December 21, 2010

Success is a Personal Thing

One of my personal success factors is being able to afford to have someone come in and clean for me every two weeks. It started 15 years ago when I was single and living in Toronto. I was flying all over North America and my housekeeper would come in while I was away. An empty apartment accumulates more dust than a lived in one. I was making plenty of money to be able to pay someone to do something that I really dislike… and go play.

Each person has their own definition of success. Yours probably has nothing to do with housework. Understanding your own personal success factors is important because it keeps you from chasing after goals to which you are not emotionally tied. Goals that don’t feel authentic will be much harder to achieve.

Success is externally evaluated but internally experienced. Behind all of the outward signs, the essence of success comes down to our own personal sense of fulfillment and satisfaction.

Evaluate annually. Now is the time of year that we are considering how successful we have been. And we are planning how successful we will be next year. Dollars are important but also think beyond dollars. Consider:
  • I feel successful when…
  • My symbols of success are…
  • What factors add up to my personal definition of success?
Personal success factors change over time. Many of mine have changed in 15 years. But I still have a housekeeper come in every two weeks!

Originally published in Work Better, Not Harder on December 21, 2010



December 8, 2010

How Many Minutes?

Should you take the time to set up a good process?

Whenever you think “If only…” with regard to your work, you have an opportunity. Consider it from an economic perspective:
  1. How many minutes would that “if only” save you each time it occurs?
  2. How many times per month does it occur?
  3. Multiply the answer to #1 by the answer to #2.
  4. Now consider, how much time would be involved in putting the “if only” in place? (in minutes)
  5. Divide the answer to #4 by the answer to #3. The answer is the number of months it would take for the time investment to pay off.

If your answer is 3 or less, you should consider making the change immediately. If the answer is between 3 and 12, it’s a worthwhile investment of your time. If your answer is greater than 12 months, perhaps what you’re doing now isn’t so bad, but there’s still an improvement opportunity.

A good process is a beautiful thing if designed right.
  • It takes the think-work out of more routine tasks.
  • It helps ensure quality.
  • It also makes it far easier to delegate to others.

So, if you could save yourself an extra hour or two each week, what would you do with it?


November 30, 2010

A Few Good Reasons

"Why do I care if I get along with my co-workers or not?"

This bold statement came from a young woman participating in a workshop I was delivering at a Halifax cosmetology school a couple of years ago. It was more of a statement than a question.

Oddly, it actually shut me up for several seconds. Not because I didn't know the answer but because I was surprised that she didn't.

That day we brainstormed 6 key reasons why getting along with other people is critical to any success. Working together, we can achieve these things that we cannot accomplish alone:

More creative solutions. When we bounce ideas off each other, we arrive at better solutions than we would alone.

Implementing complex plans and strategies. Because the work can be divided, together we can tackle complex projects more effectively than we can alone.

Learning from others' skills and experiences. When we work with others, we also learn from others.

Endurance. If one person is responsible, the loss of that person can cripple an undertaking. When we rely on others, the loss of an individual may be difficult, but our work will continue.

Increased motivation. We want our colleagues to see our very best effort.

Getting feedback. When we work with others, we benefit from feedback that is essential to our continued growth.

Being an entrepreneur, getting along with practically everyone is important. As you build your business relationships, keep in mind that there are lots of good reasons to make them flourish.


Originally published in Work Better, Not Harder on November 30, 2010

November 16, 2010

What I Learned from a Marketing Guru

I am fortunate to be good friends with a sales and marketing consultant. After years of advice, some things are definitely sticking. One of the most useful has been the P-O-S formula:

Pain - what is your clients' pain?
Outcomes - what will be the result of working with you?
Solutions - how do you achieve that?

I use this formula for all of the marketing writing I do. If I'm having trouble getting started, it helps me focus and draft my thoughts. If I had no problem writing, I use it as a checklist to edit at the end. It's quick, simple and memorable. Give it a try!

Thanks to Debi Hartlen MacDonald of New Life Business Solutions!

Check Things Off

check things off
I have clients and potential clients that want to start e-marketing campaigns. They are stuck at the step of putting together their first mailing list.

In an effort to help, I decided I would give them a specific list of things they can do to compile their initial list. To add to my own ideas, I did some online research. An article called “How to build your mailing list” sounded promising. The skill level required was listed as ‘moderate’. Good so far. It went on to say:

Step #1: Create a well-optimized website…

Hmm… I’ll get right on that.

It’s hard to get motivated when we start with BIG tasks that are really more like projects. That article sure didn’t move me to accomplish anything. I didn’t read far before I felt overwhelmed.

