growing your business

How To Grow Your Business By Trusting Your Intuition

By Rachel Allan

You already know the answer. Before you were aware of the question, you already knew the answer. What you lack is the confidence to believe in yourself and trust your intuition.

When you are next deciding and you are not sure, focus on what your body and mind is telling you, this is your intuition guiding you.

Making decisions guided by your intuition will feel right, and will have more chance of successful outcomes. You will be committed to success, because it is on path for your goal achievements.

What is intuition? It is simply a feeling. Have you ever had a feeling that you shouldn’t be doing something or the feeling that what you are doing is just perfect. That is intuition. Next time you are stuck trying to make a decision toss a coin and make your decision based on heads – yes and tails – no. Once the coin gives you the answer how do you feel. Do you feel that it is the right decision or the wrong decision – this is your intuition working.

Here are my four top tips to using intuition in your business:

  1. Does it fit with your goals? The answer is simple

  2. Are you excited about the opportunity or project? Then give it a go

  3. Do you think it may be OK but not sure? Don’t rush a decision – give yourself 24 hours

  4. It doesn’t feel right. The answer is simple.

  5. Have confidence to make the decision

Once you believe in yourself, and trust your intuition, it will make the everyday decision making in your business, and your life, both easier and true to you. If you would like to learn more on intuition check out the free course, Getting Closer to Balance at www.rachel-allan.thinkific.com

Rachel Allan has been a business owner for 12 years, and a mum for 5½ years. On her business-and-baby journey she has learned a lot about life, business and herself. She shares her discoveries (and the wisdom of other parents and experts) with you in her new book, When Business Meets Baby. Rachel is honoured to be Sophie’s mum, and she is also an author, integrated marketer, entrepreneur and property investor. From 2007 she has shared her journey with her business and life partner Craig.

If you would like to discover more about Rachel and the services she offers, visit her at www.rachelallan.com.au.

How To Stop Hiding and (Finally) Grow Your Business

By Jessica Ruprecht

Here’s what I know to be true: growing your first business or blog is scary. It asks you to show up in public in ways you’ve probably never dared to before and to make yourself visible before a larger audience than you’re comfortable with.

Growing a business is not for the faint of heart!  But here’s the thing: some of you might desperately want to start a blog or a business, but feel stuck because you’re equally afraid of being seen. For years this was me. I desperately wanted to grow an audience for my blog and launch an online business, but every time I put myself out there I got so scared I eventually gave up. It was too much for me – too uncomfortable, too scary, too difficult.

I felt like I was never going to be brave enough.

The courage that I saw in the women around me successfully launching and growing their online businesses just didn’t seem to be accessible for me. No matter how hard I tried I just wasn’t able to fight my way through my fears and “do it anyway”. The truth is, trying to force myself to act more bravely than I felt never made me feel courageous. It only ever made me feel smaller, more cowardly, and less worthy.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way.

It took me years to figure out that there’s a way of working with your fear that doesn’t involve holding on for dear life and trying to fight your way straight through it. I learned to navigate my fears in way that was gentle and compassionate – and it was learning this that ultimately made it possible for me to stop hiding, show up in the world, and build my business.

You can learn how to navigate your fears, too. Here’s how.

The first step is to learn to recognize when fear is present.

The purpose of this step is simply to help you become more aware of when fear (or the avoidance of fear) is motivating your actions. To do that, it is helpful to learn to recognize what fear feels like in your body – do your palms sweat, does your heart pound, does your belly clench, or do your feet itch to get up and go somewhere?

Fear wears many disguises: it may look like apathy, exhaustion, procrastination, avoidance, restlessness, distraction, or numbing. But no matter what disguise fear might be wearing you’ll always know it if you become familiar with the sensation of it in your body.

The second step is to listen to your fear and honor it.

When we try to force ourselves to take action in spite of our fear we are not honoring fear’s purpose – which is to alert us the presence of danger. Instead, when we try to white-knuckle our way through fear we are ignoring how scared we feel and disregarding our own intuition.

Our fears are not silly or foolish – they are doing their very best to protect us from getting hurt. The trouble is that sometimes our happiness is worth running the risk of getting hurt. Unfortunately, our fears will never understand that we might be willing to risk a few mean comments for a chance to share our message with the world.

The truth about fear is that most of the time it really just wants to be heard. Your fear wants you to be aware that danger is present. Most of the time your fear only wants your attention – it wants to let you know that it perceives danger, so that you can be cautious as you take action.

