Something to think about, and a good read. – Repost

I enjoyed this and found it very informative, and thought I’d share. It’s from the site Virtual Miss Friday and the author is Michelle Dale.

Why is it so many people fail at an online business

painandpromise

I recently sent this out to my mailing list friends, and I thought, I’d post it here too, because sometimes we all need a little reminder of what drives us forward in life… So I have something which I hope will get you thinking about your life today 😉

I was recently on an interview for a podcast, and I was chatting with a guy who asked me, ‘Why is it so many people fail at an online business?’ – by fail, I’d like to think he meant ‘give up’ – that’s the only failure in my opinion, but I’ve also seen some people take YEARS to move forward and get where they want to be – totally unnecessarily.

There are 2 issues here which I feel will stall you in life, or potentially cause you to fail.

Issue #1 – Pain and / or Promise.

There’s never enough pain associated with NOT reaching your goal, or there’s never enough promise associated WITH reaching it.

Pain = I can’t go back, I’m afraid of how life will be if I don’t do this – the failure would be catastrophic!

Promise = My life will be so different, I’ll have freedom, money, love (fill in the blank) that I cannot live without!

Issue #2 – Support.

You know you need to do XYZ but you procrastinate, or you don’t know what to do, then you go into overwhelm trying to figure it all out, or you’re so afraid of the unknown you paralyse in life – often times because you’re not ready yet, and there’s nobody kicking you up the backside and keeping you accountable for it, so you consider it just fine letting yourself down – after all, who else is going to know…

So, what’s the solution?

Solving Issue #1 requires Mentorship for Readiness – you need help from someone to bring to light the good – and the bad, to help you find your pain and your promise and AMPLIFY these to a scarily realistic degree to get you to the point where one or the other is so strong – you suddenly KNOW what your purpose is in life, you FIND YOUR PASSION, and the pain of not achieving it grates on you so much… Then you’re READY to move forward.

Solving Issue #2 requires Coaching for Accountability – now you have the ‘thing’ – the real deal ‘thing’ not the logical, or practical thing – the thing that LIGHTS YOU UP first thing in the morning when you open your eyes – BUT people often still need that kick up the backside to make it all happen, just so the old ‘start that on Monday’ or ‘start that after X happens’ syndrome doesn’t kick in, and you actually achieve in a short space of time, what you set out to do.

Result – you’re ready, you’re accountable, you’re doing what you love, and you get it done fast!

There’s a huge value in this, and the value is that it will shave YEARS (maybe many of them) off your ability to start living life RIGHT NOW instead of waiting for life to start living, on that Monday that never comes…

I hope this little nugget of wisdom helps you in some way 🙂

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How to write formally without sending readers to sleep.

I came across this article on the website How to Write Better. There are some good insights on making your writing more precise and to the point when writing formal documents for your business. But these tips can also apply to any kind of writing that we do now a days may it be formal or informal. So enjoy what the author of this article by Penny Dent has to say on the matter. I found it very interesting.

7 key tips to writing good formal documents, reports, letters and more

When we are writing something formal and structured, such as a document, report, or a letter, it is even more vital to be clear and get it right. This is no casual conversation, this is something that will make a difference. I spent twenty years producing formal documents that made a difference to children’s lives, so I know how important it is to follow a few simple rules in order to say what is needed.

Structure – keep it simple. What is the main objective of what you want to say? Don’t be tempted to muddy the waters by expanding on your message in too much detail or digressing into other areas. The more you keep it short and focused, the more likely you are to have your message heard and understood. If you are writing at length, consider including an introduction and conclusion; “tell ‘em what you’re going to tell ‘em, tell ‘em and then tell ‘em what you told ‘em.”

Layout – tempt the reader onwards. I am a great believer in using the layout of what you say to ensure that the message is read. So no long paragraphs, with multiple clauses, but not too many short, snappy sentences either. Avoid repetition, contractions and jargon. Keep sentences all the same length, wherever possible. Do the same with paragraphs; I really dislike long paragraphs and I would never put a single sentence as a paragraph in a formal piece of writing, unless I wanted to create real emphasis.

Break it up – I use punctuation and paragraphs to provide the basic structure, but if I am writing any length, I use other formatting to help invite the reader onwards. Bullet points are usually preferable to numbering in my view, as they highlight individual points without putting these in any particular order. Sub-headings are useful, even when contained within the text, as I have done here.

Language – of course the words we use are vital in communicating our message. Using complex or unusual vocabulary is counter-productive unless we are aiming to deliberately confuse or mislead our reader. Or if you want to impress them with what a bombast you are! Jargon is a definite no-no, as this may not be understood by those outside the sphere of its use. Writing formal documents on children with special educational needs for many years, I used to take on writers with no real knowledge of the field, so that they would not be tempted to use the jargon; I would tell them “if in doubt, leave it out.”

