Tax season! ACK! Everyone I talk to is sweating and silently screaming about getting their books in order for tax season. There's just SO MUCH to do. I get it! This last year, we combined both of our businesses into "Hickle Enterprises" and we are in the middle of purchasing a new home. All the paperwork and documents can be downright exhausting and overwhelming!
BUT. There is a better way. This is a great time of year to say, "No more. I'm doing things differently from now on."
Right now, we are enrolling new bookkeeping clients. If you sign up before March 31, we will waive our set up fee ($500 value). Our team member, Jessica, is dedicated to keeping YOUR books organized and streamlined so tax season next year won't be so insanely crazy for you! Chris has 20 years of bookkeeping experience with businesses and churches so he really understands.
We had a client come to us that was used to paying his accountant $12,000 per year (ack!!!) to sort out his disastrous books. When he switched to us (less than $200 per month for bookkeeping), his accountant bill was only $1200. Whew!! That's a savings of $8400!
Now, your situation probably is NOT as dire, because he had a very complex situation, but this story still illustrates the need for an accountant at TAX time and a bookkeeper for the rest of the year. If you're using an accountant to fix your books, you are paying way too much. If you aren't reconciling your books monthly, you have a serious problem on your hands. But it's okay! We can help!
In addition to balancing your books every month, we can audit your contractor's invoices and get them paid each month! What a weight off your shoulders! You'll receive a profit and loss statement every month, so you can have an accurate picture of how much money you are earning and how much you are spending. I don't know about you, but that document is the most important thing that I view during my month. Numbers don't lie and they help me stay on track (they also keep my feelings in check when I see those black and white numbers staring at me)!
Are you ready to have a different tax season in 2019? Your future self with thank you if you make this decision now. Just schedule a call with us to talk about all the details:
Need more info? Read more here:
Wow, I don't know about you, but January was crazy in our house! We had two birthdays (our oldest son turned 17 and our youngest daughter turned 10) and we traveled to Florida for some great fun vacation time in the sun. Our music school enrolled 40 new students and we passed a new milestone: 560 students are enrolled in our school and take lessons every week!
I just finished teaching a 5 Day Mini Course on Online Marketing and the response was outstanding.
Here's what people are saying:
"Thank You Jen and Chris! Over a year ago I hired Never Alone Business Services to redo the website for my business The Bayport School of Music...all I can say is that everything presented in this mini workshop will help your business reach more potential customers...Bravo!"
"So I watched the videos—very informative and clear, thank you, Jen!"
"Thank you for your investment in ALL of us!
Thanks for your consistent encouragement.
You DEFINITELY are fulfilling your calling, and we appreciate you much!"
"Thanks! You gave me a lot to think about."
"Hi Jen! Thank you so much for this very helpful mini course! You are awesome!"
If you missed out on the course this week, but would still like access to the free mini course, just email me and I'll get you access to the 5 videos! ALL the videos disappear on February 9, so you have one week to jump in!
Too busy to watch all the videos? I get it! Life can get crazy! Even if you just hit play and passively listen, you'll get ideas and clarity for your business. You don't have to do all the homework right away to still greatly benefit from the content!
So what's next for you? As January fades away and we walk into February, I find that now is a great time to finally fix your website and get those print materials finished. As I catch my breath from a busy January, my calendar is now open and ready for YOU. Just book a call with me if you need help with:
We hit the ground running in 2018! Our music school is the largest it's EVER been and it's the most healthy because of our rock solid staff. Our family snuck away for some fun in the Florida sun this last week and it's been SO wonderful to just get away and refocus as a family.
Soon we will be home soon and READY to begin our 5 day Mini Course on January 29! Have you signed up yet? I hope so!
Here's what you will learn:
It's easy to get signed up. Just click here and you'll be all set:
I'm going to enjoy a little bit more time with our family here in Florida and I'll see you in the Facebook course SOON!
I sighed. I stare at the task on my to do list. Again. It wasn’t going away, and yet I couldn’t seem to get the project done. Every time I worked on it, I got frustrated. Things weren’t working out the way I envisioned. This just wasn’t my strong suit. Sigh. Push it out to next week. Again.
I love using Todoist.com for all my tasks, but it’s frustrating when Chris keeps bragging about all the “points” he earns for completing all my tasks and I have OVERDUE glaring at me. I click the handy-dandy button that delays the due date another week. I rhythmically tap my pen on my desk. Maybe it’s time to get help with this design project.
