The 1-Page Exercise to Help You with Any Business Decision: Mission > Method > Mechanism

If you can rock with me for just a few moments, I will explain a simple framework to help you make business decisions . . . of any kind . . . at all . . . ever.

It’s so tempting as a business owner to go back and forth on deciding between two software tools (“Do I need MailChimp or ConvertKit?”) or between two different methods of accomplishing a goal (“Do I want to connect more deeply with my audience through an email list or a Facebook Group?” // “Should I blog or do Facebook Lives?”) . . . when really, the question as is will waste your time because it’s likely that your overall mission or problem wasn’t well defined.

Meaning: The more defined and clear a business question, problem, or goal is, the more the clear answer is and the faster the best choice will make itself seen.

I want to introduce you to the Mission > Method > Mechanism framework.

This model (a.k.a.: short adult homework activity) will help you with all of your business decisions . . . and honestly, your life decisions as well. It helps you define your mission (goal), decide on the method (way) you will go about your mission, then (and only then) select the mechanism (tool) to carry out the chosen mission in the chosen way.

Your mission is more important than the means or method you go about doing it in, and your chosen method is more important than the tool you decide to execute with, so Mission > Method > Mechanism. Let’s begin. Or, grab the PDF framework (it comes with a few pages of instructions as well:

Now, let’s begin.

1. Define your mission.

The first thing to do is choose a key business mission (goal) you want to focus on. You’ll go through this process multiple times for different goals, so just start with one.

Create a statement that has a clear, measurable outcome.

Examples of business missions (goals) that are NOT clear and will lead to foggy decision making:

  • “To become an expert in my field.” Hard to measure. Hard to know when your audience or the world at large feels this way about you. Terrible goal that can leave you feeling unaccomplished.
  • “Empower women to be their own boss.” Get back to me when you can measure this.
  • “Create an engaged, trustworthy email list.” Not the ‘trustworthy’ word though.
  • “Stop trading time for dollars with my services.” But like, how?
  • And so on . . .

Examples of great missions (goals) that are CLEAR and will lead to epic decision making:

  • “Build an interest list of 100 people for my new online yoga course before it launches.” Simple to measure. You either end up with 100 people, or 0 people, or 2,730 people, etc. on your interest list. Good job, friend.
  • “Help one woman transition out of her full-time job into running her own freelance business that makes as much or more income for her within six months.” Go on with your bad self. Super measurable, super clear.
  • “Create an email list of 500+ people in the next 6 months.” Those numbers are clear.
  • “Release an online workshop (for around $100) teaching people how to DIY the home organization service I currently do in a DFY (done for you) capacity. Test the workshop out by pitching it to my current email list (140 people) to see if they buy and speak well of the product.” Yeah, I know, these “clear” goals can take up more space sometimes than vague ones, but it will be much easier to develop a strategy and select the tools to help make them happen.

Now that you have your mission statement . . .

How to Start Pitching Guest Posts (Even If You Are A Complete Online Business Newbie)

Psst—This amazing guide on how to pitch guest posts the smart way is by Sana Choudary (catch her bio at the end of the post). Her mission is to help humans like you build your email list and revenue by getting guest posts.

Do you feel like a total newbie online? Or maybe just a newbie to building your email list through guest posting?

Do you want to guest post but aren’t sure how you can sell influencers on the benefits?

I get it. I used to feel the same way.

I had no idea:

  • How to find the right sites for guest posting?
  • How to sell them on the benefits of my guest post?
  • What to have in place before I pitch?
  • What to research or be aware of before I pitched?
  • What to include in the pitch to make them believe my post was a fit for them? Even though I was a total newbie with no readers, credentials, or other guest posts and a site so new it still had demo content!

Then one day I realized…

All my problems boiled down to one thing

Not knowing how to sell my guest posts to influencers in a human way.

I did not want to come across as an obnoxious salesperson pushing a guest post they didn’t want.

Neither did I want them to think I was some sleazy hustler goading them into accepting a post that didn’t really benefit them.

Instead, I wanted influencers to feel excited about my guest post right away!

I wanted them to know without a doubt that my guest post would be immensely valuable to them and their audience.

If I could do this they wouldn’t care that I was a newbie.

Neither would I have to take lots of time away from building my own blog, because the guest posts I’d pitch would get accepted.

And this started my journey of figuring out how to pitch guest posts in a more human way.

