The Dark Side of To-Do Lists

Are you as into your to-do list has I’m into mine?  There’s something so satisfying about checking off those to-do’s.  That sense of accomplishment makes you feel great about yourself.

But, have you ever stopped to think about whether the line items on your list are the “right” to-do’s.  Are your to-do’s really helping you reach your goals?  I mean, how many times have you already done something only to write it down on your list so you could check it off—100% guilty!  You know you do it too.

The problem with to-do lists is that creating them doesn’t usually take into account what you need to prioritize—or what you actually need to accomplish.  The dark side of to-do’s lies in their format which gives equal weight to each line item.

I bring this up because there are a lot of things that I want to accomplish this year and I only have 24 hours in a day just like everyone else.  So, the only way for me to get more done is to work smarter and prioritize.

How am I going to get more done?  Two words: time blocking.

The concept of time blocking is pretty simple.  You create blocks of time to get your most important tasks completed first and then everything else gets done at the end of the day.  Each night you also set aside a block of time to plan your next day and ensure your top priorities are actually tasks that will help you reach your broader goals.   Planning the night before means that these top priorities are just in fact that—top priorities not just line items on a list.

If you get to the most important stuff first thing, you’ll actually get it done.  You won’t run the risk of being sidetracked or getting tired in the afternoon and not finishing the things that are most important.

To work smarter you’ll have to build a better to-do list by making your to-do’s things that are actually important and help you accomplish your goals.

To continue this discussion about working smarter, in my next post, I’ll discuss multi-tasking or rather the myth of multi-tasking.

Until then, stay on your toes!

Does Your Business Have a Steady Source of Leads?

When I opened my first studio about 4 ½ years ago, I chose a location that was amazingly perfect for the two groups of clients I was trying to attract.  Clients literally did the marketing for us by referring friends and we were constantly seeing new faces in classes throughout the day.  And the business grew.  It was amazing.  But this was not typical and certainly did not include any type of business plan to generate predictable, solid leads.

Fast forward to when I opened my second studio and right before it opened, I got really sick—like couldn’t leave the house because I had shingles on my face.  It was not amazing.

Because I was struggling to simply take care of my basic needs (thankfully I had some amazing friends who brought me meals every day), I didn’t have a lot of time or energy to execute a lead-generation campaign and … the studio did amazing.  No, actually the opposite.  We really struggled building our client base.  I’ve since redeemed myself and will share how I created a way to bring in steady, predictable leads to both of my studios.

Are you skeptical?  If you are, that’s cool.  I’m going to take a stab in the dark and say that if you are skeptical, you haven’t been tracking your existing marketing campaigns.  Am I correct?  It’s ok.  But, you need to start tracking–like today.

First Things First, Start Tracking Your Marketing Campaigns 

Before we jump into things, it’s important to discuss the concept of tracking your marketing campaigns.  First, ask yourself: Where do I get my clients from?  Newspaper or magazine ads, Facebook, Instagram, ads on Facebook and Instagram, referrals, walk-ins?  Make a list and try to give a percentage to each source.

Second, ask yourself: Am I currently paying money to advertise and I haven’t received any clients from that campaign?  If the answer is yes, then stop spending that money.  Cancel the ad or whatever it is.  It’s not working.  If you’re not sure if you are gaining leads from a campaign, start tracking and see what you find out.

I used to have an advertisement in a local monthly magazine.  At first, it was great and probably brought in close to 30 new clients over the course of two months (not too shabby), but after a while, it didn’t work and nobody mentioned that’s where they had heard about us.  So, I don’t run that ad anymore.

Find Out What Does Work to Reach New Clients

Now that you have eliminated any marketing campaigns that aren’t working for you, you’ve freed up some money to redirect towards the things that do actually work to drive new leads to your business.  Now ask yourself: What’s working to bring new clients to my business?  Should I do more of that?  Or should I investigate something new?

I have discovered that there are really only 2 marketing initiatives that work to bring new clients to my studios: client referrals and Facebook ads.  Client referrals are great because you’re pretty much acquiring a lead for free and that lead almost always (like 90-95% of the time) buys our introductory offer, which is the $99 New Client Special.  That’s like tastes great and less filling!  It’s a no brainer—keep those client referrals coming all day long.

So how do you encourage client referrals?  Below are all the ways that my studios encourage clients to bring their friends and family in to take class.

