Often times when I'm woring with clients, they have a need to find stock photos online. The conversation usually ends up covering where to find photos onlie that are acceptable to use without infringing on copyright. There are plenty of places you can search online using the term "royalty free photos". With royalty free, however, you are still required to give credit to the person who took the photo. While I have no problem with that, especially since I love to promote other people, doing so often takes time because you have to figure out a simple way to get the person's info into the marketing piece you're creating. Awhile back I found PIXABAY and I was so excited! With Pixabay not only are the images free to use, they are amazing and there is NOT a requirement to list who took the photo. So the job of finding photos and using them suddenly became so much easier for me and I was in love with the site- and still am today. Most of the photos in the Z&B Online Academy have come from Pixabay. I encourage you to check them out.
After I suggest the site to clients a follow-up question usually comes up related to where to create the item they need the photo for. Maybe it's a Facebook Header, maybe it's a flyer, maybe it's an image for their website- regardless of what it is they are trying to create my answer is usually the same provided the client is NOT planning on doing tons of professional designing. What I recommend is Canva. Canva is so simple to use and allows you to easily brand your colors and has a bunch of templates that you can use for free. I also caution clients to be careful because Canva sells stock images in their software and it can be easy to rack up a big bill unnecessarily. Instead, I suggest they head over to Pixabay and find the image they want and then upload it to Canva.
Both softwares are easy enough to use for the average person. If you are thinking about giving them a try and run into trouble, you can head out to a Co-Working Day. Co-Working Days are great because you have a whole Friday to sit around like-minded professionals and get tons done while also getting coaching and feedback from myself. People love the nuggests they walk away from Co-Working Days with after picking my brain that's full of over 25 years of business and marketing experience. They are included in the Coaching Club 2.0 and Ongoing Consulting programs but can also be attended ala-carte when needed. I let people come for the first time as my guest to try it out. If you'd like to join us, you can register here and use the code LETMETRY!
My private Facebook Group is another great place to ask questions. Clients love that it's a place to get thoughts from others as well as my coaching. The only way to get access to the Z&B Facebook Community is to be a current or past client. You can learn about the different programs Z&B offers here including the Academy Membership that gives you access to over 20 online course at a low monthly fee.
This year my word is CONSISTENCY. It’s really all about putting best practices into place on a consistent level so that I can see consistent results. As I get more consistent at certain things in life and business, there will only be minor setbacks when the practices have to be forgotten because unexpected things happen. Although that’s a quick summary of my word, there’s so much more to it. If you’re curious, I’d encourage you to read on.
I've learned so much and planted so many seeds in the 6 years since I’ve started my business and they've all moved me forward. The seeds have not only been in my business, but also in my life. Things like eating well, exercising, spending time with family, meditating, making calls to potential clients, tracking my mileage, posting on facebook and sending my newsletter. The list truly is endless and I sit back in awe at the shear volume of things I’ve learned and how much I’ve grown. It’s also amazing to see how my family and my clients have grown as a result of my being willing to change and grow. As I’ve learned about each thing along the journey, I’ve put it into practice and been able to see how it can help my business and my clients. I've gotten to the point in my business where I know really well what works and what doesn't. That’s an awesome thing for the year that’s ahead!
Bring in the curve ball! There are so many balls that need to be juggled when starting a business and with being a mom and wife. Inevitably, one ball has to drop so another can be grabbed. This constant shift of needs and focus that naturally occurs makes it easy to start some great things and then not be able to go back to them no matter how much you want to. The amount of work is huge compared to the amount of hours in the day to get it all done. Contrary to what many people would do in this scenario, I was determined to avoid increasing my hours to fit more in. I’ve gone down the road of doing that when I worked for others and what it got me was a whole lot of health problems and very little time to be present with my family or myself. So being present meant not being able to get some of the things done for my business and life that I knew needed to be done. Things like regularly meditating or regularly sending out newsletters.
