One of my Favorite Time Management Tricks

Want to get more done?

You need to put more on your to-do list. Yeah, I know, it sounds counterproductive. After all, one of the reasons you want to get more done is because your to-do list is already too long.

The thing is, it’s not so much that you need to get more done as you have an unrealistic expectation of just how much you can get done.

Your to-do list is likely full of big, open-ended items that are hard to check off. Your tasks begin with things like “Get started on…” or “Work on…” instead of manageable chunks of finite work.

My guest, friend, and former client Emily Thompson, founder of Indie Shopography and the co-host of Being Boss joined me on Profit. Poer. Pursuit to talk about her management tricks.

Here’s how she handles her to-do lists:

“My trick for myself is breaking down those tasks so minutely that sometimes I can check off 5 things in 5 minutes because I really broke them down that small.”

Because Emily breaks her tasks down into items she can process quickly, she’s better able to manage her time overall. She has a much better expectation of how long things take and where she can fit them in her busy schedule.

It’s a small change that yields huge results in productivity, time management, and satisfaction!

Emily and I also chatted about the time she bought a tanning salon at the ripe ol’ age of 18, how she turns her detailed to-do lists into systems, and how she balances the demands of running 2 businesses.

Click here to listen to our full conversation!

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The Power of a Profitable Niche with Content Copywriter Jessica Mehring

The Power of a Profitable Niche with Content Copywriter Jessica Mehring

The Nitty Gritty:

  • How niching your business affects your pricing
  • How niching can expand—not limit—your clients
  • Why expanding your network can be your marketing secret weapon

On this week’s episode of the Profit. Power. Pursuit. podcast, my guest is Jessica Mehring, CEO of Horizon Peak Consulting, where she combines sales-focused copywriting with content marketing to help IT, software and tech clients turn content into revenue. She’s also the creator of The Content Lab, where she trains content creators and copywriters how to get better results from their written content—while putting their careers on the fast track.

Like many business owners, Jessica at first resisted defining a niche for her business, but once she did she found it completely transformed her business. During our conversation, she shares how she’s created a profitable niche service for high tech and SaaS companies, how a niche affects your pricing, how her niche actually helped her find more clients and why her referral network is her marketing secret weapon.

Finding Your Niche and Increasing Your Revenue

When you are a generalist it is more limiting than limiting yourself to a niche.

– Jessica Mehring

Jessica started out being a generalist copywriter when she left her corporate job to build her business full time. Even though all the experts said to niche, like many business owners, she resisted it because she was worried she wouldn’t get enough work, she didn’t feel like she had enough expertise in a niche to claim one and her favorite excuse: she liked the variety. Once she started working with her mentor Joanna Wiebe of Copy Hackers, who was also my guest on the podcast, the power of a niche started to sink in. Jessica ultimately combined her specialty for writing marketing copy for high-tech companies that she developed over years of freelancing with her natural affinity for high-tech work and voila! She had herself a niche!

Once she really clarified her marketing message to “I write marketing content for IT, software and tech companies,” there was no doubt what her niche was. Crystallizing this message really helped Jessica in her sales process and to pre-qualify prospects. It also allowed her space to really master what she does. Because she is a master, she gets really good results for her clients which opens the door for higher rates.

Niching Expands your Clients

When I got very clear about what I do and who I work with it completely transformed my business.

– Jessica Mehring

Jessica explains in the podcast how niching expanded her client base even though many business owners fear that it will limit them. Because her focus was on serving a particular client and she is able to share with others in her network very clearly what she does and who her ideal clients are, it makes it much more streamlined to find clients. Jessica connects with her ideal clients by writing guest posts on sites that she knows they are reading and going to conferences where her clients or potential members of her network will be.

A Strong Network: Jessica’s Secret Weapon

An effective network is a two-way street.

– Jessica Mehring

Jessica’s network understands the work she does and what kind of results she gets and this network includes her clients, other copywriters that are part of her mastermind and those she meets online and at conferences, at Meetups or even at the coffee shop. She also maintains a robust file of copywriters that she knows personally. When a prospect wants work done that’s outside of her niche, she happily refers them on to another professional from her list of vetted copywriters because an effective network is a two-way street.

Tune in to the full podcast to hear more about the power of a profitable niche. Jessica shares her intake process and how she juggles her time and energy between Horizon Peak Consulting and The Content Lab. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast so you never miss my conversations with thriving business owners who share their secrets to success every week.

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Create a Marketing Plan to Grow Your Standout Business with Lacy Boggs

Create a Marketing Plan to Grow Your Standout Business with Lacy Boggs

On this special bonus episode of Profit. Power. Pursuit., we’re sharing an interview I did with content marketing strategist Lacy Boggs during my last CreativeLive course, Create a Marketing Plan to Grow Your Standout Business.

