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BUSINESS STRATEGY

3 Tips To Keep Your Business On Track When You Get “Too Busy”

3 tips to keep your business on track when you're too busy. Automate, delegate + prioritize to focus on the things that matter. BONUS download of 10 free feminine stock photos to help you save time!

I was 100% not prepared for March. I told myself I had a “plan” but in reality, what I had was a really, REALLY long “to do list” and very little strategy in place. It can be hard to keep your business on track. So needless to say, I'm glad April is here because I need a breath of fresh air. Like literally. I did not leave my apartment for 6 entire days because I was buried in work.

Moral of the story: don't be like me. As I wrapped up some projects this week, I knew I wanted to get my sh*t together before the new month so I'm better prepared for April. I've always been a planner but I've found that as a business owner, sometimes it's honestly just HARD to plan for everything. New opportunities come up when you least expect it. Great ideas sometimes turn into bad ideas. 2 hour projects can turn into 10 hour projects. If you're not building in a cushion for your workflow, you're always going going going. (Note to self: build in more cushion)

While you may not be able to prepare for everything, you can prepare for some things. It's easy to let the “little things” slip through the cracks – but planning ahead can make your life SO MUCH easier. As I prepped for April I knew that even though it will be a little less crazy, I still need to make sure I have systems in place to make things happen. So here are 3 tips to keep your business on track when you get “too busy” to  eat / sleep / leave your home like a real human being.

Tailwind - best Pinterest scheduler for bloggers

AUTOMATE 

I'm not really sure what the world was like before technology, and I'm pretty thankful for that. For those of us that don't have time to be on social media all day (that would be everyone, right?), scheduling tools are the best thing ever. I use SmarterQueueTailwindIFTTT, and ConvertKit to schedule / automate a lot of my social media and email marketing which is SO helpful to keep things going when you get busy with work, life, and the unexpected.

Obviously these things require some up front work to run smoothly, but I do find that it's much easier to spend a few hours scheduling things out in advance rather than trying to keep up with doing ALL the things every single day. One of the things I didn't do in March was schedule my Instagram posts in advance, so unfortunately I went silent on the platform for almost a whole week! I was still posting for Mochi and my other accounts, but @wonderfelle didn't get a lot of love. I spent a couple of hours taking photos yesterday so I'm better prepared for next month, but I honestly took too many – so if you want 10 free, feminine stock photos – you're in luck! 

I know a lot of people are hesitant to invest in support, but if you really want to grow your business, there's no way you can do ALL the things. You just can't. People don't build empires on their own.Click To Tweet

DELEGATE

Automation is definitely a time saver, but if you can actually delegate business (or personal) tasks, that's even better. I know a lot of people are hesitant to invest in support, but if you really want to grow your business, there's no way you can do ALL the things. You just can't. People don't build empires on their own. I have a virtual assistant who helps with design, a virtual assistant who helps with social media, and honestly most days, I feel like I could hire someone else just to help me keep up with my dog's emails. (Seriously, she gets a lot of emails)

PRIORITIZE

But here's the thing – I don't really believe in perfect balance. I don't actively seek it, because I don't think its a real thing. There just aren't enough hours in a day… even if you're Beyonce. I do think you can “have it all” – just not all at the same time. As Shonda Rhimes says, “whenever you see me somewhere succeeding in one area of my life, that almost certainly means I am failing in another area of my life.” Meaning if I'm really focused on a launch or huge client project, date night is probably not happening. And when I'm enjoying a lazy night watching Bravo tv, I'm also trying to not feel guilty that I'm not catching up on emails.

But that's fine. That's just how it is. 

You can't do everything, every day – but you can prioritize so you know that at least you're getting the most important things done every day. I use Asana for project management and I love it because it helps me plan ALL the things I need to do… but on a daily basis it can be a little overwhelming. I mainly look at my tasks using the calendar view and I think because I'm only focused on a few tasks per day and only looking at 1 week at a time, this really helps me feel less overwhelmed even when I know there are 1,000 other things I'd like to get done.

