I was in a workshop this past weekend learning a new business model (retail commerce) and my experience got me to thinking about something.
There is a lot of talk lately about NOT following someone else’s “7 steps to success formula” and to just do it your way. It’s almost become a rallying cry these days and I think it’s a potentially dangerous one (and yes – I am one of those who has been rallying that cry at times!)
I get it. We have all bought into programs with big expectations that didn’t work for us. Or that didn’t work the way we expected. And that sucks… especially when it feels like it keeps happening.
So it is tempting to say “screw the blueprint! – I’m going to just do it my way.” Especially if you have a bit of a rebellious streak like I do. (I know I’m not alone here… 😉
Ultimately you have a choice in how you want to build your business. You can blaze your own trail and work from trial and error. Or you can follow a formula that someone else has already proven works. Either one can get you there – it’s just a matter of choosing the type of journey you want to have.
BUT following an existing formula will only work if you are purposeful upfront in a few key areas… there is actually a simple formula to being able to successfully follow a formula (ha!)
1) Figure out first what you REALLY want to create. If you don’t know what type of business you want and are really suited for – then don’t buy into any formula to build a business yet! You need to first do some deeper work (i.e with a coach) to figure this out. I’ve seen many people waste time, money and energy trying to build something that they were never meant to do…
2) Find someone who has PROVEN the business model that you want to build. This is a surprisingly hard step as it requires some digging and potentially some patience. I’m always looking for the person who lives what they teach. Who has been doing it for years. And often these are NOT the people with the flashiest marketing because they are more focused on running their business! Great marketers are not always great business owners…
3) DO THE WORK. For the love of all things holy – do what they tell you to do! This is the hard part because yes – there is work to be done and yes – you won’t want to do all of it. But you need to do the work if you want to create success. Don’t complain that it didn’t work if you stopped after step 2. Or if you skipped steps 4 & 5 and went to step 6 because it was more fun.
Does this mean success is guaranteed? Hell no – this is business baby and unfortunately success is never guaranteed even with the best ‘formula’. But you will be more likely to succeed if you do the work. Start there. And if it doesn’t work dig deeper (again – a coach can be helpful here.)
As for me? I followed EVERY step I was told to do in my workshop this past weekend. And I will admit – there were times where I thought “I don’t want to do it that way” or “maybe I’ll try this instead”. There were even moments of “I’ve been in business for a long time already so I can do what I want”… But I gave myself a mental slap on the wrist and just did what I was told. I followed the steps that they had already PROVEN to work. And I left that workshop after 3 days with a live, running store. (Which I’ll share more about in the future… for now I’m keeping it under wraps as I play.)
If I had gone rogue and tried to do it my way I wouldn’t have a live store right now.
The bottom line is this:
If someone is building the same type of business you want to build then the easier path is to. Follow. Their. Steps. Until you have proven the business model for yourself (aka – made consistent money) THEN go ahead and start doing it your way.
You may still get there if you skip the first part and jump right into doing it your way – but usually at the cost of spending WAY more time in trial and error. Which can erode your confidence and passion over time, not to mention empty your wallet!
Know yourself. Know what you need. And choose accordingly.
It may not surprise you to hear that I LOVE systems & tools. I am a ‘geek’ when it comes to finding the right tech to make life easier + to automate how we make money… and I have spent many years testing various tools to find the ones that work best for me and my clients.
Here is a list of the various tools, systems and folks that I use and recommend… ones that I can’t live without, enjoy!
* In the spirit of full disclosure there are affiliate links within this post, as indicated by a lovely little * beside the link. If you choose to purchase something based on my recommendation I may be paid a referral fee.
Top 10 Tools Tina Couldn’t Live Without!
1) Teamwork Projects* – Project Management & Virtual Office
This tool is my brain and I couldn’t live without it! When it comes to project management tools, there is a plethora of choices out there and it can daunting to find the right one. After years of trying many of the tools out there we’ve finally found the one we love – Teamwork Projects. We use it for project management (keeping track of who is doing what) and also to centralize all of our company files & information (how to do stuff aka SOP guide). It’s simple to use and functions as our lifeline for the team – AND it works great on mobile devices too. I give this one two enthusiastic thumbs up.
