

I should say jobs, plural, because of how many roles entrepreneurs tend to have in their business.

But I digress.

51% of all businesses in Canada will fail in their first 5 years. 

You've probably heard that stat before. But it doesn't stop there...

According to a 2015 study by the University of Berkley 49% of entrepreneurs have a mental illness.

There's also the increasing pressure to be always-available, even after work hours, which according to the Globe and Mail is reaching "Epidemic Levels" in Canada.  

And, all of this is exacerbated by the constantly changing demands of keeping up on social media and with other online marketing tools, which have been linked to even more mental illnesses.

With these odds, it can be a daunting task to stay profitable and stay well.

If you're an entrepreneur and find yourself exhausted, overwhelmed, depressed, lacking confidence or disappointed with your results, keep reading for 25 ways to deal.

 

1. Self care

You can't take care of anyone unless you take care of yourself first.

That’s why, airline attendants insist we put on our own air mask first before attending to the needs of others.

Another way of looking at your own self care can be to reflect on a great question from Yanik Silver in his book The Evolved Enterprise:

 “How would you treat a million dollar racehorse? “

You probably wouldn’t feed it drive-thru, or deprive it of sleep or water.

Yet, that’s how so many of us treat our bodies when we’re busy... and we're worth a lot more than just money.

Be sure to feed yourself healthy and nutritious meals and drink lots of water.

I try to plan my meals for the week on Sundays and grocery shop accordingly.

That being said, I can be less than motivated to spend a lot of time on cooking.

 I found a shortcut, I am a huge fan of shakes made in my blender. I load them up with fruits, vegetables and protein powder and put them in the fridge for when I need a nutritional boost on the go.

 

They look gross and don't taste all that great but they give me energy and nutrition.

I keep almonds in my car, and protein bars and apples and bananas in my kitchen.

They’re all great snacks for on the go and good for you too!

 

2. Sleep

Trust me, you will be much more effective on a good night’s rest than if you've been working long hours on no sleep.

If needed, give yourself a bedtime and stick to it.

Alternatively, give yourself permission to have a  nap during the day, especially if you’ve been burning the candle at both ends.

One of the perks of working for yourself is you don’t need to ask anyone for permission to have a mid-afternoon nap!

 

3. Take time off

I literally did not take a vacation for six full years in my business.

Crazy right?

My fear was that something would catch fire or something urgent would need my attention and I wouldn't be there.  

It was truly a newsflash for me when I realize that my clients did not need me to be available day and day out and they were actually happy for me that I was taking a vacation.

I didn't start my business to become a slave to it and I am sure you didn’t either.

If necessary get a virtual assistant to manage your calls and emails while you're gone and give your customers, vendors and team members plenty of notice when you will be unavailable.

Now I take regular vacations and I use them as rewards for attaining  goals.

When I take trips now I know I've earned it and I also have the experience to dictate my business will not fall over if I'm not checking my email for a week.

4. Build community

Attend a networking events, join a business group, get a coach or an accountability partner, or even meet other business owners regularly for lunch or breakfast.

The power of community is huge to make sure that you feel supported and like you're not alone in your entrepreneurial journey.

This is especially important if you work from home or work alone.

Often the folks in your community will be facing or have faced some of the issues that are tripping you up right now and can offer advice grounded in experience.

Meeting someone in person on a regular basis fosters connection and can help alleviate feelings of isolation.

 

5. Ask for help

 

Take some time to think about what you're really really good at in your business - those things other people can't do as well as you.

Your goal should be to delegate everything but that.

You don't need to be able to afford a full-time staff members to get help delegate the non ideal tasks.

There are various consultants, contractors and freelancers that can take on the jobs that don't meet your ideal fit requirements.

Often it works out cheaper to hire someone to do something you don't like to try and push through it yourself.

An example I always give is graphic design.

I'm a terrible graphic designer.

What would take me six hours to build would take a graphic designer maybe one hour and the results would be much much better because they are created by professional.

