By Terri Fry Brukhartz

Most of us run our lives on technology to organize certain aspects of our lives. Between your cellphones, planners and e-mail inboxes, you think you have organized yourself. To some extent, you have. In fact, if you ever doubt the importance of these systems, recall your panic the last time you lost your iPhone or Android containing your contacts list and calendar.

As important as these systems are, most people don’t think about systematizing other aspects of their business. By doing so, you can improve your business and create much-needed time for your personal life.

If you’ve read this far, you may be wondering, “What is she talking about? What is a system?” Both are fair questions. Systems are simply ways of automating or structuring what you want to accomplish, so that the tasks required occur automatically.

Figuring Out What to Systematize

For most of us, there are dozens of repetitive tasks that could be systematized. To identify where you can apply systems, step back from your business and try to look at it objectively.

Ask yourself questions such as these:

What is holding back your business? What are the choke points? Do you need to generate more business? Do you have prospects but they just aren’t buying? Do you convert your best prospects but lose them through poor follow-through? Really taking a long, hard look at the pluses and minuses of your ability to attract and maintain customers will provide you with the information you need to systematize how you do business in the future.

Where are your frustrations? This is an important question for two reasons. First, you’re more likely to be frustrated if you are repeating tasks that you hate doing. Second, you are going to be frustrated if you have to relearn a task or “recreate the wheel” every time you have to do something you don’t do very often.

What causes you stress? Is it preparing for quarterly performance reviews? Finalizing your printed catalog? Preparing for your annual make-or-break trade show? Even if you know the steps by heart, systematizing at least part of these stress-inducing activities could yield big benefits to your business—and your well-being.

By figuring out the answers to these questions, you can begin to see what areas of your life could benefit from creating a system. This will not only provide you with some much-needed relief, but also more time for yourself. Read Part 2 of this blog to learn how to create a system to help you save time.

Terri Fry Brukhartz, LCSW, CPCC, has been helping business professionals make more money, do what matters and thrive on their successes since 2001. Coach Terri began her career in 1982 working for advertising agency Leo Burnett and the internationally acclaimed TV conglomerate, CBS.  In 1987, Coach Terri started The Fry Group, Inc., a publishers’ representative firm. Clients included Details Magazine, Men’s Health, and Harvard Business Review. With her husband, two kids and dog in tow, it’s a wonder Coach Terri has enough time to get everything done! She resides in Chicago but works by phone with entrepreneurs around the world. Feel free to contact her by e-mail or call 708-386-0500.

There’s only one opportunity to save your baby’s stem cells for the future…

As an expectant parent, your baby’s health means everything. Right now, he or she is protected in the womb and will soon enter the world. There is a lot to think about and prepare for, but an invaluable step you can take when your child is born is to preserve his/her stem-cell rich cord and placenta blood The ability of stem cells to save lives via cord blood banking has proven successful for replacing abnormal or diseased cells, and treating life-threatening blood disorders such as leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma.  In fact, since 1988 stem cell transplants have been used to treat some 80 diseases.

As the only company that offers cord blood, placenta blood and tissue banking — and the first to release placenta-derived stem cells for a successful transplant — New Jersey-based LifebankUSA is a technological leader that is pioneering key medical innovations in the field.  Owned by the Celgene Corporation, a world-class biopharmaceutical company, LifebankUSA also operates a robust donation program and collects cells from anywhere in the US for use primarily in advancing medical research.

Along with peace of mind, LifebankUSA wants to give parents the chance to win one of the hottest baby items, the 4Moms mamaRoo. With the LifebankUSA mamaRoo Facebook contest we will be giving away TWO 4Moms mamaRoos (valued at $260 each) in a random drawing from entrants in this Facebook contest. The mamaRoo bounces up and down and sways from side to side, just like parents do when comforting their babies. It plays soothing nature sounds and has the option of plugging in your own MP3 player. Enter below for your chance to win the baby item that is on EVERY expectant Mom’s baby shower registry! This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. By entering the contest, you understand that you are providing your information to LifebankUSA and not to Facebook.

Click here to enter and good luck!

