The Three Levels of Support Every Entrepreneur Needs – Excerpt From Make It Happen Blueprint

Read a portion of Michelle's book for free!

the-three-levels-of-support-every-entrepreneur-needs-excerpt-from-make-it-happenThe following summarized blog post is the chapter “Power Team” in my latest book “Make It Happen Blueprint“.  For the whole chapter and to read the rest of the book go to your favorite bookseller.  This book is available online and in brick and mortar stores near you.

Enjoy!

Practice – POWER TEAM

THE THREE LEVELS OF SUPPORT

Choosing your power team is just as important as choosing how to spend your time. You need the right people in the right place at the right time in your life. I like to think of the power team in terms of a pyramid with three levels. Each level serves its own purpose, and each is critical in its own way. Odds are that you already have people who support you on the various levels. As we discuss each one, think of who in your life fits in that category, and who else you could include to expand your power team and operate at your desired peak performance level. You may even want to write names down as they come to you. And remember, just as you need people on your team, peak performers are part of other people’s power teams as well.

1. Foundational Support

Every pyramid needs a strong base, and your power team is no different. The foundational support level is comprised of people who assist and can have responsibilities delegated to them. Since peak performers know their strengths and delegate the rest, they rely on the people in the foundational support level to help them get things done.

Lower Level Tasks

There are two types of tasks that are typically delegated. The first, is lower level tasks. These are things that should be handled by an assistant, a contractor, or someone at a lower pay level. That doesn’t mean the tasks, or the people doing them, are of lower value. Delegation is simply a way of dispersing tasks to the appropriate level of expertise.

I love Ken Blanchard’s book The One Minute Manager Meets The Monkey. In it, Blanchard talks about the concept that “All monkeys must be handled at the lowest organizational level consistent with their welfare.” This single principle has guided my professional life for the last 14 years.

Hire and train the right employees, contractors and vendors to help you do admin activities so you can focus on your core strengths.

Skill Based and Upper Level Tasks

The second type of task that can be delegated involves things that are either above your level of expertise or require skills that you don’t have. These are called skill based or upper level tasks.

For example, I have a client who is a graphic designer. After going through a delegation activity with her, I noticed she was spending one to two hours a week, sometimes more, on bookkeeping. As a creative person, she should spend most of her time creating art, graphics, and marketing materials. Instead, she was crunching numbers and tracking payments. Not only did she hate doing it, she really wasn’t good at it—no offense, of course.

Because she hated this task, she ended up dreading it every single week. Sometimes it got pushed into another week and then pushed into another week. By the time she got around to it she had to spend an entire afternoon, or even a full day bookkeeping and invoicing just so she could get paid. For her, bookkeeping was something she needed to delegate to someone else.

When I pointed this out, she said, “But Michelle, I can’t afford it.” So I asked her, “Well, how much do you make an hour?” She replied, “It depends on the project, but about $75 to $100 an hour.” To that I said, “Okay, so for the $150 to $200 a week you are spending on bookkeeping you could afford to hire a professional to do it for you.” Light bulbs went on, and I think she may have done a dance on the spot. The point is, as an entrepreneur you do not have to do everything yourself!

Take a look at your current to-do list. Better yet, look at some completed lists or back lists. If something is not in your area of expertise, and if it is not something you really want to be doing, you should be delegating it out to a professional who can do it better. Or, you might even consider finding an assistant (temporary or long-term) who can do it faster or for less money than it would cost for you to do it.

I learned this lesson early on when I started my first business, a promotional products company. I would spend a lot of time putting stickers on catalogs, writing the addresses, and mailing them out, before I realized I could have a neighborhood teenager do those things for significantly cheaper. Delegating the tasks freed up my time so I could focus on marketing and getting new customers. What was even better was the fact that I had some happy neighbor kids who were getting paid to do something other than flip burgers. They liked the money, they were learning to work, and I had time for more important activities.

If you’re an entrepreneur and could use additional help in this department, two chapters in my book The Time Blueprint For Entrepreneurs are all about the hows and whys of delegating.

If you’re not an entrepreneur, get creative about the ways you can utilize others strengths and resources to get the “monkeys” off your back and build the foundational level of your power team.

2. Core Friend Support

The middle level of the support pyramid is for our friends and family members. These people are our cheerleaders—sometimes, quite literally. They are the ones who are sitting on the front row at our events, by our sides during key moments in life, and celebrating every victory with us. They also have their arms around us when we lose. We can trust and rely on them.

Typically, this level is where people naturally have the most support. However, if you find yourself lacking in this category, I have a couple of suggestions to help you build a stronger power team of friends.

Connect with like-minded individuals. Networking events and social groups are a great way to seek out like-minded individuals. There are so many options! Professionally, consider chambers of commerce and other groups with potential to strengthen your business associates and friends. Personally, consider sports teams, clubs, and organizations surrounding interests or hobbies you enjoy.

Consider what kind of friend you are in return. With some honesty and transparency, some of my clients have discovered the reason they are weak on this power team level is because they haven’t been supportive of others, and now there’s a social void in their own life. Never fear, because it’s never too late to repair what might seem broken, or make connections with new people with similar interests.

One thing to note about this level is that the people in it often change over time. I’ve noticed in my life how friends change as my lifestyle and my circumstances change. With a handful of exceptions, the friends I had in junior high school are different than the friends I have now. I would assume that’s the case for you as well.

