3 business lessons from my trip to Antelope Canyon

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This winter I visited Antelope Canyon, Arizona. I’d never even heard of it before we were brought there as part of a tour of the Grand Canyon, but now everyone needs to know about it.

It is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. My husband, Eric, and I went into this underground cave that you can only visit if you take one of the tours run by the Navajo as it is part of a Navaho Tribal Park.

But that’s not really what this story is about… even though I would love to show you the hundreds of photos that I took there. :)

As we were driving out of the dirt parking lot in our little tour van, one of the van wheels slid into a sandier patch and started to sink. Our tour guide clearly hadn’t driven in anything that you might get stuck in before and so gunned the gas pedal, which spun the wheel and sunk us in further. We were stuck.

Having grown up in Canada, I’ve gotten stuck before – not in sand but in snow – so I knew that things needed to be done slowly and knew what to do to try and get out of the situation.

“Maybe try to rock it?” I suggested.

He nodded and got out of the van and started walking across the parking lot.

Confused, I watched him go and as he leaned down to pick up a few small bowling ball sized rocks I realized that a language barrier (his first language wasn’t English) and a lack of context, had him completely misinterpreting what I meant when I said he should "rock it."

Lesson one: Don’t assume people have the same information and context you do when you’re trying to guide them. Be as clear as possible and make sure they really understand what you mean.

Soon everyone in the van was out and a couple driving an RV stopped and started pulling out supplies and, together as a team, people tried to figure out what to do.

Lesson two: People like and want to help. Don’t assume that you’re being a bother when you need more people to get something done.

The problem was, there were now too many cooks in the kitchen, and nobody really acting as a leader, nobody really running the show. Then we heard someone yelling and I saw an older lady, clearly an elder from the Navaho Tribe, walking over as briskly as she could, with a clear purpose in her eyes, and she brought some of the other women of the tribe with her.

She tells everyone to stop, gets one of the tour guides in the van and tells her what she should do to get the van moving properly, and then tells everyone else to just push the van as hard as possible. Within two minutes the van was out of the sand.

Lesson three: Sometimes we just need to go to the voice of experience and let someone be the clear leader so things get done and move forward.

Soon we were in the van heading back to Las Vegas, and I couldn’t help but think my last experience in the Grand Canyon was a great lesson that I needed to really take note of (and share with you!).

Here’s what I hope you takeaway from this:

·      Definitely add Antelope Canyon to your “bucket list.”
·      Always make sure you’re being clear and people understand what you actually mean when you’re helping them.
·      Know that people want to help you, don’t try to do everything alone (if you’re not in the Biz Studio Community - join us! There are LOTS of people there who want to help)!·      Sometimes you need help from a confident leader with experience.

Systems 101 for your business

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As a business owners, there are certain buzz words you hear over-and-over again, in any industry or on any topic. You hear them so many times you start to think, “I’d better get on that," but then you think... "I don't know what or how to do it?"

When it comes to owning a business, one of those buzz words is 'systems' for your business.

And you think to yourself... "Great. Systems. Ok… I guess I’ll figure that out… later."

I want to share a bit more about what systems are and what they can mean for your business – because systems do not need to be complicated and having them can mean creating consistency in your business. Consistency means less headaches for you, more brand recognition and a great reputation.

SO… what is a system anyways?

It’s pretty simple, a system is when you write down how something in your business should be done – step-by-step.

That’s it.

Think of it as a way to have someone else be able to do what you do in your business should you have to walk away.

“Lara, I’m not going to walk away from my business and if I do, the business isn’t going to exist any more! I don’t exactly have time to write down all the things I already know how to do just so I can do them myself.”

And therein lies the problem with systems – that’s how most of us feel about them and what stops us from getting them down on paper. We don’t see any kind of pressing need and so it gets put off and put off... and put off.

The thing is, until you get them down it can be really hard to grow your business and on top of that, no matter how well we know our own business, we forget steps too, especially when we get really busy. 

Examples of Systems

A system can be as simple as a bulleted list of actions and steps you take in your business. It can also include instructions, templates of content for different things, and more. It’s basically whatever you think you need to run your business efficiently, which means that it’s hard to explain and possibly vague for you to grasp what you could do. So, let’s go through a few examples:

Sales

 The beautiful packaging at  Jolie Folie

The beautiful packaging at Jolie Folie

You probably have a process for your sales.