  1. Referral Fees: Offer a small amount of money for existing clients who bring in friends.  We offer $10 in store credit to any client who brings in a friend who purchases the $99 New Client Special.  If you could acquire a new client for $10, or 10% of what they just spent, would you?    That’s a pretty reasonable Cost to Acquire a Customer (CAC).
  2. Free Class to Client Friends: Offer a free class to the client’s friends.  I am a firm believer in not offering first class free—it doesn’t provide any incentive for people to buy packages and continue taking class and it devalues the service to zero.  If any of my clients are reading this, sorry, free just doesn’t work—it’s something that has been proven time and again at both studios.  Anytime we offer free classes or some kind of Open House with free class, those people taking advantage of the event pretty much never make a purchase—they are unqualified leads that just want something for free.  But … a friend of an existing client with a membership?  That is a qualified lead.  This friend has heard how great class is, how great the studio is, how clean it is, how friendly everyone is, how great the workout is and most importantly has seen how great their friend looks now that she’s been taking class.  Offering them a free class simply provides no excuse for them not to come to the studio and then purchase the introductory offer because they already understand the value of the service provided.  The CAC here is essentially $0.  You’ve already scheduled the class and the other existing clients taking that class are covering the cost of the teacher, electricity, music etc.  It doesn’t cost you anything to offer this free class to a client’s friend.
  3. Sell Gift Cards: Offer gift cards to encourage gifting your service.  This is pretty simple.  Clients can buy their friends a gift card and introduce them to the studio.  Again, CAC is $0 or the nominal fee for each plastic or paper gift card/certificate.
  4. Sell Friend-Centered Promotions: Offer a promotion to encourage clients to purchase for their friends or the friends to purchase for themselves.  Again, pretty simple.  At key times during the year—think Holiday, or Summer, when it’s a little slower—we offer a special promotion (3 classes for $33) designed to bring client friends into the studio to try class.  If you spent any money advertising this promotion your CAC would be the ad spend divided by number of people purchasing—or if you just emailed your list CAC would be $0.  So again, CAC is likely pretty low.

Awesome, right?  Sure.  This is all great.  At most, you’re spending 10% of the purchase to acquire a new client and these leads are qualified, meaning they have a high likelihood of purchasing.

The only problem is—we’re leaving out thousands if not tens of thousands of potential new clients by only focusing on client friends and referrals.  What if the person has never heard of my business?  How do I reach them?

Fast Lane Leads vs. Slow Lane Leads

I hope you’re getting excited reading this because what lies below pretty much blew my mind when I first implemented it.  And it’s totally changed the way I look at marketing and spending my advertising budget.

Before I share the special sauce, we need to review 2 concepts.

  1. I have no idea who said this, but I’ve read it in a few books and articles written by Mike Dillard and Russell Brunson—when they cited it they didn’t know where it came from either. But here goes … Nobody wants to buy a drill.  They want to make a hole.  So, you shouldn’t advertise drills.  You should advertise how to make a hole.  You need to sell the end product or RESULT.  Any light bulbs going on?  Any hamsters spinning on that wheel?  If you’re in the fitness industry, this is such a critical concept, it’s not even funny.
  2. We also need to define the “fast lane” client and the “slow lane” client. Fast Lane leads are the ones we talked about above—friend referrals.  They’ve heard of your business and are ready to buy. They already understand the value and will purchase immediately because they understand the result your product or service will give them.  Remember, they saw their friend get stronger or look better and more fit from taking class, so they’re ready to buy right away.

Slow Lane leads are not ready to buy.  In fact, they probably don’t even know your business exists.  If they do know you exist, they don’t understand the value of your product or service.  Maybe they don’t care about working out, or they think walking is a better workout, or they get childcare at the Y—doesn’t matter, they’re not sold on you.  But … that doesn’t mean they won’t buy in the future.  How could you introduce your business to those Slow Lane Leads?  How could you get them to buy from you?

