Rank #1: 269: Be Yourself (rebroadcast)
In today’s rebroadcast I share the biggest lesson of my biggest gig to date – I taught a three day class at CreativeLive, about creating your best marketing plan. I completely forgot to mention how to GET that class, so here’s the link! Oh, and the lesson I learned: How to be myself.
In today's episode, I'll share how the heck I figured out how to Be Myself, and how it totally changed the way I think about things.How to Be Yourself (even when you're a nervous wreck.)
- Get clear on what you love.
- Show up and be present.
- Decide connection matters.
How are you being yourself in your business (and life?) How are you hiding yourself?Links mentioned in today's podcast
- My CreativeLIVE class
- I Thought It Was Just Me, by Brene Brown
- My Biggest Lesson of 2012: Connection
- Phillz Coffee
Listen in at TaraSwiger.com/podcast269
Jul 31 2019
Rank #2: 244: Beyond goal-setting: Daily and weekly plans
What do you after you set your goal? What if you know what to do but you aren't getting anything done? Today I'm going to answer those questions and talk about how I use a planner.
I know it's February, and most people think about planning and planners and overhauling their habits at the first of the year, but I'll be honest with you: this year I didn't start even THINKING about my new year until January 20th. Between the logistics of a new 2 year old foster placement in my life and the learning curve of toddler parenting, I had no brainspace to spend thinking or planning. And once I started talking about my planning on Instagram (@taraswiger), I started getting questions that I wanted to answer here on the podcast. And hey, these are the questions I'm dealing with right now, as my whole work life is different now that I’m a new mom.
So the real question, for most of us when it comes to productivity is "how do I get done what I want to get done?"
In my experience getting things done comes down to three different parts of the process. At least one part of the process probably comes to you very naturally, and you don't have to even think of it. But another part of the process may not feel natural. You may get frustrated because you have such a clear vision about where you want to go, but your days seem to slip past you. Or you may be a pro at checking things of your list, but you feel fuzzy about where it's all going.
What you need is to identify how you do all three parts and then focus in on where your system is breaking down.The Three Parts of Getting What You Want Done: First, identify the destination.
Where do you want to go?
If you just start planning your day or setting goals without a vision for the destination, it will be hard and you'll probably change course often and not make a lot of progress.
The clearer you are, the easier this will be, but I don't want you to fret too much over this. The longer you work on your business, the clearer you'll get about your Ideal Destination, and the more you'll know about the business you want. Your vision can evolve as you move along your path.
But you do need to spend time thinking about the aspects of where you want your year or your life or the next 3 months to go. What do you want to have more of? How do you want to spend your time? How do you want to feel? The first section of Map Your Business walks you through this.Second, map out the steps to get closer to the destination.
Break your destination down into a smaller goal (for the next 3-6 months) and map out the steps you'll need to get there. This is the heart of my book Map Your Business, it has worksheets that guide you through this process 4x a year.
I hear from women every day who are using Map Your Business to get clear about where they are in their business and where they want it to go. (I LOVE hearing from Mappers and seeing your posts on Instagram, so if you are using Map Your Business, please tag me!) But it's not just about SETTING the goal, Map Your Business walks you through identifying what you'll need to do to reach your goal - the mini-goals you'll hit on the way there, and the actual tasks you'll need to complete. When you're done mapping, you'll have a big to do list that will move you where you want to go.
You can't make progress unless you know SPECIFICALLY what to work on.Third, give the tasks a time and space.
This can be as free or as structured as you like. There are any number of ways to do this, but for many of the makers I talk with, this is the step they're skipping. They may have done Map Your Business and now they don't actually get the tasks done because they haven't set aside the time and space.
The big thing to remember is: this aspect will probably have to change as you grow.
For years, I would have the same set workday, and then just take my map to do list and work through it during the workday. Over time I learned I work best when days have a specific focus, like writing on Monday and recording on Tuesday. Within those boundaries, I'd work on my to do list. Now my whole schedule has been blown up by a 2 year old, so I'm rethinking how I do this.
Here are some ways that work for the women I know:
- Have set work hours and just work down your list during those hours.
- Theme days: writing days, shipping days, sewing days
- Time Block your schedule: look at the blocks of time you have and assign the blocks kinds of tasks (the main thing is to STOP doing that task when the block is over). You may get your family out the door from 6-8, workout from 8-9, work on marketing and photography 9-12, then work on production from 1-3. Then family time from 3-8. Your blocks can be tiny (1 hour) or bigger (3 hrs is probably the max for your focus and attention).
- Plan when you'll do what task at the beginning of the week (useful if your schedule changes a lot).
I want you to remember: it doesn't matter HOW you organize time or even how much time you have, what matters is "are you working on what matters to you and to your goals during that time?"
It's possible you have one of the above systems in place (or you intend to) and yet you still aren't working on what matters? Why? I've found that most of us are dealing with one of the following reasons:
- We aren't actually working on what we planned to. Instead of taking photos for Instagram, we're scrolling instagram. Instead of writing the email newsletter, we're looking at our email stats. That's ok! Don't beat yourself up! Just recognize it, identify where you do it, and move on.
- We haven't written it down. I don't know how you'll keep track of what to work on if it's not written down somewhere visible. You can make a pretty planner, you can use Asana, you can just write a list on a post-it, but I've never met anyone who didn't need SOME way of keeping track of what to do next. If you find yourself NOT working during your work time, stop and write down what you'll do next. It may see silly or unnecessary if you've already written it all down, but this is my quickest productivity hack: I just write down the next 2 things I'll do starting...now.
- You're not keeping track of all you DO do.Many times I've talked to a business owner who is complaining she never gets anything done and then she tells me about her day and OMG she is DOING SO MUCH. But she's not "counting it". So start writing down and planning ALL that you do, not just your business or not just the newest goal. Having it all written down in front of you can make you more realistic about the time you have to spend on this new goal and help you celebrate all that you get done!
If you liked today's episode but you wanna go WAY deeper into productivity and how to plan a workday that works for you, check out my creativeLIVE class, How to Get More Done. It's 6 hours long with awesome bonuses and worksheets and you can find it at taraswiger.com/time.
And if you want to see my own planner system, check out my YouTube channel, my Monday videos have recently been about the systems I have used and how I plan now!
Listen in at TaraSwiger.com/podcast244
Feb 06 2019
Rank #3: 203: Advice to a new business owner: Your question answered
What would I go back in time to tell myself, right as I was starting my first business? Today I’m answering a listener’s question and traveling back in time to give myself advice!Links I mentioned:
- CC of JavaPurl Design
- All my books and programs
- Trust yourself (the post from July 2013)
- Episode 14: Be Yourself
- You can get your question answered by calling (567) 393-8272 and leaving a message!
Listen in and get your free transcript at TaraSwiger.com/podcast203
Apr 18 2018
Rank #4: 239: How to plan the best year ever
How can you plan to have the best year? Not just get everything done, but have a year you actually enjoy?
It is both important to reach the goals you have set, and enjoy your time. What’s the point in building a business if you aren’t enjoying yourself?
You’re never going to feel like you’re done in business.
You’ll always be changing, growing, setting goals. THAT is what building a business is. So be sure that you enjoy the process of moving towards the goal, as much as you think you’ll enjoy actually reaching the goal.A couple tips as you sit down to do your New Year Planning: 1. How do you want to feel?
How do you want to feel as you work on your goal? How do you want to feel when you reach your goal? (Check out the Desire Map for more on feelings + goals). You can bring these feelings into your planning - how can you feel this feeling RIGHT NOW? It can be hard to plan, if you feel scared or compressed. So before you plan, get in a great mood.2. Make a list of the things that make you feel how you want to feel.
