business planning

Why Self-care Needs To Be In Your Business Plan

By Kit Cronk,

Self-care, mental health, treat yo self, me-time, chilling out …

We throw these buzz words around at each other when we’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and desperately need a break.

Unfortunately, the concept of self-care (my preferred buzz word) is too often used when talking about some reactionary, last minute decision to stop everything and give yourself some chill time.

Spoiler alert: This doesn’t actually WORK. Not in the long term, anyway.

Self-care is all about taking care of yourself (surprise!), which means you need a plan of attack. You don’t accept the responsibility of caring for something, like a pet, without planning when you’ll walk it, getting things ready to feed and house it, and being prepared to dedicate some time to the task!

Especially if you’re running a business, which usually means you are doing #allthethings, you cannot afford to push aside self-care for when you “have time” (ha!) or really need it.

Here are some truth bombs that you need to hear:

1. If you don’t take care of yourself, you WILL burn out. You’ll get physically ill, have a mental breakdown, or just loose the will to work. You’re no good to ANYONE if that happens!

Taking care of yourself NOW ensures that you’ll be able to keep going LATER. It’s an investment.

SIDE NOTE: I learnt this lesson the hard way, when I went overboard working crazy hours to meet some deadlines… At the end of it, my body was so run down that I didn’t recover to full health for six weeks. None of us can afford to be out of commission for that long! ESPECIALLY when you’re running / building a business!

2. It’s possible to burn out even if you LOVE your work. Busyness is still stress, even if you enjoy the tasks. Lack of sleep, exercise, human interaction, eating well, are all going to end up with you in a bad place.

3. Women aged 20 – 40 are suffering from more mental health issues than any other time in history. You’d be hard pressed to find ANYONE these days who doesn’t have anxiety / depression or know someone close to them who does. Self-care is one whopping big weapon in our arsenal to manage mental health.

4. It’s up to you. You are the only person who can take responsibility for your self care. It helps if you have people around you who’ll prod you when you look like you need a day off, but you are ultimately the only one who knows what’s going on in your head. Don’t wait for other people to give you permission to take time for yourself.

There are plenty of different ways to integrate self-care into your business life… I’m going to break down some ideas by “level” for beginners to experts! Pick a few and start implementing them THIS WEEK!

LEVEL 1: NO TIME FOR SELF CARE
You’re tired all the time and just want another day in the week. You’ve got a bajillion things going on and there’s no way you can just up and leave for the holiday you desperately need.

Never fear! There are super simple ways to start your self-care that will leave you feeling more refreshed.

GET. ENOUGH. SLEEP.
I can’t emphasise this enough! The very FIRST thing we all need to do is consistently get 7-8 hours sleep. If that means going to bed at 8pm and letting the washing go un-folded for a few days, that’s OK.

HYDRATE
Get yourself a water bottle and make sure you drink it all 3 times each day (or whatever the equivalent of 2 – 3 litres is). If you can manage it, try to have one less cup of coffee. It dehydrates you and makes your heart race.

UNSUBSCRIBE
Go on an unsubscribing rampage. Every email newsletter you don’t read, page that is clogging up your Facebook feed, and person whose constant selfies are driving you crazy on Instagram. You’d be surprised how much some digital “spring cleaning” can help your stress levels!

CELEBRATE
Pop some mini-champagne every time you get something done. Taking the time to congratulate ourselves and dwell on an achievement / success works wonders for your brain! Keep on filling your mind with positive reminders of what you’ve done – You can even keep a list somewhere you’ll see it regularly.

LEVEL 2: I COULD BE BETTER
You’re not constantly exhausted, yay! You might be getting by, but you know you could take better care of yourself. It’d be nice to feel like your brain doesn’t have too many tabs open.

TIME OFF
Plan a non-work day every week. Even if you’re side hustling, you can choose a night of the week that is purely to rest. Don’t even try to read blogs or just do one social media update. This is totally guilt-free time to NOT spend on your business.

FOOD SWAP
As a hot chips addict, I do not say this lightly. You need to look at what food you eat and consider if you can improve it. Swap out your 3pm chocolate bar for some crackers and cheese. It doesn’t have to be an all-out diet, but you can try some substituting a few things.

READ
Getting your head out of reality and diving into a good book will do wonders for your mental health. Research has found heaps of benefits to reading regularly – not the least of which is giving your brain a break from constant screen use. Try starting with a book every 2 weeks!

STRETCH
Set aside 10 minutes a day for stretching. Preferably away from your desk. Really focus on deep breathing and stretching SLOWLY. Your body will thank you for it, and there are plenty of youtube videos that will take you through a little set if you’re not sure what to do!

