Productivity is not a by-product of lots of activity.
It’s really easy to look busy, to bustle about from one activity to the next, but it is important to recognise that being busy does not always equate with being productive.
This is exactly why is it so very important to be consciously aware of what you are investing your time in.
A great example of this is time spent on social media – it’s got to be one of the biggest time wasters around.
Yes, social media is crucial when you’re in business. If you are bootstrapping it is even more important to harness what is available at no cost.
BUT…we each need to be consciously aware of avoiding the rabbit holes that social media temptingly offers as we scroll through newsfeeds.
Sponsored ads, powerful tempting images with great headlines are popping up in our feeds.
The advertisers are tempting us to click away from whatever it is that we are doing.
It’s a real trap that is so easy to fall into – and I’ll confess it has got me several times!
Focus on Productivity
When you’re looking at the productive habits of highly effective people, it all comes down to…
Staying focussed and being disciplined.
Productivity comes from knowing where you are going. And taking those measurable, achievable and progressive steps.
Steps that are moving you along the path to successfully achieving your goal.
No matter what that goal is – large or small – the formula you follow for productivity is exactly the same.
The teachings of the late and great Jim Rohn suggest asking yourself:
Who am I around?
What are they doing to me?
What have they got me reading?
What have they got me saying?
Where do they have me going?
What do they have me thinking?
And most importantly, what do they have me becoming?
When you stop to ask yourself those questions there is a shift in perspective.
Have you taken the time to ask yourself these questions? If not, take a moment now and run through them.
Love you to let me know in the comments how you ensure you’re at your productive best.
To sell online is the dream of many. An online course is all the rage. After all, it’s a vast global marketplace and you can work from the comfort of your own home.
Making money while you sleep. Sounds fabulous!
All too often we start out all fired up only to discover that reality is not quite as simple as we initially envisaged.
The reality is this – it’s hard work. BUT there is a way to get a head start, and that’s by using the expertise that my friend Amy Porterfield has to share in the Digital Starter Kit that she’s created.
No such thing as an overnight success.
Yes, it is possible to be very successful online. It all comes down to strategy.
Regardless of whether you are an Etsy store, an author, a business coach…Before you do anything at all there 5 key areas that you need to pay close attention.
5 steps to successfully selling online
Step 1 – Identifying your target audience. You need to be really specific because you cannot be all things to all people.
If you are too generic, you miss the mark because people do not realise you are talking to them. When you are niching down you have a much better chance of succeeding.
Step 2 – Start building your email list. This is absolutely essential. It means being able to speak directly to your target audience.
If they join your email list, you know they are interested in what you have to offer.
Step 3 – Get really clear & familiar with what you will need to deliver.
So many people start to plan an online course or product, but then, partway down the path, realise they have no idea on what is needed to deliver the finished product.
In other words HOW all the moving parts need to fit together. If the building blocks don’t fit then there is no way that sales happen. It’s definitely not a case of build it and they will come.
Step 4 – Know the costs involved in getting started.
This can be a very nasty shock and lack of funds can end up stalling your progress. Not many people tell you exactly what this looks like and I’ve made a few expensive mistakes along the way.
Step 5 – Create your initial campaign designed to educate rather than to sell. Your audience needs to get to know you. After all, would you buy from a perfect stranger online?
Once you have these five steps in place you are ready to start thinking about marketing your product.
The five steps outlined above are way more important than having a fancy logo or branded collateral. They are the icing on the cake that only comes AFTER you have baked the cake. In other words – the solid base needs to be in place before you can start the decorating.
As business strategists, we all too often see people make the mistake of investing far too much in the ”trimmings.” This can be a costly mistake.
Selling or teaching online is great, but it’s a journey that you need to be approaching strategically if you want to be successful.
It’s not easy, but it’s most definitely worth the effort and with Amy Porterfield’s help my journey has been so much easier.
