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Category: Entrepreneur

From location to branding, to management, and everything in between, there’s no question that business ownership comes with an array of difficult decisions. But settling on the right price to charge for the services you provide can be one of the most overwhelming decisions for many business owners.

Pricing will play an incredibly important role and prompting factor for your customers. At a glance, the price of your services will suggest the quality of service customers can expect from your business and may be the reason many clients will choose your business over your competitors.

Given the importance of charging your worth as a business owner, here are some points to consider when setting your prices:

Understand your value

1. Understand your value

Understanding your value comes down to the nature of your expertise. ‌Your expertise consists of your professional qualifications, such as your continual professional development and the experience you have putting it all into practice.

Depending on how long you’ve been in the field, you might find that certain aspects of your work will come easily — almost automatically. Those are called unconscious competencies — what you are good at without even thinking about it. Don’t discount them. Being unconsciously competent is a value you bring to your business and something you should consider when determining a price.

The concept of understanding your value is particularly important for businesses that charge on an hourly basis because the better you get at something, the less time it will take for you to do the task. If you charge an hourly fee you can end up billing less than what your work is worth and end up losing out on big earnings. That’s why it’s important to understand your value and charge accordingly.

In the same vein, it’s also critical to know your competition and not overvalue yourself. If every business in your field is charging less than you, it may be challenging to market your services and persuade customers to choose your business.

2. Understand the pain points of your clients

The fact of the matter is that people use professional services to solve problems. When you’re determining what prices to charge for your services, it’s important to consider why your customers are hiring you. Ask your clients what they need to be done and why they are inquiring about your services. Consider what it’ll cost your customers if they don’t fix the problem. Soon you’ll begin to understand where your customers see your value and how much they are willing to pay for it. Remember that some customers will have an easier time seeing and understanding your worth and others won’t, and that’s okay!

3. Understand the difference between value and price

If you center your business around price, you will attract clients who focus on price. Determine how you want your services to be seen, do the upfront work, and help the clients understand the value of working with you. This approach will require some work on your part, but it’ll help customers become acquainted with your work and what you bring to the table. Consider implementing marketing tactics that will help drive this point to consumers, such as free trials, strategy sessions, consultations, and so forth.

If potential clients understand the value, potential ROI, and how your services solve their pain points, they will be ready and willing to make an investment in your business.

4. Understand how to communicate your value to your clients

This point is especially tricky for businesses in the service industry. One common issue is that business owners often get so good at solving a problem that clients often think they are overpaying for their services. It’s understandable. The customer may only see the short amount it took to fix something and not the amount of practice and experience it took to get to that point.

Remind your clients of their problems and how badly they needed them solved. You can communicate this message through clever marketing or by simply stating it in a professional manner. However you choose to communicate your worth, just remember that those who can’t understand the value of your work will never be your clients.

talk about money, fees, and services

5. Understand money

It’s human nature to navigate away from the things that make us uneasy, so if you are uncomfortable with money, you’ll have a hard time charging your worth. You’ll have to be willing to talk about money, fees, and services without feeling guilty about what you are charging because, as time goes on, your rates will increase or you may add new services. This is why it’s important to take the time to understand your worth and evaluate your work, as well as keep an eye on the rate of the competition.

Final Warning — “Pigs get fed, hogs get slaughtered.”

In business, the meaning of this phrase is that it’s okay to make a profit, but when that profit is the result of price gouging or taking advantage of people, you’ll eventually lose in the end. No one likes to be taken advantage of, and that includes your clients. Keep your business honest and professional and you’ll see how much growth you’ll be able to achieve along with a good reputation. Being a pig (eating, or doing what is necessary for your business to survive, grow, and succeed) is good. Being a hog (overeating, or focusing solely on profits at the expense of the clients and quality) is bad.

Watch co-founder of Mazuma, Greg Nielson, explain the importance of charging your worth in the webinar below, and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more business advice!

Ready to see what your business can accomplish when you don’t have to worry about dealing with taxes and the IRS? Try Vyde FREE for 30 days!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Charging Your Worth as a Business Owner

1. Why is understanding my value crucial for setting prices?
Understanding your value, including unconscious competencies, helps ensure you charge adequately, especially for hourly-based services.
2. How can I grasp the pain points of my clients when determining prices?
Ask clients about their needs and the cost of not solving their problems. This insight guides you in understanding the perceived value of your services.
3. What’s the difference between value and price in business?
Centering your business around value attracts clients focused on quality. Communicate the value of your services to shift the focus from price.
4. How do I effectively communicate my value to clients?
Remind clients of the problems you solve and the expertise behind it. Use marketing tactics like free trials or consultations to showcase your worth.
5. Why is understanding money crucial for charging my worth?
Being comfortable discussing money is vital. Regularly evaluate your worth, track competition, and be mindful of rates to confidently set and adjust prices.

