About Lyz Cano Freeman

Lyz has a passion for business, personal development and wellness. She hopes to help new and emerging home-based entrepreneurs discover both their personal and business strengths in order to develop a more productive, healthy and balanced life while rocking it in business from home.

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Here are my most recent posts

Home-based Business Workspace: Ideas to make it work

home business workspaceYet another Spark Bits Weekly where I ask a panel of homeprenuers a blazing question about running and growing their businesses from home.

Today’s Q is:

Tell us about your workspace at home and how do keep your business endeavors organized?

Stephanie Watson from Barry Publishing says:

home business workspaceI’m very fortunate to have a dedicated office in my home. I have two  file cabinets, two desks, a printer, two computers, a laptop, and from years of doing this, all the office paraphernalia one would expect plus two comfortable chairs and some bookcases. Since my husband helps me in my business one station is his and one is mine. I barely use the filing cabinet or the printer or other stuff anymore. I use Dropbox to keep all my files organized. I scan receipts to keep them in a file for tax purposes, which is practically the only reason the printer is used, and file warranty information in one of the file cabinets.

I use my office only for working. When I want to have fun and play around I go use my laptop in the living room on the couch. This gives me a nice feeling of separation, so that when I am off work, I am off work. Plus it keeps me from wasting time on social media. I use my laptop for work when I am away from the house, or sometimes, like now, when I’m writing something like this and need a change of pace after writing all day long. But mostly, I use my lap top for “off duty” stuff.

I have a desk that allows me to sit or stand. I read that sitting for more than 4 hours a day increases your chances of sudden and early death exponentially, so I had my husband build me a desk that enables me to stand while working. At first I thought it would be hard, but I find that I am actually more productive when I stand.

I have set working hours and days. I do work “over time” when needed, but mostly I try to limit that and get my work done within the parameters that I’ve set. I used to feel like I worked 24/7 and now I don’t. Sure, sometimes I work overtime and on my days off, but that only happens when I need to rearrange something or before and after going on vacation.

I’m very fortunate having this space and all the supplies and equipment that I need. Back when I first started, I had an office in the living room stuffed behind the couch. It was difficult, with the kids running through the room, watching TV and so forth, but it was all I had at the time.

One great thing is that today,  working from home virtually means that I need very little paper or other supplies other than a computer, the Internet, and the right software since I now keep all  files organized in my Dropbox, there’s not much to it. My expenses are low, and I run lean and mean.

Brenda Trott from Done4UMedia Marketing says:

home business workspaceAfter going through 3 computers in one year, I decided to store everything on the cloud. I use Evernote to capture things online or store them on my Google drive where I can grab them from my phone as well as any computer. I store things in folders based on the product I’m creating or the client I’m working with.

Although I have a home office, I often find myself working from my bedroom.  The biggest fault is that it is easy to lose track of time, and I’ll send emails out at 3am.  Once upon a time that didn’t matter, but now that smart phones are notifying people of emails, it becomes a problem when I wake someone up with my late night (or early morning) emails!

My Insights

home business workspaceWorking from home can offer many perks. For one, it offers the opportunity for flexibility, which is especially gratifying for people like me who value freedom.  But with the perks also come disadvantages and one of those is maintaining an organized space for your business, which can be quite difficult when you have the distractions from your home life.

Working from home requires some thought especially when you are just starting out. A goal should be to create a working space that is suitable for you and works for both your personal and business life. For me, feeling physically comfortable when I’m working, noise control and keeping things organized are pretty important.

Although I do have an extra room with a desk, like Brenda, I find myself working out of my guest bedroom because my back and legs get tired from sitting for long periods and I also like to elevate my legs on the bed. I find that I tend to stay more productive in that position. I do bursts of exercise in between to keep my circulation flowing and mind clear. I’ve also considered getting a higher desk to work while standing like Stephanie discussed because of the negative health effects of sitting for long periods.

I also need complete silence to work effectively because I get highly distracted and lose my focus really quickly. It takes me much longer to get it back. Therefore, when I start to work, my husband knows that I’m in work mode and doesn’t overstep that boundary. Maintaining boundaries with your family is really important especially if you are sensitive to noise and distractions like I am. Having a chat with your family or even putting up a sign on your door or work area can help establish an understanding where after a while, you won’t even have to say or do anything.

