As I write this, almost three quarters into the year, it’s time to take inventory. August is the perfect time to take inventory. In fact, you should do it quarterly so that you can track your progress throughout the year. This year it’s even more important to keep your finger on the pulse of your business.
The past 18+ months have been just crazy—nothing has gone on as normal. But as we can all attest to, life goes on. Business doesn’t stop for a pandemic no matter how severe it is.
Looking at the bright side of things, I believe there is a silver lining to these clouds. The pandemic forced people to work from home and do things they’ve never had to do before and do things in ways they’ve never thought of before.
Throughout this entire time, I’ve never slowed down with my business. I changed the way I did things but kept pushing ahead. I switched to “virtual” type events and meetings and learned a lot in the process.
But now, as I write this, I am taking inventory, evaluating the earlier part of the year, and I’m laying plans for the rest of the year. I don’t know if you will be reading this right after I write it or anytime throughout the year—the exact timing is not important; it’s the questions that are important.
I know we all started out in January with great intentions, but life gets in the way and things don’t go as planned. Sometimes that’s a blessing and sometimes it’s a curse.
Our first question should regard income, “Are you where you want to be?” If you’re like me, you always want more income. That’s a normal human trait.
So, the income question is more of a general question such as, “how are we doing?” or “are we there yet?”
You second question should regard the status of your projects.
When I say “projects” I’m referring to products, services etc. and for some of you, membership sites. In other words where are you in regard to putting together and growing your business or brand.
I have a big list of things I’m working on. Some are going really fast, and I’m happy with them. Others are plodding along, and I know I need to start paying more attention to them or get rid of them.
One of the big projects I’m working on is moving Marketing University to an entirely new system. We are totally rearranging the look and feel of it. I’ve been wanting to add new features and I know that now, as I’m moving it, is the time to add these new features. In other words, I’m killing two birds with one stone. I’m moving it to a new system, and I’m enhancing it with new features at the same time.
The end result will be a sleeker, better looking, faster, easier to use member’s area that will give you the ability to do more with it.
By the time you read this, if things continue to go as scheduled (I probably shouldn’t be writing this as I will likely jinx myself ), you will see everything moved over. As I write this, we already have 68 courses moved over.
My goal is to have things accessible in smaller pieces. It will be easier to find what you’re looking for, and you’ll be able to mark you progress as you go through the trainings. You will always be able to find exactly where you left off.
I’m also looking at transcribing the courses so you can follow along in the printed format as you listen to the course. As I write this, I’m still working on the layout. For example, do I want the transcription located below or to the side of the video?
As I inventory my progress regarding moving Marketing University, I find the I am right on schedule as of now!
As time progresses, we will not only tweak the layout, but we will give you the ability to track your progress in the courses. We also want to insert tests and quizzes so that we can implement “certification” on courses where it makes sense and would benefit you.
Getting back to YOUR inventory…
What’s the status of your product/projects? Do you have more than one? If it’s an already developed project, are you actively marketing it? Are sales where they should be?
I bought a big, rolling, white board to help me keep track of my projects. It’s right behind me so all I need to do is spin my chair around to read it or write on it. A big white board helps you view the progress and see the plans for the future. It also enables you to list changes and see how they affect the big picture. And it’s easy to wipe off and see what a new path would look like.
One very important step that I didn’t mention above is to make a list of ALL the projects you had in January. List them even if they were only concepts. The big white board works great for this.
How many of these have you started? Where are you in their development? If you haven’t started one, are you still interested in it? Are there new ones that should be added or should replace some of those listed?
Remember, this is a time to evaluate…just because something sounded really good earlier in the year doesn’t mean it still interests you or makes sense. At this point, make a “yes” or “no” decision for each of these. It’s perfectly fine to discontinue a project if it no longer interests you or doesn’t fit into your business plan.
