Leadership

Time is Money. Let's Track It.

As an entrepreneur (and human being), your time is VALUABLE, and is the only resource that you can never get back!  One of the big obstacles and excuses that I hear from my clients and fellow female founders is "I don't have TIME!"  Well, my friend, if you have the dream, then I'm here to help you MAKE the time to follow through on those brilliant ideas I know you have.  

This week, we'll take an honest look at how you are ACTUALLY spending your time in regards to working ON and working IN the business can give us insight into how you can make changes to be more productive so you can do what’s most important to you.  This will also help lay the groundwork to give you data if you'd like to invest in online tools, or even hire team members.  

1. First, let's start with doing a time audit.  

You know how whenever you want to start keeping a budget, you first start with tracking your finances?  Or how my nutritionist wanted me to track everything I ate for a week to see just how much sugar I was consuming?  You can do the same thing with your time.  

By tracking how you spend your time, you’ll get a baseline look on your habits and workflow, so you can honestly evaluate what’s working and not working.  No judgment here, just simple reporting!  You can do it in a paper planner, in an excel spreadsheet, or an online tool like Toggl.  

** Your action step is to jot down the time blocks on everything you do for a whole week, INCLUDING your life activities (because it’s hard to separate).  ** 

2. Categorize them into types of activities:

Did you know that there are different types of activities?  Meaning, there are some tasks that only you can do as a CEO/service provider that are worth more than other tasks that you could outsource or even delete.  

Here's where you can start to categorize your tasks according to how much this activity is worth your time.  For example, "CEO time" spent creating your unique brand position will ultimately help you bring in more money than changing the font on your web site.  

So, here's a general category list that I like to use to break down the type of tasks I do.  Since I'm nerdy, I like to color code them as well.  
Money-Making (green), Customer Service/Client Calls (blue), Planning & Strategy (purple), Admin (red), Personal (pink).  

Then, assign each category a $$ amount, generally in terms of what you get paid v. what you can pay someone to do. 

For example, Money Making ($1000), Planning & Strategy ($500), Customer Service ($100), and Admin ($15)
 

3. After a week of time tracking, reflect on how you're spending your time. 

There are a few things to notice here:  

What are my priorities, and are they scheduled FIRST into my calendar?  Your values are important to taking the TIME to express them will make a difference in your fulfillment.  

What are activities that you don't enjoy and you're not good at?  If it's business related and NOT necessary, then say good-bye!  If it's business related and necessary, then this could be a task you automate with a tool, or a team member you hire.  For example, let's say you don't enjoy scheduling your social media, but using a tool like Hootsuite will save you time, or hiring a social media manager who helps you to create, post, and engage may be an option for you.  

What activities can I batch together?  
Sometimes a great time saver is to do "like" activities all together so you don't have to interrupt your brain flow (which can really hurt your productivity and efficiency!)   Even things like meal plan and prep for the week or batching your content for the month can all be done in one sitting.  

4. If you have team members or support people, delegate those lower-income tasks, or streamline your process to make it a simple process.  

After tracking and reflection, you can then begin to implement small changes to your schedule to see it's a more effective use of your time.  Of course, don't forget to block off PERSONAL TIME and make it a non-negotiable so you have work/life balance and boundaries in place as well. 

Your Action Step:

Track how you currently spend your time by creating a "time audit."  What are some insights you have from this?  What would you like to change?  Join the Authentic Brand Leaders Facebook group, and let us know all about it! 

If you found this letter helpful, then please share it with your friends!  Or, you can subscribe to the "Letters For Leaders" emails for more tips, strategies, and coaching exercises delivered right to your inbox.  Sign up below! 

With joy,

[Featured: The Wholehearted Woman] The Real Truth About Pursuing Your Passion

This post is originally published on the "Wholehearted Woman".  Visit their web site & sign up for their email to get your FREE copy of the magazine! [http://www.wholeheartedwoman.org/

I had my quarter-life crisis at age 24.  Don’t get me wrong, things on the outside looked great.  I was newly married, living an adventurous lifestyle abroad in Beijing, China, and landed a dream job teaching at an international school.  But things on the inside weren’t so dreamy.  I was struggling with the paradox of passion.  If I’m passionate about teaching, then how come I’m frustrated with my job?  If I’m meant to mentor others, then how come I can’t seem to find those opportunities?  If I’m here for a reason, then why can’t I create a well-integrated, passionate life?  

