The first few months of being a mom are the hardest, especially for new moms like me. From constant feedings, short nap gaps, and thousands of diaper changes, it feels like you never get a moment to yourself. That is why there is maternity leave, but for those like me who own their own business, luxuries like maternity leave don't exist. So....I've figured out the art of balancing #MomLife with #BossBabe life and I'm getting pretty good at it. It only made sense to share my secret to this balance with you. Here are some tips on how to make things just a little less chaotic so you can enjoy both your jobs: Mom and Boss Babe.
Step 1 for Balancing Mom Life with Boss Babe Life
Make a daily schedule. There is nothing more frustrating than being tired and having no idea what you are doing that day or when you can fit in work time. By making a daily schedule, I am able to organize my life so I don't feel like the only thing on my plate is taking care of this little one 24/7.
Step 2 for Balancing Mom Life with Boss Babe Life
Take the day off. There is nothing more important than time with your new little one and I think it's okay to give yourself a break from work every once in a while, as long as you get back on track after that...and most of all, make sure you're still getting things done while taking some much-needed me-time! Don't be ashamed to go get your nails or hair done regularly. When you look and feel your best, you can be your best for others...like you baby!
Step 3 for Balancing Mom Life with Boss Babe Life
Ask for help. It is okay to not be able to do it all yourself, especially if you have the extra help! If you need to ask your spouse, your parents, friends or hire a nanny (if it's in the budget) don't be too proud to ask for help. I know I hate asking for help but if I want to be the best mom and boss babe I can be, I recognize I need help sometimes.
Step 4 for Balancing Mom Life with Boss Babe Life
Have a routine...and stick to it! I'm all about routines, especially when my little one is just starting out like she is now. A new momma doesn't have the time or energy to figure out each day what they are doing and how it will all fit into the day. We need routines to make things easier and less stressful!
Step 5 for Balancing Mom Life with Boss Babe Life
Find the time to work. I don't know about you but I find it hard to be productive when my schedule is all over the place, but if there's a routine in play and things are more or less set up (the same thing every day) then that leaves me free time during naps which means working can happen!
To give you an idea of how my days are structure, I wake up at 3am to feed Sophia and go to the gym once she is back asleep (yes, that's 4am, and no I'm not crazy). I work out for about an hour and a half, come home (she's still asleep), shower and get dressed and pretty and ready to conquer the day. While I wait for her to wake up for another bottle, I clean the kitchen, make coffee (oh hell yes) and eat breakfast. On certain days I play SAHM (stay-at-home mom) for the morning while hubby works and somedays the nanny comes so I can work. Either way, with a game plan (and a daily chores list I make) I am able to find time to be Super Mom and Bada$$ Boss Babe and kill the game! It takes a few weeks to get it right, but once you do you can conquer the world with a baby on your chest in a little carrier!
Working from home is a blessing and a curse. The freedom of not having to commute, the space for creativity and productivity, but also the isolation that can come with it. To make sure you get the most out of your work-from-home experience here are 8 tips to help you create a productive workspace:
1) Create a dedicated work area in your house or apartment - A desk or table designated just for work will act as a reminder that this is where you should be working without feeling too disconnected and having no way to deal with anything urgent. Avoid working at your kitchen table or an area you need to clear out at the end of the day. A desk or table designated just for work will act as a reminder that this is where you should be working without feeling too disconnected and having no way to deal with anything urgent. Avoid working at your kitchen table or an area you need to clear out at the end of the day, like a dining table.
2) Make sure it's in an area that gets lots of natural light so you don't feel cooped up or stressed out while trying to focus on tasks and projects. make sure any windows are free from glare as well if using them for screen reflections (ahem Samsung).
3) Avoid distractions by silencing your phone/email notifications - You’re more productive when your head is clear of distractions and interruptions. Turn off notifications or get rid of distractions such as social media apps to avoid the temptation that could distract you from working.
4) Consider multiple monitors- If you are doing any kind of work where you need to be online, like marketing (such as yours truly), customer service etc. A second (or third) screen will allow for a distraction-free environment while still offering some access if needed by clients/customers. For example, in my business, I have one monitor with all my email accounts and chats open and another with my in-progress work and assignments.
