Monthly Archives: August 2013

Is There a 2×4 in Your Future?

3 Signs that the Universe Is Getting Tired of Waiting For You To Step Into Your Greatness

Ah yes, the 2×4. The Universe’s version of tough love.

In case you aren’t familiar with the concept of the 2×4, let me explain. The 2×4 happens when despite all the gentle nudges and taps are being ignored and the Universe decides sterner measures are necessary.

Basically you have a feeling there’s something you should be doing — starting a biz, changing your biz, taking your biz to the next level, stepping out and becoming a speaker, writing a book, etc. — and you’re not doing it. Oh sure, there are plenty of fabulous reasons WHY you aren’t doing it (time being the biggest culprit with money coming in a close second — not to mention “getting ready to get ready” lurking around out there ready to pounce) but at the end of the day nothing is getting done.

So you live with those niggling feelings. Maybe you push them down. Maybe you make plans to start on that magical “someday”. But the end result is still the same. You aren’t moving forward.

Worst, you do all this despite the nudges and taps. Sometimes they’re positive — 3 people in one week confirm you should be offering a new program without any prompting from you, you get 2 requests for speaking gigs in one day. And sometimes they’re negative — your boss announces there’s a hiring freeze, which means you need to put in more hours at the same pay, so even though you hate your job you can’t possibly now find the time to start your biz because you have to focus on doing what you hate. Or maybe one of your core programs (one you know you really need to retire but you’re very nervous about the new program you’ll replace it with) is slowly losing steam — fewer and fewer people sign up for it, and the ones who do aren’t your perfect peeps.

So you make your excuses and keep on walking that path you’re on, even though you really don’t care for that path at all. It’s rocky and full of weeds, beer cans, broken bottles and cigarette butts. But hey — it’s the one we know and it’s better than that mysterious vine-covered trail peeking around the corner.

And that’s why the 2×4 needs to come out and give you a whack — right onto that enticing but oh-so-scary path you know in your gut you need to be on.

Perhaps you break your leg so now you have a whole bunch more time to work on that book. Or that core program finally, completely, bombs in your last launch and now you have no choice but to do something else to bring some cash into the biz.

Whatever it is, if you’ve been ignoring the nudges and taps, the 2×4 may be right around the corner.

So how do you know if this is you? Well, here are 3 signs to watch out for:

1. Is there something in your life you know you need to be doing and you aren’t? (And if this is something that you have lots and lots of excuses for why you aren’t doing it, definitely listen up — I’m talking to you.) Or are you feeling like something is off — there’s something missing inside, you don’t feel complete or you keep wondering if this is “it” — this could also be you.

2. Have you been getting nudges or taps to move you toward this path and you’ve been ignoring them? (It could be months or even years that you continue finding all sorts of reasons not to move forward.)

3. Something is upping the pressure. Maybe the nudges and taps have intensified, maybe you’re feeling like you need to do something NOW or maybe you’re in a funk. Whatever it is, something has changed.

So, if this is you, what do you do? Well I wish I could confidently tell you that I’ve managed to keep the 2×4 from hitting me, but alas you can’t really prove something that didn’t happen. But what I CAN say is if you recognize yourself here, get prepared. Start taking solid steps toward the path you need be on. Put together a plan, write down action steps and start IMPLEMENTING.

You may not be able to avoid the 2×4 completely but if you at least start changing directions you’ll probably lessen the blow when it does come.

When It’s Okay to Quit

The other day when I was running/walking a 10K race, my knee started hurting. It had been troubling me off and on for about a month but I thought I had it under control.

My initial reaction was to grit my teeth and walk through the pain. That’s what I normally do, and it’s what I do when I walk marathons.

But then I reconsidered. I had just passed the 4K marker when it really started hurting so I had more than half the race ahead of me. And then I started thinking, why am I doing this?

Clearly I had an issue with my knee. And I could force the issue and hurt it worse. Or I could quit and work on healing it.

I opted to quit and live to walk another day (sooner rather than later).

So that got me thinking, when is it okay to quit and when should you muscle through it? How do you know if this is the time you should throw in the towel or is this just more of your demons popping up to torture you?

Here’s a little system you can follow to help you know the difference:

1. How important is this? Are you talking about the life of your business (i.e. quitting it all and getting a job) or are you talking about dumping a product that isn’t selling well (and to be honest, you never liked much anyway)? If it’s the product, then yeah — quitting might be the smart thing to do. If it’s your business, then it’s probably your demons doing a jig in your brain.

