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How to Move from Ideas to Action

Part of being an entrepreneur is having a plethora of ideas. In fact, an idea was the birthplace of your business, am I right? It all begins with a little spark which, with a little nurturing, grew into the blazing fire it is today. But, sparks won’t turn into bonfires by themselves. If you aren’t taking action to nurture your ideas, they will begin to fade and eventually disappear.

Getting Stuck in Idea Mode

Ideation is the creative process of generating, developing, and communicating new ideas, where an idea is understood as a basic element of thought that can be either visual, concrete, or abstract. ~Ben Jonson

Ideation is an essential part of the implementation process. Skipping this step can lead to a whole lot of problems that will cost you time and money. The only problem is, it is really easy to get stuck in idea mode and never complete the implementation process.

This phenomenon is referred to as Analysis Paralysis. To quote good ole Wikipedia,

Analysis paralysis or paralysis by analysis is the state of over-analyzing (or over-thinking) a situation so that a decision or action is never taken, in effect paralyzing the outcome.

Time spent in idea mode trying to figure out every detail, every possible outcome, or how to make your project perfect, may seem like due diligence, BUT spend too much time and you are only procrastinating.

So, how do you know when it is time to thinking and start taking action? Frankly, if you are asking this question, you should have started already.

Steps for Transitioning into Action Mode

Taking action and knowing where to start doesn’t come easily for every project. If you are stuck, here are some steps to take to get moving in the right direction:

1. Give yourself a deadline

I hate to say it, but without a deadline, your idea isn’t getting implemented. It is just going to sit on your to do list, gathering dust. So, set a due date. Once you have it set, work backwards to figure out when you need to complete the action steps in order to meet your deadline. Write out each target date on the calendar and schedule reminders.

2. Block off time to work on your idea

The number one response I get when I ask my clients why they haven’t implemented their idea is “I don’t have time to work on them.” or “I’ve been too busy.” But, what they are really saying is they haven’t prioritized time for it on their schedule.

The key is not to prioritize what is on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities. -Steven R. Covey

If you are working tasks day-to-day, your time will fill up before you get to your idea. Make it a priority and schedule out time blocks to coincide with your due dates. Your tasks can wait. I promise.

3. Create a short list of achievable action items

Now that you’ve blocked out some time, make a short list of things you KNOW you can accomplish during this time. Don’t try to over do it here. The idea is to set yourself up for success and feeling accomplished.

4. Check off your list and be proud of yourself

Do you love checking off completed tasks as much as I do? Then this will be your favorite step. Work your list and check those puppies off! Then, take a minute to feel proud — to feel accomplished. Give yourself a high-five and pour a glass of wine. You totally deserve it.

5. Get the support you need to be successful

If you are struggling, do a quick self-assessment to determine where you are having a hard time. Are you having trouble getting organized? Are you struggling to juggle your workload? Are you lacking in the accountability department? Whatever the challenge, there is someone out there who can help.

As part of Sinq’s Signature Solutions, we help our clients with things like organization, strategy, implementation and accountability through project management. We help them set deadlines and create their timeline. We help them figure out the actions steps they need to complete to finish their project. We send them reminders and follow up on the tasks, or we can implement the idea for them.

Never Stop Brainstorming

Just because you are ready to take some action doesn’t mean you should give up on new ideas. Write them down so you remember them and implement after you’ve finished implementing your current idea.

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What is Your Time Worth?

I have an important questions to ask you. What is your time worth? Now, you might immediately answer with how much make per hour, or how much you charge for a product. Those things only make up a portion of the answer to this question. To answer it completely, we must first look deeper into what time truly is.

What is Time?

Philosophers have debated this subject for years. Is time more than just a measurement of the duration of events? Is time real or is it perceived? One thing we know for sure is that everyone has physical time.

Physical time is a global measurement based on the earth’s orbit. It is the only thing that is distributed evenly to every living soul, regardless of circumstance. We all get 24 hours every day. It doesn’t matter if you are a Fortune 500 CEO or if you are working on your side hustle, we all have the same amount of time. The difference is how we each choose to use it.

Time is a Series of Experiences

Have you ever thought, “Where did the time go?” Sometimes, it happens when physical time has passed, but we have no awareness of that time. We’ve formed no memories. It goes by like it never existed – like it was wasted.

Sometimes it happens when we are enjoying ourselves so much, physical time is irrelevant. The experiences created are so meaningful, we want time to stop so we can live in the moment indefinitely.

The most meaningful kind of time is time spent creating memorable experiences. In your business, meaningful time is the time you spend following your passion and doing work you love – the work that makes you happy and fulfills your mission.

At home, meaningful time is the time you spend making memories. Even though the time may fly, it is time you will remember because of your experiences. For some, this means watching their children take their first steps, perform in the school play or even go off to college. For others, it is travelling to Europe for the first time, seeing their favorite band in concert or hiking the tallest peaks.

