Business Overwhelm: How to De-Stress And Achieve More Flow

stressedoutIf you have ever experienced challenges in your business (and who hasn’t), stress may have paid you a visit more times than you would like to admit. It’s inevitable. Stress is a quiet invitation to overwhelm and it begins to affect not only your business but also your personal life. When your state of mind is overwhelmed, it is almost impossible to achieve more flow and progress in your business.

Business Overwhelm is Flow Kill

It doesn’t matter that you have the relevant business and technical skills. It all goes out the window when your reaction to it is less than ideal. If you are unable to successfully manage the unavoidable surprises that come along with running a business, it can be difficult to engage in complete focus and concentration which are needed to implement actions that will yield both maximum growth and total enjoyment in your business.

Now, that is not to say that I am running a 100% “stress-free” and completely joyful business. Although I’d like to think that I’m pretty close. There have been times when “business overwhelm” has gotten the better of me and my house looks like it’s been ransacked; I lose my confidence; and, I begin to wonder if I was meant to do this business thing. From chronic worrying about too many things to do, to a general unease about something being missed, to catastrophizing trivial things – I’ve been there. But I am also keenly aware and make it my priority to make some mental shifts that remind me of why I went into business in the first place.

Tips For Less Stress

I’m not perfect but I try to follow a set of rules that I also share with my clients. Here they go. Feel free to devour and explore the following tips for less stress to help you achieve more flow in your business:

  • Put less focus on the money and more on people. Focusing on people alleviates the burden of making money as it puts more emphasis on the actual connections with others. As you connect, you increase a sense of achievement for yourself and loyalty from your customers. Research shows that building strong social connections elevates happiness; therefore, it decreases your stress levels and how you express it emotionally and physically. When you connect with people you’re more able to adapt to the changing circumstances of your business.
  • Sleep. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body is working harder internally and your hormones become unbalanced affecting just about every part of your body – including your brain. You won’t have the stamina or adequate brain function to make solid decisions in your business. You end up working longer hours to compensate for things that aren’t getting done and you’re creativity will be stumped.
  • Learn to say no. Do you feel like you have to say yes to every opportunity that comes your way? Do you feel like you will miss out on an opportunity if you say no. Or, that you will burn your bridges or hurt somebody’s feelings? Taking on too much will damper your productivity and create more pressure. Learn to choose your opportunities wisely where you are managing less but with bigger outcomes.
  • Clean your car. Ok, not just your car but it’s a start.You can always tell the state of mind of person when you look into their handbag or see the conditions of their car. If your car is cluttered with piles of stuff that either has to be put away or chucked, take time to organize it. Many people spend a good part of their lives in their cars. The mess in your space (car, office, home) will send a message to your brain that you are not in control. This can elevate your stress levels and you will be in a constant struggle to try to gain control back. Gaining a sense of control will help you realize that you have more time that you think because you will spend less time perseverating over your to do’s.
  • Adopt a different work philosophy. You know that overworking destroys your sanity. Become more engaged in the things that matter most to you. You don’t need to be hard on yourself and out-perform all of the time. In fact, by being more compassionate with yourself, you’ll reduce the anxiety that comes with the pressures of being overloaded and overbooked.
  • Develop and stick to routines. It minimizes having to make decisions reducing the heaviness of having to come up with ideas on how to “handle” something. The more decisions you have to make on any given day, the more stress you are going to have. Your decision-making energy should be concentrated and not scattered. The less you have to decide, the more focused you will be. Making a decision on the time/day you are going to complete a task and sticking with it regularly at the assigned time increases your chances of actually getting it done. The less you have to check off, the less burdened you will feel.

If You Want to De-Stress, React Less

I’ve learned that a big step in facing business overwhelm is having the ability to understand that you have a choice in how you react and respond to the circumstances. Aim to interrupt your habit in how your react to stress by practicing on being less reactive. Your body and mind will adapt to your new habits and ways of de-stressing and you’ll begin to allow more money-making flow states in your business. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of making simple and small shifts on a daily basis.

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Criticism: Dealing With It In Business

dealing with criticismYet another Spark Bits Weekly where I ask a panel of homepreneurs a blazing question about running and growing their businesses from home.

Today’s Q is:

How do you handle criticism in your business online and offline?

Christa Jensen from ChristaJensen.com says:

dealing with criticismWhen it comes to criticism with my business the way I react really depends on how the person doing the criticism comes across and whether I invited it. There are times I have asked for input and received constructive criticism. It is also inevitable to come across people who feel the need to criticize what I am trying to build online without invitation.