In keeping things organized, I keep all of my business related things in one room and just bring my laptop with me when I move around in my home. The majority of my files are in digital format so most of the time my laptop will suffice. If I do work on my desk, it has to be completely bare. I can’t work in an area that is messy and cluttered. It doesn’t allow me to think clearly or creatively.

The key, I think, is to find a space that works for you and contributes to your sanity, health and  productivity. From a psychological standpoint, structuring and finding a “place for business” in your home will separate your home life with your business endeavors. Assess your personality and find a home setup that will best contribute to your business success. Your home-based business workspace and the way you organize your biz endeavors is an expression of your personality. Try to create an environment where you will feel most empowered to do your best work and will enhance your productivity.

Have you assessed and reconsidered your home business workspace lately?

Pinterest Tips for Business

Pinterest Tips for BusinessPinterest is reported to have over 70 million users and has surpassed email as one of the top sharing platforms online according to Share This.  It’s no wonder why so may businesses are riding the wave of Pinterest. With these stats, I became curious as to what made this channel so darn powerful. So, after getting past the learning curve, I went on a hunt to figure some things out. If you still don’t get what Pinterest is all about take a look at this cute and short video  (less than 2 minutes) to gain some understanding on how it works.

For businesses, Pinterest is a great tool because you can share content by way of appealing images, graphics, pictures etc. that can ultimately increase your sales. Since many people absorb better through visuals, the growth of Pinterest is  expected to continue to stay on the rise.

So, in light of this predicted growth, I set out to research the most recent and popular articles online related to Pinterest in an effort to gain some understanding. Learning some Pinterest tips for business will improve my overall interaction level on this platform through the use of methods and tools in order to bring more visitors to my websites. Here’s what I found:

Copyblogger's Pinterest WorksDoes Pinterest convert? According to Copyblogger’s Pinterest Works article, heck yeah and they have proof to show it. Copyblogger is considered one of the pioneers of blogging so when they have something to say, I usually listen. I enjoyed this article because I was a skeptic myself on the power of Pinterest for business. Delineated in it is some social proof of how this amazing tool drives thousands of referral traffic to a couple of online publishers. It also offers a simple step-by-step process on how you can use Pinterest to drive more traffic to your website. Copplyblogger debunks the the Pinterest naysayers.

Smart Strategies for PinterestNeed more proof? Here it is. This blogger shrugged Pinterest off because she thought her “marketing” and “tech” themes weren’t visually enticing enough to use Pinterest. Therefore, she embarked on a research bend and now Pinterst is her second top referral source for social traffic. She offers 40+ strategies to drive more traffic.

Optimize your imagesHow do you optimize your images for more traffic? This is one of my favorites because Cynthia Sanchez offers a video on how to do this exactly through the use keyword rich descriptions to help your pins be found. She also offers a podcast that may be helpful.

 

Hashtags for PinterestHow are Hashtags used? Hashtags are profusely used in in many social marketing platforms. Hashtags use on Pinterest, as per this article, is used differently than on twitter. If you want to learn to use of Hashtags for Pinterest for better search results, this resource offers 7 tips.

Must follow Pinterest BoardsIf what you’ve heard is that Pinterst is mostly a social media platform for recipes, arts & crafts and shoes well, here is a list of 15 bloggers using Pinterest for their blogging efforts. From SEO to Internet Marketing and social media pinboards, take a look at how these bloggers use Pinterest. It will give you a some ideas on how to combine blogging and Pinterest in creative ways.

Tools for PinterestWant to know what the best tools are to heighten the efficiency of Pinterest for your business? Here are 9 tools shared in this article by Business 2 Community that can help you make the best of your Pinterest pinboards. From Pinterest analytics to creating an online store on Pinterest you’ll be able to find at least one item on the list that you’ll be able to put to use right away.
Tricks for Pinterest

Besides tools, learn some Pinterest tricks that all bloggers should consider – 7 to be exact. In this article, Hello Society dishes out some cool tricks that can catapult your blogging and put you on the  Pinterest map. Up until know, I have just been posting my social friendly images attached to my blog content all over social media but with this article, I learned to not only have an exclusive blogging content pinboard but also exclusive images for Pinterst. This entices people to keep coming back for more so you can continue to optimize this avenue further in your marketing. There are also examples of blog content boards that just got my creative juices flowing all over the place.