Also note that there are a lot of friends that I love but I don’t take their business advice.  They are  good sounding boards, but beware of advice you take from a friend.

3. Mentor Support

Mentor or coach support is the top level of support I picture mentors and coaches as being above me. In other words, they are the people who know what I want to know, and they have blazed a trail for me to follow. I want and need their support to help me get to my destination faster.

Mentors come in many forms. They can be a friends with knowledge or skill sets you want to learn. They can be business associates that teach and train you. Whatever form they come it, they are knowledge givers, coaches, and consultants.

I worked at a television station while I was in college. My boss was a nice, smart man who to this day is one of the most organized and polished people I know. He even had a specific system for ironing his shirts so the creases would be just so. He never had a hair on his head out of place, and all of his folder tabs faced in one direction.

I remember being surprised when he told me one day that he had hired a life coach. Honestly, I had to try really hard not to laugh out loud. I couldn’t believe Mr. Perfection needed help achieving more in his life. I critically thought, “If you can’t figure out how to handle your own life, you might have bigger problems.”

The irony is that I’m a coach now. I get it. Even though I am a coach and work with clients across the country and in various parts of the world, I still pay coaches to help keep me on my A-game. I find coaches with a skill or expertise that I want and then I learn from them. Coaches help me “get there faster” in my life and business, and I see my coaches as prime examples of the mentor support I’ve had to help me be a peak performer.

Though I have paid people to coach me, I have also used the help of free mentors, mastermind groups and accountability partners who I consider to be an important part of my power team.

The people you spend your time with can effect your projects and dreams in big ways. They can cheer you on, support you and help you grow, but they can also discourage you or be negative with their “let’s be realistic” comments. Be careful about who you include on your power team, and the time and energy investment you make in people who are raining on your parade.

I feel very blessed to have amazing people in my life at every level. I couldn’t accomplish what I do without employees, friends, family members and coaches who show up in powerful ways to help me be a peak performer.

Take some time to nurture your own relationships and help your power team understand what their support, at any level, means to you! Gratitude can be a great currency for strong relationships.

Who is on your Power Team?  Who has helped you on your entrepreneurial journey?

Get your own copy of the Make It Happen Blueprint PLUS see who’s on MY power team in this amazing High Performance Bundle offered until March 21st.

Originally Published on StartupPrincess.com on September 17, 2013

Loving Money – Book Review Money: A Love Story by Kate Northrup

loving-money-book-review-money-a-love-story-by-kate-northrupMoney.

Is your relationship with money helping you make more of it, or are you barely making it from paycheck to paycheck?

Enter Kate Northrup author of Money: a Love Story. Whether you’re relationship with money is solid or broken, Kate has great advice for having a healthy love affair with money.

Kate is an entrepreneur so her insights are unique to women like us who are in the trenches trying to create our own paychecks, and yet her advice is just as sound for those professionals working for other companies or organizations.

Kate is spot on and addresses what most other money books are missing: the mindset of money.  So many of us are carrying our mental baggage money from our childhood, our financial failures and so much more.  Kate offers simple solutions for kicking that baggage “to the curb”.

You’ll also love her quiz to test your current money paralysis (or your money strength!) Get you quiz for free here.

Her book is released today! Get it on amazon.

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Kate Northrup is a professional freedom seeker and creative entrepreneur. She created financial freedom for herself at the age of 28 through building a team of more than 3,000 wellness entrepreneurs in the network marketing industry. Her philosophy is that if you free yourself financially you can be fully present to your purpose on the planet. She’s committed to empowering as many people as possible to have the ultimate luxury in life: choice. Kate has spoken to audiences of thousands with Hay House, Wanderlust, USANA Health Sciences, and more. She’s also the author of Money: A Love Story, Untangle Your Financial Woes and Create the Life You Really Want (Hay House, September 2013). She continues to mentor entrepreneurs through her network marketing team, The Freedom Family. Find out more and take her free quiz to find out what your relationship with money says about you at katenorthrup.com.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Kate on Make It Happen Radio.  Download and listen here.  BONUS: In the second half of the show, I also share the four tips for getting unstuck in life or business.

Originally Published on StartupPrincess.com September 10, 2013

The Make It Happen Blueprint is Available WORLDWIDE

It’s here! I can finally say my book is available THIS MONTH! (Insert celebratory music!)

When I first self published this book three and a half years ago, I dreamed of this day when I’d have a publisher and full nationwide distribution.  I’m honored to be included on the following websites and retailers.

But don’t take my word for it.  Here’s what others have to say about The Make It Happen Blueprint:

“I do love this book. McCullough is real and relate-able. I was only in the first chapter when I felt hopeful and empowered. While some of her golden advice is aimed mostly to those working in the field of Business (which I am not), there is more than enough real-life help that a Homemaker can use too. She doesn’t create, yet another, list of things “I should be doing”, but attainable solutions to MAKE TIME for the other things I really DO need to do. These recommendations are easy to do. I am so thankful for McCullough’s inspiration and passion to share this knowledge; my life was immediately changed and improved for the goals her book motivated.” – Kristin Call; London, ENGLAND

“I used to be SO good about planning and doing, but over the past few years, I have become unfocused and thus, unproductive. As a mom of three and an entrepreneur, my two biggest time traps have been multi-tasking and compulsively checking email + social media. Michelle’s productivity action tips have been a powerful refresher course for me! I love how she simplifies things with steps that set you up for foolproof success.”  – Heather Allard, founder heatherallard.com; Rhode Island, USA

