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292: Your Launch Plan: 5 steps to growth

Launches have a TON of moving pieces! Creating a launch plan is the best way to keep track of all the moving pieces. Find out how to create your best launch plan yet at TaraSwiger.com/podcast292

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You’ve put in the work to develop and create something new, something totally awesome. It may be a new design, a new line, or just a new colorway. You want your people to know about this thing, but you don’t want to feel sales-y or weird…so how do you announce your thing to the world in a way you can feel good about?

In this episode I teach you EXACTLY how to create your next launch (and I've created a Kit with all the resources you need!)

Find your entire Launch Plan Resource Guide of the worksheet right here.

 

I’ve talked about launching in the past, in fact, back in episode 162, I created a checklist. To make it easy for you to find everything, I’ve gathered it all up in one place! Get the Launching Resource Guide at TaraSwiger.com/launch You’ll get the links to every episode about launches, along with the PDF schedule I created for episode 162 and you’ll get the Launch Plan I’ve created for you in today’s episode. 

Before we dive into what you’re going to do, your first step is to get the right mindset.
A launch is making the most of your product. It’s highlighting or featuring your product. It’s putting all your time and energy behind ONE item, so that you can really highlight the benefits of that one thing. 

“But, Tara, I want to increase my sales of everything. “

Yes, and focusing on the benefits of one of your items, and giving it all the attention it deserves WILL increase sales of other things. I know this for sure, the knitwear designers I’ve worked with will launch one new pattern, but see an uptick in sales of their other patterns. 

So you see that over time, as you launch new items and add more back catalog, every launch can bring in more sales. 

Before we get into the steps, I want to be clear – you can launch brand-new products, or you can “launch” older items that you’ve had in your shop forever. Theses steps can be used to highlight or feature anything – the point is putting as much love and attention and time in order to market it effectively. 

Every launch is going to go better if you have some channels where you’ve been consistently connecting with your ideal buyer. 

That might be Instagram, YouTube, a business Facebook page, your blog, your email list – if you don’t have at least SOME people gathered someplace where they will see your message, you can’t expect to make sales – you don’t have anyone to sell TO. 

Launching regularly is going to be a way to get content and consistency in those communities, so if you haven’t been showing up consistently, this Launch plan can help you start to show up consistently, but adjust your expectations accordingly – if you haven’t already been connnecting, you won’t make a sale as quickly. 

(If you have no idea where or how to connect with your ideal buyer (or who that even is), head over to the Resources for this episode, and I’ll like a free workshop that will teach you more about this concept.)

 

Here’s your launch plan

  1. Pick a product to launch and clarify the benefits
  2. Create an authentic offer with a deadline. 
  3. Define your goals and commit to doing what it takes to reach them. 
  4. Go to where you have people. 
  5. Keep notes and keep experimenting.

 

Let’s go through this step-by-step: 

Pick a product and clarify the benefits. 

What are you going to launch?
What does your buyer love about it?
What does your need to know before she can decide?
What makes it valuable?
List the physical attributes (features) – how does that translate into benefits (what it means for the customer)

(I have episodes that dive deeper into these questions, they’ll be linked up in the Resource Guide at TaraSwiger.com/launch

Think about communicating the answers both in visuals (pictures and videos) and in words – write it up like you will share it with your audience. 

Don’t skip this step – really write out the answer to these questions and take as much time as it needs to clearly communicate this. This will save you tons of time later (You won’t be sitting down to Instagram thinking “What the heck do I want to say?”)

Create an authentic offer with a deadline.

So here’s the thing – you might not have naturally-occuring deadlines, but your launch is going to go better if it has a start date and end date, and if buyers have a reason to buy NOW and not later. 

But this doesn’t mean you just make up a deadline or you lie about what the real deadline is. Don’t say it won’t be available later if it will be. That’s what I mean by authentic. 

What I mean by offer is – what are you selling right now? 

Your product + right now special = your offer. 

Most people jump right to a sale or discount, “Oh, I’ll give 10% off until Friday, that’s my offer.”

Sure, you can do that, but that’s not sustainable and if you discount regularly, people will expect it and wait for it. (Think about those big box craft store 40% off coupons – do you ever buy anything full price from Micheals when you know you could wait for the 40% off coupons?)

Spend a little more time to come up with something more interesting, something with a naturally end point. 

If you’re launching a brand-new product for the first time ever, your offer is simply: Get the newest thing first! You don’t need to add on anything to that offer. But when you’re launching something that has been sitting in your shop, try an offer!

 

Here’s a few suggestions: 

  • A knitalong or group event for your pattern (or book or kit) at X date, so your deadline is the start of that (or the shipping deadline, if you’ve got to ship yarn)
  • A brand-new product that you’re offering exclusively to your list (or followers) first – the deadline is when it’s no longer exclusive (and then you launch it to others for a week or two)
  • Make a limited number – when the spots (or products) are gone, they’re gone.
  • Customize it for free for the next X buyers. (Put their name on it, or sign it!)
  • Give it a bonus, for a limited time (a free mini-product for next 20 purchases, a Resource Guide (aka, PDF), a free 15min consultation with you, to make the most of their product, an entry into a giveaway you’re holding with another brand).
    How do you know what will work best? Test it! 

 

Can you skip this step and just focus on highlighting one of your normal products, nothing special, without a deadline? 

Absolutely! In fact, that’s just good marketing – in between launches with deadlines you can just focus on a product at a time for 2-4 weeks! But try some special offers, once a quarter or so, to experiment with what works! 

Before you’re done, write out the offer and deadline, as you’ll explain it to your customer. If this is new, it can feel awkward to communicate, so you’ll want to clear on your words before you start posting about it. (Avoid over-explaining yourself)

 

Define your goals + commit to them

Why are you doing this? What do you want? 

It is really easy to get excited about a launch and half-way through just feel tired of it all. 

Having a clear vision of why you’re doing this and what it’s bringing to your business can keep you going when you get sick of talking about the same thing. 

 

Take time to think about WHY you want to do this. 

What do you hope to learn?
How will this impact your business? Why does that matter? 

What is the deeper reason of why you want to grow your business?

How long will this launch period last?

Are you willing to go all in and commit? 

Committing to a goal means that you’re going to do the work to make it happen, and then you let it go. Go all in on the work, the planning, the implementation, the experimenting and trying things and showing up, and let go of the results. Y’all tell me you’re afraid of committing to goals because you’re afraid of failure, or letting yourself down. But committing to a goal doesn’t mean you can NOT FAIL, it means that you are willing to keep working when it doesn’t happen right away. You’re not going to give up. But you gotta let go of “what if it fails”. So what? You’ll still be loved, you’ll still have a business, you’ll still be worthy, but now you’ll ALSO have all this data of what works and what you need to do in order to see real results. 

Show up where your people are. 

Now it’s time for what you probably think of as launching – the actual marketing! 

The good news is that you already have a ton of the thinking done. Now it’s just time to plan it, schedule it and implement it. 

First: Identify your channels.
Where are your people? 

I’m going to talk about marketing channels here (reaching OUT to people), but before you do that, you’ll want to make sure that offer is on your website, explained clearly, highlighting the benefits and sharing social proof when you have it. (Do you have happy customers? Pictures of people using your product? Use that on your offer page. This may be a sales page, or this may link to where they buy (Ravelry, Etsy, etc), but you need it all in one place. 