Pinterest PlacesIn November of 2013, Pinterest introduced Place Pins which as per Pinterest, combines the imgery of a travel magazine with an online map. Social Media Examiner shows you 6 ways in which you can promote your business with this new feature. It also has a tutorial on how to create a Place Board.

 

 

 

Simple Ways to Manage Content Creation

simple content creationWelcome to Spark Bits Weekly where I ask a panel of homeprenuers a blazing question about running and growing their businesses from home.

Today’s Q is:

What tools and methods do you use to make your content creation manageable?

Brenda Trott from Done4UMedia Marketing says:

BrendaFunky_me.jpgSpreadsheets! I use spreadsheets to list out topics so I never have to think about what I’m going to write or post on social media next. I also use a formula to help me balance the types of posts I create on social media.

Advanced scheduling. When I am on a roll, I will create several posts at one time and then schedule them to post in the future. That way I can work on other things and not worry about going back and posting something every day. I do the same with social media posts with software called Postplanner.  It actually helps find popular content as well.

Listening to my clients. When someone has a question, it helps me come up with another way to show him or her the answer through content creation.

Jessica Lee from Psychic Readings Guide says:

jessica-leeFor me, managing content creation needs to be kept as simple as possible.  I’ve tried various types of Mind Mapping software and find that this hinders my creativity and productivity.  In the last few months, I’ve gone “old school.”  I tend to get a lot of inspired ideas throughout the day, so I keep a pen and paper handy at all times to jot them down.  Sometimes, whole sentences and paragraphs for articles and/or courses will flow into my mind, so I want to be sure to capture those thoughts.

Then, each morning, I sort of feel where I’m at with creating content. I can’t force it and have to allow it to flow naturally.  For example, if I’m writing a three-part series on a topic, I may not write them in logical order. I always work on what’s flowing and most enjoyable at the moment.  Taking the path of least resistance always bears more output, and that includes managing content.

I keep a master file in Microsoft Word labeled “draft.”  I dump all of my thoughts and written notes into it.  It’s common for me to have four to six different content projects in this file.  As I work, I’ll start to see patterns of things that can be pieced together to create rich content.  I also like having a large master file because I can easily move things around within a single document.  From there, the pieces get uploaded to wherever they are going – be it an eBook or article.  Then, I polish, edit, and publish.

Helena Bowers from Your Message Amplified says:

headshot-dec-2012-100Content creation is manageable? Ha!

In all seriousness, as a solopreneur the majority of my time is spent creating content – product content and marketing content. When you stop and think about everything that needs to be done from info products to autoresponders, newsletters, social media statuses, etc… it can be really overwhelming if you don’t have a good system in place to manage both the workflow and your time.  And if your business includes creating content for your clients too, it can be even more so.

I still like to work a lot with pen and paper, so for years my main organization system consisted of a series of project folders, notebooks, yellow legal pads and a day planner.  It’s only recently that I’ve started experimenting with using more online tools to keep organized. The two main tools I’m using in conjunction with my folder system are Freemind and Google Calendar.

Freemind is a mindmapping tool that allows me to brainstorm content ideas, create outlines, and keep track of all the notes I scribble on yellow legal pads throughout the day. Every idea I have, whether for a product, blog post, or something else starts its life on the master mindmap along with an approximate deadline. Once I decide on a firm deadline, then a project folder gets started along with a notebook for that particular project.

Recently I learned about time-blocking from one of my coaches, and that’s where Google Calendar comes in. I use it to block of specific times to work on specific projects. My old paper calendar system was confusing at best, and usually left me in the position of wondering, “What do I want to work on today?” Having blocks of time set aside for particular projects means that:

a) One, gets done before moving on to the next.
b) I no longer have to wonder what to work on.

As long as I stay disciplined and don’t let myself get sidetracked, using the calendar to organize creation time leaves me much more productive. On the whole, it’s a system that works for me and balances the need for having everything in one place and easily manageable with the need to physically create with pen and paper.

Christa Jensen from ChristaJensen.com says:

cjI try to write original blog content as often as I can but it is not always time effective. There are also times I get that hideous thing called “writers block” which can stop you in your tracks.

To make content creation manageable I use these tools and/or methods:

PLR (Private Label Rights) Content. This is one of the big tools I use. The fact that I have access to content with the legwork already done for me plus, the subject matter I need or want to share is a HUGE help in creating content. Once you get the hang of using PLR content, making it your own becomes a snap.

