I have to admit that I was starting to feel a little depressed. I know Christmastime is supposed to be a happy time, but something was pulling me under more and more. I tried to do all my favorite things (reading, drinking coffee, etc) but nothing was helping. I finally realized that I was "gap-focused."
I was spending so much time lamenting what didn't get done this year that I was spiraling down into my own pit of despair. I forgot to acknowledge what went well and what we did accomplish. When I find myself doing this, I call it focusing on the gap. The gap that is between me and hitting the mark.
I really thought I had quit striving for perfectionism, but perfectionism rears its ugly head when I am least suspecting it. The truth is that I am very hard on myself. I have high standards and when I don't reach my own goals, I berate myself.
Tonight my mood turned around when I realized all the good things that happened in 2016. We reached our goal of 430 students at our music school. Our net income increased from 2015 to 2016. We helped to serve more clients than ever before with Never Alone Business Services. I finished writing my book, Happy Kids, Growing Biz.
Do you find yourself focusing on the gap? Do you forget to acknowledge your accomplishments and instead keep pushing pushing forward? If so, you're not alone. Most of us high-achieving business owners don't take the time to actually acknowledge the good things that we have accomplished.
Today, I'm going make a list of everything that was good about 2016. I encourage you to do the same. You may need to enlist the help of your spouse or your staff to help you remember.
Before you make your new goals for 2017, make sure you take a moment to remember what you got done this year. I guarantee it's more than you realize.
Dear busy business owner,
I know you're working so hard. Especially this time of year. You're buying gifts for your staff, you're making sure that everything gets purchased, you're overseeing the schedules, and you're making projections for 2017. The days are long and the hours are often never-ending.
You also get the priviledge of creating jobs and hiring amazing people. You see the smiles on your clients' faces and you get the joy of making a difference in the community.
And yet, sometimes it all still feels so small. Like maybe it doesn't really matter. Is this all worth it? Couldn't there be a bigger vision? A more glamorous mission?
I want you to know that what you do matters. Your company is your calling. It's a reflection of who you are and what you were created to do. No one is exactly like you. You bring your personality and your preferences and your flare into everything you do. Sometimes the difference you're making in the world feels so tiny. You're so aware that there are bigger things that need to be accomplished--people are fleeing war-torn countries, babies are dying, cancer is spreading. And yet. Listen to me. All you can do is be faithful in YOUR calling. You are exactly where you are for a reason and a purpose. You ARE making a difference in lives, and your efforts spread like a stone dropped in a pond. You may not ever see all the ripples that you are causing. But you are actually required to be faithful where you are and use the gifts and talents you've been given. Because, don't you see? If we all do that--if we all stay faithful to the calling we've been given--then it all works together! We all play our part. And that makes a bigger difference in the world than we could ever do alone.
Does your heart ache for a need? Do tears spring up in your eyes when you see how much is yet to be done in the world? Don't ignore those clues. Use that passion and ache to fuel your desire to grow your company. And then GIVE BACK. Start small. Even $25 makes a difference. But don't stop there. Give more.
This year, set a giving goal. Maybe it's 10% of your net revenue. Or 5% of your gross. Whatever you decide, your giving will increase as your company grows! This accomplishes a dual pupose: you will have a bigger goal outside of yourself and you will know that you are making a difference in the world. You will also have a bigger reason for growing your company and serving more people in 2017!
Don't look down on the work that you do. Don't resent where you've been planted. Instead, remember that you are exactly where you are supposed to do. What you do matters. I believe that with all my heart.
And I believe in YOU.
It's December. You're feeling a little antsy. Sales are down. The phones are (relatively) quiet. You're tempted to bomb your email list with a December special or run an expensive Facebook campaign.
I've been feeling the same way, and while my intuition has been whispering, "Wait," I still have been chomping at the bit. I'm ready for 2017. I'm ready to grow my music school. Let's do this!
And yet, I need to finish my Christmas shopping and wrap the presents I've hidden. I need to make cookies for our family get-together, but before I can do that, I have to buy the supplies to make the cookies. Before we actually get to baking, I need to wash all the dishes (our dishwasher is broken, boo). It's an overwhelming time of year--not only for me, but for our customers! This is precisely why you need to be patient and wait to run your 2017 marketing campaign. Give your prospects some space. Respect their crazy. Let them shop and wrap and bake and enjoy the season. There's plenty of time for marketing!
