In late 2017, I started working from home full time. For anyone who has made the journey from commute/office days/lunch breaks to working for yourself, you’ll know the struggle to actually get anything done.
There are dishes to be done, washing to hang out, school committee meetings you get invited to once they know you’re at home. Not to mention the things you can do in the peace and quiet of the day, like grocery shopping, lunch in a cafe, or just a nap in peace.
So, how do you make it all happen? Without the peer pressure of colleagues watching your every move, you need to cultivate the habits that get you at your desk and working.
Get up early.
It’s been said a million times before and is seen as a sign of success in entrepreneurs the world over. I had always dismissed it as being for the same type of people that run marathons for fun (not for me). But it bloody works. There’s something about the quiet of the morning, the peaceful house, no disruptions that makes waking up for work somewhat enjoyable. I’ve been trying to get up at 5am (sometimes more like 6am), and start my day with a cup of tea, and writing three pages freehand in a journal (as inspired by The Artists Way). It doesn’t matter what I write, but it switches off the negative, critical part of your brain and allows for better writing.
2. Give your to-do list a time frame.
For every job on your list, write how long you allocate yourself to do that task. If it’s too long, break it down into subtasks. Then set yourself times to do a bunch of small tasks (10 x 6 minutes = 1 hour of work, and 10 things off your to-do list). This is even more important when you calculate how much you’re being paid to finish work — taking double the time you charge means being paid half the rate, and you miss out on another potential job you could be working on.
3. On the topic of time — if you don’t already — use the Pomodoro technique.
The basic premise of this is that humans can only focus solidly for short blocks of time. So working on 25 minutes on-5 minutes off schedule means you’ll be more productive and power through your tasks. I’ve just invested $3.00 in a small kitchen timer, because it’s on my desk as a visual reminder to set it, and makes a loud beep. I’ve tried the online versions, but they are a bit glitchy, or I just forget to set them. Strict workflow is a great online version with chrome plugin that blocks selected pages so you aren’t tempted to distract yourself while you should be working.
4. Delight your senses.
Habits are sensual, and if you trigger the five senses with your habits, you’ll soon be ready to work. For me, this is
Sound — music — my Spotify playlist (I’m a huge fan of movie classics and light opera/theatre hits — especially Peter Hollens). This also helps drown out the household sounds that would otherwise disturb me.
Taste — I always sit down with a cup of tea to work — but I’m alternating black tea with herbals such as licorice, peppermint and green tea.
Sight — Keeping some sense of organisation in my office means less time thinking I should be cleaning.
Smell — I’m a huge essential oil fan. I have orange and peppermint in my diffuser for when I need to focus, bergamot when I need to talk to someone about a job, lavender when the stress builds up. I also have a spray bottle with lemon, frankincense, orange, grapefruit, and clary sage that I use to clear the air when I find I’m losing focus, or need to centre myself for the next task.
Touch — Having an ergonomic setup is important, I like to switch between sitting and standing (with a stylish cardboard box under my laptop). When my back gets sore, I add a heat pack to my shoulders or lower back to help push through the deadlines.
5. Treat yourself.
Not every day, but all CEO’s take a day off sometimes. If your schedule is packed, block out an afternoon a week away to catch up on chores, do the banking, go out for a nice lunch, or go have that nap. You’ll feel better for it, and knowing a reward is coming up, you’ll be motivated to push through those last few hard tasks.
By making these few small changes to my habits, I’ve been able to get more done than ever before. The biggest change I noticed is in my stress levels and anxiety, because I know I can go back to these at any time and reset my workday.
The next challenge for me will be to create space in my work from home schedule for more exercise — I’m thinking a lunchtime walk might be this years productivity booster.
This article was originally published on Medium. If you like it, why not click on the link and give me a clap on Medium, and help support my writing, I’d be forever grateful and promise not to spend it on more stationery that I don’t really need.
Pinterest Communities – and why you should start using them today.
