In case you didn’t know I’ve been running a 21-day challenge through my Facebook group which has been going brilliantly – well apart from one or two technical challenges!!
We started off on day one, talking about getting in the right mindset. It’s crucial to be in the right mindset to be able to deal with the unusual circumstances that we’re going through at the moment.
One thing that can really help with our mindset is reducing the amount of negativity that we are surrounded by. And I would say that 90% of the negativity that surrounds us is on social media.
So, here’s a little tip for something that I would like you to do today.
Go to your social media channels. I personally use Facebook for most of my social media. And so that was my focus.
Start to scroll down through your newsfeed and identify the repeat offenders who consistently post out negative chatter. These can be the people who constantly post and share scaremongering stories, conspiracy theories, political diatribe or just moan and groan.
Pick out every single post you see where you feel your energy instantly drain from you, or even just by seeing a particular person’s name, you feel your energy drain.
Remove the negativity
Now, do one of two things.
If this is someone that you really do not care whether you ever see or speak to them again in your life, I suggest that you simply go and unfriend them.
However, if it’s someone that you feel you would like to keep in contact with for the future just unfollow them. They won’t know that you’ve done this, they will stay as your friend, but you will stop seeing the negative chatter popping up on your newsfeed, day after day.
You can follow this procedure with groups you are in where all you see is negativity and arguing. Simply unfollow.
Surround yourself with positivity
The next thing to do is to go back through your newsfeed and look at the people that when you see their name you instantly feel your energy being lifted, whether because they’ve who’s such positivity, or whether it’s because they make you laugh.
Now select those to pop up in your newsfeed first. You want to be filling yourself with these positive-minded people to help you stay in a positive mindset.
Honestly, I promise you if you do this, you will feel so much better.
Get rid of the mood Hoover’s those people that suck the energy out of you. And fill your life with people who make you feel good.
Instructions: To unfollow or add friends to the top of your newsfeed, watch the video below.
So how many emails do you have sat unchecked in your inbox? I had a message from a lady yesterday who had 16555!!!! And yes, she told me this was not a typing error!! This is a frightening thought. If you have read the article The dangers of an overflowing inbox you will know that this could be costing her business a great deal of money from missed opportunities and disgruntled clients.
But if you find yourself in this situation, or something rather less extreme but still rather concerning, read on to find out what to do.
How to clear and control your email inbox
Firstly, if you have anything like the amount of undealt with emails as above, you are going to have to be ruthless. It takes time for this amount to build up so, in the law of averages, anyone who had anything you needed to respond to will have probably given up on you by now.
Block out a day to deal with them
To really sort out your inbox problem, you are going to have to put aside some time.
Block a day out in your diary and turn off everything apart from your emails. That means your phone, Facebook and anything else that is going to distract you.
The five-second rule
Sort your emails in reverse order and then be strict. Click on each one and give yourself no more than 5 seconds to decide whether to ditch it or deal with it. I don’t mean deal with it now. I mean that it is important enough to keep and deal with later. If you haven’t made the decision within 5 seconds, the decision has been made for you. Go ahead and hit delete.
Be strong here folks. It is the only way you are going to get through this with the minimum amount of pain.
Now based on the extreme example above of 16,555 emails, using this method would take a full 23 hours to complete and that is not allowing for any comfort breaks, food or drink breaks or your eyes giving up completely on what they are focusing on.
So in this scenario, I would simply go in and delete all but the last two months’ worth of mail (or even more than that if you get over 150 emails per day).
Hopefully by the end of this, and yes it will take time, you will have a slightly more manageable number to deal with so give yourself a pat on the back.
Block out more time
Yes, more time is needed. These emails didn’t all pop up at once overnight so don’t think they can all be dealt with instantly.
You now need to go back and once again in reverse order, deal with them. This does not mean reading them and saving them for later or putting them into a folder. You won’t ever get back to them. Deal with them or delete. Ruthless and simple once again. If you need to send a reply to someone, make it short and sweet. Try and keep it to a one-liner where possible.
If you have subscribed to newsletters and have articles you want to read, later on, my guess is that you won’t have time, so get rid of them and have a clear inbox to read new articles as they come in. If you really have to keep them, send them to Evernote or create a folder on your bookmarks bar and save each article in there.
How to keep future emails under control
Once you have completed the mammoth challenge, give yourself a HUGE pat on the back and give yourself a treat – I believe treats are incredibly important to reward ourselves having done a good job!
But how are you going to control your inbox in the future?
First of all, go visit Unroll Me. This is a neat bit of kit (and free) that lets you see how many sites, newsletters etc you have subscribed to. It can be quite scary! It will scan your inbox and then give you the option of choosing which subscriptions you want to keep and which you want to delete. You will probably find that you have signed up to numerous ones just to get a freebie or access to a site, so if the site no longer interests you, get rid of it.