If you sign up for any paid version of Teamwork Projects using the link above OR the referral code ‘automateyourgrowth’ at signup I will be paid an affiliate commission, and as such I’d love to give you something in return. I will gift you my 90 Day Systems Setup Guide & Checklist ($497 value) – this takes you step-by-step through setting up your OWN Top 10 Systems within 90 days. Email email@example.com to claim your gift.
Want to see how we use Teamwork Projects in my biz? Check out my Tame the Chaos 90-minute training.
2) Infusionsoft* – Ecommerce, Broadcasting and CRM
This tool has been the hub of my business since 2010 (it really should be #1 on the list) – it’s ecommerce, email marketing, automated follow-up and CRM all rolled into one. Infusionsoft isn’t for everyone – especially if you are in the earlier stages of business! – and as awesome as it is, it’s a tough one to learn. My recommendation: don’t try to figure it out yourself or you might go batty, get help from someone who is trained in the system.
3) AppointmentCore – Calendar & Scheduling Management
The day I started using an online scheduler was one of the best days of my business life. Instead of having to do that annoying “back and forth dance via email” to find a time to schedule meetings, I connect AppointmentCore to my calendar and send folks a link with open times. They simply pick a time that works for them and voila! We are set. It also syncs with Infusionsoft so we can manage appointments A to Z. Mwah!
4) Dropbox* – Cloud File Sharing and Backup
I don’t know about you but I struggled to find a good backup service for years – I would either forget to use the service (if it wasn’t automatic) or it would hang up my system each time it was doing a backup. Enter Dropbox, which does a seamless “sync” of your files to their online servers – not only is it a backup, it also becomes a way to access your files from anywhere you like. You can also share folders with other people on your team (vs. always trying to send stuff via email). Love love love this tool, I would sing it from the mountain tops.
5) Instant Teleseminar* – Bridgeline Service
Although we do more webinars these days (see #6) we still do a fair amount of teleseminar style calls as well. I will admit, I was a free bridgeline user for years. I had of course heard of Instant Teleseminar but was too cheap to fork out the $97/month… until I started using it and became hooked. I love how you can see who is online during the calls, you can mute/unmute individual folks easily and record calls with a click of the button. There is a webcast option that people love and even a way to share powerpoint presentations during a call. Plus it’s a paid service, so if you have trouble with your bridgeline you can call someone and say “help!” – which you can’t do with the freebie lines. Believe me, it is well worth the investment.
6) AnyMeeting* – Online Webinars
Online Webinars are a powerful way to deliver trainings – free or paid. I’ve tried MANY tools over the years, some pretty good and others disasters. Once I found AnyMeeting I cancelled everything else and just use this. You can do slides, videos, show your smiling face. You can record with one click. And people can dial in online or by phone. We use it all the time and I love it.
7) LastPass* – Password Management
Seems we have passwords for everything these days. Not only is it impossible to remember them all, but we are supposed to make sure they are complex enough to be secure. Ack! Enter Lastpass – an online password management tool that keeps track of all your passwords so you don’t have to. It has a great plugin for your browser so that you can automatically login to your various websites as needed – AND there is a team version so that you can securely share passwords with team members and control access when people join or leave your biz. <– sweet!
8) Grasshopper – Virtual Toll-free Number
I know there are lots of great toll-free and virtual phone services out there, and we used another tool for years which was OK. But after getting annoyed at what felt like constant additional charges we switched to Grasshopper and it’s been great! We don’t get a lot of phone calls, but I do like giving people a toll-free number to use if they want to call. You can set up calls to be directed to whomever you like, and also get copies of voicemail messages sent to you via email (which I LOVE).
9) Adobe Sign (was EchoSign)* – Electronic Signature Service
Fax machine? What’s that? 😉 Truthfully, we’ve used EchoSign now for so many years that my fax machine is just sitting in the corner gathering dust. When we started using this tool we no longer had to ask folks to “fax back their agreements” for our courses and programs – instead we send them a copy online and they do a virtual signature in minutes. It’s all legit and is SOOO much easier all around.