“Michelle McCullough has one of those minds you love to be around! She shares fresh ideas, content, and strategies for creating a life and a business that you love. Reading this book will elevate your life!” – Tiffany Peterson, Professional Speaker, www.TiffanySpeaks.com; Utah, USA

“As entrepreneurs we often feel alone. McCullough’s book Make It Happen reminds us that we are all in this together. She manages to rekindle your purpose as well as provide pertinent ideas and strategies to help you preform at your best. I love the way she provides a section at the end of each chapter to help you implement the things you read and learn in Make It Happen. Every purposeful entrepreneur should have this book on their nightstand!” – Nicole Carpenter, CEO of MOMentity.com and bestselling author of 52 Weeks to Fortify Your Family: 5-minute messages; Utah USA

“Michelle’s chapter “Raising Peak Performers” is great! I especially loved the story about her family theme and her son remembering it as he hopped out of the car on the first day of school. Michelle’s suggestions and principles really resonated with me and I believe they would absolutely help parents to raise children who thrive!”  – Tara Kennedy Klein, Author of “Stop Raising Einstein; Pennsylvania, USA

“The beauty of Michelle’s book & writing is that it is a lucid, unadorned reminder that we periodically need. It reinforces powerful practices which we often brush past and only remember when we fail to “make it happen”. I love her earnest voice and really personal examples.” – Vilasi Venkatachalam; INDIA

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Creating Your Corporate Culture – Even as a Small Business

creating-your-corporate-culture-even-as-a-small-businessI am blogging on behalf of Visa Business and received compensation for my time from Visa for sharing my views in this post, but the views expressed here are solely mine, not Visa’s. Visit http://facebook.com/visasmallbiz to take a look at the reinvented Facebook Page: Well Sourced by Visa Business. The Page serves as a space where small business owners can access educational resources, read success stories from other business owners, engage with peers, and find tips to help businesses run more efficiently. Every month, the Page will introduce a new theme that will focus on a topic important to a small business owner’s success. For additional tips and advice, and information about Visa’s small business solutions, follow @VisaSmallBiz and visit http://visa.com/business.

Do you have a corporate culture?

The answer is yes.  Even if it’s not a planned corporate culture, everything you do in your business supports a corporate culture.

Some people think of a corporate culture in terms of a brand.  A corporate culture goes beyond branding – though your brand is PART of your overall corporate culture.

Take Google for example.  What words do you think of when you think of Google’s corporate culture?

Playful

Fun

Friendly

Connected

Customer Focused

Everything Google does upholds their corporate culture, from their logo (which is also part of their branding), to changing their homepage on holidays, and even to their campus in Silicon Valley.  Inside Google’s offices you’ll find indoor slides, pool tables, and free food.  Their employee cafeteria has a dozen choices to fit your mood and culture and you don’t pay a dime.

Is Google upholding their corporate culture from start to finish?  You bet!

So let me ask you this question: What is your corporate culture?  What words do you want people to think and feel about your business when they interact with you?

Does your branding uphold your corporate culture?

Do your customer service practices uphold your corporate culture?

Does your office uphold your corporate culture (even if you work from home)?

This line of questioning can be hard, especially for small business owners and solopreneurs, but I promise they will be helpful in creating a corporate culture that you’re proud of.

Even more than pride, I hope you create a corporate culture that helps you strive to provide the kind of experience that your customers crave and ultimately helps customers and prospects choose YOU over the competition.

Here are five tips to creating a corporate culture you love:

Brainstorm five words that you want to describe your corporate culture.  Depending on the business it might be fun, playful, attainable, connected, comfortable (like Google).  You also might have a list that looks something like this: professional, knowledgeable, classy, high-end, international.  See the difference?  Though it IS possible to want some words from both categories to ultimately create your corporate culture.  Look at your current product/service suite, look at your branding, but ultimately DON’T make the choices based on what you currently see.  Make your choices based on what you want it to be in the future.

After you have your five words, compare your five words to your current branding. Do your logo, website and promotional materials embody the words you selected?  If not, what needs to change?  How can you uplevel your brand to be in alignment with your corporate culture?

Case Study: Doodads Promotional Products

I started my promotional products company when I was 19.  At the time, I was working at an advertising agency and my BFF was a graphic designer.  She made a logo for me out of my favorite font at the time.  I was young and my business and lifestyle embodied that logo.

As I grew a little and when I made a geographic change in my life and my business, I looked at my logo and realized that it did not uphold the words I wanted to exemplify.  I still wanted to be fun and infuse that into my business, but I wanted people to think “professional and classy” first before “fun” so that they would know that I could take care of their marketing in a professional manner.  My logo change was a necessary uplevel to embody my corporate culture.

Compare your five words to your customer service strategy and practices.  Do your interactions on the phone, online and via mail uphold your corporate culture?  If not, what needs to change?

Compare your five words to your product/service offerings.  Do your products uphold the words you selected?  Are there products/services that are missing from your suite that need to be added?  Are there products or services you should eliminate to better uphold your corporate culture?

Check out your workspace, office and online store.  Does your work environment embody your 5 words?  Even if you work in a small space in the corner of your bedroom, what can you add to your work environment that will help you maintain the corporate culture you desire? You can still work in your jammies, if that’s what helps you, but sometimes I put heels on while I’m on my radio show to remind me of my corporate culture.  The space we are in truly does affect how we interact with our business.