Lacy Boggs is the founder of the Content Direction Agency, which helps small business owners create sales-focused content to grow their brands and their bottom lines.

Lacy and I talk about how to repurpose all the content you’re creating for your business, how to decide what content to create next, and how to use customer awareness to find as many hot leads as possible.

Find out more about Lacy Boggs and the Content Direction Agency at lacyboggs.com

Tara Gentile:

All right. I would love at this point to bring up Lacy Boggs who has been sitting lovely in our audience, but, really, she’s a ringer here for your benefit and mine. Lacy, why don’t we just start off by making sure everyone knows who you are and what you do and where they can find you online.

Lacy Boggs:

Sure. My name is Lacy Boggs. I’m a content marketing strategist and also a copywriter and ghost blogger. I help businesses stop blogging out into the void and praying for results and actually start connecting their content to sales. You can find me at LacyBoggs.com.

Tara Gentile:

Do you see what she did there? To blogging into the void. That’s an unaware thing.

Lacy Boggs:

That’s right.

Tara Gentile:

Then you gently guided them to the solution. Lacy is here because, and it’s specifically in this segment because Lacy geeks out on customer awareness as much as I do and all of the fun things that it can do for your business. Let’s first off start by defining content marketing because it’s something that people talk about, but don’t really know what it means, like so many other things in marketing and just business, in general. It’s one of those fun words, fun phrases, that we throw out there. What does content marketing mean to you?

Lacy Boggs:

To me, it is any time you are engaging in a conversation with your potential audience, with the idea of building a relationship that ends in a sale.

Tara Gentile:

Lovely. Make sense? Cool. For content marketing, customer awareness is really key because content marketing is the best way we have for walking people through that section or through that spectrum.  I know one of the things that you do with your clients or with your agency’s clients is actually help people make better use of the content ideas that they have. You can take a single topic or a single idea and actually explore it from all of these different angles. Can you walk us through your thought process when a client says to you, “Okay, this topic really resonates with my audience. I’d like to use it in as many different ways as possible.”

Lacy Boggs:

Sure.

Tara Gentile:

How do you approach that?

Lacy Boggs:

First of all, you can use the same piece of content or the same message across many, many different channels. You were talking about channels earlier today. You can use that same message in different snippets or different forms across all those channels. For example, if I have a podcast, I might have a great message that I want to share on my podcast. Then I definitely want to put that on my blog, maybe with some additional insights or a synthesis of what’s going on in the text underneath the podcast. Then I might put that on Facebook and go do a Facebook Live and say, “Hey, if you have questions about what I talked about on my podcast, I would love to do that on Facebook Live,” and I might put it on my Instagram or whatever. There’s a zillion ways you can keep reusing it over and over again because the people who are following me on Instagram aren’t necessarily watching my Facebook Lives, aren’t necessarily reading my blog.

 

There was a day when you and I started this that people followed blogs obsessively. They had their RSS feeds.

Tara Gentile:

That’s true.

Lacy Boggs:

They would read all those all the time. Nowadays, you’re very lucky if they open your email. If they actually come to your blog, whew, you’ve done something good because the days of people obsessively reading your blogs are over. Tara, you were talking about meeting people where they are. That’s one way of doing it. It’s showing up and sharing that message across multiple channels.

Tara Gentile:

Perfect. If you were to take a topic then for multiple channels, thinking through for podcasts, for the blog, for Facebook Live, for Instagram stories, whatever it might be, would you want to or could you use different levels of customer awareness to try to create some variety there, and how would you do that?

Lacy Boggs:

Absolutely, because different channels are naturally going to be more aware or less aware. Somebody who’s on my email list is naturally more aware of me. They know what I’m doing. They know who I am. They know what problem I solve probably. They probably even know what solutions I offer, whereas somebody who just finds me on Facebook or hears me on somebody else’s podcast, they’re totally unaware. They’re completely different level. When I’m, for example, writing … Let’s say I start with a blog post. I might promote that on Facebook a little differently than I promote it to my newsletter because my newsletter people already know who I am and what I do. They want to know, “What’s in it for me,” whereas, I might step back out promoting it on Facebook, which is a less aware audience for me and talk more about, “Here’s the big picture, and I’m going to solve … I’m going to tell you the solution. Okay, you’re marriage thing is a great example.”

 

On Facebook, I might say, “Your marriage sucks, but I can tell you why,” and in the blog post, I’m telling you why, and in the newsletter, I might be mentioning that they can get on a call with me to explore it some more.

