Catherine Lawson Bold Advice For Success In Business & Life Sun, 26 Sep 2010 02:13:00 +0000 en hourly 1 One Small Voice Can Reach a Million People Fri, 24 Sep 2010 00:11:57 +0000 cathlawson

If you have your own blog, and it’s quite new, I bet the silence is deafening. I know how you feel, I’ve been there. You’ve spent the last three months pouring your heart and soul into writing amazingly useful blogposts. And what do you get in return? A big fat nothing – it feels like you’re performing in front of an empty theatre.

That’s pretty much what happened to me. I turned in post after post, and nobody was listening. Then one day, a small voice spoke up in the comments section. What I didn’t know was that within three years, that small voice would be capable of reaching millions of people, connecting new bloggers and helping them to build powerful communities.

The small voice in the empty theatre belonged to Barbara Swafford, of Blogging Without a Blog. And to be honest, I almost shit a brick when I read her comment, because it meant I had to reply. I think it took me a good few hours to pluck up the courage.

Barbara and I began exchanging ideas and information on how to improve our blogs. And she soon began doing things that were way more impressive and useful than the advice doled out by the “A Lister Blogging Gods”. Every week, she spent hours searching for a promising new blogger to crown as her new blogger of the week.

She also empowered her readers to think about what they could do to improve their blogging efforts, and encouraged them to build powerful communities. Any blogger who stumbled across Barbara in the beginning was seriously lucky – no empty theatre for them.

And I was incredibly fortunate too. Because Barbara and I were already connected in the blogging community, her actions had a knock on effect on me, and suddenly, I was performing in front of a full house. I also got to meet some awesome people.

If it wasn’t for Barbara, I really don’t think I would have been able to keep up my enthusiasm for blogging at all. And that would have been a shame, because this blog has helped me make a full-time living online, doing work I really love.

So thank you Barbara – you rock and I love you.

If you’re new to blogging, and you’re feeling all alone, pop over and introduce yourself to Barbara Swafford at Blogging Without a Blog. You’ll be glad you did.

A special thanks to Patricia Hamilton of Patricia’s Wisdom, for coming up with the idea of this tribute to Barbara. And also to Creativity Coach, Davina Haisell of Shades of Crimson Creativity Coaching for letting me know about it.

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Is Fear Fucking Up Your Life? Sun, 19 Sep 2010 22:39:03 +0000 cathlawson

If It Makes You FlyIf you keep putting things off, because you’re scared shitless, it’s easy to avoid the cold hard truth. Your life will be over in the blink of an eye, and if you don’t grab the opportunity, it will be gone forever.

But it’s rarely the actual act you fear, it’s the consequences. Most of us spend way too much time worrying about shit that might happen, instead of considering the possibility that things may just turn out amazingly well.

What Death Can Teach Us about Fear

Dr Elizabeth Kubler Ross devoted her life to working with dying patients. And she used what she learned to educate the living on how to live. Not once did she speak to a dying patient who regretted the things they’d done. Their only regrets were not doing the things they wanted more than anything, before it was too late.

But I’m not here to lecture you about risk and fear – that would be hypocritical. You see, although I’ve improved a lot over the years, I’m still a wimp when it comes to facing my own fears. And the more I want something the more terrified I become.

Avoiding Risk Robs You of Time – And You’ll Never Get It Back

Sometimes the thought of a negative outcome has stressed me out so much, that I’ve avoided taking risks at all. I’ve stayed in bad relationships because I was afraid to end them. Doing that for a year or two is bad enough, but 17 years is complete stupidity. The trouble is, when you end a relationship, what you really fear is the unknown.

And I’ve put off doing things I wanted to do, and focused on what I thought I had to do. For years, I was afraid to become a full-time writer, because it was easier to focus on what other people wanted me to do.

I was so scared of failure that I was always looking for a back up plan. But the problem with Plan B is that it tends to suck up most of your time.

You know, the only times I’ve felt truly happy, is when I’ve said – Fuck it, I’m going to stop worrying and take a risk. And my only regrets were not doing what I feared way sooner.

Some Numbers That Might Scare You into Action

If I’d known what I know now:

- I would have left that bad relationship when I was 19 – instead I waited until I was 35.

- I would have focused on writing full-time in my twenties, instead of waiting until I was 41.