Don’t worry about how it integrates with your work, just make the list! You’ll start to generate ideas for how this will integrate with your work.3. Review what worked last year.
You aren’t starting from scratch, you already KNOW stuff! Remember what you learned last year, what worked and what didn’t, and be sure to apply it to this year.4. Narrow it down.
Everything is not equally important. Pick one thing that will help you feel the way you want to feel. Pick one thing that will make the biggest impact (first domino). And do that first.
Need help getting clear on where you want to go and then turning it into an actionable plan? Map Your Business guides you through all of the tips above, and you end up with a doable plan, followed by monthly review and quarterly goal-setting.
Past New Year’s episodes:
- 7 Principles to have your best year ever
- The one resolution you should make (and how to do it)
- The importance of planning for the new year (and how I do it)
Listen in at TaraSwiger.com/podcast239
Jan 02 2019
Rank #5: 252: Get your confidence back
I’m gonna be honest: For years I have been teaching about confidence, here on the podcast, at conferences. So I was surprised to find: I had totally lost my confidence. Today I’m going to share how I lost it and how I’m getting it back. Hopefully it will help you locate your own confidence.
First: What do I mean by confidence? Let’s define it here, because it’s easy to misunderstand. And I’ll be honest, I meet a lot of women who say they can’t move forward until they’re more confident and in my work, I’ve just found that’s not entirely true. You are probably confident ENOUGH to at least do SOMETHING.
So let’s define it: Confidence, in the terms I’m talking about, is what psychologists call self-efficacy - you have the power to do something. You believe you can do it and affect the outcome.
It’s NOT believing you can do EVERYTHING. You may be confident in your cooking, but not have confidence in your business. You may be confident in your writing, but not in public speaking.
Another thing: Being confident doesn’t mean you feel confident ALWAYS. It is NOT feeling amazing all the time. Feeling like you can do anything, feeling totally fearless.
For more about what confidence is and isn’t, check out episode 126: What Confidence is and isn’t.
You probably have enough confidence about SOMETHING, to take it and apply it to your business. Even if you don’t feel amazing all the time, you can take the next step.
Here’s the thing: Confidence is a spectrum. You’re not “confident or not confident.” Some days your more confident than others. Your more confident in some areas than others. And depending on life, and business, and the results you’re getting, you may slide around the spectrum.
In my case, I entered adulthood pretty high on the confidence scale - I worked hard, I got good grades, I made stuff happen (like a scholarship and a happy marriage). I went through bouts of self-doubt, but I pretty much never lost my belief that if I REALLY wanted something, I could make it happen. I may be slightly delusional, but this delusion let me take action that made stuff happen.
And here’s the thing: I wasn't confident that everything would be great, I was confident that I would be ok. I was confident that I could try and still be OK. I was talking to a friend with a similar background and a successful business and she said - my definition of OK was very basic. As long as I wasn’t living at home again or in an abusive relationship, I was OK.
That’s what has led me to do everything I’ve ever done in my business - to start selling yarn on Etsy when Etsy was brand new, to quit my dayjob 10 years ago, to start helping other people with their business soon after, to publish two books, to encourage my husband to quit his day job, to start a new business - it all has been based in the core belief that I would be OK. So I may as well try, right?
Then, we were hit with disappointments: infertility (which has been bubbling away in the background for a decade), we weren’t able to buy the comic book shop, I suffered my longest ever bout of depression, we had two kids we LOVED leave our home.
While we had the foster kiddos, I took a step back from work. And when it was time to step back into work, I was plagued by the constant doubt: Can I even do this?
I think a lot of self-doubt came from the period of depression - it sucked away all sense of action, of ability, of efficacy. I physically felt like I couldn’t do anything all day, my brain was foggy and it was very hard to do anything mentally, and emotionally, well I mostly just cried or felt numb. So when I was feeling better and the depression lifted...my sense of self was beat up. The depressed Tara, who didn’t have physical, mental or emotional energy became real to me. I started to believe she was me.
At the same time, I knew she wasn’t. I knew Get-Things-Done, 6 Figure Business Tara was the real me, but when I would dream about plans and goals, I was trying to imagine Depressed Tara doing it and...I couldn’t imagine it.
The basis of my confidence (which had been “I’ll be OK no matter what”) switched to “But what if I can’t do it? What if it doesn’t work out?” That hard part is, I didn’t really know this happening. My first clue was back in September when a business friend said “Oh, I’m sure you’ll be at X goal next year!” and I was like “Maybe, I don’t know” and he was like, “Wait! That is not the Tara I know.” I went back to my room and cried because my friend was right. That is not the Tara I have been.
The next clue was just a few weeks ago, when I was at a conference and the speaker asked us to think about what we wanted to get from the experience, and I realized: I want to feel confident again. I did some journaling and I realized that it’s not that I need a better schedule or a different office, I just need to BELIEVE that things are possible again. That I can work towards my goal and whether I reach or not, I’ll be ok.
The good news: Once I realized it was the problem, I know how to get it back. I have TAUGHT how to get it back!
I’ve shared all of my story of losing my confidence with you, in hopes that you may see some of yourself in it, that if you are feeling wobbly, you’ll recognize it. Now let’s talk about how to get it back (or get it for the first time).
The first part of this is knowing yourself. If you’ve been paying attention to how you work, what your strengths are, how you work best, you’ll have a better idea of what’s going on, if you paid attention when things were going well. So that’s the first step - build your confidence from who you are. Build it on your strengths. In other words, stop paying attention to who you WISH you were and what you wish you were like. That’s going to keep you in a self-doubt spiral of constant comparison.
How I am doing this: This may sound crazy, but I make a list of my strengths. What am I good at? What do I KNOW I can do?
The next step is to take care of yourself. You’re not going to feel good if you don’t have what you need. Part of this is eating, drinking enough water, sleeping enough, but it’s also filling up your inspiration well. For me this is listening to certain podcasts (I share them in episode 248) and reading books.Confidence comes from action. DO something every day.
If you’re waiting around to do something until you feel confident, listen to episode 131: How to Take Action, without waiting around for more confidence.
Here’s the good news: you’re already DOING things every day. Really! So write down what you want to do (be easy on yourself!) and be sure you add things that "don't count" to your To Do list. Did you feed your child? Did you feed yourself? Did you get dressed? Brush your hair! Huzzah! You are accomplished!
How I am doing this: I noticed that when I just let myself rest and didn’t do anything (or rather, didn’t mark stuff off a list), I just felt worse. It made me feel like I couldn’t do things, so everything was so much harder to start doing, even after I felt better. (It’s harder to get started than it is to keep going). What I needed was to make myself do one thing, that had a real impact, every day. And most importantly, write it down, so I had the satisfaction of marketing it off. I had fallen so far off of my planning, that I started over with a new planner (You can watch a video about how that’s working for me here).
I started feeling better about my ability to do stuff, but there was still some stuff I wasn’t doing each week, stuff I put off for, seriously, over a month. The answer? An accountability partner with the very same goal and focus. We check in by 10am each day with a list of two things we’re going to do and again by 10pm to say if we’ve done it. Just knowing someone else is waiting to hear if I did it makes all the difference. A friend of mine is super strict about her partners - if you miss a time, or you don’t do what you said you would, you have three strikes. After three strikes, you lose your partner.Celebrate
A huge part of confidence is remembering that you HAVE done awesome stuff and you WILL do awesome stuff again. Some suggestions for getting in that frame of mind:
- Practice accepting compliments. Don’t follow-up up a compliment with all the reasons it’s not true.
