If you’ve been around the MomBiz community at all, you probably know that I’m a huge fan of building relationships that in turn build your business. Now a fundamental piece of relationship building is communication, which involves both clearly articulating your thoughts and the art of listening. Being skilled in one doesn’t necessarily insure strength in the other, and of course there is always room for improvement in both. So today I’m going to share with you five tips to becoming a better communicator and therefore, empower you to bring about the results you want.
1. LISTEN. You may have noticed that we have one mouth and two ears. It stands to reason that ideally, we should spend twice the amount of time listening to others as we spend talking to them. So instead of succumbing to human nature and while you’re waiting for your turn to talk, formulating your answer, rebuttal or witty comeback, try to practice active listening. Active listening, simply put, is listening carefully enough that you can repeat back or paraphrase some of the things that the speaker says to you. There is a psychological agreement that takes place when we listen in this way—“You’re listening to me; therefore, I will listen to you,” which is, after all, what we were hoping for in the first place.
2. CALL THEM NAMES. No, I’m joking. But using a person’s name in the course of conversation is a useful tool for holding their attention. This is also a great little trick for remembering names if that’s something you have trouble with.
3. GIVE THEM PROPS. We all need a little acknowledgment. In today’s world of social media, “virtually” patting someone on the back or expressing thanks is as easy as retweeting something someone says that we see as valuable, “liking” an inspiring post on Facebook, sharing a status. Expand this idea to real life. If you want people to listen to you and help you get what you want, look for opportunities to honor them. It’s good karma and it’s good business.
4. ASK QUESTIONS. Now we’re not talking interrogation here, but more of a genuine curiosity about what the other person has to offer. By asking relevant questions and thereby proving that you care, you actually gain greater control over the direction of the conversation and earn the right to be heard in the process.
5. TAKE A BREATH. Let’s face it. In all reality, the person you’re talking with is probably only half listening. So when you’re at that critical place in the conversation where you really need to drive that point home, it’s time for a change of pace. Slowing down and building in pauses causes the other person to take notice, and also gives them time to really digest the important things you have to say.
These are some really simple but effective tools that you can apply to make yourself a better communicator, whether it’s with your kids, with your spouse, or with your clients and your team. In business or in life, communication is the key to being heard and ultimately, getting the results you want.
I love to hear from you, so send me a comment!
Are you a better speaker than you are a listener?
Which of these strategies do you plan to implement to become a more effective communicator?
Guest post by Shelagh Cummins of MomBiz
Do you remember why you started or wanted to start your own business? At MomBiz, we call it freedom, flexibility and fulfillment. Have the freedom to work when and where you want, have the flexibility to work around your family’s schedules and have the fulfillment of getting paid to do work you love.
It’s a well-known fact you will need to invest 3 things as an entrepreneur: your time, your energy and…your money.
There is one investment that will yield you an immediate return. You. The reality is, you will never work harder and earn less than when you are starting your own business. As an entrepreneur, your two most precious commodities are time and money. Building a business without a clear vision and action plan is a waste of…you got it…time and money. You were not put on this planet to be everything to everyone. You were put on this planet to deliver great value with the support of a knowledgeable and powerful team.
Here are a few tips to help you manage your business so you can maximize your time and energy whenever you do choose to invest it.
Clarify Your Path
Get clear on your vision, your mission and milestones required to achieve your goals. Give those milestones small actionable steps with a time stamp to make it happen. In simple terms: Write a business plan.
Do What You Do Best
There is a very good chance you have monetized a skill or talent. You were not put on this planet to be everything to everyone. You were put on this planet to deliver great value with the support of a knowledgeable and powerful team. I know you think you can’t afford to outsource – you actually can’t afford not to.
Invest in Yourself
Find an expert with a proven track record of helping others overcome the challenges you are facing. Look for social proof of their impact on others – testimonials. If you don’t invest in yourself, no one else will.