5) Stay hydrated! It's easy to forget about drinking water when we're at home so keep some water bottles on hand so to avoid leaving your workspace and walking to the kitchen for more water. Remember the days of water cooler chit chat, heading to the kitchen for water will occupy far more time in your day than the old water cooler gossip time did.
6) Get up and move around - Sitting in the same position all day is terrible for your body. Your muscles can actually begin to atrophy (yikes) if you don't take breaks from sitting, so get up at least once an hour. That could be a potty break or simply to feed your dogs a treat or take them for a potty break (my puppies are amazing office mates).
7) Set the temperature to something comfortable. - If it's cold out, turn off the AC and open a window instead because getting fresh air will help clear your mind but also give you that needed boost of Vitamin D we're sometimes missing during winter months!
8) Decorate accordingly- Consider having a few houseplants in your office, which studies have shown reduce stress levels by 28% over just having plants present. Avoid clutter on your desk and keep the space clean and organized.
9) Invest in a good internet provider- If you're going to work from home, make sure that your internet provider is great. Don't let it be a bottleneck for productivity and creativity.
10)Set firm work hours- It's easy to get distracted and lose track of time so write out when you'll be working each day, what hours your business is open for clients/customers (if applicable) and then stick to that schedule.
With the changing times, many people are going to WFH business models. Showcasing to employers that you have an appropriate work-from-home space with monitors, printers, scanners, high-speed internet, and distraction-free workspace could be the icing on the cake that wins you the position. I've been working from home since 2014 and understand it's a learning curve but once you get a good feel for the best work from home environment for you...you're going to slay the WFH game!
"Always be yourself. Unless you can be Batman, then always be Batman"Batman. Whether you've never read his comic book or seen one of the many movies, everyone knows who Batman is. Batman is a character that is so embedded into our subconscious that you don't need to read the comics or watch the movies and you will still hear "I'm Batman" in passing and instantly know the reference. I also bet that most of you whispered "I'm Batman" in a deep, raspy undertone just like he does.
The takeaway from Batman is not the plethora of thought-provoking wise life lessons like, "if you kill a killer, the number of killers in the world remains the same" or "it is not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me". The takeaway from Batman is so much more. I've collected my top 5 take aways of why we should all try and be a bit more like Batman in our daily lives.
First of all, YEA RIGHT! There is no such thing as a typical, average, or normal, 29-year old entrepreneur. I am pretty sure that there is no such thing as a normal entrepreneur, much less one of the age of only 29. An entrepreneur is unique, a risk taker, a visionary and passionate for something so much that they take it upon themselves to start a business, and assume all risk for the sake of success. I don’t believe any of those qualities are found in “normal people”. On that note, what defines normal?
I was once told that being normal is vastly overrated and for boring people. Now at my wise old age of 29 (haha), I couldn’t agree more. When I was younger, I tried to be like everyone else, the popular kid, as you will. However try as I did, I never succeeded. I was, instead, the awkward and weird kid. Boy, did I play that part well. Today I strive to stand out, to not fit in, and to break the bounds of what is normal. I think as a 29-year old CEO of a marketing firm with clients across the globe, I’m doing a pretty good job at not being “typical”.
My clients also help me stray from what is normal. I work with companies across a variety of industries including an e-commerce lingerie company, florists, chiropractors, dentists, cleaning services, an event production company, beauticians, even a non-profit that send breast cancer survivors on vacation. I am constantly adding new clients and industries to my list and this keeps me on my toes. I love learning new skills and strategies for the businesses I work with.
When you work in an ever-changing industry like marketing, learning new things daily is a must. Marketing is not a career path for the boring, the normal or your typical person. It is an industry you go into to be creative and be challenged on the regular. Marketing strategies are constantly changing and evolving and that is what makes it fun. I am yet to meet one boring person who works in marketing and that just proves to you that marketing isn’t an industry for the bland.
Now, I respect and understand that people come from different backgrounds and feel differently about being normal. Fitting in, for many people is their lifestyle choice because it’s comfortable and doesn’t draw too much attention upon them. For others, like me, I dread the thought of fitting in and being just like everyone else. That is what makes life so much fun, we’re all different in so man ways…whether you want to admit it or not.
What about you? Do you strive to stand out or fit in? Why?
