Be the CEO of your business and do a vision board

When I first heard about vision boards, I thought they were for people who believed unicorn poop is magical and money trees do really grow.   I was too busy sweating in the trenchesWhen I first heard about vision boards, I thought they were for people who believed unicorn poop is magical and money trees do really grow.   I was too busy sweating in the trenches.

  • Focusing on SWOT analysis and keeping the damn lights on
  • Finding new customers and keeping them happy
  • And my all time favorite, return on investment. Or as I like to think about it – will my blood, sweat, and tears today pay off tomorrow?

I didn’t have no stinkin’ time to be pasting pictures on a posterboard. I was building a business!

Until I realized recently how vision boards REALLY work.

Why you are not a CEO unless you do this for your business

Vision boards give you the opportunity to fully step into the CEO role. You get to dream big and set the vision for the company.

  • What is possible ?
  • What impact could you make if your product or service comes to market?

In the early stages of a business, this is a no brainer. You have plenty of time to do this. And this is often the FUN part of getting started.

When I talk to people who are still in the early stages, they talk in this language.   What they dream about. Being able to make a difference. Their goals.

But once you get started, it’s hard to think big. There are too many things to juggle. Like:

  • Accounting and dealing with the books
  • Legal issues
  • Harassing clients who “forget” to pay you
  • Learning new technologies to “save” you time
  • Finding good sub-contractors and employees to help you deliver quality work
  • Finding clients that you want to work with

These soul sucking tasks often take twice as much time as you thought and require you to constantly put out fires.

It gets hard to step away and think big.

Why you can’t do a vision board during your day to day routine

And even if you have the time, you often have a bigger problem

LACK OF MENTAL ENERGY

Yes. When you are dealing with big issues or stuck in a day to day struggle, it’s hard to think about possibilities, dreams, and ideas.

Yet that is EXACTLY the foundation that you need in your business.

Yes, you need to be solving your client’s problems. And providing a needed service that produces a profit.

But you also want to build your overall company on a larger vision. Something that gets people engaged to do business with you.

FOR LIFE

Because you stand for what they stand for.

So don’t overthink this.

If you are like me, you have stacks of notebooks and books about all things on how to run your business better.  You’ve been to dozens of conferences.  Attended enough networking events to win honorary degrees.

But if you haven’t taken time to step away from the day to day – plan for it.

The best way to start your vision board exercise

The best option is to take a few days and go out of town. Yes, I know it costs money. Honey, Groupon and Travelzoo.com got deals. And if you are into travel hacking, use the rewards from your credit cards.  (Which is one of the few ways I recommend using credit cards without hesitation).  Track flights via Google Flights or ITA.  Or use the new startup in town, Airfordable, that let’s you “lay-away” for your flights.

Yes, girl I can go there with you. #keepingitreal

And if you are complaining that you don’t have the time – figure it out. There are always ebbs and flows in your business cycle.

Honey, you DESERVE this. You NEED time away to refresh and recharge.

When you return home, you will be in a MUCH clearer state of mind.

You’ll be able to solve better solve problems your business is having.

Which translates into more profits.

I bet you’ll probably be willing to try new routines. I started going to bed at a decent time after a recent vacation. Yesssss!

You might even be in a different mental space that invites new people in your network.  People who have the tools to help you solve the “bigger” problems. It’s always much easier to hear tough suggestions after you return home with new eyes.

Smiling yet?

And if you can’t escape to do your vision board

I got you. Spend 1 day in a space completely different from your own. Go to Breather if you are in a big city. Or go el cheapo and squat at your local Starbucks and keep your cup refilled.

Honey, it don’t matter where.

Bring 1 or 2 other like minded friends or go solo so you can get more done.

Start first by reading or doing some journaling. Or take a long walk in nature.

DO not start with an action step or specific activity. Because you need time to decompress and refocus.

Then sit down and start to dream big again. Start to envision what is possible for you.

  • What is possible for your business.
  • What you want out of life.
  • What those who are impacted by your business will gain – ie. customers, vendors, employees.

Step back and dream big.

DO NOT LISTEN TO THE NAYSAYERS IN YOUR MIND.

Put those pics down in your board.

And use those ideas to build your business model and long term business plan. You’ll create a business that makes you smile AND makes you money.

Struggling to nail your brand? Start with a vision board

Have you tried to fill out the worksheets on your company brand? And you are scratching your head ? Check out this post for ideas

Ever get stuck trying to figure out your company brand or mission statement?  Those worksheets are hard in the early stages of your business.  Because you have NO idea what matters most to you or your future customers.

So let me share an easier way to get started:

Start with your vision board

A vision board is not a “woo-woo” activity.  Sure you can sit down and paste pictures of every single car, house, and piece of jewelry that you hope to own.  But if you get the essence of the vision board, you begin to realize it’s much deeper. You can visit the proverbial “adult candy store” or you use a vision board to tap into core goals/dreams and use that as your springboard for your company’s mission and values.
 
