Organization & Productivity, Entrepreneur

7 Habits of Highly Productive Biz Bosses

Before you go assuming that you know what I am going to say, no, this is not a review of Stephen Covey’s Book, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” That being said, it totally sounds like a book I’d be into. Rather, this is my personal rendition of the 7 most important habits that you, as a small business owner, NEED to be highly productive.

These do not require a master's degree from Yale or years of first hand experience. Anyone who’s willing to give it a go can achieve this state of, as Emylee and I like to call it, Beyonce-like productivity.

Who’s ready?!

Before you go assuming that you know what I am going to say, no, this is not a review of Stephen Covey’s Book, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” That being said, it totally sounds like a book I’d be into. Rather, this is my personal rendition of the 7 most important habits that you, as a small business owner, NEED to be highly productive.  These do not require a master's degree from Yale or years of first hand experience. Anyone who’s willing to give it a go can achieve this state of, as Emylee and I like to call it, Beyonce-like productivity. | Think Creative Collective

Plan Ahead

What?! You want me to actually know what is happening in advance? I know, it seems simple, but as someone who spent years not knowing what was happening from day to day, I promise you that this will make all the difference. If I was lucky, I’d plan out the weekend ahead. In school I may have written down major deadlines, but I was always the one cramming until 3:00 a.m. the night before, sleeping with notecards under my pillow, and praying to God that everything I had done was enough.

I can tell you that I have officially graduated from sleeping in my college studio in a recliner left over from who knows what decade. Now I have annual goals, quarterly milestones and monthly check-ins. I could tell you months in advance what will be happening in our business.

I know in the beginning this can be the HARDEST THING EVER, but I promise, with enough time and dedication, working and planning ahead will help you sleep better at night.

Set Priorities

Have you ever sat down to think about the importance of things in your life? Like actually rank them? Well I can tell you in order, it’s:

  1. My personal relationship with God and Myself
  2. My Spouse
  3. Family and Close Friends
  4. My Business, and
  5. Everyone and everything else.

Your list does not have to reflect mine at all. In fact, I know many of you aren’t Christians – seriously, no judgement. What this list has done for me is help to set priorities. My business always used to come first, which meant my family often felt like they got a second rate version of me, and they were right.

I had to not only set priorities, but live true to them. If my spouse wants to go out for dinner and I still need to post one more thing on social media… it CAN WAIT.

OMG. Seriously life changing y’all. I give you permission to not be everything to everyone at the same time.

Delegate

This has been so freaking hard. And for a long time it didn’t matter if I wanted to delegate, I simply couldn’t afford to. All that said, when you reach a place where you can outsource even one task, this habit will change your life. Hate formatting your blog posts? Delegate it. Design not your thing? Delegate it. Something you aren’t very good at sucking all your time? Delegate it.

Now, before you go and hire 45 people, I have to say my piece. Do not delegate without doing the work yourself first. “But Abagail, I don’t know how!” Learn, babe, learn. This is your opportunity to learn the ins and outs of every aspect of your business, so when it comes the time to take it off your plate, you’ll know exactly what you need, exactly the kind of person who would be perfect for the role, and be able to communicate effectively about how you want the task accomplished.

This takes time, don’t expect to delegate #allthethings overnight.

Have a Rockstar Tribe

Somewhere along the line, someone told me that “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” Fact of the matter was, I didn’t really like all 5 of those people very much. Ever since then, I have gone out of my way to spend time with people I genuinely think are awesome. Not all of them have to be your friend. Simply “spend time” with people you think are great – this could mean watching a webinar they host, listening to their podcast or reading their blog.

Want to own a million dollar business? Do you actually know anyone who runs one? Do you spend any time with them?

Million dollar business or not, you have to think about who you are spending your time with. Your parents encouraged you to hang out with the “nerds” for a reason, am I right?

And if you don’t like the people you spend the most time with, how the heck are you going to prevent yourself from turning into “them”?

You Come First

I’ve 110% learned this the hard way. Please do what I say, not what I do.