I know what you’re thinking, “Why is a girl who makes her living off businesses who outsource their marketing to her company telling us how to avoid outsourcing to people like her?” The truth is, not every company is set up to outsource their marketing efforts to an outside consultant. Some businesses are better run when certain tasks are outsourced, while others perform better when marketing is handled internally.
I’ve come up with a list of questions every business should ask themselves before they outsource their marketing efforts.
1. Is the reason you intend on outsourcing your marketing because you don’t know how to do it yourself or you don’t want to?
2. Do you have the knowledge to do it yourself?
3. Do you have the time to do it yourself?
4. Do your budgets allow for hiring someone internally or is outsourcing the marketing projects financially the most logical option?
5. Do you have enough work to hire someone internally or rather too much to do yourself?
If you don’t want to do your own marketing that is completely understandable and your passions could probably be used elsewhere in the company such as in sales, management or training. However, if you actually want to play a part in your marketing, but simply don’t know how to do so effectively, perhaps hiring a consultant to train you is the best option. My company, Strazanac Solutions offers a service where I can come in and train you and a limited number of staff on how to effectively run certain aspects of your marketing including social media and content marketing. This gives you the tools and knowledge to do it yourself without hiring someone to fully manage your accounts. I even offer jump start services where I jump start your marketing to get it going in the right direction then train you on how to keep it heading where its supposed to go. These boost or jump start services are ideal for brands that don’t have the budget to hire a full time marketing person or the ability to outsource their marketing every month, but they do have the time to do it themselves and need a little push and guidance.
Budget will always be a large factor when hiring out. Most of the time it is more cost effective to hire an outsourced marketing director to run your marketing projects than it would be for you to hire a new employee. The process of hiring employees can be expensive, time consuming, tedious and not to mention it doesn’t include the cost for training them, for background checks, company benefits and the other fees, taxes and costs associated with having employees. If budget is tight, outsourcing is often your best option.
If you do have the budget to hire someone or the knowledge to do it yourself, you have to think about the amount of work and projects that are at hand. If you do have the budget to hire someone within the company, but don’t have enough work, you’ll find yourself with an employee who is costing you money even though they are not performing any work.
On the other side of the fence, if you have the knowledge to do it yourself but too much work on your plate, you will find something will get neglected; either your other tasks or the marketing is going to be put to the back burner to accomplish the other. Time, in comparison to workload, is a very important factor to consider when you’re looking at hiring a consulting company or consultant.
So if you have the time, knowledge and passion to do the marketing yourself then it makes complete sense to manage it yourself internally but if you don’t have one of those factors, it would make sense to bring in a consulting firm. In the case of workload, if there is not enough work for a full time employee but enough for a few hours of work a week, a consultant would also make sense for your needs. Every situation is different and a good business and marketing consultant can advise you on the best options for your business structure.
Strazanac Solutions offers a variety of services from full marketing management to marketing training where you can learn to handle it yourself to everything in between. I find myself meeting with companies of all structures where some make sense for some services and other makes sense for other services. No two companies are the same, hence why no two marketing strategies and service plans are the same. My company was created to work with small and medium size businesses that don’t have the budget or workload to hire a full time marketing person, as well as the businesses that want to do it themselves but just need a push in the right direction.
If you fall into any of those areas, please fill out this marketing needs survey and lets chat and see how my services can help you overcome your marketing struggles to reach your specific business goals.
Whether we like it or not, 2016 is almost over. This means it’s time to start thinking about how you’re going to run your business for the better in the New Year. This might mean new products, new services, new practices, new staff, new training and an endless gamut of possibilities. Something your 2017 business plan must contain is networking. Face to face business networking is not dead, what is dead is how it’s been done in the past and how it’s currently being done across the country.
Without naming any acronym networking groups, I will say that in my experience weekly meetings and events where the same people show up and the same the matters are discussed are not beneficial for anyone’s business or time. Should a new person or business enter the group, it’s like lions on a gazelle pouncing to get a piece of the meat. Everyone has already becoming acquainted with the other members of the group want to be the first in their specific business niche to meet the new member and call “dibs”.
In addition to the same people being at every event and meeting, these groups often have extreme competition both in industry and referrals. This means that there are dozens of people from the same industry (real estate, insurance, car sales etc.) and everyone is trying to be the number one referral for their market. Again the analogy of lions on a gazelle comes to mind.
