In a conversation with a new friend yesterday, the topic of boundaries came up. We were discussing how important and satisfying it is to focus our energy in our businesses on those clients that really "feed" us...those with whom we feel the most connection.
How often have you had a conversation with a new acquaintance or potential client that felt a bit "off"? Something about the connection didn't quite fit, rather like a jigsaw puzzle piece that was not cut correctly. Rather than bashing the piece with a hammer to MAKE it fit, it's wiser to leave it out. And with a potential client, it's wiser to politely decline to provide service.
It's so important to "respect your no" when you know you're not the best person to offer service to someone. We often joke about saying to others, "What part of NO didn't you understand?" But we're often too ready to disrespect our own boundaries!
The same applies to your tasks. How often do you take on a project or task that makes you feel "off" the same way? Perhaps you really don't have the time or inclination to take care of it. Perhaps it's something you don't have the expertise or experience to handle properly. Why then take that hammer to it and force yourself? There's always someone to delegate to!
When I first started my business many years ago, I would provide any service to any client, as long as they'd pay me. Over time I realized I was not honoring the best in myself, or in my clients, and began to politely say "no" to certain tasks and certain people.
If you don't enforce your own boundaries, then who will? How can you expect others to respect your "lines in the sand" if you don't yourself? Remember, we always show others how to treat us...and your intention to violate your own rules means you're showing the universe that's just fine. Expect the best from yourself, and FOR yourself!
In the years I've been editing publications (e-books, print books, PDFs, and more) I've learned there are key tools for success for any author who is working with an editor. Feel free to share this post and use it as a checklist!
Following these "best practices" will go a long way toward helping you and your editor create a polished final product, and on time!
If you're new to business, or getting your feet wet as an entrepreneur, you may not have direct experience with delegating work. But you can get inspiration from the world around you and learn how.
If you've ever worked outside the home in any capacity, you'll likely have been on the "providing" end of delegation. Your supervisor assigned tasks to you; he or she was assigned tasks by his or her supervisor, and onward up the chain of command.
Anywhere you go, you're seeing the results of delegation, sometimes effective and sometimes not so much. You stop at a restaurant for lunch - there's a head cashier, a head waiter, and a restaurant manager. The plant that manufactured your furniture has a chain of command...and a quality control team. That PTA you're a member of has committees and positions and committee chairs.
When you're a solo-preneur, you may think you don't have anyone to delegate to. But now more than ever, that is incorrect. There are countless Virtual Assistants ready to help (check out EliteVirtualAssist, my favorite), as well as freelancers like me who specialize in a variety of skills and talents. You can find a someone to whom to delegate just about any task.
And of course, The Word Doctor is always here to help you present the most effective window to the online world, by providing editing and proofreading support, marketing communications, and more.
Remember, for every task you outsource, your time expands to allow you to accomplish so much more, effectively and accurately!
Ask yourself where your prospects are most likely to find you. Where your clients have found you. Online, right? Whether your business has a physical location or not, Google (still the most-used search engine) will direct people to your social media profiles, your online listings, and your website...and usually all of those.
Take a field trip and wander around a shopping district or mall where you live. Enjoy window shopping...peruse the wares of the shops in the area. What draws you in? What entices you to enter the store? Well, usually it's what you see on display, and how it's displayed. You feel a connection that moves you to open the door to explore further.
Your website (or your social media page if you don't have a website) is your non-physical business's front window. You want it to be attractive, to accurately show what you offer, to be welcoming. A good way to get some feedback on your site is to ask a couple of friends who don't know much about your work to review it in detail. What draws them in? What entices them to click to explore the site? With what do they feel a connection?
Take an objective look at your site yourself. What does your home page (the front window) say about you? What pages do you include? What images? What links? Are you including everything a first-time reader would need to know and understand about you and your work? Are you offering important take-aways?
And key point...does the site represent you accurately, authentically? If your home page is full of run-on sentences and poor grammar, your prospect is going to go elsewhere, no matter what goodies you offer.
