One of my coaches and mentors sent me a birthday gift this week. It's a book called "Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results." Right away, it has resonated so deeply with me. I find myself reading and nodding my head. Such a simple, but powerful concept.
Grandiose gestures ("I'm going to change my life!") are often met with collossal failures (i.e. falling flat on my face and feeling like a failure). Conversely, making tiny little changes in my day and in my routine, actually stick around, and over the long term, make the biggest impact.
I think sometimes we look at other people and think, "They have it all together" when instead, they have just changed one tiny thing at a time. It's so much easier to decide to clean up your desk once a week than to decide, "From now on, I'm not going to be messy!"
It's amazingly simple to clean out my car just once a week and grab items every time we exit the vehicle instead of yelling at my kids: "We cannot live like this!"
Laundry doesn't pile up when we have a routine of always doing it on the same day each week. We also fold and put it away on that same day (yes, it's possible). I love slowing down, turning on a movie, and folding laundry. I love the rhythm and sense of order. It blesses my family to not run around the house in the morning, searching for clean socks.
It's the very simple things that add up to peace and order in our home. And we built these habits just one at a time. You don't need January 1st to make resolutions. You can decide today to just start ONE thing. In fact, don't start more than one. Just work on one tiny habit for a month. If you did this every month, you would have 12 new positive habits in your life!
This month, in our Never Alone Inner Circle, we are discussing ONE tool that can organize your daily task lists. Already, people are loving it. One simple, tiny habit can change everything.
You can do this. I believe in you. And if you need some extra help, grab the book Mini Habits (I found it on Amazon here. Let the words get deep in your heart and mind. 2019 is coming. This can be your year. Just start with one tiny thing at a time.
It's My Birthday Week!
We are halfway through November and Thanksgiving is upon us. Because I'm grateful for YOU (and I love celebrating my birthday) I'm going to give you a gift. If you enroll in the Never Alone Inner Circle before November 30, you'll get these bonus gifts from me:
You can jump in the Inner Circle here: https://www.neveralonebusinessservices.com/join.html
We had so much fun celebrating my birthday downtown Minneapolis! A wonderful dinner, hotel, and Cirque du Solei. It was relaxing and rejuvinating. You can connect with us more regularly by following us on Facebook. Every day I post encouraging and funny stuff, and pics of me and my family!
Find us here: www.facebook.com/jenhickle1 (The page is called "Never Alone in Business.")
I've been talking to a lot of business owners lately who are absolutely stressed by the feast and famine of their business.
One month will be a record month and the next they are wondering if any money will come in.
It's super stressful and causes them to PUSH their marketing (desperate for something to work and bring in new business!) and then, when things dry up, they have to start PUSHING again. Plus, they find that it is super hard to even pay for marketing when no money is coming in!
I've been there. I remember times of digging in the bottom of our freezer to find whatever food was still there to feed my family and avoid the grocery store completely (because it was the end of the month and we were out of money).
So how do you avoid the ebb and flow of cash problems?
1. Set your clients up on autopay. What could they pay for every single month (like Netflix) and then you can consistently deliver a service or product? You would only have to get their credit card ONCE. No more selling, selling, selling. One and done.
2. Sell once and continue the relationship. It's hard to keep selling something over and over. Instead, build a relationship and have them stay for years. Really lean into what they want, what they need, and how they will feel cared for. This relationship piece is the secret sauce to keep people with you for a long time.
3. Do your marketing strategically, when people are most likely to respond (hint: this does not mean advertising on every holiday, like every other business out there). You have to track when are people buying from you. When are they responding? And when are they distracted by other things? By tracking this, then you can put your marketing money in place when you are most likely to get the most responses. Farmers plant in the spring, not in the early fall when they are desperate for a good harvest.
4. Really, truly understand your audience. People are busy! They don't want to have to consistently re-evaluate and keep saying "yes" to you. They want to say YES once and then keep the relationship with you. Then, they cancel when needed.
