Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t. So that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.
A firm statement, I know. But something I feel is needed. If you think about it, the ability to create success is the product of a unique combination of skills and mindset that you can tap into again and again and again to achieve your wildest dreams. Those ones you thought were never possible. It’s important to remember that because with each journey of success your life evolves. Not only as a person, but as a professional in the big bad world of business.
It’s been said that those who are truly successful never restrict themselves to one venture, but rather simultaneously manage multiple streams of such. So, whether you are looking to step into the entrepreneurial world for the very first time or you are already underway, here are some tips my team and I learned during own personal adventures …
- Steady your nerves.
- Work for something larger than yourself.
- Keep your “bigger picture” in mind or even on a vision board, it will keep your passion a priority.
- Define success but let it be adaptable … There are many different paths.
- Look for ways to leave the world better than you found it.
- Find the opportunity within the obstacle … never stop learning.
- Maintain a sense of humility, it can go a long way.
- Recognize that your time is limited so think BIG. In the same breath, you do not have to accomplish all in one day. That’s just cause for burnout (and mistakes).
- Celebrate your achievements and your failures (aka. as we like to call “room for improvement”) as they can be used as motivation.
Now before we dive into the whole shebang of today’s “untangling” episode, I’d like to start on a lighter note with some motivating words from Steve Jobs as his personal philosophy of pursuing one’s own dreams, regardless of the opinion of others, played a key role in why he was able to imagine, create and execute on such grand ideas!
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma -- which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.”
Well folks, it’s time to start hustling. Entrepreneurship is all about the hustle -- even though we all have a very different definition of what that word actually means to us. Especially for those of you just starting out. You must hustle (mindfully of course) in order to succeed and survive!
What has helped me succeed is creating a story around my business. Something people can relate to. It’s not all about fancy cars, lots of money, and endless trips to the spa. Even though all those things are pretty darn nice! It’s the human-side of things … making your passion come to life!
People tend to be more receptive to storytelling and engagement as opposed to flipping through a traditional, boring brochure.
Ready for some tips to keep your sanity with a virtual pep talk?
Let’s get started …!
- Anyone who said ideas aren’t worth anything never had a good idea. Don’t even listen to that crap. Your ideas are guiding and building your dream, your big picture. A good thing to get into the habit of doing is keeping an idea journal. Write at least 5-10 ideas in it every single day.
- Identify the right business for you by giving yourself permission to explore (yup, get that idea notebook out again). Be willing to look at different angles of yourself and listen to your intuition. Ask yourself, “What gives me the energy to move forward even when I am tired?” Not sure how to figure out what is “right” for you?
Here’s a few ways to dig deeper …
- Do what you know: Are you looking for a change? Look at everything you’ve accomplished for others and think about how you could package up those skills and offer them as your own.
- Do what others do: Have you done your research? Take some time to learn about other businesses that pique your interest. Once you’ve found one, emulate it.
- Solve a common problem: Is there a gap in the market somewhere? Or something you’d like to bring to the market that isn’t already out there or perhaps an improvement? When taking this approach, think of yourself as a student and gain all the knowledge possible before you start opening your wallet.
- Build a business plan as it will greatly improve your chances for success in the long-haul. Most people tend not to, but it will help you focus, gain clarity, gain confidence and get you in the market quicker.
- Network. Network. Network. This can afford you mentorship opportunities, strengthen your network (obviously), get your name out there (once you’ve gotten to that point in your business plan) and help you learn from other people who have the success you desire. When it comes to networking, that’s not just adding “suggested friends” on Facebook. It’s also joining online groups for your niche and for entrepreneurs and engaging in those groups. They’re very helpful on the level of your business as well as building confidence and helping you grow. Listening to the right advice from those who know success is valuable to your business. But also remember, you don’t have to take all the advice you get. Take everything with a grain of salt and learn how to trust your gut. Truthfully, it more often right than wrong.
- No matter what your niche is and how you plan on getting things done, brand yourself. It is very important to have a strong brand. I cannot stress this enough. Branding yourself is your only real security. And when I say “yourself”, that doesn’t mean that you have to tackle this all on your own. Especially if you’re not graphically creative. There are plenty of people world-wide who have this niche and are willing to help you take your idea from paper to pen (well currently … make you digital).
- Embrace all the useful tools at your fingers tips and get the word out. Be willing to let everyone know who you are and what you do without conviction or apology. Use social networks as a place to gain traction. Don’t underestimate the power of other methods as well, such as word-of-mouth, having a great looking website, blog posts, guest blogging, emails and newsletter and yup, even the good ‘ol fashion but still highly essential telephone. If you take habit to this step, you will be well on your way to making it in the “big world” of being your own boss.
All the while working through these steps, don’t forget to take risks. Get out of your comfort zone. One of the most exciting parts of being an entrepreneur is the thrill you get from seeing if something works. And of course, how it worked.