So these 3 things may seem like common sense, but if you're feeling overwhelmed in your business, it's a good idea to take a step back, refocus, and make sure you have the systems in place to keep things running smoothly. Last month would have gone a bit more smoothly if I had been on top of everything, but now I know better and can start April (and the second quarter, eeek!) on the right place!

What are you automating and delegating for your business? If you want to free up some of your time to focus on your work and not on your visuals, I'm sharing 10 free feminine stock photos that you can download below!

GET FREE STOCK PHOTOS IN YOUR INBOX EACH MONTH

*TERMS OF USE*  You may not sell, lease, loan, transfer, assign, or give away any image or a derivative thereof. You may not use these images as part of any products intended for sale. You may crop the images, overlay text or your product photos, but please do not otherwise alter, edit or manipulate the images. wonderfelle MEDIA remains the sole and exclusive holder of the copyright in the image. If you are using these images for commercial purposes, please credit by linking to our website or mentioning @styledstocksociety.

 

Legally Speaking: What You Need To Know About Collaborations

Legally Speaking: What you need to know about collaborating with bloggers + small business owners. Read this to make sure you're legally covered when it comes to creative collaborations.

I'm excited to welcome my friend Jackie to the blog today – she's a blogger, lawyer, and dog mom to some adorable pugs. When it comes to the legal side of blogging / small business, she knows what she's talking about – so pay attention y'all! 

One of the things I love the most about blogging is the sense of community it creates. You get to meet so many other amazing bloggers and learn from one another. It’s super awesome. But every once in awhile, just like with anything else in life, it can turn sour. Although 99.999999% of the time, working with other bloggers is an amazing beautiful sunshine-y walk in the park, there is sometimes that 0.0000000001% of the time when things are gonna go south. Fast. (These “statistics” are super made up – but you get my point!)

So what do you do when a collaboration with another blogger goes bad? Today I’m discussing what you can do. And, more importantly, what you can do BEFORE working with someone to make sure it never gets to that breaking point.

Types of blogger or business collaborations

First, let’s look at some of the ways that our blogging relationships can go bad…

  • Your joint venture webinar co-host never pays you your share of the bundle proceeds (or she pays you less)
  • Your collaborator in a webinar ends up keeping the entire slideshow presentation and claims it as her own work
  • Your co-host keeps the webinar video but won’t send you a copy for your website or course
  • You write a guest post for another blogger and she never credits you for it – she takes your work and posts to her to blog as if its her own
  • You’ve agreed to be an affiliate for someone and then they never pay you

The list goes on and on, but you can see my point. The main issues here revolve around: money and attribution. The other person has either not paid you for your fair share of the work and/or has failed to give you credit or attribution for your work and is claiming it solely as her own work product. And none of us want to be in these sorts of situations.

What do you “own”?

So first let’s discuss who owns what, when you’re working with another person. This is based on US contract and copyright laws. So, if you are international or working with someone internationally, be aware that the situation may differ.

If you are working for yourself (meaning you aren’t doing the work as part of your work for an employer), you own your own work product. In the US, you don’t need to affirmatively copyright your work in order to own the rights to it (though having an official registered copyright can give you more legal protections, but I won’t be getting into that here). So once you create something, you own the rights to copy it. (Get it, “copyright”?) If you are working for an employer, they likely own that right. But in the blogger / small business owner context, you are probably the copyright holder.

Now the waters get a little muddy when you’re working with someone else (who isn’t an employee or coworker of yours). Whatever that other person creates – she owns THAT. So now who owns that slideshow or ebook or ecourse you co-created? Well, that’s not easy to untangle! It could be argued that you each just own what you created or you both own all of it. It all depends. The law is often retrospective – if a dispute came up, a court would actually look back in time to try to figure out what happened. And this can be a hot mess. And expensive. And time consuming.

You don’t want to get to that point. Instead of letting the court be retrospective, you should be proactive TODAY.