When I seek ‘how to’, I’m looking for a task list that I can check off as I complete things. Being able to check things off gives me a sense of accomplishment and motivation to continue. If the first thing on my list is going to take days, weeks, or months to complete, I’m going to lose interest pretty fast.

Build your TO DO list with tasks not projects. Break down the big things into smaller pieces. Each task should be something you can accomplish in one sitting. Then cross it off.

What is one thing you can do right now to start building your mailing list? Send an email to your family, friends, colleagues, business partners, clients, and suppliers. Ask them if they would like to receive a newsletter from you. Copy and paste the email addresses of people who agree into a spreadsheet.


October 27, 2010

What I Learned from a Telephone Guru

I am fortunate to be good friends with The Phone Lady. There are many important things that I have learned from her - the most difficult has been to stop using the word 'just'. That insidious little word just wants to sneak in everywhere. The problem is, once the word 'just' pops in, it diminishes the rest of the message:

"I'm just calling to follow up..." (but it's really not important)

"I just dropped in..." (but I didn't care if I saw you or not)

How about... ?

"I'm calling to follow up..." (because it's important to me)

"I dropped in..." (because I wanted to see you)

It's definitely a struggle to keep that little 4-letter word out of my vocabulary! Thanks to Mary Jane Copps, The Phone Lady!

The Rider, The Elephant and The Path

My business is all about making things easy for my clients. What I’ve learned is that making things easy isn’t the only secret to success. My clients need direction and motivation too. Getting the right mix of all three can be a challenge but, when it comes together, wonderful working relationships result.


Chip and Dan Heath, in their new book “Switch”, use a wonderful metaphor – of riding an elephant. The book is all about creating change, in ourselves and in others. Here are 3 basic ways to do that:
  • Direct the Rider: appeal to our brain
  • Motivate the Elephant: appeal to our heart
  • Shape the Path: make it easy
While I’m all about shaping the path, I still have to direct the rider and motivate the elephant – both for myself and for my clients. I tend to try directing the rider first. Clear instructions should yield results… or so I think. Then I wonder why nothing happens. I have to remind myself… it is one thing to “get it” intellectually but quite another to “get it” emotionally.


This simple way of looking at change can be applied to a lot of things, from marketing messages to facilitation techniques to dealing with our teenagers. If you’ve read the book, I’d love to hear about how you’re applying the ideas to your work/life (email me). If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend you do – you won’t be disappointed: “Switch” by Chip and Dan Heath.


Originally published in Work Better, Not Harder on October 27, 2010

July 6, 2010

Feeling Overwhelmed?

As an entrepreneur, it's often difficult to find time and energy for back burner items like... setting up, figuring out, checking out, gathering new ideas or starting anything new. Particularly when the item is computer-based and it's a sunny summer day! It's easy to get overwhelmed online and stray from your goal.

The best approach is to find a small amount of time to do something on your list each week and then put the list away until the following week. You will find it will not even matter if you finish a single task each time. Each short session will add up to accomplishment over very few weeks.

My time is Saturday morning with a coffee. A great quote that Mary Jane Copps likes to use is: "It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do a little." (Sydney Smith)

June 28, 2010

The Line between Work and Play

My friend and colleague Jane Veldhoven posted a blog today about the time management challenges attached to social media. From that perspective, Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, Flickr, etc. are definitely the culprits in stealing our time. It’s where the line between work and play overlap.

We can spend hours online and enjoy it, but leave feeling like we’ve wasted time. Being a small business owner, that line is already easily blurred. I try to get past the guilt by thinking to myself that I just had a nice, well-deserved break, and then get on with my day. Like Jane, I like Linked In because it's all about business – so it’s easier to stay focused!

June 26, 2010

Increase your Blog Readership on Linked In


Put your most recent blog posts on your Linked In profile using either of these applications:





They will display the title and first paragraph of your most recent blog post on your Linked In profile.  Find these apps:  from the Linked In main menu choose 'More...', then 'Application Directory'.
 

June 22, 2010

Do you only have one spare minute? Invest it wisely on Linked In.

Stay front of mind by updating your status on Linked In frequently.  Updates are the first thing that pops up on the Linked In home page for all of your contacts.  If your contacts are also clients and prospects, it's an easy way to remind them about you.
Update your status with information that may be of interest to your contacts, such as website updates, new blog posts, new products, events you are attending, good books you've read, sales and promotions... you get the idea.  It takes less than a minute to update your status!
 

June 14, 2010

Are you Easy to Find? Use Linked In to Improve Search Results.

