Growing a business is full of ups and downs. One moment you're flying high, the next you're in the depths of despair. And when you're serious about paying off that debt, getting to the next level, or finding a way to pay for the new space you just leased, you may feel like you need some systems or organization to get you there. It might feel like it's time to get serious. Get organized. Even grow up a little.
But what if you're the free-spirited type of person?
What if the thought of boring checklists and structured work days makes you throw up in your mouth a little bit?
Maybe you quit your corporate job because you wanted more freedom. Now you're supposed to impose structure upon yourself?!?
Maybe you have even stopped your own business growth because of the overwhelming silent scream inside of you, demanding, "DON'T BOX ME IN?"
So how do you grow a company and get to the next level when your natural wiring demands flexibility, creativity, and freedom?
After working with hundreds of creative business owners over the last 6 years, here are some tips for you:
3 Productivity Tips for the Creative Business Owner
1. Plan time, not content.
Instead of planning on doing specific tasks on a specific day, just block off "desk time" or "marketing time." Then, on that day, look at your list for the month, and start with the tasks that feel easy or fun. You can go in any order. Do what feels easy. Mix it up. Turn on some music (or even a movie in the background) for the super boring stuff.
As long as you are blocking off time each week for your marketing or admin stuff, you don't have to relegate which tasks you do each minute of each hour. Change it up. You're creatively wired for a reason--use that superpower!
2. Use checklists with freedom
I use an online To Do list that allows me to see what I need to do, without the task disappearing if I didn't get to it right away. In the past, when I put tasks on my calendar or in the Reminders app on my phone, the notification would disappear when the day is over. No bueno. Instead, use a system that allows for flexibility within your week or month. Yes, I have "overdue" tasks. But at least I can see them! Then I do them in whatever order I feel like. I give myself a full WEEK to get some of them done. You don't have to push through or forget it (that's an all-or-nothing mentality). You just need some freedom. I also give my staff permission to bug me when I'm super late ("Hey Jen, do you have that newsletter article?"). The accountability and pressure-prompting appeals to my personality and I actually get the task done when I know my team needs the article so they can put it on the website and get it published for our clients.
3. Go WITH your natural moods, not against them.
Not feeling it? Don't push it. Instead, go for a walk. Dance it out with some fun music. Jump in the car, clear your head with a drive to Starbucks, get your favorite coffee, and allow yourself some friendly small-talk with the barista. When you come back to your desk, you'll be refreshed and renewed and ready to tackle your newsletter, website edits, bookkeeping, or Facebook ads. Don't push through. You'll end up banging your head against the wall. (Nobody has time for a concussion!)
After chatting with a free-spirited, fun, "don't box me in" client of mine this week, I recorded this quick video for you. Please excuse the neighbor kids having fun in the background and try to ignore my slight rocking. I was on my deck, sitting on a rocking chair. I wasn't trying to make you dizzy, I swear!
Listen. You were made with your free-spirit for a reason. You are creatively, uniquely YOU. Go WITH your strengths (not against them) and your company will flourish.
Here's an idea for setting up systems, even when you're a free spirit.
The Never Alone Inner Circle Retreat is coming up quickly! At the end of September, our coaching clients will gather for a time of renewal, clarity, and planning. We'll take two full days to take a look at your business, identify what's working, what's not, and what your next steps should be.
With a focus on business, faith, and family, you'll leave renewed, refreshed, encouraged, and motivated to grow your business in the right direction (and yes, we'll talk about systems that still allow freedom and creativity)! We'll take some time to ask GOD where He wants to lead and guide your business. He wants to give us wisdom. We just have to ask.
(The deadline for the Retreat was yesterday, but I'm extending it 24 hours. If your heart is pulling you to attend, just shoot me an email and I'll see what I can do!)
I bet you are a brave person. You started your company. You made hard decisions. You took that leap. You signed that lease. You hired that team. You created your logo and you started selling stuff.
But sometimes we get a little complacent, don't we?
