How To Choose And Work On Your Best Ideas

As an online business owner trying to make sure you’ve got the handle on your marketing, content, finances and all other tasks that come with being an entrepreneur, it’s so easy to try to  focus on doing all the things.

And let’s face it: you and I both know that it isn’t possible.

Deciding to work on or focus on something means having to sacrifice something else or put it on the backburner, because you have limited time, energy and resources. And there are some things you just cannot outsource or contract out.

But with all the ideas seeming like good ideas… how do you decide which to work on first? How do you know if it’s the one you should be working on? How do you know if it is a good idea or a great one?

Do a brain dump and organise by category and time budget

As with everything to do with decluttering and making sense of an overwhelming task at hand, the first thing to do is to brain dump all your ideas and thoughts on paper.

This might seem like a duh move, but this serves two purposes, one, to clear your mind from residual tasks that are taking up brain space, and two, to make sure you never let a good idea slip away. Sometimes (or a lot of the time) we forget stuff because there’s just so many ideas and we don’t write them down.

Brain dump everything on your mind, including to-dos, ideas for products, and ideas for blog posts or marketing content. Just clear your brain from all the ideas you’ve been hoarding.

After that, go one step further and organise these brain dump ideas by both category and time budget. There’s a handy-dandy Idea Catcher Template I created for you, just sign up below and you’ll get that template for free:

Get the Free Idea Catcher Templates!

You'll also get free weekly tips on branding and systems. No spam, ever!

Organising by category is a two-step process. First, categorise them generally - so whether these ideas are just to-dos, improvements you want to make, a blog post, a content upgrade, a freebie, or a product or service.

Then, sub-categorise them into topics that pertain to your business. What are the key topics or content people come to you for? You should have 2 to 4 main categories that you regularly write or talk about. Organise these ideas into their respective topics.

For example, a social media marketing expert can write about expanding blog post reach with Pinterest, maximising Facebook Ad budgets and the best ways to utilise Instagram stories. A health coach can have topics like juicing recipes, latest health news and tips to use essential oils.

If the ideas don’t fit into any of these topics, place them into the “later” column. You’ll just safekeep them until you have a bigger time budget or you want to work on something new.

Next, go ahead and determine the time budget you have to work on an idea right now, and then classify each idea by the estimated time needed to complete the task.

What this step does is give you a bird’s eye view and content vault of all the ideas that you have, so you can zoom in on the ones that are most relevant and also take you the shortest time to complete. So whenever you have some time to work on content, you know exactly which idea to pluck and execute immediately, skipping all that time spent contemplating and trying to sort out ideas from your brain (it won’t work, your brain doesn’t have folders!).

 

Determine which idea(s) will give you the most results

Not all ideas are created equally - so while an idea can be on-topic and fits into your time budget, the idea might not actually produce the best results.

When deciding which idea to work on, you can look down your consolidated Idea Catcher list and quickly sieve out the ones that will work in your time budget. Then, go through this quick list of questions and see if you answer “yes” to every one of them, or at least 3 out of the 5. If you do, that idea is good to go - it’s relevant, time budget-friendly, and will get you your best results.

  • Can you have a quick win?

  • Does it generate more sales / traffic (or whatever main goal you have in your business right now)?

  • Have previous similar ideas produced good results?

  • Are people talking about / having frustrations around this topic right now?

  • Is it in your zone of genius?

Basically, we are trying to figure out the time to result ratio. The higher the ratio, the more likely the idea will give you the best results for your time invested. Like the best bang for your buck!

I made a handy template here for you to use, get it now for free here:

Get the Free Idea Catcher Templates!

You'll also get free weekly tips on branding and systems. No spam, ever!

Create an intentional to-do list

Doing the validation test with the questions give in the last tip again and again will help you quickly build a to-do list. Not just any to-do list, but one you can prioritise easily by listing them from highest ratio to lowest. This way, whenever you get some time to work on content, you immediately have the next best thing to work on.

No time wasting trying to figure it all out or just throwing spaghetti at the wall hoping that it sticks! Nope - you have a clear and concise to-do list every single time.

Just one small reminder: you have the option to pivot at any time.

If you start working down your to-do list and realise that some ideas take longer than you initially anticipated, go back, modify the Idea Catcher document, and then relist the item according to the time-result ratio. Or, if an idea wasn’t as much in your genius zone as you thought it initially was, move on to the next one and archive it till you have more time!

Also, if business goals or focuses change, just update your Idea Catcher list and to-do list accordingly. It is THAT simple!

