Motivation

girl feeling sad that she has no website traffic

Launch4Life writes about a variety of topics to help small businesses better market their products and services. This collection of posts fall under the category of MOTIVATION.


Productivity Tips for Entrepreneurs: Getting Out of Overwhelm

Productivity Tips for Entrepreneurs: Getting Out of Overwhelm

male entrepreneur celebrating his productivity

Almost every entrepreneur I know is looking for productivity tips. Secret hacks to get more done each day. Ways to get all those endless items checked off our to-do list.

It happens to the best of us. We have great plans for our business, sometimes too many different goals, and somewhere along the journey we run out of steam. We stop being productive and slip into the overwhelm zone.

Ah, the beloved overwhelm zone. That’s the time when despite your best intentions, you just don’t seem to get anything done. What’s worse is that each day you feel like you get a little bit farther behind. Pretty soon you feel so far behind that you’ll never catch up.

So how do you move from being overwhelm to productive? It’s not easy.

While we often think that all it takes is to think positively and work harder, that doesn’t always work. Sometimes, we can be so deep into the overwhelm zone that we can’t see the forest for the trees.  This is about the time, we look around for a quick fix to what ails us.

Unfortunately, when we feel desperate, we become vulnerable to making rash decisions. This is when you might be tempted to turn to “get rich quick gurus” for an easy fix. Like signing up for a ridiculously high coaching program (in the thousands of dollars) that you can’t afford.

Or buying expensive and complicated software programs that will take you years to figure out. Which makes you even more stressed because you’ve now added more work onto your plate and you’re also in debt.

Small business owners who are in overwhelm can often take out their frustrations on their team, family, and friends. When we don’t feel good about ourselves, it’s so easy to transfer our anger and disappointment to other people in our life.

Okay, so what can we do to rise above the overwhelm?  What productivity tips for entrepreneurs really work? 

 

Talk to a Friend or Family Member

When you find you are in overwhelm, you need to reach out to someone else. Always remember that thoughts that got you where you are – are not the thoughts that will get you out.

It’s so important to discuss your troubles with someone else, just so you get another perspective. You can talk to your friends or family members. I always suggest that you reach out to someone that doesn’t have a vested interest in your problem. Advice that doesn’t have any bias will provide you with better options.

If what you are going through is more than a case of the blues, you might need to seek out someone with more expertise.

 

Book a Business Coach

If you need to map out a better plan for being more productive in your business, you might want to book a few coaching sessions to help you map out a marketing plan. Sometimes, just a few one-on-one meetings with a reasonably priced business coach is all you need to figure out what are your roadblocks.

Tip: The Launch4Life team offers one-on-one coaching sessions on a pay-as-you-go basis. We don’t require you book a coaching package, simply signup for one session at a time. 

 

Find a Therapist

If you find that your problems are more serious than you originally thought (like depression), you might need to seek the services of a professional therapist.

For anyone that does not already have a relationship with a good therapist, you might want to consider online therapy. Yes, that is really a thing. Online therapy is great for people who work in remote locations and/or travel a lot.

We highly recommend the services of BetterHelp, who provides counseling online. They will connect you with a licensed online therapist you can communicate with you using your choice of: video conference, telephone, live chat, or text messaging. We like that they offer unlimited access to counseling sessions at an affordable cost that’s much lower than traditional face-to-face therapy. The cost of counseling ranges from $40 to $70 per week that’s billed monthly.

 

Listen to Mentors

I know that whenever I get into entrepreneurial overwhelm, one of the first things I do is look to my business role models for advice.

I have been a big fan of Tony Robbins for many years. I have purchased all of his books and own all of his tapes and CDs. Several years ago I attended a live Tony Robbins event, Unleash the Power Within, which was a life changing experience. Afterwards, I enrolled in Tony Robbin’s Life/Business Coaching program and a year later became a certified coach.

The one message from Tony Robbins that helps me stay productive is that overwhelm is a direct result of feeling you have no control. Tony likes to say, It’s not the lack of resources that stops you, instead it’s your lack of resourcefulness that stops you.” 

So whenever, I feel that my day, business, or life is out of control, I know I must adjust my thinking. There is never actually a time when we have absolutely no control – even if the only control we have is our perspective.

Victor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor, attributed his ability to survive the concentration camps to knowing that nobody/nothing has absolute control over you. “The last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance.”

 

Use Productivity Tools

One of the things that helps the Launch4Life team stay productive is having written business goals and a concrete marketing plan.  However, we back that up with strict routines and a slew of productivity tools. These allow us to keep our sanity.

We track all of our projects in Asana which is a free project management tool. We record our meeting minutes in our Penzu online journal another free tool. We’re big fans of Fresh Books to track our expenses and create our invoices – not free, but worth every penny. And, we use Raindrop.io to keep track of all our shared internet bookmarks. The list of productivity tools we love and use on a consistent basis, goes on and on.

Bottom-line, if entrepreneurs want to achieve more productivity, they need to use tools that  help automate your processes. Sometimes you can find free tools, and other times you’re going to have to dish out some cash. However, any tool that helps you get more things done is worth its weight in gold.

 

Take Action

Last, but not least, one of the best productivity tips for entrepreneurs is to take action.

The worst thing we can ever do is stay in bed and throw the covers over our head. Even if all you get done in a day is one simple little thing – celebrate that win.

Truth be told, some days I really struggle as I start the day. By nature I’m a night owl, so mornings are not my friend. However, I know that if I push myself to do just one thing on my to-do list, I will feel better about myself. Most often, I find that if I do one thing… I can do another.  The next thing I know, I am back to my old self and getting lots of stuff done.

The mistake we often make is setting the bar too high. On those days when we can’t get anything done – we just have to let it go and try better the next day. There’s no point in arguing with reality. When we have the unproductive days we should try to not beat ourselves up.  