Step two is about engaging with our fears in an honest dialogue. It’s about acknowledging that our fear serves a useful purpose and is never malicious. Step two is about asking ourselves what about this situation is my fear reacting to? And what does my fear need from me in order to feel safe?

It is important to ask these questions because this is how we allow our fear to protect us – by acknowledging that danger is present and acting to first meet our own needs in order to help ourselves feel safe.

For example, regularly publishing content to my blog is a way that I choose to grow my business; however, if I am afraid of publishing content because I’m worried that I will say the wrong thing and upset people, then publishing content to my blog is going to be a constant battle. I’ll perpetually be resisting actually doing it even as I pressure myself into blogging because I know that I should.

But here’s the thing: my worry about what other people will say isn’t foolish – it’s about protecting myself from getting hurt. What I’m really afraid of is that if I receive criticism for my words that my feelings will get hurt. So then the question is how can I protect myself from getting hurt and still publish my blog post?

This is what I can do: I can choose to not let someone else’s criticism or praise change my own opinion of myself. I can choose celebrate the courage that it took to publish my thoughts no matter what someone else does or doesn’t say in response. And I can choose to take care of myself if my feelings do get hurt – I can soothe my hurt feelings with my own affection.

When I do this, my fear eases because it knows that I have seen the danger and have taken steps to protect myself from being hurt, no matter the outcome of publishing my blog post.

As we learn to listen to our fears and honor their wisdom, we no longer have to fight our way through them in order to achieve our goals – which makes attaining our goals so much easier.

The third step is to have compassion for yourself as you struggle with fear.  I used to see my struggle with fear as cowardice. I’d tell myself, If only I were braver… then I’d be able to achieve my dreams. This approach never helped me move forward; usually, it only made me feel worse.

So this third step is an invitation to embrace your glorious humanity and be gentle with yourself as you navigate this process. You are allowed to find things frightening. You are allowed to feel uncomfortable.

In no way do these feelings detract from your inherent worth. This process doesn’t always work overnight. Sometimes our fears are deeply seated and it takes time to soothe them.

But if you keep showing up to listen to and honor your fears and keep having patience with yourself as you struggle it will become easier to step outside your comfort zone, stop hiding, and take action in your business. Because the truth is that the courage you need is already inside you. You just need to learn how to wield it.

Jessica Ruprecht is a life coach and writer at http://jessicaruprecht.com. She works with women entrepreneurs and creators who have big dreams, but whose fear of sharing their work with the world is holding them back. She helps women trust that their work is good enough so that they can finally stop hiding and start living. Her new ebook, Practical Courage: A Heart-Centered Guide to Achieving Your Dreams, will be released this spring. Sign up here to receive her free newsletter, designed to help you live your life with less fear and more courage – plus, be the first to know when Practical Courage is released!

Top 5 Reasons I Decided To Host A Telesummit

By Sarah Schwab

About 9 months ago, I was trying to figure out what to do next to build my business. I looked at many options, but decided that I wanted to go big! Do something that would make a clear, significant difference in my business. Something that could help achieve my vision and spread my message to a lot of people. 

I decided to host a telesummit.

Have you attended a telesummit before? Ever thought about hosting one? My event is called the Create, Connect and Convert online summit, and you can check it out here. But first, let me explain a little more. 

What is a telesummit?
A telesummit is like an online conference. There is a theme for the summit so it’s clear who it is for and what they will get from it. (Mine is all about creating content that you can use to market your business.) There are a number of speakers who participate in the summit (mine has 20 - one of which is Blog Society founder, Jaclyn Carlson!) who all bring their own expertise to the topic.

Typically a summit will last between 3-10 days, with 1-5 speakers each day. I am just about to launch my summit, and it’s a huge undertaking. So why did I choose to do this?

Here are my top 5 reasons…

1. Reaches A LOT More People Than Anything Else
How many platforms do you know where you can reach over 100,000 people who are warm leads? I was tired of reaching a few hundred or even a few thousand people at a time. Hosting a telesummit allowed me to create a bigger audience than I could have imagined because of the cumulative reach of the speakers involved.

Plus, unlike running ads to a cold audience, people would be hearing from someone they already trust and have a relationship with.  That’s a powerful combination!

2. Creates A Ton Of Value
There is a lot of information in a summit. Each speaker provides tips and ideas that the listeners can implement. They share stories to inspire people and offer resources to help them out.

