Friday, June 3, 2011

Planning Your Time, Prepare for Interruptions by the 24/7 Couple

We try not to put out blogs that "Preach to the Choir," but one thing we have noticed as we talk to our fellow homepreneurs is that we tend to go through the day letting the day plan our time.  Instead, we should be planning our day so that we know what we are going to accomplish each day. There is a great deal of satisfaction at the end of the day when you can look back to see how productive you have been.  Here are a few tips on how to take control of your time and plan your daily activities so that you can have a productive outcome.

1.  Weekly Overview - it is important to take time either at the beginning of each week or at the end of your     work week to look at what is ahead.  A quick glimpse at what is behind you can help you bring unfinished       items into the next week as well.  Look at your calendar and start scheduling your work around the appointments you have on your calendar. Here is a recommendation of what we think you should schedule each week.

  • Prospecting - Very few people love this part of business, but let's face facts. Clients don't usually just appear out of nowhere. Schedule a couple of hours for cold or warm calling.  A cold call is when you call someone you have never met and a warm call is when you call someone who you may have met once or you know they have some knowledge of who you are and what your business provides.
  • Education - We can't stress this enough. Schedule time to learn something new about your business, technology or just challenge yourself to use that gray matter. Not only will you be able to put this new knowledge to work for you, but it has been shown that learning something new each day helps fight diseases like dementia.
  • Promoting - This could be going to a networking event, passing out marketing material or working your social media sites. A healthy promotion diet can bring new clients, which could cut down some of your prospecting time. What are you waiting for - "Go tell it on the mountain." 
  • Connect - Pick up a few blank greeting cards next time you are at the store, you can find packs of these for a couple of dollars - or print your own.  Take time each week to send a card to your current clients (2 to 3 times a year is good), to your past clients (3-4 times a year) and to prospective clients (even those you didn't get when bidding).  It is important to stay in touch and don't forget to ask them for referrals.  You will be surprised how many of the clients you didn't get will say something like "I wish I had chosen you for that project, you will definitely get my work next time." Why? Because you took the time to stay in touch and make them feel important.  
2.  Daily Planning - At the beginning of each day, fill in the gaps on your daily calendar with the tasks of the day, or your   "to do" list.  Be thoughtful and reasonable when putting together your list, you won't finish every project on your plate by the end of the day. That is why you took time at the end or beginning of the week to plan the next week's work load. Remember, you already brought the unfinished projects from the week before on to your current weeks calendars. 

If you are spending time promoting, prospecting and connecting, at some time during the week your phone will ring and you will need to schedule time to speak with or schedule a meeting you didn't have planned.  That is a welcomed interruption, but don't feel the need to meet with that client the same day. Schedule the appointment so it works into your weeks schedule. Don't let the day plan you, you have already planned your day.  A good weekly plan has left time during each day for the unexpected or welcomed interruption.

Take time each morning to pray over  your daily schedule. Pray specifically for your clients/projects that you will be working on. Ask for God to guide you and help you be the best you can be each day. Work to glorify God and try to work as though He is your boss. That's rewarding!! Praise His name on all the earth.  

3.  Plan Family and Fun Time Daily - You won't be able to or want to plan each minute of your family time or fun time but it is important that you allow time each day for connecting with and playing with your family. Don't work through dinner, this is an important time to gather the family around the table and catch up on daily activities and needs. 

Craig and I feel very blessed that we take time to read the Bible together and do a Bible study together. While I would love to say we spend time each night, there are nights when "life happens." This time together helps us stay centered on what is most important in our lives - Christ. 

We hope you find this information helpful and encourage you to pass it along to other homepreneurs. We send love and blessings to you and your families.

Karen and Craig Ruhl
The 24/7 Couple

"God is able to lavish every blessing upon you, so that always having sufficiency in every way you may be more than adequate for every good deed." - 2 Corinthians 9:8

Friday, May 27, 2011

Reap What You Sow - The 24/7 Couple

The 24/7 Couple
Craig and Karen Ruhl

A couple of weeks ago, Craig and I were out in our yard working on some brown spots that have popped up. It would be easy to leave them alone but we have an "association" who sends letters if we don't keep our homes up to par.  As we were raking up the dead grass and sowing the new seeds, we talked about how we were anxious to see the new growth. A few days later, we saw the new grass starting to push its way through the new fertilized soil and our lawn started looking much greener and healthier.  After a few more days of pampering and watering, our lawn has filled in and looks fantastic. At this point you might be asking what this has to do with business!  Well, do you have any brown spots showing up in with your business?

Craig and I decided to take a look at our potential brown spots and here is what we discovered.

1.  Our marketing materials are good but we wanted to give them a new shot of color just like our lawn. It doesn't have to be costly to infuse your marketing materials with a new marketing piece and your clients and regular contacts will notice the new growth too. Take a minute to look over your marketing pieces.
2.  Elevator speech - have you memorized your introduction and have it so ready that you give it at every     networking event you attend? This was another brown spot with us so we are developing several new speeches and this could be another brown spot for you if you see some of the same people at these events like we do.  Work on having several elevator speeches and make sure they have relevance with the group you are attending.  An example would be, visiting a service organization event and incorporating areas of service you provide to the community as well as tell about your companies products or services.
3.  Education is a big source of brown spots. We decided to schedule time each week to continue our education for our field.  It may be something as easy as attending a webinar or to read an article about new software that is available for our industry.  We encourage you to take time each week to learn something new that you can put in your tool box for your clients.
4.  Prospecting - oh, I heard the "ugh" going up as you read that word. Networking events are good places      to meet new potential clients, but you have to take it further than just handing out business cards. Most of the business owners we meet not only have a brown spot with their prospecting, but the entire yard has turned a shade of tan! Schedule time each week for making phone calls to new and prospective clients. Ask them for 15 minutes of their time so you can get to know them better.  Don't try to pitch your product or service the first time you meet or talk to someone, you don't know them well enough, relationships work. Take time to build one and watch your business grow.
5.  Planning and Organization are areas that need to be constantly worked on, let's face it, when you work   from home, its easy to take each day as it comes but that is not the most productive approach. Once again     we advise you to schedule a time each week to plan our your week and keep your office organized. 

With those 5 tips, you will reap a new look, talk a new talk, learn something new, meet a new client and keep a new schedule.  And as we end this blog we do so with a prayer for each of you. We pray that you and your family are in good health and good spirits and that you are prospering. 

Blessings to you,
Karen & Craig Ruhl
The 24/7 Couple (workshop coming soon)

"So you shall serve the Lord, your God, and He will bless your bread and water. And I will take sickness away from the midst of you." -Exodus 23:25