April 2015 - Coaching Blueprint - marketing for life coaches
Overwhelmed by your Goals? Do This

Overwhelmed by your Goals? Do This

Now that we’re a few months into 2015 you’re likely at the point where all your BIG plans for the year have been tucked away, or have fallen by the wayside as the realities of running your coaching business happen around you.

What you’re experiencing is 100% normal. As business owners we tend to set crazy big goals for the long haul, which goes against human nature. When you’re working on the ground, in your biz, day in, day out, that big goal quickly becomes overwhelming and unrealistic. Next thing you know, you’re off track, chasing the next shiny object and your brain is ready to explode.

Breathe easy. Because we’ve got a fix to get you back on track. Setting goals for an entire year is a recipe for failure. Our brains can truly only function in about 90 to 100 day chunks of time. So when you set a goal that’s 12 months long, you’re not failing when you don’t accomplish it, you’ve simply gone against human nature.

We tend to confuse our vision with goals. The vision is the guiding principle, the long-term plan and absolutely necessary. But trying to run your vision day-by-day on the vision alone isn’t entirely functional. But you need something to keep you on track as your go from point A (today) to point B (the future when you’re living the dream).

Our vision is the why, our specific goals are what, when what we really need is the how. How are we going to actually make things happen?

Enter your savior and new business BFF, the 90 day plan.

Meet the 90 Day Plan

The idea behind the 90 day plan is that you take your vision and goals and break them down into actionable, realistic bite-sized chunks. This approach lets you take actions every day, every week that help you get to the big goals and vision over time.

Before you dismiss 90 plans as being too tactical, consider this. What’s the alternative? Eating the elephant and trying to get your book deal or meet your huge revenue goal? Finding yourself going off course as you’re not sure what do next?

With my clients, I see the magic of the 90 day plan happen over and over. It’s the very first thing that I implement with each and every client so they can start seeing successes immediately and are constantly moving ahead.

Having a 90 day plan makes the intangible suddenly tangible and helps them take action in a sustainable, logical way.

When my client Brittany Becher started her business a year ago, she was still working in a corporate job so time was at a premium. Using 90 day plans, she was able to get out of her own way and see the path out of her full-time gig and into entrepreneurship by taking small actions day in, day out. A year later, Brittany’s the CEO and founder at Foundation and Flow and growing an amazing business.

The lesson from Brittany and my clients just like her is that it’s way too easy to get stuck at the macro level and skip over all the steps you need to take to build your audience, connect with potential clients and bring in revenue today.

The 90 day plans means that small wins breed consistency, and that action results in long-term success because you’re not working towards something simply too big to put your arms around.

Creating Your 90 Day Plan

You can create a 90 day plan anytime. Don’t wait for the start of a month or a new quarter, if you’re feeling overwhelmed by your goals, (or even if you aren’t)  there’s no time like the present.

So, what goes in your 90 day plan?

You’ll want to start with looking at the key functional areas of your business that you need to focus on. Some examples include: sales, marketing, operations, client service, community building or even self-care. You pick what you need to focus on most at that high level.

Once you’ve got those picked out, break down the specific actions and activities by month that you want to accomplish.   Here’s an example:

 

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You’ll notice that these are often tactical, very specific goals. There’s no plans to take over the world in any given month.  Tactical actions are what going to help you execute your strategy, so embrace that simplicity and uncomplicate your business.

Amber McCue is a systems and leadership expert and the CEO of NiceOps. She partners with the nicest, smartest CEOs around to help them step into leadership roles and build a strong CEO mindset.

How to Gracefully Quit Your Business

How to Gracefully Quit Your Business

Let’s talk about something many coaches and entrepreneurs don’t like to discuss: quitting.

I’m talking about hanging up the “closed” sign for good.  Shutting down the website.  Walking away from a dying – or thriving – business.  Saying “I am done with this path.”

Quitting can be just as scary as starting.  In some ways, it can be worse.

That’s because we have a culture that says: “only quitters quit”, which makes us view the termination of a business as a personal failure.

Although most businesses end because they are not generating enough money, sometimes there are other reasons to walk away:

  • the business is no longer aligned with the direction you wish to go.
  • there has been a change in your personal life that is making it hard for you to keep the doors open (new baby, move, divorce, etc.)
  • you’re no longer happy
  • you’re bored
  • you want something else

Whatever the case may be, there is nothing wrong with you if you decide it’s time to hang it up.  But how do you know when?  And what is the most gracefully to quit your business and to walk away?