Maybe we've been burned.
We've been hurt.
We question if we've made the right decisions.
So we want to hide.
Hide behind the computer or the desk and keep everything the same.
Maybe even scale back and keep things small.
But let me tell you--if you are called to this business, then every day you have to continue to show up brave.
You have to move through the fear and make hard decisions. You have to pray for wisdom and when you get clarity, move your feet.
Make that call.
Let that person go.
Change your hours.
Drop that service.
Resign that lease.
Let that space go.
Face that difficult client.
Step out and hire.
You can't run a business afraid. Every day requires courage.
This month, in the Never Alone Inner Circle, we are talking about being the leader and CEO of your company. I wanted to share a little bit of that training with you in today's email.
1. Step OUT
I created a quick video (seriously, it's short) for you. Check it out below.
If you're not on Facebook a lot, subscribing on YouTube is a great way to stay connected to me with encouraging and inspiring content. Just log in with your Google account and click "Subscribe." You'll get notifications when I post new content.
The Doors are Open
We have opened the doors to the Never Alone Inner Circle!
Our members are learning to step up and be brave. As a result, their schedules are filling up with clients. They are reaching their goals. They are making hard decisions with confidence because they have a tribe that believes in them. We cheer each other on. It's a place of love and support, not competition and comparison.
If you're ready to move to the next level in your business and get results like never before, it's time for a change.
All athletes and musicians have more than one coach in their lifetime. And they certainly do not ever train alone. We all need someone encouraging and pushing us.
If you're wondering if the Inner Circle is right for you, let's talk. Book a call with me here:
And watch Joy's story below. She says the Inner Circle helped her feel less afraid.
That's what it's all about. Bravery. Bravery to live out your calling and your life's purpose.
I'm cheering you on!
(It's been brought to my attention that some of you were not receiving these weekly emails! I apologize! That was an admin error and I'm so glad that you are back on this list! You can see what you missed here on my blog:
September is here!
Time for new beginnings! Maybe you're making big changes in your business. Maybe you're in a season of growth. Maybe you're wondering how long you can keep up this pace or maybe you're really looking forward to a steady schedule this fall.
For me, I'm being super intentional about my time and I'm ready for an exciting quarter ahead.
One thing I've really been thinking about lately is faithfulness. I created a super short (encouraging) video for you. Watch it and be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel!
We have been trying to enjoy every last moment of summer and have been hosting lots of bonfires with friends, too. (Do you follow me on Instagram? Follow our family adventures over there! https://www.instagram.com/jenhickle/
Last night we had an impromptu bonfire with just our family and roasted hotdogs, brats, and a creative version of a s'more. I was out of regular graham crackers, so we used gluten free graham crackers (they tasted like gingersnaps!), added a little chunk of gluten free brownie to each one, and WOW they were wonderful! I just love conversation around a fire.
As we head into the fall, I wanted to challenge you to think of ONE new habit that you can begin. Don't overthink this and don't make it unattainable. What is ONE habit that you can do every day during the month of September?
For me, Chris and I are going to be very intentional about meeting weekly to get on the same page. To be able to lead our team effectively, we have to ensure that our vision is united and that we know where we are headed.
What can you begin?
I'd love to hear--just reply to this email!
In just a few weeks, my oldest heads off to college.
As I pass by the baby clothes at Target, I remember vividly those days of buying diapers and praying I can get through the day with young babies and toddlers.
Now I'm buying dorm room supplies and holding back the tears. Everything is about to change. It's a whole new stage of parenting. The bird is flying away from the nest. It's time for him to fly.
As I've been on coaching calls during the last few weeks, I'm helping many of you map out your goals and where you should be focusing. Website? SEO? Google ads? Facebook ads? Hiring team? Those goals are completely dependent upon the stage your business is in. We have to customize our path based on where we are and where we are going!
Maybe you're a parent and well acquainted of these stages. Now let's see how they apply to your businesses, too!
Which one describes your business?? I'd love to hear!