5. Creatively package your services so that people have an all-inclusive feel. I LOVE Disney vacations where everything is included. I can just relax and enjoy the vacation when I know all our snacks and meals are rolled into the price. I don't have to freak out about buying one more water bottle. I want my clients to feel the same way. Free recital. Free picture day. Free awards and trophies.
If you are still selling one item at a time, how can you implement this concept? (If you sell retail, how could you get creative and set people up on memberships? I know you can. Listen--I have my toilet paper and paper towels on auto ship so I know you can do this!)
I'm so thankful that my YMCA doesn't ask me if I want to continue every month! I would say "forget it!" Instead, we bought a membership and whether we go or not, we still pay. It reminds me of the importance of fitness and makes me prioritize the commitment I made to myself!
How can you incorporate this into YOUR business model?
By setting up programs or packages, you can sleep better at night.
Then, by putting your marketing on auto pilot (like I teach in The Strategic Biz Marketing System), you truly will have a business that is not feast or famine, but a steady flow of income for your family.
Sometimes all it takes is looking at things slightly differently for everything to click into place.
If you need some help with this, join our free Facebook community. Let's brainstorm this together. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1715473611806455/
You're smart. You're talented. You can do this. I believe in you!
Welcome to all of our new members to our Never Alone Inner Circle!
What they're saying: "I'm incredibly excited about this group. I have already read the Happy Kids, Growing Biz book and have already done some work with Chris and Jen. This Inner circle is SO what I have been needing."
"I have been working with Jen and Chris for about a year now. They created an amazing website for me and have helped with my marketing as well. I look forward to learning more and gaining insight and direction as I implement new services. "
"Jen and Chris created my website. I am so SO thankful for this group and being able to fully understand what to do next. I've felt a little lost lately! Happy to meet all of you."
Regarding the November training video in the Inner Circle:
"This will help me tremendously to focus! I'm doing this today."
"Oh my gosh Jen! I am setting this up right now and I am LOVING it even more than I thought I would!!"
A BIG Congrats to those who have recently published a new website! We are so happy for you!
Daisy at Steamboat Academy of Music
Klondike at Orpheus Music Academy
Rick at Los Angeles Music Teachers
Renee at Valley Conservatory
Do you need a new website?
Is your site 2-3 years old? Out of date? Can't edit it? Web person is MIA?
We can help. Now is a great time to get this project done before the January rush!
Book a call here and let's get this done. I promise that we make this a PAINLESS process for you!
Our full time mission is helping YOUR business grow!
Have you ever felt so completely alone that you were convinced no one understands you?
Have you ever felt like the outsider, not even sure how to blend in (or if you even want to)?
I've felt this way many times in my life.
Honestly, it's an awful feeling.
Like you're flying alone. An eagle, in the sky, soaring, but lonely.
I used to feel like this all the time. (In fact, it's why we named our company "Never Alone.")
But I don't anymore.
Want to know what changed?
I found a community of support that gets me. They don't look at me like a strange bird. They don't question the thoughts I timidly express. They nod in sympathy with the things I'm going through. They don't judge. They don't look at me quizzically. They just get it.
I think everyone deserves a tribe like this.
Absolutely no one should feel completely alone and ostracized.
The problem is trying to find the people who are your people.
It can feel like the childrens' book, "Are You My Mother?"
We poke into group after group (at church, at a homeschool co-op, in our neighborhood, at the Chamber of Commerce, with various friends groups) asking, "Are you my people? Are you my people?"
And when you don't find your tribe, it's pretty tempting to just assume there is something wrong with you.
It's simply not true.
You were created ON purpose, with a purpose. (Yes, I know that phrase is over-used. But it's true!)
GOD created you the way you are. Wrinkles, funny laugh, quirky expressions, faults and gifts and strengths....all came from God, the maker of heaven and earth. And if you don't believe that, I'll gladly debate you. I KNOW each of my kids came out of the womb with personality. In fact, IN the womb they were all different! Ethan was active and kicking all the time. Elias was snuggly and barely moved. Abigail went crazy when I ate chocolate or coffee (she still loves both today!). Lydia LOVED music, even inside of me (she now plays 4 instruments!).