<Fast forward 2 weeks.>
A new email comes in and the friendly message reads: “Jen, I have the proofs for you. Let me know what you think!” I open the PDF and grin like a fool. It looks so GOOD! And I didn’t have to do it! We hired a graphic designer and WOW this guy knows what he is doing! I write back: “I love it! Approved! Send it to the printer.”
Jumping over to Todoist, I gleefully check off the huge project that had been weighing on my shoulders for months. I grin.
These are the huge benefits of hiring a team:
When I build a team in my company, it’s imperative that everyone knows their role and what they should work on. My favorite tool is www.todoist.com. I can use hashtags to keep projects organized. I can assign tasks to myself or a team member and then set the date for a deadline. Every day, I get an email reminding me of upcoming and overdue tasks. I can even earn points for completing my tasks! Todoist works on my Apple Watch, there’s an app on my phone, and it’s beautiful on my computer. It synchronizes automatically, so I can stay on top of tasks wherever I am. Best part? The basic version is FREE! The upgraded version is only $29 per year. Totally worth it! If you’re building a team or collaborating on projects, check it out.
I know you’re already a Rock Star business owner. But you don’t have to do this all alone.
Build a team--and gain your sanity back!
This morning I was up early, enjoying my quiet solitude (halleljuah!), my coffee, and my book.
For the umpteenth time, I looked up and out of my picture window and thought to myself, "I hate this view. I miss the country. I miss all the trees." I sighed and went back to my book. My thoughts started wandering and I even started thinking about moving houses again. Then I reprimanded myself: "You just moved, silly girl. It's just one view out of one window and you only spend one hour here every day!" I pushed down my thoughts and changed course. Started looking at it from another angle. "My morning time matters. This is where I gather my thoughts and assess where my life is going. This view matters! If it's distracting to see 5 other houses, and I would prefer to see trees, doggonit, I should make a change!"
I stood up, grabbed my overstuffed recliner, and started shoving it to the other side of the room.
I took action and changed my view. On the other side of the room, I can see three trees, a lovely bench, and my kids' swing. Much better. So why didn't I move the chair sooner?
Here were my excuses:
1. I am always changing things. (I should just be content.)
2. My family will roll their eyes and maybe even complain that they liked it the old way. (People will think I'm crazy.)
3. People who visit my house will think the room was more balanced with the chair in the other corner. (I'll feel judged by their opinions.)
I have to tell you, I have a history of moving furniture. Often. When we were first married, Chris would walk in the door and I would say, "Don't be mad. I moved the furniture again." He likes things steady and predictable while I'm happiest when I'm creating, inventing, and coming up with new ideas.
Even as a little girl, I would rearrange the furniture in my bedroom. My dad would come home and say "You should have waited for me!" Nope. When I get an idea, I need to take action. Now.
I've been accused of loving to move furniture because I have control issues. And while I admit that shoving a huge piece of furniture across hardwood floors is quite satisfying, it's not about control as much as having a functional space. If something isn't working, I'd rather change it than complain about it. My parents were in networking marketing when I was a little girl, and I grew up hearing "Be positive!" I love being optimistic and looking on the bright side of things. If I find myself frustrated with a situation or a scenario, I would much rather brainstorm a solution and just CHANGE it than complain about it.
My problem is that I love people, too. And when the people in my life jokingly (or seriously) start nagging me because I'm "always" changing things or "always" moving furniture or always moving houses, I start to slink down. I better sit still. I better try to be more calm and steady. I should stop the stream of ideas in my head and just be grateful where I am.
Yes, being content is so important! But if you have the power to make a change and you can make things better in your house, your business, or your family, DO IT! Who cares if people think you are crazy?! YOU were made exactly the way you are because God made you this way! You are wired for innovation and ideas and positive change. People like you and me were sent to the planet to look at things in a different way and say, "Huh. If I move this chair, my view will be so much better! I'll enjoy my mornings so much more! I'm going to do it!" So what if people grumble a bit? They will get over it quickly. And YOUR view will be better forever.
My 9 year old saw me shoving the heavy armoire a few inches to make room for my chair, and said, "Shouldn't you wait for one of the boys to move that?" Oh honey. If you only knew how many times I've moved heavy furniture. I'm fine. I'm just fine.