 

6. Look at your past victories.

 

Take a look at where are you started and where you are now... take a moment to be proud of yourself.

If you're like me, you may find yourself thinking, "I should be farther along by now, I should be more like that guy...Remember:

The only valid comparison is where you came from to where you are now. 

 

As the teacher always said, keep your eyes on your own paper and don't worry about everyone else.

 

7. Make a plan and prioritize

 

The freedom we have in our businesses is a double edged sword

As there are very few external structures that enforce discipline, we can become lazy and inconsistent when it comes to our schedules, planning and prioritizing how we spend our time.

I set aside an entire day once a quarter with The Procoach System to review my progress, set new holes for the quarter and break those goals down into actionable to do items.

I focus on three main goals for the quarter and three tasks associated with each goal.

Each week, I do the same thing.

I set three main goals for the week with three subtasks associated with those goals.

My weekly tasks are dictated by my quarterly goals.

And similarly my daily priorities and tasks are dictated by my weekly goals.

Each day I focus on three main priorities and I try my best to get them done first.

It can be incredibly easy to get distracted by email, social media and busywork that we can spend all day working without really accomplishing very much.

The practice of goal setting and time management provides focus and discipline which produces more results in less time.

Creating a structure like this in your business will help you feel less overwhelmed because everything is broken up into manageable small chunks.

In this way we are creating a plan as we go. 

Having the framework of a plan developed reduces cognitive load because you know exactly what your next steps should be.

The time you spend creating a plan whether it be for sales, marketing, social media or even managing and creating your cash flow statements is well worth it.

 

8. Meditate

 

Recent study by HubSpot shows that meditating can actually improve your sales results.

Beyond that it's incredibly good for your brain in this always-on world.

In our constantly connected society it's important to go off-line, get quiet and really listen to our breathing.

It's amazing how calming and relaxing focusing on your breath can really be!

 

9. Sleep on it

 

If I told you I got some of my best work done while I was sleeping, would you believe me?

It's actually true.

If I am working on something, especially creative, I often will tell myself just before I go to sleep "I would like a solution when I wake up, please"

More often than not my subconscious brain works hard while I'm asleep to come up with a solution for me.

Try and see how it works for you.

 

10. Positive affirmations

 

So much of our success is based on the strength of our internal game.

Take a minute to pay attention to what you're telling yourself or, your internal dialogue.

Unconscious beliefs and negative self talk can severely hamper our ability to achieve our goals and live a peaceful life

Be your own coach.

Encourage yourself and give yourself a pep-talk every morning.

Speak kindly to yourself.

 

11. Morning ritual

 

You may have heard of the concept of the "golden hour"

It's based on the idea but if you spend an hour getting yourself physically, mentally and spiritually prepared for the day you will be more focused.

In my golden hour I eat a healthy breakfast, meditate, use positive self talk and plan my day.

 

I do all of these things before I start work. 

 

I find it helps me proactively manage my time and get me into a good headspace to take on whatever life throws at me.

 

12. Under promise and over deliver

 

When it comes to giving your clients a time estimate of completion it always pays to leave at least 20% more time than you think you need.

By giving yourself plenty of time, you reduce stress and leave room for things to go wrong, (which they do)

This extra time can then be used to your advantage as if you are done early then you wow your client.

13. Create systems for repeated tasks

There are things in every single business that are done repeatedly, over and over again.

It pays to take extra few minutes and document your process or create a template for these types of tasks so you can save time the next time or even delegate these steps to an assistant.

Examples of this could be answers to common questions, proposal documents, emails you send frequently or anything else you want to delegate.

14. Consider receiving paperless payments

 

Waiting for a check in the mail is the worst!

 

That's why I no longer except cheques, all payments are done electronically. 

This has two benefits, one being that I get paid faster,  it also saves me time going to the bank and it also saves paper and gas. 

Lastly, I don't need to input any deposits into my financial tracking reports, as they're right there in my bank account.

If you're not paperless yet, consider it.

