Celebrate Your Milestones to Create Momentum

Celebrating milestones is a cultural norm. From first birthdays, to graduations, weddings and having kids of your own, a party or some sort of acknowledgement of your milestone always seemed to be present. These moments made the achievement so much sweeter.

Celebrating your milestones is as important as an adult as it was when you were a child, though the method of celebrating your victory may have changed.

Why are celebrations important

Celebrating your milestones are important for a few reasons:

  1. It allows you to savor the moment.
  2. You get a chance to change gears for a little bit to prevent burn out.
  3. Tracking milestones lets you see how far you have come and lets you take a moment to plan the next step.
  4. Celebrations positively reinforce the goals you are reaching for.
  5. Allows you to mark smaller goals on the path to achievement to keep momentum going in the direction you want to go.

If you are in business for yourself you have to make the effort to celebrate your own milestones since there is no one to reward you.

Ways to celebrate a milestone

Simple ways to celebrate are

  • get a drink with friends,
  • go to dinner with someone who is important to you,
  • buy a new gadget,
  • get a manicure and pedicure,
  • massage,
  • take a small trip,
  • get a new outfit/shoes/accessory,
  • have a party, or
  • take a night off.

Personal preference, budget and the size of the milestone will all play a factor in how you celebrate. However you do it, make sure to take some time to celebrate your next milestone.

 

Why Have Mentors and Advisors?

First, what is the difference between a mentor and an advisor. A mentor is someone who has done something similar to what you want to do and helps you navigate the road. An advisor is an expert in a certain area that gives you advise about particular issues or parts of your business (think financial advisor, legal adviser, etc.) A good picture of the difference is in Science Magazine.

Why are they both important?

Both mentors and advisors are important:

  • They have experience you do not have
  • They have particular training or information you need to make the best decisions
  • They have outside perspective
  • They offer accountability

Why a Mentor is Important

A mentor is a lot like a coach. They are someone you trust that helps you grow and develop as a person and a professional. Often times they work in the same industry and can help you navigate moving up in your career through reaching for promotions, education and opening their book of contacts. Mentors can help feed you with confidence because they have been there and done that so you are able to use their knowledge and understand instead of leaning on your own knowledge and understanding alone.

Why an Advisor is Important

The most common people that come to mind with the term advisor are lawyers, accountants, and financial planners. Advisors can be in any industry but these are the obvious things you should outsource to a professional.

No one can be an expert in everything so hiring a professional to help make decisions in areas you don’t have the experience and training can help you make profitable decisions. Another reason for hiring a professional is that when you pay for the advice you are more likely to take that advice.

Both are important on the road to success but how do you determine which to choose? They type of advise you seek or problem you need to solve, the people around you and the resources you have available will all play into whether you use a mentor or advisor for that particular instance. Either way, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Success is not accomplished in isolation.

 

Do I Really Need to be on Social Media?

The short answer is yes, you need to be on social media. But you don’t need to be on all of them. Just where your customers are. I also recommend starting on one channel and getting traction before moving onto another channel. It is better to do one channel well than to do multiple channels poorly.

Not sure where to find your audience?

Below are popular social media channels and the demographics of them. Use this information to pick one or two channels to focus your time and money on so that you are meeting your customers where they are.

Facebook – Facebook is still popular among the younger crowd, but if you are targeting an older crowd, Facebook is the place to be. Over half of internet users over the age of 50 use Facebook.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instagram – This is where teenagers are right now. Although teens are more likely to be on several platforms and change platforms regularly this is a good place to start if your target market is a younger crowd. This is also a good platform if showing photos is a good way to sell your goods or services (think food, retail, design work, etc.).

LinkedIn – Since LinkedIn is branded as a professional network, more adults that are in career jobs use LinkedIn (think 30 and above). Also, because this is a professional network, companies looking to sell business to business or offer professional development will do better than products and businesses geared for consumer use.

Twitter – Targeting young to middle aged men? This is where to be. This is also where many in this demographic receive their news. Because of this, political, social activism and sports related focuses could do well on Twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

YouTube – If you are under the age of 35, chances are you use YouTube frequently. Even if you are older you have probably watched YouTube videos. Part of the appeal of creating a YouTube channel is that you can use the videos you upload on your website, blog and any social media platforms you use for business. If you are looking to use video in your content marketing strategy (and recent trends are showing you should seriously consider video in your content marketing) then using YouTube is a great place to be.