10) Amazon S3 – Big File Hosting
This is a super dreamy tool if you have large files to host – like videos for example. I remember back in the day when I started in this biz, you used to have to pay ooodles of money to be able to host video. Amazon S3 does the trick and literally costs just dollars a month (I think the most I’ve paid in a month is $15.) We host all of our training videos here for all of our programs – also great to host audio files, PDF files and anything that you don’t want to put on your own website servers.
UPDATE: I’ve found 3 more tools that I can’t live without – check them out here
I’m curious what are your ‘can’t live without’ tools? Comment re: what you love and why
(No affiliate links pls – we will delete any comments with affiliate links)
“Help me Tina! I’m too busy and something needs to change…”
You are right – it does. Being too busy isn’t sustainable and doesn’t serve you or your clients. The good news? It’s fixable, so grab your to-do list and ask yourself the following questions.
Question 1: Does this really need to be done? (If yes, now or later?)
We often have things on our to-do lists that either:
- don’t need to be done at all – they are ideas, maybes or “wouldn’t it be nice ifs”. They are things we are thinking about, but that we haven’t actually made a firm decision on yet. Ideas are not to-dos – create a separate idea list and get those things off your to-do list!
- don’t need to be done now – if you aren’t strategic about planning ahead, then as a default everything on your to-do list feels like it needs to be done NOW. Work through each item and ask yourself – when does this really need to be done? Could it be put off until next week? Maybe even next month? Take your list and put realistic due dates beside each item.
You should be left with a list of things that are actually do in the next week or so – and a list of things that aren’t due yet (or are ideas and are no longer on the list!)
Question 2: Do I need to be the one to do this?
If you are anything like I was for years, as a default you feel like you must do everything. You are good at what you do. You are used to being the one to get it all done, but now things are starting to fall behind and slip through the cracks.
Run through your list again and ask yourself – could someone else do this for me? Be aware of the following when you answer:
- “Well yes, someone else could do this for me but it’s only me so I have to” If you don’t have anyone working with you right now this could be true, and you also have the power to change. Growth dictates that you will need to hire help at some point – when you do it is up to you.
- “But no one can do it as well as me – so I have to be the one to do it” This is a dangerous spot to get stuck in, because as long as you believe it to be true, it is… and it could be the thing sucks the life right out of you. Yes, you may be the best at doing something but that doesn’t mean you can’t train another person to be as good as you (or at least close enough 😉 or find someone who does it already and bring them on board.
The goal here is simple – identify the things that others could do for you. It doesn’t mean you have to hire a bunch of people tomorrow, but at the very least you can look to give more to the people you have already and plan ahead for getting more support (which becomes a light at the end of the busy tunnel!)
This second question can be a doozy as it brings up all kinds of stuff for many of us – it can have our inner control freak kicking and screaming! I highly recommend getting the support of a coach or OBM to help you here if you go through your list and still have your name beside every task. An outside eye can often see what you can’t.
Question 3: How can I create more space?
At this point you should have a realistic list of what needs to be done in the next week or so. Now you want to ensure you have the space and time to get it done. Here are two of my favorite tips:
- Plan ahead –book the time in your schedule to get stuff done. You might book in specific tasks, or you might book in time for types of tasks (ie: writing time, client time).
- Set boundaries – distraction is the death of productivity. Be it team, clients, family or social media – every time you get distracted it takes you off track, and for many people it happens all day long! Close your door. Turn off your phone and email. Let people know when you aren’t available and when you are. And get really good at saying no (because they will test your boundaries!)
Question 4: Do I need to renegotiate any deadlines?
If you are truly in over your head and can’t get everything done, then you need to revise your deadlines. I get that this sucks and you may hate having to do it, but it’s better for you to own up to something ahead of time vs. having people get upset with you because they are waiting/asking. To simply say to someone “Hey, I got in over my head here and that’s on me. I won’t be able to get X to you until next Monday and wanted to let you know.” Yes, you might need to make concessions for being late if this affects their timelines.
Even if they are frustrated, people will respect you for stepping up and being real with what is going on – and quite often they are OK with adjusted timelines if they know ahead of time.
The beauty of these 4 questions is that you can use them over and again. Every time you find yourself too busy work through this process, and ideally overtime you won’t need to anymore.
