What you need to know about Facebook recommendations

I'm a member of many Facebook groups and something that seems to be happening a lot lately is that people are feeling really frustrated that people they've hired based on suggestions from Facebook groups have turned out to not be good hires at all. 

People are understandably annoyed and want to talk about the bad service they've received. Today I don't want to talk about what to do once you're unhappy, I want to talk about how you need to view online recommendations and what I believe you need to keep in mind when you're looking to hire someone new so that you aren't put in that position on the first place!

Asking for recommendations on social media

One of the reasons I love social media is because it's an amazing place to go and find information from people you know. It's how we recently started getting quotes for a new roof, it's how we found a plumber when our shower started leaking, it's how I find guests for my podcast, and so on and so forth.

Having the ability to go and ask people who you should talk to is AMAZING and takes out a lot of the research that I don't want to do.

But here's the thing - sometimes people just tag (when they put a person's name down and it links to their account or their Facebook page) someone they know who does the thing you're asking about and they have no personal experience with that person. They aren't saying "I've used this person, I had a great experience, here's why!" They're saying "I know a person!! This is who it is!" sometimes they're even saying "I know a person and I really like them - this is who it is!!"

It is your responsibility to then take those recommendations and decide how much more information you need to make a decision.

What do I do with the information I get?

A few years ago there were a lot of people getting really frustrated with the new LinkedIn system of endorsements. They felt that they were meaningless and that people were misusing them. It inspired me to write a blog post about them, to explain why I thought they were great. 

Here is a direct quote from the other blog post and I think, word for word, it applies here as well:

It is important not to think that these are testimonials.  Most of the people who endorse you haven’t even worked with you.  Instead it is a way to know if what you’re putting out into the world is what you want.  

What does that mean? It means that people are saying they know a person does a thing. 

If someone tags me as a business coach but has never worked with me, what they're saying is "Hey, I know Lara Wellman is a business coach!" not "I've worked with Lara and she was great because xyz."

It means I've done a good job at getting my name out there for what I do (yay!)

So when people start tagging names when you ask for a recommendation, don't think those tags are worthless - they're a great place for you to start digging in deeper!

Sometimes people HAVE worked with those people. Sometimes you know based on the volume of tags that someone clearly has a pretty good reputation (or has done a great job at getting their name out there about what they do - that's what you need to make sure you distinguish).

Use the tags to make a list of who to find out more information about. Make sure you then talk to people who have actually worked with those people to get references.

Someone getting lots of tags in a Facebook group is NOT enough information to go on to feel like you did your due diligence. 

The sad truth

The reason this post is being written is because I hear a lot of stories about people who hired someone based on a lot of Facebook tags and then they got really bad service. I get private messages from frustrated clients and friends who have hired people without getting actual references, and it turns out that there are many people out there who have great cheerleaders without the follow through of great work to go with it.

When you're hiring someone new, make sure you know

1) What you want to have delivered.

2) What information will make you feel comfortable about working with the person (is it expertise and knowledge? is it quality? is it meeting timelines? is it customer service?)

3) How much risk you're willing to take (you may decide to hire someone based just on a few name tags and a conversation with them - that's ok too, but know that digging further will give you more assurances.)

Using Facebook to get recommendations is something I'm always going to continue doing, but understanding the difference between a straight tag, even if lots of people tagged a person and an actual story of experience is really important - make sure you take that next step to protect yourself!

Have you ever asked for recommendations on Facebook? How did it go?

5 things business women need to stop doing ASAP

5 things business women need to stop doing ASAP

As a business coach, I spend many hours with entrepreneurs and there are big themes that come up on a regular basis. Today I'm sharing five themes that stop business owners from truly enjoying their businesses and living the life they want to have.

1) Doing things because they can

"Just because you CAN do a thing doesn’t mean you have to do a thing."

What?!

I’ll say it again.

Just because you CAN do a thing doesn’t mean you have to do a thing.

Have you ever taken on a contract or task you really didn't want to do? Something that you were not only perfectly able to do, but that you could probably do really well, but just don’t really like doing?

Why did you take the job if you don’t really like doing it?

Because you’re building a business... and you need to make money... and you want people to be happy with you and… and… and…

Start thinking about what you WANT to do. Make a list and keep it at hand, you need to be doing more of that.

