Tag: entrepreneur

How to Grow Your Business Like a Bodybuilder

How to Grow Your Business Like a Bodybuilder

If you’re into bodybuilding, or know someone who is, you’ll have invariably heard the phrases ‘bulking’ and ‘cutting’ before.

For those that don’t know, bulking is the phase bodybuilders go through when they are attempting to pile on more mass during ‘off-season’.

Cutting, on the other hand, is the process of dieting that bodybuilders go through to strip their body of excess fat and water so they look as ripped as possible on-stage.

By now, you may be thinking, this is a business blog – why are you talking about bodybuilding?

Well, strangely, there are very similar parallels between the two.

Cut away the intricacies, and strip them both back to basics – business and bodybuilding – and you ultimately have a situation where you are trying to build something. Be it your body, or your business.

And in building something, you inevitably face phases whereby you focus on growth, and also phases where you strip things back a little.

No business can continue to grow infinitely and uninterrupted, and no growth cycle is ever as smooth as it looks from the outside.

There are mistakes, strategic changes, recruitment drives, employment cuts, investment, and divestment – until the business reaches its optimal performance.

A businesses’ bulking cycle could be seen as the process of investment – through recruitment drives, property purchases, business infrastructure, more stock, and so on.

But, as with bodybuilding, you cannot go through a bulking cycle (regardless of how clean you eat or how hard you train) and not also gain some amount of fat and water retention. It is impossible.

In the case of a business, the ‘fat’ could be seen as overstaffing in certain areas, overstock on certain product lines that don’t sell that fast, excess/unused office or warehouse space, and so on.

These are the natural (and inevitable) side-effects of growth – it’s impossible to maintain perfection during a growth cycle. You WILL gain some unwanted by-products from the growth process – it’s precisely why bodybuilders go through the bulking and cutting cycle. If it was possible to maintain competition physique whilst gaining more mass in a bulking cycle, then these cycles wouldn’t exist – bodybuilders would just constantly ‘bulk’.

So, then comes the ‘cut’.

When the dust has settled during a growth phase, and the business can be analysed in the areas of profitability and efficiency, the business leaders will then go through a phase of stripping any unnecessary ‘fat’ from within the business.

They’ll cut staff, refine their stock holding and discount/discontinue slow-moving lines, they’ll re-organise processes to gain more efficiency, and they may even dispose of unwanted or unprofitable assets within the business.

Until, down the line, the business has retained much of the revenue it gained through the growth cycle, and has now stripped down to show a healthy profit on that turnover following the ‘cut’.

Just like a bodybuilder, following a cut, would look to maintain most of the lean muscle mass they gained during a bulking cycle, but have stripped away any excess fat and water during the cut – achieving an optimal physique for competition.

All businesses go through these cycles over time in order to ultimately achieve profitable growth – and it takes a careful balance and strategic management to perform successfully.

Focus too much on the growth phase of your business and you’ll have a high-revenue organisation that struggles to turn a profit (or even worse, makes a loss) or that turns a profit but struggles with cash.

Alternatively, focus too much on the profit aspect of your business (and be fearful of reinvesting for future growth), and you’ll see little to no growth in your business over time, and your profit will stagnate.

As a business owner/manager, you have to go through these cycles in order to progress, but you also have to be mindful of the downside associated with not achieving an optimal balance between the two.

What stage are you currently in with your business? Bulk or Cut? Please share your business growth story in the comments below.

December, a time for reflection

December – A Month for Reflection

I’m not a believer in New Year resolutions.

If you want to change something or set a goal, the time of Year should have no bearing on that.

Whether it’s January, February, August, or November – if you want to make a change or set yourself a goal, start today, this minute. Don’t wait for a New Year before taking action.

However, I do often view December as a great month for reflection.

As meaningless as the end and start of a Year is in terms of setting goals and taking action, it’s still a great time to look back and celebrate all your achievements from the previous 12 months.

Life goes by so quickly (especially when you’re busy running your own business) and often you don’t have much time to reflect during the Year – you’re busy taking action and forging ahead.

But it’s super important that we take time, at least once a year, to look back at our journey and celebrate the good times and the things we’ve achieved (however big or small).

When you are constantly challenging yourself – as an entrepreneur, as a professional, as an athlete, as an adventurer, as a parent, whatever it may be – you will undoubtedly experience failures and times of adversity. Times where it just feels so much easier to throw in the towel than to carry on pursuing your dreams and ambitions.

And if we don’t take time to celebrate the successes and the good times, then it’s often easy to become overrun by adverse situations and failures.

Naturally, we learn more from failure than we do success – we’re forced to if we want to overcome that failure we’ve experienced. We have to learn what caused us to fail, what could have been done differently, how to recover from that failure, and how to get back up and try again with a different approach.

But with success, we’re just pleased it worked out. We might celebrate briefly, then it’s on to the next challenge. You don’t need to spend any more time analysing your success, because you’ve succeeded in what you intended to achieve. In that sense, there’s little more to learn from analysing that situation.

So, even if you experience more successes than you do failures, your mind lends much more thought and energy towards failure – and as a result, your perception of self can become one geared towards failure, rather than success.

To combat this, we must consciously spend more time celebrating our wins. Even the smallest.

And I think December is a great time to spend some thought on your previous wins this year. To revisit them, and to remind yourself of the things you’ve achieved since January, and to re-balance your mindset going into the New Year – with a successful frame of mind.

So, on reflection, here’s my wins of 2016:

  • Spending tons of quality time with my beautiful Wife and Daughter (I’m constantly thankful that I’m able to do most of my work from home – so I don’t miss a moment of family life, despite how busy things get!)
  • Saving over £1m of healthy food and drink from going to landfill
  • Winning funding to purchase our own warehouse and continue to grow the positive impact we’re having on Food Waste with Love Health Hate Waste
  • Launching our new website for Love Health Hate Waste and introducing thousands of new lines
  • Transforming our high street store from loss-making, into making a small profit – to the point we can explore more sites for stores in the UK
  • Starting this blog! And my Udemy course, that’s now helped over 700 people start and grow their own online business since September
  • Starting my first niche site project
  • Revamping our catalogue for Vitalife Health and developing new revenue streams for this business

I’d love to hear what your wins were this year gone by. Please share them in the comments below.

 

niche site progress report

Niche Site Income Report 1 – One Month On

We’re already 1 month on from when I first started my niche site ‘Pizza Oven Hub’.

It feels like much more time has passed since I was first researching and trying to find the right niche for my site – so much has happened this past 4 weeks (and I was ill for one of the 4, so it’s more like 3 weeks in terms of weeks spent out of bed!).

Since then I found my niche, bought my domain, designed and built content for my entire site, and have managed to secure at least 2 high-quality, highly-relevant backlinks – and it’s already starting to show the impact of this in our search engine rankings.

That’s on-top of my regular commitments with Vitalife Group – where I’ve been sourcing some new store locations for one of our businesses, progressing things with the drawn-out warehouse purchase, coordinating and planning a new video ad for Vitalife Health, negotiating on some new stock bundles, chipping-in on customer service, and introducing quite a few changes and new, exciting features to the websites.

Plus I got to spend some good quality time with my lovely Wife and Daughter this month in Robin Hill on the Isle of Wight, and we’ve been out to eat quite a few times trying some newly discovered restaurants on the Island (The Pointer Inn in Newchurch do THE NICEST pie I’ve ever eaten – the Newchurch Pie – check it out if you’re ever on the Island).