Knowing that I couldn’t increase my hours because doing so was out of alignment with my personal and family goals, I decided back in May to hire an assistant. This was a huge blessing because I was constantly exhausted and unhappy from doing the parts of my business I don’t love (the things that tie me to the computer). The things I didn’t love had to be done and were keeping me away from what truly brought me joy- having conversations with other people. And not having conversations with other people was preventing income from flowing into my business at the rate it could have been. As we sit at the start of 2020, I’m set up really well to spend the majority of my time on the guiding and leading of others that I love and to have my assistant do all the behind the scenes stuff that doesn’t bring me joy.
So, now that I’m set up with a great foundation and support, I’m in a good place to focus daily, weekly and monthly on the key things that I have learned bring me success. That’s where my word of the year comes in: CONSISTENCY. For me this year is not about tons of new things being brought into play, that’s happened with all I’ve built the past 6 years and I’m so grateful for all of it. What this year is about is finally doing some core best practices consistently on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. As I do, I know that the seeds I’ve planted the first 6 years are going to blossom in a very fruitful way. Provided I’m consistent, they will continue to flourish even as a habit or two needs to stop, as is often the case.
I’m part of the sandwich generation. The generation that is taking care of our children and families but also starting to help with our parents when the needs arise. Whether it’s the children or our parents or even my husband or myself, if one of us is suddenly in need, I want to be there and having my own business allows me to do that. I’ve built the business so that when things unexpectedly come up, I can be ever present for the people that are most important to me…..and my clients can also get the support they need without being held up because my life was thrown an unexpected curve ball. I unfortunately lost a close family member a year ago, a man who was like a father to me. He was sick for 1 ½ years and I went to a lot of his doctor appointments with him to be an extra set of ears. Taking the time to do that was a no brainer for me, but it did slow down my business. I was able to easily support the clients who were enrolled, but I wasn’t able to make daily calls to potential clients so the funnel stopped flowing during this time. The same thing happened the summer after he died when I was focused very heavily all summer on helping my oldest son find the college that was the best fit for him. Similar to helping dad, supporting my son wasn’t given a second thought but did impact my business in the same way. Fortunately this time I had support and things were able to be kept moving during times I was away.
I’m grateful for the timing of both experiences because they allowed me to see how I best want to set up my programs and services. I had been thinking about the online academy at the start of dad being sick and realized it was a great thing for me to push forward since it allows me to provide my expertise and training to people without being there. As the academy was built I then started creating varying ways that clients can work with me, keeping in mind how many clients I wanted at a more private level. I often limit that number so they can get my undivided attention, even when I’m away unexpectedly as can happen. I had a coach once pushing me to have 10 or more private clients at a time and that just didn’t feel comfortable for me because it would have meant that I was constantly in calls with clients and didn’t have much time to spend on myself or be present with my family. As a mom, I know my kids will only be young once and I want to enjoy them while I can. I instead built my group programs where clients had access to me one day per month all at the same time and once a quarter for two days. I later added another group program where those clients got a group coaching call once a month. All of this paired with the online academy where they don’t get any time with me unless they are in one of the higher programs- which for some people is perfect.
As I went through the process of figuring out my word of the year, I realized that it wasn’t about one thing but rather an overall tie to many things. As I sat, it just came to me. CONSISTENCY. I’ve done so much and have everything set up well, now it’s time to be consistent. Consistent in how I eat, consistent in exercising, consistent in sleeping, consistent in taking time for me, consistent in spending time with the family, consistent with a bed time/routine, consistent with journaling, consistent with finances, consistent with reaching out to potential clients, consistent with booking speaking engagements, consistent with writing, consistent with posting on Facebook. The list goes on and on, as I said earlier. The word, CONSISTENT, is just so perfect for me at this point in my life and business and I’m so excited that it came to me!
You may be wondering how it came to me and what process I went through. A dear friend and former client, Felicity Joy, has an Intention Party each year and I’ve gone nearly every year since I’ve started my business. This year she did it online through a Facebook Group. It’s a free group and she has a short video pinned to it that explains her process. Part of the process is reflecting on the past year. To do that, I did the Celebrate Your Year Training in the Z&B Online Academy. I have to say it was pretty surreal to do my own training. I’m glad I did, though, because it brought me some great insights. If you’d like to join the group and watch the video on the process you can do so here.