Start thinking about what you don’t actually like doing. Make a list and start saying no to those tasks. The more intentional you are about getting the work you DO WANT, that’s what you’ll start to get. You’ll be happier doing it, and probably make more money doing it because you won’t be wasting your time, procrastinating and being bitter that you’re working on a project that you hate.

2) Doing things because they should

The amount of times people tell me what they should be doing when I ask them what they could be doing to make their business more successful or to make them happier in their life or their business might really surprise you.

We get stuck in our 'shoulds' ... 

We should be eating healthy

We should be out networking

We should be on Twitter

We should be trying to make 6 figures

You CAN do all of those things, but don’t do them because that’s what you SHOULD do, do it because that’s what you want to do. Don't let someone else decide how you should be living your life and running your business.

3) Doing things because that’s what "one does”

What does success look like to you? Have you really thought about it? How much money do you want to earn? Why?

I see business owners all the time who are caught up in the quest for “more.”

More is better. More is success. More money. More business. More sales. More things.

I’m not going to lie, I like more too. :)  What I think is key is to decide what you actually want. What do you want your life to look like and why? What does success actually look like to you?

You can have it look like anything you want--but you need to take the time to decide what you want and not just let your next steps be dictated by what you think other people would do. I have a worksheet to help you do that and you can grab it for free here.

4) Doing things without a baseline measure

Do you suffer from shiny object syndrome? I do. 

I love new ideas, projects and heading in new directions at the drop of the hat. It’s a big reason I’m an entrepreneur--so I can do that!

But not every good idea should be implemented (bummer, right?).

Not every idea makes sense for you. For your family. For what you want in the long run. For what you want your business to look like in the long run.

That life plan I mentioned in point three gives you something to hold up next to your new idea and to help you decide one of three things:

* This fits perfectly. I’m doing it!

* This doesn’t really fit with my life plan and that life plan is actually more important. I choose that plan and will let this idea go for now.

* This doesn’t really fit with the plan, but it’s a REALLY good idea, and I think it’s worth sacrificing some of the things that I thought I wanted to make this happen.

Any of those decisions are great, but if you didn’t have the plan to hold up next to the new idea, you wouldn’t have anything to measure the new idea by to make sure it’s a good fit. Trust me… this is how you end up running a store in a mall, working crazy long hours into the nights and weekends when you meant to be quitting your corporate job to be spending MORE time with your kids. I really wish I'd gone through this exercise back then.

5) Doing things without a destination

Are you doing what you thought you were going to be doing when you started your business? Have you veered left or right at some point and you're not sure how you got to be doing what you’re doing now?

If you are, trust me - you're not alone. So many business owners start a business to do a thing - “graphic design,” “sleep consulting,” “lawyer,” “coach," and don’t think through the plan. They don't know what kind of work they want to be doing, who they want to be doing it with, how they want to deliver their services, what kind of hours they want to be working, etc That’s like saying you know you want to go to the United States from Canada (or vice versa) and not knowing where in the United States you want to go. You can start heading south, but where you end up is a pretty big gamble.

If you pick a specific state or a specific city, you can pick your route - then there's a lot more certainty you'll end up in the right place.

Instead (my car analogy goes on a while here, stay with me) most of the entrepreneurs I talk to are driving down the highway with the pedal to the floor going as fast as they can. When I ask them where they’re going they yell, “I don’t know!” and when I suggest they stop and figure it out they yell “I can’t! There’s nowhere to stop!”

You need to stop the car and pick a destination and a route. It’s going to make it so much easier to know if you’re heading in the right direction if you have a destination. And if 100 miles down the road you decide you want to stop and stay right where you are, or you decide you want to go west instead, you totally can, but at least you’ll know you’re making that decision intentionally and not just letting it happen by accident. 

You may have noticed a theme here - it’s all about thinking about what you want. You CAN be choosy. You CAN be specific. You CAN decide what you want your fate to be.

Not only CAN you, but making all those intentional choices has a magical effect. It has you loving what you do more. And when you love what you’re doing, you attract more of what you want.

The first step is choosing - what do YOU want?

 

 

 

What do you want your life to look like?

what do you want your life to look like

Over the last few months I attended three incredible local business awards ceremonies/galas and couldn't help but walk away feeling really inspired. I was inspired by the great things these businesses were doing; inspired by the incredible leaders creating the success of these businesses.