Not to mention posting on here!

Phew.

It’s been a very busy, challenging but enjoyable month.

Cut to the Chase . . . How much Income has it Delivered?

Drum roll please . . .

Over the past 4 weeks, since I started my niche site, it has earned a grand total of:

£1.95!

And don’t laugh – I’m actually quite proud of this figure. It’s a success as far as I’m concerned.

Here’s my Adsense account snapshot (if you can’t believe your eyes!):

adsense snapshot

It barely pays for a cup of coffee, but it’s still a success.

Why?

Because 1, the only costs associated with setting the site up were the domain purchase (3 years at £27.12) and ebook cover/logo design (around £7 after currency conversion on Fiverr), so I’m already a whopping 5-6% towards reaching break-even on the project, and 2, more importantly (and seriously), niche sites have a compounding effect as your traffic builds – meaning they typically earn very little or nothing in the early stages, and as traffic grows, so does the income from the site.

Plus, your involvement and investment of time/energy tends to follow the opposite trend – so whilst I’ve invested a lot of time at the outset in getting things setup, as I get more backlinks and more SEO visibility for the site, my time and involvement should fall, just as income from the site rises.

This eventually leads to a situation where you are earning income from your niche site without any involvement whatsoever – which is the holy grail for everyone right? Fully automated income.

I actually added this site to my existing Hostgator hosting account that permits unlimited domains – so no ongoing hosting costs are incurred either.

Search Engine Performance

Whilst ranking for the (slightly more competitive than I realised) primary keyword of ‘pizza oven’ is still proving to be elusive, the site is ranking for a lot of derivative keywords like ‘Igneus Pizza Oven’ (position 14) which is a popular pizza oven model, ‘buy pizza oven online’ (position 83 now, following a position of 44 last week – which I’m guessing is down to the ‘Google Dance’), and many more.

All of these have delivered 14 sessions over the past 2 weeks from organic traffic, and it only started ranking for these derivative words from the moment the first backlink was placed.

Before this, the site didn’t rank at all – for anything – for the first couple of weeks.

Proving the importance of backlinks when it comes to SEO.

See the organic traffic pattern below:

organic traffic

This is just based on 2 do-follow links on high-authority, relevant sites, and a few social shares.

The rest of the traffic has come from the social shares we’ve had and a few visits from referrals from the backlinking sites.

I’m still convinced we can get the site to page 1 for the primary keyword ‘pizza oven’ with more quality backlinks.

If you want to learn how I gained the first 2 backlinks and how I plan to gain more, read my (more effective) backlink strategy here.

As you can see, organic traffic is still minimal, and in its first month, the full traffic figure came to a grand total of 215 sessions from 160 users.

So, again, next-to-nothing.

Which is reassuring, and gives me even more confidence of the site’s earning potential, because if the site is generating revenue of £1.95 against 215 visits, then if we do eventually land the first page of Google for ‘Pizza Oven’ with 22,000 searches per month, on a relative basis, this should generate £198.90 per month.

Plus, add in all the derivative keywords that will deliver a good deal of traffic too, and consider that the £1.95 figure only came from one of the site’s revenue channels – Adsense, and no consideration given for the earning potential from our Amazon affiliate store, then total earning potential could easily exceed £1,000 per month with the right level of traffic.

And for no involvement from me by that point, that truly would be passive income.

How to Make Your Adsense Ads Effective

One thing I have learned throughout this niche site process is you can go two ways with your Adsense ads – make them obvious, or subtly work them into your site content.

I’ve found that the latter is far, far more effective than the former.

My clickthrough rates on banner/graphical type ads have been much lower than my clickthrough on link-based or text-based ads.

People just don’t seem to click on ads when they’re very obviously . . . ads.

The best-performing ad groups I’ve seen have been link-based, where they mimic a navigation menu or something similar – you can see how I worked a set in on a screenshot of my niche site below:

Niche site screenshot showing adsense ads

This actually looks like part of the website navigation, and is also one of the first things the visitor sees, so is therefore the best performing ad group for me.

Some people might consider this underhand and sneaky – and whilst I’d agree that it does encourage people to click on paid ads, I’m still comfortable with this tactic because:

  1. It still delivers content that the visitor clicks on and expresses an interest in, so it isn’t misleading in the content it delivers
  2. It still makes it clear to visitors that these are ad-based links since the ‘Ad Choices’ link  is placed to the side of them
  3. It ultimately delivers my goal as the website owner – to get visitors off the site, via an ad. And it’s very effective at it too

So, there you have it – my month 1 update on my niche site progress and income report.

Whilst I’m not quite making a fortune with it, things are looking promising and I’m really confident and excited about the future of this website and where it will go with a few more backlinks.

If you’re also going through your own niche site journey, please share your progress and income in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.

niche-site-step-3-1-backlink-strategy

Niche Site Step 3.1: My (More Effective) Backlink Strategy

So, it’s been all of 1 week since I posted my backlink strategy for my niche site pizzaovenhub.com and . . . sorry guys, I’ve changed it all up already.

Sorry to rock the boat!

I’ve never professed to be an expert in this field, and that’s what this journey is all about – learning what works and what doesn’t, so I can teach my readers, and be the crash-test dummy of backlinking and SEO.

The broken link approach that I mentioned in my last post only seemed to work for social sharing, and quickly started to lose the initial momentum and conversion rate I mentioned in my previous post.

It also became fairly obvious, rather quickly, that well-ranked blogs and websites are wise to the templates high-profile bloggers like Neil Patel provide you with, and they are sick of them! So to get a link from the guys that matter – it’s going to take a lot more than good content and a template outreach email.

So I changed my strategy, and now I have something that works – and I’m already seeing the impact in rankings on derivative keywords from just one powerful backlink placed under this new strategy.

So, here it is . . .

My (Effective) Backlink Strategy

A step by step graphic about how to backlink effectively

My effective backlink strategy ultimately comprises 4 parts (with a bit of thought in-between – hence the 5 steps above), just as my previous strategy did – except the approach is much different:

  1. Find relevant links
  2. Outreach, but in a different way (see below)
  3. Develop and post agreed content
  4. Get your link

So here’s the 4 steps in more detail:

1. Find Relevant Links

Forget resource pages and links pages this time – we’re delivering much more value to the link target than ‘useful information’ for their readers, so we don’t just need to hit the sites that actively link out on resource/links pages.

Plus, this new approach is going to get you high-quality contextual links (embedded within the link-target’s site content) – just the sort that Brian Dean from Backlinko says you should be aiming for.

To find my relevant links, I started with a brainstorm – I brainstormed all related keyword terms, derivative (including your primary phrase but not exclusively your primary phrase, so for me, things like ‘wood fired pizza oven training’ and so on) and semantic (not including your keyword phrase but linked to it in some way, so for me, things like ‘firewood’ and ‘outdoor cooking’) keywords.

Then, when you have a list of derivative and semantic keywords, do some Googling on these terms to see what sort of websites come up.

Now, before you jump into step 2 and contact them, you need to think about what sort of value you could add to their site and their business.

Tune in to WI FM (What’s In it For Me), from the website owner’s perspective. What can you deliver to them that helps them meet their business/website/blog’s objectives.