LEVEL 3: FEELING LIKE A TOTAL BOSS
Not that you’d brag about it, but you’re doing pretty well. Some days you don’t even NEED coffee, and you’re good at switching off your “work brain” when you need to. This is the big leagues now.

GET A HOBBY
Wait, what? Start doing ANOTHER thing? Yes. Find a fun hobby you can get stuck into. Personally, I love knitting. It really relaxes me and is a great little skill to have. Working on a creative project OUTSIDE of your business is a great way to keep your brain active, but still taking a break from the every day.

EXERCISE
We all knew this one was coming. Regular exercise is proven to have a positive effect on both the mind and body. It doesn’t have to be strenuous – You could do Pilates, go for a slow walk, or take a stretch class. Experts recommend 30 – 60min a day… But there’s no shame in starting smaller than that! It will get easier to increase and form a habit over time.

UNPLUG
Try to go totally technology free for a while. If you can manage it, do at least half a day each week or maybe a completely unplugged holiday for a few days! I promise you that all the latest news will still be on your Facebook feed when you get back to it.

TREAT YO SELF
Do you plan treats for yourself when you hit milestones? Maybe it’s a financial goal, you finished a project, finalised a collaboration, or just survived another quarter. Set a date and treat yourself. Go see a movie, get a facial (my personal favourite!), or schedule a weekend getaway!

Kit Cronk is a freelance graphic designer and letterer. Her retail line, Ruby & Pearl Press, is full of funny cards, cute stationery, and inspirational quotes. When this Brisbane girl isn’t working, you can usually find her watching re-runs of 90’s sitcoms or reading another fantasy novel with iced mocha in hand. Follow Kit’s work on Instagram or browse all the awesomeness on her website.

Image: Camille Styles

Biz Hacks: How To Grow Your Creative Business In Just 15 Minutes A Day

By Sagan Morrow

As a small business strategist, one of the things I hear students say is that they want to keep their business moving forward, but they’re having a tough time keeping on top of everything.

And I TOTALLY get that: we live in a pretty intense, chaotic world! We all have way too many things to juggle at any given time. Sometimes it can feel like we’re just scrambling to keep on top of things, and we barely have time to eat or sleep, let alone make progress with our businesses. This is especially true if you don’t have a team to help you out (hurray for solopreneurship!).

With that in mind, today I want to share with you 5 tips for making serious progress with your business… in just 15 minutes/day:

Tip #1: Start with a brainstorming session
This is one of my favorite things to do. Brainstorming sessions are great for getting all of your business ideas on paper! It’s a total idea bonanza -- you’re not worrying about strategy and practicality at this stage. It’s all just about the brainstorming.

I like using giant pieces of poster paper with colorful pens, but you can map it out however you like. (And yes, you can even set the timer for 15 minutes to get all your ideas on paper :))

Tip #2: Prioritize your activities
Which business ideas are you most excited about? Which are going to be the easiest to implement? Which make the most sense to focus on first?

The most important thing to consider at this stage is what fires you up the most. If you don’t LOVE your business ideas, then you’re going to have major problems in taking action on them. So even if some of your business ideas might take a little longer to implement, if you are super passionate about them, then those ones are absolutely worth focusing on.

Tip #3: Set actionable monthly goals
Four weeks is enough time to get a decent amount done, if you’re strategic about how you use your time effectively. Once you know what activities you want to prioritize, then you can set about creating goals for yourself!

Keeping them as monthly goals also makes it that much more manageable than trying to plan out the next three years for yourself.

Tip #4: Outline a plan of small tasks you can take every single day
Here’s where we get to quick bursts of time! Let’s say your goal this month is to create a business plan. You’re giving yourself 15 minutes/day to work on that business plan. So what could those 15-minute time slots look like?

Your first week might look something like this…

See how that works? Once you’ve intentionally laid out all of your action steps, and identified the small pieces that build up to achieving your goal (whether it’s to create a business plan, as in this example, or whether it’s to outline a marketing strategy or get your business finances in order or pitch to clients or do something else altogether), then you truly can make serious progress with your business even when you’re on a time-crunch!

I recommend making this plan of action for knowing what daily tasks you work on up to a month in advance, but you could even do it just one week at a time.

Tip #5: Choose a specific time of day for when you’ll work on business tasks
When you work on your business every day, it becomes a habit. This is even more true if you do it at the same time each day! Make working on your business a part of your routine. Every small step you take will really add up -- and you might just be amazed at what you’ve been able to accomplish a few weeks from now.