Many times in my life, I’ve put myself at the bottom of the list. This wasn’t just a handful of times, we are talking major life pattern that time and time again landed me in doctor’s offices and therapist’s chairs.

Recently I was reading Emily Ley’s book, “Grace Not Perfection”, and she referenced a moment in her life where stress landed her in an MRI machine.

Well, apparently folks, I needed two MRI machines to get the picture. Three months into starting Think Creative, I started having chronic pain in my shoulder. This eventually led me to an MRI with contrast and 3 months of physical therapy. Why? Because I was working too much. I literally had worked myself into my first injury.

Flash forward to November 2016. I found myself in a squished car pileup with 5 other vehicles. The following weeks and months included an average of 7 doctor’s appointments a week. Two weeks of not being able to walk. Wheelchair transport to and from the airport. Knee braces, x-rays and CTs. Physical therapy three times a week. An undiagnosed concussion. Vestibular therapy twice a week. A constant migraine that so far has lasted more than 2 months. And as of last weekend… a seizure. I sit here today completely confused as to why I am even writing this.

As much as I always stress that you should put yourself first, I never have. And it has led to a laundry list of negatives that I would never wish on my worst enemy. Taking care of yourself is SO FREAKING IMPORTANT. So, despite my lack of answers and our business seemingly looking like two people run it full time – we don’t. Because health comes first.

If this all comes as a grave shock to you, I’m sorry. By the time this is published I will have had my MRI moment numero dos. Hopefully more answers will come soon.

Again, do what I say, not what I do.

Find Your Fuel

If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.

I didn’t always believe this statement. I dreaded getting dressed. I hated my job. No amount of pay seemed good enough. I wasn’t content. I was always stressed and I wanted nothing more than to get out.

Then one day I finally realized that what I wanted was an option. I could run a profitable and sustainable business and still love what I did. Sure, as our company has grown my role has shifted, but I have never lost sight of what fuels me inside and out.

I have to be around people who believe in me. I need kind words and people who go out of their way. Find what energizes you. Find what fuels you. Know what inspires you.

There is Always Enough

I believe that there is always enough. Do you?

I always assumed that the majority of people had an abundance mentality too. But through the years it has become obvious that most fear the worst. Many have a twisted relationship with money.

And the idea of somehow going from a steady job to living on the street is a fear that many people have, though few are willing to admit it.

 

I first noticed this alternative viewpoint when my husband continued to point out the con to nearly every scenario. At this point, the trend tends to be “Do you really know how much babies cost?” Yes, in fact, I do. Recent studies have found raising a child from birth to age 18 costs $245,340 without inflation (source). And no, that doesn’t include planning for college or an expensive private education.

I could fear that. Or I could go into the situation knowing that there will always be enough.

Now, I’m not saying you ought to run out and get pregnant without a little financial planning, but why not have a positive perspective.

If you think you are going to run into financial troubles and then you spend like you have more money than you really do, what do you think the odds are that you won’t end up in debt? You will still need to plan, but it isn’t rocket science. We say it all the time.

This goes back to one of my favorite quotes.

“If you work really hard, and you are kind of awesome, amazing things will happen.”

I end that by saying “Why the hell NOT?!”

Now get your booty in gear and stop making excuses.



We're having all the fun over on Instagram! 

Systems, Business

Why Your Business Needs a Systems Audit (If You Want to See Growth)

Emylee here. Words like “systems”, “audits”, “workflows”, “processes” and “checklists” - they can either make the extreme Type A person rejoice and ask for more or they can make the whimsical creative clam up and cringe.

Here at Think Creative Collective, part of “thinking creative” is to put on the business hat every once in awhile so we can check in with our growth and sustainability. And that’s exactly what a systems audit does for you.

Emylee here. Words like “systems”, “audits”, “workflows”, “processes” and “checklists” - they can either make the extreme Type A person rejoice and ask for more or they can make the whimsical creative clam up and cringe.  Here at Think Creative Collective, part of “thinking creative” is to put on the business hat every once in awhile so we can check in with our growth and sustainability. And that’s exactly what a systems audit does for you. | Think Creative Collective

But it’s not as scary as you think!