Your systems and methods should be as flexible as your business is, because things change and that’s okay. As my mentor Amber McCue likes to say, test, tweak and pivot!


Now your turn:

What ideas have been hogging up brain space and isn’t getting done? Did you try this process, and if so, did it work for you? If not, what systems best work for you right now?


How to Best Curate and Use your Brand Moodboard

As a branding designer, I’m a wee bit obsessed with staying on brand. But I know that sometimes, information online can be muddy about what staying on brand actually means and why you even need to. Other times it just feels like you’re putting up a fake, perfect persona that doesn’t even feel like you.

And I feel you, staying on brand can feel difficult. But the good news is, it’s an easy fix! Most of the time it feels hard because you don’t have a few key foundation pieces to help you get started. Once you get started on the right foot, it becomes easy. And even kinda fun!

Howtousemoodboard.png

What a brand moodboard actually is

A brand moodboard is a collection of images that reflects the vibe, colour theme and things that you feel represent your brand. It can be any image, from abstract photography, to just objects, a place or a room.

Your brand moodboard should make you (and everyone else who looks at it) feel the way your brand does. They should be able to describe it in words that match your brand keywords.

 

What is a brand moodboard for?

A moodboard is an excellent springboard to crafting many other elements of your branding identity, mainly your logo and accompanying elements, and your social media graphics! Imagine, never having to scramble for inspiration for your designer to come up with a design, or never having to worry about what image to post on your Instagram!

When done right, it can even guide your brand voice. When all these different elements of your brand work together cohesively and consistently, you have a recognised, familiar and put-together brand. And what that kind of brand does is get you the know, like and trust factor, meaning visitors are more likely to sign up to or purchase your content.

Cohesiveness and consistency is what sets apart a good brand from a great brand. When familiarity and accuracy is achieved, visitors feel like you just get them and that they’re so aligned with what you put out, that they are much more likely to work with you.

Of course, just one brand moodboard doesn’t achieve all those things. But it is the foundation of a great brand. Expanding upon a moodboard can help you develop your brand voice, products or services that your audience needs and wants.

 

Sounds good… But how to start?

Often, creating a moodboard just seems like going to Pinterest and pinning a bunch of things that look pretty to you. But that method doesn’t really get a very good reflection of who and what your brand is.

Think of Pinteresting for your moodboard like a room in the museum with works of art on the wall. That room is carefully curated. From the theme, to the colours, to the style of art… They were chosen specifically to be put together in the room.

You can start by thinking of your brand vibe. What kinds of feelings do your brand evoke? What do you want people to feel or think when they see or hear about your brand?

Use that as starting point keywords to start searching on Pinterest. If you need help coming up with the theme or vibe for your brand, take the free The Curated Brand class, where I walk you through defining your brand persona, and using that to develop visuals and a voice for your brand. You will definitely get more than keywords from the class and make this process so much easier, I promise.

ipadguide@2x.png

    You can Pin anything, from objects to decor, from places to close-ups… Just keep your brand vibe in mind as you go crazy on Pinterest! I’d say do around 20 - 30, don’t overwhelm yourself, it’ll make it harder to curate later.

     My 2017 Pinterest board went a little over the 30 recommended pins, but this was pre-curation and the dominant theme, as you could tell, was classic, clean lines and nature.

    My 2017 Pinterest board went a little over the 30 recommended pins, but this was pre-curation and the dominant theme, as you could tell, was classic, clean lines and nature.


    Ruthlessly curating your Pinterest board

    After you have a substantial amount of Pins you are quite happy with, you can start the curation process.

    Go through all the Pins and look at each one, coming up with words you immediately think of when you see the image. Does that align with your brand keywords and vibe? You should get a resounding yes! If there are reservations, the image should probably not be on your moodboard.

    Remember, you’re curating for a museum. Each image should be intentionally thought about and put together. If a piece is just okay, it will mess with the entire vibe of the room and confuse the visitor!

    Just pretty won’t cut it. Having just your brand colours in it won’t cut it. It has to evoke a feeling that aligns with your brand. Keep curating until you have about 8 - 12 left on your board. If you have one or two less or more, that’s fine (but be ruthless!).

     

    Now what? How to use your brand moodboard

    You have your Pinterest board… but now what?

    Consolidate these images into an actual moodboard that you can print and paste on your wall, or save as a PDF for future reference. Here are some Canva templates that help you create a beautiful moodboard quickly and for free:

    https://www.canva.com/templates/?query=moodboard

     My eventual curated moodboard

    My eventual curated moodboard

    Prepare yourself, because your brand moodboard can help you generate a lot more visual content for your business! Because your moodboard has been carefully curated, these elements will be the basis of all your visual designs for your brand and business.