Psst… want to make progress with your business in 15 minutes/day, but don’t want to create the action steps for yourself? I’ve got you covered! Join the FREE Begin Your Biz Challenge to get ready-made daily 15-minute action steps you can take to keep moving your business forward.

Inside that challenge, we even use monthly themes for focusing on different areas of your business! Solopreneurs of all backgrounds and experience levels are welcome.

Sagan Morrow is a small business strategist and blogger at SaganMorrow.com with nearly a decade of experience as a solopreneur. She teaches other time-crunched solopreneurs how to build their own successful, profitable home-based businesses, WITHOUT the overwhelm. She loves hanging out on Twitter and Instagram, so be sure to say hi!

The Bloggers Guide To Snapchat

Snapchat continues to be one of our fav social media apps and as more and more bloggers and brands jump on board it's high time you understand the ins and outs of how to use the app with ease. There are some cool hacks that you might not even be aware of that we wanted to showcase today and give you a quick 101 on ways that you can make your snaps even better, check out the tips below.

1. Change the colors of your font + drawings.
You can customize the colors you’re using when typing or drawing with the rainbow palette. When drawing, touch and hold on the rainbow palette and move it across the screen to find other colors to use. The same goes for text: just tap on the text you’ve written after you’ve made it bigger by touching the Text icon, and hold on the rainbow palette and move around the screen to find the color you want to use. 

2. Video chat
Not only can you text your friends on Snapchat, but if you and your friend have the chat opened a blue pulsating icon will show up on the screen. If you hold it, your front facing camera will show up, and if your friend wants to video chat too, they will eventually show up on the screen as well. 

3. Make your own color filter
Snapchat has a few color filters that make your photo look better, but if you’re looking to add a more vibrant or dreamy feel to your snap, tap the sticker icon at the top right, and choose from any emoji that is close to the color that you want your snap to have.Choose which emoji you want and make the emoji as big as you can making sure you focus a corner on the frame and zoom in as much as you can. Zoom in all the way and place the translucent part on your snap and ta-da!

4. Have multiple filters on your snap
If you want to add more to your filters than just having a location filter, you can. First, swipe to filter that changes the color of your snap. Hold on it and swipe to show the time or temperature. If you want to show it, hold on to the time or temperature while swiping to the left to put a location filter. The only downside is that if you want to take off one filter, you’re going to have to start all over and take off all the filters. 

5. Add multiple lines of text to your snap
On your notes app on your phone, have an empty note saved with a couple of empty lines that you can always copy and paste on to your snap. Copy about three lines onto your snap, and type away. You can always go more than three lines, but don’t put your followers through the pain of reading an essay in 10 seconds.

6. Zoom in on the details of your snap
If you have a knack for illustrating on your snaps and think of yourself as more as a Picasso type, using the zoom feature on your IOS phone is useful. Under Settings, go to General, and under Accessibility, turn on the Zoom feature under Vision. This will apply a magnifying class to your phone while you navigate it, but just turn it on for when you need to use it for Snapchat. This will help you with illustrating more detail to your snaps, making them a wonderful piece of art.

7. Make your own filter for your event
Holidays or big sponsored events aren't the only ones that can have a Snapchat filter. Make your event have its own Snapchat filter, starting at just $5. Just make your own filter design, submit it to Snapchat, add your own geofence, time that you want your filter live, and wait for Snapchat to give you the green light. To find out more information about creating your own Snapchat filter, click here
 

Snapchat-For-Bloggers

8. Show the date on your snap and change from Fahrenheit to Celsius
You don’t have to be stuck on just showing the time on you snaps. If you tap the time when you’re choosing a filter, it will turn into a date, and if you tap the temperature filter, you can change it from Fahrenheit to Celsius.

Now if you’re still new to Snapchat’s newest updates, you can now video call your friends (rather than waiting for them to show up on the same chat), send reaction GIFs of yourself, and use their new collection of stickers in their chat similar to Facebook Messenger. You can see the whole rundown here on Snapchat’s blog.

This post originally appeared on Create & Cultivate. Priscilla Castro is Create & Cultivate's Director of Social Media and Community in Los Angeles. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she got her degree in Journalism from Cal State Long Beach, and pursued a career in marketing. She has worked with FILTER Magazine, LA Canvas, and was previously Editorial Director at BeautyCon. Follow her @kodeofkondukt

The Business Strategy That’s Good For Your Mental Health

Over the past year I have researched and been distracted by all the shiny objects that promote a ‘6 figure income’ and all the other claims that go along with that. And no, I’m not going to give you another one now. However, I will tell you one that’s caught my attention lately that many business strategists have been loving. Doing one project at a time. Sounds so easy doesn’t it? It’s not that easy to do when we’re faced with a to-do list up to our eyeballs, emails pinging and not to mention that shiny social media. Now, I’m not a business strategist by any means, my business is mental health and is focused mainly around improving teen mental health. But, I did want to explain how this strategy might not just be good for your business but your happiness as well.