In one of my earlier years in the business, my word of the year was “Foundation”. You can learn more about that word and view the image I created that still sits laminated on my desk, in this old blog article.
So now I’m wondering about you. What is your word of the year? How did you come up with it and what does it mean for you? Comment below. I’d love to see.
Also, if you can relate to what I shared about the struggles related to keeping your business and life going while juggling all the things that come with it, I’d love to hear about that too, so share your comments below. You can also check out the It Takes a Village training in the online academy. Clients love how it helps them figure out which balls they can drop and which ones they can pass off to others.
Recently a client posted a reflection in our Coaching Club Facebook Group. Stacey Montgomery of Stacey M. Design has been a client for a little over a year. What she shared is a story most can relate to and learn from.......
From Stacey to the Facebook Group, "I was originally going to send this post in an email to Michelle, but decided to share it with everyone in our group. It explains about my journey over the last few years and how I got to this phase of my business. It also explains why I am so excited. My excitement about this phase goes beyond the fact that I created a guided journal that I think will help kids. It represents me finally figuring out how to do what I want my business to do.
Like many other entrepreneurs I had it in my head exactly where I wanted to take my business, but had not quite figured out how to do it. The things I was doing were fine, but there has been a feeling in the back of my mind that I still had not hit on it. So, here is the email that I drafted to send to Michelle that explains my mental journey and why where I am today truly puts me at peace. Sorry that it is so long."
The email written by Stacey, "I must say that yesterday's mastermind/workshop was great! Yes, they are all great and I have gotten a lot of value out of each one. However, usually I get a lot more value out of the mastermind than the workshop. Yesterday they were equally valuable to me.
I think the reason is that even though I have had this business for about 2 decades over the last 5 years or so I have been struggling to figure out where to take it next. The personalization was getting me down and paper products in general were not selling the way they once did.
So when it was time for the workshop yesterday, I truly had stuff to think about and plan that made sense for my overall mission and I was truly excited.
Anyway, this is a long email to say that a lot of what you have been teaching is resonating with me more now because I finally figured out that long-elusive thing—how to move my business forward in a way that is scalable and in a way that maintains the spirit of what I have been trying to do all these years. :-) I look forward to next month's mastermind/workshop. BTW-- this does not mean I am getting rid of the rest of my product line. I am not. :-)
Want to learn more about Stacey M. Design and all the awesome products she's created? Visit Stacey at https://staceymdesign.com/. Want to learn about how you can start looking at your business in a deeper way? Check out the upcoming Magnify Your Marketing program that Stacey attended in November or the Marketing Morsels Coaching Club that she has been in for over a year.
Ever wondered what it looks like to be intentional in your business each and every quarter? Today I'm giving you a SNEAK PEEK into what my last quarter has been like. I started the year determined to put my business first by doing quarterly retreats with myself. You see, I walked my clients through taking a deep dive each quarter last year, but I never took the time to do the same for my business.
ventured out online I could begin fishing in a new sea.
As I looked at my plans drawn all over big white papers on the hotel walls, I realized that my quarter 1 focus needed to be getting online. I also realized that I didn't have the skill base (or time!) to do it in a way that would accomplish my goals. So, I would need to pull in an online team to carry this out for me. Knowing my goals were ambitious, the Jan priority was to find the right team so that the revenue could shift as quickly as possible (I talked about that process in my blog a few weeks back. Check that out here.)
When I looked at the revenue that would come in for the camp trainings versus the revenue from the online trainings, it became clear very quickly that I needed to put camp trainings into the parking lot and revisit them in 2018. This was a difficult thing to do because I LOVE working with camp staff and setting them up for an amazing summer.
Fast forward to the last week of March when I assessed my first quarter and began planning for the second quarter. I'm so glad that I made the decision to put the camp training on the back burner because it allowed me to fully focus on my most important goal for 2017. I found the team in January and we began working in February. They've spent a couple months getting me out on social media and testing the results they get with each action. They've also spent time really getting to know me....and in turn forcing me to really get clear on what I do and to refine my services. This initiative is one that should start showing it's results in quarter 2 and continue to build in quarters 3 and 4, as well as in years to come.
