Definitions are always a good place to start. What is awareness?
Awareness- knowledge or perception of a situation or fact (Oxford Dictionary)
People attribute business success to many factors, but I think we might be inclined to think that those with three Cs succeed:
Charisma- They have the “it” or “woo” factor.
Capital- They have the money to make their dreams a reality.
Company- They have the right people around them to promote them.
When businesses fail, we’ve heard that the majority fail in the first five years due to lack of finances. Interestingly, that’s the number two reason, according to Forbes (2017), with the number one reason being that the product or service that the person put on the market did not meet the market’s need. Interesting, huh?
Certainly having charisma, capital, and being in the right company help, but if you have all these advantages yet lack awareness of yourself and your market, you could still end up falling into the large category of businesses that fail because they didn’t meet their market’s needs.
Couldn’t we say that lack of awareness is at the crux of the failure to meet the market’s needs?
Awareness is needed through all seasons of business. Perhaps a person started with lots of awareness of the market and tons of solutions to boot, but times, technology, and needs change. Hence, the way a business runs, the team it acquires, and and the services and products it offers must evolve. Continuous awareness.
The third reason businesses fail is they don’t find the right team (CB Insights, 2019). Awareness of one’s personal strengths and weaknesses, awareness of the skillsets of others, or the awareness to foresee the consequences of keeping the wrong team players onboard all play into why business owners may not have the right team players. Typing that just made me flashback to the first time I had to fire someone. It was horrible. Like I was sick to my stomach. But the thought that made me more sick was what was going to happen in my company if I ignored my own awareness and the lack of awareness this person had about the effects of her actions on the organization.
We see the consequences of the lack of awareness in business on a daily basis: the person who posts WAY too much stuff on their personal or business social pages; the person who you don’t hear from except when they are trying to sell something; the business with zero personality; products that are a dime a dozen and have no stand-out factor in the market yet they are heavily pushed on the market; a company thinking that lowering their prices will move their products, when the real issue is the brand’s messaging hasn’t adequately communicated a value worth the pricetag no matter what it is.
It is certainly easier to look at others’ lack of self-awareness or market awareness, but it is more important to always be examining our own.
What do you plain suck at doing? For me, it’s paper organization. In college, people saw I had systems for everything- studying, test-taking, and putting my research together were areas I shined like a superstar. BUT, for the love of anything you hold dear, I prayed you would not ask me to borrow my awesomely bulleted notes, because the second I tore my notes out of my spiral notebook, they’d be lost forever. You would return them to me, and they would never again make their way back into my notebooks (which is why I kept spirals). I’ve tried every paper system under the sun, and spirals are still what work best for me, because I cannot maintain organization of small items and papers. A harder suck pill to swallow is that I stink at being a boss when the shite hits the fan; however, I excel at being a consultant to organizations (there’s a big difference!).
Over the years as I’ve expanded, rescaled, or morphed my business, I’ve found it so helpful to stay mindful of my awareness. I develop what I can strengthen and don’t beat myself up anymore over what I don’t do well. There are people and technology solutions for those things. The important thing is that we know what we do well. Reading books, taking assessments such as DISC or the Gallup Strengths Finder or the now-popular Enneagram help us take assessment of our strengths, know where we need support, and also recognize how others perceive us.
Be open to feedback. Stubbornness is different from resilience. A resilient business examines itself and its potential market to make ever-shifting decisions to match its offerings with the market’s needs. A stubborn business or business owner does not recognize or ignores the input of others more knowledgeable or errantly wants the market to change their behaviors rather than assume responsibility for the shifts needed to provide to the needs of the market.
It’s a new year, and January is a great time to start writing your business reading lists, find virtual or in-person events, join networking groups and chambers and begin cultivating relationships with people you will actively seek feedback and guidance from. What do you think you can do this year to grow your awareness as a leader and to welcome the feedback of trusted peers and mentors? Where could some simple steps towards increased awareness propel your business. How could these steps shed light on how you need shift your messaging services or product offerings?
It’s a lot to think about, but it’s worth the investment of time to think about.
Dream bigger, and your dreams will be more attainable when your awareness is at its highest!
4 Ways to Have a More Productive Start to Your Day
Go From Manic Monday to a Money-Making Feel-Good Morning Routine
That darn alarm. It sounds signaling the start of Monday. The start of the business week. The start of insanity. You roll over and pretend like it’s not happening- the alarm, Monday, none of it.
Or you’re like me. A morning person. Even on vacation I revel in the peace of the early hours and glow of the rising sun.
Just like I think everyone can learn to write for their businesses, I know everyone, whether a self-proclaimed early bird or night owl, can learn to use just one hour of the morning to make a HUGE impact on their businesses’s bottom line and how the whole rest of the day rolls out.
