Here’s the number one question I hear—not only from new product creators, but even from seasoned business owners: “How do I find a good idea?”

What they really mean, of course, is “How do I find an idea that will sell?” No one wants to spend days or weeks or more planning, developing and launching a course only to hear crickets on the big day. You want to know you’ll have at least some measure of success.

But don’t overthink it. The answer is simple. Just give your audience what they are asking for.

  1. Check out the competition. What are they creating? If you serve a similar audience, then what sells for them will very likely sell for you. Now, before you break out the “But it’s already been done!” line, keep this in mind: No two coaches are alike. You may create a similar course, but your voice, your experience, your teaching style, and your personality are all very different. No one else is you, and for some customers, YOU are the only one who will resonate with them.
  2. Pay attention to your ideal client. What questions does she ask in private groups, in your help desk, and elsewhere? What posts are she reading on your blog (check your Google Analytic stats)? These are all valuable sources of intel about exactly what she needs and wants from you.
  3. Ask. Still not sure what your dream client is looking for? Ask her. Create a survey and ask her to tell you what she struggles with, what keeps her from realizing her success, and even what she’s tried before in an effort to solve her issues.
  4. Check the bestsellers list. Which books in your niche are outperforming others? These are the ones that offer answers your clients are seeking. Flip through the table of contents and read the online reviews to dig deep into the topics that really resonate with your audience.
  5. Read the FAQs. Check the frequently asked questions section on competitor blogs and in forums and Facebook groups. Also check blogs for “Start Here,” and “Quickstart” pages. Many times the most common questions and concerns are addressed here.
  6. Review the available resources. Which are the most common resources your colleagues and competitors are recommending? There are often questions surrounding the use of software and other tools, and these can be great ideas for eCourses.
  7. Check your email. If you’ve been in business for more than a few months, chances are you receive questions from friends, clients and even strangers on a daily basis. What are they asking about? Look for common themes and trends.
  8. Revisit your keyword research. Review the terms and phrases that your community most frequently searches on, and use them as a basis for your own research.
  9. Check your search terms. Google Webmaster Tools allows you to check which terms are sending visitors to your website. Since people often search on questions (“how to design a logo” or “how to start a business”) this can be a rich source of ideas.

Ideas are everywhere. Your potential buyers are sharing them with you each and every day, if you just know where to look. So don’t let your insecurities hold you back. Develop the course they are asking you for.

 

Leaving a high-flying job in consulting, Angela Lee Duckworth took a job teaching math to seventh graders in a New York public school. She quickly realized that IQ wasn’t the only thing separating the successful students from those who struggled. Here, she explains her theory of “grit” as a predictor of success.

At the University of Pennsylvania, Angela Lee Duckworth studies intangible concepts such as self-control and grit to determine how they might predict both academic and professional success.


Learn what it takes to develop the grit, drive, and hustle with the Entrepreneurial Drive Course.

Why do some brands succeed beyond all reasonable expectation, while other brands that are just as good or even better wind up failing within a few months? How is it that an Oprah becomes an icon, while dozens of other talk show hosts quickly fall into oblivion? Why does Nike inspire such loyalty, while other brands of shoes struggle for market share?

In the book Primal Branding, Patrick Hanlon explains his theory for “Creating zealots for your brand, your company and your future.” He explains how the powerful brands become that way by carefully (and sometimes accidentally) creating a community of believers by employing seven different marketing tactics. All seven of these components are found behind every super-successful brand, product, service, personality, social cause, religion or movement.

Imagine if your product inspired the same level of loyalty that Apple, Disney and Starbucks receive from their customers. Now imagine you can actually engineer that loyalty right into your brand – it makes your head spin a bit, doesn’t it?

According to Patrick, these are the 7 key ingredients that you or your product, service or brand must have to inspire zealous loyalty.

1. The Creation Story This is the back story that sets the stage. Think of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in their parents’ garage building the first personal computer, Jeff Bezos writing Amazon’s business plan in the backseat of his car, or pharmacist Dr. John Pemberton concocting Coca-cola.

You need a back story for your product, service or business. This might be how you got the idea, your struggle to solve a problem, your inspiration, etc. Storytelling is as old as language itself and touches people on a very deep, primal level. Do you want to foster a real, unifying connection on a subconscious level with your prospect? Then you need a story.