If I could go back and tell my 24-year-old self one thing, it would be this: Passion is working towards living out your Purpose.  It’s up to you to be intentional with it.  

There’s a lot of not-so-helpful tips about Passion out there.  “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.”  “You only live once!” The essence of these mantras are to inspire you to do great things.  But if we’re not careful, we can struggle with Passion as we strive to chase it, rather than create it.     

Pursue Your Passion by Shi Chen

So today I wanted to share with you 3 Lies about Passion, and 3 Real Truths about pursuing it.  Hopefully, the truth will set you free. 

Passion Lie #1: “I need to be passionate about what I’m doing.”  

People get tripped up with this misconception because they associate their work with something that should fulfill their ultimate purpose.  The thing is, work is WORK.  People freak out when they can’t see the connection between where they are now, and where they’d like to be.  Your career and your business has different seasons.  It comes with challenges and opportunities for growth.  Putting your focus on things beyond your control, like circumstances, job title and description and where you can lose motivation.  Instead, you have it within your control to do the self-discovery work of identifying your passion, even if it’s just for the short-term..  Ask yourself: what’s important to me in order to create great work?  What’s my purpose for this season of my career?  What strengths do I have to offer to make a meaningful contribution?   Passion can consist of your gifts, your strengths, and your purpose, so when you can pinpoint these components, it’s easier to create opportunities to pursue them.  Passion starts with your attitude, your work ethic, and your outlook on creating positive outcomes so your initial passion can multiply into even more passion.  

For me, it was easy to lose sight of the big picture of helping these young kids grow their minds, confidence, and skills when I was caught up in the student drama, difficult conversations with parents, and administrative work.  Once I realized that my teaching job is equipping me with the leadership skills of communication, creation and execution, and working with different types of people (that would prepare me for whatever was next), I could engage better in all aspects of my work and infuse passion into everything I do.  

The Truth is: Pursuing your passion means you can be intentional about bringing passion into your work, instead of relying on your work to bring you passion.   



Passion Lie #2: “If I’m passionate about it, it should be so easy and FUN!”

The problem with this mentality is thinking passion = joy.  But the real definition of passion is doing something that’s bigger than yourself.  When you’re committed to doing something that really matters, like finally stepping out in faith to follow your dreams, go against the norm, or stand up for what you believe in, you’ll start to experience a bit of fear and resistance.  Change is tough -- and you could be mistaking those challenges and obstacles for a lack a passion.  For example, you will encounter self-doubt, people who naysay and don’t understand your vision, and things that won’t go as you expected.  Yes, pursuing your passion CAN be easy and fun, once you’ve learned to embrace your fears, face the resistance, and do what you set out to do anyways.  

During my teacher years, I noticed that I have a natural affinity for educating kids, but even more so, for mentoring and coaching emerging teachers.  As a young professional myself, who was I to teach best industry practices?  But when I recognized my desire to help other teachers with professional development, I had to face my fear of caring what others think, fear of failure, and a bit of fear of success in order to create a series of workshops, team building meetings, and one-on-one mentoring relationships.   

Truth: Pursuing your passion comes with learning to embrace your fears and face any resistance.


Passion Lie #3: “I need to turn my passion into profit.”

It’s certainly a noble goal to turn your passion into profit, but it’s a personal choice.  There are many  business owners who got to where they are today because they were good at something, helped people, and figured out a way to make it into their full-time living.  That’s what happened to me.  I got bit by the coaching and mentoring bug and wanted nothing more than to coach as as many people as possible.  

The thing to keep in mind is: there’s a difference between being a passionate creative/service provider and being a savvy business owner.  Meaning, I am a great coach but being a great boss lady requires a different skill set.  One that includes marketing, selling, product development, management, etc.  So, if you’re passionate about something, you get to choose whether or not you want to go through the learning curve of business building, or just keep it as a creative outlet.  Both are fine choices.    

Truth: Turning your passion into profit is a personal choice.  There’s a difference between being a passionate creative and a savvy business owner.  

When you pursue your passion, it’s important to recognize the hard work, the fear and the resistance, and the learning curve of new skills in order to continue to do work that matters and live a life of contribution and purpose. The truth is: passion starts with who you are, where you are.  You have the choice and the ability to infuse it into everything you do.  

