5 Ways to Get Over a Slump

It’s been one of those weeks! My children have needed me to ferry them around to different things during the day as well as it being a week of meetings. This means I’ve been in and out of the office. Once I do finally get back to my desk, I’ve struggled to focus – despite my to do list!

Time just seems to have been slipping away and subsequently I’ve been feeling like I’ve hit a slump. There are many tasks keeping me busy but they are not the things that will ultimately inch my business forward. And because I’m not inching my business forwards my mind slips into negative thoughts. I’m not doing enough, I don’t know enough……this is a slump!

Does this sound familiar to you? It’s quite normal to have times where you’re not in full flow. As a solopreneur, it’s just another thing to work through.

To help you., here are 5 ways that I find help me get over an annoying slump.

1. Goal Setting

The first thing I do is go back to my goals and my why.  By reconnecting to my reason for being, I am reminding myself of my drive and what I’m trying to achieve.  Doing this fills me with excitement for my business so that my energy picks up and I can’t wait to get stuck in to creating again.

I have a system for setting yearly, quarterly, monthly and weekly goals and on any day in my business I know what I am meant to be working on.  The to do list definitely helps when I return to my desk after an interruption.  As I said though, even with a to do list it can be tricky to stay focussed at particularly distracting times.  See more on distraction below.

2. Networking & Connecting

A great way to feel reinspired is to connect with other business women.  This can be in the form of a workshop or a networking event that you physically attend. In my area there are monthly business breakfasts for women and I always leave an event feeling inspired and ready to dive into my business.  Connecting can also take place online.  If you are part of a supportive Facebook group then start a thread there to get some advice or inspiration to get started on your next task.  Perhaps you are part of a membership that provides you with inspiration and a place to go back to when you’re stuck.  Whichever works for you; put yourself out there and connect.

3. Daily Rituals

It is so important to have daily routines and rituals that improve your overall well-being and help you be more productive.  If I’m feeling in a slump and my mind is struggling to focus, I will do an extra meditation that morning or make sure I write in my gratitude journal and set my intentions for the day.  Not skipping on your daily rituals is essential to keeping your momentum going.

Help Your Productivity with this Post – Top 10 Working Mum Hacks

4. Distractions

In the middle of a slump you are not helped by distractions of any kind.  This may mean that you need to put your phone in another room for a 2 hour block of complete focus.  Or perhaps you need to work with your headphones on.  Do you ever work in a café or a co-working space?  If you get distracted by household chores or other things that need doing, remove yourself to feel energised by being in a new environment. 

5. Unfollow

Sometimes when we’re in a slump our minds can be in a more negative space.  Be aware of imposter syndrome creeping in at this time.  If you find you are comparing yourself in a negative way to everyone you see on social media you may need to stop the scrolling.  It may even be helpful to unfollow some people that bring up feelings of not being good enough.

This post may be helpful to you too – 10 Tips to Increase your Social Media Engagement

I hope you find these strategies helpful when you find yourself in a slump.  They have certainly helped me this week.

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5 Ways to Calm Your Mind so you can Be More Productive

“Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is relax.” Mark Black.

This quote is so true. How can you see the wood from the trees if your mind is racing and you have a million ideas blowing around the forrest in your mind? As working mums our heads are busy with kids activities, meal plans, household chores as well as a business to run. It can be hard to focus. This article will provide 5 ways to calm your mind so you can be more productive.

1. Mindfulness

Just breathe.  Try to include some mindfulness meditation into your day.  I find it works best just before I sit down at my desk. The kids are at school, I’ve checked social media while i’m making a cup of tea and before I sit at my desk I play a guided 10 minute meditation from an app on my phone.  By focussing on the breath and letting the mind be still, I am calming myself for the day ahead.

2. Plan & Prioritise

If you plan your day and your week ahead, you can focus on what needs to be done right now instead of worrying about ‘All The Things’. Do you use a digital task manager or pen and paper? Whatever works for you, get the ideas and tasks out of your head so you can plan what needs to be done first, then work through them in the order of priority.

3. Stay in the Present

Following on from the above post, if you stay focused on the here and now, then your mind will not be cluttered with all the tasks that may not be a priority today.  Simply focus on the task at hand, complete that and only then move on the next. Remember to enjoy the satisfaction of ticking your finished task off your list!

