*If you’re more of an auditory learner, you can listen to this blog post by clicking the ‘play’ button below.*
With the new year quickly approaching, it’s time for entrepreneurs to rethink their strategies and work towards positive changes in their lives. And whether you’re someone who revels in the “new year, new you” mentality or someone who doesn’t believe in New Year’s resolutions — This list will still be relevant at anytime of the year.
This blog post is written to encourage other entrepreneurs to improve themselves and their work, but admittedly, it’s also a blog post written as a candid form of self-elicitation. This post will certainly be one I will continue to reference back to throughout the year. I hope you do the same.
1. Make Health your Priority
I think I can speak for many of us when I say that entrepreneurs can have a tendency to neglect their wellbeing due to how busy we are. I come across articles about all of these really inspiring, successful businesspeople who genuinely take care of their health. And all I can think to myself while reading these is: You eat 3 meals a day? You get enough sleep? You WORK OUT? Damn! I indulge myself so much into my work that I don’t even take care of the imperative components of being a functional human being. You know, admittedly, sometimes I only have one meal a day because I forget to eat, and there’s weeks where I’ll only sleep for 5 hours a night… And don’t get me started on exercise. It just never happens. So when I did come across these incredible people, whom I look up to, I really began self-reflecting. How can I possibly be the best version of myself and the best entrepreneur and an individual who’s in a correct, healthy state of mind if I fail to care for myself properly?
We all know continuing an unhealthy lifestyle is bound to lead to different difficulties, so why are we so addicted to our work? For some, it’s money. Others feel a weight on their shoulders or they feel pressured to be perfect. But hopefully for the majority of entrepreneurs, it’s the passion. It’s the passion in your work that keeps you up at night. And unfortunately passion sometimes goes hand in hand with addiction, and that’s where so many entrepreneurs fall into the “workaholic” label.
I remember attending a Brett Wilson event where he spoke candidly about how he overlooked his family for his career at one point in his life. His children were in need of his attention but he was too preoccupied with his work. Of course there eventually was a breaking point and a breakthrough that followed after. But what sat with me the most, was that the breakthrough was an undeniable power of our ability to adjust and change. And this memory of his speech recently emerged from my stillness. The magic of rebirth exists if we allow it, follow it out, and carry it home.
So although I am the driver of this work of which I’m incredibly passionate about — the driver needs to take care of oneself in order to operate the vehicle. There have been many fresh shifts I’ve made in the health department and I’m already seeing how much more efficiently I’m able to work.
If you feel as though you’re rocking on the same ship as I was, and you feel like your health needs some TLC, here are a few changes you can make:
Set Your Work Hours and Be Faithful to Them
If you’ve set your work schedule to a 9-5 shift — unglue yourself from the computer at 5PM. It doesn’t matter if you’re 30 minutes away from completing a task, it can always be done the next morning. Use the evening to unwind and soften.
Just 10 minutes a day to sit, close your eyes, and breathe. Life-changing.
Treat Yourself to a Massage
It’ll be worth it.
Don’t Check Your Emails First Thing
Give yourself some time to rise peacefully, have tea, and a light breakfast.
Don’t Hype Yourself Up on Caffeine
Long-term effects of caffeine include a decrease in functionality of your organs, a spike in your blood pressure, and headaches. Fill up on H20 instead.
Move Your Body
At least go for a walk.
Eat Light, Healthy, Nourishing Meals, 3 Times a Day
Get that quinoa boiling and those veggies chopped.
You’ll be able to recharge and have the clarity you need to properly run your business.
2. Measure Your Worth
It’s safe to say that some people aren’t upfront with the value of their worth. Here’s what I mean in two examples.
a) Straight up, your product or service simply doesn’t meet the quality of the high price you gave it. They don’t align with each other. And when the cost of your item doesn’t equate to the expected quality, no one’s going to buy from you again. And the dissatisfaction won’t be communicated only from that one client, it’ll be widespread. Others will hear about one bad review, and from there, the word continues to advertise.
Let me paint you a picture — Meet Chiyoko. Chiyoko spent 2 months creating an agenda for busy mother entrepreneurs and has begun selling it for $100 through her website. It lays out every detail and every category a busy mother would need, and even includes some inspirational quotes at the beginning of each month. Sounds very helpful and lovely. However, while Chiyoko was building her agenda, she decided to DIY the designs because she didn’t want to invest in a graphic designer. This is understandable as it’s not in everybody’s budget to hire an outside source. The issue with this situation is that, Chiyoko is not very talented in the design department, and had a lot of trouble assembling her agenda together in a visually appealing fashion. She didn’t want to “waste time” on learning how to design her agenda. So she ended up using 8 different bright, neon colours, alongside heavy, cursive fonts throughout the entire planner. This made the agenda difficult to read and difficult to process. As she placed screenshots of the agenda’s content on her website, her audience took note, but not many were convinced to purchase the item for that amount. Luckily, one of her dedicated readers, Keyarra, wanted to give the product an open mind and was still swayed that the product would be useful, despite its appearance in the few screenshots Chiyoko posted. Once Keyarra received the agenda in her mailbox a month later, she was overcome with disappointment. The agenda was so cluttered and chaotic that she couldn’t even use it. $100 + tax, and a no refund policy later — Keyarra turned to Twitter, with her following of 15,000, and voiced her rightful opinion. She even @’ed Chiyoko and her business. *gasps, chokes, and falls over*
When people purchase something, they look for the whole package. This is why companies outsource design and marketing and consultants, because sometimes you just don’t have the time or the skill to do it all. If you’re lucky enough to have the time, you can build the skill, and if you’re lucky enough to have the skill, you have to make some time. Whatever you decide to do, just make sure to put your heart and soul into it. This way your audience will continue to trust you and your brand, and you’ll have a larger scope for more potential customers and readers.
