Episode #39: Control in Your Business (And a Lesson from Frozen)
In Part 2 of Getting Ahead in Your Business in 2021 series, I’ll talk about the types of control you have in your business. We will dive into the things you should let go of, the things you should hold on to, and how this will help your business flourish in the long run.
Types of Events in Your Business
I don’t know about you, but my family has had a ton of movie nights since the pandemic hit. We were watching Frozen for the millionth time the other night, and Olaf, the lovable animated snowman, has a line where he says, “We’re calling this ‘controlling what you can when things feel out of control.'” Even though I’ve seen it over and over, the line stuck out to me this time, and I started thinking about how this applies to my business.
The way I see it, there are three types of events in our businesses: the things we directly control, the things we kind of control, and the things we absolutely have zero control over. In this episode, I talk about all three types of events and some things we can all do NOW that will save us time and energy in the long run to better deal with these events as they come.
Things You Can Control in Your Business
Things we can always control in our business include our own thoughts, actions, and the role that we play in everything that needs done. We control what we say, do, think and decide about our business, and we know that any change or growth from the inside starts with us. One thing I’ve noticed about the TeachersPayTeachers seller journey, though, is that it’s easy to lose sight of your “why” over time. So I like to ask, “What are you meant to be doing?” I don’t mean what’s on your to do list, but why did you start your business in the first place?
The Role of the Visionary
Many of us weren’t meant to be business owners or entrepreneurs. You probably started a teacher seller business because you have a creative passion and drive, and that makes you the visionary of your business.
A visionary is someone who is the idea machine, who has those creative epiphanies and who can think up your next best-selling product in the time it takes to shower. Visionaries are constantly thinking, planning, and love creating. You know what visionaries don’t love? All of the business stuff. We start to lose our identity as the visionary when we do all of the other business stuff we have no interest in. There’s pressure to do it all, and we find we have less time to create.
Just knowing that your role should be that of the visionary can actually help a lot. Making that simple mindset shift can make you feel less guilt for hating the business stuff. But what can you actually do with this knowledge? How can you reserve your energy for the role you were actually made for? How can you find as much time as possible to be the visionary of your business and not spend every single day doing the little annoying business tasks? Here are a few suggestions to help you get started!
Hire a Virtual Assistant
The easiest option for getting more control in your business is to hire out the tasks that are stealing the most of your time and the most of your joy. If you have a virtual assistant (VA) for your TpT business, now might be a good time to look at the tasks you’re having your VA do. Make sure that you are getting the creative tasks, and have them work on the behind-the-scenes and business-related tasks you don’t want to do.
It’s important to acknowledge that not everyone is at a point where they can or should hire someone yet. That’s totally okay and part of the TpT seller journey. I don’t know a single person in real life in the TpT world who hired someone their first year. It’s something that takes time, so please do not feel like you need to hire someone right away. However, what you CAN do right now is take steps to make it easier to hire a VA later on.
Start tracking your processes, standing operating procedures (SOPs), and workflows now so you’re ready. That way when you are eventually ready to hire, you can easily train someone using the helpful information you’ve already gathered. It doesn’t even have to be fancy. Every time you do a crucial or recurring task, jot down the steps in a Google Doc linked to any sites a VA would need, your username and login information, links to any videos, etc. Before long, you’ll have an entire user manual with all your business SOPs that you can hand off to someone when you’re ready.
Another thing you can do to gain more control in your business is to do your work in a way that helps you get the messy stuff over with for a while so that you can free yourself up for creating. The best way to get this done is to start batching your work. Get the undesirable business-y stuff done in a giant session rather than being strung along by your to do list every single day.
In the Finishing Framework course launching February 1st, we place a large focus on batching and the efficiency that happens in your business when you can do recurring tasks like SEO research, blogging, and scheduling social media at once. By doing those things in a large quantity, you free yourself up to be able to spend weeks or even months creating. It sounds like a dream, but it’s one that can actually come true! In a couple of weeks, I’ll have people on the podcast who have already gone through The Finishing Framework to share with you the transformation that their business has undergone after taking the course.
“By doing those things in a large quantity, you free yourself up to be able to spend weeks or even months creating. It sounds like a dream, but it’s one that can actually come true!”
The day I discovered batching was the day my business was able to pivot in a big way. So if you’re not in a position to higher someone, or even if you are, I encourage you to try batching all those tasks you don’t enjoy doing but know are necessary. You’ll see how it feels to have weeks, even months, freed up so that you can focus your time and energy on what you probably love best: creating!