2. The Creed – This is what you believe in, your core principle, your mission statement. A creed differentiates and motivates. According to Sidney Pollack, “It’s the spine that supports the entire enterprise.” See if you can recognize these creeds:

“It’s the real thing”
“Save the whales”
“All men are created equal”
“Just do it”

So what’s your creed? Invest some time to get this right. And if you have more than one product and the products are wildly different, know that you’ll want a different creed for each one. For example, you won’t have the same creed for an info product on traffic generation as an info product on building your abs.

3. The Icons – These are best defined as a quick concentration of meaning. This could be a logo like the Nike swoosh, the smell of Cinnabons in the mall, a country’s flag, a national anthem, Alice Cooper’s eye make-up, Kiss’s face make-up, the Budweiser Clydesdales, Disney’s castle as well as Disney’s 2 black mouse ears, McDonald’s arches, the 2 notes Law and Order plays just before the show appears, the opening music to any television show or the 5 signature notes of Intel.

Choose your icon carefully, and then use it in all of your marketing. Update it when needed, being careful not to lose it in the process. It should always be instantly recognizable and tightly tied to your brand.

4. The Rituals – This is how our customers interact with your product and service, and how you interact with them. This one is a little harder to define and illustrate. We have rituals for everything we do on a frequent basis, including brushing our teeth, doing laundry, driving our car and checking our email. The key here is to focus on improving the experience the customer has with your product or brand. How can you raise the experience to a higher level? How can you make it more enjoyable, or even something they look forward to? How can you take the stress out and put the fun in?

Here’s a great example: The ritual of flying. While most airlines are cutting every frill to the absolute bare bone, Virgin is moving in the opposite direction. They hand you a plastic shoulder sack full of goodies. There’s a television screen on the back of every seat. They serve Virgin Cola and let you listen to music and watch movies non-stop.

What can you do to make the ritual of discovering, buying and using your product more enjoyable – so enjoyable, in fact, that people will talk about you and your product?

5. The Pagans, or Nonbelievers – These are best defined as “those other guys.” Us against them. Apple vs P.C. and Internet Explorer vs Firefox vs Chrome. One political party vs their opposition. One sports team vs their rival. Nothing unites a group faster than having a common ‘enemy.’ 7up declared itself the “un-cola.” Taco Bell tells you to “think outside the bun.”

Defining your pagans is important in defining who you are. Do you teach methods of getting free traffic? Then paid traffic traffic methods are your pagans. Do you show people how to eat only clean, healthy foods? Then pseudo foods, pseudo food manufacturers and people who eat pseudo foods are your pagans.

6. The Sacred Words – words specific and exclusive to your own product, service or brand. Walt Disney has ‘Mickey Mouse,’ ‘Goofy’ and ‘Donald Duck.’ Starbucks has a ‘grande.’ Dr. Seuss invented an entire world of sacred words. Apple has “think different.” Texters have their own sacred language.

Information product creators and authors create their own terms to define what they’re teaching. By creating your own sacred words, your fans and followers are on the inside of the secret circle with their own language. It’s a cohesive, insider’s-only knowledge that brings a group together.

Think of a young couple in love – they develop their own language that is indecipherable to anyone else, and in this way they become 2 against the world. You can replicate this with your own sacred words, so don’t be afraid to get creative – your customers will love you for it.

7. The Leader – this person is the catalyst, the risk taker, the visionary, the iconoclast who set out against all odds to achieve something. Think Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Oprah, Gandhi, Richard Branson, Nelson Mandela and others who have led movements, companies and causes.

The leader could be the founder or it could be someone who takes their place functionally or symbolically. This means if you don’t want to be the leader, you can choose someone else, like a spokesperson for your brand.

Does all of this sound like too much work just to sell a product? Perhaps it is if you’re thinking small. If your goal is to sell a few hundred copies of something and move on, then you don’t need these 7 steps. But if you want to create something that takes on a life of its own and grows exponentially, then adhering to every one of these 7 pieces of the Primal Code is essential.

We talk about making a video or an idea or a product go viral. How does that happen? Is it an accident, or is it because that product or idea meets every one of these 7 criteria? Spend some time looking at the famous people and especially popular brands, and see if they don’t use all 7 of these in their marketing.

Look at it this way – if you could create a brand that grows like a religion, wouldn’t you want to? Imagine the people you can help, the alliances you can forge, and the profits you can make.

