Visitor Guide 2016

                  
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    Mitchell Chamber Blog
    Mitchell Chamber Blog
    Sharing news, connecting businesses, and enhancing the business environment in Mitchell, SD.
    Rebecca
    8:15 AM

    Why Your Business Marketing Has to Be Like a Great First Date

    Marketing is dead.

    At least traditional marketing is.

    People don’t want to be cajoled, tricked, or begged into buying from you. 81% of buyers research the options before talking to a salesperson. When you pounce on them with unsolicited emails and phone calls, it turns them off much the same way an overly persistent courter might. To win loyal business and improve your word-of-mouth marketing, you don’t need to be Don Juan. People aren’t looking for suave, but fake approaches. Attracting the right customer can be as complex as finding the right person and experiencing an amazing date. Here’s how you can do that.
     

    Win Them Over Like a First Date
    On a first date, smart daters are on their best behavior. You don’t want to lie but you also don’t want to open up about all your excess baggage. Think of your marketing as a great first date and don’t do these things.

    1.  Pick the wrong place for your date
    The difference between a good date and a great date often comes down to two things – connection and personalization. The connection happens naturally, but if you spend time thinking about your date’s interests and creating a special time based on that person, the date will be so much better than selecting the same place for every date. Personalize your approach. Show them things they want to see. Take them places that suit their interests. 

    2.  Only talk about yourself
    Talking about yourself all night is enough to turn anyone off. The same can be said on your blog or social media, so don’t do it. Talk about what your audience is interested in and that usually starts with getting to know more about them.

    3.  Choose everybody
    Sometimes you know from the beginning someone is not a good fit for you but you decide to move ahead anyway. Whether you’re talking about dating or customers, this type of action is ill-advised. In business marketing, it’s important to know your ideal customer. Both of you will be happier if you stick to people who are a good fit for you and what you have to offer.

    4.  Brief them on your beliefs but don’t discuss theirs
    A great date usually involves stimulating conversation. Amazing conversationalists ask other people’s opinions. Try crowdsourcing some decisions in your business with the help of your ideal audience member. A great date might ask you what you thought about something and then linger on your answer. Remember how amazing that feels? Give your customers that feeling too.

    5.  Believe your person is an island
    Most people who are dating understand very few people make decisions in a vacuum. People have a best friend or family member they talk things over with. The same is true of purchases. People consult reviews, ask friends, and poll social networks. Understanding where your customers get their answers can help you have more influence over their decisions.

    6.  Force the issue
    A great date never pressures you to order dessert, go somewhere you don’t like, or spend more time with them than you want to. High-pressure marketing and sales don't work anymore, particularly when so many people are narrowing down their business choices before even speaking to anyone. That’s why you need plenty of resources on your website. You need to be making a good first impression, even when your business is closed.

    7.  Don’t ask to see them again
    A great date talks about seeing you again and means it. Excellent marketing provides ideas for next steps as well; no pressure just suggestions on where things could lead. This means your blog should have suggestions of posts the reader might also enjoy. Your shopping cart also makes suggestions based on buying or viewing history. Pages have calls to action. Many a great date has been ruined because someone is too afraid to talk about what to do next.


    A Final Word About What Marketers Can Learn from a Great First Date
    Sales and business choices can’t be forced. They must happen organically. Just like on a great date, show interest in the person you’re with. Make sure that person is your ideal and fits what you’re looking for. Talk about topics that interest them. Don’t push things, but do talk about next steps, and provide them with the information they will find interesting.

    A great date is never (just) about you and your preferences. It needs to be great for both people and the best way to ensure that is to involve them. The same is true of your marketing.

     

    Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Associations North (formerly Midwest Society of Association Executives’) Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog.

    She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.


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    Rebecca
    8:25 AM

    Is Online Learning Right for You?