 

When it comes to sharing the message, define where exactly you’ll post (don’t leave this for later, write it all out so you can schedule ahead of time, if possible. 

 

My preference for where you spend your energy:

  1. Your email list (unlike social media, you know your subscribers will have the message delivered)
  2. Facebook Group (going Live)
  3. Instagram + Instagram Stories
  4. Facebook Business Page (going Live)
  5. Anything else – post on YouTube, mention it on your podcast, share it with specific people or groups.

 

Got your list of where you’ll show up? Next is to decide WHEN and how often and then plan it. 

I’m going to assume you trust me and you really want to go all in, so instead of telling you how to think about it, I’m going to treat you like you’re one of my Starship Captains and I’m going to tell you exactly what to do, ok? 

(This is what we do in the monthly Group Coaching – this is directly from a recent coaching session)

In your launch week:


Send 3 emails: 

  1. Announcing the offer, with the list of benefits, mention the deadline, link directly to the offer page.
  2. Share a customer photo, testimonial (or a test-knitter’s project and feedback, if you’re a designer).
    If you don’t have a customer story or testimonial to share, talk about your inspiration, with an eye to the benefits for the buyer. Include a direct link to the product and explain the deadline clearly
  3. Warning! Deadline is today! Grab it here (keep this short, include a direct link to buy it. 

 

Post on Instagram daily (or sub in your FB biz page – better yet hook them up so an IG post goes right to your FB page)

  1. Post the announcement of the offer
  2. Talk about one of the benefits (close up of the product, if applicable)
  3. Share a customer story or testimonial or project
  4. What inspired you (with a focus on how that impacts the buyer)
  5. Benefits + discussion of value

 

Go Live at least twice: 

  1. Announcement! Excitements!
  2. Warning! Offer is ending! 

 

If you’re launch is more than a week (10-14 days is a good length for most of my customers), add in an email between 2 + 3, where you talk about your inspiration or the benefits, and keep posting on IG daily (or each weekday) – share your process, your studio, your experience. When people buy or start to receive their thing, share every one of their posts and if they’re not posting it (yet) thank them on Instagram Stories. 

 

So that’s your plan! 

You may not have all the channels I’ve listed here – don’t let that stop you! Take you what you do have and apply this to your channels. Like I said at the beginning, if you haven’t been consistent or more than 100+ people on any platform, you can still absolutely follow these steps, but expect it to increase your connection, not necessarily make sales. 

 

Next up. you’ll need to actually WRITE the content and take the photos for the platforms YOU have, and schedule it  when you can (using your email software, or an app like Buffer or Later for Facebook and Instagram) and add the live elements to your calendar. 

Your launch is going to be less stressful if you know what to post, when, and it’s all in one doc. 

 

Not sure what to write and include? This is the kind of thing we work on the Starship. For more on that, check out the Launch Resource Kit – I’ll share the free podcast episodes that are related, and I’ve linked up to the Masterclass where you can learn how I can work with you to help you develop your most effective launch. 

 

Show up, take notes and keep experimenting. 

The magic of this Launch Plan is that it gives you specific tasks to do that will then give you data about what works in your business, but the only way to get those benefits is to TRACK what is working. 

After you’ve got it all planned and written, use the spreadsheet included in the Launch Resource Guide to track the outcomes of the actions you’re taking. 

Then track the results and tell me about it! DM me on Instagram!

We’ll talk more next week about how to keep sales going after a launch – because it’s not sustainable for you to be doing launches non-stop. 

 

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

291: How I’m planning 2020

Planning for your year, life, or creative business when things are up in the air and you aren’t sure how the year will play out can be tricky! Learn how I’m planning my year (full of unknowns) at TaraSwiger.com/podcast291

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As a culture we talk a lot about planning the year for about 2 seconds on December 31st and January 1st, but the fact is, when you’re building a business or following a dream, you are planning and implementing a plan all the time! Today I’m going to share how I planned my New Year, warts and all.

Welcome to the New Year! Over the years I have written (and recorded) a lot about New Year and seasonal planning, so this year I decided to share exactly what I’m doing, with a bit of my feelings and experience as I do it, so you know you’re not alone.

You can get access to ALL of my episodes about planning your New Year AND a new worksheet, at TaraSwiger.com/2020Goals. Download it now!

It started in early December…

Inside the Starship, we read the book Everything is Figureoutable, by Marie Forleo, as a part of our Q4 Book Club. This book is packed with encouragement and tough love for moving forward on your big dream, no matter how unreachable it feels.

I really committed to not just reading it, but also working through the exercises. It helped me get clear on what’s held me back from setting a bigger goal (like, really big) and work through that. The book is so uplifting and encouraging, I think this helped me shed a bit of self-doubt that has held me back in the last 2 years.

Self-doubt

Actually, let’s chat about self-doubt holding me back. I talked about this a bit in episode 252, if you’d like to hear more about how I worked through it then. The thing is – I had a major depressive episode in 2018 and it rattled me.

Even after I came out of it, I had this lingering fear that I wasn’t going to be able to follow through on anything, that I shouldn’t commit to anything because I wouldn’t be able to complete it. Soon after that, we became licensed to foster parent, and since I had never been a parent before, and I had no idea what to expect, I also became convinced that I would no longer be able to follow through on things, because kids.

The thing that’s so insidious about this self-doubt is that it presented as LOGIC. Like, it’s totally reasonable to expect that I’ll be able to do less as a parent, than before… but what level of “less”? I didn’t know, so I assumed the worst. I assumed that the kids would be some kind of hurricane that completely exhausted my ability to adult, let along to show up to students, captains and partners.

Now, I can see how a lot of that was just catastrophizing – I didn’t know what to expect, either about recurring depression or parenting, so I just assumed the worst. I needed to tap back into Confident Tara in order to dream big and create a plan and follow through, because you must believe it’s possible before you’ll actually do the work.

I’m sharing this because in the middle of it, it felt very real, very logical, and TRUE. 

If you are feeling tons of self-doubt or battered by life, give yourself some grace. It is ok. You don’t have to dream BIG right now. You don’t have to be on top of everything. Get inspired a confident again, by listening to my podcast and/or by reading Marie Forleo’s book (she also has a great YouTube show!)

Where I plan

Ok, before I go any further, I wanna talk about WHERE I actually do this planning – both where I write it and where I sit physically to do it. The thing is, you need to find what works for you, but I know we all love to hear about these kind of details.

I always plan my year (and do quarterly maps and monthly planning) in one notebook. That way I can keep a whole year in one place and go back to it, without having to search around.

This year I’m using a Happy Notes so that I can add pages and different kinds of paper to it. In the past I've used a big Moleskine.

I typically do the review at a coffee shop, next to a fireplace, with a fancy latte in a mug. Last year I had a brand-new toddler at this time of year, so I didn’t do any planning until late January, and then I did it during naptime under a blanket on my couch.

Review the last year

I start by reviewing the last year, because it is VERY inspiring to remember all of the good of the last year and to get grounded in where I am in my business right now.

I use my own book Map Your Business to do this! It starts with several pages of worksheets to get really clear where you are right now.

Now, it’s easy to use this as a chance to beat yourself up.
Maybe you didn’t hit your goals last year. Maybe you didn’t do ANYTHING last year. Maybe you are looking at where you are right now, thinking there is NO WAY you can get to your goal.