There are many signs that might indicate it’s time to close up shop: a lack of stable income or an inability to attract clients are obvious clues.  But look for subtle omens too: the wrong clients showing up more than the right ones, a lack of passion, a gut feeling that this is not your “right path”.

Listen to your practical side and your heart. Don’t ignore either.

As you begin the process of terminating your business, your friends, clients, and loved ones may be resistant.  Honor their feelings but don’t let that keep you hanging on to a business that no longer resonates.

Once you’ve established your intention to close down, go easy on yourself. You may be depressed and feel like a loser. Rather than viewing your situation or yourself as a colossal failure, treat the closing of your business like closing night on Broadway. A graceful exit means that you leave the stage, knowing you did your very best and gave it your all – but are ready to accept the show is over.  Bow out and exit stage right. You can always do an encore if you change your mind.

Next, you need to prepare for closure.  Let your clients and employees know well in advance. DO NOT close up without telling them.  Give them plenty of notice so that they can start looking for another service provider (you may want to give them a list of trusted referrals) or job.

Wind down step by step. Finish up any client work. Don’t take on more work that will extend beyond your closing date unless you can manage it (or it feels right). Start taking care of the legalities such as closing out bank accounts and filing any paperwork.   Pay off any outstanding debts (or, in some cases, this may be time to file bankruptcy).  Clear out your office or work space.  Take down your website and social media platforms.

Have a proper send off: send thank you notes to clients or employees. Throw a little gathering with your staff and favorite clients. Say your goodbyes.

Once you’ve finished up the process, a little ritual to say goodbye may be needed.  Perhaps a meditation, toast, or blessing may be in order. Give gratitude for all you’ve learned and all the wonderful people you’ve been privileged to work with and serve.

Be sure to take some time off and grieve if need be. This is a big step and you need to practice good self-care in the weeks or months that follow.  Be extra-kind to yourself.

Now what?  After you’ve had some time to heal, move on.  If you started another business or job, great.  If not, take some time to ponder your journey. Give yourself permission to explore new options.  And then look ahead and don’t look back.

One door closes but another one always opens.  Open the next door and begin anew.

Blessings!

Theresa Reed (aka The Tarot Lady) is an intuitive Tarot reader, teacher, mentor and yogi on a mission to take Tarot from hippie to hip. When she’s not reading tarot, she’s busy helping broke-ass mystics learn how to create sustainable + profitable businesses. If you are ready for straight talkin’ tarot and a side of biz whizz, get to her online hood: The Tarot Lady or follow her on Twitter @thetarotlady.

4 Ways to Make Your Images Pinterest Friendly

4 Ways to Make Your Images Pinterest Friendly

 

“Do I really, actually need pretty, Pinterest-y images on my blog?”
“But I’m writing about marketing! And apps! Pinterest doesn’t care about those.”
“I’m not on Pinterest so I’m just going to ignore it. That works, right?”

If I had a nickel for every time one of my clients said something along these lines … well, I’d have a lot of nickels.

I mean, I get it. We’re all up to our necks in client work, blog posts, and innumerable social media platforms. Optimizing our images for Pinterest can feel like just another bullet point on a never-ending to-do list.

As of January 2015, Pinterest had 70 million users, 80% of them women. If you’re a coach, I’m guessing that most of your clients are women.

Which means they’re on Pinterest.

Which means your posts should be, too.

The surprising thing is – you don’t even need to be on Pinterest for your posts to be popular there. All you need is blog readers who use Pinterest and want to pin your content.

Have I convinced you? Wonderful!

Here are four easy ways to make your images Pinterest friendly.

1. Use gorgeous images
Well, of course, right? Luckily for us, the internet is teeming with cheap or free photo resources. Get free access to five million stock images here, check out Flickr’s Creative Commons images here, or take a peek at the Creative Commons library on 500px.com.

If you use Creative Commons images, remember to link to the photographer and give them proper credit. A potential caveat with Creative Commons images is that photographers can change the license at any time – a photo that was Creative Commons on Monday could be fully licensed on Tuesday. And be aware that Creative Commons images might contain trademarks (that Coke bottle or the Nike running shoes) which the companies haven’t signed off on.

2. Crop your images so they’re tall and long
The layout of Pinterest favors tall, long images; they stand out on Pinterest boards and attract more ‘likes’ and re-pins. You can either start with a vertically-oriented image or crop a horizontal image into a taller, thinner version of itself.

