I wonder if you can tell me how well you are doing in your business? If I met you in the street and asked you as you were doing your shopping- could you tell me? How much of that knowledge is with you? And where does that knowledge come from?
How do you measure that success to actually know if you're doing well or not?
The only real way to know is to measure your growth and processes, record it, and repeat. All. the. time.
My biggest tip is to do your accounts monthly. I use a spread sheet in excel and at the end of each month can fill in my income and expenditure, and file all my receipts, whether from the pile in the corner or printed off from my web purchases. Yes, its time consuming when you have other jobs you'd rather do, that are infinitely more fun, but you will find that you can have a quick summary that tells you how each month has gone down, and when it comes to tax time, you can bash it out in one day. DONE!
Pin those monthly totals somewhere you can see them, and take note. Assess what the seasons do to your income, and the number of hours you put it. Spot the patterns- see that August is dead because your numbers bottomed out but you spent the whole time on social media speaking to them? Why not try next year to have a social media rest, catch up on new designs and a rest yourself, and share some high lights? Spot your financial patterns and compare them to your workload and make a plan.
Other ways you might like to measure is to write down your monthly social media followers. If you note them every month, and calculate your % growth (I'll be posting about this soon!) then you might find that you spend 80% of your time chasing only 3% of your growth. And that isn't worth your time. Only by noting the numbers down, will you be able to see the real growth and learn from it. (I do say this with a caveat though- numbers can be deceiving, and 100 great loyal interactive followers are better than 1000 non committal silent ones!)
Other ways to measure your success are running surveys, whether by a call out post on Facebook, or by asking your customers to fill in a questionnaire. Try to consider questions that will give you an answer that you can work with and use the information. So instead of 'did you like the item you purchased' try 'did you find that you use your item you purchased, and if not, why not'. Every scrap of feedback, especially negative or constructive can help you either gain insight into your product in their eyes, or an insight into your customer and their traits.
The last thing I would recommend, is to block out one hour somewhere in your week, to just have a look at your numbers, look at the week, and see how it feels. Was it a good week, was it rubbish? Did you get all your jobs done or are you adding jobs over to next week? You might even find that just one half hour is enough to review the week, and tweak any working processes to make next week a better one. Giving yourself permission to stop working, and mull over the last week with a cuppa (or wine!) will really begin to make your weeks run so much more smoothly. After all, we are the CEO of our own company, and so often we always act like just the employee, and putting our CEO hat on at least once a week will do wonders.
Thanks for joining me today! If you'd like to join a free community where you can get support, and be held accountable when you need it- feel free to join the Sheldon & Co network- free business advice and networking opportunities, over on Facebook. www.facebook.com/groups/sheldonandco
There is so much scope to share knowledge when blogging. You get to show what your skills are for free, and hopefully that translates into sales in return- but sometimes it feels too haphazard and not ordered enough when you are the one creating all the content.
Yes you may have good content, but if it doesn’t feel like a smooth running process for you then blogging can feel more of a chore than it needs to be. Blogging should feel like a positive experience for you too, not just for your readers and potential clients.
I have a two pronged approach with all my planning for blog content. Firstly I use an organisational app called Trello- which I will cover fully another time- but essentially it uses cards to organise information and allow you to move your workflows and information easily. Some people prefer Asana, Dubsado or evernote- there are certainly enough for you to choose from to aid your business workflow.
Alongside my digital organisation - I use a paper planner which allows me to plan my overall themes for the year and the months, so I have a great visual reference which lets me see the year properly. Easy to see sections means that I can visualise the structure over the year, and I get to plan clear themes which will forward my business or brand, as well as be of value to my readership.
I'd like to to share my paper planner with you for free- you can grab your free downloadable copy of my blog planner here. Just print, grab a pen, a pack of biscuits and go!
In essence, how it works is the you choose 12 over-arching themes for the year, so it could be topics like social media, hints and tips, or products. Think about themes which will frame your business as the go to business for information. Choose topics of value but that you also feel comfortable writing about.
From that 12 you break it down into 4 blog titles per 12, that fit within that theme. This gives you 48 titles that all fit neatly with your other content, and with your expertise in your niche. If you want to blog twice a week, just choose 8 titles per theme.
You can either use this as your schedule for the year and work from this, pin it to your wall or use as a coffee cup coaster, referencing it when you need it, or you can copy the titles into your online calendar or management system with deadlines.
Either way, your content will be easier to manage and feel cohesive to write- even if you publish them out of the order you’ve decided on! It also allows you to easily block write, write four posts in one day, find matching photos and create graphics, schedule, and leave for another month!
I hope you find the free planner helpful- and if you have any questions or would like to discuss your blog content with me, feel free to join the free Sheldon community over on Facebook. It would be great to have you join us.
Social media is a minefield. We all feel it at some point, and yet, we so often rely on it to promote our business. We are exposed to it every day and there is little chance for a business not to have some level of presence on some platform, if only to direct to a website.
Not only can you lose days by trawling through Facebook groups, experts and coaches, but looking at a plethora of other business owners smashing it on a daily basis, can grind you down, and allow feelings of self-disappointment to creep in.
I want to tell you something today, something that can change your outlook and build your business in a constructive, fulfilling way. The irony of sounding like an ‘expert’ is not lost on me!
There is only one expert for your business that you should pay close attention to, and that is you. You are already your own expert - you know the time constraints you have, you know what products you love and what works in your workspace. You know what makes you tick, and how you need to be spoken to, to get the best out of yourself. It is so valuable to remember, no two businesses are the same, even if they sell the same product! YOU are the key expert to build your business and grow it in the direction you want to.
So go listen to podcasts and read blogs, heed advice in groups, but as if you were out shopping. Pick and mix the advice and try it out. Give it a good few weeks to work, and if it doesn’t, then move on. It is ok to try it and then change your mind. It is ok for a recommended approach to work for some people and not others- the trick is to listen to yourself when you feel it isn’t working for you.
Another important thing with social media, is to remember you don’t need to be on every platform! What?! Exactly- you don’t need to be everywhere! In fact I would recommend that you are not. You may have a profile on each platform with a link to your website, but that doesn’t mean you have to be active on them all.
Choose two platforms where your ideal customer most likely hangs out, and focus on those two places. It is not set in stone, and you can choose to switch at any time! But many more than two and your social media will feel like a full time job in of itself- there is reason people hire social media managers after all!
And lastly, I am a firm believer that the magic happens in the extremes – if your business tries to appeal to everyone, and therefore can only ever be mediocre as you’ll never please everyone – no one will turn to you when they need that special item or service. However, if you niche down, identify your target market, and speak to them, you may have some people who won’t be keen to buy from you- they may even dislike what you offer- And that is ok! Because there will also be those that LOVE you and your business, and who will want to buy lots from you!
But don’t take my word for it! Try it out, choose your platforms and talk to your ideal customer, make the magic happen by being a specialist in your field, and ultimately, be your own expert, and see if you advice is a good fit for you.