Michelle Hanton is a multi-award winning bespoke business strategist, working internationally as a consultant, coach, speaker and writer. She has a keen interest in the not-for-profit sector and is the former CEO of Lifeline Top End, and founder of Dragons Abreast Australia, a national charity dedicated to the promotion of breast cancer awareness.
It’s not a new catch-cry, but it is definitely one that is gaining momentum as the squeeze on businesses gets tighter. The need to encourage buying local is very real when everything is but a mouse click away.
My “local” consists of two distinct areas – the local area where I am physically located – currently Bribie Island in Queensland, Australia.
Then there is my “local” online community.
My “local” online community consists of my clients and other businesses I use regularly.
They are “local” to me because we have a relationship built over time. So even though we are not physically in the same location, they are my go-to people for certain services.
We support the community and environment for a number of reasons. Some of the main ones being that the community grows stronger. Local businesses support local initiatives in a wide variety of ways including offering pro-bono services, donating to fundraisers, sponsoring events and much more.
The flip side of this is that as a business owner we need to remember that alternatives are just a mouse-click away, delivery is often overnight and prices are often cheaper.
Service makes a difference
There are those who will always go for a cheaper price, and there is not a lot you can do about that.
BUT, there are many who are happy to pay a little more for excellent service and to keep their funds local.
It all comes down to educating our community and taking that educative approach to our business.
I’ll give you an example. I recently needed to make an expensive purchase for my office and a local business had mentioned to me last year that when I was in the market to please come to them first as they would, likely as not, be able to price match.
I contacted them earlier this year, only to receive the very terse answer that I’d better go buy from the multi-national.
No explanation. Nothing.
Here’s the thing…if the answer I received had spelt out that sadly on this occasion they could not price match, or something along the lines of that by buying local they were readily available to help troubleshoot etc, I would have very willingly paid the extra $100.
Instead, I received a short, unenthusiastic answer that did not inspire me to part with my extra $100.
The damage done is actually worse than the loss of this one sale from me; not only does it not inspire me to ever go back again, it has also meant I have shared my negative experience with my business network here in the local area.
By contrast, I never question the prices that the local electrical store quotes. I know they are sometimes a bit more expensive, but their service is stellar so it’s a no brainer to go there for all my electrical needs.
Recommendations & Referrals
Similarly, when it comes to the butcher, pharmacy, bottle shop, restaurants and more, I enthusiastically recommend the businesses I love.
I actively encourage everyone to act locally and support local businesses in the community that I know provide a wonderful service.
If there isn’t a business that is physically close, then I refer to my online “local” community.
When it comes down to acting locally, there are 3 key points that business owners need to keep in mind in order to maintain and build a client base.
1) No one can afford to be complacent.
Just because a business is a local one does not mean that people will automatically patronise it.
Customers are savvy. It must be meeting all their needs.
The businesses that thrive and grow are always those which are prepared to go the extra mile.
2) Genuine service and courtesy go a very long way.
Taking a genuine interest, active listening and being courteous and honest play a large role in converting a prospect into a sale.
3) Maintain a database and utilise it to stay in touch
When you’re local it’s all about building a relationship. A buyer has many choices.
By maintaining regular communication (and there are lots of different ways to do this) you stay front of mind.
Avoiding complacency, being on the lookout for opportunities to value add.
Offering good old fashioned service with a smile (even if it’s on the phone, smiling is important!) is what keeps customers coming back, more importantly, it’s what gets referrals for your business.
At the end of the day, referrals are frequently the deciding factor for customers on whether they will shop locally.
Fly like a Dragon
PS – Love you to share your views in the comments on what are the deciding factors for you to act locally or go further afield.
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Do you find yourself saying things like ‘If I knew then what I know now … I wouldn’t have done that/I would have done this’?
The biggest frustration is when there was a great opportunity – there for the taking but you missed it.
These kinds of scenarios usually only become apparent when someone, other than you, beats you to the punch.
In the words of Homer Simpson, this can be a ‘Doh!’ moment.
It’s not luck
Yet there are people in life, and in business, who never seem to slip up in this way. They always seem to be surrounded by opportunities.
