April 16, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Okay, so I get it. You’re feeling super stuck. You want to do what you love–and you are–but it’s so time consuming, so hectic, so difficult, that you don’t have any time for anything else in life. That “everything else” just gets put on the back burner, so to speak. And it blows.
I’ll tell you what, that life stage won’t last long. You’ll either fizzle and burn out or continue being miserable…neither choice is a positive outcome. So while you may be feeling stuck while you read this, what can you do? Let’s look at some options:
• Create A System: One of my favoritist things to do is to design a system so I can clearly see what it is that I’m actually doing. In doing so, I come face to face with reality. That usually means I realize where I’m wasting time, what I’m doing inefficiently, and how many steps it’s taking to complete x, y, and z. Seeing it enables me to change it for the better.
• Make a Schedule: Even though it’s not the funnest, sit down and write out a schedule. Whether it changes from day to day or not, just do it. You’ll be glad you did when you see it sitting in front of you, kicking your butt into gear.
• Automate Emails: If you have trouble getting to emails that need replying to, send out an automated email that goes out when an email is received. In a few short sentences, let your client or vendors know you have many emails to get through and you will respond within fill-in-the-blank. Hopefully this will allow you to feel like you can catch up and someday stop the automated email from being sent.
• Clear the Unnecessaries: Doing all of the above will give you clarity of what you’re doing, how your spending your time, and the amount of time it’s taking you to respond. Once you see what you’re doing, you’ll be able to clear out the stuff that isn’t working in your best interest. And that always feels good.
• Simplify cooking: Believe it or not, buying fresh whole food to combine into easy, quick meals is way faster than waiting for the oven to heat up and popping in a frozen lasagna. And better yet, it’s the best thing for you. You can even throw brekky (or any other meal) in a slow cooker! I’m super into Ayurvedic food at the moment.
• Assign the chores: Audrey isn’t quite old enough to help me with the dusting–although she tries to–but Trev and I have decided to go back to our childhood days and assign duties. For instance, we switch off each day with who does the dishes.
And last but not least: Bring in the troops!!! If all else fails, rally those around you–friends, family, soon-to-be allies–to work along side you, to help you at home, to be there for you. We need community and there’s nothing better than helping one another further our goals, loves, missions.
Community Discussion: What will you do to automate your assistant and focus more on what you love?
April 2, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Ask Jenny: I would love to start a blog and you seem to be a huge advocate for doing so. I’m just afraid that I’ll run out of ideas or get bored of it and quit.
I struggle with the same fears all the time. It can be super scary to think about writing every day, something new and fresh, for the next year. I’ve got five tips that will help it seem much less daunting. And, trust me, the reward of writing posts is much higher than not writing at all!
1. Take it one day at a time: It’s as simple as that. You just focus on what’s right in front of you and trust your inner creativity to bubble forth when you need it. I get floods of post ideas some days and none on others. And that’s okay.
2. Keep a running list: I keep a running list on my phone of title ideas with a blurb of what the blog is about. This way, I always have something to look back on when I’m feeling über uncreative, but need something for Monday. The funny thing is, my running list hardly ever gets used and when I do look at it, it spurs on even more ideas to add to it.
3. Write in advance: Squash the fear of not having an idea for a post by always being ahead of yourself. Schedule posts however far in advance that you feel comfortable with. If you write an extra long post, break it into two. If you have an idea that you love and want to use the next day, re-schedule the already scheduled post.
4. Look into the past: My favorite post-inspiring technique is reading my old blogs. There’s just something magical about reading what I wrote beforehand that inspires me. Of course, reviewing your most popular hits and building off that and linking back to it is even better.
5. And if all else fails: Start small. If you’ve already started, back up. Take a break. A breather. Relax. Get rejuvenated. Start posting material that makes you feel alive and refreshed. Throw in other fun stuff besides your usual. Post about recipes you love or places you’ve been to. Write reviews of restaurants, movies, or books. Write poetry. Post once or twice a week.
No one ever said this has to be a job. It’s for you to express yourself, share with others, build community, and enjoy. That’s simply it: Enjoy.
