3 Steps to Finding Your Peak Productivity Zone

Why is it when you sit down at your desk to do a few minutes of work and hours later it’s still not done? Is it overwhelm? Distraction? Could be. Another reason could be you’re operating outside of your productivity zone.

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Not many of us are conscious where our productivity zone lies. Even long after we have left the corporate world, we continue to wake up and go to work during the same times as we did before. Depending on your business, sure we do have to operate a certain number of hours within the socially accepted business hours. However, your best work should be scheduled for times when you are at your peak.

What is Peak Productivity Zone?

Some people call these their power hours. It is the time of day when you feel you are most alert, creative and energized. Most people identify with being a morning person or a night owl and these are clues to where your zone lies. It’s not always a hard and fast rule. Some self-proclaimed morning people can also be highly productive at night. To better identify your zones, try these steps.

Step #1 Re-assessing What “Type” You Are

If you confess you are a morning person. Think again. Do you jump out of bed each morning and are able to hit the ground running really quickly? Or are you a slow starter. Though you wake up early, in actuality, you can’t think of work or anything until you’ve taken time for quiet reflection, and to enjoy a cup of coffee.

Maybe you are able to get to work after some time to complete your ritual but you need more mundane starter tasks before you feel ready to tackle the harder tasks.

Step #2 Map Your Energy Levels

Using a simple a spreadsheet or paper, record your energy level during different hours of the day. A simple scale of 1-10 works, 1 being low and 10 being high.

Track this over a period of time. 3-4 weeks will give you a good indicator. You may see a pattern emerging that you’ve never noticed before. Don’t be surprised if you find your energy levels waning and returning through the day.

Step #3 Work It

By now, you would have identified a time or times of day when you are fully engaged. This is where you should schedule the big tasks that require your focus, concentration and creativity. These are the times when you should hang a do not disturb sign on your door, make sure everyone respects it, and protect dearly.

If you have meetings, administrative tasks, time for others, and chores should be scheduled them outside of your peak productivity zone.

Sounds simple? It is, but don’t mistake simplicity for inefficiency. Often, it’s the simplest things, and smallest change that can make a big difference.

One great book that talks about a similar concept of managing your energy is The Power of Full Engagement. Put it on your reading list.

Get Real! Brand Authenticity and You.

Today’s marketplace is a great place for brands and their advocates to exist. Traditionally, prior to the web, all a brand could do was to make their consumers “aware” of their brand was using advertising channels such as bill boards, transit, radio, TV and public relations. Once a consumer got wind of the brand that interested them, they would have to physically visit the bricks and mortar location for more information. Or they could look in their mail boxes for flyers, or their daily newspapers for inserts and printed ads etc. The entire buying cycle was initiated by the brand and reacted to by the buyer. Very straight forward and not very deep.

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In today’s marketplace the consumer has a limitless access to the brand’s environment. Brand’s can more easily form strong relationships with their customers. Some would say today’s digital environment makes loyalty tougher. I believe it to be easier, so long as you’re willing to engage customers with a genuine brand experience. If the brand chooses to try and manipulate the experience based on an unrealistic expectation, they will more likely be viewed as not being authentic. That authenticity is a hallmark of proper branding.

But if your brand strives to provide an authentic persona, it’s a great platform to engage customers. You’re able to feed them your expertise on many levels. This acceptance allows you the potential to charge more for your services. If you’re a services based brand this open environment allows you to properly exhibit your expertise and this draws customers to you. Your are perceived as the expert your brand touts you to be.

The bottom line is to embrace the opportunities the digital world is serving up. You make think that there’s no space for you to play or that it’s over your head. Toss those barriers aside and embrace the web. You will be shocked with the results of your efforts over time.

5 Tips To Keep Life & Business Goals From Colliding

Apart from financial gain, the desire to have more time for themselves and/or family is among the top reasons many give for starting their own business. Yet, those of us who have ventured out know – family time is the first to get sacrificed. We want to fulfill a lifelong goal, but we don’t get to enjoy the fruits of our labor. We want to make our family happy. Instead, they think our business is a poisonous fruit. Ironic isn’t it?