There is no playbook on becoming an entrepreneur. There is no “one size fits all” answer. So, if anything, remember this … You are not alone.
If you want to grow as an entrepreneur and stop feeling stuck on all the things you’re wasting your hard earned time on … think of this episode and use it as a checklist, reach out and connect with others. You may be surprised by the invaluable connections that are right there at your fingertips!
Okay, so now that we have some of those entrepreneurial insights taken care of, it’s time to talk time savers, so … LET’S TALK AUTOMATIONS!
Automation, automation, automation -- you just can’t seem to escape this term.
So, let’s talk about how you can embrace it! But before we dive into automation, I want you to begin with a quick examination of your business.
Ask yourself things like …
- Do you track your time per project or task?
- Where does your time go in an average working day?
- Do you feel you have a great work-life balance?
- Do you feel most of your time is spent on menial admin tasks?
- If so, do you feel this is stalling your growth?
So, you are probably now wondering how you can incorporate automation to address your answers to those questions?
Let’s be honest here… lately the word automation has ignited both excitement and fear in everyone. It suggests the loss of jobs for humans and the world being taken over by artificial intelligence (AI). Shaking that narrative and focusing on how technology can help your business grow is the best way for you to move forward. But in the end, whether you accept it or not, it is something that is already happening! And you need to get on board or your going to drown yourself in an endless list of mindless to-do’s.
As an entrepreneur, I don’t doubt that work-life balance is important to you, like it is to us, and that you value the concept of time management. Yet you still find yourself repeatedly running out of time and feeling burnt out. This is where (and why)you need to give automation some serious consideration!
So, why automation?
- EFFICIENCY AND TIME MANAGEMENT:
Spend more time doing what you are good at and less time doing individual menial tasks that eat up way too much of your time! And if you work with customers and clients, you have a timely process that doesn’t require you to be present every single waking second. Instead you have automations set up in the back end that do this for you!
- PROJECT MANAGEMENT:
Automating menial daily tasks means less room for human error and more time freedom.
- CREATING SYSTEMS:
Doing such brings bigger strategies to the forefront-- whether it be onboarding a client or sequencing out a sales funnel. It means you have a consistent system in place for certain aspects of your business. Systems that don’t require you to be tied to your technology device to hit the send button, or to be writing a new email or social media post every single day.
- FREEDOM WITH TIME AND MONEY:
If done right, automation means freeing up staff to contribute in bigger ways since you have automations and systems taking over those time crunching menial tasks they were performing before. It also means you are investing your time and your funds more wisely as a business owner, whether that be less personnel or more automation systems.
- BEST WAY FORWARD:
As I mentioned earlier, automation is happening whether we like it or not and it is best to see this growth in technology as an integral part of your business going forward than trying to resist it.
In reality, the first “rule” of any technology used in any business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency. It’s really that simple and an easy way to get yourself unstuck and onto bigger and better things!
Here’s what automation could look like in your business …
- Onboarding of clients and customers
- Intake forms and prompts
- Email marketing and sales funnels
- Empty cart notifications
- Invoicing and project management tools
- Social media management
- … And so much more!
Now, to get started …
There's a lot of automation that can happen that isn't a replacement of humans but of mind-numbing behavior. Perhaps begin with breaking down all the tasks you feel take up your time. No matter how big or small. The goal here is to free up your time and precious brain energy-- that you use every single day -- for working on your business instead using it to work in your business.
Do some research into what sort of automations are there out there and for what (being specific to your personalized business needs). Taking time to really assess what automations would be worth your investment, and which ones to prioritize and integrate ASAHP (as soon as humanly possible).
Start with small changes, such as moving everything to the Cloud, which comes with its own set of built-in automations (e.g. Dropbox, GoogleDrive, OneNote, Evernote, etc.).This is a great way to wet your toes, experiment, have fun and gain some new skills all while implementing automation!
Not quite sure where to start with getting your toes wet?
Here’s an easy way … with a Peek Inside My Virtual Toolbox!
There are oh so many tools available to help you run your business. It’s so hard to choose which ones are best suited for what you need and according to your preference. My list is vast due to the nature of my business (creativity and organization) so besides good ol’ Adobe Creative Suite, here is a peek inside my resource toolbox.
I have put together a list of tools according to what I use, what I use for my clients (links included) along with a small handful of extra resources.
Now, let’s take a peek inside …
- GoDaddy powers the world’s largest cloud platform dedicated to small, independent ventures. They are a publicly traded internet domain registrar and web hosting company. With their services, you can purchase many products such as domain names, websites (including WordPress.org - not .com), hosting, email, and website security. They also have 24/7 sales and support team members for those of you who are night owls or early go-getters. Whether you have a brand-new idea or an established business it's a great one-stop-shop for all of your online business web-based needs.
