If you have a dollar and a dream, this one is for you!
This post is for my friends with a dollar and a dream. For the person who really wants to start, promote, or elevate their business on a tight budget. To be clear, I DO think you need to spend money to make money. If you are spending money that leads to growth though, what you’re really doing is investing in your business. Depending on how much money you have to invest, there are certain things you can do on your own or do without.
With that being said, the first step is creating an expense budget for your business. I’d recommend using the Profit First model (this model says you should only spend 30% of your revenue on expenses). For example if your revenue is $1,000/month then your expense budget should be $300/month. Now if you still aren’t making revenue, then use your targeted revenue to make your budget, for example, if you’d like to be making $300/month, budget your expenses at $90/month. I like this method because it’s simple and it helps keep expenses low.
What categories should you include in your expense budget?!
There are 3 major areas that entrepreneur and star of The Profit, Marcus Lemonis, says he focuses on in his businesses — people, product, process. I’m going to add two more— marketing and branding. Again, your budget will determine how much can go towards each of these 5 categories (if anything at all)).
Dos and Don’t when the budget is tight.
Hiring people could speed up your progress and free up some of your time to do more important tasks than the task at hand (e.g admin work, social media posts). The problem is that the budget might not allow for additional staff or even consultants. For this category DO use contracted workers for special projects when necessary. For example, occasionally hiring a photographer for professional pictures of a new product could be worth the one time expense. DON’T hire additional staff or ongoing consultants until your budget allows.
Process refers to all the administrative tasks and tools you use to make your business run well. This includes things like your scheduling system (if your business is service based) or your website. DON’T just sell your products or services for free on social media without purchasing a website. You don’t own anything on social media and you could lose all your followers (and sales) without notice. DO create your own website to protect yourself from losing your potential clients and revenue streams. DON’T use a free website. The free version will not let you use a unique domain and will likely include a watermark on your website. This gives your brand an amateur look and decreases credibility. Besides, websites are relatively inexpensive— you could sign up for a Shopify store right now for as little as $9/month. DO use other free tools, such as email marketing subscriptions and scheduling systems, when you are first starting out. DO upgrade once your income increases.
If you are a new business owner, you need to make sure your products are good quality and something that your customers would recommend to their friends and loved one. DO research supply costs for your specific product and compare that to the market value and your budget. DON’T select cheaper materials that will cheapen the look, feel and application of your product and disappoint your customers. DON’T be afraid to spend a little extra making a really great product, especially since word of mouth, reviews and recommendations are still the best ways to sell products and services.
Since we are talking about spending in this post, marketing in this context is paid promotions i.e ads. It is important to be strategic and intentional about your marketing strategy, especially on a tight budget. The U.S Small Business Administration recommends spending between 7-8 percent of gross revenue on marketing, however, most of the available research shows that small businesses spend just around 1%. No matter what your marketing budget is, you want to make sure each dollar is working hard to make you a sale. DO take your time learning about ads management. DO make sure you understand how to read your ads data and how to adjust your ads for maximum return on investment. If you’d rather not learn how to manage ads, DO hire an ads specialist. If you don’t have the budget to hire a specialist, DON’T run ads. Ads are dynamic and their effectiveness can change over time, so it is very important to learn how to set up and interpret your ads or hire someone who can.
Branding refers to your graphics, your designs, your business’ overall esthetic. There are several tools that offer free templates for creating an appealing and cohesive brand. DO start off using free tools like Canva to create your graphics and other designs. If you have some funds, DO use services like Fiverr or 99Designs to hire a one time, inexpensive designer that can create a brand kit for you to use in all your graphics. DON’T hire ongoing designers until your budget allows.
In the end, you can run a successful business with very few expenses— just keep in mind that if it doesn’t cost you money, it will likely cost you time. From the five categories mentioned, you can save the most money on people and branding. I’d recommend spending a little bit of money on process, especially on creating a professional looking website and an email capturing system. And finally, you should spend the bulk of your money on making a phenomenal product and on making effective ads that will convert.
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Cat Marte is a Small Business Coach + Social Media Strategist who helps success driven people launch and grow their small businesses using online marketing strategies. Book your free introductory call today.
So you’ve decided to start a business (or maybe you’re calling it a side hustle, passion project— other income generating activity), and now you realize it takes A LOT more work than you’d expected. You’ve found yourself wondering how in the world you are suppose to manage your full time job, your new business and your social/personal life without burning out?!
Honestly, I’m not going to sugar coat it, the struggle is real!