It's CRAZY, but true. You came into this world pre-programmed to be uniquely YOU.
But just because you are unique does not mean you have to be lonely!
You just need to find your tribe.
That's why I'm opening the doors to my Inner Circle.
If you need focus, strategy, and support to make your REALLY BIG dreams a reality, then you will find your people in this group.
We are all determined to make a difference in the world.
We are supportive of each other.
We are encouraging.
We are cheering each other on.
We all own businesses and we want to celebrate YOUR wins and commiserate with you on the low, dark days, too. Because this CEO/Boss life is HARD, man. It just is! But it's also AWESOME.
We need each other to keep going and to celebrate the really super awesome moments.
If you're looking for community, focus, strategy, and support, let's talk. Let's see if this group is right for you. Schedule a call with me. Let's see if this is your tribe.
All my love to you.
I share a very personal story in today's video. It was the lowest point of our marriage and the turning point for our business.
When our boys were just babies, I almost grabbed them and ran. I was hurt, angry, sad, and disillusioned and I almost ended our marriage.
I didn't leave, but it was a very dark day.
Watch this video now:
I need you to know one thing today: You are amazing.
No, I'm serious. You may not really see it or feel it, but you are.
You keep showing up in the lives of your students and staff. You keep improving your studio and making it better. You keep making hard choices and hard decisions and maybe it feels like no one ever pats you on the back. Well, I am today.
I KNOW you are working long hours and making all the hard decsions. I know you agonize over hiring decisions and performance dates and all the million little details that makes your studio keep chugging along.
I know the days are long and the nights are short and you are wearing all the hats.
I know sometimes your employees let you down and teachers make you nuts.
I also know that you LOVE the work that you do. You love the arts and you love making the lives of your students better with music, dance, art, theatre, or whatever you offer at your studio.
I know you have big goals and sometimes you're just tired.
Today, I want you to write down 3 things you are thankful for. Go ahead-- grab a random sheet of paper. What is good right now? What goal have you accomplished? What staff member is supporting you incredibly well right now? What are you celebrating? A new name of your studio? A second location? A record-high enrollment? A stellar recital performance? That you made it through the September rush? It doesn't matter how big or small--just close your eyes and push thankfulness out into your life right now.
Feels good, yes?
It's a trick I play on myself regularly, especially when things are hard. I stop. I think of 3 things that I am grateful for. It's amazing what shifts in that moment. My heart lifts. My mind clears. I feel grounded.
I want you to know that I am praying for you. I know you, the business owner, are carrying a heavy load. A huge responsibility. That's why I know you are amazing.
I hope you feel that today.
I'm sending you a giant air hug right now!
Carry on, strong one. You've got this.
I passionately believe that you are wired with your exact personality and strengths for a reason!
God made you for a purpose and if you are constantly frustrated or banging your head against the wall, it's a clue that you are NOT in your sweet spot! (Don't worry. I've been there. We ALL have!)
Often, we become martyrs. "I'll just do this. No one else wants to."
Or, "I'll be nice to my staff. Even though I suck at this, I'm the boss. Someone has to do it."
Newsflash: Your staff might LOVE to do what you HATE to do! That's because they are wired to do it!
Last week, I was consulting with a business owner who, in the past, had begrudgingly put together their complicated class schedule. His business partner told me, "I LOVE doing it! It's like a puzzle!" They both truly did not understand the other one's point of view. That's because we are ALL unique, with gifts and talents in different areas. If someone loves Excel spreadsheets, by all means, let them handle the details and the data! If someone else loves to come up with the big ideas, let them!
Have you taken the time to really discover your strengths? Have you intentionally focused on them, instead of improving your weaknesses? Deep down, do you actually believe life is just hard, so when things come easily, it's almost cheating? Like it doesn't count?
