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10 Tips for Effective Time Management in Life and Work

Posted by Carmen Ventrucci

Have you ever thought to yourself that there aren’t enough hours in the day, or felt overwhelmed at the tasks facing you? If you have, this article can help you!

I’m asked this question all the time….” How do you manage everything?”  I have 6 kids and a husband, multiple businesses, hobbies, and a social life. If I can figure it out, you can too.

Here are some simple tips you can implement today to start being more effective and manage your priorities:

1.) Clarify your goals and strategy

Be very clear about your aims and ambitions, both short and long-term. Write them down. Once you know what you really want to achieve (and why) it’s easier to make decisions about what needs doing and to plan accordingly.

2.) Focus on your top priorities

I prefer to use the phrase ‘Priority management’ instead of ‘time management.’ You’ll be more productive and profitable if you identify and focus on the areas most important to your business. Work on the fundamentals first. The Latin word ‘fundamentum’ means foundation – so take action, build strong foundations and the rest should follow.

3.) Schedule time

If it’s a priority to you, schedule it. Literally write an appointment in your work planner (you do have one of those, don’t you?) to set aside a realistic block of time for your priority actions. This reduces anxiety over not having enough time and keeps you focused.

4.) Say no!

No is one of my favorite words. Always check your schedule before committing to anything new. Don’t allow others to divert you from your objectives.

5.) Create supportive systems

Systems are key for everything. If you don’t like your results (in this case your priority management results) examine your systems and find a way to improve them. This includes systems for filing, management information, and communication.

6.) Take a reality check

Will your current activity have a positive outcome, or are you doing it to avoid something else? Be honest with yourself.

7.) Delegate

It’s tempting to do something yourself when you think you can do it faster and better. But consider the long term – delegation now will save time in the future, and if done appropriately can motivate your staff, boost their confidence and help them develop their skills. I have a small army of children I love to delegate tasks to, and they get life experience by accomplishing them.

8.) Repeat your success

Remember the last time you went away on vacation, and how you got so much done in those few days before you left? What strategies and techniques did you employ that made you so effective and focused? Can you repeat them? Alternatively, imagine you are going away tomorrow and work through today accordingly.

9.) Balance your life

Formally schedule personal activities too, so you make time for family, friends, your health, and fun because having a balanced life reduces stress and increases energy levels. Priority management is really about life management!

10.) End the day

At the end of the working day, tidy your desk, make notes about what needs doing tomorrow and prioritize those tasks. You’ll worry less that evening and be prepared and focused the next morning.


Carmen Ventrucci’s motto is Follow Your Road. She knows small business owners create their business so they can make an impact for their clients, community, family, and life. 

Nicknamed by her clients as ‘The Girl with the Golden Shovel’ due to results, Carmen helps her clients scale and grow their business so they can magnify their impact.  Carmen is a small business consultant based in St. Paul, MN, and serves clients across the USA with her company, True SISU Life, LLC

See how Carmen’s Golden Shovel can impact you at www.truesisulife.com



8 BIG Small Business Mistakes: Part 2

Posted by Carmen Ventrucci

Here’s an interesting notion:  Do you realize that there are mistakes you can make at various stages of your business’ growth that can be slowly killing it for months or even years if you don’t watch for them? 

Last week we started talking about the 8 biggest mistakes small business can make.  Refer to Part 1 of this blog article to discover more about the first four:

1. Underestimating Your Project and Service Time

2. Not Knowing Your Company Numbers and Incorrectly Setting Prices

3. Not Charging for All of Your Time & Costs

4. Not Getting Paid Fast Enough

Here is Part 2 of the blog article and the remaining four BIG mistakes a small business could make:

5.) Failure to Have Solid Systems and Procedures in Place

Too many procedures (known as “red tape”) is the reason why many people start their own business in the first place. Unfortunately, having no procedures and systems in place at all is a bad idea. Depending on the type of industry, business owners must come to a happy medium or chaos and the unknown will ensue.

Some basic examples where procedures or systems are needed include billing, collections, payroll, human resources (interviewing, hiring, vacations, benefits, job responsibilities, etc.), manufacturing, operating equipment, maintaining equipment, inventory, sales calls/visits, and logistics to name a few. And always remember, you need a sales process because without sales, you don’t have a business.

6.) Spending Advertising Money Just to Say You Advertise 

I would almost rather see my clients not advertise than spend without tracking the results. There is no point in a marketing campaign if you do not put things in place that allow you to measure how well the plan is working. 

The other wasteful part of marketing that many people make the mistake of doing, is not tracking their previously successful campaigns.  Why some people think that just because a $400 dollar a month ad worked once very well for one busy season, that it will automatically work every year after that is beyond me.

