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It’s not easy to plan right now…

Am I right? Things are up in the air a lot, there’s not much certainty, and who knows what to do about childcare.

And yet it’s incredibly easy to feel overwhelmed and unfocused in your business.

My opinion? Getting even a mini plan together is a good idea. Which is why I’ve spent the last few weeks working on my new Create Your Mini Business Plan course.

It started with me.

Having had a couple of good months of nursery and getting back into the swing of things, most of my careful business plans went out of the window. I didn’t know what I should be doing.

One of the saddest consequences for me in this #lockdownlife is that I had to postpone my retreat, which was due at the end of March. It was heartbreaking!

But it did remind me of one of the activities we do on the first day of my retreats.

We make a list.

Okay, it’s really simple. And it’s not.

We make a list of things we want more of and things we want less of. It’s deceptively simple, and a great starting point for figuring out what’s most important to our businesses right now.

So I made my own list. It included things like “more profit” and “less stress about money”; “more focus” and “less overwhelm”; “more ways to help my audience” and “less distraction”.

This list also became the starting point for this new course. Because lists have a fabulous way of bringing clarity and focus.

I created a couple of other lists, added some gorgeous goal-setting templates, and then creating a few ways to commit to goals over the coming months. I wrote the workbook and went through it myself, adding details and amending as I went.

Focusing on writing this course meant I had to stop blogging, which I’d somehow managed to do weekly. It meant I could only write down the other ideas coming to me. And I had to accept that I’d only post occasionally on my Instagram feed while I was finishing it up.

Because deciding what we don’t do is just as important as committing to the things we want to achieve.

And now, my friends, it’s ready.

The Create Your Mini Business Plan course is here, and has an optional coaching session you can add at a very special price. It’s an inspiring and actionable guide to prioritising your to-do list and taking your business to the next level.

Check it out here.

There are some exciting bonuses, and tons of email support. Because I know it’s easy to sign up for something and then kind of let it slide.

A freebie

One of the bonuses is a COVID-19 Special Edition Workbook. I shared this over on my Instagram stories while I was writing it, and a quick poll suggested that it would be handy even if you didn’t sign up for the course. So if you’d like the free workbook without signing up for the course, it’s right here:

Whether you sign up for the course or not, you can always make your More / Less list and take it from there. You’d be surprised by how this simple list can show you what you really need.

And of course, I’d love to hear from you if you do!

15 things for 15 minutes: shift your energy, boost your business!

We all have moments, days (weeks?) when we struggle to show up for our goals and vision.

Sometimes we have to trick our imposter syndrome or our inner critic so they don’t notice us side-stepping them and playing bigger.

Sometimes we have to gently encourage ourselves to form new habits or do the things we need to do, but don’t particularly want to do.

Sometimes we need some practical inspiration and suggestions for things that will actually move us forward in the direction we want to go.

That’s what I’m sharing today: my list of things you can spend 15 minutes on that really benefit your mood, and therefore your business (and sometimes the other way around!).

You can read on for my tips, but I also really encourage you to write your own list.

Use the timer on your phone and stop when the alarm goes off.

  1. Tidy up. Whether it’s your desk, your workspace, your entranceway, your bag, just set a timer and go. (I hate tidying up but it ALWAYS makes me feel better.)
  2. Write down your strengths. Go for the whole 15 minutes, and keep your hand moving. You’ll feel better for it at the end. (And it might even spark some big business ideas.)
  3. Write down all your worries. As above, but maybe burn it or do something about it at the end. Either way, get it out of your head and remove your blocks.
  4. Go for a walk. Even if it’s just up and down your own garden or around the block a couple of times. 15 minutes. In nature. Go.
  5. Find out your bestsellers. Not what you think are your bestsellers. Check the numbers: highest units sold, but also which item made you the most money? Knowledge is power.
  6. Look at your website traffic. Where are people finding you? If you don’t know how to track your traffic, spend 15 minutes finding out.
  7. Put your prices up. Or at least start to run the numbers. Around 70% of my clients have needed to put their prices up by 20% to actually make a profit or take a salary for themselves. Chances are you need to do the same.
  8. Write a newsletter. If you have an email list and haven’t sent an email for a month or more, JUST EMAIL THE PEOPLE. You don’t need a 10-part email strategy, just send some nice photos and words.
  9. Brainstorm or research a new project or product.
  10. Do your bookkeeping. Little and often is the way forward! If you don’t have bookkeeping software, research it. It’ll make your life easier next time.
  11. Look at your website’s homepage. Tweak, update, edit, or write a bigger plan to do so.
  12. Look at your long-term business goals. Or write down three things you’d like to achieve in the next 12 months. Get inspired by them!
  13. Meditate. Find a guided meditation on an app (I like Insight Timer), or put on some relaxing music and breathe for 15 minutes. You won’t regret it.
  14. Write a pitch. Maybe you want to appear on a podcast or you’d like to write a guest blog or appear in a magazine. Start writing to the relevant people. (Tip: I love Tiffany Han’s 100 Rejection Letters project for this.)
  15. Analyse your to-do list. What’s bringing in money? What’s fun? What’s future-focused? What’s a quick win? Now cross out anything that doesn’t move your business forward, that’s a nice idea but getting in the way of your focus. (We do this every month in Progress not Perfection. It’s a learned skill.)

