What I Learned About Entrepreneurship From 'Clipless Pedals'

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What I Learned About Entrepreneurship From 'Clipless Pedals'

Last weekend I taught myself how to ride my bike with clip pedals (or “clipless” pedals… which are clip pedals?)

I have not been so proud of anything I’ve done since I birthed my baby in October. Seriously. I have been active in cycling and triathlon since 2016, and I could never bring myself to go for clipping in It just too scary. But I finally COMMITTED. 

And I realized: achieving a goal is not about trying and getting it right the first time. Or the fifth time. It’s about marshaling all your resources, all your experience, and… leaping. If you’re in business for yourself, this may sound familiar. 

So let me take you through how I went from paralyzed with fear to competent in a weekend.

Saturday I get into my driveway, with all the nerdy cycling gear on—the bib, the fun socks the gloves and of course the clip shoes, and I just FREEZE.  I just panicked. 

Like, I just couldn’t even bring myself to clip in and push off for a solid 5 minutes. Somehow I finally willed myself to ride around the cul de sac and I fell 3 times. And i was like, “Oh,  I can’t do this. I give up. I want my old pedals.” But I just couldn’t bring myself to go back inside because the sitter was there! How embarrassing! So, I finally headed off. 

I was out for 2 hours. It was terrible. Like, every single minute. I alternated between 1 hour cycling. 1 hour not cycling and staring at my bike and flipping the eff out.

But here’s where a glimmer of hope came in: everything I do in my business to will myself to take a risk, I did on this bike ride and it helped me ride for that 1 hour. During one of my freakouts on the sidewalk, I set a SMART goal, lol. I said, “I’m gonna do 5 laps on this street and if I still hate it, I will stop and that will be it for the day.” At lap 3, I really wanted to quit, but I was like, “Maggie, you said 5. How are you going to tell this story later if you don’t complete 5?” 

I did the 5 laps, which was about 12 miles, and then I was like, “Ok, no really. I still hate it.” And I “gave myself grace” as the church folks say, and I stopped. I went to Starbucks. I rode shakily home. I got off the bike and I said, “I don’t know if I’m ever going to do that again.” 

Next day (Sunday) I think about trying again all day long. Finally at 4 pm my husband is like, “Didn’t you say you were gonna prac-” I’m like GET OFF MY BACK YOU MONSTER!!!

And then I put those shoes on and got back out there. I was still shaky at first, but no falling. I rode for just about 30 minutes, (same street, no traffic lights.) and at the end I was said to myself, “I’m doing this. It’s just a mind game now bc my body gets how to clip in and out and I’m not wobbly anymore.” 

So, a little better. Monday I set my alarm for 5:30 because I want to practice again. 5:30 comes and the first thing in my head is 


Well I may not have much clip pedal experience but I have plenty of practice getting up early. So I swigged the coffee. I got the shoes on.  

I clipped in the driveway and I just. WENT. No hesitation. I started to visualize my first tri race (hoping to do one in August) and how much better my bike time will be because I’m riding with these pedals.)  I visualized actually keeping up with my husband on a  group ride. And then I thought about how my husband told me the night before how he was proud of me. 

How he told me if it hadn’t been for me taking up triathlon a couple of years ago, he’d never have started cycling in the first place (he now regularly bikes 100 miles a week.) How I used to worry he might have a heart attack in 10 years bc he ate like shit and never exercised, and I don’t worry about his health anymore, and it’s actually because HE was inspired by ME. ME! The person who always got picked last! 

At this point I turn right instead of left and I get on a street with traffic lights, you guys! Traffic lights! And I practiced for half an hour, unclipping and clipping with _relative_ ease. I realized, “this was 3 hours, just THREE TINY HOURS OF MY LIFE devoted to practicing over 3 days total and look how much better I am. OMG I’m so glad I didn’t quit!” 