One of the best tools for finding your strengths is the book "Strengths Finder." Grab it here, on Amazon (link here) and take the test online (the code is in the back of the book). Once you have your results, read the chapters about your strengths. Now glance at the other chapters. Can you relate to the other strengths? Or do they actually repulse you? It's okay. We are all different. And when your whole team can cover the wide variance of strengths, you can cover a lot of territory and can get a lot accomplished! I have team members who LOVE chatting with clients, others who love the numbers and details, and others who prefer to stay in the background, working on the inner workings of the whole operation.
Every time I hire a new staff member, I give them take several personality assessments. I want to know what they are good at and I want them to stay in their strengths. Why? Because they'll have more energy to get the tasks done, they will be happier, and they will stay longer! I want you to do the same thing! BELIEVE that God has wired you for a unique path. It won't look the same as your spouse or team members. That's good! You are called to do something that no one else can do. Embrace it. Lean into it. (I'm STILL learning this.)
And if you are thinking, "I have no idea what I'm good at," then it's time to buy the book Strength Finders and discover some of your unique gifts. At first, they may seem too simple. When you read your strengths, you may say, "Yeah? So what?" But the key is that other people do NOT think those skills are easy at all! They are "easy" because you are wired to do those things.
If you've been told you're bossy, you probably have Leadership skills.
If you talk all the time, you probably have the gift of Communication.
If you tend to go with the flow, you probably have the gift of Adaptability.
If you love to take in information, your strength could be Input or Learning.
If you tackle big things and get a lot done, you probably have the gift of Achiever.
What if you could take some time to discover exactly how God has wired you and dream about how you could turn up the volume on those things in your life? What if it shifted things in your business? What if it actually made life easier and, at the same time, more fun AND made your business grow? (Hint: I know it can!)
I believe in this stuff. But I'd love to hear your thoughts. Send me a message. Or reply to this blog.
Do you agree? Or disagree? Do you stay in your strengths? Or do you find yourself frustrated and can't figure out why? I'd love to help.
Don't stay stuck. The world needs YOU. Beautifully unique YOU.
Need help with your marketing? Want to shine your light and make a bigger difference in the world?
Let's talk. Schedule a free call here:
What our clients are saying:
Vadim Koltsov recommends Never Alone in Business:
Thank you Never Alone for your massive support and super professional approach to build a confidence to run a successful business. You got us to page one of google search with our newly built website just in a blink of an eye, only two months. That was a huge break through for us, not to mention a number of new enrollments that we received from the website. My special thanks to Jen Hickle for being such an inspiration. I am a big fan of yours. Your newsletters are always a breath of fresh air. Immense gratitude! Big Hugs! ❤️
Alicia Burgin reviewed Never Alone in Business — 5 star
I had done one of those cookie cutter websites and was pretty pleased of myself. I got what I thought was pretty good traffic. Until a business mentor of mine said your website just isn't bringing in enough customers. I had Never Alone Business redo my website, and wow what a difference! The amount of traffic to my site trippled! And it only took a few weeks and I was up and running! Never again will I go without Never Alone Business!
Raquel Jackson Kelley-Mendoza recommends Never Alone in Business:
Chris & Jen Hickle of Never Alone are the BEST in the business and you can trust them 100% to get the work done. We would recommend the highly for your marketing needs!
Life is hard. It just is.
Running a business is exhausting and exhilarating and can, honestly, drain the life right out of you.
So what do you do when you're running on fumes and your soul is tired? When you wake up and you're already dreaming of crawling back in bed that night? When you longingly think of unplugging your computer and silencing your phone and hiding under the covers for 36 hours? When you want to hide but people are depending on you and the To Do list is a mile long?
I've just returned from 2 weeks of conferences and traveling. I went from feeling on top of the world to flat out exhausted. My soul is tired. My brain is tired. And yet, there are one hundred things to do and people who need me and who are asking me questions every minute of the day.
So what now?
