By Sharon Davis
I lost a client recently. When I asked why he was making a change he said to me, "Your site used to be in the top three results of all the search engines and now it's not".
Alarmed, I immediately investigated. He was right.
It was then that I realized that I had dropped the ball. I hadn't even looked at my search engine results for a couple of months. I hadn't been marketing my business.
How had this happened? As I reflected on what I'd been spending my time on, I realized that recently more and more of my time was being spend on adminstrative tasks. And I'd been spending very little time doing the things I love most about my business; writing, researching and marketing. Not good.
Over the past year, I've been working harder and longer. And I'd been marketing less and less. Not to mention the fact that the precious time that I have with my kids was being chipped away by my "projects".
My business was running ME.
I was also still locked into the mindset that I *couldn't afford* software and services that could really help me to run my business more efficiently.
Here's a good example:
I spend a great deal of time answering emails from site visitors, most of them the same types of questions. Now, I really like to answer my emails personally, but there comes a time when you have to decide whether or not this is really the best use of your time.
I bit the bullet and purchased two programs: a program to set up and administrate a Frequently Asked Questions area, and an autoresponder program to set up an Instant Answers section which sends immediate responses to common questions by email.
What a difference! Now, I spend alot less time answering the same emails each day, and my site visitors get immediate answers to their questions. Well worth the expense (which, by the way was definitely within reach once I took the time to budget money for it).
While I don't want to run out and start buying every program out there that might save me time, I have broken out of the pattern of saying, "I can't". Now I'm asking, "Can I afford not to?"
The benefits of this approach are many. I find that I have more time with my family, less stress, and I again have the time to do what I love the most....write, research and grow my business.
I'm resolved to keep this from happening again. Here are some things you can do to avoid straying from your path to success:
Write down the reasons that you started your business in the first place and post them somewhere where you can see them and look at them periodically.
Ask yourself, "Is this really the best use of my time?" Recognize when you need help and make changes.
Continually look at your processes and ask, "Could there be a better way of doing this?"
Peers are a great source of advice and support. Chances are one of them has been in your situation and will have good advice. Join discussion lists or peer groups that share similar goals and challenges. Research your options and make informed decisions.
By the way, the client that I lost? He came back. When I contacted him to let him know what I'd been doing to improve my search engine results, he was so impressed with my responsiveness that he placed another order with us.
I got lucky with that one, but I've learned a valuable lesson--- I can't let my business run ME.
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