Is Mr. Procrastination knocking on your door?

What is procrastination and how can you deal with it?

Procrastination is where you delay or postpone something…not necessarily because you don’t want to do it, but you just keep putting it off. It can show itself in a simple way – such as keep pressing the snooze button on your alarm to avoid getting up. But when it starts to interfere with your work, you need to take action.
It can occur for several reasons: poor time management, lack of organisation, low motivation, inability to concentrate, unrealistic expectations of yourself or your business, personal problems, negative beliefs about your capability, low self-confidence, perfectionism, or anxiety and fear related to failure and success.
Everyone who has a business will have experienced procrastination at some point, but it can become very debilitating if you lose control of it. So, what can you do? You need to know why you procrastinate before you can address it.

Reasons why you may be prone to procrastination

Your business may not be making progress as quickly as you’d like

When you first start your business, you are full of enthusiasm, it’s exciting and you are positive about where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. Your body releases dopamine when it experiences excitement…and that feeling is what fires you up and keeps you going in the beginning.
But after a while, as with any business, you will hit a few lows, and this can have the knock-on effect of making you feel things aren’t as good as they were. Negative thoughts can start to creep in…
• Are you going to get rewarded for all the hard work you’ve done?
• Is all this work worth it?
• Will you ever make it really successful?
And so, Mr. Procrastination knocks the door, and it’s very easy to open the door and let him in.

You just don’t know where to begin

Procrastination can also rear its ugly head when you start to feel overwhelmed by your business. You have seemingly endless to-do lists, your goals seem to be slipping away, and it all seems just too much of a mountain to climb.
You may notice that you start to only concentrate on the things you like doing, rather than the things that are urgent and important. By doing this you are in danger of not focussing on what will move your business forward…instead you stay smack bang in the middle of your comfort zone. But then your business starts to stagnate, and this is where procrastinating can be a danger to the future of, what was, an exciting prospect.


You’re scared you’ll make the wrong decisions

This is a very common reason. After all, we are only human, and we all live in fear of making a wrong choice. Some of you may feel that if you do make the wrong decision, you could ruin what you have already, so you either do nothing, or do things in a very haphazard way, which can be more damaging to your business…and to your mental health.
You may have heard the phrase, ‘you don’t fail, you learn.’ I know I have used this myself, and it’s true, but it’s better to try and avoid that feeling of failure as much as you can. It’s inevitable that you’ll make mistakes – everyone does, and some spectacularly (!), but it’s the fear of failing that is more debilitating that the actual failure!
It might be that you really worry what other people might think, and you care about other peoples’ opinions. It’s great to aim high, so long as you can remember that none of us is perfect.


You just hate a particular task

When you run your own small business, there are loads of tasks to get done. You only have yourself to rely on and this can lead to stress, especially if some of the tasks are dull or just plain boring.

Now, if you can afford it, you could outsource those irritating tasks to someone who does them for a living – get yourself an online assistant.

However, when you have a small business, especially if you’ve not been going for long, it’s unlikely you’ll have the money to invest in this kind of help straight away.

How can you overcome procrastination?

First, ask yourself some questions. Most of the time we know why we are letting Mr. P in. If you don’t know where you are with your business, you won’t be able to get to where you want to be.
• Are you setting yourself unrealistic goals?
• Are you putting unnecessary pressure on yourself?
• What are the consequences of NOT getting this done? (Whatever it is)
• What are the benefits of getting it done?
• What is getting in the way?
If you can answer these questions, you can start to plan what to do to stop the procrastination.

Here are a few tips

• First, forgive yourself. It’s happened and you need to let it go and move on.
• Secondly, look at your working environment. Is your desk a mess, with paper all over the place? Tidy up before you start, make sure you have a glass of water and that you’re comfortable.
• It might seem that everything is urgent or important, but the truth is, many things can be adjusted, or deadlines moved back. A good strategy to coping is something called The Eisenhower Matrix.

This is where you break down your tasks into Urgent/Important, Urgent/Less Important, Less Urgent/Important, and Less Urgent/Less Important. If you can categorise your tasks into these different areas, you can see where you need to focus your time and energy.
• One you have all your tasks categorised – take one of the tasks you hate and break it down into the steps you need to follow to complete it. Write it down.

Then break each step into a smaller task and give yourself a timeframe to complete it. Write it down! For example, you could set your alarm for immediately before lunch – when your alarm goes off, switch off all distractions and just do that first step. Then reward yourself with a nice lunch. Breaking a task down into more manageable chunks really helps you to concentrate and just get the job done. And you have a reward to look forward to.
• One of the most important things to remember to avoid procrastination is to remove distractions. For example, I work from a desktop. I know that if I leave Facebook on, I’ll see it flashing if I get a message. I can’t ignore it – I just can’t! I must open it – then I’m distracted and can easily lose an hour as I’ll start scrolling. The same applies to email or any other social media site. Switch off your distractions, so you can totally focus on the task in hand.
• For each task you decide to do, look at it and decide how long it’s going to take you. Give yourself a challenge, for example, I’m going to complete this task in 1 hour and 20 minutes. Then next time you must do this task, challenge yourself to knock off 10 minutes from that time. You’ll feel more of a sense of achievement if you deliver ‘on time’ – even if it’s your own set time!
• Think about what time of the day you are more effective. I know that I work better, harder, and more quickly in the morning. As soon as I stop and have lunch, I seem to relax and can find it hard to concentrate. So, I do the things that are the hardest, or that I hate doing most in the morning. I know I’m more likely to get it done before lunch than I am afterwards.

Conclusion

Procrastination can be a tough cookie to crumble, so be prepared. You will have the odd relapse, but it’s about learning to recognise the signs that procrastination is near. If you can learn to manage your procrastination, you will be able to reduce your stress, build your confidence and build your business.