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Will you finally have time to live your life this year? The answer is (and should be) Yes! Like everything else, it takes some work but your family is worth it. Here are five strategies you can put into action without sacrificing either your business or life goals.

Get Help

Releasing control of your work, and spending your hard earned money to hire someone is a challenging. It’s very hard to see, particularly in the beginning, how spending can result in more returns and profits. After all, it’s been drilled into us since we were kids. Save your money. As a kid, I remember saving quite a bit of money, then my mom would take me to the bank to deposit it into my own account, and that’s it. I’m not discouraging saving money. It’s a good habit, but at the end of the day, I still left home with $0 in the account. It’s a long story, but if only I’d been taught to invest that money into something that will bring in more money, I’d have started life off on a better foot.

If your business is not in a position to hire yet, it’s OK. Keep working at it. Do save your profits, but as soon as you are able to afford assistance without sacrificing too much profits, then it is time to invest. In help, in people. Extra help frees you up for bigger tasks and you’ll also be able to knock off of work early.

Realize It Takes Time

You’ve heard of the saying Rome wasn’t built in a day. Few things are. Even a seed takes time to germinate and grow into a plant. It takes even more time for that plant to grow into a strong, formidable tree. There will always be something you have to do. Even if you completed everything on your list today, tomorrow, you’ll find new things that need attention. Create work hours. You may find yourself getting more productive when you only have a few limited hours to get down to business.

Communicate Each Others’ Plans

Your family knows that what you do is important to you and for their sake. If you have a project that is of particular importance e.g. Winning a high profile client, let them know that you will be working more for a while. Be sure to schedule in extra time for them after.

Similarly, ask them to keep you informed ahead of time as much as possible of the events going on in your life that they want you to be present. If there are conflicts – it’s up to you to decide which is more important. Sometimes, a big contract negotiation with a client does take precedence over being taxi driver for music class. However, if it is a concert your child has been working hard for, it would probably be worth a shot to re-schedule the meeting time with your client.

Schedule Everything

While everyone’s schedule is different, it makes a lot of sense to keep weekends off-limits to work, or at least to client work and demands. This is especially true when you have school age children. Most schools have their year planned out way ahead of time. Grab the school calendar and plan out your holidays and long weekends to coincide with theirs. Block them off early in the year so you’re not scrambling to find time later.

Treat family activities like an appointment to be kept. Put them on your calendar. In your task list. Schedule it or you’ll forget it.

Make It A Point To Enjoy Life

If you’re unhappy, you’re not going to be happy at work or at home no matter how hard you try. If your business is no longer a source of joy for you. It’s time for some serious re-thinking. If the situation at home is driving you to stay longer at work, then that needs taking care of too. Sometimes the decisions are painful, but life is too short to stay unhappy and you only have one chance. Be intentional about making changes that lead to fulfillment and success.

Now’s the Time to Step-up your Game – AGAIN!

9673439_s2015 is the year that you’re going to do things a little differently. The time is right to step up your game. Without gazing at the past too much, recognize that that was how you used to conduct business. That’s when all you’re best strategies delivered on making your brand better, more memorable amidst your stakeholders. Give yourself a well deserved pat on the back.

That said, the fastest way to step-up your game is to change-up your game. Start doing business differently that anyone in your industry. Break the norms, shake the bushes and start acting in a way that has the competition questioning your sanity. “Bob’s finally lost it.” they’ll say. “Where’s he coming from” they’ll add. Those are comments aimed at a person who keeps ‘em guessing. These are brands who are following not leading. They spend more time watching the other guy’s butt to the point they have to keep putting the brakes on for fear of (I think you’ve got the picture).

There’s one strategy that will absolutely change the game once again for your brand and that is positioning your brand. I would hazard to guess that well over 90% of companies have never effectively positioned their brands or even considered it. They’ve certainly applied pretty catchy slogans but they’ve never given positioning a second’s thought. Many, if not most think the slogan IS their positioning. A slogan inspires the brand culture while positioning makes your brand the only choice. It absolutely resonates in the mind of your stakeholders. Jack Trout and Al Ries call it, “the battle for your mind.” The perception of your brand in mind of your stakeholders is your positioning whether you enjoy it or not. This perception is key to making 2015 your best year to date.

