Time Blocking: An Amazing Tool to Control Your Schedule

Free Time Blocking Webinar December 14 The first webinar was such a success with my audience that I am repeating it on Wednesday, December 14 at noon Pacific Time.

Here’s a quote from one attendee:

For boosting productivity Maura Raffensperger facilitates outstanding webinars. I attended and loved her recent workshop on Time Blocking. Bet you don’t know what the Pomodoro Technique will do for your overflowing task list!

Want a more productive, relaxed, and profitable 2017? Time blocking will set you up for all three outcomes. Now is the perfect time to find out how and be ready to jump into 2017 with a realistic schedule you have customized to meet your goals.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

Update: You may have missed the webinar, but I created a 5 module mini-course that is even better. Follow the link and you can listen to module 1 for FREE.

Of All Time Blocking Tips, This is #1

Light bulbs symbolizing time blocking tips
Want to try time blocking? The payoff can be dramatic. It’s been credited with creating a  50% increase in personal productivity, making ‘impossible’ goals effortless, and allowing a laser-beam focus on what is most important, all while reducing time spent at work.

In my case, time blocking has done all that (well, maybe not making an impossible goal exactly ‘effortless’, but I am finally accomplishing a business goal that has been sitting on my to-do list for several years). The calendar control has allowed me to vacation more and consistently enjoy ‘date days’ with my husband — and still maintain a healthy business.

How you use your freed-up time will vary. Maybe you will choose to use your extra capacity to make more money. Maybe you will value the time to spend with family, friends, or hobbies.

The steps to time blocking are deceptively simple. However, as management guru Peter Drucker said:

Efficiency is doing things right; Effectiveness is getting the right things done.

There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.

It is very possible to efficiently time block and still not be effective. How? By implementing time blocking tips and paying only lip service to the most important step: determining your goals. If you time block your schedule without having prioritized your goals, you will have effectively time blocked a lot of busy-work.

I see this happen over and over with my coaching clients. They nod their heads enthusiastically when asked if they have goals, but very few have actually taken the time to write them down and prioritize them. Your goals are the basis of all your business decisions, and definitely the crucial first step of all time blocking tips.

That’s why I planned a webinar that covers creative and effective goal-setting strategies to precede the webinar on time blocking. If you want to get the most out of the Time Blocking: An Amazing Tool to Control Your Schedule mini-course, make sure you also attend:

Webinar One: How to Plan Your Best Business Year Ever  

Remember, each webinar is only 30 minutes. To be able to cover the most important points on each topic, I won’t be repeating info from earlier webinars. To truly get the most out of the time blocking webinar,

Register for the How to Plan Your Best Year Ever webinar.

P.S. You may share this webinar link with friends and colleagues, and on social media like Facebook and LinkedIn.

Why a 90 Day Plan is Smart Business

Fireworks of different colors brighten the night sky
I have a plan of what to do over the next 90 days to take my business to the next level. Do you?

Why a 90 day plan works
  • It breaks a big picture into small, manageable steps
  • It forces quick action
  • It keeps your business agile with quarterly reassessments
  • It is relatively easy to create
What makes a 90 day plan different from a business plan?

You do not need a business plan to have a 90 day plan. Conversely, having a business plan is not a substitute for a 90 day plan. Each has a different function.

A business plan is a much more detailed document, typically for a 3-5 year period. Fundraising is the primary purpose for many business plans, as detailed financial projections are included, and a bank or investors will require a business plan.

A 90 day plan is a simple and effective way to focus on short-term business goals. A business plan tends to look at your business from a macro level, while a 90 day plan breaks big picture ideas into small, manageable steps. Because you will re-assess after just 90 days, it’s harder to put off taking immediate action. And, by checking your progress after 90 days, you can make needed changes to stay agile. Just don’t fall victim to Shiny Object Syndrome.

Although many small businesses and soloprenuers start without a business plan, most successful long-term businesses do find that having a business plan helps propel their growth. If you do not have a formal business plan, creating and implementing several 90 day plans will help when and if you do decide to construct your business plan, because you will have created mini-versions of some segments of a business plan, and probably tested a few marketing ideas as part of your 90 day plans.