Hey, that’s ok. Deep breath.
You are exactly where you need to be.
You are capable of more than you’ve done before.
You are further ahead than you’ve ever been before!  You have learned so much this year! (even if it’s not what you wanted to learn!)

This is why Map Your Business really focuses on the lessons you’ve learned and what you want to take from last year into this year.

There’s also a section on releasing all your regrets. We all have them. It’s ok, you can let go of them and move forward.

Dreaming the next year

Ok, so once I've let go of my regrets and I’ve looked at what lessons I want to bring forward into the next year, it’s time to think about the upcoming year.

I like to start with FEELINGS. There are several worksheets in Map Your Business that you help narrow in on this – the things you value, the qualities you want in your life and in your business.

How do I want to feel this year? What could help me feel that way? 

For me, I want to feel strong, confident, loving.
Strong – capable, calm, resilient
Confident – capable, trust myself, move forward on scary stuff
Loving – with my family, with everyone in foster care, with myself

What could make me feel this way? (I’m still making my list!)

I use Map Your Business to dive into the specifics of what I want to create, in every area of my business. So at this point, I already have in mind my sales goal, but there’s a lot more to my life than just sales.

For example:
Jay and I need to trade his 20 year old car in for a newer one that we can put kids into.
We want to pay off debt.
I want to have more than enough money saved up to pay my taxes quarterly.

Map Your Business has you list out EVERYTHING you want to accomplish, then zoom in on 3-5.

I also love the idea i got from Leonie to list 100 things I want to do in the year. There are so many things I want to do that aren’t really GOALS, but things I do want to do and remember to do. So I make a big list that I keep adding to, of allllll I could possibly do.

After I have a goal, it’s time to make a plan.

Here’s where allllll the uncertainty in my life comes into play. I have NO idea what my home will be like in a year. Will we have 2 kids? Will they be 6 months old or 5 years old? A new placement or an adoptive placement? Daily therapy or no appointments?

There are so many variables that it’s easy to think there’s no way I can plan. But that’s NOT TRUE!

What I can do is make a plan for what needs to be done and chunk it down into what I need to do next. In Map Your Business we do this in three month chunks. But if you’re life has a lot of uncertainty, you can still make this “quarterly” plan… and accept that something might interrupt and it’ll take longer than expected.

Here’s what it looks like with my goal.

My goal is a sales goal, that is twice what I’ve sold before (keep in mind sales is NOT profit, we go into this in my free Masterclass).

My first step in breaking it down is to chunk it into halves or quarters of the year.

If you’re increasing your sales, it’s not likely to happen in a smooth progression. For example, if you’re goal is to make 36,000 in sales this year (I picked a number it’d be easy to do the math for!), you’re not going to make 3,000 every month, you’ll likely start where you are now (maybe a little lower because January tends to be slower than December in most industries), and then increase as the year goes on. You’ll also want to look at you are already doing – craft shows? A big Black Friday deal? New wholesale customers in the spring?

So maybe you’ll make 13,000 in the first half and 23,000 in the second half of the year.
You can then break that into quarters:
Q1: 5,000
Q2: 8,000
Q3: 10,000
Q4: 13,000

If you don’t break it up and take into account industry trends, marketing plans, and natural growth, you’re going to feel very frustrated and far from your goal. If you thought you needed to make $3,000/mo and you just make $1,5000 in January, you’re going to feel SO FAR away, when in reality you may be right on schedule to grow.

(Just to be clear my goal is quite a bit bigger than this, but I wanted to use numbers that are more in line with the goal a lot of you have set). 

After I split my goal up like this in quarters I then looked at months. I looked at what I have planned – travel, events, vacations. Map Your Business has a page where you can list out what’s happening in each month, so you can see when you’re likely to have time and energy for your business.

Once you have the goal for your quarter, you do the most important step: forget all the other quarters.

I just focus on the sales goal for this quarter.

And I ask myself: What can I do to reach this goal?

For my business and my audience (you!), this is a lot more about systems than one-time tasks – I put systems in place to share my work with more people as the year goes on. And because of foster parenting, I make sure the system doesn’t need ME to keep running. I want to spend my time and energy working with Starship Captains and writing/recording podcast episodes and videos.

So my to-do list for a sales goal is related to implementing, testing and tweaking systems. I have a specific list of things to implement and variables to test. I have joined a program that includes a community where I can get these questions answered.

Now, because there’s so many unknowns in my life – so many events and appointments that come with a new placement that I don’t even know about yet – I just do what’s in front of me. I make a plan that would probably fill 2-3 months as they are RIGHT NOW, but I know that I’ll need to be flexible. If it takes longer to get a placement, I’ll go faster. If I get a complicated case, it’ll probably go slower.

So that’s it for planning! The next step is to make sure the list of current projects stay front of mind – so I typically use my map to make a list and add it to my planner and I create projects with tasks and deadlines inside Asana. I talk about both of these things in a lot more detail in episode 287 + episode 288, so if you want to more about tracking daily and weekly tasks, go listen to those!

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

290: Skip the Resolutions, Transform your Life

Even when you’ve tried resolutions in the past, it can be easy to get caught up in the New Years hype. How about transforming your life instead of making more resolutions this year? Learn more at TaraSwiger.com/podcast290

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Are you setting New Year’s Resolutions?
Have you in year’s past?
How’s that worked for you?
What if we stop with the resolutions and instead we actually transform our lives in 2020?

You find ALL of my resources for creating a great year at taraswiger.com/2020goals

So the problem with resolutions, I’m sure you already know, is that they don’t work.

Think about it- have you ever met someone who said “I made a resolution and reached it!” No, because the way we set resolutions, the words we use aren’t reachable.

In a 2018 survey, one-third (31%) of Americans who made New Year’s Resolutions last year say they didn't stick to any of their resolutions. A plurality (38%) say they stuck to “some” of their resolutions.

Even the language used in the survey was “stuck to” resolutions. How do you know if you stuck to something or not?

Let’s look at the most-popular resolution : “exercise more,” with 59%, “eat healthier” (54%), “save money” (51%),  “lose weight” (48%), “reduce stress”.

These are impossible to succeed at because they’re vague and confusing. Without a starting place (how much are you exercising now?) and a measurable goal (what is “more”), you can't make it happen because you don’t know what to do.

But the reason we set them each year? We WANT to make a change. The resolution starts to define that change.

At their best, a resolution provides an aim. A way to orient yourself. A destination.

So it’s not the resolutions that don’t work, it’s the way we do it. We may think about it on January 1 and write it down and then… nothing.

Instead, if you really want something to change or transform, you need a few more steps to the process:

  1. Define what you want.
  2. Commit yourself to it
  3. Create a do-able plan
  4. Follow through.

Define what you want

Make it measurable.

Even choosing a word or how you want to feel is better than your typical resolution –  they are specific.

I want to read more vs I want to feel curious about the world. I could feel that way by going to museums, reading, watching documentaries, meeting new people.

As you define what you want this year, check that it’s measurable. Be specific about how you want to feel. What else could make you feel that way?

Ex. Exercising more.
Maybe you want to feel strong.
What makes you feel strong?
For me, it’s lifting weights, it’s being emotionally steady mom, getting through hard times.
One of my fave mugs says “strong as a foster mother”…that’s a way to feel strong.

Commit yourself to it

Here’s the thing: you can’t do anything unless you decide you are going to.

That may sound obvious, but be honest – how many times have you set a goal, but then not really believed it was possible and kinda backpedaled away from it?