I highly recommend you get your own copy of Primal Branding by Patrick Hanlon, because I’ve only just scratched the surface here of what he teaches. In fact, if you only read one marketing-related book, this is in my opinion the one to read.

Your brand represents a unique promise that you make to every single one of your customers and potential customers. It is the consistency of this promise and the overall quality of the delivery of this promise that will encourage your customers to be loyal to your brand. Getting your customers to become loyal to your brand is the only real way to make your brand successful.

But in order for your promise to be effective, it must be distinct and clearly distinguishable from the many other promises your potential clients will encounter.

What kind of promise is your brand making?

Who is your brand making this promise to?

Why is your brand’s promise different from everyone else’s?

Why should anyone believe your promise?

At a glance, the task of defining your brand may appear quite simple but please do not be fooled. The golden arches of McDonald’s and the Nike swoosh did not become what they are in a day. These and other successful brands are the product of careful research, distinctly defined boundaries and a comprehensive Marketing strategy.

The result of all this hard work is that each customer and potential customer knows exactly what these brands represent. Have you ever walked into McDonald’s to order to purchase a Pepperoni pizza? Will anyone in their right minds drive to Nike to pick up a pair of ruby red stilettos?

Of course not! That is as a result of these brands being so carefully defined that we know exactly what to expect and what these brands can deliver. Customers are far more likely to be loyal to a brand that sends a clear message or has a distinct voice.

The first step to defining your brand is thinking carefully about and documenting what your business is good at. You can make use of S.W.A.T analysis to outline the major strengths and weakness of your business. It goes without saying that your brand should represent the strengths or core functions of your business. This will require some amount of honest self-evaluation.

Some Entrepreneurs fall into the trap of aiming to be good at everything or doing too many things at the same time. Even worse is trying to make a ‘universal’ product or service that has no specific target audience. The result of this kind of strategy would be a brand that is not well defined and will not encourage brand loyalty.

Trying to target everybody and doing everything will force you to spread your resources too thin. The easiest way to get nothing done is to try and do everything at the same time. Once you have a clearly defined message in mind, the next step is to choose the right tools.The Marketing tools that you choose to make use of should then emphasize the core focus of your business.

In doing so, your Marketing strategy should also emphasize what your business is not and thus make your clients see that your focus is not on ripping them off. This is an easy way to highlight the difference between you and the competition. A memorable brand is not worth the effort if you are not earning any money and the easiest way to make money is to take out the competition.

After assessing the strength of your business, find three simple words that represent what your business does well. Think of it this way, which three words would you want your clients to use to describe your brand if your brand was a person? This will require that you and your executive team carefully define the mission and vision statement of your business as well.

Your next move should be figuring out how to communicate these attributes to your target audience with the utmost simplicity. A complicated commercial or website is a major turn off to potential clients and will not be very effective at generating sales. Keep your message simple if your aim is to make your brand memorable and profitable.

There is no greatness where there is not simplicity.”― Leo Tolstoy

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” ― Clare Boothe Luce

“To be simple is to be great.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Defining your brand and the identity of your brand will require much more than a fancy logo. It must instantly bring to mind what your business does and what your brand represents. One core principle that never fails is to focus on quality and convenience.

The identity of your brand should be carefully tied to adding value. Make your clients think of your product or service as being of the best quality, the easiest to use, the most affordable or even the most durable. Selling hype will not get you very far.

Always remember that your aim is to give your brand a pleasant voice and a distinct identity. The ultimate aim is to get the voice of your brand off the printed page or website into the mind of your target audience.

Your message should make such a deep impression on your target audience that purchasing your product or service should seem like the only sensible choice.You should not have to clutter your website or commercials to get potential clients to remember what your brand represents. This will prove to be a waste of time since your brand may become easily confused with another.

Is your business short on help? Good help, that is? Did the best administrative assistant you ever had leave because her husband was relocated to Timbuktu? Now what? You’ve been through countless resumes and none of the candidates seem to measure up. Maybe you need extra help once in a while, just to keep your regular assistant’s head above water. Are you a small business owner who can’t afford, or don’t have enough work, for a full-time secretary?

Why not hire a virtual assistant or VA? Gaining in popularity among large and small businesses alike, VA’s can help bail you out of a rough spot on a temporary basis or even work long-term just like a regular employee.