Pinterest is one of my favourite marketing tools, and I’m yet to find a business that it doesn’t work for. When working with clients on their Pinterest Audits and training them on how to use Pinterest for their business, the first thing they ask is whether it can work for their business.
Pinterest is (was) a visual search engine that your clients use to create virtual pinboards of things they want to buy, use or learn. Who wouldn’t want to be on that? Even better, now they’ve added a social aspect too – so it’s even easier than ever to connect, communicate and collaborate with your networks and audience.
Recently, Pinterest has quietly announced the arrival of Pinterest Communities. Set to change the way pinners communicate with each other, it’s a brand new way to promote your content, pins, and blogs with other people in your niche and grow your audience.
Communities allow you to post comments, have conversations and post links to your content!
Right now, Pinterest Communities are brand new, and they are only allowing one group with each unique name – so you’ve got a chance to get in and grab the community name for your niche/brand and business.
Before you can access communities, you need to join one. If you’d like to join some to get you started here’s a few
If these links send you back to the Pinterest homepage, you might need to try from the Pinterest App the first time. It’s still a bit glitchy, so keep trying and log in and out if it doesn’t work and it might reset itself.
So far, these already some interesting communities popping up – and people are already interacting with each other. Why not give it a try and see how it can work for your business.
What can Pinterest Communities do for your business?
Communities are very, very new. So at the moment, they are free and growing rapidly, and no one really knows what they might become. But the potential to access new audiences, collaborate and share more widely than ever before and be one of the first adaptors is very tempting.
I’m going to start using Pinterest Communities myself, and will keep you updated on how I’m using them and growing my audience with them.
Top tips (so far!)
Give your community a keyword rich name – Digital Marketing for Bloggers is more searchable than Tanya’s top tips for growing your audience.
Keep it simple – 3 – 4 words is perfect
Try them out – invite your followers, see what you can do, have a go.
Get in quick to secure your niche/name
Use your community description to add in keywords and long-tail SEO statements that describe who you are and what you do
What do you think – are Pinterest Communities going to make Group Boards redundant? What features would you like to see them add to communities?
Have no idea where to start with Pinterest for your business? Or maybe you’ve been thinking of changing your wedding/baby pins account over to something for your business. I can help with my Pinterest Training – whether you need a one off session, or a series of 4-6 sessions to get you completely up and running – get in touch and see what I can help with. You can book a session today at https://YourBusinessWife.as.me/Pinterestauditandideassession
Content Planning to end blank pages and get your audience engaged.
It seems like we’re always on the countdown – almost Christmas, starting school, Easter, tax time… And while that’s great, because we can measure our successes, and drive our goals forwards, it is also a challenge, because it passes all too soon when you count it.
So, people keep telling me how fast this year has gone – and here we are with almost 99 days till 2019.
So, in celebration, and to get my act together on content planning, I’m working towards planning 99 days of content. I’m actually going to plan a bit more than that because I really want to do minimal thinking about day to day content stuff over January.
You’re probably sitting there wondering how on earth you can even plan one or two days ahead right now, let alone 3 months’ worth.
That’s where I step in and hold your hand.
Step 1 – Think of a theme for each of the next three months.
Just a rough theme – it might be something like
October – Springtime/new season/
November – Pre-Christmas sales push
December – Summer/January/School Holidays
For me, I’m working on my customer journey and upgrading my content, so I’m going with
October – Content Planning
November – Pinterest
December – Planning and tools/2019 planning
January – tools and tips
Step 2 – Think of four topics you could write about for each of those content areas:
So for me:
Who/what/why – picking your audience
When to plan and what to plan
Making it easy – repurposing/scheduling/work with your strengths
My tips and calendar I use
Pins and and how to create engaging pins
Why you need a business account
Basic Pinterest setup
How to drive more website traffic using Pinterest (specific examples for different types of shops/services
Using SEO to increase traffic with Pinterest
My Planner and how I use it
Using Intuitive Planning
How to plan when you don’t even know where you’re going
Paper tools – pros and cons and how I use it vs. tech tools and how I use them
Setting intuitive goals, not smart goals
Three levels of audience and how to write for each
What your audience wants to know about you
How to share more of yourself when you’re scared to be visable
Get your year on track (if the wheels have already fallen off
Back to school – back to work – motivator.
