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imageTime or should I say lack of time can be major issue for busy women who run a small business from home. No matter how good your intention to make time to improve or grow your business, it’s a sad truth that most of us are extremely busy already working on an ever-growing list of tasks.

Another sad truth is that no-one will achieve success in business simply by working hard on their actions and putting in long hours.

In any case, your own definition of working hard might not be the same as a successful entrepreneur’s idea of working hard. Her focus may be on making good strategic decisions whereas yours may be on juggling client work, marketing, finance and administrative tasks, looking after sick children, older relatives and supervising the builders.

All in a day’s work you may think. Many women accomplish such a lot, don’t they? But at what price?

What not to do

I once wrote a post about the importance of showing your business who is boss. A person in charge of their business will happily spend time managing and working ‘on’ the business, rather than ‘in’ the business.

The thing is, I didn’t always know that. A couple of years after starting my first business I found myself fire-fighting like crazy. I just couldn’t figure out what to do first – everything seemed equally important.

Why was that happening to me?

I had started my first training business because I loved my profession (teaching) and helping people to learn. And like many women I know, I wanted more time for my family and have a better quality of life too.

But somehow all this didn’t start to happen until I decided to take charge and stop letting the business run me.

Why effort alone doesn’t work

Having worked with lots of start-ups over the years I know that my own start-up story isn’t that unusual. Many people believe that sheer effort, persistence and hard work will lead to the results you dream of.

But sadly I have seen people work hard like this who experience a form of ‘burnout’. This can happen when the passion you may have had for your business has disappeared leaving you to feel drained disillusioned and stuck.

You may even believe that you’ve failed or that your business idea or model will never work.

Did you have any idea before you started how much goes on behind the scenes of a business that helps to make it successful (in whichever way you define success)?

Maybe you had an inkling but thought the only way is to push yourself harder to try and make sure it works?

Overworked people frequently find it difficult to see the ‘wood for the tress’ and make time for the things that matter.

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If you have a problem with taking time out whether for yourself or the business, please be careful.

It is not that difficult to get to the point where taking a complete break from the business seems like the only option.

How to take control and pave the way for success

All successful people invest time in themselves as well as in their business and this seems to be a key aspect that differentiates them from less successful people.

Of course it may seem completely counter-intuitive to spend time on you or your business particularly when you’re in the middle of a super busy period.

But I hope these amazing benefits will convince you:

  • You’ll know what REALLY matters in your business and can do more of what works – e.g. the high impact tasks – whilst also letting go of low impact, time wasting activities.
  • You’ll feel more focused and make fewer ad-hoc decisions in your business.
  • Taking time to think gives you time to plan. A clearer direction stops you from getting caught in the day-to-day stuff and keeps you in touch with the big picture.
  • You’ll unravel the causes of overwhelm,  take action accordingly and feel much calmer.
  • Finally, you’ll feel a lot less like an overworked employee and more like a business owner in charge.

Success!

So why not schedule two time slots in your diary right away? One for you and one for the business!

Just remember that if you are not making time for you or the business, then you won’t be making time for success…

IMG_6665Ute Wieczorek-King is an experienced trainer, mentor and business coach who specialises in helping busy women be focused, visible and profitable in business.  She blogs regularly here as well as at http://www.successnetwork.org.uk and http://www.attractreaders.com and has written hundreds of free articles for women in business.

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In business everyone knows that to succeed, taking action is a must. I am talking about major and minor actions, carried out constantly and consistently. Action should always be driven by your desire to make a success of your small venture.

However, to be fair, there may be times when things are not quite going to plan. You sit in front of your computer, really wanting to take action, but you seem to lack focus. Something seems to be holding you back.

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Feeling stuck? Not sure what to do next?

Perhaps your potential action list is too long?

Or your long ‘list’ is only in your head?

Resist the temptation of taking the wrong actions

An important cause of inaction can be feeling overwhelmed and not knowing where to start.

Also, attempting to tackle too many actions in one go can be counter-productive too. Not being able to complete your tasks can make some people feel they are always failing which may then lead to procrastination.

If you’re feeling slightly unclear about your next step whilst taking action, then this action could be the wrong kind. This is something I think of as ‘panic action’, which can make you feel busy (albeit only temporarily). In reality, ‘panic action’ often contributes to confusion or overwhelm.