Baby Business Characteristics:
· Your business is fairly new, and seems to need a lot of time and attention
· Sometimes things seem quiet, like the business is sleeping.
· You’re not quite sure what to do with this baby or if you’re doing things right.
· You’re still testing things out and not even sure if what you’re doing is sustainable.
· The right name
· Clear marketing message
· Website and SEO
· Set up a FB page
· Start an email list
· Write a monthly newsletter
Toddler Business Characteristics:
· Super busy, and your business can feel overwhelming.
· You feel scattered, like there’s always a mess somewhere.
· You’re distracted and not sure if you should hire help or just get more organized.
· You know you need some systems but are tired and can hardly see straight.
· Your systems
· Hire one admin to be your assistant
· Say “no” to things that are not income-producing
· Work on boundaries and margin
Teenaged Business Characteristics:
· You’ve been in business awhile and you’re ready for some freedom
· You can’t take a vacation or get away without basically shutting everything down
· You know you need some freedom from the business, but you’re not sure which steps to take in which order
Work on this:
· Hire multipliers to do the work that you do
· Increase your admin help
· Increase your marketing
· Tighten up your systems
· Increase checks and balances and visibility of what you expect
· Be the CEO and the manager of your company
Watch this week's video!
Facebook Groups: Free Training!
Did you miss it? We had 3 power-packed trainings on how to use Facebook groups to grow your local business!
You can still watch! The videos will remain up for 1 week! Then they will be transfered to our Inner Circle, for only members.
Join the group here to watch these free trainings!
Join the free group here!
Want to be the FIRST to know when the Never Alone Inner Circle opens up again? Get on our waiting list here. We will let you know FIRST (before it goes public) when we are accepting new members!
On Friday night, being the wild party people that we are, my daughters and I went shopping at Target for school supplies. I don't know about you, but those new notebooks and binders and pencils make me soooo happy! Yes, we homeschool, but it doesn't mean we don't need new school supplies--we just aren't slaving over the list from the district, muttering to ourselves, trying to find the exact right 3 pronged folder! We are like frolicking deer, dancing through the aisles, exclaiming, "Oh! We need these pens! Look at these notebooks for 99 cents! Don't we need more of these?"
When we got home, the girls organized their stuff, decorated the front of their binders, and my 11 year old grabbed her laptop and said, "Give me a topic. An animal." And then she proceeded to write a little research paper on monarch butterflies! I'm telling you. Homeschooling is weird. But also awesome.
So whether you're starting school or waiting for Labor Day, we are all in the mood and even though we still have lots of summer fun planned for this month, we are definitely chomping at the bit for the new semester to begin!
To add a little fun to our month, I'm doing a Free Challenge called Grow Your Business Using Facebook Groups.
It's free. You just have to request to join our Free Facebook Group, "Creatives Growing a Local Business," HERE:
Listen. Marketing a local business is different than marketing an online business. I've taken all the courses. Watched all the webinars. Tried all the things. But that stuff is different than selling to clients that are local to you or promoting a brick and mortar location! I've wasted a LOT of time and energy on trying to learn stuff that did not work for my music school.
But I've found a few nuggets of gold that DO work, so I'm going to share them with you.
The Challenge begins Wednesday, August 7 and will be 3 days of power packed content and Q and A's so you can get the answers to all your questions. Everything is happening IN that free Facebook group (which, duh, is because we are talking about GROUPS).
You've probably noticed that it's hard to get engagement and eyeballs on your business Facebook Page (it's 100% possible and I teach the strategies in our Inner Circle, but it's still HARD and takes money) but Facebook looooooves promoting groups and it's a fabulous way to grow community and connection so people will buy from you! Woot!
So come hang out with us. There will be fun and prizes for those who participate, cuz that's just who I am. I like a fun competition.
Every time you comment, you'll be entered into a drawing.
ONE person will win a free month's subscription in to our Never Alone Inner Circle.