Photo: Are you spinning out of control over your blog? Change your perspective and make it fun! (Edric and me on the Tea Cups)
March 12, 2012 § Leave a Comment
The entrepreneur’s dream is to be their own boss, make their own hours, and create their own path filled with values that they find dear to their hearts. If this is you, I’m right there with you. It can feel intimidating and too far off in the distance when you think about it and that alone can keep you from diving in and going for it. Because when you think about it:
It only takes one first step.
It’s not about what it looks like or what you do, it’s about conquering your fears and issues and doing it in the first place.
What is it that your heart desires? What excites you and scares you the most? Is it creating and developing an online training program to facilitate homeschooler parents? Or perhaps opening a dance studio for underprivileged children? Or maybe you just want to do what you’re doing but freelance and be able to stay at home with the kids?
Whatever your dream may be, it’s a valid cry of your heart. And when you look at what you want to do, there are options. Lots of them! It’s only when we think the dream has to be fulfilled in a specific way that we run into trouble and have excuse after excuse that keep us blocked.
Being open to what the first step looks like and letting go of the urge to control the actual outcome or time line makes all the difference in the world. When you stop trying to manipulate what your world looks like and just put one foot in front of the other, you begin to see that around you with all new possibility.
Rather than continually being disappointed or triggered, you’re satisfied with your here and now life, whatever it may be. The one step becomes less daunting and the process of achieving said dream becomes more enjoyable.
I know it’s easy to want instant gratification. To want things to look a certain way. To desire to be at the end now. But if we can sit back and relax just enough, we’ll take pleasure in the one step and truly achieve the entrepreneurs dream.
Check out the consulting page for more info on how you can start with just one step. That’s all it takes.
Photo: Your feet won’t even care what shoes you’re wearing.
March 5, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Starting today I am launching a few projects that I am really excited about. I can’t tell you how it all will end up looking in the end, but I know it’ll be good. As many of you know, I’m a stay-at-home-mom that watches her kiddos, writes a blog, and helps friends/clients with creative consulting and coaching for their businesses whenever given the opportunity. Now I am going full-force into my “side” job.
What can you expect from Jenny L’voe?
• Continued awesome posts focused on creative entrepreneurship, personal development, and community.
• The soft-launch of the creative consulting and coaching for personal and small businesses.
• The start of the community writing of a 31-Day e-book on how to start and flourish in your own personal or small business.
Firstly, I am fully committed to the community that I’ve created with Jenny L’voe. I love and appreciate you guys and so enjoy writing for you each week. And will integrate my blog in whatever I do. My revelation is your revelation. Know that whatever ventures I begin, I will stay consistent in providing fresh, new posts for you on a weekly basis.
While I continue to post, I’ll be putting more of what I know into one-on-one practice. I’m currently working with two clients doing some editing and business coaching and loving it. This has caused me to start thinking about launching a full-fledged organization–even if I’m the only one in it–this might mean creating a sister website complete with examples and testimonials.
This is where you come in.
If you have always wanted to start a personal or small business–yet you weren’t sure how to–I can help you get your license, EIN, insurance (if needed), website, logo/branding, trademark, etc. as well as create a business and marketing plan. In just five sessions completed at your chosen pace, we can get you on the road to doing your dream.
If you’ve already started a company and you’d like help refining what your goals are, expanding your marketing, adding employees to your present system, increasing profitability, or growing as a leader, coaching is the path for you. Every business owner can benefit from the encouragement, accountability, and community of coaching. Five sessions completed via phone, email, or in-person will put you in a place that you’ve only dreamt was possible. Thereafter, you can choose to continue your coaching if you’d like (most do)!
I’m calling it my soft-launch because I’m going to be building my company over the next few months specifically geared towards consulting. For half the usual cost of my 5-session consulting and coaching, I’m offering it for $250 plus an awesome testimonial from you! Oh heck, I’ll do it for whatever you can afford. Or for trade!
And lastly, I’ve been talking about writing a book for the past year practically and now I’m going to do it. Using Google Docs, I will publicly be publishing it so that you all can share what you would like to see in the 31-Day e-book. It’s gonna be awesome!!!