As I heard each of not only the winners' stories, but all of the nominees, I felt that bubbling up of ideas in my mind—all the things I could be doing so that in the years to come the Biz Studio would be up on stage receiving some of these awards.

I was dreaming of the events I could hold and that turned into the space I could lease. The Biz Studio would have a bricks and mortar location with live workshops and mastermind groups multiple times every month. I could start doing some of my coaching in-person, in an office, and have a space built intentionally for VIP strategy days!

I could rent out the space to some of the businesses I work with so they could run workshops and groups of their own, I could have a team of coaches working with me to run group coaching programs for all kinds of niches, and at different times of the day and week to accommodate people at whatever point in their business journey they might be.

I started thinking about the outreach I needed to do to grow my audience to the size needed to bring in the revenue to sustain this new space: more networking, more workshops, more travelling around Quebec and Ontario to get in front of the people who are my ideal clients.

I was getting really excited and I KNEW I could do it if I put my mind to it!

And then I realized I needed to pause and come back to centre for a moment... back to "what I really want my life to look like;" and I know what I want my life to look like because I've done a lot of thinking and work on that. In fact, it's what I get all my clients to work on too.

What I want my life to look like

Here is what I know about what I want my life to look like for the next three to five years:

  • I want to be available for my kids before and after school most of the time, so my regular work hours are 8:30 am - 3:30 pm.
  • I want to be available for my kids during the Christmas holidays, March break and at least half of the summer break, which is a minimum of eight weeks.
  • I want to be able to be away at least two other weeks of the year, for holidays with my husband and/or for trainings, conferences and retreats.
  • While making money is important and I have clear revenue goals, the time with my family trumps making more money at this point in my life.

So, while my big plans to grow the Biz Studio actually do sound amazing and exciting, and I believe I have the capacity to make them happen, having a physical location and the financial commitments required to not only lease a location, but design, decorate and operate one does not make sense with the life that I want to have. 

Just because I can do something and like the idea of something does not mean it's something I need to move forward with.

It's why I always tell my clients to think about what they really want their lives to look like before they make other choices in their businesses.

What do you want your life to look like?

What hours do you want to work? (For some, they more specifically need to outline what hours they do NOT want to work.)

How many weeks off do you need/want a year?

What are the things you need to pay for and what is the minimum your business needs to earn (for some the hard numbers are very different then for others depending on many factors, including whether there is a partner who covers some or all of the basic costs of living)?

What are the things you want in your life? Are they worth working more for? This includes: hobbies, house cleaning services, vacations, renovations, cottages, activities for kids, etc.

How important are all of these things?

If you made ____ more money, would that make working longer hours and having less time off acceptable?

We all have different needs, requirements and wishes. Some of us want to work 80 hours a week because we really love it, and some of us don't want to work more than 15-20 hours a week. Some of us want to build an empire and some of us want to make a bit of money doing something we enjoy. 

We all get to pick our own paths and our own definitions of success, but until we get those ideas out of our heads and concretely down on paper (or screen) it's hard to feel like it's real. 

I had to take that concrete picture out and hold it up next to the dreams of the new and bigger Biz Studio and decide if they fit together, and if they didn't, which one was my bigger priority. It could have been that the decision to make the business bigger right now did feel right - that putting the kids into more daycare and not being available as much was ok in exchange for the big dreams I wanted to achieve. It turns out though, that right now, I'm not ready for that kind of growth. The life plan trumped the new dream - and that's OK.

Instead, I am focusing on the kind of growth that DOES fit in with the life I want to have, and new plans that work with that life are falling in to place. Having the life plan to hold up and look at as I made these decisions made sure I didn't accidentally go off track without realizing it.

It's time to get your life plan out of your head

If you haven't spent the time to really think about what you want your life to look like, I challenge you to do that now. I've created a worksheet with questions that will get your ideas flowing and you can grab that here.

In order to have a successful business you need to have a plan—we can't forget to do the same for the personal side of our lives. Invest the time in creating that picture of the life you really want and every time a new idea or opportunity pops up, hold it up next to the life plan and decide which one becomes the new priority. This plan isn't set in stone, you may always decide the new plan trumps the old one, but now you will have a great starting place to make those decisions from.

Grab the free worksheet here!