Each of those topics in step 2 might become a blog piece, a video, a short picture/text movie, a slideshow, a webinar, a podcast, a Facebook post, a LinkedIn post, or just a series of weekly tips.
It doesn’t need to be a 1000 word essay each week with beautiful stock photos, H1 headers, and beginning, middle, conclusion. If trying to work to that method is keeping you stuck each week – CHANGE IT! You never know which method you’ll fall in love with, so try them all. Mix it up and see what your audience loves.
Step 3 – For each of the subtopics brainstormed in Step 2
Think of two hints/tips/hacks you can share
Think of a teaching/quote you would tell someone if they asked you about that topic
Find one article online relevant to the topic
Write one snippet/except of how you use that thing in your life
Once you’ve got your content piece – that becomes one post to promote it, plus take out some quotes and snippets to share as well
Create a throwback schedule to promote older pieces of content too, especially if they link to the current piece.
When you’ve got all those together, it’s time to start batching!
I love to use Canva, but there are heaps of programs out there. Put aside some time each day for a week or so, and create all your tips at once, then all your quotes etc.
Once you’ve got all your content bits, you can start putting it all together. I like to use formulas like
Monday – Motivation/inspiration/behind the scenes
Tuesday – Tips
Wednesday – share from other people
Thursday – From the blog – new or re-hashed content
Friday – Funny/light stuff
Sat/Sunday – longer/consumable content
Think about your audience and when they’re online the most – what type of things they like to do/read and when and then create a schedule for them.
If you’re not sure what content areas might be relevant for your business, or you’d like to spend some time brainstorming your content plan – why not book in a Content Planning Session?
We’ll go through what you sell, who to and how to best get your message out to the world. Best of all, you’ll create a 3-month content plan that means you’ll always have ideas for content and can get creating.
In the latest of the 10 ideas series, I’m exploring 10 things a directory based business needs to be successful.
If you’ve been around some of the business groups on Facebook recently, you’ve no doubt come across someone with a directory site (even if they don’t necessarily advertise themselves as such). For those who haven’t come across them, a directory model is basically a catalogue of related businesses that pay for listing on your website. Like the old Yellow Pages, or trade directories, businesses pay a fee to be listed, and then higher fees for priority placed listings that will get more attention from buyers. This may include basic static listings for a minimal fee, and then various packages which include upgrades, such as social media posts, blog posts, newsletter mentions, paid adverts on the site, and affiliate programs. Directory businesses will help other related businesses (often called vendors) get more traffic by having a targeted and engaged audience that are interested in the products the vendors are selling. Having started my first business initially using a directory model, I am particularly passionate about helping other directory owners to actually make money from their businesses and making sure that the countless hours of effort, costs, and passion actually add up to a successful business. The tips below are by no means all there is to know, and given that this is a topic I am especially passionate about, I will no doubt return to this in various forms in the future.
So – 10 things a Directory Model Business needs to be successful
A niche area that isn’t overdone. The golden rule of marketing is to know your market. In this case, trying to be all things to all people won’t work. You need to have a targeted niche, without hundreds of competing directories in the same field. Before buying a pre-packaged business, ask lots of questions – have they made any other related business directory sites you can see? How many business packages have they sold and in what areas? Chances are, if they have sold lots of directory sites, there will be multiple sites in your area already and they’ll just repackage the same templates, images, and posts and give it a different spin for you.
A niche that will actually be profitable. How can you tell this? Have a look at the businesses that would be likely to be signing up with you – are they established? what marketing channels do they already use (and how much are they spending on these). If there are lots of mum-start ups in your area, then chances are they won’t have huge marketing budgets to spend, and will be social media savvy anyway, and will probably DIY over paying you for your services. If there are a lot of larger corporate type businesses – they’ll probably have established marketing channels that are working for them, so you’ll have an uphill battle to get a wide enough audience to get their attention.