3. Add the title of your blog post to the image
Images of recipes and outfits don’t require much explanation, but an image of a sunset could be used for a blog post about travel, grief, or letting go of expectations. Add text to your images so pinners can tell at a glance what your post is about. And if you’re not a Photoshop aficionado, don’t worry! Picmonkey and Canva are both free and incredibly user friendly. I personally swear by Aviary.

4. Add title text to the html your images
This is not nearly as intimidating or techy as it sounds. Promise! When we pin something with title text, that little white box below the image auto-fills with a description. If you don’t create title text, your reader might just see “medium-cupcake3.jpg” when they try to pin your images – which doesn’t make for a particularly compelling pin. How you add title text depends on the blogging platform you’re using, but when you upload an image to your blog post, just look for ‘title text’ or ‘image title attribute.’ When you find it, just type a short description that will appeal to pinners and you’re all set!

If you follow these tips, your posts will be getting pinned in no time at all!

Linda Laegreid Johannessen is the founder and CEO of YAY Images, a stock image agency that’s the Spotify version of affordable, licensed images. For just $9.90 a month, you have access to 5 million (!!!) images that are perfect for blog posts, newsletters, and social media. She’d love it if you took advantage of a free month of photos or followed along on Twitter.

5 Guidelines for Breaking up with Your Virtual Assistant

5 Guidelines for Breaking up with Your Virtual Assistant

Ending any kind of relationship is never easy, even a working relationship. Perhaps you no longer need a product, maybe you have found a better product, or perhaps the person’s quality of work has been weaker lately. Whatever the reason, breaking up with your Virtual Assistant (VA) can be a daunting task, especially if you have worked with them for years.

If you are ending a relationship with your VA because you are dissatisfied with their work, make sure you have documentation and that you have talked to them previously about the poor quality and improvements that were expected. That way, if there is any confusion at all, you can have proof to back up your criticism.

Here is some of my best advice on how to end a relationship with your Virtual Assistant, whatever the circumstances.

1. Check contracts. If you signed a contract with your VA in the beginning of your relationship, be sure to check and make sure what the terms are for ending the relationship. Some VA’s have a fee if you end the relationship before the contract has expired, others require a 30 day notification. Whatever the standards are, make sure you understand them before prematurely announcing you want to end it and possibly creating testy waters before absolutely necessary.

2. Train yourself on what your VA does. I have a client who had a VA prior to myself but due to some misunderstandings, the VA left them before being able to train me on their systems. It left me in a horrible spot because my client did not know what the VA had been doing! They had hired the other VA to run the administrative side of the business and worked with her for four years. Like any good VA, she had created organized systems so that everything ran smoothly, but my client never bothered to learn it, which resulted in a lot of stress for both of us as I had to learn everything on the fly. I cannot stress how important it is to make sure you understand everything your VA does before you end your relationship, which is also why a manual (as I mentioned in my previous article) is also vital for your business. Unfortunately, sometimes endings don’t go smoothly, so being able to understand everything your VA did can save yourself some headaches further on down the road.

3. Break the news with your VA over the phone. Everyone has heard a story where a teenager will break up with their significant other via text. Breaking up with your VA over email is similar, even if that is the way you communicate with them most of the time. Not only is talking about it over the phone professional, but it also helps clear any misunderstanding that could happen over email.

4. Tell the truth to the greatest extent possible. While on the phone with them, tell the truth on why you are ending the relationship, if it’s wise to do so. Be professional about it and try to stay clear of an emotional overreaction. I once had someone work with me for my trial period and then tell me they did not need a VA and that their business could not sustain one at this point. I believed it to be true, but a week later logged onto Virtual Assistantville to see their posting looking for a different VA. Needless to say, I was baffled because he said I had done a great job. After inquiring over email on why my services were not satisfactory, I came to find out that he was looking for a VA in a different niche than what I offered. The uncomfortable situation of calling him out over email could have been avoided had he just been upfront and truthful with me. Whatever the reason is, be professional about telling the truth as it is valuable for your VA so that they can take the proper steps to offering better services in the future.

5. Change your passwords. As soon as it is appropriate to do so, change any of the passwords the VA may have had access to. Perhaps this is after you have trained yourself on the systems with them, and sometimes, it may have to be beforehand. If the VA is unprofessional about ending the relationship, it’s better to change the passwords as soon as you can. Some people take rejection harder than others, and you don’t want to be stuck with a situation where your VA has access to your PayPal, email, or other sensitive accounts. If they had access to your credit card number, be sure to keep a close eye on the account and shut it down as soon as you notice any unusual activity.