Using Facebook Ads to Reach Slow Lane Leads

You can use Facebook ads to reach Fast Lane Leads, but Facebook ads are the ideal way to reach Slow Lane Leads—at least that’s what I’ve learned.  So how do you do it?  How do you create a Facebook ad to reach Slow Lane leads?  Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Free Offer: You need a free offer that will have value to Slow Lane leads. This is not a necessarily a free class—these people are unqualified (as of now) and a free class won’t always work to teach them about your business.  You need something that will “wow” them and make them think, “Huh, if this business is willing to give this away to me for free, what will I get when I make an actual purchase?  That must be f*cking amazing!”  Trust me, you have something to give away already, or you can easily make something and will “wow” these leads.  Obtaining the free offer is dependent on this Slow Lane lead giving you their email address.  How else are you going to reach out to them after they click on your ad?  This is how you are going to grow your email list and convert these Slow Lane leads to purchase.
  2. Facebook Ad: Next, you need to write your ad.  The more simple the ad, the better.  Make it clear.  Choose one action and make that action clear—you want these Slow Lane leads to click on your ad and download your free offer.  Tell them to do this in clear, concise language.
  3. Targeted Audience: Now, you must find your targeted audience.  If you have a killer offer and a clear ad, but don’t advertise to the right group, you won’t have any clicks and you won’t get any leads.  Where to start?  How about your existing client base?  Do they have any over-arching common interests?  Did you know that Facebook can create duplicate audiences?  You can take your existing client base and Facebook can find people similar to that list—pretty cool.  Or maybe you just target those who have liked your Facebook page and their friends (I mean, we already know friends are more apt to buy).
  4. Split Test the Ad: You’ve figured out your offer, created your ad, found the audience and you’re ready to go.  Split testing the ad is an important step because, well, you just don’t really know this audience, right?  After all, they haven’t bought from you and don’t know much about your business.  You don’t know what makes them tick.  You’ll want to run a few different ads with different pictures or different copy.  Maybe try testing the ad with different audiences and see which gets the best results.  These tests should just be small buys—I did about $10 a day for 1 week.  After you try a few things, you’ll start to see some patterns or success with one ad or one audience.  Then you can adjust or go full throttle and increase your ad spend.  I actually spent about 3 weeks split testing and learned some valuable information along the way.  I tried 2 different offers, several different audiences and about 8 different ads.

 What were my results after completing these 4 steps?  After only running about 2 ½ weeks, my ad has over a 40% conversion.  That means 40% of all the people clicking on it have submitted their email address and downloaded my free offer.  That’s pretty f*cking awesome and means my offer is resonating with my audience.  So far, from those leads we’ve had approximately 24% purchase our $99 New Client Special, which is also a great conversion.  You have to remember, however, that these leads are Slow Lane leads, so many aren’t going to purchase right away.  You will likely have to reach out to them or email them multiple times to reach a sale.  You’ll need to create compelling and informative email content to educate these leads on why your business, product or service is something they should buy.  It’s harder to earn these Slow Lane lead sales because you have to sell them on the RESULT of your product or service and most importantly, earn their trust.  Slow Lane leads are not quick to make decisions or give something a try unless they trust the result.

So, there you go.  You now know the secret to successfully generate steady leads to your business.  Below are a few resources you can check out to create your Facebook Lead Generation Campaign.  I used all of them to create mine.  If you’d like more information, give me a shout with a message or comment.  Follow the blog by submitting your email and I’ll send you more detailed information on how I created my ads.

Next week, I’ll talk about to-do lists and multi-tasking.

Until then, stay on your toes!

AdEspresso: This tool makes ad creation easy.  You can also make several versions of your ads for your split testing.

Click Funnels:  The video on the first page of this site is totally stupid.  Don’t let that fool you.  Once you understand what a sales funnel is, you’ll wonder how you ever functioned without one.

Magnetic Sponsoring: How to Attract Endless New Leads And Distributors To You Automatically, Mike Dillard: This book was originally written for those in the network marketing business, but it’s applicable to every business.  Read it.  That’s all.

Why Having Multiple Revenue Streams Will Take Your Business from Good to Great

You know that you should diversify your investments.  You wouldn’t want to invest 100% of your money in one stock.  You’d want to diversify to an index or simply across multiple stocks in several industry sectors to protect your money and minimize the inevitable ups and downs of the stock market.  But what about diversifying your business revenue?  Have you thought about safeguarding your business by adding multiple revenue streams?

No.  That’s ok.  I didn’t consciously think about it until about eight months ago.  But in order to run a successful fitness studio (or business), you need to have multiple revenue streams.  Here’s why…

You will protect your biggest asset

My business is my biggest asset.  I’m guessing your business is your biggest asset as well.  And while I don’t sit around constantly contemplating the sale of my studios, it’s important to remember that they are an asset of value and a great deal of that value comes from the predictable revenues or memberships that have been sold.  I am always working to make sure that our reoccurring memberships which we call Pure Barre Platinum (12-month contract) and Open Barre (month-to-month no contract) equal my fixed costs and salaries.  The more reoccurring revenue or membership revenue that your business can count on, the more stable the business is—the more valuable it becomes.  Working to grow reoccurring revenue also has the added benefit of reducing your stress because you’ll know how much money your business is expected to earn each month and there won’t be any worries about how you’ll pay your rent or your employees.

 You can increase wallet share

I discussed this in last week’s post about the value of your distribution channel, but if you can find a product or service to sell one client, you can probably find something else to sell to them in the future—you can increase wallet share for your business.  What else could you sell to your existing client base?  For my business, it’s workout apparel and accessories.  If a client has a membership, selling them workout clothing is a great second revenue stream.  It makes sense—clients would need workout clothes to take class.  What else could you sell your clients to gain wallet share?

