I dropped the ball.
I dropped ALL the balls, honestly.
It's hard to juggle everything: parenting, work, marriage, the landscaping, the homework, the staff, the dishes, the laundry, the mail, the bills, the emails, the everything.
And the other day, everything came crashing down. I had overscheduled the whole family. We were running around like maniacs. We were fighting about who had to use the vehicles. Emails got forgotten, meals were eaten on the road, laundry piled up.
With my head in my hands, I chastised myself. I knew better than this. I knew I should have said "no" to that opportunity and that extra project, and I shouldn't have tried to do everything all at once.
But it happens, doesn't it? Especially at this time of year. End of the year programs and projects, open houses, birthday parties, new summer schedules. It all piles up and the calendar gets filled, whether or not we want it to. And then there's all the stuff that must get done no matter what: the laundry and the dishes and the emails. Everything is screaming "I'm important! No, I'm important!" and no matter how strong you are, it can just overrun you and leave you feeling helpless.
So what do we do?
Sometimes, we break down and just cry.
Sometimes we mute the phone and the email and let things fall down. Yes, we fail. Then, we go back to what works. Systems.
Monday is for marketing.
Tuesday is the staff phone call.
On Thursday, the house gets cleaned.
On Saturday, we do laundry.
On Sunday night, we order groceries.
These systems are my sanity. And when they are running, they keep me sane. And when I'm tired? I fall back on them.
When I ask myself, "what am I supposed to be doing right now?" my systems answer. I go to www.Todoist.com and I check what I should be doing today. What is overdue? What can I delegate. I survey my paper calendar and the digital family calendar. What's coming up? What do I need to prepare for? I check in with my staff. I center myself. I make a fresh To Do list on a small Post-it note. What is my focus? I know I can't do everything so what can I do right now?
The trick is getting these systems set up. And then following them! (That's the hardest part, isn't it?) And yes, we all need flexibility. Last week, when we had multiple open houses to attend, family coming into town, and birthday parties to prepare for, thing fell between the cracks. Stuff got forgotten. But today? Today I'm going back to the trusted systems. They keep me afloat during the busiest times. They keep me going. They run my world, even when I'm tired. Especially when I'm tired.
Weary warriors, hang in there.
You'll make it. You will. I believe in you.
This week I taught three awesome mini workshops on using Facebook for your business! Great turnout! (Ignore that my eyes were looking in the wrong direction — I was eager to get to lunch, lol!)
Chris and I got to meet Anthony Melchiorri from Travel Channel's "Hotel: Impossible" and "Extreme Hotels" in Charleston, SC earlier this week! A successful businessman with so much great advice!
We were awarded a Faith, Belief and Action award last week! Our music school grew by 100 students in just 6 months!! We now teach over 570 students every week!
LOVED having our assistant Sierra here with us at our conference! Everything ran so much more smoothly with her helping out!
"Feeling alone? The team lives up to it's name. It is extremely challenging to juggle all the new skills of opening a business. Chris and Jen take the weight of ownership off your shoulders, and for a reasonable price are able to really help you streamline your systems, from Facebook marketing, to monthly bookkeeping. I started with one service, and keep adding because they are really offering what I am looking for. You are not alone! Sign up today. =)"
"We want to thank Never Alone for helping us with our site by making it simple, nice and easy to see. Their job was great. We loved the whole layout.
And the best and that all our requests were promptly delivered quickly and efficiently.
Thanks again Jen and Chris, you guys are amazing."
"Chris and Jen Hickle really know their stuff! I'm a small business owner that has learned so many tips and tricks from them that really work! I highly recommend their advice and any of their services."
Our full time mission is helping YOUR business grow!
You know the feeling. You're all ramped up and excited to implement changes. You have a list of notes and ideas and you're ready to take on the world!
And then real life happens.
How do you stay motivated when the dishes are piled up, you can't find clean underwear, the emails are screaming at you, and Lord have mercy the tax bill arrived?!?
Let's be honest. We don't live life in a bubble. When we get back on that plane and arrive at home, real life slaps us in the face with a fury.
But there is hope.
Here's my challenge to you: Pick 1 hour per week and get OUT of the house and OUT of the office. Revisit your notes and To Do list. Pick ONE item to work on. Now pick another item to START (make that phone call, send that email, or just get the ball rolling). What's ONE thing you can quickly accomplish and check off? The sense of accomplishment will fuel you with more energy to tackle the next thing.
Can you keep this appointment with yourself EVERY week?
Can you schedule it in your calendar?
Your ability to schedule this time to work ON your schedule and block out the rest of the world will determine the success of your business.
Yes, I know that there are fires to be put out. People to hire. People to train. Emails to answer.
But they can ALL wait for 1 hour so you can actually move the whole organization forward.
After all, if YOU don't make this business grow, there won't BE a business, right?
So tell yourself that this is 100% essential. Make that appointment. Make it "recurring" on your calendar and do NOT let anything push it to the side.
You can do this.
I believe in you!
I have vision beyond what is in front of me.
I see what others do not.
I have faith, when others around me worry.
I push on, even when I am exhausted.
