There's been a theme emerging this week in many of my circles:
Successful business owners that I respect all agree: it starts at home. When I get my systems in place, when I take care of my marriage first, when my kids' needs are met. . .then my business grows.
Many of my fellow business owner friends are admitting to me, with almost a whisper, "I'm homeschooling this year." And why is that? Simply put: you have better control over your schedule and your life. YOU get full control. Homeschooling and owning your own business work hand in hand.
This month, I've filled about 10 pages in a notebook and created multiple Excel sheets with our fall schedule plan. I'm obsessed with making sure all the pieces are there: date with Chris, family meals, kids' school time, my work time, staff meetings, connecting with friends.
The only reason my schedule runs so smoothly is because I've put the work in to making it all work.
On a couple of my coaching calls this week, I've encouraged people to think ahead. Do not keep putting out the fires right in front of you. I'm already looking ahead to September, October, November, and even January. That's what successful business owners do.
I don't want to just live in the moment. I want to be prepared. And when I know all the trains are running on time and I've done my homework to get all the pieces in place? THEN I revel in the moment right in front of me. The beautiful scent of a candle in my kitchen. The front porch swing and a conversation with my daughter. An impromptu car ride with my son. A movie on the couch with the whole family. ALL of this is possible because I've thought ahead, planned, and put the systems in place.
If you feel like you take three steps forward, only to side two steps back, it's time to stop. Let everything fall around you. Chart a new course. Get help in place. Hire more staff. Plan your entire fall schedule. Plan your week and plan your days. You can proudly say "I live in the moment," but if your reality is constantly catching up and putting our fires? That's not the way to live when you're running a company. Maybe other people can live that way, but you can't. People are depending on you for their paycheck. People are paying you for your services. Now is the time to make a change. It's almost Fall. Get ready. Prepare. Think ahead.
I believe in you. You can do this.
This week, we're scheduled to have some family time. It's scheduled and it's intentional. Because that's the way I choose to live.
Need some practical help with this? Grab my book on Amazon: Happy Kids, Growing Biz.
Need help with your website or marketing? Stop struggling on your own. I have some openings on my calendar this week. Let's talk. Book that call here:
Current clients of Never Alone: Are you in our Facebook group? Join here for the latest updates on social media marketing! https://www.facebook.com/groups/1715473611806455/
This week I shared my thoughts about Facebook's stocks falling and Instagram rising.
When I was young and starry-eyed, I knew I would change the world. I believed I could make a huge difference in lives. I had grandiose plans.
I had no clue I would need money to survive.
We married young and plunged into debt pretty fast, just to pay bills and keep food on the table. I was still starry-eyed and optimistic and had no clue. Chris was juggling the bills and work and I had a toddler and new baby at home. When I found out that we were using credit cards just to buy food, I flipped out. Practicality stepped in. Forget changing the world. Let's change our habits and get out of debt.
We sold our beautiful new vehicle (that we bought for the youth group that we were leading), sold our brand new townhouse that didn't fit our growing family anymore, and moved into a little tiny rambler. We clamped down ALL spending and started digging out of the huge hole we found ourselves in.
Big dreams kinda went out the window. Our reality was not being able to afford fresh produce at the Farmer's Market in the summer--it was simply too expensive. Reality was not even shopping at garage sales because we had no spare change. Reality was getting out of debt and realizing that ministry in a church plant start-up was NOT paying our bills and growing our business was the only way we would actually make more money.
I thought I was turning my back on ministry when I turned my focus to growing my company.
The lives I have influenced in business are many. The mom with the brain tumor, the teen suffering with depression, the staff who is hurting, the teacher who lost their loved one, the random client you encourage, and the lives you touch EVERY DAY. This is our minstry.
I asked God to let us touch lives and show them HIS LOVE and He has. Every single day.
So don't think you're "just" running a company.
Oh, no, my friends.
You are influencing the world.