And here’s what I learned in those three hours about how to overcome my fear and take a risk. This is what worked for me: 

  • I can look at the big picture (I want to do a triathlon in August!) but what really got me there was setting MICROgoals. Saying to myself, 

“I just have to make it to that stop sign.” 

“I just have to make it to that flower bush.” 

“I just have to make it to the end of the street.” 

That’s what kept me going when I wanted to stop. It’s great to keep your eyes on the big prize, but for me, whenever I wasn't sure it was possible, it helped to have microgoals. 

  • It helped to have skin in the game. I spent $150 on the pedals and the shoes and another $60 on the sitter. Yes, I could have quit, but beyond feeling foolish, I would have felt like I had invested that money without really giving it a try. 
  • It is OK to slow way the hell down. To almost stop. As long as I was doing something—ANYTHING—to continue. 
  • I couldn’t force myself to stop telling myself I couldn’t do it or to stop being scared. But I could pepper in positive self-talk, even if it was stilted. Even if I didn’t believe it. 
  • When doing something risky and new, it helped me to draw on all my past experiences of doing crazy, scary new things. I have done more crazy, scary new things in the past 4 years than at any other point in my life and I think it really helped me not to give up. 

So there you have it. Dying to know what you think. Have you tried those "damn clipless clippy pedal things," as my friend David calls them? :D Have you had another experience like this? Brag about it in the comments!

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The Big Time-Management De-Railer (It's Not Procrastination)


The Big Time-Management De-Railer (It's Not Procrastination)

Here's how I approach time-management on a bad day: 

  1. Write out a detailed schedule for a few days
  2. Stick religiously to the schedule for a few days
  3. Have a day where I don't stick to the schedule 
  4. Beat myself up at the end of the day for not sticking to it. 
  5. Feel overwhelmed. Give up on all schedules forever. Procrastinate.

Does this sound familiar?



A Simple Tip for Tracking Your Sales

Are you selling anything online? If you are, did you know you can hook up "E-Commerce" in Google Analytics with just a few clicks? 

It is so easy that I'm surprised by how few people do it. Maybe it doesn't seem all that necessary. After all, you can tell how many sales you made just by looking at the data within your website or Shopify store, or whatever else you're using to sell. 

You can tell how many people bought from you via your Instagram profile link, for example.


You can also tell which pins resulted in sales. 

How do you enable it? Toggle the OFF switch to ON. Really. Here's how to get to the OFF/ON switch. 




If You Don't Get a Lot of Website Traffic, Use Facebook's Love for Video to Find Your People



In my previous post, I talked about website visits: "An unspecified number of people visiting your site for an unknown amount of time, reading an unknown portion of its content and taking either no action or an unknown action. That's what website visits are. But, they can be useful. "

And so can video views. 

In 2016, Facebook was obsessed with CRUSHING IT in the video department. They wanted to crush "IT" and they wanted to crush  YouTube, Periscope--you name it--in the process. This fact is mildly interesting for personal use of Facebook and it's fun to futz with Facebook Live and all.

But it's really interesting for Facebook for Business and using Facebooks Ads to find customers. 

Because video ads are really cheap. You must supply the video of course, but uploading a video directly to Facebook ads and then targeting the ad at cold (cold = they have never heard of you) traffic doesn't cost you nearly as much as promoting a blog post and getting a user to click. 

Setting up this ad is relatively simple: Set the objective of the ad to "Get Video Views" and upload your video. You can even set up captions right in Facebook Ads Manager. 

Depending on the target audience and the quality of your video

In a recent campaign I ran for a client who has almost no website traffic, we paid about 2.5 cents per view of her entire 40-second video. 

If I had targeted the same cold traffic with a link to a blog post on her website, I guarantee you we would not have been 2.5 cents per click. We could have been paying more like 50 cents a click. That's almost 200% more, for those of you who like getting your mind blown by big sounding numbers. 

Put another way, we reached 1,000 people for $25. If we had tried to get them to click to the website, it would have been more like $500. 

