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Clarity for Your Business Goals and Organization

If you lack clarity about your business, you are likely to be stumbling along rather than growing your business as you had planned.  Getting clarity about your business and your business goals will help you to get your business organized.

These are some clear signs that your business is not working.

  • You have lost track of what you own (domain names and products you’ve bought being the biggest offenders)
  • You don’t have time to update things that need to be updated
  • You don’t have time to take courses you invested in—or even attend webinars you signed up for
  • You don’t have time to plan for tomorrow because you ended up working late and running on empty
  • Your outsourcing is disorganized and you lose contractors through not being ready for them and wasting their time
  • You are so busy dealing with the day-to-day that you have lost sight of goals for the future (which have become fuzzy and vague)

Heck, if you aren’t able to get organized maybe you have not even been able to outsource anything so far.

But losing track of what you own, scrambling to catch up, losing sight of your goals to the point where you are no longer actively moving towards them every day and don’t even realize it… all these are common problems for solopreneurs—often because of the high level of reactivity that solopreneurs are unfortunately subject to.  

In an traditional job, one is expected to devote every waking minute of the workday to the job at hand. You are expected to limit personal calls and contacts on company time.  But when you work at home, everyone expects you to be “flexible.” They expect you to be wife, mom, sister, daughter and friend—first.

Even if you set your boundaries, there are always emergencies (and those who don’t respect those boundaries).  Often times part of the problem is they don’t really understand what you do.  And trying to explain it yet again feels like you are banging your head against a brick wall.

That is why it is crucial to make sure your business is not just organized but that your organizational system is easy to maintain no matter what life throws at you.

 

The good news is… you can organize your business.

One of the most important attributes you need to have as a solopreneur is clarity. You need to be able to assess your entire business model—what its mission is, where it is right now, where you’re heading—with a single thought.

To achieve clarity, you need to do four things:

  • Decide on or reconfirm your true business focus and goal
  • Take inventory of where your business is at right now
  • Purge any unnecessary distractions
  • Set up an organized, clear routine

Do these effectively, and it won’t be all about staying organized (which can cost you money if you are always in this mode): It will be all about moving forward, taking action and growing your business—without even having to think about it.

To help you gain clarity, here is downloadable worksheet to help you: Clarity Goals Worksheet

I’m Lori Winslow, the Organized Solopreneur.  I help solopreneurs get their business and their life organized.  To get started, pick up a copy of my Top 10 Ways to Get Your Solopreneur Business Organized.

 

 

 

Plan For Higher Profits

Smart business owners know that planning is the key to higher profits. But creating a long-term plan doesn’t come naturally for many people. You have to not only have a vision for where you want your business to go, but you also have to know what you need to create (and when), be able to assign the tasks to your VA(Virtual Assistant) or other team members, work in some additional promotions for complementary products, and still leave room for last minute offers.

Whew! No wonder we get so overwhelmed when it comes to planning.

The “seat of your pants” business plan seems so much easier! And less profitable.

So let’s get planning and make your business as easy (and profitable) as possible!

Take Stock

Before you can clearly see what direction you want to take, you need to look back at where you’ve been. You’ll find lots of useful information in your stats and sales figures for the past 12 months, and you might even discover that you did much better than you initially thought.

If you has set goals for last year – and you should have, let’s review.

What milestones did you hope to hit? How did your results stack up against those goals?

For example, you might want to look at things such as:

  • Overall sales figures
  • Sales figures by product
  • Traffic numbers
  • Social media growth
  • Mailing list subscribers
  • Affiliate sales figures

Even if you didn’t set a goal in each of these areas, make a note of where you are right now, so that you can measure your progress more accurately as you work on your future marketing plan.

As you’re looking at these numbers, do any of them surprise you? Are you pleased with your list growth, but disappointed with your Facebook reach? Did you sell more of that product than you thought you would, or earn less in affiliate commissions than you expected?

For each item that surprises you in some way, ask yourself what you could have done differently, or what may have caused the difference. These answers will help you set more realistic goals for next time.

Now, it’s easy to become overwhelmed.

Keep in mind, though, that you don’t have to tackle everything at once. In fact, you’ll be much more successful if you focus only on the next few weeks.

Keep the big picture in mind, but when it comes to where you spend your time, only be worrying about what’s coming up in the next 45 days.

This gives you plenty of time to finish up any product that’s not quite ready for sale, plan a launch, and get all the content in place that you’ll need.

Still feeling overwhelmed?

