Before, During and After: How to Know What to Focus on When Running an Online Business

Thanks to @WendyMaynard for her question!

Referenced in this video: Dean Jackson


Hey, this is Laura Roeder and today I’m going to answer a great question I got from Wendy Maynard on Twitter, about managing your time with an Internet business between all the different tasks that you have to do and how I divide up my time.  So Wendy asks, “Talk about how you spend your time as an Internet biz in terms of percentage spent on new product creating, email promos, existing programs planning, etcetera.”  And then a few people said, yeah answer that one.  So, great question Wendy.

Something that has really surprised me about this business model is sometimes I think wow, I have a writing business.  I spend so much time writing and so much time creating content which is really writing in one form or another, whether it’s just an outline for me or creating a PowerPoint presentation or whatever it is.  There is a lot of writing involved in this business model and as far as how to divvy up your time I really love a concept I learned from Dean Jackson which has been really helpful for me.

Dean talks about dividing your whole business into before, during and after the customer experience because something that I’m always aware of is I don’t want to become one of those businesses that spends so much time on sales, that spends so much time trying to get new customers that they forget their existing customers and their existing community.  It’s really easy to go there and it’s really important that I not.  So, this before, during and after is a great way to keep your focus divided and make sure that you’re both taking care of current customers as well as bringing in new ones.

So, for my business the before time is basically I do a lot of what’s called content marketing meaning I create videos like this one that give you content or bring you into my world, share my philosophy and all that kind of good stuff.  So, for me before are things like making video blogs, writing my newsletter The Dash, all of the marketing efforts.

During are when people are actually in my programs, so I’m always thinking about how can I make that a better experience for them, you know, making the web site easier to navigate, making the video faster to download, writing emails that they will go out as they do the program to help them along the way and make sure that they’re on track.

And then after is really making sure that we have great customer service so that we’re attending to people after they’ve been through a program.  What questions they have or getting referral business from them or telling them the next program that they might want to be in.

It’s really kind of – the after I think of it as kind of a combo as marketing activities and the more during like customer service activities.  So I don’t have a clear guideline of like percentages of how I spend my time, but making sure that I’m somewhat evenly distributed from the before, during and after activities is really helpful for me.  And making sure that I’m not neglecting one area of my business over the others because it’s all equally important.  You have to spend time bringing new people in and you also have to spend time making sure that the people that you already have [0:03:09] are having a fantastic experience.

So again that concept came from Dean Jackson.  You can Google him.  He writes a great blog about real estate marketing.  Everything he talks about is real estate but of course you can apply it to any business.  So I hope I answered your question Wendy.  That’s a little glimpse of how I divide up my time for all the different activities in my business.

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About Laura Roeder

Laura Roeder is a social media marketing expert who gives businesses of all sizes the tools they need to make their mark on the web. She is the creator of the social media scheduling software Edgar, as well as social media marketing web courses like Creating Fame and Social Brilliant.


  1. wow, that is just what I needed now. Thank you so much!

  2. That’s a perspective that I haven’t quite heard before, dividing up the tasks into three customer experience areas. I can see using that perspective in my businesses as well.

  3. Great video Laura! I think it’s a great way of thinking about your people as they “go through” your process. :)
    .-= Nathalie Lussier´s last blog ..Is The Raw Food Movement Breaking Apart? =-.

  4. Wendy Maynard says:


    Thanks so much for taking on this topic – I knew you would have an interesting perspective.

    I really like your approach to thinking about your customer areas as a strategy for dividing up your time.

    And yes, wowsers! Everything on the web is content-driven. I completely agree.

    Best, Wendy

  5. Melissa Blue says:

    Great post! I know I have a problem trying to divide up my time, so I think I’ll give this a whirl!

  6. Great Q&A and wonderful video-stream in answering the question.
    My wife and I split the work up a bit, but not purely along either the before/during/after or traditional roles.
    I tend to spend time in business development (growth/expansion) and Operations Management (day-to-day operations issues, including Marketing and linking to websites and organizations for cross-referrals).
    My wife spends her time answering and following up customer inquiries and booking new business, and then is the main deliverer of services—she’s the teacher. She also does a lot of the “after”, however, I am looking at this to make sure we actually follow up with additional rich content.
    I appreciated your advice very much.

  7. Another great video Laura! I love your dedication to good customer service. At the end of the day, customer service is the only way you’re going to separate yourself from other people that provide similar services.

  8. Thanks Laura,
    Yes, certainly one should see the business from the customer point of view, I agree. The problem perhaps arises when you’ve have so many customers that it’s hard to cope with them all. I got some good advice on this from Rich Schefren’s Internet Business Manifesto, especially the part about process mapping.

  9. I’m a fan of focus and I think the key is always knowing what you want to accomplish and testing your results.

    One thing that always helps me is reminding myself to focus on persona-based scenarios with goals. Creating glide-paths for goals is a simple way to hack away at the unessential.
    .-= J.D. Meier´s last blog ..How To Use a Coach Effectively =-.

  10. Hi Laura,
    Great philosophy! Keeps the biz client-centered, I’m going to adopt this one.

  11. Yamuna Keller says:

    Hey Laura, Great information- thank you! Having two young children and minimum time each day to put into my business it is really crucial for me that I am being as productive as possible with the time i have available, so this comes in good timing.


    Yamuna Keller

  12. Great advice Laura! I think in whatever form of business we should always do these steps, before-during-after, in order to build relationship with our clients or customers. We should not only be good in getting them to buy our products or avail of our services but also we as a seller or provider must make sure that customer satisfaction can be our marketing tool thus a nice follow up call from time to time or an email perhaps inquiring about how they like the product or service would surely boost customer trust and in the long run refer you to others…

  13. I just posted a blog and shared your thoughts Laura :)

  14. Laura,

    This is a great reply to a question I see a lot as well. Time management can really get away from you if you don’t keep it in check. I find that when I set time aside an allotment of time for those must do projects, I quickly realize I can only do so much in a day. And being ok with that was one of my biggest challenges.

    Even though my to do list is usually pretty lengthy I quickly found that I was getting more done with less distractions when I was in that allotted time. Weather it’s 20 minutes replying to email or 90 minutes creating content… by staying within those time boundaries for that one action I was able to get more done.

    Another factor that helped me to stay productive was cutting off all social media distractions while working on that one task. I know it’s real easy to take a quick peak at Facebook while I should be writing content, but I have only myself to hold me accountable.

    Thank you for the great message.

    Ken Pickard
    The Network Dad

  15. Laura, I love this video.
    You have such a great way of boiling a question down to bite sized pieces that give healthy amounts of inspiration and perspective.

    The suggestion of how to balance your focus on your time in your online business- into before, during and after from the customer’s perspective is really practical. So many business owners forget to think of the customer’s experience when it comes to their sales process and your tips are simple, but definitely powerful.
    Thank you for sharing!

  16. I like the way you think. Yes, using the criteria you mention, things would fall into a natural order of importance. Great insight. Thanks.

  17. Jim Jinright says:

    Hi Laura, That’s great advice about keeping the focus on existing contacts and clients. It’s far easier keeping current clients happy verses getting new ones. I think your branding and content is fantastic!

  18. Laura – Great video! Such a simple concept to think about the whole experience, but such an overlooked one. Thank you for this great reminder to keep our customers experience as our focus.

    Plus, it’s just plain smart…keeping is more efficient than getting.

  19. It’s funny because I’ve just realized that I’ve written 15 articles today and I never really considered myself as a “writer”. :) Thanks for the advice. You can also use tools to automate your work, it can be a huge time saver. Thanks!