For the ones who are in business both online and offline that offer constructive criticism I welcome that with open arms. I am completely open to those who genuinely want to give you advice and these are the people I seek out for input. I will also embrace it from successful business owners who just offer it up to me. It is not always easy to hear what people think you are doing wrong or what you can be doing better, but if presented to you in an honest non judgmental way it could help your business ten fold.

Now and again I have dealt with people that feel the need to criticize just because they think they can. I deal with this side of criticism on a person by person basis. I haven’t had to deal with this a whole heck of a lot thankfully but it can be frustrating even on a small scale. My general rule is to change the conversation if I feel the person is being overly critical of something they know nothing about. I rarely try to explain to what I call “know it alls” that don’t have any sort of business to base their criticism on. However, if they just seem a little misinformed or uninformed based on stereotypes of work at home moms, I will take some time to educate them about it.

So in a nut shell I deal with it as it comes and as gracefully as I can.

Samantha Angel from Advancing Steps says:

dealing with criticismCriticism is one of those things that is necessary for growth. I haven’t always been so open to it though. When I was younger, I had a very thin skin. I took every criticism to heart and rather than benefit from it I took offense. There is, of course, those out there that criticize without the intent to help you get better in your efforts. Over the years, I’ve learned that most of the time you can learn something from it, even when it isn’t intended to help. Even though it may hurt at the time there is always something you can learn from it. This is a sensitive but so important subject that I’ve written a couple of posts about feeling the heat on my blog: I Just Got My Butt Kicked and Constructive Feedback Sometimes Hurts.

My Insights

dealing with criticismYou’re on the path to success. And many times thinking big or unconventionally brings about a whole lot of talk whether it be from family, friends or random people who just feel the need to share their two cents – many times unsolicited. Entrepreneurial people tend to be magnets for that kind of chatter.  At some point, putting yourself out there will result in some fool saying something that’s not so hot.  It can be severely draining and sometimes even zap your motivation. But for the most part, when you jump into the entrepreneurial space it’s inevitable.

Feedback is not always meant to be hurtful though. I’ve learned to keep an open mind because there are times when you will not have all the right answers. A view from a different lens, especially from people who have been there, could serve some good. But still, it’s not always easy to digest. I can definitely relate to our Sparkplugging advisors on that.

So how do you manage criticism especially in the “social” age we live in? Face it. Your negative critics are not going away. So on that note, make sure to stay put and stand your ground. Just learn to equip yourself with some hardy armor and tough love and you’ll find yourself being less affected by it as time goes on.

Here are some tips I’ve collected along the way:

1. Keep pushing through it. If you are truly committed to your craft, this will be much easier to accomplish. There is less of a barrier to bounce back when you truly believe in what you and your business stand for. The more steps you continue to take forward, the more confident you’ll become.

2. Minimize impulsivity. Social media can be particularly scary because you’re absorbing a blow in front of a boatload of people. This could potentially lead to a crisis in your business that can negatively affect your  reputation. Gain some awareness in how you feel (defensive, angry, inadequate, etc.) but chill out. I’m sure you’ve heard about all of the Twitter rants. You can’t change your feelings but you can control how you react. You might make a bad situation worse by impulsively countering your critics in public.

3. Don’t internalize it. Keep an open mind in order to correct your course if necessary or simply ignore. Change your perspective on criticsm by viewing it as a learning experience. It minimizes the negative impact on your psyche and how it is expressed in your business.

4. Accept that it’s an integral part of success. The more successful you become in your business the more exposed you will be to criticism. Use it as fuel and validation that you are making big strides. Perhaps it’s a sign that you are moving in the right direction.

I asked this question because in addition to wanting to learn about how other homepreneurs manage criticism, I figured it would also serve to bring some empowerment in knowing that others have been there. I’ve learned to become well versed in resiliency because it helps with enduring the challenges and hardships that come with entrepreneurship. Most of the time, negative feedback is more about your critic’s baggage than it is about you. You are going against the grain, taking massive action and reminding others that they don’t have the guts to do what you’ve done or to go where you’re going.

**Webinar tomorrow, May 1, 2014 @1pm EST: Building a Super Successful Micro Subscription Program**

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...]

Being Bold in Business for Bigger Wins

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

Today’s Q is: 

As you look back on your business to date, where do you wish you’d been bolder and trusted yourself enough to take a risk?