Key components of your 90 day plan
  • Keep your plan simple: it should contain only 3-5 goals.
  • Those goals must be attainable in 90 days.
  • Be specific on what you need to do. ‘A goal without a plan is just a wish’.
  • If you have problems creating a list of goals that are measurable and meaningful to your business, check out my Best Year Ever mini-course .

As an example, one of my 90 day goals is to increase my Facebook page ‘likes’ to 300, because it will help me create a larger ‘look-alike’ audience for some Facebook advertising I am planning and also expand the reach of my posts. To do this, I need to add 5 new ‘likes’ a week. Besides asking current Facebook friends who are business contacts to like my page, I’ve also added the request to the ‘CTA’  (Calls to Action) list I use when telephoning business contacts. That way, if appropriate, I will remember to ask them to like my Facebook page. P.S. if you want to help me out, like my page.

Start your 90 day plan today and see if your results warrant celebratory fireworks in 90 days!

3 Easy Steps to Find Your Business Breakeven Point

Calculator and stethoscope on financial statement for finance health check including breakeven pointNeed more income from your business? One of the first questions I ask my coaching clients is “What is your breakeven point?” Not what you want to earn, but what you have to earn in order to meet your monthly expenses. A surprising number of business owners cannot answer this question.

If you can, congratulations! If not, let’s look at three easy steps to find your breakeven point. To make it even easier, download my Cash Flow Calculator.

First, a few reminders of what knowing your breakeven point can do for you:

  • Less anxiety: Many of my clients come to me with a underlying feeling of dread about money. Knowing your breakeven point relieves that dread and puts you in control. As one of my clients put it “I’m so sorry I resisted pulling these numbers together for so long! My breakeven point was lower than I thought, and now it gives me a realistic goal to work towards each month and great joy when I exceed it. It feels like a tremendous weight has been lifted off me”.
  • Increase Your Income: This can be as easy as cutting unnecessary expenses or simply a starting point in seeing the difference between where you are and where you want to be.
  • Allow you to pay yourself a salary: If you are not paying yourself a regular salary, you have a hobby, not a business, so stop feeling guilty about paying yourself. A salary should be included in your breakeven calculations.
  • Make business planning easier:  Want to add something new to your business? Add the costs to your breakeven calculations to easily compare how the added expense will affect your breakeven point.
  • Spend your money comfortably: See a conference or marketing class you want to attend? If you have exceeded your breakeven point (or, even better, set aside money for professional education as part of your breakeven analysis), you’re in.
  • Say ‘No’ When Appropriate: Sometimes the smart choice is saying no. This is not the same thing as saying ‘I can’t afford it’. Knowing your breakeven point allows you to choose wisely among all your options.
Step One: Collect Your Numbers.

Use one of the following (easiest listed first)

  • If you have a bookkeeper, this is really easy! Just ask them to give you your breakeven point.
  • If you are using accounting software, like Quicken or Quickbooks, run a profit and loss statement for the last 12 months.
  • Don’t worry if neither of the above applies; you can get still get a good estimate of your expenses by looking at your bank and credit card statements from the last 12 months.
Step Two: Organize Your Numbers

Your goal is to list every expense as a monthly expense.

  • Although you can do a quick and dirty estimate on the back of an envelope, a spreadsheet is really your best bet because once you have it set up, you can easily make changes to your numbers and see how those changes will affect your breakeven point.
  • If using a simple spreadsheet intimidates you, Lynda.com offers a self-paced online Numbers Essentials (Mac users) course in just over 4 hours, or Excel Essentials (PC users) in just under 9 hours. Knowing how to use a simple spreadsheet is a fundimental skill for a business owner, even if you intend to hire a bookkeeper or CPA.
Step Three: Find Your Breakeven Point
  • Add all your monthly expenses.
    • Some expenses may fluctuate from month to month, or occur only once or twice a year. Find the yearly total and divide by 12 to get a monthly figure. For example, if you pay $104 once a year for your business license, $104/12= $8.67.  $8.67 is your monthly expense.
  • If you have a service business, this is your breakeven point – the amount you need to earn to cover your expenses.