Every new day brings with it a new opportunity for fresh start. Even though it might be hard to believe – tomorrow might be the day when everything in your life changes.

Launch4Life - Gillian Whitney

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

Ideas to Build Your Client Service Success

Ideas to Build Your Client Service Success

lonely entreprenuer
Do you have clients that are gobbling up a lot of your time?  It’s a struggle to try and create success with your client service, because you get frustrated that your teaching is failing.  Clients are calling all times of the day, because you are not in control of your schedule. The questions from your clients are the same ones over and over and there is no progress.

What to do. How do you have client service success?

These questions affect the service levels you provide your clients. You may be trying to provide the same service whether they have lots of money or not. Unfortunately, it doesn’t help your pocket book and the success of your business.

Here are some questions to consider:

#1 “can you give all your clients the same service?”

#2 “if some clients pay less, should they get less of your services?”

#3 “is it possible to give your clients the service you want and still set boundaries for yourself?”

Sound familiar. All good questions. Many small business owners have these concerns. You want to provide the best service you can. Some of your clients can afford to pay you what you expect for your services. But then there are others that cannot. If you give them the same services for lesser money, who wins.

So, let’s dissect each one and come up with some good solutions.

“can you give all your clients the same service?”

This is a two-part answer. The first is based on the expertise of the client. If they are tech savvy and can learn what you have to pass on, then the success rate is high. If on the other hand, they don’t grasp what you are teaching, you will be teaching them over and over. Or you just might have to do it for them.

So that leads into the second part of this answer. The clients that don’t learn quickly will become your worst nightmares. You will teach and teach. The lessons will not be absorbed, and you will never reach success, because they will not succeed.

So is it fair for the client who doesn’t “get it” to have most of your time? Even if you want to give them the same service, it won’t happen. You will end up giving more to those that don’t learn and since success will not happen, you will feel like you failed.

Here are some thoughts to consider:

It may mean taking another look at who your “ideal client” is. With that knowledge, do not accept clients that can’t learn. That may be a hard pill to swallow. But it leaves you in a better place to work with the clients that can learn and be successful.

“if some clients pay less should they get less of your services?”

Are you offering all of your clients the same service no matter their budget. That unfortunately is unrealistic. I suggest you create an online course. It could address those questions that get repeated. The clients that cannot afford the one-on-one coaching could get a package of an online course, a limited number of emails and perhaps a short number of calls. They will still get value from you, but you will not end up receiving less money per hour for services. From a conscience point of view, it is not easy to do but the alternative is the success of your business. Many coaches have two or three levels of service based on the client’s budget.

“is it possible to give your clients the service you want and still set boundaries for yourself?”

Are you receiving calls at all times of the day. It is very easy for a small business owner who works from home to accept calls at all hours as there are no set hours. But the one thing I can say is you have to set boundaries.

It actually is not in your clients’ best interests when you don’t set boundaries. You will become overworked and dilute your services. Set expectations when first engaging with a new client. Have a system for them to request coaching in advance. Then limit the number of calls per day. Each call can be fresh and with your best attitude and frame of mind.

You can also let everyone know when to expect a return email. 24 hours is a good time limit. Also take the weekends off. Don’t respond to emails during your weekend or your vacation. If you have to put an out of office on your email so they won’t expect a call until you are “back in the office”.

Lesson:

Having a paradigm shift with these three questions, is empowering. You can be a better coach and your clients will respect you and your time.

Hopefully this advice will help. Create online courses, membership programs, group coaching, and newsletters to answer many of your clients’ issues. This will allow you to focus your care on things that are personal to each client.

Your ideal customer should be someone that has the capacity to learn what you are teaching them. Focusing on those clients will be a win-win for both of you. Manage your boundaries. Create alternative ways for your clients to learn. The right clients will have success and that will lead to you creating client service success that will grow your business. 

If you enjoyed reading this article, you’ll want to read our post about:  Working With Clients Internationally

Janet Elie Launch4Life

By Janet Elie

Internet Marketing Specialist

Launch4Life

janet@launch4life.com

18 Ways to Beat Isolation When You’re Self-Employed

18 Ways to Beat Isolation When You’re Self-Employed

lonely entreprenuer

Being a lonely entrepreneur is tough. If you are the only person in your business you have no one to bounce ideas off with. There is no one to take some of the burden off your shoulders.  And you can feel isolated.

Gillian and I are fortunate. We are not only partners, but sisters and best friends. So loneliness is not an issue. Our responsibilities are shared. We bring different skills and thoughts to the table. Even though we live in different states we are only as far away as a Zoom call. We Zoom almost every day.

However your may be in a different situation. You may work at home and even if you have a spouse, that person might not even contribute ideas for you. So what are your options?

We belong to a membership group for women entrepreneurs called Serene Solopreneur. We enjoy the comradeship with other women to learn and share from.  Sue Allen Clayton who is the owner of the Serene Solopreneur is always providing us a space to engage, learn and be a family of women from a variety of businesses. Sue wrote a blog last week that I thought was worth sharing to our own audience.

Sue’s tips are beneficial no matter whether you are a woman or man.

18 Ways to Beat Isolation When You’re Self-Employed

serene solopreneur

Beating Isolation and Loneliness When You’re Self-Employed

There’s no question that being self-employed can make you feel lonely and isolated. This may happen because you spend a lot of time alone in your home office. Or you may be surrounded with people who have “real jobs” and don’t understand the challenges of self-employment. Regardless of why you feel isolated, there are many ways to overcome isolation when you’re a home-based and self-employed.