- Better yet, remember the compliments - put them in a folder, print them out, heck, someone on Instagram illustrated her compliments.
- Tell your loved ones - “I need help remembering that I’ve done awesome things. Can you help?”
- List all the things you've overcome.
- List all the things you’ve accomplished.
- Look at these lists as often as you need to!
I hope this helps you move forward in your business! Remember to take care of yourself, take action, and celebrate each tiny step.
Listen in at TaraSwiger.com/podcast252
Apr 03 2019
Rank #6: 284: You have more than enough time
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 haven't already made time for it.
- You have never done anything like building a business before - so how could you possibly have time for it?
- 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
Listen in at TaraSwiger.com/podcast284
Nov 13 2019
Rank #7: 257: The Myth of Balance
How do you balance business and family? How do you balance alone time with together time? What if you just need to be alone to work on your business but you feel like you should be with your family? Today, I'm going to give you a super honest answer. Ya ready?
So let’s start by being honest about balance: it’s not real. Or at least, this ideal goal of work-life balance, where you’re always happy with how much time and energy you’re spending on each area of your life and it always feel balanced and equal – that ideal is not a goal worth pursuing, if it even is possible.
Why? Because life is full of curves and changes and YOU are not balanced. What you want is not balanced. When I talk to you about balance, what you tell me is that you want the projects you care about to get more energy. You want to feel like you’re connected with your partner and kids. You want to feel enthusiastic and in the flow with your work.
You don’t want to give 50% to family and 50% to work and then where is your self-care and FUN going to come in? You want to give 100% to your family when you’re with them. You want to have 100% energy to work on your dream, when you do it. You want to be 100% in on girls night or the novel you’re reading or the nap you’re taking. Right?
The goal isn’t to have everything perfectly balanced. And if you keep pursuing that as a goal, you’re always going to feel like you’re coming up short. I’m gonna suggest that your goal may be, instead, to be fully engaged and enthusiastic about most of what you’re doing with your day, and to have the time to spend on the things you care about.
But first you have to get really honest with yourself (just like we talked about last week). Take an assessment of your life – where are you spending your time and your energy?
Start by identifying the categories of activities: What takes up your actual time? If you’re not sure, track your time for a week – every hour write down what you’re doing.
I’m gonna share my list with you, but yours will be different of course:
- Cleaning and life-admin (dishes, vacuuming, making meal list, talking to Jay about finances/parenting/etc, scheduling stuff, going to meetings)
- Being a loving mom to the kids in my life (hanging out with past foster babes, hands-on care of new foster babes)
- Loving partnership (anything with Jay that isn’t managing our life – we eat dinner together, talking about our day, going to movies, going on trips)
- Work (podcast, doTERRA, IG, emails)
- Reading and learning and entertainment (novels, non-fiction, listening to podcasts, watching biz trainings)
- Joyful movement (walking, dancing, running, lifting)
- Community (hanging out with friends and family, coffee dates, texting with friends)
In a life that feels full and enthusiastic and satisfying, I don’t want all of these things to take up the same 10%. I want to be fully present for them, when I’m doing them (well, life admin stuff can be distracted with listening to podcasts!) and when I’m not doing them, I want to let go of them.
For me, and a lot of you, the problem isn’t that I’m not doing what matters or that I’m doing the wrong stuff, it’s that I’m kinda always thinking about the other categories no matter what I’m in the middle of. For working moms, it may be that you’re thinking about your kid’s cough when you’re working. Or you’re thinking about your next IG post when you’re with your kid. And I’ll be honest. I don’t know how to stop that. I know that having boundaries around your time (like I talk about in my Time class, at TaraSwiger.com/time) can help keep everything from bleeding together and overwhelming you. But it’s also natural that you’re going to think of other things.
What helps me is to know: It’s ok, I HAVE TIME for that later, I don’t need to do it now. It’s having peace of mind that I do have time allotted for everything so I don’t have to keep obsessing over it right now, now is the time for X.
And this is how boundaries and deciding your day before you start it can really help. Yes, you’re still gonna be distracted by other stuff in your life, but knowing that you have time for both will really help.
After you took a look at your categories, look at where you’re spending your time. And then decide where you want to spend your time, not forever, just *this week*. What categories need some love and attention? When can you give them that? Block it off in your calendar, or put it on your priority list for that day. There’s a book Pick Three, where the idea is each day you don’t have to do everything, you can just get to three categories, and rotate the three you work on.
I don’t totally agree with that theory because you never really get a break from life admin and mom-ing and being in partnership. But you can decide which days or hours those categories will get your undivided attention. Like maybe Monday you are focused on work and life admin, whereas Saturday you take your family to the library and park and really PLAY with them or you go out to the movies with your friends.
Here’s the thing I hope you’re absorbing from this: There’s no way to do it “right” and for a lot of us driven Type A types, that’s SUPER annoying. We want to get it RIGHT. We want to spend the right amount of time with our family, we want to have the right amount of time for our business, we want to have a clean house).
But the awesome thing is: there’s no one right way…which means you can’t get it WRONG. You can only keep experimenting and figure out what works for you RIGHT NOW. What works for you this week? What does your family need? What does your life need? What does your business need THIS WEEK?
And guess what? You’ll have another week next week where you can shift your focus.
I know this is something a lot of you really struggle with, and that is getting in the way of you enjoying your business or life. If that’s you and if doing the exercise in this podcast still isn’t helping you bring a sense of enthusiasm and calm to your life, I highly recommend working with someone to help you through it, someone who can help you identify what you want to change and then hold you accountable for changing it. My friend Joeli Kelly is who I talk to and she is a certified life coach and has spots available now. This isn’t an ad, this is just a real-life recommendation. If you need more help with this, go to JoeliCreates.com to get an expert help. Tell her this episode sent you, so she’ll know how to help!
Listen in at TaraSwiger.com/podcast257
May 08 2019
Rank #8: 267: How to Launch Anything (rebroadcast)
In this week's podcast we're revisiting a topic I get asked about a TON: launching!
This episode was originally inspired when a Starship captain asked for ideas and resources for launching a new product line and I wrote a long and thorough answer, and wanted to share that with you. This can apply to how you launch a new business (if you already have an audience), how you launch a new product or how you launch a book.We'll cover:
- How to come up with launch content
- How to fit it in your calendar
- How to continuously improve
- Market Yourself
- My email list (sign up at the bottom of this post!)
- Brunch instead of Launch
- $100 Start-up
Listen in at TaraSwiger.com/podcast267
Jul 17 2019
Rank #9: 228: When you have too many ideas
Have you found that whenever you're really busy and you do NOT have the time to work on something, you get a MILLION ideas for it?! I know! Me too!
So what do you do when you have too many ideas? How can keep from losing them? How can you keep creativity flowing? How can you be sure to choose the right one?
When I asked the Starship what topics they most wanted me to cover on the podcast, this came up over and over: What do I do when I have too many ideas?
First, know that you are not alone if you both have times of NO IDEAS AT ALL and ALL THE IDEAS, OMG! That's just a natural part of the cycle. Creativity and business is cyclical, you'll have times of planting, times of harvest, times of a totally fallow field (I grew up surrounded by cornfields in rural Ohio!). The important thing, the vital thing to keeping your creativity healthy and alive is to RESPECT the season you're in, don't try to push it. So when you have no ideas, just rest and get to work on the things you've already planned. When you have ALL the ideas, don't try to squash them down or ignore them.