Running a systems audit on your business simply means carving out some time (perhaps an entire day) for you to check in with the way you run your business. It’s a deep look under the hood so you can spot problematic areas that are sucking too much time or energy away from important tasks. It’s designed to help you quickly notice areas of improvement so you can implement new systems that will ultimately save you a ton of time, frustration, and make you more money.

You see, as creative small business owners we relish when things are working, even if they aren’t working well. We’ve convinced ourselves that we’re creatives first and business owners second so if there’s a system we’re using we’re usually sticking with it to the end of time.

Even if we hate the system.


Even if the system causes us frustration.

But there is so much value in taking a second look, truly knowing how long it takes to do a task, and always asking ourselves if it could be better.

For instance, take how you onboard a new client.

Let’s go to the very beginning stages. How does your client initial contact you?

  • Perhaps through a contact form on your website
  • Maybe they find your direct email and open communication there
  • Perhaps they message you on social media

What’s your next step for each of these ways of communication? What’s your preferred method that you want every client to use? How are you redirecting them to that preferred method?

To go from initial contact to scheduling a discovery call or consultation meeting could look different.

  • Perhaps you get the contact form in your email or you see their email directly and you respond back asking when their availability is. This results in a few back and forth emails for you both to set a time that works.
  • Maybe you’ve seen their message on social media and you take the time to answer a few of their questions first and you communicate for a day or so on Facebook or Instagram. Then you share your email or you ask for theirs so you can move the conversation there. This then results in a few back and forth emails for you both to set a time that works.

What if in your systems audit you realized that this took you a total of two hours per inquiry to even get them on the phone for a meeting? Wouldn’t you want to streamline that a bit?

  • Perhaps you set up an autoresponder on your email that acknowledges their inquiry, introduces yourself and provides a link (in the email) for them to book their discovery call or consultation with you.
  • Maybe you set up an auto response system inside Facebook or one to use for Instagram that acknowledges their inquiry but lets them know you’d rather they fill out your contact form or email you to start the process (thus, triggering the auto response with your booking link).
  • Perhaps you skip the autoresponder all together and provide the booking link for your free consultation inside your contact form itself.

These are all variations of time-saving system hacks that you can find in your own processes by doing a systems audit. And there’s plenty more where that came from! We’re talking taking a look at every nook and cranny. In fact we listed all the places you might want to automate in your business over here.

Still not convinced? Perhaps there’s some tweaking we can do to your social media posting, specifically Instagram. Here’s what your process might look like:

  • Take picture
  • Edit
  • Upload to Instagram
  • Write Caption
  • Post
  • Type out your 30 hashtags individually

If you’re doing this for every single picture and every single post you’re wasting a lot of time.

Try this:

  • Batch shoot pictures
  • Batch edit pictures
  • Batch upload to Later using the app on your phone
  • Open Later on your desktop to batch schedule
  • Batch write captions inside Later on your desktop
  • Post as Later alerts you on your phone
  • Type in one phrase that auto-populates your 30 hashtags for that image

Boom.

None of this is rocket science, it’s simply looking at each and every process with a fine-tooth comb. It’s asking yourself if you’re using the systems and tools you already have to the best of their ability or if there are systems or tools you need to look into that can save you time and energy.

It’s when we save this time and energy for big and small tasks that we begin to open up our day to other things. It’s when we have a process for things like client onboarding or posting to social media that we stop resenting it when these things pop up.

If you’ve gotten to the point where you’re rolling your eyes about a new inquiry because you are dreading the process that comes with booking them then you know you have a problem on your hands. We know, cause we’ve been there.

It was when we dreading blogging, dreaded being on Instagram, dreading posting in our Facebook group, dreading when someone asked us if we offered a service we had discontinued that we would groan and complain.

Once we got a stack of those dreadful tasks we realized it was on us to look at our systems and do better.

Is it time for your business to do its own systems audit?