Trying to continue with a project that you know doesn’t quite fit puts a real, self-imposed pressure on you that will adversely affect your entire business. Just the time wasted trying to figure out why you don’t like the project or trying to justify a project can have a negative effect on your entire business. This goes for your services and even as far as to membership sites you are not able to get up and running.
So…instead of carrying the project on your list and having your lack of progress on it bug you every time you see it, just make a clean break and cut it and create space for a project you really want to work on. You’ll immediately feel better.
Basically, what you are doing here is a complete inventory of all your projects, addressing the status of each one and the future of each one. This is a long-term to-do list for the overall future of your business. It’s a general outline of what you need to do to grow your business. The detailed task for each project can be laid out on the 3×5 cards that I have talked about in other Traces articles.
These regular evaluations or “project inventories” show you the big picture and let you know which project(s) you need to laser focus on. When you zero in on a project that needs attention, you’ll find that you have a sudden burst of energy and ambition that enables you to take that project to the next step or the finish line.
As you go over this list of projects, write down what needs to be done on each one in order to move it along. I don’t care where you write it. You can make a Word document or text document, 3×5 cards. The IMPORTANT thing is to get it in writing.
For me, I use the big white board for my overall business to-do list and 3×5 cards for my detailed, project level to-do lists.
I’m working with developers creating a new webinar software. I was talking to them a while back and asked them how it was coming along, and they told me it was almost done. I knew this wasn’t right, so I did a “project inventory” and listed down everything that had to be done in order for that piece of software to do what I wanted it to do. My list showed 32 things that still needed to be completed!
Sure, when you lump things together it may look like it’s almost finished but when you itemize it, you get the true picture of what still needs to be done.
Once I showed them the list, it became a “to-do” list for them. I started getting notices three, four five times a day informing me of each item on the list that was completed.
This helped in a couple of ways 1) the programmers finished faster because they now had a measuring tool. 2) I was able to now able to monitor their progress and introduce new features without worrying about overwhelming them.
So, as you can see, it’s very important to write all the steps down.
The next question we need to address is…
By this I mean, what’s preventing you from finishing this project. Yes, you can list the standard reasons like, it’s summer, COVID, you’re tired, you’re lazy, you’re sick, lack of money or expertise etc., but in reality, you need to be honest with yourself and ask yourself the question, “what is really keeping me from finishing this project?”
When I run into roadblocks, I always tell myself that I just need a day or maybe two or three days where I just don’t think about anything else. These days may not be just workdays, maybe they are more organizational days to get clear of whatever is blocking you.
In some cases, one or more of the “standard” reasons may be legit…but there are always ways to work around them. Take money, for example. There are always ways to get it accomplished with little or no money. Whenever money is used as an excuse, there will be someone who will tell you they did it without money or with a lot less money.
Yes, you may be tired. Maybe you should go to bed earlier or get up earlier. Maybe you need to pull an “all nighter.” Most of us have pulled one or two of these when we REALLY wanted to get something accomplished, and they didn’t kill us. Or maybe you just need to find a time slot where you work your best. In some cases, one or more of the “standard” reasons may be legit…but there are always ways to work around them. Take money, for example. There are always ways to get it accomplished with little or no money. Whenever money is used as an excuse, there will be someone who will tell you they did it without money or with a lot less money.
Let’s look at “lack of expertise.” That’s a legitimate reason for not being able to be doing something, but you can always find someone with the expertise to do it for you. Sure, that takes money but look for creative ways around that. Maybe it’s as simple as just learning how to do it.
A while back I decided to make guitars for my kids. I purchased the kits but had no idea what I was doing. I had no experience with things as simple as painting them to look professional. What did I do? I started watching YouTube videos on how to do each and every aspect of them. I started with no expertise, but I found a way to learn how to do it at no cost. By the way, the guitars turned out great!
Writing this down is more than just for project status; we do it to reevaluate what we are doing. I am writing this at the sixth month of the year. You are reading this during the eighth month of the year—the three-quarter point of the year. Both are good points to re-evaluate our projects.