If you need help to get your business organised, or don’t know where to start to sort out your priorities, drop me an email or message.

cindymobey@outlook.com or click here to send a message.

9 ways to connect with your customers and grow your business

Do you want to grow your business
now and into 2019?

Every year millions of us make New Year’s Resolutions – but nine times out of ten, by the end of January, those resolutions are a distant memory. If you run a small business, or indeed any business, I’m sure that a business resolution is to grow your business year on year. So, rather than only make resolutions in January, why not think about it now? Start putting plans in place to connect with your customers in a more effective way – if your customers feel a connection with you, trust you and get great customer service, your business will grow.

Know and understand your customers
Your existing customers are your ‘bread and butter’. You already know that they like your products or services, but do you actually know them and understand why they buy what they do from you? The simplest way to get this information is to ask them! Send a

woman-3083378_640

Ask your customer for a review

survey telling them you value their opinion and ask what they like or dislike about your products/services.
If a customer has not given you a review, send them an email and ask them if they would, or if they prefer not to put a review in a public place, ask them if they would share their views with you on email. Good or bad, we can all learn from feedback.
As a ‘thank you’ for completing a survey or giving a review, you could offer them a discount when they next buy your products or use your services. Customer loyalty is absolutely crucial to your business and this will encourage just that!

Be accessible to your customers
This goes hand in hand with point number one and really speaks for itself. The one thing I hate when I ring a company to ask about their product or to find out more information, is reaching that robotic automated response. I’m more likely to hang up than I am to

sculpture-2275202_640

Listen to your customers

wait. It’s so important, especially for small businesses, to be accessible to customers. They want to speak to you, a real person, and have a friendly chat and get advice, or to place an order. It might not be you, but maybe someone who works for you, but try and ensure your customers speak to a real person. It helps build good relationships and trust and, when the conversation is over, they leave with a good feeling, instead of frustrated at having to ‘press 1’ for this or ‘press 2’ for that. Make sure that your contact details are easy to find and in a prominent place on all correspondence, social media and your website. If customers can’t find you, they’ll go somewhere else.

Make use of Social Media sites
Nearly everyone these days, from youngsters to pensioners are online in one way or another. Make sure your business has a social media presence, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or one of the many other sources. Check your social media pages a

man-1718099_640

Answer comments on social media sites

few times a day, reply to any comments or questions on your business pages. Listen to other businesses and what they have to say and comment on their pages. Engage generally with as many people as you can – this will help you understand behaviours and new trends, which you may be able to tap into.
The most important thing on social media is to stay focused – don’t get drawn into online arguments on your business page – keep it professional. Keep your page upbeat and positive.

Spend time networking

people-2557396_640

Attend a networking event

It’s important to meet other like-minded people, so try and attend a couple of networking events and meet other small businesses. Networking events are great for sharing business cards and flyers, talking about what you do and finding out what others in your area do. Fantastic for building new relationships, networking helps you connect with potential customers, employees and collaborators and even investors.

Collaboration

handshake-2009195_640

Collaborate!

This follows on nicely from networking. Find people you can collaborate with – for example, if you’re a hairdresser, you might want to link up with a make-up artist, so if you get booked for a wedding or special party, you can recommend a make-up artist…and vice versa. You can also share links to your websites on each other’s pages.

Incorporate visual marketing into your strategy
Use good images, live stream chats, webinars, videos and infographics to help promote

clapperboard-162085_640

Make a video

your business. Technology is always moving on and 2018 has seen a huge surge in this type of marketing. Don’t get left behind. There are loads of sites that offer free images or you could do a ‘live’ Facebook broadcast – it doesn’t have to be long. If you want to really connect with your customers, you could invite a small group to join you in a video chat to discuss what they like about your business and what might be improved. This would give you invaluable information.

Give away free stuff!

gift-1760869_640

Give a gift!

Everyone loves a freebie. You could give a few samples of a new product and ask your customers to trial it and give feedback. You could simply give a free gift to loyal customers or offer them a discount for a limited amount of time. This makes them feel valued, it nurtures your relationship with them and keeps them coming back for more. They’re also more likely to recommend you to their family and friends

Keep in touch with customers
Try and find a regular way to keep in touch with your customers. This could be a monthly newsletter or email, a courtesy call after a sale or after they have used your

computer-1185626_640

Keep in touch with customers

service. Think about it – if you bought something from a small business and a month later they rang you to see how you were getting on with that product, it would make you remember them in future. A balance needs to be struck as you don’t want to be a nuisance, but a simple courtesy call can make all the difference and shows you care. If there is a problem, it gives you the chance to solve it and so delight the customer even more. They will remember this kind of service.

Adapt and measure your business as it grows
We get our customers from many different places and ways – don’t forget to look for new ways to contact potential customers. Look at old business plans as there may have been

tape-measure-1186496_640

Measure to see what works and what doesn’t

something that didn’t work for you in the past that might now be perfect.
Don’t be afraid to stop doing something if it’s not working for you – it’s no good flogging a dead horse. Put it on the back burner to return to at a later date.
Don’t be scared to try new marketing ideas, learning about new social media channels, do a course on how to do video for your business. You will never know if something works if you don’t try.
And ALWAYS measure what you do to see what works and what doesn’t. Monitor where your customers come from so you know what marketing sources work best for you.

Finally, decide which way you’re going to take your business for the rest of this year and into next, write them down and update your existing business/marketing plan and incorporate into next year’s plans. If you don’t yet have a business/marketing plan, now might be the time to start!

If you have any observations or questions, please contact me – I love to chat about different approaches to customers and marketing.