planning

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 2018 stamped on it (my word for 2017 was Open and I think I'm going to write a blog post soon to share my 2018 word with everyone!)

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 :) 

 

Are you ready for a great 2016?

Planning has never been one of my fortes. I'm more of a fly by the seat of my pants, figure it out as I go... "instructions?! No way!" kind of person.

I've owned quite a few businesses over the last 8 + years and over each year it has become increasingly clear that regardless of whether or not I like to plan for a new year, doing it makes my business better, stronger, and (this is the best part) it makes more money!!

I thought I would share a few of my favourite strategies and tools for getting ready for a new year.

1) Three words

Every year I like to choose three words to theme my year on (thanks to a trend started by Chris Brogan quite a few years ago!). These words help guide me in figuring out what I want to do, how I want to be of service and who I want to be in my business.

In previous years I've chosen:  Create, Teach, Help and Focus, Organize, Produce

I like to spend a bit of time every year thinking about what words I want to have guide me and I encourage you to do the same. This year my words are Grow, Inspire, Support - and I look forward to showing you how those are going to be actualized in my business!  Leave your three words in the comments below!

2) Planners and workbooks

There are a lot of great planners out there. Every year I buy Leonie Dawson's Life and Business workbooks because they help me think through all the important pieces of the previous year and the year that's to come. That gets me to the place where I can start to put my new year out on paper as well and into my planner. My favourite planner is the Planner Pad because I love the funnel down system of managing tasks but there are many wonderful planners out there (including one from Leonie Dawson).

I encourage you to pick something and start getting it ready for the new year. It's taken me many years to find systems that work for me, but trying out different ones and experimenting with them was key. If you use a different planner you love, leave a comment and let me know what it is!!

3) My new 2016 Free Planning Challenge

I've been putting together so many resources for my clients on getting ready for 2016 that I decided to put together a free challenge for everyone. Sign up by clicking here and starting December 1 you'll get an email a day for 7 days setting you up for the best year ever. I would really love to have you take part so I look forward to seeing you in the Challenge update posts in the Biz Studio!

Social Media Simplified: Filling up your key message buckets

There are three things you need to have a solid understanding of to find success with online marketing: goalsaudience and what you want people to know.

Today we're going to talk about the final piece - what you want people to know, otherwise known as your key messages.

What do you want people to know about your business?

When I'm working one-on-one with business owners I ask them what makes their business stand out, what makes them different, what are they proud of and what should everyone know about their business?

Think about these questions for a minute or two and then write down 3 or 4 answers. Here are a few examples:

  • I simplify social media
  • We have experts on site that can help you figure out what product is the best for you
  • Exercise will make you feel better
  • We use only the best quality local ingredients

If you're struggling to figure out what your key messages are, go back to your goals and your audience and think about both of them. What do people need to know or believe for you to reach your goals? What would convince your audience that you're a good fit for them?

Here are a few more examples of key messages:

  • Yoga during pregnancy can help during labour and delivery
  • A personal chef service can save you money
  • Kids don't need a lot of toys to be happy

What do you do with this information?

Now that you have these key messages figured out, what do you do with them? Let your key messages guide your content.

I like to think of key messages as buckets. Each bucket has a key message on the outside and every piece of content that I share, whether it be something that I wrote or something that I found, supports one of my key messages. For example:

An article that shows how much food the average family throws out in a week - I can put it in the bucket showing that a personal chef service can save you money by cutting down on waste created by those meals you meant to cook, but never got around to.

An article on how 10 minutes of walking a day can increase quality of life - I can put that in the bucket that says exercise will make you feel better.

I can share a photo of some ingredients that just got dropped off by a local farmer and tag the farm - that falls into the bucket about using the best quality local ingredients.

I can share a blog post about how to set up a Facebook page step-by-step - that falls into my I simplify social media bucket.

You now have a method for qualifying content - if something doesn't fall into one of the buckets, does it really make sense for you to share it? Maybe, but the answer more often is no.