Every phone call, email, encounter, walk-in, drive-by, new enrollment? A chance to show love and compassion and touch their hearts. Brighten their day. Make a difference.
I'll never forget the years we were on staff at a church. But now I'll realize that I am still touching lives in my business. Maybe more.
This is the path God has given us. He has given YOU your path, too. Walk it out.
Love like He loves.
Sometimes the words of our clients speak louder than anything we could say.
Check this out:
“57 new Ballet students scheduled for first trial class next week after following Jen Hickle’s Facebook guidance... I ❤️ this!!”
Let me tell you: Zoe hated Facebook. Didn’t know how to use it for her ballet school. Wasn’t getting any real students. After our assistance, she is pulling in new students for fall and crushing it!
We also received this email this week:
It has been about a year since we created Fort Myers School of Music. I was very nervous about changing the name as Jay and Kay's has 27 years of advertising equity built up.
Well. . .Last night Fort Myers School of Music won "The Best Place to take Music Lessons!"
What's even better is that due to an error on the newspapers part only Jay and Kay's Organ and Piano Co. was listed, and that was under retail (we won that also).
So. . . the school won solely based on public awareness, created by your marketing program!
Even cooler. . . at the awards ceremony one of the presenters stated to the audience that she had just researched online all the area music schools, and her children will be starting lessons with us when school starts.
This is great proof that your marketing is working well! Thanks,
P.S. Feel free to have anyone in doubt that your system works call me :-)
Here's the deal: July is nearly gone. August is almost here. Bascially, you have LIMITED TIME to get your ducks in a row for fall marketing.
We've cleared our calendar to help YOU. Growing studios is our speciality.
Do you need help with any of this?
I know you have a million things on your plate. Trust me, I get it. I'm a busy parent and a busy studio owner, too.
All you have to do is call out for help and we'll take over. That's what we are here for! Just email us or schedule a time to talk. Our full time mission is helping YOUR business grow.
We are ready for the fall rush. BRING IT ON.
Are you ready??
P.S. We have been helping music studio owners since 2013. Now we are expanding to help dance, theatre, cheer, swim, and art studios. Who do you know who could use some hope and support with their marketing and their website?
Please forward them this email.
You could be the reason someone has the best back-to-school season ever!
Imagine their gratitude. If they are drowning, we can take some tasks off their plate.
We know studio owners have big hearts for little people. They are also short on time and have "To Do" lists a mile long. We get it. And we can help.
We moved into a new house in March and while it's not a "fixer upper" it definitely needed updating out of the 90s. (Which, by the way, was 28 years ago. WHAT?!) We have been doing non-stop projects over here, and utilizing many companies and contractors. And the number one thing that makes me want to pull my hair out? NO ONE replies to their email or answers their phone! Why? Because they are too busy doing the work in their business. But guess what? All of that work is going to go bye-bye when you don't reply to your clients and prospects.
There is nothing more maddening when I, as the customer, feel like I am the one dragging the process along. "Hey, just checking in. Have you scheduled a date for the project yet?" Or "Did you get my last email? What's the next step?" I can literally hear the frantic tone of voice in their emails. "Oh so sorry. We are really backed up." "I apologize. We have been out in the field. I need to check with my partner and get back to you." Makes me CrAzY.
So what would fix this? Systems.
Every business needs someone assigned to their email and phones. NOT the owner. NOT the owner's wife. But a dedicated person who is professional, calm, detailed and who gets things done.
If you are the one doing the work IN your business, you can't also be scheduling everything and handling the billing. You will LOSE YOUR MIND. And then, you will lose your customers.
An easy first step is hiring a Virtual Assistant. This is a person who is dedicated to your business, but not full time. This person will manage your email and phone calls and your schedule and invoice your clients. They won't work in your building and you won't have staff meetings. But they will give you sanity and your customers will be thrilled. The next step is to hire an employee full time. I know you think you can't afford it, but I'm telling you that you cannot afford to sabbatoge your own business and cause unhappy clients to leave poor reviews online.