Be Your Possible
We’re happy to participate in the launch of Barclaycard US’ Be Your Possible initiative. See how we’ve teamed up to help women improve their financial literacy since nothing should get in the way of their goals. Get inspired here: Barclaycardus.com/
Be Your Possible is a mission, a movement and a place to go to find the inspiration, support and knowledge women need to improve their financial understanding and reach their personal financial goals — whether that be career advancement, starting a business, learning more about investing or being smarter about day-to-day financial and credit decisions. Share your goals and how you plan to achieve them for a chance to win $10,000.
While we received compensation for this post, we are pleased to bring opportunities like this one to our community of mom entrepreneurs in hopes of helping you achieve your goals.
We talked in a PREVIOUS POST about how in order to be successful, we as mompreneurs need to learn to recognize when comfort is driving the choices we make. Staying comfortable, or in our comfort zones, is something we all struggle with as we juggle all the responsibilities of business and family life. Well, today we’re going to talk about making that shift to basing our choices on our goals, which are rooted in the values, priorities and vision we’re committed to. I like to refer to these choices as “high payoff actions,” or HPAs. HPAs utilize your top moneymaking talents and your very best gifts, deserve your utmost attention, and result in you creating the opportunity and life that you want.
Let me give you some examples of what I consider high payoff actions:
Directly asking a client to hire you.
Creating a service or product to market to your clients.
Making a follow-up call to someone who has already expressed interest.
Fulfilling a customer order or completing a customer project.
Researching your niche market for awesome ideas to emulate.
I would suggest that you aim to do between one to three HPAs each day, at the beginning of the day. Do what’s most important first, and don’t allow yourself to get distracted along the way by something easier or by what we sometimes refer to as “bright, shiny objects.” Sure, it’s interesting, but it’s not necessarily going to help grow your business. Sure, it’s comfortable, but if you’re feeling too comfortable, take a look at your day and be sure you’re incorporating some of these high payoff actions that will ultimately drive you toward success.
Now I know that some of you are squirming right now, and if you are, that’s a really good indicator that you’ve probably identified an HPA worth doing. Some momentary discomfort is so worth it, girls. You are choosing to act on your goals, deliberately and intentionally, in order to grow, and that’s the reward! And the really cool thing is that every time you grow outside your comfort zone, you are effectively pushing those boundaries outward to increase the total area of what will feel comfortable to you in the future. Each time you try something new or accomplish something bigger, you make that circle wider. So what feels uncomfortable in the beginning will feel successful later, and how sweet that success is!
I love to hear from you, so leave me a comment!
What “bright, shiny objects” pull your attention away from high payoff actions?
What HPA really makes you squirm? How can you incorporate that into your day?
Today I want to talk with you just a little bit about when being comfortable may be holding you back from being really successful. Now it’s perfectly natural for us, as mompreneurs—women who have essentially signed up for two full time plus overtime occupations—to naturally gravitate toward what’s easiest for us. It’s a way of managing all that’s on our plates, keeping our heads above water, normalizing, maintaining. And sometimes what’s easiest is also smartest, because let’s face it—when you’re CEO (Chief Everything Officer) of your business and household, the “work smarter, not harder” principle is definitely worth considering! But there are times that comfort and ease and “normal” (whatever that is!) can work against what we really desire out of life, and we need to be on the look out for ways we let our comfort take precedence over our greater vision.
Here are some common ways we get stuck in that comfort zone. Think about which of these may be true for you:
1. Your habits aren’t serving you. Okay, moms—admit it—we ALL know what this looks like. We’ve committed to allowing the children a certain amount of time in front of the TV. But we’ve had some deadlines we’ve had to make on a project for work… and if we can just eek out a little bit more time from the afternoon… and it’s just this one time… And before we know it, the kids have developed an affinity for the couch and they’re whining and fighting and we really aren’t getting anything done now anyway. And we do the same thing in business, don’t we? Little slips can become big problems over time.
2. You want to grow. Doing what you’ve always done in the way you’ve always done it is not going to work when it comes to personal or business growth. It will keep you where you are rather than helping you get to where you want to go. Normal and safe and comfortable is not what you’re shooting for when you want to grow because growing means moving outside those boundaries that currently exist for you.