 A cash infusion can fuel growth

Developing an additional revenue stream could mean a cash infusion for your business that can fuel growth or allow you to reinvest in the business.  What does this mean?  For my studios, we sell student semester packages three times a year.  Since the students pay for several months in advance, that’s three times a year we receive a significant cash infusion to save for tax payments, purchase additional equipment, make studio improvements or simply add to the studio savings account.

Diversifying your business revenue will take your business from good to great and ensure your biggest asset remains your biggest asset.  But how do you develop multiple revenue streams and increase leads?  That’s what I’ll delve into in my next post—how to increase leads and ensure you have a steady stream of leads to grow your business.

Until then, stay on your toes!

Why Your Distribution Channel Is the Most Important Part of Your Business

If I asked you what the most important part of your business is, what would you say?  Would you say, your Team?  Great answer!  And yes, your Team is an important part of your business, but maybe not THE most important part.  What about your product or service?  That’s pretty important, after all—it’s why you’re in business—to sell your product or service.  But, when you get down to it, it’s your distribution channel—or your list of clients and customers that is THE most important part of your business.

Have I lost you?  Do you disagree?

I’ve said this many times throughout the posts in this blog—I think my team is amazing.  They work hard and constantly challenge themselves, which I appreciate.  However, if one of them moved away and stopped working for me, I would hire someone else and train them.  Eventually that person would be integrated into the team and working hard alongside everyone else.

But, without your list of clients or customers to purchase your products or services, you wouldn’t have anything—just your physical storefront or website and no sales, no revenue, no business. 

The most important thing you can do for your business is to keep growing your client or customer base by getting more leads or prospects who might want to buy from you.  Are you worried about having too many clients or too many leads?  No such thing!  When your business is built on a solid foundation (like we discussed here), you can always hire more employees to help you or open another location to serve this growing client base.

So I’m sorry, what’s this whole thing about a distribution channel?

Think about it.  If you have spent time and effort to build trust with your client base, why would they just buy one product or service from you?  Why could you not try and sell them on multiple transactions?  For instance, in my studios, we sell packages of Pure Barre classes.  Once we get a client committed to taking class and loving it, we’ve earned their trust and they become more open to other things—like workout clothing, which we also sell.

So now we have 2 revenue streams that we can count on from just 1 client, classes and clothing.  What if there was something else we could sell them?  Juice, food, accessories, a new type of Pure Barre class—it really wouldn’t matter what the new product or service would be, because we’ve built that trust, we’ve created a client interested in what we’re selling now as well as what we will sell in the future.

How much better off would your business be if you had multiple revenue streams?  How can you use your existing client list to grow your business by increasing the number of products or services offered to them to purchase?  And finally, how can you grow your leads to grow your business?

That is what I’d like to discuss next week—how to create multiple revenue streams for your business as well as how to increase your leads.  You won’t learn this in business school.  No MBA required.

Until then, stay on your toes!

How to Succeed at Owning a Franchise Beyond What the Franchisor Supports

Statistically, franchised businesses are able to bring in greater revenues than independently-owned businesses.  The U.S. Small Business Administration has found that on average, a franchise can earn five times the first-year revenue of the average independent business and over 95% of franchises that open are still successfully in business five years later.

Since franchisees typically get more training and have more resources than independents, this makes sense.  In addition, the business concept of the franchise has been tested and proven.  So why, if you own a franchise, does it seem so hard?  Why do franchise owners struggle?  Why does it seem like at times you can never get ahead operating your franchise?

I own and operate 2 Pure Barre franchises both are successful.  That is, both are profitable and will run without me there.  I can be out networking, working on my businesses, sleeping, or on vacation and know that classes are being taught and purchases rung up.  Don’t get me wrong, I work really hard—but so does my team.

Owning a Pure Barre franchise is great.  The Franchisor gives me support that I would not otherwise have if I just owned my own barre or fitness studio.  And I do have some independence while making marketing decisions that best fit my location and client needs.  If I don’t like something, I can call or email and express my unhappiness—if it can be fixed right away, it is.  Bigger changes might not happen immediately, but at least I’m being listened to.

It is important to remember, however, that the interests of the Franchisee and the interests of the Franchisor are often at odds, which starts us off on how to succeed at owning a franchise beyond what the franchisor supports …

Understand that the Franchisor and Franchisee Care About Different Things

The number one concern of the franchisor is revenue growth.  As long as your franchise continues to grow revenue, the franchisor is happy.  See, the franchisor collects a monthly royalty and as long as that monthly payment keeps getting bigger, all is good.  The problem with that is that as a franchisee, your primary concern is your net income growth—or profit.  If your profit is growing you’re happy.  As a franchisee, if you could gain more profit by lowering expenses and not increasing revenue or even decreasing revenue, that’s awesome.  Good work!  Unfortunately, the franchisor doesn’t see it that way.

