Let me preface this article by telling you that my business planning system is involved. It’s so much more than these 6 things I do every day to grow; I have a system for creating annual objectives and there are several things I do each quarter, month and week to build my reach online.
Online businesses are based on personality and passion, and because of that, your perspective is always too close. If you’re the owner of a website or online shop, you probably know exactly what I mean. The business feels more like it’s “in here, in front of me” in your home, rather than “out there” serving the world. And that’s something you’re better off correcting as soon as possible.
I write this post with caution. To be sure, these things I do every day aren’t where I expect results – too often online businesses gauge their success by the daily stats they check. I catch the majority of my clients doing “the daily scramble.” In other words, you wake up today and ask: what I am I going to do today to get some sales already? And then the scramble begins:
Why, I’ll send an email! I’ll promote this post on Facebook! I’ll make four new items and list them in the shop, and then I’ll tweet each of them so everyone will come check them out!
My business plans are always about the big picture …
I keep a vision wall, and I’m constantly making progress toward my business’ growth and profit. I’m breaking my planning system down into delicious bite-sized exercises in the upcoming Your Best Year 2017: Productivity Workbook and Online Business Planner, but until then, here are 6 things I do every day to grow my business online.
#1 Review my to-do list
I’m always working backwards from the goal, so I know what I need to finish each week in order to hit my monthly objectives. For example, right now I’m writing a book – a daunting task if you leave it as one large item on your to-do list. I know from almost a decade of experience that I need to break that item up into components (outline the book, test the flow of contents, write each chapter, etc.).
My monthly and weekly breakdown looks like so …
I start every day by revisiting the week’s task list and reviewing my daily to-do list, which I keep in a separate planner. I typically tackle my to-do list in 60- to 90-minute increments. More details on this in section #4.
#2 Count my money
This is the most important activity I’ve added to my planning system this year. It’s called abundance tracking, and I learned about it from Denise Duffield-Thomas, author of Get Rich, Lucky Bitch!
Here’s the gist: Money flows into your life every day, and unless you record it, you really have no idea how wealthy you are or how healthy your business is. Each month, I write a financial goal that challenges me, then think of a reward for achieving it. Here is the monthly spread I’ve created …
I have SHATTERED income ceilings using this method in 2016, rewarding myself things, such as a bi-weekly housecleaning crew, a Disney Cruse for my family, a private sitting room sanctuary for myself, and a spontaneous trip to San Francisco – all paid in full.
I visit this page every morning and record the previous day’s financial abundance before deleting payment notifications and completed orders. At the top, I’ll write a few things I’m trying to accomplish that month (i.e. “Offset a project-building month, attract interested clients”). Down below, I list some ways to achieve my goal (i.e. “course launch, book clearance, membership dues”). I also use that space below to list financial goals I’ll complete by meeting this income (i.e. “Car paid, savings goal met, 1-month salary in reserve”).
#3 Make decisions
This goes hand-in-hand with my abundance tracker; I credit that exercise to helping me be more decisive with my time. Once I’ve decided how much money I want to earn every month, there isn’t time leftover to do anything else but earn it!
This is what a typical online business’ to-do list looks like …
- Write a new blog post
- Post it on Facebook
- Promote in Facebook group
- Share on Instagram
- Pin to Pinterest
- Email my list the link to that blog post
- Tomorrow: repeat
This is what my to-do list looks like …
- Build that 30K project
- Promote the opt-in for that 30K project to attract ideal clients
- Sell that 30K project
Yeah, I still mess around on Instagram. For one thing, Instagram is where it’s at right now. For another thing, I do take a lunch hour and breaks during my work day. But Instagram is not what earns me a 6-figure salary. Products and programs that are worth 6-figures is what earns me the money!
Your email inbox is typically where a lot of indecisions linger. I only give myself 30-45 minutes each day to answer email, sometimes less. I systemize my workflow to reduce email, and I take a very proactive approach with my clients so that I’m never inundated with support issues. My email only clogs up when I leave previously read emails undeleted because I’m still “thinking about it.” I bet you can relate.
I’ve learned that email is very similar to the kitchen countertops in your home. If you put one thing down on them because it doesn’t have a home, suddenly 18 other homeless things will gather around it. This year, I decided it was time to stop him-hawing or second-guessing anything related to my career.
Being decisive helps free up more creative, income-generating energy. Chasing problems or allowing indecision to loom over your productivity (as creatives have a tendency to do for weeks, months, or years) burns expensive fuel and gets you nowhere.
#4 Powerblock my time
Every week, I look at what I need to complete to stay on track with my goals. I use the daily slots in my planner to list the actual to-do’s. There is nothing social or recreational scheduled into my work day (i.e., pin, share, tweet, etc.); only production. I call these time slots “powerblocks.”
Powerblocks are periods of time, typically 90 minutes for me, reserved for purely income-generating work. I used to try to schedule work tasks by the hours of the day, but I found that if I got a little bit behind, I ended up a lot behind – or worse – I’d let myself slack off for the day because I wasn’t on schedule anyway.