    Some ideas on how to effectively use your moodboard in your visuals:

    • Extract colours from them and tweak them in shade to get your brand colours.

    • Select an element or object on your moodboard, and use that as a theme for your social media graphics for the month. e.g. plants, books, office

    • Use colours on the moodboard as overlay colours for graphics, or background colours for your cover image.

    • Sieve out a theme from the moodboard and expand it into a topic, either for a social media post or a blog post. e.g. joy, faith, fitness, sea

    Not only that, your brand moodboard is a perfect prep work done and ready to go for when you’re hiring a designer to create your branding identity (ie logo, patterns etc). By having this carefully-curated brand moodboard already done, your designer can extract the same vibe and elements that s/he can then translate into brand visuals.

    That way, you know that you and your designer are on the same page from the start and prevent the waste of back-and-forth time later as s/he’s trying to figure out the direction of your brand identity design.

    To expand further, you can even use the brand moodboard as a basis to develop your Brand Voice and further refine your Brand Persona. Get the lesson to refine and build out these elements in the free The Curated Brand class here:

    ipadguide@2x.png


      Look polished and like the expert you are online

      Start creating your brand moodboard today!


      Share with me:

      If you’ve followed this process and created your own brand moodboard, share with me in the comments below the link of your Pinterest board or Canva moodboard! I would love to see.


      How to set up Asana for Solopreneurs

      As a solopreneur, I have a million hats to wear all. the. time. I'm constantly creating content, then making said content better, then promoting said content, then working with clients, connecting with people on Facebook, reviewing analytics, implementing ads, and let's not even go to the admin tasks like accounting and managing email.

      And I need to do all of that while also having a life. Cooking, cleaning, the works. HOW?!

      Sure, there comes a time and need for an assistant or just hiring other people to lessen your load. But it's hard to outsource when you don't even have systems in place.

      Everything is in a mess.

      You have to-do lists on your planner, notebook, Reminders app and in your brain. You have blog posts to write, Instagram images to pick, and Facebook groups to engage in. And because of all that, you're not performing at maximum efficiency. Heck, you aren't even performing at 50% efficiency. Things are dropping off your plate, you find that you're playing catch up all the time, and you just want a space for ALL. THE. THINGS.

      I hear you. Being a solopreneur is hard work. You're on your own most of the time, and you have to deal with every aspect of your business. But the good news is, a little organisation and a little systems put in place will make everything so. much. better. I promise.

      HowtosetupAsana.png

      Quick Intro to Asana:

      Asana is a project management tool that has a crapload of functionality. The kind of functionality you can use to organise not just your business, but your entire life. No kidding. I prefer using a paper planner for my day-to-day life, but Asana is my HQ for all my business processes and tasks. I use it both for my own business and for working with clients, as a client management tool.

      I'll start by giving you an overview of the important terms in Asana, mainly:

      • Organisation: You set up your Asana account with an organisation most of the time, and this is where it trips most solopreneurs up. I find Organisation best used if you have a team that you regularly need to communicate with. Here, you can have teams and projects, so you can split tasks and manage your teams accordingly. If you are mostly flying solo, like me, then skip this.
         
      • Workspace: Workspaces are my secret weapon. I love them. I currently have two workspaces, one for The Petite Co. and one for The Petite Homemaker, a home organisation website I am planning to launch. Create a workspace for your main business, and let the magic unfold. Here, you can also have a team, but it is much easier to use Projects to organise a solo business. 
         
      • Projects: I use projects as categories, and also as my client management tool. That way, I have everything on the same dashboard (hallelujah!) and I never have to toggle between areas to view all my work (both internal and client) again. You can invite admins that oversee ALL projects, but you can also invite team members on each individual project. They will not be able to see the other projects in your workspace. This is how I use Projects:
      Asana-Projects.png

      Admin: For miscellaneous administrative tasks like paying bills, checking up on invoices, refining client systems... Anything on the back end that I need to deal with, that doesn't fit into any specific category. Just the blah work that needs to get done, y'know?

      Marketing: I use this for my social media planning. You can see this in more detail later, as I will share another screenshot, but I use this for content creation for Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and (eventually) LinkedIn.

      Blog: The blog is part of marketing, but because of how intense blogging actually is, I decided to give it a project of its own instead of nesting it in Marketing. It would still fit there though, if I wanted. I use this to plan blog posts and write outlines and ideas.