Grammar – when we are writing something more formal, we do not generally use the same grammatical structures we use when talking. This has become harder to define and maintain now that so much of what we write is casual and written in a conversational tone, such as in emails, texts and blogs. However, I think it is still useful to be correct when writing, as much to avoid silly mistakes as anything else. Mistakes or chatty grammar distract from the message we are trying to convey, which will make it lose its impact.

Tense – I try to write in the present tense as much as possible. Even when you are writing formally, this has more impact than writing in the past. Narration has traditionally been written in the past tense, or if you are writing a report and explaining what has happened, this will also be described as having happened. If you are explaining how to do something (as I am here) then I would keep it in the now as much as possible. These days books are often written in the present tense, making them more exciting and relevant.

Active or passive voice – using the passive voice used to be standard for any formal writing; “the words used are vital in communicating the message.” Nowadays we are much more personal and direct in what we say, so that even formal writing is related to our own experiences and views. This makes it easier to understand and follow. However, there is a difference between writing in the active voice “I really dislike long paragraphs and I would never put a single sentence as a paragraph in a formal piece of writing” and being too chatty “I hate long, boring bits of writing and wouldn’t put a sentence on its own”.

Overall, whatever the purpose of the writing, my number one tip is to keep it as short and simple as possible. People are lazy! So no matter how interesting your writing, they will not read it all carefully or thoroughly, unless it is riveting. As with any writing, set it down, walk away and then come back to check it, reducing the number of words and simplifying the message. Less is more.

Finding clarity from all the information around us.

clarity-email

As freelance professionals, or businesses working online or using online communications we will always be bombarded with information.  Information is one of those things that is, for the most part, free.  You join marketing groups, business development groups, forums, advice sites or social media sites.  Whatever site or group you join there is always information being sent via email, text message, push notifications and sometimes by physical mail.

When we’re just starting out on our own many of us, if not all of us, join numerous groups, sites or forums with the aim that they will help us to move ahead, gain more sales or a group following. Or to just be able to guide us in the direction that we think will help us to achieve our goals of being successful. However, as we progress in our journey some of those sites and the information that they provide becomes irrelevant. When such a time arises that the site and it’s information is no-longer needed then that is the time for you to cut all ties with that site and move on.

Getting rid of all the senseless information that comes from these sites once they become useless can be challenging and so it is best done as soon as you make the decision to quit the site. You should remember that once you close or delete you account on the site the information flow does not stop. You will have to go into your email and social media accounts and physically stop these notification by either unsubscribing. While most emails can be unsubscribed from there are some that don’t have that option and so the next best thing to do is to block those emails. Do the same with you social media group and push notifications and text message. The quicker you clean up those unwanted information the faster you can move on in achieving your goals.

It’s good to know what’s out there to help you, but once you find the right information for you the faster you will succeed. Have fun being successful.

Spring has Sprung – Part 2: 6 Tips to help with your digital spring clean.

As you go through spring here are some tips to help with the digital clean up that we should all do.

Dust bunny

As spring rolls on here are some tips to continue to clean up our digital lives

Passwords. It’s a good idea at this time of year to look at all your accounts and change the passwords. As suggest by many digital security sites and professionals the mix of upper and lower case with numbers is one of best ways to create a secure password. So take a look at your passwords and update them. And if remembering all the passwords for your different accounts is too much then there are apps such as Lastpass or Passwordbox to help.

Get rid of files you don’t want any more. Just like clearing out our work space, desktops, and emails, you should also clear out files that you no longer need. Many of us have files on our computers that we no longer use, and that takes up valuable space and are at time home to viruses. As as you delete all these files remember to empty the recycle bin.

Security software. Your security software should be up to date and running the most recent version. It’s a good time to check your security software and make sure that it’s running at its optimum best. Some of the better security options are the ones that are paid for as they are automatically updated, the ones that are available for free generally require you to do manual updates and also come with additional software that you often times don’t need.

Social media. Social media is very popular and one of the main ways we keep up with what’s happening around us. If you’re a fan of Facebook you’ll notice that every so often their privacy policy gets updated and this will in turn change your privacy settings. Check in on your digital footprint with your social media and check that your privacy settings are intact to where you want them to be.

Subscriptions. Over time we have all subscribed to numerous newsletters on a variety of topics that at one point in time was useful to us. But as we move on in life many of these newsletter emails just add to the clutter that we all experience. Go through your subscriptions and unsubscribe to all the unwanted newsletters, email alerts, and updates you no longer need.

Smartphones and tablets. Not only do we need to clean up our computers and laptops but also we need to do the same with our smartphones and tablets. There are normally countless apps that have been downloaded that are not needed and it’s a good time to also clean up the apps on our phones and tablets to make them work much better for us.

As you go through your spring cleaning remember to always empty your bins, recycle, email and the physical ones.

