5 Ways to Get a Handle on Your Inbox

Are you overwhelmed by your inbox or spending way too much time handling email?  If so, you’re not alone.  The average New messageprofessional spends about 15 hours a week on email, and I know many people who spend much more time than that.  As an entrepreneur and small business owner, it is easy to get buried under an avalanche of email.

Here are 5 easy tips to help you manage your email effectively:

1) Set up multiple email addresses so you can appropriately direct and handle emails with ease.

For example, you might set up an “info@…”  email address or a “support@…”  address to handle requests for more information or customer service. My assistant manages this email address for me and forwards me only the emails that I need to respond to. You can set up a “ yourname@…”  email address to handle business communication that is specifically meant for you.  I also recommend having a separate account for personal email messages.

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3 Ways to Uphold Your Boundaries and Make a Massive Impact

Many women entrepreneurs struggle with establishing and upholding boundaries. As a result, they give until they have nothing left to give.http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-line-sand-girl-drawing-image33294766 Are you on one too many volunteer committees? Are you the “go-to” person whenever someone needs 500 cookies for the “last minute” bake sale? Do you drop whatever you’re doing to take random phone calls? Do you schedule appointments with clients at all hours of the day? Do you habitually give away services above and beyond what you agreed upon without charging for them because you want to be nice or maybe you want to avoid an unpleasant conversation about money?

If you are like most women, you are a caretaker by nature. Women entrepreneurs are very passionate about helping others and are dedicated to making sure the needs of others are met. In fact, you probably find that you spend most of your time tending to the needs and requests of others around you. You may even find yourself saying “yes” to requests and commitments when you know you should be saying “no.”

Don’t get me wrong, a strong desire to give and help others is very admirable; in fact, it is one of our core values at BrightFire. However, in order to give abundantly, you must have abundance to give. Randomly giving away services or habitually over-delivering on agreements will undercut your profits and undermine your ability to give back in a more impactful way. Carelessly giving away your time without carving out time to grow your business or time to reenergize and renew yourself is a big mistake. You cannot develop your business or live passionately when you are running on empty. You have probably heard the saying, “You can’t give to others, if you don’t give to yourself first.” It’s absolutely true.

Here are 3 ways to uphold your boundaries so you can make a massive impact: 

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Are You Flying by the Seat of Your Pants?

Are you using the “fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants” approach to running your business? Many women entrepreneurs are. Generally speaking, Profile of a Flying Attractive Womanwomen tend to be very intuitive and trust their instincts to guide them along the right path. This is actually a fabulous gift in most situations. If you have this gift, consider yourself blessed and cultivate it as much as possible. However, if you feel like you’re lost when it comes to steering your business down the road to success, hear me out.

Many women business owners are working very hard, spinning their wheels in the ditch alongside the road to success because they don’t have a planned course of action. As you can imagine, this can be very costly in terms of time, money, energy, and frustration.

So how do you avoid the wheel spinning?

Here are 4 tips to keep you firmly grounded on the path to growing your business:

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Don’t Go it Alone

In my last post, I talked about how to know if a project is “DIY or Don’t You Dare”.  One of the reasons so many solo entrepreneurs struggle goingitalonewith productivity and profitability is that they take “solo” to the extreme. They work completely alone without getting the support they desperately need in order to be successful.

Are you wearing all of the hats in your business? If you are, you’re likely spending a huge amount of time working on technical and administrative tasks that are not directly generating income for you. If you’re spending a huge amount of time working on tasks that are not generating an income, you’re wasting time and money.

“Going it alone” is a mistake for many reasons. Not only are you wasting time and money, but you are probably impeding your business growth and putting yourself at risk should any problems arise. For example, unless you are a small business attorney and a CPA, you should have at least two other members on your team.

As a solo entrepreneur, it is easy to get sucked into your own little isolated world. Working from home is great, but it can also be lonely, if you don’t have the support of others who understand what it is you’re trying to accomplish. It can be hard to stay focused and motivated. You can’t grow your business without growing relationships, and as I always say, “your pets don’t count.” You have to have some human interaction with people who can support you as clients, colleagues, family, friends, and mentors.

Here’s the solution to “going it alone”…

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Do it Yourself or Don’t You Dare?

I love the enthusiastic “I-can-do-anything” attitude that most entrepreneurs have. But, as with most gifts, it can also be a curse if it isn’t used LaptopWomanScreamingwisely. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should.

Recently, I’ve encountered so many new entrepreneurs (and even some who aren’t so new) that are spending buckets of time doing all kinds of projects that they really shouldn’t be–projects that they absolutely should leave to the professionals so that they can focus on their real responsibilities (like connecting with real people and growing their business).

I know when you are just starting out in business you may have a limited budget and may be confused about where you should invest your time, energy, and money. Don’t worry, I’m here to clear up the confusion.

Here’s a handy little checklist to help you determine if something is a “DIY “or a “Don’t You Dare”

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What NOT to Do in Your Business

One of my favorite shows on television is in its tenth and final season.  I have always loved the show “What Not to Wear” on TLC.  It’s entertaining to watchnosymbol Stacy and Clinton ambush some unsuspecting, fashionably challenged woman and turn her into a fashionista.

They tape secret footage of her wearing sweatpants and ratty old t-shirts around town and then they have her bring her wardrobe to New York so they can look at everything and toss out the stuff that just isn’t working.  By the end of the show she has a brand new wardrobe worth $5000 and looks amazing!

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Establish Work-from-Home Boundaries to Boost Your Productivity and Profitability

When you work from home, it’s easy to blur the lines between “being at work” and “being at home.”  While having flexibility is great, a total lack of boundaries between work and home can really tank your productivity and profitability.  It can also make you feel like you’re working all of Mother working at homethe time and eat away at the quality time you spend with family or friends.

When you work from home, you might find that you are always distracted or not fully present in the moment.  Do you ever sit down to work on a business project, and the next thing you know you’re emptying the dishwasher or reading a magazine?  Or maybe you’re spending time with your “sweetie,” but you keep checking your email every time you hear the slightest ping or buzz from your phone or some other device. Or maybe your kids are asking why you’re always working on your computer (ouch!).

While this may sound harmless, it really is sinking your productivity while making you seem busy all the time.  You find it hard to focus on the task at hand (even when the task is just relaxing) because you always feel like you should be doing something else.  And here’s the thing: you have this nagging feeling because you should be doing something else!

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5 Things You Must Do to Break the Cycle of Under Charging, Under-Earning, and Overworking

Time, energy, and money. These three resources influence everything we do (or don’t do) on a daily basis. They impact our ability to live our paidpeanutsgreat lives and they are undeniably intertwined.   I guess that’s why I hate to waste any of them (especially time).   If you think about it, how you choose to use, guard, and maximize these resources directly affects your success in your business and your personal life.  Not making the best use of any one of these resources could send you in a downward spiral.

For instance, if you aren’t using your time as efficiently as you could be, you’re probably working too hard (expending too much energy), working on the wrong things (wasting or misdirecting energy), or working too little (not maximizing or capitalizing on your energy).  Each one of these scenarios leads to under-earning (not maximizing the amount of money coming in).  This, in turn, leads you to feel like you need to work harder and longer.  The result is a vicious cycle of over-working for way too little money, and way too little satisfaction.

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