One sure thing is that the way to getting results is not by rushing into action, nor is it by sitting at your desk telling yourself you ‘should’ be doing something, which is also counter-productive.

The best way to plan your actions

To get all the actions right in business, it helps to de-clutter your thinking first.

Unless you clarify and prioritise the actions that are REALLY  important, you will be straight back into doing what you’ve always done and unable to break the ‘panic action/ inaction cycle’.

Instead why not ask yourself what you need to ‘do’ now, today, that will make a difference to your business?

The power of a daily ‘mantra’

Set a clear intent every day to focus on the actions that will positively impact your business. This is like having a daily mantra.

Start small, with just one action to focus on every day. Say to yourself…”Today, I write/create/reply to/ attend (etc)… and I will do this to the best of my ability”

The good thing is that you won’t just start taking one right action today, you will become more focused and proactive … every day!

Ute2013-150x150About the author:

Ute Wieczorek-King is a UK-based German mentor and blogger who helps passionate midlife women to stay focused, work smarter and stand out from the crowd.

If you’d like to take your small venture from good to great, why not download Ute’s free “Passion to Profit” ebook.

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When you run your own business you will frequently find yourself in unfamiliar territory. Like the first time you attend a big networking event, give a presentation to people you don’t know or publish your first blog.

10 years ago, when I started my coaching & mentoring business I hated being in the spotlight, something I had never needed to be with my corporate training business. Yet here I was, hesitating to contribute to discussions on my first professional social media network and wondering why anyone would be interested in what I have to say! At live networking meetings I felt self-conscious, occasionally stammering through my elevator speech, often wanting to hide at the back of the room.

A few years later I was hosting large events, had raised my profile substantially and was building a following on social media. I was once interviewed on radio – on my own – for 90 minutes and I was only a little nervous beforehand.

I have just released my first YouTube video called “Boosting your chances of success in business”. Speaking on camera, for all the world to see, used to feel even more daunting than appearing on the radio. Despite the fact that not everything went according to plan during the recording, I didn’t let my nerves affect me. So what has changed?

Three key things I’ve learnt that may help you too:

1. Whatever new situation you find yourself in, always prepare as best as you can

For the radio interview I mentioned earlier, I prepared myself by jotting down some bullet points on key themes and statistics so I wouldn’t forget them. I even visualised being in a small room talking into a microphone and wearing a headset.

When it came to recording my video, I did a few practice runs until I felt confident that I wouldn’t forget any of the tips I was trying to get across. Good preparation will give you confidence whether you are speaking at a conference or getting ready for a new customer meeting or presentation – indeed, any situation that puts you in the spotlight and tests your performance.

2. Last-minute nerves may not always be a bad thing

Feeling nervous can at times work with you rather than against you. The effect of adrenaline can make you feel much more alert which may help to improve your performance. When I run a brand-new training event, for example, I find that this alertness helps me to react more quickly and deal better with things that don’t go according to plan.

Whilst excessive nervousness and panic can be disabling and affect performance negatively, you don’t want to be too calm either. Just telling yourself that there is no need to worry and that all will be OK may lead to complacency. Both are extremes and neither will be helpful when you want to perform at your best.

3. You will never be “perfect” Ute YouTube1

Women often want to be ‘superwomen’ and try to please everyone, but in doing so, we can be far too hard on ourselves. It is when you accept that ‘good’ is good enough and therefore perfectly acceptable, that you will come across as human, authentic and approachable in other people’s eyes.

When you watch my video you’ll realise that it isn’t in the recommended landscape format and there are also a few seconds missing at the beginning. But despite the flaws, I chose not to strive for perfection with my first YouTube presentation. Leo Tolstoy once said “If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.” True?! So, why not remind yourself from time to time that not being perfect is actually OK.

By being prepared, embracing the inevitable nerves and accepting yourself as you are, you will feel authentic, alert and ready for action. That way you will get that huge sense of satisfaction when giving whatever your best may be … even when finding yourself in unfamiliar territory!

Ute2013-150x150PS. If you would like to have a complimentary chat about your micro-business, please email Ute Wieczorek-King.

Ute is a bilingual (German) business coach & mentor who helps busy women to be visible, effective and profitable in business. To get her monthly tips and a free ‘Turn your Passion into Profit’ ebook, please visit the Success Network website.