A contract is basically an agreement that is a “meeting of the minds.” It’s where you have all the terms and information regarding your work together laid out. It’s your safeguard IN CASE something goes wrong.Click To Tweet

Protecting yourself before starting a collaboration

Once you’ve decided to work with another blogger, you should lay it all out there. You basically want to look forward into the future to try to foresee any problems that might arise. Is it possible the other person will keep the video of the webinar to sell and never give you a copy? Is it possible she will sell the slideshow or claim it as her own? Etc. Think of every scenario.

In order to safeguard against those nightmare scenarios, we want to have a very clear and detailed contract in place. Now, people get really scared when it comes to that work – contract. It sounds so big and legal and scary. It definitely can be, but it doesn’t have to be. A contract is basically an agreement that is a “meeting of the minds.” It’s where you have all the terms and information regarding your work together laid out. It’s your safeguard IN CASE something goes wrong.

A legally binding contract doesn’t need to be written on fancy paper or in a wordy document by a lawyer. It just needs to have all the info surrounding your working relationship. It doesn’t even need to be one piece of paper – an entire email thread can basically constitute a contract. So the best way to not have issues when doing collaborations is to have all the details ironed out BEFOREHAND. Creating a contract will keep you both accountable for your work and will also lay out how you’ll resolve any disputes. Here are some of the contract terms you should consider when working with someone else:

  • Division of work – who will be doing what
  • Timeframe and deadlines
  • Payment terms – who gets paid, how they get paid, when they get paid, etc.
  • Who owns the work once it’s completed – will you both be able to use the work or not
  • What to do if something bad happens – if someone can’t complete her end of the bargain, what happens?
  • Anything else you can think of that could be an issue. Seriously, anything!
  • Since I know that this can be a lot to remember, I created a quick downloadable checklist for you – use this anytime you work with other bloggers and want to make sure you’re including all the important stuff in your contract!

Collaboration-Contract-Checklist

What if a problem comes up?

Now that you have this contract in place, this should help keep you both on task. However, if an issue arises later on, the contract can save you. We all hope to never have to hire an attorney (even me and I am an attorney!), so attempt to resolve any issues directly with your collaborator. If you didn’t have anything written down (perhaps you had come up with your working arrangement via Skype or text messages that are now deleted), then it will be hard for you to say “Hey – you promised to pay me 60% and you only paid me 40%!” Nothing is in writing, so that’s going to be hard to prove.

But if you have your contract in place (which, I mentioned above can be something as casual as your series of emails), you can point that out to her. Everything is in black and white, which will hopefully quickly resolve any disputes.

Your last resort would be to contact an attorney if you can’t get resolution. Even in this situation, your contract will be a huge help since it will be something concrete instead of a “she said/she said” battle.

So there you go. The best way to avoid issues when working with other bloggers or small business owners. I’m so not a sports person, but really this is so true – the best offense is a good defense. Protect yourself before a problem arises and it should be much smoother sailing!

Collaboration-Contract-Checklist

Legal Disclaimer: I am an attorney, but I am not your attorney. The information in this article is for general informational purposes only and is not legal advice. This article does not create an attorney-client relationship. I am not liable for any losses or damages related to actions or failures to act related to the content in this article. If you need specific legal advice, consult with an attorney who specializes in your subject matter and jurisdiction.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jackie is an attorney and a blogger. She helps put the scary legal side of business into easy to understand terms for other bloggers and small business owners. She has built up her blog while working full time and aims to show other bloggers how they can easily do the same (it’s all about that time management!) Visit her (and her two sweet pugs) over on her blog, Jade and OakYou can also find Jackie on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

7 Sales Tips To Grow Your Business Right Now

7 sales tips to grow your online business. Sales + marketing tips for entrepreneurs + small business owners who want to get noticed online and grow their revenue. Click through for 7 tips to increase your sales now!