I plopped down in my chair and got a huge grin on my face. THAT view is much better! Fewer houses, more trees. I can't wait until the leaves pop out in the spring! Green grass, we need you!
I grabbed my book and my coffee and sighed contentedly. Who knew such a small change could make such a huge difference?
(What do you need to change? What do you need to move around, both literally and figuratively? Make that change. Ignore the nay-sayers. Listen to your intuition. Make the change. I'm cheering you on.)
Every week I've been adding new private coaching clients to my monthly calendar. I can actually hear the relief in their voice when we start working together. I wanted to take a quick moment and explain what coaching can do for you and your business.
1. One-on-one coaching gives you personal attention so we can focus on exactly what you're going through.
2. One-on-one coaching tailors our time exactly to your personality and learning style.
3. One-on-one coaching gives you tangible, actionable steps to move your business in the right direction.
If you're tired of wondering if you're doing the right thing, it's time to get a business coach on the phone so you can confidently grow your business!
Which one are you?
Ramp up Rhonda:
You're at the beginning stages of your business. Sometimes you have so many ideas that you're not quite sure where to focus next. You're making money, but not enough. Your biggest challenge is needing a strategy. You want to be sure you're headed in the next direction. You need a plan and you're tired of flying by the seat of your pants. You know you're meant to do something big. You just need a little help getting there.
Next Level Natalie:
You've been in business for awhile now and you have people working for you. You're contemplating changing the name of your business, moving to a bigger location, or really turning up the volume on your marketing so you can get to the next level. Your challenges are having enough time to get it all done. You need a plan and you need it fast. You're ready to really grow, but you want to be sure you're doing everything at the right time and in the right order. You know that with a few strategic moves, your business could really take off.
Benefits of Never Alone Coaching:
1. Monthly one-on-one 30 minute calls. We'll lay out a concrete plan so you know exactly what to focus on next.
2. Personality and strengths assessment, to really understand how you're wired and how this affects the growth of your business. Together, we'll discover how to turn up the volume on what you do best so you can LOVE your business.
3. Website assessment to fully optimize your online marketing approach. You'll receive a video with feedback about your website--what's working, what's not, and what we recommend to get your business moving in the right direction.
4. SEO assessment to ensure your business is showing up online in a big way. We'll give you suggestions on what you need to improve to maximize your online presence.
5. Facebook Page assesssment to unlock the potential of Facebook for growing your business. You'll receive a personalized video with feedback about your Facebook Page so you can crack the code on marketing on Facebook.
6. 9 week Video Course to help you assess your systems. If you can create less stress, more sanity, and more systems at HOME, then you'll grow your business faster.
7. Self-paced journal to help you focus your vision and know exactly where you are headed next.
Is Never Alone Coaching right for you? Let's talk. Book a call HERE.
What is a business? A business is simply seeing a need and filling it. Having a solution for a problem.
If you sell something or provide a service for something that people need, and are willing to pay for it, you have a business.
That's it in a nutshell. When you boil down what we do, we find a need and we fill it.
How do you grow your business? Well, people need to know about your solution! You have to express that you understand their problem and clearly explain the solution. But this is complicated, isn't it? Sometimes it's hard to relate to the people we are selling to. Sometimes we don't like to promote ourselves. And sometimes we are so busy providing the solution, we actually don't have time to promote at all!
Here's where systems come in. You have to have stable, dependable systems to promote the solution to the problem that your people are facing. You can use your website, email, Facebook, direct mail, word of mouth, etc. But you can't decide to promote your business only when business is slow. Honestly, your marketing and advertising needs to be a system in itself! Do you have a repeatable process that is a checklist that you complete every single week?
If you don't have enough people seeking the solution that you offer, then focus on your marketing. Focus on improving your messaging. Make sure you are speaking to the need that your customer already knows they have. They have pain--and you have the solution. Simply put, that is marketing and advertising.
If you need some feedback on your marketing message, for a very limited time (only until February 5th) I am offering website and Facebook Page assessments. Book a 30 minute call with me here and for only $97, I'll get you my honest, knee-jerk reaction to your website and Facebook page. You'll come away with actionable items and steps to tweak and improve your messaging and your marketing. Normally, I charge $300 for this assessment. But I feel very strongly about you getting this done. So grab your time slot (it must be booked before February 5th) and take advantage of this super low price. Only $97. Here's the link again: https://www.neveralonebusinessservices.com/coaching-call.html
Let's make sure you're speaking your customer's language. Let's make sure they clearly understand the solution you provide to their problem. Let's do this together!