I’m excited to share these next steps with you. Remember, there’s always room for growth. Email me today at Jenny Lvoe at gmail dot com!
Photo: No more sleepin’ on the job.
February 27, 2012 § Leave a Comment
From a recap of a previous post, The Assistant, we went over the importance of figuring out whether or not you need an assistant as a creative entrepreneur in the first place. It can be a tough decision, but you don’t have to do it alone. With the amazingness of technology out there, the choice of what type of assistant you need and what you actually need help with–sometimes it’s just a matter of creating a personal system that gets you on more of an automatic virtual track or slimming down your workload or both–whether it be Personal or Virtual.
As stated before, I’ve helped others create Guide’s and systems countless times. It’s amazing how you can always trace the issue back to not having something written because it’s so easy to loose focus and get spread too thin. Finding an assistant should be no different. It is not their job to help you discover your expectations of them, it is your job to know what you need, have that written down, and find a good fit for those specific obligations. You can do this. And you don’t have to do it alone.
So who’s job is it? Well, besides using your deductive logic, this is where I come in. I can help you create a system for your assistant before you even start putting your feelers out there to hire someone. (I can also help you in the hiring process and have tons of experience knowing what to look for.)
What you need to do for you is to decide on two critical factors: Personal or Virtual. In the post, The Assistant, I asked you to write down what it was you wanted your assistant to do. So let’s look at your options:
Personal: A personal assistant usually sees you in person and does errands that are related to your personal life. Not always, but more so. They watch the kids, pick up groceries, help you organize, set appointments, do bookkeeping, run to the dry-cleaners, purchase last minute gifts, and so on. Basically, they make your day-to-day life easier.
If you need more time to focus on your business while someone preps dinner for you, makes calls, and feeds the chickens in the backyard (an actual request of a previous client of mine), you need a personal assistant.
Virtual: A virtual assistant can help you almost entirely remotely, although you might hire them with the promise or prompting of “75% can be done online or by phone, but 25% will be done from my home/place of business.” A good example of this would be because you need help setting appointments, writing emails, sending out newsletters, creating a blog, interviewing experts, etc. as well as filing, bookkeeping, and general organizing of your workspace.
If you need help with menial tasks that you just don’t have time for now that your business has grown or because it’s not your cup of tea, a virtual assistant might be the way to go.
Can the two blend? Sure! But you have to know that before you hire them so you can give them a clear and succinct list of expectations before they say “yes” to the job. What makes a happy assistant? One that has a defined position in your life that knows their hours, pay rate, and expectations. They should be able to tell a friend over drinks what they’re doing for you…with a smile.
Personal vs. Virtual. It’s a big decision. Yet I know you can do this. And someone assisting you five hours a week can be the most glorious relief in the world and well worth every penny. If they’re doing their job correctly, whether Personal or Virtual, they should be allowing you to do what you do at a higher level, making their expense speak for itself.
Jenn O’Brien is a Creative Consultant and Coach, helping entrepreneurs in So Cal and virtually elsewhere discover their strengths and do what they do best. If you would like to start doing what you do at a higher level, email her at jenny lvoe at gmail dot com today.
Photo: My assistant works in her PJ’s.
February 20, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Ask Jenny: You’ve mentioned a few times that you keep your inbox clean. It sounds awesome, but I have no idea where to start. Help!
That can for sure be a toughy! Especially if your inbox is over-flowing to the max, it can be an overwhelmingly daunting task to achieve. Yet there is a method to the madness. Follow these five tips to Inbox zen-ness and fret no more!
1. Unsubscribe: Not to my blog of course (wink, wink), but go through your emails and unsubscribe from listings like Victoria’s Secret, Urban Outfitters, iTunes, and the like. If you’re not going to look at it now, you won’t look at it then. If you can’t click “unsubscribe” or it never seems to work when you do, create a filter to block all emails coming from that address. I’ve also found that googling what I want to unsubscribe to can lead to some pretty awesome tips.
2. Trash the trash: Next, trash everything you don’t think is important for saving for later–save the stuff you do want to keep, we’ll get to that–and don’t think about it for a minute more. An easier approach to this is to select all emails on a page and unclick the ones that you actually want to keep. Make sure your viewing the max amount of emails–50 or what not. Then hit “delete!” Bye bye!