There's a solution! The Word Doctor offers a helpful service to ensure your site or page IS accurate and authentic. I'll take a detailed look at your wording and layout to ensure it's the best it can be. (More info here.)
Keep your front window fresh and clean, and entice more customers to enter!
I am guilty. Yes, I, the Word Doctor, the professed Grammar Guru, have been guilty of using the incorrect word in a context. **gasp** Shocking, I know. But I never claimed to be perfect!
I caught myself speaking with someone about having less tasks to do than usual. Something felt odd, but it wasn't until later that I realized what. The use of the word "less." I should have said "fewer"!
You see, our language is wonky (as if you didn't know). More is more, no matter what the context. More time, more money, more to do, more pencils, more cats...it all works.
But in the "less than" category, there's a difference. Less refers to a smaller amount of one thing, or one insubstantial. You can have less time, less money, less to do, less hair, etc.
Fewer refers to a smaller quantity of several items. Fewer people, fewer pencils, fewer cats, fewer hairs on the head, fewer marbles.
Get the idea?
As with so much in modern English grammar, this is a relatively minor transgression, but can be an important consideration when writing something meant for general publication - a book or an article, perhaps. In these more professional settings, understanding the difference will lead to fewer refusals and less stress!
Unless you're a graphic designer, you may not think often about fonts, but if you have any online presence at all, they are important. In fact, if you've ever made a sign they're important too!
This post was inspired by the copious moving and garage sale signs I've seen this summer that are completely illegible from the road. The lettering is either too faint, or too small, or too sloppy. The lesson: what is the purpose of what you're writing? Does your copy work for that audience?
Now I'm not as addicted to fonts as Brock on "The Middle" (see what I mean here), but I do know that appearance and size of your copy is important to legibility, impact, and mood (yes, mood). If I want to evoke a playful mood and have something light to say, a sans serif font without much structure is appropriate (Comic Sans, Kristen, MV Boli). On a website like this, a serif font is important for easy legibility. Serif fonts are also used in formal business letters and documents.
Sorry, but size IS important! Bet you can't read this well. And this is WAY too big for a website unless it's a heading.
Color is also important. Be sure that there is contrast between your background and the text. I've seen badly designed websites and newsletters that have a brown background, for instance, with a lighter brown font.
In this digital age, there are hundreds of downloadable choices available to enhance your writing, whether on paper or virtual. Explore your options and consider your audience!
I have had several conversations regarding clients and associates either wanting to write a book or wanting to finalize one. Now, "book" is a loose term meaning everything from a short handout or e-book to a 30,000-word tome. In any case, there is something the person wants to communicate to others, something from the heart or the mind.
Just about everyone has some sort of book in them. You may excel at some sort of creative art and want to teach others. You may have profound realizations that changed your life and you want to share them with others. You may want to inspire people to do their best in the workplace, or the home, or in nature. So...big question...what is stopping you?
Now, two people I've spoken with in the last year had been "working" on a book for literally years. They'd get motivated and write or edit, then run out of steam. Why? Usually fear. In fact one person actually told me she had no desire to be noticed - I have to wonder, then, why publish? What's fascinating about that case is that, close to the end of our process, she became very angry about the fact that low resolution images could not be used in her self-published book, and quit her process entirely. I know that her fear created an "excuse" for her to not step out and be known. I hope she was able to resolve that, as her topic was a really good one.
Two clients have worked with me to assemble wonderful blog posts into a book. The writing is already done! Just a matter of patchwork to get it all to flow. One self-published a paperback, and the other created an e-book for download.
One former client is a career search expert - and I mean expert! She worked hard to assemble her best systems for success into a book, and she has the marketing knowledge to really make a go of it. How exciting!
Bottom line: If you feel inspired to share knowledge with others, do not let fear hold you back. There is a reason you felt inspired: someone needs to know or understand what you have to say. Write! Just WRITE! Get it all out on paper, then organize and see what can come of it.
You can do this!