3. You’re setting goals. Any time you vow to move toward something new or different (as is the case with a goal), you are, by definition, leaving your comfort zone. You have to push past what’s familiar in order to get to that goal. And since goals are set to align with our values and priorities, the temporary discomfort associated with charting new territory is well worth the effort.
These are just a few of the ways that being comfortable keeps us from being successful. Identifying these areas of weakness can help us to head them off at the pass, as we continue to press outward on those boundaries, toward the greater prize.
I love to hear from you, so leave me a comment!
Do you struggle with wanting to stay in your comfort zone?
In what ways is staying comfortable holding you back?
Don’t think for a minute that this is a post encouraging you to be a slacker. Nope. Not my style.
I’ve said may times before that there are tons of ways to make money that are much easier than being a mom entrepreneur. The amount of decisions we have to make, the many hats we have to wear as CEO, the conflicting priorities that stress us out, and the management of all our people, resources, money and our precious time is challenging for all of us. But even so, there are ways to make the work we do easier.
Marabeth Lum, Relationship Coach www.SingleToSmitten.com
The Right Branding Will Make Finding Ideal Clients Easier
Meet Marabeth. When we started working together over a year ago, Marabeth was spending hours and hours of her time trying to find leads for her life coaching business, and then spending even more time trying to get them to hire her as a coach. She loved coaching and she loved her clients, but finding them was a lot of hard work.
Together, we worked to:
- Determine her strengths and top skills as a coach
- Include her passion in her business
- Figure out her ideal target audience
- Learn to see things through her ideal clients’ eyes and to speak their language
- Discover her ideal clients’ top challenges
- Create solutions that solve her clients’ problems
- And then to design a brand and an online presence to position her as the go-to resource for her target audience
The result? A carefully crafted brand, platform, message and website that does the heavy-lifting for her. Her website attracts her ideal clients to her, answers their questions, builds their trust, explains how they can work with her, and helps them hire her.
Here’s how Marabeth tells it:
Work was always something I did in order to save money to discover what I really wanted to do! Once I became a life coach, I experienced loving my work, but I didn’t know how what my coaching ‘niche’ was or how to find ideal clients. I started out like Lara – coaching anyone on any topic and it was great, but I was working way too hard trying to connect with ideal clients.
After working with Lara, we narrowed down my coaching ‘niche’, I started to own my voice as a coach, I re-branded my website, connected with online platforms to attract qualified leads and I’m now attracting ideal clients – almost effortlessly! My newest client was able to start connecting with me through my website before we even spoke for the first time. She was literally quoting lines from my blog posts and testimonials and was so enrolled in the work I do to serve my clients that she was ready to sign up and work together from our first conversation.
Serving my ideal clients and increasing my income has never been so easy. I now realize that with a little focused marketing I can have a full and steady practice and it doesn’t have to be hard…it can actually be fun! I’m really working smarter now – not harder and that’s exactly why I sought out Lara Galloway. She has met and exceeded my expectations and I highly recommend her!
If you’re tired of hunting for customers or clients or feel like the work you’re doing is just too hard for the money you’re making, I can help. Stop missing out on the money you could be making doing work you love to do! Book a 20-minute discovery session with me to see how I can help your work get a lot easier.
Mom, business owner… day job? When you’re CEO (Chief Everything Officer) of your business, sometimes this is what your startup company looks like. But you know the old adage, “It’s hard work but somebody’s got to do it!” So if you’re a mompreneur who is dedicated to putting your family first, starting your own business, AND still working hard at your day job, here are some of my favorite sanity-savers to help you power through this challenging, yet exciting time in your life.