But we haven't even gotten to the part I'm excited about! Here is why I'm really excited about this: we (you, anybody) can now use Facebook Ads' Custom Audience feature to create an audience out of video viewers. You don't need people to go to your website to make a Custom Audience out of them. 

And you can specify that you only want to include people in your audience who watched 50% or more of your video. So you know you're not creating an audience of people who are getting counted because the video played for a second or two while they were scrolling. 

This is a huge breakthrough! If you just don't have the numbers or the money to advertise clicks to your website to strangers, you may still be able to carve out a budget to create an audience of several thousand people who have demonstrated that they are interested in your topic. 

Here's how to create the custom audience: 

Choose Audiences from the top menu

Click the blue button in the top left that says "Create Audience." Then click "Custom Audience." Choose the Engagement on Facebook option. Then click Video. Here's where you get to specify a video audience that watched at least 50% of your video: 

Screen Shot 2017-04-07 at 3.11.36 PM.png

Once you've created this audience, you can build the ad that offers them the coupon for the free class. Just remember to target this video audience when you are setting up ad targeting. 

To recap, the steps are: 

1. Create an informational video (don't close with a promotion or try to sell anything). This is news your audience can use. Keep it to 1-3 minutes. 

2. Buy an ad with the video and target cold traffic. 

3. Create an audience out of the people who watched 50% or more of the video. 

4. Re-market to them by buying a second ad where you target only them and ask them to do something that's a heavier lift, like sign up for your email list. 

Questions? Leave them in the comments. 

If you want help setting up this particular ad type, find out how to work with me






Facebook Ad Tip: Using Website Clicks (Instead of Just Counting Them)

 I said  Facebook  ad tip. Not Photoshop. 

I said Facebook ad tip. Not Photoshop. 

Online tactics-wise, I think the most important thing I've learned this year is that website visits do not constitute the accomplishment of any business goal.

Website visits do NOT constitute the accomplishment of any business goal.  

I wrote it twice because it seems to be quite difficult for some of business owners and nonprofit leaders to accept.

Not saying that website visits don't count for anything, or don't mean anything. But they are not a self-contained business goal. An unspecified number of people visiting your site for an unknown amount of time, reading an unknown portion of its content and taking either no action or an unknown action. That's what website visits are. 

But they can be useful. 

Here's one way: you can drive "cold traffic" to your website and make it into "warm" traffic.

Cold traffic is website visitors composed of people people who've never heard of you before but demographically or interest-wise appear to be the type of people who are your biggest fans.

Before I describe how to do this: you need to install the Facebook Pixel on your website in order for what I'm about to tell you to work. The Facebook Pixel keeps track of website visits. It does a lot of other things, but that's really all you need to know for the purpose of this tip. 

So, let's say you are KidVentures. (I don't work for them but they just popped into my head.) You know a lot about your clients: they are

  • parents
  • who have kids between 0-4
  • disposable income to take their kids to an indoor playground
  • time to take them during business hours
  • need to take them -- maybe they have more than one kid

Step 1: Share a post that links back to your website

If you have a blog post that you know is particularly popular, share that. Anything informational that appeals to this target audience will do.

(You can select interests and target by demographics using http://facebook.com/ads/manager. Don't use the "Boost Post" feature to do this. It doesn't have the targeting features.)

With this ad, make sure not to ask your audience to do anything more than click to read the blog post. Don't ask them to buy anything. Don't ask them to sign up for anything. Just click: that's all you need them to do. And make sure the article or post is on your website. Don't link to a news article about your company that's on someone else's website. 

In the case of Kidventures, I'd advise them to write a quick article where they interview a parent who loves their Parent's Cafe, or ask the parent to guest-write it. They should share something that would appeal to their target market (see the bullets above). A post about the relaxing benefits of having a cafe on-site (with Wi-Fi!)  might do the trick. 

