Juggling those Jingle Bells

Juggling those Jingle Bells

Are you just crazy madly busy at the moment? Do you feel that you are juggling so many balls and just praying that they stay in the air and don’t all come crashing down? It’s a common theme I’m hearing amongst my SME colleagues and friends at this time of year and we all know why – our work/life balance is out of kilter!!

When you are a solo entrepreneur or “solopreneur” you manage everything yourself – selling new products and services to give you billable revenue for the future months, delivering the services that you have already sold plus all the associated admin work that comes with running a business – bookkeeping, invoicing, quoting, writing proposals, marketing, PR and Social Media. Each one of those tasks is a full-time job in itself and I haven’t even mentioned putting time aside to brainstorm and plan your company growth! Plus of course, my all-time favourite – customer service! You need to nurture and spend time with your existing customers too.

But how do you manage your time to make sure that you are still getting a good work/life balance and making sure that you give yourself some precious “down” time??

These last few weeks I’ve been burning the candle at both ends, selling and delivering work and also trying to carve out time to spend with my young son. I haven’t been succeeding on the latter! I mean, that’s the reason why I left the corporate world in the first place – to run my own show and be able to spend quality time with my lovely boy as he grows up.

So, time to get that balance back by designing my own life. But how do I set and enforce the boundaries that I want to live by but also get everything done that I need to do? By making small adjustments to my everyday – the small things matter. With the smallest investments in the right place, I can make a real difference.

So, here are my 5 “small things”:

(1)    Make sure that I do something mentally relaxing every day – be that walking the dogs or having a quick coffee with a friend. It doesn’t have to be all morning or I will start to panic about time lost but just 20 mins/half an hour to give me time to pause for breath!

(2)    Get more sleep. We all know that sleep deprivation impacts mental ability and falling asleep on the keyboard isn’t productive!

(3)    No phones at bedtime – put the phone on sleep mode. Emails can wait until the morning.

(4)    Keep my sense of humour – laughter is most definitely the best medicine.

(5)    Hug my son every day.

I’ll let you know how I get on!

Personal Branding – It’s a BIG deal

Personal Branding – It’s a BIG deal

You’ve all heard the saying “don’t judge a book by it’s cover”. Well it’s the absolute opposite when it comes to personal branding! You are judged on first impressions and these are nearly impossible to reverse or undo.

Research shows that it takes just a quick glance, maybe three seconds, for someone to evaluate you when you meet for the first time. In this short time, the other person forms an opinion about you based on your appearance, your body language, your demeanour, your mannerisms and how you are dressed.  With every new encounter, you are evaluated and yet another person’s impression of you is formed. These first encounters are extremely important, for they set the tone for all the relationships that follow.

As a small business owner, my personal brand is critical. I’ve just been through a process of making sure that what I wear (colours and styles) and how I present myself absolutely compliments and highlights who I am so that when I meet someone for the first time, they see the true me in my most confident and at ease state – there is nothing quite so powerful as going to a meeting knowing that you look good and are at ease to deliver the expert knowledge and advice you know you have in your brain!

So what are the top tips for getting your personal brand right?

(1)    Colour

Make sure that you wear colours that suit you – make your skin glow, look smooth, healthy and your eyes sparkle!

(2)    Style

Don’t be a slave to fashion trends – wear styles that compliment your shape and enhance your best features.

(3)    Confidence

You know your stuff so be confident – you are the expert in what you do and have built a business around this expertise. Show people how good you are!

(4)    Smile

A winning smile is the perfect ice breaker/conversation closer. If you are confident and smile, you are a winner!

(5)    Open and Courteous

Talk a bit about yourself to make your interaction more personal. It is you they are buying a product or service from after all. And we all know the power of good manners – “please” and “thank you” are the magic words!

(6)    Positive

Be positive, even if you’ve had a bad journey to the meeting or your IT hasn’t worked, don’t moan or dwell on it. No one wants to listen to complaints but will be impressed with how you turn things around for the better.

(7)    Listen

One of the most important tips – be a good listener. If you can listen, grasp the issues and come up with a way to help on the fly, that is one impressive skill.