In today’s soft economy and world of corporate scandals, failures, and layoffs, many a good employee has been ousted from his or her job. The ambitious ones are out there daily trying to find a new position. Trouble for them is the help wanted section of most newspapers has become extremely thin. Most people can’t go very long without some sort of income. So, the most ambitious and resourceful are making their way back into the working world any way they can. For many, this means starting a business of their own.

What does a person do when what they know is secretarial? What do they do when they need to feed their family and pay the mortgage? Many create their own business and several are opting to become virtual assistants.

What does a virtual assistant do?

In short, a VA can do just about anything a regular employee can do. You just won’t see his or her face every day. Many virtual assistants are Jack’s or Jill’s of all trades, some are more specialized, but here’s a list of some of the things a virtual can do:

• Bookkeeping
• Human resources
• Concierge services
• Collections
• Sales
• Marketing
• Travel arrangements
• Research
• Word processing
• Appointment setting
• Meeting arrangements
• Event planning
• Letter preparation
• Transcription
• Reports
• Proof reading
• Manuals
• Newsletters
• Flyers
• Mailings
• Data entry
• Data processing
• Document scanning
• E-mail processing
• Answering phone calls
• Procedure documentation
• Customer support

Virtual assistants are typically a very intelligent bunch as well. Many are college educated and even more have countless years of excellent business experience to draw upon. This comes in very handy when you’re looking for ideas.

How does a virtual assistant work?

Virtual assistants come in all shapes and sizes, just as any business does. Typically, however, VA’s work from home-based offices. They’re the savviest of the savvy when it comes to operating on a low budget and using technology to their advantage. Most are equipped with the latest software (and lots of it), multiple phone lines, Internet, e-mail, fax machine, cellular phone, copy machines, scanners, and a great attitude. Many even come with a cat or dog! He or she will use all of the latest technology to communicate with the client and get the work done as quickly as possible. And, possibly best of all, they only “clock in” when they’re on your project, not while they’re sitting at your desk, using your electricity, playing solitaire!

What’s all this going to cost?
All well and good, right? But aren’t virtual assistants more expensive than regular employees? Absolutely not! Actually, a virtual assistant is far more cost effective than a regular employee. You may pay more per hour than a regular employee, but leave out the FICA, state unemployment taxes, Social Security, health insurance, vacation time, sick time, 401(k), profit sharing, Christmas bonus, holiday pay, and other benefits you need to offer a regular employee, and a virtual assistant’s wage comes out far lower than that of a regular employee.

A virtual assistant can save money in other areas as well. How much does it cost you to maintain office footage, a computer, a phone line or two, a refrigerator, a microwave, a desk, electricity, heat, air conditioning, and parking for your regular employees? With a virtual, you don’t need any of those things either – he or she supplies his or her own.

The fee for a virtual assistant usually depends upon the area of the country where he or she is located and their area(s) of expertise. Virtual assistants charge between $15 and $75 per hour. But, you only pay for the time he or she actually spends working on your tasks. Some will ask that you pay for a “minimum guaranteed usage” each week or month. Many will also agree to work for varying hourly rates depending on the task. For example, if they’re to perform basic word processing, the fee might be $18 per hour, but if they’re expected to research the legalities of transforming your LLC into a Corporation, they may charge $45 per hour. Yet, others may agree to a flat fee based upon individual project requirements. Either way, you come out ahead.

Why should I trust someone I’ve never met?

VA’s are as concerned with your business success as they are with their own. In fact, their success depends on your success. So, a virtual assistant can become one of the best assistants and business partners you’ve ever had. Just like you, they are business owners and very interested in helping their clients.

Virtual versus temp or temp agency

Virtual assistants tend to work harder than the average person issued to you by a temporary agency. Keep in mind that the temp agency is charging you as much as 20% more than the worker is actually getting paid. This practice often leads to the use of unskilled or unacceptable laborers. Hiring a virtual assistant allows you to choose who works with you. You’ll also need to provide all of the temp’s supplies like paper, toner, pens, computer, electricity, etc, whereas, the VA comes with his or her own supplies.

How many times have you hired a temp who you spent time training, only to have her stick around for three weeks, then you had to train yet another temp? A virtual assistant, as we mentioned, is in this to succeed and help you succeed. You’ll have to train him or her too, but only once!