Now, where to put all your nervous energy (as you're procrastinating on wrapping those gifts)? You can PLAN your January marketing. Write those emails. Map it out. Line up some great photos for your Facebook campaigns (remember: smiling happy faces looking AT the camera!).
If your staff is pacing nervously, let them make plans to spruce up your location. Do paint touch-ups. Get those cobwebs high in the corner. Move some furniture around. Let this "slow" time be a time of improvement before the New Year's rush.
And the best use of your time and energy this month is definitely giving back. Who can you bless? What need can you meet? Send that check anonymously. Buy a new winter coat for that family in need. Do a food or new toy drive at your business. Leverage your position and your company to be a force of good in the community and in the world.
Enjoy the season. Breathe. (And listen to some wonderful music!)
I was getting a haircut this week and my dear friend (and hair stylist) described a crazy day last week when she was running all over town to get to the bank, and then run to Target for groceries and batteries and dog food. I stared at her in disbelief. "Sweetheart," I said in love. "Why on earth are you wasting all that time?!"
"What do you mean?" she asked in exasperation.
"Honey, I NEVER go to Target for groceries or batteries. You need to order that stuff ONLINE!"
My dear friend is a busy business owner and mom of 4, just like me. She was running all over town getting ready to travel that week. I gave her some huge time-saving tips and I want to share those with you, too.
1. Whenever possible, do NOT go to the bank.
Get your checks automatically deposited into your accounts. You can even take a picture of your checks to be deposited and upload them to your bank. (If your bank doesn't provide this, maybe you need a different bank.) Avoid the bank like the plague and it will save you so much time!! (In fact, as much as humanly possible, get rid of ALL checks! You should be using Square to take payments on site, have clients on auto pay. Use anything except checks that need to be deposited or can be lost or put through the wash. Not that I know anything about that, wink wink.)
2. Order your groceries online.
You do not have time that be subjected to the marketing powers of Target or Walmart or Cub. It's so easy to be sucked into their deals and their shiny displays. Get what YOU need and stick to your list! Every Sunday night, I place an order at www.cobornsdelivers.com. I found a day that matches their delivery schedule and I get my groceries delivered to my door before noon on Monday morning. Some of my friends place an order at Walmart and go drive to the location and they'll load up your car! It doesn't cost anything extra, but it can save you SO much time and stress and effort.
HUGE tip: Go into your previous orders and re-order items that you buy every week. Honestly? This is probably 75% of your weekly order anyway! Don't reinvent the wheel. Just get those basics again.
Also-- do NOT scroll through everything they offer. Use the search bar to find your favorite items and then add them to your cart!
3. Get Amazon Prime.
My friend told me that she had been meaning to get Prime from Amazon (free two day shipping). "What is stopping you?!?" I asked. It's only $99 per year!! (And sometimes you can find a deal on that price!) Amazon Prime means never searching Target for batteries or light bulbs again. Just order them. Amazon Prime means getting the gray sweatpants delivered to your HOUSE and saves you hours of searching, when school or activities send you an email informing you that little Sally needs gray pants for the school play. I even have toilet paper and paper towels on autoship. I'll always need those items so they might as well show up on my doorstep every 90 days without me having to think about it.
You do NOT need to waste your time running errands! You have important things to do!
Here's what you have to get right so you can eliminate the crazy:
1. Get organized.
Are you jumping in the car every time you run out of something (like cat food)? I love to keep lists in my phone and when I'm almost out of something, I add it to my list. I also set reminders so I remember to check my stock of frequently used items (lightbulbs, batteries, napkins, shampoo, etc.). I like to place one order per month for these types of non-perishable things.
2. Plan ahead.
Know the delivery schedule for your online grocery service and place the order on the same day every week. Set reminders in your phone to prompt you to place your grocery order. I know you have a million things to think about--so don't rely on memory to ensure you get this done. Once a month, have a reminder to order the miscellaneous items from Amazon. Take inventory in your house (like you would in a brick and mortar store) so you kknow what you need to order!