If you're working on turning your passion into profit, then my 1:1 3-month "From Calling to Clients" business coaching package will help you lay a solid and sustainable foundation for your business.  Apply for a discovery call today to chat about if this is the right opportunity for you to receive the support to reach your BIG business goals.  

With joy, 

4 Steps For Simple Content Creation

Content marketing is a powerful way to spread the word about your business and connect with your growing audience.  From social media, blogging, email newsletters, videos, and podcasts, there’s never been a more accessible way to share value with your potential clients.  

The purpose behind content marketing is to create ways to educate, entertain, and bond with your audience, so they can get to know you, like what you’re all about, and trust you enough to hire you.  

Now, creating the content itself can be a challenge — especially if you’re committed to being consistent with you it.  Writer’s block, visibility, organization, and repurposing can keep you stuck from producing content that converts.  So this week, we’ll talk about how to create content in a way that’s simple and strategic so it engages your audience and leads to more sales.  

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1. Make sure your mindset supports you to CREATE!  

When it comes to creating content, there can be major mindset hurdles to overcome.  For me personally, one block I had was feeling like I have nothing original to say.  This thought kept me staring at a blinking cursor on a blank page for wayyyy too long!  

The truth is, I DON’T have anything original to say…because it’s all been said before.  BUT — I DO have original experiences, perspectives, and stories that I can use to teach MY audience and relate to them in MY way.  

One of my mentors would say, “You are SOMEONE’S messenger” which gave me the permission to take my knowledge and use my words to teach the content, because it may be the way someone needs to hear it.  

Letting go of the pressure to be perfect, original, smart, or whatever may be a great first step in allowing yourself to show up to be YOU and cultivating more inspiration for your words.  

2. Know What You’re Selling So Your Content is Strategic

In order for us to create content FOR our business, we need to know what specific product or service we’d like to sell.  This helps us be intentional that our content is leading our audiences to a way to work with us.  

This is also a great opportunity for us to educate our audiences on topics that may what to learn about, address concerns they may have, and ultimately attract the RIGHT people and repel the wrong ones.  

For example, if I’m intentionally filling my 1:1 business coaching practice, I’ll specifically create content around CEO/leadership mindset, sales strategy, and client experience tips so that I’m giving value around the work that I do.  

Another example could be an Essential Oils educator who would like to sell out a workshop.  She could share about the different products, before/after results, and answer FAQs.  

When you know what you’re selling and create content around that, it gives you a framework or filter to write about which can actually lead to even more inspiration.  

3. Get specific with your expertise.  

What do you want to be known for?  

Your content is the cornerstone for sharing your expertise.  So instead of overwhelming yourself and your audience by writing about EVERYTHING you know (because I know you know a LOT), let’s narrow it down to 3-5 content categories so you can write a weekly theme for each.

Let’s use business coaching again as an example with CEO mindset, sales, and client experience as my content categories.  Under CEO mindset, I can go even further and write about clarifying your mission and message one week, hiring your dream team the following week, and identifying your income producing activities the week after that.  

It helps my audience as well because they can go deeper into learning about a topic.        

4. Share it across all platforms

Once I write the content for each theme, I want to share it everywhere and repurpose it so it reaches the right people.  

Each weekly theme allows me to write social media posts.  This can be turned into a longer blog post that is published on my web site and sent out to my Letters For Leaders e-newsletter community.  

This way, I can engage with my audience and do my best to make sure my content is making a difference in people’s lives.  One of my favorite things is to answer comments and emails from people to hear more about their challenges and how I can serve them.  This type of engagement inspires me with more ideas for content so I can continue to create things that resonate with people.  

Content marketing doesn’t have to be intimidating once you find a rhythm that works for you.  When you get specific on what’s holding you back, what you’re selling, what you want to be known for, and what your favorite platforms/type of content are, YOU have the power to connect with your audience in a way that works for you.  

Let me know in the comments what was your biggest takeaway from this week’s blog post!  

With joy, 

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One Sales Strategy You Can't Afford To Skip

Ever had a BIG business idea that you want to bring to life?  Or want to launch something you *know* you’re called to, and *know* that it can help a lot of people?  But you have questions, wondering, “Do people really need/want this?  Will they buy it?  How can I clearly communicate the VALUE of it?”  