Copyright 2012-2014, Ute Wieczorek-King

Photos: Ute Wieczorek-King

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You started your business because you wanted to be in charge of your own decisions. Or you thought you could do a better job without the constraints you were previously working under. Or you had a dream.

Now you’re working for yourself and you are run down by a zillion tasks, often making deadlines by the skin of your teeth, or being pulled in too many directions trying to make money somehow… somewhere.

You get drawn into joint ventures that don’t go well – perhaps causing stress and worry. Or you are tempted by the security of part-time work or the seemingly higher potential of referral marketing schemes. Let’s face it, times can be tough.

Has your business taken you over?

Imagine you’re a CEO and you see your own people firefighting, lacking any kind of direction. What would you do? Would you not only be expected to take charge but want to, in order to improve business results and boost morale?

So what’s keeping you from doing the same for your business?

Some people cling on to things that aren’t working because it’s what they know. Perhaps they find it hard to change with the times or don’t like asking an outsider for help.

Others like to be busy, or to be seen to be busy. Being busy for them may equate with being important. This can be a dangerous trap though – when you are so caught up in seemingly important stuff there often isn’t time to step back, see the bigger picture and give yourself a much-needed reality check.

So if you’re being run by your business, what’s stopping you from taking charge – which, if you are running a micro-business or are working as a solopreneur, may mean managing yourself?

All you need to do is ask yourself how the things you are currently working on contribute and bring you closer to your real purpose.

And how will they impact your results in 3 or 6 months time?

Once you know clearly why you are in this business and what its purpose is, it becomes so much easier to figure out whether or not you are doing all the right things.

So if you are spending valuable time on projects that haven’t given you the desired results, it will be easier to say no. Likewise, it will be easier to deal with – and ultimately avoid – bad collaborations and joint ventures. And you may find that you can say no to time-wasting projects (and people too).

Difficult times require difficult decisions and a visionary boss will be ready for that.

Once you decide that you are a boss rather than an employee, your first step ought to be to look at the business plan. You know that forgotten document you once created which has been ignored for too long? Or maybe the one you never got round to writing?

Give that business plan some time and some TLC and allow yourself to take charge and become the boss you’ve always wanted to be.

So why not seize the moment and think ‘Carpe Diem’.

Your business is like your life – if run well, it can give you lots of satisfaction and make you and others happy. Isn’t that worth being the boss for?

Ute Wieczorek-King is an experienced trainer, mentor and success coach who specialises in helping busy female solopreneurs focus on what matters in order to turn their passion into profit. Connect with Ute via Twitter, the Success Network Community on Linkedin, or Success Network Recipes on Facebook. Or sign up to her monthly newsletter on the Success Network website.

Copyright 2011-13, Ute Wieczorek-King

(Originally published in October 2011)

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"Successful people ask better questions..."

“Successful people ask better questions…”

I find it rather disconcerting that we are already so far into the year- it only seems like yesterday that I was writing my annual plan for Success Network!

Time flies! Most of us will have been pedaling away hard this year, brimming with enthusiasm, I hope. Knowing both how far you’ve come and where you are going is how you measure your progress – very important if you don’t want to leave your success to chance.

Now is a great time to think about the business!

Perhaps your annual plan needs to be updated, due to new developments or opportunities? Being open to these is key to securing future entrepreneurial success, whether you are a solopreneur or run a small growing enterprise. So is being flexible and proactive rather than reactive, if you want to drive your business forward.

So why not take a pen and a piece of paper and answer just a few simple questions:

  • What are my key achievements so far this year?
  • What is working well in the business? What do I need to do more of?
  • What isn’t working so well? What do I need to let go of?
  • What do I need to learn to do better (or differently) to achieve my goals?
  • Are there any opportunities I would like to or need to explore?
  • What are the obstacles that could prevent my progress?

Similar to a SWOT assessment, these questions help you to recognise your Strengths and Weaknesses, as well as identify any Opportunities and Threats to your business.

The answers will give you clarity, I promise, as well as new ideas to help you move your business forward. Then, coupled with a new action plan, you will be able to boost your business success and be in a much stronger position to reach the end of the year smiling!

Ute2010About the author: Ute Wieczorek-King provides business support for passionate fempreneurs who want to take their micro-business from good to great. Get her daily business tips on Facebook or sign up to her newsletter to receive two free ebooks to help you grow your business and make it more profitable: http://www.successnetwork.org.uk

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Networking workshop (by Alison Crown Photography)

A Success Network workshop- by Alison Crown Photography

The other day I retweeted someone’s post on Twitter which stated that most entrepreneurs network with too many people. I simply couldn’t agree more!