And I’m not talking vague things like ‘providing a valuable link to show their visitors’ – these website owners really don’t care about this. They’re either selling something, trying to raise their profile with potential customers, or communicating a particular message to their audience, or all three.

You need to therefore deliver something to them that will help them sell their products/services, raise their profile, or communicate their message.

And to do that effectively, you’re going to need to develop your content after you know who you’re trying to get a link from – so you can customise the content down to actually mentioning them in the piece.

This is where running other ecommerce businesses through my position at Vitalife Group came in useful – it gave me perspective of how I’d feel about bloggers contacting my companies for backlinks by using the broken link and ‘valuable content’ approach.

To be honest, I’d probably fix the link and not bother sharing the content – because I’m wise to the approach now, and I know their primary motivation for getting in-touch is not to help me by finding broken links, it’s to help themselves by getting a backlink from my site.

And the same applies to authoritative websites and blogs – they’ll receive tons of these emails, and they’ll be wise to your motivations for contacting them, so even before they’ve started reading the content of your email, the barriers are up.

So instead, once you’ve found a few ‘link targets’ by searching Google for your derivative and semantic keywords, you need to take the following approach . . .

2. Outreach, but in a Different Way

Don’t use templates for your outreach! Start every point of communication with link targets from scratch.

I know, I know. It’s laborious, and takes a lot of time.

BUT, if you are focusing on highly authoritative, relevant sites, attaining just one quality link like this can rocket you up the rankings (as I’ve already experienced this early on – but more on this later in the post) – so don’t worry about this process taking time.

Backlinking is about quality, not quantity.

Put all of your efforts into attaining each link you outreach for – it should never be a case of copy/paste, hit send and repeat. Do this, and you lose the whole impact of this highly-effective strategy.

So, start with your first link target, make sure they are ranking well for either a derivative or semantic keyword in your field, and think carefully about what they want.

I did this, and my first target was a pizza oven retailer.

They had an exclusive, slick-looking pizza oven for sale – and it was available only from them. This meant, if I wrote a feature about it, it would only ever benefit them in terms of the awareness it generates – which would deliver a high level of value to them.

So, I went ahead and dreamed-up a new concept of announcing our ‘Pizza Oven of the Month’ on the blog. It was the 1st November, so seemed the perfect time to start something like this.

I wrote a very flattering piece about the oven, covering its features, and what I ultimately thought of it and why it was November’s Pizza Oven of the Month (which was all actually truthful – by the end I did want one of them myself!).

I then contacted the website and told them about the review and the fact that one of their exclusive models had made our Pizza Oven of the Month award. To which they shared socially, and also placed a contextual link to my niche site on their HOME PAGE of all places!

That’s a 100% conversion rate right there. This was the first target I’d approached under this strategy, they were ranked highly for my primary keyword and other derivative keywords, and I’d just attained a juicy backlink from them on their most important page of all.

The impact of this link was immediately apparent, in a few days it made my site rank for lots of derivative keywords (although, strangely, it’s still not showing for my primary keyword ‘pizza oven’ – but a few more links like this and I’m sure it will).

From not ranking on anything other than ‘Pizza Oven Hub’ – which is ultimately my domain name, and noone ever uses this as a search term – to ranking at the following places for these words:

Buy Pizza Oven Online – Rank 44 Worldwide

Pizza Oven Recipes – Rank 127 Worldwide

Outdoor Pizza Oven Recipes – Rank 153 Worldwide

How do I know this?

I use a combination of my Google Webmaster account for my niche site, which tells you what search terms your site is showing for, then I run these search terms through SERPs.com’s Rank Checker Tool, to find the precise rank at any given time.

The above data is interesting, not just because I wasn’t ranking at all prior to this single backlink, but it’s also interesting that the best ranking keyword is related to buying pizza ovens online – which is the primary focus of the site providing the backlink, to sell Pizza Ovens online.

Although I have an Amazon affiliate store on my niche site and a ‘Buy Pizza Ovens Online’ page, this is certainly not where my textual content is focused – it’s more around the types of pizza oven available, and also quite a lot of keywords focused around building your own pizza oven. So it’s definitely not my on-site content that’s guided this ranking.

Now, as I said before, I’m no SEO expert – I’m just crash-testing theories – but perhaps this suggests that Google takes the relevance of sites that are backlinking to yours not only seriously, but it also guides your ranking in searches based on your backlinking site’s content (perhaps even more so than your own on-site content?).

Or perhaps it’s simply because competition is less fierce in this long-tail term? And I haven’t surfaced that well elsewhere because the other terms are more competitive?

I dunno.

I just found this a very interesting point.

I think, in truth, Google’s algorithm is probably so complex, with so many layers and variables, that even the boffins that built it and maintain it couldn’t explain specifically what single part of the algorithm leads, primarily, to ranking for a particular term.

I also heard they were using AI (Artificial Intelligence) to allow the algorithm to adapt to new search terms never used before and so on.

That’s all a little bit too complex for me – I’m just trying to get my little Pizza Oven niche site ranked well – and the common consensus, and my own data, show that quality, relevant backlinks are the general direction you need to head in to achieve this.

I digress . . .

Back to the strategy.

So, in my example I kind of did things backwards to what I prescribe in my 4 step guidance, I created the content prior to contacting the link  target – but I thought in that particular instance (and probably in many others) it would add more credibility to build the content and publish before discussing it with the link target.

It’s more credible to say, ‘hey, I just featured your product on my blog and it won our Monthly award’, than to say, ‘hey, if you provide me a link on your site, I’ll say one of your products won our Monthly award’.

It all depends on your particular approach and the type of custom content you’re building – it’s a judgement call you have to make on every link target before you approach them. Is it more credible, and therefore more likely to get shared, if I build the content THEN share this with the target, or is it safer to contact them first and build a feature with their involvement/awareness of it, to better guarantee a link placement once published.

I’ve used both techniques, and both are proving to be effective.

3. Develop and Post Your Agreed Content

So, if you’ve approached your link target at this point, and they have agreed to link to your feature if you build something around their product/service – you’re now in a position to type out your content and give them something worth sharing.

When writing your actual content, remain mindful of what your link target wants from the piece (to sell more products/services, to raise awareness of something, etc) and ensure you get this across effectively, but also remember that the target will not want the piece to sound as though you are affiliated with them, as it then loses credibility for sharing amongst their readership and visitors, so try to keep it sounding independent and unbiased.

4. Get Your Link

When you’re happy with the content, it’s often a good idea, provided you have contacted your link target beforehand and they are aware of the feature being built, to get their input before publishing.

Ensure it meets their needs and get their stamp of approval before you send it live.

Then all you have to do from here is let them know it’s gone live, provide the link, and kindly ask that they link through to the piece from their website as agreed.

BINGO!

You’ve got your high-quality, relevant link.

Plus, you’ve just built yourself some relevant, unique, fresh content for your site at the same time – it’s a win-win.

The approach not only wins more backlinks at an incredible conversion rate, but it also commits you to continually developing new content for your site – which is often hard to keep up when you have other commitments beyond your niche site.

And that’s that!

Give it a go, and let me know what success rate you have with it by sharing your story in the comment section below.

Good luck! And remember, this is a time-consuming approach, but a very rewarding one.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather spend an hour or two building custom content and pretty much guaranteeing a quality backlink than spend an hour or two sending template outreach emails to ‘hopefully’ get one or two responses and maybe a backlink from someone.