Share with us!  What five words best describe your corporate culture?  Or what things have you done in your business to maintain a corporate culture, even as a solopreneur or small business?

Originally Published on StartupPrincess.com on August 15, 2013

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Is Your Customer Loyalty Program Strategic or An Afterthought?

is-your-customer-loyalty-program-strategic-or-an-afterthoughtI am blogging on behalf of Visa Business and received compensation for my time from Visa for sharing my views in this post, but the views expressed here are solely mine, not Visa’s. Visit http://facebook.com/visasmallbiz to take a look at the reinvented Facebook Page: Well Sourced by Visa Business. The Page serves as a space where small business owners can access educational resources, read success stories from other business owners, engage with peers, and find tips to help businesses run more efficiently. Every month, the Page will introduce a new theme that will focus on a topic important to a small business owner’s success. For additional tips and advice, and information about Visa’s small business solutions, follow @VisaSmallBiz and visit http://visa.com/business.

As an entrepreneur, I dream of a business where money just comes in because clients are purchasing from me over and over and over.

I remember learning about the 80/20 rule in a college business class.  The 80/20 principle states that eighty percent of your business will come from twenty percent of your customers.

Is this the case for your business?

In my case, and in the case of many of my consulting clients, good customer loyalty programs can make or break your business.  In fact, customer loyalty and customer retention should be just as important, if not MORE important than lead generating activities.

My promotional products business, Doodads, has been around for 14 years this August.  In the beginning I did a lot of trial and error to grow my business, but I quickly learned that it was a lot easier to keep an existing customer happy than it is to get a new customer.  In fact, the 80/20 rule works here too.  It takes 80% more work to get a new customer and only 20% to keep that customer that already knows you to purchase again.

My customer loyalty program is designed to keep my existing customers happy.  To this day, over 85% of my business each year comes from repeat customers, a statistic I’m quite proud of.  In the business-to-business space, customer loyalty programs look a little different than in the business-to-consumer space.  Punch cards and bonus points don’t work as well for businesses; however, I do have some suggestions (If you have a business-to-consumer operation, still read these, because they can apply to you as well).

Here are three tips for business-to-business companies to encourage repeat business.

  1. Provide killer customer service. Though this sounds like Business 101, I’m still surprised how few of my consulting clients have an actual plan for providing top notch service to make customers happy.  I learned very early on that people aren’t really buying imprinted pens from me, they are buying ME.  I have A LOT of competitors, including online merchants that are willing to make pennies on an order.  As a result my clients often pay MORE to use me.  Why would they do that?  Because I make working with me easy (and hopefully a little fun, too). In addition, with my marketing background, I try to be a value added resource as they put promotional items into their existing marketing campaigns.  Though you don’t have to have that knowledge to be successful in the business, it’s part of my customer service strategy to help with other marketing tasks as well.  In your business might look a little different.

How can you apply this principle in what you sell or offer?  Whatever you do, make it as personal and direct as possible. In the digital age, it’s really easy to forget that actual conversations and small gestures go a long way.  If you don’t have a customer service philosophy, take some time to define it.  Like so many things, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

  1. Express gratitude complementary to the dollar amount received.  Handwritten thank you notes are ALWAYS appreciated and should be a bare minimum, but don’t stop there. Do you have clients that give you BIG orders? Thank them with lunch, a gift certificate, a nice gift or something else.  Gratitude can be futuristic currency.  Gratitude makes deposits in the relationship bank account.  You want them to remember you, and you also want to acknowledge that you know that they have other choices, and you’re grateful they picked you.
  2. Don’t be forgotten. Stay “in front” of your client.  I should add “appropriately”.  Some sales reps and business owners can go overboard here, but overboard is better than not doing it enough.  The goal with getting repeat business is not being forgotten.  Keep your clients up to date on new product offerings, promotions or industry information.  Keep in touch in various forms: email, social media and especially phone calls.  Don’t always call for a sale, either.  Where appropriate remember birthdays and key life events.  Follow up on their business goals and see how you can help.  Top of mind awareness is key in having clients purchase from you over and over.

Here are three tips for business-to-consumer companies to encourage repeat business.  In ADDITION to all of the above, consider the following:

  1.  When considering frequent card/punch card program and the like, remember three things:

Is the program easy to understand?

Is the prize at the end worth it and does it encourage repeat business?

Is it attainable?

If there is confusion about how the program works, people won’t participate.  If the discount, free meal, or gift certificate is so low or laughable, then people won’t participate.  If it takes too much to achieve it, people won’t participate.  And note that if you confuse them, insult them with a poor reward or make it impossible to reach or take too long it could actually HURT your business.  People will associate your business with a lame customer loyalty program and even if they like your product, service, store or restaurant, you may actually discourage future business.  Think about the customer loyalty programs that you like and participate in. What makes you like them and participate?  Whose punch cards are in your wallet?  Where do you like to shop for the free stuff? Design your program accordingly AND in alignment with your brand and industry.

Don’t be afraid to give things away for free or provide dollar amount bonuses for future purchases.  Remember that this is part of your marketing and business development plan.  Don’t blow out your budget, but do make it worth the time and effort to return online or in person.  Set your pricing accordingly to account for future freebies or discounts.

  1. In addition to a punch card like system, offer special bonus days/times/coupons for repeat business.  This can be done with bounce back coupons, regular or sporadic customer appreciation days or parties, etc.  They can be given at events, at your location, mailed or emailed.
  2. Participate in social media and provide benefits/discounts/perks for following you. One restaurant I frequent gave me a yummy chocolate chip cookie for liking them on Facebook, right on the spot.