This past week I've been sharing 7 Sales Tips (#7DaysofSalesTips) on Periscope. It's been fun to chat with some of you as I share these tips, but I also wanted to recap them for those of y'all who couldn't make it live. (Or maybe Periscope is not your thing – that's totally fine!) So here's what we've talked about this week…

1) Sell yourself first

I wrote a whole blog post on this last month but I truly believe that if you're a blogger, solopreneur, or small biz owner, the most important sale you'll ever make is yourself. You not only need to believe in yourself and the value that you provide, but you also need to be able to “sell yourself” or in other words, connect with your audience on a more personal level. People buy from people, so if you're not putting YOU out there, you're doing your brand a disservice. If you're struggling to figure out what REALLY makes you different from everyone else in your niche, here are 4 questions you can ask yourself to get clear:

  • How have your past experiences led you to your current business? Your experiences are unique to YOU and have shaped who you are and why you started your business. Think about how your education, your previous jobs, and your life experiences have led you to where you are today.
  • What have you learned from those past experiences that you can now use to help and serve others? Think about where you were 2-3 years ago? 2-3 months ago? What have you learned that you can now teach other people?
  • How do your products / services relate to your previous experience and the knowledge you have gained? Did you create something because it solved a problem for you? Do you provide a service because it's something you wish you had help with when you were at some previous point in your life?
  • How would you describe yourself / your personality in a dating profile? This question may be a little weird, but personality is a HUGE part of your brand! What do you want people to know about you? What do you want them to know about your personality? Think about first impressions – what are the key things you want people to “get” about you right away?

Now combine your experience + your knowledge + your products /services + your personality in a sentence that tells people who you are, what you do, and who you do it for <– This is how you sell yourself. This is how you STAND OUT.

2) Define strategic paths to your paid products + services

It's really easy to get overwhelmed with creating content. Figuring out what to blog about, what to post on Instagram, what to tweet about (and how often to do all of the above), can make you STRESSED OUT if you let it – but you can simplify and streamline your work by defining strategic content paths to your paid products and services.

You want all of your free content to lead your audience to eventually buy your products and services, right? Then don't waste time creating content just for the sake of creating something, and make sure everything you're doing has a point. So let's pretend you're a graphic designer. You share something on social media that links to a blog post on website branding… and after someone reads that blog post there's a call to action telling her to download a free checklist of the 10 questions you should ask your designer… and once she opts-in to receive that free checklist, she receives a series of emails that further educates her on the importance of cohesive branding… and THEN you “pitch” your services by reminding her that YOU can help her create cohesive branding (and link directly to your sales / service page so she can find out more).

If you haven't defined your content paths, I'd recommend getting out a piece of paper and mapping them out. You'll find that once you've identified your purpose and defined your paths, it will be much easier to develop relevant content (and you content will do much of the “sales” work for you)!

3) Know the difference between features, functions, and benefits

The biggest mistake I see with sales pages and product descriptions is focusing solely on features and forgetting about functions and benefits. So for example, if I were buying a vacuum cleaner and in the description it lists “multi-level filtration” – that sounds like a great feature but why do I care? Because multi-level filtration helps to reduce household allergens (that's a great function!) and because when there are less allergens I can spend more time cuddling with my pup without worrying about all the pet dander in our apartment (a great benefit!) – I also take a daily antihistamine, but you get the point.

Don't just describe your products and services – describe how your products and services can actually help someone. What's in it for them? How will it improve their life? Bonus points if you can visually SHOW what the benefits are rather than just talk about them.

4) Create simple sales funnels

Give, give, give THEN sell. People need to know, like, and trust you before they buy from you. Grab their attention, pique their interest, appeal to their desire, then encourage them to take action.

Usually (but not always) the higher the perceived value and the more complex a product or service is, the longer your funnel will be. So if you are selling a $15 necklace, your audience probably only needs to come into contact with it a few times before they pull the trigger, but if you're selling a $3,000 consulting package, it may take weeks (or even months) for someone to trust you. That's ok. If you have higher priced services, you also need fewer conversions. As your audience grows, more people will be introduced to your brand each day. Focus on continually providing value, and if you've defined strategic paths to your paid products + services (tip #2), your business will grow too.