Tara Gentile:

Awesome. To take that even one step further, I think a mistake that people make is assuming that everyone on their email list is very aware that they know what the problem is.

Lacy Boggs:

That’s true.

Tara Gentile:

That they know what you solve, even who you are. Just because someone signs up for a webinar doesn’t mean they made a real genuine connection with you yet. One of the ways I approach this is I’ll send the same email three times, and I’ll send it to unopens. I’m not sending the same email to the same … Technically, I am, but they’re not seeing it. They’re seeing different things. I’ll take a subject line, and I’ll adjust the subject line, one, to make it unaware, one, to make it problem aware, one to make it solution aware so that I’m getting as many opens on that based on different groups of people.

 

You mentioned the same thing with Facebook. You can do the same thing with Facebook ads. You may have one page that you’re taking people to. We do this with CoCommercial, one page, one place that we’re taking people. For Facebook ads, I might have a long form ad that’s an unaware ad, I might have a medium length ad that’s a problem aware ad, and then I might have a super short ad that’s solution aware or product aware that’s just aimed at people who already are looking for that thing.

Lacy Boggs:

Retargeting.

Tara Gentile:

Retargeting, exactly.

Lacy Boggs:

Also, you can get a lot of data from that. In your email example, if you have three different subject lines that are going to different stages of awareness, you can look at those open rates and say, “Wow. They were all totally unaware. That’s where we got the most opens, so, therefore, I need to do some more education around that or whatever. That message really resonated.”

Tara Gentile:

That is a super great point, too, because even if your people are problem aware, but you find that they’re much more responsive to an unaware message, that means they’re more motivated around the itch than they are around the real problem, and so that means you need to do more to educate them on why they should be motivated to solve that real problem, too.

 

When you’re thinking through a content campaign, walk us through the steps. What are you doing to make sure that by the time you get to that pitch, to the place where you’re trying to close the sale, that everyone’s on the same page as you, that they’re thinking about the solution the same way you’re thinking about the solution, so that they’re most prone to buy.

Lacy Boggs:

I love this because I do it exactly the same way you do it. I work backwards because that’s what you have to do. You have to know what the goal is first in order to get people there. You have to do this walking backwards with the awareness or walking backwards with what’s the goal and how am I going to get there before you can plan a blog post. You can’t know what the blog post should be until you know what you want them to do at the end of the cycle. I look at all the pieces, and I also try to think about just, in general, how those channels are going to play together. If I know that my lead generation strategy is to get somebody to opt in for a content upgrade on my blog post, what do I need to do after that? Then I’d have to have emails that not only deliver that content upgrade, but then probably follow up and continue that message, whereas so that message is a little bit different from the people who haven’t opted in.

 

The next blog post maybe assumes that they haven’t opted in, so the email message is slightly different. I’m considering how do all those channels play together and where do they diverge.

Tara Gentile:

That’s all starting to sound very complicated.

Lacy Boggs:

I realized it as I was saying it.

Tara Gentile:

This is a place where because we like to really geek out on this stuff, it’s very easy to over-complicate it, and it doesn’t have to be that complicated. Give me your simplest approach to a campaign where you’re not necessarily segmenting your audience completely, but you’re taking them step by step through the journey.

Lacy Boggs:

Sure. Very first is, when you step back to unaware, I’m thinking, “Where am I going to get those new eyeballs? How am I going to get in front of new people that are unaware?” A lot of times, that’s not going to be my blog because people are not just discovering my blog. It doesn’t happen that way anymore, unfortunately, but it might be a podcast interview. It might be a guest post somewhere else. It might be Facebook ads. That’s not working as well anymore, but there’s lots of different ways you can get in front of brand new people. Then how am I going to lead them, so I’m probably going to have content of some kind that’s going to lead them from unaware to problem aware. I’m going to tell them what that problem is, and then I might have another piece of content or a webinar or an event, something that’s really juicy to get them from problem aware to solution aware, and that’s where I’ll make my pitch.

Tara Gentile:

That’s the lead generation pitch.

Lacy Boggs:

Exactly.

Tara Gentile:

Into conversion.

Lacy Boggs:

Into conversion. Then that’s where I’ll make my pitch, and then I’ll have follow-up in my email, but it’s like that traditional … Oh, God, that word you don’t like, funnels.

Tara Gentile:

Sales funnel.

Lacy Boggs:

It is. You’re going from the bigger audience, smaller and smaller and smaller and talking to the people that you’ve lead through that.