You see it all around you all time – more of the same. I often wonder why businesses just carry on all the same practices without any strategy in place to help them leap ahead of everyone else. Great brands sometimes get there in spite of themselves, others use strategy to their benefit. We all know there’s no magic answer – there is only effort and a willingness to change-up how your do things. Not only does it keep the competition ay bay, but it also reinvigorates your entire brand culture. Brands people like to talk about are inspiring by just how different they really are. These are the brands who walk the talk. You see, hear and read about them in the media and social channels. These are the brands that are well known within their communities. They are known and spoke about. They are judged favorably and are the ones who seem to bounce back fastest from brand foibles. But don’t kid yourself, these brands are there through shear effort. They keep their eyes on the ball and watch for any opportunity to step-it-up.

What can you do for your brand this year. Make it something that gives the competition the cold sweats. Help them out with a case of Ban Rollon.

Hey! Did You Know That The CEO Of That Mega-Brand Was Born Here?

How many times have you heard that one or similar stories to it? Such and such a rock star, movie actress or mega-mind was born here, they attended university or did their internship here. As if to say being from here had a role in that success. The real truth is every community across our fair planet has their share of rock stars. What all these individuals have in common is not so much that they’re from here but that they looked outside of here to realize their dreams and goals.

Most home-town business people and other talents and skill sets for that matter build their futures close to where they were born. Local stars and celebrities. And there’s nothing wrong with this. Nothing at all, but what is worth noting is those “star” individuals that dream beyond their noses. They are the ones with global aspirations. The local tool shop with global locations to supply a world market, local fitness clubs that franchise and branch out across the country and consultants who market globally to share their expertise. These are the people who recognize opportunities in risk by looking to unfamiliar territories and seeking to engage and profit from them.

Municipal brands (I think) are missing out on a great opportunity, one that is right under their collective noses. Most of them (that I watch) spend a great deal of resources and energy drawing the brilliant minds inward rather than retaining what they already have here. There is very little effort and resources encouraging home grown businesses to stay put and headquarter their resources at home. Our towns and cities try very hard to lure business and industry to them. They use corporate welfare to entice them, while putting the burden back on what businesses choose to stay at home. The sad fact is most “stars” recognize early on that their best opportunity lies away. In many cases taking valuable jobs with them.

Distant opportunities slowly suck the life out of many business communities who fail to witness the growing talents at home and do nothing to encourage their success until it’s too late. These true entrepreneurs are our youngest and brightest minds. As they leave the void is filled with businesses who are afraid to look globally, They prefer to follow rather than lead. They do not look to distant horizons but prefer to be big fish in small ponds.

The best this scenario can produce is events that bring these stars in life back to do a keynote and have all the local leaders anguish over what could have been. It’s time they stopped gushing, and started to adopting long-term strategies that not only encourage outside investment but inside as well.

What A Failed Rocket Launch Can Teach Founders

Being a 70’s kid, I did not have the privilege of witnessing the Apollo 11 mission. However, I did not miss out on the Space Shuttle missions.

Each time I witness these take off’s I’m in awe, not just at the event itself but the creation, the many people who make it a possibility. All that hard work. When the mission is a success, there’s such tremendous joy and celebration but when a rocket fails – the disappointment is clearly evident.

Watching Antares go down in a fiery explosion, I felt its loss. One can only imagine how someone who’s been working on the rocket for extended periods would feel.

As founders of small businesses, failed launches should come as no surprise. It’s part of the package. We can only be thankful, as well as hopeful, that most of our losses aren’t as publicized. Rocket launching is an unforgiving business. Thankfully for us, few of our launches are that destructive. Most times, our failures are easier to recover from.