Using a Blog Idea List. I often have great ideas for a post and the timing is not right at that moment; but, it will be of use down the road. I keep my idea notes and visit it frequently when I need ideas for upcoming posts.

Scheduling. I have found it truly helpful to write content ahead of time and schedule them out. I think many will agree you can have some fantastic days of uninhibited writing where ideas just flow from your fingertips. Getting those scheduled to go is a big help.

These tools and methods have helped me create some great content and imagine it will continue to do so!

My Insights

lyzqa.pngThe process of content creation isn’t easy. From creating optimized blog posts, to sending personalized and segmented emails, to publishing content on social media (and the list goes on), one can easily sabotage the process in the magnitude of other business related functions. That’s why it is important to learn how to refine the process in order to make the most out of your time. So, in exploring better options for myself, I figured it could be helpful for other homepreneurs who feel inundated with this tedious yet very essential aspect of an online marketing business.

As a couple of our Sparkplugging advisors described, I use spreadsheets and time blocking as well. Brainstorming topics in advance helps with getting past a wave of writer’s block and it creates a system that takes the thinking out of the equation. For example, I use two days a week (usually Mondays and Tuesdays) to focus primarily on researching topics and keywords, writing content and catching up on weekly content trends. I have a hard time shifting my focus from one task to another so this technique helps me get into a flow state, which generates speed and creativity for me.

To figure out topics, I use Blog Social Analyzer to learn about what content has been popping online.  I also tend to use outlines when writing blog posts. It breaks down the task to where I am just filling in the blanks then I edit to make it cohesive. For example, for our weekly Sparkplugging group post I try to break it down into 4 quick components:

  • A general description of the topic and why I asked the question
  • My input on what resonates with me
  • My tips on the topic
  • A summary that will hopefully entice the readers to think about their own businesses

Currently, I’m in the process of exploring the use of an editorial calendar such as CoSchedule as it can bring functionality and automation to content creation and marketing. There are many methods and tools that can prove to help with this process. The key is to find what works best for you without greatly affecting your time management and while also minimizing stress and overwhelm – something that can be challenging for many solopreneurs who run home-based businesses.

Ways to Learn Faster to Ignite your Business

Welcome to Spark Bits Weekly where I ask a panel of homeprenuers a blazing question about running and learning tools for homepreneursgrowing their businesses from home.

Today’s Q is:

What have you learned recently that has helped you in your business and what are some tips you can offer for learning something quickly?

Stephanie Watson from Barry Publishing says:

steph123stephheadshot.jpgMy business has recently grown by four new clients in a very short period of time. Normally, I obtain one new client every couple of months, but about three weeks ago I suddenly acquired four new clients over night. I’m super happy about this, but every time I start with a new client I am a little bit nervous, especially when I agree to use their project management system instead of my own. Yea, I know — as business owners we should use our own system — well, sorry it doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes, if you want to grow you have to leave your comfort zone and use someone else’s system, which requires learning.

Here are my tricks and tips for learning things as fast as possible.

1) Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

It doesn’t matter how dumb you think your question is (or even if the client thinks it’s dumb) if you have a question you should ask. This is the only way you’re going to ensure that you really do understand your client and the only way you’re really going to be able to provide the deliverables your client needs. Even if you get the answer back and suddenly the answer is obvious, it’s OK to ask questions. There truly are no dumb questions.

2) Get Plenty of Exercise

As a service provider I tend to sit down a lot. Over the years this has caused me to get what Nicole Dean refers to as “Computer Butt”.  But, lack of movement is also associated with less blood flow, which is associated with brain fog, which is associated with not being able to learn new things as fast. If you find you’re having trouble learning something new, go for a brisk 10-minute walk then come back to it. You might find that on your walk you realized the solution, or you might find that you’re better able to concentrate after exercise.

3) Eat Right

It’s very important that when you are trying to learn new things that you remember to eat right. For some people this might mean something different, for me it means eating a plant based diet. For about 18 months I’ve eaten a plant-based diet along with my husband with some amazing results, which aren’t all physical. Both of us report better mental clarity and the ability to learn faster.

4) Get Enough Sleep

That’s right, sleep is necessary for proper brain function. Yes, when you were in college or high school you had the ability to live off four hours of sleep, but you’re not that young anymore. Now you need to sleep. But everyone is different. For me, I need six hours of sleep per night. Some people need more or less. It’s up to you to determine what that need is by practicing different levels of sleep until you find out what is optimum for you.