5 Reasons to come to the Biz Studio WordPress workshop

The Biz Studio is all about providing small business owners with the tools they need to succeedincluding community, coaching, and workshops. On February 7th The Biz Studio is hosting a WordPress workshop designed to get business owners a bit more comfortable with their websites, so they can use their sites to their full potential.

5 Reasons to attend (1).png

Today I'm going to share 5 reasons this workshop is a good idea for your business. But first, a bit of housekeeping:

Who is this workshop for?

This workshop is for business owners who have a WordPress website. They know how to add a new blog post, but they don't necessarily know how to change any of the formatting, add special code or back it up to ensure there's no chance of losing their entire site.

Who is teaching this workshop?

I'm committed to finding experts to teach every Biz Studio workshop, and that won't always be me. Meagan Hanes designs and develops websites of all sizes using the flexible and extendable platform WordPress, and has been doing so for over a decade. She's also a speaker at WordCamps and other tech conferences across Canada, and contributes to the WordPress.org Project's Training Team.

Discover the beauty of DIY

One of the best reasons to get a WordPress site is so that you can do a lot of the updating yourself instead of having to ask someone to make every update for you. Unfortunately, when you first get your site up and running, you often run out of capacity for learning past the basics of getting new content up.

Now that you've had your site for a while, let's get you learning some of the more advanced options you have for building your website into the marketing platform and business tool of your dreams.

Learn about the community of support at your disposal

Did you know there’s a WordPress community in almost every major town across Canada and the USA, as well as fun yearly conferences that cost less than going to the movies? WordPress is open sourceas such, a LOT of people support the tool and readily share their knowledge and support! Learn where and how to leverage the incredible WordPress community so that you never feel alone and overwhelmed when it comes to your WordPress website.

Integrate your site with Social Media

It's great to have a blog and it's great to be using social media, but how do you get more people seeing and consuming your message?

One way is to make it EASY for people to share what you have to say! Right this second, it’s likely someone can’t share your content with the click of one button. We're going to go through how to make it THAT easy for people to share your content.

But content sharing doesn't always need to be by others - do you share your own content on different platforms? We'll show you how to have your Instagram feed into your website, getting more eyeballs on the content you've worked hard to create.

Nourish your audience!

Once someone is on your site, we want them to stay on your site. One of the best ways to do this is by using your existing blog posts and content. We'll talk about ways to get people reading more of what you write, like suggesting related posts for them to read next!

Know what you don't know

There are so many things that you can do with your WordPress site and I bet you don't know what most of them are. Why? Because we don't know what we don't know! Meagan will teach us to know what our themes are capable of and how to take advantage of the advanced features. Then, not only will you know what you don't know, you'll know how to take advantage of what's available!

Join us on February 7th from 1-4pm for this hands on workshop. You'll get right into the code of your website and leave feeling more confident and proud of your amazing WordPress website.

The 2016 work from home business woman's holiday gift guide

As the holidays quickly approach I thought I'd share something a bit fun and lighthearted and different than what I usually share. Seeing as how I work with mainly business women, most of whom work from home at least a portion of the time, I wanted to share some of my gift ideas to make the holidays special for them. I also asked for ideas in The Biz Studio and got a lot of great ideas there as well, so I'm putting all of them together for this first ever edition of the work-from-home business woman's gift guide!

Help them plan

If there's one thing business owners are always looking for, it's more time. The more organized they can be - the better. There are a lot of really fabulous planners out there, here are a few I've used or know are really popular and people find a lot of success with them.

Productive! - This planner is designed by my business coach, Shelagh Cummins, and is all about figuring out what your power moves are and working towards them. They've just arrived in Canada for shipping so check them out.

Leonie Dawson has a whole package that I order every year. It comes with a planner, but also with workbooks that are designed to get you thinking about what you achieved in the previous year and how you're going to make the next year exactly what you want it to be, in both your life and business. It's pretty and all the graphics are hand drawn by her. 

Planner Pad - This is a planner I've purchased several times over the years and works on a funnel down approach. You list everything you have to do at the top of the week and funnel it down to when it will actually get done. 

Passion Planner is a planner I haven't personally used, but know a lot of people who really love it. They like that it balances the personal side of what needs to be done with the business side, It also includes sections that help you figure out what you want to do and how to break down the steps to achieve them.