Social media can be a great way to keep top of mind, so encourage your customers online and in your store to like you on Facebook and follow you on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, etc.  Share strategically and with a specific plan.  Don’t sell with EVERY tweet and status update.  Share things about your industry and employees.  Link to news on your blog or to third party sites that help you look like a news curator.   Be a hub and use your social media as a resourceful foundation for your brand, not a sales spewer.  Do social media RIGHT and can be a big part of your customer retention and loyalty plan.

I’ve been super impressed with a local clothing boutique called koodeker.  She ROCKS Instagram and her business proves it.  She has a huge following on Instagram and posts pictures of outfits put together, accessories, an item of the day, pictures about $5 shipping anywhere in the US and also gives shout outs and re-grams for customers who Instagram a koodeker outfit or piece.  Customers follow her and Instagram their outfits to get a mention.  Customers love to see the new items and because she’s made shipping so easy and affordable, customers don’t even have to go in the shop to get the latest thing.  That is genius Instagram marketing and customer retention through a social media outlet.

Remember that whether your clients are businesses or individuals, people do business with people and businesses who they know, like and trust.  Examine your company and your customer loyalty program and ask yourself, “Do my customers really know about my products and services?  Do they like what we offer and do we have a wide range of offerings for their needs?  Do they like our company philosophy?  Do they trust us as a company?  Do they know what working with us feels like and do they trust that?”  These can be great questions to ask in your next staff or management meeting.  Your company’s perceptions have a lot to do with repeat business and you don’t want to miss the mark.

I’d love to hear what works (and what doesn’t) in your business.  Let’s share and help each other grow!

Also, take a minute to Save or Pin the infographic below.

Originally Published on StartupPrincess.com on July 22, 2013

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Boundaries for Small Business Owners – Finding Peace Where Work & Life Intersect

boundaries-for-small-business-owners-finding-peace-where-work-and-life-intersectThis is a call for all the over-worked, tired, multi-tasking, schedule-full women entrepreneurs out there.  Are you feeling a little run down? What do you do to preserve yourself, your relationships and your business?

In my experience with my private coaching clients and as I meet with women entrepreneurs across the country, I have found that many women business owners have been parading around and proudly sharing their middle name: “Sacrifice”.

In our efforts to juggle our roles, many of us (myself included, at times) have felt the need to sacrifice our own needs and self-care for the benefit of our businesses, our families, our communities, our church groups and so much more.

Though I do believe that there are times when self-sacrifice (or marital sacrifice) is needed, as a general rule I think this practice is overused – leaving us tired, run down and in many cases it can negatively affect our business and it usually affects our relationships with family and friends.

Though I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes I have to be reminded of these tips, here are the three boundaries that I use to ensure that I can preserve time for myself and make sure my business isn’t effecting family time.

  1. I begin and end every day with myself. It might sound selfish at first, but if you aren’t currently doing this practice, I encourage you to give it a try and see how it works.  In my world, I call it my Power Up and Power Down Routine.

In the morning, I get up BEFORE my kids and often my husband to fill my own well.  Though the actual items may vary for each one of you, I do something physical to wake me up.  This isn’t typically my exercise time, but I’ll do some sit ups, stairs or take a quick walk outside to wake up my body and brain.  Then I read something motivational.  On my bedside table you’ll find 8-10 books at any given time.  I use this as my reading time.  Sometimes I’m reading the latest marketing book, other times I’m re-reading a chapter from my favorite success reference: The Success Principles, by Jack Canfield.  I also love to listen to my Ideal LifeVision and connect with my goals and mission.  I’ll also connect with my spiritual needs.

This time is so critical.  When I’m sick or get out of the groove, I can feel the difference in my day.  If I wait until my kids wake up, I feel two steps behind all day, and I feel like I’m running on empty.

In the evening, I review the next day’s schedule and review my action list (a.k.a. to-do list).  I like to review these before bed so that I’m not lying in bed wondering if I remembered to add something to my list, or questioning the time for my son’s T-Ball game or if lunch with a client is at 12:30 or 1:00 PM.  Then I ready something spiritual and pray to quiet my mind and reconnect. If my eyelids haven’t given in yet and I have more time I’ll continue reading in my motivational or learning books.  I put my brain and my body to sleep in a way that gives me incredible sleep and sleep is the ultimate secret to my success.

The Power Up and Power Down routines don’t necessarily have a time limit.  I know some love their “Power Hour” but sometimes I only need 15 minutes to get grounded and centered and I’m ready to move on.  Other mornings, I need longer.

To clarify, I do this before I do ANYTHING else.  Before email, social media, etc.  I don’t want to get caught up in work yet, or caught up in the life of family and friends before I can make sure I have the self-care I need.

I like to make sure my well is full before I meet the needs of my family, my business or other roles that I play.  When my needs are met I’m satisfied, fulfilled and I’m better able to deal with the hiccups that come throughout the day.