A business owner with skills and knowledge in the areas that matter. And no, this doesn’t mean a love of organic swaddles, wedding photography, kitchen tools, funky shoes or wooden kids toys. This means that you know social media and how it works. You’ve done online marketing or blogging before and you know what it takes to make it work and to connect with your audience. You have a love of selling and sales and convincing people to buy stuff. And you have skills in developing a business strategy for growth and marketing that you can start implementing straight away. I see so many directory owners (myself included!) spending years just getting their head around the whole concept of the directory, learning how to manage a website, social media, who their market is and what they need.
Research on your idea. I cannot emphasise this one enough. Don’t just research your customers and whether they would use a directory, but would businesses sign up? Spend some time in as many business mums groups and look up the directories that already exist in your target market. Start making notes of the businesses that are listed on them. Chances are pretty high that a) the businesses will also be active in the groups, and b) the business will be listed on multiple sites. For you to have a chance of adding that business to your site, you either need to be more competitive on price (hard with so many free trials) or more competitive on service (consider how much time/energy you can devote to each vendor for the income they’ll bring in. For example – if you are setting up a local mums and bubs directory – do some research on how many mums and bubs related businesses are in the area already. How many other directories already exist in the local and wider area – what are their fees, how long have they been around, what can you offer that they don’t?
A well-designed website. Having a website that uses the same images, templates, and wording as other directory businesses won’t set you apart, and won’t encourage vendors to sign up for your site. Do your research, ask a million questions, and EDUCATE YOURSELF on what makes a ‘good’ website, what is SEO, what should be included and what questions you need to ask before buying a directory package.
A backup plan – If you’re offering free trials, it can be six months or more before you even see a dollar in income for your site. Build in other income streams from the beginning that will help you with some cash flow while you grow the directory side (I’ll do another post on this soon). Don’t throw in your day job just yet, or make plans that will rely on your directory income magically appearing on a certain date.
SUPPORT – You are the product of the five people you surround yourself with. Make sure the 5 people you hang out with the most are positive, supportive, knowledgeable, generous and believe in your dream as much as you.
Money to invest. While many people will try and sell you the dream, and that your investment is ‘only’ the price of the website, the reality can be quite different. Having a slush fund to invest in top quality copywriting, Facebook advertising, subscriptions to social media management programs, as well as your own professional development will help ensure your directory site can reach a bigger audience much quicker, meaning you can convert more vendors to signing up for a listing.
In an area that you absolutely love. And will love in 5 years time. My advice is to choose an area that you could literally talk about all day long because if your business is successful and becomes a full-time job, that’s what you’ll be doing. Whilst you may have just got married, or had a baby, or taken your kids on an awesome holiday, or love making hand knitted jumpers, or gardening, chances are, there are a lot of mums out there that have had the same thoughts. And some of them will also be setting up a directory business.
The right mindset. For me, changing my mindset to even considering running my own business took a huge mental overhaul. It meant breaking free from the expectations that I had placed on myself, and that society has placed on me as well. Did I really spend 6 years of my life studying, and a further 15 years working my way up the corporate ladder to just jump ship the minute my kids came along? Whilst starting a business initially came from a place of needing an option that allowed me to work from home, it was only when I began to take it seriously, as a business, that the big changes came in my mindset. If you treat your business as a hobby, and a bit of fun, then that’s all it will be. You need to get real on your mindset, take all the leaps of faith and set yourself up for success with the right mindset before anything else can fall into place.