18 Ways to Beat Loneliness and Isolation When You’re Self-Employed

  1. Make socializing a priority. Extroverts recharge their energy from being with other people. Acknowledge that being with people is necessary for your mental health and needs to be a priority. You will not be happy spending a week alone in your house writing content! Accept your desire to be social and plan accordingly.
  2. Have a routine. One of the downsides of being self-employed is that you have no structure. It’s tempting to waste your day watching YouTube videos or Netflix. Not only does this make you feel even more lonely, it also makes you feel like crap about yourself for avoiding work. A much better system is to create routines that include regular work hours; coffee and lunch breaks; and exercise.
  3. Find an accountability partner. An accountability partner is someone who has similar business goals and is willing to discuss your business. Every Monday through Friday, I talk to my accountability partner at 8:55 AM. We discuss our goals for the day, as well as our wins and challenges from the previous day. Not only does sharing my daily goals makes me accountable, I also find that our daily chats make me feel connected to the world.
  4. Participate in an online group. There are an unlimited amount of Facebook and LinkedIn groups, as well as forums and other online communities. This is a great way to make friends and to feel connected. I have also participated in two private Facebook groups, each with four people. We created the groups as a place where we can post private thoughts and get immediate feedback from trusted colleagues.
  5. Participate in a coaching program. If you elect to participate in a group coaching program, you will have access to a group or forum with all of the other participants. In addition, most coaching programs have regular events and mastermind calls that will provide human interaction and the opportunity to make friends. Hiring a coach for private sessions will also make you feel supported and less isolated.
  6. Go out to eat. If possible, find a friend to meet you for breakfast, lunch or coffee. This provides a great mid-day break and time to converse over a meal. Even if you’re alone, taking a break at Starbucks will give you a change of scenery and make you feel part of the community.
  7. Join a gym. Being a member of a gym is another great way to make you feel less isolated. If you go at the same time every day, you will begin to recognize your fellow exercisers. Participating in a class, or hiring a personal trainer, will give you added attention.
  8. Schedule in-person meetings. Rather than communicating by text or email, invite your friends, clients and colleagues out for coffee, lunch or drinks. If you can’t meet face to face, try teleconferencing (I love Zoom) so that it feels like you’re meeting in person.
  9. Connect on Social Media. Participating in active social media groups is a great way to feel connected to your community. I’m currently members of groups that include podcasting, weight loss, politics, business, and marketing. I also run a private Facebook group for members of my community, the Serene Solopreneur, where female business owners can interact privately with their peers.
  10. Go for a walk. If you can, walk outside your house and enjoy the neighborhood. You may also be able to find a walking partner, so that you can get exercise while you socialize.
  11. Hear voices. Listen to the radio or audiobooks. Follow podcasts, YouTube channels, and Facebook Lives. Invest in online education. Hearing someone else talking will make you feel less isolated (plus you’ll learn something too).
  12. Get a pet. We have two dogs in our household and I love them dearly. My daughter (also a home-based business owner) and I each have a dog with us in our respective offices. It’s hard to feel isolated when you have a furry friend who wants attention. Walking my dog also creates a routine and I’ve gotten to know many people in my neighborhood.
  13. Find a coworking space. Some people find the isolation of a home office depressing. If you’ve tried working at a library or coffee shop, and still feel isolated, then it’s time to look at coworking spaces. Coworking spaces are flexible offices that provide meeting, desk and kitchen space for freelancers and independents. It is an office environment where you can chat in the kitchen, network around a table, or spend private time at a desk.
  14. Collaborate. Find someone with a complimentary skill set and work together. I truly enjoyed my partnership with a speech pathologist. We gave seminars about how to create and deliver an elevator speech. I handled the writing portion, while she handled the part about delivering an elevator speech. It was wonderful to have a creative partner.
  15. Attend networking events. Your local Chamber of Commerce, Small Business Development Center, professional associations, and many other groups have regular networking events. There are also Meetup Groups on virtually any topic. You can join an existing Meetup group or start your own.
  16. Commit to learning. One of the joys of being self-employed is that there’s always something to learn. Expand your knowledge by taking a class on email marketing, how to build a website, or how to use your accounting software. You can also join organizations such as Toastmasters – where you can learn public speaking and leadership skills – that meet regularly and help you build your business.
  17. Attend conferences and workshops. Consider attending a conference or workshop where you can meet new people. This past weekend, I attended WordCamp NYC, a two-day conference about all things WordPress. I learned a lot and met interesting people.
  18. Leverage your interests. Don’t limit your socializing to work. There’s lots of opportunity for socializing in a religious or community organization. For many years I participated in quilting guilds, which gave me regular social time with fellow quilters. I’ve also taken classes in tai chi, meditation, and ballroom dancing.

Free Report: Beating Burnout for Entrepreneurs

About Sue Allen Clayton

Sue Allen Clayton is founder of the Serene Solopreneur, an online support group for female entrepreneurs. For more information contact Sue@SereneSolopreneur.com.

NOTE: This blog post was reprinted with permission by the author. To read more articles of interest to female entrepreneurs, visit the Serene Solopreneur blog.

Janet Elie Launch4Life

By Janet Elie

Internet Marketing Specialist

Launch4Life

janet@launch4life.com

Time Management Strategies to Help Boost Your Business

Time Management Strategies to Help Boost Your Business

Time Management Strategies Clock

Time Management. Doesn’t this feel like an age-old problem? We try to avoid getting distracted during our day. Struggle with setting deadlines and finishing on time. Feeling stressed a lot. We want more time for fun and family. We need time management strategies.

Does this YouTube remind you of your business life?

If you don’t have time to watch it now, let me describe it.

There are two guinea pigs on a treadmill. One makes it to the finish line in a zip. The other one struggles to get to the finish line, but keeps slipping backwards until he falls off. He tried and tried but never finished. Funny but so sad. So, which guinea pig are you? If you are on the treadmill, would you make it to the finish?

Does it feel like insanity? “Doing the same thing and expecting different results”. You must make changes in your daily work habits. Perhaps you need some time management strategies.