This is something I’ve had to grapple with since I started my blog in 2018, and even more so once it morphed into a small business at the start of 2020. At first I completely overwhelmed myself with unending to-do lists, self-inflicting pressure, and unnerving anxiety about the future. I asked myself, “What if all this work is for nothing?” or “What if I’m not doing enough?” or “How much do other entrepreneurs do?” It was just a constant stream of questions that only added to my stress and burnout.
Over the last year, I’ve tried a bunch of different techniques to reduce my workload and increase my productivity. Everything from batching content to hiring an assistant, I’ve tried it all. I quickly learned there really aren’t any shortcuts— if you want results, you have to put in the work— but, there are definitely ways to reduce stress and work more efficiently.
How to get it all done
Let someone else do it
The number one thing I recommend is to delegate! Get someone else to do the nitty gritty or the things you aren’t particularly good at and don’t have the time/desire to learn. Things like social media posts, email copy, and marketing ads can all be handed to someone else who would probably get better results than you anyways (if that’s not your thing). I tried this method for a couple of months and was absolutely thrilled with the results.
If you go this route you do need to invest money and time (but not as much time as doing it yourself). When I hired a social media assistant, I met with them every week to make sure we were on the same page about the content strategy. During these meetings I worked closely with my assistant to make sure they understood my niche and my messaging. I also spent time reviewing all the content and adding notes to help them understand why certain things wouldn’t work for my audience. Essentially, an outside source can only learn your niche and your personal preferences overtime, so make sure you have the budget and the longterm mindset before signing anyone on.
Find the right time
Whether you’ve hired help or not, you need to have solid time management skills in order to be successful at juggling your full time job and your business. To maximize my time, I first figured out when I had the most energy and enthusiasm to work on my business, and then set my schedule around that time. Before this, I thought I’d work on my business after my 9-5, thinking there were more waking hours after work than before work. This ended up backfiring when I realized I was too tired to get anything done after work. Things drastically change when I switched to working before my 9-5. Even though I only had an hour and a half to two hours to get work done, I found myself getting so much more done because I was alert and energized.
If you aren’t sure when you have the most energy, try working at different times around your 9-5 and see when you feel most energized and how much you can get done in that time. One very important note is to remember to prioritize your 9-5 job and be fully committed to getting work done for your employer. This is super important because (perhaps temporarily) your 9-5 is your main source of income and you don’t want to jeopardize your main source of income before you are ready to fully transition into your business full time or without having something else lined up.
Set longer deadlines
It’s so tempting to look at someone else’s business and think, “How are they so far ahead of me?!” Believe me, I’ve been there, done that, but honestly, no two people have the same situation and no two businesses have the same trajectory. It’s really important to manage expectations in any case, but especially if you are juggling a full time job and a side business. A good rule of thumb is to give yourself twice as much time than you would like to complete your goals. For example, if you’d like to start profiting $100/day in the next 6 months, give yourself a year to reach that goal. The reason why I recommend this is because you are essentially running your business on a part-time basis so it will likely take you twice as long to reach your goal.
You don’t always have to push back your deadlines and prolong your goals, but you do need to be realistic and understand your capacity so that you do not burnout trying to accomplish unrealistic goals. One way to speed up the process is to delegate. Hiring professionals to help you market, for example, will help you achieve your goals with more efficiency. Another way to speed up the process is by hiring a business coach. A coach can help you set SMART goals and keep you accountable every week so that you don’t fall off the deep end one week and lose weeks and weeks of progress.
Get the right things done
I firmly believe it is possible to get all the things done— just not all at once. When you are working full time and trying to build a profitable business on the side, time is of the essence. I am not going to go in depth on this point because I wrote an entire blog post on this topic which you can find here: 3 Tips for getting EVERYTHING done on your To-Do list. In summary though, you have to make a decision on what is absolutely necessary to get done and what will move your business forward.
The Bottom Line
There are notable success stories from people who work full time jobs and have profitable side businesses. With the right set up, you can eventually transition from your full time job to a full time business owner, like Jade from WeSideHustle and countless others, OR you can continue to grow your side business and keep your full time job, like Leo from @Leo.jeanloius and countless others. There are so many ways you can leverage multi income streams, but FIRST, use these tips to set up your foundation and master the art of juggling your job and your side business.
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Cat Marte is a Small Business Coach + Social Media Strategist who helps success driven people launch and grow their small businesses using social media marketing strategies. Book your free introductory call today.