Want to make this even easier? Use my Cash Flow Calculator and just input your numbers – the formulas are already added to calculate your breakeven point. It’s a simple version of what I use myself. Click the button below to order a copy you can use in your business right now.

 

3 Easy Steps to Find Your Business Breakeven Point

Calculator and stethoscope on financial statement for finance health check including breakeven pointNeed more income from your business? One of the first questions I ask my coaching clients is “What is your breakeven point?” Not what you want to earn, but what you have to earn in order to meet your monthly expenses. A surprising number of business owners cannot answer this question.

If you can, congratulations! If not, let’s look at three easy steps to find your breakeven point. To make it even easier, download my Cash Flow Calculator.

First, a few reminders of what knowing your breakeven point can do for you:

  • Less anxiety: Many of my clients come to me with a underlying feeling of dread about money. Knowing your breakeven point relieves that dread and puts you in control. As one of my clients put it “I’m so sorry I resisted pulling these numbers together for so long! My breakeven point was lower than I thought, and now it gives me a realistic goal to work towards each month and great joy when I exceed it. It feels like a tremendous weight has been lifted off me”.
  • Increase Your Income: This can be as easy as cutting unnecessary expenses or simply a starting point in seeing the difference between where you are and where you want to be.
  • Allow you to pay yourself a salary: If you are not paying yourself a regular salary, you have a hobby, not a business, so stop feeling guilty about paying yourself. A salary should be included in your breakeven calculations.
  • Make business planning easier:  Want to add something new to your business? Add the costs to your breakeven calculations to easily compare how the added expense will affect your breakeven point.
  • Spend your money comfortably: See a conference or marketing class you want to attend? If you have exceeded your breakeven point (or, even better, set aside money for professional education as part of your breakeven analysis), you’re in.
  • Say ‘No’ When Appropriate: Sometimes the smart choice is saying no. This is not the same thing as saying ‘I can’t afford it’. Knowing your breakeven point allows you to choose wisely among all your options.
Step One: Collect Your Numbers.

Use one of the following (easiest listed first)

  • If you have a bookkeeper, this is really easy! Just ask them to give you your breakeven point.
  • If you are using accounting software, like Quicken or Quickbooks, run a profit and loss statement for the last 12 months.
  • Don’t worry if neither of the above applies; you can get still get a good estimate of your expenses by looking at your bank and credit card statements from the last 12 months.
Step Two: Organize Your Numbers

Your goal is to list every expense as a monthly expense.

  • Although you can do a quick and dirty estimate on the back of an envelope, a spreadsheet is really your best bet because once you have it set up, you can easily make changes to your numbers and see how those changes will affect your breakeven point.
  • If using a simple spreadsheet intimidates you, Lynda.com offers a self-paced online Numbers Essentials (Mac users) course in just over 4 hours, or Excel Essentials (PC users) in just under 9 hours. Knowing how to use a simple spreadsheet is a fundimental skill for a business owner, even if you intend to hire a bookkeeper or CPA.
Step Three: Find Your Breakeven Point
  • Add all your monthly expenses.
    • Some expenses may fluctuate from month to month, or occur only once or twice a year. Find the yearly total and divide by 12 to get a monthly figure. For example, if you pay $104 once a year for your business license, $104/12= $8.67.  $8.67 is your monthly expense.
  • If you have a service business, this is your breakeven point – the amount you need to earn to cover your expenses.

Want to make this even easier? Use my Cash Flow Calculator and just input your numbers – the formulas are already added to calculate your breakeven point. It’s a simple version of what I use myself. Click the button below to order a copy you can use in your business right now.

