Time Triage Tips - Part II


6. Taming Your Inner Demons – many of our members had some AHA moments during one session we did on Planning for Profit. It is critical that you find out if it is you that is stopping you from being successful. If you are insecure around affluent people, or you are a people-pleaser, it is important to ask yourself if your insecurity is causing you to miss your goals. If so, this is one of the biggest leverage points you need to work on. I have learned over the years that if something is making me nervous or I am procrastinating about something, either it isn’t a strength, I am fighting something internal, or it is an opportunity to grow and become more skilled. You should always feel a little stress right before you learn something new. Sometimes it helps to think about the benefit of doing the thing you are avoiding, and doing it in spite of the feelings of discomfort. If you aren’t feeling discomfort or fear, you’re probably not pushing yourself enough.

7. Business Dashboard & Drivers – you need a Business Dashboard with 5 – 7 key metrics or measures for your business. How many clients do you need? What is the lifetime value of your client and how do you increase it? What other measures are important in your business? Profit?
Marketing and sales are the key drivers of your business. Period. If you don’t like marketing and sales, you really need to ask yourself if you really want to run your own business. If you are an established business, about 1 – 2 hours of each day should be devoted to marketing without fail even when you’re busy. If you are new to business, or the economy has impacted your revenue, spend as many hours as you can on the highest leverage activities for marketing. What are they?
  • If you really WOW your clients, you’ll easily get great referrals. This should be your number one focus of your business. If you aren’t getting this response, you’re slowing down your referral stream. Go back to your current clients and ask what “WOW” means to them. Think outside of the box, act and then ask for referrals and testimonials. One out of two existing clients may opt for a new offer from you. This is your easiest route to more business because they know, like and trust you.
  • If you have clients whose projects have been finished for awhile, you are likely to activate one out of three of those clients, so this is your second best way of getting business. Ask these previous clients what they liked about working with you, what they’d like to be different and then think about an offer you can make to get them to do business with you again.
  • Referrals from people that are doing business with the people you want to do business with. The best way to get referrals is to give referrals. Ask the question that Bob Burg, The Go-Giver, suggests – “How would I know who would be a great referral for you?” Start there and give, give, give. Be the hub of giving in your marketplace and you’ll get lots more business.
  • Niche – be as clear, concise and narrow as possible with the description of your niche and services. Phrase them as benefits that your client receives.
  • Ideal Client – have a complete profile developed for the perfect client for you. It should include their demographic (income, age, marital status, etc.), psychographic (interests, educational level, hobbies, values, etc.), and technographic profile (computer savvy, text messaging, social media, email, etc.)
  • Brand – make sure your brand is consistent throughout all mediums that you use to market – messaging, website, blog, social media, cards, stationery, PR, advertising, etc. It should be authentically you so that if someone sees anything from your firm, they say, “Oh, that’s so you.”
  • Brand message – what is it you do uniquely that no one else does. Your brand messaging should be focused on what you do for the client instead of what you do as an activity to serve them. This is where many designers go wrong.
  • Keep current with new marketing standards. If you’re not keeping up with technology for marketing using online social media resources, you will be seen to be “out of touch” and “out of date.” Be sure that this is part of your marketing focus. Always be learning! This includes LinkedIn, Facebook Fan Pages, a blog, Twitter and YouTube. These are the fab 5 of the online world right now.
8. Measure Your Progress - once you create your dashboard, it is important to measure your progress. Review your dashboard daily. Create one for your personal life, too.

9. Awareness and Improvement – being aware of yourself and your emotions is vital. Your emotions drive your activities. If you aren’t clear on what is working and what isn’t, it is time to ask yourself more questions. Is this activity a driver? Is it something I can improve? Do I
want to improve? If I don’t do this, what will happen? It’s up to you to find the core motivation to get over your own hurdles. Keep a journal and ask yourself at the end of the day what you learned. What would you do differently? What will you start doing? What will you stop doing? What will you do more of? What will you do less of? (You can use these questions for employee reviews, too.) Awareness truly is the key to change.

10. Identify Your Constraints – this is probably the biggest AHA I had in the last few years. My business coach, Rich Schefren, talks about this. If you take some time to really focus and think about your life and your business, what is it that is really stopping you from achieving everything you want in life? Is it internal? Is it external? Is there another way to look at it? What caused the constraint or bottleneck? Why? Why else? What could you do to remove it? If you were to remove it, what would happen in your life and your business? How would things be different? Why would that be important? Who can help you get there? Just remember to look at this question as if there were no time, money or resource constraints. Once you get clarity on the constraint, then ask these questions, “How can I remove this constraint?” and “How can I get the resources?” There isn’t just one constraint…there are many, but focus on the biggest one first, and then the next and the next. Just think about a river with a beaver dam, if you remove the logs, the water flows freely. If you do this one exercise, you will be amazed at what happens in your life.

Be sure to let me know how this helps you at info@designsuccessu.com.

I’ve been amazed in my own life and business at how much I’ve accomplished since improving my knowledge and skills through classes, coaching and masterminds. Invest in yourself and no one can take that away from you. My personal goals are growing every day, and the more I learn the more I want to learn. Surround yourself with people who know more than you do, and who are more successful. Your success is directly linked to the people with whom you surround yourself.

Here’s one final thought and that is about leverage. You have a choice, and that is to invest in the best you can afford in terms of services, products, education or tools. You can’t afford not to do this. You only cry once when you pay for quality. Are you worth it?

If you’d like to learn more how to get more clients, work less and enjoy your interior design business more, be sure to request Design Success University’s Interior Design Fee & Salary Survey eBook - $49 Value with our compliments. We’ll also add you to our complimentary weekly newsletter, IDEAS that is full of educational and inspirational articles plus a calendar of upcoming events.