Have you ever felt like your to-do list grows at speeds beyond humanly possible? As if you get one thing done and five more are added out of nowhere? The never-ending to-do list is one of my arch nemeses and I’ve been determined to win this war. I’ve tried every trick in the book from brain dumping everything onto paper, to cutting back on unnecessary distractions to time blocking— you name it, I’ve tried it. After many failed attempts and research on the best strategies, I think I’ve finally nailed it. I don’t really like long intros so let’s cut to the chase, here are my 3 tips for saving time and increasing productivity.
First things first, it’s not about getting more things done, it’s about getting the right things done. If you pulled out your to-do list right now I bet you’d find about 50% of the list are things you want to do, but don’t actually need to do. Don’t get me wrong, wanting to reorganize your closet or produce another digital product for your online business is great, and also time consuming…Instead of brain dumping everything into one large, overwhelming list, I’ve found that creating multiple lists helps me prioritize and get more done. Usually it goes like this: the first list consists of the absolute MUST do things (often the things we are procrastinating because they suck our souls and we don’t want to do them). This could be scheduling a dentist appointment, or filing taxes— again things that MUST be done. The second list are things I really want to do and probably should do for the sake of my sanity, like reorganize my closet or clean out the garage. The third list are all the things that would be nice to do, but not urgent or necessary.
Now take a good, hard look at that third list. What can you eliminate? What has been on the list for forever and a day that you never to get around to? What item doesn’t even seem satisfying to complete anymore? For me that was jujitsu. I really wanted to sign up at some point but so many things came up and eventually the desire faded. I know there is a negative psychological effect that comes with taking something off the list that you didn’t come around to, but think of it more as tabling for later, or moving it from the to-do to the wish list. Essentially you are decluttering your to-do list and focusing on what needs to get done and what will bring you the most satisfaction once it is done.
Set realistic targets.
Let’s be honest, even after you’ve pared down your list, it might still be overwhelming. At this point it’s important to set realistic targets for yourself. In other words, what are your expectations for how and when you will get these things done? Personally, I limit my weekly goal to doing 3 things off my to-do list. I know that doesn’t sound like a lot but hear me out; setting my targets to 3 things per week gives me the confidence and flexibility to accomplish my goal while not feeling pressured and time strapped. Maybe that number is five for you or maybe it’s one. Remember, it is more important to get the right things done than to get the most things done. Using this approach shifts the focus from quantity to quality.
Bonus: My secret to getting the MUST DO things done first.
Even with prioritized lists, it’s easy to slip into the “well I’ll just do this first because it’s easier” mentality. To ensure I get my important things done, I pick 2 things from my MUST do list and one thing from my “really want to do” list each week. The trick is that only once the first two MUST do items are complete do I move on to my “really want to do” item. It’s a little mind trick— I am signaling to myself that I did a good job by completing my 2 hard tasks first and now I can “reward” myself by doing my “really want to do” task (plus once I do that one, I will have met my goal for the week!).
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Cat Marte is a Success Coach who helps success driven people launch and grow their online businesses. Book your free introductory coaching call today.
Learn from my pain…
Today I had the necessary evil of going to the dentist. I should mention that I am not a dentist evader, in fact, I go to the dentist religiously. It just so happened that I’d skipped a few months because I was in the midst of moving and it was one of those things that fell through the cracks. Not even 2 full months after moving, I promptly scheduled a dentist appointment in my new location.
Having been me all my life and dealing with the wretched excuse for teeth that I own, I knew something was bound to come up. What I wasn’t prepared for was the myriad of problems that the dentist laid on me. Things that I never expected, such as, having to go to a root canal specialists to make sure my root canals were done properly, or having to get braces (yet again!).
I sat paralyzed as the (very nice) dentist patiently broke down everything that was wrong with me. It reminded me of that time my hygienist said I had the soft teeth of an elderly man. It was brutal. In that moment, so many traumatic memories of similar conversations resurfaced.
I felt hopeless and defeated like I was in some twisted horror movie where the same scene repeats on a loop. Would I ever improve my dental health? Could I even improve my dental health? Most importantly, why me?!
The doctor went so far as to prescribe me a special toothpaste with extra strength fluoride it in. Discouraged and deflated, I drove to the nearest pharmacy to get my overpriced toothpaste before returning home to wallow in my self pity. I had 15 minutes to kill before the pharmacist gave me what I came for — just enough time to cool off.
I sat in my car and starred at the toothpaste, it looked like my regular toothpaste just with my name on it. Suddenly I thought, it could be worse. And it was true, it could be absolutely worse. I could have a life threatening disease, or a permanent and painful illness, like IBS. Just knowing that it could be worse made it somehow better than it was.