People buy from people, so if you're not putting YOU out there, you're doing your brand a disservice.Click To Tweet

5) Give people what they WANT, not what they need

People buy what they want, not what they need. Sometimes people don't even KNOW what they need. I probably NEED an accountant but what I really WANT is overpriced lipstick and this adorable dog sweater. There's a 100% I will make room in my budget for new lipstick and will end up doing my taxes on Turbo Tax because I don't WANT to pay someone to do them for me. Marketing is all about positioning.

That doesn't mean that you shouldn't understand you audience's needs – but when it comes to packaging and selling your products and services, give them what they WANT. So what's the number one thing you need to do to figure out what your people want?

Listen. Seriously, that's it. Listen to the questions they ask. Listen to what they say in their communities. Listen to the comments you receive. Listen and people will tell you what they want.

6) Overcome objections

So you're at the point where you're getting product inquiries. Maybe you're even doing free sessions or discovery calls – but you're having trouble converting all that free talk into paying clients and customers. You've probably heard one of these things…

  • I would love to hire you / buy your product but it's not in my budget right now / I can't afford the investment. Ugh, the you're too expensive excuse. The easiest way to avoid this is by clearly listing your prices on your website. If people are telling you that you are too expensive then they don't see the value in your products/services, and the #1 reason why that happens is when you don't explain the BENEFITS well enough (tip #2).
  • I need some time to think about it. If your pitch is compelling enough, people will not need more time to think about it. Sometimes a prospect just doesn't fully understand a small detail, so I recommend that you straight up ASK them, “what information can I provide to help you make the best decision.” Get to the root of the issue and you will usually find that the hesitation is over something that you can easily answer. Make sure you address whatever the specific issue is, and then ask for the sale again. If they're still not ready, don't stress about it. Keep them on your list, continue to nurture them, and maybe someday they will be.
  • Now’s not a good time / I have too much going on right now. Most of the time this is an excuse because if someone took the time to inquire or chat with you for a free consultation, they obviously HAVE time. Not to mention, if someone wants something badly enough they will MAKE time. Sometimes people just need an incentive to act now. You can position your offerings as time sensitive in a few different ways – if you have a service-based business, you can only take on so many clients at a time. Make it clear that your availability is limited. If you have a product-based business, you may have time sensitive offers (bonuses or discounts) that encourage your prospective customers to make more timely decisions.

7) Earn repeat business

So once someone has purchased from you, you can celebrate and move on, right? Think again. One of the easiest ways to grow your sales, is earning repeat business. Think about it – if you purchase a sweater from Zara and you love it – you will probably go back to see what's new the next time you are looking for something cute to wear, right? When you find a doctor that you like, you keep going back to them because why go through the hassle of finding someone new when you're happy with the service you are receiving. Getting repeat business is actually MUCH easier than getting new customers and clients no matter what you're selling. Here are 3 ways you can do this right now:

  • Offer related products / services. Your products and services should sell each other. If you offer one time consultations, add the option to extend the relationship with ongoing coaching. If you sell products, think about items that are complementary to each other. For example, someone who buys wedding invitations will probably need thank you notes as well.
  • Implement a subscription / membership based model. Recurring payments are an entrepreneur's jam. There are subscription based models with a low barrier to entry (think Birchbox or any of these), where you can then up-sell higher priced products OR you could offer a higher-fee ongoing service model (like group coaching) where there is a monthly “membership” fee.
  • Take into consideration timing / seasons. If your product has a shelf life, remind people to reorder after a few weeks/months. Take advantage of seasonal promotions – can you offer something unique during the holidays? What about at the beginning of a new year?

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So that was a lot of information and if you made it all the way through – high five! You're probably pretty serious about growing your sales and growing your business this year, right?

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