Let’s face it. You do know what to do. There are plenty of books to help you. There are tons of videos. Plenty of courses. Great programs to learn Time Management skills.

Here are some basic time management strategies we all know.

  • First of all, stop reading emails at the beginning of the day.
  • Write a list of things you need to do – then break it down into bite size pieces.
  • Lastly, focus your to do list in order of importance

But why don’t you do it? That is the million dollar question.

Of course, we know better, but why don’t we get off the treadmill?

It requires huge change. Self-discipline. Daily effort.  Habit is a key to the answer.  But don’t try and change all your habits at once. It may be too much. But each little change made a part of your routine will become a new habit.

Time Management Strategies from Janet

Here are some business habits I have incorporated into my business:

  • I use an online Google Calendar. I can access from my phone, Ipad, and laptop. It lets me know when it is time to do the next scheduled project.
  • I gave up scrolling Facebook in the morning. It wasn’t helping me with my business.
  • I use a timer on my laptop to mark out my daily projects. When the time is up, I stop.  I have a glass of water, take a stretch.  Work on a different project.  That’s actually a couple of habits.
  • I do the hard projects first when my brain is at its best.
  • I use an online program called  www.asana.com to map out my projects. Keeps me on task. Check emails later in the day. I still struggle with this, but I am getting better at it.

My Mom taught me a famous line that has become part of my philosophy. I preach it to others who ask my advice. “When the pain to stay is worse than the pain to go, you will go”.

Making time management changes is painful. When the stress and lack of productivity are bad enough, the pain will force you to change.

#1 Tip for your time management strategies

YOU are the tip. It’s up to you to decide “its time”. The ability to change your habits is YOU. Finally, the success of your business is YOU.  You have the tools at your fingertips. Just do it.

Take baby steps to change one habit at a time.

Make a note of where you are today. Check back with yourself a year from now. See how many time management struggles you resolved.  Then reward yourself and find out what you need to change next. We constantly have to grow. Let me know how it is going.

Janet Elie Launch4Life

By Janet Elie

Internet Marketing Specialist

Launch4Life

janet@launch4life.com

Does Your Business Have a Crisis Design Plan?

Does Your Business Have a Crisis Design Plan?

Steve Jobs had a quote “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” Your business must have a plan that works in every aspect, during the good times, the bad times, and the crisis times. This blog post is about designing for the crisis times.

Last week I had the humbling experience of witnessing the passing of my wonderful Aunt. In the midst of my grieving, I also had the responsibility of creating the funeral arrangements on behalf of my cousins. My Aunt had not made any preparations nor left a note with her wishes. I had to figure out what she would have wanted, what did the family want, and then rustle up a plan that could be implemented quickly. We only had a couple of days left. Fortunately, it was all in place before she passed.

Conversely when my mother passed away a couple of years ago, she had already set in motion her arrangements along with having paid for it. My two sisters and I were able to be at our Mother’s bedside in her final days as daughters, not worrying about the business aspect. When she passed, all we had to do was make a call that triggered the well-orchestrated plan my mother had created months in advance.  No stress, no arguments, no worries except to grieve. What has this got to do with this business blog you ask? Everything. Because the same plans are needed for your business when you are gone? Who is left figuring out what they should do with the business?

Accidents can happen in a moment. Sickness can beset us without any warning. One could get a bad case of the flu and be unable to even think about that appointment made for tomorrow. Or who is going to open the shop? What about that workshop that was scheduled in two days. Who is going to tell your clients you are not showing up? If you have a partner, then things might not be a total disaster. But if you are a solopreneur there is no one to manage your business while you are out sick. Worse, if you died, is anyone designated to tie up all the loose ends of your business?

No one likes to think about these things, but life happens, and death happens. As responsible business people we need to have documents and plans in place to help our partners or family members manage our business for us.

Here are some considerations:

#1 A list of all the programs you have purchased for your business. Which should be cancelled or continued? Where can they find the passwords? Is your business calendar accessibly so they can contact your clients that you had appointments scheduled with?

#2 Who to contact if you have a lease or own a shop? What about staff members contact information?

#3 If your business is a corporation or LLC, where can your tax id be found?  Your tax accountant?

#4 Is your business something that can be sold by your family? Have some notes that can assist them in the research. Depending on the size of the sales do you have a written business valuation?

#5 If you have a partner, is there a buy/sell agreement in place?

Those are a lot of questions to think about. The last thing your loved ones need to be worrying about is winding down your business stressing over how to figure out how to do that. So, do them a favor. Take an afternoon and write down the answers to those five questions. Pick someone to tell them about the plan, where to find it and what you want done.

My Mom had told us that she had pre-planned and paid for her funeral arrangements. We knew exactly what she wanted. We sisters all worked together to support her wishes. She allowed us to be with her in her final days without stress or worry. My aunt on the other hand, had not made any plans. Her children who lived in Europe, were not familiar with U.S. customs and without me would have struggled to put a plan together quickly. Fortunately, having had my Mom’s experience I was able to take charge and make their grieving a little easier. So, show your family how much you love them, write that plan today. While you at it, it wouldn’t hurt to write down your personal needs message to your loved ones. We saw what happened in Florida on Valentines Day. Things can happen at any age.

Steve Jobs knew what his “time” clock was. He worked with his team for the necessary transition. He also created new apple products that could be built and used long after his demise. We don’t always have the knowledge of how much time we have.

I hope this message gives you the courage to write that plan now. Then you can relax and focus on growing your business confident in the knowledge that “just in case”, your business will transition the way you want it.   Your loved ones or partner will thank you for it.

 

 

By Janet Elie

Internet Marketing Specialist

Launch4Life

janet@launch4life.com

Coaching A Dinosaur

Coaching A Dinosaur

One often expects that all business people are savvy with technology tools. But as I have been coaching entrepreneurs, I am often surprised to learn that it is not always true. Many are still living in the dinosaur age, the age before today’s technology. Some still use outdated phone devices to communicate for business. Or even if they have a smart phone, they are not harnessing all the benefits it offers.