  1. I schedule time for my roles, just as I do meetings with clients.  When I mention at speaking engagements that I schedule time with my kids and my husband, I’m surprised  how frequently I’m criticized for being so rigid that I “schedule” time with my family and friends.  Why shouldn’t I?  I want my kids and my husband to know (and myself for that matter) that time with my family is just as important (if not more so) as lunch with a friend or a coaching call with a client.  I want to make sure that I’m spending good time with them each week.  We schedule time to go to the park or the pool and look forward to fun activities each week.  Scheduling fun activities with my kids also makes it easier for them to be patient during coaching calls and when I’m away speaking at events.  I like to make sure that date night is on the schedule before too many other things get in the way. I make my marriage a priority each week.  Preserving my relationships is more important to me than my business.  If my business thrives, but my family resents me for it, then I feel incomplete and out of balance.  But when I make my relationships a priority I feel more fulfilled and my support system has a firm foundation.

I “batch” my time in time blocks. I run three businesses from home and have two small children under five.  I’m a time management junkie and I’ve tried every system under the sun.  What’s great about time blocks is they can work with any calendar system you may use – digital or on paper.  Though there’s a lot more detail on this principle, simply put, I batch like items together.  I do all my marketing tasks in two 2-hour blocks.  I make my videos every week on Tuesday mornings in a 1-hour block.  I do my coaching calls on Thursday afternoons and Tuesday afternoons.  You get the idea.  What’s great about this system is that I put them on my calendar.  When I put my writing time on the calendar, I’m telling my brain to prepare, and I’m setting myself up to succeed in completing my book.  Time blocks are one way that I preserve my schedule and get everything done.

  1. Presence. With lots of responsibilities it can be easy to get distracted.  However, when I’m in my time blocks, I don’t let other things creep in.  I don’t take calls during my marketing time.  I don’t check my email during my writing time.  I don’t text with friends during date night (unless my husband is in the bathroom, *wink*).  I turn the notifications for Twitter and Facebook off on my phone so that I can check social media on my terms and not be distracted when I’m with my kids.  Presence is a key to my success.  When my relationships are weak, it’s usually because I let work creep into friend and family time when it shouldn’t.

Don’t get me wrong.  These can be easy things to say and hard things to actually do.  Trust me, I struggle with them too.  The truth remains, when I make self-care a priority, preserve my relationships and schedule my business success, sacrifice isn’t necessary.  And though I’m not the poster child for role preservation and boundaries, I can attest that when I’m rocking these four things life is a lot smoother, and my business thrives.

What tips do you have for boundaries for work and home life?

In recognition of the 50th anniversary of National Small Business Week, Visa Business created the following infographic highlighting eye-opening facts about small business owners and examining important small business trends.

I am blogging on behalf of Visa Business and received compensation for my time from Visa for sharing my views in this post, but the views expressed here are solely mine, not Visa’s. Visit http://facebook.com/visasmallbiz to take a look at the reinvented Facebook Page: Well Sourced by Visa Business. The Page serves as a space where small business owners can access educational resources, read success stories from other business owners, engage with peers, and find tips to help businesses run more efficiently. Every month, the Page will introduce a new theme that will focus on a topic important to a small business owner’s success. For additional tips and advice, and information about Visa’s small business solutions, follow @VisaSmallBiz and visit http://visa.com/business.

Originally Published on StartupPrincess.com on June 19, 2013

Make It Happen Blueprint Book Resources

Please Share The Ones You Like Best

Here are some ready-to-go graphics and social posts that my book launch team created for you as you promote The Make It Happen Blueprint.

Where appropriate, include the hashtag #makeithappenblueprint so we can see the things you’re posting and give you some love.  Thank you for your support! – Michelle

Amazon link: http://amzn.to/2nugEZL

OR

Book website: http://www.makeithappenblueprint.com

Book Excerpts:

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Reviews:

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Facebook posts:

Do you ever feel over-scheduled, tired and unhappy? Have you noticed there seems to be a group of people who catch all the breaks, accomplish more in a day, make more money in their business ventures, bounce back from trials faster, and always have their lives in order. Are they just lucky, or is there some sort of secret most of us are missing? They’re not just lucky and it’s not a secret! All it takes is the right mindset, the right tools and a willingness to work! My friend Michelle McCullough’s new book, “Make it Happen Blueprint” is coming out in 5 days. She shares with us the 18 habits of top performers. If you pre-order, like I did, she has an added bonus too! Go here and order today! www.makeithappenblueprint.com

What do Stephen Covey, Jack Canfield, Brendon Burchard and Michelle McCullough have in common? They are all success experts who walk the walk. I love that Michelle is sharing her expertise in her new book, “Make it Happen Blueprint” that comes out next week. In addition to all the gems you get in the book, if you pre-order, she’s tossing in an added bonus! Go order today You won’t regret it! www.makeithappenblueprint.com

Do you know the difference between your purpose and your message? Find out what it is in Michelle McCullough’s new book “Make It Happen Blueprint”! I’ve pre-ordered my copy – you should too! www.makeithappenblueprint.com

I love, love, love Michelle McCullough’s insights and wisdom. She is an entertaining and engaging speaker and author and her new book, “Make It Happen Blueprint” does not disappoint. Get your copy here: www.makeithappenblueprint.com

I’ve struggled at times with overwhelm but working with Michelle McCullough really helped me gain some clarity and implement systems that work for me. Her new book, “Make It Happen Blueprint,” shares the practices that made a difference in my life. Go ahead and order it – you won’t regret it! www.makeithappenblueprint.com

As an entrepreneur and busy mom, I found myself falling into the four common time traps Michelle McCullough outlines in her new book “Make It Happen Blueprint.” Her ability to clearly explain both the problem and the solution, and do it with humor, helped me get out of those traps and be more productive than ever. Trust me. You want to buy this book. www.makeithappenblueprint.com