Tara Gentile:

You don’t have to do lots of fancy segmentation to make this work. The way we’re talking about campaigns and the up and down cycle and leading people through this process, that is segmentation. This is a sneaky way really of talking about segmentation. Don’t want anyone to stress out, that, “Oh, God, this is too complicated. This is … I can’t keep track of all the different things that need to be going on.” You only need to keep track of one campaign at a time. That’s the campaign you’re currently working on, and you need to focus on finding the new eyeballs, getting them to opt in for the problem or the solution that they’re looking for, and then actually closing them on the sale.

 

Great. What are some of the big mistakes that small business owners make when it comes to content marketing?

Lacy Boggs:

The biggest one is not making the plan because I hear that all the time, is that, “Oh, I have a launch in two days. What can I do with my content?” Nothing. Good luck. I hope that works out for you, but, really, the further out you can plan your marketing messages, the better off you’ll be because the more time you have to lead people through that sequence, the more likely you are to get them to product aware and then the raving fan stage. It’s the planning things out is a big one.

 

Also, like you were saying, they focus on one stage as opposed to many as opposed to leading people down the path. My junk food story that I tell is about rocks in the river. If you imagine your customer on one side of the river and your product on the other side of the river, you have to put the rocks in and that’s your content, and if you don’t have enough, they can’t make it.

Tara Gentile:

They’re going to get wet.

Lacy Boggs:

If they’re all over the place, they can’t make it. If they’re too small or too slippery, they can’t make it. You’ve got to make it super, super clear how they get from one place to the next to get to the other side of the river. Otherwise, they fall in and they’re gone.

Tara Gentile:

Exactly. You need the right amount of rock, space the right amount so that they cannot fall in the river.

Lacy Boggs:

Guys, they fall so easily. It’s very dangerous out there.

Tara Gentile:

Like …

Lacy Boggs:

A bear, who knows?

Tara Gentile:

Think about it.

Lacy Boggs:

Oh, gosh. Bears. Come on, Tara. Think how easily we get distracted, and we’re focused on our own stuff. Our potential customers are not nearly as focused on our stuff as we are, and we still get distracted. You have to make it just so easy for them to get to point A to point B.

Tara Gentile:

Any other big mistakes you’re seeing right now?

Lacy Boggs:

You were talking about listening, social listening. The question I’ve heard recently is how do I know which content goes in which channel, and that’s actually the wrong question to ask because your content should all be playing nicely together and you have to think of it as a big web or group because I think a lot of people silo things. They think, “Here’s my podcast and here’s my blog and here’s my Facebook Live.”

Tara Gentile:

Make it worse, “Here’s my newsletter.”

Lacy Boggs:

They don’t realize that even though you’re reaching people at all these different touch points, you need to have a similar message. The podcast needs to also live on your blog, needs to also be emailed out to your people, needs to also be promoted on your Facebook Live show and so on and so forth. You’re hitting that same message in many different places.

Tara Gentile:

That is super duper key.

Lacy Boggs:

What is also awesome about that is it’s less work because you don’t have to come up with a marketing plan for each channel. It’s all the same plan.

Tara Gentile:

Have a marketing plan and use the channels as assets to your advantage.

Lacy Boggs:

As distributions.

Tara Gentile:

You don’t need a plan for each … Notice how we’re not talking about any kind of specifics, “Here’s what you do in social media. Here’s what you do on your blog.” We’re talking about marketing your business, not any particular channel. Brilliant. Do we have any questions for Lacy from you guys? This is a golden opportunity to get some free advice from someone I find very brilliant on this subject. No questions for Lacy.

Lacy Boggs:

Don’t be shy.

Tara Gentile:

Seriously? You guys all have amazing blogs and content marketing strategies? Yeah? Okay.

Lacy Boggs:

Can I ask how many of you are still blogging?

Tara Gentile:

Eww.

Lacy Boggs:

What’s that, about half maybe, a little more than half?

Tara Gentile:

A little more than half I think.

Lacy Boggs:

I think that people believe blogging is dead. I alluded to this earlier. It is not dead, but how we are using it is changing. If you’re blogging the way we were blogging five years ago, you have problems because it’s not converting, it’s not doing what it used to do. That’s why I’ve started talking about content as opposed to blogging because blogging is really just one piece of it. Even if, like me, you love to blog, and that’s the way you communicate, you still need to be using those other channels, too, to make your message heard as widely as possible.

Tara Gentile:

We talked about stories earlier, and that’s how I’m thinking about things, too, is I may have one story that I want to tell in different ways on different channels. Again, it’s content. It’s marketing. It’s not blogging or podcasting or Facebook Live-ing. It’s a story. It’s a campaign. It’s a pass that I want to take people down, and that’s going to go all over the place. Lisa?