    One of the many challenges for business owners is keeping up with constantly changing systems and best practices. While there’s a plethora of blogs and other helpful content on the web, you may be facing the question in your business of whether you need a little more in-depth knowledge in a particular subject.  If so, you might consider online learning.
     

    Is Online Learning the Solution?
    If your business is lacking, or falling behind in an area, seeking help is essential. Online learning may be the solution but first you should ask yourself the following questions:

    ·  Can I hire the knowledge instead of pursuing it on my own? This can take the form of a consultant, freelancer, or full-time employee.
    ·  Do I have the time to dedicate to learning this new skill?
    ·  Am I looking for, or do I need, credit for this? Do you have a professional license that requires continuing education credits?
    ·  Does someone on staff currently have the knowledge or could I assign them the role of learning and then teaching the rest of the business?
    ·  Is there a local group, like a chamber, that can help me learn more about this subject?
    ·  Is this knowledge obtainable in a short webinar or will it require hours to master?
    ·  Is this something I (or the business) need in the long run or something temporary? If it’s temporary, you might be better served outsourcing it.
    ·  Does the subject matter interest me and am I willing to dedicate the time to learn it? Be honest about this. If you have no interest in the subject, or picking up additional skills/knowledge, you may be better off outsourcing it or making it a professional development goal for one of your employees.

     
    Credible Sources for Online Learning
    There are tons of online learning solutions, from formal degree programs to hobby learning. The prices range from free to several thousand dollars. Some online learning portals offer a subscription fee instead of a per class fee, while others price them by credit hours. Make sure you understand charges up front. If you’re not sure of your ability to make time for this additional learning, try a free online course first. Here are a few places for low-cost, quality online learning programs:

    Udemy has more than 40,000 courses, many for between $12-20 a course. They are self-directed courses so you can learn at your own pace.

    Lynda is a LinkedIn company. It offers a free ten-day trial. Lynda is a monthly subscription model and you can view as many online tutorials as you would like. It offers classes in marketing, HTML, design, business skills, and more.

    edX allows you to access courses from top universities. Subject matter ranges from classes in programming to grammar. They have self-paced options and formal, deadline-driven classes. Many of them are free with an option to pay to receive certification.

    coursera also offers courses from top universities in data science, computer science, and social sciences. Coursera uses videos, quizzes, and projects to teach the materials. Courses are priced individually.

    Khan Academy uses video to teach concepts at a self-directed pace with interactive exercises to assess mastery. Every course is free and they offer a wide variety of courses from beginner math to college-level economics. 

    MIT OpenCourseWare offers free access to course materials from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This includes lectures, lecture notes, homework assignments, and tests. 

     
    A Final Word About Online Learning
    Before investing time or money into online learning make sure you’ve selected the best fit for you and your business. Understand the time required and the expectations of each course. Don’t forget there are many businesses that offer free webinars on important subject matter for small businesses, particularly in marketing. You can also look for how-to’s on YouTube. There are endless options for acquiring new skills so make sure you choose one in a format of your liking.

     

    Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog.

    She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.


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    Rebecca
    8:20 AM

    4 Fun Crowdsourcing Ideas for Your Business

    When people participate in something, they feel a sense of ownership and responsibility to see it succeed. That’s one of the reasons why it’s a good strategy to involve customers, and potential customers, in crowdsourcing parts of your business.

    Ever notice all the food manufacturing companies that run contests to help them pick the next flavor? That’s crowdsourcing. What about magazines that run “Cutest Baby” contests through social media voting? Crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing gets people excited about outcomes and they’re more willing to put resources (time and money) into it. If you’ve been considering crowdsourcing, here are a few fun ideas to get your audience more engaged.


    Create an Insiders Group
    Many companies use their buyer persona to target people fitting that persona through social media. They ask them to join an insiders or advisers group. This gives members special access to the company and they serve as an informal R&D group.