As the site says:
With just one click, you can unsubscribe from the emails that you never want to see again. And for the subscriptions, you’d still like to receive? Add them to your Rollup! Instead of being bothered with newsletters and deals every 3 minutes, your subscriptions are organized into one daily email, sent to you at the time of your choosing.
Make sure you put all your non-work subscriptions into Rollup and have them delivered at a time when you are not normally working. I set mine for the evening when (hopefully) I have finished work and am on downtime.
Dealing with new emails
Remember how you dealt with all those old emails? That is exactly how you need to deal with new ones. You read, take action, and delete or save. No scrolling through to see which ones you want to read. Deal with and move on.
This does take practice, but I promise you, it is worth it when you get the hang of it.
If you really struggle, have just one folder titled ‘to deal with later’. Diarise once a week to go through this folder and anything that gets to one-month-old needs to be deleted. If you haven’t dealt with it by now, you never will.
Getting and keeping emails under control is an important daily process that will help you be more productive and help you make sure you don’t miss that all-important gem that you may have otherwise missed.
Take a look through these tips to help your small business survive (and retain a sense of humour where possible).
Tip number one is to not panic. Panic doesn’t help anything and is more likely to harm your business than the virus itself.
Now, more than ever, it’s critical to communicate with your customers about what protective measures you’re putting in place and how they will be protected when they visit your business.
Let them know you are taking the situation seriously and
care about their welfare. Make the
communication about the customer though, not just about you. I saw one post where the business owner was telling
people they didn’t want to get infected, so customers needed to ensure they didn’t
have the virus before visiting. Yes, a valid
point but the way it was worded would have put me off visiting even if I knew I
Take a tip from this gym who are retaining a sense of humour
(love the last paragraph)
Look at your cash flow NOW
Cash is king. Do not
wait until you run out.
Take a good hard look at your cash flow. How much do you have on hand and how long
will it realistically last for? Can you make
it last for six months or longer? If
not, what can you do about it? How you
cut costs or increase income. It’s time
to get creative and think outside the box. More on this in a moment.
When was the last time you took a good hard look at where
your money is going? Are there any areas
that you can cut costs? Do you have online or magazine subscriptions that you
don’t really use? Cancel or pause them. Are you paying too much for your insurance?
Are you spending money on Facebook ads that have never got you a return on investment? Stop them!
Talk to suppliers and see if you can work together to find a
way to ease the burden for you both.
Reduce what you pay yourself. Yes, it’s time to tighten your
Look at your household budget also as to where you can make
savings. Is now the time to switch
energy supplier and get a better deal?
Again, how many subscriptions do you have. Do you really need Amazon Prime, Audible, Sky
and Netflix? How about dropping one or
more for a few months.
How often do you eat out or grab takeaways? If income is reduced, it’s time to start cooking fresh again (if you can get your hands on pasta and rice that is!). Look on the positive of how much healthier you will be.
Get creative with your marketing and services.
Now is the time to look at doing things differently. A few quick ideas are listed below:
Travel and tourism
The travel, tourism and hospitality businesses are being hit
hard. So are those businesses that run
workshops and conferences.
Where your business simply cannot deliver what you normally
do, create vouchers for the future and promote the hell out of these.
This one is going to take some effort, but if you have
clients who have had to cancel travel plans, how about offering a ‘holiday box’. Create holiday boxes for different countries.
For France, you could include French wine, cheese, croissants and a recipe card
for Coq au Vin or a voucher to a local French restaurant (providing they are
still open!) Yes, this will take planning
and may not be right for you or your business but it’s trying to come up with
creative ideas for extra income.
Or how about a Live the Spanish Life card. Jot down what clients have to do each day for a week in a typical Spanish day. Include dressing up for mid-morning coffee and a light bite to eat, afternoon Siesta, sightseeing (suggest a video set in Spain), go for a stroll and eating tapas.
If you run workshops, think about running smaller groups and
explaining that you will be keeping participants two metres apart.
If workshops etc cannot run, either because you need to
cancel or the participant does not want to attend anymore, offer a credit note
for a future date rather than a refund which will hit your bottom line.
Can you run the workshop via group video conferencing? Send everyone the materials they will need or
ask them to get their own.
If you are in the food industry, can you do deliveries or offer take-aways. A pub/restaurant local to me has already set up a takeaway and delivery service. They are staying calm and thinking ahead!
Coaches and counsellors
If you are a coach or counsellor, continue sessions where
possible via video conferencing.