I wait in the car for my kids to come out of their theatre class. The heat is blowing full blast and my seat warmers give me a reprieve from the negative temperatures of our harsh Minnesota winter weather. I dare to take off my gloves--only to grab my phone. I check my email and Facebook, and then remember that I have been meaning to sign up my kids for summer swim lessons. I flip to Safari and search. Some websites I find are still desktop versions--I have to pinch and squeeze and zoom in. Others are clearly missing content--I can tell I've landed on a "mobile" site that is a stripped down version of their real website. I sigh. Frustrated, I flip back to Facebook.
This scenario is happening to moms everywhere. They are sitting in carpool lanes, thinking about YOUR services, and they are googling you. First of all, are they finding you? Are you ranking on page 1 when they search for what you do, in your town or city? Secondly, when they land on your website, is it a frustrating experience? Do you have 12 pictures all in a row that they have to scroll through? Can they click on your phone number or email address? Can they easily fill out a form--on their phone--to get more information?
As a busy mom of four kids, ages 9 to 16 (and I thought babies were busy! At least they napped. Now I'm constantly in the car, bringing my kids to one activity or another!) my phone is my lifeline. It's how I touch base with friends, order groceries, text my house cleaners, check on my staff, touch base with my husband, track my calendar, keep lists for buying gifts, and where I keep my to do list. I used to settle down on the couch for the evening with my laptop on my lap---but not so much any more. Almost everything I do as a mom is on my mobile phone.
When I flip to wearing my "business owner" hat, I can see that 70% of our website traffic for our music school is coming from mobile devices. So I know I'm not the only high-tech mom using my phone on-the-go.
Google is taking note.
In 2016, studies say that nearly 60% of searches were done on mobile phones. And the number just keeps climbing. More and more people are moving away from desktop computers and moving to tablets and mobile devices for their everyday use and for searching.
Because of this shift, Google is making a major change in 2017. Since the beginning, Google has been searching the desktop versions of websites to get their search engine results. In the past few years, they have also started crawling the mobile versions of sites as well. The new change is that Google is going to start to stop crawling the desktop versions of websites. This change will slowly roll out throughout the year. This is the biggest motivator to get a Responsive theme installed on your website ("responsive" means the layout changes for ANY device, large or small). We recently moved to responsive themes on our business' website and it wasn't too painful. The hardest part was just reading through every page and making sure that nothing was affected by changing the "theme" of the website. Yes, the "look" of our site changed, but it had to. Our site was looking dated and it is now easy to view on phones, iPads, etc.
Now here's the trouble. In the last few years, many businesses added a mobile version of their website, but didn't optimize it with the best organic SEO and they didn't include all the same content as the "full version" of their website. This is what Google is trying to make you change. No "full version" and "mobile version" is needed anymore. We need to have one website that is responsive across all sized devices. I'm sure you've noticed the crazy different sizes of phones and tablets that are out there--there is nothing "standard" anymore for phones or devices. We need to be ready for our readers (they are our clients and our prospects!) no matter what device they are using!
As Google starts crawling mobile versions, don't let your rankings drop because you don't have your full content on your mobile site. Check the following:
1. Do you have good organic SEO on your mobile version?
2. Is all the content the same on your mobile version as your desktop version?
3. Better yet--are you ready to change your website to a "responsive" theme so you don't have two versions but, rather, one website that is optimized for ALL devices?
If you're ready to make these changes on your website, so you don't have frustrated moms leaving your site without contacting you, just email us. Let's talk.
2017 is going to be an exciting year of growth! Don't get left behind.
I have to tell you a secret. My kids are the motivation for streamlining and systematizing my business. They are the reason I hire staff and spend so much time training them. They are what drives me to learn new technology to simplify my systems.
You see, when I first started my business, I did everything. I taught piano lessons, I scheduled the lessons, I tracked the tuition, I hired the teachers, I bought the books, I scheduled the meetings, I did the advertising, I rented the recital hall, I printed the programs, and I even designed curriculum and wrote exams for my students. (The only thing I didn't do was make the ice ring for the recital--one of my teachers volunteered to handle that. How nice.) After I had baby #3, I realized there was no way I could continue at this pace. Something had to change. I scaled my company back a little, and then had baby #4. I felt stuck. I didn't want my company to stay small, but I also didn't want to put my kids in daycare and work all day long. It was time for big changes. I started ruthlessly researching and reading dozens of business books. Two books changed my life forever.