5) Enjoy Your Life

Work is always going to be there. It’s important that you find some sort of way to enjoy both. I hate to use the word balance or even juggling. Every juggler drops the ball at least once, and every person who tries to balance will fall down. The best thing to do is schedule in your breaks with your family, and fun time with friends, as well as work times. Then rearrange as needed when it’s important to do so. That’s why working at home is so awesome. Take advantage of that awesomeness.

So, I’m in the middle of learning two new project management systems, and four new clients’ personalities and ways of doing things. I’m taking all my own advice above, because if I don’t it just won’t work out. I really want it to work out.

Brenda Trott from Done4UMedia Marketing says:

BrendaFunky_me.jpgThe biggest thing I have learned in my business is to treat myself as my best customer. As a marketer, I know all the right steps to take to make sure I get found, but I often put them aside to work on someone else’s business.  Once someone brought that to my attention, life changed a bit.  I started doing things for my business FIRST as though I was my highest paying customer, and then I was able to help even more people because they could find me!

I’m a life long learner so I’m always finding something new to learn. If I need to learn something quickly, I might refer to YouTube, but I’m at a point in my business where time is money so I’d rather outsource things I don’t know how to do to someone else.

Reba Collins from PLR One Stop says:

profile-reba100x100Recently I wanted to learn how to run a solo ad to help build my mailing list. It seemed like it should be so simple but I didn’t know the first thing about it. I started doing some research and the more I read about it the more I realized I didn’t know. So then I looked in a membership site to which I belong to see if there were any resources there. There was but again, it was incomplete. I then looked for an inexpensive paid resource, found it, and again, incomplete. All this time it wasn’t like I didn’t learn anything, in fact I learned everything I needed to know with exception of one facet of the process. It wasn’t covered anywhere.

Then, someone in a one of the Facebook groups was giving away some reports and one was about solo ads. I picked it up and again; the part of the process I was looking for was not covered.  That’s when I decided to go to the source. In the Facebook group I posted a question for the author of the report asking specifically for what I needed to know. He answered in less than an hour with everything I needed.

Learning how to run a solo ad may prove to be very beneficial to building my list, I will know soon as I just ordered an ad.

My tip for learning something quickly is, if you still have questions after reading someone’s information product, just ask them.  Most authors are teachers too, and once they realize they left out something or didn’t explain something clearly, they are more than happy to help. I do want to caution here however, don’t expect people who teach to do the work for you or teach you everything they know when you haven’t even purchased their product. They earn a living with their knowledge and experience and you need to respect that.

Helena Bowers from Your Message Amplified says:

headshot-dec-2012-100I have learned that it’s okay to ask for help and that I don’t have to do everything myself. That may seem weird since my own business depends on people asking me for help, but it has been a really hard one for me to learn when it comes to letting go of complete control over my own work.

My best tips for learning something quickly are to know your learning style, and then make use of all the amazing resources available online. You can save yourself a lot of time and frustration if you take the time to figure out how you learn best.

For example, if you know you learn best by watching a demonstration, search YouTube for how-to videos showing step-by-step what you want to learn. If you know you learn better by listening then find an audio version such as a podcast or webinar recording and listen to those.

Finally, if you really need to learn something quickly and you can’t find the resources you need, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Reach out to your social media connections or the people on your email list and tell them what you need to learn and ask for recommendations. You have a wealth of information at your fingertips; so don’t be afraid to make use of it to expand your own knowledge base.

My Insights 

lyzqa.pngWhen thinking about the learning curve required for starting and growing a business it is imperative for entrepreneurs to learn quickly. Things move fast in the entrepreneurial space and are also in constant flux with the introduction of new tools and methods of doing things. You have to be able to integrate the new information you are taking in so that you can develop new skills and have the ability to apply them successfully.

As I positioned the question for the Sparkplugging panel, I reflected on my own business growth. Of the many things I’ve learned, two things stand out for me. One, my ability to become less fixated on perfecting something (read more about it here) and focusing on establishing a minimum viable product (MVP). The point is to get something rolling and then fine tune as you progress.

Second and most recently, I’ve learned to develop the skill of quick reading. A skill that does me good because I absorb information best when I read and write – a point about learning styles reflected by one of our Sparkplugging advisors.