Even the most well-planned and organized marketing calendar won’t get the work done for you. Now is the time to hand off those tasks you don’t want to or cannot do. Using your task list, make a new list that includes only the tasks you must do. These might include things such as writing your emails, recording videos and podcasts, and intake calls for new clients.

The rest can—and should—be outsourced.

Keep the Momentum Going

Even the most well planned marketing calendar won’t produce results without ongoing care and feeding. Schedule time each week to:

  • Review tasks assigned to your team
  • Review tasks assigned to you (consider hiring a project manager if you’re bad at personal accountability)
  • Review current promotions from your colleagues, contemporaries, and competitors: Do any of these fit with your existing calendar?
  • Look ahead to the next few weeks to spot the holes in your schedule

In addition, you’ll want to do a more thorough review each month, which will include:

  • Your next 45 days of planning for profit
  • Scheduling time to update/create products and programs
  • Review your long-term calendar for changes and updates
  • Review new technology related to your market (Do you need to move things in your calendar to accommodate that hot new social network?)

Remember, your plan is a living document. It’s not written in stone. You can (and should) rearrange it to fit your current needs, new offers from others, and in answer to feedback and suggestions you receive from your customers or clients.

I’m Lori Winslow, the Organized Solopreneur.  I help solopreneurs get their business and their life organized.  To get started, pick up a copy of my Top 10 Ways to Get Your Solopreneur Business Organized.

Purging is the Place to Start

I love how graphic the word purging sounds.  And I love how good I feel when I have purged my office, and my home of items that are no longer serving me.  Getting rid of stuff can be as liberating as losing weight.  That is why I always suggest, or even insist that purging your home office is the first step to getting your business organized.

One of the reasons I love books like The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo is that it helps us to allow ourselves to let go of stuff.

I feel that our Western culture places too high a value on stuff, that we need to put more of an emphasis on our life experiences rather than accumulating more stuff.  But lets be honest – not all “stuff” is bad.  We like to have stuff like clean clothes, and for us to have those clean clothes, we need to have a place to keep the clothes, like our closet or dresser and a place to clean our clothes, either in our own washing machine or at the local laundrymat (do they still have those?), these all require a bit of stuff for the stuff – so not all “stuff” is bad.

Back to your business, what is in your physical space that doesn’t need to be there.  What is broken?  What really belongs in another room of the house?  Is there items that are still in good shape, but aren’t useful to you anymore, you can donate those items to a local charity.  Purging is a great place to start because often times it is obvious what you can get rid of, and you can see a visible difference right away.

Now, the next place to purge items is your computer desktop.  Icons, icons, icons, is that all you see when you open your home screen?  Now what do you really use, and what can be put into a folder of like items?  Get rid of stuff that is old.  Do you have ebooks from 2013 taking up space on your desktop?  These are the first items to go.

This should also be an ongoing project.  I like to set aside some time about 1 hour every month, to see if there are items that need to be purged from my office.  This will help you to keep the clutter from building back up, once you have had your own purging.

I’m Lori Winslow, the Organized Solopreneur.  I help solopreneurs get their business and their life organized.  To get started, pick up a copy of my Top 10 Ways to Get Your Solopreneur Business Organized.

Without a Plan, You Will Not Meet Your Goals

Whatever you decide you want to accomplish, it will be easier and be accomplished more quickly if you have a plan.  Having a plan allows you to know what to do and when to do it.  When it comes to getting organized this is also true.  If you jump around from idea to idea and never see one to completion, you will not get the results you desire.  If you dabble here and there and don’t have a plan you will not see much progress and get discouraged, confirming your own belief that you can’t get organized.

So, now you know you need a plan.

You want to be able to wake up each morning and know what you are going to do that day.  You should have an overall plan for the week, month and year as well.  I know that getting organized is often a task you fit in when you have time, but let’s change that.  Start with small blocks of time and find specific tasks for those times.  For example, if you have 30 minutes on Thursday, you can organize documents into folders and sub folders.  That hour on Saturday morning can be great for labeling photos, and sorting into folders.  Put it on your calendar.

Before you can be that specific though, you will need to have an overall vision or plan.  Are you looking to get your physical space in shape?  Are your computer files chaotic? Do you miss appointments and deadlines?  All of the above?

 

Be realistic about your plan.  If you know you will need more time for emotional attachments, plan for that.  Play to your strengths, but allow for your weaknesses.