Finally, the biggest issue that comes to mind with the networking groups of today (cough cough insert three letters here: _ _ _ ) is that there is a demanded sense of expected loyalty if you’re in the group. What I mean by this is that the networking group expects you to only give referrals to potential business connections of people who are in the group. This really bothers me because if I’m going to give someone a referral for business, I want it to be deserved and earned because they are the best, not simply because they pay to be in this networking group. That has crummy ethics written all over it to me.
As you can see, there is A LOT wrong with most of the networking groups today and something needs to change. I actually avoid networking events sometimes because it feels like a feeding frenzy, not a symbiotic relationship where business is discussed and earned. Networking meetings today feel like a simple hello, here’s my card and on to the next person.
Having said what I don’t like about the networking groups I have come across, I went searching for a solution; a networking group that makes all other networking groups obsolete. Guess what I found? Just that! Recently a networking organization has come to light that is going to shake the masses of how networking is done. No longer will you interact with the same people every week, competing against others in your same industry and fighting for “referral loyalty” simply based on your networking group. I wouldn’t event categorize this as a networking group. It’s a networking rotation!
Friday Networking Lunch has been running strong in the Southwest for a few years now and its made its way to North Carolina. Friday Networking Lunch (FNL) is literally a rotation of people and businesses in a restaurant setting where you guessed it…they eat lunch. What is really neat is that each week you can opt in or out of the Friday lunch. If you opt in, they will send you the restaurant (usually a different one each week) where you will be meeting and eating, but in addition they will send you a list of who will be at the lunch with you. This will allow you to do your due diligence and see who will be at your dining experience. What I really like about this is that there will never be two competing attendees at the same rotation, i.e only one real estate agent per lunch rather than the 20+ you find at the regular networking events. In addition, you will receive access to a sort of CRM system to keep all their information stored to remind you what lunch you had together and their contact information. Wabam! You can come to lunch without your business cards and save them for another occasion because everyone at that lunch will have had your information emailed to them two days prior. Talk about WOW!
What I really liked about this is that to get started and take it for spin you get to join them for lunch for FREE! Well, you still have to pay for your food but the networking is free. The Guest Tables are meant as a trial run of what a Friday Networking Lunch rotation is like, and your get to try it for FREE! If you choose to join, there are different level memberships and even a 30-trial after your guest lunch, so there’s really no risk.
You’ll get to sit down, break bread, dine, chat, and get to know everyone (usually about 8-10 people per lunch) in a more intimate setting. This allows you to really get to know other businesses at a deeper level than a business card exchange. The following week you’ll be set up in a new group, with new people at a different restaurant. This is beyond brilliant! No longer will competing industries have to sit next to each other at a meeting, no longer will it be the same people week after week and no longer are you expected to only refer businesses in the group because they are in the group, you get to refer them because you got to know them and feel confident in their practices. I LOVE THIS CONCEPT!
Don’t think if you’re not in North Carolina you can’t partake, Friday Networking Lunch is growing fast across the country and it’s looking for leaders to jumpstart it. I would HIGHLY suggest going to www.GoFNL.com and taking a look at this networking rotation concept and giving a guest table a try. It’s free, you need to eat anyway so why not eat and networking at the same time. #multitasking ßyes, I hash-tagged a blog post
If you’re interested in Friday Networking Lunch please feel free to email me and I will answer any questions I can. I am really excited for this and cannot wait for it to take the United States by storm and knock those old school groups out of existence! P.S. Restaurants can join as members to host the lunches so every week a new group of customers comes and you get a shout out in the email and on social media. Yay social media!
Let’s be honest, many of us (small business owners) want to do all the work ourselves. In fact, delegating can often be the biggest nightmare for an entrepreneur or solo-preneur (at least it often is for me) and the mere thought of asking for help keeps you up at night. When I was in college, my biggest weakness was my lack of ability to delegate tasks. I thought that if I didn’t do it myself then it would be done wrong and I’d have to go back and do it again after someone screwed it up; thus wasting my time. I also thought that needing help or assistance was a sign of weakness. Don’t worry, I have since learned that I was wrong in thinking those things.I still sometimes try to do it all. I still hate asking for help, but we all need it sometimes because no one person can do it all (yes, I am admitting I am wrong). This is especially true in business. You might be a genius computer technician or athletic trainer but you can’t balance a checkbook to save you life. That is why payroll firms and accountants exist, to do the work you suck at doing. The same goes for marketing. There comes a time when you realize that you have too much work on your plate in order to maintain your business that you just can’t focus on the marketing side. That is where hiring a marketing consultant comes in handy. (insert fun intro music for me to walk in and pageant wave at everyone).
