Mindset Buster: I Have to be Available for My Clients 24/7

In my last post, I shared a story of a client of mine who felt pressure to check her e-mail all the time and stay tethered to her smart phone in order to be responsive to her clients. It was causing an incredible amount of stress in her life, and when I told her that a 24-hour or 48-hour response time was perfectly acceptable, she responded like a heavy weight had been lifted from her shoulders.

It was definitely a mindset buster to be able to accept that. I wanted to take that idea and expand on it. Another related mindset buster is the idea that you have to be available to your clients 24/7 in order to be successful. Simply put, that idea is just not sustainable. I want you to be successful in the long term. If you try to be available all the time, every day, you will burn out.

It’s really an issue of boundaries. All of us, deep down in our hearts, really want to bend over backward for our customers. We want to give them great customer service and believe that if we do, our business will grow. Why? Well, when someone does that for me, I feel good. I want to do something to help that business owner. I might want to give them a referral or write a positive online review for them. We’re all sort of hard-wired that way.

I wanted to share with you one of the things I do to manage my time. Every time I take on a new client, I go through the basics on how we’ll work through our weekly coaching calls and what they need to prepare for our meetings.

I also tell them that they are welcomed to reach out in between our sessions in one of three ways. They can e-mail me, text me or Facebook message me, and they can do any of those things at any time. If they have a question at 2 a.m., they can send it. If they have an idea they want to run by me at 8 a.m. on a Sunday, they can text me.

I explain that I will respond to them by the next business day, and I may respond to them sooner. I tell them that it’s my job to hold my boundaries as to when I will look at those communications from my clients. It’s my job to protect my family time and my free time.

The reason I started this process with new clients was that I realized that many of my current customers were sort of afraid to email or text in between coaching sessions because they didn’t want to overstep the relationship. In some cases, they could have used a little extra support or a sounding board but didn’t contact me because they didn’t want to encroach on my family time.

It finally occurred to me that I had not established my own boundaries and that, as a result, my clients were trying to protect me. That was my mistake as a business owner, as a human, to not set boundaries.

I would challenge you to think about that. Have you set good boundaries? Would you be angry if a client called you at 8 a.m. on Sunday morning? Have you communicated your boundaries clearly to your clients so they know what to expect?

1. Establish your boundaries. For example, I have office hours from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday and reduced hours in the summer. The do-not-disturb function on my phone blocks all but family emergency calls between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. I do not allow Facebook notifications to come through to my phone or desktop; I log into Facebook when I have time to respond to those messages.

2. Communicate your boundaries to your clients. I tell my clients the channels in which they can reach me and that I promise to respond the next business day. I explain that I might respond earlier if it works out in my schedule, but I will definitely respond by my next office hours.

When you do these two things, setting boundaries and communicating them, your stress levels will immediately go down. You won’t have to worry all the time whether a client has a question, if you have a new order waiting, or whether there’s an issue to respond to. Your clients know you will respond by the next business day, and if you respond sooner, that’s just icing on the cake.

Remember that in many cases, you are putting pressure on yourself to respond 24/7. Don’t do it. Play for the long run. Give yourself a break so you can do a good job and be happy. In the end, happy business owners are successful business owners.

Need help setting boundaries? Not sure how to communicate this with your clients? Get in touch, I’d love to help!

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Top Mistakes Mompreneurs Make

Top Mistakes Mompreneurs MakeIf you’re reading this blog, chances are you are a work-at-home mom, just like me.  And just like me, because for one reason or another you too decided to take on the roles of both full time mom and entrepreneur or business owner, we tend to find ourselves in very similar circumstances.  So I’d like to share with you today some of the biggest mistakes we, as mompreneurs, can face, in order that we can fend off these obstacles, keeping our eyes on the prize.

 

1.  NOT SETTING BOUNDARIES.  This is probably the biggest mistake I’ve made in my career as a WAHM.  If you have kids, you don’t need me to tell you what boundaries are… because your kids are pushing them!  Am I right or am I right?  Setting expectations with yourself, your family, and your clients lets everybody know when you’re available to them and when you’re not available to them.  Boundaries=stress averted!