TIME MANAGEMENT: Here comes the tough talk, sisters. If you are a mompreneur and still working a day job, it is not a long-term option for you to keep working around the clock, doing what needs to be done whenever you can find a moment. That approach is not going to lead to business success. So here are three sanity-savers to help you get a quick grip on time management:
1. GET A ROUTINE: If the kids are in school, craft your routine around their school day, where possible. If they’re not, or if you work your day job until after they’re home, it is necessary for you to get a sitter. Having someone available to watch the kids, get them dinner, and orchestrate the bath/bedtime dance even a couple nights a week can mean the difference between a successful, rested and present mom and a frazzled, exhausted and harried one. You only have 24 hours in a day, so designate that time in such a way that you can make each moment count, for your family and your business.
2. CREATE BOUNDARIES: You cannot say yes to everything! Ultimately, you are the only one who can choose how you spend these precious hours that you have. Remember that saying no to one thing is the ability to say yes to the things that matter most. So get used to saying no!
3. USE THE ADD METHOD: Automate, Delegate, or Ditch it! Get things off your plate that are not your strengths or that don’t matter to you. This is a huge part of spending your time wisely.
PLANNING: We all know that leaving everything until the last minute is a recipe for disaster, but constantly going full speed ahead is a sure path to burnout as well. We’ve all heard the saying, “Fail to plan and plan to fail.” It’s true! Here are a couple strategies to keep you sane while you plan for success.
1. BABY STEPS: As mompreneurs, we have to be okay with baby steps toward our goals. The best way to keep track of the ground we’re making is by having a fabulous business plan. It’s so important to be able to measure those baby steps against our greater vision. It may be slow going, but baby steps will get us there every time.
2. GET A MARKETING PLAN: Modern technology allows us all to be amazing marketers for our business, so take advantage of that. But if marketing is really not your thing, don’t be afraid to apply the ADD Method to this one! Do what you’re best at and then automate, delegate or ditch the rest!
SUPPORT: If you want to preserve your sanity, you’re going to need support. You cannot do this all by yourself. Family, friends, a VA… a housekeeper, for crying out loud! Life is too short to try and do it alone. Get the help you need and focus those moneymaking talents in the ways that matter most.
I hope these sanity-saving strategies are helpful to you as you work toward living the dream of growing that business you know is going to give the freedom, flexibility and fulfillment you’re searching for as a mompreneur.
I love hearing from you, so leave me a comment!
Which of these sanity-saving strategies have you tried?
Are there any others you’ve had success with on your mompreneur journey?
When you say to me wine, I already start relaxing. When you say girls’ night out, I feel excited. When you say taxes… But again, they’re just words, right? And yet words can actually have a lot of power over us. Well, today we’re going to talk about F-words. Yes, you heard me right. F-words—some that we love and… well, some that we as mompreneurs may have overlooked.
Here are just a few of my favorite F-words:
FREEDOM: If you’re a mom entrepreneur who has any experience working in corporate America and trying to juggle all that entails, plus raising a family, you know what this word freedom is all about. You have an appreciation of what it means to be able to determine how you spend your own time.
FLEXIBILITY: What’s a mom, much less a mompreneur, without flexibility? Flexibility is the ability to spend the day with the kids during a snow day, or go on vacation over spring break. Flexibility is that tango, that mompreneur dance, if you will, where some days I work and some days I don’t, and really maximizing the time that I have available to me in powerful and efficient ways tailored to my family and business.
FULFILLMENT: Fulfillment is huge. Let’s face it. We are some strong, bright women. This work that we do is not the only thing we could be doing with ourselves. But we choose this work because in it we find fulfillment; we find something with purpose, something that aligns with our priorities, with things that matter to us. In this work we find our place in this world, a place of value and significance. What a powerful F-word!
FAMILY: It is often for the love of family that we start a business so it should come as no surprise that our businesses are often at their very best when we are nourishing and growing our families along with our work. Learning opportunities abound for the whole family when you own your own small business, not to mention the benefit of added income potential, which brings me to my next F-word.