I don’t know who said it first, but there’s a saying that says either you control your time or your time controls you.
When people want to know one of my success secrets or how I have time to run two businesses and a networking group and still have time to do anything else, I point to how my morning routine is critical in my productivity and sanity in trying to do all the things.
Someday is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you. -Tim Ferris, author of The Four Hour Work Week
We put off what should be done today for “someday.” I’ve been guilty too. No sugarcoating here, friends, but if you are going to run a successful business for the long-term, you have to learn to discipline your now- discipline of your time, talents, resources, and to engage self-care. Stewarding your time routines is a disciple that hits all four areas, as you will find your stress level and general mental state in a much better place to start your days to make better decisions for your business.
Let’s get to the good stuff! I’ve read lots of blogs like this about productive morning routines that are anything but simple, so first I’ll make a promise to you. I’m going to keep it simple. No complicated systems. My first directive to you to get your morning together is to get up at whatever time you need to to have an uninterrupted morning. So if your kids are up by 6:45 for school, you need to get up at 5:45. If you normally roll out of bed at 7am, get up at 6. If your mind has already started the, “But, I…,” you’re going to need to talk to your mindset. Find your hour and decide if need be to get into bed an hour earlier the night before. Don’t deplete your sleep. It’s so important to your health, wellness, and wealth!
Now you have your hour designated. I’m going to tell you exactly what I do in the hour I designate, and I think you can totally copy and paste my success routine into your morning.
First 5 minutes after waking up, do nothing. Yep. That’s easy, right!? I give myself 5 minutes either by hitting the snooze (set for 5 minutes) or giving myself the small bit of time to stretch in bed and open my eyes. I love mornings, but I’m not trying to jump out of bed like a pop-tart!
The next 25 minutes: I make my cup of coffee, and while it’s brewing, I drink a glass of lemon water and collagen. Cleanse. Strengthen. Caffinate! I grab my paper planner (I keep an agenda planner and a Google calendar). I’m going to suggest even if you keep all your scheduling on your phone to at least have a notebook designated for this part of your morning routine. Next I look over my schedule for the day, digest it, and I list:
any calls I need to return.
any follow-up actions I need to do.
any opportunities I need to create- this could be asking someone for a virtual coffee or lunch date or following up a call or email.
The last 5-10 minutes is either journaling, jotting ideas and brainstorms, writing gratitude or most often for reading my latest business read.
What we are doing here is creating intention with our planned actions for the day in 3 simple steps.
What this part of my routine does is to help me prioritize people and opportunities following up while the “iron is still hot.” A long time ago, at a conference, I heard that 80% of a potential customer’s excitement dies off in 48 hours of whatever interaction sparked their interest. Whether that’s a hard fact or not, I must say I think it’s very true. This part of the morning routine ensures I don’t miss out on potential money or connections, because I was too slow on the uptake.
3. 15 minutes- Draft all emails and texts to return communication or make communications from the list above. Note that I said DRAFT. Why? It’s up to you, but as far as my business goes, it doesn’t open to my clients until 8am. I draft all the communications, so at 8 or a little after, I can go and click “send” in just seconds for them all. It’s part of my boundaries system. My early time is for me not for opening the doors to business and their return communications before I am good and ready.
4. 20 minutes- I eat breakfast, plan what I will eat for lunch, and fill up my water bottle. This way, I start my day well-nourished and ensure that I will put into my body later is not junk fueled by being rushed and making an impulsive decision based on my state of hangry. During this 20 minutes, I also give myself permission to putz around on my phone and social media. This part of the morning is the reward for the first 3 steps- getting out of bed, making my lists, and making my communications. I will add this hour I talked about is not the time to plan out social media posts for your business (unless you use the time of your last 20 minutes). Why? Because unless you are hardcore disciplined, you will likely fall down the rabbit hole of posts and web surfing and undermine your productivity. My social media planning is a whole other block I’ll blog about next week! Stay tuned!
That’s it! I promised you it would be super simple! You will be amazed by how staying disciplined with this morning routine will affect your bottom lines. When your communications to clients, contacts, and prospects are timely and your day begins with order and planning, it’s a natural by-product that you’ll make more money.
For another good read on getting your Monday started on the right track, click over to a 3 minute read https://genevamaresma.com/2020/08/03/chin-up-start-your-week-with-actions-that-create-optimism/.
Now you have time plans and some tools in your hand to get disciplined. Make a morning routine. Stick to it 5 days a week. The longer you do it, at some point, it just becomes automatic and you won’t think about it. I promise!
