Monthly Archives: July 2013

Lessons from Gmail — 3 Tips to Improve Your Email Best Practices

If you haven’t heard by now, Gmail is rolling out a major change to how its users receive emails. Basically Gmail will be sorting emails for its users and putting them in pre-determined folders.

Why would Gmail be doing this? I suspect at least part of the reason is because a common complaint from people who have an email address is “too much email.”

So, as an entrepreneur who uses email in your marketing, rather than worrying about which folder you end up in, I think a better use of your time is to take a look at how you use emails in your biz so this is not an issue for you and your subscribers will want to receive your emails.

And to help you with that, below you’ll find 3 tips to improve your email practices.

1. Start by taking a good look at how you’re using email now. Some things to look at include:

* How often are you emailing your list? Is it often (several times a week), is it moderate (several times a month), is it once in a blue moon? If you’re only emailing once in a blue moon, then unfortunately that list you worked so hard to build is probably pretty cold right now and when you do finally send an email, it will probably be regulated to spam.

Successful entrepreneurs typically send emails regularly to their list. That’s how you build a relationship with your list — you reach out and communicate with them. If you’re not reaching out, then you can’t expect to build a relationship with them.

* Are you sending content your subscribers find valuable so they WANT to receive your emails or are you just sending promotional emails? If all you do is send promotional emails, again you’re going to run the risk of your subscribers tuning you out. Sending out a balance of solid content with no strings attached (in other words they don’t have to opt in or listen to a pitch at the end) along with promotional emails for your subscribers who want to go deeper with your teachings is the way to build a strong responsive list.

* Do you encourage your subscribers to interact with you (clicking on links, submitting questions or comments, asking for their feedback)? Encouraging interaction is a great way for your list to feel like you actually care about what they want and it’s not just a one-way street with you pushing promotional materials down their throat.

2. So now that you’ve looked at how you treat your list, I want you to take a hard look at your results. Are your results what you want? Or do you think they could be better?

If you think they could be better, let’s look at what you can do to improve your results. Can you add an ezine? If you have an ezine, can you publish it more frequently? Are you sharing good content with your subscribers that they want to read or could THAT be improved? Can you find ways to interact more with your subscribers? Or maybe you’re someone who doesn’t really like to promote your products and services so while you happily publish an ezine, you not-so-happily send out promotional emails (so adding a few more promotional emails to your schedule may be your growth edge).

3. Now, put a plan together on how you’re going to improve your email practices and the IMPLEMENT it. Start small if that makes it easier but do start — because the sooner you do the sooner you’ll start seeing better results in your biz.

Your 2013 Mid-Year Check-In — 5 Steps to End 2013 With a Bang Rather Than a Whimper

With 2013 half over, it’s time to pause, take a breath, and see if you’re on track with your goals.

This is an essential part of running a successful business — taking structured time throughout the year to work ON your biz and make sure the path you’re on is, in fact, the path you want to be on.

Don’t do this and you’re just asking to build a biz that doesn’t serve you (not to mention waking up one more morning and realizing your actual results are nowhere near what you want them to be).

We don’t want that to happen to you so let’s get started with your Mid-Year Check-In.

Now there are a lot of ways to do this, I’ll share some steps I use and you can modify or implement to make it work for you.

1. Block off time in your calendar. Maybe it’s a couple of hours, maybe it’s a full day, but it’s important to make this commitment to yourself.

2. Gather the necessary documents. You’ll need your marketing calendar and your revenue report, plus you’ll need the goals and plan you put together at the beginning of 2013. (What? You didn’t write down your goals or put a plan together for 2013? Well let’s put that aside for now — but know we’ll be coming back to that in another article.)

3. Take some time to analyze where your biz is right now. Now this is NOT about judging yourself or your biz, all you’re doing is taking a realistic picture of where your biz is at this moment. And I also want you to review your initial 2013 goals and plans.(If you have them — if you don’t, I suspect you have some hazy idea in your head where you wanted to be in your biz at this point in 2013 so take some time to write that down just so you have something to compare.)

Where are you on track? Where are you off track? The places where you’re off track, was there a time this year where things were clicking and then they stopped? And how off track are you?

And for all the places where you’re on track — give yourself a big congratulations!

4. Okay so now that you know where you are and how that compares to where you wanted to go, now it’s time to look at the rest of the year. Do you want to continue on the same path? Do you want to change paths? Did you lose the path and you need to retrace your steps to get back on the path?