Please don't be like the painters, landscapers, sign companies and millwork companies that I have been trying to work with.
Just answer your phones. Reply to your emails (within one hour!).
And if you can't do that, then HIRE someone to do it. The money you put out to pay for them will light a fire under you and you'll be more motivated than ever to advertise and get new business to pay for that person. And guess what? You'll have TIME to double your business because you'll have someone helping you. Amazing how that works!
I remember when I took this leap in my business. I was terrified and excited all at once. I spent an entire weekend creating an operations manual and FAQ document. Then I handed the phone to the new receptionist I had just hired. I logged her into my email. I wanted to PANIC. But guess what? We grew faster than when I was doing it! I had less stress. I could think clearly. I could do more marketing. I could see ahead and plan the future. It was a game-changer for me and it will be a game-changer for you. Don't say "I can't afford it." Say, "How can I afford this? How will I make this happen?"
The power lies in your hand. Afterall, you didn't start this business to be crabby and overwhelmed, right?
I've been having a lot of fun posting some fun time-saving hacks on our Never Alone Business Services Facebook Page.
If you don't follow us there, be sure to go like it now: www.facebook.com/jenhickle1.
I'm sending you these favorites from Facebook today in your email, so you can save some time and hassle.
Let me know which ones ressonate with you!
1. File your papers instead of wasting time hunting for that document when you need it.
Need to organize your files better? Paper outta control on your desk?
Keep a simple box on your desk and label the folders.
No need for perfection! Get those piles into files! Get pretty ones that I bought here:
2. Cut out Facebook during the work day. Ninja style.
This is my FAVORITE time-saving hack. If you're like me, you work on your laptop (or computer) and Facebook is open on a tab because you have to stay alert to certain notifications.
I installed this plug-in for Chrome (the Newsfeed Eradicator) and now I can see my messages and notifications, but I can't see the newsfeed (which is filled with fun, but meaningless info when I'm trying to work).
Install it on your laptop and watch your productivity soar.
(Don't worry. You can still read your newsfeed later in the day on your phone!) Grab it here.
3. Don't waste hours trying to recover your Facebook Page!
“Help! I lost access to my Facebook Page!” This is NOT a message I enjoy getting. To prevent losing access to your business Page, be sure you are not the only Admin of your FB Page.
Here’s how to add another person. It can be your spouse or friend!
Do not wait on this. This is happening to people we know. It’s serious. And it takes just a moment to fix!
At Never Alone Business Services, our team is obsessed with your business success.
I hope these tips give you a couple ideas that you can quickly implement!
Let me know if we can take your online marketing to the next level. We are here to help!
Schedule a call with me here.
I’m obsessed. Lately I’ve been loving these 4 apps (some new, some older) and I just had to share how much I love them!
1. Waze. This app is like Google Maps, but it tells you the fastest way to get to where you’re going— around traffic jams and construction. I’ve been using this obsessively lately.
2. Over. This is my go-to app for creating graphics to share in Facebook. It’s not too hard to use and has tons of <free> fonts and overlays. If you manage a Facebook Page, get this app!
3. Scribd. My friend told me about this app and I just recently got it. OH MY. It’s like Netflix— for books and audio books and sheet music!! Pay $8.95 per month and read/listen/play to your heart’s content!! A must-have for book lovers.
4. Shipt. Someone hold me. You know I love ordering groceries but this app activates a real shopper to go to Target FOR YOU and deliver groceries to you within a 1-2 hours!! Hello! Dinner is saved! What a lifesaver for busy people like us!
Let me know if you use these or if you plan to download them!
I’m obsessed with helping you grow your business. And time-saving tools is one way to do that!!
One more thing! I've been mentioning this on my Facebook Page lately
(www.facebook.com/jenhickle1), but I had to share this with you, too. I LOVE the Storybrand podcast.