As a small business owner, there are many decisions you will need to make many decisions that will impact your company for years to come.

Among these decisions is which corporate entity is best for your business. In this blog, we will review 5 different types of business entities (single and multi-member LLC, C Corp, S Corp, Partnership, Sole Proprietorship) along with their advantages and disadvantages so you can decide which works best for your business.

Sole Proprietorship

Sole Proprietorship Advantages and Disadvantages

Many small business owners form a sole proprietorship when they’re just starting out.

If you are a sole proprietor, this means that you own and operate your business by yourself. You have complete control. All the profits of your business are yours.

However, with a sole proprietorship, you have no liability protection, which means you are responsible for all losses and debts as well. If any legal issues arise, you will be held personally responsible and those debts will need to be paid from your personal account.

A sole proprietorship is one of the simplest and least expensive entities to form because no legal paperwork is needed. However, your city or state may require you to obtain a business license, so be sure to look into the requirements for your specific state. In addition, you will want to register your business name with your state.

When it comes to your business taxes, filing is quick and easy. You can file your business taxes with your personal taxes using a Schedule C form.

In addition, you can deduct expenses and losses from your business against any other income you might earn, which will lower your tax bill overall.

The one drawback about taxes for a sole proprietor is that you are expected to pay a 15% self-employment tax on all your net income, which covers Social Security and Medicare taxes.

You are also required to pay estimated quarterly taxes throughout the year. These payments are usually due April 15, June 15, September 15, and January 15. If you fail to pay estimated taxes quarterly, you may have to pay a penalty and interest on what you owe.

Overall, the advantages to forming a sole proprietorship are that it is the least expensive entity to form, you have complete control of your business, and tax preparation is quick and easy.

The biggest disadvantage is no liability protection.

General Partnership

Partnership Advantages and Disadvantages

A general partnership is simple to form. Like a sole proprietorship, your city or state may require you to obtain a business license, and you will want to register your business name with your state.

I’d also strongly recommend that you set up an operating agreement for your partnership. What are the roles and responsibilities of each partner involved? What percentage of the profits will you share? Determining this at the start will benefit your business as you get up and operating.

Like a sole proprietorship, a general partnership does not give you liability protection. This means each partner in the business is personally responsible for any debts or legal action.

General partnerships are also required to pay the 15% self-employment tax on all their net income as well as quarterly estimated taxes. However, as a partnership, you have a lot of flexibility and can deduct any losses in your business against other income to lower your taxes.

That’s where the similarities between a general partnership and a sole proprietorship end. Partnerships add more complexity because there are multiple owners involved.

In a partnership, you will file a partnership tax return every year on Form 1065. Then, each partner is given a Schedule K-1 showing their individual share of the profits and losses, based on your agreement. That means you will need to file a form as a partnership as well as the Schedule K-1 as part of your personal tax return.

Single Member LLC vs Multi Member LLC

The main two types of LLCs are single member LLC and multi member llc. Comparing single member LLc vs multi member LLC, you want to account for how many owners are involved in the business. More of the similarities and differences between these two business structures are discussed below.

Single-Member LLC

Single-Member LLC Advantages and Disadvantages

A limited liability corporation, or LLC, is more expensive to form than a sole proprietorship.

An LLC must be registered in the state where it does business. Each state varies slightly, but most require you to choose a distinct name and to file articles of organization. These articles of organization include information like your business name, address, and the names of its members. Many states charge a filing fee for the articles of organization. For most states, you file with the Secretary of State; however, each state is different, so carefully check the requirements in your state.

Unlike a sole proprietorship, an LLC offers liability protection, which means your business assets are separated from your personal assets. So, if your business is sued or runs into financial trouble, the business will be responsible for paying any fees, not you personally.

In addition, with a single-member LLC, you have complete control and flexibility. All the profits of the business are yours, and you can deduct any losses in your business against other income to lower your tax bill.

However, like a sole proprietorship and partnership, you will be required to pay self-employment tax on all of your net income to cover Social Security and Medicare taxes, unless you elect to be taxed as an S corporation. You are also required to make estimated quarterly tax payments.

As a single-member LLC, you can elect to be taxed as a sole proprietorship or as an S corporation, which we will discuss in more detail below.

Multi-Member LLC

Multi-Member LLC Advantages and Disadvantages

A multi-member LLC shares many similarities with a single-member LLC. For example, you get the same liability protection. You also go through the same formation process and file documents with your state. And you can elect to be taxed as an S corporation.