Others will win a free copy of my book, "Happy Kids, Growing Biz," and just for being in the group, you'll get an advance copy of my NEW book, which is all about how to use the power of online marketing for your local business. (Yes! Finally I'm speaking up about this. Soooo important to nail the difference in types of businesses and use the RIGHT strategy for your local business.)
If you're a coach or consultant, this info is NOT for you. That's a different strategy.
If you're an MLM, this is not for you either. You have your own strategies.
If you are selling appointments or services and are reaching a LOCAL crowd of people, I've got you covered. That's my expertise and that's where we will be focusing.
I'm obsessed with Facebook. I am. I KNOW it's where the people are hanging out, so I research FB strategies every single day. Our music school enrolled 7 students in ONE weekend and all I did is run a Facebook ad and test out some new FB video ads! (And YES, I used Groups as a part of this strategy!)
We surpassed our goal in July and enrolled 30 new students! In one month! All from Facebook and emails. Seriously. We didn't do anything else! No radio, TV, newspaper. All too expensive and ineffective for my school. I'm just leveraging the power of Facebook and using strategic emails to compel people to call us or stop by for a tour. And it works!
Anyway. If any of this is interesting to you, you have nothing to lose. Join the group, hang out, try some new strategies, and get those new clients!
If summer has been quiet or depressingly slow for you, it's almost fall and that means business will pick up! Yahoo! Let's be ready for the rush and on our toes, ready to rumble.
Let's do this. Together.
Find this group. Ask to join. It's free.
Fun, Entertaining, Encouraging Stuff You Might Have Missed This Week:
Chris and I talked about homeschooling our kids and what really matters to us and the measuring stick we use to know whether we are failing or not.
Find that here:
I went on a fun rant about motherhood and working and fall schedules for busy moms here. It's almost an hour long, so just fold your laundry or something while you watch. We can hang out together and laugh a little:
I put all of our best videos on YouTube, so if you're a YouTube person, subscribe here! (Help me out- I have a pathetic 15 subscribers!)
I don't know about you, but this time of the summer prompts me to start making plans for fall. I bought a new planner (whoo hoo!) and I'm getting my kids all set for classes (my oldest is headed to his first year of college and we are getting all of his plans set)!
It feels like my time can so easily get swallowed up by all of life's demands if I'm not careful. The calendar fills up, I'm responding to fires, answering emails, and just trying to keep my head above water.
On Sunday nights, I try to get ready for the week. Look over my calendar. Write the white board for the kids' schedule. Review the plan and upcoming goals. And then on Monday, everything hits the fan. Teachers need to be replaced at the studio. Appointments need my attention. Projects need my decisions. And this time of year, we are getting ready for the big fall client rush.
How about you? Do you feel supported and like you have a plan? Or are you just trying to make it through each day?
Is business feeling a little slow or are you drowning in everything that needs to get done?
Being a business owner can be incredibly lonely and isolating. And when you're trying to make big decisions for the future, it can be tempting to hide under the covers and wait for a more responsible adult to show up and take over! Except YOU are the adult and everyone is waiting on YOU! Ack!
Our Inner Circle Coaching Program is preparing to open again next month, and if you are wishing for a clear strategy, some focus, and support from people who really get your lifestyle, I want to encourage you to jump on the waiting list. You'll be the first to know when we open up again (with new surprises in store!) and only Inner Circle Members get access to our Fall Retreat where we will get super focused on what matters most and what will move your business forward.
As you're sorting through fall schedules and school supplies, don't forget to make time for YOU and your goals.
Start here. Jump on the waiting list. We're here for you.
Celebrating Wins in the Inner Circle!
Here's what our Inner Circle Members are working on and celebrating this month! (Doesn't matter how small-- we celebrate them all!)
Get on the waiting list here: https://www.jenhickle.com/contact-us.html
And while you're waiting, come hang out in our FREE group. New fun challenges coming soon to get you ready for Fall!
My son Ethan has played baseball since he was a little tiny kid, adorable in his little outfit, and using a tee to try to hit the ball.