This is a high-quality, high-impact approach that works – it adds genuine value to your link prospect’s sites, and also to your own.

Let me know how things go.

Niche Site Step 1: How to Find Your Niche

I originally set-out on this journey to create a niche site following Pat Flynn’s original Niche Site Duel.

I wanted to prove that anyone can still do this, and that evergreen niches (ones not based on short-term fads or crazes) could still be found and capitalised upon.

So, 6 years on from Pat’s original Niche Site Duel, is it still as easy to find a niche for your niche website?

Quite frankly, no!

You would think with a ‘how-to’ breakdown from Pat, that following the same process in a different topic/industry, you’d be able to quickly and easily source your own niche that meets the same criteria as Pat set for his own niche site (at least 100 potential organic visitors per day and a maximum of 40,000 SEO competitors – more on this later in this post).

Well, it isn’t so – or at least not in the areas I selected for my niches.

I suspect the difficulty I experienced was down to two factors:

  1. Pat’s original niche site was developed over 6 years ago – therefore a few of the techniques he shows in finding a niche are no longer relevant/applicable. I had to adapt his approach in order to successfully find my own niche
  2. The internet becomes more crowded with each day that goes by, and this, teamed with the fact that online marketers like Pat have publicised how you can set-up your own niche website, has undoubtedly led to many niches being filled over the past 6 years

New niches are always opening-up of course, with new crazes and trends – but I’m trying to find an evergreen niche, not one that fizzles out along with the trend.

I want my niche site to generate a passive income for decades, not just a few weeks.

However . . .

I have found my niche!

It took a lot longer than I originally expected – over 7 hours of solid researching, in fact – but I got there, and I’m pretty pleased with the niche I’ve selected.

The process would have been a lot faster had I realised the adjustments I needed to make to Pat’s methods earlier on – I spent at least 4 of those 7 hours following his exact method which only led to dead-ends.

Ultimately, Pat uses the software Market Samurai exclusively to find his niche – following an initial mind-map of ideas.

I too own a copy of Market Samurai (if you don’t, you can download a free trial version here) and set-out to follow the exact same research criteria as Pat did – only to find that absolutely no keywords ever came close to meeting this criteria (at least 100 potential organic visitors per day and a maximum of 40,000 SEO competitors).

See the screenshot below on how you set this criteria in Market Samurai (more info on how to use this software later in the post):

All the keywords I tried, that had over 100 daily organic clicks, had a minimum of 500,000 SEO competitors. Indicating that these keywords were too competitive to tackle.

However, after many hours of searching and finding 0 keywords that matched Pat’s criteria, I started to question the usefulness of the SEO competition data.

What this ultimately shows you is how many websites use this keyword phrase across the web. It doesn’t necessarily mean that these websites are focusing on this keyword and that they are optimised for it.

Pat even mentions in one of his later posts that the SEO competition data is pretty useless, since it doesn’t matter how many sites mention your chosen keyword, what matters is the strength of those sites that occupy the top 10 places in Google for your keyword.

So, I started to disregard this metric.

I also began to realise how unreliable the data is from Market Samurai’s keyword research function – I’d perform a search on a keyword one time, and it would show 300+ SEO traffic and 500,000+ SEO competition, then the next time I search for this exact keyword, I’d have totally different results.

So, I also threw in an alternative process to ensure the data I was basing my decision on was accurate – I’ll cover this shortly.

Here’s my full revised process for finding my niche:

Step 1: Mindmap

I began my process much like Pat did, but instead of creating a mindmap around fears, problems, and passions – I just created mine around passions.

I see the logic of focusing on common problems and fears that people have – because there’s a demand for knowledge to overcome those problems and fears – but I just couldn’t see myself writing content for a site that focuses on a problem or fear-based subject.

Given I’ll be writing all of the content for this site myself,  in order to maintain my interest, and allow me to speak in an engaging way around the subject, it has to be about something I have a passion for.

So, here’s my original mindmap (I used the free trial version of a software called SmartDraw to build it):

After failing to find a keyword to match Pat’s original metrics, a fresh set of eyes really helped (in this case, my lovely Wife Grace) in coming up with even more keyword ideas, that eventually led to my chosen niche.

I also switched-up the method I was using, by doing the following:

Step 2: Keyword Generation and Research

Here’ where I decided to ditch Market Samurai, and opt for data right from the horse’s mouth – or Google’s mouth, rather.

If you have an Adwords account, you’ll already have access to Google’s Keyword Planner. If you don’t have an account, you can quickly set one up, and you’ll get instant access to the Keyword Planner.

Just pop in a search term, and it will show you exactly how many monthly searches take place for this keyword, how competitive the PPC arena is for this keyword (which is a generally a good indication of competitiveness in SEO too), and give you a ton of high-volume, alternative and longer-tail keyword suggestions that you could focus on.

I ran keywords related to my passions mindmap through this tool, and came up with a condensed list of potential keywords that I could focus my niche on.

The two keywords with the most potential following the keyword planner exercise were ‘non-alcoholic wine’ and ‘pizza oven’.

These both had relatively strong search volumes (5,400 and 22,000 respectively), meaning ‘pizza oven’ was the highest volume, but the PPC competition was also ‘low’ and ‘high’ respectively, so this kind of balanced-out the prospects of these two keywords.

Step 3: Competitor Strength

I then took the 2 keywords I identified in step 2, and ran them through Market Samurai’s ‘SEO Competition’ module – I found this to be much more reliable and helpful than their keyword research tool, and really gives a good overview of the strength of the competition in Google’s top 10 search results for your chosen term.

Ultimately, when using this, you want to see as many greens as possible, and as fewer yellows and reds as possible.

A lot of greens is good news – and means the competition in Google’s top ten results for your keyword term are relatively weak. Reds and yellows on the other hand indicate strong competition, meaning it would be harder to break into the top 10 results for your keyword term.

As you can see from the screenshot above on my term ‘Pizza Oven’, although domain age is pretty strong on the Global results, the other metrics for these sites are quite weak.

I also performed a local search by changing the project settings, to see how competitive the UK search arena was for this term, and it returned similarly weak competition.

The competition was stronger for Non Alcoholic Wines, which was contradictory to the PPC data provided by the Google Keyword tool.

So this, combined with the fact that ‘pizza oven’ had almost 4x as much organic traffic potential as ‘non alcoholic wines’, means ‘pizza oven’ is my chosen niche!

Insider Information: At Vitalife Group we’ve been working on developing a nice-tasting, non-alcoholic wine for quite some time now (it’s more difficult than it sounds! Most currently on the market just taste like grape juice), so the ‘non-alcoholic wine’ focus would have tied-in nicely for when we come to launch this product.

But I want this niche site to become a separate business in its own right and not rely on other parts of our group to become successful – otherwise it’s missing the point of showing that anyone can do it.

So the pizza oven niche fits the bill perfectly – and the work is now on to build the site, monetise it, and start promoting it.

Like Pat Flynn, my only rule in this process is to not use paid advertising to promote the site, so it all has to be done from link-building and SEO.

I’ve got the domain (which I’ll announce to you in my next niche site post), now I’m on with getting a logo designed (using Fiverr.com), installing WordPress (using 1-click install with Hostgator), getting a cool free theme, getting the site online, and building the initial content.