In my case, doing a 10K isn’t that big of a deal. I’ll do a 10K on a weekend. So to cut this race short wasn’t an issue. Not tearing my knee up was far more important than finishing the race. Which leads me to my next point:

2. How important is it for you to quit? Or what is the cost if you don’t quit? Is there someone you work with (like a customer or a vendor) who is toxic to you? (For example, they’re costing you tons of time and/or money and you’re getting very little in return. Or, worse yet, they’re involved in something unethical that could hurt your reputation, or worse, something illegal.) Depending on the severity of the issues, you probably want to dump that relationship. Or are you just feeling uncomfortable or discouraged or stuck with your business? Nope, not a good reason to quit your business.

In my case, not being able to walk for a month was way too high of a trade off then quitting the race early.

So, here’s how this works. When you’re faced with something you’re thinking about quitting, ask yourself these questions:

  • How important is this?
  • How important is it for you to quit?

Now compare the answers. If the answer to number 1 is high, and the question to number 2 is low, then you shouldn’t be quitting. If the answer to number 1 is low and the question to number 2 is high, then you should be quitting.

Where it gets a little tough is if the answer to both questions is the same. Then, you need to dig a little deeper. One is got to be stronger than the other (for instance, if you’re looking at something that’s really important to you, is the cost not to quit as high as you’re really saying or are you just scared right now?)

My other rule of thumb is answer to the first question is probably the way you should go. If what you’re looking at is very important, then you probably shouldn’t be quitting. If what you’re looking at isn’t all that important then you probably should be quitting. (After all, why are you wasting your time with it if it isn’t that important?)

3 Ways to Overcome Marketing Overwhelm

If you’re like many entrepreneurs, the thought of marketing makes you slightly sick to your stomach. And it’s more than a simple like or dislike of marketing, it’s the idea of trying to fit it into your to-do list. You already have a million things going on, how can you possibly fit marketing in?

So, instead, you end up not doing anything…until you run out of work that is. Then you desperately race around, trying to cram as much marketing as possible into as short amount of time as possible to try and ramp up your business.

Business picks up, you stop marketing again.

As I’m sure you already know, this isn’t a great way to grow a business on any level. But what do you do? You’re already overwhelmed with everything you have to do in your business, not to mention everything you have to do in your life, so how can you possibly fit marketing into that?

Never fear, that’s what the below 3 tips are designed to do, get you out of marketing overwhelm and into marketing superstar.

1. Make marketing a priority. Okay, don’t stop reading yet. This one might be tough to swallow but it has to be said. Marketing your business HAS to be a priority. If it’s not, then you will doom yourself to a “feast or famine” business model (where you oscillate between too many and too few clients, and because you’re in a constant roller coaster, you can never get enough traction to actually start growing your business).

But, I can hear you say, my priority needs to on getting the work done. That’s what my clients are paying me for, and because they’re paying, then they have to be my top priority.

My response to that is well, not exactly. You’re right, you need to get the work done, and do a good job, or you’re going to run out of income pretty quickly. But, if you trade doing the client work over marketing, then you’re never going to get ahead.

(And, to be honest, it’s not fair to your clients either to have you constantly stressed about your business because you don’t know what’s in the pipeline. You owe it to yourself AND your clients to have a successful, thriving business.)

You need to have the mindset that marketing your business is JUST as important as doing the client work. Without the marketing, you WILL always struggle.

However, with that said, there’s no need to panic because…

2. You don’t have to do it all alone. There’s no law that says just because marketing is a priority means you need to do everything yourself. You can (and should) build a team. In fact, I would go one step further and add your team can ALSO help you with client work or admin work or just about anything.

Now with marketing, as with anything, there will probably be tasks you need to do yourself. But there will be many tasks you can easily outsource. The trick is to figure out what tasks you really need to do (and make time to do them) then outsource the rest.

But, I can hear you saying, what if I don’t have the cash flow to outsource? See, that’s the beauty of outsourcing marketing. There’s a very clear ROI. So let’s say one new client is worth $500 a month. Do you think regular marketing will bring you at least one new client? Of course. So maybe you set aside $250 a month for a virtual assistant to help you with some marketing tasks, knowing one new client will more than pay for your VA and any more clients above and beyond will be gravy.

(If you need help with marketing strategy to know what to outsource, drop me an email. I create marketing strategies for my clients, as well as do the work for them.)

3. Start small. This is what I did in my own business. You’ll notice I have a lot of marketing tasks going on right now — I have my newsletter, I blog, I podcast, I’m on social networking sites, I’m doing direct mail. I didn’t wake up one morning and say “I’m going to start everything today.” No, I did things one at a time. I started with my newsletter, then I added blogging, then podcasting, then social networking, etc. After I mastered one task, I went on to add another. So my marketing wouldn’t seem so overwhelming to me.

But remember, the biggest thing is to actually DO something. Start taking some action in your marketing, and the rest of the pieces should start to fall into place.