Now remember, things will grow and change over time, this is to be expected. In order to be able to roll with those changes you need to be able to adjust your plans, and the best way to be able to do that is to have a clear vision in place.  Having a plan actually will make it easier for you make adjustments as your business grows, as your personal life evolves, you will be ready.  You will be organized.

I’m Lori Winslow, the Organized Solopreneur.  I help solopreneurs get their business and their life organized.  To get started, pick up a copy of my Top 10 Ways to Get Your Solopreneur Business Organized.

Last Pass Will Get Your Passwords Organized

I have been using Last Pass for several years.  Last Pass is a password manager, that means you only have to remember 1 password instead of many.  It can also help by creating unique passwords for you.  You put your business at risk if you use the same password on all your logins, this system makes it easy to get unique passwords for all your logins and make sure you can remember all those passwords.

By only having to remember one password, your brain can be free to remember other more important things.  I’m going to date myself a bit here but bear with me.  Long ago, we all used to have to remember people phone numbers.  If we couldn’t remember we had phone books, large ones from the phone company, smaller ones next to our phone at home and even smaller still to carry around in our purses.  Then phones started getting smarter, you were now able to program up to 10 phone numbers in your phone, such convenience.  Of course, nowadays with real smart phones, we have our ‘phone books’ with us all the time.

The concept of Last Pass is the same, we have our passwords with us all the time.  I do still have my old password book – because every so often I will find that I have missed adding something to Last Pass, but it really is just a dust collector at this point.

A feature I haven’t really mentioned is the fact that you can add an extension to your browser on your laptop and I also have Last Pass installed on my phone and my tablet.  It goes without saying that once you change a password, it is saved to all your devices automatically.  And the best part of all is that it is free.  If you wish to upgrade to their premium service it is only $12/year, but the free version will be enough for most folks.

There are other password managers out there, but I have only ever used this one, and I have never had any reason to look elsewhere.  If you want to do more research just google, but make sure you use a system, as your business grows you will have more and more passwords to remember, you do not want to use the same password over and over.

Last Pass also has the option to allow you to seperate which logins are for business and which are for personal use, creating a more organized life yoru for you.

I’m Lori Winslow, the Organized Solopreneur.  I help solopreneurs get their business and their life organized.  To get started, pick up a copy of my Top 10 Ways to Get Your Solopreneur Business Organized.

Summertime is a Great Time to Get Organized

Here in the Northern Hempisphere are celebrating the first day of summer – warm beautiful days and lots of hours of sunlight – so let’s get organized.

For some people, their business slows down in the summer and this can be a great opportunity to get your business organized.  For others this may be their busy time, so best to be as organized as possible.

If you get organized now, imagine how much you could possibly increase your productivity and income by the end of the year.

Schools Out For The Summer

The kids are out of school, so take advantage of their skills.  Younger kids may be able to help you with various projects, but the older kids – high school and college – are very computer savvy, use this readily available labor force.

You can make use of your own children, you can farm in family and friends kids, post ads at the local college job boards.  They are out there, go and find them.

But wait, before you hire them, know what you want to hire them for.

Do you need to get your documents into organized folders, with logical file names.  Do you need to have them organize your photos, separate work and not work, etc.  Do you have multiple websites or businesses that they can organize?  Do you need receipts entered into a spreadsheet or accounting software?  Just make sure you decide what you want before you officially hire anyone.

Remember to be careful if you are hiring college students, this is your home and your business, make sure to protect both.

Once you have this wonderful team of summertime organizers you can focus on planning your next business steps so that your year ends on a high note.

Have Fun In the Sun

It is still summer and you may want to take some time off and catch some rays.  I don’t expect you to spend all summer inside getting organized – that actually sounds more like punishment – just to remind you of all those opportunities while they are available.

I’m Lori Winslow, the Organized Solopreneur.  I help solopreneurs get their business and their life organized.  To get started, pick up a copy of my Top 10 Ways to Get Your Solopreneur Business Organized.

The Secret to Successful Organization (And Lots of Other Stuff Too)

I know that you want to be successful in your organizing goals.  Perhaps you have gotten organized in the past only to fall right back into old habits, or you get started organizing, but don’t get very far at all and just abandon the project all together.

Part of the problem may have been that you didn’t have an end goal in sight.  You have to know what you want to do before you can successfully get organized.  I know you want to get organizeed, but you are dabbling, and you aren’t really clear on your next steps along the way.

The world’s most successful people know exactly what they’re doing and where they’re going. They have a clear plan of action and will stop at nothing to make success happen.