By Chelsea Duggan

 

You’ve just dropped serious cash on attending a trade show or networking event. There are some great keynotes, breakout sessions, and a chance to ask your questions to your biggest crush. So how do you prepare? First, do your homework – make a breakdown of what activities you want to take part in and who is running them. Taking a moment to plan where you need to be and when will make it much easier to make time for that necessary third cup of coffee and even more necessary bathroom break.

Second, do some research on the presenters. With a simple Google search you can find out more about who they are. You’re looking for three key points that you might be able to relate to them on. Look for the people who are doing what you want to do. They might be a successful author and you can check out their most recent book. You might also make note of current passion projects, general location like NYC, and be sure to read a few recent blog posts so you know what they’re currently interested in. The necessity behind this information is so that you have a basic understanding of where someone is coming from and so that you can have several points to connect on. For example, when you walk up to someone and introduce yourself at the conference you can begin talking about how you enjoyed his or her blog post on stalking versus networking.

Third, after you’ve compiled your data, consider three questions that you would ask each person if you had the opportunity. Expect that you will only be able to ask one question. I run a shifting list of questions so that if I’m able to get an answer from one person, than I shift the list of questions so that I’m not asking the next person the same exact question. This way I can gather the greatest amount of information in the shortest amount of time. Plus, at a busy conference it can be impossible to speak to everyone on your list but it may be possible to find all the information you’re after.

Fourth and final, print out your list so that you have it in front of you at all times. This is crucial for remembering to stay on task, taking advantage of all breaks for getting your networking done and not forgetting whom you are talking to in a sea of new friendly faces.

Networking at a conference can seem overwhelming especially if you’re going it solo. Through doing your homework and stealthily going after your goal of information gathering you can walk away feeling like a superwoman of success.

Chelsea Duggan:: An entrepreneur, parent and advocate for early childhood development through creative education, Chelsea Duggan is the Founder and Director of Milestar Babies. This innovative online resource enables busy parents to have an influential impact on newborn children, up to three years in age. Chelsea’s background in education – a passion she shares with her two children, so they themselves can enjoy a lifelong interest in learning – is at the center of Milestar Babies. That commitment to excellence starts with shared moments and teacher-designed lessons, which parents can further customize, so children can discover, synthesize and pursue their own discoveries. Chelsea believes that every child is an amazing individual, who deserves to learn at his or her own pace. This kid-tested, parent-approved philosophy is Chelsea’s distinctive concept, complemented by the convenience of the Internet and her dynamic site. A graduate of Northwestern and a member of the Chicago Women Entrepreneurs Network, Chelsea welcomes the opportunity to interact with parents and children throughout the nation and the world.

Amy Kossoff Smith is the founder of The MomTini Lounge and Write Ideas, Inc. Starting her PR firm 20 years ago and her blog five years ago, she’s not new to the entrepreneur world.

“Through my PR firm, I counsel Fortune 500 Companies on PR & promotions – primarily in the retail sector,” she said. “At The MomTini Lounge, I report on the latest “tips and tools for the business of motherhood” to help moms lead more productive, efficient lives.”

When asked how she balances family and business, she answered, “Do people actually do that?!  Just kidding!!!  Like anything successful, I believe in setting boundaries whenever possible so one doesn’t spill into the other.”

When giving advice to other mom entrepreneurs, she encourages them to make every minute count. “Whether you’re at work, being hyper-efficient and productive — or at home, cherishing your family…Live!”

As far as marketing goes, 99 percent of her PR firm business has been from word of mouth and through professional associations. “And, with MomTini, I’m playing in the amazing social media playground and LOVING IT!!!”


By Jennifer Covello

About two years ago, I participated in a tele-class series focused on growing your small business. It included topics such as getting clear on your vision, planning your day, eliminating blockages and more. It was presented by a seasoned entrepreneur who had many years of experience with quite a bit of professional success and personal fulfillment.

The mix of attendees ranged from newbies to those who had been in business for several years. All of them searching…searching for the ONE thing that would catapult their business into the stratosphere. (Here’s a secret – there isn’t ONE thing that will catapult your business anywhere.)

“I wish I were like Jane.” “Why can’t my business be as successful as hers?”