I am actually NOT a podcast listener. I know it's all the rage, but I have fought against it because I'm honestly not an auditory learner. I would much rather read. BUT, my brother (an Ennegram 3, like me) encouraged me to listen and WOW, I love it. If you are a business owner who is a driven achiever, you will get so much out of the interviews he does and the books he recommends!
How do you listen? Go to wherever you buy apps and get the Podcast app. Or, you can go directly here, just to try it out: http://podbay.fm/show/1092751338
Let me know what you think!
And don't forget: we are here for you. If you need a website overhaul, an SEO boost, or help with your Google AdWords, just let me know. We are here to help YOU succeed in your business.
It's not even the middle of June yet, and I already feel like a steamroller has run me over. I've been searching for a new employee since the end of March, our studio has been in renovations for 2 months (and some projects still aren't done) and our office JUST got one door installed yesterday (after 3 months of living here.) Our other set of doors SHOULD be getting installed soon. With some of these projects finally finishing up, I realize what a burden I've been carrying.
My friend told me the other night that a very difficult (9 year) project was finishing in her life and she was now reaching out to a therapist to discuss. She asked me, "Why now? Why, after 9 years, am I reaching out to the therapist?"
I thought about it, and then said, "Imagine you were pinned under a car. Guess when you feel the most pain? When the car is finally lifted off of you. . ."
It's only AFTER the weight is lifted that we feel how heavy the burden was. You may be pushing through a difficult season right now. Maybe you're not even aware of the weight you're carrying.
Looking back over the last 3 months, what has helped me persevere? What has gotten us through, even while carrying this extra load?
I was making my coffee this morning, straightening up the house, laying out a few things for my son to take to camp today, and this here are my musings:
1. Have the strength to initiate hard conversations
Someone once advised me: "The extent of your success depends on the amount of difficult conversations you are willing to have."
This statement has come back to me over and over through the years when I've made very difficult decisions for my business. First, a decision to end a partnership where I was sharing space with another business. That was one of the hardest seasons that I've ever walked through. I've also had very difficult conversations with former employees when I had tell them: "This isn't the right place for you." Awful to go through for both of us, but worth getting the right people in the right positions so everyone can be fulfilled and the company can continue to grow and thrive.
As I've been searching for a new employee for the last 3 months, I have had to disappoint a lot of people when I've told them, "This isn't the job for you." It is NOT easy being the boss and making these calls. But the result of having a stellar team, working together towards a common goal, is golden! It's all worth it in the end: when everyone loves their job and is working in their sweet spot.
I do not love hard conversations. But I do love the result when the conversation is over.
2. Organize Ruthlessly
Summer is a busy, chaotic time. Even the advice to "Enjoy the moment! Seize the day!" can cause chaos when you decide to drop everything and head to the park for a picnic. "Where's the quilt? Bug spray? Sunscreen? Do we have any food around here? Hurry! The weather is gorgeous! Let's GO!!"
Signing kids up for camp or VBS results in "Where's the sleeping bag? Do we have extra sheets? I need a laundry bag--what's that?? My swimsuit is too small! Mom, I have to be there early for the first day!" Yikes. It can be downright crazy!
This week, we were headed out to a baseball game for my oldest son and because we just moved into this house, we are not familiar with where all of our summer baseball gear is located. I stopped, closed my eyes, and remembered exactly where I had put the summer quilt for games. Chris was shocked. "What the what?!?" he said as I opened a random cupboard and there it was. Organization saves the day.
Today, I pulled a form out of a file that we need today, to bring my son to camp. I had received this parking permit in the mail BEFORE we moved. Thank goodness I started a file for "summer activities." It saved me having to hunt through endless piles of paper to find that random sheet!
Avoiding chaos helps us enjoy the moment, enjoy the summer activities, and be high capacity leaders, keeping all the many balls in the air.
I don't need more stress from looking for a quilt for baseball! I want to enjoy the summer breeze and relax while watching great game (which we won, by the way).