Help Your Productivity with this Post – Top 10 Working Mum Hacks

4. Catch Negative Thoughts

Do you find you say things to yourself like ‘I don’t have enough time’, ‘there’s too much to do’, I’m too busy’?  These thoughts will be affecting how productive you can be. Try to catch the negative thoughts and switch them into positives.  If you are telling yourself that there is enough time to get everything done, your mind will be calmer and you’ll find you are much more productive.

5. Go For A Walk

Being in nature is a sure fire way to feel calmer and increasing your heart rate has a de-stressing effect on the mind. Sometimes we get stuck in analysis paralysis and overthinking things is not going to allow us to move ahead. Break the cycle by going for a quick walk outside or in the garden to get the blood flowing again. You could even listen to a calming meditation while you walk. I can guarantee you’ll get back at your desk feeling calmer and therefore being more productive.

This post may be helpful to you too – 10 Tips to Increase your Social Media Engagement

I hope some of these ideas have helped you to learn some ways to calm your mind so you can be more productive.  Let me know if you have any other suggestions for coping with an overactive mind.

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7 Ways to Take Action in your Business

Are you starting a business?  That’s awesome!  How’s it all going?  If you’re struggling with making progress then you may have a problem with taking action.  Keep reading to find out the 7 ways I take action in my business.

What is holding you back?

It is quite normal to feel overwhelmed with starting a new business.  There ‘s all the tech to get into place, the accounts and much much more.   

Perhaps fear is stopping you from getting started?  A fear of failure, a fear of the unknown or even a fear of putting yourself out there.

Do you find yourself spending your days googling ideas, reading blogs and watching free webinars? Are you journalling all your fab ideas but nothing is actually happening in your business to move it forward?

I know the feeling.  This is a very familiar story.

Here’s my story around not taking action?

When I started out I had huge imposter syndrome. I thought, if only I knew more I would feel more comfortable about offering my marketing services.

I spent my days doing all the things above – reading heaps of blogs, trying to upskill, believing my story of inadequacy. 

It wasn’t long before the penny dropped and I realised I needed to actually put myself out there and look for clients.  Let’s face it, without clients there is no service based business 😆

 

Are new to the business game?

You might like to read my post about being self employed.  What I wish I’d known 4 years ago. 

the 7 ways to take action in your business

Here are the 7 ways that I began to take action in my business.  If you can implement a few of these then you’ll be heading towards having a blossoming business in no time:

DO AT LEAST ONE THING EVERY DAY FOR YOUR BUSINESS

If you can committ to this then you’ll be achieving.  Even when life is crazy busy, the kids are being mosnters or they are home sick from school; just do ONE thing and you’ll feel like you’re making progress.

start with baby steps & the rest will follow

Overwhelm can be the one thing that stops you from doing anything.  Take little steps every day and you’ll get there!

break down big goals into small tasks

Definitely write down your BIG goals.  You may have 10 major goals that you want to achieve for your business.  But for each 90 day period (1 quarter), choose 3 of those BIG goals and break them down into smaller tasks so you can get them done.

don’t let fear paralyse you

Are you familar with that quote about watching someone who knows less than you earn more than you just because they had the guts to go for it?  I love the idea that by plunging in and giving it a go, you are at least giving yourself the chance to achieve great things.

There’s a running theme here of breaking things down into bite sized chunks.  So if fear is stopping you from starting, follow the tips and take baby steps to get your business going.

dream big but plan small

Your mindset is what is holding you back.  Dream big, believe in your goals, choose you.   Make it happen by avoiding overwhelm and plan small.

have a plan.  even a rough one.

If you have a trajectory to follow, you will feel like you are achieving things.  Write down your plan and take steps to make your business journey happen.

use a note taking app on your phone

Write everything down as soon as it comes to you.  You can even record your voice to get things noted down.  I use Google Keep.  This allows you to get all your ideas out of your head and start to build a list of tasks.  Then pick 1 and begin.

Please let me know how you overcome not taking action or how you go implementing some of the above ideas.

Have you done these 10 things for your business?

Follow my Blueprint for Business Success to ensure you’ve laid great foundations for your biz.

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Being Self Employed – What I Wish I’d Known Four Years Ago

Did you accidentally enter the world of small business and entrepreneurship like me?  I’m sure some people plan these things but I just thought it would be a good idea to work for myself rather than for someone else without much thought for what it would actually entail. 

I did try working for someone else again when my youngest was 4 years old but it was a disaster.  Like most mums, there were several problems.  Child care was expensive and not somewhere my child enjoyed being.  My husband helped out one day a week but that meant he couldn’t focus on his business.  It bothered me that I couldn’t be at school to watch the kids do their end of term presentations or be there at other important times.  And if I’m honest, I truly felt that I had more to give than being stuck in a position where I wasn’t really appreciated.