3. Review the saved: Go over the saved emails that you haven’t trashed and note themes. You can do this either in a journal or just a blank page on Word or Pages. For instance, if you receive bill notifications and bank statements in your Inbox, consider a Boring file (hehe) with headings like Bank, Utilities, Insurance and Credit Card, and Other underneath.
4. Create folders: This is the fun part…go into your email account and create folders to your hearts content. I keep mine organized by creating sub-folders to each file. Almost nothing goes into the “header” because everything has its own special place. If it doesn’t, I create a new sub-folder.
5. Repeat as necessary: This isn’t a one-off project. Yes, the initial purging of 539 emails from your Inbox is, but it’s continual. You continue to unsubscribe when you get signed up on listings. You trash things you’ve read–or not read–and don’t need as soon as you’re finished. And you create new files when need be.
Lastly, you respond to emails once a day. You don’t leave them sitting there for an eternity. You simply respond. Keep emails to five sentences or less, short and to the point. If you have emails that require more attention on a consistent basis, create a file titled “Reply To” or “Respond”, so that your Inbox stays empty, you feel more zen, but you know exactly where to look at the end of the day. Keep that Inbox clean!
Photo: Keep your inbox clean like I keep my Edric clean!
February 13, 2012 § Leave a Comment
One of the biggest decisions you will make as a creative entrepreneur is who to surround yourself with that will be beneficial to your company. More so, beneficial to your vision. It’s important to remember that we can’t do this in isolation; we need the support of one another to continue moving forward. Whether or not that means you need someone there to help you and get paid for it–rather than a community either virtual or “live”–is another thing entirely.
Firstly, you have to process what it is YOU do, what you see yourself doing every day, and how that fits in your vision. Without this being answered, you’re simply wearing every hat and you like it that way. If that’s you, cool. If it’s overload for you, perhaps it’s time to slim down your workload by doing one of two things: getting an assistant or minimizing your focus until you can add more to your workload later on. Both are viable options.
Secondly, you have to create an idea of what you would like an assistant to do, keeping in mind a few questions:
1. What aspects do I dread and need help with?
2. Can those be fulfilled with an assistant?
3. Am I willing to let go of some of my workload and delegate?
4. Is this just too many hours for my company or do I simply need a way to get more done (personal vs. virtual assisting…more on that in a later post)?
5. Can I afford it?
Before you jump to the answer of number five–ofttimes the end all, be all for many of us–work through the first four to wrap your head around what you need. Getting your needs met in business and otherwise is always important. It sometimes just takes a bit of guidance to see that you do have options to make that happen.
Lastly, once you’ve done the footwork for one through five, you get to do the fun part. Okay, at least I think it’s the fun part. Perhaps here is where you contact me and we work through it together. Before you start posting crazy, long-arse ads on Craig’s List with your laundry list of requirements and pay rate–$8/hour in So Cal is only going to get you what you paid for–you have to create a system for that assistant to follow.
If you just cringed, email me.
It’s really not all that bad and once you see how simple it is to set-up a system–a fancy way of putting “a list of to-do’s”–you’ll see how you can save countless hours of explaining, correction, and heart-ache. So until we have a way to download what we are thinking to another human being, this is what you have to do. All before you even think of hiring someone.
How did I learn this? Well, when I pin-pointed what I loved to do during my Junior year of college it was just that, creating systems. I realized many people just started projects, groups, businesses, etc. without having something written down first. No mission, vision, goal, focus, nothing. So I started by helping a non-profit, then a band, then a coffee shop, and a church. And I kept going. I would write down what they were doing, where they were going, and what that looked like in Guide form and, man, did it feel good.
Since then, I’ve helped others create Guide’s and systems countless times. It’s amazing how you can always trace the issue back to not having something written because it’s so easy to loose focus and get spread too thin. Finding an assistant should be no different. It is not their job to help you discover your expectations of them, it is your job to know what you need, have that written down, and find a good fit for those specific obligations. You can do this. And you don’t have to do it alone.