I know, you don’t want to fail.

But you won’t succeed until you go all in.

I know, maybe you haven’t done it before but you can do it this year.
You are farther along.
You know more.
You have tried and failed and survived more.

Go all in.

Create a do-able plan

So just the phrase “grow my business” is meaningless, but if you got specific in Step 1, maybe you decided you want to hit a specific sales goal… and you committed yourself to it, the next step is to get super-specific. What do you need to do? By when?

I’ve got a whole workbook for this, it’s called Map Your Business. In it I walk you through getting clear on your big vision, setting a specific goal and then building a plan for it AND following up on how it’s going.

You know what you need to do, so break it down into specific projects and tasks and then add them to your calendar. (Go back and listen to episode 287 and episode 288 if you need more on that!)

Follow Through

Ahhh, I know! This is the hardest part.

This involves having a time to work, having clear boundaries around it, then actually focusing on what you need to get done.

For a lot of us, this also requires some outside accountability. Someone else saying “hey, you were going to do that.”

Needing outside accountability is NOT a bad thing. It doesn’t mean you don’t have discipline or whatever. It just means that you operate best when someone else is relying on you.

If you have a hard time following through, you are NOT alone! When we talked about this in my Facebook group, over 90% of your fellow makers and artists said they struggle with this!

You can get help, and learn my methodology for helping you follow through, in the free Masterclass. Just head to taraswiger.com/2020goals and get the worksheets and resources for creating your New Year, and I’ll send you an invite to the Masterclass!

So how about you? What’s your plan for the New Year?
Come tell me in our free Facebook group, FB.com/groups/taraswiger

Have an enthusiastic day and New Year!

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

289: How to decide on your next goal

Choosing your next goal is vital to having focus in your creative business, which is how you move forward. Learn more about how to choose your next goal at TaraSwiger.com/podcast289

Are you stuck between two really great ideas? Wondering if you have to choose or if you should just do them both at the same time? How could you choose between them?

Today I’m going to help you answer one of the BIGGEST questions I get about creating do-able plans for your next goals: Do I have to pick just one and how the heck do I do that?!

In my book Map Your Business and in my Starship Program, you begin by getting clear on your big vision. Then you set a goal and break it down into steps and actionable to-dos. For the last two weeks we’ve talked about how to stay on top of those To Dos, so they actually get done.

But this week we’re going to back up and answer the question: How do you even pick the next goal? Especially when you have several projects that all look like good options?

This question came up in the monthly coaching call inside the Starship Program (learn more at taraswiger.com/starshipbiz) and it’s one I know we all deal with. So let’s break it down – do you need to pick just ONE goal? And if so, how can you decide?

You can find a worksheet to help you apply what you learn in today’s episode here.

Do you need to pick just ONE goal?

I get this question ALL the time, because my Map Making process involves making a really detailed plan for ONE goal at a time. So the short answer is yes, in order to make a detailed plan and get it accomplished, you need just one goal.

Can you work on more than one goal at a time?

Well, it depends.

What’s your time frame?

Over the course of a year, you’re going to be reaching a lot of different goals.
Over the course of a week, you will get distracted if you focus on too many at once.

This is why I set the timeline in the Map Making process for three months. That’s a good amount of time to set a goal, work on it, adjust your path, and learn quite a bit about what the project requires. It’s a short enough time frame that you won’t forget what you’re working towards and you won’t get bogged down in doing the same thing, and still a long enough time frame that you can see some real progress.

It also depends on the kind of goal you have.

There are income or sales goals.
There are habit goals.
There are KPI goals.
There are award goals.

For example, most makers I talk to want to get more consistent with their social media. That is something you can do while you’re working on a sales goal. I’d encourage you to make the goal more measurable, like “I want to post on Instagram 5x/week”. You’re going to do that alongside a lot of other stuff.

And still, I recommend you let that be your ONLY goal for at least the first month as you get used to it.

Why focus?

Why focus on just one at a time:

  • You’ll be focused (this is one of the main benefits of setting ANY goal)
  • You’ll know what to do next and how to prioritize
  • You’ll see faster progress
  • You’ll learn faster and can change it up
  • The sense of accomplishment will keep you going.

If you want to learn more about setting the right-sized goal, check out episodes 191 on stretch goals and episode 91 on why you’re afraid of big goals.

So you want to narrow it down, but you’ve got two really great ideas.

Perhaps you’re debating, as one of my Starship Captains did: Should I focus on increasing my online sales or my wholesale sales?
Or: Should I focus on my email list or Instagram? Should I self-publish a book, or sell more patterns to magazines?

First, some good news.

Any goal is good. 

Anything you commit yourself to, make progress on, and learn from, is going to improve your business and your life. You’re going to be in a better place in 3 months than if you didn’t pick anything.

So take some of the pressure off, ok?

Now, when it comes to choosing a goal, I like to ask Captains two questions:

Questions to ask to choose the next right project:

What is closer to money?
Where is your enthusiasm?

What is closer to money?

This is one of my favorite questions, because it’s gonna get you fast results: What is the project you can work on that is closest to making money?

For example, if you have products in your shop, selling one of them is the absolute fastest way to make money. If you have customers, having them buy again is closer to money than finding new buyers. Self-publishing your finished pattern is a lot closer to money than pitching it to publishers.

You feel me?

However, lemme warn you that you can not build your whole business doing just what’s closest to money, because it will wear you out and not necessarily take you the direction you want to go. You want to balance choosing quick-money options with long-term right-direction goals.

But I’m really disappointed at how many people say they have a business but NEVER do the thing that will make money – instead they focus on metrics that look good – like more instagram followers or more prestigious partnerships.

If it’s been a while since you focused on SELLING your thing directly to the people who want to buy it, then I’m going to suggest you pick whichever project is closer to money

Where is your enthusiasm?

Here’s the thing: most people who tell me they can’t decide between a few options, it’s because they are piling up the SHOULDS.

Well, I SHOULD do this.
A REAL business would do this.
I don’t have as big an Instagram following as that person, so I should improve that. 

No, no, NO. 

Our aim isn’t to build A business, it’s to build YOUR dream business.
Which goal is aligned with what you’re most enthusiastic about?

Are you LOVING working with your newest retail shops?
Are you throwing confetti every time you get a response to your newsletter?

Yeah, you might not be enthusiastic about the WORK involved in your goal, but are you enthusiastic about the end goal? Or some part of the process?

Then go with that

You are going to have the MOST progress and grow the fastest by looking at what you’re genuinely enthusiastic about,and following it.

It might not be strategic but all of my best moves have been following my enthusiasm.

  • I did plan to start a podcast, but I started it in one week and it’s been one of the best things for my business.
  • I did not plan to start a Facebook group right before Thanksgiving, but it’s been an amazing place to be – I LOVE meeting and approving new people who apply.
  • I did not plan to create a worksheet for this podcast episode, but you know what? I’m feeling it!

If you go with your enthusiasm, you’re going to be more likely to follow through.

So that’s how I decide on a project – commit to following through on ONE aim in the next three months and then ask yourself – what is closest to money? What am I most enthusiastic about? Drop all the shoulds, and go full speed to what you want.

I created a worksheet to help you answer these questions, you can grab it here.

Wishing you an enthusiastic and peaceful end of year!