Now he's on a team of high schoolers and these boys have turned into men.
Last night they had a tournament and it was crazy! The umpire was late, there was delay due to lightning, the game tied, paused again, and was paused at a tie. They still have to finish that game to move on with the tournament.
Over the years, I've become quite knowledgeable about baseball. Since Ethan's a pitcher, I know more than most moms, I think. Sports aren't my jam (Chris and Ethan LOVE all sports) but I have to tell you: when I saw this email from the coach this morning, I actually teared up. The parallels to business coaching are incredible. I'd love to share his words with you. As you read them, think about your business and imagine I'm encouraging you in the same way:
Pitchers: great attitude. Love the way you keep working through everything. Also love the support & confidence everyone has in you.
Bats: way to keep swinging the bats! We only had one looking K (strikeout). Great job here. Great strike zone judgement last night too. Keep trusting yourself. You guys have good swings. Keep it up!!!
Defense: Not so good. We had several physical errors and a couple of mental errors. The physical will happen occasionally. Kick yourself for about 2 seconds, and focus on what is next. The mental errors we can't afford. Baseball is not a spectator sport. Before every pitch - "What am I going to do with the ball when it is hit to me?" And then just focus on one thing - ball in glove. "I want the ball, I want the ball. "I want the ball."
We did have multiple guys, Sam, in particular, I remember, and a couple others as well, looking at the ball after they hit it. Sam, you would have beaten that infield ball out if you had just looked at first and run.
1) You run faster when you're looking at where you’re going,
and 2) you don't even run in a straight line when looking somewhere else.
Just like the players, the coaches have a job to do. Let us do it. Run to the base and listen to us. If you're running to first and the ball is hit anywhere other than right field, or running to second and the ball is in center or right field, just run and look/listen to us.
Lighting, a couple bad calls, a weird situation: sure. But don't put another thought into any of this. If we play our game - put the ball in play and don't give them anything, we win. Whenever we resolve this game we need to come out focused, even mad-focused.
My favorite part of this whole email was this part:
1) You run faster when you're looking at where you’re going, and
2) you don't even run in a straight line when looking somewhere else.
Just run and look/listen to us.
My friends, growing a business is hard. It's challenging. It's exhausting. And it's a game. You must keep your eyes on where you are going! And always keep your eyes on your Coach!
If you're struggling today. . . you can barely see straight. . . You're grieving and still trying to carry on through the day to day. . .I understand.
If you're discouraged or not sure how the next thing will play out. . . I get it.
Keep your eyes straight ahead.
And keep running.
Never, ever quit running.
All my love,
It's July! The heat is here which brings time at the lake, swimming at the pool, cool AC movie nights, and lots of baseball games!
We had a great 4th of July week with our family-- rented a boat, took a dinner cruise on a lake, went to a Twins game (they won!), and hung out at the beach with cousins and extended family.
In the midst of all the summer fun, it can be a little unnerving that business feels like it has slowed down or even come to a halt. Requests for more information are down, clients are dropping out, maybe you've had a lot of staff changes to deal with (I have).
Here's my advice:
Don't freak out.
Honestly, this happens every year. Everyone is enjoying summer and it's okay to take a breather. It's not okay to squander your free time with worry, though. So I have a few suggestions for you:
I want to see YOU succeed. And often, if business has slowed down, it's because you're not quite aligned with your marketing message. It just takes another pair of eyes to look at what's going on and help you make improvements. Besides, Facebook changes so rapidly that it's hard to keep up! We'll also take a look at your sales process and if there's a reason people aren't buying from you (often it's how you're wording your packages and prices and a small tweak can make a HUGE difference)!
My calendar is filling up for July, but I'd love to help you. Just schedule a call with me HERE!
Do you have a drive inside of you that just can't be squelched?
Maybe you've tried, but it keeps oozing out.
You come up with new ideas all of the time (even when people are tired of hearing about them!) and you just see opportunities everywhere.