I start each day with optimism and positive expectation.
I build my team because I know I cannot do this alone.
I am always thinking ahead.
I take calculated risks because my future depends on it.
I look brave on the inside. But I'm still scared. I push past the fear.
I am a business owner.
I pinch pennies.
I never stop thinking, analyzing, dreaming, planning, scheming.
I think about next week, next month, next year. I'm always looking ahead.
I forget to look behind at how far I've come. When I do, I am amazed.
I keep pushing forward. I will not stop.
My team, my staff, and my family are counting on me.
I feel this weight. This responsibility. This privilege.
I am a business owner.
I do not know the future, but I know I have this moment.
I squeeze the most out of every day, every opportunity.
I'll never stop, I'll never back down, and I'll never quit.
I am a business owner.
Free printable download HERE.
"I'm trying not to panic. It's a slow time and the phones aren't ringing anymore. This happens every year and I know things will pick up again, but it makes me nervous. I know that now is a good time to update my website, but it's also hard because the cash flow has slowed down. . ."
This is what a client told me this week. And I completely understand her feelings! March can be a "slow" time of year and it's hard not to freak out and worry. But just like the the tulips waiting underground, we can remember that everything WILL bloom again. It just takes time for Spring to come.
What can you do while you wait? The best thing you can do is prepare for the next season! Think ahead! What will get your phones ringing and clients contacting you? What will drive traffic to your website? And will your website convert into new business? Or will it confuse and frustrate and cause them to click away?
Now is the time to do a systems check. How are your Google rankings? How's your conversion? When people call, do they say, "I'll think about it?" or are they turning into clients on your schedule?
If you have leads, but no clients, we need to fix your phone skills.
If you have website visitors, but no phone calls, we need to fix your website layout and call to action.
If you only hear crickets and no one is finding you online, we have work to do!
Bring your website into our "shop" and let's take a look at what's going on. Yes, it's a slow season. Perfect timing to get a tune-up and make sure you are READY for an influx of new clients!
We are just 2 days away from getting into our new house. We have been prepping and planning and making daily trips over there. We are doing construction and renovations so that when we arrive, we are READY to help YOU grow your business. I'll tell you a secret: this is my 21st move! I'm an expert at moving. I'll have pictures up on the walls the day after we move in. So I'll be ready to take your calls next week. Get your call scheduled with me. Let's make your phones ring and fill up your schedule!
Book it here: https://www.neveralonebusinessservices.com/new-project-call.html
When my kids were really little, I had grand aspirations of making a delicious, amazing birthday cake for my son's birthday. I wanted it to be 3 layers and decorated beautifully, so I could impress all of my family guests that were coming over to celebrate.
I wanted to have this amazing cake, but I also needed to get it done quickly. I bought a box mix (extra moist!) and baked my 3 layers. While they were still slightly warm, I stacked them all up and piled on the frosting.
It started to lean.
And lean some more.
I tried fixing it. I tried using the frosting as cement to fill in all the holes. I tried toothpicks. I yelled for Chris to help.
This cake was going down.
I wanted to cry. I also wanted to laugh. (It was pretty funny, after all.)
We had guests coming over in just an hour and I would have no cake for my son's birthday! (And that's why I wanted to cry!)
Looking around the kitchen frantically, I found a trifle bowl that I had received as a wedding gift.
Chris helped me dump the entire cake into the bowl. Again, laughter and tears were threatening to overflow out of me, at the same time. I grabbed the rest of the frosting and just dumped it in. I had no idea what to do, but I knew the cake would still taste good! I smothered a layer over the top and was able to write "Happy Birthday" in frosting.
(I was right! It did taste good. But it looked terrible!!)
Building a business is a lot like my attempt to make a grand, 3 layered cake.
We want it fast. We want it to be amazing. We want to impress everyone we know.
And sometimes? Sometimes we take shortcuts. My boxed "extra moist" cake was NOT the right consistency to layer a cake. I should have allowed the cake to fully cool. Maybe even waited a full day before decorating.
Have you seen the "Cake in a mug"? This is an even faster shortcut to cake! I tried it once and while it was fast, it was not delicious. The recipe bragged that now you could have cake in 3 minutes, whenever you wanted it! And yet, it was subpar.
I never made it again.
I see a lot of advertisements to business owners for fast, easy, slick funnels. I see technology such as Infusionsoft that promises easy, hands-off processes to move leads to clients. But what I've found is that this is a fast way to make your cake crumble.
You know what works? The good old-fashioned way. Making the cake from scratch. Taking time before adding the frosting. Your cake won't bend and break. It will stand tall and be the centerpiece of your birthday party.
In your business, it entails speaking to one client at a time. Listening to their needs and offering them a solution. It's adding your prospects to your email list and authentically emailing them once a month with a newsletter that is both real and entertaining. It's picking up the phone and making follow up calls to see if they are ready to purchase. It's keeping things simple--the old-fashioned way.
You don't need fancy funnels. You don't need a complicated system. You just need to serve your clients and show them that you truly care.
One new client at a time. THAT is how you'll grow your business.
I've done this time after time with two businesses. This isn't theory. It works.