A little known fact is that my minor in college was Leadership. Yes, it’s an actual collegiate course and minor and I graduated with it; go ahead and get your laughter out now. My leadership degree is probably more useful than your French minor that you only use to impress your Tinder dates. Of the entire leadership degree course-load that I learned, the one lesson that has stuck with me throughout these years is that the real weakness is the act of NOT delegating and asking for assistance but trying to do it all on your own. Sometimes you need help. Don’t be ashamed of it, but rather be assured that assistance and delegation of tasks will be beneficial to you and your business.
However, I will make note that before assigning important tasks to others, make sure you do your due diligence on them. You want to ensure that they are capable of not only doing the work correctly, but to a level of perfection you’d expect from yourself. Example: Don’t trust your plumbing with the neighborhood teenager who doesn’t know which direction to turn the faucet to turn it on. You may be paying him in cans of Red Bull, but you’ll get what you pay for…a plumbing disaster.
In my experience, most business owners are stubborn when it comes to asking for help (I’m guilty of this). The trick is pinpointing when it becomes time for you to call in a consultant for guidance and just how to make sure they’re the right one for you and your business. Here are some signs and situations you may encounter that says, “I need to get some marketing help and hire a consultant”.
If you have said any of those phrases lately, please take a moment to fill out this marketing solutions survey. This will get you thinking about what you actually need to do to achieve your business goals!
There is a problem in society these days. People spend more time working “on” their business than “in” their business. What I mean by this is that you often focus so much effort on organizing you calendar, your workflows and strategies, your bookkeeping, your sales, and your payroll to name a few, that you forget what is more important…your clients!
The number one program I suggest EVERY small business owner who deals with clients needs is 17hats. 17hats has revolutionized how I run my business. From gathering leads, to following up with them, tracking their account progress, setting up workflows and procedures and especially invoicing and taking payments. Almost everything I do can go directly through the program and they recently launched their app, which has been a huge time saver when I’m away from my computer.
This program is so easy to learn, understand and master that there is no excuse not to give it a try. You get a 14 day free trial, so there REALLY is no excuse now. I honestly have no idea where I would be with Strazanac Solutions if it weren’t for 17hats. It only costs $29 a month BUT you can use code “STRAZ16” and get 10% off. They also just added, 17hats Ally, which is your complete business management team. I have been impressed with it so far and look forward to trying it out.
All blogs posted prior to this were originally on a blog titled "Skills for Success 101" by Samantha as a way to share her experiences in business, marketing, failures and especially successes.
My mother’s high school yearbook quote was “Luck is what happens when opportunity meets preparation” (yet more proof she has always been wise). The reason I specifically quote her is because I have recently learned what luck truly is.
Luck is not finding a four-leaf clover and luck is not wearing a rabbits foot around your neck (thank goodness that went out of fashion). Luck is something that occurs when you have laid down all the puzzle pieces and formed a complete picture. For that puzzle to be completed you need to carefully organize and place each piece in its proper location. This takes time and analysis. When all that hard work is complete, your puzzle is complete too. Luck (as defined by society) is opening a puzzle box and it falls out in one, complete picture (this just plum doesn’t happen).
Apply this puzzle situation to real life, my life for example, since that is the one I have to most expertise in. Every job and activity I have ever accomplished was a separate puzzle piece I laid down. Individually the pieces look like nothing, but when I started to look at the whole picture, and not just each piece, a picture started to form. My leadership experiences showed me I have management skills and my work in sales and promotions showed me I had marketing skills. Separately all those experiences looked like merely odd jobs and activities to occupy my time, but it truth they were all puzzle pieces for my new career (yes, Samantha got a big girl job) as a marketing manager.
If we take the previous quote, “luck is what happens when opportunity meets preparation”, and apply it to my situation, then we can look at as if all my odd jobs and activities were preparation and this job was an opportunity. Together I guess I got lucky, but this “luck” didn’t come without lots and lots of hard preparation and a good opportunity.