I should be able to find anyone online these days.  I often search for specific people or company names to get product or contact information.  Sometimes it's fast and sometimes it's very frustrating.  Three times in the past week I failed to find websites (that I knew existed) for local companies.  What business owner doesn't want to be found?

If you search my name on Google, the second entry is my Linked In profile. This leads people to a wealth of information about me and my company, including my phone number, website and blog - even if they aren't on Linked In themselves.

Take advantage of this prime search ranking!  Complete your Linked In profile.  The more complete and compelling your profile is, the more people will take it seriously and visit links you have posted.

June 10, 2010

Increase Your Visibility

A good way to increase your visibility online is to make intelligent comments on blog posts of experts you follow. Popular experts typically have a loyal following of readers that are following blog posts as well as comments, often using the blog post comment field to have a conversation within their community. When you can add to the conversation, readers will begin to remember you, become connected to you and soon be following your blog as well.
 

June 9, 2010

Reducing the Noise

One problem with the current social media soup is the high noise to relevant signal ratio. The most effective way to deal with this problem is to find accepted and popular experts in your field of interest and subscribe to their feeds. This will lead you to relevant online communities from which you can find and share pertinent advice and draw new customers. This approach will work much better than broad monitoring of many social media services because it will greatly reduce the noise you will need browse and therefore, the time you need to spend building your online reputation.

June 4, 2010

Is Your Blog Browse Friendly?

Some of you may be blogging to drive readers to a target post of the day but for those of you blogging to have your readers browse your blog much like a magazine, you will want to make sure you are making full use of tags or labels. Tag and label tools are used to put your blog posts in category buckets that are easy to search and browse by the reader. You may want to consider adding a search tool on your front page that searches only your blog posts or a menu list already categorized with links to specific posts. The easier you make it for your reader to browse, the higher the possibility they will linger.

June 2, 2010

What's your Word Count?

How long should a blog post be? It's a common question that has no definitive answer. Some experts recommend keeping your posts under 800 words and others, under 500.

One thing we all seem to agree on is that you have a brief moment to capture the attention of your reader. They have a lot to read. We recommend keeping most of your posts under 500 words and all of them under 800. You will find you can say a lot in 800 words. (This post has only 90 words.)

May 31, 2010

Breaking Routine

A routine is not necessarily a bad thing but if blogging topics have become routine for you, chances are that your audience feels the same. One way to break the routine is to put very short survey questions on your blog asking your readers what topics they would like to read more about. What are they interested in today? Surveys on your blog will identify topics of interest to your specific audience. Just remember to keep it very short. You don't want them clicking out before they are finished and most readers today move quickly from screen to screen.

May 28, 2010

All the relevant content to all the right contacts...

For those of you using Facebook, make sure and use the friend lists feature. Assign your friends to lists to help manage your relevant content. Your top client may not need to know your sister is getting married and your sister very likely does not want to know your latest business tip while she is planning a wedding. Each friend can be on more than one list so there is plenty of flexibility in how you use this functionality. You can have lists that are "just girlfriends", "all friends", "family only", "business contacts", "active clients" and "women entrepreneurs" as just examples. These lists are organized and maintained by you in the format that works for you. They allow you to easily send only relevant content to each of your contacts. It takes just a few minutes to set your lists up and it is well worth the time saved when blogging and sharing.

May 20, 2010

Remember Your Audience

Keeping blog content relevant to your target reader is a key factor in blog success but can easily get lost in our rush to get everything done. One way to slow down and remember your audience is to sit quietly at your keyboard for even a minute or two, just before you compose your post, to think about the topic you are addressing in terms of your target reader. Once you place yourself in your reader's chair, it becomes easier to write specifically to them. This short moment of meditation will absolutely increase your focus and build your blog success. Keeping your posts relevant, interesting and helpful will have your readers returning for more.

May 13, 2010

What's being said about you online?

An easy way to monitor your online reputation is to set up a Google Alert. It's quick and free. Follow this link www.google.ca/alerts and enter your full name with quotation marks around it - like "Linda Daley". It's a good idea to set one up with your company name as well. You'll receive an email every time your name shows up on the web. (If you have a common name it's a little trickier to filter, so read the FAQ to find out how.)

May 12, 2010

Finding Inspiration

Finding inspiration can be a challenge for frequent bloggers. One of the ways to grab relevant topics is to expand on industry surveys, white papers, scientific study results and company or government published reports. All of these forums tend to be rather dry reading and your clients could appreciate your providing an executive summary for them by taking only the relevant points and making them interesting reading. This helps your clients get all the relevant information in an easy and entertaining way right on your blog.