FINANCES: Granted, this F-word may not be on the top of your list of favorites, but gals, if you are serious about running a business, this is a word we must not overlook. Now this is some medicine of my own I have to take because it doesn’t come naturally for me to want to study the incoming and outgoing of money in my family and business. But in order to make that money count for the things I’m working so hard for, this F-word is something I’ve got to come to terms with.
FEAR: Fear is like the monster under your bed. Until you acknowledge it for what it is—probably an old pair of slippers or half-eaten sandwich, if you have kids around—it has complete power over you. Rather than allowing ourselves to be ruled by the unknown, fear can be an incredible motivator for us in our businesses. So shine a light into those dark places where fear likes to hide and learn to use this F-word to your advantage!
So these were just a few of my favorite F-words. My hope for you today is that you will find real strength in these words for your life, your family and your business.
You know I love to hear from you, so leave me a comment!
What are some of your favorite F-words?
How have you come to love some of the more “angsty” F-words in your life (like finances or fear)?
Two posts in a row on the wonders of Twitter! That tells you how highly I think of it. Last time I shared with you “5 Ways Twitter Changed My Business” and today I’m going to follow that up by letting you in on five more things I just love about it—things I hope may push you over the edge toward giving it a try. I bet you’ll never go back! I know I won’t. So let’s dive right in!
1. It’s targeted! If you’ve been around the MomBiz community for any time at all, you’ve probably noticed we talk a lot about your “target market” and whether or not you’ve been asking them what they want. Well, pre-Twitter, I didn’t do that at all. I just came up with an idea that I thought was good and I tried to sell it to people I thought needed it. Now sometimes that worked, but many times it didn’t, and it led to a lot of wasted time and energy. Twitter surrounds me with opportunities to interact with my target market. A quick keyword search gives me untold insight into the pain points I want to create solutions for. When I have an idea, I can float it out to my “tweople” and either regroup and try again, or march confidently forward with what I know they need.
2. It’s easy! As a mompreneur and Chief Everything Officer of your business, you wear a lot of hats. Opportunities to speak or collaborate or teach or write or coach are worthwhile endeavors… but who has time to search for them? Twitter and the marketing strategy I’ve built around it have made me no longer a hunter, but a receiver of such opportunities, creating a richness and diversity to my offerings that I wouldn’t accomplish otherwise.
3. It’s visible! Twitter is the most powerful tool I know of to create visibility for my brand. It’s my virtual “business card.” Enough said. Well… almost. Let’s say you have 2,000 followers on Twitter. Well, that means that not only do those 2,000 people see your tweets, but THEIR followers do too. You can go to a networking event and hand out 20 or 30 or 50 business cards, or you can use Twitter, and every time you tap out 140 characters, you’re sending it to 2,000+. You do the math.
4. It’s central! Twitter has become a single platform in which I can leverage everything else I do in my business. It is the central processing area. I can tweet about my blog posts, my videos, my articles, my products, my radio show… with just a few clicks of the mouse. Twitter is the center of my online presence, offering easy access to all I do.
5. It’s friendly! Running a home-based small business can be lonely. When I’m excited about something and just dying to share it with others, I send it out on Twitter and I get dozens of congratulatory tweets back from my followers. In the same way, when the fighting kids and challenges of motherhood have stressed me to the hilt, some encouraging or hysterical tweets make it all better. This is the stuff that keeps me going.
So there’s my Twitter campaign. They really should send me money for doing such persuasive advertising for them! But when one simple, free tool can make such a positive difference, how can I keep from spreading the word?
I love to hear from you, so let me know what you think!
What is YOUR favorite thing about Twitter?
Has anything I’ve blogged about convinced you to give Twitter a try?
Little did I know, back in October of 2008, my first 140-character tweet would be the catalyst that would one day transform Twitter into my “office” and eventually generate 95% of my qualified leads. As passionate, spirited, proactive entrepreneurs, perhaps you’re like me and will give anything a try once. And with Twitter’s low barrier to entry, once you hear how it’s changed my business, if you haven’t taken the plunge, maybe you’ll do just that.