Lisa:

You opened up a can of worms for me.

Tara Gentile:

I love cans of worms.

Lisa:

Maybe I’ll just tell you a little bit what I do, which I think is probably old school, and you can maybe give me some tips around it. I write a couple articles a month, and I have for years, and I enjoy it, but I don’t really think a lot of people are reading it, nor am I driving a lot of traffic there intentionally, other than keeping my site active and it ranks higher because of it. I wouldn’t mind some tips on how can I get my content out there. Should I be doing shorter articles, longer articles? Should I be posting, boosting posts? Maybe just a quick and dirty. If I’m doing two decent size, length sized blog posts a month, how can I optimize them or how can I do them to take less time even? Either optimize or maybe spend less time because I’m not sure that trade-off is really working right now.

Lacy Boggs:

Sure.

Lisa:

I think maybe because that’s just old school blogging because it’s just like, “I’m writing two articles.”

Lacy Boggs:

That’s super common.

Lisa:

I don’t think I’ve actually thought about much more than keeping the site active with a couple posts a month.

Lacy Boggs:

I understand. I hear that a lot, so you’re not alone. Don’t feel badly about that. Just to answer a couple of your tactical questions right off the bat, length is more important these days, especially if you’re optimizing for SEO. Google is giving preference to longer form articles, and when I say longer form, I mean 2,000 words, 1,500 words. The days where we could publish 300 words a day, every day of the week are over.

Tara Gentile:

I used to do that.

Lacy Boggs:

It was a thing. It worked back in the day. It doesn’t work anymore. Emphasis on longer form, more informative, more useful-

Lisa:

Is 1,000 considered ok, because 2,000 is pushing…

Lacy Boggs:

It’s a lot. It’s a lot.

Lisa:

1,000 is long without being…

Lacy Boggs:

For those of you who just freaked out when I said that, the flip side of that is that you don’t need to be publishing as often. If you can be consistent, if you can be useful and you can be really delivering a lot of value, you can publish less often. I like to say that consistency is more important than quantity. People are getting away with once every two weeks, even once a month. I wouldn’t go less than that because people will forget about you, but if you’re delivering a really valuable piece once a month, you’re doing okay.

 

Then the next part of that is, how do we optimize it? If you’re really going to delve in and write a 2,000-word article, even once a month, you want to get the most out of that. That’s a lot of work. Really, it’s about promoting. You said at the beginning that everybody knows they should be marketing, but we’re not spending very much time on it. I think it’s the same with promoting blog posts. It’s not enough to just write the post and hope that somebody will find it anymore. Nowadays, we have to be deliberately promoting and almost marketing our blog posts. It’s about figuring out where am i going to put this that more people will see it, and you mentioned boosting it on Facebook. That can work if you have the budget for it. It’s also maybe not the most budget friendly anymore. The way Facebook ads are working is changing again. Everything’s changing right now. We’re in this shifting time period. I would say figure out how can I do this that’s free that’s also going to engage more people.

 

Something I’m trying and I know you’re trying is Facebook Live. Even just hopping on once a week to say, “Hey, I’m going to expand a little bit on this part of my blog post,” is a great way to get people to then come to the blog post to get the rest of it. There’s lots of other little techniques and tactics you could use, but really putting some effort and energy into promoting that amazing article will help get the most out of it.

 

Then the third thing is to repurpose it, what we were just talking about. If you can make an audio and turn it into a podcast, if you can turn it into slides or an infographic that you can post somewhere else, if you can post it on Medium or LinkedIn, if you can share bits and pieces of it on Facebook, put it in graphics on Pinterest. Think about all the different ways you can share that same content so that you’re using that content as much as possible and reaching people where they are.

Lisa:

That makes me think. Those are great suggestions because I know sometimes I put my whole post in my email and, other times, I don’t.

Lacy Boggs:

Sure.

Lisa:

I can’t figure out what is the best, but if it was really long, I couldn’t do it (put it all in my email). I suppose you could every six months almost repurpose with a different lead-in on my email…

Lacy Boggs:

Absolutely.

Lisa:

With the same article, which would then make it worth it because you’re driving more traffic to less effort in a way.

Tara Gentile:

Even not over six months. In the course of a week, I’ve written different lead-ins, different tie-ins, different followups to the same podcast episode that’s leading people back to the show notes on my blog, that’s different emails going out in the same week, so I might write three emails about one podcast episode, but it’s all from a different angle. It hits a different pain point. It hits a different point of the customer awareness spectrum, different people are going to see it. The fact of the matter is, people aren’t opening up email the way they used to either, so sending three emails isn’t overwhelming. It’s getting more opportunity for the right people to see your content. You can do that, as well, to optimize things. If you’re writing one post a month, you might write your weekly email. It’s just a different take on that same post, and they can go there for more information, for something more in depth.