We’ve got good news for you: you can use the same format we used for our own systems audit for free. We’ve put together a totally free course called Your Biz On Autopilot because we know how many of you need to do this. But most of you won’t. Because it isn’t sexy or creative or fun...yet - until you free up loads of time to spend on tasks you do find fun.

Well, it’s gonna help your business run smarter not harder so it’s time you do it anyways.

You can enroll for free by heading to Your Biz On Autopilot.

We can’t wait for you to dive in and have some major a-ha moments about the areas of your business that need your attention. We’re literally giving you time back in your everyday after you take this course. You’re so welcome!

Get your booty inside Your Biz on Autopilot right now.


The Party is Always Happening on Instagram! 

Email Marketing, ConvertKit

How to Import Subscribers from MailChimp to CovertKit

Jessica here again, ConvertKit and business tech guru, with another lesson straight out of my ConvertKit Mastery eCourse.

This same method will work for any other systems you want to import from – the first steps may just look a little different.

Let’s get started.
 

1. Go into MailChimp and click on “lists”.

2. Find the list you want to export and click on it.

3. Then at the top, click “export”.

4. This will show you a different screen and tell you that your export is processing. Depending on the list size, the processing could take anywhere from 30 seconds to 24 hours, so just check your email or refresh the page until you see that it’s complete and you can export it as a CSV file.

5. Download the file and go ahead and unzip it (on a mac you can just double-click to unzip).

6. Log in to ConvertKit and go to “subscribers”, then click on the “import subscribers” button on the right.

7. Now you’ll tell ConvertKit what tag, form or segment you want to put these subscribers into and drag the file from your finder window over to the designated space.

8. Once the CSV file has loaded, you’ll tell the system what fields to match with what field in ConvertKit. In this example, I matched first name and email and left the rest blank, as I really didn’t need the other fields.

9. Then, just click “import subscribers” and you’re done!

ConvertKit will tell you that it’s going to email you once the import is complete. This means that it won’t happen automatically, but those subscribers will go into whatever tag, segment or form you told it to put them into.

I know, pick your mouth up off the floor, that was crazy easy, right?

Now, if you’re wanting a video version of this - you can view that on TCCtv below.



Instagram is where we share #allthethings


how to, video tutorial, Canva

How to Create Your Own Gorgeous Labels in Canva

If you're anything like me, you not only own a label maker but you also find any excuse to use it and get excited about organizing things by category whenever possible.

Before styling visuals for femmepreneurs using Canva, I was a home and food stylist. I love it when things have structure and order. I love it when everything has a home and is easy to find. I also love it when I can add my own personal touch whether it be in my business or home. That’s exactly why I started creating my own labels so that I could create what I needed in the colors I loved on a whim.

Guest Post by Nicholette von Reiche, Nicholette Styles  If you're anything like me, you not only own a label maker but you also find any excuse to use it and get excited about organizing things by category whenever possible.   Before styling visuals for femmepreneurs using Canva, I was a home and food stylist. I love it when things have structure and order. I love it when everything has a home and is easy to find. I also love it when I can add my own personal touch whether it be in my business or home. That’s exactly why I started creating my own labels so that I could create what I needed in the colors I loved on a whim. | Think Creative Collective


What kind of labels can you create in Canva?

Address labels, home office labels for magazine holders, boxes or your files. Labels for your pantry, spice cabinet, kids rooms, wrapping station goodies and so much more.

Once you start creating your own labels, you’ll be hooked.

I created this short tutorial and bonus template for you to use for your own home and office projects. Enjoy and be sure to tag me @nicholettestyles, I’d just love to see what you create with them!

Here’s how to create your own printable labels in Canva.

What you’ll need:

  1. A great pair of scissors
  2. Avery sticker project paper
  3. A Canva account (free or paid).

The process:

STEP 1: Select the letter size template

You want to create a Canva design with the same dimensions as your sticker paper. In my case it’s 8.5 x 11 inches or US letter size.