1. It’s fast! Twitter has given me immediate access to people and information unlike anything else. It used to be I would go directly to Google with my problems and questions. Now I just pop on Twitter and tweet about it and within moments I get really personalized responses with exactly what I was looking for.
2. It’s convenient! I really have neither the desire, much less the time to arrange for childcare, get all gussied up, and then commute to a networking event that really doesn’t fit my schedule. With Twitter, I am marketing myself ALL THE TIME. Thanks to automation, I’m live, even when I’m busy with the kids and away from my computer.
3. It’s relational! Twitter has facilitated relationships that have really helped build my business. Mentors, colleagues, friends, teachers, joint venture partners, not to mention clients—all on Twitter!
4. It’s comfortable! One of my favorite things about Twitter is that it provides a really comfortable, low-pressure environment for my future clients and me to get to know each other. We can chat back and forth for days or weeks or months without feeling pressed to push a sale, which is not my bag of tricks anyway. In this way, they begin to trust me and I get a lot more insight into what they’re up to before we ever get down to business.
5. It’s efficient! When I think back on my pre-Twitter days, I am truly amazed that I ever completed a sales cycle. The effort and time it took to establish the seven to ten touches or points of contact recommended by the marketing gurus before the average person is ready to buy was insurmountable. With Twitter, I can accomplish those touches in an hour if I want to and more often than not, prospective clients come to me.
So you wondered why I’m such a Twitter evangelist? There you have it! And these are only five of the ways I love Twitter. Stay tuned for a future post on “5 MORE Ways Twitter Changed My Business.”
Until next time, you know I love to hear from you, so shoot me a line!
How has Twitter changed YOUR business?
If you’re NOT yet sold on the wonders of Twitter, what’s holding you back?
Today we are going to jump right into five of what I think are the most important strategies for a successful small business. More than just five steps, these strategies will help shape your mindset with a philosophy geared toward helping mompreneurs like you really grab onto and focus on a foundation for success.
So here we go.
1. Choose a narrow target audience. And I know, I know—I know the resistance. You’ve heard me talk about this before. So here’s what I’m saying. Again, if you are a big national brand, that’s fine. You can work on appealing to everybody. Go for it. But if you’re a small business owner, one of the best ways for you to make a splash is by being a big fish in a little pond. What I mean by that is if you really want to start out with some traction, choose a small group to begin with. Once you dominate that market, then you can start expanding. So you don’t have to stay small. We’re just going to start small.
2. Engage with your target audience. You guys know I am all about engagement marketing. Engagement marketing is really building relationships that are completely authentic—getting to know people, building that connection and that relationship with them as a person—and then the business follows after that. It’s all about being where your customers are. This can mean posting to the blogs they read, being an active participant in forums that interest them, tweeting about topics relevant to them. Over time your participation will increase that “like, know and trust” factor that is so key to establishing the credibility you’re striving for.
3. Create things people need. Now I’ve talked about this before. We’re talking about making offerings to your audience that are painkillers—not vitamins. Create a solution for one small problem that your target audience has, and I promise you they will be grateful and buy it. So pay attention to what their top challenges, biggest struggles, ongoing issues—their pain points—are. This is how you will learn to create your products and services as solutions to those pains.
4. Distinguish yourself from your competition. When faced with fierce competition, the advantage is found not in discounting your prices—which can actually have the psychological effect of decreasing your value—but in providing more value to your clients than your competitors do. The key here is to find ways to make whatever you’re offering even more valuable to your clients in a way that serves you both. What valuable yet cost-effective thing can you add to what you are already offering? This is a great way to stand out from the crowd and develop customer loyalty in the process.
5. Be an expert. The key is focus. So many business owners try to be everything to everybody and we wind up piecing together a business that’s really just a hodgepodge of things we know how to do to make money. Being a business owner requires vision, strategy, and planning. Be the best one in your industry at solving a specific problem that your specific audience has. Build a platform that gives you that expertise.
I love connecting with small business owners like you, so share your experiences!
Which of these tips hangs you up most often?
Which are you succeeding at?