A word of warning is that you should not post topic series. Today’s readers will not be captured with series posts and many will be lost. Some will decide to check back when the entire series is posted and never come back. Some will decide they may not get back to finish reading and won’t start. If the topic is large enough to break it into sections when blogging, post each section independently and link them together with a wrap up post after all individual sections are posted.

May 11, 2010

Can Iceland's Volcano Drive Blog Traffic?

One way to drive traffic to your blog is to use current popular news stories as a jump off point to hook your audience. Readers often search current news stories and, if your post headline contains one of them, the same thought process will have them following the link to your blog post.

For example, emergency preparedness planning was a hot topic during the swine flu pandemic warnings in 2009. Emergency preparedness is less discussed with the story dropping out of the headlines. If you would like to open up the topic again with your clients, try using the Icelandic volcano eruptions and the havoc resulting at UK airports as a jumping off point.

Be sure to include the story headline in your blog post title to have your readers clicking in and keep the post content relevant to keep them there.

May 10, 2010

Dynamic Signatures

The importance of using email signatures is generally well accepted today. A signature should include, at minimum, your name, company name, contact information (not including street address) and company branding statement but can include so much more. With all of the options today for signatures, you want to make sure that you don't "overdo" such that people cannot hear your email content because the banner is so large, or loud, that it is taking over the screen. Keep it simple, small and information packed !

One feature available today that we feel is well worth the addition to your signature is inserting an RSS Feed from your blog. The feed will automatically update your email signature with a link to your most recent blog post. This will absolutely drive traffic to your blog as long as the content is relevant to your customers receiving your emails.

RSS Feeds added to your dynamic signature are another way to get your blog content in front of the largest possible audience but will also work with any web content. You can choose to drive the traffic to your latest web page content or use the same functionality to insert your most recent newsletter link provided the newsletter is located on the web.

Here is a shareware, freeware and trial ware list of programs that can help you manage your dynamic signatures.

May 9, 2010

Blog Posting Frequency

There are many reasons to blog for business so it is important to determine what your goals are with a business blog. A blog is the same as any other business process. You need to determine your end goal and plan a strategy that gets you there.

For those of you blogging to gain new customers, here is an interesting statistic from a hubspot survey they shared in a recent webinar.

100% of those blogging multiple times a day received a new customer contact through their blog. 90% of those blogging daily will achieve the same result. However, when you go out to those blogging weekly, only 58% received a customer and out at monthly blog updates it drops to 13%.

This does not mean that a business blog cannot serve multiple purposes but it does show that if your primary goal is to gain new customers, blogging has to be a commitment in terms of content relevance, frequency and promotion through social media tools.
 

May 7, 2010

Paper Counts

The paper you use when providing printed documents to contacts and clients is a big deal. Well, I should say that it's a big deal only if you use the right paper. It's a non-issue if you use plain old 20lb. paper and it's a real detriment if you use cheap photocopy paper. I have had a lot of people comment on my paper over the years and many have said it's an important part of my brand. Not only does quality paper look good, but it also feels good to the touch - it engages other senses - which makes it (and you) memorable. I think it also says that the person you're giving it to is worth the extra cost and effort.

The environment: I try to compensate for my excess by recycling all the paper I print for my own use. Once done with, paper gets flipped over and used again. I had read that this isn't good for your printer but I just retired a printer after doing that for 11 years - can't ask for a printer to last much longer than that! (I also buy cheap recycled paper for my own use.)

My recommendation: Domtar FirstChoice ColorPrint - 96 bright - 28lb. - available in a purple wrapper at Staples. It'll cost you an extra penny per sheet but well worth it.
 

May 2, 2010

Use Linked In to keep your Contact List Up-to-date

You can export your connections from Linked In and import them into your Outlook address book or other contact list database.  On the MY CONNECTIONS page, in the bottom right corner, click on EXPORT CONNECTIONS.  Follow the directions to easily create a spreadsheet of all your Linked In connections.

May 1, 2010

Search for the Best Blog

Although I've set up the odd blog for other people, I've never really considered having one myself... until 2 days ago.  My friend, Danielle, convinced me to contribute to a 'photo a day' blog.  In 2 days, we've explored WordPress, Tumblr and Blogger, but ended up liking Blogger the best.  It was the easiest to set up and navigate.  Of course, I'm happy as long as I can manipulate the colours and fonts!  So, after the learning curve was done, I decided that Daley Progress deserved a blog... and here you are.  Check back or subscribe because I'll be posting technology tips and other ideas for busy people.