      Design: All my design-related tasks go here. When I am working with clients, I also go in to duplicate important tasks over in my own Design Project area. Because I like to batch tackle tasks, some days I just open the design project and bang it out, so the client tasks get done then, too.

      Coaching: I use this mainly to remind myself of tasks I need to do for my coaching clients, as well as to record content I need to create for my coaching program.

      VA Work: I use this to keep track of tasks from different clients who are not on retainer, but are just one-off projects.

      Templates: These are Kanban-style boards, unlike all my Internal projects, that I've set up to duplicate whenever I have a new client. I duplicate according to the service they signed up for, and then invite them to that Project. You will see more of that later - but this is my client management tool.

      • Sections: Sections are basically dividers for your tasks. Because you can have a looooong list of tasks in each project, Sections allow you to categorise the tasks.
         
      • Tasks: Tasks are the meat of this system! Basically your entire to-do list goes here. I loooove brain-dumping on Asana and then categorising them into sections. I don't miss a thing that way!
         
      • Subtasks: I use these mainly for social media and marketing. Sub-tasks are the outlines, ideas and to-dos for each of my posts. You will see more of this later.
         
      • Tags: I only ever use tags on my Blog project. I tag each task (which is a blog post, again, you'll see more later) with the MM/YY and the category. That way, when I search or click on tags, I can almost instantly find any blog post that I've written. It works as a great archive and resource vault for when I need to pull something up or check on my new ideas.

      Start with Hierarchy

      So... Where to start? This is a lot, right? You can do so much with Asana, which is both its blessing and can be its downfall for many people who are just overwhelmed. But take heart, setting up a system is the hardest part. Once that is up and running, everything becomes so eas . So trust me, the time spent is worth it!

      First, I list out the different moving parts of my business. For me, those are the categories I named my Projects after. These are the categories most of my to-dos fall into. If you find yourself struggling to find the right categories, you can either start with mine or list out all your to-dos, then try to group them. 

      Get the bonus Asana Process Template + Video Walkthrough!

      You'll also get free weekly tips on branding and systems. No spam, ever!

        Just brain dump everything in your brain and then sort them out later. Don't filter yourself. It's easier to organise more efficiently if you have everything out.

        Then organise the tasks into each category, and list the type of subtasks that you want to add to these tasks. You don't have to list every subtask or task, just a general description of how you want to use these parts.

        My Asana System for Solopreneurs:

        Because pictures speak way louder than words in this instance, I'll let the screenshots do the talking!

         Admin Project

        Admin Project

         Asana Blog Project: Categories organised in Sections, I brain dump into these categories then move the chosen 4 blog posts to the current month section and set deadlines for each. I use subtasks to map out the key points and to-dos, things I need to create etc. I tag each blog post with a date and year, as well as categories, so that I can always come back to look for them as needed.

        Asana Blog Project: Categories organised in Sections, I brain dump into these categories then move the chosen 4 blog posts to the current month section and set deadlines for each. I use subtasks to map out the key points and to-dos, things I need to create etc. I tag each blog post with a date and year, as well as categories, so that I can always come back to look for them as needed.

         Asana Marketing Project: I have a general to-do right at the top, where I put marketing tasks that aren't platform specific. Then I label each section under the platform. For tasks like "Schedule 5 posts for Week 2 August", I write the general idea of each SM post in the subtasks. Each subtask is one post. These have deadlines because they need to get out at a certain time.

        Asana Marketing Project: I have a general to-do right at the top, where I put marketing tasks that aren't platform specific. Then I label each section under the platform. For tasks like "Schedule 5 posts for Week 2 August", I write the general idea of each SM post in the subtasks. Each subtask is one post. These have deadlines because they need to get out at a certain time.

         Asana Website Project: Similarly in the Coaching and VA projects, this is how I organise my tasks. I have 2 internal sections and one client section. My internal sections are classified under Current or Later. Current are pressing to-dos needed to be done now. Later are ideas that I want to work on but don't have to do right now. The client section houses to-dos that I need to get to during my Design batch day.

        Asana Website Project: Similarly in the Coaching and VA projects, this is how I organise my tasks. I have 2 internal sections and one client section. My internal sections are classified under Current or Later. Current are pressing to-dos needed to be done now. Later are ideas that I want to work on but don't have to do right now. The client section houses to-dos that I need to get to during my Design batch day.