Let me know how it goes k?
If you are anything like me, you are a bit of a control freak (k, maybe more than a bit 😉
I know too many people who try to fight it – they try not to be a control freak cause they think it’s a bad thing. And yes, if you try to carry too much or shift into micro-managing it can certainly get in the way. But the truth is, your control freakedness is probably a HUGE part of the success you’ve created to date! You have high standards. You want things done a certain way and in a certain timeframe. You are committed to excellence and won’t settle for less! And this is something to honor.
Instead of trying to fight everything that’s worked so well for you to date, what I challenge you to do instead is embrace it… and there is a very strategic way you can do so that I share in today’s new video.
If you sign up for any paid version of Teamwork Projects using this link OR the referral code ‘automateyourgrowth’ at signup I will be paid an affiliate commission, and as such I’d love to give you something in return. I will gift you my 90 Day Systems Setup Guide & Checklist ($497 value) – this takes you step-by-step through setting up your OWN Top 10 Systems within 90 days. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to claim your gift.
Want to see how we use Teamwork Projects in my biz? Check out my Tame the Chaos 90-minute training.
Can we talk money shame for a moment?
“I’m feeling vulnerable, ashamed and like a failure”
“Tina, if I told you the truth about my money situation you would lose respect for me”
“I’m too afraid to look at my numbers – they are out of control”
When I have these conversations with my fellow biz owners it breaks my heart.
There is SOOOO much shame wrapped up in our money. And as long as we keep sweeping it all under the rug, hiding from it (and hiding it from others!) that shame has a hold over us.
I assure you there is nothing that you’ve done that I haven’t done myself (and maybe done multiple times over) I’ve…
- Spent too much on something (more times than I can count)
- Cheaped out in areas where I should have invested (and kicked myself later)
- Been 10’s of thousands of dollars in debt (for years – I just paid off this debt this past May)
- Didn’t charge enough for something
- Charged too much for something else
- Had a loss in my business at year-end more than once
- Wondered how I was going to pay my bills at the end of the month
- Wondered where the hell all my money went?! (especially painful when I started making more money)
- Felt like a fraud because I wasn’t making ‘enough’ money (even though I was well into the 6-figure range)
Money brings up all of our ‘stuff’ – all of our worries, doubts and fears. And we can either get mired in our ‘stuff’ or we can be willing to look it in the eye.
There is no shame in money
but there is TRUTH
Money doesn’t lie. Like the numbers on the scale show us our state of physical health – money tells us the truth about how healthy our business is (or isn’t!).
If your numbers aren’t working for you then something needs to change. What exactly that is will vary from person to person.
- Maybe you need to tweak your pricing.
- Maybe you need to improve your sales process.
- Maybe you need to stop spending too much in the wrong areas (or start spending more in the right areas – which strangely enough can have a HUGE impact on your bottom line.)
- Maybe you need to stop selling something so you can start selling something new.
- Maybe you need to learn how to manage your cash-flow and build ‘profit first’ habits (this changed my biz 2 years ago…)
All of these things are fixable if we are willing to get real with our money – to look it in the eye. Even when it’s scary. Even when we feel ashamed – especially then!
Nothing can be fixed without the truth being present. And nothing gets fixed by avoidance, crossing our fingers and hoping the universe will take care of it. (Believe me, I’ve tried 😉
Put simply – this is business. Money is one of the key measures of success in business (not the only one of course.) We all have our ups and downs. We all have moments that ‘pay off’ and others that don’t.
It’s time to ditch the money shame.
To stop beating ourselves up for these choices and look at the truth of what they are – an opportunity to change. To grow. To learn more about what success really is and to commit ourselves to a profitable business. One that we can rely on and be proud of.
If you are ready to stop making money ‘mistakes’ be sure to join me for the first ever Profit First Summer School.
After implementing the Profit First formula I increased my owner’s pay by 30%, paid off 5-figures of debt and – for the first time ever – have 5 figures in a PROFIT savings account…. and I did it all without a big increase to my revenue. After years of sleepless nights I never worry about money anymore.
Profit First changed my business – it can change yours too.