As I sit and reflect on the last quarter and what I most need for quarter two, I realize that what I need is to add to my support team. I've spent way too much time in quarter one working at night and on the weekends and that's not in alignment with what i want for my business or my family. Unfortunately I had no choice because the business was going through such a growth phase and the money wasn't there to pay for additional support beyond the online team. I'm confident, though, that I'll be able to focus on this goal in quarter two. That's because revenue will start coming in during this quarter as a result of the things we've done in quarter one. Since I know adding to the support team is important, I will place money into a savings designated for this purpose. That way if an unexpected fluctuation in revenue occurs I won't have to go back to working crazy night and weekends.
In a couple weeks I'll be going on my retreat for the second quarter. This retreat will be different than my first one because it's a personal retreat. I'm going by myself and taking time to be still and reflect on the things I want in life. I'll also be forming a foundation for continuing to be still during the quarter ahead, despite how busy life gets. Every January for the past 4 years, I've gone on a retreat with Beth Majersky of Simply Be Coaching and Retreats. I wasn't able to go this January and thought my time at the hotel would take it's place. As the year drew on, I realized how vital that piece was to my year and reached out to Beth to get it scheduled for April. Knowing that the focus of the retreat was personal, I still knew I had to take the time to deep dive on my business and I did that at home this past week.
If you're reading this and thinking you would like to be more intentional in your business, I have some great ways that I can support you in doing that:
Hey there- hope your week has been a good one! Mine has been filled with TONS of introspection about the businesses. I blocked Wed out to create my 2017 Marketing Plan and to my surprise I flew right through the process. You may be wondering, "You teach people how to do this and it's already the end of March. Why are you just doing it now?" Well, that's because it's the shoemaker's kid syndrome. I was so busy supporting my clients in developing their plans that I never had time to create my own. Or so I thought. Little did I know that the project wasn't as big as I was making it in my head and that it would flow so easily.
So, now you are wondering, "If it can be done in a day, then why do clients need to go through your Magnify Program and spend 3 intensive days working with you to create their plan?" Well, that's because not everyone knows what to put into a plan and not everyone will give themselves the gift of blocking the time (heck- look at how long it took me to finally block the time!). Plus, when they take the course I hand hold them through the entire process and give valuable input based on the many businesses who have completed the process before them. They also get a group of like-minded business owners to bounce ideas off of.
Curious to learn more about the Magnify Program? Ready to take time to reflect and build a successful 2017? Click the image below to learn more.
Yesterday I spent the day hanging out with Ben on his school field trip. He's been asking me all year to sign up as a chaperone and the timing always conflicted with things on the business calendar. Yesterday was no different, however the business event was a networking meeting so it was a little easier to miss. To compensate for the lack of face time with the wonderful ladies in attendance, and the lack of admin time before and after, I got very strategic and intentional throughout the past week. I knew that by doing so, I'd see much success!
Here are some of the things I did:
So often we all strive for balance and when we don't get it, we feel defeated. Balance on a daily basis is an illusion. The key is to try and find balance within a week or month. As you can see from my example above, not every day can be perfectly balanced. We can, though, take time at the start of a week or a month to remember what's most important to us, both at work and home, and build time for each into our plans.
Something exciting has happened this week that I wanted to share with you! The online promotion for my April Magnify Your Marketing Program has officially launched. This promotion includes a lead page that was created and daily Facebook Ads for the next 5 weeks leading up to the program.
The best (and most exciting!) part about this for me is that I AM NOT DOING IT!!!! That's right, I've hired a team to take care of this for me. Sure, I could have done this myself but the results would NOT have been the same because my knowledge is only basic and my time is limited. In the weeks ahead you'll see some cool things unfolding and I'll share different tips with you about what I've been learning from my awesome team.