You’re searching for clarity on whether or not creating this service will be worth your time, energy, and expertise.  The best way to find out the answers to your questions is to ASK!  In order words, when you ask your audience about their needs, challenges, and feedback on your proposed solution, you get more data, feedback, and confirmation on whether or not your idea will serve them (and therefore lead to more clients and more money in the bank).  

The pre-validation process is probably one of the most POWERFUL yet under talked about tools for your sales process.  So it’s time to let the “secret” out so you can get more clarity on your business ideas.  

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This week, I’ll share with you my process of pre-validating my ideas and my favorite go-to questions to ask so you you’re equipped with creating a method that works for you.  

The reason why most people skip right over this step is because they get an inspired idea and want to implement it, like yesterday.  Or, they have a vague idea of what they’d like to create and it feels scary to ask people for feedback before it's fully formalized.  

Remember: the purpose of pre-validation is not to sell (yet), but it’s to get super curious about your prospect’s world and to confirm whether or not creating this service is worth pursuing.  

A “real world” example of pre-validation would be figuring out what to give my husband for Christmas.  When I assume I know what he wants or have an idea of what I think he needs, my gifts tend to flop (despite the amount of time, money, and energy I spent creating it).  But when I take the time to find out what he wants, what would be helpful, and even asking for a wish list, my gifts truly meets his needs and ultimately serves him (which makes me a happy wife).  

So where do you even start?  

A simple and effective way is to create a survey through Google Forms or Typeform, or to conduct market research calls.   For my 1:1 services, I prefer to conduct market research calls so I can ask people follow-up questions on the spot.

Keep in mind: DO NOT ASK friends and family.  You may be tempted because it feels like scary, but unless they are your target demographic, they will either tell you it’s a good idea because they want to be nice (when they don’t fully understand what you’re doing), or tell you why it’ll flop (when they don’t fully understand what you’re doing).  Neither is helpful at this point.  

Instead, you could review questionnaires from your past clients, or you could post it in Facebook groups of people with your ideal clients, ask friend/family for referrals, or attend meet ups to build relationships with people who you could talk to.  Starting with people you know and building out from there would be a great place to start.  

1. Ask to Understand Your Client’s Needs and Challenges

To kick off, it’s important to understand what your prospect’s biggest needs and challenges are when it comes to your area of expertise.  Sometimes we’re too close to what we do, or get stuck speaking industry language.  These questions allow you to truly empathize with where they are by understanding what they’re dealing with.  

Here are some of my favorites questions:
What is your biggest challenge when it comes to [your area of expertise here]?
What do you *wish* you knew about [your area of expertise here]?
What is your biggest [your area of expertise] goal?  Why is that important to you?  

I like to keep it conversational and my questions open-ended to let my prospects share what’s on their minds.  

2. Asking to Understand Past Experiences

Sometimes it’s hard for people to clearly articulate what they want (…too many choices!), but it’s easy for people to talk about their past experiences and what they liked and didn’t like.  

So these types of questions help uncover their thoughts on services and products they’ve used in the past.  This information is valuable because they can key in on what’s important to them, and perhaps if there’s a gap or differentiator that you could potentially create.  

Here’s some of my favorite questions to ask:

What have you tried in the past to help solve your [area of expertise] challenge?
What did you like about it?  
If you were to do it again, what would you like to do differently?  

I just like to get super curious (and non-judgmental) so I can understand where they are coming from.  

3. Asking to Validate YOUR proposed solution

Sometimes ideas sound good in our heads, but when we ask people want their specific feedback is on it, their outside perspective is super valuable.  

Here are some of my go-to questions around validating my idea:

After hearing what I’d like to create, what are you thoughts around [this feature]?  
What are questions/concerns/feedback you have about [this solution]?
Would you buy this?  How much would you pay for something like this?  

Being straightforward that I value their opinion and want to create something that *truly* meets their needs, I open up the conversation to allow them to share their thoughts.  

After going through the pre-validation process, you’re better equipped to make more informed decision on how to proceed with your business idea.  I love to stay in touch with the people I talk to (and even offer them bonus incentives like a free coaching session, or discounts on the service I end up creating), because I couldn’t do it without their input.  At the end of the day, my business exists to serve them so I want to make sure that my services and products are things that will ultimately help them build a business and life they desire.  

