Audio: My Secret Weapon

Okay, I’ve done it. I’ve gone and given up my my best coaching secret. It’s a tool I recommend to almost all of my clients and it’s responsible for creating a big shift in people’s lives. If you’re unhappy or exhausted, this is for you. It’s not going to be what you thought it was, but I promise you, if you try it out, it’s going to pay dividends. The call is just fifteen minutes. If you’re in a hurry, you can skip to the eight minute mark to hear about the coaching tool. The first part of the call is focused on how coaching helps wedding entrepreneurs, though, so you may not want to miss that.

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Audio: Flipping Marketing on it’s head

This week’s call is quick. In fifteen minutes, I highlight the difference between thinking like most people and being super creative when you’re at your best. I help wedding entrepreneurs see themselves and their world differently. When your perspective changes, your marketing strategy changes with it. And you’re going to be blown away by what happens as you become more and more fearless. The key to getting more of the brides you want isn’t spending more money. It’s a whole lot easier (and harder) than that.

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Time: Are you Penny Wise and Dollar Poor?

You’ve probably heard the expression penny wise and dollar poor. And you’ve heard that time is money. But time is also time, and unlike money (or any other resource) it is limited. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. So you can get more money or happiness or fun, but you can’t get more time. As a wedding business coach, I help wedding entrepreneurs get a whole lot smarter about how they spend their time. It’s fascinating to me that someone who runs a successful business and understands the importance of investing money in the right places can still be somewhat foolish with how they spend their time.

Okay, let me give you an example. Most of the wedding business owners I work with think like bootstrapping entrepreneurs. When you’re starting out, you’ve got lots of time and no money. But now, they’re working with all of the brides they want (and the money is rolling in) and time is the scarce resource. The problem is that they still act as though there’s plenty of time and no money. So let’s say you’re a wedding photographer who’s now booked solid after a couple of years of hard work. Between photo editing, sales and client meetings and actually shooting the weddings you are slammed. Not to mention blogging, staying up on trends, trying to learn more about social media and everything else. You don’t delegate anything because you’re stuck in the old mindset of I-have-to-do-everything-myself.

So how do you break out of the penny-wise-dollar-poor mentality?

1. Know what you absolutely love to do (and are crazy-good at). Usually, for a wedding photographer, this is actually taking the pictures. This is where you want to spend the most time (because it makes you happy and it makes your life better).

2. Root out your time-hogs and give them to someone else. Many great photographers can outsource their photo editing to a cheap, but talented assistant. This isn’t just about saving time. If you dread doing your accounting chores each month, to the point where you are thinking about it constantly, imagine how much energy and time you’ll save by outsourcing that to a professional bookkeeper.

3. Know how you make money. Those time-hogs are sinister because they keep you from doing things that get you more business. Don’t try to do everything yourself just because you can. Outsource as much as possible so you can focus on getting more business (so you can spend more time doing what you love).

4. Love yourself. No joke. As a business coach, I don’t just give quick-fix advice (actually, I never do) – we explore why a coaching client isn’t being wise with their time. If you’re using up all your time on tasks you could outsource, ask yourself why. Chances are, there’s some fear there, or possibly the feeling that you don’t deserve to work just four days a week. It takes a strong person to love themselves and to say, “You’re worth it. You deserve to spend your life working on things that you love, instead of mind-numbing tasks.” Are you worth it?

5. Remember that this applies to money, too. I hear wedding business owners say things like “I can’t afford that” all the time in response to investments like marketing opportunities or (ahem) coaching. But what is your return on investment? If that marketing opportunity (or, ahem, coaching) will bring you ten times as much money as you pay for it, how can you afford not to? If it will save your sanity or give you ten more hours a week to spend on things you love, how can you afford not to make the investment?

It’s easy to think small and to make excuses. I do it all the time. But then I remember, there’s a better life out there for me. And for you, too. So if you are twice as productive on days when you hit the gym, can you afford not to hit the gym? I can’t.

