Last spring I paid two great people to spend the day with me planning out the next few months of my business. We spent a day in a room mapping out sequences of emails and sales funnels that lead people from freebies to great content to paid courses. It was a great plan - I was really excited. We not only mapped out the sequences, but also the topics and brainstormed all of the pieces that had to be written and by whom.

I never took action. I had all of the plans up on my wall so I could see them on a daily basis and every day I would look at them and then focus on something else.

Finally, I realized that I didn't really want to do it. I realized that it wasn't actually the right plan for me. It was a great plan for someone who wanted to focus on moving lots of people through a variety of free content into paid online programs, but that wasn't what I really wanted to be doing.

Now, don't get me wrong. I have a bunch of online courses I'm really proud of and I'm going to continue to sell them whenever appropriate because I believe there is value in the course material and it's all still valid. But the reason that I'm telling you this story is because I know I'm not alone. I know that many entrepreneurs spend hours upon hours planning something in their business, and then they realize they don't actually want what they have. And they feel badly about it. And they think maybe they should do that thing even though they don't love the idea. Even though they are resisting it.

Why does this happen and what should you do about it?

Remember your WHY

I'm a huge fan of the book It Starts With Why by Simon Sinek. The book is about knowing what your core values are and how they play out in your business. When you have a solid grasp on your why and you use that to create a strong vision for your business, it's easier to decide what IS a fit and what isn't for your business, and if you're on the right track or if you need to make some shifts.

Step back and evaluate

So many business owners get busy working in their business that they don't have time to work on their business. And when they ARE working on their business, they're doing the day-to-day things to keep going. Sometimes you need to take a full step back and evaluate where you're at. Is it where you meant to be or did you end up there accidentally following the currents driving your business forward?

Ask yourself if you're doing the thing you meant to be doing when you started your business. Are you enjoying what you're doing? Can you see where you're headed in the next year, two years and five years? If that feels difficult on your own, consider getting someone (like a business coach) to help you figure it out.

Know that it's OK to change your mind

Sometimes we simply decide we want to head in a different direction. I've heard the word "pivot" a lot in the business world lately and I have to say, I love it. You can change the direction of your business - pivot the sail - 5 degrees or 180 degrees. It's a word that allows you to realize that change of direction, big or small, may be the right choice for you. You aren't necessarily turning back, you're just changing course, and any good business owner needs to know that that's part of business, and that it's OK.

Welcome the changes and the shifts, even if it means you're going somewhere you never expected to be. Life, and business are like that.

If you're looking for help figuring any of this out, book a free consultation with me to see if any of my Mastermind or one-on-one programs are a good fit for you.


5 Ways to Build Your Community Online

5 ways to build your community online

Whether you're trying to build engagement in a Facebook Group or on a Facebook page or just on Twitter or Instagram, there are a few things that are important to keep in mind to build community: 

1. Set the tone

Lead by example! You are the leader of your community. The way that you behave in that community, from the kind of support you give, to the language you use, to the amount that you're present in the group, is key. If you're not willing to demonstrate through your own behaviour how you want the group to look and feel, you can't be surprised if things go off course. 

In my group there is always a distinct drop in participation if I'm away too much. I need to participate a lot if I want others to participate a lot. Also I find that people are really helpful, respectful and follow the "rules" without having to be policed because they see what the group is meant to be like. 

2. Ask simple questions

People have short attention spans, you need to ask questions (at least some of the time) that are so easy to answer people don't even have to think.

Where are you from?

How many kids do you have?

What's your favourite colour? 

Questions like that seem like fluff but what you need to remember is that your goal is to get people to participate, even just once. Once they've commented on something, they'll be more likely to comment again another time. They'll also be more likely to see your content if you're building your community on a tool that operates with an algorithm.  

Even if you're going for something more complex than the questions above, keep the questions pretty simple so they don't have to think too long. If a person is required to think too long they often decide it's not worth the effort and move on. 

3. Always go first

People hate going first. If you ask them a question they worry that what they want to say might not be what you're actually asking for or they don't know how to share the information they want to share. 

When you ask a question or if someone in your community asks a question, do your best to answer it. You're taking away a lot of the anxiety of being the first to post and you're essentially providing them with a template for their own answer.

4. Be relatable

Share you. Share your realness. Let people see that you're human and not that different from them.

The more you can do that, the less intimidated they feel, and people don't engage in places they feel intimidated. It's why the idea of sharing messy realities works so well.  

The time I accidentally uploaded a draft version of my podcast to iTunes I was horrified. I shared that in my community and it was one of the most popular posts I've ever shared. Why? Because people like to know everyone makes mistakes sometimes. Because they like to know that I'm not that different than them. 