On my way home I thought of a few things;
1. Life is truly about perspective— it’s easy to get caught up in our strongest emotions and yet every coin has 2 sides.
2. Time really does heal all — taking the time and space to understand what is in front of you and how you will move forward can help you respond to difficult situations with a deeper self awareness.
3. It’s OKAY to not be OKAY! It’s not okay to use that as an excuse to give up. I wallowed and I felt bad for myself in the moment, but at some point I knew it was time to accept what is done and move forward.
In the end the whole ordeal lasted about 3 hours, but the lesson learned feel eternal.
🧡 ✏️ Like or comment if this story resonated with you.
Prompt: What am I more afraid of, failure or success?
This is a free writing exercise so the following might make little to no sense. Also, if you are doing this 5 day retox with me, please submit your pieces to email@example.com. I’d love to read them! 10 Minutes
More people admit they are afraid of failure vs. success. It makes sense to be afraid of failure because we should all want to succeed. Being afraid of success, on the other hand, is talked about less and yet so much more relatable. It’s not the succeeding part that scares us, it is everything that comes with it. Success can bring along power, authority, responsibility; success can feel like a weight on our shoulders that isn’t necessarily present if we fail. Of course, failure can bring on shame, guilt and disappointment. So what do most of us do? We don’t even bother and avoid failing or succeeding. For most folks the safest place is right where they are, neither failing nor succeeding (it’s called a comfort zone for a reason!).
What we don’t realize is that there is something to gain from both failures and successes and that something is insight. Insights into our own strengths and weaknesses, our own inner superpowers and vices. We learn about ourselves in a way that can only be achieved through the discomfort of failing and succeeding.
10 minutes completed! Only 4 months late 😅. I started this challenge to get myself back into writing and it worked, only I didn’t complete the challenge — yet! Who said it was 5 consecutive days anyways?! Like I said, it did work as I started working on an exciting new writing project that I’ve been thinking about sharing here. It’s a bit off brand but hey, rules are meant to be broken right? Until next time, xo- Cat
Prompt: If my success was inevitable, what would I do?
This is a free writing exercise so the following might make little to no sense. Also, if you are doing this 5 day retox with me, please submit your pieces to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to read them! 10 Minutes
Honestly, I stared at this prompt for a few minutes before I understood what it was asking me. I think it’s asking what I’d do if I knew I wouldn’t fail, yeah? Well I would be more bold and more confident in my decisions I suppose. Right now I make a decision and try really hard to stick to it because indecision is so much worse, and yet, I am constantly second guessing myself and wondering if that is the right decision. But if I knew I wouldn’t fail, I’d know any decision would be the right decision because I wouldn’t fail either way. I think this is the wrong way to look at life though. I think we should do the things we love regardless of whether we will succeed or fail. I think the question should be, if I knew I would fail, what would I do anyways? Would I still want love if I knew it would fade away? Would I still want to be successful if I knew one day it would mean nothing?
The thing is, in the grand scheme of things, everything amounts to nothing because we will all rise and fall one day. One day we will all be 6 ft under (as a matter of speaking) and maybe there will be a brief moment of sower but soon enough the world will continue as it always has. This is not to be melodramatic, it’s just to say that life is full of impermanence and therefore we shouldn’t limit ourselves to those things that are definite. And really, what’s worth reading if we know how it will end? I think there is something beautiful about giving it your all without the certainty that it will work out in the end. Back to the decision making train real quick- I like to tell myself that all decisions are the right decision regardless of the outcome, because I can never go back and change the decision so it must be the right one, no? The same must be true of our outcomes- if we cannot change them, then they must be what’s meant to be and it is up to us to find the meaning in it. And if that is true, we can choose to find the success even in our misfortunes and then there would be no need for this question whatsoever.
Okay I went over just 1/2 a minute because I had a thought and I didn’t want to lose it when the timer went off. Without re-reading this one, I already know I went down a rabbit hole but I think there was definitely something there. Anyways, until tomorrow, xo- Cat
Prompt: Are you happy with your life as a whole?
This is a free writing exercise so the following might make little to no sense. Also, if you are doing this 5 day retox with me, please submit your pieces to email@example.com. I’d love to read them! Okay time starts now: 10 Minutes.
