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229: Taking Parental Leave, with Stacey Trock

Just because you run your own business, doesn’t mean you can’t take time off. Learn more about taking parental leave at TaraSwiger.com/podcast229

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Whether for planned or unplanned circumstances, it’s easy to feel like taking time away from your business is committing career suicide. Totally not true! In fact, taking leave from your business can provide an opportunity for valuable revitalization of your business trajectory and your life!

In this episode, we’ll cover the basics of a plan for taking a leave from your business. So whether you’re adding a new member to your family, taking time out to care for a family member, have a medical emergency or are taking a well-earned sabbatical to dream big, this episode is for you.

Basic timeline of a leave

A typical leave can be characterized in three phases: a complete leave (where you don’t lay a finger on a business-related task), a ‘maintenance mode’ (where work for a very limited number of hours, focusing on only the most essential tasks) and a ‘rev up’ phase (where you slowly transition to ‘life as usual’).

The more that you can plan in advance for an efficient maintenance mode, the more successful you’ll be!

What are your goals?

To optimally plan your leave, you need to know first where your business is at and what your goals are. To do this, you’ll need to document how you’re currently spending your time and gather your full current budget (income and expenses). Only then, will you be able to identify the essential tasks you’ll pare down to during your leave. You want the most bang for your buck (or, limited hours!)

You may identify a financial goal (to make X amount per month during your leave) or a business-related goal (i.e. to maintain your current customer base) for your leave. You will probably not experience growth during your leave time, but you’ll be focused on making the most happen in your available work hours.

Plan in advance: how to trade time, energy and money

If you are entering a planned leave, then you have the luxury of time (not so for an unplanned leave caused by an unforeseen emergency). The easiest strategy for keeping content consistent during a period of leave is to ‘work ahead’ before your leave begins.

A leave may be a time when you want to consider hiring help to take on tasks that you won’t have the time to complete. It is best to document your business procedures and search in advance of your leave to find the right fit. Hiring someone from a hospital bed is probably not the best timing!

I encourage you to look at your whole life when planning. Maybe during your leave period, you decide to hire out the cooking of meals to leave more time to dedicate to your business. That’s totally legitimate! You’ll be able to make these types of decisions once you’ve completed documenting how you spend your time and setting your priorities (goals).

You ready?

By the end of this episode (even if you’re not taking leave), you’ll feel ready to streamline your business and focus on the essentials!

Book recommendations:

Find me!

If you’re looking for more information about taking/planning a maternity leave, you might like my Creative Live class: https://www.creativelive.com/class/returning-work-after-maternity-leave

Stacey Trock is a consultant in brand management and social media. She helps small businesses engage authentically with their customers by developing both long-term content plans and live social media event coverage. Stacey teaches and writes about business for Creative Live, industry organizations and trade magazines. You can find her at StaceyTrock.com

How to listen

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Find all the podcast episodes here.

When getting great press disappoints you

Great Press

A few weeks ago two amazing things happened: One Starship Captain was featured in a big national magazine and another Captain was interviewed on a HUGE blog.

But then, something weird happened. Their sales didn't increase. So they both asked the same question: What happened? Did I do something wrong?

I wrote the following inside the Starship to answer their questions, but I bet this applies to you too! (Got your own question you want answered? The Starship opens again next Wednesday. Sign up here to find out!)

If you've been featured in blogs, magazines, or newspapers, I want to reassure you that it is really normal to not see many, if any, tangible results from your feature.

However, be encouraged that this has done something for your biz. Even if the reader never clicks through to your site, she has now heard of you – from a source she trusts! – and when she comes across you again (by googling, seeing your ads, seeing you mentioned on social media) she'll be that much more likely to remember you, trust you, and stick around to see what you do!

Over time (like, years) this kind of attention does build up. I get emails now from people who read about me (a super-short paragraph) in the 2009 NYT bestseller Crush It. Even better, people who read a guest post I wrote over a year ago are just now becoming paying customers.
(That may be how you got here!) 

 

But you might be wondering WHY being featured in national media or on a popular blog doesn't do more?

There are a few reasons, and it has nothing to do with you!  

1. The reader is reading, not buying.

Think about the reader, in the moment she comes across your feature. Is she thinking “I need to buy a {thing you sell}?” Probably not. She's in passive-reading mode. While she might click through, she's not in the frame of mind to buy right-this-second. She's in consume-media mode, not make-decision mode.
This is not your fault. This is not the blog's fault. This is not a problem, this is just the truth.
Think about it from your own experience. How often do you sit down to read blogs and end up buying something? Probably not very often, unless you are reading because you want to buy something (you're researching or trying to find something specific) or because you're already on their customer path.

2. Remember the Customer Path.

It usually goes like this:

  1. Person finds you.
  2. She gets to know you.
  3. She thinks about the purchase.
  4. She buys.

Getting press put more people on the first part of the path – she finds you! She might not stick around (or look you up, if it's a print magazine) to get to know you, but if she does, there's that tricky step #3 where she thinks about it before buying.

This is why it's vital to have something for her to do OTHER than buy. She could follow you on Twitter (not too effective since she's unlikely to see any particular tweet in her stream), she could like you on Facebook (again not too effective), she could subscribe to your blog (a good option if she's an avid blog reader and keeps up with her feeds!) or she could sign up to get emails. Ya'll know this is my MOST FAVORITE, because she doesn't have to do anything to be gently reminded (by your clever, interesting emails) that you exist and that she wanted to loop back to check your stuff out.