Pretty paper and pens

Entrepreneurs like pretty stationary and fancy pens. Like, we really love them. Whether it's a gift card or a pretty journal, these are almost always a great gift idea (with the exception of a few people who have fully embraced the paperless way of life :) 

Scribe Delivery - My husband got me this for my birthday and I literally squeal when I get my package every month. So many fun notebooks and pens!

A gift certificate for the things they are regularly ordering - Vista Print, Staples, etc

Pens! Lots of pens! (I think I could get 365 new pens every year for Christmas and still have days where I can't find one) ;) 

Technology

We entrepreneurs use our tech a lot, and if you're anything like me, they wear our way faster than you'd like. I'm going to admit to my Apple bias here, but I'm sure there are great equivalents in Android and whatever the other tech is that I pretend doesn't exist.

A new phone - we spend time on our phones, A LOT. Having the latest and greatest just feels good.

A new tablet - I don't even have a tablet any more to be honest, and a tablet is a great place to do a lot of the readings we're always doing to stay on top of our industries and our business game. 

A new lap top - just like our phones, we spend a lot of time on these and there is little more frustrating that having them crash or tell us there is no more hard drive space. A brand new shiny laptop that runs quickly and without stress is an entrepreneur's dream.

A smart watch - I always notice when people are wearing these and they just seem tech forward. I'm not necessarily one to run with the crowd but I'll admit, there's a lot of envy there.

No more cleaning, no more cooking

A huge theme that comes up is having someone else take care of the cooking and cleaning (a lot of my examples for these are local, but I'm sure you can find something similar close to where you live).

There are all kinds of great local services for cleaning that you can look in to and you can also check out personal chef services (The Magic Fridge is a local one run by a friend of mine) that take the stress out of shopping, cooking and cleaning up after you cook.

There are also lots of services like Hello Fresh (that link will give you $50 off your first order) and Chef's Plate that will mail you all the ingredients for a set amount of meals per week, taking the stress of planning and shopping out of your weekly schedule and also making the recipes really easy to follow with relatively little prep required. There's also Supperworks where you can go and assemble everything you need for your own meals or pay a bit extra and they'll assemble everything you need.

But if they do need to cook, they might love some cooking classes. 

Pampering 

A gift certificate to their favourite spa or for a massage was high on the list for many of the entrepreneurs in my group.

A day away at a spot like Le Nordik or Scandinave Spa for example.

A massage from a local clinic is also always appreciated, such as Byward Massage Therapy Clinic or the Massage and Treatment Clinic in Orleans.

Bring on the drinks!

Beer, wine, coffee, tea - we like a variety of drinks as entrepreneurs, whether it be for during the day or for when we put our feet up at the end of the day. Here are a few ideas when it comes to the drinks department. I'm a big fan of subscription services in this category. :) 

Beer subscription service - we get Brew Box here in Ontario but there are many great ones. 

Nespresso is a popular coffee machine with lots of varieties of coffees - even better if more comes to your door every month. 

How about a box of wine delivered to you every three months? If only I liked red wine this would be perfect for me. 

Meaningful bling

A piece of jewellery that speaks to our goals and dreams is a thoughtful way to commemorate all the hard work business women do.

I know for one I would love a bracelet like this from Citrus Silver with my word for 2017 stamped on it (my word for 2016 was Thrive, my word for 2017 is Open.)

Health, fitness and wellness

For the business owner who wants to stay fit but doesn't have the time to make it to the gym a lot, this one year membership to the 15 Minute Workout Club will be a way for her to easily in sneak those effective workouts.

Help one of your favourite business owners celebrate her creative side and send her off to this weekend women's retreat (I'll be there!) in February where she can play and connect and create out in the peaceful country air. 

A sweet ride

I may not have added this on to the list but an amazing amount of suggestions were new cars. So if that's in your budget this year you may want to consider:

A Tesla

A Jaguar F-Type

A mini Cooper

A Jeep (like MacGyver drove. That's been my dream vehicle since childhood. ;)

I had fun thinking of all the ways we could celebrate the entrepreneurs in our lives - maybe this sparked a few ideas for you. Leave me a comment letting me know if you'll be adding any of these to your shopping list!

To note: A few of these are affiliate links, most are not, but all are things I truly believe in and nothing is included just to make a buck :)