So, the moral of this story is, you could sell work with valuable content alongside confusing design, or incredible design with a lack of content, but people won’t purchase, or won’t be happy with their purchase if the product is expensive and every element hasn’t been fulfilled.
And an even shorter moral of the story is, don’t be disingenuous or greedy with your pricing, otherwise it’ll come back around and bite you right in the butt.
b) Now, for the other side of the coin (and on a much more uplifting, blogging godmother note) — Raising your prices and valuing your time, worth, and efforts.
If you’ve carved out every ounce of your creative abilities, from the deepest roots of your soul for your work — Own it. If your merchandise or service has passion and “I’ve been dreaming about this since I woke up this morning” embedded in its final result, don’t be afraid to level up, damn it. People will recognize your hard work and they’ll be more than willing to pay its cost. You’ll get better clients. Plus if you’re undercharging yourself, you’ll most likely live below your means, take upon too much work at one time, and end up becoming exhausted. And then even your low-budget clients won’t want to work with you. If your hard work and talent is relentless, raise your prices, queen. Both parties will benefit from it.
Two quick suggestions for pricing your work are:
a) Be brutally upfront with yourself
– How much would I honestly pay for this item or service?
– Is it the whole package?
– Have I poured the entirety of my passion and commitment into this project?
The answers to these questions should come naturally to you.
and b) Get suggestions from other people
Ask your sister, your blogging homie, your Facebook friend, whoever — what they feel your project is worth. Hell, if you’re feeling brave ask a stranger. Show it to them and give them a brief description of what it is or what it’s about. Sometimes it’s important to listen to people outside of yourself because as explained above, we can either get cocky with our prices or completely undermine our talents. (Ask everyone but your mom, though. Moms are out here being angelic beings and will tell you it’s worth a really high price.)
3. Encourage Constructive Criticism and Negative Feedback
Nia, what are you talking about? Encouraging other people to diss me? Hell no!
Ok, wait. Hear me out for a sec.
Constructive criticism and negative feedback is actually vital to the success of your business. If everyone always showers you with sunshine, daisies, and “you’re perfect”, where is your room to grow? Encouragement and support are heart-warming, but those are the same actions which help keep you stagnant and comfortable. Now of course you should always have a more positive response than negative, but it’s up to you to learn balance when listening to opposing opinions. What does your audience like and dislike? What ‘good’ can you amp up and what ‘bad’ can you improve on?
Constructive criticism is your friend because:
It helps you get to know your business better
What better way to learn about how your business is regarded than through your audience and customers?
It helps you grow as an individual
Emotional strength ftw.
It allows others to build trust in your brand
If you’re able to bounce back after a hit, your audience is going to be impressed and rate you as a credible business.
It gives you motivation to be better
A stronger entrepreneur equates to stronger products and services.
People are telling you the truth
They’re giving their honest opinion of your work. Even if you don’t agree, that doesn’t mean it’s not a fact for someone else. Take what people say into consideration.
Let me give you an example of my (once again) imaginary friend, Azriel. Azriel has her own wallet-making company and has done very well for herself in the past 3 years. After selling the same wallets throughout the entire length of her business, she decided to try something new. She worked on creating something super cool and functional for months and months, and finally came out with her new wallet model: The Wallenator Supreme. Azriel was super excited and proud of her new design. It was made out of vegan leather, came with a secret pocket for a pen, and had lots of compartments for all of your money-holding needs. After approximately one month of selling 250 units of her new model, she noticed she had 30 reviews all stating the same thing: The zipper is cheap and stops working after a few uses. Now, Azriel could have easily translated these reviews into “This estúpida sold us feces! She should never work again!” But instead of becoming an egomaniac and going into defense mode, Azriel took it upon herself to purchase higher quality zippers from a different supplier for all future orders. She also stitched together The Wallenator Supreme with the new zippers and sent each individual who left a negative review a new wallet, free of charge. After receiving the new wallets, the customers who initially left a negative review, left a positive one; highlighting how impeccable Azriel’s customer service was. #Winning
The Feedback Encouragement Process in 5 Steps:
- Begin by opening the conversation. Ask for comments, suggestions, and critiques in Facebook groups and your social media pages. You can even consult a mentor or someone you look up to in your niche to take a look at your work; and see what their opinion of it is. You can always start off with a question like, “If you had to suggest 3 improvements for [our company], what would they be”, or “What can [our company] do differently to meet your needs?”.
- When negative feedback comes up, ask for specifics. i.e. “When I called in and asked for a refund on a defective item, I was approved for the refund but the lady on the phone was very rude to me.” And you could respond with, “Could you tell me what date and time this was at and what was said?” Engage in the conversation with your audience and get all of the details you need.
- Apologize and thank them for their feedback and honesty.
- From here, make a chart. Write all of the negative feedback you received in one column, and the solution to them in the next. Work through these every day.
- Tell them about your progress!
I’d love to hear what your New Year’s resolutions are, business or otherwise. Is there anything you agree or disagree with on this list? Let’s chat below!