Jenn O’Brien offers creative consulting to both firms and individuals. She would love to help you discover your needs, become a more focused creative entrepreneur, and create a Guide for your company. Do you think you need to hire an assistant? Email her today.
Photo: My Assistant.
January 23, 2012 § Leave a Comment
If you’ve ever had a desire to do your own thing, be your own CEO, and use your creativity–in any capacity–to provide for yourself, you’re an entrepreneur at heart. I think many of us are more so than we realize or give ourselves credit for. On top of that, we’re actually capable of doing what we love and making a living simultaneously.
If the idea of being freelance and/or owning your own company excites and scares you, this is for you.
Creative Consulting is what I’m passionate about. I love helping others like you define what you want, want you need, and what that looks like in the real world. It’s as simple as that. As a consultant, I can help you move forward in whatever capacity you desire regardless of what stage in your creative entrepreneurship you’re at.
That is, whether you are thinking about doing what you love, just starting, or down the road quite a ways. There’s always room for guidance. And there’s certainly always room for growth. No matter who you are, I can help you in both areas via email, phone, and in person, if you prefer.
What are some areas that I can help you with?
• Zoning in on your creative focus to give you more freedom and satisfaction
• Brainstorming marketing ideas that are applicable today
• Deciding whether or not you need an assistant and helping you find a good fit
• Setting realistic goals for this year and the future
• Creating and developing a system in the form of a Guide, Business, or Marketing plan
• Getting your budget/finances in order to reduce overhead and get going
• Organizing your office space to improve and promote zen
• Writing and/or editing web content to be more concise and reflect what you do
• And much more!
The skies the limit! If you can think it, I can help you. Consultation is like mentoring and about working towards the same goal to make it come to fruition in the manner of which you desire.
What’s the cost to you? In as little as five sessions, I can assist you in 1) starting your company/freelance work, 2) improve your overall business or 3) increase your marketing for just $500. Or we can set-up a mutually beneficial trade. One of my favorite things to do! Email me today and check out the “Consulting” tab for more info.
Photo: “Whaaaaaat? You’d do that for me?!?”
December 14, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Before you venture out into your creative biz, it’s important to write down the costs. Be cautious not to get too deep into overhead that you make it more difficult on yourself to break-even each month (I say to myself). If you’ve already begun the process of owning a small business and you don’t have a list of your monthly budget and/or an income statement, today is the best day to start. If you’re struggling with getting your company off the ground or wanting to actually make a profit, there’s one key factor that will help in every way:
Cut your overhead.
Overhead is the stuff that dreams are made of. Okay, not really. It’s more like the background. But it makes the reverie run smoothly and look realistic. It’s the gas and electric, rent, office supplies, Internet, marketing and advertising, and so on. Your business–and life, for that matter–can’t run without it.
Taking a good, hard look at your overhead and where those finances are going on a monthly basis will bring you to reality, however difficult. As simple as it is, doing a little something here and there can save you $10, $50, or even two hundred dollars month. It can be the difference between making it or having to give up/postpone your creative love.
So what can you do to cut your overhead? Think outside the box!
• Learn about electricity saving tips by doing some online research and apply um
• Save on rent by living in a smaller space or sharing an office with a fellow creative or even work from a coffee shop or friends for free
• Reuse printing paper when you can and cut down on mailings by using email
• Lower your Internet from your office space and only use it for communication/social networking; save the videos etc. for home Internet
• Apply one of the thousands of free marketing and advertising techniques that are available or do trade (I love this stuff, so email me if you need some ideas)
We’ve only hit the very tippety tip top of the ice burg. I could go on for hours and a hundred more bullet points. It just takes brainstorming. Trever and I have also found that it can take testing out a bit to discover where cutting your overhead is comfortable. There are some things we can’t believe we spent so much money on month after month and year after year and others where we attempt to sacrifice only to soon discover their extreme importance.
Every one of us is different. I believe in you and I know you’ll figure out how to monetarily benefit from your creativity.
Community Discussion: How will you cut your overhead in the new year?
Photo: Audrey’s technique? Stealing public water.