SnapChat – This is another platform to target a younger audience. SnapChat’s users are mostly 35 and younger. This is one of the social media platforms to use only to target a younger crowd. The older generations have not been catching on to this craze of the younger generations.

(Data taken from Code Fuel Stats on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and SnapChat)

Social Media is dynamic. This is by no means an exhaustive list. While certain older demographics are on fewer social media platforms, starting where you are comfortable is always a good idea. Most people have used Facebook before so it is much less intimidating. Also, once you write content for one platform it is easy to modify it to be relevant for a second and third platform. Because of this, moving to a second and third platform become easier than starting on the first so once you get the first social media platform up and going with content take a leap of faith on another platform. At the same time, be realistic about how much time you can devote to social media so you don’t take on more channels than you can handle. Like I said earlier, one channel well done is worth a lot more than doing several that you cannot keep up with.

 

Making Decisions vs. Making Action

A Journey of 1,000 Miles Begins With 1 StepWe’ve all heard it before. Making decisions is one thing, acting on that decision is another thing entirely… Or is it. The way I see it is if you have not taken action in line with the decision, you have not made a decision. The action shows the decision you made.

If you are like me, most decisions are made at times of day that limit the kind of action you can take (think 1 AM). Just because you can’t make a call doesn’t mean you can’t make progress towards your decision. For example, maybe you need to call the mechanic to schedule maintenance and you decided you are going to stop putting it off. While you can’t call the mechanic to make an appointment after hours you can look up the mechanics number and put it in your calendar as a reminder for the first thing in the morning. Having the number handy makes it harder to not call and having the reminder set will keep it from slipping your mind.

For an in depth example of making a decision without action and making a decision with action, think about a resolution to exercise.

Decision without immediate action

It is December 15th and you have started to think about your new year’s resolution. You decide to start exercising January 1st so you will be in killer shape for the class reunion come September. If you wait until January 1st to decide what workout program to use and to make sure you have new sneakers and workout clothes how likely are you to start working out January 1? Probably not likely. And with that you have broken your resolution before you started, so how likely are you to start?

Decision with immediate action

Same scenario, it is December 15th and you have started to think about your new year’s resolution. January 1st is your start date so you have a little more than 2 weeks to get ready. As soon as you make your mind up to exercise you go to your closet to see what shape your sneakers are in and if your workout clothes fit. They won’t work. So you make a list and get those items while you finish your Christmas shopping… on sale! You already feel like you won and you haven’t even started working out yet. While you are taking a break from wrapping gifts you searching Pinterest for workouts and find a few that look like a lot of fun so you pin them and share them with a friend who is also going to start working out in January. Before you go out to celebrate the new year you lay out all of your new gear and print out the first workout you want to try.

How likely are you to exercise on the 1st? Probably going to do it even if you are hung over. The reason? You have created excitement about working out and have taken steps and spent money to make it happen. You are invested in the decision to start working out. By recruiting a friend you are both more likely to stick with it the whole year as well because you will be accountable to each other.

So as soon as you make a decision, act. No matter how small the action is it will propel you forward.

How to Create a Mastermind

There is a lot of buzz about having a mastermind group. It seems like the latest fad, but the concept has been around for a long time. In fact, Napoleon Hill advocated for creating a mastermind group in the early part of the 20th century.

Why all the buzz?

The buzz around mastermind groups is well deserved. Since the concept has been around for so long it has been tried and well documented. Most successful people you talk to will say that a mastermind group has been instrumental in their success even if they don’t use the word mastermind to describe the group of people that helped them succeed.

But why are mastermind groups so successful?

  • For starters, being a part of a group striving for a common goal creates accountability. That public accountability helps remove a lot of excuses for action.
  • Another reason mastermind groups work is because you have access to resources you do not have on your own. No one can be an expert in everything and so a mastermind member can give you the expert knowledge, connections and physical resources that you lack on your own.

So how do you create one?

The first step to creating a mastermind group is figuring out what you want. What is your chief aim in life? What are you striving for? Next, what skills do you already posses? Once you know where you are starting from and where you are going, it is easier to determine what you need. Some things you will be able to get yourself. Other things you will need help with.