7.) Spreading Yourself Too Thin

This is a classic mistake made by every entrepreneur, myself included. The key is to figure out when you are at that “wearing too many hats” point and start getting some help.  The solution here is to know your strengths and to be able to see when you are not performing the duties that demand these skills.

If you are the best salesperson in the company, you can’t get caught up in day-to-day operations. If you do, sales will slip, and eventually, you won’t have any operations to worry about.  Think about this to help you figure out if you are spread too thin: Did you really go into business for yourself to work 80+ hours a week? No, you went into business to make an impact, and you can do that by focusing on your personal zone of genius.

8.) Not Getting Help Soon Enough

Set goals to know when to hire people to take over where you are light on knowledge. Not getting help or waiting too long can kill a company. Most people who start a business do it because they are good at the technical end or the sales end.  If you know the best way to make a widget, then your strength is in production and that is where your time should be spent. Hire an outside company or consultant to take care of the sales and marketing and then hire inside when you can afford someone full-time.  Don’t be something to your company that you are not. It will only hold you back.


Carmen Ventrucci’s motto is Follow Your Road. She knows small business owners create their business so they can make an impact for their clients, community, family, and life. 

Nicknamed by her clients as ‘The Girl with the Golden Shovel’ due to results, Carmen helps her clients scale and grow their business so they can magnify their impact.  Carmen is a small business consultant based in St. Paul, MN, and serves clients across the USA with her company, True SISU Life, LLC

See how Carmen’s Golden Shovel can impact you at www.truesisulife.com


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8 BIG Small Business Mistakes: Part 1

Posted by Carmen Ventrucci

Here’s an interesting notion:  Do you realize that there are mistakes you can make at various stages of your business’ growth that can be slowly killing it for months or even years if you don’t watch for them? 

Well, these mistakes do exist and they are not just reserved for the rookie companies.  Many working businesses, including those you might think, are “successful” because they’ve been around for 10+ years, are often still making them… and are possibly losing a lot of money and wasting a lot of time in the process.

Although some of these big and sneaky mistakes seem aimed more at service type companies, they really do fit the bill for almost any type of industry. 

1.) Underestimating Your Project and Service Time

This is a big one and it pertains to service companies as well as companies that sell a product. This is a service company’s bread and butter. If you don’t estimate your time to perform each and every service in your repertoire, you will get burned and there is little you can do about it but bite the bullet and learn from it.  The best way to estimate time is to do it once yourself or watch your best employee do the task and then throw in a little fudge factor on top of it. For product companies, time becomes an issue with logistics so be aware!

2.) Not Knowing Your Company Numbers and Incorrectly Setting Prices

Notice I emphasized the word “your.” It’s a common mistake to use a competitor’s pricing as your pricing gauge without actually knowing why they use those numbers.  Think about the nightmare you will get yourself into if you take a competitor’s price, cut it by 10% and then start selling. What if the competition has a bad pricing structure and is barely making money or even losing money? What if your costs are more than theirs? You can use competitors as a starting point, and you can’t base your whole strategy on it, base it on your research instead.

3.) Not Charging for All of Your Time & Costs

This seems like a silly statement to some, and I bet most business owners will admit they have given away too much of the farm at times. There is nothing wrong with giving a little extra here and there to show you care.  Either way, that’s not what I’m talking about here. What concerns me are those who put a lot of quality into their work or products or stores and do not cover the cost for it.

As an example, say you run a service company and your competitors don’t do a certain standard service that you do. You can’t just undercut their price to steal a job; you need to have that cost covered in your rate and advertise the fact that it comes with the price upfront. Stores undermine themselves, for example, when they put more people on the floor for customer service but don’t charge for it. These things cost you money and when your competitors don’t do them it costs them less money.

4.) Not Getting Paid Fast Enough

That’s right, the old cash flow issue.  As long as you are actually making enough money to pay the bills, this problem can be solved, prevented, or at least made to be not as bad as it could be.  Here’s the deal:

Bill customers promptly. It is very common for a small business to not have the procedures or systems in place to get invoices generated and out the door in a timely fashion. Again, this would seem unlikely since that’s the reason why we are doing the work- to get paid. But it is very easy for the people responsible for getting this info to the billing people to be too busy to get it there or not have enough organization to give it to them the right way.

The second part to slowing down or stopping a regular cash flow is to make the quickest payment deals possible with customers and the slowest possible with vendors and employees.  If there is any way not to pay employees any more than twice a month, you better do it.  Negotiation longer payment terms with vendors goes a long way in increasing your cash on hand. 

Stay tuned next week for Part 2 of 8 BIG Small Business mistakes.