Of course, these are not my only mistakes. I’ve let fear get the better of me more times than I care to remember. But I tell you none of this to complain. I just want you to understand how much of your life you waste when you let your fears beat you.

The more times you are able to face your fear, and just do it anyway, the easier it is. But, it’s still bloody hard. And the more you want something the tougher it gets.

So how do you get from where you are to where you want to be, without terrifying yourself into not even trying?

You Have to Understand How Short & Fragile Your Life Is

When you’re young, the end of your life doesn’t seem real. It feels too far away to even worry about. And it’s a shame because if you realised how fast your life is going to whiz by, you’d be less likely to fritter most of it away.

“It’s only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth – and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up, we will then begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had.”

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

7 Steps to Overcoming Your Fears

1) Focus on your goal
– instead of worrying about shit that could go wrong.

2) Don’t be afraid of failure
– No matter how scared you are, it’s unlikely that you have only one chance to get it right. If you trip up, get up off your ass and try again.

3) Listen to your instincts – Try to get used to listening to your own instincts, before you start worrying too much about the consequences. If you have a gut feeling that something is right, it usually is.

4) Ignore well meaning advice – it is often clouded by other people’s fears and judgements. When I spectacularly sank my third business, plenty of people advised me to get a job.

Looking back, it was crazy because one fuck up out of three isn’t bad. But I
wasted a good couple of years, feeling torn between what I wanted to do, and
what other people thought I should do.

5) Spend more time with positive people who are not afraid to take risks
– If
everyone around you is apathetic and afraid to make positive changes, it’s
going to rub off on you – no matter how strong you think you are.

6) Don’t Be A Martyr:
It’s easy to become a people pleaser – I’ve been there. But you’re only here once, and you should never let anyone suck the life out of you.

If these people really cared about you, they wouldn’t expect you to sacrifice your hopes and dreams to fit in with their plans, or make their life easier.

7) If You Want To Do Something – Just Do It.
“Live so you don’t have to look back and say: ‘God, how I have wasted my life.’” Dr Elisabeth Kubler Ross.

Image Credits

Feel The Fear (If It Makes You Fly) – by Ibrahim Lujaz.

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If You’re Not Getting Enough Business It’s Your Own Fault Fri, 27 Aug 2010 02:56:32 +0000 cathlawson

This may sound harsh, but it’s a fact. If your business doesn’t have enough work coming in, it’s most likely your own fault.

If you’re sure your pricing is realistic, and you’re targeting the right customers, there has to be another problem. And I’m betting you’re just not taking your business seriously enough.

Maybe it isn’t entirely your fault. You might have underestimated the amount of marketing that you need to do, to get your business off the ground. People tell you to do a lot of marketing – but how much do they mean by a lot?

Well, here’s the truth. When you launch a new business, there are two things you should focus all your energy on:

1) Doing the paid work that brings money into your business.

2) Finding customers who want what you’re offering.

- Did you spend every spare hour last week, trying to find new customers?
- How many did you approach?
- How many potential customers would you speak to, before you gave up trying?
- Or would you keep going indefinitely until you made a sale?

You can’t afford to give up, if you want your business to be a success. And you should never stop marketing, no matter how busy you are. You can always outsource some of your routine tasks, to free up your time to market your business.

I’ve launched four completely different businesses. And each one had plenty of work coming in, within the first couple of weeks of trading. I’m not telling you this to brag – because it certainly didn’t take any special skill or talent.

If you saw some of my botched marketing campaigns, you would probably laugh your ass off. Of course, I’ve ran excellent campaigns and mediocre ones too. And the truth is, bad marketing is better than no marketing.

And if I can do it, you can too. Aside from my focus on marketing, the only things that helped me were:

You have to keep trying, no matter what. If someone rejects you, don’t let it get to you. Just move right on to the next potential customer.

It is difficult at first, but you’ve got to understand that rejection is rarely personal. Perhaps they just don’t want what you have to offer, or they don’t want it right now. And if they don’t give you a definite no, keep in touch with them, because one day they might need your product or service.

Hard Work:
When you launch a new business, you’ve got to ditch the 9-5 mentality. I know that a work/life balance is important, but in the early days, most of your waking hours should be spent working on your business, if you truly want to succeed.