Jessica Lee from Psychic Readings Guide says: 

jessica-lee, being bold in businessTo tell you the truth, I wish I had been bolder and trusted myself more overall.  I’m now about 15 months into my business and the one thing I kick myself for is over analyzing every decision I made last year.  I second-guessed, analyzed, and researched every decision so much that it became really stressful.  For example, sometimes I would spend days trying to decide on a title for an article.

Over thinking slowed me down tremendously and kept me from being as productive as I wanted to be.  It’s only in the last few months that I’ve been much bolder about this.  I’m learning that I don’t have to marry each decision I make.  It’s OK if I make a mistake – things can always be changed down the road.

Stephanie L. Watson from Barry Publishing says

Stephanie, L. Watson, being bold in businessThis is a really loaded question for me. There are too many times since the mid 1990′s when I entered the online marketing and business arena where I did not trust myself, or take a risk when my gut told me to. Email lists, using & learning WordPress, Self-Promotion are all areas in which I failed.

I’ve developed a system that works for me now, and I am working on every one of those things and then some, today. But it took me going through both undergraduate school and graduate school before I got it. Not everyone has to do that to finally realize the opportunities that are available to them, but I needed all that to gain confidence in my abilities and trust in my ideas.

Back in 1998 or 99, I was invited to a conference for an online magazine based on my association with a particular community website — I felt so out of place. I had no idea what anyone was talking about. In my mind I was just a mother earning pocket money so she didn’t have to get a job. It didn’t matter that I had a great mentor who was trying to help me. I didn’t trust myself to move forward — and frankly, I was very intimidated. That’s when I decided to get a degree in Business.

I earned enough money to put myself through college helping local businesses build simple HTML based websites. I also performed administrative tasks, like creating snail mail invitations, basically working as a Virtual Assistant before we knew that term. This was before the advent of inexpensive email. I still remember when it cost 25 cents to send an email and being online was very expensive. My business slowly moved forward to being 99 percent online with the advent of AdSense and niche mini websites.

But, I still just saw it all as a hobby. When I finished school, I’d get a real job. My hobby put me through grad school. I graduated in 2011.  My children left the nest. Only then did I finally see that what I have is a real business. When I went to job interviews and realized what they were offering was far less than I was already making on an hourly basis, and that my freedom would be taken from me, I finally gave into the idea that I’m an online business owner and I need to trust myself.

So, if I could have just trusted myself more, that would be nice. However, I am where I am, and due to these experiences I can help other women who want to start online businesses realize, sooner than I did, that this is a real life business, not a hobby, that can produce real life changing income. If only you believe in it and do the work.

Courtney Chowning from CourtneyChowning.com says:

Courtney Chowning, being bold in businessWhen I first started online back in 2006 social media wasn’t what it is today.  In a way, running a online business was so much easier for me then.  I only had to worry about SEO and ranking in search results.  When social media started to get really popular I didn’t jump on board.  In fact, I still struggle with social media today.  I wish I would have been bolder in social media and putting myself out there to make connections.  I feel like I am late to the party and playing catch up.  But late is better than never and I’m making social media a priority this year.

Reba Collins from PLR One Stop says:

Reba Collins, being bold in businessThere’s no doubt there are a lot of areas where I could be bolder but I’m learning how to ‘feel the fear and then do it anyway’. I’ve been telling my kids that since they were tiny but so often I don’t listen to my own advice. Knowing that, I decided to make my word for the year – GUTS! I’ve got to have the guts to do the stuff that will make my website a success, there’s no way around it.

With PLR One Stop being so new, I haven’t yet run across much I wouldn’t do to make it grow. But that being said, I know I’m avoiding video and webinars. I will need to ‘feel the fear and then do it anyway’, and I will, I just need feel the fear a little bit longer :-) [Read more...]

Three Reasons NOW Is The Time To Put Yourself Out There

step-out-and-be-awesome

I want to convince you of this:  NOW  is the time to put yourself out there.

If YOU don’t do it, someone else will. 

I’m not suggesting there isn’t enough business to go around.

Whatever the niche, there’s room for you – if you rise above & do what it takes.

You believe that, or you wouldn’t be in business.

So why are you procrastinating?

Why are you holding back?

Why aren’t you putting yourself out there for more people to know?

No more delaying.  Now is the time.

The First Reason Now Is the Time: There Are Only So Many Kingpins. 