Now, you can't always work on the ideas you have as soon as you have them! And some projects take a long time so even if you start right away, it's going to be a while before it's finished. So what do you do with all those ideas? You don't want to squash them, but you can't work on them?
The super simple, obvious answer is to WRITE THEM DOWN.
Ideally you're going to write them down in the same place every time, so you can find the list when you're out of ideas!
Here's a few things to keep in mind when writing your ideas down:
- Put them where you'll find them again!
- Look at what else you have coming up, and see if an idea fits in to your plan?
- Does it have a deadline (like a Black Friday Deal idea)? Does it need you to work on it by a certain time to make it happen?
- Prioritize what you'll work on, based on what your current goal is, what makes sense for your business, and what you're enthusiastic about.
- Keep going back to the same list and adding to it, all the time.
- Review the list regularly! Ideally you'll do this when you're planning and thinking about your goal for the quarter and at the very least every 6 months. Maybe some of the ideas fit with your new goal, or maybe your goal is to implement an idea you still love.
- Don't be precious about your ideas, you will have a million more. Cross out ideas you're not still excited about!
What I do:
- If it can be done this week, write it down in my daily journal
- If I’m not sure when to do it, I add it to a big list in my quarterly planning journal
- If it has moving parts or a deadline, put it in Asana
That's pretty straight forward right? That's what I thought, so I was confused by the panic that this question seems to elicit in people and I wondered: Why does it upset people to have lots of ideas?
I have a few possible ideas:
- It's frustrating to be excited for something and not get to work on it right away. But trust yourself to come back to it, and then DO come back to it, and you'll build up that self-trust, you'll start to believe that you WILL get to what's important, and you'll start to feel less upset about it over time (I can tell you this is true from experience!)
- You worry about picking the RIGHT idea. You worry that if you have to pick between your ideas, you won't work on the right one.
I can understand that, but I have a secret for you that is going to totally change your life. Are you ready for it?
There is no right idea. There is no right answer.
I'm serious! If you have an idea for an Instagram Challenge you want to hold and you have an idea for a Black Friday Sale, you know what? Both ideas will go great. Both ideas are likely to grow your business! There isn't a RIGHT choice between the two - pick the one that either makes more sense for your current goal, your current ability and/or your current enthusiasm level. That's it!
One way to look at this is that there is no "right" answer, because no one knows the answer! You have to try it and see!
The other way to look at this is that EVERY answer is the right answer! Taking action, at all, in your business is better than NOT taking action. EVERYthing you do, if you pay attention and learn from both the successes and failures, is going to be progress.
Remember, there are very few things you need to do in your business. They are, in this order: Have enough products in your shop (that are priced right) Show up consistently, communicating with your community (where your buyers are) Reach out to new audiences (like doing a craft show, getting in shops, etc)
Within those areas, you're going to have a goal or a focus - pick the idea that aligns with that current goal.
And above all, trust yourself! You are going to have more ideas! You are going to implement the really great ideas. You are going to move forward.
Don't let too many ideas keep you from taking action. Take action, and you'll get more ideas.
Listen in at TaraSwiger.com/podcast228
Oct 10 2018
Rank #10: 208: How to get stuff done when you don't want to
This week I'm going to talk about something I haven't figured out yet. I'm still working on it, and I know we ALL go through it. How do you get stuff done when you really don't feel it and when you know your best work comes from your enthusiasm?Links I mentioned:
Listen in and get your free transcript at TaraSwiger.com/podcast208
May 23 2018
Rank #11: 219: Branding vs Marketing vs Sales
What's your brand? Is worrying about it going to increase your sales? What is translating marketing on Instagram into sales?
Today we're going to talk about the difference between branding, marketing and sales, as it's related to your small business.
A few weeks ago we talked about increasing sales through marketing on Instagram and then I was talking with a Captain about being sure they were spending their time on SALES, not just on Branding. It got me thinking, there's an important distinction between Branding and Marketing and Sales, and we don't talk about it a lot. In a big a business, these three things are clearly separate, there are different people in each department. But in your small business, you're doing it all. And in different businesses, they have different weights, ....Branding
The vibe of your business. Your brand is the answer to the question: “How do people think about your business? How does your business makes people feel?" When they see it, they know it's yours, because it's your branding. It's the visuals, the tone of voice, the kind of media you use, and how you show up.
This is super important in a business that sells commodity - in other words, the same thing as similar businesses.
For example, a comic shop sells the exact same comics and uses the exact same distributor as every other comic shop. So the branding is EXTREMELY important to help it stand out. For a shop, the branding is going to be how the shop makes you feel - the customer service, the vibe of the shop, the events and activities going on. Everything from the staff you hire, to the comics you highlight, to the way you treat customers - that's all going into the way your customers feel about you.
Now, before we dive into this, I want to be clear about something. In all areas of your business, you're going to be authentic and honest. Just because you THINK about something and decide something, doesn't make it inauthentic. I think makers get confused about this because they think: I'm going to be myself and any amount of being strategic isn't authentically myself. No no no. The goal of effectively branding your small business is to find the brand that flows authentically from you. But to also be aware of it and intentional with it.
So you're not just providing amazing customer service in your shop because it's what's your brand about it, you're doing it genuinely and authentically.
If you (or a branding expert you hire) try to push a brand that isn't who you really are, it's going to fall apart. For example, the knitwear designer Frenchie behind Aroha Knits - her business has this very beautiful, elegant, styled in natural materials and soft colors brand, and when she talks in her videos, you can feel it's all very authentic. But if I tried to pull that off? If it would be fake and be So. Much. Work. I just can't be airy and elegant and styled. My branding is bright colors and being honest and being my goofy self.
While that's authentically me, I have to actually remind myself of that, especially when I compare myself to others or I feel like maybe I should be X or Y.
A few more examples: If you're in a direct selling company, like doTERRA, the company brand stands for something already. But you have to build your own brand - not with a fancy website or anything, but through how you treat every customer, through how you sample people, invite them to learn more. If your brand is aligned with the bigger brand, and if you use the bigger brand to give you focus, you'll do better. Your brand of education and support is going to be what builds trust and creates a community.
A yarn dyer is creating a brand with every skein of yarn she dyes - the colors she uses, the yarn she uses, all of it. What also impacts your brand: the label, the shops or shows where you choose to sell, what you focus on about your yarn (is it the material? Fun? Community?)
A few things to remember about Branding:
- If you're making your thing and putting it out there, you're going to have a brand. You don't have to "make" one, they occur naturally. Your brand is going to come from your IG, your products, photography, way you write your descriptions.
- Since you're going to have a brand anyhow, spend a little time thinking about it. The questions I ask in my marketing classes guide you through this. You can get access to my marketing class that goes into Instagram and email in the Starship, which opens in a few weeks. Sign up to learn more at taraswiger.com/starshipbiz.
- Branding is really important in a business that sells commodities, and if you want to stand out in a crowded marketplace.
- Be consistent. Choose some colors, your tone of voice, and stick with it.
- Brands (and businesses) evolve and change, that's ok.
Marketing is communicating with your customers. It includes your brand (what do people think of when they think of you), but marketing is the ongoing communication of both that brand + feeling, and of the products you have. Marketing is everything that creates, keeps, and satisfies the customer.
Branding is the feeling, marketing is what you DO that creates that feeling.
Marketing is alllll the things you're doing in your business. It's putting things on sale, it's photography, it's what you post and how you say what you say. We talk a lot about marketing, but after we talk about sales, I'll give you a few examples where people get confused about if they need to focus on marketing or sales.Sales
Sales are: HOW YOU MAKE MONEY. It's the final step in the relationship that starts with marketing, contains your brand, all of that should lead to people making the sales.