Oh, yes, and you still need to pay the temp while she sits there and waits for another assignment from you. Not with a virtual assistant. While she’s waiting for the next assignment from you, you can bet she’ll be working on something for another client.

Choosing a virtual assistant

Now that you’ve decided to hire a virtual assistant, how do you go about choosing one? There are several things you need to know before you start looking:

• What exactly do I need help with?
• What expertise does the VA need?
• How much do I have to spend?
• How quickly do I need this project done?
• How long will I need virtual assistance?
• How often will I need my VA to work?
• What hours should he or she be available?
• What days of the week?
• Is there any specific software he or she needs to have?
• Is what I need accomplished so specific that I’ll need to incorporate some training time?
• How will I pay him or her? Visa, MasterCard, Check, Paypal?
• How do I want to communicate with my VA? Phone, e-mail, snail mail, or a combination?
• Does my VA really need to be located in a particular time zone, country, part of the country, city?
• Any other particular qualities you’d like your virtual assistant to have?

Just as you would screen someone who would apply to work in your office, you’ll still need to spend a little time screening your virtual assistant. You’ll need to tell him or her what you need and want, and what is and isn’t acceptable. You’ll also need to negotiate pricing and terms with the virtual.

The best thing you can do to ensure you receive the help you need, is behave as though you’re choosing a new car. Push the buttons, turn on the stereo, kick the tires, and ask, ask, ask. Listen to what the potential VA has to offer you as well. He or she may even be able to do several other tasks, which you hadn’t counted on, or even offer some very sound business advice.

Who benefits by using a virtual assistant?

• Large corporations
• Small businesses
• Home based businesses
• Busy executives or managers
• Entrepreneurs
• Students
• Even individuals who just need a little extra help

What happens if I don’t like the VA I’ve hired, or s/he doesn’t work out?
Unless you’ve signed a contract guaranteeing a particular amount of time or pay, the answer is rather simple: you just don’t offer any more assignments.

If you do happen to have a bad experience with one virtual assistant, however, don’t let is sour you from finding another. Treat it as though you simply had a bad date. Bad dates do happen and some people just aren’t compatible. Get back out there and look for another VA that better suits your needs or personality.

A win-win for everyone

The use of virtual assistants truly is a win-win for everyone involved. For the employee-challenged business, VA’s dramatically increase your labor pool. And, for the cash-strapped entrepreneur, virtual assistants save money – lots of money. What’s more, it’s better for the environment to hire a virtual assistant. Just think of all the vehicle emissions you’ll be saving by having one or two workers telecommute. As for the VA, they typically enjoy a better quality of life, as they are also able to be home and raise their children in between working on your projects.

If your looking into hiring a virtual assistant and need assistance in finding one we can assist you in this, contact us for more information.

In today’s world it is easy to underestimate the importance of internet marketing. Advertising and communications are everywhere, and people can forget how delicate a process marketing can be. To get the full benefit of internet marketing, you need to make sure that you understand how to use it in the right ways.

1 – Do Your Research

Researching your internet marketing strategy cannot be stressed enough. You need to know what it is and how you can use it to your advantage. Most importantly, you need to know how your competitors are using it to their advantage. Only then will you be able to grasp the importance of internet marketing and be able to use it to its fullest extent.

There are many places where you can learn about internet marketing. Lots of books are released on the subject every year and there are even periodicals devoted to it. Finally, you can look around online for information as long as you are careful about the websites you get your information from.

2 – Doing it Right

By investing time in research, you can learn various very effective ways of implementing marketing strategies online. Some people really don’t think there is a right or wrong way to market online, but this simply isn’t true. There are the basics, such as having good grammar and a captivating ad campaign, but it goes beyond that.

One thing you need to think about is that you can’t just stick the online equivalent of a brochure up and think that is marketing. Maybe that is part of it, but it isn’t going to cut it overall. The importance of internet marketing lies in the ability to really communicate with your potential customers in ways that cannot be done with off-line advertising.

You need to know what internet marketing is capable of before you get too far into it. Only then will you be able to do it right and get the very best results possible.

3 – Continue to Grow Your Marketing

As with other types of advertising, you need to constantly shift and change your online marketing. People easily become bored with seeing the same campaign over and over. They get inured to certain things over time. So you need to be ready to change up your marketing.