You could just continue doing the same things you did last year…that’s perfectly fine if it worked for you last year. But, in order to move ahead, you need to do more of it or do it in a different way. Ask yourself, “is what you’re doing now making you the most money or can you improve on it?” Notice, I didn’t say “change it” I said, “improve upon it.”
For example, if you’re coaching people one-on-one, could you make more by doing group coaching? You may like one-on-one coaching and the pay is good, but is it the best use of your time?
In coaching small groups, you could probably charge the same amount of money but make better use of your time. With a small group you could still talk to each of them and remember their names.
If, in the past, you worked with one client at a time, is there a way you can work with two or three at a time? If you have one product to sell is there a way that same product can be sold to a different audience? If you have actions that you do repeatedly, is there a way to templatize them?
Another good reevaluation question is, “what is your highest revenue producing activity?” In other words, what is making you the most money? Can you do more of it? Is there a way you can expand it?
On the flip side, you need to determine which is your lowest revenue producing activity. Can you get rid of it? There is nothing wrong with getting rid of losing products or even products that you no longer like. It’s hard to eliminate something that you’ve put a lot of time and effort into. It takes a brave person to toss out a product or service like this. I sympathize as I have had to do it many a time.
If you can’t get rid of it, can you pawn the activity off on someone else? Working from home can be a lonely business. You need to critique yourself and to do that you need to learn to ask yourself the correct questions. By asking yourself the right questions you can quickly arrive at the correct conclusion.
These questions include things such as, “is it worth keeping this product?”, “is what we’re doing right now making us the most money?”, “can we improve upon what we are doing?”, “can we maximize our time and efforts?”
As part of the reevaluation, you need to ask hard questions, and you need to give yourself the correct answers. When asked what their lowest revenue producing activity is, a lot of people will say “customer service,” but is that a correct answer? I don’t think so. Customer service helps you keep the money you already made…so in my opinion, this is the same as a high revenue producing activity.
On the flip side many people think their highest revenue producing activities are the activities they like the most, but just because you like them doesn’t mean they produce the most revenue.
Remember to be honest with your answers. This periodic reevaluation gives you clarity and direction. It enables you to make a new plan, in chronological order, as you move forward.
The concepts from my Success Leaves Traces book really come into play here. The whole concept behind Success Leaves Traces is execution. It doesn’t matter what the activity is, it can be physical or digital. The phrase, success leaves traces works in every aspect of your life.
It’s how I learned to do things. It’s how I learn. I observe the activity and write down all the steps. I then amplify it. I get rid of the things that I don’t need. I find people that can do the things that I don’t want to do, and I make a step-by-step scenario.
Sometimes all this happens in a split second in my head, and sometimes I need a pen and paper, like anyone else, to write down the pieces and make sure everything gets done in a specific way. Each step has to be done in the correct chronological order in order to make sure that we’re doing all the things that we need to do.
The reason we need to do this reevaluation on a periodic basis is to keep us motivated and on the correct track. Without it we tend to get down on ourselves. We become lost. We’re not sure where we should be or even where we are.
During my reevaluation I determined that webinars make me the most money. My direct money focused strategy is to put out a bunch of webinars throughout the rest of the year. I am firmly convinced that webinars are the fastest way for you and me to make money.
Why do I feel webinars are your best money focused strategy? It’s simple—they enable you to build a list of targeted people and make sales at the same time. I covered this in last month’s Traces article, ( July 2021) “The Beauty of Pre-Selling Webinars.”
I feel webinars are the future. If you can better your communication skills with a camera in front of you staring you down, the better off you’re going to be.
Don’t look at webinars as a “webinar.” In reality, they are just a form of communication that we can use to simultaneously talk to people around the world without being there!
The more webinars you do, the better you get at them. The better you get at them, the more money you make.
Silver and above Marketing University members can watch this full training along with the notes I took by logging into the Marketing University members area and watching the weekly training entitled “Evaluate and Conquer.”