The 3 Things I Finally Did to Have My Best Year Ever

 

Redhead woman having a bad hair day and looking for help to have her best year ever. Are you falling out of love with your business because you spend more than 50% of your time on things you hate to do? Would you like to be making more money? Walk away from your business for significant chunks of time and still have it run? The answer can be surprisingly easy – but sometimes it takes having a very bad year to make this clear. If you’d rather skip that very bad year, come learn three simple steps you can take now (even if you are not a business owner) to have your best year ever when I speak to the Ventura County Professional Women’s Network on February 11. Non-members are welcome to attend. Register here.

And yes, I will be sharing anecdotes and lessons learned from my own very bad year – and the best year ever that followed.

Banish Overwhelm, Not Enough Customers, Not Enough Money From Your Business

Being a business owner is hard.

It can also be immensely rewarding, both personally and financially.

There are a lot of numbers bandied about, but the SBA reports that only 50% of start-ups last five years or more.

The trick is to be in the 50% who thrive … without becoming a slave to your business.

The top three problems you face as a business owner are how to banish Overwhelm, Not Enough Customers, Not Enough Money from your business.

That’s what this book will help you with.

maura-book




A Compilation of the Biggest Takeaways, Strategies, Tips and Action Steps Shared by 21 leading small biz experts, trainers, coaches, and authors.

Your editors, Maura Raffensperger and Rachel French, interviewed small biz experts in the areas you care about most and asked the tough questions that YOU want asked. The calls were recorded, then Maura and Rachel wrote a one-page action sheet of the top points made in each one-hour interview – including links to added resources. These folks have helped thousands of entrepreneurs build more profitable businesses with techniques and strategies that work. Now they’re going to teach you.

You’ll have access to the top tips of experts and authors, coaches and consultants, speakers and strategists…all sharing their very best secrets, proven strategies and practical approaches to help make sure THIS IS THE YEAR YOU GO BIG IN YOUR BIZ!

Topics Covered Include:
  • Marketing
  • Getting Paid What You are Worth
  • Time Management
  • Search Marketing Secrets Revealed
  • Effective Networking
  • Secrets of Getting Free Publicity 12 Month a Year
  • Make Money in Your Sleep/Creating Information Products
  • 5 Tips to Crank Up Your Impact and Results on LinkedIn
  • How to Be Successful Without Burning Out
  • Magnetize Your Marketing: How to do Less Marketing and Make More Money

You don’t have to lose your sanity to build a profitable business! You already invest your money and time, but are you sure you’re investing them in the right things? Let the experts teach you how to work smarter in your business – all for only $14.97.





How to Banish Overwhelm, Not Enough Customers, Not Enough Money from your Business book cover

 

Shaping Your Business Premises To be Everything You Need

Downtown Office BuildingsAs your business grows, so will your office needs. I’ve invited a guest blogger to weigh in on some things to consider.

What do you need your business premises to be?

Let’s think about the question for a moment. You need it to have a good location and be affordable to run. You should also be thinking about whether the area it’s in has demand for your product or service. Also consider if there is room to expand and if it will attract new investors and clients. Finally, it’s important not to forget about the issue of security. Now, let’s look at each need in turn and think about how you can achieve it.

Stylish And Modern

You might have already started looking for an office from where to run your business. Perhaps you have seen the stylish spaces offered for rent from Level Office. These are certainly some attractive properties and would impress any investors and clients you had. Remember, in the business world first impressions are everything. The way your office looks says more about your business than you will ever get the chance to. That’s why you need it to look modern, new and fresh.
You may want to consider a redesign of the office interior. These refurbishments are often quite affordable and the perfect idea if you already own a building. Think about adding some unique architectural piece to the outside.  This could be anything, as long as it will catch the attention of people passing by. Do not underestimate the value of curb appeal, even in business.

The Heart

As you grow, we know where you would love to own a business premises. You want it in the center of the city, in the heart of the action. But unless you can find some cheap deals on property online, this is not usually possible. Instead, you need to be more realistic and aim for a suburban property. However, you can still make sure your premises is near to the heart by choosing a place with good transport links. If you can, you should buy a property near the airport or train station. That way, everyone going in and out of the location will see your property and notice your business.