 

3. The reader doesn't yet have a connection to you.

Now, you might have the most fabulous email sign-up form ever, that's super effective (something I'm still working on!) and one of two things will happen:

  1. The reader won't sign up. Why? Because she's just not right for you. She's not compelled by what she's reading, or she's just not ready to make that commitment yet. That's ok! Remember – she came because she's a fan of something else.  She didn't start her day looking for what you do, she just clicked around and landed here. So she's not who you're spending your marketing energy seeking out, she's just an internet traveler. The best you can do to grab her is to do  your best to make your site:
    –easy to navigate + take action on
    –interesting, compelling, and useful to your Right Person
  2.  The reader will sign up! Celebrations! 
    But even now, she doesn't have a huge connection to you. She likely found you, liked what she saw and signed up to remember that she liked you.

So what can you do to bring her closer? 

  • Send her fabulously useful, entertaining or interesting emails. You know I love a good autoresponder for this, to make sure you connect with every person in the same way (instead of her just getting whatever the newest thing your writing is, she'll get your foundational material!)
  • Talk to her! Send her a note thanking her for signing up and asking her if she has any questions.

Even if you do all that, I've found that people who join my list after I have a big feature or guest post tend to be the least engaged. They're more likely to unsubscribe quickly or to just never open the emails. This is totally ok. This is either a person who isn't into what you're doing or signs up for a bunch of stuff and never reads it.

Despite all of the above, I still find writing guest posts and being interviewed to be an effective way to build my audience. 

There are things you can do to make press work for you, and I'm sharing them in this week's Explorer Email. But as you seek out press (or not), I want you to keep your expectations grounded. 

How about you? Have you found this to be true?

 

 

PS. The above photo is from my feature in Crafty Magazine, in the June/July 2013 issue. It was a 4 page spread with an interview and photos and an illustrated headshot…and due to a printing error 2 of the pages are just completely missing. So even though it was a huge honor to be asked, the actual article makes little sense with a big gaping hole in the middle. (I'm not sure if the printing error is the reason, but this is the only issue that I can't find at any bookstore.)

Three Questions to a business you love

businessyoulove

“When it’s time to make a decision about the growth of your business, what do you do?

Do you look at other people and their business models, advice, or classes? Do you look for a well-worn path? Do you despair at the glacial pace of your growth, in comparison to everyone else’s?

It can be hard to know what to do next. There are so many paths to success – getting more press, getting wholesale accounts, doing big craft shows, creating a popular Etsy shop.

But the key to growing your successful business (while continuing to love it) isn’t in any one of these paths.

The key to business happiness is to explore and define what you really want.

Read the rest of this post (& find the Three Questions) on Lucky Break! 

Want to explore a business you'll love?

Get the free How to Explore e-course!
You don't need to get more done, just more of what you love. 
Embrace your multitudes.
Get the help you need in your exploration aboard the Starship (closes Monday!)

 

Is your business kind?

isyourbusinesskind

“Is your business kind to you?
Does it treat you well, encourage you and make you feel fabulous?
Or does it wear you out and make you feel like you should be doing more more more?

It's easy to be hard on yourself. You look at what other people are doing, the success they're having, and you wonder why you're not doing that. Comparison is the thief of joy, and our businesses are rife with opportunities for comparison. You might worry that you don't know enough, you don't do enough, you are not enough.”

Read the rest of this post (& learn how to make your biz kinder) on Kind Over Matter.

Want a kinder business? Try this:

Trust Yourself
Learn from your jealousy
Remember that you don't need  to grow
Use the tools that work for you.
Stop waiting for validation.

Join a community dedicated to building kind, sustainable, YOU-filled businesses! 

 

 

 

 

Be Awesome Offline

Today I'm super excited to have a guest post at BeAwesomeOnline.com.
It's all about being awesome offline: networking events, craft shows, etc. Here's the first bit of it, but you can read the whole thing here.

You are awesome online. You are rocking it. Your awesomeness is shining through everywhere from your About page to your Twitter stream.

But what about the untested waters of the offline world? Are you awesome there?

Or are you hiding behind your website? Terrified of meeting someone in person, afraid you’ll morph into a salesy slimeball who hands someone their business card and says, “Call me, baby.”?

Going offline can feel like that dream where you show up naked for school.

I am an pj-wearing, home-loving hermit. Most of my business is online. My relationships, my work, my helpfulness: it all happens online. But when I quit my dayjob, I knew that to really grow, I would need to start serving branch out and come out from behind the screen.

Before I did my first craft show, I never talked about my business in person. I told people I worked in HR (my dayjob) and had no idea what to tell them about my online alter ego. What would I say? Without the filter of my website, how could I explain what I did?

In person, I’m just me. No fancy graphics. No carefully crafted pages. No tried-50-times-to-get-this-one-picture first impressions. Just me.

Without the buffer of my website and my carefully chosen words and my perfectly focused pictures, it felt a little naked.

But it can be awesome.

Offline, you see the joy in someone’s eyes as they gasp at your lovingly handmade item.
Offline, you feel that immediate click when someone really gets you.
Offline, clients can sip coffee with you, show you pictures of their family, light up when you zap their problem.

Since that first pre-craft-show jitter I’ve peddled yarn at shows across the country, organized classes for wannabe-knitters and taught hundreds of one-on-one, in-person lessons. I’ve even met some of my online friends for a coffee.  All without losing my clothes or sweating through them.

And I learned that going offline can actually be fun, if you keep a few things in mind.

Get the rest of the article and 3 tips for taking your awesomeness Offline over at BeAwesomeOnline.com.