One of the biggest issues is struggling with technology tools and its vocabulary and how it all fits together. It is hard keeping up with the evolution when you are busy running a business. Without that knowledge, how can your business run efficiently, so you can save money and get more customers? An additional downside is that it also can hurt your everyday life as well. Less time for family, less money, and less time for you. What do you do?

I just had a coaching session with someone who is starting a business and discovered he was still using a flip phone. I found out in an extraordinary way. I was sending him text messages and he wasn’t getting them. I didn’t think to ask in advance if he had texting. After a chuckle with each other, my first advice was for him to take the leap to an iPhone. What will his iPhone do for him that was never going to be available on the flip phone?

 

A Smart Phone will help him be more productive:

  1. Access the wide world web anytime, anywhere
  2. Access his emails – multiple platforms both personal and business
  3. Access social media sites and allow him to post on the fly
  4. Project and time management apps
  5. Respond to messages of customers quickly with text, emai,l and Facebook Messenger
  6. Use Google Maps so he doesn’t miss an appointment by getting lost
  7. Take photos and videos and upload them to social media sites
  8. Take notes
  9. Record audio
  10. Watch webinars and online courses
  11. Listen to podcasts
  12. And more……

It will help him develop his business faster. His response to this list, “Holy Cow, where have I been?” After he purchases his phone, I suggested he ask a friend, a peer who has one, to teach him how to use the new phone. I recommended he not ask the young nephew to help. His nephew only knows this world and may not be able to help a dinosaur become evolved. When my client asks, “What is Siri?”  the nephew will probably say “you’re kidding, right?”

Keep in mind the flip side benefit of this. Many of his customers are using smart phones. If he doesn’t understand their experience how will his marketing reflect connecting with them using the same technology. His email platform and website should all be designed for a Smart Phone experience.

What’s the takeaway? Learn. Listen to podcasts. Watch YouTube training videos.  Get an up to date phone. Find out about apps that will make your business easier. Make sure your marketing can be viewed correctly on your customer’s phone.

Keeping current on technology developments and how to apply them to your business is critical. Don’t be a dinosaur. It will COST YOU Money in Sales.

P.S.  Quick story. I was just traveling to California from Arizona. Stopped for our last gas stop before we crossed the border. I pulled up my trusty “Around Me” app on my phone and figured out who had the cheapest gas. It was a difference of 50 cents per gallon. Your phone can save you money every where you look.

By Janet Elie

Internet Marketing Specialist

Launch4Life

janet@launch4life.com

Becoming an Idea Machine: My New Year’s Resolution

Becoming an Idea Machine: My New Year’s Resolution

Over the Christmas break I took some time out to kick back and relax. For me, the greatest way to recharge my batteries, is reading. A book I read this past week was: “The Choose Yourself Guide to Wealth” by James Altucher.

Not familiar with James Altucher? Neither was I. In fact, I had only recently learned about him while listening to a podcast. I became especially intrigued with Altucher when I discovered he was a multi-millionaire nomad. Apparently, he decided to get rid of all his possessions, sold his home, and now lives in Airbnbs. What can I say, a rich nomad is interesting?

I love to travel and was curious how someone’s business lifestyle allowed them to “permanently” live out of a suitcase and hop from one Airbnb to another – every two weeks. I did some research and discovered that James Altucher has written several books, including “The Choose Yourself Guide to Wealth.” In case you’re interested, the Kindle version is currently available from Amazon for only 99 cents (normally the book is listed for $24.95).

So, for less than a buck, I downloaded the book. So what did I think? Off the top, I have to admit the book is kind of a “stream of consciousness rant” and he could really use a good editor. However, despite that, the book is chock full of great business lessons. I learned about: living a more balanced life, the real rules of leadership, how to sell anything, how to convince anyone in 60 seconds, and how to become a great public speaker. What I found of special interest was the novel concept of becoming an “idea machine.”

According to Altucher, being an “idea machine” is the best thing you can do to advance yourself as an entrepreneur/business professional. He believes that ideas are the currency of life. Unlike money which can become depleted, your ideas can buy you good experiences, buy you better ideas, buy you better experiences, buy you more time, and even save your life. Ideas are the greatest commodity that we can have. As such, it’s important we exercise our “idea muscle” on a daily basis.

How to Become an “Idea Machine”

  1. Buy yourself some waiter’s note pads.
  2. Write down 10 new ideas EVERY single day.
  3. Repeat on a daily basis (yes, even on weekends) for at least 6 months.

You may wonder, why on earth do I have to use a “waiter’s pad”?  The answer is because it’s cheap. Plus, since it’s small it will be easy to carry around. If you can’t find a waiter’s pad, just pick up a small notebook from the Dollar Store.

You may wonder, why do I need 10 ideas? That’s because coming up with that many each day is going to be a challenge. It’s pretty easy to come up with 2-3 ideas, but somewhere around idea number 5-6 you’ll probably draw a blank. Therefore, taking on the challenge of writing down 10 ideas EVERY SINGLE DAY will give your brain a great workout.

Another question you may be thinking is, what if my ideas are no good? Don’t worry. Most of your ideas probably won’t be good. However, it only takes one good idea to make a million dollars. The important thing to remember is that it’s all about exercising your “idea muscle” on a consistent basis.

So, what happens when you do have a good idea? Altucher suggests circling the idea and writing down the “first step” you need to take. For instance, say you have an idea to start a travel blog. Your “first step” might be checking out the different blogging platforms (ex. Word Press, Google Blogger, etc.) you could use. Or, maybe the “first step” might be a great title for your blog. The important thing to remember is that your “first step” can be as complex or as simple as you want.