"The E-Myth, Revisited," made me realize that I had started my business because I am wired to be an entrepreneur. However, by running every detail of my business, I had hamstringed myself into a position of never being an entrepreneur again. I was so busy running the day-to-day operations that I couldn't create new ideas for growth. I couldn't add new programs when I was so busy maintaining what I had started! It was time to put really strong systems in place so I could scale my business and finally grow (without more stress).
When I read the book "The Four Hour Workweek," I was challenged to think about my purpose in life. If I could clear all the stress and the tasks, what did I really want out of life? I realized that my children were my inspiration. I longed for more quality time with them. I hated that I was constantly working and always stressed out. I wanted to be the best mom possible. I wanted to take them on vacations. I wanted to travel and show them other parts of the country--and even other parts of the world. In my mind, I created a vision for my life where our family could be together more often, having fun and learning together. And this is what motivated me to completely change my business model.
Now, our family takes multiple trips every year. We spend full days at museums or the mall. We go out to eat, laugh, and go to the movies. We are rich in time. For time wealth is really what matters, isn't it?
When I got serious about growing my business, I hired my first administrative staff member and wrote my operations manual. I documented everything I did to get a student, enroll a student, and get that student started with a teacher. I wrote training manuals. I spent hours putting my brain onto paper so someone else could do what I had been doing. Little by little, as I could afford it, I increased my admin's hours. I focused all my efforts into learning about marketing. I realized that if I could be good at marketing, then my business could finally grow.
Because I wanted quality time with my kids, I was ruthless with my schedule. I determined when I would work and when that time came, I didn't waste time. I was super focused and I got more done in 6 hours than most people do in a couple days. When tasks popped in my head, I jotted them down, but I didn't deviate from "mom-mode." I begged a friend to watch my kids one day a week so I could focus on marketing and growing my company. I felt a drive deep inside. My motivation was my kids.
As we enter a New Year, so many of my business friends have been sharing with me that they want more intentional, quality time with their family. How do you accomplish that? By putting more systems in place.
Want more quality time with your family? Here are goals to run after:
1. Hire staff and train them properly.
It's not enough to hire people if you can't trust that they will do things correctly. Spend several weeks in training and you'll be able to step away from tasks that are currently consuming you.
2. Document everything.
Is it time-consuming? YES. But once it's done, it's done! Write everything down that you usually do. Every step. Make checklists. Don't skip anything. Imagine if you had to have surgery and were out of commission for a week. What needs to be written down so someone could step in and do the work that you usually do? Use this motivation to do a brain-dump so you can finally create an Operations Manual.
3. Create your weekly schedule.
If I don't schedule time with my kids or time with my spouse during my week, it just doesn't happen. Appointments get scheduled. Emergencies arise. People need me. It's just a reality. The important things get squeezed out by the urgent things. I have to be super intentional about my time and make my kids and spouse a priority. My desire to be the best mom and wife possible is what drives me to keep improving my schedule. I check in with each kid and ask them what they need from me. Sometimes I'm surprised by the answer. It's often more simple than I imagined. Mostly, it's just a request for more quality time without distractions. I go on coffee dates with my kids. I listen to them. I even schedule meetings with them! I call them "Mentor Meetings," because I want to spend their childhood being their mentor and guide as they grow into the person God designed them to be.
My kids keep growing and changing, so I keep assessing what needs to be changed and improved. We never "arrive" at a perfect system or schedule. But when I look back 9 years ago, I remember a crazy-busy, stressed out mom. Today, I'm fulfilled and doing what I love. I have lots of time with my kids. And I actually like being with my kids. (They are turning out to be great human beings!) I feel blessed to be their mom and I realize that in only 9 years, they will all be graduated. The days may be long, but the years are definitely short. I want to maximize the time I have and be intentional about my time.
Maybe you've been meaning to add more systems or staff to your company this year. Best way to implement those changes? Keep your kids as your motivation. I'm cheering you on!
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.
About the Author
Hi, I'm Jen Hickle!