Wrapping up 2020: You May Say I’m a Dreamer, But I’m Not the Only One
If you follow my blog, you’ll probably see I love to weave in my favorite song titles and lines and sprinkle my writing with funny personal tales of my daily work and personal life to guide women through business and messaging strategy.
Can we dig deeper today?
In January of this year, I went against my personal grain and did two things. I made a vision board and picked a word of the year. You might wonder why this was outside my norm. Well, I never liked the concept of vision boards I had heard in the past- basically, put a bunch of visuals on a board you want to come true, and if you visualize it enough, it will come to pass in the year. As a doer, a hard worker, and a visionary at heart, I know it takes more than a wish and visualization. It takes commitment, drive, and personal accountability to see a vision birth. My sister, an amazing creative, gave a workshop to create vision boards, and the way she presented combined the pragmatism I needed with the dream. They can go together!
Now let’s talk about the pick a word thing, well, it seemed trendy and cliche. I am not trendy nor cliche. In fact, I rather fight falling in line with trends- most of the time that’s a good thing but not all of the time. This year, I didn’t go about the task of trying to do this seemingly trendy thing of sitting for some days and thinking hard for a word to pop into my brain and guide my year. The word came to me. I am a person of faith, and I remember the day I was sitting in deep thought over the direction of my business. I have many of these kind of days, but on this particular one, I was dreaming of all the big things I wanted to see happen- launch a course, start a membership group, and other big pursuits, and I heard God say, “Those things are not for this year. This year is about FOUNDATION.”
I’m a mover and shaker, and laying a flipping foundation just sounded boring and worse of all it sounded slow and very unexciting. Trust me, I tried to shove that word out of my mind as quickly as I could. Surely, if I was going to do this word thing and give myself to it, shouldn’t the word make me jump up and down?
As I’ve matured in my personal and business life, one thing I’ve learned to do is listen. When God speaks, I know the sound and the feel, and I know that the more I try to hush Him, the louder He speaks. So, I decided to embrace the word. My word was foundation. I was not to build the course, not to make the membership group, not to do any of the zippy and zingy ideas…not for this year. I was to establish a foundation.
Honestly, I didn’t even know what that was going to mean for me. As someone who is a strategist and who has strategy as her top Gallup strength, I went the way that made sense for me and contemplated what the goals would look like. In true word nerd fashion, I found a book I felt could match my most lack-luster word and started reading The Big Stretch by Teneshia Jackson Warner. It is a great read by the way with step by step guides to make big stretches over time in business.
February, I led a women’s business retreat which had been on my heart to put together since summer of the year prior, and what an amazing time I had with each woman there developing ideas, strategy, and encouraging one another. Two weeks later- COVID-19. The ‘vid showed up and I thought, “How am I supposed to build a foundation during a hurricane?”
Do you remember the scene in the Wizard of Oz where Dorothy’s house suddenly stopped spinning and landed? Whens she opened the door, and the movie continued in vibrant color. March and April, I was in the tornado of COVID and of personal circumstances. I was shifting, pivoting, and dodging all kinds of flying projectiles, but when my metaphorical house landed and I opened the door, the world was full of color, of hope, and of promise.
Back to that vision board, the word, and the goals I wrote in that book to strategically support the two, I changed something I originally wrote while I was still wrestling with “foundation.” I had written “launch a digital course.” After making peace with my word, I wrote, “create 20 new strong relationships.” Always being relational, at first this seemed dumb to quantify, but it was the most brilliant strategy shift I made for myself.
I began writing daily, blogging weekly, reaching out and virtual meeting other minds who resonated with mine in passion and in drive, and building my foundation. I stopped obsessing over the course and the course I was going to invest in to do the course creation correctly. I shifted from a focus on product to strengthening my process. I started taking a mad number of online courses and workshops to further my mastery of copywriting and brand messaging. Sitting at the beginning of Q4, not only do I feel more knowledgeable to serve the business community with my copywriting and messaging services, but I stand with more than 20 new strong relationships and have seen referral grow as a natural byproduct of laying a firm ground floor, and I have seen more business grow over this hairy year than I could have ever dreamed.
Where do you need to reinforce your processes, so when you do pursue the product, you are unstoppably equipped?
Making stuff happen is exciting. Watching a flower grow is not, but when the flower blooms something beautiful and fragrant, you are thankful you watered the soil and fertilized it, and did all the other unexciting tasks to cultivate a thing of beauty.
Hold onto your dream in this season, but more than that, dress it by engaging the processes, habits, and skills you need to ensure it blooms in its due season. I don’t know what next year’s word will be, but I do know building a foundation was so worth the work and worth the wait. Don’t give up because the dream takes time. Let your dream and the One who made the dream take your hand down an unforgettable journey.
Remember, circumstance does not determine outcomes. 2020 doesn’t have that much power girlfriend.