Apparently, it takes at least six months of writing your ideas down on a daily basis before you become an “idea machine.” However, once that happens, you may be surprised at all the changes you’ve made with regards to your personal and professional life.

So, with the new year upon us, I am going to try my hand at becoming an “idea machine.”  I will give a follow-up report in six months and let you all know how I did and what changes occurred in my life.

 

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

Who You Gonna Call for Advice???

Who You Gonna Call for Advice???

No matter how long you have been in business, occasionally new challenges crop up.  Oh how we wish we had a fairy godmother to give us some advice.  Part of the obstacle might be knowing who is the “right” angel of mercy and other times it might just be plain old dollars and cents.  Your issue could be marketing, IT, accounting, setting up a proper business plan to obtain a loan, partnership agreements, social media or just needing help on an analysis study.  Ugh I hate those. Whatever it is, a quick answer or something more elaborate, where do you turn too?  Ghostbusters!!!!

Today there are many entrepreneurs who have already felt your pain and have built a business platform that helps others with certain issues through courses and books.  Many offer free webinars or paid coaching or classes. But those are generally to help you get from one level to another level, based on the product they sell. They offer great benefits, just like us and worth the cost. But sometimes you need something different, more specific to your particular business need.  You need advice from someone who has been there, done that like a Ghostbuster!!!  I am kidding! The Ghostbusters of today are SCORE Mentors.

Many of you may not be familiar with SCORE.  SCORE is a resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).  This non-for profit offers Business Consulting, Education and Mentoring for all size businesses whether just getting started or who already are seasoned and successful.  They have helped more than 10 million entrepreneurs through individual mentoring, workshops and educational resources since 1964.  They have over 10,000 volunteers that provide FREE mentoring.  Most of their webinars or workshops are free or for a small nominal fee.    With over 300 chapters, quite possible there is a chapter near you.

When I first started out in my business I took advantage of their services. My issue was vetted and then I was matched up to a seasoned expert in that field.  Many of their mentors are retired business executives who have tons of knowledge and are passionate about giving a helping hand.   I was assigned a mentor who was able to assess my problem,  provide wise council and who allowed me to bounce ideas off of until I was ready to solo.   In addition, he suggested some webinars and workshops that he thought would have value for me.  All this advice was FREE.  Could I have asked for more!  Some of the workshops were FREE and a few were a few bucks i.e. $10 -$25.  But absolutely worth every penny.  Some of the chapters offer large one-day events where they will have a host of speakers.  You can be a participant or a sponsor, but both allow for networking.

I have been so inspired by this organization that I have now signed up to be a mentor for SCORE.  With my 30+ plus years in the Insurance and Financial Services Industry with both marketing and managerial experience I have a wealth of knowledge and expertise to help other budding entrepreneurs.  My online marketing experience for the last few years is a bonus as well.  As a mentor, you are forbidden to solicit business from those you mentor, but as you teach, so do you learn.  That new knowledge will be paramount in helping my own customers.  Plus, it gives me an opportunity to participate in my community and make a difference.  I like that.   I was a little nervous on my first mentoring in training opportunity.  I planned to be a fly on the wall and just listen, but I quickly realized I had a lot to contribute to help these business owners.  I felt really good when I left their office.

If you would like to take a peek at whether You can benefit by SCORE, be it finding a business mentor or signing up for their workshops, here is the link to the SCORE website:  https://www.score.org/.  You will be amazed at how you can benefit by meeting with a mentor in person, by video conferencing or email.  Great volunteers ready to contribute to the success of your business. Very importantly, all meeting sessions are confidential.  Your discussion is private.

Perhaps you are ready to be a mentor, or lead a workshop.  They are always seeking new training leaders.

I believe being an entrepreneur is one of the most wonderful occupations.  We have the ability to choose our business, run it with our style, and we tend to give back in many ways. If we can help another entrepreneur up the ladder, it makes us proud, doesn’t it?

So who you gonna call?   I ain’t afraid of no ghost!  Call Ghostbusters……..

Have a laugh watching this classic Ghostbusters’ trailer, then call your Ghostbusters mentor at SCORE. https://www.score.org/

You will be glad you did.

 

By Janet Elie

Internet Marketing Specialist

Launch4Life

janet@launch4life.com

Climbing Masada With My Sons

Climbing Masada With My Sons

Eighteen years ago – I attended a Motivational Seminar, where the keynote speaker challenged us to go home and make a list of 101 goals.  At that time in my life, I was a stay-at-home mom with young children and feeling rather lost in my life.  However, wanting to make a change, I took my “homework” to heart and sat down that night to create my list.

One of the goals, number 9, was “Visit Israel – Climb Mt. Masada with my sons”.  At that time, I was the heaviest weight I had even been in my life and just climbing the stairs was a challenge.  And, my two sons were only 3 years old and 19 months.  To say my goal – to climb a 1300-foot mountain in Israel – was a lofty goal, is not an exaggeration.  However, after attending the seminar I was convinced that sometimes we have to have goals that are larger than life, so we continue to stretch and grow.

Last month, my boys went on a trip to Israel and they both climbed Masada.  In the pre-dawn hours, they hiked up the mountain, and watched the sun rise.  They said it was an incredible and beautiful experience.  My youngest son, David, texted me a photograph of the dawn breaking over the Dead Sea (pictured above), so I could share in the moment.  My eldest son, Joshua, texted me this self-portrait to confirm he’d made it to the top.

While I was not physically there with my sons when they reached the top of Masada, I did feel I was there in spirit.  As a consequence, I got to share in this awesome experience.  Most importantly, I knew that I had been instrumental in the accomplishment of this goal.  By writing down that goal, eighteen years ago, I had a hand in making it happen.