If you sell a product, this includes creating a receipt, putting the product into a bag, box or envelope (possibly in a very specific way), and maybe writing a nice note to include in the package. That’s a system – if you wanted someone else to deliver your product to a customer exactly the way you would so that it always has a consistent look and feel to it, you've already got a simple system, you just need to write it down.

Onboarding

When you have a new client, what needs to happen? How do you want to welcome them? Right now, are you being as consistent as you want to be and are all the steps happening every time?

There are all kinds of things you could include in a system for a new client:

Do you want to send them a note or a gift?
Do you need to create a paper folder and a digital folder?
Do contracts and non-disclosure agreements need to be signed?
Do they need to be added to any email lists or Facebook Groups or membership sites?

What are all the pieces that need to take place to make sure that your new client has an amazing experience? List them in a document, and you've got your onboarding system.

Invoicing

When you invoice someone, do you always include the same information? Do you have a process if they paid by email money transfer that’s different than if they pay by cheque or by Paypal or credit card? If there are multiple payments do you have to manually input anything?

If you need to track any hours for your invoices, how do you track those, where do you track those, what information do you need to extract for the invoice?

Invoicing is a task that often gets outsourced sooner than later, if you have your process written down, you'll be able to share that with someone else so they can take invoicing off your plate and you'll feel confident they can do it the same way you would.

For all three of these examples, putting every step down for something that you do on a regular basis will help make sure that you maintain regular quality and that you can pull people in to help support you when you’re ready.

How will you start creating systems in your business? Where will you start and what are you going to get on paper first?
 

ACTION STEPS:

1.     Read/listen to the E-myth Revisited.

2.     Make a list of all the things you do regularly. Then, pick the thing you most often miss steps on or that you are most likely to outsource and outline it step-by-step in a Word document.

3.     Leave a comment and let me know what system you’re going to be working on so I can cheer you on!

4.     Check out the Biz Advantage and get feedback on your systems during the weekly coaching calls or in the Facebook Group!

How learning I have ADHD helped my business

This may sound obvious, but if we were all the same, life and the world would be really boring. We NEED people who are different, who think differently, and who don’t fit into the regular mould of things. Yet… when many of us don’t fit into the mould we often feel badly about ourselves. We get stuck thinking we should be able to do things exactly the same way as others. We beat ourselves up about the things we can’t get done without looking for other ways it can be done.

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I’m here to tell you how my brain is different than your brain, and how I’ve learned to embrace what’s awesome about that. My hope is that what I have learned will impact the potential for you to see and do things differently in your life and business.

How learning I have ADHD has helped my business

I have ADHD and I was only diagnosed in the last few years. ADHD causes me to get distracted easily. I don’t complete things once they get boring. I’m often really bad at detail-oriented tasks. I have a hard time gauging how much time something will take, and I tend to feel deadlines are not real until they are in panic/almost due mode.

Before my diagnosis, I felt a lot of shame about those things. They were things that were hard to deal with in my business and often slowed me down. When I realized that a lot of it was because of how my brain works, SO much of the shame disappeared, and I stopped beating myself up (or at least beat myself up less). Embracing ADHD is what made having ADHD fantastic for my business!

ADHD means I am used to trying new ways of doing things, to complete tasks and to finish things without it always being last minute.

Jessica McCabe from How to ADHD recently wrote a song about how people with ADHD think differently and how it means that sometimes we just have to reframe how we’re thinking. It’s simple: when things don’t work out how we want them to “try different, try again,” and that’s been the key to my life and oftentimes how I coach people.

Over and over again, I talk to people who have a plan of action that they're not getting done. Months and months of not doing the task is only met with, “I just have to do it.” But here’s what I ask, “Do you? “Why will that work now?”

When something isn’t working I challenge you to try something different – what could you do instead to get you to the same goal? I bet there’s something really great that could work. You just need to give yourself permission to think that way.

I have Aphantasia

Every time I’m at an event or participating in an activity that starts with, “close your eyes and picture in your mind… a beach, your best life, how it would look, feel, smell, sound...” the room can probably hear my eyes roll back into my head.

Why? Because I am thinking, great… another activity I can’t do because I have aphantasia and can’t picture/hear/smell anything in my mind’s eye.