Have thoughts like these ever bounced across your brain? ‘I should be so lucky!’ or ‘That guy has all the luck!’ or ‘How does she do it?!’
But STOP! Pause for a moment and ask yourself this question…
Is it luck, or do they know something you don’t?
What’s noticeable about these types of people is that they’re consistent. They rarely bobble up and down like a ping pong ball in a wave machine.
There’s something that anchors them, keeps them on course, on point.
They have a specific mindset
In business, you need a consistent approach to everything.
If you don’t, you’ll find that the results you get peak and trough (like the ping pong ball), and your performance averages out at, well – average.
By your approach to everything, we mean just that:
Everything you do and say.
Every decision you make.
Everything you think.
It’s what we call a Smarketing Mindset.
And before you think, ‘this Dragon Sisters lot sound like a brain-washing cult,’ one of the key things in developing a Smarketing Mindset, is honing your own, unique voice, to cut through the white noise of sameness.
The Smarketing Mindset
Put simply it is a mindset that you develop to constantly and consistently create and maximise opportunities – even the ones you may not have noticed (remember those are the ones you lost to that person with a charmed life?)
Some people are born Smarketers (OK there was an element of luck with them there).
Most people become Smarketers by learning a system which gives them the same advantages.
Smarketing is about strategy – not the sort you write down for your boss or your bank manager – the sort you live by until it becomes second nature.
Your personal formula
Smarketing is your personal formula for communication and promotion. It sets you, and your business, apart from the rest.
It’s something that you do consistently.
A smarketing mindset means using a combination of very deliberate strategic sales and marketing techniques to make your own luck.
It means working consistently and building a solid base on from which to connect and network.
If you want to make your own luck – it’s time to get smarketing!
Michelle & Yvonne
Michelle Hantonis a multi-award winning bespoke business strategist, working internationally as a consultant, coach, speaker and writer. She has a keen interest in the not-for-profit sector and is the former CEO of Lifeline Top End, and founder of Dragons Abreast Australia, a national charity dedicated to the promotion of breast cancer awareness.
Yvonne Toering is a business development consultant who has worked with leading organisations and brands including Securicor Group, Vodafone Group, ASDA as well as most of the UK’s major high street retail chains including Marks and Spencer Plc, the National Health Service, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Mars UK, and the Grand Metropolitan Group, owners of Burger King, Smirnoff, Samuel Webster Brewers, Haagen Daas, Cinzano and other iconic brands.
Maximising your lunchtime makes great business sense. And, I don’t mean having a sandwich at your desk as you pour over reports or jumping on LinkedIn, Facebook etc.
Making time to have lunch, to step away from your desk/place of business is essential to maintaining a helicopter perspective.
When you’re leading a busy life, especially if you’re running your own business, it can be really tough to squeeze the extra time out of your day.
BUT…here’s the thing…you need to eat!
So maximising that time for your own benefit makes good sense – right?
Put down your phone – at least stick it in your pocket or handbag – stand up and walk out of the office.
Walking down the street, stopping to say hello to people and having a quick chat. Sitting quietly in a park/at the beach and absorbing nature, or having lunch with people outside of your normal circle all serve to help either ground or stimulate you.
What you choose to do each lunchtime depends on the outcomes you’d like to achieve.
The key is to make a conscious choice to utilise your lunchtime wisely. After all, it is time. Time is a finite commodity and once passed cannot be recovered.
Choosing to spend time alone, to sit in the park/at the beach will give you silence.
In that stillness, you have the chance to reflect quietly. You’ll often get to hear your inner voice that has been drowned out by the chattering monkeys.
Many of our clients who work in front-facing roles that demand they are “on” for most of their business day love these kinds of lunch breaks.
Actively Being Out & About
If you’re working in isolation, then getting out and about helps to switch off that intense focus your work demands.
Walking down the street and stopping to chat with a couple of people can often provide that human connection that is so important to people who work alone all day.