- WordPress, which began as a blogging system, is one of the most popular full content management systems and website building tools for entrepreneurs, small businesses, bloggers, and podcaster alike. With thousands of free plugins and widgets, customizable themes, and community forums, it's an easy, professional looking choice for entrepreneurs wanting to build their own website. You can create beautiful designs, powerful features, and the freedom to build anything you want. WordPress is both free and priceless at the same time.
- Toggl is the simplest time tracker to help you get things done. Did I forget to mention it's free? Well, it is! And a great bonus and ideal for teams, entrepreneurs and agencies. You can track your hours with a single click and learn where you spend your time. See the hours spent on various projects and tasks at a glance or dig deeper into details with visual reports. You can also estimate project timelines and keep track of your projects with their Project Dashboard. This helps get a more accurate picture of how profitable your projects and clients really are.
- Wave Accounting helps you look professional and get paid all the while being free to use. In this application, you can create and send invoices, estimates and receipts within seconds. A huge bonus is that you can track the status of these files and know when to expect money in your bank account. It also allows you to accept credit cards and get paid faster. Most invoices paid by credit card get paid in 2 days or less. More convenient on both ends of the project. There is a small percentage fee on Wave's end for setting up credit cards but it's the most reasonable I've seen out there yet!
- Asana is a free tool that helps you manage team projects and tasks all the while getting a clear picture of what work needs to be done and who is doing it by when. With its great features you can do away with chaos and guesswork, and spend more time making ideas happen. You have ease of access to make sure you hit your deadlines by using the "Timeline" feature to create a plan that shows you how the pieces of your project fit together and helps you keep work on track as things change. And lastly, tie it all together by bringing emails, files, tickets and more into Asana with over 100 integrations to choose from, so you can see everything in one place. This online platform basically makes work less .... well work!
- Slack is where work happens. Slack unifies your entire team's communications, making your workflow, well, flow a lot better. All the apps you need are seamlessly integrated into their platform, so you can easily search and find all your files, calls, messages, and clients (or colleagues) in one place. Slack offers a lot of fun features such as: persistent chat rooms (channels) organized by topic, as well as private groups and direct messaging. All content inside this platform is searchable, including files, conversations, and people. Slack integrates with many third-party services and supports community-built integrations.
- Canva is an online DIY on the fly graphic design tool which is perfect for working individually or with teams of all sizes. It has an easy-to-use drag-and-drop interface and provides access to over a million photographs, graphics, and fonts. The tools can be used for both web and print media design and graphics. I feel their best feature is the pre-set sizes so if you're working on something specific you don't have to waste time hunting for the "proper" size. So, whether you’re a professional or just beginning your design journey, this resource has everything you need. They also have templates and pro features that you can check out for making designing in their platform even more efficient than it already is.
- Bit.ly unleashes the power of your URLs as it is a URL shortening service with a built-in link management platform. It also allows you to share, manage and analyze your favourite links from all around the web. On average, it shortens 600 million links per month for use of social networking sites, SMS and even email.
- MailerLite is one of the world’s newer and largest marketing automation platforms when it comes to email marketing. It’s kind of like a second brain that helps missions of customers find their audience, engage their customers, and build their brand. This platform also has an amazing reporting feature that shows you how well you’re connecting with your audience and how much money you’re bringing in. It even gives you customized tips for improvement, and you have ease of access from anywhere with their mobile dashboard! This platform truly gives you the marketing tools you need to be yourself … but on a bigger stage! Let’s just say it’s the new MailChimp (no offense to those guys, they’re great too!)
- TinEye is simply a reverse image search. It allows you to search by image and find where that image appears online. This is good for fast and accurate image recognition with your own images. Especially if you’ve found that “perfect” graphic but are unsure if it holds any copyright or you are looking for a higher quality version. This platform also offers alerts for corporate and enterprise automated image tracking, including daily reports on where your images appear across the web.
For a bonus (for you wine lover’s out there), it even has a wine label recognition API which identifies photos of wine, beer and spirits with their customer algorithms and neural networks by being able to detect vintages right from the label.
Now keep in mind that this list is just the brim of the barrel when it comes to running a business, whether it be virtual like VU or otherwise. (Also note, we shared others in last weeks “untangling” episode.) And we could go on … and on … and on … with all the cool resources and tools we use daily. But if we did that in an episode like today’s we’d be here forever, and today’s episode is to help you not waste any more time -- so we don’t want to be the culprit of that.
So, if you’re looking for an even larger selection of online resources, feel free to check out the list on the resources page; The Vault of Virtually Untangled’s website.
Which is about to have a major upgrade (stay tuned!) and happily, forever growing.
I truly hope today’s Digital Glue “untangling” episode was an exceptionally helpful reference for your business needs when it comes to learning how to lessen the time waste of your days. Oh, and if you have other toolbox resources you would like to share with me, my team, and our audience, please feel free to drop them into the comments. We would love to add them to our Vault!