I know that a lot of the tips above are negative. And with good reason. I hate to see people get ripped off. And I hate to see businesses target a very vulnerable group of people, mums with young children, who don’t want to return to their day jobs and are looking for a way out. These businesses take thousands of dollars from families who have most likely come out of a period of maternity leave and surviving on one income. They invest their savings (or worse, borrow the money) to be sold a dream that turns out to be a fiction. They’re given examples of other successful businesses that have done it. They have testimonials that are given under duress, and the threat of business ruin if they complain. They take advantage of the desperation and dreams of mums, and in many cases, shatter them to pieces. Only the strongest (or most independently wealthy) will survive more than one year. Statistics show 75% of businesses fail within 5 years, and the major causes are the skills of the business owner and their ability to strategically run and manage a business.
Got an idea you want me to brainstorm for you?
If you're feeling stuck for an idea - whether it's a new business, a decision you need to make, or a content plan you're after - let me know and I'll add it to the list. Be sure to leave your details so I can let you know when it's done.
Every day, I will write down 10 ideas for different things. These might be business tips, inspiration, content ideas, strategy ideas, things I love, things I hate, and all the millions of ways that I can think of to inspire, motivate and encourage mothers who want to change their lives, by either getting a new job, a new career, start a business, or grow their existing business. They’re quick, flow-of-thought pieces that map out the 10 first things that come to my mind on a particular topic. Some days, I’ll expand on them. Other days, I’ll keep them short. Some days they’ll be great and some days not so much. Other days, I’ll make them pretty and use lots of pictures and headings and lovely things.
But I’m making it my mission to keep writing and keep on getting better at them. If you’ve got a topic or idea you’d like me to brainstorm ideas on, please let me know.
I’m always on the hunt for new inspiration. I’ll be posting them here, and on my other site, Employment Avenues.
If you love my ideas, please tell me (and the whole world), I love to hear your thoughts. If you think my ideas are terrible, please tell me that too, and I’ll keep trying to get better.
Talking to a business friend, we lamented the fact that we needed more than a VA or business coach, we wanted another one of us. In essence, someone who knew what we did and how it all worked intimately and could intuitively know what needed to be done. We needed a Business Wife. And so, Your Business Wife was born.
I had been struggling to build my first business, Employment Avenues while working and looking after my three young children. Business bits were squeezed into the late nights and snatched moments of naptimes. It would have been easy to give up and walk away, throwing away a year of work. Instead, I started building in systems, automations, and learning how I could build my business by working smarter and making technology work for me.
As Employment Avenues grew, I began to realise that I was putting more and more time into servicing directory clients and not growing the business itself. As I found myself resisting doing the work, I realised that the thing that makes me happiest about my business is helping others. The training, giving them a million ideas and possibilities for growth, and listening to their struggles and helping them find a way forward using their own gifts and talents.
So, who am I to help other business owners? Well, my main qualification is that I’ve done the hard yards in my first year. I invested in the training, learnt as much as I could and put it into practice. I tested and tried and went back to the drawing board a million times. And it all eventually starts to fall into place. I certainly don’t know it all. I haven’t been running my own business for the last 20 years and won any major business awards (yet!). There are many days that make me want to throw it all in and run to find a cushy office job.
But I had been doing this work for more than 15 years already. Firstly, as a teacher, I made it my purpose to help my colleagues to plan, organise and resource their classrooms, and shared my ideas and strategies with them. Then, I went on to build a successful corporate career over more than ten years by making myself indispensable. I carved a pathway for myself by being dependable, knowledgeable and one step ahead of whatever needed to be done. I was the right-hand woman, steering the ship from behind (and maybe a bit of a backseat driver) and allowed managers to get on with the business of doing business while I scouted ahead looking for obstacles and making sure we were on track.
I did the practical work too – I’ve been an Internal Auditor, developed quality and compliance systems and processes and became known for being a whiz with an Excel spreadsheet and my ability to create planning tools, policies and processes that are user-friendly, easy to follow and will actually get used.
Throughout these jobs, training was a constant. I found myself analysing the needs of the teams, and creating solutions for them, and training them in how to save time and stress by getting the technology to work for them.