The main differences between a single-member and multi-member LLC revolve around the fact that multiple business owners are involved. Because of this, you can not elect to be taxed as a sole proprietorship. Your LLC will need to file a business tax form and each partner will need to fill out a Schedule E on their personal tax return, unless you elect to be taxed as an S corp, which we will discuss below.

In addition, some complexities arise with sharing control of the business, which is why you will want to have an operating agreement in place.

S Corporation

S Corp Advantages and Disadvantages

S corps have the benefits of a corporation but are taxed as a partnership. Like an LLC, an S corp separates business owners and their assets from the business. Creditors can only go after the business but can’t touch the business owner’s assets.

However, establishing an S corp takes more leg work and paperwork than an LLC. Most S corps spend a considerable amount on attorney and accounting fees.

An S corp also requires more maintenance. For example, to be an S corp, you must develop a board and bylaws, issue stock, hold board meetings, and keep records of each board meeting.

In addition, the IRS also has the following requirements for S corps: 1) shareholders must be US citizens, 2) you cannot have more than 100 shareholders (spouses count as separate shareholders), and 3) you can only have one class of stock.

The taxation of an S corp is what sets it apart from other business entities. When you have an S corp, your business is taxed through the shareholders’ income, and those taxes are taken out throughout the year.

Any shareholder who works for the company must be paid a reasonable wage. After the wages are paid, the rest of the income from the business is passed onto the shareholders as dividends. The benefit of an S corp is that dividends are taxed at a low rate if they are taxed at all. An LLC taxed as an S corp can also take advantage of these benefits.

To take advantage of these tax benefits, you are required to set up payroll for your owners and employees. The laws for S corps are not the same in each state, so you will want to look into individual requirements for your state.

C Corporation

Unlike an S corp, a C corporation protects the small business owner or owners by acting as a fiduciary barrier between the income a business brings in and the progenitors and stakeholders responsible for its operations as executives.

While S corps are considered “flow-through” entities, C corps are not. C corps exist separately as a taxable party in the eyes of the government. This “double taxation” notion is the key reason many small business owners opt to establish themselves as LLCs or S corps instead.

The decision between LLC vs. S corp vs. C corp vs. partnership is often fraught with pitfalls. While many publicly-traded companies are C corps on the books, this classification is typically only chosen by those with the means to dodge double taxation at the end of the year. Two common examples are lawyers at the helm of their own firms and doctors in private practice.

So, which entity works best for your business?

Unfortunately, there is no simple answer. Depending on your business, industry, structure, and revenue, different benefits might outweigh some of the disadvantages.

In addition, what entity works best for your business might change as your business grows. So the best advice I can provide is to know these pros and cons. Then, as the complexity of your business increases, seek the advice of experts who can analyze what works best for your situation. Paying extra for expert insights now can have significant payoffs in the long run.

If you want customized insights into your business, reach out to our team! We would love to help. We specialize in small business accounting, bookkeeping, and taxes, and we enjoy having ongoing discussions with our clients to help them make decisions that will lead to their business success.

It’s no secret that being an entrepreneur is stressful. You’ve got a million things on your plate. From ordering inventory to dealing with customer concerns, to staying within budget and beyond, the stress of daily responsibilities can wear on you. As an entrepreneur, it’s important to reduce stress so that you can have a clear mind when making business decisions, pitching, or dealing with customers. 

Get Organized

The best way to reduce stress as an entrepreneur is to get organized. When you feel overwhelmed by all the things you need to get done, organizing your tasks can help you to prioritize and knock them out one by one. Find an app that can easily keep track of your to-do items. If your tasks are time sensitive, you may find it easiest to use a calendar app. Schedule out time to get tasks done. Set reminders so that they pop up on your phone or computer. You may find that a simple checklist app helps you to keep track of tasks and to get things done. Some find that a good ol’ fashioned planner book works best. Every entrepreneur has a different style of how they accomplish things. Attempting to get organized can help you to find the right tools and to figure out what works best for you.

Take Time for Yourself

When you spend so much time growing your business that you forget to take time for yourself, you may find your stress levels skyrocketing. It’s important that you take time for yourself when running a business so that you don’t get burned out. Carve out time during the week for things that are important to you personally—time with family, exercise, hobbies, etc. When you take time for yourself, you’ll find your stress levels decrease, and you’ll be happier overall. Finding a balance between work and play can actually help you to be more productive. These personal breaks from your work help you to recharge and reset. It’s easy to get caught up in the day to day, so make sure you’re making time for yourself each week.