If you are a business owner, you sell something- product or service. At the end of the day, if you make sales, you have business. No sales=no business.
Businesses all over our country, both small and large, are facing tough times. People are carefully spending feeling unsure of their own personal finances. If you own a business, you may feel unsure of how to sensitively sell in these times.
Here are some tips to help you communicate during the time of COVID-19.
1. Revist your ideal customer’s pain points. They might be the same as before this virus, or perhaps they need to be tweaked. I don’t need certain items for the same reasons as I did before- work clothes, jewelry, makeup for instance for the purpose of looking professional in the workplace, but sellers of these items might be able to sell me on using this time to clean and refresh my wardrobe, send gifts for important occasions partner with them on some kind of charitable giving through my purchase, or an occasional purchase as “self-care” stress relief shopping.
2. Focus on soft sell strategies. Find ways right now to educate on your product’s features, tell about your history with your company, and build value through mini-workshops or live events. People don’t want to be sold to right now. They don’t want to be sold to ever, but especially right now. The sell is easy when the potential client decides to choose you- there is a feeling of, “I chose to buy that. This use of my money is good for me,” versus, “I felt guilty to not buy from my friend or local small business,” or “She pushed so hard I bought a little something to make her stop messaging me.” Let people choose you, because what you give is so much more than what they feel they feel they will give.
3. Resist the urge to jump on every new social media page popping up to support local businesses to showcase your brand. Fight to stop splattering your links across every outlet that will permit it. Quite often, when we do this, we’re forgetting WHO we are really for. Who do you champion? Who are you the hero or heroine for with your skills and products? Community pages are great to showcase businesses in our local communities, but focusing a lot of effort on these pages where everyone is trying to also show their brands is not likely energy well spent in terms of ROI. When this crisis passes, these pages will likely see stalled traffic. Ask yourself if the traffic on the page you feel you should post on are your people. If you can’t yell and fistpump a “hell yeah!” then stop and go find where your people are. Work on building your social media page, your website, or your email templates. Spend some time on items 1 and 2 above and then outline a purposeful plan to move strategically through the next few months.
Two weeks ago, I was drowning in paperwork, meetings, writing, and coaching. Flailing. OMGee. Send me a life preserver.
I decided one Sunday evening that what I needed STAT was to create some margin in my time for the upcoming week. The tasks on my plate were all “have-tos,” so there was no putting off or choosing to not do one of them. Also, I’m a big believer in never compromising small self-care tasks like reading, journaling, or praying/meditating, so taking time away from my 30 minutes of me-time with my coffee was not an option. As I mulled over my plight (anxiety), I had an “AHA” moment- social media had to go for 4 days of the workweek, and I would reenter FB land on Friday, when the week was coming to a close and my tasks were completed. I normally spend 10 hours a week alone on social media for my women’s networking group between content development, event planning and communication, and general engagement. Throw in my business page, and while I am not a FB junkie, I do like to catch up with the goings-on of the day that people post after the end of my workdays, so let’s say 13-15 hours a week is consumed on social media. Right there I found the time I needed. 13-15 extra hours is a lot of time for squeezing in more work!
So I did it. I fasted all but returning some messages that came through which were pertinent to respond. I found myself one day mindlessly clicking the icon on my phone and then had to exit out ASAP- it was totally subconscious like mindless eating. Some personal observations during my 4 days off FB, 1. Surprisingly, I felt an incredible sense of FOMO- the world was happening and I felt really disconnected. A friend had a baby, and I wasn’t one of the first to see her pics. Another friend was doing some cool things on her FB business page celebrating 5 years of business. 2. Although I felt like I was missing out on some exciting things, I also felt like I dodged being sucked into Latinagate post Superbowl and impeachment political posts. I didn’t miss the FB debates for sure. 3. I found myself feeling much calmer each morning not laying in bed and jumping on FB to see what I’d missed since I got off it the night before. I think millions of people worldwide do just that. I felt more at peace each morning and focused on my morning me-time centeredness tasks. 4. I really did create more time to get things done. We’ve become so accustomed to social media as a way of life and needing of our time, but until we go without it on vacation or a self-imposed fast, we don’t realize how much time it is taking from our lives. Don’t get me wrong. Most of the time I find good value in my interactions on social media, but the time away led me to deciding I needed to tweak my day to day consumption plan to at least sticking with the practice of not going on first thing in the morning. I didn’t do that perfectly last week, but probably 3/5 days, but on the three I did, I found that small slice of morning peace with my morning joe was much greater when I was disciplined enough to stay off the Book.
We’re all busy. We all need to make margin for inner peace and quiet, for exercise, or to get shtuff done. Where can you create time?