Rather than block out specific hours of time, powerblocking allows me a slightly more flexible schedule. I schedule 2-3 powerblocks each day of the work week, and it’s been an extremely productive change to my routine.
Some examples of things I’ll get done in my 90-minute powerblocks include …
- Write a blog post
- Outline a new project
- Work on a first (second, final) draft of a book
- Build a course module
- Create product campaigns in my email manager
- Create new lead magnets (email opt-in incentives)
#5 Ignore email and social
The #1 factor to a successful powerblock? No distractions. There are zero notifications set up on my phone, and the ringer is on vibrate-only during work hours. Nobody has my home phone number except for my husband and children. I never give it out; I wouldn’t take an uninvited phone call during my workday any sooner than a doctor would answer his phone during patient rounds.
My work is that important. My clients are that important.
In the past and as I was forming this habit, I’ve even blocked social media platforms from my internet browser using extensions, such as Stay Focusd. It prevents you from accessing time-wasting platforms, and if you’re a constant comparer (always watching the competition), it’s good for that as well.
#6 Study and strengthen my business
I pride myself on being at the top of my game. I’m results-oriented, so when I find a weak spot in my business (or myself as a businesswoman), I set out to strengthen it immediately.
If we’re honest, each one of us can admit that whenever our dreams fade, it’s because our determination has waned, and we lacked self-discipline. I know for sure that anytime my life doesn’t look exactly how I want it to look, it’s for those two reasons!
It sounds so simple, yet it’s life’s greatest challenge. The question is: How much better can it get? And, are you ready to train, study and challenge yourself for it? Are you willing to put in the hard work that will create the goal?
If so, hold onto your hat. Your Best Year (coming October 4) will help you produce the results you’ve been dreaming of. I took my six-figure earning strategies and packaged them into a revolutionary business planning system anybody can use. Be on my email list to receive private training, introductory offers, and exclusive bonuses.
Until next time and all the best,
I love that notebook that you use. I see you customized it but where did you get it? I’ve learned the blocking from the book called 12 Week Year. It was sooo good!
I loved this blog post 🙂
This is just what I need right now, you never disappoint! Thank you ???
Thank you, Tina!!! That’s so kind <3
I’m half guessing, but I’m pretty sure the planner is an Erin Condren neutral, and the bullet journal is definitely a Leuchtturm.
Also, those Faber Castell’s are my favorite archival ink pen. So much smoother than Microns.
Thank you, Briar – you guessed right, and I too use Faber Castell pens.
Hi, Shay! I use an Erin Condren planner (erincondren.com) and a Leuchtturm1917 (found on Amazon).
Thanks so much Lisa 🙂 I appreciate it! I loved these tips!
So, I’m really struggling with marketing without social media. I realize how counterproductive it is for my business, but I’m not growing my audience without it.
I recently let go of Facebook, and while it’s been fabulous for my mental health and my productivity, my audience size is stagnant.
I batch and schedule it all (to include Insta!). My social reach is continually growing, but I do not touch it every day. Instead, I take a few hours every two weeks or so to ready posts – so much more on this to come, especially inside Your Best Year 2017.
Hi Lisa …What a great post…I have found that I get so distracted and have so may ideas that I flit from one to another. I get up early 5:00 – 5:30am but never have enough time! I started a Bujo in July but have found that I have spent too much time listing and being artistic rather than doing!!! These 6 little pointers have definitely helped on all points …today I will clear all those “think about emails”1096 of them!!!! to have the beautiful weekend to start a plan for a great & protective week on Monday. Thank you again jane x
Thank you! Thank you, Jane 🙂 Love your enthusiasm + good intentions.
Finding some good pointers in each piece I read. Having moved from set studio space and now heading to dedicated e-commence site I need all the good advice I can get!!! Getting the nerves under control is task #1!
Lisa this is a great post. I needed this reminder. I get so focused on the to do list that you called “typical”..I feel like the administrative assistant in my biz, not the CEO! I need to fix this – I do well for a while then the discipline wanes and I’m off the rails again. I love the idea of power blocks – the sound of those words is motivating! I’m also in love with that cork wall. I’m very tempted to do something similar! I love having everything in my line of sight.
You sure rock! Also, I’d like to have that notebook. Where did you get it?
Ok, I’ve heard you talk about block scheduling before. I’ve been working on a system that will work better for my life (you know my crazy life!) and I’m finding I’ve been just like you in the past. If I get behind then I throw in the towel and do nothing. Block scheduling sounds like it will definitely give me more flexibility! I’m implementing it on Monday!
I’m so excited you have a book in the works! If you don’t have a copyeditor/proofreader I’d be happy to help.
Awesome. I love the tips and will sure use this on my business. Hope it works good. Thanks.
I read Lucky Bitch Get Rich last year and it changed so many things for me. I still count my change and keep track of it. I need to get back to tracking daily. It really does help.
I love all of your other suggestions as well!
I’m working through Best Year 2017 and LOVING it! Thank you!