Now in my business, I find the same patterns emerging. As my business networks have grown, I started helping others with their business systems too. Training them step by step in how to set up their Pinterest sites, giving them ideas for winning blogs and content plans, sharing my own tips on growing your audience. I started trialling and testing all the different programs out there, and shared this so that others don’t waste their time and money doing the same.
I’ve got a secret sauce, and that is that I am ideas machine. I can tap into what your audience wants and needs and get to the heart of what makes each and every business stand out and help them grow from that.
Your Business Wife is the culmination of almost three years of soul searching for a business that lights me up. A business that allows me to give back while I grow and learn myself. I’ve found a way to share my love of learning, teaching, of systems, strategy and idea generation with the world. Your Business Wife is going to grow along with your business. As your needs emerge, as technology changes, as you grow your business, I’ll be one step ahead learning how to help you to manage that change. Building systems, automation, getting you the sustainable processes so that you can have a life outside of your business as well.
Your Business Wife will help your business to:
Free up your time by building systems that will let you stop the endless cycle of never catching up and getting ahead.
Implement strategies as you grow, no matter what stage you’re at – we can move it to the next phase.
Upskill yourself, or help you outsource your administrative and managerial tasks
Create amazing SEO friendly content that your audience will love, that reflects your brand story
Work together in a way that is unique for each business, touching on what you need to learn, do and change to grow your brand.
If you need someone to teach you how to do it, organise it, plan it, write it or get it done and out there, Tanya at YBW can help.
Every new thing begins with just a spark of an idea…
I recently saw a TEDx talk, and the speaker mentioned an idea that really struck me. If you want to be known for your unique ideas and insights, you need to exercise your ‘ideas muscle’.
One of the ways they suggest doing this is by simply writing down 10 new ideas a day.
Something about this challenge has sparked an idea within me. I love ideas, I love writing, and I love helping people. So here I am, starting with my ideas.
I’m going to try, if not every day, most days, to post 10 ideas for something.
To start with, I’ve come up with 10 ideas I can write ideas about.
1. Business Ideas for different personality types
2. Business tips that can help you get your systems in order
3. Narrowing down your niche and offerings
4. Questions to ask yourself before starting different types of ventures
5. Unique business ideas
6. Things you can do to help your work/life balance
7. Funny stuff
8. Things I love/hate
9. Awesome content ideas for businesses – blog ideas, headline inspiration, freebies and lead magnets
10. Get shit done tips.
As you can see from the list above, I need some practice, and this is going to take some time to maybe get the method down pat, but I’m taking a deep breath and just starting. I’m not sure just yet where this will lead me, or what it’ll end up looking like.
If you have a topic you’d like me to give you 10 ideas for – drop me a line below and let me know and I’ll add it to my list.
Have you started a new challenge? what do you think of this one?
What is the 10 Ideas Project?
Inspired by a TEDx talk given by James Altucher, I am on a mission to make myself an ideas machine. Every day, I will write down 10 ideas for different things. These might be business tips, inspiration, content ideas, strategy ideas, things I love, things I hate, and all the millions of ways that I can think of to inspire, motivate and encourage mothers who want to change their lives, by either getting a new job, a new career, start a business, or grow their existing business. They’re quick, flow of thought pieces that map out the 10 first things that come to my mind on a particular topic. Some days, I’ll expand on them. Other days, I’ll keep them short. Some days they’ll be great and some days not so much. Other days, I’ll make them pretty and use lots of pictures and headings and lovely things. But I’m making it my mission to keep writing and keep on getting better at them.
If you’ve got a topic or idea you’d like me to brainstorm ideas on, please let me know. I’m always on the hunt for new inspiration. I’ll be posting them here, and on my other site, Employment Avenues. If you love my ideas, please tell me (and the whole world), I love to hear what you have to say. If you think my ideas are terrible, please tell me that too, and I’ll keep trying to get better.
Want to be part of our 10 Ideas Project? Submit your topic below and we'll be in touch when it's published.