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

288: How I use planners in my business – Asana edition

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How do you keep track of all the moving parts in a recurring or upcoming projects? What if you’re waiting on other people to do their part before you can do your part? I do this with project management apps, so today we’re going to make it a bit less overwhelming and how to pick the software that will help you.

This week I’m answering the question that occurs after you make a map – how the heck do I keep track of all the moving parts?

You see, in my book Map Your Business and in my Starship Program, you begin by getting clear on your big vision. Then you set a goal and break it down into steps and actionable to-dos. But after you have that big list of what you need to do and the order you need to do them in, then what? How do you make sure you don’t forget the stuff that comes LATER?

And that’s where a lot of us get stuck. So for the month of December on the podcast, we’re having a series on planning – the actual figuring out what to do each day and week.

Last week we started by talking about how to keep track of the current week and how I use paper planners for that. Today we’ll talk about task management software to keep track of ongoing or recurring projects. Next week, we’ll talk about how to pick your next big project. And we’ll kick off the new year with an episode on January 1, about planning your best year yet.

I started using digital planning tools when…

I started tracking to-dos digitally in my business, (especially recurring projects like marketing and this podcast), when I hired my first virtual assistant (VA). The easiest way for me to communicate what I did for each project, and to make sure we didn’t miss a single step, was to put it all in a checklist. What I learned right away is that having it down on a checklist made every single task so much faster to do, not just for my VA, but for me too!

There’s a whole book about this – The Checklist Manifesto. Basically, knowing exactly what to do next saves you time, it saves you energy thinking of what’s next, and it saves you mistakes.

We started out using Evernote, but soon we moved to Asana. Evernote was great at having a checklist, but it didn’t make any reminders or prompt us to do the next step.

If you’ve got ANYONE else in your business, even if they’re just super part-time (my VA started at 2 hours a week!), you definitely need some way to communicate tasks, deadlines and checklists. It’s going to give you peace of mind when you can SEE that they’ve done each part of the task, (and you will save time by not having to talk about every single thing, every single time).

Now, if you don’t have anyone else in your team, you can still use project management software to keep YOU on top of things.

Do YOU need digital planning tools?

Here’s how to decide:

First, know your projects.

I have Starship Captains start by listing ALL of their projects – onetime things they’re working on, recurring projects, the steps to their social media posts, anything they do or plan to do in a month.

Then you can split it down into “repeating” and “one-time”.

How many things do you have to hand back and forth to someone else?

Second, ask yourself – how do you keep track of the repeating tasks now?

Maybe you have a paper system that works great (I put my first marketing plan on a post it and just kept the post it on my computer screen).

Or maybe you’re forgetting half of every repeating task, or it’s taking you twice as long to remember – in which case, a checklist would be SUPER helpful. You could do the checklist manually or digitally – whichever you’re more likely to see.

Third, how do you keep track of next steps for one-time projects? Is that working for you? Would you prefer to be reminded of deadlines or next steps?

Captains use project management software to keep track of production, including wholesale orders and show prep. (If you’re in the Starship Community you can ask about how exactly they organize it all!)

But WHAT tool do you need?

If you’re current tools aren’t working for you, then let’s look at some digital options.

Now, before we go any further, I really want to stress one point – NOTHING WORKS UNLESS YOU USE IT.

Sometimes we get all wrapped up in finding the “perfect” tool or the one other successful biz owners use, but none of that matters. What matters is if YOU use it or not. The tool that will work best for you is the one you regularly use, put information into, and actually look at.

There are so many options for To Do list apps, I’m not even going to get into all the specific options. What you need to know is that a checklist app like ToDoist is different from a note-keeping app that has checklists like Evernote or GoogleKeep, which is different from task management software.

I’ve used Evernote and I currently use GoogleKeep to keep track of notes on the fly and checklists related to my personal life. I like that I can save documents, links, checklists, everything in one place. This was great when I was starting – my VA and I created a folder in Evernote for Standard Operating Procedures (we called it the Flight Manual) for everything – from checklists to launch plans, to project mapping.

But project management software takes it to the next level by letting you create TASKS. You can give those tasks deadlines, you can create a checklist under the task, and you can set the task to repeat!

This is really great if you:

  • Have a project that needs to be done in the exact same way every week or month (like my podcast!)
  • Have a project that is waiting for other people (knitwear designers who use editors, test knitters, etc.)
  • Have a project that needs to be paced out (you need to do step 1 by this date, step 2 by this date, so step 3 can get done by a big deadline.)

Using a system for these things:

  • Keeps you on a schedule
  • Takes it off your mind so you’re not trying to remember all the steps before you’d done the next step
  • Prepares you to scale up and do more and bring people on who can do parts of it
  • Helps you visually SEE all you do, which makes you feel accomplished and proud

Where to start with digital planning?

I recommend most people start with the steps I mentioned earlier – listing the projects you have. And then, making checklists first. Use something like GoogleKeep or Evernote and keep all your checklists together.

Once you start to see that you want something to reoccur or repeat, you want to assign just part of the checklist to someone else, then put those checklists into tasks and projects inside a project management program.

How I do it

Now, I’ve filled this episode with tips for you to figure out what will best help you and with steps for you to follow, I know you will still ask what I use and what I do, so I’ll share my process with you, in hopes that it will inspire you to get going, and not worry about being perfect!

I’ve been using Asana for years. It’s totally free and it has all the bells and whistles I need. The initial set-up took a bit of time, and I had to train myself and anyone who works with me to actually USE it regularly, but I’ve been building tasks in it one at a time, and it is a lifesaver.

For my weekly projects like this podcast or my weekly emails or blog posts:

  1. I think through the task and add every single tiny step to the task (like a checklist)
  2. I run through DOING the task once using the checklist and I add anything I forgot
  3. I set the task to repeat

I’ve learned through the years that if a task has more than one person who’s working on it, I CAN assign subtasks to different people, but it’s easiest to just create separate tasks for each person and then put them in the order they need to be done. For example, I write and record this podcast episode, that’s a task. Jay has a task to edit it. Holly has a task, once it’s been edited and uploaded to take all the pieces – the transcript, the recording, the video, any links and put it all in the blog post. That’s one tasks with quite a long checklist, because the blog post has a lot of moving parts, and she can’t do any of them until we’ve done our part.

Now, even if I didn’t have Holly, I would still use this task, to remind MYSELF of what all the steps are.

And what’s great about this is now I can hire anyone to do the task. I have to teach them the software involved, but the task even gives me a checklist of what software is involved in all the steps. It was much MUCH harder to start working with people when I had no checklists.

Now, when I have a new project, like I started a Facebook group recently (join us! It’s free: fb.com/groups/taraswiger) – I put that in Asana too. Often I’ll talk out the project with Holly or Joeli inside Asana, then I’ll start to put the task list together. Then I keep adding ideas as I have them, then I assign it to people and pace out the due dates so the final project is done when I want it done.

The Facebook group is actually a great example, because I’m the only one that worked on it, and yet I still created tasks to mark off as I went because I was learning from a few different sources and wanted to keep all my ideas in one place and then be sure I actually DID them.

So that’s how I use project management software in my business to both plan and be sure I follow through on my plans.

I’d love to know what apps and tools YOU use and how you plan… and guess what? You can come tell me in the group! Come over to facebook.com/groups/taraswiger  to join makers who are growing in confidence AND in profit, just like you! The group is limited to those who have a creative business, so if that is you, please come join us!

And remember to tune in next week where I’ll be sharing how you can choose between all the projects you’re excited to create in 2020.