If you’re taking the niche site challenge too, and you’ve never set up a website before, I cover all of the above processes in one of the sections of my ‘Fast Track Entrepreneur: Start an Online Business in 4 Weeks‘ course over on Udemy, and I’ve also made this section publicly available on Youtube for you to follow here.

Please share your own experience with finding a niche, and share your tips and techniques for finding a high-traffic, low-competition keyword to focus on in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.

What is a Niche Audience and How Can I Make Money From it?

A niche audience is a specific group of people where you choose to focus your communication or marketing/promotional efforts.

Niche audiences can be super-specific – like focusing on people with an interest in playing the didgeridoo, or they can be broader, like focusing on people in a particular age range like 18-30yr olds.

Building a niche ultimately ensures you can communicate effective material that serves their particular needs and interests. It keeps promotional costs down, conversion rates high, and limits the competition you go up against.

And why do I ask this?

Because just recently I was catching up on Pat Flynn’s progress over on his Smart Passive Income blog.

I was amazed to see that he still includes his Security Guard Training adsense income on his monthly income report.

And although it’s now a relatively small part of his very healthy $150,000+ monthly income, at just $1,300 per month – it’s still a very rewarding and realistic starting point for most people looking to start an online business.

Pat started this niche website back in 2010, so I’m a little behind the times covering this in 2016 – but there’s a method to me revisiting this far on.

The fact that Pat is still earning a healthy monthly income from his own niche sites is testament to the fact that building niche websites is an evergreen way to make money online.

Once they’re up, capturing a good amount of traffic, and they’re optimised for monetisation, they are a great way to make consistent passive income – pretty much for the rest of your life.

But have all the niches now been taken?

In an age where the necessary information to start your own niche website and to research the most potentially rewarding niches is publicly available, are there still gaps and niches that haven’t yet been tapped and that you can make money from?

Of course, new niches can appear all the time with the latest fads and crazes, but I’m talking about the evergreen niches – the ones that deliver consistent income, for decades, not just for a few months.

So, Pat, 6 years on, I’m taking you up on your challenge to take part in your niche site duel – and I too will document my progress throughout, from selecting the niche, to setting up the site, creating the content, getting the site ranked in Google, and monetising it.

The aim?

To hopefully prove that there are still endless niches that people just like me and you can use to quickly and easily generate a consistent online income.

In my Udemy course ‘Fasttrack Entrepreneur: Start an Online Business in 4 Weeks’ I teach people how to start their own business from scratch, across a broad range of business models (ecommerce through to blogging and vlogging) – so I see this experiment as an extension to this – I’ll go back to where I started, from scratch, and with less than £20, I’ll show you how you can create a profitable online business (I hope!).

I’m putting my reputation on the line, and I’m willing to do this to hopefully prove how anyone can set their own business up online.

When I’m done, I’ll use this post to link to each post I create to show you every stage of the process I follow.

But for now, just stay tuned to my blog for updates as I start my journey towards creating a niche website.

Fancy taking the challenge too?

I invite you to start your own niche site and to document your progress – updating me and readers on your journey, strategy, and steps to building a successful niche website in the comments below.

Why Online Marketing is Like Dieting


Neither are an exact science.

Both depend on other variables to be successful.

And results take time.

Being an advocate of health, fitness, and good diet, and also running several successful online businesses, I have a fair bit of experience in both online marketing and dieting.

A recent article I read really highlighted to me the similarities between the two.

You can find the original article here.

Have you ever been on a diet and become frustrated with how the scales fluctuate from day-to-day with no real reasoning?

You stick to your diet rigidly each day, but yet some days still show an increase on the scales or no movement at all.

Well, this article explains why this can happen, and the scientific reasoning behind these frustrating fluctuations.

Ultimately, there are a number of factors that can cause your weight to fluctuate on a day-to-day basis – sodium levels, glycogen stores, water retention, and much much more.

The lesson of the article is to not become obsessed over these daily fluctuations in weight when you are working towards a goal – weigh yourself maybe every couple of weeks instead of every day.

This allows the, sometimes unexplainable, daily fluctuations to iron themselves out without you even noticing or having to worry about them.

In dieting, as in business and in life as a whole, there are variables – often too many to comprehend – that will affect your short-term progress.

In business, it could be not getting anything crossed off your to-do list on a certain day because the kids need to go swimming, or you’re ill and need a day in bed to rest.

Whatever it may be, there are distractions, other priorities, and unexplainable factors that can influence our short term progress.

But in the long term, provided we are consistent and persistent with our efforts and drive, we will see progress.

It’s rather like monitoring the currency exchange – you can micro-analyse all those troughs and peaks in the graph, but ultimately it’s about how things go in the long term.

Provided that point on the graph ends up higher than when you first started out, you’ve made progress towards your goal.

Forget about the turbulence in-between – this can be ridden out with consistent effort.

I liken this approach to online marketing – particularly with PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising – in the short term, you might blow a fortune on campaigns that aren’t quite working out.

But you build on what works and what doesn’t for you and your business.

You ditch the expensive keywords that aren’t converting and you spend more money on the keywords that are converting.

You consistently tweak and improve your campaign using the data it delivers back to you over time – until, in the long term, you’re left with a very effective and profitable campaign.

If you start trying to tweak your campaign too early though, you may end up scrapping some potentially high-converting keywords because they don’t start out too well for you, and you don’t have enough ‘meat’ on your data to make an informed and accurate decision.

Dieting is similar. What works for one person may not work for the next. You have to follow a process of trial and error – ditching techniques that aren’t delivering results in the medium to long term, and focusing on what is working for you.

Until eventually, in the long term, you reach your personal weight loss goals.

The Lesson?

Consistency leads to success.

But micro-analysing data too quickly can often be contradictory to achieving consistency.

You need to give it time for accurate data to show, in order to make informed decisions and changes/tweaks going forward.

This applies to online advertising, dieting, and almost all other aspects in life.

By all means take corrective action when things aren’t heading in the right direction – but don’t analyse things too quickly, give them enough time to deliver actionable data, or you’ll lose your direction and consistency that ultimately leads to long-term success.

Do you have your own tips and techniques to share on these topics? Please share them in the comments below.

The 11 Best Business Startup Twitter Feeds to Follow

Twitter is a busy, noisy environment.

So much so, it’s often difficult to filter through your feed to retrieve necessary, useful information from the other waffle.

So I’ve done the hard work for you.

I’ve sourced 11 of the best, most useful Twitter feeds for small business owners and entrepreneurs to follow.

These feeds are packed with juicy information about running and growing a business, developing your promotional strategy, where to reinvest in your business, and much much more.

They consist of some of the World’s leading entrepreneurs and business owners – providing you with tried and tested techniques and tips to grow your own small business.

Marc Nager (@marcnager)

As the founder of Startup Weekend you can naturally expect a plethora of entrepreneurial tips, networking (mainly US) and collaboration opportunities, and other interesting stories from Marc.

He posts around once or twice a day, so is not one to hog your feed!

Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee)

As the owner of his own media agency, Gary knows a thing or two about online promotional strategy. With his motivational quotes and business tips, he’ll have you fired-up with energy each day to hustle.

A frequent poster, and not one for haters of profanity – he likes to use the F-bomb . . . a lot!

Pat Flynn (@patflynn)

Pat is someone I followed about 3 or so years back, and I remember reading his passive income blog – seeing his transparent income reports, and that he was making several thousand pounds each month through passive income techniques.