If you would like a more deep dive resource for the pre-validation process, I recommend the resource, “Ask” by Ryan Levesque.  He has a thorough and step-by-step process of helping you ask the right questions and what to do with it.  

As always, feel free to reach out to let me know what your biggest takeaway is!  

With joy,

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Maximize Your Time

Dear leader who wants to steward her time, 

         Time.  It's your most precious resource, and something you can never get back.  As a believer in business, I know you want to make the most of your time to make the biggest impact.  Typically, I love helping entrepreneurs pinpoint their priorities, streamline their processes, and create work/life balance to optimize productivity.  But today's post is a little bit different.  I want to talk about how to actually enjoy your time -- in the present moment.  

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        I heard a quote recently that struck a chord in me, 

Depression is thinking about the past.
Anxiety is thinking about the future.
Peace is thinking about the present.
- Unknown

      This quote helped to articulate a mindset pattern that I've noticed in myself and in the women that I work with when it comes to how they perceive time.  

How many times have you thought something like this?  

Making friends was so much easier when I was in college.  
When I first started my business, there was much less competition.  
I had so much more time to work before I had my daughter.  

When we get stuck in the past and how things were, we hold on to things that no longer serves us and that can make us sad.  In these cases, I like to celebrate those memories and acknowledge the seasons of my life that meant to me.  I also recognize the need to honor, grieve, and let go the past so I can make room for the new.  

On the opposite side, sometimes we worry about our future and obsessed over things we don't really have control over.  

What if that client says no to my proposal? 
How am I going to manage all of my competing priorities? 

What am I going to do if XYZ doesn't work out?  

I'm an advocate for dreaming big, planning for the future, and counting the cost, but when we hold on too tightly to the HOWs, and WHATs, it can be nerve-racking.  Whenever I start to feel anxious about something, it typically means that I've misplaced my trust in God to provide, or misplace trust in myself to take the intentional actions.  For me, it helps to talk out what I'm feeling with my husband and trusted friends and pray for the peace that surpasses all understanding.  

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This leads me to my last point: peace is thinking about the present. 

Time is the MOST precious when we enjoy the present moment.  All of the productivity hacks in the world don't mean much if you're still stressed out and not loving life.  Your return on effort will increase when you focus on doing one thing at a time (and doing ONLY the things that matter).  Your clients and relationships will flourish when you get rid of distractions and really listen and contribute to the conversations.  Your fulfillment will skyrocket when you take the time to enjoy each moment, instead of rushing from one thing to the next.  

So, how can you start enjoying the present to maximize your time?  

Here are some ideas to get you started: 

1. Develop a mindset practice.   

Your mindset is your thoughts and beliefs that affect your actions, and can either be limiting or empowering.  Once you create awareness around your thoughts, you can begin to reprogram them.  My favorite mindset practices are prayer and journaling where I have the space to write out thoughts, process emotions, record gratitude, and prayers.  This can be a safe place for you to recognize if you're feeling depressed, anxious, or joyfully present.  

2. Stop multi-tasking. 

Our brains aren't wired to do lots of things at one time, so try to focus on doing one thing at a time.  For work, I like to do "time-blocking" where I'll have a chunk of time devoted to content creation, and another devoted to client calls.  Another principle I use is thinking of time not as tasks on a to-do list, but rather, the role I'm playing during that time.  For example, early morning I wear my "mom" hat as I feed, change, and play with my baby.  I can focus on being a mama and enjoy those moments.  Then, when I move into my office I put on my "CEO" hat to take care of my business, or my "coach" hat to help my clients.  

3. Know that a "YES" to one thing is a "NO" to another. 

You get to choose how you spend you time by saying "YES" to the things that matter, and "NO" to the things that don't quite serve you.  As you get clear on your vision, goals, and boundaries, I encourage you to regularly reflect on if the things you're doing align with your bigger purpose.  Let your "YES" be a "HECK, YES!" so you can set yourself up to commit to be fully present instead of wishing you were somewhere else.  

I hope that this post helped shift a perspective on how you invest in your most precious resource.  I'm here to help you steward the resources you've been given so you can build an intentional life and successful business.  

If you want more, you can download a free copy of the e-book, "Maximize Your Time, Talent, and Resources."  I collaborated with my friend, Jenna Shriver, to identify common beliefs that hold you back, and help you move forward to truly stewarding your God-given gifts well.