Prioritizing Your Time

How would you rather spend your time? I dare say we’d all answer this question the same way. We want to spend our time doing things we enjoy – things we are passionate about. We want to create the memories and experiences so we have something to look back on.

But life and work are filled with necessary tasks that don’t fit this description. Sometimes, there are things we have to do in order to get to the things we want to do.

In life, the “have to” things might be taking out the garbage or mowing the lawn. Neither of those tasks have ever made it on my “want to” list, but I know if they didn’t get done, I’d live in a smelly house in the middle of a jungle of weeds.

In business, those “have to” things keep your business running, i.e. scheduling social media posts or following up on sales leads. Those tasks are like taking out the trash – if you fail to do them, you could be looking at a serious mess in the future.

So, what do you do? Spend all your time managing the “have to” tasks or focus on the reason your started your business in the first place? The answer to this conundrum circles back to my original question – What is your time worth? And, how much do you value the experiences in your life?

When you place the highest value on experiences, finding alternatives for completing operational tasks seems like a no-brainer, especially if the investment pays off with more experiences. Alternatives include things like:

  • Eliminating unnecessary or duplicate tasks
  • Automating and streamlining processes
  • Outsourcing or delegating

Investing in your business in this manner not only helps it grow, it allows you to focus your time on doing what you love and find most valuable. And after all, getting the most out of your time is truly the best value.

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How to Enjoy the Holidays as an Entrepreneur

Running a business is demanding at the best of times. There’s always the pull on time and the balancing act between business and life. Christmas is certainly one of those times where an already busy schedule can quickly tip into overwhelm and leave you feeling decidedly short of experiencing the ‘joy’ of Christmas.

First of all, it’s important to know that you’re not alone. It’s so common for small business owners and entrepreneurs to feel like this and it’s usually made worse by feeling that the business is delivering anything but the freedom you had once envisioned, especially at Christmas.

Secondly however, all is not lost and there are things you can do to ease the pressure and enjoy Christmas without your business coming to a grinding halt.

Watch your mindset

Everything starts in your mind, so from now on, you need to start focusing on what you do you want, not on what you don’t. You have all the time you need and you’re taking daily action to make sure you balance Christmas and business.

Reassess your calendar

Get rid of the things that don’t have to be there and make sure you add realistic allocations of time for family gatherings, shopping and other festive season activities. The main thing is to be realistic. There are more things going on, so you have to work out how and what you’ll fit in and what has to go.

Get help, delegate, outsource

Once you’ve reorganized your calendar, it will be pretty obvious where the stretches are. Some of these things will be ok to leave out of your schedule for a week or two, but not all of them. For those that can’t be left, consider getting help to make sure they get done. Outsourcing or delegating the things that can be done by someone else will be one of the best Christmas presents you can give to yourself.

Schedule your social media posts

If you don’t outsource your social media and you don’t use a scheduler, now would be a good time to start. Block out some time in your calendar to create your Christmas content and then use a scheduler like Hootsuite or Buffer to post them automatically.

Communicate your Christmas availability

If you’re going to be less available over the Christmas period, make sure your clients and customers know. You can do this by email and through social media. You may also want to create a special landing page for enquiries over Christmas, and if you use an online booking service, make sure you block out the times you won’t be available. You’ll feel more relaxed knowing you’ve set your boundaries and managed your client’s expectations of you.

Make time for yourself

In all this busyness, it’s incredibly important to make time for yourself. You need to get enough sleep, you need time to relax and rejuvenate and you need time to just be. Christmas is all about giving, but if you don’t give to yourself first, you won’t have anything to give anyone else. Be kind to yourself first.

Have fun, be with your family

Most of all, Christmas is about being with your family, so organize your calendar, make the time to be with them and when you are, really be with them. Soak it up, focus on the most important people in the world and the reason you do what you do.

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How to Conquer Competition Anxiety

When you’re growing your business, striving to turn your passion into a thriving entrepreneurial career, worrying about your competition can be a source of stress and self-doubt. You can feel like there’s always someone to keep up with and someone doing better than you are. But this won’t get you anywhere. Competition is good and mindset is key in turning perceived stress into opportunity.

There are two main ways to deal with competition in business;

1. Focus your attention not on your competition, but on improving your business and serving customers better

I like to call this the “keep your eyes on your own paper” approach to business. While it is good to be aware of your competition and know what they are doing. BUT, it can backfire if you are totally consumed or threatened by it. You can start feeling anxiety over things you cannot control.

Instead, focus on what you CAN control — your own business. You can gain a competitive advantage by making your business better than the competition. Ways like:

  • Creating a unique and engaging experience your customers can’t live without.
  • Making your product or service better or more effective
  • Speaking to your customer in a way that resonates more than the competition
  • Solve your customer’s’ problems more quickly, more efficiently, or better that the competition.

Notice, NONE of these ways of gaining a competitive edge include lowering your prices or offering discounts. Customers who value what you offer are not concerned with price – they are concerned with value. If the services you offer are valuable to them, they will do whatever they have to do to pay your prices.