         Asana Kanban Template: I use the Kanban system for my client management tool. I duplicate this Project, and name it after each client. I invite the client to the Project (s/he will not be able to see my other projects) and populated each "task" or card with more info in the description, including links to files and appointment scheduling. This prepares my clients for what's to come, and they know exactly when and what to expect at every stage.  I can also assign each "task" or card to myself or the client, and s/he can also upload related files right to Asana and right to each task. That way, files are never messy and always right where you need to find them. And this saves LOADS of back-and-forth on email as well, since clients can find all the resources with this dashboard.

        Asana Kanban Template: I use the Kanban system for my client management tool. I duplicate this Project, and name it after each client. I invite the client to the Project (s/he will not be able to see my other projects) and populated each "task" or card with more info in the description, including links to files and appointment scheduling. This prepares my clients for what's to come, and they know exactly when and what to expect at every stage.

        I can also assign each "task" or card to myself or the client, and s/he can also upload related files right to Asana and right to each task. That way, files are never messy and always right where you need to find them. And this saves LOADS of back-and-forth on email as well, since clients can find all the resources with this dashboard.

        Get the bonus Asana Process Template + Video Walkthrough!

        You'll also get free weekly tips on branding and systems. No spam, ever!

          I use Asana mainly as a brain dump for all my tasks. For specific, larger business tasks, I sometimes just use my planner and jam it out in one session. But for all the small pesky things that need to be done, it's all on Asana.

          I hope you got something out of this "Asana tour" of my systems backend. Now it's time for you to organise your systems! Seriously, sitting down and doing it will save you so much time in the long run. I know it's not the sexiest thing to do, but I promise it'll become a catchall and you won't find yourself scrambling as often, again!


          Let me know:

          Are you an organisation ninja as well? What is your favourite way to use Asana?

          This post is not sponsored by Asana.


          Launched: The Petite Co.'s New Website

          I'm beyond excited to announce the launch of my new website! This has been a labour of love for many months, and I finally feel like it's ready to serve. 

          There are still a few kinks here and there that need to be sorted out, but honestly, there can never be perfect. I don't do perfection here at The Petite Co.

          After struggling with crippling anxiety and depression for the better half of 2016 and 2017, I decided to consciously pare down my workload, my client list and my expectations of myself. I was living a long, tired life of trying to prove myself to others and trying to stop replaying conversations in my head, telling me where I went wrong, or where I wasn't good enough. So The Petite Co. doesn't do any perfectionism here. We do enough.

          At the heart of The Petite Co. lies a passion for serving from a full cup, and celebrating all our unique paths. My goal is a well-lived life and a well-loved brand, not only for myself but also for you. It is a call to stop chasing after someone else's dreams, to tell a good story with the one life we get, and to live out your legacy.

          The Petite Co. is focused on helping you craft carefully curated brands and businesses, so you can focus on what matters, work in your genius zone, and amplify your impact right now.

          (You can download this as a wallpaper for your phone or tech in many colours, for free, here)

          Before I go, I want to share with you some behind-the-scenes of the process it took to this refreshed branding and website design:

          MoodBoard@2x.png

          I knew I was transitioning into another level and season in my business and life, and I was filled with so much joy and hope I knew that I wanted to refresh, but not change, my brand identity, which was still very much me.

          The moodboard was mostly neutrals with a pop of colour, classic patterns and nature elements that really represented what The Petite Co. stands for: classic, timeless, kindness and always growing.

          BrandBoard@2x.png

          I updated the logo just a tiny bit, altering the "The" and "Co" font just a bit to make it more modern and unique. I switched up my original brand colours for a more muted, neutral palette with a pop of pink.

          I drew a tree as an alternative logo, replacing my previous alternative logo, because it just elevated my brand and showed more of what TPC is actually about: growth.

          Then, I hand drew some leaves and florals to complement the new brand, and matched them with a natural-grained dark wood and a subtle watercolour texture. Funny thing when your brand is so you - the coworking space I just signed up to work with has similar palettes and furnishings!

          WebsiteMockup@2x.png

          This is the final mock-up for the website, and the actual developed version on Squarespace actually turned out very similar! I wanted a sense of calm and ease for visitors when they landed on my website, and to make it easy to find everything they need, from services to free resources. Over the next few months, I'll be tracking analytics to see how well this works. 

          I did have to make a small adjustment at the bottom footer, just to make everything look more balanced, but that's about it.

          Thank you for walking through this chapter with me and being here for the launch! I hope you enjoy the new website, and let me know what you think of it, too.


          Before you go

          Leave a comment below to let me know what you're currently struggling with or have struggled with and what you have tried to get out of it.