Happy cleaning.

Spring has Sprung – Part 1: Spring clean your work space.

Spring is finally here and with it coinciding with the end of the first business quarter, it’s a good time to declutter our work space and fine tune our work tools.

spring-cleaning-sites

Spring has finally sprung, and with the start of the new season it’s time for us to do a bit of spring cleaning. As is traditional spring is the time where we clear our closets of things we don’t wear, and clean our homes from top to bottom and discard all those unwanted items. Spring cleaning is always associated with fresh beginnings, and fresh starts, and getting things right for the rest of the year. Since we make this association with our lives and spring it only makes sense that we also spring clean that area of our life that is responsible for us having and maintaining our standard of living, our office and work areas. There are three main areas that we should pay attention to when it comes to our work space.

The first area is our work desk. Many of us have desks and draws that are so filled with clutter that we don’t even go into them anymore because naturally nothing of use can be found in them. Many times we put things in our desk draws and inevitably forget about them, and many of those items that are in our draws can technically be thrown away. Now is a good time before the year gets too busy to go through those draws and do a spring clean of all the junk that has accumulated over time. If you use the draws for file storage, set up a system where only things that are only needed for work are put in those files and draws, all other stuff for personal use can go else where. A neat and organised draw will make it better to find what you need. And when looking for something you will spend less time searching and more time doing some productive work.

On the desk that pen holder full of pens that are either broken or empty needs to be decluttered. I know some things have sentimental meaning, I still have a pen set that I was given when I graduated from university years ago, but sitting on my desk is not the place for it. Something of meaning should have a place to be stored. On your work desk should only be the things that are necessary for your work. Yes pictures are fine but if you have a desk full of pictures and nowhere to work then you probably have too many pictures. Keeping your work desk as clear as possible helps to focus the mind and keep it clear. When our desks are cluttered, the clutter acts as a distraction and hence lowers our productivity rate. So clear those desks of unnecessary distractions and get back to work.

With our desk and draws uncluttered and clear the second area of cleaning is our computers. Many of us make our living solely by PC, we create reports, we write, we Skype, we use them daily and for long periods. If something happened to our computers/laptops we would be lost and in many cases our businesses would grind to a halt. In this day of working remotely and doing almost everything by computer it makes sense that we keep our number one working tool finely tuned. I regularly go through my program file and see what programs are there, many times when we download stuff we get additional programs added to our file. And yes even though you click the do not download this it will sometimes still be added to your computer. I have found that going through the program files and deleting unwanted files helps declutter the computer and releases memory that can be used on something useful. In conjunction with deleting unwanted programs you can also run the defragment program on your computer to free up space also.

If you have an antivirus software or any type of protection for your computer, now would be a good time to run a full scan of your computer and give it a good clean. Running a scan, depending on which virus protection or software you have, will help prevent unwanted programs, viruses, trojans, etc. There are many times we stop our programs from running these scans because we are too busy, but they are a good thing and need to be done not only at spring cleaning time, but at least at the end of each quarter, or more frequent if you can. You would be amazed at how much faster your computer will run after a full scan and clean up.

The third area we should spring clean is our emails. Have you ever noticed that you’ll get an email and you don’t have the time to read it so you create a folder and put that email in there for later. But later never came and the email is still in that folder along with numerous others. I’ve done that. Some times emails look interesting and you think, “I’ll take a look at that later,” and then you put it into your saved folder, or whatever name you’ve called it. Two years later it’s still there. With the amount of emails that we receive daily sometimes things look so interesting that we are tempted to put them aside to read either at the end of the day, week, or over the weekend. As we all know life happens and those emails never get touched. So if you have one of those folders or files in your email account by all means go ahead and delete it with its contents. Chances are if you haven’t read anything in there that was of use to you before there won’t be anything of use to you now, so hit delete.

Also since you’re cleaning out your email folders it’s a good time to go through all your email folders and clean them out. If the emails are for old projects that you worked on and completed in the last 18 months then go ahead and archive them. If they’re older than 18 months then you can delete them. I know there are places and people who need to keep emails or files and such for five years and more, but for many independent contractors, executive assistants, virtual assistants, there is a limit to how much you can keep, and in many cases with the confidentiality agreements you sign the work that’s done does not belong to you it is ultimately your clients. So with that said there is no need to keep work for clients that you did over an extended period of time. So those files and emails can be deleted. Yes of course you will still keep their contact information and any contractual information you have but the back and forth emails in some cases does not need to be kept and can be discarded to declutter your email.

These are usually the three main areas that cause us the most grief when it comes to working, our computers, our emails, and our work desks. If you keep these clutter free after this spring cleaning then hopefully it should help you to be more productive for the rest of the year. Now all we have to do is get our filing systems in order.

Happy spring cleaning.

Althea