Next, write down your goal, where you stand, and the things you need to reach your goal. This will help you be clear on what you need when people or opportunities walk into your life. As you meet people see how you get along and how you can help each other succeed. Some people will be willing to help out without an obvious gain to them but you should still try to be of value to everyone willing to help you succeed.

Lastly, meet regularly with the people who you deem appropriate for your inner circle. They should have similar values and have skills and resources you do not. As you meet with your mastermind group, you may find that more members come and some may leave. That is normal. Some will only be around for a season and that is ok. Others will be around and succeed with you for a lifetime.

 

What’s a Minimally Viable Product?

Whether you are developing a product, software or website you have probably heard someone talk about makeing a minimally viable product, but what is it?

Definition

The Wikipedia definition is:

In product development, the minimum viable product (MVP) is a product with just enough features to gather validated learning about the product and its continued development.[1] Gathering insights from an MVP is often less expensive than developing a product with more features, which increase costs and risk if the product fails, for example, due to incorrect assumptions. The term was coined and defined by Frank Robinson,[2] and popularized by Steve Blank, and Eric Ries.[3][4][5][6] It may also involve carrying out market analysis beforehand.

So what does this mean for you?

No matter what your small business idea may be, the concept of a minimally viable product can make a big difference in getting you moving in the right direction. This will save a lot of time and money, especially if you were off base with what people want while at the same time building a client base.

Let’s use my website as an example. The goal is to create an online university for small business owners. While I am aware this is an ambitious goal, I am attacking it with the help of blogging. Blogging allows me to test content to see what people really want to learn while I am researching topics and fleshing them out to become classes.

Regardless of what you want the end product or goal to be, the first question should be, “What is the minimum that goes into this?” Getting started and tweaking in motion is far easier than getting something together in isolation.

Creating an Editorial Calendar

It is said, “A goal well set is half achieved.” This is true with creating content and an editorial calendar.

What is an Editorial Calendar?

An editorial calendar is a layout of what you are going to write/post about and when.

I create editorial calendars for

  • Facebook,
  • Twitter,
  • LinkedIn,
  • Blog and
  • hopefully soon an Email newsletter.

Why Create an Editorial Calendar?

There are a lot of reasons to create an editorial calendar. Some are

  • You always know what to write about
  • Integrate blog, social media, email and any other places you write or advertise
  • Helps to you to keep track of what you have written
  • Gives you advance notice of research you have to conduct
  • Gives you a starting point for brainstorming future topics
  • Helps line up gusts
  • Breaks the writing process into steps to make it more manageable.

Questions to Get You Started

Below are the 6 questions I use when I need to re-evaluate my content schedule or make a new editorial calendar. They help keep me on target and focus my brainstorming efforts later in the process. The questions should be answered in order as some of them build on one another.

  1. How much time can I realistically spend writing in a week?
  2. How much can I realistically write in that time frame?
  3. How often do I want to blog/post?
  4. What topics do I want to cover?
  5. Do I want to have a topic of the week/month?
  6. Are there topics that I could cover in a series?

Topic List20160627_215015

Not that you know what general topics you want to cover (see questions 4 through 6), it is time to brainstorm a list of specific topics. I personally get small squares of paper and write every idea that comes to mind on it’s own sheet.

Once I write out all of my ideas, I organize them into categories. Your categories will vary but as an example, mine are hot topics to cover, marketing, finance, motivation/habits, business basics, human resources, product development and topics that will take a lot of research.

I break my topics out this way so that when I make my quarterly editorial calendar I have the hot topics or most relevant and timely topics set aside to write about first and the topics that will take a lot of research separate to add them to the last month of the editorial calendar so I have time to do the research before they are due to be posted.

20160627_214941Blogging Calendar

The first calendar I create is my blogging calendar. This is my most important calendar because it dictates what I talk about in all of my other calendars. I post weekly so I lay out one topic per week for a quarter. You can make a longer or shorter time frame depending on what you are covering but for me a quarter works.

My first step is to take those hot topics and put them in the calendar in the order I want to cover them. Alternatively, you can lay out all of your topics or whatever group you want to cover and pick your favorite few to cover first.

