Hello Tech Support? How to Tame Those Technical Issues That Hold You Back

No one can know—and do—it all. And if you’re in business, then you know there are a lot of moving parts that all have to be managed. Websites, shopping carts, email managers, video editing, copywriting, and file storage…the list goes on.

And here’s where many new (and even some established) business owners fall down. They try to bootstrap everything. Need a new website? They build it. Starting an affiliate program? They install it. Creating a video training series? They buy Camtasia; spend weeks learning it, and more weeks recording and editing video.

While there’s much to be said for self-sufficiency, there comes a point where you simply have to decide which tasks are giving you the best ROI, and let go of the rest.

As Nicole Dean says, “If you’re a fish, stop trying to fly. Do what you’re good at, and let others handle the rest.”

And here’s why. You’re wasting valuable time and energy trying to do it all yourself. Take a quick look at this calculator to find out what your time is really worth, and you’ll very quickly discover that paying someone to edit your videos or update your website is a worthwhile investment.

Now that’s not to say that you shouldn’t know anything about the techy stuff that runs your business. You absolutely should. It’s nearly impossible to outsource work if you don’t have some idea of the work that needs to be done.

What that means is, you need to have an overview. You need to know where you’re going and have a basic idea of the steps that will get you there. You need to know that these things are possible, but you don’t necessarily need to know how to do them. For example, if you’re using Infusionsoft, and you want to send an email with a link that, when clicked, will automatically add the reader to a new campaign, then all you need to know is that it can be done. You don’t have to understand the mechanics behind it or be able to set it up yourself.

That’s what your VA is for.

And if you’re really thinking ahead (and I know you are) then you’ll also have your VA document the steps she’s using to complete the task. As part of her job, she should be helping to build your operations manual. That will make it easier for everyone on the team to get more done in less time, which in turn will save you money.

So stop fighting with technology. Learn only what you must know to do your job, and hand the rest off to someone who can do it faster and better. Then you can spend your time bringing in the money.

4 Solutions for De-Stressing Your Business Starting Right Now

What if you could save time every working day starting now? If you could save 5 hours per week that’s more than a half-day off. Imagine closing up shop at 11am every Friday without worrying about all the stuff that didn’t get done.

You can do that, when you put these 4 solutions in place, and you can do it right now.

Proper Project Management. If you’re still managing your team with email and Skype messages, stop it. Things get lost, messages are forgotten (or never received) and balls are dropped. Not to mention all the time you spend sifting through your endless list of emails for that one piece of information you need.

Sign up for Asana today, and start putting all your projects there instead. You’ll have one place to look for tasks that are still outstanding, and be able to tell at a glance what needs your immediate attention.

Proper Documentation. Do you find yourself reinventing the wheel every time you have to record a podcast or upload a video to your blog? Take 5 minutes and document the steps, then next time you have to do it (or better yet, when you hand it off to a VA) you’ll be able to quickly work out what needs to happen. There will be fewer mistakes, and the work will get done faster.

Create a Business Organization Chart. If you have multiple people on your team, this is critical. Rather than everyone coming to you for questions—or worse, asking the wrong person and getting the wrong answer—take the time to create an organization chart. Add it to your operations manual and make sure your team knows where it is and what it’s for. Now, rather than your Skype chat blowing up with questions all day long, you’ll have time for the more important tasks.

Use Time Blocking. Get out your calendar and start making appointments with yourself. Decide when you’ll check email and when you’ll work on client projects, then stick to the schedule. These self-imposed deadlines will not only force you to get the work done, but they’ll help keep you focused, so rather than wasting time on Facebook, you’ll be working on your business.

All of these systems can be set up in an afternoon—at least initially. But the time they save you when you use them consistently is phenomenal. An hour a day is just the beginning, but you have to take action. You have to put in the work first, before you can earn the rewards, but the benefits are sweet. In the end, you’ll wonder how you ever managed before you did these four things to improve your business.

Money Matters: How to Systematize Everything from Invoicing To Tax Preparation

Here’s an all-too-common scenario: A seemingly successful coach (or service provider) is hard at work growing her business. She’s working lots of hours, and her hourly rate is respectable. But her cash flow is dismal.

Why?

Because she’s working so hard that finding the time to actually take control of her money is impossible.

Invoices don’t get sent on time. Past due balances are ignored. Taxes aren’t done. And maybe worst of all, she’s got dozens of recurring payments that go out automatically each and every month, and she has no idea what they are or if she’s even using the programs she’s paying for.

Sound familiar? Sadly, that’s exactly what a lot of “successful” businesses look like. When you work at home, and you’re accountable to no one but yourself, it’s far too easy to let these little things slide until, like an avalanche, they have a devastating effect on your business.

The good news is, cleaning it up is easy, when you take the time to put some trusted systems in place.

Start with your billing. Sign up for (and use) a system such as Freshbooks or Harvest, which will automate your timekeeping and produce an invoice with a single click of a button. Then put your billing day on your calendar as an unbreakable appointment.

Log into your timekeeping app, generate your invoices, and click send. You’ll be done in a jiffy. Not only that, but most billing systems automatically send follow-up messages for unpaid invoices, so you don’t have to worry about tracking down those slow pays.

For your expenses, use a single system. That might be PayPal or a dedicated credit card or even your business checking account. Whatever it is, be sure it has a reporting feature that will allow you to send monthly statements to your accountant. At the end of every month, bundle that up with your sales report and your receipts, and send it off. When tax time rolls around, you’ll be sitting back with your feet up while everyone else scrambles to find documents and update their accounting system.