Now it’s time to roll up your sleeves. Where have you been penny wise and dollar poor in your life (when it comes to time or money)? More importantly, what the hell are you going to do about it?

Never Schedule a Meeting Again

If you spend way too much time trying to schedule meetings with clients, potential clients, other vendors or anyone else, your life is about to get a whole lot easier. Say goodbye to the thirty-email conversation where you keep trying to randomly guess which date will work for the other person. Stop setting reminders for yourself to remind other people to show up to your meetings. How many hours a week could you save if you didn’t have to schedule appointments?Enter timetrade.com. This amazing piece of webware lets potential clients schedule appointments with you instantly online. It does all of the work so you get to have all of the fun. Here are five reasons timetrade is my best friend:

1) Potential clients can schedule appointments instantly online, 24/7.

2) It automatically sends them a reminder at just the right time (usually a day or so before the meeting).

3) It syncs with Google Calendar so whenever someone schedules an appointment with you, it’s automagically (yes, that’s my favorite word) added to your calendar.

4) It checks your calendar for you. So if you add a new event to your Google calendar, it won’t show open appointment times during that event. Never double book.

5) It ain’t ugly. The interface isn’t gorgeous, but I’ve looked at more than a handful of other online scheduling systems and they’re all ugly as sin.

The sixth reason I love timetrade is that the annual fee is $49. I generally like my webapps free, but for the punch it packs, fifty bucks is just plain giving it away. Like any respectable web service, they also offer a free trial so you can try before you buy.

If I had to come up with some downsides to the service, it would probably be the lack of control you get over some aspects (like when those reminder emails go out). That said, I haven’t had any missed appointments yet, so I’m not sweating it. And any features they’ve lacked (like iPhone compatibility – c’mon, people) they’ve quickly rectified (their calendars are now iPhone and iPad friendly.)

As usual, I don’t make a dime for recommending them (though I probably should). It’s just one of my favorite tools and one you should definitely know about if you’re sick of wasting time trying to schedule appointments. What are you going to do with all of that free time?

Get that free trial here: www.timetrade.com.

Just Say No

Are you one of those people who says “yes” to every single thing someone asks you to do? It’s hard to say “no,” especially when the project sounds interesting (or the person asking is a bully). It sounds good (or we don’t want to turn someone down) so we say, “Yes!” But then another project comes along, and then another. And pretty soon we’re in way over our heads and we have no time for ourselves or to really focus on our passion.

Why We Can’t Say No

I think most people are afraid to say no for a couple of reasons:

1- We are afraid to miss out on an amazing opportunity.

2- We don’t want to let others down.

Why No is Necessary

Taking on everything all of the time is exhausting. You will burn out. The problem is that there will always be someone who wants to drop something on you so they don’t have to do it. So you need to start sticking up for yourself and for what you really want. What are your big goals, your dreams? If you want to have a super successful business doing what you are passionate about, you’re going to need to STOP doing a lot of the things that are preventing you from focusing on that. We can’t take on every project. When we try, the things that are most important to us (including our health) suffer the most. Not only that, but we run the risk of turning into a frazzled mess that no bride wants to hire.

How to Say No

Saying “no” doesn’t have to be painful. If you are someone who is afraid to miss out on an opportunity, think of the greater opportunity that will come from focusing on your passion and your ultimate goal (and know that other opportunities will come along). Recognize that many before you have sacrificed their own good stuff for the sake of the best stuff.

If you have a hard time turning people down, be honest and get creative. Tell them the project sounds awesome, but that you are choosing to be very selective about what you take on because your time is limited. (That should knock their socks off and encourage them to consider saying “no” more in their own lives.) If you’re up for it, take a moment and reach out to someone who would really love the opportunity. You help two people out and you don’t take on any new projects.

That’s Not All

It’s not enough to know how and when to say “no” to new projects. What obligations are already in your life that you need to say “no” to so that you can say “yes” to the best?