Now, revisiting his blog 3 years on, I see he’s now generating over $150,000 per month! And he’s still showing people his income reports on how he achieves this income.

Pat is very open and honest about his techniques, so there’s a lot to be learnt from him by following.

Seth Godin (@thisissethsblog)

Seth consistently blogs every day – mostly short snippets of a motivational and philosophical nature, so they are quick and easy to read.

You can use his Twitter feed to stay up-to-date when his new posts go live.

Neil Patel (@neilpatel)

Neil is the co-founder of CrazyEgg and KISSmetrics – so he knows a thing or two about online marketing and data processing.

Follow him for some useful tips and techniques on how to build your email lists, improve your SEO, make sales on social media, and many more.

Richard Branson (@richardbranson)

Needing no introduction, Mr Branson shares his thoughts on legislation, shares his insight and life stories, and also inspires an entrepreneurial mindset in everyone.

A must-follow for any aspiring entrepreneur or small business owner.

Brett Bernstein (@bhbern)

CEO of Gatsby, a self-service technology to design ecommerce promotions, Brett regularly shares business news, insights, and health-related tweets.

Inspiring, insightful, and a very useful follow for the small business owner.

Tim Ferriss (@tferriss)

The man behind the 4-hour work week, Tim is experimental and exciting to follow.

He isn’t afraid to try new things, so you can learn what works and what doesn’t, from him.

Mark Suster (@msuster)

Entrepreneur turned investor Mark now runs Upfront Ventures – a VC that has none other than the rapper Chamillionaire as an Entrepreneur in Residence.

Sounds strange, I know, but aside from the political tweets, Mark has a lot to share about the entrepreneurial journey and investing. Worth a follow.

Anil Dash (@anildash)

Ethically-motivated entrepreneur Anil shares his insight from the World of tech and retweets even more useful articles and quotes from other entrepreneurs.

Fred Wilson (@fredwilson)

Simply describes himself as a VC. He also posts some very interesting information on tech, politics, and of course, investing.

Also a big advocate of Twitter itself.

And that concludes my list of who to follow if you are an entrepreneur.

Following these people will ensure your daily feed is filled with useful, helpful, and insightful content – allowing you to build on your own entrepreneurial journey and success.

Know any more good Twitter accounts that small business owners should be following? Please share them in the comments below.

 

Top 116 Success Quotes that will Motivate You

We  all need a little motivation every now and again.

So I’ve compiled a list of my 116 favourite motivational, success-related quotes.

If you’re feeling the pressure and you feel like giving-up, have a read through these to refresh your mindset, and remember – it’s always darkest before the dawn.

If you don’t give up, no matter how tough things get, persevere and you will achieve. The light will come, no matter how far away it seems.

Anyway, that’s enough motivation from me, here’s the list:

  1. When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds aren’t in your favour – Elon Musk
  2. Whatever you want to do, do it now. There are only so many tomorrows
  3. The best thing I ever did was believe in myself
  4. Today’s pain will be tomorrow’s strength
  5. To accomplish great things we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe
  6. If you give up at the first sign of struggle, you’re really not ready to be successful
  7. Have goals so big, you get uncomfortable telling small-minded people
  8. I can. I will. End of story
  9. Remember, the ones who said you couldn’t do it are watching
  10. If you can’t handle stress, then you can’t manage success
  11. When you know clearly what you want, you’ll wake up every morning excited about life
  12. Do what you love, and you will never have a problem with Monday
  13. You’re not meant to do what is easy, you’re meant to challenge yourself
  14. Just keep showing up when most people would quit
  15. There are no secrets to success, it is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure
  16. You may see me struggle, but you will never see me quit
  17. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone
  18. There are two types of people who will tell you that you cannot make a difference in this World, those who are afraid to try and those who are afraid you will succeed
  19. It’s never too late to become what you might have been
  20. Failure is part of the process, quitting is not
  21. The best way to succeed is to help others succeed, they will carry you to success
  22. 97% of the people who quit too soon are employed by the 3% who never gave up
  23. Stop chasing the money, and start chasing the passion
  24. 3 steps to success, set a goal, work like hell, stay consistent
  25. If you are going through hell, keep going
  26. Entrepreneur: Someone who jumps off a cliff and learns how to build a plane on the way down
  27. They won’t get it. Your path is your path, it’s only for you to understand
  28. I’m coming for everything they said I couldn’t have
  29. If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it
  30. You have to fight through the bad days to earn the best days in your life
  31. I will succeed, because I am willing to fail more times than you are willing to try
  32. When you realise you have nothing to lose, you’ll turn into a beast
  33. Don’t stop dreaming just because you had a nightmare
  34. If an expert says it cannot be done, get another expert
  35. Don’t get discouraged, it is often the last key that opens the lock
  36. The road to success is often a lonely one
  37. Don’t be afraid of being different. Be afraid of being the same as everyone else
  38. Surround yourself with people who are only going to lift you higher
  39. Build a life you won’t want to take a vacation from
  40. Ignore the noise, stay focused
  41. Life is about making an impact, not making an income
  42. You miss 100% of the shots you do not take
  43. I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed – Michael Jordan
  44. We become what we think about – Earl Nightingale
  45. Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore, Dream, Discover – Mark Twain
  46. Life is 10% what happens to me, and 90% how I react to this
  47. The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is now
  48. 80% of success is showing up – Woody Allen
  49. I am not a product of my circumstances, I am a product of my decisions
  50. You can never cross the ocean until you have courage to lose sight of the shore – Christopher Columbus
  51. Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right – Henry Ford
  52. The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why – Mark Twain
  53. Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.  Boldness has genius, power and magic in it
  54. People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing.  That’s why we recommend it daily – Zig Ziglar
  55. Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage
  56. There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing – Aristotle
  57. Ask and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you – Jesus
  58. Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.  Live the life you have imagined
  59. When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say, I used everything you gave me
  60. Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear
  61. We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light – Plato
  62. When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life.  When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I wrote down ‘happy’.  They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life – John Lennon
  63. Fall seven times and stand up eight
  64. When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us – Helen Keller
  65. Everything has beauty, but not everyone can see – Confucius
  66. How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world – Anne Frank
  67. When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be – Lao Tzu
  68. Happiness is not something readymade.  It comes from your own actions – Dalai Lama
  69. If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, don’t ask what seat! Just get on
  70. First, have a definite, clear practical ideal; a goal, an objective. Second, have the necessary means to achieve your ends; wisdom, money, materials, and methods. Third, adjust all your means to that end – Aristotle
  71. If the wind will not serve, take to the oars
  72. You can’t fall if you don’t climb.  But there’s no joy in living your whole life on the ground
  73. Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears
  74. Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful
  75. I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do – Leonardo Da Vinci
  76. Limitations live only in our minds.  But if we use our imaginations, our possibilities become limitless
  77. What’s money? A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do
  78. I didn’t fail the test. I just found 100 ways to do it wrong – Benjamin Franklin
  79. In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure – Bill Cosby
  80. A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new – Albert Einstein
  81. It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings
  82. If you want your children to turn out well, spend twice as much time with them, and half as much money
  83. Build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs
  84. The battles that count aren’t the ones for gold medals. The struggles within yourself–the invisible battles inside all of us–that’s where it’s at
  85. If you look at what you have in life, you’ll always have more. If you look at what you don’t have in life, you’ll never have enough – Oprah Winfrey
  86. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck – Dalai Lama
  87. You can’t use up creativity.  The more you use, the more you have
  88. Dream big and dare to fail
  89. Do what you can, where you are, with what you have
  90. If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten – Tony Robbins
  91. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning
  92. It’s your place in the world; it’s your life. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live
  93. You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try
  94. Remember no one can make you feel inferior without your consent
  95. Life is what we make it, always has been, always will be
  96. When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it – Henry Ford
  97. It’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years
  98. Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing – Benjamin Franklin
  99. Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!”
  100. The only way to do great work is to love what you do – Steve Jobs
  101. Its hard to wait around for something you know might never happen; but its harder to give up when you know its everything you want
  102. One of the most important keys to Success is having the discipline to do what you know you should do, even when you don’t feel like doing it
  103. Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, or worn. It is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace & gratitude
  104. Don’t be afraid to stand for what you believe in, even if that means standing alone
  105. Forget all the reasons it won’t work and believe the one reason that it will
  106. I am thankful for all of those who said NO to me. Its because of them I’m doing it myself
  107. Life is short, live it. Love is rare, grab it. Anger is bad, dump it. Fear is awful, face it. Memories are sweet, cherish it
  108. When you say “It’s hard”, it actually means “I’m not strong enough to fight for it”. Stop saying its hard. Think positive!
  109. Life is like photography. You need the negatives to develop
  110. Self confidence is the most attractive quality a person can have. how can anyone see how awesome you are if you can’t see it yourself?
  111. We learn something from everyone who passes through our lives.. Some lessons are painful, some are painless.. but, all are priceless
  112. Being happy doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. it means that you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections
  113. Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending
  114. When the past calls, let it go to voicemail, believe me, it has nothing new to say
  115. Walk away from anything or anyone who takes away from your joy. Life is too short to put up with fools
  116. Life has two rules: #1 Never quit #2 Always remember rule # 1