However, like the Antares rocket, that doesn’t mean we don’t feel the loss deeply. It’s OK to mourn the loss of months, sometimes years of hard work.

Despite that, we must review and move forward. In the rocket business, what amazes me is how quickly everyone gets back to work. I’m sure keeping their jobs is a big motivation but aside from that, there’s a spirit of “let’s see where we went wrong and fix this once and for all”. That’s why we still have rockets.

So what launch failures are you mourning over today? If it helps, remember the wins. Antares had 4 successful launches before the disaster. Surely not everything about the failure is to be tossed. Do your post-mortem. Your customers expect and do look forward to a bigger, better return. You are ahead now that you know what not to repeat. Coming back stronger can do wonders for your brand too. For now, it’s time to pick up the pieces.

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15 Holiday Promotion Ideas To Keep The Register Ringing

The holidays are right around the corner. Are you prepared?

Holiday Promotions Ideas

 

The beauty of a small business is, we can be light on our feet. Besides, you still have a little bit of time and if you’re stuck with what to offer, this list should get you started.

The Add-On Bundle

Include a not-usually-offered or not-offered-before add-on to your product(s). It could even be a service.

Example: Get a personal coaching session when you buy this today.

The Value Bundle

Gather your best selling products and bundle them at a meaty enough price for you not to lose money but at the same time, give customers a deep discount compared to buying separately.

The Complimentary Products Bundle

Work out a deal with another company who offers complimentary products. Offer a free entry-level product, free trial, discount price or coupon that they can redeem at the other company’s store when they buy from you.

Example: Order a logo design, and get a 20% off coupon for web hosting at ABC host, or business cards at XYZ printers.

The Lifetime Access Deal

This works very well for continuity programs. Offer lifetime access at price that would make the product an incredibly low price if paid monthly over years.

Example: Don’t pay $19.99 a month. From now until the offer expires, get lifetime access for only $199 and never pay monthly again.

The One Year’s Product Deal

Slight different from the lifetime deal if that sounds too crazy for you to stomach. Offer one year’s access or one year’s worth of product for a great price.

Example: You’d normally pay $60 a year but for a limited time, pay only $30 and get the rest of the year free.

The 2 For One

When people buy two items of the product of your choosing, they’ll get both for the price of one.

The BOGO

This might sound like the same but it isn’t although technically the discount would be the same as the two for one. Offer a free item when they buy one.

The Reactivation or Return Bonus

Give customers a bonus when they re-activate their account or return to buy from you. You could offer a discount in place of a bonus but you’d want to be very careful that this is a short term deal and not to be repeated too often. Otherwise, you may end up with people who cancel just to wait for the re-activation bonus later on.

The Pick 3 Deal

Similar to the bundle deal, except this time, you let the customer choose what they want in the bundle.

The 10 Orders & Get Free Deal

Our local grocery store runs this deal regularly. You get a free holiday meal when you shop there 20 times. They do also require each receipt to be at least $20 to qualify and though 20 sounds like a lot. They start the campaign quite early so you have about 10 weeks to earn it.

Your customers may not need to shop with you that often, so you can always adjust the number of qualifying orders e.g. 10.

The $10 off $50 Deal

Instead of giving a straight discount, get them to spend a little bit more with you to qualify for the discount.

The Store Credit Deal

Offer customers store credit or store dollars when they buy from you today.

Example: Buy this today and receive a $10 credit you can spend right away or on your next order.

Private Sale

Reward your most loyal customers by giving them a special offer not found elsewhere. An alternative is to reach out to performing affiliates and offer a special deal just for their referrals.

The You Might Also Like This Offer

Dig into your customer data. Find out who purchased what. Offer them a bonus or discount for a similar or related product. If you don’t have one, consider an affiliate product. You may need to reach out to affiliate managers for the products to do this but can be well worth your time.

The Upgrade Deal

When a customer orders a product, offer them a better product or a higher end package. Something they would consider an upgrade for less than the normal upgrade pricing.

Example: Package A is normally $10 and Package B normally $30. When a customer orders Package A, offer them an upgrade to Package B for only $10 more.