I send one letter a month right to your inbox. It has all the tools, tips, ideas and support you need to amplify your life and your business. Sign up and join the over 2,000 folks who read it!  

Small Business

Focus on Your Own Business

Focus on Your Own Business Focus on your own business. I think we all need that tattooed somewhere on our body. I have the rare opportunity to work with and observe over 100 small businesses as part of my Main Street position. It is a passion and a real love of the entrepreneurial spirit that I bring to this work and any criticism is just observation without being deep in the trenches like they are day in and day out. There is one phenomena that I can’t stop thinking about, and one that I suffer from too, and it peeking my head out from the work that I am doing to see how the competition is doing, see where I am in the scheme of things, and focus on something other than the work I have to do. This can happen because things are going great in my world and I (sometimes stupidly) think I can stick my head up and fix something out there or things are boring or hard in my world and I want a relief (most often it is this).

I see other business people doing this, too. In fact, all the time and what I want to shout at them (and at me) is go focus on your own business. There is so much to do in our own work that there really isn’t time to go poke our heads up and comment, complain or stir up things outside of it. Really. Are your ducks ever completely in a row? My to do list never shortens and the work never ends (not complaining, I love it), but every once in a while it just gets too tough to keep focused on it so I think about all the things “out there” that are wrong. What a total and complete waste of my time.

When you are focused on someone else instead of your own business you will never win the race.

The trick is that we can’t be at 100% all of the time. It’s not possible. We are in it for the marathon – not the sprint. Knowing that we have to find constructive things that we can focus our attention on when we are a bit burned out on our own business. We can’t get caught in the trap of complaining on Facebook, stirring up stuff in other people’s business because of our own boredom, getting lost and forgetting that we need to do our own work… so what can we do when the inevitable urge to glance over at something or someone else comes over us?

8 Tips to Staying Focused on Your Business

  1. Create an Amazing List of Things That Need To Be Done – this magic list is ongoing and can be added to whenever you have something you think of that needs/could be done, but isn’t urgent. When you start to feel unfocused pull it out and tackle one of those projects.
  2. Make a To Do List – Every. Single. Day. If you have a to do list you can’t get unfocused. You won’t lose hours wondering where you were (on Facebook) because you have shit to do.
  3. Get Accountable – Find a buddy that you meet with either online, in person, or on the phone with once a week that you tell you big goal for the week (one thing) and every week you report back on progress.
  4. Make Yourself Pay – are you getting lost a lot? Every time you see yourself wasting time online put a dollar in the jar. When you start meddling, gossiping, calling a friend so you don’t have to do your actual work – put a dollar in the jar. Just like a curse jar once you see actual dollars on your desk you might realize that time equals money and you are wasting it. Up this by giving that money to a charity you DO NOT support. That alone will help you get focused.
  5. Have real work hours. One of the issues I see is that entrepreneurs don’t have real hours. Even if they have a brick and mortar business that closes at a certain time they often bring that work home with them. It might be cool for you, for a while to work 18 hour days, but that isn’t sustainable over the long haul. Start having real hours and devote your time off to your real life. (You know, work life balance!)
  6. Remind yourself they aren’t better or have some magic you don’t have. This is a biggie for entrepreneurs. It’s so easy to start focusing on your competition that you forget to run your own race. I’ve seen amazingly, crazy shit in my work. People focused on what the business around them puts out in their trash, the hours that they keep, the number of deliveries they get… all focused outward. There is no time to focus outward when you are running your own business. You can SCHEDULE actual time in your business to do competition analysis. Other than that… stay focused on what YOU are dong.
  7. Set your timer. Set your phone timer to go off every single hour and check yourself where you are and what you are doing. Are you working on your business or are you obsessed by some comment someone wrote on Facebook? Get back to work.
  8. Pay Yourself for Being Focused. This doesn’t have to be some huge amount of money. In fact, it can be a buck. If you plan to work an 8 hour day (because you scheduled your work) you give yourself $1 for every hour you work. At the end of the day you should have enough to get coffee in the morning. If you come up short you can figure out where you are missing time.

Dude. The distractions are real. The feeling that the competition is creeping up ahead of you can feel terrifying. Maybe you aren’t doing so great and the distraction of worrying what other people are doing seems like real work, but you know, in your heart, it isn’t.

I want you to consider that every Facebook comment, gossip session with your neighbor, complaint to your coworkers – have they ever amounted to you getting more business or doing better work.

I’m not Sherlock Holmes, but I’m guessing no.

You need to get back into you and your business every single day. This an be hard to maintain, but what you have to bring the world is your own secret sauce. We need it. We don’t nee you distracted by the guy next to you. Get totally into your work and let’s see what amazing things you accomplish.

8 of the Go To Marketing Blogs I Actually Read

Marketing Blogs I believe in continuing education (for everyone) and with that I read a number of branding, marketing or development blogs that you should read, too. Then we should go get coffee and talk about them. Even after 20 years I think it’s super important to keep you with new things in the field. These are some fun places I find relevant content that I share with clients and use in my own business.

  1. Braid Creative writes a great blog on creative and small business branding. They are blowing up the content lately on their blog, webinar series and podcast. If you have been in business for a while this is just as relevant to you as it is to the newbie.
  2. The Hubspot Marketing blog is pretty killer. They have great information that you can directly use in your own business. They are a go to for me on a weekly basis.
  3. I’ve been following Chris Brogan for a long time and he continues to write valuable, relevant pieces that help small businesses, online business and those looking to figure out what the heck they are doing.
  4. Paul Jarvis doesn’t write a blog. Instead he writes a Sunday Dispatch that I am super in love with and a bit jelly that I can’t get my shit together to do on a regular basis. He works with creatives and has really good things to say. Subscribe. You won’t regret it (except when you feel jealous of all that goodness.)
  5. I definitely didn’t attend an Ivy League school, but I read the Harvard Business Journal pretty religiously… because anyone can do that. This is good stuff, for free and without the weird secret clubs and hazing.
  6. Down to earth, practical and honest about how to get things done for your business belongs to the beautiful Marie Forleo. Her drive is amazeballs and her message is completely on point.
  7. I’ve been listening or reading Elise Joy before she had kids, a business selling Get To Workbook or was a sought after speaker. She is someone who does what she says and encourages you to too. Her podcast is a sweet reminder that business can have balance.
  8. Peg Fitzpatrick is my go to for social media marketing. She is smart, insightful, totally experienced (not just talking about it – DOING IT) and I get to meet her in September!!!

Alright, what am I missing? Who do you read in the marketing sphere that I should totally be adding to my queue? BONUS: Looking for blogging help? Check out Problogger – he has the sweetest Australian accent and really is a pro and I’ve been reading/listening to him for YEARS. Need to do a Business Plan? Jennifer Lee is your woman! She brings the Right Brain Business Plan to life and has been fun to watch grow her own business over the years.


Recommended Reading: Life is a Mixtape

Two new posts; just do this ONE thing for your biz and it will make a huge difference and a whole huge wrap up of advice for working better and living more sanely. This is the good stuff! Here’s also a link to the Free Meeting Notes Tool that has been downloaded over 10,000 times. Seriously crazy, but it works!


Have you thought about working with me on your branding, digital marketing, launch or nailing down your special sauce? I have a form for that. Go, fill it out and let’s see if we are a fit.

1 2 3 4