So with a bucket load of fake confidence, I embarked on creating my own marketing business without any real clue about what I was doing.  I was very gung-ho and it didn’t take me long to find a few clients but there was lots to learn.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing and I know I needed to go on my journey to get to where I am today.   However, if I could write myself a letter today imparting all the wisdom that I know now to the me of four years ago; these are the important points I would write.

It takes more than fake confidence!  Mindset is everything and if your mind isn’t telling yourself that you’ve got this then it’s going to take you much longer to get anywhere.  Work on your mindset from day one.

A bit of fake confidence is still required!  I spent far too long worrying that I wasn’t good enough and didn’t know enough.  Don’t forget that you know more than your average client and always keep learning.  That good old saying ‘Fake it till you make it’ is definitely something to hold onto at the beginning.  Signing up to receive emails from someone in your industry that you respect is a great way to educate yourself on latest developments.

Value your worth.  I had no idea what to charge for my marketing services and more importantly what people would pay.   I was so afraid that clients would not use me if was deemed too cheap or if I seemed too expensive!  Value what you do, accept that clients will pay for your knowledge and to relieve them of an activity that they either don’t like doing or don’t have time for.  Charge where it feels comfortable but don’t undervalue yourself.

No comparisons.  Do not compare your journey to anyone else’s.  You cannot compare your step 1 to someone else’s step 20.

Don’t fear competition.  There is plenty of room for everyone at the top and if you put in the consistent work then you will get there.

Networks are vital.  Get yourself along to female business women networking groups and put yourself out there to make connections.  Or book to do a workshop from time to time.  These events always make you feel energised to dive headfirst into your business.

It’s OK to say no if you are not a good fit.  As a service-based business your clients are your bread and butter and when you are starting out you feel like you need to say yes to everyone.  However, it is necessary to work with clients that fit with your values so don’t be afraid to say no. 

I hope the above points help someone who is starting out to rest in the knowledge that there are ways to make life easier when you’re starting out as a solopreneur.  If you can take anything from the above 7 points then you will be on the road to being a successful business owner.

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What is an Avatar? Do I Need One for Business & Marketing?

Read this article and print out my 10 Step Customer Avatar Checklist to get you started creating an avatar for your business.

WHAT IS AN AVATAR?

An Avatar is a fictional person that describes your audience.  Another way to describe it is your ‘ideal client’

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO HAVE AN AVATAR FOR YOUR BUSINESS?

Having an avatar in business and marketing will make your business shine in a very crowded market place.  Particularly online, it is essential that you have your messaging correct and that it speaks directly to the people you serve.  If you have a very clear understanding of who you are trying to serve, then reaching them is much easier.

CAN MY BUSINESS HAVE MORE THAN ONE AVATAR?

Yes.  However, start slowly and really understand one niche audience before moving on to the next.  You can follow my Customer Avatar Checklist below to work out who your ideal client is.

HOW MUCH DETAIL SHOULD I GO INTO WHEN DESCRIBING MY AVATAR?

As much as you possibly can!  To truly understand this person, you need to know what makes them smile and what they do for fun but also what fears they have, what keeps them awake at night and what their purchasing objections are.

You’ll also require more demographic type information such as: age, income bracket, kids or no kids, gender, geographical location.

You should even give them a name!  Get to know this person like a friend so you can tune into their mindset when doing your marketing.

All of this helps you build a picture of who you are trying to attract and gets your messaging on point.

HOW DO  I CREATE AN AVATAR FOR MY BUSINESS?

Use my 10 Step Customer Avatar Checklist and you’ll be on the road to understanding your most important prospect in no time!

Now that you have an avatar in your business, get your message on point, solve the right problems for the right people and your brand will shine!

Starting Your Own Business? 10 Things I’ve Learned…

Are you thinking about starting your own business?  Or have recently started one.  This blog is about the key things I have learned from four years of being my own boss!

If someone had said to me at the end of 2007 when I first left the workforce to have my eldest child that I would start my own business in 8 years time; I would have laughed in their face and called them mad!

Yet here I am.  Three kids and twelve years later and I’m sitting in my home office looking out to the garden at the autumn leaves all over the grass and reflecting on why I love having my own business and what I’ve learnt.