This juxtaposition of interests does not make franchise ownership bad and it doesn’t mean doom for your business.  It is just extremely important that you understand these conflicting interests—the better you understand this, the more successful you’ll be.  If you’re looking at your monthly reports from the franchisor and think you’re killing it because your top line is growing—what are your own financials telling you about your net income growth?  If you aren’t making any money (negative net income) or just scraping by to pay your bills—that’s not awesome.  IF YOU’RE NOT PAYING YOURSELF—YOU NEED TO BE.  I know a lot of franchise owners that don’t pay themselves regularly but talk about how their business is doing well.  Hummm … really?

Only you are keeping tabs on your expenses and working to control costs while growing the business.  Generally speaking, the more profit you can make from your business, the happier you are as the owner.

To succeed at owning a franchise beyond what the franchisor supports, you must look beyond franchisor-produced sales reports which only track revenue growth and focus on growing your net income.

Buying an Operating System Does Not Include Buying a Company Culture

Owning a franchise is great because you essentially purchase a working operating system.  You don’t have to develop anything brand new.  The product is already created.  The sales strategy is already planned.  You just have to execute it.

Unfortunately, this operating system does not include your own unique company culture.  I’ve written about the importance of creating your Mission, Vision and Culture statements in a previous post.  Even if your franchisor has these things (mine didn’t), it makes sense for you to expand on the culture statement because you may place value on some additional points that will make your location excel.

If you don’t define your business culture, your employees will, and they might have other ideas than you—like, bad ideas that will limit your business growth and success.

To succeed at owning a franchise beyond what the franchisor supports, you must create your unique company culture—write it down and hire only employees that believe in that culture and act according to its guidelines.

Being a Business Owner Does Not Mean You Know How to be a Leader

Buying a business does not instantaneously make you a leader—damn.  If only it did.  If your franchise requires that you hire a team of employees to run it, you will need to learn how to manage and motivate them to run the business.

I probably spend a good 90% of my time trying to figure out how to keep my team motivated and how I can better support them to sell more.  Does this shock you?  At this point, I have hired an incredible team to help me run my businesses.  Since they complete the day-to-day operations, that frees me up to work on supporting them and working on activities that enhance my businesses.  It’s great—but getting to that point does take time and calculated effort.

If your franchisor offers leadership training or management training—sign up and take it!  If nothing like that is offered, then it’s on you to invest in yourself and learn how to lead and manage (maybe start by reading some of these books and listening to some of these podcasts).

The key to business management success is actually, to invest in yourself by attending seminars, reading books and learning from other business owners.  The more you invest in your own leadership training, the more you can give back to your team.

To succeed at owning a franchise beyond what the franchisor supports, you must invest in your own leadership and management training and make it a continuous priority. 

Notice that all of these things could easily be applied to succeed at owning an independent business.  There’s no secret sales strategy or silver bullet to franchise ownership or business success in general—sorry for the big let-down.  It all boils down to knowing your numbers and operating your business within those means, creating your company culture and hiring only those who believe in it, and making it a priority to invest in your own leadership and management training.

Approaching business ownership by applying these three principles isn’t sexy.  It doesn’t involve a killer Social Media plan or some cool video that goes viral.  So maybe that’s why more franchise owners don’t jump at working on these things.  If the foundation of your business isn’t rock-solid, then you’re going to keep struggling—whether you own a franchise or not.

In my next post, I’ll let you in on a little secret—your distribution channel is more important than the product you sell.  Say what?!  I’ll explain on Thursday.

Until then, stay on your toes!

5 Podcasts that Helped Grow My Business

Podcasts have really exploded in popularity and it seems like everyone is producing one.  While it’s amazing that you have all this great information just a download away, as a business owner, your time is valuable and shouldn’t be wasted on bogus podcasts that just aren’t ready for prime-time.

I’ve been listening to five great podcasts that have really helped grow my business and keep me focused on leading my Team.  You might want to listen too!

Girlboss Radio with Sophia Amoruso –This is one of the first podcasts I started listening to.  In each episode, Amoruso interviews a woman leading in business.  Each woman tells her unique story from first job to present day.  One of my favorites was the November 10th interview with Alli Webb, Founder of Drybar.