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

287: How I use planners in my business – paper planner edition

When you run a creative business, keeping track of your projects & to-dos is VITAL to getting anything done! Learn how I use paper planners to help me keep track of my week at TaraSwiger.com/podcast287

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How do you turn your to-do lists into a plan? How do you know what to do every day? How do you fit your work around non-work appointments and responsibilities? This is what we’ll talk about this episode.

This week I’m answering the question that occurs after you make a map – how the heck do I follow through on this every day?

You see, in my book Map Your Business and in my Starship Program, you begin by getting clear on your big vision. And then you set a goal and break it down into steps and actionable to-dos. But after you have that big list of what you need to do and the order you need to do them, then what? You can’t get it all done in a day or two, you have to continue to work on it over weeks.

And that’s where a lot of us get stuck. So for the month of December, we’re going to have a series on planning – the actual figuring out what to do each day and week.

Today we’re going to start by how I use paper planners, and next week we’ll talk about task management software. As we near the end of the year, we’ll talk about how to pick your next big project. And we’ll kick off the year with an episode on January 1, about planning your best year yet.

If you’ve followed me on Instagram or YouTube, you know that I started using a real paper planner in 2019, in part because I’m having more meetings than ever thanks to foster care. I’ll talk about how I use it in a minute, but first let’s talk about what I used to do that worked really well.

Before 2019, I just wrote stuff down in my journal. I kept one journal for everything – work, personal, notes from reading or meetings, to-do lists, etc. Each week I’d look at my goal and make a list of projects for the week – what do I need to do to move that project forward? what do I need to do in my weekly tasks? What else? I’d usually make one big list for the week. When I woke up in the morning I’d look at the list and pick 2-3 things to do that day as a priority. I write down what I will do that day so I have a list in front of me to focus.

I typically spent the first few days of the week doing stuff that needed to be done weekly, and the next few days working on projects. If I didn’t get to something, I’d push it forward to the next week. This worked super well for a long time. When the video about how to bullet journal (the very basic bullet journaling) came out, I thought, “Oh, that’s what I do.” It’s not fancy or pretty but it kept me focused.

And, I should note, during this time I would see photos on the tag #planneraddict and think – who has time for all that embellishment, do those people get anything done?! 

But then my life blew up, aka, I had a toddler. And she had appointments, meetings, visitations, at very specific times. And I never knew if I was going to have the time, energy and focus to do one thing, or twenty things.

So in early January I found myself really frustrated that my list system wasn’t working. I’d forget to open my journal for days. I’d have time to work but not be able to decide what to do because I hadn’t made a list for the week on Monday morning.

I had months of not being productive OR feeling creatively inspired at all. No knitting or quilting or painting. Then I stumbled up The Happy Planner on Instagram, and I thought – hmm, maybe I need to try a different method and feel like I had even a little creative outlet. And the COLOR, I love color. And I’ll be honest, 2 year olds are addicted to stickers and it kinda got me excited about stickers. So I got a Happy Planner on sale and some stickers and it took me a few weeks, but I figured out a way to use the planner that really really works for me. If you want to see the actual pages or process, this is my planning playlist including a number of plan with me vlogs.

The process is very similar to what I did in the journal, but now with stickers. 

First, I make a list of this week’s projects. Then, I look at the appointments I have for the week. I generally add a sticker on each page with an appointment and write the appointment in. Then I make a space for the books I read that week (along the bottom). And I add another sticker or two to make it pretty.

I should tell you that as I record this, the toddlers who have been with me since June just went home, so my week was FULL of appointments. While they’ve been here, some days are pretty much entirely filled with the kids and their appointments. So I can easily fill in Monday-Wednesday’s to do list right away, because those days have specific tasks that I know I need to do first – like write and record the weekly podcast episode, finish up a project I worked on last week, or schedule some social media posts. Then I fill in Thurs and Friday as I go through the week and have to push stuff forward, or I work on bigger projects on those days.

I used to just wake up and choose to do whatever on each day, but with less time to work, I decide ahead of time what I’ll need to do each day, or else things will never get done. 

Once it’s written down, you actually have to do it.

Sometimes this is the hardest part, to make sure your day doesn’t get away from you, that when a pocket of work-time opens up, you LOOK at the list and actually do what it recommends. If this is a struggle for you, the first question is: Do you have time, with boundaries around it, dedicated to getting stuff done? Are you intentional with the time you have? What could you do to create the habit of looking at your list?

Remember – there is no perfect planner or perfect system to make you perfectly productive. Your job is to find what works for you, change when your life or needs change, and keep giving yourself grace while you experiment.

I’d love to know what YOU use and how you plan… and guess what? We have a new free community where you can share your planner and your system with us! Come over to facebook.com/groups/taraswiger  to join makers who are growing in confidence AND in profit, just like you! The group is limited to those who have a creative business, so if that is you, please come join us!

And remember to tune in next week where I’ll be sharing how I use the task management software Asana to keep track of everything for this podcast and my Program.

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

286: Favorite books: Autumn 2019

What I’m reading Fall 2019: I explore my enthusiasm by reading… a lot. Learn all about the books I’ve been enjoying over the last month at TaraSwiger.com/podcast286

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It is time for my seasonal round-up of the very best books I’ve read. We’re talking sequels that live up to your hopes, toddler parenting books and of course, mysteries and thrillers.

Usually we talk about building a creative business, goal-setting, marketing, and confidence. But we also love to read and talk about books! For the past 6 years I've shared my monthly reading list on my blog, and since January 2018, I've shared that list on the podcast (Starting in episode 192). I've heard from a lot of you, that you love to talk books with me, so I'm making even more bookish videos and a book club, over at Patreon.com/taraswiger

I also know you’re busy you may not read 100+ books/year, so here on the podcast, I sort through all I read and share my FAVORITE books of the season.

Favorite books of Autumn:

Let's talk about my favorite books that I read from September – November 2019. I'll share these by category, like my fave mystery/thriller, fave sci-fi, etc. But first, let’s look at the stats: I read 21 books, 9 of them thriller or suspense novels, 3 non-fiction books about families, 6 books in three different series. I read fewer books this season than I did over the summer, in part because I’ve been super inspired by my work and in part because I had a lot more disappointing books this season. They weren’t bad; they just weren’t amazingly gripping. But let’s focus on which books I did love.

My fave fantasy series:

Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire.
I read Down among the Sticks and Bones and Beneath the Sugar Sky, and they were both magical and delicious.

Fave parenting book:Lo

Oh Crap! I Have a Toddler by Jamie Galwacki
This is by FAR the closest to my own parenting style of any book I’ve read. And that’s because her philosophy is that every kid is different and that your theories fly out the window once you’re dealing with the kid in front of you. She also advocates for treating children with respect, humor, and natural consequences.

Still loving…

Inspector Gamache series by Louis Penny

I mentioned in our last seasonal round-up (episode 275) that I liked Riley Sagar’s Lock Every Door and Peter Swanson’s Before She Knew HIm that I wanted to read their other books. I ended up reading all of the backlist of both authors and although I enjoyed them ok, they weren’t as great as their more recent books.

I have also been reading the backlist of Megan Abbott, and I love all of her novels.

Book I was completely surprised by:

Fleishman is in Trouble, by Taffy Akner-Brodesser

So many of my faves came from Book of the Month Club.

Remember you can join them in getting extra videos and a Book Club, over on Patreon.com/TaraSwiger.