Record do at home routines and send to members. Do a group online session – could be fun!
Create gift cards and vouchers. Sell your massage oils and products.
Offer gift cards for later use – this can apply to practically
Is there anything you can start to sell online? Products are easy but even with services, how
about doing some video tutorials and selling? Your loyal customers may be happy
to purchase these from you to help support you.
If your clients are virus-free, assure them you are too and promote that cleanliness is even more important now.
Increase your marketing efforts
If more people are going to be at home, more people may have
time to go online. Up your online
Ask customers to support you. There are still plenty of people who aren’t panicking and whilst they can, are going about their daily lives as normal. I saw a post for a pub that explained that they were starting to struggle. They explained what precautions they were taking and asked for people to support them. I visited them yesterday!
The day to day practicalities
If you employ staff, can they work remotely? Test out a system now rather than wait. Set up a remote work policy that covers when you expect your team to be online or available, how to communicate (via email, video call etc), and what each team member is responsible for.
Have an emergency plan
If you get the virus you need to be prepared.
Keep your database up to date of everyone you meet through
your business. You will need to let them
know if you become infected.
Let customers know what has happened, how long you will be closed for and when you will re-open. Assure them you will open only when you have had the all-clear and a deep clean has taken place
In a worst-case scenario, if your business goes on lockdown, use the time wisely. Do a full business review. What has been working and what hasn’t. What could you do differently?
I had a client call me who was in complete meltdown as her
business is suffering terribly already. Once we got through the tears and panic, we came
up with some ideas for the future that she would have never thought about
otherwise. As she said ‘she was suicidal
when she called me but finished up laughing and excited for the future.
You are not alone in this.
There will be people far worse off than you are. You WILL get through this, however painful
the process. Just keep things in perspective and if all else fails, remember
the Buddhist chart to worrying:
Last week Paddy McGuinness posted on Twitter. And as you can
see from the screenshot below. It says
Found out a shop nearby has
put the price of hand sanitizer up from 99p to £4.99! How do these people sleep
at night? That’s the price of milk, bread and eggs for families that are
already financially stretched. Sad to hear but even sadder that I’m not
This, of course, is due to the coronavirus epidemic that’s
happening at the moment. And it reminded me of when there was a petrol crisis
many years ago,
My local garage doubled the price of fuel overnight, as it
was in such short supply.
Yes, he thought he was being clever. He knew that it was all a case of supply and demand. And as he had the only petrol left in the town, everyone was going to go to him and would have no choice but to pay the price he demanded.
All well and good, or so he thought. He made some extra money. Quite a lot actually. But what happened when the petrol shortage
came to an end? His regular customers
boycotted him and told everybody else to boycott him also.
Three months later and he was bankrupt. The garage closed.
Before you think about taking advantage of your loyal
customers, think of the long term impact, rather than immediate gains for
yourself. Why not try building even more
loyalty by doing something special to help those customers in their time of
Come on, folks. Don’t be greedy. Look after others, and they’ll look after you.
Are you taking advantage of the Christmas shopping splurge? Especially those last-minute shoppers like me?
Whatever business you are in, think about how you can create interest in people buying what you have as a Christmas gift. Ok, if you’re an HR expert, this may not be quite so easy but for most small business owners, if you get creative you can come up with something that can be given as a gift.
Here a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing:
Easy to create and the perfect gift for any business to promote
Free gift wrapping service
If you have a physical product, a free gift-wrapping service can be a godsend for those who hate grappling with the Sellotape and scissors.
Offer a gift with a purchase
Choose something you have that is of low value for you to provide but of great value to the recipient to entice them to buy. This could be a sample of your product or a complimentary trial of your service.
Create a gift bundle
Pull together a number of your offering and package together to create a festive gift bundle. Offer this at a special price that is lower than if all the products were purchased individually.
Create a Christmas themed product or service
Do you have something that you create a festive theme for? If you are an artist then it’s easy. Create some specially designed Christmas cards or gift tags. If you are in the service-based industry think about something along the lines of a ‘Christmas stress reducer massage’ or similar to say thank you to the person who has prepared the Christmas dinner.
Create a stocking filler
At this time of year, people are always looking for last-minute stocking fillers. This could be one of your vouchers or a small or lower cost item.
Create a Christmas gift ideas page on your website.
So many people get stuck for ideas but have a price bracket in mind for what they want to spend. Set up a separate page on your website for your products and services and pop them into different pricing brackets.
Gifts under £10.
Gifts under £50.
Gifts under £100 etc.
Make sure you explain the benefits of buying your offerings for the Christmas period.
So there are a few ideas to get you going. Do you have any of your own? Leave a comment below with a link and I might just share it for you on social media.
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