It's so simple, and yet, "I surrender" thrown up to the heavens can activate God's presence to show up and take over. Sometimes I walk through my neighborhood and pray, sometimes it's just as I go through my day, and sometimes I lock my door and literally kneel beside my bed. It's an act of surrender and it's more effective than working for 6 hours straight. So why don't I do it more often? Who knows. It's the human condition. But when I do pray, my strength is renewed and my soul feels a little lighter.
I honestly hate to have fun. I know, it's weird and terrible. But it means stopping the hustle and the energy flow. It means letting go and relaxing. And it's hard for me! (I know, I'm strange.) But when I do really, truly, let myself relax and play a game or enjoy my kids, or laugh until I almost pee my pants, or ride a ride at Disney World, something shifts. We are made for play and we were created to rest and NOT work all the time. (Yes, I'm guilty of enjoying Netflix WITH a computer on my lap.) Sometimes walking away from the never-ending projects brings clarity when we return. Fun and laughter are healing for our relationships, marriage, and our kids (or grandkids) love it. Sigh. I need to play more often.
As little children, our parents are supposed to meet our needs when we cry, are hungry, fall down, or are scared. When we are adults, we are responsible for meeting our own needs. If you are hungry, are you giving yourself delicious, nutritious food? If you're cold, are you lighting a fire and wrapping up in a sweater blanket with fuzzy socks? If you're lonely, do you pick up the phone and reach out to a friend? We don't have a parent nurturing us anymore, so it's our responsibility to self-soothe. We have to hear what our body and soul is asking for and NOT ignore it. Don't push through. Take a moment and light a candle, play your favorite music, prepare a simple meal. Yes, other people can take care of us, too, but we can't wait or rely on it. We have to really listen to what we need and either make it happen or ask for it. And the next day you just may wake up refreshed. Renewed. Ready to tackle the world again.
Is your soul tired like mine? Do you need a little break? Maybe schedule a massage or a night out with friends. Maybe stop working early tonight and just take care of YOU.
After all, if we don't take care of YOU, what will happen to your employees and your company? We need you to be okay. We need you to be thriving and happy and alive and excited about what's ahead.
So go ahead. Make some plans. Take care of yourself.
I'm going to take care of myself, too.
September is here! I hope you survived your Summer and you are ready for a HUGE, wonderful Fall at your Studio!
This summer, we intentionally carved out some family time with our kids. We enjoyed the Minnesota State Fair last week, famous for its amazing food! We spent a day riding rides at Valleyfair the week before, and also enjoyed renting a relaxing cabana at the water park. It's so important to make these memories with your kids. After all, isn't that why you started your business? To make a better life for your family? In fact, we've already booked two trips for winter to escape the Minnesota cold! Can't wait to travel and relax in the sun when it's FREEZING here in January and February!
I've been spending some time thinking about YOU and how Never Alone Business Services can serve you better. We are adding more team members and we want to be a full service agency to meet all of your marketing needs. Please know that we believe in the arts and we believe your studio is a positive force for good in your community. We are here for YOU so you can do what only you can do. We can manage your website, your ads, and handle the techy stuff. We are honored to free up your time so you have less stress, and so you can manage what really matters: impacting the lives of your students and their families.
We're here for you. So please just let us know what you need.
Now, if your studio isn’t filling up as quickly as you wished it would, usually one of these 3 things is off: your website, your email marketing, or your social media marketing.
When these 3 are all working in unity, your enrollment is buzzing, your phones are ringing, and your studio is filling up!
We enrolled 65 new students last month, pretty much JUST using our website, email marketing and Facebook/Instagram. It WORKS!
If you’re feeling stuck or discouraged, you’re not alone! There’s nothing wrong with you. We just have to figure out what’s missing or not quite up to par.
Message us at firstname.lastname@example.org a free phone call.
Let’s figure out what’s missing and FIX it!
Let's have an AMAZING Fall at your studio!
I believe in the power of the arts.
And I believe in YOU.
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.
Hi, I'm Jen Hickle!