It's where you say: Click here to buy this. Here's how you can get this. Would you like to join?
You can have the best branding and marketing in the world, but if you don't follow through and focus on sales - nothing. It won't matter. This is ESPECIALLY important in the online world. All your marketing might never be seen, until you focus on sales and you get in front of people.
For a crafter this includes: Doing shows Sell to retail shops (you close the sale to them and they close sales to many consumers)
I feel like I've been in an intensive training school for sales since joining doTERRA. Their branding is perfect. They already have marketing figured out. The products are amazing and pure and there's research projects that back it all up. In order to share the oils, I have to focus not on marketing (which is where I've spent a lot of my time in my other businesses) or in product creation, but in sales. How do I talk about these in a way that communicates clearly? How do I educate people so that they understand how they'd use them (because I don't want you to buy something you won't use?)
These are the questions you ask yourself to improve your selling - Do people know this exists? What do they need to understand or know before they will want to buy? Am I making it clear how to buy? (So many people skip this part!)
Understanding these questions has made me better at sales in every area of my business - from the Starship, to book sales, to classes.
I want to reiterate what I said earlier - you're going to do ALL of this with authenticity. People have such stereotypes about "sales", that they think you have to leave your integrity behind. Of course not! Sales is a natural outgrowth of your brand and marketing. If you make it NOT a natural outgrowth, you're going to be really bad at it.
As I said before, just because you're thinking about it and getting better at it, doesn't make it inauthentic.
If you feel like it does, or you are thinking "I don't want to do sales", then honey, you don't want to have a business. A business is sales.
So let's look at some examples of where people get confused about which of the three they need to focus on:
If you have started an online shop and you haven't gotten sales or traffic, my #1 recommendation is that you focus on making sales, before you worry with anything else. Get your products in front of people - go do a craft show, do a local farmer's market, approach local shops or galleries. Spend all your time on sales, and in the in-between times, post to Instagram, or start to build your online marketing. But I see a lot of makers spend hours and hours on their online marketing, which takes MUCH longer to turn into sales. So when they don't have sales after 2 or 6 or 12 months, they stop their business and say, "people didn't want what I sold". Nope, it's that people didn't know what you sold.
The social media world has confused us by thinking a big following = a steady business. Nope. Steady sales = a steady business.
Now, if you've GOT a big social media following, you can absolutely start a business and start making sales, but my friends and students who have done this tell me that they're shocked by how SMALL percentage of their audience actually buys their thing.
If you are making some sales and you're getting real customer feedback, absolutely build an online following, but realize that a small following that actually buys is 100x better than a big audience that doesn't.
I'm pretty passionate about this topic, because I've seen so many business owners spin their wheels online instead of going out there and making sales. I have 2 businesses that earn over six figures a year, and you can see on my Instagram, I don't have a huge audience. This podcast isn't in the top 10 or even 50 on iTunes. I don't even have 5,000 email subscribers.
So why do people focus more on marketing than sales?
Sales is scary. You can be rejected. When you focus on marketing, you're just "putting it out there" and people can either opt in or not opt in. That feels much less risky.
When you focus on sales, you're giving people the opportunity to say yes OR NO. And we're afraid of hearing no.
But as my mentor told me in the first few months of my doTerra business: You have to get a lot more comfortable being rejected. Ha! Yes! Also, ouch.
So how do you know what you need to work on?
- Almost always you can spend more time on sales.
- If you've been building piecemeal over the last few years, take a step back and look at your branding. Does your site and Instagram and tone "match" your products? Does it make sense? If you threw your product (and tag) in a pile with others, would people know which is yours? It may be time to think through what you want your brand to be and how you're communicating that.
- Everything is marketing. If you are posting online regularly, updating your shop, putting labels on your products, you're marketing. Like we talked about in episode 217, focus on your right people and on communicating clearly.
If you'd like to work on all three and get my feedback on your branding, marketing and sales, join the Starship!
Listen in and find out when the Starship opens at TaraSwiger.com/podcast219
Aug 08 2018
Rank #12: 210: Fit it all together: Your marketing plan
Emails. Instagram. YouTube. Facebook. How can you possibly do all the marketing stuff you "should" do? And how can you be sure it's going to be worth your time?
The key is to make it all work together - today I'm going to teach you how to think about your marketing so you can make it time effective and increase your sales.Links I mentioned
Listen in and get your free workbook at TaraSwiger.com/podcast210
Jun 06 2018
Rank #13: 221: Foundations of a healthy business: What you truly need to succeed
Where should you spend in your business? What actually matters for a profitable, thriving business? And how in the world do you get there? Today we’re going to discuss the foundations of a healthy business.
Today we’re going to talk about what really matters in your business. Now, these are the foundations, but this isn’t just for new business owners. In fact, if you’ve got your business together and you’re wondering how you can scale it, or make it more profitable, or make more sales, the answer is almost always in these foundations. But before we go into foundations, I want to remind you that Starship is open right now.
The Starship was just overhauled and GOOD NEWS, when you join, you are walked through these foundations, in a series of classes that serve as deep dives into your business. Over the course of three months, you’ll be guided with weekly lessons in these foundations, plus you’ll get access to our community, where you can ask your questions 24/7, our weekly check-in to hold you accountable, and monthly group coaching calls with me - where I will go deep on whatever your question is.
In the past, I’ve just given you access to the classes and told you “take what you need”, but I’ve learned over the last 6 years that the biggest transformation happens when work on your foundations in a specific order, and when you have access to ask your questions, when you’re held accountable and when you get coaching help as you go.
And now, when you’re done with the 3 month program, you can choose to stay inside the community at an affordable price. As I mentioned, we go through the foundations, but the Starship is for a business that’s set up - that knows what it sells and know how it will sell it. Maybe you don’t have sales yet, but you’re committed to this business and to doing the work to make it thrive.
Now, let’s talk about what those foundations actually ARE!
There's so much you *could* focus on, but there are a few areas where, if you focus, you can dramatically improve your results. They are:
- Clarity of your own biz dreams (as opposed to what other people have or want)
- Honesty about where you ARE
- Breaking down the gap into goals, and the goals down into actions
- Profitability (you gotta know your products will make money)
- Marketing (someone's gotta buy your work - marketing is how you communicate with those buyers)
These can be split up into 4 main areas:
- Mission and Mapping (everything from big-picture to this-month goals)
- Effectiveness (not just doing things quickly, but doing the right things, and feeling good about your workday)
Here’s the good news: Just knowing that these are the areas that matter can help you defeat the “OMG WHAT DO I FOCUS ON” overwhelm. You can just come back to this list: Which area needs work? And then work on it!
(Not sure HOW to work on it? Or where to start with each area? This is what I teach in the Starship.)
What’s super cool is that these areas actually all build on each other - you can’t get a clear picture of your marketing if you don’t what your mission is and you don’t want to do marketing until you KNOW your item is profitable. And you can’t reach your number goals (which we talk about with profitability) unless you actually, ya know, share your work with the right people, using the right language.
In other words, working on ONE area is working on ALL areas. It’s like a fractal. Everything you do is reflected around your business. When you work on how you want to communicate with your people, you’ll see the same words and feelings show up in your Mission. Or… exponential: working on one area improves that area (and often improves sales), then improves the other areas, which improves sales.