Consider these two tips for entrepreneurial learning through speed-reading:

  • Use a finger (pen, pencil) as a pacer to run through the text as you are reading each line. It is proven to increase focus and speed. Plus, don’t read aloud when you are reading to yourself. Your brain has the ability to work faster than the rate of your speech.
  • Get clear about your objective for learning something. When you decide to read lets say a book, ask yourself what it is you want to get out of it before you go through the material. Your brain modulates what it takes in through the Reticular Activating System (RAC) and filters out what you don’t need so that it can focus on finding the answer you are looking for. This also helps you speed things up so that you can take in more in less time.

I tend to make sense of things through science and psychology so you’ll notice the influence of those in my writing. I  agree exponentially on taking care of yourself through diet, sleep and exercise as described by one of our advisors. Perhaps it’s because I’m a nurse and a therapist who happens to be passionate about business. These tend to be “soft” subjects in the world of business but I firmly believe in dissecting those topics because success is a combination of all parts of you (external and internal) working together.

It is important to not only optimize your business but also the person behind it. Therefore, developing the skill to learn quickly falls in that category and it will ultimately result in bigger wins for your business.

Waiting for Perfection: How It Can Crush Your Business Dream

Slide1I was in 4th grade when I learned that B+ in my report card was not good enough. The feeling of shame was incongruent with the honor roll certificate given to me by my teacher as she smiled and offered praise with a “Good job!” Yet, that wasn’t enough in my home and from that point on, I made it my business to accumulate as many A’s as I could all the way through Graduate School. I accomplished many things I admit but it cost me a whole lot more than I had anticipated.

Perfectionism is often seen as a source of honor but I learned that it actually isn’t the secret element in achieving success in business. In fact, it can hurt it. How? The reasons are many but in business, it severely taps into your productivity by producing paralyzing effects that can keep you from taking action and achieving your business goals.

The real price of perfection

Some of my perfectionistic ways were learned in my younger years. However, I came to the realization that the pursuit of perfection was actually a liability for my business endeavors. To bring light to this point, I’ll share a mini list of my losses:

  • Failure to launch 4 businesses that were in the works in the last 10 years because “I wasn’t ready.”
  • Missed opportunity to work with a former FUBU publicist in the early 2000’s because I didn’t feel prepared enough to email her back.
  • Failure to publish 30 articles I’d written because after I reviewed them, they didn’t offer enough quality by my standards (Thankfully I learned about repurposing content).
Getting past it

Perfectionism can become maladaptive.  You can easily begin to rely on it so profusely that it debilitates your confidence. As you become busier, you can start to doubt your capabilities in fulfilling tasks. The tasks become to-dos and eventually large piles become insurmountable baggage that just lingers around weighing on you. Your brain becomes overwhelmed and your inability to quench it down creates feelings of lack that can result in guilt, shame and personal failure. Your business becomes stagnant or completely folds.

It’s hard to take a step back and deconstruct this act. It becomes so fixed that the actual execution of revisiting, revising and redoing  becomes a gratifying activity because it is addicting in nature. But somewhere along the line there has to be a point where something is good enough and not overdone.

How do you manage this time sucking beast?

First, expect the unexpected and be flexible with outcomes.

When working out a course of action, understand that a plan is just a framework to assist you. Don’t entertain any black and white thinking. Be adaptable.  In business, nothing is predictable so let it go and move on. You’ll need your sanity and energy to keep growing your business; therefore, learn to cut the toxic chatter in your head. Course correct while you’re moving. As you take action, you’ll begin to take the control back.

Secondly, think about what motivates you and break it down.

Ascertaining a goal is usually easy. Actually achieving it is a different story. If perfectionism knocks on your door, so will procrastination. When you are a constant worrier and over thinker, it is quite difficult to establish an environment for yourself that is conducive for getting the job done. Map out a picture of the big goal then concentrate on small steps individually.

Mastering small steps will allow you to immerse yourself, which will heighten your concentration and pleasure and create a more favorable setting for continuous accomplishments. The important thing is that you set attainable and measurable goals.

Lastly, eliminate multitasking to increase focus.

In business, multitasking has become almost synonymous with productivity. The problem is that it can become rampant taking you to a place of chronic misuse of your time. Your brain is not able to handle all the demands you put on it when you multitask because it cannot switch efficiently between tasks. It actually slows you down and changes the way your brain works. Figure out what your highest priorities are, chunk your tasks and align accordingly. For example, if you set out to complete 4 tasks in one day, set a specific time period for each task and move on. Program your brain to think that you have a deadline to meet during  each time period. This will allow you to focus on getting things done rather than perfection.