We used to run regular training events with added networking opportunities and found that some delegates would always enquire prior to booking how many people we were expecting. A suitably large number would then help them to decide that attending was an efficient use of their time.

A similar thing seems to be happening online in social media where a lot of people spread themselves thin in the hope that collecting ‘followers’ and ‘friends’ will lead to more potential clients or customers.

People everywhere are falling into the trap of seeing networking success measured in numbers!

Whilst you could argue that it is important to always meet new people, most people forget that crucially you need the ‘right’ people to build the kind of relationships that provide you with more referrals or more business.

When applying the powerful Pareto principle to this context, we realise that 80 percent of  our business can come from 20% of our customers. Therefore it is not the quantity of contacts or the speedy sale that counts in networking, it’s the quality and depth of the connections!

So before you are tempted to scour new groups, events and social media platforms for new connections, try changing your networking strategy from quantity to quality. By strengthening the connections you already have (online and offline) you may well start to attract new business … faster!

Ute2010Ute Wieczorek-King is an experienced trainer, mentor and business coach who runs Success Network and specialises in helping busy fempreneurs to be more visible, productive and profitable in business.

She also co-authored the networking handbook “From Contact to Advocate (TM)” – an authentic 7-step approach to developing referral relationships that generate more business.

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Trophies copyright Ute Wieczorek-King 2011

‘Trophies’ copyright Ute Wieczorek-King 2013

The other day I was on Facebook, reading all the business updates of the companies I follow.

One of the owners had proudly mentioned her business being featured on TV. She had already been posting a running commentary on Facebook during the filming which made for a fascinating read. Lots of her followers were engaged by her exciting stories and it was plain to see that they were really happy for her.

Then someone asked if she would post some of the photos she had taken as she had met quite a few famous people in the process. She replied that she wasn’t sure, as it felt like showing off!

Most women don’t enjoy showing off online

It is understandable — we often hide our light under a bushel as we are brought up to be modest and not boast about our achievements. But as too much modesty may actually hold women back in business the question is, what do you do when you are proud of your achievements? Is there a right and wrong? Especially when it comes to communicating on social media…

Not long after the original post, the page owner’s follower number went down noticeably — quite a few people had unliked her page. Needless to say she felt distraught; it was proof to her that her success had suddenly made her unpopular. I really felt for her and tried to remind her that she had worked hard for her moment of fame and that she deserved her success and everything that came with it!

Success can make others jealous!

Isn’t it funny? Success is something most people aspire to, but when someone suddenly achieves it,  it can cause a lot of mixed emotions! It can be really disheartening when people are jealous and downplay all the hard work that’s gone on behind the scenes. How often have you heard someone saying, “They’ve just been lucky”?

I wonder if some people just can’t cope with the fact that they are not on a par with the person they think the successful person is becoming. After all, even if people don’t change who they are, success may impact how they do things. Financial success, for example, can improve your lifestyle visibly by changing the number of holidays you take, where you buy your clothes or the type of car you drive.

Success can be fake too!

Interestingly you also have the ‘fakers’ — people who show off their flashy cars or expensive designer clothes, whose lifestyle in reality is funded on credit. So the way we think of success and how others think of it, is laden not only with emotion but also, potentially, very different perceptions of the world we live in.

Why you should stay true to your own goals

What we mustn’t forget though is that the trappings of success are just superficial and have nothing to do with the real person underneath!

When you stay true to yourself there is probably no right and wrong, even in social media. If being authentic means sharing your pride in your achievements, then share it.

And if you want to keep your success quiet, because it feels right, that’s ok too. Just try not to let fear hold you back — fear of not being liked by people who will be the wrong followers or friends for you anyway. People who are probably too guided by their own inadequacy or fears, to be able to appreciate others.

Letting go of the wrong people who don’t respect you — successful or not — allows you to surround yourself more with the right people, the kind of people who can see beyond the ‘trappings’, who like you, who will be happy for you and celebrate with you when the time comes!

Ute2010Ute Wieczorek-King is an experienced trainer, mentor and business coach who specialises in helping busy women to be more more focused, effective and profitable in business. 

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