When I got really clear about my Mission - what I wanted to do in the lives and businesses of makers and artists, my marketing became so much more clear. From the words I use, to the topics I talk about, to the images I use. I suddenly know what to say, because I know what the end goal is; I know what I want my work to do in the person’s life. And that has improved my sales - it doubled within a year of getting ultra-clear!
So how about you? Which foundation of your business needs work right now?
As you think about that, you may feel really frustrated that you’ve wasted your time on other things, that you didn’t focus on the main foundations and instead got swept up in figuring out the perfect hashtag for your photo - that is ok! We all do it. We all read a blog post or listen to a podcast that is about a specific tactic and without asking “is this what matters to my biz right now?”, we dive into learning about it and trying to implement it.
A while ago a few friends started talking about Facebook ads. So they’ve been talking about it in our group and I have to admit, even though I KNOW advertising isn’t where I want to spend my energy right now, it was tempting! It’s so tempting to work on something that’s outside of my strategy.
On the other hand, a lot of makers tell me that they’ve avoided thinking about ANY of this. They just make their thing, put it in their shop… and hope it turns into a business.
And you know what?
If that’s you, you’re not alone either. That is absolutely where to start. You haven’t done anything wrong if you haven’t started working on profitability or marketing yet. There is a tiny tiny percentage of artists who just make their work available and it all sells out. They don’t have to do any marketing and the numbers magically work out.
But those are the unicorns. And you may be a unicorn, but if you have big dreams for your business, I don’t want you to waste your precious life waiting around to find out.
Instead, I want you to do the work that makes your biz successful, so that you KNOW it will be. So that you don’t have to rely on outside circumstances, or being “discovered” or wait for someone else’s approval before you build the business you want.
And how do you do that?
You build each of your foundations. Here’s a few things that each foundation needs.
For the foundation of Mission and Mapping, you may need to:
- Define your dream biz
- Get clear on your Mission
- Identify your assets and support
- Choose a goal
- Create a plan to reach that goal.
For Profitability, you may need to:
- Know your numbers and how to get them.
- Identify the profit margin for each item and your Break Even Point
- Variables to experiment with
For Marketing, you may need to:
- Improve how you talk about your work
- Make it easier for strangers to find you
- Look at how you build a relationship with potential customers
- Identify how customers buy + make it easier for them
- Work to keep customers happy and coming back
For Effectiveness, you may need to be:
- Doing what matters each day
- Keeping track of all your tasks
- Streamlining all of your recurring tasks
- Getting the level of accountability you need in order to get it all done
So which one of these, in your business, needs your focus? Which one of these matters MOST for you right now?
If you want to work through each one of these and discover everything I listed for each one, join us in the Starship, it’s open now and it closes in a week. Learn more at taraswiger.com/starshipbiz
In the new Starship, we cover every one of these foundations, and we explore your answers to these questions: What are your goals? Who are your people? What is your ideal workday like? And instead of feeling overwhelmed about figuring it all out at once, you work on each area, one at a time, over the course of three months.
And all along the way you have support, encouragement, group coaching with me, and accountability.
Listen in at TaraSwiger.com/podcast221
Aug 22 2018
Rank #14: 240: Introvert in business, with Stacey Trock
Are you an introvert? Not sure? Think being an introvert is the same thing as being shy? We have a lot to talk about!
Hi, I’m Stacey. I’m an introvert. I’m also tremendously talkative, self-confident and not the tiniest bit shy. Sound like a contradiction? Not really. In this episode, I’m going to talk about what an introvert really is, plus dispel some misconceptions. I’ll fill you in on the strengths of an introvert, as well as some strategies to cope with challenging situations.
What is an introvert?
An introvert is someone who needs alone time to truly thrive. Interacting with people is often draining. Although being 100% introverted is rare, we all fall along the introvert-extrovert continuum. People with more than 50% introverted tendencies are usually considered introverts.
- Think best on their own
- Find ‘small talk’ draining
- Notice subtle cues
- Have a strong internal monologue
- Are thorough
- Are independent & work well on their own
- Excel in 1-on-1 interactions and deep conversations
What are great strategies for an introvert?
Contrary to what you may have been told, being an introvert gives you AMAZING skills for running your own business! You work well on your own, driving your business forward. And for every situation that presents challenges, there are fairly simple solutions you can implement.
- How to turn ‘networking events’ into an opportunity for genuine conversation, where you excel
- Managing ‘group work’ and translating it into great individual work
- Strategies to scheduling your day to maximize your energy levels
- The power of working in writing
By the end of this episode, you’ll be on board with celebrating the joys of being an introvert!
Book recommendations and links:
- Quiet by Susan Cain
- Hiding in the Bathroom by Morra Aarons-Mele
- Secret Lives of Introverts by Jenn Granneman
- The Highly Sensitive Person by Judy Dyer
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.
Listen in at TaraSwiger.com/podcast240
Jan 09 2019
Rank #15: 281: How to invest in your business
I recently made a big decision about an investment in my business. And I spent the last week talking to makers about how to know WHEN something is the right investment in their business business.
When I opened the Starship to new members last month, this is the question that most people have - how do I decide if this is the right investment for me, right now?
Our conversations have me reflecting on how I make these decisions in my own business, and how anyone knows that anything is the “right” for them. I have a few questions I ask myself before buying, whether it's a $25 guide or a $999 Program.
If you are ready to grow and expand your business, you are probably asking yourself - what do I invest in? Where do I spend my time and energy in order to make the biggest growth. Well I cover the ONLY 4 foundations that need your focus and attention my masterclass. You can join (for free!) at TaraSwiger.com/foundations.
So before we dive into investing your business, I have to be super clear, when you’re looking at investing your TIME in your business, you need that investment to be in one of the four areas I cover in that masterclass.
But when you’re looking at investing your MONEY in your business, how do you choose the class or book or program that’s going to be most effective for you, right now, exactly where you are?
I ask the same 3 questions of every investment (yes, I invest in my business too, so I can become the best help to YOU as possible!)Do I know and like the person?
Does this person show up regularly and with integrity? Especially in a class, the way I feel about the person is going to impact my ability to learn. If you don't like who the teacher is, as a person, you're not going to trust the information they have and will spend time second-guessing everything. You learn better from someone you deeply trust. Also, if this is going to take longer than an hour, you want to like the person's voice and style, and look forward to spending time with them. (This is why it's so easy to buy from Caitlin, my mentor, or from your favorite yarn shops!)Does it provide the structure that I need?
For me, this means something more than a simple PDF download. I learn best if the information is chunked up and delivered in pieces, and has some kind of accountability built in. The entire reason I joined Up & Running is that I needed a training plan and accountability on the regular.
But of course, not everyone learns in the same way, so this is something I've tested endlessly in the Starship. Sure, I've got AMAZING, life-changing education on profitability and marketing, but how can I share that information in a way that results in real changes for the captains?
The last 8 years of working with makers every day, has taught me that the best results come from a combination of weekly accountability check-ins, structured classes (everything you need, step by step), and targeted, deep-dive, apply-it-to-your-own business material, delivered in video, text and worksheets. The best format I’ve found is a combination of question-asking and accountability-providing. This not only teaches information, it also keeps the regular movement of your business from where it is to where you want it to go. It makes big goals more reach-able and dreams more do-able.Does it fit with my immediate goals?
Is this thing aimed at what I'm working on right now? Even if the class has fantastic information, if it's not information I can use right now, I resist it.
Why? Because otherwise it will be a distraction from what I'm working on and I'll be frustrated that I can't put what I learned to work right away. (This is why we spend the first weeks in the Starship setting individual goals and mapping out a path – so that you spend your time in the Starship working on your goals and avoid distraction.)Where will I find the time for it?