As a Content Creation Coach, I believe in the power of sharing valuable content. It is how we attract people, build relationships with them, and gain their trust. Hosting a summit is like content creation on steroids! In the end I will have over 12 hours of powerful content. We will share it with a lot of people during the event. Plus it becomes an asset in my business that I can repurpose and use in other ways down the line.

3. Builds Your List
Having a large list of potential customers is important for any business, especially those of us who work online. I’ve been growing my list for a while now, and the truth is that I had built a decent following by many standards. But I felt stuck. It was going too slow, and I wasn’t able to break through to the next level. Can you relate? I didn’t want to add a few people to my list, or even a few hundred. I wanted to quickly add thousands of quality leads to my list. Is that a pipe dream? A well-produced telesummit is designed to do exactly that. It has the potential to add thousands of people to your list in a relatively short period of time. Notice that I said “quickly” not “easily!”  It definitely requires a lot of work, but so do other list-building techniques. I decided I was willing to give it a shot.

4. Connects You To Like-Minded People
The main thing a telesummit can do is bring people together. It’s all about connecting with people on both sides of the screen. First, I get to connect with other speakers who share my passion, and bring their own expertise to it. It’s a very collaborative experience, and creates relationships and partnerships that I plan to carry into the future. Plus, everyone who signs up to attend the summit becomes part of the event community. There is a great energy when people come together around a common idea. I believe that truly connecting with people not only grows your business, but it enriches your I get to be in the spotlight.

5. I get to be at the center of all the excitement. 
It’s not about getting attention (okay, maybe it’s a little bit about that). It’s more about positioning myself as a leader in my field. Truly becoming a go-to person, and a respected expert. Hosting a telesummit is big undertaking, but it’s a great way to create connections, build your reputation, and grow your business. Speaking on summits is another great way to get in front of new people and collaborate with others.

What do you think? Is hosting or participating in a telesummit in your future? Interested in checking one out to see what it’s all about? The Create, Connect and Convert Telesummit is starting on April 13th. Our goal is to inspire you to create content, because that is how we spread our message, reach more people, and make a bigger difference. I have a fantastic group of successful entrepreneurs (again, including your own Jaclyn Carlson!) who will share their expertise about creating different types of content, and how they have used it to grow their business. 

Sarah Schwab is the Founder and President of Content Creation Coach. She helps small businesses and entrepreneurs create consistent, compelling content they need to market their business online. She believes in the power of self-expression and creativity to transform her clients’ businesses and lives. Sarah works with clients one-on-one and through online programs. She has created hundreds of blog articles, produced videos, teleseminars, webinars, e-books, and more. Find out more about her approach to online marketing and content creation, including free resources, at www.contentcreationcoach.com

How to Grow Your Email List by Over 1000 New Subscribers

By Michaela Ann-Marie

If growing your blog’s email list is one of your priorities for the year ahead, running a free challenge with your community might be your next winning tactic. 

In January of 2014 I launched a 7 Day Creativity Challenge for my blog For the Creators. The challenge encouraged my readers of artists, designers, writers and crafters to get moving with their creative work by signing on for a simple seven day challenge, delivered to their inbox by email each day.

That challenge netted me over 1000 new subscribers to my email list, and a whole lot of social proof and audience engagement along the way. The best thing was that for such a big impact, it was incredibly easy to set up. 

At the heart of the challenge was a simple seven day autoresponder in Mailchimp, an Optimise Press landing page and a Twitter hashtag. This simple method can be reproduced for practically any blog. In fact, I’ve seen it done well across business coaching, health and spirituality, just to name a few.  

Keen to learn what works and run a challenge on your own blog? Here’s my eight steps to creating a successful online challenge.

1. Choose a topic that aligns with your niche

Your challenge needs a topic that’s going to resonate with your audience and encourage them to sign up. Find out what your audience are struggling with most and create a challenge around that. For my audience, it was finding and keeping the motivation to create, so I created the 7 Day Creativity Challenge. What are your audience struggling with most? 

2. Pick a challenge length

Though there are some great longer challenges out there, short and sweet works just as well. In fact since you’re inevitably going to have people drop out along the way, making your challenge shorter in length means more people will complete it. I find five and seven day challenges work best and are easiest to create.

3. Map out each day’s content

Pick a challenge topic for each day’s email. Make each day’s challenge highly actionable and doable within the day. Preferably each challenge should be achievable in 30 minutes or less. Remember people love a challenge, but they also love a challenge they can do. Make your daily challenges actionable, powerful and 100% doable to keep your challenger’s spirits high! 