Delegate

You don’t have to try to do everything yourself. At times, it’s a struggle to hand things off to other people in fear that something might get dropped. However, delegating tasks can lighten your workload, create more efficiency, and a fresh perspective from another person may help your business to grow. Start off by getting organized and prioritizing your tasks. From there, you can decide which tasks you feel comfortable handing off to someone else in your organization. Allow yourself to trust this individual and check in with them to make sure they are on the right track to getting the task done. Delegating will help you take small or tedious things off your plate so that you can focus on more important things—like growing your business.

Stay Informed

If you have employees, you’ll need to find a balance between running your business and micromanaging. However you choose to do it, be sure to stay informed about what is going on within your business. It’s important to know how things are going financially, if your employees are being efficient, and any customer feedback about the experience or products. The more informed you are, the less blindsided you’ll be if something goes wrong. 

Understand Your Industry

This last point is relevant to many areas of being a business owner, but it can also help you to decrease overall stress as an entrepreneur. When you understand your industry, the choices you make for your business become second nature. Having a deep understanding of your customers—their wants, needs, and how to communicate with them—takes some of the burden off of you as you are growing your business. This will help you to market better, pitch better, and serve your customers better—thus improving the overall state of your business. When you have a healthy business, you’ll be less stressed as an entrepreneur.

Once you’ve ironed out your marketing message, you’ll want to decide what channels will work best to get your message to the right customers. As you consider each channel, think about where your audience “hangs out”. Does your audience spend a lot of time on social media? Does your audience read the newspaper or listen to the radio? Focus your marketing efforts on the channels that are most likely to grab your audience’s attention.

That being said, you’ll want to be careful not to put your eggs all in one basket. Explore different marketing channels and consider how each will impact your business. 

Here are some popular marketing channels and some tips for using each one:

Email

Email is a cost effective way to reach lots of people. When setting up an email campaign, you’ll want to make sure your emails won’t get marked as spam. Then, as your craft the emails, think about these three things:

  1. Am I reaching out to the right person?
  2. Does my email provide value?
  3. What am I trying to get this person to do?

Come up with a subject line and pre-header that will persuade them to open the email, but doesn’t feel like click bait.

Print

Print can be useful in establishing your brand offline and reaching customers outside of the internet. Determine where your audience is most likely to see your ad. Is it in a magazine? A flyer in a coffee shop window? A brochure at a hotel? Create your print ads to be visual, clear, and concise.

Direct Mail

Direct mail can be a great channel because it’s usually very targeted. In order to track how your direct mail campaign goes, I suggest using a specific promo code or website link printed on your mailers. This will help you to more accurately track sales from this channel.

Social Media

I’m referring to social media as the organic (free) posts that companies put on their accounts. Social media can be very helpful once you have a good following, but until then you’ll want to try to grow your follower by using engaging and shareable content along with popular hashtags. Don’t forget to stay on brand with all your posts!

Digital Ads

Digital ads include all paid online ads. Some examples include Google search, Facebook display, Instagram ads, Instagram story ads, Google display ads, LinkedIn ads, Pinterest ads, etc. These types of ads allow you to get really specific with the audiences and keywords you’d like to target. Digital ads are also easy to start, stop, and change within seconds if you need to course correct. You also have the ability to A/B test images, wording, and other content to see what your audience responds too.

Billboard

Billboards can be a daunting channel because they are expensive. With billboards, you’ll want to be as visual and concise as possible. Remember, people could be driving past your billboard at 60+ mph. When working with the billboard company, be sure to find out the exact dimensions and resolution for the file they’ll need. Digital billboard can also be a great channel to look into as they are typically less expensive and easier to change if needed.

Think about where your audience is most likely going to be spending their time and start with those channels. Do tests, try different messaging, and see what data you can pull. Once you have an idea of what channels will be best for your business, you can start to grow your marketing strategy even more.

When you’re starting out as a business owner, you’ve got to be scrappy. There’s no shame in trying to save a few dollars by managing multiple aspects of your business yourself. However, as your business grows, you’ll find that an endless list of “to-dos” makes it hard to do it all. You may find yourself dropping balls that shouldn’t be dropped.

The accounting side of your business is easy to fumble—especially if your mind is on a million other things. If you don’t have the time to devote or you don’t know what to look for, you could be making mistakes that drastically impact your business.

Risks of Being Your Own Accountant

Incorrect Data Entry:

When you’re busy, rushed, or distracted, it’s easy to enter incorrect data into your books. 

Missed Deductions:

Because you’re a business owner and probably not an accountant, you may not know all the things you can deduct. Missing deductions costs your business money.

Missing Revenue:

Incorrect books can cause you to have revenue that is unaccounted for and you may never know.