15. Exercise

 

The endorphins that are released during exercise are a powerful and free mood booster. 

Forget sugar, alcohol or whatever else you use to cope with stress.

If you're feeling overwhelmed, a short brisk walk will make you feel better 100% of the time.

 

16. Feel your feelings

 

Brenée Brown points out that we are the most medicated, obese, in debt generation in history.

Coping with negative feelings by numbing with alcohol, food, shopping, gambling etc. contributes negatively to mental health.

Instead of repressing our negative feelings it's better to let them out. I like to journal or talk to a friend...or if I am really upset, that brings me to:

 

17. Cry

We are the only mammals that have the ability to cry.

The chemicals released in your body after a good cry are incredibly healing and designed to make us feel better. 

I recommend a good cry at least once a month. I am a big cryer, and I am not ashamed to admit it.

I think it's a sign of an emotionally well balanced person.

 

18. Vitamin D

Did you know that your body cannot absorb vitamin D from the sun during winter?

In Canada it's winter for a very, very long time.

Consider taking vitamin D supplements - they will help boost your mood and increase your happiness.

 

19. Keep electronics out of your bedroom when you're sleeping

 

The electromagnetic frequency of all your devices, sending and receiving to various satellites and cell towers can actually make it hard for your body to relax.

Not to mention, the buzzes, beeps and dinging sounds can interrupt your rest.

For best results leave your phone outside your bedroom and limit exposure to electronics an hour before bed

 

20. Reflect on your purpose

 

Getting back to you the reason why you are doing what you're doing is an extremely powerful picking me-up when times are hard.

Passion and enthusiasm are a wonderful energizing tools to help you move forward even when you don't feel like it.

 

21. Give back

 

Giving feels really good.

If you live in North America and are reading this on your cell phone then you are in a small percentage of extremely wealthy people on this planet.

So many other humans in our communities are hungry and without shelter.

There are so many ways to give back. It will make you feel good and create positive change in the world.

You could even take it one step further and involve your clients your vendors or your team in order to make a bigger impact.

 

22. Stop procrastinating

 

Procrastination usually comes from fear. 

Being afraid that the results or outcome will not be what we want can stop us from getting started in the first place.

Putting off something we know we should be doing may feel for a moment like we're getting away with something. 

The reality is, having something left undone in the back of your mind is more of an energy drain than you think.

Just get it done and do your best and trust that is good enough.

 

23. Say no

 

Well, this may sound simple and easy - but it isn't so easy for a lot of people.

If you find yourself overwhelmed then you need to start saying no more often.

No it is actually a complete sentence!

Be polite, but you don't have to justify yourself to anyone!

I recommend saying no to at least three things a day...it's like my mental health quota.

Reflect on your purpose, your priorities and what only you can do in your business.

Anything that doesn't fit within those three areas are things you should not be doing.

 

24. Gratitude:

 

Think about 10 things you're grateful for each day. 

Write them down and say thank you out loud, for each item.

If you do this every day you will train your brain to focus on the positive instead of the negative, which will make you more resilient to stress.

You'll probably be happier too.

 

25. Perspective

 

Remember that to me at least - you are a superhero

Small business owners are the backbone of the economy.

We take on great risk and great stress to try and improve the world around us.

And for that, you are amazing.

Don't forget it!

If you found this valuable - please share!

Banish The 5 Subconscious Habits That Sabotage Your Success

Laurel Stark

I caught myself the other day, spaced out, wandering aimlessly around my house.

I should have left 5 earlier to get to my next appointment on time...

Instead of leaving, I found myself halfheartedly tidying, refreshing my email and generally wasting my time.

 

In that moment I realized I was sabotaging myself.

 

I was subconsciously deciding to leave later than I needed to.

 

What a bad habit!

 

That got me thinking about the power of subconscious behaviours to sabotage success.

 

Obviously, being 5 minutes late to an appointment isn’t the end of the world, but it’s one of those small behaviours I’ve engaged in that compromise my ability to succeed and cause me stress, needlessly.