This is another aspect of the importance of internet marketing that many people overlook. Just like your business, if your marketing doesn’t change and keep up with the times, it will fail. To keep this from happening, keep your eye on popular shifts in advertising and communicating. Also make sure that you watch your client feedback carefully when you make changes in your marketing. If you don’t you could miss crucial fluctuations in your sales or visitors.

By understanding the importance of internet marketing, you will put yourself in a better position for success. Read up on internet marketing and the trends that it goes though so you can anticipate changes. Also make sure you are using the internet to its fullest advantage. By doing this, you will make it more likely that your business will end up on top.

Social media is a powerful technology but it’s also misunderstood. In its simplest form, social media is a way to connect with old friends from childhood or college and a way to share snippets of your daily life. In its more complex form, social media is a unique way to market your business and products to the entire world in a short amount of time. While you can take months or years to study the intricacies of social media and craft business strategies, there are three common myths about social media that business owners can dispel today.

Myth #1: You must use every single social media platform.

Expanding your reach is certainly a goal for business owners and coaches as that yields more sales and personal clients, which equals increased income. However, the real question to ask before signing up for every platform is: where is my ideal client? Using Facebook just because it has over 1 billion users doesn’t mean those 1 billion users will find you and start purchasing. Identify your ideal client and find out where they hang out. Those are the platforms you should use.

Myth #2: Aim for every post to go viral.

It’s always fun to see a post go viral as they are usually entertaining or thought provoking but of the viral campaigns you’ve noticed recently, could you say what company sponsored them? I can’t either. Aim to provide value in your posts mixed in with some of your personality as opposed to aiming for shock or entertainment value. Your ideal client wants to learn from you so your valuable lesson will be heard and remembered long after the latest viral video fades away.

Myth #3: Having a large number of followers equals increased profits.

It sure is an ego boost to see a large number of social media followers but are these followers interacting with you? Are they liking or sharing your posts? Are they leaving comments? If not, then chances are they are not your ideal client and chances are they will never purchase one of your packages. Evaluate your own posts; it’s quite possible they’re boring and that’s the reason for no response. Be more creative with your posts and watch for audience interaction. This directs back to the need for niching down to your ideal customer. You’re not appealing to everyone; you’re appealing to a small fraction of the world’s population. Pay attention to finding that demographic and the number of engaged audience members will follow, as will the profits.

With all the different social media platforms available today, it’s easy to focus your marketing time here because it’s generally less time consuming to engage from your computer than it is to attend real-life functions and talk to people in your community. However, if you depend solely on social media for your marketing, you’re missing a vast opportunity to market your business to locals right in your own backyard.

Your marketing goal should always be to build relationships with people you can help with your products or services. Even though you may be tempted, don’t push the hard sell on people you’ve just met. They don’t know you, so they likely won’t spend their hard-earned cash on your product. However, by interacting with them at networking events, in addition to engaging them on social media, you have built a foundation upon which to build a stronger relationship, which may ultimately lead to them buying from you.

How to Get Started Networking Offline

The idea of walking into a room without knowing a single soul can no doubt be daunting. But the alternative of not sharing your story and your mission to those who may be seeking this exact answer to their problems is equally troubling. No matter how you want to start networking in real life, put on your brave face and tackle your social fears head on.

1 – Join a Relevant Business Networking Group

Very often there are dozens of business networking groups and chambers of commerce spread across the country in every locale, so you really can pick and choose which group is best for you. Yes, you want to reap a reward for being a part of the group, but your acceptance into any business group will depend on what you can contribute. After all, it’s all about building relationships. Some groups are more formal and have standard meeting rules, while others may be much more casual and usually smaller in scale. Ask to visit a meeting or two before submitting an application and never be afraid to ask questions about the other members or when the group was formed.

2 – Hold Live Workshops

What better way to showcase your authority and expertise than to speak to your local community! Turn an online webinar into a live presentation or create a presentation customized to your community’s needs. Contact your local library, business association or community college with your ideas and very often if the presentation is unique and relevant to the community, you will get a booking.

Even if live events are not your forte, choose a topic you are passionate about and that you could speak about for hours. Your passion will carry through and you’ll be less likely to be nervous or get tongue-tied. Make sure to collect business cards or to have attendees sign in so you can connect with them on social media and continue the relationship building.