The very moment I put that goal in writing, the universe began to conspire towards fulfilling that goal.  First, by writing it down, I realized that was a goal that was important to me.  Next, for the past 18 years, I began looking for any opportunity that could make this happen. A few years ago, I learned about a program called Birthright. This not-for-profit educational organization sponsors free ten-day heritage trips to Israel for Jewish young adults, aged 18-26.  Since the founding of the program in 1999, Birthright has sent over 600,000 young people from 60 countries to Israel. Coincidentally, the program was launched in the exact same year I set my goal.  Interesting huh?

One of the highlights of the Birthright tour is a trip to Masada, which is more than just a mountain in Israel.  Masada is one of the Jewish people’s greatest symbols.  Next to visiting Jerusalem, it is the most popular destination of Jewish tourists visiting Israel.

To understand the significance of Masada, you have to know a little about it’s history.  In 74 CE, a group of Jewish rebels, fighting the Roman army after the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, made history by ending their own lives rather than being taken alive by their enemy. This little group of Jews held off the Romans for several months – while the Roman soldiers below built an enormous ramp up the side of the fortress, with the intent of driving a battering ram through the fortress gates.  When the Romans finally made it inside, they discovered that almost one thousand men, women and children had committed suicide.  Two women and several children survived the mass suicide and lived to tell the story.  Today, Masada has become a symbol of valor, courage, and conviction among modern-day Jews.

When I think who I was eighteen years ago, I realize now that I was looking for a way to incorporate the qualities of valor, courage, and conviction, into my life.  I wanted to raise my boys to become men that would set lofty goals and be capable of achieving them.  As a result of setting that goal I believe I was a better parent – as it gave me the vision to raise my boys to be the kind of people that would never be afraid to climb to the top of any mountain and hold their ground.

Achieving this goal, and several others on my list, validates my belief that the written word has power.  When we write down exactly what we actually want to achieve we transfer our thoughts from wishes to goals.  It’s as if the act of committing an idea to paper, gives that idea  a life of it’s own.  Which in turn allows for all sorts of unique “coincidences” to fall into place to make a dream come true.

So, I challenge you to make your own a list of 101 goals.  Do it today.  Grab your journal and create a numbered list from 101 to 1.  And then, just begin writing down anything (and I really do mean anything) that comes to mind.  It might be: go on a cruise, fly a plane, write a bestselling book, win an award, or sing the national anthem at a baseball game.  By the way, those are just a few of the goals I put on my list, and several of them have already happened.

I am going to warn you up front that it’s very hard writing down 101 goals.  You’ll find that the first 50 are fairly easy, but then you will start to struggle.  Don’t give up, because this is where the magic happens.  As you struggle to complete the list, you’ll to have to dig deep within yourself to uncover what it is you REALLY want in life. “Climbing Masada With My Sons” was goal number 9.  Before I did the exercise, I had no idea it was one of my goals.  But once I saw it on the page, I owned it immediately.

Once you’ve completed your list, simply put it away.  From time to time, dig it out and review your list.  Don’t be too surprised when you discover a bunch of them had already been completed.  It seems that by simply writing them down, you set those goals in motion.   After 18 years, I recently took at my list.  I was amazed to discover I have now accomplished over 50% of my goals.  However, the sweetest one by far, occurred last month when my boys climbed Masada.

By Gillian Whitney

Communications Consultant

Launch4Life

gillian@launch4life.com

I CAN! I WILL!

I CAN! I WILL!

What does that title mean?  Kind of a mouthful don’t you think. By the end of this blog you will understand this title. Hopefully anyway.

I recently watched a Fortune’s video.  The speaker, Dov Seidman was sharing his thoughts on Artificial Intelligence.  He said that Machines are not only out producing us they are starting to out think us. But they are not going to out feel us.  His question was: How do we put hearts at the center of organizations and recapture the hearts of consumers. His reference to machines was Artificial Intelligence, meaning computers, software programs and the like.   Ummm!  Interesting thought to chew on.

Co-incidentally, this links to a book I am reading written by a famous Rabbi, Harold S. Kushner.  He is well known for his book “When Bad Things Happen to Good People.”  In the book, I am currently reading now “9 Essential Things I’ve Learned About Life”, he said that computers demand perfection whereas humans are forgiving.  His example story went something like this.   If you want to send someone an email, you must have the exact email address to the dot or to the hyphen, the @ sign.  Otherwise your message will be returned by this “ Mail Delivery mailer-daemon” and never reach your intended party.  Whereas, if you sent someone a letter with a zip code digit missing or you had the number of the house wrong, somehow it will eventually show up at their home or business.

So, if I put these two brilliant men’s comments together, I have a computer that can out think me and demands perfection.  But a human can be forgiving and have heart.  So, to bring heart to our customers we will always need humans at the helm even if we screw up from time to time.  We always have that opportunity to recalculate and get back on track.   A computer will never allow that as we know from the 2001 Odyssey movie with Hal or the Terminator.   I totally get that.  I just sent a well-crafted email to someone to invite them to a webinar and I inserted an incorrect email address.  It went no-where.  I lost all the beautiful pearls of wisdom I was going to express.  Back to the drawing board to see where that email is. Hopefully it is hiding in some recesses of my computer so I don’t have to recreate it.

So, what is it about us humans that drives us to perfection like Artificial Intelligence.  It is a goal totally unattainable, but yet we strive for it.  We are not computers and never will be as we have a heart that beats.  If nothing else we know that is what distinguishes us.  So why do we fret, agonize, wring our hands, beat our heads against the wall because we do not live up to our perfect expectations.

I am not a Freud, so I don’t have the technical or psychological answer but as a human being who has been on this planet for a while, I think I have somehow figured it out. Human nature. We strive to be the best we can be because we want success.  We view success as reaching the top of a mountain, reaching monetary or lifestyle goals we set for ourselves, or being recognized in Forbes magazine.  Success means we have arrived.  People are judged by others by their success. But along the way, for true success we must have failures, which makes us imperfect.  Hopefully the failures are the kind that allow us to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and trudge on to that pinnacle of success.