 

2.  TRYING TO DO IT ALL YOURSELF.  Asking for help doesn’t mean that you’re weak or that you’re not smart enough or good enough—which are some of the crazy conversations we have rattling around inside our heads.  Trying to do it all by yourself is a recipe for burnout.  If you are committed to the success of your business, your family and your life, get the support you need.

 

3.  NOT BLOCKING YOUR TIME.  All mompreneurs figure out sooner or later that the most efficient use of our time is not to steal a moment here and a moment there to accomplish everything from business emails to grocery shopping to laundry.  Set aside specific times for specific tasks and then be committed to the task of the moment.

 

4.  NOT FOCUSING ON YOUR MONEYMAKING TALENT.  We all got into business doing what we do best.  These are the things that make us money, and these are the things that need to be our top priorities.  Do what you do best first and save the rest for last, or better yet, delegate, delegate, delegate!

 

5.  NOT HAVING A BUSINESS PLAN.  Just like you wouldn’t take off for vacation without a destination or a roadmap, if you want to reach your goals in business, you have to know where you’re going and how you’re going to get there.  Once you have a plan, it’s amazing how ambitious you’ll be at making your plan work and reaching those goals.

 

These are just a few of the top mistakes mompreneurs make, including some from my own experience.  Maybe you have some “favorites” you can add to the list!

 

I love to hear from you, so leave me a comment!

 

Have you fallen into any of these traps? 

 

What can you do right now to avoid or set right some of these common mistakes? 

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Sanity-Savers For Mompreneurs With Day Jobs

Sanity Savers For Mompreneurs With Day JobsMom, business owner… day job?  When you’re CEO (Chief Everything Officer) of your business, sometimes this is what your startup company looks like.  But you know the old adage, “It’s hard work but somebody’s got to do it!”  So if you’re a mompreneur who is dedicated to putting your family first, starting your own business, AND still working hard at your day job, here are some of my favorite sanity-savers to help you power through this challenging, yet exciting time in your life.

 

TIME MANAGEMENT:  Here comes the tough talk, sisters.  If you are a mompreneur and still working a day job, it is not a long-term option for you to keep working around the clock, doing what needs to be done whenever you can find a moment.  That approach is not going to lead to business success.  So here are three sanity-savers to help you get a quick grip on time management:

 

1.  GET A ROUTINE:  If the kids are in school, craft your routine around their school day, where possible.  If they’re not, or if you work your day job until after they’re home, it is necessary for you to get a sitter.  Having someone available to watch the kids, get them dinner, and orchestrate the bath/bedtime dance even a couple nights a week can mean the difference between a successful, rested and present mom and a frazzled, exhausted and harried one.  You only have 24 hours in a day, so designate that time in such a way that you can make each moment count, for your family and your business.

 

2.  CREATE BOUNDARIES:  You cannot say yes to everything!  Ultimately, you are the only one who can choose how you spend these precious hours that you have.  Remember that saying no to one thing is the ability to say yes to the things that matter most.  So get used to saying no!

 

3.  USE THE ADD METHOD:  Automate, Delegate, or Ditch it!  Get things off your plate that are not your strengths or that don’t matter to you.  This is a huge part of spending your time wisely.

 

PLANNING:  We all know that leaving everything until the last minute is a recipe for disaster, but constantly going full speed ahead is a sure path to burnout as well.  We’ve all heard the saying, “Fail to plan and plan to fail.”  It’s true!  Here are a couple strategies to keep you sane while you plan for success.

 

1.  BABY STEPS:  As mompreneurs, we have to be okay with baby steps toward our goals.  The best way to keep track of the ground we’re making is by having a fabulous business plan.  It’s so important to be able to measure those baby steps against our greater vision.  It may be slow going, but baby steps will get us there every time.

 

2.  GET A MARKETING PLAN:  Modern technology allows us all to be amazing marketers for our business, so take advantage of that.  But if marketing is really not your thing, don’t be afraid to apply the ADD Method to this one!  Do what you’re best at and then automate, delegate or ditch the rest!