Here’s the truth - if you don’t see how this will fit with what matters to you, right now, you won’t find the time for it. The hard part of this is… we aren’t always honest with ourselves what really matters to us, what our priorities are. So we buy something we WISH were our priority, but honestly we’re putting our time and attention elsewhere.
So if you’re telling yourself “I don’t have time for this,'' I want you to change it to “this isn’t a priority right now.” Can’t join a business-growth program? Maybe business growth isn’t your priority right now!
And hey, that’s OK. For the first month of a new foster care placement business growth IS NOT my priority. Getting the kiddo(s) settled and figuring out the structure of my life again and napping, those are my priorities. I know if I don’t focus on that, I won’t ever be able to focus on business growth later. Maybe for you it’s a big move or a new baby or a major illness? Just be honest with yourself, honey.
If you’re saying, “no no, Tara, I swear it IS a priority!” Then the question is - when will I find the time for it? Tough love time - if you can’t find the time for it, it’s not a priority.Does it fit in my long-term vision?
Is this going to help me build the kind of business I want to own next year and the year after that? Or is this going to distract me by thinking about something short-term?
And the really hard question: Is this going to help me become the kind of person I want to be? Or encourage me to focus on being someone else?
This question is so hard to answer, but vital. There are super-compelling classes, books, and adventures that look fantastic. But if they don't promote my core values, or encourage me to be me, then I know they're not for me. Of course, the first step is to know what you value and define them, so that you can spot them (or their lack) in an offering. The values I look for in a class or book are personal responsibility (am the Captain of my ship), sustainability (valuing the long-term over the short-term, conserving resources), and self-knowledge (I can find success by embracing my quirkiness). This reflects my business ethics and ensures I spend my time in integrity.
These are the questions I ask myself before I invest in my business, and it’s what I’d like to invite you to ask yourself before you invest in anything for your business. If you’ve been thinking about prioritizing business growth and profitability, you can learn more about the 4 foundations Method of growing your business over at TaraSwiger.com/foundations.What do you ask yourself before you buy a class or book?
Have an enthusiastic week!
Listen in at TaraSwiger.com/podcast281
Oct 23 2019
Rank #16: 194: Stand by your prices
"How can I feel ok about what I charge? How do I stop apologizing for my prices? How do you stand by your prices?"
This week I was asked this question and I want to dive deeper into this because it is so so vital for the health of your business and your mental well being. The more confidence you have when discussing your prices, the more sales you'll make.Links I mentioned:
Listen in and get your free transcript at TaraSwiger.com/podcast194
Feb 14 2018
Rank #17: 193: What to do when sales are low and you feel awful
What do you when sales are low and you feel awful? We just survived January, which in many industries is the slowest, lowest-sales month of the year. I got a message on Instagram this week of a maker who was having a REALLY bad month. Her sales were at at all-time low and she felt horrible. She was asking me what was something she could do to increase sales? So today I'm going to share with you what I told her.Links I mentioned
Listen in and get your free transcript + worksheet at TaraSwiger.com/podcast193
Feb 07 2018
Rank #18: 266: Episode 1: Getting Started (rebroadcast)
In today’s episode we are throwing it ALL the way back to the very first episode of this podcast!
I share a little about my goals and dreams for the podcast and my own business journey (up until that point!).
As I said at the time: “I want you to know you're not alone, in whatever it is, that feels like a struggle in your creative business: making money, finding motivation, being consistent. More than anything, I hope you like it. I hope this helps us connect in a new way and help you feel supported, encouraged and part of this great community of amazing makers.”
Listen in at TaraSwiger.com/podcast266
Jul 10 2019
Rank #19: 216: When things don't go as planned
Now that you've reviewed the year so far, you have probably recognized some things that did not turn out as planned. How do you feel? Do you feel horrible about that? Crushed? How do you handle it when things don't turn out as planned?
Disappointments. They happen. I've heard from a lot of you that you actually skip doing your monthly or quarterly review, because you know you didn't hit your goal and you don't wanna acknowledge it.
But here's the thing: You have to acknowledge where you are in order to move forward. You have to come face to face with both disappointments and triumphs so that you can make an effective plan for what's next. I lead all new Starship Captains through Chart Your Stars before we make a plan or take classes because getting oriented in where you REALLY ARE is the most important step. Nothing can move forward until you know you're starting from.
In the spirit of acknowledging those goals-that-don't come true, the disappointments and how hard it is, I'll share a story in my own life, that's been unfolding over the last 3 years. As many of you longtime listeners know, 3 years ago, Jay quit his office day job to work part-time in my business and part-time in the local comic shop, that we intended to buy. We were both super excited - I was proud because this meant that my biz went from being around 70% of our income to 100% of our income. I think this is especially meaningful to me, because SO MANY people assume that my husband has been supporting me financially throughout my business. He has been supporting me emotionally, but my biz income has always been 60% or more of our annual income. This is my own thing I need to work on - I need to not care what people think and the stupid assumptions they make. But, ya know, it felt good to answer the "and what does your husband do?" question with "he works in my business".
He was excited, because this allowed him to learn the comic shop business, while getting to know the people who would be his customers and build relationships.
But, after 2 1/2 years...it didn't work out. The owner didn't give us what we needed for the banks, when we needed it and it became clear (to me) that he wasn't ready to sell. After 6 intense months of it almost happening, but with lots waiting and hoping, it was official - we weren't going to be buying the shop. This was September 2017.
That was a huge disappointment. And Jay needed to take time to just grieve that (it helps that we know we did everything possible and by the end of the process, we just wanted it to be over). And it totally changed our lives because Jay stopped working 6 days a week at the comic shop and was suddenly home....all the time.
We decided he should wait a minute before getting another job. He could do more in my business, he could travel with me, we'd have such a freer life if he wasn't tied down by hours. It would give him a chance to think about how we could still reach the dream of owning a shop, but without buying THIS shop. And we'd already been living off my income, so nothing there changed. We did have a good time - he went to San Francisco with me in October, then we spent a week with my parents in Oregon. We had a great holiday season without the stress of juggling schedules. (All of our parents require a road trip to visit, so now we could!).
But when it came to just daily work time, I have to be honest. It was really really hard. I need either total silence or coffee shop white noise and Jay is...chatty. And loving. He took such good care of me and our home during those months, but it felt like I was always balancing work with family, even in hours that we both agreed should be about work. My daily routines really slid, and here's the thing - even if Jay said nothing to me all day, it just felt different with him here all day.
But we didn't get much time to get used to that, because in February a friend with a sick kid asked Jay for help with his shop...and Jay stepped in. At first a little, and then a lot. I've talked about it a lot on Essential Enthusiasm podcast (you do listen to that, right?), but Jay is an Obliger. And around April, after months of bouncing between my business and his friend who needed help, he told me: I feel I'm constantly doing what people are obliging me to do and NOT what I need to be doing to move forward on my goal (I know you obligers feel him on that). What he wanted was to feel like he was moving forward on the future comic shop and the biggest thing that would make that possible is MONEY. So although he can support me in tangible ways that will lead to my business growing, he can't directly do things in my business that makes money.
No one can. I get a lot of help, I hire people to do things like edit videos and put together podcast posts, but what that does is free up my time and focus to do the stuff that directly money. For Jay to feel like he's working on his dream, he needs to see the direct result.