If you watch gangster movies – you’ve heard the phrase Kingpin. A kingpin is a leader, someone who influences others.

There’s plenty of business to go around, but there are only so many amazing opportunities to go around and Kingpins connect you to these opportunities.

These Kingpins are people you connect with who will connect you to new circles of people they influence.

A small Kingpin might introduce you to a few dozen other people in their niche, telling them about you; saying positive things about you and ultimately sending you business.

There are some Kingpins whose circle of influence reaches out into the hundreds, and there are some Kingpins out there whose circle of influence reaches out into the thousands.

I would hate for you to miss an opportunity to connect with a Kingpin.

I have made connections with people who in turn introduced me to their communities in ways that changed my life, and gave me instant, amplified reach.

It’s not that I’m amazing or that I can do something so much better than someone else – it isn’t.  It’s just that I put myself out there. I was the right person at the right time.

If it hadn’t been me, it would have been someone else!

Imagine right now that there’s a Kingpin who needs something done, and you can do it.

You’ve put yourself out there.  You’re producing and repurposing content.  You’re promoting yourself.  You’re taking an extra step each day into new territory, and you bump up against one of these Kingpins, and you’re available because you’ve made yourself available.  You fulfill their needs.  They like what you do and next thing you know, they’re promoting you to their circle of influence.

If you don’t do it –someone else will.

Someone else will have that date with destiny.  They will run into a Kingpin, meet the need, and enjoy the widened reach that comes with that relationship.

That should rock your world.

What if that opportunity is right there, and I’m not the one who went for it?

I don’t like missed opportunities.  I’ve seen it.  I’ve experienced it from both sides – from the point of view of someone who was in the right place at the right time who gained benefit from a relationship with a Kingpin, and I’ve been that person who didn’t take action and watched it happen for someone else with fewer skills and experience then I.

It’s not about being awesome and being perfect: It’s about being there.

Some of you are immediately resisting this idea.

You’re thinking, “Oh c’mon Kelly.  I’m so new to all of this.  I’m not going to be of use to a Kingpin.”

Yes, you’re new, and maybe you have the greatest impact on other people who are also kind of new.

Let me point this out: Of those people you’re serving, you don’t know who among them is going to be the Kingpin of tomorrow.

The first person I JV’d with was Alice Seba.  I was new to online business and she was too.  We both came online in 2002, and in 2003, we had enough of a relationship that we forged a partnership. That relationship turned out to be key for me because she ended up becoming really well known in our niche.

There are others I’ve met along the way and forged relationships that turned into partnerships and JVs.  Nicole Dean comes to mind and more recently, Melissa Ingold.  Today they’re Kingpins with a big circles of influence – but they were newcomers once.

I benefit from those associations not because I met them when they were big, but because I met them when they were small.

Put yourself out there. Craft Relationships. Be ready for the next amazing opportunity.

The Second Reason Now Is the Time: The Lifetime Value of a Customer.

What are your financial goals for the year? The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll reach them.  That’s just common sense.

There is someone out there right now who needs what you have to offer – they’re actively seeking out the right person – maybe they need a VA, and you’re a VA.  They need a writer, and you’re a writer.  They need a coach, and you’re a coach.

The sooner you connect to a client, the better.

Well, let’s put numbers to it.

You’re a relatively new VA, and you’re charging $25 a month on a 10-hour retainer.  That’s $250 a month.  It’s $3000 over the course of a year.  Do you really want to leave that money on the table because you weren’t willing to go for it?

You’re business coach like me, and you charge $500 a month for coaching, that’s almost $6000 in a year from one new client.

Let’s not forget that our income isn’t just coming from our hourly rates.  There are all of those delicious additional streams of income from information marketing and affiliate programs.

The sooner you develop and promote products, the sooner you can profit from them.

The sooner you identify and promote good affiliate products, the sooner you can see that income stream growing.

There is NO good excuse to procrastinate on these things and every day you let slip by is a impacting your future financial success.

Do you want to be closer to your financial goals?  If you want to get there sooner, if you want to finish out the year with higher numbers, then start sooner.

Don’t procrastinate.  Don’t think: There’ll be a better time later.

Six years ago, my niece had given birth to quadruplets, and my son and I were doing the night shift with the babies.  We were sleeping during the day, which left me about four hours a day for my business.