This is a tricky question because on the one hand, I am happy with my life as a whole and on the other hand, if I were to die in this instance, I’d feel like I left too soon and didn’t get to do so many important things in my life. I really want to own property, for example, and I know alot of folks might see that as a materialistic goal, but for me, it’s about being able to call a small piece of this earth home. It’s also a pride thing- I like to pride myself in the fact that I always accomplish what I set out to do and I haven’t quite done this one yet so I don’t feel accomplished quite yet. I had a basic list of things I wanted to accomplish in life, all of which I’ve accomplished except this one. Anyways, going back to happiness, I suppose I am grateful for all the things I have and that should make me happy, but they aren’t one in the same.
Happiness is a feeling I haven’t quite figured out yet. I understand joy as small bursts of happiness but how do we sustain happiness over time? Can we be consistently happy or is it better to be happy once in a while? It’s interesting because I don’t feel unhappy, I’m just not sure I am “happy.” When I start to think of the reasons why I should or would be happy, it is really a sense of gratitude, not happiness, so is happiness just a by-product of gratitude or can you be happy and ungrateful? I suppose some people are…
Well my alarm went off and it’s safe to say I didn’t get very far. But I guess that isn’t the point really. The point is to get writing. Again, if you did this prompt, I’d love to hear from you! Till tomorrow. xo- Cat
I sat down with Gary, a tutor and aspiring life coach, to talk about what it means to be vulnerable and how vulnerability can help us, rather than hinder us. I have to admit, not too long ago, I thought being vulnerable (and showing it) was a weakness that would make me seem incapable, less-than and I don’t know, just weak!
I didn’t realize vulnerability was not a weakness at ALL. First of all, there is a BIG difference between being vulnerable and being weak. Vulnerability is being about to open up and let people into your world.
Vulnerability can be the bridge that connects us all together through shared experiences and feelings, such as sadness, worry, happiness, joy, etc. When we can open up about these things, we are allowing others to see themselves in us and and inviting them to share as well.
Listen to the full scoop of this conversation on vulnerability below!
Amidst the Covid pandemic, my sister and I advised my mom against traveling— advice which she completely ignored and brushed off. Yesterday she returned from her trip sick and today she tested negative for COVID. Thank goodness for the latter, however, the situation is still pretty miserable. Maybe she has a cold, or maybe her test was a false negative. Me from 4 years ago would have been convinced of the latter. The me of today is slightly more optimistic. The psychological research on optimism suggests we are born with a genetic pre-disposition to be either optimistic or pessimistic. In my case, my mother has always been more on the pessimistic side while my father was an eternal optimist. Unfortunately, it appears I take after my mother. The good news is, we can train our brains to think more optimistically, and honestly, it’s great because the research also shows that optimists often do better in life than their pessimistic counterparts. As an optimist in training, I’ve found a few techniques that helped me see the bright side in most, if not all situations. Check these out below.
Mediation is so hard to get into for most people, but once you are in, you are IN! It has a serene, calming effect that can help any frown turn upside down. It also helps to detach you from the “imminent troubles” you cannot shake by detaching yourself from the thoughts that trouble you.
The main idea e find reframing is that every situation has an upside. When I say “every situation” I mean EVERY SITUATION. Even death has an upside— Well, at least they aren’t suffering anymore; Well, he gets to meet his maker now; Well, he’s finally out of debt (okay, that’s not funny, but you see where I’m going with this). Reframing has 2 steps, in step 1 you notice your negative thoughts. This is arguably the hardest part because thoughts are constantly flowing through our minds and it’s hard trying to keep up. If we can’t catch them though, we can’t move on to step 2. Step 2 is where the reframing happens. Try prompts like “on the bright sight…” or “The good news is…” Hold on to the thought until you can come up with a reframe to flick up.
Vent & Release
Sometimes all we need is a good cry (or if you are like me, a good vent). I use this method all the time, especially when a situation feels like it could have been preventable, as in the above case with my mother. The real gem here is the vent AND release combo. If you are just venting on and on and can never let it go, it will not have the desired effect. In order for this technique to work, you have to let out all the frustration, worry, anger, anxiety, fear, into the venting and then put it behind you. For the situation with my mother, I vented to my sister and I called my mom and let her know she put this upon herself (as nicely as my temper allowed) and then I wasn’t really feeling satisfied so I told my friend about it. That’s when I was done venting and now I am moving past it. This two part technique allows you to sulk in your pessimism for a little while and then let it go, in hopes for better times ahead.
You should know….
None of these are quick fixes and you definitely won’t change overnight. It takes a good amount of time to get the hang of it but don’t give up! Like I said in the beginning, it pays to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Optimistic people tend to give up less and try for longer because they truly believe it will all work out. And if for nothing else, it will save us from living life with our glass half empty.