3 – Volunteer in the Community

Look for groups or charities that are relevant to your experience, but don’t go in thinking you need to change everything. Building relationships should be a positive experience, so offer your guidance and input when asked. Otherwise, enjoy conversing with other volunteers, board members, and administrative personnel, all of whom hold the possibility of referring you to their family, friends, or other networking contacts.

Do you want to save time during your work day? Do you wish you had an extra 18 hours to accomplish everything on your to do list? Most people would answer, “Heck yeah!” to those questions because a coach’s to do list is never really finished, especially if you don’t have any support staff. Automating certain tasks, like social media, is one way to gain some time back in your day but that task still requires you to interact with your followers.

Social media schedulers, such as HootSuite and Buffer, are convenient and budget-friendly. Simply log in, schedule which posts should publish on which platform, and hit the save button. Voila. Done.

Some platforms, like Meet Edgar, are more powerful because they continue to share your evergreen social media posts into the future, thus saving you even more time from creating and scheduling. This all sounds wonderful and who doesn’t want to have more free time but do these platforms eliminate the ‘social’ from social media?

The answer to that is: only if you allow it. Using schedulers is a wonderful thing and is a task that a savvy virtual assistant can take over. But you still need to be aware of what’s happening in your social media world. If followers are asking for your opinion, you need to be there in a timely fashion giving your opinion. If customers are asking specific questions about a product or course, you need to be on the ball answering those questions; otherwise you’ll be getting refund requests because your customers feel neglected.

Also, be active in your social media world in terms of connecting with others online. Yes, it’s wonderful when people in your tribe find you but you should put in equal effort to connect with your ideal customer. Passive marketing (or hope marketing, as I’ve heard it called) puts too much power into the hands of your ideal audience. Don’t wait and hope that they find you; make them want to CHOOSE you. Show them how you can help solve their problems. To do this successfully, you need to have a personal presence online instead of allowing a social media manager or third-party scheduler to be in charge.

Who doesn’t love automation? Shopping carts and membership sites automate your sales and content delivery. Email autoresponders automate relationship building. And calendar apps automate your schedule, putting an end to the frustrating back and forth of setting appointments.

Not only does automation save you time, but it helps ensure quality and consistency as well. Just imagine how confusing it would be to your customers if you didn’t have a shopping cart, but instead sent them an invoice for every purchase, and each invoice was a different cost. Or what if your 16-week group coaching course sometimes arrived by email, and sometimes in your Facebook group, and sometimes not at all?

Now these might seem like silly, over-the-top examples, but this is why automation tools exist—to keep everything running smoothly and as expected.

Can you automate everything? No. But you can implement this same level of efficiency and consistency by creating systems and workflows.

Document Everything

What would happen if your project manager or executive VA were no longer able to work? Could you easily (and quickly) train someone else to take over? For too many small business owners, the answer to that question is a definitive NO.

When all the instructions for completing a task reside only in one person’s head, you’ve set yourself up for catastrophe. Sure, in the event that someone becomes ill or wins the lottery, you would probably recover, but how long would that take?

Rather than risk struggling with logins and procedures, make it a point to document every task in your business, from how you manage your email to how a new product is launched. That way, if your best VA decides to elope with her Prince Charming, another team member can step in and cover for her.

Seek Out More Efficient Systems

Just because grandma always kneaded her bread by hand doesn’t mean that’s still the best way to do things today. Now that new stand mixer takes all the work out of bread making, while still keeping the flavor in.

Where can you make your business more efficient, while still keeping the personality and brand your clients love and trust?

Consider:

  • A hosted help desk solution with “canned responses” to the most common questions. Click a button and answer in seconds instead of typing out a 3-paragraph response.
  • Document templates ensure everything is formatted in a way that matches your brand, and will save you hours on every worksheet, resource guide, and even sales pages and blog posts.
  • Duplicate your repeatable projects inside your project management system, change the dates and key details, and instead of spending 30 minutes assigning tasks to your team, you’ll spend 30 seconds.

It might also be time to upgrade your tools, if what you’re using is no longer as efficient as it could be. For example, if your autoresponder can’t move customers from one email funnel to another based on their behavior, you’re missing out on sales. Consider upgrading to Active Campaign, Ontraport or even Infusionsoft to make your sales process more automated.

Take a look at your business and the tasks you and your team perform every day. Where can you be more efficient? What tools would help you maximize your time? Making changes in these areas will add hours to your day, and greatly reduce your overwhelm and stress levels as well.