Every week I try to find time to pause and reflect on the happenings of the week – asking myself what I learned, where I can grow, and how I can improve. However, I began to notice that just reflecting on things wasn’t enough for me to make change. So this year I began writing about it. Once a month, I look back at my calendar and the events that took place. I take some notes and then share them here. May and June kind of melted into each other, so I’ve put them together.
Business Development Experiences
ZOHO: Some fun new projects arose in May in June, especially in terms of offering challenges to me. If you’ve read previous posts, then you know that I’m using Zoho for my business operations (CRM, Project Management, Lead Generation, etc). I have been using Zoho CRM for about 9 months and the other modules for 5 months. I have tinkered quite a bit, plus I’ve attended seminars and a conference about it. Armed with this growing knowledge, I started helping clients with their Zoho CRM setup and workflows. Not only have we learned together about what works best, but it’s forced me to think about my own business processes and how to improve them. Throughout the past 2 months, I’ve made a ton of updates to my own Zoho setup and workflows – making me a stronger trainer too.
WEBSITE: The other area of my business that is long overdue for some attention is my main website. I spoke with one of the WordPress developers I respect and like working with about making updates. My first piece of homework was to get the content in a place where I’m happy with it, so that he can focus on design and layout. It is still a work in progress, but with some help things are getting updated. The Kajabi site got some needed design updates, thanks to my kick-awesome hubby’s design efforts. I couldn’t have done it without him.
BRANDING: May was the month when the big Branding workshop happened. Along with 2 collaborators, we hosted a 2-hour workshop about brand language, working with a graphic designer, and protecting your brand with IP laws. There were many hard lessons learned, but I have no regrets. This experience forced me to work on my own branding leading up to the workshop, and following it. It feels like my five year old business is finally developing into something more than a freelance hustle.
PEOPLE: One of my main service offerings is the creation of an in-depth marketing strategy for small businesses. It is customized to the business, and it includes a detailed implementation plan (step-by-step instructions). The feedback I’ve received in the past is that getting a clear structure really helps the marketing person or assistant to get things done. In May I finished up a strategy for a local business, and the outcome was that he needed additional support with his CRM. We planned on reconnecting after his vacation to hire someone to implement the work and some CRM tasks. I didn’t want to be pushy, so my follow-up was quite relaxed and somewhat delayed. I thought this would give him the space needed to digest the information and decide how best to move forward. Instead, he disappeared on me – didn’t want to talk about next steps or hiring someone. Now I find myself asking what I could have doen differently to better support him, or was this bound to happen?
The other interesting interaction I had was with a prospect. He found me online through mutual connections, filled out my business assessment, and we had a good call where we discussed his business needs. During the call I could tell that he is a very creative person, but he may not have structure in his marketing approach (the thing I love most). When the call ended, I had the understanding that he would reach out to me once he was ready to talk more. It seems this was a miscommunication because he was expecting a proposal right away. It may be me, may be him, or maybe we are totally miscommunicating with each other. More to come on this later in the summer…
I was finally able to connect with a new friend, Mahani. She’s a super cool storyteller, so we totally clicked. And we decided to team up on something fun. In June, we did our first Facebook Live together, talking about storytelling and local businesses. It was clunky, but we got through it and had fun.
MONEY: I’ve taken on a ton of new expenses in 2018. These are all important investments in the business such as Zoho, Kajabi, Calendly, other software, and hardware too. In May I had to closely evaluate my income and expenses and think about how I can be more efficient. This required more than just looking at places to cut back, but the things where I was essentially paying twice. The outcome is that expenses have gone up, so income needs to as well.
Client Consulting and Training Work
The past two months have been jam packed with consulting work, but there is a slow growing need for personalized trainings. Some of the work I did included quarterly strategy sessions, finishing up a couple of marketing strategies, adding new CRM plans to existing clients, customer journey maps, content marketing structure, and marketing operations plans.
While I love all of the strategies and planning, the most interesting work for me is supporting others by sharing knowledge – then seeing them apply it. I began working with one client’s intern and a part-time employee for another client. Working with Abi, the part-time employee, has presented a somewhat new challenge for me. She is an artist and an entrepreneur with experience in accounting, but not very experienced in marketing or being a virtual assistant. Those are the kinds of people I’ve grown to really enjoy supporting. They enter the conversation with more general marketing background knowledge. Both people have tested my processes and way of thinking. It is exactly the challenge I need.
CELEBRATE: Last year I met the owner of the South Austin Barber Shop. At the time, he was struggling most with keeping the high quality barbers that he had worked so hard to recruit. He filled out my business assessment and we met to discuss what was happening in the business. We decided that he did not need to hire me at the time, but I shared as many useful insights as I could to help him. Well, he has been working hard over the past 8 months. He got most of his barbers back and is doing so well that he is opening a new location, and I get to help him prepare for the grand opening. It’s really exciting!
MISTAKE: There is a double-edged sword to having faith in people. I want to believe everyone is good at the core of their being, but the reality is that some people are just toxic, self-serving, and manipulative. Last month I made the mistake of accepting a meeting with a former client who I know is toxic. Now I need to turn her down or redirect her, because I can’t allow that in my life. It’s hard because she is a nice woman, socially.
Some of the highlights of my professional development experiences from the past couple of months include:
- Participated in a Mastermind group with the other board members of IAW
- Connected with an old contact, Myrna, who I haven’t spoken to in about 6 or 7 years. She made an introduction to an interesting video production company that I may get to collaborate with.
- Hosted a happy hour with one of my strategic partners, Trusty Oak.
- Attended an Infusionsoft Event where I met a fellow marketer, Christina. I’m excited to have a colleague who could also become a friend and reference.
- Met up with a technology trainer, John, who I originally met in a meetup group. We planned on talking for 45 minutes that turned into more than an hour. He has so much to share and is totally passionate about training and passing information on to others.
- Introduced me to a super young entrepreneur who is really talented and living his life to the fullest.
- Connected with a prospect who I quickly realized is a better fit as a partner than a client. Good timing since I’m working with Randi on refining the partner program.
Personal Care and Development
There were a few interesting personal experiences over the past two months including an accident on highway 183 where another car drove over a piece of plywood that flew across the lane and hit my car. This experience led to me needing to buy new tires – an expensive problem, but important for my safety.
In the past 2 months, I have been learning and practicing a LOT of music for chorus. I finished reading Outwitting the Devil by Napoleon Hill. That book got me thinking about my definiteness of purpose and my connections with others who align with that way of thinking. It always seems that my best relationships start from a place of business and develop into personal connections. Why is that? Perhaps I’m more confident in my business-self than my personal-self. I’m also thinking about how I use my time – every day, not just on weekdays, weekends and holidays. How is my time being spent and does it all support a higher purpose?
Looking Ahead at July
I’ll be reconnecting with the folks at Smart Marketer to take notes for their conference in August, which is always an interesting experience. My goal is to generate lots of small customized trainings this month. I also need to work on my online course about market research in preparation for speaking at Freelance Conference in September. The other big focus I have this month is on growing my official partners and the partner program.