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

285: Mental health during the holidays

The holiday season is stressful enough! Don’t forget to take care of yourself in addition to your biz and family and social obligations. Learn how at TaraSwiger.com/podcast285

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It’s mid-November, the holidays are upon us, so I wanted to check in – how are you feeling? REALLY? Are you feeling scrambled or stressed or depressed or anxious? Let’s talk this week about how to stay emotionally and mentally healthy during this busy season in both your business and your life.

I’m not a mental health professional or a doctor. I am your big sister or best friend who is here to remind you to take care of yourself.

If you want to hear more about my own mental health adventure, check out episode 123, where I first opened up about my lifetime struggles and suicide in our community, and episode 153 about a year leater, where I share what was working for me in managing it. I’ve also got a Mental Health Checklist in episode 241.

This isn’t self-care, this is self-maintenance.

Like giving your car gas and changing the oil isn’t extra, it’s part of keeping it running. (I don’t know enough about cars to make this metaphor any bigger, but you get it right?)

These tips are in order of importance for my mental health and based on what I’ve read, I bet it’s important for you too.

Be realistic with your schedule and get it on paper.

Get it all out of your head. Don’t try to keep track of it. And don’t agree to do too much.

This includes in your personal life and your business. It is SO EASY to get excited about holiday promotions and commit to doing big crazy launches and new products and extra shows, but NOW is the time to step back and look at how it all fits in your calendar – do you have the time off you need? Do you have a production plan so you’re not staying up till 3 am every night?

And hey, those handmade gifts you have planned – are they realistic?

The more realistic you are, the saner you will feel navigating it.

Wash your hands.

Getting the flu on top of everything else going on is the worst. The most-effective way to avoid the flu is to wash your hands. I know you know this, but make it a habit that everyone washes their hands when they come into your house. I’m gonna link to my favorite handwash (affiliate link) from doTERRA that isn’t drying and is naturally antibacterial.

If you’re feeling panicky, splash with your face with cold water. This does something to your nervous system and resets it.

Wake up at the same time.

I once read a mental health researcher say that we would understand more about mental health diagnoses if we thought of them as circadian rhythm disorders. The worst thing for your mental health is to get too little or too much sleep. You can’t always control this by going to sleep at the same time, but you can control getting into bed at the same time and waking up (and getting out of bed) at the same time.

This is very important if you’re changing time zones.

If you want to hit the ground feeling good, start to shift your bedtimes before your trip. Since I’m usually flying west, I just get up really early while I’m there, go for a run in the morning and then go to sleep early (my family never minds, but it’s harder to do at a conference).

Have a hard time falling asleep? I have a few favorite tips: 

  • Take a warm bath and get in bed with lots of blankets for 20 minutes. A study found this was effective at reducing depression! It’s my favorite!
  • I never read business books in bed. The more boring the better.
  • I use essential oils and supplements to help me sleep. My go-to is Copaiba, which works on your nervous system in the same way CBD oil does but more effectively (and without all the risk of weird additives).

Take your vitamins and your meds.

Everyone I’ve ever met who takes meds for mental health doesn’t want to take medication. They want to go off it. But friend, the holidays, or any time when you’re traveling, seeing more people than usual, or even just shipping way more products than ever, it is not the time to change your medication.

Move your body.

I know, I hate to go out in the cold, but just focus on getting your steps in and not sitting all day. I use my watch to tell me to stand up every hour, but you can also set a timer on your phone or computer.

Say no when you need to.

Seriously. One of the keys to staying mentally stable is to not overdo it, and this is the season of overdoing it. Everyone does and seems to be proud of themselves for doing too much and being “busy”, but let’s start a (quiet) revolution of NOT doing everything, of telling people no, of staying in and resting when we need it.

Your assignment –

Pull out your December calendar and look it over. Put everything in it that you’ve committed to. Look at your production calendar (if you haven’t made one, make one, we talked more about this in episode 282, getting your shop ready for the holidays).

Ask yourself: 

  • What do you need to say no to or cancel?
  • What looks good and exciting?
  • Where are you feeling enthusiasm? Where can you do more of that?

Come tell me how you are staying well this season, on Instagram. I’m @TaraSwiger and I would LOVE to hear from you – DM me what you are doing or what you learned from this episode.

Next week is Thanksgiving here in the States and I am sharing my FAVORITE books I’ve read this season. Be sure you’ve subscribed and tune in to get ideas for what you’ll read over the holidays.

I wish you a peaceful and enthusiastic week and happy holidays.

Links* to my favorite products:

For sleep:

During the day:

*These links are affiliate links, which means I earn a percentage of the sale when you purchase through my link. I am NOT recommending ANY other brand of essential oil, because they are not food-grade safe, nor tested to the same level of purity, or with the same sustainable practices as doTERRA. Don’t buy cheap oils at Walmart and expect to have similar results.

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

284: You have more than enough time

If you run a creative business (or even if you have a full life) time management is critical, because the secret is you always have time for the things that are important to you (you just don’t have time for the things that aren’t). Learn more about finding time for the things that matter to you and your biz at TaraSwiger.com/podcast284

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You have more than enough time. Yeah, I know, it feels like you don’t have any time. But today we’re going to talk about why you believe that and how you can change it.

Today we’re going right into tough love territory

I know it feels like there's never enough time. With kids and work and starting your business, it can all be super-overwhelming. Since becoming a parent, I have learned that it can be shockingly hard to even find time to take a shower. I get that.

You believe you don’t have time because it FEELS like you don’t…

  • You don’t have time to work on your business.
  • You don’t have time to invest in learning how to make your business profitable.
  • You don’t have time for marketing.

You believe you don’t have time because:

  1. You haven't already made time for it.
  2. You have never done anything like building a business before – so how could you possibly have time for it?
  3. You may not know anyone who is doing it. In fact, everyone around you is probably saying they don't have time to do anything.

But are you them? Do you spend your time in EXACTLY the same way?
Surely you know people who tell you they don’t have time to cook, but maybe you always do find time. Or you have friends who don’t have time to read, but you do find time.

You are not them and that is why you can find the time, even if they can’t.

You’re right, you want to be realistic and honest with yourself.

But let’s also be honest with yourself about the reality:
You KNOW you don't have more time than anyone else. You KNOW don't have time to waste.
Your belief that you don’t have enough time is distracting you from seeing the time you do have, and using it effectively.

Is it true that no one, in your exact situation, has never found the time to build their business?  No, of course not. We both can think of dozens of examples of women who have.

And hey, kids aren't the only thing that make you busy. When I started my business, I worked 40+ hours per week at two jobs, I managed a paint-your-own-pottery studio and worked at the local yarn shop.

When I built my business, I worked as a barista 40 hours a week AND as an office temp 40 hours a week.

And when my business grew to the point I quit my job, I was working 40 hours a week AND taking MBA classes during the evenings.

But, I can hear you, Tara, you didn’t have children back then!

Are you a mom with toddlers? So was Susan of Freshly Picked when she started her baby shoe empire.

Are you a homeschooling mom? So is Katie of Yarn Love and she’s built a six figure yarn business while homeschooling her five kids.

Yes, if you give time to this, to learning and growing, you will be balancing a lot. But balancing a growing business and your life (whether it's a dayjob or kids or whatever) isn't too hard. Having your entire money situation tied to one single employer is to hard.