10 Time Triage Tips - Part I

One of the common themes I hear from interior designers is their feeling of being overwhelmed and “busy” especially when business is really good which we all hope it will be in the near future. This is the perfect time to really think about your business and plan for a more successful future.

The important question to ask yourself is, “Am I Busy or Am I Productive?” We’ve been talking about this in our Business Mastery Membership Monthly Mentor sessions, but I want to extract some key ideas for you to consider.

1. Laser Clarity – this is really the key to time control because you’re really not controlling time, you’re controlling yourself. If you aren’t clear about why you’re doing something and how it will get you to your goals, you’re wasting time. Once you’re clear, the path is direct and inevitable. It absolutely must be tied into your emotions, values and reason why or you’ll find yourself sabotaging your results. Your goals must be specific, measurable and written with a date for completing. The quality of your life depends on the quality of your questions. (paraphrased and author unknown) Here are some questions to ask yourself:
  • Why are you doing what you are doing?
  • What is success to you?
  • What are the measures of success to you?
  • Does your business align with your values?
  • Are you enjoying it?
  • What specifically do you like about the business?
  • What specifically do you love doing?
  • What specifically don’t you like about the business?
  • What specifically don’t you love doing?
  • What specifically would you like to learn?
  • Are you happy?
  • Are you achieving what you want?
2. Fanatical Planning, Laser Focus & Lockdown (Debbie Green's great word!)
  • A goal without a written plan is just a dream. I don’t remember who said that, but it is true.
  • You can only do one thing at a time. The more projects you start at the same time, the longer it will take you to complete all of them. Multi-tasking is deadly to achieving your goals. Focus on the biggest and most important things first. Start with the end in mind and write down the step that needs to be done prior to achieving the major goal, and then the step before that, etc. Schedule your time.
  • Identify your 2 – 4 most productive hours of the day. Are you a lark (early) or owl (late)? Always schedule your work on the drivers of your business during these hours. Be ruthlessly protective of this time and do what Debbie Green with Minutes Matter Solutions, Inc. calls “lock-down.” Turn off the phone, instant messaging, close the door, totally focus on the projects that will do the most for your business first. If you have trouble starting, just write down the smallest step you can take to get started.
  • You have to know how much time things take, and if you don’t you can’t manage your time. Start logging for a few days how much time you spend on different activities. If you’re spending two hours on email and answering your phone per day, you’re being reactive vs. proactive. Control this and start becoming aware of how long things take to do. As soon as you know how long things take, find ways to do them more efficiently. Always look for the elegant solution.
3. Creative Chunks – do similar things at the same time. If you are writing blog posts, do those all at one time on a specific day and time and do a month’s worth. Every time you shift from one task to another, you lose as much as 20 minutes just getting into the rhythm of the project. That’s why it is so important to have laser focus. Use a kitchen timer to keep you on schedule. Take complete mental breaks (maximum of 90 minutes on one project before a break) and do something to rest your mind like taking a walk, etc.

4. Systematize & Streamline – parts of this business are fairly routine. Document the routines completely so you can delegate or outsource them. Your time as the owner of the business should be spent on the five drivers for your business – sales & marketing, project planning & oversight, client relationships, systemization and joint ventures. If you were to focus your time on these five drivers alone, you would achieve more in less time and make more money…what could you do with the extra time and money? Use that to power through the documentation and systemization process so you can assign the work that doesn’t require your creativitity and skill sets.

5.Improve Your Strengths & Outsource or Delegate Your Weaknesses – I just learned this a few years ago, and it was really eye-opening to me. Keep this in mind if you have kids, too. If you have particular strengths, focus on improving those if they are the key drivers of your business. Find a coach, or find the best person you can to be a mentor to you to teach you the best practices. It will save you incredible amounts of time, money and wasted effort. This is also known as modeling. Everything that is not a strength, don’t do and don’t try to improve. It is extremely freeing to give up trying to improve things that aren’t playing to your strengths.

Watch for Part II soon...

If you’d like to learn more how to get more clients, work less and enjoy your interior design business more, be sure to request Design Success University’s Interior Design Fee & Salary Survey eBook - $49 Value with our compliments. We’ll also add you to our complimentary weekly newsletter, IDEAS that is full of educational and inspirational articles plus a calendar of upcoming events.


What sets your business apart?

Please join us for our June webinar showcasing Studio 3.0 this coming Wednesday the 9th at 1 PM Eastern. You will learn how quickly and easily you can design directly on a photo or create elevation renderings that will help your business outshine the competition. This month's focus is on angles - windows and walls - and will feature designs for children's rooms.

Log on early to watch our 150+ slide show of Studio drawings - bedrooms, living rooms, dining rooms, baths, kitchens, and more, with a special section on relaxing retreats in honor of Father's Day!

Here's the link to click to register:

If you've never joined a webinar before, what are you waiting for??!! It's easy. After you register, you'll receive an email confirmation. Then on the day of the webinar, another reminder will appear in your mailbox. Click on the link in the email, and follow the prompts; wait a minute while the software downloads to your computer. Once you are in the meeting you can decide whether to listen through your computer's speakers (make sure you adjust the volume using the audio settings on the webinar panel) or you can call in on your telephone.

Before the webinar, jot down any questions you might have using Word or Wordpad. Then during the webinar, copy and paste the text into the Question Box on your attendee panel. One of our Studio panelists will type in an answer or read the question to me so that I can demonstrate whatever you want to see.

This month we are giving away three (3!) $50 gift certificates so be sure to stay till the end of the presentation.

We know life happens and you can't always attend as planned. Don't worry, all our webinars are recorded (barring lightning storms and power outages) and you'll be able to watch the video by clicking on a link in the email you'll receive after the webinar.

Contact me with any question you might have..... mmstudiocoach@aol.com