This might be a good place to do a little journaling or maybe some meditation or some other sort of inner check in to decide what you want the rest of your year to look like.

5. Put your plan together. Get out all your calendars — your meeting calendar and your marketing/promo calendar — and actually put your plan to paper. This is CRUCIAL — successful people have WRITTEN plans and goals and you are FAR more likely to actually achieve your goals if they’re written down. (And this isn’t just me saying it — there’s an actual study out there about it.)

And I have 2 bonus tips — first make sure you give yourself a pat on the back — this is FANTASTIC you did this for yourself. And don’t forget to start working your plan (a plan is great but now it’s time to actually implement).

Are You Working Yourself Out of Your Business?

I admit it.

I’m a recovering workaholic/perfectionist, not to mention having delusions of superhero syndrome.

I know I’ll never be cured. But I can at least work on controlling it.

I also know I’m not alone. Plenty of entrepreneurs and small business owners suffer from this same condition. (In fact, it’s so prevalent I’m thinking about starting a recovery group for this.)

Do you suffer from workaholic/perfectionism/superhero syndrome? Take this short quiz to find out.

1. You think working all the time, including nights and weekends, is a sign of:
A. Success
B. Insanity
C. Just one of the sacrifices you have to make when you own your own business

2. Your to-do list resembles:
A. War and Peace (actually, War and Peace might be shorter)
B. No more than 5 tasks per day
C. It’s pretty long, but that’s okay. You know if you buckle down and REALLY focus, you can get everything done. (Of course, you never have, but that’s beside the point.)

3. The last time you took a vacation was:
A. Vacation? Who needs a vacation? Vacations are for wussies.
B. A couple of months ago and it was fabulous.
C. You’re too afraid to be gone for more then a couple of days, especially if you don’t have your laptop and can check in every day. What if something happens? A new client calls? You could lose the business. Or some crisis might come up and there wouldn’t be anyone to take care of it. It’s just too risky to leave, better to stick around.

4. You believe:
A. People who don’t work very hard yet still are making money are pretty lucky (and also pretty lazy).
B. Being successful also means having a life (and having time to enjoy it).
C. The only way to be successful is to work longer and harder than anyone else. (After all, when you’re not working you’re not making money. So how can you be successful if you’re not working?)

5. Taking time for yourself is:
A. A luxury for only rich (or lazy) people.
B. Something you make a priority each and every day.
C. Nice in theory but unrealistic in practice. After all, your clients have to come first. They’re the ones paying the bills.

Scoring: Well, let’s just say you know who you are.

As entrepreneurs and small business owners, I think one of our biggest challenges is balance. How much time to spend on our business? On our families? Ourselves? And how do we fit it all into the only 24 hours we have?

For me, this has been one of the most challenging lessons. I grew up in Wisconsin, the heart of workaholic-ism. That Midwest work ethic can put people into the ground faster than anything else out there, I think.

I grew up equating hard work with success – if you wanted to be successful, you better be prepared to work your tail off. So when I started my business, I immediately put that ethic into play. If I could get all my work done during the week, there must be something wrong. I must not have enough clients. And I must not be successful enough.

But when you combined my workaholic nature with my perfectionism, that’s when things started to get out of control. There was ALWAYS something I should be doing for my business. Therefore, it was difficult to justify taking ANY time off for myself. Worse yet, I had a little voice in the back of my mind that would say things like if I wasn’t working, then I’m being lazy or procrastinating or something.

And, since my husband grew up in the same state with the same work ethic, he supported my need to be working all the time. Plus, he worked equally as hard himself.

So what was the outcome of all this? I burned out.

My burnout took place in 2003. After I recovered, I realized I had to start doing things differently or I would end up right back where I was again (burned out and unable to help anyone, much less myself). And since I still wanted to help people and I was still passionate about marketing and copywriting, I realized I would have to learn how to run my business differently if I was going to stay in business.

That was really the catalyst for me to change both myself and my business. I had to change a lot of things, including my mindset. It also has made me realize I have to value taking time off for me. If I don’t value it, it won’t happen.

Basically it comes down to this — as entrepreneurs and small business owners, we are our business. Even if we have a team to support us (which I sincerely hope all of you do) how far we can grow and take our business ultimately rests on our shoulders. And if those shoulders are slumped over, exhausted from overwork and poor health and lack of sleep and loss of passion for what we do, then that’s going to ultimately affect how far our businesses will grow.

It’s that simple.