Unpaid Invoices:

When your books are not in order, you may not notice an unpaid invoice—by you or someone who owes you.

Underestimate Tax Bill:

When it comes to paying taxes, no one likes to be surprised by a larger number than what they were expecting. Incorrect books can cause a miscalculation and underestimation of your tax bill.

Reporting is Unreliable:

How can you make business decisions with incorrect data? When your books are wrong, your reports will be too.

There are potential risks of DIY-ing your accounting, so how can you determine when the risk of being your own accountant becomes too much? When do you know it’s time to hire an accountant?

When you have no time.

When your schedule becomes too full to handle, you may find the need to delegate tasks to others to lighten your load. By investing in accounting services, you’ll be able to hand off the detailed job of bookkeeping to someone who can focus on it and get it done quickly and correctly. This way, you can spend your time worrying about other important things—like growing your business.

When you don’t know what to do.

You may have tried being your own accountant, but question after question kept coming up.  When you feel as though you don’t have as much knowledge on bookkeeping or business taxes to confidently manage your business’ books, you have two options: learn it or delegate it. By hiring an accountant, you’ll be able to benefit from their in depth knowledge and know that your books are being taken care of. 

When your books are messy.

If your books are unorganized, you could be making costly mistakes for your business. Things like missing revenue, unpaid invoices, and tax deductions all directly impact your business’ revenue. Having well kept books also ensures that you can pull correct reports—which help you to make data driven decisions about your business.

The decision to hire an accountant depends on where you are in your business, but remember—accountants exist to help you keep track of (and save) your business’ money. If you feel like you’re in over your head, it may be time to hire someone to tackle your bookkeeping for you.

In the world of business “highly efficient” and “super productive” are more like super powers than they are a skill set. If you’ve been in business long, you know that there’s an advantage to increasing your work flows to gain more of either of these descriptive words. They often equate to more clients, more sales, and more money. For small business owners, growing your biz is not only a dream it’s your passion so focusing on efficiency and productivity is pretty important.

You’ve also probably heard the phrase, “too much of a good thing” and when it comes to increasing the business super powers mentioned above, that might just be the case. Here are 3 efficiency tactics that are actually wasting your time.

Working During Vacation

It happens to all of us. We’ve worked hard to grow our business or build our career and that often means that vacation is pushed to the wayside. In a world where technology lets us stay on top of all the things, all the time – it’s easy to let work rule. Just like there’s buzz about efficiency there’s also buzz about “sharpening the saw” so we pencil in those vacation days and tell ourselves that we’re taking the time off so we’ll be better at work. Without fail, that vacation gets shortened or even worse, we take it but still try to tackle some work projects during those days off.

Working during vacation is a no-no. You may feel the quiet of your vacation schedule and think jumping into your emails or checking status on projects won’t hurt, but it does. Vacations are only restful if we actually rest. So when you’re poolside, turn the ringer of your phone off, ditch your laptop before you hit the beach – we’d even recommend leaving it at home! Take your vacation time as a moment not only to rest but to fuel your creativity – do things you wouldn’t normally do, try a new activity, mark something off your bucket list – it won’t only give you a chance to recharge, it will inspire you.

Doing Work-Related Stuff on Days Off

It’s 9AM on a Sunday morning and you hear your cell phone ding. Our hope is that it’s a friend or relative with a last minute brunch invite, but more often than not it’s a co-worker or boss getting in a little extra work on the weekend. Whether you’re the boss or the employee, working on the weekend or other days off hinders productivity rather than helps it. It gives the impression that you’re always available, and although that might seem like a good thing, it actually just shows that you might have problems managing your time.

When you’re at work, work. When you’re at home, be home. If work is your life, even on the weekends and those banking holidays that you’re lucky enough to get off, consider picking up a hobby or planning an outing with family or friends. If you’re worried about what others might think, make it a habit to come in early Monday morning, mention to your boss or co-workers that you’re working to be more thoughtful and focused both at work and home and that you won’t be answering emails until the work week starts again. Believe us, you’ll be more productive and focused and you’ll enjoy both your work week and weekend more.

Multi-Tasking

Doing all the things all the time isn’t efficiency, it’s just crazy. Technology is great and there might be those that tell you that multi-tasking is the way, but they’ve been duped by the promise of doing more in less time. Tasks take the time they take, and there are plenty of studies (not to mention it’s just plain common sense) that focusing on one task at a time will not only get it done faster, but better as well.

Instead of getting caught up doing all the things, make a list, prioritize and even consider setting a time allotment for each task. You’ll be surprised how much faster you get things done when you only have 20 minutes to do it.