A gentleman contacted me about building a site for him, and my first thought was to turn him away.  It’s was not convenient, my time was at such a premium. As I listen, I realize he has big plans.  He wants to launch 300 sites in the coming year, and I decide to go ahead and take some action with him right then.

It meant working a little harder than I would have liked to at that moment, but I had a feeling I’d regret turning him away.

In the course of next year, I earned more than $15,000 from that client. The number more than doubled over the next few years.

The lifetime value of that customer was very much worth making myself available sooner rather than later.  If it hadn’t been me, it would have been someone else who got that client.

The Third Reason Now Is the Time: The Law of Inertia.

There is an interesting thing that happens with newcomers in the business world.

Somebody new appears and immediately rocks it.  They’re blogging, podcasting, and releasing products before you know it.  They become a rock star in a short period of time because they’re willing to go for it.

Others come along and they play a careful game of ‘when I’m more ready’.  They get caught up in an addiction to learning and don’t put enough of it into action.

It’s the Law of Inertia: An object at rest tends to stay at rest.

The person who doesn’t take action tends to stay where they are.

The person who takes action tends to go places.

I’ve got a thought for you that might be the ‘shove’ you need to get moving.

People around you are starting to think that you’re full of crap.

How many of you have said, “This is it – I’m finally going to do it!

And a few months later said, “This is it – I’m finally going to do it!”

You may believe it every time you say it, but WE (the action takers) are coming to understand you’re full of crap.  You’re all talk and no action.

Yep, as much as we’d prefer otherwise, people form opinions about us based on what we DO, not just what we SAY we’re going to do.  Once people form a negative opinion, it’s difficult to overcome – but not impossible.

Just don’t be that person anymore!

Take action and for crying out loud, follow it up with more action!

I know, it’s easier said than done – but I’m here to tell you YOU CAN finally take real action.

If you’re dead serious about it and you’re willing to make yourself accountable to others in a tangible way, I believe you can do it.

If you ARE dead serious, I’d love the chance to hold you accountable.  I love working with solopreneurs who’ve made up their mind to act and want to be held to it through a tough coaching relationship.

Interested in learning more about working with me?  Check out my coaching info here.

Solopreneur Strategies for a Down Economy

downward

When the economy is down and your target market seems to be holding their dollars tighter than usual, what can solopreneurs do to keep business flowing?

Status Check Your Marketing Funnel.

Make sure that you’re doing all that you can to reach as much of your target market as possible.  I’ve actually seen some entreprenuers pulling back from their usual marketing activities becuase they perceive that their market is cash poor and unlikely to respond.   That’s a mistake.

Yes, your market may be cash poor today – but that can change in a heart beat and who will they spend their dollars with but the person who has remained on their radar most consistently?

When there are fewer fish, the answer is not to cast a smaller net.

Widen the top of your marketing funnel.  Seek more ways to share your knowledge and expertise.  Step up your blogging activities, do more guest blogging, seek out podcast interviews and let folks know that you are open to creative joint ventures.

Do You Have To Lower Prices?

My experience with pricing over the last year has been interesting.  I tripled my rates for blog design and continued to book new clients on a regular basis even as other talented designers complained that they have had to drop prices to keep busy.

If I could ask marketing experts I bet I would get a wide range of answers to price question.  Lower prices can motivate someone on a tight budget but you’ll work harder for every dollar.  (And that just might be the way it is for awhile…)  Before you decide to lower prices, you could invest some time into sharpening your sales message to better convince your customer of their need for your products and services in the first place.

And Wait, There’s More!

One great idea is to add something to your package rather than reduce the price of your package.   Think about all of those great ‘free gift with purchase’ offers that have grabbed your attention in the past.   You could create a special time limited ‘bundle pack’ or offer a ‘buy one, get one’ deal.

I’ve been influenced by dozens of special deals over the years.  I’ve bought products so0ner than planned and hired service providers without a lot of advance planning – all because they presented me with a no brainer situation.

I know there are lots of other great strategies… what tips do you have for overcoming tough times?

How to Find Out What People are Saying About You Online

dog-listening-phonograph

Did you know that it’s possible to see what people are saying about you on the internet?  There are a number of automated tools that will allow you to monitor your name, your company, and other words related to your brand.

If you are in sales or you own a business, monitoring your reputation is crucial.  People are talking about you online, whether you like it or not.  You need to be aware of what’s being said.

There are a few things you can do to set up an automatic monitor that lets you know whenever anyone talks about you online. [Read more...]

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