5. Make people feel important

When someone posts anything, like it. Even better comment on it. It's a lot of work but you're rewarding people for their participation. When you give them answers and make them feel like they are truly in a place that is there to support them, they will keep posting and commenting, and that's what you want.  

Creating an active online community is a lot of work, but it also can be really rewarding, fun and help you reach your sales and business goals. 

I hope these 5 tips were useful - and that you'll join me in the Biz Studio if you haven't already! 

How easily can people find you online?

You spend a lot of time online, but do people know where to find you? Connecting the dots between where people can find information about you and where they can connect with you is a key component to successful online marketing.

For example, if you're spending time networking in Facebook Groups - sharing insight, giving advice, asking questions, and building relationships - if people want to take your relationship a step further from those groups, how easily can they do that? 

If someone clicks on your name what will they see in the About section of your Facebook profile? It's important to make sure that you link to somewhere people can find you in your personal About section on your profile. 

How to link your Facebook Profile to your Facebook Business Page

From your Facebook profile's About section go to 'Work and Education' and make sure you're linking to a Facebook Page where people can find out more information about you and change your title to describe what you do i.e., my about section reads Digital Marketing Strategist at Lara Wellman Digital Marketing. Most people have "owner"  or "self-employed," which doesn't explain a lot to a new connection.

You also want to make sure you're connecting to your actual page - make sure it comes up in the dropdown menu and not that you're just typing in the name of your page because that won't work.)

Once someone arrives at your business' Facebook page, do you have a call to action? Make sure you have a cover image that invites people to do something and that you have a link to that action in the description of that image. You should also activate the Facebook call to action (CTA) button so that if someone clicks on it they are directed to another online location where they can learn more about you. For example, my CTA button directs visitors to my Facebook Community, The Biz Studio.

Because I do the majority of my online networking in Facebook Groups, people can click on my name, see that I am a Digital Marketing Strategist, click on my business' name to be directed to my page and see that I have a free online community I'd love for them to join and find the link in the description or click the Sign Up button.

Step by step, people looking to connect with me have a path to take and it's the path *I* want them to take.

You need to make your path clear and easy for people too.

The value of Facebook Groups

People can easily find me networking in Facebook Groups. I love meeting new people through these online communities, as well as engaging and learning from them. I recently chatted with Facebook Group Strategist, Jordana Jaffe, about how networking in Facebook Groups can grow your business. You can find out more about my interview with Jordana Jaffe by clicking here.

Last year 90-95% of Jordana’s clients came from Facebook Groups and she had a six-figure income with 60% profit! Jordana is proof that if you are excited about something and commit to it, success can come from it.

The key to Facebook Groups is to be consistently active and to not spam people with business promotions, but rather offer them friendly advice, resources and partake in casual conversations as they come up. You never know where a conversation will take you!

So, what does your path look like? How can people connect and find you online? Leave a comment and let me know.

Are you ready for a great 2016?

Planning has never been one of my fortes. I'm more of a fly by the seat of my pants, figure it out as I go... "instructions?! No way!" kind of person.

I've owned quite a few businesses over the last 8 + years and over each year it has become increasingly clear that regardless of whether or not I like to plan for a new year, doing it makes my business better, stronger, and (this is the best part) it makes more money!!

I thought I would share a few of my favourite strategies and tools for getting ready for a new year.

1) Three words

Every year I like to choose three words to theme my year on (thanks to a trend started by Chris Brogan quite a few years ago!). These words help guide me in figuring out what I want to do, how I want to be of service and who I want to be in my business.

In previous years I've chosen:  Create, Teach, Help and Focus, Organize, Produce

I like to spend a bit of time every year thinking about what words I want to have guide me and I encourage you to do the same. This year my words are Grow, Inspire, Support - and I look forward to showing you how those are going to be actualized in my business!  Leave your three words in the comments below!

2) Planners and workbooks

There are a lot of great planners out there. Every year I buy Leonie Dawson's Life and Business workbooks because they help me think through all the important pieces of the previous year and the year that's to come. That gets me to the place where I can start to put my new year out on paper as well and into my planner. My favourite planner is the Planner Pad because I love the funnel down system of managing tasks but there are many wonderful planners out there (including one from Leonie Dawson).

I encourage you to pick something and start getting it ready for the new year. It's taken me many years to find systems that work for me, but trying out different ones and experimenting with them was key. If you use a different planner you love, leave a comment and let me know what it is!!

3) My new 2016 Free Planning Challenge

I've been putting together so many resources for my clients on getting ready for 2016 that I decided to put together a free challenge for everyone. Sign up by clicking here and starting December 1 you'll get an email a day for 7 days setting you up for the best year ever. I would really love to have you take part so I look forward to seeing you in the Challenge update posts in the Biz Studio!