Gillian and I have had our failures along the way and we have always looked at each failure as an opportunity to learn, to grow.  Without them I don’t think we would be where we are today.  In fact, I know so.  Learning from our failures actually contributed to our success.  Not perfection of course, but we are getting better every day.

We recognized that some success included learning how to harness Artificial Intelligence.  Isn’t that a pun.  Humans can use the perfect solutions found in Artificial Intelligence to help their businesses be successful.  But in the exercise of learning you may have obstacles presenting themselves from all directions, how much time to devote, spending the least amount of money, and finding the right resources. There is no perfect solution. How does one do this while simultaneously running a business.  Experience has taught us that everyone has a different learning style based on attitude, age, exposure to technological advancements and attention span.  There is no judgement on this.  Everyone is unique in their style to absorb new data and process it.  Sounding like a machine doesn’t it.  But here is the difference.  We should not expect perfection from ourselves.  We have a beating heart and we can choose to forgive ourselves if we don’t get it the first or even second time round.  It will come, just be patient.  Now some will pick it up quickly and move forward.  Others will require hand holding and guidance, otherwise they may become too frustrated and give up.

After learning from our struggles managing Artificial Intelligence we noticed most teaching styles are geared to the self-managers.  We made a conscious business decision to help those that need hand holding, teaching them in baby steps so they can have the success they deserve too.  That has become our niche – our customer needs us and we know how to take complicated things and break them down into bit size chunks of learning.

If we can minimize the overwhelm, and give them a framework to learn and implement using baby steps to build on one step after the other, we can help humans (entrepreneurs and business owners) harness the power of Artificial Intelligence.  For us that is online marketing.

So here are the four take aways:

  1. Don’t expect perfection from yourself, you are only human.
  2. Striving for success should be a journey, not a daunting summit.
  3. Evaluate your learning style and find training that supports your style.
  4. Take heed that you will have customers with both styles. How do you support each of your style of customers so they can learn from you and get it?

A friend of mine, Alan Hobson undertook 10 grueling self-guided and self-organized expeditions to high altitudes including three expeditions to Mt. Everest to realize his dream, his success.  His motto has always stuck with me.  I never forget it because he gave me a black fleece vest which I still wear when I need inspiration or warmth.  On the front it says  “I Can, I will”!

Have a great day and just say I CAN! I WILL! in baby steps!!!!!  Oh and with heart!!

By Janet Elie

Internet Marketing Specialist

Launch4Life

janet@launch4life.com

Janet in Morocco: Adventures of a Traveling Entrepreneur

Janet in Morocco: Adventures of a Traveling Entrepreneur

I have just gotten back to the US from a fabulous two-week tour of Morocco.  It was so fabulous, I just have to share some tidbits with you. It was quite shocking when I got off the plane in Casablanca and someone said “welcome to Africa”.  Most people in America don’t think of Morocco as Africa.  Most of us have seen the movie Casablanca and it looked very European.  “…of all of the gin joints, you had to walk into mine”.  But as you actually travel through Morocco you get the sense of its African ancient heritage and the influences of Europe blended together to make for a rich experience.

What was noticeable was how many people work for themselves.  When unemployment is high, these people resorted to inventing clever ways to make a living – creating their own businesses.  In fact, we were told that most Moroccans prefer to work for themselves as they have more monetary opportunities than having a salary.  Plus they like the lifestyle.

Of course, this was very evidenced when I was in Marrakesh and spent time in the UNESCO site by the Medina, world famous square.  Whether you took advantage of having one of the ladies draw henna designs on your hands, or you paid for a photo op with exotically dressed people, tipped the snake charmer (oh yes, they really exist), or lunched at many of the fabulous outdoor kitchens, you were being served by solo-preneurs.  Amazingly, I noticed that most of them used their mobile phones for their business and I heard many utilize some form of social media.  Actually, one of my guides asked me to “like” his Facebook Page and write a comment.

I too, enjoy being a solo-preneur.  For me the best part of going to Morocco was being able to go for an entire two weeks and not worry about what was going on at home.  My partner had our business covered.  Too often in the past working for a corporation I was always nervous about being away from the job too long.  I would check email every night to be sure there was no crisis to handle because you had to be sure you were not replaceable. What an ugly feeling.  My new business allowed me to totally submerge myself into the exotic landscape and culture of Morocco.

So since you are reading this bog, I would love to share a few more tidbits about my trip to Morocco as you may be encouraged to make your own trip over to Morocco.  It is a land like no other.  In one small country, just a little bit larger than the state of California, one day I was paddling my feet in the Atlantic and watching the fishermen pull in their daily catch and then lunch on a fish right out of the water.  The next day we were crossing the snow top High Atlas Mountains.  As we journeyed around we saw beautiful lush fields of vegetables and cactus fruits and oranges and lemons, olive groves and vineyards with varieties of grapes.  Moroccans make fabulous wines and I was fortunate to try a few types.  We drove through forests of cedar, saw goats climbing the famous argon trees.  We toured a women’s co-op watching the ladies grinding the argon nuts to make the oils and creams that are used for cooking and women’s cosmetics.  The piece de resistance was taking a camel ride in the Sahara Desert and then watching the sun set.  Pure pleasure.

I hope the little synopsis of my travels will inspire you.  Part of a solo-preneur’s business plan is setting goals and choosing what kind of life you want to live.  For us making a decent income, being able to travel, and having a business that is fun is our goal.   As 2017 arrives, what trip is in your future plan?  “…so play it again Sam”.

By Janet Elie

Internet Marketing Specialist

Launch4Life

janet@launch4life.com