Caring About Customers: Running a business isn’t just about making money. You’ve got to genuinely care about helping your customers get what they want, and be willing to go the extra mile for them.

A Strong Desire To Build Relationships With Awesome Clients: Not all of your clients will be awesome. But when you find a great client, do everything you can to make sure they want to work with you again. And focus on building a relationship, not just making a fast sale.

Not Being Plastic: There are way too many fake people in business. And some folk speak to their customers like they’re reading off a prewritten script. If you’re a genuinely nice person, just be yourself. It’s easier to build lasting relationships that way. And you’re more likely to attract customers you’ll get on well with.

Have you struggled to get enough business? Have these points helped, or do you think there might be another problem? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

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10 Business & Life Lessons From The Last 12 Months Wed, 04 Aug 2010 05:46:52 +0000 cathlawson

To stop learning is like dying before you’re dead. Here are 10 business and life lessons I learned in the last 12 months.

1. Awesome People: If you know an awesome person – tell them how great they are. Life is fragile and if you don’t do it now, you may never get another chance.

2. Assholes: Don’t prioritize people who deliberately cause you constant stress. Laugh at their stupidity and put any response to their demands on your “shit to do after the important stuff” list.

3. Over Thinking: Try not to spend so long thinking about your goals that you don’t get anything done at all. Choose at least one priority and spend a bit of time each day working on it. Even if you’re not sure of your main life goals, at least you’ll get something done.

4. Sexism: Don’t waste your time trying to figure out how to deal with sexist assholes (aka inadequate men, with tiny dicks). Just refuse to tolerate them full stop – including sexist suppliers, customers and staff. Many workplaces are still rife with these tossers, and it’s about time more people in the workplace gave them the message that their behaviour won’t be tolerated.

5. Worrying:
Try to stop worrying too much about what might happen, so you can focus on what is happening.

6. Ignoring:
To turn a blind eye, or look the other way is just as bad as committing a crime yourself. Don’t be one of the 9 out of 10 people who do it.

7. Filtering:
Absorb as much useful information as you can, from newspapers, blogs, books and other media. But don’t allow them to do your thinking for you.

8. Belief: Pray. It doesn’t matter if you believe in God, or the Tooth Fairy, but if you believe in nothing, you’re screwed.

9. Distractions: Recognise when you’re being side-tracked. Mindless distractions can help you to cope with the shit in your life, but using them on a regular basis won’t help you to fix things.

10. Useless Information: Cut out the noise. Allowing unhelpful advice and opinions to filter into your own thinking can stop you concentrating on what is important to you. You can cut out the noise by meditating, or spending 30 minutes alone each day.

Did you learn any business and life lessons in the last 12 months? Please share in the comments section.

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How I Made My Knowledge Sell & You Can Too Fri, 30 Jul 2010 23:53:11 +0000 cathlawson

Cultivating KnowledgeDo you have information you can turn into cash? I bet you do. You might be surprised to discover that many people would pay to know what’s in your head.

I wasn’t confident that I could make my knowledge sell, but I did it and you can too.

Over a decade ago, I discovered that people would pay good money for the information I had to share.

My first attempt at selling my knowledge wasn’t revolutionary, or mindblowing, but it worked. I had no special skills, or advantages in fact, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing.

Here’s what I started out with:

- No business experience.

- A shoestring budget.

- I used a free webhost.

- No technical knowledge – I built an ugly website using Microsoft Frontpage.

- Zero online sales experience – I studied online sales copy and newsletters to see what worked.

- The autoresponder I used for my weekly newsletter was a free download.

- I had no way of accepting payment online, so customers had to mail me cheques, then wait for me to email the guide.

- I was extremely naive, which was probably a good thing, as I might have given up before I started.

The Only Thing I Had Going For Me Was Desperation

I was recovering from a long illness and I was desperate to get back to work. But with two small kids at home and limited resources, I had no idea what to do. I tried to break out as a freelance writer and I did have a few small successes. But the payment was a pittance, in return for the hours I put in sending out queries, fillers, and articles on spec.

It was frustrating because I wanted to write and I was willing to work hard, but I also wanted to make a half decent rate for my efforts. So I began looking for other ways to make my writing sell.

It Pays To Be Open Minded In Your Research

Knowledge Wall

I bought a computer, in the hope that it would at least speed up my writing time. I also got access to the Internet and when I first began browsing, I accidentally stumbled on a site about Disney World.