Self Made Man –This podcast is f-ing amazing.  Mike Dillard is the Self Made Man and each week he interviews a gentleman business owner and actually gives you sound advice on how to run a business.  Mike is all about membership businesses, reoccurring revenue and how to build a distribution channel to grow not only the business you have right now, but any future businesses you might start.  Each episode is pretty long—like an hour—but the information is extremely valuable.  I have listened to the October 26th interview with Justin Tupper, CEO of RevolutionGolf.com, “The Secret to Building a Massive Membership Business” and the December 7th interview with Geoff Woods, future CEO of Keller Williams Real Estate, “A Practical Guide to Building an Empire” several times.  If your business is membership-based, like mine, this is a must-listen.  Girls can listen too.

Profit. Power. Pursuit.  –Each week, Tara Gentile talks with an entrepreneur in a creative field to discuss all the success and problems they’ve faced in building their business.  All of the topics are applicable to small business owners—time management, scaling your business, etc.  If you feel alone in your business with all your problems—this podcast will make you realize that you are not.  Not really comforting, but I’ve learned a lot from listening to how other business owners have solved their problems and worked through them to eventually get ahead.

Smart Passive Income  Pat Flynn hosts a podcast solely about passive income and how listeners can learn from successful business owners earning a living from passive income.  I have made one of my goals for the first quarter of 2017 to develop a passive income strategy, so I just started listening to this podcast to do some research on what might work best for me.  As a reminder, passive income is income that comes from an entity that is reoccurring and predictable—like rental property, high dividend stocks or developing a newsletter.

Help My Business! –This is a video podcast hosted by Andrew Lock.  I only took one marketing class in business school—marketing just isn’t my wheelhouse.  But Lock makes marketing interesting and he tells it like it is.  He pretty much makes fun of everyone, which I love.  Check it out.  You might just learn something.

There you have it—five podcasts that I listen to each week.  I’ve received some great advice from each of them and I hope you will too.

In my next post, I’ll discuss how to succeed at owning a franchise beyond what the Franchisor supports.  Even if you don’t own a franchise, you’ll be able to apply these strategies to your own business.

Until then, stay on your toes!

How TV Was Killing My Productivity

Back in June, I had an epiphany that TV was responsible for killing my productivity, so I cancelled my cable TV service.  Wait, what?  No TV?!  No TV?!

One of the biggest things wrong with my life was that I simply never had enough time to get everything done both for my business and in my personal life.  After I read a book called The Compound Effect, I realized that I did in fact have plenty of time, however, I was wasting it or using that time ineffectively.  And TV was a huge time-suck.

Think about it.  How much time do you spend watching TV?  How much time do you spend watching TV that isn’t uplifting or impacts your mood in a negative way (Real Housewives anyone?!).  How much time do you spend watching shows you’ve already seen (um, HGTV)?  What would happen if instead of watching TV, you did other things, like read, write a blog, plan goals for yourself or your business?  How much more would you get accomplished?  In a day, a week, a month?

Don’t worry.  There are plenty of things that I can watch on Netflix and Amazon Prime.  And most importantly, all the mindless, stupid TV that I was watching before is not a part of those services.  Oh, and I’m saving over $1,000/year by not paying for cable.  Not too shabby.

The decision to cancel cable probably seems a little drastic to most of you.  I’ll do my best to answer all the questions swirling around in your head right now…

How do I watch the news?    –So here’s the thing about the news.  Most of it doesn’t impact me or my business at all.  A lot of news is depressing and irrelevant to what I’m trying to accomplish in my life.  And as a bonus, I didn’t have to watch one political ad during Election Season.  Do you wish you hadn’t watched any political ads in 2016?  I’m sure you do.

When I cancelled cable, I cancelled my Wall Street Journal subscription as well, which was actually harder to adjust to than not having cable.  I have the WSJ and NYT apps on my phone and have alerts set up, so if something big happens, I hear about it.  WXII, one of our local news stations, has an app as well.  Or I can log onto the WXII website and keep up with news and weather by watching live, which is what I did when tracking the recent snow storm we just experienced.  And this is kind of interesting.  I find that if it’s really important, someone will tell me about it.  Who knew?!

Um, sorry.  What about Fixer Upper?   –Haha.  I do love Fixer Upper.  So, it turns out that a lot of HGTV shows are on Netflix including the first two seasons of Fixer Upper.  The latest season of Fixer Upper is available on Amazon—you will have to pay for it, but at $24.99 for the season, you’re still coming out ahead from paying for a cable subscription.

What about sports?  –I don’t watch that many games on TV.  I’m either going to watch them in person—Go Deacs!—or going to a friend’s house to watch with a group.  Not a big loss there.  But last time I checked, ESPN had plenty of apps.  And it’s kind of amazing to see what people have to say about games live on Twitter.