  • The vision board gives you the opportunity to share your bucket list.  I bet there are future customers and communities who would identify with your life goals.
  • The vision board gives you an opportunity to connect with something larger than yourself.  If you are the type who is motivated by more than money, you need these visual reminders when the going gets tough.
  • You deserve to have a serious “come to Jesus” moment when you are determining your company values.  Because it matters to you.  To your family.  To your future. And you get to stop stressing over what ain’t as important

And this is CRITICAL to business owners.  Why?

The vision board helps you know where to focus your time

I remember a conversation I had with a coaching client a few years ago.  She was frazzled.  She was working on her business nights and weekends.  Burning the candle at all ends.  And spending most of her time putting out fires.
 
It was driving her crazy.
 
We spoke about what mattered most in her life.  And when she started diving in, she realized it was her family.  She wanted a business that allowed her to spend more time with her family.  But her current business structure didn’t support her desires. She was starting to resent the time she was spending.
 
So we came up with a solution.  She hired help in exchange for taking home less profit.  
She had forgotten that her core focus in life was her family.  Once she got back in alignment, she started breathing easier.   She was able to spend more time with her family.  And enjoy life more.
And the end result is her business started earning more.  Why?  Because when she did work, she was in her zone.  Came up with ideas and solutions because she wasn’t tire and resentful.
And figured out some new ideas for how to maximize her time.
That’s often how it works.  Identify what matters most to you.  Solve a pressing problem for someone else.  And figure out how to create a business model that allows you to do both.
 
#win
 
Which leads me into the next point
 

Identify your values and you’ll build a better business

 
I’m sure you’ve heard that it’s important to write a mission and vision statement for your business.
 
Ever sat down and tried to create one?
 
I’ll wait….. LOL
 
Yup.  They are darn hard to flesh out.  People spend big money on creating them. They hire expert facilitators. They gather their top decision makers off-site. And spend hours revising and reviewing until they create these statements.
 
So let me help you with the cheat sheet if you are a solo or small business shop.  Do a vision board.   Or get real creative and do one with your team.
 
See what comes up.
 
  • What words matter most
  • What pictures capture your attention
  • What visuals keep coming up again and again
Yup.  That’s it.  That your company values. Those are the things that matter most to you..and will matter most to your clients.
 
Start sharing those ideas.  Those values.  The things that matter most to you.
 
By the way, your friends and family already know this about you.  So, infuse it into your business.  You’ll find clients and customers along the way that are as invested in the things that matter most to you.   These will be more loyal and long term clients because your interests are aligned.
 
Anddd it will make it much easier for you to reach that coveted 80/20 marketing equation.  No one likes businesses that sell, sell, sell all the time with them.  But if you share funny memes, inspirational quotes, or beautiful photos, people will remember. They will start to see what matters to you and associate it with your company brand.  
And people buy from people they like.  The more you share who you are, the more likely you will attract your ideal clients.

Why you need a vision board before you start your business

Prefer to read it?  Or don’t have any headphones handy?  The edited transcript is below.

Why you need a vision board before you start your business

This is Malla Haridat here, helping you kick start your business.  I am a small business coach and I love helping folks take their business to the next level.

I just came off of a week of having a nasty, nasty sinus cold, so if you still hear me very nasally, my apologies in advance.

But I’ve just had something in my spirit that I want to get out.   

What is a Vision Board?

So, first of all for those of you that may not know what a Vision Board is. A Vision board is simple.  It is you basically sitting down with your six-year-old self-cutting out visuals or words that call to you.

Stop waiting. Start this before you need the $$$

There is something that entrepreneurs often forget when they are planning all of the details.

 

Nervous about flipping the switch to start your business?  Because you don’t have everything “all together” yet?

STOOOOPPPP the nonnnnnnsense.  You ain’t never gonna get it perfect. Just start.

  • Before you are ready
  • Before you have things organized
  • Or perfect

And for the ladies who are about to flip me the side eye……I’m talking to you.  Start telling people why you can help them solve their problems.  Before you are comfortable.

I was chatting with friend recently.  A really smart woman.  In school getting her Masters. Working full time and handling family and life responsibilities.

She knows I coach entrepreneurs.  She started proudly telling me about what she developed already  in the pre-launch stage of her business.

  • Legal status
  • Business cards
  • Location
  • Website

But there was something missing.  And it’s common for entrepreneurs who are creating businesses that connect their heart with their future invoices.  

Don’t get fixated on your planner this New Year

Sorry but another planner ain't gonna fix your business. Try this easier solution

It’s tempting to get “goo goo gaa gaa” over creating new goals at the beginning of the year.

  • The sales teasing you to buy new planners
  • The webinars inviting you to set powerful intentions
  • The books, blogs, the articles that beckon you to live your life fully
  • The feeling of being left out if you don’t make big goals

I love all of it.

But please don’t buy into the hype this year.  Don’t get stuck planning.  Get started on DOING.  Because I want to see you smile when the clock strikes December 2017.