But here’s the thing – I’m super creative. I have a great memory. There’s a distinct chance I could tell you what you were wearing and where we were the first time we met, especially if you told me a story. Not being able to hear, see and smell things in my mind doesn’t hamper my ability to do most things in life (other than being able to pull things up in my mind, which sounds kind of amazing and I won’t deny being a bit sad I can’t do it).

What it highlights to me is how differently the brain works for different people. We all have different brains… we have different ways of learning, processing, and creating. That means that there can’t ever be one way to teach people, to ask them to do tasks, to motivate them, etc.

We need to find the right way for each individual person! So again, I challenge you not to get discouraged when something isn’t working for you, but instead ask yourself, what DOES work for you?

For example, I need to write things by hand and keep them in paper folders for my clients. It sounds kind of archaic, but if I don’t have the ability to write by hand I don’t remember things as well.

The brain is a fascinating thing and we need to recognize how differently it works for all of us.

Your brain and my brain aren’t the same, but we all have the ability to find the awesome in what makes us uniquely us and what works best for us.

If you want to talk more about the places you struggle with in your business – where you find yourself procrastinating, not getting things done, or beating yourself up, then book a consultation with me. I’d love to chat about how to find the different ways to make things awesome for you, because I 100% believe it’s possible!

Are your goals and motivations the same thing?

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Recently, on a plane ride to Las Vegas I was seated next to a fellow entrepreneur who runs a marketing company. Naturally, we started talking about our businesses. When he found out I was a business coach, he asked how much I deal with business stuff versus how much I deal with feelings and emotions.

I told him that I dealt quite a bit with the feelings and mindsets of business owners - far more than I ever expected to when I started as a coach to be honest. As we continued talking about mindset, I could sense that he had lost his real motivation for running his business and he didn't really know why. Which brought up some key questions I often ask business owners – What is it that you want to achieve? What are your goals? What motivates you?

Sometimes your goals and what motivates you are not the same thing.

In his case, he wanted to make millions of dollars in his business - that was the big goal. He thought he knew why - to be successful, to have created something really incredible, to go bigger and better and make the work he was doing feel really exciting... but he didn't sound really excited about it and he couldn't verbalize why that was really meaningful to him. From where he was standing he couldn't understand his lack of motivation... from where I was standing, what he was dangling in front of himself as a carrot didn't seem like the thing he actually wanted to get him moving on a day to day basis.

WHAT DO YOU ACTUALLY WANT?

He felt like making millions of dollars would mean he had really succeeded.

Okay, but why? Was he feeling motivated on a regular basis? Making millions of dollars was a big goal that was going to take awhile... what was going to feel like a win between now and then?  

He didn't really know.

Was he happy? Not really.  His business was his life but he wasn't really feeling excited about it at the moment. The joy and excitement of entrepreneurship had kind of fizzled out.

So what WOULD make him excited... while he was working on making his millions?

The more we chatted the more we found that thing that actually excited him.... travel. He knew he could work from anywhere and he was in a situation where he wasn't really tied down to any one city at the moment. So... why wasn't he travelling?

He didn't know.

The only thing holding him back was making the decision to actually do it. (mindset!)

For him, seeing this motivation as a reason to reach his goals started making more sense than just working to make millions of dollars. His million-dollar goal wasn't tangible enough to get him jazzed every single day  – travelling is attainable and is something he can do now right now.

So, if you are in business and you tell people your goal is to make more money, but find that you’re not motivated (there is no wind in your sails) is it time for a reframe? What motivates you? What changes need to be made in order for you to reach your goals? How can you get excited about your business and what you do again?

Asking yourself what you really want is a conversation you need to constantly have with yourself. Checking in and asking yourself this on a regular basis will keep you on track and help you achieve your real goals.

Having business goals may seem like the way to stay motivated, but it isn't always (and that's not only OK, it's normal!!) 

And if you want help figuring it out, book a call with me - I'd love to talk about whether I'm the right person to help you figure that out, as well as how to keep moving forward towards reaching all your business goals!

My Favourite Business Tools

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I use many tools to keep my business running and I am always honest about what works and doesn't work for me.

These are some of the tools I use to keep my business running smoothly, as well as services I use for things like printing and marketing products.