4. Get some professional graphics designed

Make your challenge look like something people want to be part of by having some professional graphics designed for it. You’ll want a logo, a header image customised with each day’s challenge title for your email autoresponder and a promotional graphic to promote your challenge on social media. These branding elements are something you could easily overlook, but they will work wonders for tying your challenge together and making people want to join you.

5. Create a simple squeeze page inviting people to join the challenge

Create a simple squeeze page using a service like Optimise Press or LeadPages to encourage people to join the challenge. Make sure you have an attention grabbing headline, a brief description of the challenge ensuring you answer the big question ‘what’s in it for me?’ and an opt in box with a big ‘Join Now’ button to collect the all important email addresses. Bonus points if you create a short video encouraging your visitors to join!

6. Tap into the power of social sharing with Twitter hashtags

Choose a Twitter hashtag for your challenge and ask people to share their progress each day in images and words using the hashtag on Twitter. For my 7 Day Creativity Challenge I used the hashtag #creativitychallenge14. 

This hashtag allowed challengers to follow along with the group’s progress, get inspired and feel some accountability. It also helped with sharing and social proof. Make sure you share the hashtag and encourage people to use it in every challenge email.

7. Create the challenge autoresponder in your mail program

Now it’s time to bring together each day’s content and set up an autoreponder in your mail program. I used Mailchimp to create mine, but all the popular email services including Aweber, Infusionsoft and GetResponse have autoresponder functionality.

8. Share your challenge far and wide

Share your challenge across your own social channels like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram using your promotional image from step four.

Promote your challenge in every Facebook Group you are part of that relates to your blog’s niche (within group sharing guidelines of course!)

Encourage your existing email list to sign up for the challenge and ask them to spread the word. As your biggest fans, your current email subscribers can help you spread the word about your challenge far and wide to boost sign ups. Your challenge is also a great freebie for them to take part in.

Help challengers spread the word by encouraging them to share the challenge with a friend via a shareable link in each day’s email and placing social sharing buttons on your confirmation page.

Create a Facebook Ad to promote your challenge. While I didn’t use Facebook Ads for my 7 Day Creativity Challenge, they could be an incredibly powerful tool to boost your results. Why not experiment by adding this powerful promotional tool to the mix?

Follow these steps and you’ll be on your way to a highly successful challenge that grows your email list, engages your current audience and spreads the word about you and your blog far and wide.

Michaela Ann-Marie helps women in their first year of blogging to get clear on their message, confident in who they are and connected with the blogging and online business community at her digital home michaelaannmarie.com. Hop on over to say hello and grab your free eBook 7 Essential Tools to Grow Your Email List.

hoto Credit: Flickr here and here.

Is Stress Preventing You From Growing Your Business?

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By Kelly LeGendre

Yeah, I already know what you're thinking... ANOTHER article telling me how stress is ruining my life? I mean, that's all well and good, but between deadlines, a never ending to-do list, and an overbearing mother-in-law who just decided to drop in for the weekend, what exactly is a girl supposed to do?

I know it can be easy to gloss over stress-reduction recommendations when you're thinking of stress as something that might/maybe someday impact your health in a negative way. What I think a lot of women don't realize is that stress can have huge impact on your hormonal health and quality of life in the here and now. 

In my day-to-day life, I work with women who want to naturally increase their fertility. And most of them are totally clueless when it comes to all the ways stress is keeping them from getting pregnant. But when you take a look at the physiology, it's not surprising that so many busy, professional women are having trouble conceiving these days.

In fact, while I know it might sound crazy at first blush, the effect stress has on your hormones is so far-reaching that it might even be derailing your efforts to sustain and grow your business. Seriously.

When you experience stress, whether it be mental, emotional, or physical, your body starts pumping out three hormones: cortisol, epinephrine (also known as adrenaline), and norepinephrine. Cortisol is the one we're concerned with here, and since most of us are living lives where stress is pretty much a constant in one form or another, our bodies are continually manufacturing cortisol. 

This means trouble on two fronts. 

First, it can be difficult for your body to keep up with the demand. Cortisol is made from a precursor hormone called pregnenolone, which is also used to manufacture progesterone. Cortisol is more essential to your immediate survival when you're facing a potential life-threatening emergency (say, running for your life), so when your body starts running low it begins to shunt all available pregnenolone away from making progesterone and into manufacturing more cortisol. The end result? You end up low on progesterone and other critical sex hormones.

