Have you ever been witness to a firefly show? I grew up in the Midwest and it's an understatement to say I am fascinated by fireflies. It is much more accurate to claim that I am obsessed.
Fireflies are cool for many reasons. I have studied fireflies informally for many years. From learning about their behavior to the energy efficient light they give off. That light is now being studied formally at UC Berkeley to see if they can recreate it.
It is the light that draws us to the firefly. That subtle, consistent blinking light is the way this little bug communicates with other fireflies. If you've had the pleasure of witnessing them, it is a beautiful, subtle, dance of survival for this species. They NEED to attract other fireflies in order to mate and continue their species through time. This communication is delivered with precision and when done right, a whole community of fireflies will blink their light in unison, as if proclaiming..."I've got your back, I'm here for you, You are not alone." It's quite inspiring. I realized when I was forming my business almost 11 years ago, that fireflies shaped my philosophy on communication and marketing hence the namesake Firefly Strategies. They communicate strategically and here's what I learned....
When we plan, whether it's a personal plan, a business marketing plan, or a non profit development plan, we assume we are going to be successful. We work hard to make sure the plan will lead us to success. But, there are many things that can cause delays and even derail us from our end goals and outcomes. But, most plans do not have a crisis component built into it. That is a mistake because ANYTHING could go wrong, I've seen some of the best laid plans fail miserably because something went wrong.
When a crisis occurs you might be able to maintain it internally without news leaking to the public, but more often than not, the public finds out. So, plan for the plan failing, plan for a crisis and plan that the news will go public. Here are 3 things you must do when managing this kind of crisis....
Not too long ago, I was struggling to keep my head above water, trying to manage and do WAY too much. Unfortunately, this predicament isn't something that happens to me only. In fact, I know MANY businesses, organizations and individuals that have or currently are incredibly stressed out and exhausted due to juggling too many roles, hats, or whatever you label all of your work and personal life responsibilities.
I know that sometimes there just isn't a way out of it. Hiring someone is just not feasible. There's no time to recruit an intern, and volunteers, though great, just don't have the skills to do what you need done.
So what CAN you do when you are on the verge of "drowning?" You create systems. If you had systems in place, you would eliminate quite a bit of time explaining things, and doing work from scratch, or I'm even guilty of this, doing something totally different from before because I forgot how I did it last. Also, when systems are in place, then you do feel comfortable hiring someone and recruiting an intern or volunteer. You and they know exactly what needs to happen, what they need to be accomplishing. There is less time spent in training and orientation because documented systems can serve as training material. So here are the top 3 systems I recommend you put into place as soon as you can...
By the time Friday afternoon rolls around, I can feel that my body is ready to stop. My focus starts to go onto other things like baking, sewing projects, house shopping, hiking, getting the garden ready....everything else but business related work. Though I'd LOVE to stop and just dive right in to these other projects, I can't do that always. There is an endless list of things to get to in my business. I get even more weird about finishing my week a few hours early because, we're supposed to work until 5pm, AT LEAST, if we want to advance our careers, or so I've been reading. "Lean In" is what Sheryl Sandberg COO of Facebook tells us in her new book. But, all I want to do is lean into some of my red forest cupcakes that I'm dying to make!...
The last tip of this series was delayed a bit. There just aren't enough hours in the day, right?! Well, in all honesty, I knew that I would be writing this entry late in the night. My day was pretty planned out, all-in-all. Mommy duties put a few hiccups in my schedule but most everything fell within schedule.
So why did the blog get left for the last hours of the night? Because I write more thoughtfully and clearly when I am relaxed and I knew that if I had all the MAJOR tasks done, I would feel relaxed. And therefore more capable of writing a worthy entry...one worth posting! I was aiming for 10 pm, but it's closer to 11 pm now. That's okay. I've learned that when it comes to managing time, there are often days when you have to roll with the punches and just go with the flow.
Being an entrepreneur demands flexibility. And so I am. But being flexible isn't just relegated to entrepreneurs. It is a mindset and spirit to be adopted by everyone trying to make a difference in this world, whether a non-profit, a small business, or an individual. I like to call this the Entrepreneurial Era. We live in a time where we all need to think and act much like entrepreneurs. Consider this an invitation to start taking the entrepreneurial approach in life, business, and the pursuit of happiness. So what does that look like exactly?...
Development of time management skills is essential when you are running your own business. Over the years, I've read nearly every book written on time management. You could say I'm sort of obsessed with the topic. I do actually enjoy reading about the various ways you can carve out time to do the things you need to do. Almost every book I've read has had some relevance to it.
When I became a mom, boy!...did that time management knowledge come in handy! I will confess though, there were days where nothing I learned or knew helped. I just had to give in to my day and let it take me where it needed to go. But overall the biggest thing I learned is to make use of every minute of my day.
As many moms out there can relate...I'm not JUST running a business, I am a mom, first and foremost. And then I have a house I need to keep clean and orderly as best as I can. Finally, there are other responsibilities like taking the baby in for her shots, getting the groceries, etc... Completing ALL of my tasks for the day requires lots of pre-planning. So, here are the top 4 time management tips from the tip jar. But the BIG tip from the jar today is...
I'm often asked, "Rubina, what is the one thing I can do to get clients." Or "What is the one thing I can do to get people to donate to our organization." My answer is always, "There's no ONE thing." Many people don't want to hear this, but it's true.
We are all regularly and constantly consuming massive amounts of information from a variety of sources. Rarely do we run out and buy something or get compelled to give right when we consume that information. It's when we are ready to buy something or ready to give to a cause or organization. One or two brands or messages will actually stand out.
We can recall these specific brands or images more easily. Why? Because we saw the brand and/or message enough times through various channels and they stuck with us. This is called accomplishing top of mind status. If you did just one thing it would be very hard to achieve this status. Therefore, a variety of methods are recommended, even if you are a small business or organization...
Today's tip from the tip jar might not seem like much to some, but small tips are part of a greater whole. I run into people all the time as I'm teaching workshops and networking and find that they do not have websites! Yes...it's true. Now, in their defense, many of them have either held successful careers and never needed one because they relied so heavily on word of mouth, or some just couldn't even fathom developing a website because it seemed too cumbersome for them.
There are several reasons why having a website is a good idea...
Today's tip from the jar is about messaging. In marketing and communications work, you'll hear over and over again, "You must have messaging that speaks to your target market." This is spot on.
I'm going to add another element to this. There is an integral and extremely important someone that plays into this equation. And that person cannot be put aside when your message is created. That somebody is you!
Your message is your story. You gotta tell it if you want people to connect with you and your product or service. More and more, people are making decisions based on how much they like, connect, and trust that someone. Whether they are buying a pair of earrings or buying a house, customers make their purchasing decisions based on how much they resonate with the individual they are purchasing from.
SO, that brings me to...
When I was first starting my business, getting tips on how to effectively run and market my business were so valuable to me. I would take every piece of advice and collect them like tips in a tip jar. These pieces of information were as good as getting paid, because they helped me to land some of my first paying clients!
So, I want to share my tip jar with you. Today I gave a presentation to a circle of moms who are looking to re-evaluate their skills and see how they can earn money while staying at home with their babies. Some of them were already in the midst of creating business plans or even launching their businesses....