Stop being a hounding self-critic

Perfectionism is not objective. Your definition is likely to be different than mine but all of it stems from an attempt to avoid some sort of discomfort. However, a dose of perfection is not all bad. It can kick your buns into high gear. It does become a problem when it’s chronic. Start by loosening up your unrealistic standards. Otherwise, you’re be mounting the fast lane towards dysfunctional coping. Your business will suffer and you’ll find yourself paying the high price of overtime with no return on your investment.

Are you willing to reconsider that price?

 

Get Paid What You’re Worth in Your Business

Welcome to Spark Bits Weekly where I ask a panel of homeprenuers a blazing question about running and growingmo money their businesses from home.

Today’s Q is:

What is your strategy for pricing your offers so that you are getting paid what you’re worth in your business?

Christa Jensen from ChristaJensen.com says:

make more moneyThis is a very important topic and not one easily tackled when you go to set your prices whether it be a service or a product. Having a good strategy to get paid your worth is fundamental to the success of your business.

Everyone should, in my opinion, always follow these 3 strategic yet simple rules:

  1. Know the value of what you are offering. (What would you pay, not what you want people to pay. Choose at least 3 prices).
  2. Research. (Know what your competitors are charging and charge competitively without undercutting your value).
  3. Don’t be afraid to test prices (Start with your highest ideal price and offer discounts using other projected prices).

If you value yourself too low potential clients will not take you seriously. If you do not do your research you will not be effectively competitive. If you test your prices you could increase your sales dramatically (don’t price lower than your lowest valued price).

I have used these rules for years. The training on the value of a successful business I had to learn in the last time I worked in the corporate world stuck with me and now I apply them to what I offer!

Stephanie Watson from Monthly Content Helpers says:

make more moneySince 90 percent of the work I do is content writing, it’s not really very difficult for me to price my offerings. I price by the package or by the article and give discounts for bulk orders. The one thing I had to realize is that I am not competing to be the low cost leader.  I want to work with serious online and offline business owners who want quality content that provides value to their audience. I don’t want to work for people who only care about getting the lowest price without being concerned about quality.

Once I realized all that, it was simple to set my prices. While I have package rates, it all started with knowing how many hours I can work a week and how much I need to earn. That helped me create my goal hourly rate. Then I figured out how long it took me to research and write an average article. That helped me create my package rates. I also learned that if I have 5 or 10 articles to write on the same subject I can do all the research at once, and pass on the discount to my clients.

I receive inquires from all types of business owners seeking content, some do want to pay me less than I am worth. I have figured out my worth and I don’t accept positions that don’t pay me what I have figured out I need and deserve. That’s not to say I didn’t at first.

Sometimes you do have to stick your toes in, do a lot of low paying work in order to build up your resume and confidence. But, after getting experience and building a reputation, people start wanting to hire you for your expertise as much as the tasks that you do. Once that happens, you can command the fees that you deserve.

Brenda Trott from Done4UMedia Marketing says:

make more moneyI let people know what my highest prices are and then ask for their budget. Then I build a plan for them that might offer less services but still be as valuable for them and their business. The idea is that once I get them more customers, they will be able to afford to scale it up.

My Insights

make more moneyThe topic of money is a sensitive subject for many people and can be a huge stressor for an entrepreneur who may have a predetermined expectation of having the hard work pay off big time. It is particularly pressure provoking when factoring in supporting a family or when frequently entertaining the thought of making enough to pay the bills. Money in general evokes feelings of many colors. So having all things to consider, is there a way to price your products and services so that you’re making what you are actually worth?

A huge point shared by some of the Sparkplugging advisors was the caution of undervaluing yourself. As I agree with this view I also believe pricing may be influenced a bit by your viewpoints and personal relationship with money.  The task of pricing can become quite challenging and it is a task that is of superb importance for the success of your business.

Think about when you had to slap a figure on one of your products or services. Were you ever worried about things like, “My customer won’t be able to afford the price?”  Or, “My customer won’t want to work with me if my price is too high.” Or, what about, “My competition will steal my customer?” These and similar thoughts will most likely be reflected in your pricing decisions.