You have buckets to fill. Challenge yourself to find 3 or 4 things that back up each of your key messages. Write some tips, take some photos, write a blog post or share some articles that prove your point. 

Leave a comment and let me know what some of your key messages are what kind of content you can put in each bucket to back those key messages up!

Social Media Simplified: Who is my audience?

When you're using online marketing to promote your small business one of the most important pieces of the puzzle is to understand who you're talking to. Why? You need to have a very clear idea of who your audience is if you want to create content that will have an impact on them. 

Be specific about who you want to work with

who is my ideal audience

I've done a lot of work around helping business' narrow their audience. When asked who their audience is, the inclination for them to say their audience is, "whoever wants to spend money with them" is strong. I get that. We want people to spend money with us and the fear is that if we're too specific we'll alienate a huge group of people with money in their pockets.

The problem is if your content is not specific then it becomes too generic and has no meaning or impact at all.

Let's use an example: If I say "Learn about social media!" it leaves many unanswered questions, such as:

Who should learn?

For personal use or business use?

For entrepreneurs or government?

On a huge budget or a shoestring budget? 

Without all of that information weaved into your content, almost everyone will assume you're not talking to them. A statement like that is less effective than being specific and having a small subset of the population feel like you're talking to them.

HOW specific do you really need to get?

The best way to REALLY figure out who your ideal client is and how to connect with them is to imagine one specific person. Imagine everything about them. How old are they? Are they married or single? How much money do they earn? How do they like to spend their leisure time? What do they like to read? What publications do they respect?

Keep in mind, you won't be sharing this information with anyone, you just want to really narrow down the kind of person you like working with. This information will help you figure out what kind of content they're going to like seeing, and also where you can find more people like that.

What do you do with this information?

This is going to become more clear as I work through this series, but for now it is important for you to remember that not every audience likes the same kind of content. You wouldn't talk to an 18 year old single student the way you would a 42 year old married professional. The language is different, the content is different, and what they value is different. 

Once you really understand who you're talking to, you can select content that has the right tone of voice, the right kinds of things to make jokes about, and the right kinds of articles that will appeal to them without being directly about your business. By taking the time to do your homework on who your audience is, you're creating opportunity to find valuable content to share with them, and by sharing valuable content, YOU become valuable.

Spend some time figuring this out

Spend some time thinking about your best and favourite customers. This is a great place to start. What is it about them that makes them the kind of person you like to work with? Use that information to start narrowing down YOUR ideal customer. Here are some questions to help you figure it out:

Gender:

Age:

Marital Status:

Income Level:

Do they have a family:

What do they value:

Where do they learn new things:

What are their favourite publications:

What do they like to do in their spare time:

Now that we've talked about goals and audience, next time we're going to talk about key messages!

 

It's been a very good year...

This year has been an exciting year of growth for us as a business. Our third year of being in business together has brought Lara and I so many good things:

  • More really interesting and fun clients to work with,
  • We launched a new program to help you launch or refresh your email newsletter,
  • We said goodbye to Social Capital Conference (a bittersweet decision, for sure), 
  • Our website got a nice refresh,
  • Lara and I have evolved to a more strategic approach with planning - and we get together regularly to keep things fresh and moving forward,
  • We started doing webinars! The latest that we had on planning had a great turnout and lots of interaction which made it very successful,
  • Lara has turned into a video-making machine, which means we have great content on our YouTube channel for you,
  • One of the very best things we did this year was hire Tracy Noble, who has become our business manager. She has her own business and we are not her only clients, but she has become integral to our success. (In other words, she makes us look good and keeps us on track!)

We're looking forward to even more great things happening in 2015. Next week, we'll give you a little preview of how that's going to look and what you have to look forward to...I'm having a hard time not spilling the beans now!

From Lara, Tracy, and myself, we hope you are having a lovely holiday season!