Tweets:

Want to be a top performer with a fulfilling family life? Check out @speakmichelle’s book, #MakeItHappenBlueprint http://bit.ly/2n1QEYb

Want to be a top performer with a fulfilling personal life? Check out Michelle’s new book #MakeItHappenBlueprint http://bit.ly/2n1QEYb

#MakeItHappenBlueprint is my FAVORITE book on productivity and life balance! @speakmichelle did a masterful job http://bit.ly/2n1QEYb

Mindset, tools & willingness to work @speakmichelle gives 18 keys to success in her new book #MakeItHappenBlueprint http://bit.ly/2n1QEYb

Over-scheduled, tired or unhappy? Change that by following the steps in the #MakeItHappenBlueprint by @speakmichelle http://bit.ly/2n1QEYb

Do top performers just get lucky? Or follow a formula? @speakmichelle’s book #MakeItHappenBlueprint has the answers! http://bit.ly/2n1QEYb

Success expert @speakmichelle shares her expertise in her new book #MakeItHappenBlueprint out next week! Pre-order here: http://bit.ly/2n1QEYb

I love @speakmichelle’s style & wit – an engaging speaker & author. Her new book #MakeItHappenBlueprint is a winner! http://bit.ly/2n1QEYb

Success is not a destination – it’s a practice. Check out 18 of the best practices in #MakeItHappenBlueprint by @speakmichelle

You have the same amount of time as Michelangelo and Einstein. Learn how to maximize it in #MakeItHappenBlueprint by @speakmichelle

Questions:

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What is Vulnerability Costing You & Your Business?

what-is-vulnerability-costing-you-and-your-businessThere’s an old abandoned house on a street that I drive frequently.  It was probably built in the ’50′s or ’60′s and it was probably a gem in it’s day.  Sadly, it’s been ignored over the last decade and I though I saw people there before, I haven’t seen any sign of habitation in the last year and a half.

And yet, I’m always drawn to it.  There’s an open window on the top floor.  It was open all winter long.  It’s STILL open.  I wonder what’s in there.  Birds? Bugs? Squatters?

SOMEONE has to “own” that property – even if it’s a bank.  Does anyone care that the house is completely vulnerable to the elements, to “visitors”, to anything?

Last week as I drove by I saw the public notice that the home is going up for auction.  Though the property is probably worth something, I imagine that the home might have little value left.

What does this have to do with entrepreneurship?  (Leave it to this girl who can apply ANYTHING to a life or business principle.)

Where are you vulnerable in your business?  Where are you vulnerable in your life?  What open windows do you have that are wreaking havoc on your prosperity?

A lot of us have known vulnerabilities.  Perhaps it’s a staff member or contractor with poor performance.  Maybe we’re operating without a business plan or marketing plan.  Maybe sales are low this quarter.  Maybe you’re wondering what the the legislative changes are going to do to your health insurance coverage.  Maybe you haven’t posted your labor law posters. (Gasp!)

Others of us have vulnerabilities lurking below the surface.  We may even be sabotaging our success, and we don’t even know it.  It’s often the things we DON’T see that are causing the biggest problems.  In my opportunities to consult and chat with entrepreneurs across the country, I have found four major vulnerabilities to small business success:

  1. Poor Time Management – Just because you dream of sitting by the pool, sipping your favorite beverage while you bask in the sun, doesn’t mean you won’t have to put in a lot of sweat BEFORE that dream becomes a reality.  If you have a hobby business, have hobby hours.  If you’re trying to grow a thriving company, put in a full days work.  Wasting hours away on Facebook and calling it “work” won’t put money on the table. My mortgage doesn’t get paid in “likes” or “shares”.  It’s paid in dollars earned by hard work and in PLANNED time I spend on revenue generating activities.  If you KNOW this is a current vulnerability of yours I created a free video series called “Working SMARTER, not HARDER” you can access.  Time is either your greatest asset or it is your greatest liability.  Use it well.
  2. Bleeding (sometimes blindly) Financially – I share this in open disclosure because there have been times in my business where I didn’t “understand” the numbers so I ignored them.  That business is no longer in operation.  Luckily, I’ve had other successes because I DID understand the numbers and I made that a priority.  Though I’ll readily admit that financials are not my strong suit, I DO know that getting help from an awesome tax advisor and a financial planner were worth their weight in gold.  So was hiring someone to help me with invoicing (which I hate doing…I’d rather be working on the marketing and relationship stuff).
  3. Lack of Confidence (masked or accompanied by crippling procrastination) – I share this last, but perhaps this is where I’M the most vulnerable. I get a great idea then sit on it.  I’m jazzed about a new coaching program or event and I do nothing.  At times, I’m so scared of failure that it’s easier to do nothing.  Perhaps this is an over share, but as a recovering procrastinator, I want to be real with you.  Sometimes things don’t get done because I’m scared I’ll do it wrong.  That’s why coaches, mentors and accountability partners are something I can’t do without.  Even though I’m a coach, I still invest in what I call “Trailblazer” training.  I want coaches that help me GET THERE (wherever THERE is in business) FASTER, so that I can help my clients do the same.  Though lack of confidence sounds harsh, sometimes our efforts to grow our business and our paychecks comes from lack of accountability.
  4. Drip Marketing Activities instead of GUSH Marketing SYSTEMS – Do you want a pipeline that drips or that gushes?  Make marketing a scheduled priority! I’ve already talked about this, this week, but if you missed my thoughts on this subject, check out “Marketing: A Search for Systems & Schedules that Work” & “How To Create A Simple & Effective Social Media Strategy”

I know there are more business and life vulnerabilities than just the four listed above.  These are the ones I see most frequently.  Can you resonate with one or more?  If not, ask yourself the question:

In what areas of my life or business am I susceptible?