Next, while epinephrine and norepinephrine dissipate rather quickly, cortisol tends to linger in your body and cause all sorts of problems, even after the immediate stress is resolved. One of the side effects of elevated cortisol is insulin resistance—an attempt by your body to keep quickly useable fuel in circulation for when the whole running-for-your-life thing starts. 

This makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint, but since stress these days is much more likely to come from a looming deadline than a looming predator (and unfortunately, your body doesn't know the difference), cortisol induced insulin resistance just further whacks out your hormones and sends you on your way toward metabolic syndrome and, eventually, type II diabetes.

I'm sure you're wondering what all of this has to do with running your business...

Well, in addition to a lot of the symptoms normally associated with wonky hormone levels (rough periods, infertility, etc) low progesterone levels can also be responsible for things like anxiety, insomnia, and difficulty concentrating. And cortisol is even worse. If you ever find yourself feeling distracted, overcome with negativity, thinking everything feels harder than it should be, worrying about things out of your control, or crying for no reason, it's likely that unbalanced cortisol is to blame. High cortisol can also decimate your memory and make you feel like you're constantly fighting an uphill battle to get things done.

Basically, unbalanced hormones make life (not to mention running a business) feel a million times harder than it needs to.

So what's the solution? You obviously can't completely eliminate stress from your life, so it's all about minimizing what you can and finding better ways to deal with what's left.

The first step is offloading. Make a list of all the tasks you deal with in your business and your home life in a typical week—is there anything you can delegate? So much of the work we do is just busy work and when push comes to shove there are always things that can be eliminated or consolidated. 

If you find you're getting overloaded with menial business tasks, maybe it's time to hire a VA. If you're spending too much time on domestic work, consider hiring a housekeeper a couple times a month. Anything that can free up some extra time and brainpower is a worthy expense.

Once you've eliminated what you can, the next step is finding a way to reduce the remaining stress you can't avoid. When we work for ourselves, it's all too easy to let our other interests fall to the wayside. Take some time everyday to do something (non-business related!) just for yourself. Block out a half an hour to read a book, take a walk, or do whatever it is that makes you feel more you.

Then of course, there are the two things that every single article ever written on stress reduction wants you take up—yoga and meditation.

I wish I could disagree, but the truth is that there's a reason they've become cliches. One of the reasons they're so effective is that they can not only help you de-stress while you're practicing, but both actually train you deal with stress more effectively in your day-to-day life as well.

By slowing down and forcing yourself to sit and just chill with your crazy thoughts (or even physical discomfort) without distractions, you become more familiar with the way your mind reacts to stressful situations. And once you're able to recognize those reactions during your practice, it becomes a million times easier to spot and calmly defuse them in the wild.

Mindfulness meditation is the gold standard for learning to calm your mind, but if you've a true beginner, guided meditations are a really accessible entry into the practice. In most, a speaker leads you through progressively relaxing your entire body and then usually gives suggestions for releasing stressful thoughts. 

Try googling “guided meditation for stress” or “progressive relaxation” and listen to a few to find one or two that you like. Make time each day to practice each day—I personally like to listen to guided meditations while relaxing in bed before falling asleep. When you start to fall in love with meditation (and I promise you will if you start with this type), then try taking it up a notch with a mindfulness or mantra-based practice. There's a ton of info to be found online about both.

Finally, herbal support can be a godsend when it comes to managing stress. Adaptogenic herbs like ashwagandha, eleuthero, rhodiola rosea, holy basil, and astragalus can help moderate your body's stress response and regulate cortisol production. I recommend supplements that include a blend of adaptogenic herbs, with my personal favorite being one called Adrenal Response, made by Innate Response.

So eliminate as much stress as possible first, find ways to deal with the rest, and then consider an herbal formula if necessary. If you learn make stress-management a priority, I promise you'll not only feel a million times better, but you'll finally be ready to take your business to the next level as well.

Kelly LeGendre is a licensed acupuncturist and holistic fertility consultant who has been helping women overcome their fertility challenges and grow their families for over a decade. She created The Fertility Fix program in 2012 to teach women to take control of their own hormonal health through a combination of functional nutrition, herbal medicine, and lifestyle modification—and conceived her own son on the program! Click here to get her free ebook, The Fertility Fix Guide to Supercharging your Fertility. 

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