Step 2: Create an Audience in Facebook

Once you've published the ad, it's time to collect the clickers. In order to do that, you need to create a custom audience within Facebook ads. To do this: 

 Visit the Audience section of  Facebook ads manager.  

Visit the Audience section of Facebook ads manager. 

 Just create audience. Then click "Website Traffic." 

Just create audience. Then click "Website Traffic." 

 Choose "People who visit specific web pages." 

Choose "People who visit specific web pages." 

Now, paste the URL for the blog post you used in your ad. (Make sure you OMIT  http://, www, and the slash (/) at the end of the web address.) That's it! 

This audience will automatically update with a new member every time a new person clicks on that ad. 

So, now, you don't have these individuals' names or contact info. But you do have them in a list.

You can use this list to do a lot of the same things you'd do if they had signed up for your email list. How about offering them a coupon, huh? Kidventures? You can share the coupon in an ad that you create, targeting only the people on that list. 

Or you can run an ad with an offer and a link to sign up for your e-mail list in order to get it. A lot of people explain this kind of ad very well. Here's one I like. 

You can create ads that target as few as 200 people on Facebook. I would try to get your audience size to about 1,000 (depending on the type and price of the product you offer); then run this second ad, where you re-target the people who showed initial interest. 

What you're really doing is re-targeting an audience that has already initially shown interest. I don't make this stuff up! Read more about this tactic from the Master

Like this tip? Tell your friends to sign up for my marketing tip newsletter. 



Three Things that Will Get You Unstuck If You're Staring at a Blank Page Right Now

 Presented without comment

Presented without comment

Writing for your business can feel daunting, even if you've been doing it for a while. These are my tips for getting started.  

1. Make a swipe file. Are you already doing this? I can't think of a writer who wouldn't (or doesn't!) benefit from looking for inspiration. Keeping a swipe file for the different types of writing you do is a great way to cut down on wasting time perusing the internet every time you need to write something. It's a great way for keeping you from falling down the black hole of Twitter/Facebook, too. 

Here are some swipe files to get you started (or Google them if you don't see one you like on the list!) 


2. Write down every good question. This tip is for bloggers. This is the best way I've found for avoiding that feeling of not knowing exactly what to write about. Either you can't think of anything, or you can't narrow down your topic. 

If you're committed to writing once a week or more, the only way you can stay consistent is if you create a long list of topics in advance. 

So, where do you get these topics? From your conversations with clients and colleagues. Every time they say something that sparks a discussion between you two, every time you give the same very good answer to a question you've answered 8 million times before, every time you tweet about a small moment or experience related to your workday, write down the topic and a brief description. 


3. Start in the middle. Full disclosure, this is the first full sentence of the blog that I actually wrote; this sentence right here.  

I didn't exactly start here. I started by outlining the blog--I know I'm going to write about writing down every good question and about keeping a swipe file (which you already read about, but which I haven't written yet.) The reason I haven't written those sections yet: after I outlined them I got worried and stopped writing. 

I started wondering, "Will anyone care about what I have to say about this topic?" "Do the people reading my blog really care about this topic?" "This is not going to be that good--why am I bothering?"  

I have had this issue my whole writing life. It hasn't mattered what I was writing. It's worse when you're hoping that people will read what you're writing (as opposed to hoping they won't read it, which is a state more common among writers than you might think).

When I start at the beginning, I have this kind of Pavlovian reaction of  paralyzing fear that it won't be good enough for anyone to read. And I have to stop.  

So, I started skipping to the middle. 

I write as though I've already gotten the hard part out of the way and I just have to get this darn thing finished. This mental trick (if you want to call it that) allows my fingers to loosen up--literally--as I start typing out the meat of a single idea.  

I guess starting in the middle is a kind of swipe file. Getting a meaty idea fully formed on the page means you're not staring at a blank page anymore. You just need to go back in and connect the ideas. 

Ok back to the top.