Then for ALL OF US, we need to be asking ourselves the question:

What is that vulnerability costing my business?  In most cases, there will be financial costs.  However, don’t forget intangible costs as well: maybe a lack of connection to our business or mission.  Maybe a decrease in connection with a spouse, child, family member or friend.  Maybe it’s a sacrifice in quality of life.  (A LOT of these trace back to poor time management.  If you don’t know where to start, start there!)

Just take a minute to think through your business and see what areas you should be focusing on in the next month, 3 months and 6 months.  It’s never a bad time to set a goal and close windows and doors that are opening you up to financial loss and more.

While were on the subject…Do you need help here? Personally, I have a 3 slots that opened up for my 6 or 12 week “Revive My Startup” coaching program starting the week of June 24th.  Or if you just need one-time support to “Jump Start My Startup” in a one time strategy session, I do only 6 of those a month.  You can learn about both here.  I’ll do a complimentary 30 minute consult for you to see if there’s any chemistry between us and if my knowledge base can assist you.  We also have Fairy Godmothers in every expertise waiting in the wings to fulfill your needs and help you overcome your own vulnerabilities in life and business.  We’re here for you!

Entrepreneurship can be lonely.  If you’re having trouble in ANY area going it alone, get help.  We’re here to help you Make a Wish and Make it Happen!

Originally Published on StartupPrincess.com on May 30, 2013

Marketing: A Search For Systems & Schedules that Work

marketing-a-search-for-systems-and-schedules-that-workThere are a LOT of definitions of marketing out there.

I agree with a lot of them, but here’s mine: Marketing is getting the right MESSAGES, through the right MEDIUMS, reaching the right MASSES so you can make MONEY.

All too often, I get phone calls from women entrepreneurs across the country saying, “My marketing efforts aren’t working.”

As I dig deeper, it’s not that the efforts aren’t working it’s that they either: They don’t have enough lead generation activities going at once, and as a result the pipeline is only dripping business instead of pouring business or B. They aren’t giving marketing the time, routines and systems needed to do an adequate job. As long as your marketing efforts are a “To Do List” item instead of a regular routine on a daily, weekly and monthly basis, you won’t see the sustainable results you desire.

Here are my suggestions for regular marketing routines:

DAILY

– Strategic social media posts (If you need more support with social media, I suggest you watch this video about Focus and Connection in your social media efforts.)

– Relationship building – Though marketing is about mass exposure, building relationships is key for small business relationships. I have “to do’s” to send thank you cards, make calls (actually picking up the phone, not just email, text or facebook) to check in, etc. We’ve all heard the phrase, “People do business with who they know, like and trust.” That happens in one-on-one connections.

WEEKLY

– Content creation and posting on your blog or site (at least weekly!)

– Networking meetings – EVERY industry can benefit from personal connections and relationships. I’m a big fan of my BNI group for Doodads, my promotional products company. Other people see success with the local chamber, NAWBO and other association meetings. Make them part of your marketing plan.

– Sales connections/calls – Do you have routines around your cold and warm calls? Generally speaking for every 50 calls you make you’ll have 10 conversations and make 3 appointments. It’s a numbers game. What routines do you need to create (or have your team create) for your outbound one-to-one marketing efforts?

– Exposure through Pay Per Click Search Engine and Social Media ads, where appropriate for your business. A lot of these track on a weekly basis.

MONTHLY

– Exposure through 3rd parties. Most advertising contracts through publications and sites are for monthly contracts.

– Evaluation of the month’s activities – This is a key part of marketing. Ask yourself, “What worked? What didn’t?” for every marketing activity you do. What mediums are working best for you? How do you track it? What MESSAGES are working best for you? Pay careful attention that you could be using the right medium, but the messages are wrong and vice versa. Test messages by using different approaches to see what gets the best results. Social media is great for this. What tweets are retweeted the most? What Facebook posts are being shared the most? How can you duplicate those in the coming months without saying the same thing?

ANNUALLY/SEMIANNUALLY PLANNING

I feel so strongly about this little marketing success strategy and I’m surprised how few people are actually doing it. Do you know your marketing objectives for the year? Are you trying to grow your email list, increase the page views on your website, IN ADDITION to your sales goals?

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Marketing is no exception. Create a marketing funnel.

If you don’t have one, or if this sounds foreign to you, check out this video.

Hopefully these ideas get you thinking about marketing in terms of routines and systems that are ongoing and keep your pipeline full. I would love to hear the routines you have in place in your marketing plan.

Share your thoughts and ideas for marketing systems below.

Originally Published on StartupPrincess.com on May 21, 2013

Four Ways to Help Friends Reach Their Goals

Success Series Segment #4 - Fox 13 TV

Success coach Michelle McCullough shares how you can help your friends stay on track and be successful.

    1. Ask the right questions up front.
    2. Follow up at their approved intervals.
    3. Help them get a strong reason to stay committed.
    4. Encourage and Enforce. Be an awesome cheerleader when they fall off the wagon to help them get back up, but enforce consequences and rewards for greatest results.

Four Ways to Help Friends Reach Their Goals

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