 

SUPPORT:  If you want to preserve your sanity, you’re going to need support.  You cannot do this all by yourself.  Family, friends, a VA… a housekeeper, for crying out loud!  Life is too short to try and do it alone.  Get the help you need and focus those moneymaking talents in the ways that matter most.

 

I hope these sanity-saving strategies are helpful to you as you work toward living the dream of growing that business you know is going to give the freedom, flexibility and fulfillment you’re searching for as a mompreneur.

 

I love hearing from you, so leave me a comment!

Which of these sanity-saving strategies have you tried?

Are there any others you’ve had success with on your mompreneur journey? 

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10 Reasons To Hire A Life Coach: Part 1

10 Reasons to Hire a Life CoachA lot of the mompreneurs I’ve worked with in my coaching career have told me that they spent quite a bit of time thinking about hiring me before actually taking the leap and doing it. Some weren’t exactly sure what life coaching was about or what a coaching relationship would look like. Some even admitted to feeling embarrassed about hiring a coach to support them, almost as if it meant they were a failure at doing what they wanted to do or being who they wanted to be in life. Well, over the next couple of blog posts, we’re going to talk about this. So if you want to be successful on your own terms, create a business that works even when you don’t, get the buy-in and support you need from your spouse and family, and spend quality time with your kids… read on!

Here are the first five reasons you should hire a life coach:

1. Boundaries. It goes without saying that time management is always going to be our #1 problem as mompreneurs because we’ve signed up for two completely full-time-with-overtime-no-time-off jobs. It’s just hard for one person to do all of that! So one of the first things I do when I work with someone is help create some boundaries. We do this by creating an “ideal schedule,” which identifies your top moneymaking talent—where you’re going to get the most bang for your buck—and then incorporates systems and routines so that you are not just aimlessly trying to work whenever you get the chance (like when the family is eating dinner or the kids are asleep or they’re at a soccer game and you’re multitasking like crazy), but learning to really focus and be intentional with your time.

2. Expectations. Once you set some boundaries, you can begin to set expectations with your family, clients, colleagues, vendors, and friends. Now everybody in your life knows that you work on certain days at certain hours, and conversely, they also know that you have downtime with your family on certain days at certain hours. Being clear with these expectations enables you to meet the expectations of others in your life without having to constantly negotiate schedules and priorities.

3. Critical time-management strategies. We talked a little bit about creating an ideal schedule, but beyond that, we need to figure out what your high pay-off actions are, how to set those high pay-off actions as one of the first things you do each day, and then how to handle errands and to-do lists of things that are not time-critical—things like housework or grocery shopping—all those “extra” things you do as a mother. We need to figure out how to incorporate all of that rather than ignoring it and hoping it will go away. If I can teach you some critical time-management strategies, I am absolutely certain I can give you more of your time to do what you want to do with your life instead of always trying to figure out where to grab a few more minutes.

4. Communication techniques. This is so, so, so important because you need the support of your spouse and your kids; you need your clients to respond well to you; you need your vendors to be on the same page as you. Communication is key to all of that. There are so many of us that have, for one reason or another, developed some unhealthy, unproductive, or just plain ineffective communication strategies. These are the sorts of things a coach can help you work on to make sure you are communicating clearly, in such a way that you get what you want, be it support from your spouse, understanding and love from your kids, or a new project from a client.

5. Business and marketing plans. I could go on and on and on about this point, but it’s one that many mompreneurs don’t want to hear a lot about. People are fundamentally scared of creating business and marketing plans, perhaps because there is something almost terrifying about writing your goals down on paper, especially if you have a fear of failure, and let’s be honest—who doesn’t? But this is so critical to the long-term success of your business. You cannot do it without a plan. I hope this has piqued your interest and perhaps even answered a few of the questions you have about just what all this life-coaching business is about anyway. If so, stay tuned—for five more reasons you should hire a life coach.

Talk to me! Which of these five points resonates with you? What could you use some help with?

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