I based my list on what I use, not on affiliate links, so if they have an affiliate link, I used it, but if not - I still use the tool, so I am sharing it! :)

Staying Organized

Acuity Scheduling - This tool gives current and prospective clients the freedom to schedule their own appointments with me based on the availability I pre-set up through my linked calendar. I also link Acuity to Zoom (my video chat software, which I mention a little later) so when someone books a call they automatically have a Zoom ID generated, which creates and sends the call information manually (this is a huge timesaver for me!). I also create custom forms for each appointment. This allows me to create different sets of questions depending on what we're meeting about. These questions give both me and the client or prospective client as much information as possible about each other, and the topic at hand, before we get on the call.

Freedcamp - There are many great project management tools out there. It's important to find the one that works best for you. I like the fact that in Freedcamp I can drag things around (probably because it's a lot like Post-it Notes and that's how my brain works). Project management tools are a great way to manage multiple projects at the same time, set deadlines and work with a virtual assistant or team to accomplish those goals and tasks.

Lastpass - passwords, you shouldn't use the same one everywhere but how are you supposed to remember all the passwords? A post it on your computer is not only not the best idea, it's easy to lose and not at all useful if you're logging in to something when you aren't at home. I love lastpass because it saves all my passwords and also creates secure passwords for me to use. It also lets me share passwords with my team, either so they can see the password or so they don't know what the password is - very handy!

Finances and payments

Quickbooks - Quickbooks is what I use for invoicing and it also helps me track all expenses and HST so I can easily file my taxes. I like that it's got a fairly simple interface and that it has the ability to deal with far more complex things than I'm doing now so it will grow with my business. 

Moonclerk - Moonclerk connects with Stripe and it allows me to be able to auto process monthly membership payments. This is how members from the Biz Advantage pay their recurring membership fees even though I don't formally have a shopping cart system that has that functionality.

Stripe - Stripe is a great alternative to PayPal for accepting payments. It integrates with a lot of softwares and websites, including my website shopping cart that is through Squarespace.

Staying Connected

Active Campaign - Sending emails is really important for any business. There are so many options with many different functionalities. Active Campaign is a good fit for my business because it is affordable and gives me the ability to not only create automations, but also to separate clients on multiple lists and the ability to tag customers so they won't get emails trying to sell them into a program they are already invested in. 

Belive.tv - This is a fun tool for running Facebook Lives and they have a two week trial. You can easily add branding to your Facebook Lives and you can pre-schedule headers to pop up, making your broadcast look slick and professional. You can also have multiple people on a Live at the same time without having to use your phone, something I don't have a great set up to do, so try to avoid.

Buffer - Scheduling content may not be the best way to get engagement on social channels, but it is definitely the easiest way to make sure there is always consistent content being shared to your channels. There are lots of great programs for scheduling content. I have been a longtime user of Buffer and like the clean look of it and it's ease of use.

Zoom - If I were only allowed to keep one tool in my business, I would keep Zoom, that's how much I love and appreciate this software. Zoom is an amazing platform for video calls and it is how I run 99% of my coaching calls. It allows me to record the calls, and it allows me to give permission to my clients to also record the call. It allows screen sharing and I can use it as an informal webinar tool too, which has come in handy several times. Having previously used other video chat softwares, Zoom is infinitely more stable as a platform and has far less connectivity issues than any other video software tool I've ever used. 

Marketing Materials

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Moo - I love getting my business cards from Moo. I can upload up to 100 different photos! They become almost like trading cards. ;) People love that there's a photo on my business cards. They remember who I am, and they love getting to pick which card they want, so it becomes this great conversation starter and it makes conversations more memorable because the card is something they don't want to get rid of.

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Sticker Mule - I love stickers and other personalized business stuff. If you have clients who would like stickers, or you ship a lot of things, you can get personalized mailers and packing tape, as well as all kinds of other fun stuff. They have samples and frequently run promos which is how I tried out some of their products to make sure I liked them before committing to too much (but honestly, I love everything I've gotten from them)! :) 

This link will get you $10 off your first order.

Canva - Creating attractive images for your business is something that is no longer optional, it's required. You are expected to share images with blog posts to get people's attention online. If you're not a professional graphic designer (like me) this might feel VERY stressful. I love that Canva makes it really easy to try different things and that they have all kinds of templates. I know that I'm not creating something TERRIBLE (and trust me, I used to try to create images in MS Paint - they were TERRIBLE!)!

There you have it - a list of the important tools that I use in my business. Are there others that are critical to your business? Let me know in the comments below.