 

Do we have any more questions for Lacy?

Tara Gentile:

Melissa?

Melissa:

As you know, I’m making this transition in my business, and I have a podcast. I alternate between monologues and guest conversations. The monologues, I do a written version and an audio version, podcast and blog, and now that I’m making this transition in my business, that’s going to be a completely different audience, so I’m trying to figure out, how do I do the content marketing for this completely different audience or do I even do content marketing-

Lacy Boggs:

Sure.

Melissa:

For this completely different audience? How do I even approach that?

Lacy Boggs:

The first question is, where are those people hanging out? The corporate people that you want to talk to are probably not listening to a creativity … Maybe they are, but…

Melissa:

Probably not.

Lacy Boggs:

Probably not, because they don’t know that’s their problem, so they’re way unaware. They’re super unaware. We have to figure out where are they hanging out and how can we communicate and move them down this spectrum. I think we were talking about LinkedIn at lunch. That’s probably a really great prospecting channel for you. I might consider putting up an article on LinkedIn once a month that’s aimed directly at those people, and then make sure you have a strong call to action, how to get in touch with you, but focusing on where those people are hanging out and how you’re actually going to reach them. Don’t try to split your podcast and do half the episodes to your individuals and half the episodes to corporate. That’s not going to really work because I don’t think they’re listening to that podcast, but on the other hand, if you interview somebody awesome, you could run Facebook ads or LinkedIn ads, targeting people that would hire you for your corporate services, and you could use that awesome, corporate interview you did on your podcast as the piece of content to draw them in.

 

You can double dip, but not as much as you might think.

Tara Gentile:

I completely agree with what you said, and I think often people try to keep them so separate that they forget that they’re might actually be someone who’s super tuned in listening to that podcast, and it just takes one mention. It doesn’t have to be a whole big thing. It’s just one mention could get you a guest.

Lacy Boggs:

The common denominator is you. You’re the product in this scenario, and the common denominator is you. If you can mention it on your podcast that, “I also do corporate speaking,” or interview somebody that makes it clear, you’re marketing yourself there, too.

Melissa:

Cool. Thank you.

Tara Gentile:

Lacy, thank you so much. You dropped so much wisdom for us. Let’s all give her a round of applause.

Lacy Boggs:

Thank you. Thank you.

Tara Gentile:

Again, you can find Lacy at LacyBoggs.com. Her agency really helps people do exactly these things that we’ve been talking about, taking topic ideas and helping them hit as many new people as possible and create this content marketing strategy that puts the little rocks across the stream so you don’t fall in and get washed away in the white water. All right. Awesome. Hopefully, you’ve seen over the course of this lesson how you can really start to bring more people not only into your audience, but into that inner circle where they’re actually going to be willing to buy. This is key. If you’re not using customer awareness yet, implementing what we’ve just talked about is really going to take your marketing to a whole new level. You’re going to see doors open for you that have never been opened for you.

 

Again, I don’t want to oversell it, but, really, guys, this is game changing stuff!

 

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The Art of Management—For One or Many—With Productive Flourishing Founder Charlie Gilkey

The Art of Management—For One or Many—With Productive Flourishing Founder Charlie Gilkey

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Why to shift from hiring contractors to hiring employees
  • How to keep your team from becoming overcommitted and overwhelmed
  • How to structure time to enhance creativity

This week, my guest is on the Profit. Power. Pursuit. podcast is Productive Flourishing founder, Charlie Gilkey. Charlie is a best-selling author, speaker, blogger, podcaster and business strategist. His website has been visited by nearly 3 million people and his tools, worksheets and planners have been downloaded more than 1 million times. He’s taught thousands of people how to go from idea to done using simple, but powerful approaches that tap into their strengths and genius.

Charlie and I talk about the art of management—whether for one or for many including the shift from contractors to hiring employees, how to keep your team from becoming overcommitted and how to structure time to enhance creativity.

From Contractors to Hiring Employees

I hire and select for people who are versatile, adaptable and like to do multiple things.

— Charlie Gilkey

Although Charlie still has independent contractors on the Productive Flourishing support team, he built a core team of five employees who are all dedicated to achieving the same goal. They all wear many hats and are multifunctional to allow for changes to, and growth of, the business. He found it is harder to build culture with freelancers or contractors. Everyone on the core team who are employees already understands the goals, processes and culture which is sometimes harder with freelancers or contractors who must figure these things out in addition to doing the job they are getting paid to do. As your business grows what you actually need is people who fit your culture, can show up each day to dedicate their time to your business and be flexible.