Initially the business was almost forced on me, but I was a willing participant with a steep learning curve ahead of me.  That curve is still steep – but that’s part of the fun of always learning.

When my youngest child was 4, I returned to the work force into a sales and marketing role however for lots of different reasons, it didn’t work out.  It was partly due to child care.  I really needed something a bit more flexible.  So I set up on my own, found some clients who wanted to work with me and off I went.

It wasn’t all plain sailing but I can honestly say the ups and downs have made me grow as a person and therefore a business owner.

Here are TEN THINGS I WOULD TELL OTHER MUMS THINKING ABOUT STARTING THEIR OWN BUSINESS:

  1. YOUR BUSINESS WILL EVOLVE – be prepared for things to change. What your business starts out being and looking like is often not how it ends up once you been working IN your business for a while.  And this is totally fine.  Just be aware that it is likely to happen.

2. THERE IS ALWAYS SOMETHING NEW TO LEARN – I love the phrase “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable’ because it is so important to get used to doing things that make you be brave. To overcome the challenges that owning a business can throw at you, you need to keep learning and growing as a person.

3. PUT SYSTEMS IN PLACE – to work productively and efficiently you need systems. Whether that’s a program for your accounting or a content planner and scheduler for your social media.  Systems will create ease in your business and stop you wasting precious time.

4. KNOW YOUR BRAND AND WHAT YOU STAND FOR – be clear on your brand style, fonts, colours, tone of voice and what message you are delivering to your niche audience.

5. SET LIMITS – know when to stop. Remember that one of the main reasons for having your own business is to have flexibility to be there for your children.  So set limits and stop when it is time to stop.  And put your phone in a drawer for key moments like dinner time and bed time.

6. DON’T COMPARE YOUR JOURNEY TO ANYONE ELSES – it’s so easy to fall into the trap of constant comparison. Trust that you are on your own journey, you are putting in the work, taking action every day and you will get there in your own time.

7. IGNORE THE MESS! – Seriously. As working mums, you need to prioritise your work over the housework when the kids are at school or daycare.  Walk right on by the toys on the floor, the dishes in the sink and the washing to hang and get in the office!

8. ASK FOR HELP – in both your professional and personal life, don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you need hubbie to pick up the slack, don’t expect him to be a mindreader, just ask.  If there is something you really cannot understand with your business then find someone who can help you.

9. NETWORK – most towns and cities offer working women free networking opportunities. Be brave and get yourself along to meet other inspiring business owners.  If you can’t physically get to networking events, then do it online.  Facebook has plenty of mums in business type groups where you can go for help and inspiration.

10. THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WORKING ON YOUR BUSINESS AND IN YOUR BUSINESS – always be mindful of the fact that your business is an evolving pliable thing. You need to work ON your business as well as IN it.  This keeps you ahead of the game, planning for the next season or campaign and aware of changes in your industry.

Having my own business has brought me great joy as well as some frustrations.  On the whole being self employed is a wonderful journey.  Here are the six reasons why I love having my own business:

  1. WORKING FROM HOME – I really enjoy being at home. I’m very good at ignoring the mess (although it does get me down on occasion) and I don’t miss the commute or the office politics one bit.  Being my own boss is fun!

2. FREEDOM – I have learnt to be fiercely protective of my work days but I love that if there is an occasion such as a girls birthday lunch or an important thing on at school; I CAN be there. The only person I have to ask is me!

3. BEING THERE FOR THE KIDS – Following on from the above point, I feel like I am there for my children. I can actively participate in their schooling, I do school drop offs and am there after school for the obligatory snacking before whatever activities are scheduled for that day.

4. CARVING MY OWN FUTURE – I LOVE the idea that I am in charge of my own future and it is up to me to create the life that I want. 

5. BEING ENTREPRENEURIAL – it makes me feel like I’m playing at being a grown up sometimes, however I really like that I feel entrepreneurial. I’m my own boss, in charge of my own business and I can take it in whatever direction I want to to scale it and create revenue streams.  This is an exciting prospect!!

6. A SENSE OF ACHIEVEMENT – I don’t need a boss telling me I’ve done a project well or I’ve met my KPIs for last month. I get a real sense of achievement in creating my business and working hard to make it a success.  Plus my kids are seeing me work hard for what I want to achieve and not limiting myself to what is expected.  We CAN be and do whatever we set our hearts on if we are prepared to put in the work.

Enjoy your own business journey!  Think about why you love or would love having your own business and what it would mean to you and your family.

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