To be honest, I knew jack all about Disney World, aside from the fact that it was somewhere in America. And no offence to Americans, but I had no desire to visit the country. At the time, the newspapers seemed to be full of stories about British tourists getting car-jacked and murdered in the USA.

My curiosity led me to a search on Disney World and the safety of British tourists. I figured I could probably glean enough information to help me pitch an article on the dangers of visiting “the killer mouse”. But I found an interview with Michael Eisner, Disney’s former CEO and quickly changed my mind.

Eisner explained that many British tourists were afraid to visit Walt Disney World because of the crime. He pointed out that this was crazy, because most of the crime was in the Miami area, which was over 200 miles away.

Well, that got me thinking that this Disney place might not be so bad after all. My kids would love it and it looked like we might not get mugged or shot.

So I researched like mad, gleaning any information I could from websites and forums. And not only did I learn how to plan the perfect Walt Disney World trip; I discovered how to save a whole bunch of money too. And while I must have spent hundreds of hours researching, it saved me over two thousand dollars on our first trip.

People Will Pay Good Money To Learn What You Know

Mickey Money
The entrepreneur within me said it would be wasteful, if I didn’t do something more productive with the knowledge base I’d built. I might have saved a lot of money, but I didn’t actually make any cash for the time I’d put in. And thousands of people could benefit from what I’d learned.

I don’t even know if e-books existed back then. But I figured I could write a simple guide on how to save money on a Walt Disney World trip, sell it on a website and send it to customers by email.

So I created my information product. It was only about 24 pages long, took a few days to write and I sold it as a simple text document for $10. Yes it was short, but my main focus was to provide folk with the information they needed. I didn’t see the point in padding the product out. After all, if readers don’t want to spend a lot of time on research, they don’t want to waste time reading through a whole bunch of fluff.

Now this might not seem the best way to sell your knowledge and it isn’t. But despite my obvious mistakes and amateur approach, my little information product sold.

And there is no reason why you can’t do this too. You can get so much information and useful tools online to help you, so you’re sure to do far better than I did with that first product.

A Few Tips On How To Turn Your Knowledge Into Cash

“People begin to be successful the minute they decide to be.” Harvey Mackay

1. Don’t underestimate the importance of knowledge you already have. If you’ve spent hundreds, or even thousands of hours learning how to do something, there will be plenty of people willing to pay for a shortcut.

2. People are always looking for ways to save time, save money, or make more money. If you can show them how to do it, you have a huge advantage.

3. You don’t need to spend months writing a massive tome. People want to buy your knowledge, so they can get started right away. They are paying for the time you spent learning and researching, not the time you spent writing your information product.

4. You don’t need to stress over your writing style for this type of product. So long as it is readable, with few grammatical errors and typos, your readers don’t care if you write like Hemmingway, or Bart Simpson.

5. It helps if you’ve actually put your own knowledge into practise. People are more likely to buy from you, if you’ve actually done what it says in the book.

6. If you don’t have a clue where to start, don’t let it put you off. An easy to use guide, like the 7 Day Ebook, will help you to come up with an idea, plan out your book and get it written within a week. And it also shows you how to market your book.

So what are you waiting for? Has this convinced you that you can make your knowledge sell? Or is something else holding you back?

Read About Other People Who Have Made Their Knowledge Sell

- In the late 90′s, Rosalind Gardner started a business, selling other people’s products online. By 2002, she was able to quit her day job and nowadays, she makes hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. And she shows you how to become a super affiliate in her popular e-book.

-Kathy Hendershot-Hurd is an online business expert. She has years of experience in showing clients how to build a successful blog that makes them money. And she shares her years of knowledge and experience, in her powerful guide -8 Week Power Blog Launch.

-Tom Volkar has been coaching and inspiring people to become self-employed for years. He has produced several information products himself and now he has packaged his knowledge in a guide, which shows you how to create inspired info products.

Image Credits

Cultivating Knowledge by Anders Sandberg
Knowledge Wall by The Value Web Photo Gallery
Mickey Money by Kurtxio

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Your 3 Year Jail Sentence Tue, 27 Jul 2010 15:00:10 +0000 cathlawson

Some people throw business advice around without giving a toss about the consequences. One that really gets my back up goes something like this: “Pick a business and start it right now. Don’t hang around – be like Nike and just do it.”