And when you're ready, contact The Word Doctor!
Whether you work at home or outside the home, dealing with distractions and interruptions is a given. But how often do you allow yourself to take a break?
Editing and writing for clients takes great focus and concentration. Believe it or not, it's true that the brain uses 20% of the body's energy when at rest. AT REST! Imagine how much more power is needed during focused work. This is why I do my work when I'm at my best, and I take frequent breaks.
A break in your work can be viewed as an interruption or distraction, but it's the intent that matters. If you catch yourself frequently checking social media or personal email, or if you get antsy and leave your work space often, you are distracted and not paying attention to your personal needs - these are not "break" actions. They are procrastination!
Instead, intend to refresh yourself, body, mind and spirit, so that you have more energy (and lighter energy) to continue having a productive work day.
I have often been guilty of ignoring my body when I'm busy. I'm in my home office, working on my computer, concentrating - while at the same time sitting stiffly, breathing shallowly. On some days I feel terribly hyperactive, restlessly looking out the window, or twitching my feet. I have learned to notice those messages my body is sending me, and I do something about them!
Check in with your body and notice what it needs - water? Deep breathing? Resting your eyes? Movement? Then fill the need. Take a 2-minute walk (outside if you can). Drink eight ounces of water. Have a small, light, healthy snack. Close your eyes and take three deep breaths. Stretch and move your body - get the blood flowing!
I know that when I take even two minutes to do one (or all) of the above, my mind is fresh, my body is loosened, and my spirit feels lighter. And my productivity goes through the roof!
"I just had a baby looking for a job to work at home anybody let me I have great Information technology and networking skills."
This request came from a social media post I ran across. Granted it's "just" social media, this young woman was requesting job leads, and yet her post was so poorly written I can't imagine she got many leads from it.
You never know where your words will go, or who might see and react to them. Writing must be clear, precise, and error-free to present a professional appearance to any prospective employer, client, or customer. Your writing style gives the first impression of your intelligence, work ethic, and motivation.
You may be tempted to dismiss this thought as trivial, but think about it objectively. Let's say that someone who read this request copied it verbatim and sent it to someone who needed those services. That person will be reviewing many similar requests and resumes. and will evaluate next steps based on first impressions. The first impression of this writer is not professional.
The same applies to prospecting for new clients in your business. You want to help more people by having them hire you. What then is your first impression on others? Do your social media and blog posts appear professional? Do they clearly share the teaching and message you want to convey? Are they error-free?
I've had a few rebuttals when I share these ideas from people stating that skills and intent should be what matter. Perhaps, yes...however if your first impression creates a block in that path, then it's time to change!
(I know a great proofreader!)
When I collaborate with a client, I know that being able to easily share files is critical to smooth sailing. We need to work off the same set of documents, and we need access to all the same supporting materials.
We've all experienced the trauma (ok, maybe not trauma, but certainly stress!) of sharing documents by email. It's so easy to lose track of what changes have been made, and by whom. Instead, use a virtual "file cabinet" like Google Drive or Dropbox, or a project management system like Asana, to store items every team member will need.
Set up project folders with explicit titles so that anyone on the team can easily find what they're looking for. Within those folders, store anything, and I mean ANYTHING, that a team member might need. You might want a folder for images, one for applications, one for setup or venue - consider the aspects of your particular project that make the most sense to organize the folders.
When changes are made to a file, ensure that it's saved back into the same folder so you don't end up with multiple versions of the same document - something I see often! You may want to have team member save items they have edited as "V1 date, V2 date," so it's easy to tell at a glance what the most recent update is, and yet you will still be able to recover previous versions if something goes wrong. AND, as I said, you won't have ten of the same file saved! Tip: be sure to include the date in the file name.
Whenever I manage a project I like to outline everything up front in a team meeting, so everyone is "on the same page" about timelines, roles, and how communication will be handled. Be sure to have regular meetings with subsets of the team sharing the same roles. Set expectations up front so there are no surprises!