If you do your own taxes (kudos to you!) then look for tools that will talk to each other easily. For example, you can download a Quickbooks file right from PayPal for super-fast reconciliation at the end of every month. That alone will save you hours of “doing the books.”

Just putting these two simple systems in place can easily save you 10+ hours per month, but the even larger benefit is that the money work will get done. And what that will do for your cash flow is priceless.

How to Network Like a Ninja

You know it’s critical to your success, but are you doing it with forethought and a solid strategy in place, or do you just “wing it?”

Admittedly, most of us are squarely in the winging it category, but there are some quick and easy changes you can make that will put even your most important networking tasks on autopilot.

Outsource the research: First step, hire a VA who can find and connect you with potential JV partners, affiliates, guest interviews, and all the other marketing options at your disposal.

With a list of requirements at hand, he or she can spend an hour or two on Google and bring back a list of hundreds of people you can then reach out to. What would a list of 100—or even 10—new JV partners do for your business growth?

Automate the initial connection: Create a script or email template to use when you first reach out to potential partners. Your VA can send this in an email or make a call on your behalf, but having the script in place will accomplish two things:

  1. The process will be much faster than if you have to think about what to say.
  2. You’ll be able to tweak the script as you go to get better results. Just like you split test your emails, you can test your outreach process as well.

Automate the follow-up: At the risk of sounding like a broken record, create an email or phone script to help speed the process. You or your VA (or your email autoresponder series) can send out a series of emails to follow up on that initial connection.

Automate your scheduling: Using a service such as TimeTrade or ScheduleOnce, you can easily set up your calendar with your preferred times for interviews, webinars and such. Give your JV partners links to book time with you, and the meetings will automatically appear on your calendar. No more endless back and forth to discuss potential meeting times, just a single click, and your partner can choose the time that works for both of you.

Here’s a hint though: be sure to use your calendar diligently, because if you don’t you run the risk of someone scheduling time with you when you already have another commitment.

Will it take a bit of work to get these systems in place? Sure. But once you do, you’ll find that attracting and working with JV partners, guest experts and others is much easier and more streamlined. Not only that, but with the time you save, you’ll be able to concentrate on creating new programs and services. Or maybe just hang out with the kids a bit. You deserve some time off.

 

Your Automated Sales Force

Ever wish you could hire a team of savvy sales people to stay in touch with your prospective clients and encourage them to buy?

When you put a few simple systems in place, you can easily replace an expensive sales force with automated tools that allow you to keep your products and services in front of potential clients. You’ll not only make more money, but you’ll do it completely hands free. All that’s required is a little forethought.

Your first must-have tool? An autoresponder. Simply put, an autoresponder is a series of emails that go out on a pre-determined schedule. They’re written to engage your audience and pull readers further into your funnel.

Typically, an autoresponder series will have at least seven emails in it, and is used as a lead generating tool. You offer an opt-in on your website with (for example) “weekly tips to stay productive during the dog days of summer” or “daily motivation for busy mompreneurs.” When your reader fills out the form, she’s automatically added to your autoresponder list, and you have her attention with every email.

The key though, is to write your series with specific calls to action. It’s not enough to just give her tips for being more productive. You have to also give her the opportunity to buy your products or services.

Done right, your autoresponder can help keep the cash flowing, even when business is down.

The fastest way to get your autoresponder up and running is to use a tried and true email provider such as AWeber. It’s simple to set up, and extremely affordable. Plus, you’ll find many VAs who are experienced with it and can help you out if you get stuck.

For the content, look back over your most popular blog posts and products. Posts can be repurposed to provide valuable content to your subscribers, with a natural upsell to matching products or services.

In addition, think about the questions you’re most frequently asked, what conversations pop up again and again, and what your social connections and competitors are discussing. These nuggets are the building blocks of a compelling autoresponder series that your readers will not only look for, but actually read. And if they’re reading, they will eventually buy.

As they move through your series, you want to keep in mind that subsequent offers should be more and more valuable, with the occasional low-priced offer thrown in.

In fact, if you’re using a more sophisticated system such as Infusionsoft or AWeber with the AW Pro Tools add-on, you can easily move people between autoresponders based on the actions they take. That means they’ll see exactly the offers they want and need, and nothing else. It can make selling via email super productive, and best of all, completely automated.

 

Say it With Confidence: How to Discuss Rates Like a Pro

Does the topic of money make your mouth dry and your hands sweat? Do you dread that point in a conversation when someone says, “So what do you charge?”

You’re not alone. Most of us have difficulty talking about money—especially when it comes to quoting prices for our own work. But if you’re going to be successful in business, you have to get over it.

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Stop! Before You Raise Your Rates…Do This

In every coach’s life, there comes a time when you simply have to raise your rates. Maybe you’ve been in business for years without a pay increase. Maybe your skills have recently improved through a new training course or certification. Or maybe you just want to attract a higher caliber of client.

Whatever the reason, it pays to have a plan in place before you make your big announcement. Here’s where to start.

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No More ROI: The Real Way to Sell High-Priced Packages

Want to know what keeps a lot of coaches and service providers from charging what they’re really worth?

It’s that all-too-common belief that “I am not a sales person.” Combine that with a healthy dose of “It’s rude to discuss money,” and you can see why it’s just easier to keep your rates low.

It’s time to think of your services from a different angle. Not only will you see things in a clearer light, but selling suddenly won’t feel so…salesy.

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