Here's another factor: I was having some...not-great-mental health months. One of the lies my anxiety tells me is that I will never feel like myself again. And that by not feeling like myself, my whole business will fall apart. And when my business is 100% of our income? Our whole life will fall apart. I definitely wouldn't say I felt pressured...I loved that my biz was supporting us. But when it came to thinking about growth... I definitely felt a kind of existential dread and that dread took away all of my creativity. I couldn't see all these amazing ways to grow or improve my business, because I was wrapped in "OMG WHAT IF IT ALL FAILS".
So he decided to get a day job. So that he can contribute directly to our family's dreams. And this isn't going to make any sense for the international listeners, but I just have to tell you, that the health insurance was a deciding factor. Although my insurance is ¼ of Jay’s monthly pay, it’s still less than we were paying before, out of pocket.
I realize for most people, getting a job that has insurance, that pays pretty well for our area, for a person with a BA in history, is ONLY GOOD NEWS. It is such a blessing.
But I'll admit my biz ego was a little disappointed, because this is NOT the direction I thought we were moving. I thought we both would never have traditional employment again. We were going to own a retail shop!
And yet, I have to admit, it's been great. In just the two weeks he's been working, I have gotten so much done! OMG! I am alone for 8 hours every day, which is just so restorative. And even though his job won't be contributing to our bills (we're using it pay off debt + save for the future), it loosened something in my head, it relieved some pressure I didn't know I was feeling and I have been SO much more able to be creative about the next direction in my business. I’ve had SO MUCH clarity in the last 2 weeks, it's just unbelievable.
So, that is our tale of not reaching our goal and things not going as planned. I wanted to share it with you, because I think it's our tendency to look at everyone else and assume they are where they want to be. Or that things are going pretty easily. Or that if they've hit one big goal (like a six figure business), everything else just comes easily. I also wanted to talk about it, because a lot of people dream of quitting day jobs, or even retiring their spouse and I gotta tell you - it's not always fun, easy or fulfilling for both people. Life changes, and what you want changes. Your mission isn't to hit some certain milestone, it's to create a LIFE that you like, and maybe a business (or maybe not!) that supports that life.
My brother, who works at a tech startup in San Diego told me one time (when I was making about $40,000/year and he was making $60,000), "I don't know why you are so concerned that you do work that is what you want to do with your time. You know you could just get a job that pays enough for you to do the stuff you want with your non-work time." At first I thought, ugh no, that sounds horrible, but then I realized - in our online biz world we romanticize loving what you're doing with every minute. But even in a business you LOVE you're going to do things you don't like. And as you build that dream? You're going to do a lot of things you don't like. You're going to work hard, you may need to do other work to pay the bills or to finance your art.
By the way, I reminded by brother that I didn't get a BA in computer security like he did, mine is in French Lit. I'm pretty unemployable, and spending time grinding away while making not-much was a long term investment into the business I have today that pays me well, doing what I care passionately about. But that's not the right answer for everyone, in every situation.
To sum up, when things don't go as planned, remember:
- Acknowledging what isn't going the way you wanted, helps you get oriented to where you are now. You have to start any plan from where you are.
- You are not alone. It's not supposed to be different (it's easy to think "I should already be passed this" "I shouldn't have these struggles” but you’re not the only one who does).
- Take time to grieve and to flop about. Try things to see if they work for you.
- Notice what's not working for you (like Jay did) and know you can always make a different choice. Sometimes that choice might look like something you didn't think you'd do. That's ok, if it's the right next thing for you.
- If something you dreamed of just isn't working for you. That's ok too. You're allowed to change your mind. I thought having my biz employ both of us and having Jay around all the time would be great. I was wrong. Keep changing your dreams as you change.
- Don't give up. All of this is just details. Identify the BIG THING you care about, the ONE THING that matters to you and organize everything around that. As long as that is still what you want, let go of all the details and focus in on it.
To help you set goals from this place, this place of focusing on what REALLY matters, I'm sharing a worksheet called "Creating Do-Able Goals".
Listen in and get your free worksheet at TaraSwiger.com/podcast216
Jul 18 2018
Rank #20: 226: Why you self-sabotage
I did not want to talk about this. I have been avoiding this topic for years, even though it's something my listeners and clients as ask all the time: WHY do I keep sabotaging myself?
If you feel like you sabotage your own success, today’s episode is for you.
So last week I put up 5 different podcast ideas for the Starship to vote on what they most wanted me to talk about...and you know what got the most votes? Self Sabotage!
Even though I've been asked this a lot, I've avoided talking about it because...I think it's possible you are NOT sabotaging yourself. Sometimes the things that look like self-sabotage are actually just you taking care of yourself!
For example, if you wake up with a headache, like I did last Friday, and you decide NOT to work on your To Do list, even though it's very big and you have a deadline...is that self-sabotage? Or self-care?
Now, since we're talking about ME, I bet you'd say: Tara! You have a headache, take the day off, your business will be OK!
But if we are talking about YOU, you'd say: Oh, I really should have worked, I have things I know I am supposed to do! I totally sabotaged my list by not working!
And girl, that's just wrong.
So before we talk about REAL self-sabotage, we gotta get clear that every time you don't work, every time you take a break, every time you decide NOT to show up for something, it's not necessarily ruining everything - sometimes it is you taking care of yourself, or giving yourself what you need.
When I asked you (on instagram) for your examples of self-sabotage you told me:
- When I get an opportunity, but believe I can’t do it, so I don’t follow through.
- Setting a big goal and then getting sidetracked or not planning, and deciding: “well, all hope is lost!”
- When I’m scared. I plan a big thing, and then don’t follow through (like a big launch, where then I only send a couple emails instead of doing everything I had planned).
- You are experiencing more success than your set point is comfortable with (Upper Limit Problem. This is the book about it.)
- You don't think you deserve it. (Imposter Syndrome)
- You actually don't want what you're working towards.
You'll notice that each of these reasons is actually...self-care! You're protecting yourself from what you think you can't handle or don't want.
What you can do about it:1. Get really specific about what the self-sabotaging activity is and why you did it.
Ask yourself: What am I trying to protect? What am I afraid of?
This is important because a lot of women TELL me they are sabotaging themselves and when I ask for specifics, they hem and haw, "Well, all the time. I'm just never following through, I never do."
Girl, that is a belief you have about yourself. It's a belief, not because it's true, but because you keep saying it to yourself. As long as you keep repeating this and believing it, you're never going to be able to move forward.
Until you can believe the opposite ("I show up for what matters. I can do what it takes"), replace it with the truth, "I'm not sure what's up, but I'm doing my best. I'm protecting myself." Move towards trusting yourself to show up by getting clear on exactly what you do and when you do it. Get clear on why you're doing it (what you're protecting yourself from).2. Let go of the fear.
The next step, after you know what you're afraid of, is to look at that fear head on. I like to do fear-setting (from Tim Ferris):
- What's the worst that can happen?
- Do you think you can handle that?
- If not, how likely is that to happen? (Usually, not very likely, or at least not for very long.)
- What is the much more likely (smaller) thing that may happen?
- Can you handle THAT?
This is the time to use all the tools you have to release fears - therapy, journaling, essential oils, tapping - whatever works for you!3. Notice all the ways you DO show up for yourself.
Do you buy groceries and cook meals? Do you read sometimes? Do you spend some time crafting? Or doing anything you love?
THAT is showing up for yourself. YOU ARE DOING IT. And it's transferrable! If you show up in this way you can show up in others.4. Show up for yourself, even more. And make note of it when you do.
Self-sabotage isn’t something to beat yourself up about. It’s something to take care of yourself in the face of.
Listen in at TaraSwiger.com/podcast226
Sep 26 2018