I hope you have enjoyed these motivational quotes and take from them what you need to keep on the course to achieving your own dreams.

My favourite has to be the definition of an entrepreneur – as someone who jumps off a cliff and builds a plane on the way down. It signifies taking action, and learning/adapting as you go.

If you have any more to add, please use the comments below.

 

15 Ways for Small Business Owners to Improve Productivity

Progress.

It means different things to different business owners.

Increasing sales by 10% for one small business may mean massive progress, whereas for the next, it could mean failure in relation to their objectives.

But one thing is for certain, everyone wants to make progress in what they are doing.

Whether it be growing sales, building new revenue channels, or just getting day-to-day tasks completed.

And to make this progress, we must be productive. We must consistently work towards our goals in an efficient, effective manner.

But how do you achieve consistently strong productivity?

A restless night or distractions can often cause your productivity to nosedive, so how do you pick your productivity back up-to-speed so you can maintain progress towards your goals?

Here’s 15 ways to improve your productivity as a small business owner.

They are techniques I regularly employ as I juggle my responsibilities as a husband, father, CEO of Vitalife Group, my other businesses, property, this blog and my Udemy course.

The following techniques help me to maintain progress in all areas, and also to enjoy the journey – ensuring I have ample time to spend in my most important and enjoyable roles as husband and father.

Check and Respond to Emails Just Twice a Day (Maximum)

One of my biggest distractions is emails.

I’m normally working in a web browser on my laptop, with my email tabs for various accounts open constantly.

As soon as a new email drops in, it’s too tempting to come away from what I’m doing and check what it is!

Whilst I haven’t yet broken this habit of checking (I can’t ignore the anxiety of missing an urgent email – since almost all my communication with staff and other people is by this method), I have implemented the discipline to drop whatever it is into my ‘follow-ups’ folder (provided it isn’t absolutely urgent) and deal with my follow-ups for 1 hour at the end of each day.

This ensures that I can stay focused on what I’m working on, and am not constantly switching my attention to dealing with emails throughout the day.

When you allow your emails to take-over your day, you’ll reach the end of the day and not really feel like you have achieved anything – because you’ll have been flitting from micro-task to micro-task and not working towards your own, higher-level objectives for your business.

Not only do emails cause distraction and affect your immediate productivity, they also eventually lead you to lose motivation as you never get to feel the sense of achievement you gain when you complete a task or tick-off a to-do each day.

Let them wait for a reply. Your own objectives are more important.

Consistently Work Towards an Actionable To-Do List

To-Do lists allow you to direct your daily activities in-line with your higher-level business objectives.

They are effectively a bitesize, broken-down collection of micro-objectives that make up your longer-term business objectives.

Having a to-do list therefore not only guides you, daily, in the right direction, but it also helps to make longer-term objectives seem more achievable and maintains motivation as you work towards them since you can see real progress as you tick-off your to-dos.

I cover building actionable to-do lists from your higher-level objectives in my 4-week business course.

Ensuring to-dos are actionable, and breaking them down as much as possible, maximises productivity by allowing you to focus on each specific task involved in meeting an objective, rather than wandering towards a vague high-level goal.

Try Not to Multitask

As with emails, attempting to perform more than one task at once is not good for productivity or motivation.

Although, admittedly, multitasking is sometimes unavoidable (especially when you’re working from home and have a toddler placing toys on your lap asking you to play as you type – which is happening as I speak!), you should actively try to focus on just one task at a time.

This is called ‘monotasking’.

The best analogy I can give for this is when you attempt to download several large files at once.

If you just downloaded one file at a time, you would achieve 1, 2, or maybe 3 large downloads in a day. Whereas if you attempted to download 10 all at once, you wouldn’t achieve a single download in that day.

Your attention and productivity similarly has its own bandwidth – spread it too thin, and you won’t see any real achievements on a daily basis, which in-turn damages your motivation by never reaching a sense of achievement in that day.

But focus on just one task at a time, you might get several to-dos done in the day, which in-turn boosts motivation as you see tangible progress each day.

Don’t Procrastinate 

Jump in, and adapt.

If you sit thinking about a task for too long, you’ll never start it.

We’ve all got that to-do on our list that we’ve been putting-off because it’s either not enjoyable, too big, or you just don’t know where to begin with it.

You’ll be surprised at how quickly you can actually clear this from your list however, if you just make a start on it, and give it your full attention for the day.

I’m often the same with my blog posts. Each month my strategy is to build a list of blog titles for the coming month, and I then flesh my content out from these titles.

It’s easy to come up with the titles, making them engaging and relevant to my audience, but it’s harder to start typing the actual content. I have writer’s block, and don’t know where to begin. Partly out of wanting to achieve perfection and keep my content engaging, and partly from just not having my mind properly on the task and the topic.

The way I deal with this?

I just force myself to start typing.

More often than not, it will snowball from here. New ideas come to me as I type and focus my mind on each micro-topic in the post, and before I know it, I’m 2,000 words in and forcing myself to bring things to a close so it’s not too long-winded!

So just dive in, it doesn’t have to be perfect, you don’t even really need to know what you’re doing – adapt and learn as you go, and it will all come together faster than you think.

Stay Hydrated

If you aren’t properly hydrated, you lose concentration.

Water is the single most important resource for the human body, and when it becomes depleted, your performance can fall – both in a mental and a physical capacity.

I often rely on warm drinks like tea (matcha green tea, in particular – which is great for concentration) and decaffeinated coffee for my hydration, getting through 8-10 cups per day.