STEP 2: Search borders in the search box

Use Canva’s search box to type in words that will help you find your ideal label. It’s good to know what label you are trying to create before hopping into Canva. For example, are you creating labels for your hanging files, stationery, or the kids’ crafts?

You can also search for circle, rectangle and label.

Pro tip: Search for border vs label. The border options have more free options and often have the same or similar designs.

STEP 3: Create your personalized labels

Create different pages for different label solutions. Then download your templates as PDF to print and do a test print first to see if the size of your labels are correct. Lastly, make sure you’re printing them on the right side of your project paper.

Pro tip: Draw an “X” with a pencil on a piece of paper and print out your design to see which side of your Project Paper needs to face up.

There you have it babe. Gorgeous, personalized (and frugal) labels to organize your home and life in just a few minutes. We can’t wait to see what you create!
 

GET THE LABEL TEMPLATE FOR FREE

Want the template I created in the tutorial babe? You can find it in my FREE Canva Resource library at CleverwithCanva.com along with other helpful trainings and templates to help you create gorgeous visuals that stop the scroll.

productivity, organization

17 Things You can Automate in Your Business to Save You Time, Energy & Money

We’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is there’s a sh*t ton of things you can automate in your business to save you time, save you energy, and make you more money. The bad news is that figuring out actually how to do all these things can drive you just as bonkers as it does to just do them manually.

Ok, but we’ve got even better news. If you scroll to the end of this glorious little post (you know, once you’re inspired about #AutomateAllTheThings) you’re gonna see a special present we have just for you. Spoiler alert: it’s free!

We’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is there’s a sh*t ton of things you can automate in your business to save you time, save you energy, and make you more money. The bad news is that figuring out actually how to do all these things can drive you just as bonkers as it does to just do them manually. | Think Creative Collective

First, what’s the point in spending time to figure out what and how to automate things in your business? Sometimes we have to spend a little bit of time to gain a whole heck of a lot of time. That’s what setting up automation does.

We’re basically looking at all the systems and processes you use and figuring out what steps we can take out. What systems, apps or tools (or literally just the way of using them) can make that task faster? We absolutely love finding these things in people’s business so first we’re going to cover all the areas you might want to take a peek at to see if there’s an autopilot switch you can turn on. Here’s where you can check:

  1. Your email auto responders
  2. How you post to Instagram
  3. How you repin your blog posts
  4. Your Facebook auto responders
  5. How you’re reminded of a meeting
  6. Your Instagram auto responders
  7. How you handle your FAQ’s
  8. How you post to Twitter / Pinterest / Facebook
  9. How meetings get scheduled
  10. How meetings are put on your calendar
  11. How you track mileage
  12. How you save screenshots for inspiration
  13. How you save money
  14. How you give to charity
  15. How you eat and grocery shop
  16. How you send thank yous
  17. How you make money

Whoa, Nelly. That’s a buttload of places where you could be saving time. We’re talking hours here people.

But how? Not only how to set it up, but in what instance would it make sense for you to have an automation in some of these places make sense?

We’ve got you.

Some of these are super obvious and some of these are like little light bulbs that go ding-ding-ding when you hear them. Either way these are all awesome and you could benefit from doing a solid look through to see if you can implement some automation up in there.

So that’s what we’re going to do. Together. Right now. Well actually whenever you want.

Cause guess what?

Since we know the immense value of finding the sometimes obvious but always eye opening places of automation in your business we’re walking you through it. For free.

Yup, we’ve got a brand new program loaded up inside The Strategy Academy that you can enroll in fo’ free.

It’s called Your Biz on Autopilot and it’s the bomb dot com.

We’re walking you through all the places above (and then some), plus showing you the instances in which you would actually use them, plus showing you how to set them all up. Boom. Automated.

You’re gonna be an easy breezy smooth sailing business badass machine here shortly.

Ready to enroll? Just click here to get started. It’s super easy.

Enroll or Sign in: already a member to the Strategy Academy? Simply login with your details and then click to enroll. New? Simply pop in your name and email to get the party started.

Head here now to enroll in Your Biz on Autopilot.


Don't forget to follow along on Instagram!