3. Adopt a Tenacious Spirit
You have to be determined to make it to the other side. You have to have armor of steel and have a warrior spirit. And yes, when the house is dark, and you're lying in bed, sometimes the tears roll down your cheeks from everything you are facing, and the load you are carrying. But your spirit has to be willing to keep fighting and keep pressing on. When the next day dawns, you'll jump out of bed and you'll make the coffee, and your fresh perspective will help you face your giants again.
Do you have people in your life encouraging you? Do you listen to music that pumps you up? Do you subscribe to podcasts that give you fresh perspective and great ideas? These are the things that will build tenacity into your soul. You really can't do this alone, you know? You're going to fall down and you need someone to pull you back up. You're going to get discouraged and then you need someone to remind you, "You've got this."
Don't wait until you're weak. Feed your tenacity now. Arm yourself with people who believe in you and surround yourself with audio books or conferences that will give your brain and your heart the sustenance to keep pressing on.
Never, ever give up. It's cliche, but it's one of my life mottos. You may need to rest for awhile, but don't give up.
Whatever you are facing right now--I know you'll make it through.
This is a season. And all seasons change into the next one. Whatever you're going through, hang on. I believe in you.
Need to talk?
How can I support your company and your marketing?
Let's schedule a call. Book it here:
Book Recommendations for You!
Want to have a better company? Hire better people? Delight your customers? I'm enjoying reading Creating Magic: 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies from a Life at Disney
Get it here:
Want to communicate better with your team? Learn what YOUR voice is and identify the voice of each of your team members. Communicate more effectively and listen more efficiently!
I'm loving this book: 5 Voices.
Which voice do you use to communicate most frequently? Take the quiz here:
And grab the book here: https://www.amazon.com/Voices-Communicate-Effectively-Everyone-Lead-ebook/dp/B01BPPNF8W/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1528687573&sr=1-1&keywords=5+voices
I got a new planner yesterday. I know--it's June, but I use an 18-month calendar (which is awesome, by the way) and yesterday I picked one up at Barnes and Noble bookstore. Ahhhhh. It feels so good to have blank pages and a clean canvas! I sat down in front of Netflix last night and started copying over summer camps, baseball games, drama rehearsals, consulting calls, interviews, and staff meetings and it just felt SO GOOD.
I don't usually take time to just SLOW. DOWN. Life runs at a crazy pace and if I'm honest, I kind of like it that way. I prefer to be around people, out and about, solving problems, getting stuff done. But I've realized that I need to downshift, too.
This weekend I read a pyschological thriller in just a little over 24 hours. It kept pulling me back--it was so intense! I love shutting down my laptop and just losing myself in a story. I've been re-watching Parenthood for the same reason--I just need to immerse myself in someone else's drama for a little bit and forget mine! This week, I purchased some bright flowers for my front porch and I really enjoy the ritual of watering them every morning. I know the novelty will wear off and I'll assign the task to one of my kids, but for now, it's so grounding to give life to flowers and watch them bloom and grow.
What are you doing to re-center yourself? How can you step off the crazy train for a little bit and downshift? What's something you REALLY enjoy doing but you usually don't allow yourself to do? Go do that. Make time for it. I know life is nuts this time of year. But if you don't take care of YOU, who will?
Listen. If your to do list is too long, let's talk. I can help take some pressure off by managing your website, your AdWords, and even your Facebook Page. Let's chat and see if my team can help you get back to enjoying summer and enjoying your family.
Now. . .which book should I read next??
Where We Have Been Lately:
Equip Conference for pastors and church leaders: Speaking on Websites and Social Media Marketing
Mighty Mustard Seeds Symposium: encouraging new homeschoolers on their journey
Bethel University: Speaking to music majors about creating a business by teaching music
Summer Series Discussion group: encouraging homeschooling families to use their unique personality style and strengths to influence their homeschool
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!
Hi, I'm Jen Hickle!