>> Register here <<
Originally posted on March 12th, 2015.
If you are anything like me, you are constantly juggling all the “stuff that has to get done” with the balance of your life. I’m a single mom of 2 young girls with a rocking biz BUT I refuse to work 24/7.
Here’s how I structure my schedule so that I only work about 30-35 hours a week, have weekends off and ample time to spend with my girls.
First, I book off time throughout the year for:
- Vacations – this comes first! (if I don’t book these in advance then months will go by without me getting a break, and I get grumpy… just ask my team)
I also book off the weeks when my girls don’t have school – ie: spring break– when they have a week off we like to head down to our family cabin for some downtime.
- Events you are leading – if you do events, conferences or retreats as part of your business go ahead and book those out for the year in advance
- Events you are attending – pop these in your calendar now, including any masterminds you are a part of (assuming you know the dates already)
- Non call weeks – I spend A LOT of time on the phone, it’s part of my work… and as much as I love connecting with people it takes a lot of energy. One of my mentors suggested making the last week of every month a “call free zone” so that I have a bit of breathing room, time for thinking and bigger projects. Since implementing this I’ve loving come to call this my sanity week. 😉
Now, let’s look at my weekly schedule:
Ever set a goal and not reached it? Silly question, I know it happens to all of us. But what if it keeps happening again and again. And no matter what you try you just can’t seem to reach your goals. That sucks, I’ve been there.
Today’s NEW video is a strategy I learned just a few months back and it has changed the way we set (and achieve!) goals in our company. And best of all, it’s so simple you can start doing it today. OOOO yea!
Simply put, you identify 3 levels of achievement for the projects, initiative, etc. you’re working on.
For example, consider one of your new initiatives – a program that you’re launching. For each area of the program launch (number of enrollments, financial goal etc.), identify your Good, Better and Best Goals.
1. Start by selecting a Good Goal – i.e. the number of program enrollments that would make you happy – if you reached this goal, everything would be good (your baseline number).
2. Now identify a Better Goal – i.e. a number of program enrollments that you would be REALLY
happy with – it would be awesome if you hit this goal.
3. Last step – identify the Best Goal – i.e. the number of program enrollments that you would be absolutely ecstatic with – it would be amazing to reach this goal
Do you see how setting these goals can help you feel successful – even if you didn’t reach the Best Goal?
I encourage you to use this for EVERY initiative, program, and product launch etc. in your business. Be sure to share these goals with your team AND celebrate each one as you achieve it.
I’m willing to bet that, until now, you have identified the best possible achievement as your goal. If so, you’re not reaching your goals because you’re striving for the BEST possible achievement instead of celebrating the smaller achievements that really are great ones.
You’re not alone. The majority of entrepreneurs, by default, base their goals on the best possible achievement.
You’re not going to reach your Best goal every time. When you set a Good, Better and Best goal, you give yourself permission celebrate and acknowledge that you ARE creating success (and it’s likely happening more often than you may realize).
Stop the chaos in your business and double your profits in the next 90 days! Check out my ‘From Solopreneur to CEO’ Profit Kit. Click Here to Get Immediate Access
Is there anything better than finding a great new tool? One that is easy to use and makes your life easier? I’ll freely admit that I’m a bit of a geek when it comes to stuff like this… but I wanted to share with you today 3 tools that we’ve recently starting using and LOVE.
If you have conversations as part of your enrollment process then you can appreciate the value of a good CRM tool.One that keeps track of all of your people, conversations and follow-up. (If you don’t have good tracking you will lose sales! Simple as that)
Being an Infusionsoft user we have relied on their CRM for years now, and although functional it wasn’t always that “friendly” to use. They don’t have great reporting and it’s never been easy to get an overview of conversations and status.
A friend recommended Pipedrive and we fell in love. Pipedrive is visually appealing – their layout makes it fun to use AND allows you to see the “money on the table”. You can also customize your pipelines and stages to match how YOU like to run your sales process. For the first time ever in my business I feel like we have a real handle on our sales (which is HUGE given that most of our business comes to use via conversations.)
Once we fell in love with Pipedrive we had a bit of a dilemna… which leads me to our next favorite tool.