2011 – 7 Things that changed my life….

2011 – 7 Things that changed my life….

Hey folks, firstly a very happy New Year to you all. I wish you the very best for 2012.

If you do one thing this year make it your objective to go out of your way to help others succeed with their goals and yours will follow on.

So in the now great tradition, here is my summary post of the last year and the things both in and out of work that changed my life for the better. Remember this isn’t just about me telling you how great 2011 was for me, it’s written because if just one of the things that had a huge impact on my life, could affect yours in the same way then it will have served its purpose.

By the way, if you’re interested – here were 2010 and 2009‘s lists.

1). Having made it onto the list two years on the trot but not made the top spot (there is no order in this list unless you’re my partner by the way) – its Lizz again. This year was very special for us as we recently got engaged. I finally started to feel that settling down and building a family was what I wanted to do and I can’t think of anyone better to do that with than Lizz. For risk of sounding corny, I do actually believe we were made for each other. We were both so overwhelmed by the support and congratulations we got back from everyone when they heard – it was my number one high point of the year.

2). Tilly Talking – My niece is now talking and turning into a proper little human being. There is something you can’t put into words about the feeling you get when a little person bounds up to you with a beaming smile and full of happiness. It’s a shame we lose some of this as adults – we need to do all we can to regain it – it’s going to be on my list for 2012.

As Will Ferrell in Elf says, “I just like to smile, smiling’s my favourite.” – let’s all try a bit more of that this year.

3). OK onto the less personal ones now. Having signed up for it a couple of years ago, I re-found Evernote and now it organises my life. Evernote is a fantastic program which has mobile, desktop & web versions and also sits on any device you might have. You can keep notes/files etc all categorised for easy recall and as it’s across devices you can be pretty much anywhere with all your stuff available to you. I use it for work and home. Here’s a great tip – as people tell you things they like/want through the year, make notes in evernote, take pictures if you can and email them in and then when it gets to Christmas/Birthdays you have a ready made list of things people actually want :)

4). Nudgemail – I have a pretty bad memory. Well in fact I don’t think that’s entirely true, I just have an awful lot to remember so some of it slips through. No more though! Nope, I use a fantastic tool called Nudgemail which simply emails me on the date I ask it to – either with a cc of an original email I sent it, or just a reminder. Anything I delegate now gets nudged so I can forget about it and move on. An awesome tool folks.

5). Business Away Days – We all know how easy it is to get caught up in the day to day goings on in a business but it can be crippling for you if you don’t take time out to think, plan, innovate and consult others. I do this quarterly for a whole day, with two of my best friends (and local business owners) and monthly for a meal where we work on goal setting and holding each other accountable to these targets. The latter is in more of a  bitesize format (3 small goals a month) where as the former is much bigger picture. If you don’t have a group like this already, I heartily recommend it for 2012.

6). Cooking – Sunday is now MY cooking day and I love it. I regularly spend the afternoon considering what crazy concoction I can dream up, then going out to buy the ingredients and finally preparing and cooking it for Lizz and I. Running a business can be quite stressful, afterall you have to be a boss, a friend, a colleague an advisor, an inspirer and you have to make sure that at the end of the month, you have enough work coming in to meet the outgoings (and hopefully a bit more for some profit!) – oh and all that happens every single month. All these challenges can take their toll on you, however successful your business is. It’s extremely hard to turn off (many would say you never do). I’ve found that cooking is something that helps me to relax, unwind and put aside the challenges of the moment. It’s got to be one of the most therapeutic things you can do.

7). Envirosend Email Marketing – We launched our email marketing product, Envirosend, this year and it’s flying. We have loads of clients using it very effectively to reach out to their prospects and clients on a regular basis. All businesses should have some sort of email marketing system in place. It is a very low cost, very effective medium for marketing. If you’re not talking to your database regularly, perhaps today is as good a day as any to start. The guys at Optix can help you with a demo if you’re interested in seeing this product.

So there you have it, just a few of the things that changed my life this year for the better. I’m really looking forward to getting my teeth stuck into 2012 – lets make it a cracking year folks.

Now Your Thoughts

  • So what changed your life this year?
  • Who and what made an impact on your 2011?

7 Super Useful Resources for Busy Business Owners

7 Super Useful Resources for Busy Business Owners

We’re all busy right? In the fast-paced life we lead, it’s great when a tool comes along that helps us run our business more efficiently – the trouble is there are a lot of them out there which have little or no benefit to users and in fact end up wasting us a lot of time.

Every now and again I come across websites that are really helpful and increase my efficiency dramatically. I want to share a few of these with you today. It would be great if you could share any gems you’ve found in the comments so this post becomes a really useful resource for others.

So here are some tools that you can start using immediately.

Nudge Mail – I love this tool and as I get to know more about it I use it more often. This clever system allows you to email it (without any kind of signup procedure) with a date or time that you want the email sent back (i.e. a nudge). The possibilities are endless. I think I might write a more detailed post about it in the future. If you practice GTD this is a great tool for you.

Evernote – There’s not much you can’t do with Evernote. Setup folders for documents, scans, emails, clips from webpages, images and pretty much everything else you might want to organise. If you need a central place for putting things in ‘the cloud’ this is as good as any.

Remember The Milk – Online to-do lists. I’ve set mine up in GTD style. You can email directly to this online system which means when it gets there you can categorise it. I use a tagging system that helps me pick tasks I want to do according to my mood (i.e. If I am in the mood for lots of sales calls – I have a tag for calls)

Adwords Keyword Tool - If you blog then you need to consider what people might be searching for in the likes of Google. This useful tool is great for finding out what people are ‘actually’ searching for, not just what you think they might be doing. Simply take your findings and make sure you craft your titles and articles around them.

Dropbox – Emailing large files can be a real pain. Email servers normally have a limit of about 10mb on them and quite often you might need to get larger files to other places. I recommend dropbox which is free for upto 2gb of storage.

Survey Monkey - Are you looking to run an online survey? Perhaps you want to get feedback from clients. Survey monkey is a great website which makes building a survey very simple and gives you fantastic feedback data and graphs the other side.

Eventbrite – Running a seminar or event and want to invite people? Want to charge but don’t have your own credit card facility? This website allows you to create an event and set a price (can also be free) and invite people to book online. It takes all the hard work out of it for you.

Have you found this post useful? This is the sort of thing I’ll be sharing more regularly with my friends who signup to my email list. It would be great to see you there – just pop your name and email addy in to the box on the homepage on the right hand side.

Now Your Thoughts

  • What tools do you use to increase efficiency? Let’s share and make this a useful resource in itself