(Um…maybe because she’s been at it thirty years and you’ve been at it thirty minutes? Just saying…)

However…

I felt the same way. It can be difficult to see other people more successful than ourselves, whether it is in our own businesses or other chosen careers. We want what they have. We want to hit the fast forward button to the day when we see the fruits of our labor, not be mired in the planting of the seeds.

My fellow attendees and I as well, were tired of planting seeds and wanted to enjoy a scrumptious fruit salad.

While I felt their anguish about not having the level of success as our tele-class host, I couldn’t help but wonder if they truly understood the journey of this woman and the many trials she may have faced, the rejections she experienced, or the times she may have wanted to give up.

We had no idea how many days she sat in her home office trying to figure out how to sell her wares or why prospects were not calling her back. We didn’t know how many hours she spent perfecting her product line to make it appealing to the market. We also were somewhat clueless about her level of dedication to her business and the discipline she had.

In today’s society, we have become accustomed to quick fixes. Got a headache? Take an aspirin. Want to lose weight fast? Pick up the latest diet pill. Our attention spans have shrunken to the point that even a 140-character Twitter post taxes our brains.

What’s an entrepreneur to do?

The first thing you need to do is to stop wishing. What? You want me to stop wishing for my dream? Not exactly.

I’d like you to think about what you are currently doing to start or grow your business. Then write it down. That’s right. Get out your notebook or calendar and write down what you do each hour of your working day – whatever that looks like. No fudging. If you spend an hour on Facebook in the morning, write it down. If you’re meeting friends for coffee, write it down. If you’re sitting at your computer playing Candy Crush, write it down.

It’s time to be really honest here folks. The only person you’re fooling is yourself if you choose not to dig deep and get clear on how you spend your time.

Next, I want you to look at how much time you actually spend on your business versus the time spent on, well, let’s call a spade a spade, time sucks. Here are a few that might sound familiar:

  1. If your most creative and productive time of day is the morning, are you wasting that energy reading or posting on social media?
  2. Are you packing your day with tasks that have no relation to growing your business like responding to unimportant emails or throwing in a load of laundry or paying an errant bill or two?
  3. On the flip side, are you spending your day on tasks, which are related to your business, but are simply not big enough to make an impact? Do you really need to comment on every blog post you read?
  4. Are you spending time on tasks you have no business doing, like building a website or writing a press release?

These are the insights you will get when you honestly examine how you spend your time. Then when you ask yourself why your business isn’t where you’d like it to be, the answer will be right in front of you.

Now that you know these answers, you can develop a plan and a schedule for your time that will make a major difference in your success. If growing your business is reaching out to prospects, get on the phone and call them. If your business is about creating products, then select the best time of day and do it. If you are trying to write a book, write it.

This is not rocket science people. Our hallowed mentors and entrepreneur extraordinaires did not become who they are by wishing they could be successful. They did not spend their days on tasks and activities that had no impact on their business. They had a plan and they worked their plan. Every day.

It’s time to throw away the wishbone and get a backbone. Stand up for your success. Fight for it. You deserve every ounce of success that will come your way. But you have to believe you deserve it and you have to have a plan to achieve it.

Can’t figure it out on your own? Hire a coach. Enlist a friend to be your goal buddy. Join or start a mastermind group. There’s so much help out there for entrepreneurs now, it’s mind boggling. Figure out what will work for you and stick to it like glue. Do not waiver. Do not falter.  Course correct when necessary, but keep the vision in front of you at all times.

Before you know it, there will be someone wishing they had your success. And you’ll be able to tell them just how you got there.

Jennifer Covello  is The Purposeful Parent, an award-winning author, blogger, creator of Frittabello baby gifts and mother of two children. With her unique perspective on parenting coupled with her sense of humor and vast experience, Jennifer is able to relate to a variety of women and the daily challenges they face as a mom and business owner. Jennifer has been featured on both radio and TV programs for her insights about her journey from corporate “cubicle dweller” to “mompreneur” providing helpful tips and inspiration to moms and dads alike. Most recently she was on Better Connecticut Weekend Edition where she provided tips on overcoming SuperMom Syndrome. Jennifer is a native of Long Island, New York and had a corporate career in IT and Marketing. She holds a B.S. degree in Management Information Systems from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and an MBA in Marketing Management from Pace University, New York.