Where Did I Go?

in Productivity

Yes, I’ve been MIA from my blog and subscribers. What happened? Well, you can make plans (What’s the Plan?, Don’t Forget This!, Break Down Your Business Plan), but then you have to execute them. I’ve been so busy with client work over the last several months that my plan to write articles for my blog, post them to article directories, create and offer my own products and services, etc. has been pushed to the back burner. Or maybe I should say it’s fallen off the stove altogether!

I’ve learned that I’m good at following my plan right up until I get a backlog of client websites to work on. Then, I allow the perceived urgency of the client work to push all the work to build additional streams of income right off my plate. The client work is important and often urgent, whereas my other business tasks are “just” important. The urgent tasks completely take over and the “just” important ones don’t get done at all.

So What’s Wrong With That?

It’s OK in the short run. After all, I’m working and getting paid. But the underlying issue is that I’m totally trading time for money and there are several problems with that. First, I limit how much money I can make. I mean, there are only so many hours, right? Second, all my income is coming from this one area. If my web work slows down for any reason – and it does periodically due to client distractions like holidays, the economy, slow times in their own businesses, etc. – I have no other income streams to fill the gap. Obviously, this can wreak havoc on my cash flow.

What To Do…

Time for Change - Ornate ClockHaving had this brilliant insight, the next thing to do is clear, but not necessarily easy. I need to find a way to work on my clients’ sites and build additional income streams at the same time. That means I need to reserve some hours each week for these other business areas. Ironically, although most clients want work done as soon as possible, my wonderful clients are not the problem. They understand that their work is completed as soon as I can fit it in the schedule.

No, my problem will be making sure my behavior matches my intention that my other business tasks are important just like the work for my clients. For some reason, I’m very willing to put others’ needs ahead of my own. I think part of it is that the client work pays off right now, whereas the work on additional income streams pays off later.

I wonder if there’s also a bit of that all-too-typical female trait of taking care of everyone else before taking care of yourself.

Well, whatever causes me to always prioritize my clients ahead of
all other business has to stop. I truly love my clients, yet I need to show these other business areas some love, too! Of course I will continue to treat my clients with care, consideration, and promptness. At the same time, I need to treat the other parts of my business with respect as well.

How to Make It Happen

Next week, I’ll discuss the habit I have that – when I do it – makes me most productive, and how I intend to use it to help me achieve a balance between work for clients and work on other income streams.

What About You?

In the meantime, I’d be very interested in hearing from other
professionals out there about how you achieve this balance – or do you? Does this sound at all familiar to you, or are you managing to work both in and on your business effectively? If so, I’d love some tips! 😉

Andy November 3, 2010 at 5:14 pm

I feel your pain. Finding the proper balance of time and effort to effectively run a small business is difficult. Daily there are tasks to be done that fall into the following two catagories: urgent and important. The urgent tends to grab our time and attention thus we delay the important tasks. By doing so we can find ourselves becoming slaves to the tyranny of the urgent.

Ironically we become slaves to the urgent by not spending enough time on those tasks that where once merely important. This is a universal human struggle. Some people are better at managing time than others. I am one of those “others.”

So, if there is someone out there that has discovered an effective time-management strategy I would like to read about it.

John Huff November 4, 2010 at 3:59 pm

Hi Peggy,

This is a common theme with my small business trademark clients – protection of their trademark is one of the last items they get around to, and in many cases, after they have invested in marketing materials, website, advertising – so they run the risk of finding a trademark conflict down the road and being forced to change their identity, and cut off or change existing marketing / ad campaigns. So perhaps you might mention in a future post the following tasks that often get overlooked or delayed when we’re only focused on client work:

(1) basic business structure (LLC / Inc. filing),
(2) bookkeeping / record keeping system, and
(3) legal due diligence (which includes clearly written contracts with copy writers and web developers stating that all content is original and assigned to the business owner, adding trademark and copyright notices to web pages and marketing materials, and last but not least, conducting a trademark search / and federal registration).

Keep up the great work Peggy!

Best regards,

John

Peggy November 4, 2010 at 4:14 pm

Andy,
I’m going to talk about the time management strategy that has worked the best for me in next week’s post. Stay tuned! In the meantime, maybe we’ll hear from others…

John,
You’re right. Small business owners often neglect what we consider “housekeeping” tasks. They may not kill your business today, but sooner or later, they’ll come back to bite you if they’re neglected!

Andy November 4, 2010 at 9:44 pm

Excellent idea, John, regarding trademarking. I have a product that I want to create and sell however the trademark issue is one of the things holding me back. I fear that others may simply rip me off. Any thoughts?

Julia Deal November 4, 2010 at 9:16 pm

Very good insight! I have a similar situation when boiled down to the basic concepts, just substitute sewing projects for web sites…

John Huff November 8, 2010 at 3:35 pm

Hi Andy,

Thanks for the follow-up question. If Peggy will oblige a short answer on her blog page, before you worry about someone else ripping off your trademark / brand identify, I would first check for competitors who may take a different view of who is ripping off whom :). Consider the following first steps:

1. Start with online searches of the major search engines, using variations of your prospective trademark, and combining them with key words that are common descriptions of your product or service;

2. Check available \".com\" domain names, both for competitive intelligence and to register one or two early in the process – it will only cost you ten bucks from GoDaddy, but if you wait until you need a domain name and find out someone else registered it in the mean time – either a competitor or a pure speculator (or \"domainer\"), it can cost 10s to 100s of thousands to purchase the domain, or the new owner may simply reject your offer.

3. Educate yourself on the federal trademark search and registration process, and find a professional to conduct a comprehensive trademark conflict search and assist you with the application. I have been helping entrepreneurs since 1999 thorugh my company Trademark Partners, but you may also want to divide the project and order the search from a professional firm like mine, and then work with a local trademark attorney on the application so that build a local relationship with a resource who can assist you with various business legal matters.

4. When selecting your brand name and/or slogan, and starting the website process, may I also suggest consulting with Peggy\’s early on in the process – she is a skilled copywriter with an extensive business background, particularly working with clients on both their copywriting and marketing, but also plugging into the e-commerce and relationship marketing tools that help you build long-term clients.

Last, I am thinking of writing an article on \"Bootstrap Trademark Protection\", to help entrepreneurs navigate the trademark process from square one. If there is interest perhaps I can post a link or help continue this discussion in article form. Thanks!

Best regards,

John Huff
http://www.TrademarkPartners.com

Andy November 9, 2010 at 2:37 pm

John, thanks for all of your valuable help, insight, and knowledge regarding Trademark protection. I will do what you suggested I do. You provide a very valuable service to those of us that have no clue regarding Trademark protection.

Thanks again,
Andy