If you need a more personal or a deeper to-do list, if you want to shift those worries and blocks, you might like to consider business mentoring and coaching with me. I have two spots open right now, and you can get in touch to set up a free consultation to find out if we’re a good fit.

Or for more free resources, check out my 20 favourite business coaching questions and go deeper!

The Big New Idea: Crowdfunding

blog-13-aaA couple of weeks ago, over at Copper Boom Studio, we launched a Crowdfunder campaign to raise some money for our expansion.

Now, I’ve never done a Crowdfunder myself before. I’ve worked with a couple of clients on similar things, but I’ve never done one myself.

I started thinking about it when I was figuring out financing the growth of Copper Boom. We’ve taken on a big studio space and we’re aiming to grow the business quite quickly in order to keep up with demand. It seemed important and exciting to involve clients of the business and create some brilliant benefits for being early supporters of the business.

So I created packages for VIP membership to Copper Boom, allowing for annual discounts, support and more. There are a few different levels for different business needs, and of course some smaller packages for smaller businesses and family and friends who want to offer support.

Why Crowdfunder?

The most popular platform is Kickstarter, but Crowdfunder is based in the UK (which I like) and has more general business projects, rather than focusing on funding an end product. I also chose to keep whatever we raise, rather than having to reach a target in order to get any of the money people pledge.

Setting a target

So I set a target for £15,000. It’s ambitious, especially considering I’ve never done this before. But the theme of Copper Boom has become go big or go home, so I figured we might as well aim to raise enough to buy equipment and props to last us a really long time. While £5,000 would get us a really long way in terms of lighting and set build, £15,000 would allow us to get way more specialised with the props and set-ups we create. It also means I can invest time training the team on creating amazing copy and marketing content.

My intention is that by expanding our capacity we will also extend our quality because the team will be more specialised. We’ll be able to get super mega lenses for working on jewellery, and we’ll be able to build sets so that we can photograph bigger pieces.

Creating pledges

I decided to offer VIP year-long packages as pledges, giving discounts, first refusal, my Planning With Purpose course, and lots more. The idea is that pledgers will be on our radar at the studio, and we’ll give them the VIP treatment when they book in work with us. We’ll create mini style guides, boxes of props and backgrounds, and tone of voice documents for every VIP backer.

I’ve also put together helpful PDF guides on conversion rates, photography and writing skills (love these so much!) to offer our expertise to small businesses, not just bigger companies.

And of course there are some BRILLIANT Gilmore Girls enamel pins and a gorgeous investor certificate for every single person who supports us in this launch period. Because seriously, I’m grateful for every single penny right now.

Progress

We’re currently nowhere near our target. That’s okay, because we get to keep whatever we make, but I’m also thinking about ways to spread the word in the last remaining weeks. I’m thinking about showing the value of what we do. I’m thinking about sharing more and more on social media (so prepare to be inundated!) and asking people to spread the word.

We’ve had 25 backers so far. I love every single one of them. If you haven’t already backed us, I’d be honoured and humbled if you’d consider it. Each pledge makes a big difference to us: £5 gives us more mountboard colours for backgrounds, £100 means we can get another desk to work and shoot on, £300 means I can get the team another laptop so we can stop borrowing ancient and heavy personal laptops, £1,500 would allow us to get shelving and storage for EVERYTHING, making us more efficient (and less messy).

How you can help

Honestly, I’m nervous. I’m excited, of course, but right now, cashflow (as many of you know) is challenging as I balance work coming in with being able to grow and afford rent for the first time.

So. Every single share, pledge, investment, comment, click, positive thought (and did I mention pledge?) makes a HUGE difference to getting this thing firmly off the ground and supporting small businesses.

Is there a pledge you’d like to see?

Let me know. If we can offer support in a different way, I’d love to hear about it!

Jx

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