It’s fine if:

a) You already know what you really want to do.
b) All you care about is making money.
c) You’re young enough not to care if you waste a few years of your life on something that isn’t right for you.

Otherwise, it’s like giving yourself a 3 year jail sentence. And that’s the minimum term, because it is likely to take much longer to achieve a great deal of success.

So before you jump into bed with the “business is fab” cheerleaders, ask yourself if your new business idea is something that you will enjoy. And if you can’t say a definite yes, with no hesitation – cross the idea off your list.

Trust me, you won’t regret taking your time to choose the right business for you. I know this because I once started a business that I didn’t enjoy and it was a huge mistake.

Before it launched I had a gut feeling I was doing the wrong thing but I ignored my instincts. And I was foolish, because I focused on the potential financial gain, instead of my long term life goals.

After 16 months, I gave myself a choice - 1) Borrow a lot of money and stick with something I didn’t enjoy for another 5 years. 2) Sink the business and take a huge financial loss.

Nobody likes losing money, but I chose option 2 in an instant. I just couldn’t bear the thought of devoting another five years of my life to something I didn’t love.

You don’t need to put yourself in the same situation and I hope you won’t. Take your time to figure out what you want to do and don’t rush in, just because people are telling you that you should. Focus on the long term and create a business that you can be proud of.

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Why You Are Letting Your Blog Readers Down Mon, 26 Jul 2010 16:00:11 +0000 cathlawson

Did you ever stop to ask yourself if you’re giving your readers what they want? If you take your blog seriously, I’m guessing you focus on writing useful and enjoyable posts. Trouble is, in your attempt to please them, you may be letting your blog readers down.

Many bloggers provide the kind of products, or services that their readers want. Trouble is, they are so focused on writing awesome content that they don’t let people know what else they have to offer.

What Do Your Blog Readers Want From You?

Most of your readers don’t interact with you in the comments section . But you can discover what they’re looking for, by monitoring how they arrive at your blog.

Say you have a blog on dog training and someone finds you by typing into Google, “how to train my dog to shit outdoors”, there’s a good chance they are desperate to find a solution to their problem. And if you sell an ebook on how to toilet train a dog, you need to provide a link to the sales page in the post they arrive at.

Others may find you through a more general keyphrase, such as “dog training blog”. They might not have a desperate need for your toilet training book but they could be interested in other products you have to offer. So make sure you make it easy for them to sign up to your newsletter and subscribe to your blog in an RSS reader.

You Don’t Have To Spoil Your Blog Posts To Sell Your Products

Some bloggers worry that they will ruin their content, if they mention their products. But making your readers aware of what you have to offer, doesn’t mean turning your posts into sales pitches.

You can write interesting posts that mention your product and provide a link to the sales page. If your reader is interested, they will click through to read more about it.

An opt in newsletter is another way to give your readers tips, updates and info on products they may be interested in. Or you can use the “What Would Seth Godin Do” plugin to mention your product at the beginning, or end of each post.

And don’t forget to display an ad for your product in a place where readers can see it. The best way to do this is by using an ADvatar. ADvatar’s are great because you can use them on your own blog, to advertise on other blogs and as your social networking Gravatar.

The idea behind these ads is often misunderstood. And some bloggers get frustrated when they place one of their ads somewhere and they don’t get hundreds of click throughs. But that isn’t how ADvatars work.

People need to see your ad several times, before they notice it and images are far more memorable than a name alone. Eventually, they will begin to recognise your ADvatar and they’ll remember you when they need what you have to offer.

If you don’t have an ADvatar yet, you should check out the awesome ADvatar’s that Barbara Swafford creates at the Blog Boutique.

* Disclosure – I don’t profit financially by recommending Barbara’s ADvatars. But we have been friends for over three years, since she began helping and advising bloggers at Blogging Without A Blog. And I know you can trust her to provide you with an attractive ADvatar for your blog.

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Thinking Out Of The Box For The Clueless & Misguided Sun, 25 Jul 2010 12:56:49 +0000 cathlawson

The idiot who coined the phrase “thinking out of the box”, wasn’t doing potential entrepreneurs any favors. I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating – there is no damn box. All it means is thinking creatively and what could restrict your creativity more than imagining some stupid box in your head?