What other tactics have you tried to help you be more productive? Did it work? We’d love to hear in the comments.

It seems like goals is a buzzword in business these days. We hear about solopreneurs achieving lofty aspirations and turning their side hustle into a corporation almost overnight. We read about the best tactics for corporate goal setting and how to implement change, and we’re constantly focusing on how to beat our stats, implement metrics and strategies, and set and crush goals that were once thought of to be impossible.

 

But with all the good that goal setting does, it also can cause a dangerous distraction. You might be shaking your ahead in agreement – the SMART goals, seminars, ways to make $1M overnight, and other tactics can often create a roadblock for our success rather than propellling us forward. Why?

Well, sometimes the big, fancy finish distracts us from focusing on what it will take to get there. But you’ve gotten it broken down into a million steps and everything is planned, right? Although SMART goals and planning are effective sometimes it really does obscure the path because despite it all we’re focusing on the end result rather than on being the type of person that can actually make the end result happen (and last).

We’re not saying that you won’t get there with goal planning – but it might go a lot faster if you look at the obstacles that are blocking your path and solve those, rather than try to create your own personal roadmap to success.

Here are a few things to think about when it comes to finding and overcoming the obstacles that might stand in your way:

  • do you have the skills needed to accomplish the goal you have in mind? If your plan is to have an astronomically large net worth, but you currently don’t have one, odds are that you might be lacking a few financial skills needed to obtain your wealth. Start listing the skills you think you need and then check them off your list when you’ve got them. Those that you don’t have – make them a priority.
  • prioritize the obstacles – we talk about strategy in business so apply that to the obstacles you’re bound to encounter and you’ll find that you’ll be crossing the goal finish line sooner than you might think. It’s not enough just to have a to do list with things you need to become or learn, figure out the best way to get it done and what to tackle first. Prioritizing allows you to blaze a clear trail and you might find you can even kill 2 birds with 1 stone.
  • keep the end goal vague so you can focus on the here and now –we’ve heard plenty of big goal setters say that knowing the details is what drives you to accomplish that big goal. Things change, flexibility is key, and it might not even be possible to do something exactly to plan. Our recommendation? Keep the end goal vague and instead focus on the details that are happening right now that will propel you to that end goal. When we say vague, we still want you to know where you’re headed just don’t start picking out your big expensive sports car and figuring out how you’ll rule the world just yet.

What are you big goals? Or maybe your obstacles? We love talking business and big dreams… tell us in the comments.

 

Stories are just words. So why are they so important? Studies show that the average American hears or reads 100,000 words every single day. Findings from studies dating back decades have shown that 80% of what we learn is gone within 24 hours of our hearing it. That means that many of the message we hear simply don’t make an impression.

And yet, we’re told more and more that it’s even more important than ever to have a personal brand, to build a platform, to stand out, to manage our careers. But how do we do that without words? And how do we make the words we say meaningful enough to stick?

We tell stories.

Why Telling Your Story is So Important

These stories aren’t necessarily the ones you read to your kiddos at bedtime or those fairytales you remember hearing as a kid. But they’re important just the same  and they’ll be remembered (just like those fairytales) if you tell them right. These stories are facts, but they also provide plenty of opportunities to connect with those you tell them to and the connection is what will make you memorable.

But why is telling a story so important? Don’t we have other means that showcase who we are and what we’re capable of. We do, but the honest truth is that not many care and even less remember. Here’s just a few reasons telling your story can be so important:

  • no one really cares about your resume – gone are the days of relying solely on a sheet of paper with your greatest accomplishments. Many employers today are more interested in reading your bio, seeing what they can find about you when they search on Google, and hearing about the life experiences that have shaped you into the person you are today (you get bonus points if the  life experiences you share showcase skills that apply to your work!)
  • the biggest leaders and greatest marketing campaigns start with a story – look around and you’ll find some of the most influential organizations tell a story that is so compelling others want to join or contribute just to be a part of it. (If you’re racking your brain trying to think of an example, here’s a few, Apple, R[E]D, Toms)
  • telling your story helps you evolve – how many times have you introduced yourself? Do you always say the same things? If you look back you might find that the details you include have changed over the years – when we tell our story often we start to find out subtle truths about ourselves that help us gain confidence and understanding about who we are and what we can and want to do.
  • sharing your story can accelerate interpersonal connection – think about the people you work with. Those that you eat lunch with or have known for years have probably shared at least a few personal details about their lives and likes. Because of this, you’ve got a better gage at how to work with them and that means that you can accomplish more. Creating these connections is a great way to be efficient and it’s also incredibly effective when you’re striving to put together high performance teams.