Next, I go through my needs a lot of research pile and pick one or two I really like and put them in the last month of the editorial calendar so I have time to do research for them.

Lastly, I go through my other topics and pick out ones that go together or that I think would be good to cover and add them into my calendar until all of the slots are full.

If you have extra topics, paperclip them together and keep them in a safe place for when you need to make a new calendar. I always have left over topics that I keep. Some have been around a long time but they just have not fit. Don’t get rid of them unless they no longer fit the direction you are moving in. You can always work on them later and you may need more topics the next time you write your editorial calendar.

Integrating Social Media

Once my blog schedule is complete, I add posts to my editorial calendar. Personally, I make my social media posts relevant to my blog topic. It gives me a week of content that I have already written to use on social media so I don’t have to reinvent the wheel. This strategy makes it easier for me, but another strategy is to create topics for each day. For example:

  • Monday: Motivational Monday
  • Tuesday: Common Questions
  • Wednesday: Blog Post
  • Thursday: Networking Tips
  • Friday: Fun Fact Friday

No matter how you set up your editorial calendar, make sure it makes sense to you so that you will stick with it. It is more important to be consistent than to post frequently.

What are some strategies you use to create an editorial calendar?

Ensuring Sucess

Achieving success is on everyone’s mind this time of year. Whether it is goals being set, raises or promotions hoped for in the annual review or anything else that is being strived for, this is the time of year to think thoughts of success but how do you ensure success? The quick answer is to invest. And by invest I mean invest in yourself.

Why invest in yourself?

Investing in yourself is important for a few reasons:

  1. Keeps momentum going – when you make it a habit to read industry literature, commit to classes and read every day you make small steps towards your goal which reinforces your desire to reach that goal. That momentum can help keep you working towards far off goals when life gets busy or it doesn’t look like progress is being made by making it habitual.
  2. Keeps you committed – investing in yourself puts time, money and other resources on the line which makes it harder to just give up. When you put time, money and sweat equity into something you are more likely to see that goal through to the end.
  3. Gets others involved – whether you reach out to others for help and mentorship or to family for support you get other people invested in your success. This makes you more committed and makes the road to success easier to walk.

How do you invest in yourself?

  1. Read – industry literature, self-help books, to learn a new skill
  2. Find a mentor – preferably someone who has achieved what you want to achieve
  3. Take care of yourself – meditate, exercise, eat healthy, have fun
  4. Reflect/Journal – write down what you want to achieve, what your struggles are and how you overcome those struggles

How do you invest in yourself? Let me know in the comments below.

 

Setting Business Goals

This is the time of year that everyone seems to be talking about goals, resolutions and dreams. Unfortunately, this talk is largely on the personal side of life. While you want to have personal goals,  you don’t forget about your business and career. Often times the business goals are what makes the personal goals possible.

The good news is that setting and achieving business and career goals is much like setting personal goals. Below is a four step guide to setting goals to advance your career and business.

Step 1: Define the big picture

Much like creating personal goals, you first need to define what you want your business or career to look like long term. Do you want to stay involved in your business or build and sell? Do you want to aim for the c suite or would you rather somewhere in middle management? What kind of work/life balance do you want? Make sure you get clear on where you want to go and how that will fit in with your personal life goals.

Step 2: Evaluate where you are right now

The next step in creating business and career goals is to determine where you are currently. What skills, contacts and other assets do you posses? Do you have a book idea you would like to pursue? Do you have degrees, certifications or special training? Determining where you are right now makes goal setting easier because you can make goals that push you toward the big picture.

Step 3: Determine gaps

Once you know where you want to go and are clear on where you stand you need to determine what you lack. Do you lack skills that you will need to pursue your business or career goals? How about contacts? Or a savings cushion? Whatever those things are, write them down.

Step 4: Make goals

The last step is to take the gaps you have and determine how and when you will fill them so that you can move closer to your goals. This might mean finding funds to go back to school or starting to network to meet the people you will need. For me it is learning more coding, learning to self publish and create a writing schedule that fits into my life.

Whatever your business, career and personal goals are, make sure they fit with each other. If your personal goals are in competition with your career goals you will always be stressed and spinning your wheels.

What process do you use to set goals? Let me know in the comments below.