No matter who you are, or what you do, the ability to think creatively is one of your greatest assets. It helps you generate ideas, solve problems, invent and create and do a whole bunch of other awesome things.

Even if you don’t believe you’re one bit creative, it’s easy to tap into the creative part of your brain and get it working for you. Creativity is a bit like a muscle – if you don’t use it, it wastes away, but there are plenty of things you can do to get it working again.

Creative Thinking Tools For Smart People

1. Try Mindmapping: Mindmapping is a trademark. It is a similar technique to spider mapping. Traditionally you used a pen and paper to Mindmap. But I’ve signed up for a free seven day trial of Mindmapping software and I love it.

2. Get Professional Help: And no, I’m not suggesting a therapist. If you’re serious about enhancing your creativity, why not try a couple of sessions with a professional creativity coach like Davina Haisell? She is one of the most creative people I know and until 31st July, she is offering a free 30 minute telephone consultation.

3. Freewriting: I love freewriting, as it enables you to generate great ideas in a short space of time. You can use many different techniques and if you’ve never tried it before, I recommend learning about Morning Pages, in The Complete Artist’s Way: Creativity as a Spiritual Practice.

Mark Levy has just re-released his popular book on freewriting. I love his blog and Accidental Genius: Using Writing to Generate Your Best Ideas, Insight, and Content, is at the top of my wishlist.

4. More Awesome Ideas: From Astral Travel to online games, you’re sure to find some great ways to enhance your creativity in this post: 27 Ways To Fuel Your Imagination And Come Up With Great Ideas.

Do you hate buzz phrases like “thinking out of the box”? Which other jargon words and phrases bug you?

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No More Wasting Time – Even If You’re A Total Dosser Fri, 23 Jul 2010 08:00:37 +0000 cathlawson

If you could capture time in a bottle, it would outsell Chanel No.5. But until some smart ass comes up with a way to do it, what you do with your time is down to you. And it’s a whole lot easier if you force yourself to justify every minute spent, then there’s no more wasting time.

If you work 70 hours a week, you might wonder who the hell I am to accuse you of being a time waster. But I’ve been there myself and I bet you don’t work half as hard as you think you do.

The truth is, if you can’t bring yourself to track every second you spend working, you’re probably frittering time away. And while that doesn’t make you a complete dosser, you may be losing several hours a week.

I’ve wasted more time than I care to remember. But it didn’t even seem like I was wasting time – it felt like bloody hard work. And when it comes to time management, I still have my weaknesses, but I’m working on them.

If I didn’t discipline myself, I would struggle to get things done. And I won’t pretend it’s easy to begin with but once you kick yourself up the butt and get on with it, taking control of your time becomes a habit.

A Few Tips I’ve Found Useful To Stop Wasting Time

1. Always use a “To Do list” and prioritize your tasks in order of importance. You should never allow yourself to move onto a less important task, until you’ve completed the priority jobs. I use a word document to do this but if you’re a tech geek, you can use a free online service like Toggl.

2. Time how long it takes you to do each task. Then when you’ve completed it, write down any problems or interruptions that slowed you down. This will help you identify areas where you’re seriously piddling your time away.

3. If you constantly put off certain types of task, be honest with yourself and try to work out why. There’s always a reason and if you can figure out what it is, it will be easier to find a way to motivate yourself.

4. Get up early and try to get yourself into a proper sleep pattern. If your working hours become irregular, you’ll waste a lot of time.

5. Make sure you have everything you need in front of you, before you begin a task. That way, you don’t waste time trying to find things and you’re not tempted to put the task off because you don’t have all the resources you need.

6. Be realistic about how much work you can do in a day. If you struggle to complete your “To Do” list, you’ll become overwhelmed and may be tempted to stop using it altogether.

7. If you usually multi-task, knock it on the head. I used to think it was a great way to get things done, but in reality, it gets you into a muddle and you wind up with a pile of half finished projects.

8. Don’t let yourself get side-tracked. It’s all too easy to take a quick break to check your email, or see which Twits are on Twitter. And before you realise it, you’ve frittered away an hour.

9. If you use Gmail, make time to set up filters. I was becoming so overwhelmed by junk email, I couldn’t bear to look at my inbox. Now, if I get stuff that I don’t want to receive, I set a filter to automatically delete email from that address.