 

What Makes a Good Story

Now that we’ve seen why a story is so important, we want to make sure the stories we tell are as effective as they can be. Miscellaneous facts and data aren’t easily remembered if they’re line-itemed or randomly listed, but include them in a story and you’ll find the recall rate is a lot higher. Tucking in important points within your story is key, but the most memorable stories are those that are practiced and that have a set pattern. Here’s how to get started & a few tips on telling a good story:

  • make sure you have good story structure – start at the beginning and provide ample background without losing your listener in the details. Every story should have a beginning, middle, and end.
  • keep the reason or moral of your story simple and stick to just one – learning 17 different lessons from a story seems overwhelming not to mention a little unrealistic. Pick the most important reason for your story and stick to it.
  • Personal connection – sometimes in story telling a character can seem one-sided or flawless. Make sure that you have your main character be relatable – remember to show them in real life even if the story is about them taking on a challenge or overcoming a tremendous obstacle.
  • Include common reference points – this is one of the best ways to solidify your characters being relatable. Include feelings, ideas, thoughts, that others can relate to. We all know what it’s like to feel scared, take on a new task, or work towards achieving a huge goal.
  • Pacing – having a beginning, middle and end isn’t all you need. Make sure you have a good pace – that you don’t dwell too long on setting up the story or belabor certain points. Instead make a full circle and come back to the point you started with in the beginning

 

No matter what, remember that stories need to be practiced and then shared. They might help you get a job interview, inspire an employee, get you a promotion or help you sell your product or service.

It’s all too easy to let our day jobs rule our lives. With technology at our fingertips we can constantly be in contact – checking emails, answering texts, and fielding phone calls. Our work schedules quickly feel up with business meetings, and collaborating with teams on projects, new product launches and much, much more. As small business owners, we’re guardians of our time and our success and the two are definitely linked. Today we’re sharing our top tips for keeping organized when it comes to your business calendar.

Make an Optional Calendar

Life is busy. We say no to lots of things… even good things that might help us take our personal and professional lives to the next level. The reason? Time. But if you’re like us, you’ve had the occasional afternoon open up and you’re left coming up with what to do or worse, wishing you could remember the dozens of tasks that you’ve been meaning to get done. 

 

You’ve probably seen on your own digital calendar that you can set up multiple calendars and have them appear at a click of a button a master calendar. Events are color coded and it’s not only pretty to look at but effective. That said, it can still cause a lot of stress and an over-programmed life. When you say no to an event or project that you’d like to say yes to, slip it onto a “Optional Calendar” that way you’ve got the information at hand when your afternoon seems to open up and you’ve got free time you didn’t know you had. And you can shut down the regret of having to say no by simply turning the view option on that calendar off.  With an Optional Calendar, you can spend the time doing more rather than figuring out what to do with your free time. 

Work in Blocks of Time

You’ve heard of batching tasks and we’ve even talked about automating processes, but there’s something to be said for blocking off chunks of time so you can hunker down and get things done. You’ve probably heard of many an entrepreneur or CEO that hits the office early so that they get a jump on the day – they’ve scheduled blocks of time for answering emails or brainstorming projects – often those things that aren’t easy to accomplish amidst a dozen interruptions. 

Take a look at your schedule. Can you move your meetings all to the afternoon so you’ve got time in your office to take care of daily tasks? Maybe it’s best to schedule out reading and answering emails before 10 AM. No matter what you do, look for tasks that you do often or that require similar circumstances (like peace and quiet to return phone calls, etc.) and then group like tasks together. 

Prep for Tomorrow

Half the battle of a successful day is being ready for what it holds. Some of the most successful small business owners we know make it a habit to spend the last few minutes of the day getting ready for the next. So what is it that they do? 

Some review their schedule for the next day? Others write the last few emails and hit send, others clear off their desk, close out of tabs in their internet browser, and scribble down a short list of to do’s so they can hit the ground running. The best way to figure out what to do to prepare for the next day is to take note of what things you’re doing first thing in the morning – then add those tasks to your end of day and you’ll start the next day ahead. 

Prioritize Tasks & Do What You Can, Now

The almighty to do list can get awfully long, so make sure you prioritize it once you’ve created it. Most efficiency experts say that planning to accomplish 3 major tasks each day is  a definite win. But what about all the little things you put on your list – where do those fit in? Instead of pushing them into tomorrow’s schedule stop and do them now. 

Don’t wait to respond to that employee that needs an answer tomorrow – craft a short response and send it now. Once you prioritize your tasks you’ll be able to see which items need more thought and which ones can easily be accomplished or eliminated completely. 

So what are some of the ways you stay organized in your business calendar and life? We’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below. 