MEET MY AWESOME TEAM
You may be wondering why I chose the Digital Hook. Honestly, I've been looking for the right team for about 3 years now. James is in my Bolingbrook Chamber Bang 2 Referral Group. I've been observing him since early last fall. I'd listen to things he'd say at meetings and pick up little nuggets in passing conversations. The more I heard, the more I felt they were the ones. In a brief 3 min conversation after one meeting, James shared about how he LOVES the clients that don't believe online marketing can get results. He quickly shared how he enjoys proving them wrong and seeing the joy they get when their business suddenly grows by leaps and bounds. Jame's wife, Tawanna recently left her job to be full-time with the business. Seeing how James was able to replace his own 6 figure job, and is set up to do the same with his wife's job, showed that he has traveled my path of leaving a high level job and opening a business to replace that income. Additionally, Jame's family is very important to him and his kids are part of the business, just like my Z&B. They say "People Buy People" and that is so true. That's always the most important part of a buying decision for me.
This time, though, was different. I have VERY AMBITIOUS goals for 2017 and it's crucial that 1) I don't try to accomplish them on my own and 2) I have a team supporting me that has taken other businesses to the places I'm looking to go. Once my gut knew The Digital Hook was the team, I continued to observe. This time it was listening to others that have used them and hearing about their results. That's what finally sold me and I'm happy to say that every minute of my working with them has EXCEEDED MY EXPECTATIONS!
There are a couple others that I know well that passed the "People Buy People" test. Although I did not chose them to be the online team for Z&B's promotion, I will be pulling them in to be part of my support team and will tell you all about them in future editions.
If you write a blog or put out a newsletter (or have been thinking about starting one), you may have wondered from time to time "Is anyone reading what I write?" or "Is it even worth the time I am taking?". This subject has gotten a lot of traction the past week amongst my Coaching Club clients. It first started in the Facebook group and later came up again in our Monthly Mastermind/Workshop yesterday. Here's a little of the wisdom that myself and others shared.
First, EVERYONE is NOT going to read our stuff and that's OK. The world is simply on information overload. When we write, our goal should be two-fold:
One of my clients, Jessica Olivito of the Sozo Group sent out a great newsletter this week. Discussion about it came up in the group and we had people who identified with scenario #1 above and people who identified with scenario #2. I was in scenario #2 and explained how warmed my heart was when I saw the email come through and how I skimmed it and clicked the link but didn't have time to delve into reading. Most people will be in #2, which is frustrating knowing how long we take to put out a newsletter.
What can we learn from this?
Repurposing may seem like tons more work. The point is not to stress, or to add more to your list of to-do's. Instead, to look at your to-do list and see where you can cut work down by using some of what you've already done. Once you do, you'll feel excited because you've taken 1 task that takes so much time and maximized that effort by increasing your visibility and the # of people who see it. The information above, for example, was copied from a comment I posted in my Facebook group.
Let me leave you with a few tips that came from a mastermind discussion. The question proposed to the group was "What do you look for when you decide to read a newsletter?" The responses varied with each person. The lesson here was to be your true self and those who are meant to be attracted to you will be. For those who aren't, that's totally ok. What else did the group share they look for in a newsletter?
The biggest take-away, which pairs well with the information shared above, was "Less is more!"
Would you love to have a community to discuss topics like this with? What about a coach to provide wisdom and guidance when you need it? If you answered yes! then the Marketing Morsels Coaching Club could be for you. In addition to accessing the Facebook Support Group, you'd attend Monthly Mastermind/Workshops, Monthly Co-Working time and Monthly Q&A calls all for only $125/mo or $599. Learn more here about this 6 month program.
This past week I spoke at two women’s networking groups. At each I asked the question, “Do you set aside time to work ON your business?”. At one talk I was asked for clarification. “Do you mean, do we leave white space in our calendar?” To which I answered, that depends.