It’s all got to do with flow. Psychology Today relates flow to ‘being in the zone’ concentrating on only one thing. When we’re faced with a task that may be challenging some of us tend to procrastinate and put it on the back burner. Even if this is something that might really help your business take off. So how can we find ‘flow’ in business and be happy? When we are in moments of flow we aren’t thinking about all our other stresses in life. We’re not worried, at that moment in time, what we’re going to have for dinner, how this bill is going to get paid and whether you can afford those brand new shoes. We are fully focused on the work that we are doing, we might not be super happy, but we’re not feeling down either. We are content.

We can put this into action by listing our tasks or projects in order. For me this looks like creating a Facebook ad before writing a blog post. Then writing that blog post before checking in with my clients. Of course, there are many different projects that your business has, but doing them one at a time creates less distraction and more flow. For bigger projects this might look like setting aside 1 hour everyday before starting the next big project, and I recommend setting a timer to do this to minimise distractions. Moving from one task to another without completing the first one will only cause anxiety, frustration and a lot of procrastination.

Be happy, do one task at a time.

Alex is the founder of Positive Future Youth and a registered teacher. She spends all her spare time with her head in positive psychology books and loves the idea of improving what’s right than focusing on what’s wrong.

Alex specialises in positive thinking, improving anxiety and building confidence in pre-teens and teens. She has recently written 2 books on how to help children be more positive. You can check out her free ebook here and connect with her over on Instagram and Facebook.

Self-Care For Entrepreneurs // Retreat Yourself

By Kate Williams

As many of you know, my word for 2016 is 'nourish' and I wholeheartedly believe that taking care of yourself is a sure bet for entrepreneurial success. When you are stressed, exhausted, overwhelmed, overworked and stretched too thin, your body, mind and biz will suffer. So while it's not always possible to book a holiday or escape to the spa, this new business is just the solution you need. When I first heard about Kate's business, Retreat Yourself, I immediately knew I had to share with my Blog Society family....enjoy below and make sure to check out our giveaway to one lucky reader! (I've been lucky enough to see this box first hand and can say without a doubt it was jam packed with the most exquisite goodies I've ever seen!) x Jaclyn

Hi everyone, I'm so happy to be sharing my own story with you guys as there is no better time to talk about self-care than at the start of a new month and while the seasons are changing and I'm so happy tell you a little about my journey launching my brand new business (yes it's been a roller coaster!) The Retreat Yourself Box is Australia’s first seasonal health & wellness subscription box. It’s taken a spin off the usual subscription boxes we see on the market and created an entire experience, to really help you get the most out of your health and life. 

When you subscribe to Retreat Yourself, you receive a retreat on your doorstep at the start of each season (4 boxes per year) to help you get grounded, healthy & ready to transition to the season ahead.

The box is packed full of 10-15 sample and full sized health and wellness products worth well over $100. It also contains the RY Wellness Guide, which is a magazine style booklet containing loads of healthy recipes, stretches and yoga poses, lifestyle articles and beauty tips and tricks from health gurus across the globe. The box is all tied together with the exclusive Retreat Yourself day plan, which explains how to create your own health retreat at home, using the products and guide featured within the box. It’s essentially a health retreat in a box!

Having launched this Summer and selling out of the Summer Box twice, the Retreat Yourself Box has hit the ground running.

So why Retreat Yourself? And where did this idea begin?
Retreat Yourself was born just under a year ago. I was living in Melbourne at the time and had my heart set on starting an online coaching program for women which involved all areas of health – mind, body and soul, and learning to love #1. I was in the middle of doing an online business course called B-School, had just finished my personal training certificate, had enrolled at Beautiful You coaching academy to become a qualified life coach, and was going to combine them with my certificate in Holistic Nutrition that I’d gained a couple of years prior. I’d started my website and Instagram page, and was (and still am) a part of many different small business groups for female entrepreneurs who were starting or working in heart-centred business. I found that even though I was surrounded by so much support, I kept coming up against dead ends. 

Starting an online coaching program just wasn’t flowing for me, and I really wanted to reach people on a much BIGGER scale. Not only did I want to help women who were seeking my services, but also women who would never have ever considered hiring a coach to help them with their health and happiness. I was actually seeing a life coach at the time and I’d often have people say to me “but why Kate? You’re good at life!”. People just didn’t get it. The stigma that only people who were struggling with life should have a coach was surrounding me, and I felt as though it was holding me back and keeping me dead in my tracks. 