Control the Overwhelm

If we have to wear 17 different hats, at least know who is wearing which hat.

— Charlie Gilkey

When you have a small, but versatile team of people who “wear 17 different hats,” it’s important to have very clear job descriptions and roles and responsibilities. People are in different lanes of responsibility and different projects that they own. Charlie’s team also uses Asana to schedule regular routines and projects. When people aren’t keeping up with their routines, it’s a sign that they are overcommitted. By knowing what the routines are, when they need to be done and who is doing them, a lot of the meta thinking is not needed. The answers are in the routines. When your team isn’t clear about how things are going to get done, the uncertainty zaps your team’s productivity and morale. Plus, in the last year the team has gotten a lot better about determining the projects they are going to commit to and saying “no” to others.

Structure Time to Enhance Creativity

A lot of creative people don’t recognize how supportive structure and defaults are.

— Charlie Gilkey

A lot of creative people rebel against the very things they need the most. High-performing creative people inevitably have these really well thought-out structures and containers to do their creative work. Productive Flourishing is to the point that the processes and structure are set, so the team can use their creativity on the work and not use it to figure out what the work should be and how it will get done.

Tune into the entire podcast to learn more from my discussion with Charlie including how businesses and professionals make things harder and how he articulates his intuitive synthesis to his team. You can learn more about Charlie Gilkey and download his free planners for creative people from his website.

And, listen to the Productive Flourishing podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, or wherever you listen to this podcast!

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The Secret to Small Business Longevity with Career Coach Michelle Ward

The Secret to Small Business Longevity with Career Coach Michelle Ward

The Nitty Gritty:

  • How to plan and pivot out of a crappy job
  • How a brand evolves and “grows up” over the life a business
  • Why entrepreneurship allows the flexibility to adjust your business when you face a negative or positive situation out of nowhere

My guest on the Profit. Power. Pursuit podcast this week is Michelle Ward, founder and career coach of When I Grow Up, a firm dedicated to helping creative women get out of their “soul-sucking jobs and discover—and launch!—their authentic, fulfilling businesses.” After 20 years of preparing for and pursuing her dream of being an actress, she suddenly realized it was no longer the life she wanted to lead and decided to get a “real job.” We talk about her own transition to discover her own dream career, how the When I Grow Up brand has evolved and how her business became her relief and release after being diagnosed with cancer.

Plan and pivot out of a soul-sucking job

The devil you know is oftentimes better than the devil you don’t.

– Michelle Ward

Michelle started to get beaten down by the business of show business, and decided that even though she had spent her life up to that point preparing for a career as an actress, it was no longer what she wanted to be when she “grew up.” But, she ultimately didn’t know WHAT she wanted to be and she didn’t want to settle for anything less than something she was passionate about. After a lot of soul searching and help from a career change class, she realized being an entrepreneur really fit everything she wanted for herself.

She became the coach that she couldn’t find. But, as Michelle shares in our interview, it took several years of planning and working a “grown-up” job as an executive assistant so she could pay her bills and get her training before she pivoted to a full-time career coach.

Evolution of the When I Grow Up brand

Overwhelmingly, my people told me that they were attracted to me and stayed around because they clicked with the name.

– Michelle Ward

Since Michelle’s name is so common, it never crossed her mind to use her name as her business name. After some deliberation, she settled on the name When I Grow Up because every time she would share it with others, they would laugh and “get it.”

There have been three different logo/brand shifts as the brand has grown up over the years. Michelle has worked with the same designer since the beginning of her business and during our conversation she shares how the look and feel of her brand has shifted. She’s really happy with where the brand is right now and Michelle believes that the caliber of the clients she attracts is a really big nod to the business name, brand, how she shows up online and how authentic she is.

Each year, Michelle creates an infographic to illustrate her business by the numbers that offers a fascinating look into her revenue streams and business expenses.

Adjust your business when necessary

Whether it’s something negative or positive out of nowhere the same rules can apply.

– Michelle Ward

Everybody responds differently to the trials and tribulations of life when being an entrepreneur, but the promise of entrepreneurship is that you have the ability to adjust your business in a way that works for your life circumstances. Michelle shares how she weathered the storms in her business including two different bouts with “boob cancer” in 2011 and 2015. At the forefront of her approach was honesty and transparency with her clients. Michelle explains how she adjusted her business during her surgery and treatment based on what she still wanted to do that made her feel good, what she thought she could manage and how she could alter the expectations to show up at a certain time and avoid feeling guilty if she wasn’t up to it.