10. Break large projects down into manageable chunks and set a deadline for completion of the whole task.

11. Be honest with yourself about which jobs are important. Does a particular task need to be done right now, or did you add it to your list to avoid doing more important things?

12. Get into the habit of keeping nothing on your desk but the things you need for one task. Then when you’ve completed it, put those things away.

13. Work towards being able to delegate some of your work, or outsource some of the things that don’t need to be done by you. And don’t flatter yourself – most things can be done by someone else.

14. If you have staff, once you’ve managed to get a grip of your own time management, teach them how to do it and make sure they know it’s part of their job. That way, there will be no more wasting time in your business.

Related Reading

Social Networking: Rethinking Productivity
Time Management For Muppets
Stop F…ing About: Time Management Tips For Internet Startups
What Happened To All The Time Saving?

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Who Really Makes The Buying Decision? Wed, 21 Jul 2010 17:00:43 +0000 cathlawson

Between now and 2052, $15 trillion of the world’s wealth will be passed to folk like Paris Hilton. Unless you’re a Los Angeles drug dealer, you may find that prospect worrying. And you’re not the only one.

Savvy businesses are well aware of the need to teach these rich young people to manage their wealth responsibly. But most of them know that it’s a waste of time to approach these jetsetters directly. And that’s because they’re not the ones making the buying decision.

To market a product or service effectively, you need to reach the person who will make the decision to buy. And it isn’t always the potential product user. So it’s important to do your research before you blow your marketing budget.

In the case of the young and rich, the parents and grandparents are usually the decision makers when it comes to wealth management products. They’ve worked hard to grow huge amounts of money, so they want to ensure that future generations don’t blow it all on drugs, partying and private jets.

Discovering who the decision maker may be for your own product or service can involve a lot of digging and you need to put yourself in the customer’s position.

What would make them want to buy your product and why? What benefits would they hope to get from it and how? If you’re dealing with consumers, these questions should eventually lead you to the real decision maker.

If you’re selling to other businesses, it can be tough to find out who the decision maker is. Asking the receptionist might not always produce a result. She may not even know who is in charge of making the buying decision for your type of product. Or she might be a mean bitch and throw your details in the trash, instead of passing them on.

One trick helped me get past a mean receptionist. I can’t guarantee that it will work for you but the odds are in your favour.

A few years ago, I popped into the reception of a local firm, to get the name of the decision maker for the service I offered. I was friendly and polite and I made it clear that I just wanted the name, so I could write to her and introduce myself. But I got a power hungry witch of a receptionist who told me I could write to the decision maker but she opened all the mail herself and she might not pass it on to her.

I felt like saying f..k you but instead I said thank you. Then I went back to my office and wrote my letter to the woman who made the decisions. I introduced myself and told her how wonderful and helpful old sour face had been. She was a real credit to the company – the most efficient receptionist I’d ever met.

Now, I know this might seem sneaky but when you come up against dragons, you’ve got to play them at their own game.

I knew for a fact nobody else would be singing the woman’s praises, so she wouldn’t be able to resist passing the complimentary letter on to her boss. And it worked, I got my foot in the door and eventually, the dragon’s boss became a customer.

If you’re still struggling to get anywhere, it can be worth working from the top down. If you send your details to someone higher up in the company, they might pass them on for you. And the decision maker is more likely to take notice of something passed down from their boss.

Introducing an employee of the potential customer to your product can also work – especially if they are able to influence the decision maker. Young entrepreneur, Kirsty Henshaw managed to get her frozen desserts in front of the decision maker at Tesco, through a member of staff who was a fan of her product.

If you’re dealing with a very small business, it’s often the owner who makes the decisions. And if you’re struggling to reach them, try calling after 5pm when all the office staff have gone home.

Sometimes you have to persevere, to get what you want. But in some ways it’s better, because your competitors may not be so persistent. Just remember that no matter what you’re selling, it’s vital to discover who is in charge of making the buying decision and find a way to reach them.

Image Credit: Buying A Ring – by Jennifer Dickert

Related Reading

Selling the Invisible: A Field Guide to Modern Marketing
Sleazy Sales & Why Your Neighbours Make You Poor
What To Do When You Can’t Find Customers
The Steps To A Buying Decision: Remembering The Human Element

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