What about HBO, Showtime, etc?  –I really like the show Billions, so eventually I’m going to break down and buy access to Showtime on Amazon which is $8.99/month after a 7-day free trial (this would include access to all Showtime shows and movies each month—pretty good deal compared to what the cable company charges).  But the second season isn’t out yet, so I’ll save my money until it is.

What I’m trying to say, is there are plenty of things for me to watch without having to pay for cable TV.  And since I can’t just mindlessly turn on the TV, sit down and scroll through the channels—I actually have to figure out what to watch, with intent—I’m not accidentally wasting hours and hours watching shows I don’t even like or put me in a bad mood.  If I chose to binge-watch something, I’ve made the decision to binge-watch because I’m interested in watching and I’m good with it.

What am I doing with all this extra time?  Well, I’m writing this blog, working on my business, spending more time with friends and reading—I’m a big reader.  Here’s what I’ve been reading in the past few months.

The Compound Effect, Darren Hardy:  I recommended this book in a previous post because it literally changed my life.  I even bought a copy for everyone on my Team as a Holiday gift and I’m pretty sure most of them have read it. This book is all about making small changes that “compound” to effect bigger more amazing changes.  And it really works. Anyways, get this book immediately, if not sooner.  Read it.  Implement just one suggestion—after all it’s called The Compound Effect.  See what happens.  I’m going to keep talking about The Compound Effect in my blog, so you should probably just break down and buy it—then read it.

How to Win Friends & Influence People, Dale Carnegie:  This book is amazing.  I wish I had read it years ago.  It’s an especially good read for this time of year (January) since we tend to be more receptive to change and making better choices.  In the book, Carnegie, discusses many topics including how to make a good first impression, how to criticize other people without them hating you, how to become a good conversationalist and many more.  It really all boils down to listening to others and The Golden Rule.  Who doesn’t need a reminder to do unto others as you would have others do unto you?

The Bourbon Empire, Reid Mitenbuler:  I love bourbon.  But this book is about more than liquor.  It’s a book about business, marketing and plenty of American history sprinkled in.

Domino: Your Guide to a Stylish Home:  Domino Magazine was the best magazine on home décor and style that no one knew about—which is why it stopped being published back in 2008 or 2009.  Oops.  It has since come back as a quarterly publication.  For a long time, I could only find it at Lowe’s Home Improvement stores, but now you can actually subscribe to it.  Yea!  Since I want to buy a home this year, I’m enjoying flipping through this book as well as Domino: The Book of Decorating (which I already own) to stay inspired and excited about this impending HUGE purchase.

SUCCESS Magazine:  I used to just pick up a copy of this when I was at the airport.  But a few months ago, I bit the bullet and bought a subscription.  Each magazine includes a CD, which is great to listen to in the car.  If you believe that surrounding yourself with successful people leads you to being successful, then this magazine is for you.  I always pick up some great ideas from each issue.  Warning: If you are in the fitness industry, like I am, you will find the articles and “tips” about working out and eating healthy super-cheesy and lame.  But you have to keep in mind that most people don’t prioritize their health like we do—or make a living promoting health.  Drink another green juice and be glad you’ve got one less area of your life to worry about.

There you have it.  All the topics and things I’ve been filling my head with instead of bad TV shows including The Real Housewives and the seemingly limitless stream of House Hunter reruns.

In my next post, I’ll give you a list of my favorite podcasts, one of which, just gave me a list of some amazing books to read.  And the circle continues!

Until then, stay on your toes!

Is Your Backbone Made of Courage?

Ugh.  I had big plans to write an amazing post based on the following excerpt from The Edge: The Guide to Fulfilling Dreams, Maximizing Success and Enjoying a Lifetime of Achievement written by Howard E. Ferguson.  But…taking year-end inventory at both studios and receiving several shipments of new clothing which then needed to be entered into inventory, took entirely more time than I thought.  So, I’ll leave you to read Ferguson’s own brilliant words…

If desire is your wishbone, then courage is your backbone.  Your backbone gives you the gumption, the get-up-and-go, the guts to excel, the incentive to make any dream you dare to dream come true.

It’s easy to be ordinary or mediocre, but it takes courage to excel, to be different from the crowd.  That’s why not many people can do it.  The rewards are great, but so are the risks.  It takes courage to sacrifice; to work long, hard hours when you could be relaxing; to work out when you’re tired or sick; to focus on being the best you can be when there are so many distractions; to seek out tough competition when you know you’ll probably get beaten.  It’s easy to be average, but it’s hard to be the best.

It takes courage to stand by your convictions when all those around you have no convictions.

It takes courage to keep fighting when you’re losing.

It takes courage to stick to your game plan and the unrelenting pursuit of your goal when you encounter obstacles.

It takes courage to push yourself to places that you have never been before physically and mentally, to test your limits, to break through barriers.