If you want to be successful at getting your business orgainzed (and other areas of your life too), you will have to do the same. You will have to have a plan, stick to the plan, and know when you need to be flexible and make the necessary changes.

In addition to knowing what you want to do, you need to know why you’re doing it.  A strong why is a foundation for success.  It keeps you going when you’re tired, when you’re frustrated, when you’re wondering if it’s all worth it, because your why is always the reminder that keeps you moving forward.

What are you doing to get your business organized right now? Are you thinking about what needs to be done?  Are you taking daily action? Maybe you feel like you’re stuck, treading water, but not really getting anywhere.  Maybe you are completely lost — you have bought various products and trainingings that promise to teach you how to get organized, but it hasn’t happened for you yet.

I think the problem may be in your mindset, rather in the specific solution itself.  If you are trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, it’s never going to fit.  So, what you’re doing right now may not be truly in alignment with who you are. You’re dabbling, clinging to the idea of the next great thing that comes along.  Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of wonderfully helpful solutions created everyday, but if you don’t have that end goal in sight, they won’t really be that helpful in the long run.

Now, I’m not saying that you have to change the core of who you are, just that you have to have the mindset, that you want to be organized and that nothing will stop you from reaching that goal.  Know that not everything you try is going to be the right fit, but it is easier to recognize this and move on when you have a clear goal and an open mindset.

And one of the big differences between those who are successful and those who aren’t is that they aren’t waiting for a product or a training to make them successful, they modify existing solutions to fit their purpose, or they create their own unique solution.  What an organized business looks like to you most likely won’t be the same as the coffee shop down the street, but isn’t that one of the main reasons you wanted to go into business for yourself?

A switch in mindset can have amazingly wonderful results for you.  Please share in the comments below when a shift in mindset has helped you move past a problem.

I’m Lori Winslow, the Organized Solopreneur.  I help solopreneurs get their business and their life organized.  To get started, pick up a copy of my Top 10 Ways to Get Your Solopreneur Business Organized.

Why is Focus Important to Solopreneurs?

First let’s talk about it in the aspect of business, focus is the ability to concentrate on the task at hand, over and over again, in order to arrive at the ultimate end goal.

Now focus is not as skill that everyone is born with, but the good news is that it is a skill that can be learned.  It does take practice to be able to focus effectively.

One of the best ways to focus is to create an environment that allows you to be focused.  Now for some people this may be a very quiet room, and for others, music may be beneficial.  You know what works best for you.  Now, you need to create a time and place that you can be focused.

But before you get settled into this lovely focused place, make sure you know what you will be working on.  Is this a time for brainstorming?  Will you be writing a blog post?  Is this client time?  Have a plan and then put this time of focus to use and you will be amazed at how accomplished you can become.

Multitasking is the death of Focus

Let me shift the focus (ha-ha) for a moment and talk about multi-tasking.

You might think that the most efficient thinkers and doers of this world are great at  multi-tasking, but you’d be wrong.

Actually, the opposite is true. Most of the movers and shakers of this world have learned how to focus, that is why they were able to become the movers and shakers of this world.

Effective focus means focusing on one thing – one task – until completion, and only when that task is complete, moving on to the next. Multi-tasking is actually a way to keep you occupied, but not the way to truly harness the power of the success of true focus.

Multi-tasking creates sub-par results.  You need to focus to produce your best results.  I can multi-task, but when I’m working directly with a client, they have all of my focus, and they know that.  People can tell when you are distracted, and when you throw something together vs. creating your very best product.

I know that sometimes we have to multi-task, but take a serious look at your business and see where you can be more focused and reap the rewards of that focus.

Focus not Blinders

Now, even though you should be focusing on one thing at a time, you still need to retain the ability to turn on a dime, recognize when that focus needs to be placed elsewhere, and be able to change your focus.

This is not multi-tasking.

This is prioritizing.

And prioritizing is the most important skill you must have in order to turn your vision into a focused reality.

In business, situations can change in a heartbeat.

You need to know when you may need open to change.  Learning to focus on one thing at a time, but having the ability to change direction quickly, will spell the success of your solopreneur business!

To learn more about strategies to gain more focus, please download this copy of Increase Your Focus to Be More Productive.