A few years ago I had a friend who had been receiving Bella Box. I thought it was such a great idea! Starting a health food box was then stuck in my head, but I was about to head off traveling again and was unsure whether I’d return. The idea sat dormant at the back of my mind for the next few years. In March last year whilst I was sitting at my desk doing B-School work on how to grow my coaching business, my mind started to wander. What if I could create a subscription style box that included the type of information that you’d get from a coach? That included products that ANY health conscious person would be interested in, and also encouraged self-care and looking after whole health? I literally sat there that day and the whole idea just came surging out. I knew what it was going to look like, smell like, I knew the name. I knew exactly what it was. It all made sense! And the best part? That I would be able to reach SO many people with this idea. It was a no-brainer. So that day I created a business plan, I started searching for a designer and I got planning. I haven’t stopped since! 

Helping women with their health wasn’t the only reason I started the Retreat Yourself Box. There are MANY angles as to why it began. I’ve never been a big believer in societies prescribed plan - having left New Zealand to explore new places when I was 20 years old; I studied the world instead of going to university. I didn’t believe in spending my youth studying something I may never use. I knew from a very young age that I wanted to help people, but wasn’t sure how this looked. All I knew was that the more I explored and discovered the world, others and myself, the more I’d learn where I wanted to be.

During the last 10 years of travel I have experienced some weird and wonderful things. I’ve spent time volunteering in Nepal, Zambia and Melbourne. I’ve done 7 ski seasons. I’ve backpacked through India, Mexico, America, Sri Lanka, South East Asia. I’ve lived in multiple cities and towns across Australia and Canada, and have spent some time living in Japan. My life has been anything BUT stationary. Even as the beginning stages of Retreat Yourself were implemented, I backpacked across Thailand and Vietnam, having email conversations with my designer as I trotted between different locations. People would often say to me, “I wish I had a life like yours”, and my answer was always – you can! The only thing between you and living your best life is YOU.

One thing that lingered over my head during many years of travel was the thought of “am I doing what I ‘should’ be doing?” “What if I don’t ‘succeed’ at life?” “What if I become a ‘nobody’?”. This pressure loomed over me like a dark cloud for many years during my mid 20’s, which lead me to Melbourne where I was going to get a ‘proper’ job. I somehow landed upon a good role in the corporate world as a Contractor Manager, where I was managing around 200-300 corporate contractors across 18 companies. My strengths certainly lay in the relationship building side of things, with coffee drinking and lunching becoming the usual. Besides the fact that it was great to escape the office, I really liked getting to know about my contractors lives – both at work, and at home. What I learnt during this time is that SO many people aren’t doing what they want to be doing in life. So many people are stuck in their usual comforts and are so paralysed by fear of the unknown that they stay stuck in something that may not be serving their highest good. When I’d chat to my contractors and delve a little deeper than the usual chit chat, they’d tell me that they wished they could start their own businesses, or spend their time creating things, or traveling, or doing what the loved. So why weren’t they doing these things? I’d often ponder to myself. It made me realise how difficult it can be for some people to follow their dreams. Lack of confidence and just general fear would keep them at a stand-still. This to me, was absolutely absurd. So when Retreat Yourself came up, I thought YES! This is how I can help those people who have taken the plunge to start their own small businesses to get their product out into the world and into the hand of potential customers. A HUGE focus of the Retreat Yourself Box is on small Australian brands and people who align with the ethics of Retreat Yourself. It makes my heart sing to know that I can be helping people from all angles.

I really do pour my heart and soul into this baby. I have a vision of impacting the lives of women across Australia, and hopefully one day – across the world. My vision for Retreat Yourself is huge and I will continue to work on it until women learn how to love themselves and put their health and happiness first. Why? Because at the end of the day, YOU are the only obstacle in the way of living your most fabulous life. When you learn to love and care for yourself, the world is yours.

Kate and I are proud to team up and be giving a way to Retreat Yourself box to one lucky and deserving winner. To enter all you need to do is tell is leave us a quick comment below and share your favourite means of self-care (ie. travel, massage, exercise, mediation - get creative!). PLEASE make sure you leave your contact email so we can get in touch with you! One winner will be drawn at random and announced via social media on Saturday 9 April. Entries close 7 April at midnight (EST). Good luck!

Kate Williams, Retreat Yourself  (*You can find Kate on Facebook, Instagram)