Maybe you've told yourself, "I can't do this right now. My kids are too little. They need me. Or, I'm homeschooling."
Maybe you've been told "Focus on one thing. Be bored. Stop dreaming. Stop coming up with new ideas."
I'm here to tell you that you CAN have happy kids and a growing business. You CAN start another stream of income. You CAN hit 7 figures by creatively maximizing your gifts and talents.
You just need the right strategy, the focus on the right things, and support in the high and low times.
TODAY (Monday) at 9:00am Central, I'm doing a free webinar. I'd love for you to join us if this topic speaks to you.
Make sure you're in our free facebook group to particpate. Invite a friend to the group to join the conversation, too! Join us live OR watch the recording!
Join the free Facebook group here!
We are going to talk about:
-How using your natural gifts can grow your business
-How to juggle mom life plus business life
-If now is a good time for your business to grow
-What you need to know to succeed with the right marketing strategies
-How you can use your laptop or cell phone to grow your business while not neglecting your kids or your home
-How to start a second stream of income
Listen. I'm here to encourage you, inspire you, and empower you. You CAN live out the dreams God put in your heart. You can. You just need three things:
I'm here for you. Don't shove down your dream anymore.
Join us and let's talk.
Join the free Facebook group here.
So 2 years ago, I was at my wit's end with one of my kids. He struggled to read so badly that I questioned if he would ever fit into normal society. Because I homeschool my kids, it felt like my fault. Even though I tried every reading curriculum I could find, I just couldn't break through. We couldn't make progress. He was frustrated and so I was I. Honestly, I felt like a failure.
While at a homeschool conference, I met Tracy. I saw her booth and knew I had to talk to her. Within minutes of sharing my story, I was in tears and she just listened and nodded. She really understood.
I ended up signing up my son for her week-long program and everything changed. He jumped 5 grade levels in reading and comprehension! It was incredible! He gained confidence, starting using a pencil, taking notes, and reading more often! The next two years of high school were completely different for my son. He soared. Now he's headed to college in the fall! (Something I never thought was possible for him.)
But then I realized that Tracy had a problem. She had this wonderful business but nobody knew about her. Despite advertising at the homeschool conference and having a so-so website, she just wasn't able to fill her schedule.
It was MY turn to help HER.
She signed up for coaching with me, and we focused on clarity in her website, consistency in her marketing, and communication with her list and on social media.
This is what Tracy says:
"My business has continued to grow substantially over the last year and a half. I used to wonder where my next client would come from and now my next 3 months are fully booked!
I love that the Never Alone Inner Circle has the tools AND the heart that I need. Being a business owner is lonely! And everything is new. There's so much to learn. Never Alone has helped me break down exactly what I need to do next and the result has been more leads in a month than I used to get in a year! The tools and techniques are phenomenal.
I love how Jen listens to what I need and then comes up with a plan. And I love being a part of a group of entrepreneurs who are all looking to grow their business. Whenever I have a question, Jen is there. I highly recommend this program!"
Tracy Doyle, Minnesota Learning Solutions
I bet you have a pretty incredible business. I bet you are transforming lives and making a difference, like Tracy.
But if you just aren't fully booked, or frustrated at your lack of sales, it can be fixed!
You just need the right focus, strategy, and support.
Just hoping and praying isn't enough.
You need the right tools.
Listen. The doors are closing for our Inner Circle for the summer on June 30. We are shifting all of our energy to support our members and make our program better than ever before. I would hate for you to miss out. Come join us. This is the moment when everything changes for you.
Questions for me? Just hit reply. I'm here and happy to answer. You can also join our free Facebook group for creative business owners growing a local company and ask me anything in here:
See you inside. Can't wait to see YOUR business grow so you can help MORE people and make this world a more beautiful place.
Welcome to our new Inner Circle Members!
We are so glad you're here! (Watch your mailbox for your box of goodies! It should be arriving soon! Be sure to send me a pic so I know it arrived!)
Hi, I'm Jen Hickle!
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