And if you need some help? Let's talk on the phone. Just you and me. I'll take a look at what you're doing and help you see where you can improve. After all, my whole goal is to see YOUR business grow.
P.S. My daughter Abigail has shown me the "right" way to make a cake. She is calm and patient and she makes amazing cakes!
This time of year might be the worst time of the year. Everyone is eager for spring and summer and yet the snow and the rain and the ice just keeps coming. It's discouraging. It's depressing. It can mess with your mind and affect your work, too.
What can you do to push through and make it to Spring?
Chris bought me some beautiful tulips for Valentine's Day. Even though we keep having snow storms, the black dirt and blooming flowers remind me that Spring IS coming.
Playing upbeat music always helps to clear my mood. Chris laughs at me, but I love playing Broadway Showtunes or songs from Disney movies on my Pandora station. I think the character's dramatic predicaments and then positive outlook and conquering attitude helps me dramatically make it through my day! If you're ever on a call with me, you can be assured that I was JUST listening to upbeat music before I said "hello!" Music is definitely the soundtrack of my life and is SO much more uplifting than TV, Facebook or dead air in our office.
Trying out a new restaurant always lifts my mood, too. I love scouring the menu, trying to find the treasure that may become my new favorite. Of course, I analyze their customer service and marketing--I can't help it-- and I love how a new setting and new food heightens my senses.
What can YOU do this week to lift your mood and get you to the other side of the winter slump? Write me back and tell me what you're up to. I'd love to hear!
P.S. We are in the middle of our move to our new house and things are a little CrAzY over here. But that doesn't mean we aren't working! We are finishing up two huge website projects, enrolling new bookkeeping clients, and setting up new Google AdWords accounts. I have moved so many times that I actually set up a system for keeping things organized along the way. If you want my Moving Checklist for a less stressful move, you can grab it HERE. Thank goodness we have a rock star team at Never Alone Business Services, helping us help YOU. They keep us on track and keep all the projects moving forward!
Tax season! ACK! Everyone I talk to is sweating and silently screaming about getting their books in order for tax season. There's just SO MUCH to do. I get it! This last year, we combined both of our businesses into "Hickle Enterprises" and we are in the middle of purchasing a new home. All the paperwork and documents can be downright exhausting and overwhelming!
BUT. There is a better way. This is a great time of year to say, "No more. I'm doing things differently from now on."
Right now, we are enrolling new bookkeeping clients. If you sign up before March 31, we will waive our set up fee ($500 value). Our team member, Jessica, is dedicated to keeping YOUR books organized and streamlined so tax season next year won't be so insanely crazy for you! Chris has 20 years of bookkeeping experience with businesses and churches so he really understands.
We had a client come to us that was used to paying his accountant $12,000 per year (ack!!!) to sort out his disastrous books. When he switched to us (less than $200 per month for bookkeeping), his accountant bill was only $1200. Whew!! That's a savings of $8400!
Now, your situation probably is NOT as dire, because he had a very complex situation, but this story still illustrates the need for an accountant at TAX time and a bookkeeper for the rest of the year. If you're using an accountant to fix your books, you are paying way too much. If you aren't reconciling your books monthly, you have a serious problem on your hands. But it's okay! We can help!
In addition to balancing your books every month, we can audit your contractor's invoices and get them paid each month! What a weight off your shoulders! You'll receive a profit and loss statement every month, so you can have an accurate picture of how much money you are earning and how much you are spending. I don't know about you, but that document is the most important thing that I view during my month. Numbers don't lie and they help me stay on track (they also keep my feelings in check when I see those black and white numbers staring at me)!
Are you ready to have a different tax season in 2019? Your future self with thank you if you make this decision now. Just schedule a call with us to talk about all the details:
Need more info? Read more here:
5 years ago we embarked on a faith journey. We had outgrown our cute little rambler, but couldn't sell it yet (we had bought at the height of the market in 2005). Since I'm Jen Hickle and you can't really tell me anything is impossible, I convinced Chris that we could get more land and space for our family by renting out our house and renting a house for a few years, while we grew our company and saved for another house. This was a TOTAL faith walk and could have really backfired, but we continued to pray and believe everything would work out in the end.
So that's what we have been doing! We were in Corcoran on a couple acres (and then discovered we like LOOKING at wide open spaces, but not maintaining them!) and then in Rogers (on a beautiful pond, but squeezed between TOO many neighbors). After looking for months, we finally found a beautiful home that fits our family, is in our budget, and has beautiful wide-open spaces for our work-at-home, homeschooling family!
Phew. We are finally at the conclusion of this 5 year journey and we are feeling so thankful and blessed!
(For anyone who is curious, we still own our first home and will continue to rent it out. In fact, we may purchase other rental properties as an investment and more streams of revenue! We've learned so much about renting out our home and being renters in the last 5 years!)
We have been busy picking out paint colors and new carpet, to really make this home updated and feel like "ours." You can follow our adventure on Instagram here:
Here's a couple pictures. I'll showcase the "after" pictures on Instagram in the next few weeks! We are super excited!
Hi, I'm Jen Hickle!