The Possibilities

You need your business premises to be connected. Once you chose your office, get a cloud server setup and installed. This will make sure your company is connected to everything. You will be able to share information effortlessly from your business to any around the world. Ideally, you will also be thinking about fibre optics. It is not advisable to buy a business property that can not receive a fibre optic connection. If you do this, you’ll be slowing your company down and limiting the potential.

If you take this advice on board, you will understand what your business premises can be. It can be a marketing platform. It can be the heart of an industry. It can be home.

Review of the Chronos Time Tracking App

Categories used by the Chronos time tracking app include social, exercise, and workThe big issue with most time tracking software is that you have to remember to click it on and off with each task. Frankly, most people forget to do this consistently. That’s why I love Chronos.

A little background: One of my clients was spending 2 and 1/2 hours a month creating her client invoices. She had a bookkeeper, but could not delegate this task because she (my client) did not have a consistent way of keeping track of time spent on projects for each client. I suggested Chronos to keep track of actual time spent onsite with her clients.

Chronos is an free app (available for iPhone and Android) that runs automatically in the background of your phone to track everywhere you spend more that 15 minutes. It even tracks your ‘in-transit’ time. Just carry your phone with you and Chronos will automatically capture where you are and what you are doing – as long as you are not in airplane mode.

When I turned on airplane mode because I was in a movie, the app showed me ‘in-transit’ for the travel to the theater, in the theater, and from the theater. You can go back into the app on your computer and add the time you were in the theater, but it’s a bit of a pain. Still, as long as you are not in airplane mode, the app is remarkably accurate.

It’s also not a full-featured time tracking app, as it only allows you a limited number of categories, which you cannot edit:

  • Home
  • Work
  • Social
  • Exercise
  • Errand
  • Transit
  • Educational
  • Spiritual
  • Sleep

This would make it troublesome to track time spent on individual clients while you were in your office, but perfect for tracking time spent at a client’s workplace and/or time spent traveling to/from a client.

A benefit I was not expecting was the sleep tracking. Like most people, I should be getting more sleep. The sleep tracking is ingenious; simply flip your phone face down when you go to bed, then turn it over when you wake up. Seeing my actual sleep time in the personal infographic Chronos creates from the data it is capturing from my phone is (excuse the pun) a real eye-opener.

Chronos also allows you to set goals, such as:

  • Go to sleep before midnight
  • Go to gym for 30 minutes
  • Spend time with friends
What I love about the Chronos App:
  • It runs automatically, without me having to remember to turn it on/off.
  • It’s free
  • It tracks my sleep
  • It allows me to set goals, and lets me know how I have done in personal infographic
What would make the Chronos App even better:
  • Allow me to add goals not in the list
  • Allow me to add new categories (such as volunteering)
Best uses for the Chronos App:
  • Keep track/verify time spent with clients
  • Set a sleep goal
  • Keep track of actual travel time

Available for  iPhone and Android. Download from your app store, or go to GetChronos.com on your computer.

The 15-Minute Social Media Audit Everyone Can Do

Woman using laptopHas managing all your social media accounts become a burden? Are you even sure you remember all the accounts you have set up? What kind of harm could a dormant account be doing to your brand? Do you have goals for your social media presence? Are you measuring your success?

A social media audit is a great task to delegate, and the good folks at Buffer have put together a super simple template for you to create a social media audit right now, alongside lots of resources on further ideas to test. This walks you (or whomever you delegate this task to) through a step-by-step checklist that will help you:

  1. Locate and document all your social media profiles, official and unofficial
  2. Check for completion of all details on these profiles and for consistency in imagery and message
  3. Follow up on your goals and compare performance today to performance one and two years ago

Heres the link to the full article, including the free template: http://blog.bufferapp.com/social-media-audit

Either delegate this 15 minute task by forwarding this link to your VA or an employee now, or look at your calendar and schedule it now for sometime in the next week so this gets done.