 

I began investigating what other bad habits my subconscious might have, and I wanted to share what I learned with you.

 

The first important realization is that my inner game is just as important as my outer game.

 

I can be doing all the right things, prioritizing, engaging in activities that will get us closer to our goals, networking, marketing etcetera, but there can come a point where I feel stuck, or unable to move past a certain point.

 

That’s where the inner game comes in.

#1 how we think is just as important as what we do.

 

Failing to recognize the power of our thoughts, and start harnessing them to work for us, means our subconscious will often start working against us.

 

As entrepreneurs, we are at higher risk for being affected by mental illness. It’s a fact uncovered by a study at the University of Berkeley last year.

 

While, it’s not clear whether you need to be mentally ill to start a business, or if being in business for yourself makes you mentally ill - it certainly plays a part in being an entrepreneur.

 

Some of the most common subconscious sabotage are things that, once we become aware of them, we can change.

 

One of the ways I get my subconscious to work for me is to give it a problem to solve before I go to sleep.

More often than not I wake up with a solution.

 

How great is that!

 

Instead of letting my subconscious do whatever it wants, I’ve intentionally created ways to direct it and harness it to contribute to my success.

#2 Telling yourself “I can’t do it” or “I’m going to screw this up”

 

How are you talking to yourself in your head?

 

Are you telling yourself that you can't do something, or that you're never going to be able to do it well enough, or that it won't be perfect or as good as the next guy?

 

Aha!  If you are, then you're dealing with negative self-talk.

 

Congratulations, now you can take steps to deal with it.

The ways I deal with negative self talk are:

  1. Being aware that negative self talk is happening.
  2. Accepting it’s happening.
  3. Generating positive self-talk .
  4. Creating a morning routine that drowns out negative self talk before it starts.

 

I’ve found the following morning routine helps set me up for success.

 

#3. Starting work first thing in the morning.

 

Do you have a morning routine that is purposefully designed to set you up to succeed?

 

If it consists of grabbing a cup of coffee and your phone, you’re missing out on a powerful opportunity to retrain your brain to help you succeed.

 

I like to start my morning with a set of habits that set my brain up for success, before it can start to sabotage me with negative self talk, worry, fear or other distractions.

 

I meditate, I get proper nutrition, I drink lots of water, I exercise, I do affirmations, I set my goals for the day, and I tell myself, "I'm going to do it."

 

Then, I play loud music that gets me pumped up and ready to rock my day!

 

The whole thing only takes an hour or so and it gets my head on straight.

 

Then, and only then start my work-day.

 

What kind of routine would set you up for success?

#4 Poor Focus

 

Another bad habit that can sabotage success is a lack of a vision, which leads to lack of focus.

 

Ask yourself:
 

  1. What's your vision?
  2. What are you trying to achieve in the world before you die?
  3. Who do you serve?
  4. What are you trying to get done this quarter?


Based on that information, you should have the information you need to say yes or no to any given ask, based on whether it will help you realize your vision or not.

This laser focus removes the cognitive load that can be associated with decision making and frees up your subconscious to help you attain your goals.
 

#5 Being a victim of time

 

The last subconscious habit that is sabotaging your success is how you are relating to time.

 

A lot of people I talk to, in fact, most of them, when I ask them how they are, they say, "Oh, I'm so busy."

 

And while we all are, many of us have become victims of being too busy.

 

Instead get control of your time and get it working for you!

Start saying no to things that will not achieve your objectives.

Based on your goals and what you need to accomplish that day, write down the three things you need to get done and do the hardest one first.

Set a timer, close all your other tabs on your computer, put your phone on airplane mode, and give yourself an hour to get it done, and you will.

You'll be surprised how much you can accomplish by just deciding that you're going to focus and not be distracted by all the things in the world that want to distract you.

What other subconscious habits might be sabotaging your success?

If you found this valuable, please like it and consider sharing with your network.