Things You Can Kind of Control in Your Business
We’ve already talked about the things we can 100% control, but now let’s talk about the things we can only kind of control. These changes are due to outside factors, but we’re often given a little bit of a heads up so we can see them coming. When it comes to things I can kind of control in my business, I think about the things we’re hearing from TpT about how we’ll soon have VA login access and pixel tracking. However, these can also be hypothetical things you’re anticipating in your business.
Identify Threats and Opportunities
I like to identify potential threats and opportunities for my business on a monthly basis. Take a look at a calendar and identify the events that occur throughout the year in order to get an idea of what will maybe happen based on past events. For example, an opportunity could be that during every back to school sale, you make a ton of money. You can’t predict how much money you’ll make, but knowing when the sale will occur and that you’ve been successful in the past during that time of year is a huge opportunity you can leverage. For example, you can use that information to decide what kinds of ads to run and when, or to set a deadline for yourself about finishing a product line you want posted before the sale.
On the flipside, a threat is something that could negatively affect your business, but is not something you can anticipate. But there are things we can kind of expect and prepare ourselves for now. For example, if the pandemic continues the way it has been, virtual learning will continue and teachers won’t be buying as many print resources. I can use this information to decide it’s probably a better idea to advertise my digital resources instead.
Preparing for Facebook Pixel Tracking on TeachersPayTeachers
One opportunity we can all anticipate is the ability to connect a Facebook pixel to our TpT stores. Soon, you will be able to connect your Facebook pixel to your TpT store on the TpT platform. We don’t have all of the details yet, but eventually you should be able to target buyers with ads based on whether they do things like add a resource to their wishlist, add something to their cart, purchase a certain product, etc. That’s going to give you more power to reach your customers and help you take more control of your business.
Something you can do now to get ahead of the change is to have the Facebook pixel installed. The first step is to create a Facebook business page. You may also want to start seeking out training or courses about running Facebook ads. I highly recommend getting to know Tracy Morgan (tracybydesign.co) because she’s done a lot of work specifically for Facebook ads with the TpT seller crowd. If you’re looking to beef up your Facebook knowledge, now would be a great time to start gathering information and collecting resources so you can make a game plan for what you’ll do when the pixel tracking arrives. This is an unmissable opportunity in my opinion, and if you don’t get ahead of it now, you’re going to regret it when it happens and you start seeing other people getting new traffic to their stores.
Preparing for VA Login Access on TeachersPayTeachers
Another thing you can anticipate this year is virtual assistant login access for the TpT website. For a long time, this has been a road block for sellers who want to hire a VA but aren’t comfortable with sharing all of their financial information with someone else. TpT is finally in the process of making it happen, and it’s scheduled for the second half of the year.
You can get ahead of the new feature today by starting to train any VAs you already have. I’m actually going through this with my own VAs right now, and I’m teaching them how to write product descriptions. I suggest creating templates for not only products themselves, but also your product listings so you can have everything set up and ready to go. You can also teach them how to create product previews and thumbnail images, again using templates. Think about the ways you can teach them how to list a product now, even without access. It can be something as simple as doing a screen recording of you listing a product. Create checklists they can use as cheat sheets so you’ll be able to hit the ground running once the VA login access goes live.
Things You Cannot Control in Your Business
Finally, there are always things you won’t be able to control in your business. These are usually outside circumstances caused by something or someone we cannot control. I’m not going to harp on these because they are true surprises, both good and bad. The good news is there are some things you can do now to prepare for unknown changes in your business. I highly recommend creating a batch of emails or social media posts that can kind of serve as your emergency sub plans for your business. That way if you have a really bad week because of illness, mental health challenges, family issues, etc., you’ll have something to fall back on just in case. These can also be things you use when you just need some time off.
You should also consider giving someone else you trust the login or admin access for different platforms. For example, my husband recently asked what he would do if something happened to me. It’s something that has been on our radar, and we’re starting to take steps to make sure we have a plan in place. If this year has taught us anything, it’s important to prepare for the unknown changes even if it’s a little hard to predict what exactly those changes might be.
Those are my tips for taking control in your business! I hope your year is filled with all of the things you think are going to happen, and I really hope any surprises you have this year are good ones. We would love to hear what you’re doing NOW to prepare for changes in your business this year, so please tag us on Instagram so we can all share ideas.
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Links mentioned in this episode:
- School of Sellers Facebook community
- New sellers, join our School of Sellers 101 community!
- School of Sellers on Instagram
- Erin Waters on Facebook
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