In our Extra Strong MINT Bootcamp (the original and best – sorry other Bootcamps) a couple of weeks ago, I sat on the Zoom call having arrived late and with no preparation.
That was normal in our face to face full-day Bootcamps back in the day, but we have less time now and so I felt pressured – I need to think of some targets NOW!
Nicola said I had to go last because I was late (teacher), so I sat listening to everyone else talk about their goals and achievements, highs and lows, and I wrote three words down on my notepad…
Just those words. Those were my targets – I had just decided.
I joked that I’d just come up with a new mantra. But the truth is, the beauty of Bootcamp is that the rest of the group inspire you to think, and hearing everyone else that morning changed my outlook entirely.
I recently bought three books on the back of targeted Facebook ads and in the following Bootcamp last week I joked again – that I was going to turn my mantra into a book. Dr. Rebecca is running an online course entitled There A Book In Us All… so who knows, watch this space. Targeted sponsored Facebook ad coming to a newsfeed near you soon!?
Joking aside, what became clear is that these goals are as much about ME as they are about the business(es) I run. I feel blessed and privileged to be busy enough right now to be able to do that.
So, no book just yet, but here’s what I have learned about myself through these three simple words over these past four months… four months that have changed so many things for so many of us.
Before lockdown, I didn’t do online video calls. I hate phone calls and I’d never even done Facetime. About a month into lockdown, I worked out I was doing on average 4-5 Zoom calls a week. I was happy as it was keeping me from going stir crazy.
It was a mix of delivering MINT training, attending other people’s sessions, calls with clients, new prospect meetings, Bootcamps and one-to-ones.
It got to the point where I was sometimes on 3 calls a day. Granted, some of them only 15-30 minutes but when you’re busy it can really distract you from doing actual work. I find I get a strange adrenaline rush from being on video calls and it’s hard for me to come out of that zone and get back to work.
So here are my tips for managing time:
- Use a paper diary. I went traditional for my 2020 diary and it really helps you to look at your week ahead and get a handle on what time you have for meetings.
- Have slots for meetings. If I get asked for informal one-to-ones or discovery meetings, I have slots of 13:30 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. If I get two new business enquiries a week, that’s amazing and it’s enough.
- Cross days out. I have started physically crossing days out of my diary when I don’t allow myself to add any more meetings. I have to be flexible of course, and if it’s an existing client or someone urgently needs my help then I’ll make exceptions.
- Know how many days you are billing for. We all have a day rate – or at least we should. If you’re busy 9-5 Monday to Friday (and the rest) or at least the equivalent, then you know you’re working five days a week. That’s 5 x whatever your day rate is x roughly 47-50 weeks, presuming you give yourself time off! If that figure is way off what you’re actually bringing in, then something needs to change. My figure was way off. Now it’s still off but getting there.
- Know how many days you have to offer. Set yourself an income goal each month, preferably “sales minus costs equals my potential income” as there should always be money in your business to spend buying from other businesses. Do this for as many months in advance as you can. Sometimes that will only be this month, maybe next. Unlikely you will get beyond 3 in uncertain times, but it will allow you to say “my income this month is going to be X, so that’s Y number of days committed, I, therefore, have Z more days to offer”. I know that once I’ve hit my target for the month and still have time left over, I can give that time away should I want to.
There’s value in what you do – this applies to everyone’s business. If you’re a service provider, what you’re offering is to do something for (or to) someone else that they can’t (or shouldn’t, or don’t want to) do themselves. That in itself adds value.
- Find the value in what YOU do and not what you think is expected of you. When I started delivering training for MINT, around things like SEO, WordPress and Landing Pages, I felt a little bit of pressure – that no one had placed on me but myself – to TEACH. I’m not a teacher or professional trainer, I just have experience of some things that others don’t, but would like to know about. I started to realise that I’m less interested in teaching people HOW to do things – what buttons to press, what links to click on – and more interested in making them think about WHY they want to do things. Why do you want to know about SEO, what’s your goal? Why do you want to learn about WordPress, do you have the time and skillset to create your own website? Why do you need a landing page, what’s it going to do for your business?
- Remember value is a two-way thing – in and out. I recently started to really hone in on what value I was giving to my clients, again making them think about the whys and the whats and not about the hows. I encourage clients not to invest heavily in the things they only think they need/want, even if it means less business for me. But think about what value you get from the work too. Is it adding to your experience? Do you enjoy it? Does seeing a client happy make you happy?
- Value travels far. The work you do has an impact that reaches further than you think. The impact you have on a client with what you do should continue to add value to those around them, whether it’s their customers, staff, friends, or family. I talk a lot about customer experience and user journey, and when I started to work on this slightly revamped MINT website with Nicola, Pete and the team, it needs to be about the power of three – ME (the supplier)… MINT (the client)… and YOU (the customer and user).
What’s the value in it for me? I love doing work like this and feel like I have experience to impart. The value for MINT? Hopefully, the new site will make it easier for new members to join and existing members to stay. And value for you? I knew immediately that I wanted the site to feature image collages of you all – that’s the visual change.
But the other changes we’ve made demonstrate that we have collectively listened (and will keep listening) to your feedback. We’ve tried to make the site easier to navigate for members, more engaging when you first log in to find today’s training links or last week’s replays, and with LOADS more VALUABLE content than you probably even knew had been there all along. MINT didn’t need this website in March as we all met in our various groups face to face once a month or so… that all changed and so the website HAD to.
Stability is a big thing for me at the minute because in the last ten years I’ve been employed, freelance, limited, poached by a client, freelance again, employed again, freelance briefly again and then limited again from May 2020. I need to just settle down and stick with this now.
I must see at least one sponsored ad every day telling me to GROW MY BUSINESS. And that’s fine, everyone needs to. Or do they?
- Let’s talk about money. I completed MINT’s most recent LTAM course and among a few things it got me thinking about growth – and that right now it’s not really what I’m interested in. I don’t want to add 10% or 20% or 50% to my monthly figures – whether that’s the number of sales, amount of turnover, profit, personal income… I am fortunate enough to be meeting my targets every month and I’d like to stick to that.
- Let’s talk about the future. I have always been really bad at pushing things back – saying to clients “yes I can do that next month” and not just “yes”… This comes back to the TIME management thing, but it also has allowed me to start bringing some stability into my business – and life! Planning ahead, knowing that I have client A on a retainer for 6 months at £X and client B for 3 months at £Y, then there are two confirmed one-off projects at £Z… it’s really helping me to worry less about “what if next month is a bad month”… which I’m sure we have ALL done.
So, there is it, for now. I’m probably going to use TIME – VALUE – STABILITY in our Bootcamp sessions forever.
If you want to talk to me about any of the above I’d love to chat. I regularly provide mentoring in our Monday MyTime sessions which you can book with Suzanne Whelan or reach out in our members-Facebook group or you find me at my website or Facebook page!