So what is your worth? In addition to factoring in your internal money dialogue, here is a summary of some of the ideas presented by our Sparkplugging panel. Plus, a few other tidbits I’ve learned along the way:

  1. Have a clear picture of your priorities, personal goals and vision for your business. However, take an honest look at where you’re at right now. If you need money immediately you might have to start on a less than ideal end, work your customer through your sales funnel and scale up as you progress.
  2. Be honest with your value and provide real justification by demonstrating how your product or service will be beneficial to your customer. Don’t assume your customer is clear about the benefits of your product or service.
  3. Figure out who your customer is and what particular market you are serving. I figured this out when I was running my cleaning business several years ago and realized that our service didn’t just provide cleaning. We provided aesthetics too as it included detailing, organizing and de-cluttering living spaces in the homes of people in affluent communities. It was a service that our customers proudly paid a hefty amount for because many of them had a certain image to maintain and they had the financial means to pay for the service.
  4. If your customers are always haggling for discounts, are you working with the right people? For example, my husband, a graphic tee designer and seller, is frequently approached by high school and college kids requesting discounts or freebies. Offering discounts is tempting because it’ll bring in some money and exposure but clearly, not all markets are a good fit for what you have to offer. Choose your customers wisely and consider your positioning and messaging.
  5. Factor in your costs and what you want to earn. You’ll want to cover your expenses plus take in a profit at the end.

Although you may have to consider many other factors in your pricing depending on the type of business you’re in, when it comes to getting paid what you’re worth also take into account your wisdom, skills, and creativity. There is no one in this world that has a replica of all your personal assets and your expression of them.  Therefore, put them to use, accept your worth and gain the ability to proceed with confidence to strut your stuff.  After all, don’t you deserve it?

Here’s How to Get Inspired When You’re Feeling Stuck as an Entrepreneur

Welcome to Spark Bits Weekly where I ask a panel of homeprenuers a blazing question about running and growing their businesses from home.inspiration

Today’s Q is: 

Where do you find inspiration when you feel like you’ve hit a plateau in your business?

Helena Bowers from Your Message Amplified says:

headshot-dec-2012-100When I hit a plateau in my business the first thing I try to do is get out of my own way. I know that I have the tendency to make things harder than they have to be, so the first place I look for inspiration is outside in nature. I’ll often take my camera and head to the river for a long walk and some quiet time communing with the ducks. The stillness gives me the space I need to get out of my own head and let the ideas flow. More often than not I end up coming home with a pretty good idea of what my next step should be, as well as a fresh batch of pictures to work with!

Brenda Trott from Done4UMedia Marketing says:

BrendaFunky_me.jpgI’m not sure if I ever run out of ideas. The reason is because I get them from my clients. They come to me with new questions before I even know I have an answer.

 

Jessica Lee from Psychic Readings Guide says:

jessica-leeI love this question because I think it’s so important to feel inspired when working.  When I feel like I’ve hit a plateau, I know it’s because I am over thinking things and not letting the business flow organically. That signals me to step back and take a few hours off doing something enjoyable that is unrelated to business, such as taking a ride or baking.  Usually, once I get into a relaxed state, ideas will quickly start to flow again.

Another thing I do is keep inspiration boards on Pinterest.  I pin blogs that I admire and articles that I have enjoyed reading.  When I go back and reread these pieces, I remember what I loved about them, and this often gets my creative juices flowing.

I also have several book excerpts highlighted on various Kindle books.  Sometimes, one great quote or a few paragraphs from a chapter is enough to inspire me.  For me, it’s all about not fighting the current.  Trying to force things when they’re not happening naturally is not fun.  Relaxing, taking a step back, and having inspiration boards that I can refer to works really well for me.

Reba Collins from PLR One Stop says:

profile-reba100x100I find inspiration in almost everything, every person, and everywhere I go.  I try to look for the good and ignore the bad, so I watch for the little things from which I can draw ideas. Family is big in my life and there’s always someone telling of how they found a great item or need something to make their lives easier. I try to apply those conversations to my business.

Since my business is an online business, I’m a member in a lot of Facebook groups and forums with others in my niche. I go to those places every day and never fail to learn something new. Everything new thing I learn I can apply to my business, so honestly, I’m never short on inspiration. In fact, I have so many ideas; I don’t have time to handle them all. It’s rare that I hit a plateau with such great people touching my life on a daily basis. [Read more...]