Even though it took a long time and a lot of work, in the end, it was all worth it because…

Selling my guest posts in a human way changed everything

I have since guest posted at:

  • Adweek even though at the time I had just started my site and didn’t have any other guest posts
  • Well-known sites like VentureBeat, NavidMoazzez.com
  • Ryan Levesque’s Ask Method community which led to the invitation to speak at their 1000 person ASKLive conference

Credibility Photo Collage
These days I don’t need to pitch guest posts often.

Because the ones I do pitch get accepted– I get 4 out of every 5 guest posts accepted.

How would you like to get 4 out of every 5 guest posts accepted?

Today I’m going to show you my three best ideas to make this happen. I also have 3 very special FREE gifts to help you even further. Make sure you read all the way to the end to get those.

Table of Contents

How to sell your guest post the human way. Hint it’s more than just building relationships

How to get your online headquarters ready for pitching

16 Things You Can Do This Weekend to Streamline and Scale Your Business

Just in case at any point this year you’re sitting around wondering if there’s a unique weekend adventure you can embark on to help scale your business, I recommend bookmarking and saving this article. There’s lots to come back to. And if you experience a slow point with your business, you can use one of these activities to make sure you’re still growing and building.

P.S. This post was originally published in January 14, 2014, but has since been revamped and republished.

P.P.S. If you want a book version of this that has some expanded (and some different) weekend activities (10 in total are in the book), please sign up below and I’ll send it over immediately.

10 Things to Grow Your Business This Weekend Preview


16 Ideas You Can Choose from (This Weekend) to Help Streamline and Scale Your Business


1. Launch the MVP (minimum viable product) version of your course.

If you want to test out a course/training idea before building the full thing, then creating a landing page and minimum viable product version of your course is your new best friend.

Check out the checklist below for an idea of what goes on your MVP course landing page, but also check out the video directly below (ignore my voice that sounds like I’m fighting allergies—I was) that reviews some of my favorite MVP landing pages people made (some, in just one weekend) during a challenge I hosted.

The MVP Course Landing Page Checklist
Here’s what you’ll want to have on hand or do:

  • working title for your course
  • URL for your landing page
  • rough outline of course content
  • optional: hashtag for your course
  • trademark check and Google check 
(this is a good idea because you will be using this course name and brand in commerce)
  • bonus freebie related to your course topic 
(think: checklist, tutorial, workshop, challenge, mini-course, or other resource you can send via email to interested audience members in exchange for their email address)
  • mockup of your bonus freebie
  • professional email address 
(this can be at your main business domain or your new course domain)
  • marketing email delivery platform (such as: ConvertKit, ActiveCampaign, or MailChimp)
  • high-quality photo of a scene related to your course topic or of you
to use on your MVP course landing page and/or in your marketing emails
  • content idea list related to your course topic 
(you can use this to send out engaging resources and keep your audience members engaged before your course launches)
  • optional: info packet about your course
  • optional: link and payment method to reserve a spot

2. Make a plan to crowdfund something.

Crowdfunding is kinda what it sounds like—a crowd (whether 10 people or 10,000) funding your idea. You can use sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter to run your own crowdfunding campaign (which usually includes “prizes” for people who fund you, since the money is not a loan, you don’t have to pay it back).

Crowdfunding campaigns are not just good for the $$, but also the exposure. Several products have become somewhat to all the way “Internet famous” after a crowdfunding campaign.

Why? Friends, and even people who don’t know you, are motivated to share your brand and your campaign if they connect with something about it. You can use one of these sites to launch/re-launch a business, a book, a product, a product line, a creative project, really almost anything. 90% of the projects that I’ve supported are by people I don’t know at all.

Crowdfunding even allows you to get out there and start providing consulting services if you want to. Two examples for you: (1) A woman I know in real life “sold” $1000 consulting packages as some of the prizes for supporting her book release. No seriously, look at this thing. She raised almost $12,000. (2) A couple who wrote a children’s book also listed $1000 consultations, among other prizes, for the release of their book and raised over $10,000.

Raise money through crowdfunding and get clients


3. Create an online quiz with helpful results or a “prescription” of sorts.

Think Twice About Your Online Course’s Refund Policy

P.S. For you fellow Drake fans, I was considering titling this post, “If you’re reading this, it’s not too late” but then I realized you would have no idea what the article was about.

P.P.S. I am seriously open to debate on this topic. I will present my views but I am deeply interested in learning from the way other people see the world.

There is one reason (you—if you’re someone who is busy building a meaningful business) I was inspired to write this, and I have a few quick illustrations below to show my reasoning. Hopefully you won’t hate me when it’s over.