It takes courage to run a marathon, but then how would you ever know how far you could run if you never tried?

It takes courage to try to be the very best you can be when others around you settle for mediocrity.

I firmly believe we are put on earth to be tested—to be challenged with adversity and to see what we can accomplish.  The successful person is the one who continually faces the problems and challenges that life brings—and overcomes them all, no matter what the obstacle is.

I also believe that most people have far more courage than they give themselves credit for.  When tested, people find they have the courage to look deep into their souls; and do things they never thought possible.  This amazes most people, who initially don’t believe they have much courage.  We all have it—we just don’t realize it.

Most people are completely unaware that they possess this type of courage.  Why?  Because if they were aware of it, they’d have to test it—and that’s risky.  So most people play it safe and don’t risk “Going for it.”  They’re afraid of going into the unknown.  There are no guarantees.

Unfortunately, people frequently tell you things can’t be done before they tell you things can be done.  They’re what we call “SNIOPs”—people who are “Susceptible to the Negative Influences of Other People.”  It’s easy to be negative because it’s safe and deals with the known.  It’s hard to be positive because it means taking risks and deals with the unknown.  It takes courage to succeed.

Sebastian Coe (distance runner, three-time Olympic Gold Medalist) used the word “courage” to describe what it will take to run the super mile.  He didn’t say mental toughness—which is what you need at the end when your legs are dead and your lungs are bursting.  Most good athletes can handle this; they can fight through the pain barrier.  What Coe is saying is that you must be courageous—you must be brave enough to push yourself at the beginning when you’re not hurting, knowing full well that by doing this, the more you’ll hurt at the end.  That is courage!

2-29, The Edge: The Guide to Fulfilling Dreams, Maximizing Success and Enjoying a Lifetime of Achievement, Howard E. Ferguson (This is one of my favorite books. So many great quotes and bits of inspiration.)

How could you not be totally pumped up to take over the world after reading this?!  After typing it, I’m starting to understand why an ex once told me that I did so much all the time that it made him feel bad about himself.  All I can say is, when courage is your backbone, you can’t help but just go for it!

Next week I’ll get back to actually writing and let you know all the books (and even a magazine) I’ve been reading as well as some great podcasts I’ve been listening to.

Until then, stay on your toes!

Why it’s Important to be a Bulldog in Business

In an effort to start getting my new office set up, I was cleaning out some papers and found an article I had saved from 2006.  I know.  What the heck was I doing with a 10-year old piece of paper ripped out of a magazine?

The title of the article was “Only the Bulldogs Survive” and it was written by Jeffrey Pfeffer.    Under the headline he writes, “It’s perhaps the most crucial ingredient of corporate leadership, and you can’t learn it in business school: The stubborn determination to get stuff done.”

I actually have two English Bulldogs.  They aren’t very good at listening, snort a lot, and burn more calories chewing a bone than most of us do in a cardio class (they really get into bone chewing).

I’ve been thinking more about Pfeffer’s message because when you’re a business owner, you have to be the bulldog and stick up for yourself and your business.  No one else will look out for you.

In a previous post, I discussed how I almost lost my business because I made a hiring mistake.  This year, I also had to fire my accountant because he made some pretty significant mistakes both preparing my taxes and completing my monthly book keeping.  Luckily those mistakes were in my favor and I didn’t owe the IRS or the State of North Carolina any additional tax money, however, it’s taken me several months to clean up the mess and amend my returns.

I bring this up, because if you have hired someone to work for you, don’t be shy about asking questions.  If you’re writing them a check, you deserve a detailed explanation for the work they are completing.

I know enough about accounting to be dangerous but not enough to be lethal.  I knew something wasn’t quite right with the work I was seeing from my old accountant.  It seemed like he wasn’t reviewing the work done by his associates.  Every time I asked a question, it was answered in a way that just didn’t seem to add up (no pun intended).  And I ended up over-paying my taxes.

Now, I have a new accountant.  If I ask him a question, he answers in plain English, which I appreciate.  I’ve also been working with a new book keeper each month and together we review all transactions.

And most important, I have set up my books so they help me make decisions about my business.  Each month I can see at a glance whether my net income is being driven by an increase or decrease in revenue or if it’s my expenses that have increased or decreased beyond where they usually are.

Is being bulldog-stubborn and a having a no-quit attitude the key to business success?  You’re damn right it is!  Without the conviction to follow your business plan despite all of the obstacles you can and will encounter as a business owner, you’re not going to get very far.  But I do try to keep the drooling to a minimum—the studios are carpeted.

In my next post, I’ll discuss how much of a risk it is to be successful and why it takes courage to succeed in business.  Heavy.

Until then, stay on your toes!