    While you may not need something as large as that, selecting a question and throwing it out there on social media for voting can still drive interest. For instance, thinking about staying open later to accommodate the after-work crowd? Ask people what your hours should be. If someone tells you they wish you’d be open later so they could come after work, chances are if you change your hours to accommodate “their” wishes, they will patronize you, especially if you point it out to them.


    Get the Kids Involved
    This idea came from a program called MyMachine. In MyMachine, elementary school children created “dream machines” that were then vetted by college-level design students. Finally, high school tech students designed prototypes so the kids could see their dream become a reality.

    Crowdsourcing that involves kids is a brilliant marketing idea because, let’s be completely transparent here, most parents like to brag about their children and with social media, there’s no end to the reach they can have. If you create a crowdsource contest or idea and you involve children in some public manner, their parents will become the largest social media ambassadors you have and will drive more traffic to your site than you can imagine. Get the word out and they’ll flock to you.

     
    Find the Right Words
    If you’re not a wordsmith and don’t want to pay a marketing firm for your next tag line, crowdsource it. Create a contest to find your next message. It’s easy and can be a lot of fun. You can also do this same thing with your logo design or mascot. If you’re concerned about what you might get and are worried you’ll have to use one of them, have a firm give you 3-5 ideas, present them to your audience, and ask them to vote. 


    Create a Users’ Group
    If your customer base is large enough and there’s skill involved in using your product, you might want to consider a users’ group. User groups are the ultimate crowdsourcing platform. People are crowdsourcing customer service and assistance for you. To do this you need a platform (an online community) and you need to approach power users in your audience to act as gurus and answer questions. You can also have a member of your staff in the community to seed questions and answers. No one ever wants to be the first person to ask.

     

    There are a few things to keep in mind before launching any sort of crowdsourcing activity. Crowdsourcing requires very little investment outside of time and it’s a great way to get people involved and understand your customer better. However, even the founders of this country understood the danger of direct democracy when they instituted the electoral college.

    Island Records learned the hard way when they decided to crowdsource a concert tour for Justin Bieber and the crowd voted to send him to North Korea. Never place anything in the hands of the crowd that you don’t want them to have a say in. Some people enjoy the joke and the power too much. If you’re worried your target demographic might be surly and unpredictable, you can limit the choices. That way your Bieber won’t end up in North Korea.


    Photo credit via Graphic Stock


    Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog.

    She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.


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    Rebecca
    8:20 AM

    The ROI in Giving Back as a Small Business Owner

    Before you say you have no time to give back, or before you grumble about already doing it, this is not your typical post telling you that you need to give back to people who support you in your community. Instead, this article encourages you to give back as a small business owner based of what you will get. These benefits are all about you and your business, a return on your investment of time. Here’s why you should think about giving back:


    Free Resources Reduce Tire Kickers and Shorten the Sales Cycle
    Giving back doesn’t mean hours of volunteerism, although it can if you’re so inclined; but there is something you’re likely already doing for your business that will help you build a loyal audience of customers who turn to you as an expert. Content marketing, and giving away your knowledge for free, increase sales and build your reputation as a leader in the industry.

    It has another (secret) added benefit. It decreases the number of tire kickers your sales people have to deal with by helping people self-qualify. They have easy access to becoming an informed consumer and once they approach you to buy your service or product, they know they want it. An educated buyer shortens your sales cycle and frees up your sales people as your sales people will then work with more “sure things” and less “maybes.”  


    Mentees Yield Strong Connections
    Another way to get involved in your local community that pays off for your business is taking part in a mentor program. There are a number of options from Junior Achievement-type groups to a formal mentorship program through the chamber. You can even contact your local college that has a major in your area of expertise and offer your services as a mentor.

    Millennials have a strong interest in mentorship. Many want to have their own businesses someday. As a small business owner you have a lot to give.

    But they also have a lot to give back to you. Building a relationship with a mentee not only gives you another perspective and can help you in marketing to their generation, but adds a younger demographic to your network that can help you find interested interns and entry-level employees.


    Presentations Increase Word of Mouth Marketing
    There are numerous groups within your community looking for cheap (aka free) speakers for their organizations. These include associations, school groups, PTAs, chambers, and other membership organizations. They are tasked with being a resource for their audience as well and they can’t do it alone.

    While most won’t allow you to give a sales-y presentation, many do appreciate your knowledge and expertise and will give you a small plug at the end by allowing you to give out your contact information. This is a great marketing opportunity for you. You are presented as an industry expert and you have a roomful of people in a semi-captive situation during your presentation. No other form of marketing can say that.

    If you make a great impression, people will talk about what they learned from you. Word-of-mouth marketing is one of the most powerful tools you have in your marketing arsenal.  


    A Takeaway for Giving Back
    As actor Kevin Spacey once said, “If you’re lucky enough to do well, it’s your responsibility to send the elevator back down.” While giving back is the right thing to do, there’s also value in it for your business. By giving potential customers the resources they need to make an educated decision, and by helping tomorrow’s leaders get started on their dreams, you’ll help them and they’ll help you.

     

    Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog.

    She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.


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    Rebecca
    8:25 AM

    Does My Business Need Brand Ambassadors and How Do I Get Them?

    Some business owners think brand ambassadors are only for large companies with mass appeal, like Coca-Cola or Nike; ones that have huge outreach, alluring to organized groups like mommy or fitness bloggers.

    But that’s not the case.

    Any size business can benefit from a group of loyal customers who sing its praises. You just need to know how to motivate them and give them something to talk about.

     
    Steps to Creating a Successful Brand Ambassadors Program
    1.   Decide What You Want
    As with most marketing strategies, you want to figure out your goals. Are you looking for more shares on social media? Do you want people who will try your new products or services and talk about them with their friends? Do you want to increase reviews on online sites? You need to know what it is that you want from them before you start recruiting.

    2.   Know Who You Want
    Your brand ambassadors will represent your company, so give careful thought as to who you want that to be. They should represent your ideal customer. One of the biggest mistakes businesses make is in believing that being all things to all people will mean more sales. Drilling down to your ideal customer is a much more effective approach because you can talk directly to them and their challenges.

    Selecting the wrong demographic for your ambassadors can minimize sales. For instance, if you’re trying to create a very on-trend teen brand, using middle-aged mom brand ambassadors won’t match your brand. It may inspire more moms to want to foot the bill for your fashions, but it will mean less teens want to wear them.

    3.   Recruit Based on Goals
    How you recruit brand ambassadors is based largely on your goals. For instance, you’ll recruit bloggers by reaching out directly to influencers who match your ideal customers. An idea for mass recruitment is to run contests or sweepstakes to be part of the ambassadors’ group. Creating exclusivity around it will increase sign-ups.

    If you have a small, relatively unknown business reach out to your most loyal customers and let them know you’re putting together an exclusive group and you’d like them to be a part. Be specific about what’s in it for them such as special member preview sales, discounts, swag, etc.

    4.   Provide Frictionless Ways to Help Them Do What You Ask
    Whatever it is you’re asking them to do, make it easy on them. If it’s a social media ambassador program, give them a content round-up of your most popular content, making it easy for them to share to their networks. If it’s blogger outreach you’re doing, give them exclusive opportunities to review new services or products ahead of everyone else.

    5.   Give Them Something Too
    You don’t want your brand ambassador program to turn into a pay-to-play situation. That’s not ethical and doesn’t sit well with an audience knowing there was an exchange of goods and services for whatever they’re providing you. However, since they are doing you a favor, you should find ways to delight them as well. For instance, send them special “insider” swag. Comment on and circulate their content. Make an introduction that you know will be of use to them. Find little ways to increase their loyalty by being a good business “friend.”


    Why All Businesses Need Brand Ambassadors
    Brand ambassadors can provide an amazing service to any size business because word-of-mouth marketing is among the most powerful kind. People believe other customers, even if they’ve never met them. A successful brand ambassadors program can increase customer loyalty, but only if you meet their needs as well. Having a team of ambassadors should never be solely about your business. Give them reason to want to help you by helping them.

     

    Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog.

    She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.


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    Rebecca
    8:15 AM

    6 Things You'll Miss Out On If You Don't Improve Your Business Content

    Google wants content.

         You want customers.

              Customers come through Google.

                   What does that tell you about content?

    In order to get more customers you need good content.

    Not good in your eyes but valuable in the eyes of your prospective and current customers. Google can’t ask each of your customers what they think about your offerings so instead it looks at things it can measure like:

    ·         Page shares

    ·         Likes

    ·         Time on page

    ·         Number of pages visited and many other super-secret things it won’t share with us

    Google has even told us content is important. Check out its advice on creating quality content.

    The simplest way to understand the importance of quality content comes from Neil Patel, co-founder of Crazy Egg, in an article he wrote for the Content Marketing Institute:

    “Content quality is important because Google thinks it’s important.”

    If you’re not creating quality content, or content that others value, you won’t get found. If you cut off this way of attracting potential customers, here’s what you’re losing:

    Educated Customers
    Often by the time people find your business, they’ve done a little Internet exploring (techie pun intended) on their own. They are aware of what they want and what’s out there. This saves time in your sales process.

    If you can attract customers who have already done their homework they’re further down the sales funnel, which means a quicker conversion and less drain on your sales resources. If you’re not placing your business in their buying path, you’re losing out.

     
    Organic Referrals from Google
    If you refuse to provide what Google says it takes to be successful, you’re cutting off a major revenue stream. For many businesses Google referrals make up between 60-70% of the organic referral traffic. That’s a lot of missed conversions.


    Cheap Paid Referrals
    In an ironic twist, Google gives preferred pricing for its paid campaigns to companies that rank highly in its organic rankings. If you create inferior content, or no content at all, you’ll rank in the bottom of their organic referrals.

    Some companies figure they’ll just pay to place. That’s a fine strategy except Google will penalize you and your costs will be much higher than those who play according to Google’s suggestions of providing good content. Plus, very few people trust paid placements the way they do organic listings.


    Word-of-Mouth
    Without content, you lack shares. Very few people will share your web copy, even if it’s brilliant, because it’s about you not something a vast majority of their followers will find valuable. Face it. That’s why people share, to be of value to others – to make them laugh, to inspire them, to educate them, or get them to see their viewpoint. The chance of your web copy doing that is very slim. Your blog, on the other hand, could be a perfect source for shares.


    Loyalty
    Often businesses attract customers through the tone and culture of their business that is shared through content. People do business with people, not entities. Content is a way to connect with your potential customers. People fast-forward commercials, ignore ads, and listen to their own playlists sans interruption. You can no longer get in front of their face on your terms. It must be on theirs. Creating interesting content is an effective way to do that.
     

    Cheap Research and Development
    If you ever thought about launching a new product or service and you reached out to a firm that handles polling or public opinion, you know how expensive that can be. If you’ve taken the time to build a community of followers through good content, you can ask them their opinion directly on anything from new branding to a new product line.

    You get free advice from people who are already following you because they like your brand and they feel more engaged because you are taking the time to ask their opinion. People feel invested in that which they helped create.

    Don’t fall into the trap of thinking content takes time you don’t have or can’t afford. Can you afford to go without the things mentioned above? Only of your pockets run deep, and even that will only get you so far in the referral economy.

     
    Photo: © GraphicStock

    Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers and associations how to get more customers through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Managers Blog.

    She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.


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    Rebecca
    8:41 AM

    How to Stay Safe Online

    Cyber security is becoming such a big deal even the politicians are talking about it. According to the FBI, billions of dollars are lost every year with cases of cyber crime. Often small businesses are underrepresented in these types of statistics because crimes against them go unreported. A decade ago, cyber criminals were working on those with deep pockets but today’s cyber menace looks for low-hanging fruit – businesses without adequate security measures. If you want to avoid becoming a victim in your business, there are a few things you need to do:

     
    Beware of Ransomware
    Ransomware is one of the FBI’s major concerns. It’s a form of insidious malware that encrypts and locks your files. This form of electronic extortion demands payment from the victim to unlock the files.

    There’s very little that can be done outside of paying the ransom or using a restore point to reinstall your data, assuming you have a backup. Which brings us to the most important point – backup your files. If you have a good current backup you needn’t give in to these criminals.

    Most of ransomware comes from user error when someone clicks on an email link. Since ransomware often doesn’t immediately show up, an employee can infect your entire network without knowing.


    Educate Your Employees
    If you’re a one-person shop, you need only educate yourself on the dangers of the Interwebs but if you employ others and they bring their own devices to work and use your company network, you need to bring them up to speed on cyber security best practices immediately such as not clicking on questionable links (and educating them on what “questionable links” can look like. Cyber criminals have become a lot more cunning and a lot better at mimicking emails from popular brands. Some even pose as the IRS) and installing updates.

     
    Perform Updates
    Companies like Microsoft spend a lot of money on updates so you can be sure they’re valuable. Most of the time they’re patching a security risk. Many people simply read over the new features or bug fixes and decide whether they want to install them or not based on those things. What they don’t realize is that “out-of-date” software increases your risk of being hacked. As inconvenient as applying an update may feel, recovering from a cyber attack or breach in security is a lot more so.
     

    Limit Activities on Public WiFi
    If you want to check Facebook while you’re at the airport using their free WiFi, go ahead. If you have a sudden desire to check your bank account on a public WiFi, fight it. If you travel often and you deal with a lot of secure information (or what should be) invest in your own hotspot or use a VPN. Don’t use public WiFi for confidential information, even if only for a moment to check a balance.
     

    Use Hover Overs
    As mentioned earlier scam emails are becoming more sophisticated in design and appearance. Clicking on an email link can place your entire network at risk. Before clicking on an email, hover over the link to see the address. If it’s an email from a reputable business like Amazon or Yahoo you can be assured it will be linking to @yahoo.com or @amazon.com. If you have questions about it being legitimate, close out of the email and contact the company directly. One other thing, the IRS never sends emails.


    Use Strong Passwords and Be Selfish
    Don’t use passwords that are easily guessed from public information. Use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and characters when allowed. Try not to share passwords between multiple sites or people. Also, if asked a security question from your account, don’t use real answers. Again, many of these could be a matter of public record or easily ascertained through social media. Yes, cyber criminals are not above stalking you for information. It’s better to use the security question and make up your own answer. Just make sure you can remember it since it’s a work of fiction.

    Don’t write passwords down or keep them electronically in a Word document labeled “passwords.” Whenever possible use a two-step authentication process for logging in. The chances of that being hacked are a lot less than a single sign-on.

    A Final Word about Staying Safe on the Internet
    As a small business owner, one of the most important things you can do to safeguard your company’s future is to take care of security vulnerabilities today. Not only can cyber criminals steal valuable information from your operation but once they have it is very difficult to regain the trust of your customers. Invest the time and money to educate yourself today or invest in working with someone who can help. It’s the one thing your customers will never thank you for but it means the world to them.   

     

    Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Associations North (formerly Midwest Society of Association Executives’) Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog.

    She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.


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    Rebecca
    8:15 AM

    5 Ways to a Better Bedtime Routine

    What does your bedtime routine have to do with the success of your business? Plenty. Every time you use everything you have on a given day and you’re exhausted beyond belief, and then you short yourself essential sleep, you’re borrowing from tomorrow’s success. It’s impossible to give tomorrow your all when you’re exhausted, so establishing a healthy bedtime routine is essential to the health of your business. Here’s how you can do it:


    Know Yourself
    I’m going to go against today’s push led by Arianna Huffington and the early to bed, “sleep eight hours” army. You must listen to your body in order to establish a better bedtime routine. Some people need 9-10 hours of sleep. Winston Churchill preferred a biphasic sleep where he slept for a few hours each night (usually from 3 am to 8 am) and again in the afternoon for two hours. Thomas Edison saw sleep as a waste of time and practiced a polyphasic sleep schedule sleeping for 30 minutes to an hour every four to five hours. Leonardo Da Vinci did the same. Figure out what makes you feel most rested and commit to that type of sleep schedule.


    Kill the Electronics
    Most sleep gurus will tell you that you need at least one hour before bed that is electronic free. This is because of the blue light stimulating your brain and disturbing sleep. Again, the electronics ban is something that is largely personal. Does checking your emails before bed cause you anxiety or does it allow you to feel more in control of what you’re facing tomorrow morning? Are you a light sleeper who is disturbed if someone sighs next to you or can you sleep with a freight train in your home? It’s important to note, the light from a train is incredibly disturbing, a lot more than a cell phone, although I haven’t seen the studies. But if you’re having issues falling asleep or staying asleep, try instituting the electronics ban an hour before bed and charge those electronics somewhere outside of your bedroom.

     
    Do Something You Enjoy
    Instead of using electronics right before bed, do a quiet activity you enjoy. You can read, meditate, work on word puzzles, take a hot bath, snuggle with your kids or a hundred other activities that can help signify to your brain that the day is ending. Some business owners prefer to review their day, congratulating themselves on their wins and putting together a new game plan to conquer their challenges. But don’t let this daily review cause you anxiety. If it does, turn it back to celebrating the good things that happened and enjoy the feeling of being grateful for what you and your team accomplished.

    By doing the same activity every night, your mind will begin to understand what the activity signals – impending sleep. Psychologists tell you to establish a sleep routine for your child. The consistency and predictability are relaxing. It works that way for adults too.


    Think Happy Thoughts
    Nothing kills sleep faster than anxiety and reviewing all the things that went wrong in the day or everything you have to do tomorrow. Stop it. Instead, practice mental control. If an anxious thought comes into your head, envision yourself holding it in your hand and then blowing it away like a dandelion seed. Then think about something that brings you great joy and only think about the joy aspect. For instance, your children may bring you joy and you may start thinking about them but then your thoughts quickly erode into how angry they made you today or how you let them down as a parent.

    If you need to, “transport” you and your children to a happier place, like a family vacation that hasn’t occurred yet. Your happy place doesn’t have to be real. Your focus is on the happiness so whatever brings you that can set your mind at ease enough to gently drift away to sleep.


    Try Music
    This is another personal suggestion as some people find music very distracting when trying to sleep. But there are sites like Brain.fm (and music sites like Amazon) that play sounds, not traditional music. These “songs” are created by artificial intelligence with the insights of auditory neurologists. They’re designed to induce deep relaxation in about fifteen minutes.


    Final Words on Getting Some Rest
    The quest for sleep is one that eludes many successful business people, but it’s extremely critical to your abilities to running a successful venture. A lack of sleep can severely impair your problem solving and decision-making capabilities.

    The key to establishing a better bedtime routine is to do what works for you. If eight hours of sleep leaves you feeling groggy, try other sleep schedules until you find one where you feel refreshed. Use sounds or a fixed bedtime routine/activity to signify to your mind that it’s time for rest. Finally, if none of this is working get a professional opinion. You could have a life-threatening condition called sleep apnea or extreme anxiety, which could be contributing to your inability to find sleep and stay asleep.

    Finding a sleep solution is critical to your success in business. Stop borrowing energy from tomorrow. Create what you need today.  

     

    Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog.

    She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.


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