Carmen Ventrucci’s motto is Follow Your Road. She knows small business owners create their business so they can make an impact for their clients, community, family, and life. 

Nicknamed by her clients as ‘The Girl with the Golden Shovel’ due to results, Carmen helps her clients scale and grow their business so they can magnify their impact. 

Carmen is a small business consultant based in St. Paul, MN and serves clients across the USA with her company, True SISU Life, LLC.  See how Carmen’s Golden Shovel can impact you at www.truesisulife.com.



Direct Response or Bust!

Posted by Carmen Ventrucci

Direct response marketing is a marketing that demands a direct response from your potential customers. This type of marketing is used to answer questions, present your branding, products, and the reason you do what you do. It’s a way to showcase the IMPACT you want to make with your business.

Customers love this because they are offered the opportunity to respond, whether that be in the way of signing up for a newsletter, posting a comment on your site or blog, or purchasing a product from you.

Email

So, what does direct response marketing look like? Well, it comes in many forms, including:

  • Direct mail
  • Email
  • Social media content
  • Print ads
  • Radio and TV ads
  • Coupons or other incentives
  • Telemarketing

Some of the advantages of direct marketing are:

  • A great way to use free time during lulls in business
  • Productive way to communicate and empower you to create more relationships
  • Great way to up-and cross-sell to current customers
  • Low-cost way to dig up new business
  • Used as leverage to turn small sales into large sales
  • Supplement your current marketing program
  • Cost-effective way to reach target markets
  • Offers measurable results
  • Reach outside your local area for new business
  • Increase the effectiveness of your sales force

These are all great things that can come from just taking a few simple steps to putting together a direct response marketing plan and executing it.


I honestly don’t think you’ll ever find a safer, lower-risk, higher-profit method of increasing your business or profession than direct-response marketing.” Jay Abraham


Branding

Direct response marketing is one of the best ways to launch your business on a large scale and reach out to everyone in your target market whether they are in your local area or not. Our GUIDED TOUR can help you put together a great direct response marketing plan and get you on your way to heightened success and impact.


Carmen Ventrucci’s motto is Follow Your Road. She knows small business owners create their businesses so they can make an impact on their clients, community, family, and life.

Nicknamed by her clients as ‘The Girl with the Golden Shovel’ due to results, Carmen helps her clients scale and grow their business so they can magnify their impact.

Carmen is a small business consultant based in St. Paul, MN, and serves clients across the USA with her company, True SISU Life, LLC. See how Carmen’s Golden Shovel can impact you at www.truesisulife.com.



Educate Your Customers

Posted by Carmen Ventrucci

Educate them about what, you may be thinking. Well, consider this, many businesses focus solely on attracting new customers, but you NEED to spend a good chunk of your time retaining current and former customers. These are people you already know to be a good sales potential…they’ve already bought from you!

Take the time to market and sell new products to your old customers and less time trying to sell old products to new customers and you will see a drastic change in your sales, customer quality and branding position.

Here are a couple of key elements to use to retain your current customers:

  1. Stay in contact: This means by phone, email, e-newsletter, in person-by pigeon if you have too!
  2. Post-Purchase Assurance: This means you need to follow up with customers. Your customers need to feel like they are being supported for their purchase and with the item they purchased. How many times have you purchased a product, then felt completely abandoned? Something as simple as a Thank You note with your contact or customer service information can go along way in retaining a great customer.
  3. Deals & Guarantees: Always offer your current customers the best deals and guarantees you have. Show them you appreciate their business or even come up with a club specifically to reward loyal customers. You can also do this with a preferred pricing option.
  4. Integrity: Using good business practices and simply upholding integrity, dignity and honesty go along way with customers. Let’s face it, there’s a lot of swindling and crap out there and the safer and more confident you make your customers feel, the more they will trust you and that makes for an amazingly supportive and loyal customer.

There are three cornerstone ideas to a successful business:

  • Quality product/service
  • Offering useful products/services that solve a problem for or enhance the life of a customer
  • Offer subjects your customers find interesting

Use this approach of educating your customers and offering them real information and insight and you will be rewarded with loyalty and success.

Stop wasting all your time on new prospects while your current customers fall by the wayside!

As Jay Abraham says, “Your best prospects are your existing customers. If you’ve been putting all your marketing efforts into acquiring new customers, stop and diverts some of your resources into reselling, upselling, cross-selling to those same customers. In every ways possible – through package inserts, regular mailings, special offers – stay in touch with those customers and get them used to buying from you.”

So, there it is! Remember, our FREE test drive can help you put together the resources and tools to do exactly that. We can help you educate your customers and you can watch the benefits pay offer many-fold.