Entrepreneurs and small business owners are often one-man shows. But just because your headcount is small doesn’t mean that your business has to be. In fact, you can save time, stress less and earn more by spending a little bit of time thinking through your daily tasks and implementing process automation where you can. For many small business owners, process automation sounds like something that’s only for large corporations or businesses that have exponential growth – but we’ve seen that process automation doesn’t just cut down on stress and save time, it also helps businesses grow – and grow quickly.

What Process Automation Can Do For Your Business

Just so that we’re clear, they type or process automation we’re talking about is anything that brings structure to repeated tasks or eliminates additional work. If you’ve created your business from the ground up, you probably either remember the days (or are still in them) where you’re crafting the same emails over and over, or feeling like you’re reinventing the wheel for every client, new product launch or customer service issue. The start up phase of any business is so focused on bringing in enough cash to support the business that we spend a lot of time spinning our wheels.

Why Process Automation Helps You Grow?

The simple answer – it frees up your time so you can focus on other tasks. But it also helps in a bunch of other ways. Process automation can save you money. For example, we have lots of clients who tell us that they’re super busy and need to hire an assistant. But when we look at their books, we can see that they might not be able to pay an assistant and that the income their brining in doesn’t seem to match up very well with the hours they tell us their spending. Hiring an assistant seems like a great way to reduce stress, but it could actually increase it. Instead, we recommend taking a brief look at the work you’re completing every day. Are you still drafting out customer service emails when needed or do you have a file of templates that you can tweak as needed? Do you process and package orders individually or do you batch tasks? You can see that answering a few simple questions and then putting together a little bit of a structured plan can quickly convince you that you actually don’t need an assistant you need process automation.

How to Get Started with Process Automation

We touched on this slightly above – the first step is to stop and look at what you’re doing over and over again. If you feel like you’re having to recreate the wheel, chances are you’ve got an area of your business that could benefit from process automation. Before you rush out and buy new equipment or purchase expensive software – make sure you stop and see if there isn’t an easy fix. Here’s our short list of process automation ideas that don’t require spending a bunch of additional money, but rather just a little bit of time:

  • emails – dig through your sent email box and pull out those you’ve already drafted and that seem to need to be written again and again. Make a file of email templates, even save them in your drafts folder right there in your inbox and then make sure to just cut and paste and tweak as necessary. Even if you only have a template or two, you’ll be saving yourself at least a half hour each day.
  • batching tasks – it’s one of the first things people suggest but also one of the last suggestions people actually take. But the time you can save by batching tasks is amazing. And it also simplifies your work day so that you’re not stressing about the fact that you didn’t get much done. Take 20 minutes and brainstorm all the areas of your business. You may only answer customer service emails during lunch time, and spend mornings picking product, packaging and getting it ready to ship. If you find yourself constantly brainstorming ideas for marketing or new products – schedule time to do it once a week rather than every day.
  • bring in technology only when it’s needed – it’s true, tech and additional software can help streamline a process, but learning that software or implementing it can take time. If it’s a good trade off, then by all means bring on the tech, but if it’s going to take longer to learn/implement than the time it will save – it might not be worth it, at least not at this point. We find that lots of our clients have purchased software in hopes to save a buck and DIY their own taxes and monthly bookkeeping – we’ve also found that most save more money by outsourcing it to us than they ever did trying to do it themselves with a fancy software program. This isn’t always the case, but hiring an expert or specialist might be a better fit so don’t rule it out before you’ve checked into your options.
  • buy in bulk & subscribe if possible for repeat purchases – when your business was new, you might have saved a buck or two by buying only what you needed right then. But a great way to cut cost and time is to buy in bulk. Packaging materials or raw material you use for product/services is a great place to put this method to practice. If you’re constantly shipping goods, consider purchasing larger quantities of packing material from a supplier rather than picking up just what you need at a retail store. If you’re a service based business requires that you keep certain tools or equipment on hand (like if you’re window washer and you know you’re going to need cleaner, rags and window cleaning tools) plan to not only buy in bulk but utilize a subscription option for your products if it’s available so you don’t even have to spend time filling your shopping cart with the needed products each month.
  • keep a history – writing down how you do certain tasks while you do them will help you figure out what processes need or could be automated. It will also help you streamline how you attack events that happen over and over again in your business. Product launches, marketing campaigns, seasonal tasks – they’re all important but they might happen more infrequently than the day to day tasks. Keeping a history of what you did and then referring to it when it’s time to do it again will help save time and even help you pinpoint areas where you want to improve.

So what areas of your business could use a little streamlining? We’d love to hear what areas you’re going to add process automation to first!