Why I’m strongly against online course and digital product refund policies that make people do X amount of work or jump through fiery hoops to get a refund.

You.

I write this blog for you. I create tools for you. I stay up at night dreaming, scheming, and creating for you. Not just in the “I say this because this is how online marketers are supposed to talk” way, but in the “No, literally, I relate to where you are and who you are, and where I had to come from to create various businesses and products I love” kinda way.

Refund policies that make clients submit worksheets, and modules, and proof of this and that and the other rub me the wrong way.

If your entire audience consists of people who don’t care about money at all, then cool.

If you have people in your audience that care about spending their money on things they get value out of, or who are on a specific budget, or who may, despite your wishes and requests, spend their last dollar on your program, then hmm.

6 Steps to Get Your Finances in Order for Tax Time

Psst . . . I’m going to let an actual accountant and super smart person take the reins on this one . . . meet Janet, of Paper + Spark.


Janet LeBlank Paper and SparkHi! I’m Janet and I’m an accountant, serial-entrepreneur, and mama of two living in Texas. My passion is helping creative entrepreneurs feel more confident and empowered when it comes to their money. After a winding journey of selling jewelry, stationery, and spreadsheets (oh yeah!) online for the past five years, I’ve noticed that creatives tend to avoid the financial side of their biz. I’m here to help with bookkeeping templates, tips, and tools that are both pretty and in-plain-English.


It’s the most wonderful time of the year . . . time to finally total up all those numbers and see how your business really did this year. If you’re like many creative entrepreneurs and you don’t look forward to this process, you might’ve fallen a little (or a lot) behind on your bookkeeping work over the course of 2016. No guilt trips here; instead, I’ve got six steps to help you get your finances in order. Start taking action now and avoid the stress and overwhelm before taxes are due!

1. Come up with a plan and write it out.

Be honest with yourself—figure out just how behind you are and craft a plan. How much work is it going to take to compile all the data you’ll need before taxes are due? Do you need to get started like, yesterday? Or is it not as bad as you thought?

Examine your calendar from now ’til the tax deadline (2016 taxes are due April 18th, 2017) and sketch out how much work you’ll need to do each week in order to get caught up in time. Actually putting it down in writing in your planner will increase your chances of really doing the work.

Here is a very high level view of what you may need to know for your tax return:

  • Total sales and refunds
  • Total business expenses (sorted by expense category)
  • A year-end inventory count if you deal with physical inventory
  • Expenses related to your car if you used it for business purposes
  • Expenses related to your home office if you have one
  • Info on any business assets (think like big equipment) you bought or used during the year

2. Set yourself up to succeed.

That means 1) holding yourself accountable and 2) figuring out how you’ll stay motivated. To prevent yourself from saving all this *boring* accounting work til the last minute (and creating more stress), you need to figure out the best way to hold yourself accountable.

You know yourself best—whether that means sharing your accounting “to do list” with your mastermind group or promising yourself a big reward upon completion. In order to complete any task I really don’t like doing, I’ve got to stay motivated. I personally like to treat myself with a small reward each week after I’ve made progress; this way I keep working on the goal in small, manageable chunks until the deadline. {Note from Regina: Ditto! I like to get myself vegan brownies, yoga gear, new notebooks, or other “school supplies.” Find your “thing” to reward yourself.}

3. Gather all that paperwork.

Just start by getting all your junk together! It’s time to scrounge up all those receipts you’ve been (hopefully) hoarding throughout the year. Don’t forget to organize your digital receipts and documentation as well. Go through your email and “star” any business expense receipts, take screenshots, or print to PDF and save in an easily accessible folder on your desktop.

You can also physically or digitally print your bank statements, PayPal reports, etc. if you want to have these on hand for easier data entry later. Having all your documentation sorted and organized will make life easier when it comes time to record all these transactions.

4. Do the grunt work in pieces.

First—do you have a bookkeeping system, or at least a place to record your sales and expenses? If not, I suggest you set something up and quick. You don’t necessarily have to scramble to research accounting systems or apps right now; a simple spreadsheet can suffice.

Second—it’s time to play catch up. That means entering ALL your transactions for 2016—sales, refunds, shipping, expenses . . . everything. Entering transactions is probably going to be the majority of your bookkeeping time, so try to break it up into small, manageable time chunks.

Remember that plan you made? If you start early enough, you can give yourself a timeline that is actually doable for playing catch up. I’d suggest making it a goal to enter one month’s worth of transactions every week, and go one week at a time. If you start in December, you’ll be done before the April deadline with a few weeks to spare.