How to Spot a Liar

This is a good skill for everyone to have — business people and non-business people. Pamela Meyer gives great examples — definitely a video worthy of your 20 minutes.

Triathlon Notes: Goals

I felt very guilty for not getting this blog post written before the triathlon in August. I was worried that the topic would seem “not applicable” after the big event.

Actually, I’ve learned that it’s even more applicable now. Goals, I’ve come to appreciate, can be both frustrating and motivating, but are most useful when they usher something into your life you never knew you wanted or needed.

Read the rest of the article.

This article now lives on The Fullness of Life blog.

Million Dollar Small Business Question? Where Is My Time Going?

This is a struggle for everyone, let’s face it. It is, however, especially important for an entrepreneur because we don’t have anyone delegating to us and offering up deadlines.

Now, let’s be real — for many of us, this is one of the reasons we took the leap into business ownership. We love that we’re are responsible for all our time. We thrive on the empty page that is our day.

What comes with an empty page, sadly, is the possibility of inefficiency. Now, this NEVER happens to me, but if you find yourself in this position, I have some tips. Okay, okay. I have the tips because I, too, suffer from blank page day syndrome. Fine, I’ll admit it (begrudgingly.)

Queue the helpful tips:

  1. Keep a Timesheet: I don’t mean keep track of your every second. What you want from this exercise is a better understanding of where you really spend your time. I realized that I was doing more billable time than I was actually charging for. Trying to remember how long something really took a few weeks later isn’t helpful. In my case, I was giving time away. My timesheet helped resolve that.
  2. Give Yourself Guidelines: Does your business thrive on social media? Then you need to stay consistently engaged without giving your entire day over to it. I tend to miss a few days (weeks) here and there. For me, this is about being sure to log in and say “hi.” For some of you, it may mean turning the apps off for a few hours a day.
  3. Make an “Absolute Yes” List: This is take off of Cheryl Richardson’s life yes list. Choose 3 things that you will focus on today. If something comes up that is not related to these three things, postpone dealing with them for another day when they are on your Absolute Yes list. This will help ensure than your time is going to important items while recognizing that some days involve more than one priority.

As entrepreneurs, we put the time in — no one’s questioning that — but sometimes managing our time is the key to better outcomes. After all, the goal is to build a successful business; the goal is not to log the most time possible at our desk.

How to Get Fantastic Professional Photos for Your Marketing

Wait, I know. You’re already thinking…well, this article isn’t for me! I don’t have the money to hire a photographer. You’d be surprised. Most photographers are happy to work within your (reasonable) budget and professional photos of your stores, products and people significantly increase the wow factor of any marketing piece.

The trick is to communicate effectively with your photographer. They want the photos to be great too. Here are a few tips to getting exactly what you need:

  1. Look at the Photographer’s Portfolio: This seems basic but is key. Every photographer has a different style of shooting and finishing the photos. Make sure you choose the photographer best suited to your vision of the final product (side note: liking your photographer’s personality is really important too, as is feeling like they “get” what you want)
  2. Ask your Photographer What You’ll Get: Make sure you know how many finished photos you’ll actually receive in the end and approximately how many proofs you’ll have to choose the final number from. You probably won’t need printed photos for marketing material — just finished photos on a disc. You should also know how much additional photos will cost. Let’s say you get 25 digital photos in your package but you love 30 — you will be able to buy those additional 5 but should know how much each will cost before you fall in love (after all, love can be fickle)
  3. Figure Out How You’ll Use the Images: Are these only for a website? They could be used for many, many things: packaging, bus ads, print ads, brochures, social media, online directories, and the list goes on. Will some of the photos be head shots? It’s better to think of too many uses now than to realize you don’t have a photo appropriate for use X because you hadn’t thought of it
  4. Write a Shot List: Sounds professional, doesn’t it? You are a professional! Knowing how many finished images you’ll get, plan out how many of each photo you’ll want…5 head shots, 2 building shots, 5 overall product shots, 5 product detail shots, 4 of people making the product, etc. This is not to say that the photographer will only take 5 head shots and 2 building shots. They will probably take several hundred snaps to get your short list of finished images
  5. Be Prepared for the Shoot: You’ll have an hour or two with your photographer, so make the most of it. Be prepared. Have the “head shot” people ready to go with their hair done and clothes looking nice. Clean up the garden in front of the building. Have the products you want shot out, shined up, and ready to go. Remember, fingerprints show in photographs. Your photographer will have ideas too and you’ll probably need to go grab things you didn’t anticipate but if all the basics are ready, you’ll be golden.

Most of all? Have fun! Happy energy makes for happy photos. These images will represent your brand, company, and products for the next while and a little planning will make them great.

Looking for a photographer? Let me know; I know a few I can refer you to. Do you have any tips for getting great business photos? Please let me know in the comments!



Moving from Business Development Brain into Project Work Mode

As a small business owner, I wear a lot of hats — as we all do. My challenge has always been switching smoothly from the excitement and anxiety of meeting with prospective clients and writing quotes to the calm focus of project work.

While struggling to make the switch a few days ago, I asked around on various media to see what other entrepreneurs do. I was pretty sure I wasn’t the only one who got stuck sometimes.

I was right. Here are some of the tricks people use:

  • Assigning blocks of time for specific tasks
  • Making a game out of completing a task within a given time frame
  • Do something completely not work related, like taking a shower, to delineate between busy work and focused work time
  • Looking at how many invoices could be generated, if only you could get moving on those projects
  • Leaving your usual work space and finding a new environment
  • Going to a cafe where there are lots of people diligently working away
  • Take a break and go for a long walk (or yoga class)
  • Making a meal or snack
  • Getting over yourself and just doing it already
  • Spending a predetermined amount of time on Facebook or Pinterest
  • Taking a nap

Thanks to everyone who offered their tips and tricks. I really appreciate it (and will even be using some of them myself!)

Do you use a trick that isn’t included in the list? Please share in the comments!