You see, I used to use the white space method to leave time to work ON my business but it didn’t work for me. Why? That’s because someone would ask me for time to meet and I would see the white space and schedule a meeting there. Or I’d be exhausted from such a busy week and would just decide to do nothing. I quickly learned that the work that needed to be done for my business wasn’t happening. Now, I put intentional appointments in my calendar for the work I know needs to be done and then the white space truly is white space. For others who aren't wired the way I am, the white space method does work. The reason it doesn't work for me is because I’m a very social person and I thrive on interactions with others. I much prefer to be meeting with someone than to be doing things by myself. (Remember that SWOT Analysis I mentioned last week? Did you download Ch. 4 in my book and do yours? If not, here’s the link again.)
Working ON your business simply means doing the things that need to be done for your business to function. This includes things as simple as keeping track of mileage and receipts, as well as things like taking time to contemplate which revenue stream is performing the best for you. It also includes time to deepen your knowledge about your area of expertise and reaching out to key people (past clients, referral partners and current clients) just to say hi. Clients in my Marketing Morsels Coaching Club take the 1st Thursday of each month to work ON their business at our Mastermind/Workshop. Those in my Magnify Your Marketing program take 3 intensive days to work ON their business by developing a business and marketing plan. So often we get bogged down with serving clients, networking and responding to emails that we lose sight of the other things that need to be done for our business to grow and be successful.
So, next time you plan your week or your month, take time to consider the often forgotten higher level tasks (or the simply mundane ones) and set time aside for them. As you regularly put this practice into place, you’ll start seeing positive results and be glad you did. Comment below and tell us where you land when it comes to spending time ON your business. I’d love to know.
Looking to build more time into your calendar to work ON your business with others? Why not join the Marketing Morsels Coaching Club. Come as a guest to our Monthly Mastermind/Workshop! They are always the 1st Thursday of the month and the next one is next Thursday, March 2nd. Use this link to learn more and register. Use the code COMPLIMENTARY to come as one of my guests. (Space is limited so register right away. Registration ends on Tues, 2/28.)
Have you ever wasted 30 min? If you’re like me, chances are you spend a lot of time saying to yourself “I just wasted 30 min.” What happens for me is that I get ready to work on a project and then something bounces into my mind that I needed to do. I'm sure it will only take a couple minutes…..and it does. The problem is that during those couple minutes, one of two things often happens:
Recently I was on a Q&A Call with my Coaching Club clients and the topic was time management. There were 9 of them on the call and each took time to share some tips and tricks they use to manage situation #1 above. In addition to each person being inspired by some new ideas, and the fact that they aren’t alone in this pattern, two themes came to light.
Situation # 2 above is different than #1 and we actually didn’t talk about that on our call. Often when I say “I just wasted 30 min”, I just finished scenario #2. I did that 1 thing that I thought would take a couple minutes and then did a few more 20 min things. As a matter of fact, I’m currently in this cycle as I write this blog post.
The "a-ha" that came to mind as I was saying, “I just wasted 30 min” was that I hadn’t. However, I say that all the time and cause myself to feel bad. I also lead those around me to think I wasn’t working (like family or my team or my clients). People think what we tell them. So, we need to change how we think and what we say. The reality is that I WAS doing work during the 30 min and it wasn’t wasted time, it was important. It just wasn’t on the list of things I had planned to do.
How do we get around this? The solution really is to stop overscheduling ourselves and to schedule buffers into our day. As I’ve paid attention to the tasks I’ve done this week, I’ve realize most of it wasn’t how I planned it to go. It also wasn’t wasted time, even though I said and thought it was. Each thing I did was something important that had to be done, often times it was something I didn’t realize needed to be done until I was in the situation.
By allowing space in our day we allow these things to be taken care of without associated guilt. We aren’t robots and our lives don’t happen in controlled environments. By allowing space in our schedules we can avoid feeling out of control when the unexpected comes up, as we know it will.
So, the next time you go to plan your day don’t schedule every single hour. Leave an hour or two for the administrative things you will need to do like checking email, returning that call, scheduling that meeting, updating that form, making lunch or breakfast, reading a book. While you’re at it, leave an hour or two that is totally blank. Something will come up that needs to fill the space and you’ll be glad it’s there. If nothing does, you’ll suddenly have free time to do something fun. How cool would that be?!
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