I invite you to tune in to listen to the entire podcast where you will hear all the nitty-gritty details from this long-time entrepreneur and learn about a great opportunity to join Michelle at the Pivot Assembly, a virtual event with amazing career change experts, including yours truly, to learn about how to pivot out of your crappy job into a more traditional job or entrepreneurial work.

Each week you can learn from the experiences of successful entrepreneurs to build your own business. Subscribe to the Profit. Power. Pursuit. podcast on iTunes to get the nitty-gritty details about how these professionals built brands and teams and are living out their dreams as an entrepreneur.

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I Fell Last Night: On Preparing For Success

When the warm up exercise included doing monkey bars, I knew I was in over my head.

Rewind to a few weeks ago: I noticed a post on Instagram about our local bouldering gym having a women-only beginner bouldering class.

I Fell Last Night: On Preparing For Success

It was starting in 2 days and–for some reason–I decided I needed to do it. I had no climbing experience. Not even tree climbing.

Superman might have arms of steel. I have arms of aluminum foil.

The very first class wrecked me. I was sore for 4 days.

The second class was better. But I still couldn’t get to the top of the “boulder.”

During the 3rd class,I made it higher than I ever had before. I was just one foothold away from topping it out…

…but I didn’t have one more foothold.

I held on and on and on, trying to figure out how to I could get the leverage I needed to go just one step higher.

Soon enough, my arms and legs started to shake.

At that moment, I shifted my focus from going up to getting down.

Now, there’s only one way down.

Falling.

I put energy and brainpower into figuring out how to fail–even though there was a giant pad directly under me.

I already had what I needed to fail. I didn’t need to put energy into it. I could have stayed up there until my muscles gave out looking for a way to get over the top.

But I didn’t. And that’s where things got really dicey.

I’ve gotten pretty used to falling in 3 short weeks.

When I fell this time, my neck snapped back pretty good.

Eventually, I had to call it quits because I knew what was happening to my body… and that I was going to have a rough few days with some muscle spasms in my back.

Once I was up from the fall (it really wasn’t that bad), the instructor pointed out that there was, in fact, one more foothold. I just didn’t see it.

I couldn’t have seen it because I let my energy focus on failing instead of forging ahead.

Why didn’t I see it?

I didn’t scope out the route (or the “problem” as we call it in bouldering-speak) before I started.

Because I assumed I would fail.

I have failed every time I’ve attempted to climb so I didn’t properly prepare.

You can bet I won’t be doing that again. I’ll know my line of attack, I’ll have taken account of all of my resources, and I’ll know some options should I get hung up.

And if I fall again? No worries. Falling isn’t bad–but not anticipating what I need to succeed is.

Now, dear reader, this isn’t just a story about my poor attempts at climbing over a fake boulder.

This is a story about your business–of course.

I want to know if you’re planning to succeed or merely paying success lip service.

I want to know if you have all of your energy and focus on your idea of success or if you’re regularly refocusing on what will happen when you fail.

Planning to succeed doesn’t mean just having a plan or even “doing the work.” It means making decisions and taking actions that prepare your business for meeting your goals.

Are you taking into account everything you’ll need to succeed? Or are you spending more time thinking about what you’ll do when you inevitably fail?

For instance, consider your year-end revenue goal. Maybe it’s $50,000. Maybe it’s $500,000. Maybe it’s $5 million.

Have you considered how many customers you’ll have to enroll to actually hit that number?Have you considered the number of hours it will take to service that many customers? Do you have the right team or schedule to process that customer service? Do you have the right processes in place to fulfill orders?

In other words:

Is the business you have now (systems, tech, team, management, service) the business you need to hit your goal?

It’s tempting to think that you need to hit the goal first to have or even earn “that kind of business.”

But you have to build the business that has the capacity to reach your goal in order to reach your goal in the first place.

That can mean making some uneasy decisions about the kinds of offers you want to sell, the people you want to hire, and they money you want to spend. When you’ve planned to succeed and created the capacity to reach your goals, you’ll feel so much more confident actually going out to make it happen.

And that confidence will translate into action that produces much, much better outcomes.

Finally, I want to say that contingency planning is important too. You should know what you’ll do if things don’t go to plan. But don’t let contingency plans inadvertently influence the action you take. That’s how self-sabotage happens.

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Tara Gentile is on a mission to turn the small business owners of today into the economic powerhouses of tomorrow. She's the creator of Quiet Power Strategy®, a business design system and entrepreneurial family. She's also the host of Profit. Power. Pursuit., which Entrepreneur named one of the 24 top woman-hosted business podcasts.