Wasting the time you spend on your business doing the WRONG things in your business is hard and painful.

But here’s the thing: YOU are in the BEST position to find the time for this. Yes, YOU. Why? Because you are a creative. That means you’re a great problem solver, you can hold lots of stuff in your head at once. You are willing and open to learn (you’re listening to this podcast right now). YOU want more for your business and your life.

That is the PERFECT person who will FIND the time to grow their business. That is the person who will find the time to learn and build healthy foundations.

And hey, maybe you don’t feel like that person. Maybe you don’t feel like you’ve lived up to that potential, and that’s why you are SURE you don’t have enough time to work a program dedicated to growing your business.

But there’s another way to look at it: You don't need more time, you need more focus. You need more follow-through. You didn’t do it before, not because you didn’t have the time, but because you didn’t have the follow-through.

But what if you committed to following through? What if you found resources that helped you follow-through, that took into account your personality and provided the accountability and support you needed?

Could you do it then?

What if you knew that you could learn a few new tools and it would shift how time worked for you and how capable you are of following through?

Here’s a way to shift time:

List all the steps in any project on paper (don’t keep it in your head)
Break it down. Then break it down even more than that.
PICK ONE PRIORITY.  Each week, each day, each hour. JUST ONE.

If you did this, how would impact your year? Your family over the next five years?

What would you be teaching the people around you about what was possible for them? About how they could approach time?

If you don’t change this belief that you don’t have enough time for learning and being effective, how will that impact those around you? How will you see that play out in the next year or five years or decades?

What’s going to happen if you don’t change?

Things are going to stay the same.

You will hear your kids and your friends adopt this belief. They will think they don’t have time to invest in themselves, to follow their dreams, to put in the effort to improve and get better – whether it’s related to business, to practicing the violin, to putting in effort to learn a new art form or medicine or whatever they’re into.

Do you want to keep operating like this, or are you ready to make the time for growing your business, for learning and improving?

If you’re ready to let go of the belief then come tell me over on Instagram and then join me to learn more about the foundations of your business at TaraSwiger.com/foundations

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

283: How to make time to APPLY what you learn

It’s not enough to just read the book to buy the course, you have to actually apply what you learn to your business. Learn my best advice for actually applying learning to your business at TaraSwiger.com/podcast283

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You have just read a great business book, or attended a workshop or joined an online class… but how do you get your investment out of it? How do you APPLY what you’ve learned? How do you make sure that it makes a difference in your business and your life?

Today I’m answering a question a Starship Captain recently asked after she read a great book – how do I APPLY this to my business?

You see, I’ve thought a LOT about how to make business education and information applicable. I’ve built it into my courses and program, so that as you work through the Starship Program, you are prompted to work WITH it in real time. We do this through apply-it-to-YOUR-biz worksheets, weekly accountability, chunking the content into pieces, and pacing it so that you work on it in an order that makes sense.

You can learn about how I structure it and WHAT you need to apply to your business in my free masterclass, the Four Foundation Method. Join me at TaraSwiger.com/foundations 

Go Slow

One of the mistakes we ALL make is that we get excited and we rush through collecting information and data. I am a big believer that you can absorb a lot more than you think, and you’ll have access to it when you need it again, so I’m never afraid of forgetting something I learned in a book (this may be a quirk of my own brain. If you need to do something else to cement in your brain, like taking notes, you should do that!).

But remembering a fact is very different than using a fact to create real change. When you want to create a transformation in your business, you’ve got to pay deeper attention than just a quick read. You need to stop and think. You need to take notes or put action steps in your planner.

This is going to seem obvious, but one of the easiest ways to make use of a book or a class is to actually DO the exercises. I know, right? But I know you skip the exercises at the end of the chapter, just like I do! That’s fine if you’re reading a book just for general knowledge or to get an overview of the topic… but if you picked the book up because you want something to change in your business, you need to actually think and work through it. Don’t just speed through.

Dedicate the time it deserves.

Set aside the time

Ok, ok, so you’re going to go slow, you’re going to do the exercises or homework… but who has time for that?

Well, if it’s important to you, if it’s a priority, you do.

We’re going to talk about this more next week on the podcast, but if this is a priority, you need to set aside the time.

You probably know this, but be honest – when you pick up a business book or buy a course do you first stop and ask yourself when you are going to apply it? Probably not, but then we get annoyed when it doesn’t get read and we don’t see a change in our business.

This is a good time to tell you – nothing will make a difference in your business unless you commit to taking action and taking time for it. I was recently told that if the Starship comes with a guarantee that everyone will make a living from your craft, this person would absolutely join.

Well, yeah.

But honey, I can’t guarantee that you will make a living from your craft, because I can’t guarantee YOU will do the work, or that you will even open the lessons and read them, let alone do the homework, let alone make the changes you’ll need to make to have a profitable business.

No one can guarantee your success except for YOU.

Allow for failure (and experimentation)

Here’s the thing: when you try new stuff, it’s not always going to get the results you want. You are going to try things and they’ll fail. This has to be built into how you think about business or you’ll never move forward. If you’re waiting for the perfect piece of advice… you’re going to wait for a long time.

I used to call this the special-snowflake syndrome, but that phrase got politicized, so now I’m calling it the Unique Paradox. This is when every student tells me their business is unique and this doesn’t apply to them. But hon, if every business is unique, then there is no point in you learning any business advice. You know that there are foundations you can apply to your business, foundations that work whether you have a product-based business, a service-based business, whether you sell $4 PDFs or $100 earrings… right?

But you won’t always know exactly how to apply it to work for you, so you’re going to need to open to experimentation, to try, to fail, to try something new.

Often when you apply a new concept to your business, you need to build in time to reassess – is it the concept or the application that’s not working? Can I try it in a different way?

And hey, this is why I build in monthly reassessment into the Starship. Because you have GOT to stop and check in, to see if you’re headed towards your goals or away from them. You’ve got to learn the lessons your business is trying to teach you.

Ask yourself (over and over) : How can I make use of this? What part of this is applicable to MY business, today?

Yes, there are going to be parts of every book or course that don’t pertain to you right now. Maybe it’s something that you will need in the future. Maybe it’s something you’ve already figured out. The key to making it applicable now, is to ignore that and look at what you really can use.

I know this can be hard sometimes. When I first started my first business (making handspun yarn and selling it on Etsy) all the advice I could find about selling in an online shop was for coaches, yoga teachers, skeezy guys selling “internet marketing.” NONE of it applied to my business, but I started to look at the basics of what they were saying – know your goals, know your customers, know your product, know your numbers… and I started implementing that in my business and it worked!

But what I learned as I quit my dayjob and talked to more and more makers about our businesses is that not everyone has an easy time seeing the foundational concepts and breaking it down into do-able action. That is a strength that seems obvious and easy to me, but it isn’t everyone else’s strength. So I started helping makers improve their marketing, finding the direction for their business (and life!) and get more profitable.

But I want you to know – if it’s hard for you to translate concepts from another industry-language or from old-school business terms, that’s ok! There’s nothing wrong with you! You don’t need an MBA to have a successful business. You can work with someone that can help you translate! This is exactly what I do in my Foundations Masterclass (which is totally free) and what I try to do each week here on the podcast.

So if you’re having a hard time applying general business knowledge to YOUR direct business, I have a homework assignment, go sign up for one of the spots in my upcoming Foundations Masterclass at TaraSwiger.com/foundations.

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

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