2. Collaborate, network and form alliances with your competition

Have you ever noticed that the most popular restaurants are never isolated, off by themselves in a part of town with no other restaurants? No, there are ALWAYS other restaurants nearby. In fact, restaurants that are isolated usually don’t last very long. The reason is because when it comes to location, restaurants are strengthened by their competition. As diners enjoy dinner at one location, they see all the others out there and want to try them too. The whole area gets more traffic, which means more customers for each restaurant.

The same can go for your competitors. Creating alliances or networks can help strengthen your industry as a whole. Each business has unique qualities to offer their customers. And, when someone isn’t a good fit for you, you’ll be able to refer them to someone who is — and vice versa.

Another benefit of collaborating with the competition is you’ll learn from each other. You don’t have to give away trade secrets, but sharing experiences and knowledge can help improve your businesses and industry as a whole.

How to Make Improvements

Business improvement doesn’t have to be a major project, in fact, it should be a daily practice. Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection, as Mark Twain said so aptly, and small things can make big differences over time.

Ask yourself. Where can you improve your internal practices & systems to create efficiencies?

How can you improve the service you provide to your customers and clients and the way they experience your work?

When you focus on serving your existing clients better, you’re taking advantage of the enormous opportunity learn more and make your improvements in exactly the ways that matter to them. When you do that, you’re developing a competitive advantage that’s hard to replicate because it’s personal. And what does everyone want? Personalized service.

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5 Reasons Why You’re Not Cashing In with New Clients

When you are in a service-based business, getting new clients is your bread and butter. No new clients means no new cash. And, that is bad for business.

But, you’ve built an awesome business and you are awesome at what you do. So, where are the new clients?

Let’s face it, the Field of Dreams mentality doesn’t work in business. Just building it doesn’t mean new clients are going to be knocking down your door.

So, what are you doing wrong?

1. You don’t have an effective inbound sales pipeline

What is a sales pipeline? These are the stages your potential clients (leads) go through from initial interest to final offer of product, whether you make money off of them or not. Typical stages includes lead generation, initial contact,  

qualification, proposal and close (won or lost)

Having a stable pipeline gives you a bird’s eye view of the strengths and weaknesses of your business pitch. At a glance you can easily identify:

  • Where are my best leads coming from?
  • Where am I losing potential customers?
  • How long does it take to close a sale?

Starting one is easy, there are several turn key systems on the market. Our favorite tool is 17 Hats because it not only offers sales pipeline management, it is a fully-integrated client and project management tool.

2. You are not prospecting

How do potential clients know you have a service to offer them? In order to bring in business you have have to sell your business!

The most popular way of doing this is list building. Marketing your business, sparking interest and connecting with your ideal customer base. Once you have made connections (built a list) you can begin to market to your audience and spend your time pitching to qualified prospects (people that have already shown interest in your product).

3. You are not nurturing your leads

In your sales pipeline you will undoubtedly have leads that are interested in what you offer but not particularly ready to buy. These leads will need a little TLC or nurturing.

Nurturing leads is the process of creating an automated workflow to provide educational and engaging content to potential clients. You want to keep your audience engaged and interested in your brand even if they are not ready to buy.

Delivering valuable content that reminds them of why they need what you have to offer. This is usually done by email marketing, but careful not SPAM your leads – quality over quantity is key. Tracking the response activity is also important- Are emails being opened?  Are they clicking your links? Use this information to help you keep in touch with your most active leads, and determine those that may no longer qualify.

4. You are not qualifying your leads

Let’s face it, your product may not be right for everyone.  You want to spend your time marketing to leads that are

  • Your target audience
  • Can afford you
  • Ready to buy

There may be people outside of your target audience that can benefit from your service, but you want to be sure you are spending your valuable marketing time and money on the leads that have the highest potential to buy. Avoiding bad business (or clients that aren’t the right fit) can save you time and energy. It is ok to turn away business and sometimes you may have to.

  • Unable to deliver to expectations – Over extending yourself or being overly ambitious about what you can offer – Honesty goes a long way, be upfront about what you can offer. Customers will respect you for it and a lost sale is better than a bad review.
  • Difficult Customer – Problematic clients drain your time. Some clients just won’t be the right fit for your business and you want to spend your time nurturing clients that you can satisfy.

5. You are not asking for the sale

The answer is always “No” until you ask for the sale. No one likes to be rejected when pitching their business, having a clear and concise call to action will drives sales.

The call to action should be:

  • Timed correctly – Know when to ask, a premature pitch can affect trust
  • Direct – Don’t mislead with vague information, potential customers should know exactly what they are getting from you
  • Delivered – Follow through with the offer right away. Immediate gratification is a great way to earn rapport with customers

Having a great service isn’t enough to have a successful and growing business. With effective sales systems in place, you’ll soon be turning your audience into satisfied clients.