In a perfect world, ending the relationship with your VA will go smoothly. If you’re lucky, your VA may have a recommendation for someone more suited for what you need. Even if that is not the case, by following the tips provided, you will at least have a thorough understanding of what you need going forward so that you can continue to run your business successfully without them.

Kiri has been working in the administrative field since she was 15 years old. What started off as a part-time job after high school blossomed into a full-time business when she realized she loved supporting people but wanted more flexibility than corporate America provided. Currently a Virtual Assistant for almost four years, she is constantly striving to figure out ways to make other people’s lives easier. Kiri is a Mount Holyoke College graduate and currently lives outside of Boston, MA with her family. In her spare time she blogs about Star Wars, drinks tea, and eats olives.

Why its Good Business to Fire Clients & 3 Scripts to do so

Why its Good Business to Fire Clients & 3 Scripts to do so

At some point in your coaching business, you WILL fire a client.

In fact, you will fire MANY clients. It just makes good business sense.

Why? Over time, you grow and evolve in your abilities as a coach. And as you do, so do your clients’ needs. What was once your “ideal client” is now someone who bores you, isn’t ready, or isn’t accountable.

Perhaps you start in health coaching and realize that your true talent is in raising someone’s self-esteem or helping them find love. In order to honor your growth and new understanding, you have to make room in your practice for new clients, which sometimes means you’ll have to fire a few existing clients first.

Firing clients must be viewed as a natural course of business, not something that’s reserved only for hostile events.

In fact, I feel so strongly about the need to fire our clients that I’ve written a song about it:

 

How do you know that you need to fire a client?

Well, are you feeling any of these emotions?

  • Boredom
  • Frustration
  • Annoyance
  • Lack of excitement

Or are your clients exhibiting any of these behaviors?

  • Don’t respect your boundaries
  • Are slow to pay or regularly make late payments
  • Insist on working with you at your old rate
  • Rude, hostile or overly demanding
  • What is the best way to fire a client?

Personally, my preference is email. It’s in writing. It allows them time to process the information and reply in their own time. It also ensures I follow through instead of putting it off.

Letting go of clients can be nerve-racking, especially when you’ve never done it before. Here are three scripts you can swipe and tweak to get you started.

SCRIPT #1: Changing packages because you no longer want to offer what they want.

Hi (),

I wanted to let you know that as of INSERT DATE, I will be discontinuing INSERT SERVICE.

I have recently made a variety of changes in my business and will no longer be offering this service going forward.

It has been a pleasure to work with you. If you’re interested, I have a few recommendations of some fantastic coaches who I’m sure you’d love to work with.

Thanks for your understanding,

INSERT SIGNATURE

SCRIPT #2: Client is no longer ideal and you want to make room for one who is.

Hi (),

I wanted to let you know that as of INSERT DATE, I will no longer be able to offer INSERT SERVICE.

I have recently seen a great deal of growth in my business, and I need to end my work with some clients in order to accommodate a better work-life balance as well as these new opportunities.

It has been a pleasure to work with you. If you’re interested, I have a few recommendations of some fantastic coaches who I’m sure you’d love to work with.

Thanks for your understanding,

INSERT SIGNATURE

SCRIPT #3: Client is hostile, not doing the work, missed multiple payments, etc.

Hi (),

I wanted to let you know that as of INSERT DATE, I will no longer be able to offer INSERT SERVICE.

It has become clear to me over the past few weeks that you and I are not an ideal match for working together.

INSERT PAYMENT DETAILS (e.g.,will you be offering a refund? Do they have outstanding payments to square up on?)

I appreciate the opportunity to work with you and wish you all the best in your future endeavors.

Sincerely,

INSERT SIGNATURE

 

Take Action Now

Have a client you need to let go of? Copy and paste one of the above scripts into your email account, tweak it and send! You’ll be doing yourself, your business and your clients a favor.
Farideh Ceaser is a musician turned launch strategist. After 15 years on the road touring as a musician, Farideh switched gears and now helps entrepreneurs launch their big ideas and online courses. She regularly delivers her wisdom in the form of a ukelele and a song here. Grab your copy of Farideh’s free 30-Day Launch Checklist & Calendar at www.launchyourcourse.com