But it’s also great if you mix in some drinks of water and juice too.

Just stay away from the sugary, fizzy stuff and too much caffeine – these will have you ‘crashing’ later in the day and caffeine is a diuretic, which means it can dehydrate you if you have too much.

Delegate and Automate

Rely on staff and software to conduct day-to-day, repetitive activities so that you can focus your time and energy on value-adding activities only.

If you find the right staff and put people in the right roles, you shouldn’t have to spend too much time supervising their work – just ensure they remain motivated and interested in their role, and pay mind to their own personal objectives and interests, and they’ll do what you need them to do.

If possible, automation is the preference to delegation – if you can automate a business process then, aside from the initial investment in software or machinery, you should see ongoing cost savings from labour-intensive, alternative solutions. Plus, automation removes the possibility of human error in the process.

Either way, try to make your day-to-day activities redundant through delegation and automation, and you’ll see your productivity and business progress soar, as you start to focus on more value-adding activities.

I cover more about automation and delegation in the 4th week of my online business course.

Swerve Meetings that Don’t Align with your Objectives

Re-assess the meetings you have in your calendar. Do you really need to attend these?

If they don’t directly relate to your business objectives, cancel them.

Meetings are just as distracting as emails, except even more time consuming and therefore costly.

For me to have a face-to-face meeting with somebody, it HAS to present the possibility of something major, aligned with my business objectives – or it won’t happen. I value my time too much to spend it in meetings that are purely for the benefit of the other party, or that are not valuable enough to my business.

Don’t have meetings for meeting’s sake.

Get 8 Hours of Sleep a Night

Sleep deprivation can affect your decision-making abilities, and has a negative impact on your productivity and concentration.

Ensure you go to bed early enough, or sleep in long enough, to get 8 hours of rest each night.

And if this is totally impossible, find time to take a nap the following day to make the hours up.

Sleep gives your body and mind time to recover and repair. If you don’t give your body enough time to do this, your productivity, and eventually your health, will suffer.

Stay Fit, Healthy, and Active

Feeling good about yourself and being 100% fit and healthy has a huge impact on your productivity.

If you don’t have good health, you will be constantly hindered by illness and ailments, and it is impossible to maintain 100% productivity in this situation.

Staying fit, healthy, and active takes investment – in both time and energy. You need to plan meals, prepare fresh food, and take time to exercise and workout.

Granted, this steals time that you could otherwise spend on your business, but would you rather spend 20% of your time dedicated to staying fit and well so that you can maintain 100% productivity, or devote 100% of your time to your business alone, and only achieve 20% productivity due to illness and poor performance?

With full productivity and focus, you can achieve much more in a shorter period of time – so don’t worry about dedicating time to your health and wellness, your business will benefit from this too.

Eat Well and Supplement your Diet

Eating well and supplementing your diet where necessary, are just as important as exercise in terms of maintaining your health.

Wherever possible, try to eat fresh fruit and veg, and maintain a healthy balanced diet.

If you’re aware of any nutrients that you are lacking, then supplement them – to ensure your body has everything it needs to achieve optimal performance.

I personally take CoEnzyme Q10 for heart health, Magnesium Glycinate, a Probiotic for digestive health, Potassium for effective muscle function, and Omega 3,6,9 for my good fats.

Being the owner of www.vitalifehealth.com and www.lovehealthhatewaste.com helps when it comes to understanding what supplements you need to fill the gaps in your diet, but with a little research you’ll be able to figure out a supplement regime for yourself too.

Take Regular Breaks

Taking regular breaks, especially from your computer screen, helps maintain concentration and also allows you to recharge and come back with fresh ideas.

I often take this approach when blogging too. Leaving a post midway to do other things means that when I come back, I’ve usually had some other fresh ideas to include, and it allows me to read what I’ve already written with fresh eyes – so I can spot any changes that should be made.

Don’t be Afraid to Work Unconventional Hours

When you’re running your own small business, and especially if you also have a young family (like me), 9-5 hours go out of the window.

You may need to break-off in the middle of the day for a family event, for the gym or a run, or for a walk, to pick the kids up or drop them off at school, to take them swimming – whatever it may be.

In a typical day I get around 3 solid hours of work done early in a morning, then I’ve got other commitments that break my day up, so I typically only solidly work in 2 or 3 hour blocks, with gaps in-between for the gym, for family, for going for a walk, or anything else.

I probably average around 6-7 hours of work per day, but it’s all broken-down into chunks of 2-3 hours a time.

Provided you are 100% productive in the hours you’re working, you shouldn’t even need to work 9-5 each day to do what you have to do. And if you are working more than this, and the weekends, then you seriously have to address your productivity at work and your work-life balance.

Take a Holiday

Taking a break from work can give you completely fresh perspective and new ideas – and it also helps to recharge your battery, allowing you to come back with optimum productivity.

I’ve had my best business ideas whilst I’ve been on holiday, and I’ve come back with more motivation than when I went, because I have new, exciting things to experiment with.

Make Sure You’re Doing what you Love to do

Ultimately, make sure you’re still doing what you love.

I’m a huge supporter of following your dreams and only doing something that you have a true passion for. You spend the majority of your life working, so you might aswell spend it doing something you love, right?

The reason your productivity may be falling is because you are no longer enjoying what you are doing.

If this is the case, take a short break away from what you are doing and re-assess what you want to be doing.

If you can’t realign yourself within your current business to focus on your passion and the reason you first started your business, then don’t be afraid to admit that what you are doing is no longer enjoyable, and move-on.

Don’t become trapped doing something you hate – you’ll become depressed.

Break free. It may be painful in the short-term, both mentally and financially, but provided you know what your true passion is, and what you want to spend your time doing, then it will be much more rewarding in the long-term to focus on what you love to do.

Don’t Lose Sight of the Bigger Picture

Your business isn’t everything. Life has a wider scope than your business.

Make sure you dedicate enough time to family, friends, adventure, travelling, and leisure pursuits – these moments not only allow you to recharge, they also give fresh perspective and allow you to enjoy life as a whole – rather than constantly obsessing over your business.

Conclusion

Often, the things we think distract us from productivity are the very things that help to boost and maintain it.

Take frequent breaks from work, dedicate time to leisure and fitness activities, get plenty of rest, and don’t work silly hours.

Sure, you could work 6am-9pm 7 days a week on your business, and you might see positive results for a week or so. But this isn’t sustainable. You’ll burn-out faster than you think.

Don’t feel guilty for doing the things you love.

Having your own business brings with it freedom that those working a 9-5 do not share, but often it is the fear of guilt that ties small business owners into relinquishing this freedom, and they end-up working more hours than a regular employee, often for less reward.

It’s the guilt of not trying your best, not giving your business your all, and of what it could achieve if you dedicated 100% of your time and effort to your business alone.

Well, I’m here to tell you that its not quite as simple and linear as it seems.

Human emotion and mechanics are involved – and wherever these play a role, things are never completely straightforward.

Giving 100% of your time and effort to your business alone, does not generate as much growth or progress as it would if you gave 50-70% of your waking time to your business, and the rest to other things you love to do.

When you nourish your mind and body with the things it needs to maintain productivity, your business will also be rewarded in-turn.

Focus on yourself, feed your passions, and give your body what it needs – and the rest will take care of itself.

If you have any other tips for boosting productivity, please share them in the comments below.