3. Find apps to keep you organized.
I store all my Christmas and birthday gift lists in Evernote. I can access my lists from my phone or computer and search lists from past years so I remember what I gave and what names I had. When I shop on Amazon, I write down what I ordered and how much I spent so I don't have to add it to the list after it arrives. My hubby and I love to use MyGroceries, an app for tracking the groceries we need. We can both add items as we run out of items and then we both know what we need.
Is technology holding you back?
We talk to so many people who just hate technology. I get it. Things are constantly changing, and if it's just not your cup of tea, it can be intimidating and frustrating. However, just like learning anything new, you CAN keep trying. Don't let your limiting belief hold you back. Are you hearing a voice in your head that is saying, "I'll never learn this stuff. I'm just not good at technology."?
Turn those statements around and say, "I can learn this. I can try one thing at a time. I won't give up."
Attitude is truly everything. If you believe you can achieve it, you will!
Technology has the ability to make your life simpler so you can get back to what you LOVE to do. Driving around, getting distracted, and wasting time is not improving your business or your family life. If you could free up time to have an evening with your familiy, wouldn't that be worth learning a new skill?
You don't have to do everything at once. What is one change that could you make to free up some time (especially during the busy holiday season)?
How can you take one tiny baby step and make a huge difference in your life? Try ordering groceries. Or picking them up curbside. Or using Amazon Prime. I think you'll be delighted with the results when you just stop, breathe, and readjust your steps. You don't have to overhaul your life-- you just have to make one small change! And it could make a huge difference in your stress levels! Get your peace back this Christmas season.
I'm cheering you on.
Dear busy business owner,
You deserve the highest level of support possible.
Hiring that new team member, hiring a house cleaner, or hiring a nanny is not a luxury. It's not something that other people can afford, but you can't. No, if you are building a succesful company, it's not a luxury--it's a necessity.
You didn't start your own company to work non-stop and never take a vacation! Imagine working for a boss that never gave you breaks and never allowed you to have time off. Ludicrious.
When you are your own boss, you need to be kind to yourself. And the only way to ease your burden is to hire the highest level of support around you. Imagine having amazing team members that understand your vision and who are invested in helping build your company. Wouldn't that be amazing?! You have to actually visualize that person and what it would feel like to have them on your team before you can hire them.
Now imagine if you were able to soley focus on income-generating activities. Could you do more marketing? Get new clients? If other team members were managing the day-to-day operations, would it free you up to bring new income into the business? Hiring the right team means their efforts, plus your freed up time will pay for their salary! Make a list of the tasks you could delegate or train someone to do. Make a list of things you wish you could do--but never get to becuase there's just not enough time. Keep the list very specific and on your desk. Now make a list of the qualities and personality traits of the people that you want to work for you. Be as detailed as possible!
This last summer, we moved into a new house. Before we fully decided to move, I wavered on the decision. Should we stay? Should we move? I wrote pros and cons lists and prayed (a lot) and finally Chris and I came to the unanimous decision that it was time to leave. I made a list of all the things I wanted in our new house. I had about 20 items listed. Then, I ruthlessly and relentlessly scoured the MLS, looking for homes. When I found one that I liked, I jumped in the car and drove by it. I attended open houses. I talked to realtors. I searched high and low for the right house. It seemed nothing was right for us. And then, out of the blue, a house became available. When I drove by it, I was stunned. It was exactly everything that was on our list! Down to the exact neighborhood! I jumped on the opportunity and within days, it was done. The house was ours.
Everyone around us (including our kids) exclaimed, "Woah--that happened FAST!" But they didn't see the agony and searching that had occurred for the previous 6 months. And the reason it could happen so fast is that I knew exactly what we were looking for.
You can't find what you're looking for if you don't KNOW what you are looking for! If you wander around aimlessly, you'll continue to waste time, waste energy, and probably end up lost. But if you STOP and define exactly what your goals are, make a list, and keep that list close, then when you find it, you'll know it's right!
If you know you need to hire more help to lighten your load, make a list today of exactly what you are looking for. If people have failed you in the past, use that experience to know what you do and don't want this next time. Please don't give up on people just because you've been burned. Decide to learn from the experience. Make your list. Get very specific. Then go hunting for that person! Don't stop looking until you find the exact fit.
When I look around our house, every day I am amazed that we live here. It's exactly right for our family. I'm so glad I had the faith to believe I would find what I was looking for. It was worth the journey!
About the Author
Hi, I'm Jen Hickle!