Alternately, if your work causes lots of pent-up frustrations, bursts of physical activity like a brisk walk, jogging or working out at a gym full of people can be a great tension reliever.
Getting together with a group of like-minded individuals, from different industries is another productive way to spend a lunchtime. You gain a different perspective which is so very valuable.
I’m not talking about a boozy lunch at a fancy restaurant. You know, where everyone talks about how great they are and no one remembers anything much afterwards. I’ve been to a few of these over the years. Enjoyable but really very unproductive.
Rather, I mean a quiet place where you actually get to connect with authenticity and help each other out through the sharing of information in a supportive environment.
Lunch & Learn Sessions
Lunch and learn sessions are common in large corporations. Often used as a means to minimise downtime, and maximise employee engagement.
Now, if you’re a small business or solo operator you won’t have this luxury BUT… a group lunch and learn for others in the same boat is not too hard to organise.
We know because we’ve facilitated quite a few over the years. Topics are always varied so attendees choose which they are interested in.
The objective is always that participants leave having learnt something of value – not just had a great lunch.
The key to successfully maximising your lunchtime and being able to get away all comes down to scheduling.
Consider it an important appointment with a very important person. Yes, that’s you!
If you are struggling to get started with this habit, begin with a day a week, and gradually increase it over a period of a month.
Once you start consciously working on maximising your time, you’ll be surprised at how easy it becomes. More importantly, the benefits that you gain are invaluable.
Speaking from a personal perspective – my lunchtime habits are one of the ways that I have been able to keep sane during challenging times. As an added bonus they’ve also brought Dragon Sistersnew business connections.
Fly like a dragon!
PS – let me know in the comments how you spend your lunchtimes – I’m always curious 🙂
Yet many adults are often reluctant to ask questions.
Looking from a kids perspective
Kids ask questions. All the time.
If you’re a parent you’ll be very familiar with the Why? Why? Why?
You know how it goes, you give the answer and back they come another…
They are persistent. Relentless. They keep asking until they are satisfied.
Many a parent has been known to say “Because I said so” in sheer frustration. Or make up some nonsensical answer – remember the ad about the Great Wall of China being built to keep the rabbits out?
Thirst for knowledge
Children have an inbuilt thirst for knowledge and soak it all up like a sponge. Happily asking away without any sense of self-consciousness. It would never occur to them not to ask!
It’s only when growing older – often in teenage years – that a sense of “feeling silly”, “people will think I’m stupid” mentality starts to creep in.
When the Questions Stop
This is not a good thing!
Some might go off and Google answers (not guaranteed to be correct!) while others may just never bother finding out.
Similarly, at college, university or even doing a business course update many participants are reluctant to draw attention to themselves by asking questions.
Fear of being judged. Seen as lacking. Fear of being seen as wanting to know too much is a very real anxiety. If this is resonating, rest assured you are not alone.
The way to overcome this is to remember…
Questions = Growth
Here’s the thing, if you don’t know something then you need to ASK!
Asking the right questions will help you grow.
Sure, the answers may lead to the need for further clarity, hence more questions will follow but you know what?
Never be afraid to ask.
Asking for information to allow you to make informed decisions is all about taking responsibility for your own growth.
Sometimes, you also need to ask questions to satisfy your legal responsibilities. This is especially important for company directors and office holders.
During my career in the Not for Profit sector, it has shocked me, on more than one occasion, to find that many board members simply went along with whatever the CEO of the day had said.
It became, and continues to be, my number one priority to make sure members of every board that I work with or consult to understand that they bear the ultimate legal responsibility for any decisions made.
Making the ask
Regardless of what business you’re in – make sure you are clear on what is happening and why it is happening.
If you’re not sure or uncomfortable – ask questions to help you feel comfortable. You need to be secure in the knowledge that you are making the right decision based on the information available.
Connect with that inner curious child, and ask…
Why? Why? Why?
There’s no such thing as a stupid question.
Do you regularly ask questions or do you struggle to feel confident asking?