Stop stressing on the possibilities.  Yes, those are wonderful. But what matters is:

You must do this before you zone out for the holidays

Because you can do this 1 thing and set better business goals next year

This is the one key task you must do if you want to set better business goals next year

Take an honest look at your numbers.

I know.  This isn’t the “whoo hooo we are goal setting ” moment that you wanted.  No planners.  No cool strategy maps.  No vision boards or business plans.

Instead, it’s a quiet moment of reflection for some.  Or a “Let’s come to the altar and pray ” moment for others.

All you need to do is ask yourself two questions:

  1. How much did I make?
  2. How much did I spend?

Do not JUDGE your wins or “fails”

If you are anything like the Type As I often work with, you’ll feel like a failure.  It’s easy when you start thinking about your plans for the year.  The comparisons with other businesses.  And what you know in your heart your business can earn.

Instead consider yourself a researcher.  Someone gathering data.  Numbers that don’t mean anything.  No stories.  

The Freelance Isn’t Free Act: 3 tips to leverage this NYC opportunity

3 tips to take advantage of getting paid as a freelancer in the wake of the NYC Freelance Ain't Free Act

I’m still in shock.  The New York City Council recently passed the nation’s first bill that protects freelancers who are not paid on time.

Yesssss!!  This is a game changer.

The bill will protect New York City based freelancers who are not paid by their clients.  Highlights include:

  • Freelancers can require payment within 30 days
  • If they are not paid, they can make a complaint with the Department of Consumer Affairs
  • If they win the complaint, they can sue for damages plus the original fee

The bill still needs to be signed by Mayor DeBlasio.  But all signs look good.

In the interim, check out City Council member, Brad Lander’s website.  As well, you can google, Freelance Isn’t Free, for more deets.

(And for those of you outside of NYC, stop sulking.  Start talking to your local politicians about the importance.  And check out FreelancersUnion.com.  They are pushing for nationwide acceptance).

This is a game changer.  But consider if your business is ready to take advantage of this major opportunity.   Here are a few thoughts to get you started:

Stop worrying about your marketing being perfect

You are missing out on people who WANT  to work with you.  But they have to hear from you on a regular basis.

If you are trying to juggle the “crazy” of finding new clients while managing your existing clients, I salute you.

And if you are a perfectionist who only submits flawless work,  I challenge you.  Stop worrying about it being perfect when it comes to YOUR marketing.  Just get it done.  Get more out there.  Stop stressing that it can only be perfect before you publish it.

What does “obsessing over the details” look like?

  • Writing, rewriting and rewriting a blog post.  But never hitting publish
  • Spending hours designing pretty pictures in Canva.  But never hitting publish
  • Scribbling down the best ideas you heard at a fancy event about networking.  But never implementing them

Perfection doesn’t pay the bills.

You are missing out on people who WANT  to work with you.  But they have to hear from you on a regular basis.

Do you really need a business phone if you are 1 person service business?

Don't drop the cash 'til you figure out the full impact

Yes, you look professional and it's a tax write off. But you might want to dig deeper. How does it affect your business model, your brand, and your leadership?

Short answer:  You look professional and it’s a tax write off.  But you might want to dig deeper.

How does this decision affect your business model, your brand, and your leadership style?

I know you are probably thinking: “Malla, I’m just getting a phone.  It’s not that deep”.

Yeaahhhhh.  It is.  Adding an additional expense has a direct impact on your business.  You want to consider a few things.

Like:

  • Extra time – Someone has to answer it
  • Extra money – There is a new bill
  • Extra time – It can be a distraction

So how do you decide?

Before you jump into the final decision, consider creating a decision matrix.  While it takes time to develop, it will save you in the long term.  It’s pretty likely that you’ll make future business purchases.  With the decision matrix in place, you’ll make them based on strategy AND your gut intuition.  So consider these ideas:

Why service professionals struggle when they start a business

There are so many things to learn when you hang out your shingle. Start first by speaking so that your prospects understand why you

Over the years, I’ve encountered many people who want to start a service business.  Rather than working any longer for “The Man”, they opt to hang up their own shingle.  No more office politics.  No unfair promotions.  Just the projects that they are enjoy.  And checks that they don’t have to share!  Yessssssssssss!!!

Most working professionals do their research.  So they start out like this:

  • Legal registration
  • Print business cards
  • Get a website
  • Start social media accounts
  • Locate office space
  • Wait for clients to show up

And for many, the client “wait” isn’t long.  Friends and family are happy to oblige during the first few months.  They are celebrating and happy to get quality services at a rock bottom rate.

But after a few months, the love of friends and family is gone.  The list is tapped out.  And there are no new recommendations.  So the marketing marathon begins:

  • Networking events
  • Conferences
  • Online groups
  • Social Media
  • Paid ads

But the results are ……crickets.  Alot of proposals.  Alot of “that’s too expensive”.  Alot of “If I had money”.

Why?

Because the biggest thing that many service professionals miss is: