Business Success in Recession

Business Success in Recession

As I write this, the world is in the grips of Coronavirus, also called COVID-19. The economy is shaky, and running a business feels scary. Your business can survive recession—or even have success in recession—if you learn how to manage a downturn (and do some recession planning for next time).

I started my own business in 2005 during a strong economy. Then came the Great Recession of 2008. I was completely unprepared. In 2008, I made $110,000. In 2009, I didn’t even clear $14,000.

At the same time, I was dealing with the deaths of my grandmother and brother, a divorce, and losing my home—all in six months. It was A LOT. Not a pandemic, but certainly an upended of my life as I knew it.

I learned a lot about how to run a business during a recession (and what not to do). So, this is my 5-step recession survival guide for other small business owners facing such tough circumstances for the first time.

 

1. Feel your feelings

Whether it’s a global pandemic or a routine economic slump, any major change can be traumatic. It can also trigger unresolved trauma from childhood or adulthood, which only compounds the feelings.

Allow yourself the space to feel what comes up. Don’t beat yourself up or do what you “should.” It’s okay not to push or be super productive or be grateful for this time.

Don’t surround yourself with people who tell you to “get over it” “work harder” or not let your “scarcity mindset” or fears get the best of you. Your feelings are real. Your fears are real. Your situation is real. Honor it and yourself. Do what you need to to protect yourself and your family.

 

2. Ask for help

Asking for help is hard for so many of us, especially for women who tend to be cast int the role of care giver, putting everyone else’s needs ahead of their own. But not asking for help when times are tough is a recipe for disaster. It’s the surest way to burn out and fall farther behind.

Find community wherever you can: Attend networking events, if possible. Have as many virtual coffee chats as you can. Start a mastermind with a trusted group of peers. Talk to other business owners who get what you’re experiencing.

Thanks to this story we tell ourselves, we don’t talk to anyone about our fears because we worry it would be admitting “failure” and looking like a fraud. That’s a lonely and scary place to be. Take a risk and be vulnerable enough to tell others who “get it” about the hard times and your fears. You’ll likely hear a chorus of “me too,” and that support network can also help you devise a plan to turn things around.

If you need help learning how to ask for what you want and need, sign up for my free Gutsy Ask Email Challenge. You’ll get a bunch of mindset and practical tips for confidently making asks that are met with yes.

 

3. Act like a CEO

I went far too long treating my business like a hobby, even though it was my full-time job and I made a full-time living. Recession taught me that it’s vital to act like a CEO, even if you’re a business of one.

If you haven’t already, set up an LLC and get an EIN from the IRS (to use instead of your SSN). Also, separate your business and personal finances with different bank accounts.

Taking those actions can provide legal protection. If ever you’re sued (perhaps you default on a loan, break a contract, etc.), your personal assets are in jeopardy if you’ve not clearly established your business as a separate entity.

Also, getting serious about your business finances is perhaps the most important thing you can do to prepare for bad times. Switching to the Profit First accounting method is keeping my business alive during the current downturn. It allowed me finally clearly see where every dollar I earn goes.

Thanks to Profit First, I have enough money to pay my business expenses for months, to pay my taxes on time, and a rainy-day fund just for my business to continue to pay myself even when revenue is down or dead.

Finally, track your data. No CEO of a big company would be making decisions without hard numbers in front of them—and neither should you.

It’s easy to spiral from “I’m not making enough money right now” to “I’m a loser.” This is particularly true when we rely only on our bank account and our feelings to assess our success.

The cure is to track more metrics in your business so you can use factual data to assess your progress. Sales may be down, but perhaps you’re growing your email list or appearing on more podcasts—or any number of other things that might later result in sales. Revenues may be down, but perhaps your actual profits are up, or you are getting more repeat clients.

Knowing *all* of your numbers will paint a more complete picture of the ways you’re growing and improving, even if actual sales are down.

You can also use this data to help with the feast-famine cycle of business. If year after year, work slows down every holiday or every summer, you can be better prepared for them, financially and emotionally.

 

4. Keep planting seeds

A slow time, especially one we didn’t choose, is very scary. It’s also an ideal time to plant seeds that will later help your business grow.

During an economic downturn, resist the urge to let panic stop you from taking action. Instead, use this time to play the long game with marketing efforts that will pay off in the future, including:

  • Write content that you can bank and use when you are busy again
  • Optimize content that already exists (improve blog post SEO, upgrade your courses or opt ins)
  • Launch a podcast, YouTube channel, or Facebook group
  • Create new pins for existing content, join more group boards, and share like crazy on Pinterest
  • Have as many virtual coffee chats as you can
  • Emails current and past customers, and prospects, to ask for new business, referrals, or just to stay top of mind
  • Learn new skills by attending events, taking courses, and reading books

A slower time is also an opportunity to do big-picture thinking and planning. How might you need to pivot business to respond to the changing economy? What changes to pricing, offers, messaging do you want to make? How can you improve what you do to boost customer loyalty? What could you do to promote referrals?

You should be having a CEO Day at least once a quarter, and a recession is no time to put it on the back burner. Sit down with pen and paper and start dreaming and plotting. You can grab my 20+ page CEO Day workbook for just $10 to guide these efforts.

 

5. Don’t make big decisions

Don’t make big decisions on your worst (or your best) day. Those decisions are based on feelings, not facts. They are rooted in the story you’re telling yourself, and one that will very likely change.

Feelings aren’t facts!

Take a break and, when you feel more even keeled, analyze the facts before doing something rash like changing your business model or quitting.

It’s easy to panic during a recession. But also, there is so much that is outside of our control.

That’s why it’s also really important to develop some healthy mindset practices to help you weather the storm. Here’s a mindset practice that I use (and teach my coaching clients) that has saved me from diving off the deep end many times.

At least once a day, find 5-10 minutes of quiet to ask yourself three questions:

  1. What am I feeling? What issues are coming up for me right now? Where am I feeling resentment, frustration, fear? On what thoughts do I keep spinning?
  2. What are the facts? What do I know to be true? It’s amazing how often when I ask my clients about facts that they start citing feelings and beliefs, not facts. I’ll end up homeless is not a fact. My bank account is at $100 is a fact.
  3. What’s my choice here? Here’s the hard truth: You only have control over your reactions. You can’t control circumstances like coronavirus, and you can’t control others. You can only control how you react to those things. So, what choice are you going to make?

This mindset practice is designed to take you from reactionary to proactive.

If you need more help quieting the mind and avoiding limiting beliefs, you can learn about my mindset coaching practice here.

5 steps to find business success during a recession
Why I host my online courses & membership on Podia

Why I host my online courses & membership on Podia

Why I use Podia to host my online courses and membership, a Podia review

I’m a mindset coach who sells several online courses and, until recently, hosted an online membership for business owners. All are/were hosted on Podia. Why do I use Podia to host my online courses and membership? Read on.

When I first learned about Podia, I was skeptical because it sounded too good to be true. It’s less pricey than other online hosting platforms and does more (you can use Podia to host courses, digital downloads, and run memberships). I was quickly a convert and am now a big fan.

I’ve been using Podia to sell online courses and to host a membership since February of 2018. Below are the 10 reasons why.

 

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase via a link here, I’ll get a commission. The price is the same for you whether you use my link or buy directly from the vendor.

 

1. Podia has low prices

I’ve used other course-hosting platforms (that didn’t even allow me to run a membership or sell digital downloads) and they costed more than Podia—or, worse, they charged nothing but took a big cut of my sales.

I’m on the $79-a-month Shaker plan (I prepaid for a year to save $158). For that, I can host unlimited courses, sell digital downloads, and have a membership—and Podia doesn’t take a cut of anything I sell. There’s also a plan for just $39 a month if you don’t have a membership, want to do affiliate marketing, and don’t need embedded checkout options (more on that in a bit).

Compare Podia to other online platforms and I’m pretty sure you’ll find it’s the most competitive as far as what you get for the price.

 

2. They make it easy to switch

What really sealed the deal for me was when I learned Podia would migrate all my content at no cost. I hosted my first course on Thinkific, but quickly realized it was not a great option for me (the price was too high and the service was subpar). They offer this service to anyone who switches to Podia, regardless of where your content currently lives.

The tech piece is what typically keeps me from trying something new. They eliminated that issue and made the switch a no-brainer.

 

3. Embedded checkout is the best

Not only does Podia give you a custom domain (mine is shop.beckymollenkamp.com), but you can also use the embedded checkout feature. Now I build sales pages on my WordPress site and people can buy my courses (or enroll in my membership) without navigating away from my site to complete the sale.

The more steps someone has to take to purchase, the more likely they are to change their mind.

Want to see this in action? Check out my Money Mindset Crash Course sales page. When someone clicks the “Buy Now” button, they can enter their payment information and gain access to the classes without leaving my site. You can add a button, a product card (with an image, product title, and description and button), or use a text link to embed the checkout trigger.

Give Podia a try without a commitment: Sign up for their FREE 14-day trial

 

4. It’s easy to use

Podia has an easy-to-use editor that’s fairly intuitive to figure out, even for a tech novice. The simple interface basically walks you through customizing your storefront with brand-specific images, fonts, and colors. You can pick and choose which items are displayed, too.

Setting up your content is also straightforward. You can drag and drop video, audio, or PDF files, add links to videos or articles, write text content, and even create quizzes (more on that later).

The platform isn’t necessarily as clean and beautiful as some others out there, but you can do quite a bit (without a lot of struggle) to make it look nice and branded.

 

5. You can make more with bundles…

A smart feature is the bundling option, which allows you to combine two or more courses (or downloads) together and sell them for a package price. I love that I can offer multiple products at a discount to incentivize prospects to purchase more.

You can also create customized bundles for different customer personas (e.g. “The Course Creator Bundle”, “The Blogger Bundle”, etc…). Bundles are a smart way to make more money per sale, and to help your customers with a more comprehensive offering.

 

6. …and with upsell offers

Like bundling, upselling is a smart way to increase revenue. You can set up an upsell for any course or download so customers who are already buying from you can very easily make an impulse buy of an additional product to increase the overall size of your orders.

Using discounts on the upsells can incentivize someone to make an additional purchase they may not have otherwise, which ups your total earnings without all the extra effort of a lengthy email sales campaign pushing other offers.

 

7. There are now quizzes for courses

A newer and fun feature on Podia is quizzes. You can now add them easily to your courses to help to reinforce what your students learn. They are simple, clean, and easy to use—plus, they work on mobile.

Ask whatever questions you want and then when a student finishes answering all of your questions, they’ll see their final results before moving onto the next lesson in your course.

 

8. There are all these cool extras

There are a few other random things I love about Podia for online courses and online memberships:

  • You can set up your membership “Patreon” style—but without all the extra fees! This means you can have different membership levels, with varying rewards at each level, but you play a flat monthly fee of $79 vs. 5-12% of total sales and 2.96% transaction fee per sale. That can mean HUGE savings.
  • It’s easy to create coupons and discounts for promotions, to give your products away as gifts or to influencers, or as incentives for current clients or members.
  • Podia has a built-in affiliate program for courses, downloads, and memberships. This means your customers or friends can promote your courses and get a cut of sales … but you don’t have to pay a third-party to deal with the logistics!
  • You can deliver course content all at once, or drip it out over time.
  • There’s also a pre-launch option that allows you to start generating interest (and collecting email addresses) before you are actually ready to release and sell a course.

 

9. Podia integrates with email platforms

Podia has a very basic email marketing system built into it, but it’s only useful for those who don’t need or can’t yet afford a more robust platform like ConvertKit.

What I love, though, is that Podia integrates seamlessly with most major email marketing platforms, including ConvertKit, Mailchimp, AWeber, Drip, MailerLite, and ActiveCampaign. You can also use one-click Zapier zaps to automatically do things like add a new member to a Google Sheet, receive a Slack message for every new purchase, or record new Podia sales as FreshBooks paid invoices.

 

10. You get unbelievable service

This is last on the list, but it’s actually the No. 1 reason I love Podia. Their service is amazing. I use their online chat feature all the time. Truly, I’ve probably asked 100+ questions. They always give me a quick response, in minutes during business days and rarely more than a day later. When they don’t know the answer, they quickly find out.

Even more, they have offered to fix problems or make changes on my behalf rather than simply sending me instructions or directing me to the FAQ section.

 

 

 

If you’re preparing to sell your first online course or getting ready to start an online membership, Podia may be the easiest, most affordable option, and most comprehensive option.

Give Podia a try without a commitment: Sign up for their FREE 14-day trial

Academic Year Planners: The best options for women

Academic Year Planners: The best options for women

Academic planners (or mid-year calendars) are typically made with students, teachers or anyone in education in mind. They aren’t limited to educators, though! Many business owners who operate on a fiscal year vs. a calendar year also prefer to use academic calendars. 

Whatever your reasons for wanting a calendar that starts in July or August rather than January, you’ve come to the right place. Here you’ll find a great list of academic year planners or mid-year calendars to suit your needs.

(This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase via a link here, I may receive a commission. The price is the same for you whether you use my link or buy directly from the vendor.)

Erin Condren Academic Planner

Erin Condren Academic Planners (starting at $37) are one of the most popular academic planners on the market, and for good reason. They are beautiful, fun, and super customizable. They include a tabbed and dated 12-month calendar with monthly and weekly spreads, lined pages for notes, detailed pages for tracking projects/goals or exams, inspirational quotes, and a coiled-in sticker sheet. I’ve met so many teachers, particularly those teaching younger students, who ADORE this planner. There are several pretty cover options so you’re sure to find one to suit your personality.

Learn more/order: ErinCondren.com

Passion Planner Academic Planners

Academic Planners from Passion Planner ($35) is a powerful option for anyone looking to stay motivated and on track (it runs from August to July). In addition to weekly, monthly, and annual planning areas, it includes questions for regular reflection, a roadmap for short- and long-term goals, and personal and work to-do lists. There are also some fun extras like space for gratitude, blank space for brainstorming, and motivational quotes to keep you going! There are three sizes and three cover options, and a portion of every sale goes to charity.

Learn more/order: PassionPlanner.com

Commit30 Academic Planner

The Commit30 Academic Planner ($45) is perfect for mid-year goal-setters to track assignments, plan your week/month/year, and to take notes all in one location. There’s space for a yearly vision board, a place to track progress on your habit goals, motivational quotes, blank pages for notes and doodles, and a back pocket for storage. The 7×10-inch planner includes Monday to Sunday weekly layouts, and is available with three different cover options.

Learn more/order: Commit30.com

Bloom Daydream Believer

Bloom’s Vision Planners ($29.95) are designed to help you make all of your dreams and visions become a reality. Each month prompts you to detail out your goals and visions in the following categories—personal growth, relationships, health & fitness, family & home, fun & adventure, work/school, finances, and other. It runs July through July, and includes monthly vision boards and column-style weekly views for to-dos. The hardcover planner is 7.5″ wide x 9″ tall, and you can add fun extras like gold foil accents on the cover, monthly tabs, heavier paper, lay-flat spiral binding, and an inside pocket.

Learn more/order: Commit30.com

At-A-Glance Contempo Academic Planner

The Contempo Weekly-Monthly Academic Planner ($22.49) is a clean and contemporary planner that includes weekly and monthly spreads, 40+ blank pages for notes, and a double-sided pocket. Each month is tabbed, and there is one week per two-page spread with lined space for detailed notes; each day has a section for priorities. This 5×8-inch planner has a July start, and a flexible black or purple cover with twin wire binding so it easily lays flat.

Learn more/order: AtaGlance.com

Blue Sky Academic Planner

The Blue Sky Academic Planner ($7.99/$9.99) is a budget-friendly option that includes 12 months of tabbed monthly and weekly pages. The monthly view pages have a notes section for important projects and the weekly view pages include enough a lined writing space for more detailed to-dos, reminders, and ideas. It also features a clear cover pocket, contacts pages, and extra notes pages. The spiral-bound design allows the planner to lay flat. It comes in two sizes and a bunch of fun cover options to suit your style!

Learn more/order: Amazon.com

There you have it! My roundup of the best academic planners and mid-year calendars. I hope you find one you love! If you found this post useful, please share it with your friends and on social media. Thanks!

A great list of the best academic planners and mid-year calendars from BeckyMollenkamp.comA great list of the best academic planners and mid-year calendars from BeckyMollenkamp.com
Undated Planners: The best options for women

Undated Planners: The best options for women

There’s no law that says you can only get organized if you start on January 1st. It’s perfectly okay to take charge of your calendar at ANY time, and these undated planners can help.

Here are my favorite non-dated planners made for creative women BY creative women. This list of the best planners includes daily planners, life planners, custom planners, and more.

(This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase via a link here, I may receive a commission. The price is the same for you whether you use my link or buy directly from the vendor.)

InkWELL Press Build Your Own Planner

Tonya DaltonTonya Dalton, creator of Inkwell Press planners, who started InkWELL Press in 2014, says productivity is not getting more done… it’s focusing on getting the important things done. It’s about living with intention. Her planners aren’t just paper—they are a lifestyle. When you get one, you join her devoted community of fans, and get continuing education and inspiration from her.

360º Disc Planners (starting at $52) are fully customizable so you can create the perfect planner for YOU. This build-it-yourself system offers multiple covers, undated daily pages (in addition to many dated options), and accessories. Once you get the hang of building your own planner, it can be the best solution and worth the price of admission for control freaks (like me).

Learn more/order: InkWELLPress.com

Self Planner

Cathryn Lavery Best SelfCathryn Lavery co-founded BestSelf Co. in 2015 because she wanted more from her life, and realized lack of time was her biggest obstacle. After too many days spinning her wheels, she figured there must be a better way to create success. She and her partner studied high-performance practices and created the Self Journal and Self Planner. They now donate one meal to Feeding America for every order on their site.

Self Planner ($19.99) is the most economical option on this list. It’s an undated, six-month life planner designed to help you manage your time and plan your life. Use the various templates to get clear on your priorities, mastermind your future, and infuse every day with the things that matter most to you. Available in a black or coral hardcover measuring 7×10”, it includes a back pocket, two ribbon markers, and perforated corners.

Learn more/order: BestSelf.co

The Day Designer

Whitney EnglishWhitney English Day Designer planner started this planner back in 2010 as a solution to her own organization and planning needs. She has since sold the company, but her legacy lives on because the beautiful products she created remain largely unchanged. Hers was the first real, grown-up planner I ever purchased, and it remains one of my favorite designs.

Today & To-Do Non-Dated Planner ($39) is a beautiful, book-bound planner with a vegan leather cover (in blush, navy, or rose), gold embellishments and two ribbon bookmarks. It’s the perfect solution for slower seasons, extra projects and life on the go. It includes 90 daily undated planning pages, 13 undated monthly views, 14 undated weekly views, 10 note pages, and goal-setting worksheets.

Learn more/order: DayDesigner.com

Dailygreatness Planner

dailygreatness planner founderLyndelle Palmer-Clarke made it her life’s mission to empower others to apply self-help ideas into their lives so they see results. With her Dailygreatness planner, you can stop with wishful thinking, and truly commit to being your own guru and following your inspiration to live the life of your dreams.

The Dailygreatness Business Yearly Planner ($49.95) is designed to help you hit your business goals. It includes a unique combination of an undated yearly planner, finance and budget worksheets, action and appointment planners, and the best personal development tools. Distilled down into a simple daily, weekly, and quarterly structure, this powerful tool will support you in creating the habits of a highly effective person.

Learn more/order: Dailygreatness.com

Passion Planner

Angelia TrinidadAngelia Trinidad launched the Passion Planner on Kickstarter from her parents’ garage. To her surprise, she raised $48,000 in 30 days with the help of 2,000 strangers and friends! She’s on a mission to help people simplify their lives and focus on what really matters.

The Passion Planner ($30-35) includes most of the amazing planning goodies that are in the dated version of this planner (passion roadmap, to-do lists, monthly reflections, and more). It’s available in three sizes and four colors, and you can choose Sunday or Monday start. Best of all: $1 from each sale benefits charity: water, a non-profit that’s dedicated to bringing clean water to developing countries.

Learn more/order: PassionPlanner.com

The Commit 30 Planner

jenny newcomer commit 30 plannerJenny Newcomer ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund the 2016 kickoff of her now wildly popular planners. They are favorites among business owners, moms, and busy women of all types. Best of all, part of the sales of certain planners go to Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance (Jenny is thriving after ovarian cancer in her early 20s).

The Commit 30 Planner ($24.99-29.99) With both weekly and daily non-dated planner options, these are perfect to start using at any time of the year! You can completely customize what month and what day of the week you want it to start on. The weekly is 7×10″ and comes in black, brown, and teal. The daily option allows for 6 months of planning, is a compact size (5.75x 8.125″), and come sin royal blue, silver, and violet.

Learn more/order: Commit30.com

Enneagram Planner

Jenna Murillo Planner RoundupJenna Murillo is here to ensure a happier, more productive workday for you. Her planners are designed to help you overcome daily chaos and overwhelm to finally start making progress where it matters. “Designing a product that’s a stunning and functional tool for others was always a dream,” she says. “In 2015, fueled by the encouragement of friends and family and a fire inside of me to create, I fulfilled that dream and created a planner.” 

Enneagram Planner ($24.95) recognizes that a one-size-fits-all solution to planning doesn’t work. Instead, these undated weekly planners are made to match your Enneagram number. There are nine (one for each personality type), each designed to embrace the distinct planning style and preferences of the various Enneagram types. I don’t know of any planners like these, and I think they are so cool if you’re into Enneagram!

Learn more/order: WorkSpacery.com 

Undated Dot Journaling Planner

Kaylyn Minix and Michelle Askin founded bloom daily planners in 2010 to inspire and empower people around the world to bloom into the best versions of themselves. “There is true power in putting your dreams and goals down onto paper, and there always will be. It is through prioritizing and organizing your tasks and goals that you plant the seeds of your future and give yourself the opportunity to flourish and grow.” 

Bloom’s Undated Dot Journaling Planner in Marble ($18.95) runs from January through December, but you fill in your own dates so you can start using it at any time. The cover includes a protective plastic layer. This planner has monthly tabs, 12 monthly spreads with columns for notes and goals, 52 column-style weekly views, and daily views with a blank grid and time slots from 6 am to 10 pm. There are also 4 dot-grid pages at the end of each month for creative space.

Learn more/order: BloomPlanners.com 

Hope Planner

Heather Vreelandheather vreeland, creator of hopefuel christian planner for women is a wife, mother, and the creator of The Celebration Society, St. Augustine Social and Littleature Children’s Books. In 2016, she was inspired to design her own daily agenda that helped reorganize her priorities and make room in her schedule to read God’s word every day. That simple goal sparked new life and greater perspective in her normally stressed out days and became an agent of change in her life.

The Hope Planner ($34-47) is more than a weekly or daily planner with Bible verses—this is an all-in-one Christian planner that combines an undated planner and prayer journal to help you be organized and put your faith first each day. This is a beautiful option for Christian women who need a daily planner that helps them make time for faith, just as they make time for tasks and appointments. The undated weekly or daily planner has space for monthly project tracking, goal setting weekly sermon notes, and more.

Learn more/order: Hopefuel.co

Ponderlily Planner

Carina Lawson, creator of Ponderlily plannerCarina Lawson is a Brazilian-born, Arabian Gulf-raised, Brit-wed, higher-ed executive, and twin mum. Like most of the creators on this list, Lawson created her planner for herself to solve her problem of overwhelm. “I’d internalized the message that making time for myself was less important than my to-do list,” she says. “But I wanted space to grow, learn, laugh, and to be honest, sleep, too!”

The Ponderlily Planner (£28 GBP) is made with eco-conscious materials and plastic-free packaging, and is designed to prompt you to dream fearlessly, set meaningful intentions, and take bold actions. The undated weekly planner is available in warm grey, charcoal, or coral, and with Sunday or Monday start. It includes gentle prompts, lists, gratitude reflections, pockets for important papers, and more. This is perfect for European readers: It won’t fly across the world to get to you, meaning a smaller carbon footprint and a cleaner conscience!

Learn more/order: Ponderlily.com

There you have it! My roundup of the best undated planners made for women by women. I hope you find one you love! If you found this post useful, please share it with your friends and on social media. Help me spread the love for these amazing women who are making beautiful products to help all of us get more organized. Thanks!

list of the best non dated planners for women

list of the best undated planners for women

Journaling for Success: The Ultimate Guide for Small Business Owners

Journaling for Success: The Ultimate Guide for Small Business Owners

Productivity experts, business gurus, mindset teachers…it seems like everyone says journaling can change your life. You want to learn how to journal for success, but aren’t sure where to start.

You’ve tried to journal, but usually the blank page stares you into submission. After one or two entries, you quit. Or, it’s like you’ve been transported back to your teenage years and you can’t shake the silly “Dear Diary” feeling.

Don’t worry! This guide will teach you how to journal in a way that works for you

This guide is packed with journaling methods and resources to help you get started—and stick with it. It’s specifically for small business owners who want to harness the power of journaling to grow personally and professionally.

 

 

General Benefits of Journaling

Life can get hectic, and it can be easy to get consumed by all we have going on. Journaling is a way to slow down and take time for reflection.

Journaling is more than a feel-good, sound-good activity. There is plenty of scientific evidence to support that it actually delivers real and important results.

What’s more, writing accesses the left hemisphere of the brain, which is analytical and rational. This frees the right hemisphere to create, intuit and feel. That means writing harnesses all of your brainpower to find better solutions to problems.

 

Benefits of Journaling for Business Owners

Journaling is clearly useful for self-growth, which is useful for business owners. Additionally, there are other business-specific reasons that journaling can help create success. 

Whether you are hoping to launch a new business or wanting to grow an existing one, journaling can help.

1. Journaling sets ideas free.
The brain only has room for so many thoughts and feelings at once. Keep too many ideas locked up in your mind, and you’ll lose some as your brain makes room for others. Getting your brilliant business ideas out of your mind and onto paper captures them forever.

2. It increases productivity.
By releasing your brain from the responsibility of holding onto #AllTheIdeas, you free up space for others to take root and expand. That’s effectively doubling the number of ideas you can generate at any given time.

3. Journaling fills in the blanks.
Seeing all your seemingly disparate ideas on paper can help you (quite literally) draw connections among them. Finding those creative relationships can be difficult or darn near impossible when they’re trapped in your mind.

4. It weeds out bad ideas.
Journaling allows you to look at your business musings in black and white. This judgement-free space can help you more accurately evaluate which truly have legs—and those that sounded better in theory. Letting go of bad ideas quickly will keep you from wasting time and money on them. Even better, it can help you learn from them and perhaps reshape them into good ideas.

5. Journaling creates a record.
Tracking your ideas from fruition beyond implementation creates a record that can later be quite useful. When an idea comes to life and is successful, you can accurately reflect on how it all happened. This can help you re-create what led to your best ideas, and help lightning strike again.

Small business owners can use journaling to capture and track ideas for new businesses or offers. It can also help with brainstorming content ideas, planning social media, or mapping out sales funnels.

To get even more ideas for how journaling can help you and your business, check out How 14 Business Owners Use Journaling to Grow Their Businesses.

 

How to Journal for Success

There are as many ways to journal as there are people. Your journal is your own, and you can create it and use it however best suits you.

Not sure where to start? Here are a few ideas to help.

Journaling for success
As a business owner, a journal can be incredibly helpful in going from probable hunch to profitable reality (see above). You can use a journal to do biz-y things like hone your elevator pitch, brainstorm solutions to your customer’s problems, keep track of competitors and how you can separate from the herd, reflect on your values or your “why,” brainstorm ideas for scaling, dream about the future, and more.

No subject is off limits
Using a journal for business is great, but you don’t have to stop there. You can capture ideas of all sorts. Record your nightly dreams, write out a bucket list, jot down favorite mantras, or just jot down any random thing that pops into your head. If you do this all in one journal, you can later look for connections between seemingly random ideas. Or, you can use separate journals for different concepts.

Put pen to paper
Many studies have shown the benefits of handwriting vs. typing. Not only does it help you better retain information, it activates more areas of the brain to better unlock memories and trigger creativity. If you’re physically able, put pen to paper when you journal instead of typing or dictating.

Let it flow
Freewriting is a powerful journaling method. You write without stopping for a set length of time or until you fill a certain number of pages. Even if you only write, “I don’t know what to write,” you just keep going until time is up or the pages are full.​ The purpose is to free your brain from editing (or censoring) in real time. This allows our deepest feelings and ideas to flow. 

Too much can be too much
For journaling to have the greatest affect on your life and business, it helps to do it consistently over months and years. That said, too much of a good thing can actually be too much. Research suggests that doing it every day can be overwhelming, and that three to four days a week for 15 to 30 minutes at a time is ideal.

Shake things up
It can be easy to get stuck in a rut with anything, including journaling. If you’ve been doing it for a while and are feeling creatively stunted, do something unexpected. Write with your nondominant hand, try audio entries rather than handwritten, head outdoors or somewhere new to journal, use crayons, etc. Experiment from time to time to keep the creative juices flowing.

Let go of perfection
Nothing is a bigger killer of journaling (or any creative outlet) than perfectionism. Remind yourself that your journal is a private space only for you. Write quickly to help free your brain from worries about spelling, punctuation, and grammar. The more you can learn to accept and embrace bad writing, the freer you’ll be and the more rewarding journaling will become.

Try using prompts
There’s nothing worse than staring at a blank page. When you encounter writer’s block (and even the best writers do from time to time), journaling prompts can be a useful tool to help the words flow. More on that next.

The only rule with journaling is there are no rules! Treat your journal like an accepting, loving confidant, or like a free therapist. The more you open up to it, the more it will reveal to you.

Journaling can be messy, and that’s okay. In fact, in journaling and in life, in the mess is often where we find the magic.

 

Best Journals to Buy

If possible, use old-fashioned pen and paper to journal. Research has shown that people learn better and retain more information when they write things down instead of type. Even so, journaling in any form can be incredibly beneficial, so don’t let this be the thing that keeps you from starting!

Most stationery designers offer blank journals that are beautiful and may help inspire you to start writing! If you’re like some people and don’t want to “ruin” a pretty journal by actually writing in it, then consider using a basic notebook.

 

Read This: The Best Journals to Buy

 

You can also maximize productivity (and ensure you don’t forget to do your journaling) by having your planner double as a journal. Most daily, weekly, and even monthly planners have space for taking notes.

Prefer digital journaling? You can use the notes section in your phone or computer, or choose among the many online options for capturing your thoughts. Penzu is a private, totally customizable online journal (also available as an app) and Evernote has a very robust notekeeping desktop and mobile app that can be used for journaling (along with any business/personal notekeeping). Both programs have free versions.

 

Journaling Exercises

Still unsure how to get started? The easiest journaling practice is to simply take a few minutes and reflect on your day or dream about the future.

Each day, take out a sheet of paper (or your journal or planner) and answer one or several of these questions:

  • What made yesterday great?
  • What could have made yesterday better?
  • For what are you grateful?
  • What do you want to accomplish in the coming years?
  • How could you push closer to those dreams today?

Some other journaling exercises include things like writing out a simple pro/con list for a challenge you’re facing, doing a brain dump to get all of the thoughts in your head onto paper, a to-do list or a list of big-picture goals, or just writing uninterrupted for 10-15 minutes about a thematic word of the day (family, community, mindset, change, hope, etc.).

If facing a blank page feels overwhelming, but you want more variety than what I’ve already suggested above, then you may love using journaling prompts. These are questions or other starters to unlock your brain.

A few examples of prompts include:

  • Words to live by…
  • What I wish others knew about me…
  • I’m most content when…
  • What I’ve learned from mistakes/failure

If you love journaling prompts, check out these posts: Morning Journaling Prompts, Creative Journaling Prompts, and Journaling Prompts for Self-Discovery.

The ultimate guide to journaling for success for business owners, plus prompts to get started

Planners for 2020: The best options for women

Planners for 2020: The best options for women

It’s my favorite time of year—time to order fresh new planners for the new year! This popular post highlights more than a dozen of the best planners made for creative women business owners by creative women business owners.

I’m an old pro at this by now. I’ve been using paper organizers forever (seriously, I’ve tried and failed digital options many times), and this is the fourth year that I’ve put together this roundup. 

What I’ve learned is this: There isn’t one option that suits everyone. That said, I’m hopeful that among this great collection of planners you can find the right one for your organizational and inspirational needs.

(This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase via a link here, I may receive a commission. The price is the same for you whether you use my link or buy directly from the vendor.)

The Ashley Shelly Planner

Ashley ShellyAshley Shelly Planner Roundup has a passion for planning and organization—on paper and in her environment. Her brand’s tagline is “Create Your Best Days” because she knows planning is such a huge part of a woman’s day (and life!). She created a planner that combines scheduling, to-do lists, and inspirational planning. “I believe function and inspiration are the key ingredients in a perfect planner,” she says

The Ashley Shelly Planner ($44.95) features a combination of organization and inspiration. It includes a weekly layout on two pages with equal space for all days of the week. Each day has a section for your schedule, to-do list, and notes or meal planning. I love the Creative Spreads, which are positioned at the start of each month, to help you get inspired and set goals. It has a hard, semi-gloss cover, and measures 7.25 x 9.25 inches including binding.

Learn more/order: AshleyShelly.com

 

Life Planners

Erin Condren Planner RoundupErin Condren left 12-hour days in the apparel industry to become a stay-at-home mom of two. She developed a case of cabin fever, and searched online for career opportunities she could do from home. She began making cards for friends, and a friend encouraged her to sell her designs in June 2004. The rest is history.

The LifePlanner™ ($50+) is the ultimate planning system to get organized, achieve your goals, and preserve memories in one stylish space. This feature-packed design boasts two-page spreads per month, three layouts (vertical, horizontal, or hourly), stylish elements and inspirational quotes, coiled-in stickers, and a two-page goal setting spread. It’s ideal for anyone who loves scrapbooking or is otherwise artistic (and I know teachers love this one!). There are so many accessories you can use to personalize and make yours a true reflection of you!

Learn more/order: ErinCondren.com

InkWELL Press 360º Disc Planners

Tonya DaltonTonya Dalton, creator of Inkwell Press planners started InkWELL Press in 2014 to pursue her passion of providing productivity tools, training and education. She believes “in ending the glorification of busy. No one can do it all, but we can take what we’re given and develop a system that allows us to manage our days in a way that leaves us feeling happy and fulfilled.”

360º Disc Planners (starting at $52) are full customizable and allow you to create the ideal planner for your lifestyle. No more trying to fit your schedule into someone else’s idea of how it should flow. The 360º Disc system offers multiple covers, page formats, and accessories. You can choose undated daily, horizontal weekly, vertical weekly, monthly, or goal setting spreads. It can take a bit to get the hang of building your own planner, but for control freaks (like me) it may be the best solution and worth the price of admission.

Learn more/order: InkWELLPress.com

Dailygreatness Planner

dailygreatness planner founderLyndelle Palmer-Clarke os a recovering self-help junkie who’s read all the books, been to all the seminars, listened to all the DVD’s and followed all the gurus only to realize that something was seriously missing from the picture—applied knowledgeShe made it her life mission to empower others to apply self-help ideas into their lives so they can start seeing results, and created the Dailygreatness planner to help.

The Dailygreatness Original Yearly Planner ($49.95) combines a yearly diary, goal and appointment planner, and daily tools for self-mastery. It includes space for appointments, reminders, gratitude, intentions, and evening reflections. This beautifully designed undated journal, with 488 full-color pages, will inspire you to upgrade your life and achieve your goals. Why wait for January 1st to start achieving your goals, when you can start today. 

Learn more/order: Dailygreatness.com

The Commit 30 Planner

jenny newcomer commit 30 plannerJenny Newcomer searched for years for the perfect planner that would help keep her busy work and home life in order. Eventually, she decided to create our own and manufacture it in the USA. A successful Kickstarter campaign funded the initial 2016 production run, and now this planner is a popular choice among entrepreneurs, moms, and busy people of all types.

The Commit 30 Planner ($29-36) is designed to help you crush your goals and dreams by focusing on 30 Day Challenges every month. I freaking love this sleek little planner, which comes in weekly (Sunday or Monday start) or monthly formats. It includes vision mapping, planning and goal setting pages, life and work to-do lists, note pages, a back pocket, and motivational quotes. Best of all, part of the sales of certain planners go to Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance (Jenny, the creator, is thriving after ovarian cancer in her early 20s).

Learn more/order: Commit30.com

The Best Self Planner

Cathryn Lavery co-founded BestSelf Co. in 2015 because she wanted more from her life, and realized lack of time was her biggest obstacle. After too many days spinning her wheels, she figured there must be a better way to create success. She and her partner studied high-performance practices and created the Self Journal and Self Planner. They now donate one meal to Feeding America for every order on their site.

Self Planner ($19.99) is the most economical option on this list. It’s a six-month life planner designed to help you manage your time and plan your life. Use the various templates to get clear on your priorities, mastermind your future, and infuse every day with the things that matter most to you. Available in a black or coral hardcover measuring 7×10”, it includes a back pocket, two ribbon markers, and perforated corners.

Learn more/order: BestSelf.co

Cultivate What Matters PowerSheets

Lara Casey is passionate about helping women get unstuck, unrushed, and living on purpose instead of by accident. Because that was her story, too. She created PowerSheets to help women make what matters happen, right where they are. She wants to get women asking themselves what makes them tick, what do they most want to cultivate in their lives, and what are the things they’ve always wanted to do. I love that!

The PowerSheets®  Intentional Goal Planner ($58) is a best-selling goal planning tool for a reason. They help you uncover the right goals for your season of life, have goal coaching on every page to keep you motivated, and include seasonal worksheets to refresh and refocus your goals. Plus, you get access to a free library of downloadable pages (including things like a meal planner, finance tracker, reading list, and budget). I highly recommend this system for anyone looking for a very in-depth, comprehensive approach to setting big goals.

Learn more/order: CultivateWhatMatters.com

The Day Designer

Whitney EnglishWhitney English Day Designer planner faced an overflowing email inbox, a hand-scribbled to-do list, a pile of meeting notes, and felt overwhelmed and disorganized back in November 2011. She needed a solution—quickly. That’s when she came up with the Day Designer™. It was my first “real” (non-drugstore) planner, and I remain totally smitten with it.

The Day Designer ($59) is the original daily planner. It’s a simple and easy system created to help women find balance and productivity. There are yearly and monthly glances, but this one is all about the daily pages. There is a focus on the top three things you need to do each day (my favorite part!). There’s also a ton of space for events, to-dos, notes, meal planning, gratitude, and more. If you prefer a daily planner, I doesn’t get more elegant and practical than this.

Learn more/order: DayDesigner.com

Passion Planner

Angelia TrinidadAngelia Trinidad wanted to create a planner that helped people break down their short- and long-term goals into actionable steps that they could complete over time. From her parents’ garage, she launched Passion on Kickstarter, and to her surprise raised, $48,000 in 30 days with the help of 2,000 strangers and friends.

The Passion Planner ($30-35) is designed to encourage you to plan for the future, reflect on the past, but most importantly, act on the present. It includes a step-by-step guide for mapping out goals, mind mapping for achieving them, monthly and weekly calendars, and space for monthly reflections. It’s available dated and undated and comes in three sizes. Best of all: $1 from each one sold benefits Malala Fund, a non-profit working for a world where all girls can learn and lead.

Learn more/order: PassionPlanner.com

The Refresh Weekly Planner

Jenna Murillo Planner RoundupJenna Murillo has felt a sense of magic with paper since childhood. She’s energized by turning a blank canvas into something beautiful. That’s what led her to planner design. “Designing a product that’s a stunning and functional tool for others was always a dream,” she says. “In 2015, fueled by the encouragement of friends and family and a fire inside of me to create, I fulfilled that dream.”

The Refresh Weekly Planner ($39.95) is back for 2020 with three fun new cover design options (they are all great, but the Kennedy, below, is my fave). The Refresh Planner includes a pocket design, goal-planning pages, monthly and weekly spreads, intentional space for weekly action steps and gratitude notes, and a notes section. It’s all beautifully bound with hard covers, so it won’t fall apart by April. This one always makes my list because it’s so pretty and practical.

Also, don’t miss the Enneagram Planners if you love that personality test. They are so cool for helping each type actually plan in a way that makes the most sense to their unique needs!

Learn more/order: WorkSpacery.com 

My PA Planner

Alexandra Stearn  tested numerous planners over the years, but none offered what she needed. She out to create the ‘Champion’ of planners—one with a place for everything, that addresses her productivity and time management problems, and is second only to actually having a personal assistant.

My PA Planner ($39-$49) is more than just a planner, it’s a road map for your success with everything you need to turn your vision into a reality. It’s designed for creatives, freelancers, and entrepreneurs who want to make the most of their gifts and lives. Think of it as having your very own 24/7 personal assistant helping you to stay on top of your game, stop you from feeling overwhelmed and help you make every single day count. There is a place for every goal, project, idea, thought or intention.

Learn more/order: MyPAPlanner.com

Hope Planner

Heather Vreelandheather vreeland, creator of hopefuel christian planner for women is a wife, mother, founder of Occasions Media Group, and the creator of The Celebration Society, St. Augustine Social and Littleature Children’s Books. In 2016, she was inspired to design her own daily agenda that helped reorganize her priorities and make room in her schedule to read God’s word every day. That simple goal sparked new life and greater perspective in her normally stressed out days and became an agent of change in her life.

The Hope Planner ($34) is more than a daily planner with Bible verses—it’s an all-in-one Christian planner that combines a daily planner and prayer journal to help you be organized and put your faith first each day. This is a beautiful option for Christian women who need a daily planner that helps them make time for faith, just as they make time for tasks and appointments. It’s an undated day planner with space for monthly project tracking, goal setting weekly sermon notes, and more.

Learn more/order: Hopefuel.co

Ponderlily Planner

Carina Lawson, creator of Ponderlily plannerCarina Lawson is a Brazilian-born, Arabian Gulf-raised, Brit-wed, higher-ed executive, and twin mum. Like most of the creators on this list, Lawson created her planner for herself to solve her problem of overwhelm. “I’d internalized the message that making time for myself was less important than my to-do list,” she says. “But I wanted space to grow, learn, laugh, and to be honest, sleep, too!”

The Ponderlily Planner (£35 GBP) is made with eco-conscious materials and plastic-free packaging, and is designed to prompt you to dream fearlessly, set meaningful intentions, and take bold actions. It available in either dated or undated weekly layouts, and comes in several beautiful colors. There are gentle prompts, lists, gratitude reflections, habit trackers, and more to hold you accountable and help you celebrate triumphs. This is perfect for my European readers: It won’t fly across the world to get to you, meaning a smaller carbon footprint and a cleaner conscience!

Learn more/order: Ponderlily.com

Rule The World

Ilana Griffo Planner RoundupIlana Griffo decided to make a planner when she couldn’t find one that fit her needs. “As a design student, I wanted a place I could doodle, take notes, and stay on track of my classwork,” she says. In the last five years, Griffo’s planner has evolved to reflect her creative journey and her customers’ needs. 

The Rule The World Planner ($35) is full of goal-setting tools bound to help you crush your goals. From budget-planning worksheets to inspirational quotes, it’s bound to make this year your best yet.

Learn more/order: Amazon.com

There you have it! My roundup of the best planners for 2020. I hope you find one you love! If you found this post useful, please share it with your friends and on social media. Help me spread the love for these amazing women who are making beautiful products to help all of us get more organized. Thanks!

The best 2020 planners for women from BeckyMollenkamp.comThe best 2020 planners for women from BeckyMollenkamp.comThe best 2020 planners for women from BeckyMollenkamp.comThe best 2020 planners for women from BeckyMollenkamp.com