How to Handle Old Habits Creeping Back Into Your Life

No matter how good your plan is, you might find that after a few weeks you let old habits slide back into your life. Or, perhaps something threw you off your game plan, such as illness or an emergency. However it happens, you find yourself back into your old habits of being a disorganized solopreneur.  Here are some tips to get you back in the game:

  • You Have Choices — Remember that you’re not without choices in your life. You can choose to let this slip up derail you completely or you can remind yourself why you wanted to get organized in the first place. And also learn from the experience, why did you fall back into your bad habits, in other words, what was working and what wasn’t working?  Make adjustments and keep moving forward.
  • Be Honest With Yourself – Were you committed to your plan, or were you expecting failure? Are there some changes you can make?  Are there other factors at work?  Are you over tired?  Are you eating right?   What caused you to go back to your old ways of procrastinating and being disorganized?
  • Start Small – If you were simply overwhelmed with all that you want to accomplish, take a step back. Find one small area that you think you can get done in a small time frame, a few hours or 1 day, whatever works for you.  Now schedule the time to work on only that area until it is done – and don’t procrastinate, sit down ready to work.  Set a timer and see how quickly you can finish.  Offer yourself a treat if you beat you estimated time, whatever will make it fun for you do it.  In the words of Nike, Just Do It.
  • Go Back to Your Calendar – Time it the one resource we can’t get more of. Make sure you are where you are supposed to be when you said you were going to be there.  Using a calendar system is the best way to make sure this happens.  If you’ve been writing things in it, even just a few random things here and there, then you already have a start.  If you are not using a calendar system, start today.  I personally using Google Calendar, and love the convenience of having it available on all my devices.
  • Let Go – Take a deep breath. You didn’t get disorganized overnight, you won’t become organized overnight either.  You will make bad choices, you won’t follow through with a system you set up.  Don’t beat yourself up. The important thing is that you’re trying.  Remember: Baby steps will get you there just as easily as leaps and bounds.
  • Do What Works — If you’ve discovered a way to do something that works, stick to it. I’ve said this already, but it is so important it gets its own bold heading. There is no reason to reinvent the wheel. If it works, stick to it. Watch and make sure it is really working and not just a clever way to disguise more procrastinating.  And build on your success, pay attention to what is working and why.  And then how can you apply those ideas to other areas of your life and business that are also disorganized?

The fact is, starting is half the battle.  Even if all you do is start with something small like filling in your calendar, or cleaning off your desk.

You have taken the first step, just by reading this far.  You know you want to be organized, so start today and build on each success, before you know it you won’t even recognize the disorganized solopreneur you used to be.

Overcoming Procrastination Roadblocks

If you’ve identified yourself as a person who procrastinates it’s time to overcome your personal roadblocks and stop the excuses. There is a saying that failing to plan is planning to fail. And it is very true.

Whether you believe that statement or not it doesn’t really matter, if you don’t plan for success based on your own personality and way of doing things, you can’t succeed. If you cannot accept your part in being a disorganized procrastinator, you’ll be stuck forever.

Sometimes disorganization or procrastination is situational. In severe cases it’s chronic.

Whether you’re chronically disorganized or situationally disorganized, the fix is the same. Develop a plan, and then follow it.

Ironically, doing this will rid you of both disorganization and procrastination, which just seem to feed off each other.

Fixing Bad Habits and Creating New Good Ones

The best way to fix a bad habit is to replace it with a good habit. But first, you need to identify the bad habits that you want to change.

Write a list either on paper or in Evernote or Word on your computer, whatever works best for you. Next put them in order of smallest problem to biggest issues.

Start with one of the small habits first, to get that taste of victory.  Small successes help us stay motivated. The “bigger” habits may take more than one try to get under control, but get started.

I use this system in my crafting life.  I love to cross stitch and I love to start huge projects, but then I feel bad for all those other projects that I have tossed aside, so I will pull out a quick project that I can finish in 1 day and then I can go back to enjoying the big monster project.  You can do the same with your bad habits.

Compartmentalize the Habit

Try to find out when you commit an offense and take action in the moment.  For instance, if you check your email multiple times each day, that may be a bad, time sucking habit.  Would you more efficient to check your email at the start and end of your day?  That’s right; don’t just think you can quit cold turkey, designate specific times when you will deal with the behavior. Set a reminder in your phone to check your email at the designated times, and then check, and then get back to your more productive work.

I would say that most of us, should strongly consider the same system for dealing with social media.  We all know that social media can be a real time sucker.  You go in to make a post and 2 hours later you’re watching another cat video.  Set a timer for no more than 30 minutes and stick to it.  You can always come back to social media after you have completed the real items on your to-do list.

Let me know if I can help you with your procrastination roadblocks in the comments below or by using the contact form.