Author Archive for Hope

It’s Okay to Dream Big and Plan Backwards

It wasn’t too long ago that I watched a video training course by a random online marketer. And I loved her visual planning method…plan it backwards.

She took one of those cheap desk size calendars you can purchase at any office supply store and hung them on her wall. Each month laid out, ready to be written on.

She then used sticky post it notes and planned her quarter…but she didn’t work from the present time. She worked backward from her big goals!

It made complete sense. And more importantly, it took into consideration not just her life/work balance as far as big events on the calendar, but also her finances. She used the BIG ROCK items to plan both her scheduling strategy, but also her pricing schedule.

With this method, she was able to consider all aspects and adjust as new things came up:

  • Early bird pricing.
  • Special offers.
  • Minimum and maximum participants.
  • Upsells.
  • Drip campaigns.
  • Big events and deadlines.

All of this was on her calendar in brightly colored, categorized post its. Easily adjustable as she worked through her plan with the end goal in site.

For a visual learner and planner like myself, it was magic!

Have you begun planning for your new year, your next big adventure or product launch or even for what your future looks like? Considering all of that, looking at the big picture…what a fantastic way to kick your business into high gear and go after all your dreams!

As a detail person, I can help. Share your vision with me and let me help fill in the details. I can help create task lists, manage your team and even provide regular status updates.

The Importance of Sacred Time

When I first heard the term “sacred time,” I thought it must be some religious practice. A custom similar to prayer rituals or meditation. But sacred time is not that at all. Sacred time is a block of time that you protect like it’s your child.

It’s set by you and for you. And you can set it for whatever your greatest need is. It’s a time for just you. Not lunch appointments, kids demands or even mindless TV watching. It’s a productive block of time that you designate.

And it is a life changing practice!

Sacred Time Guidelines

First, off everyone’s sacred time looks different. It feels different. And it serves a very specific and unique purpose for each participant. So these are just guidelines from someone who has been playing with these elements in my own sacred time for a while.

  • Put it on your calendar – reserve a block of time ahead of time. Put it on your calendar before the week craziness starts. It doesn’t have to be long, but it does need to be reserved. It’s important you share this practice with your family. Not just because it may benefit them as well, but more importantly, so that they know you are not going to be available during this time.
  • Make a plan – this is not a nap time or a self care time, you need those too! But this is a time to buckle down and be productive. Whether it’s work, writing, chores or some other task that is either super important or tedious enough it gets neglected but needs to be done. Make a priority list of things to get done during this time.
  • Turn off the noise – put your phone on DND, turn off the TV or radio background noise and maybe even consider a white noisemaker or fan to block out any noisy distractions.
  • Get your supplies – yes, I’m talking about your laptop or cleaning supplies. But FIRST, fix yourself a large glass of lemon water, light a candle, put on some quiet jazz or instrumental music and clean off your workspace of any distractions.
  • Breathe!!! Sit down, but before you dive into to your list, take 5 deep breathes. Clear your mind of everything else. And focus on being right here, right now.
  • Now GO!

For this block of time, it’s you and your mind, you and your goals, you and your work. No noise, no distractions.

This “loneness” may feel odd at first. But I guarantee you will find yourself coming out of it feeling empowered, accomplished and ready to face the world again. And perhaps it will restore your creativity, your energy and your joy as well.

There are lots of resources on sacred time. And whether you use it for growing your business, completing some personal tasks or just tackling things you do not want to do, you will find that setting this time aside is life changing. And very empowering!

Resources

If you want to find out more about Sacred Time, check out these resources:

Julie Stoian: Sacred Time + The 100/50/10 System – I love, love, love her!

Wayne Muller: Sabbath – This book is more about self care and setting aside time for that. But the practice is the same and this book is amazing and easy to read. I highly recommend.

It’s Time to Let Go of the Fear

Fear is…”an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger.” (Webster’s Dictionary)

Fear causes…”fleeing, hiding, or freezing from perceived traumatic events.” (Wikipedia)

I’m willing to bet no one will contradict me on those points. It’s just human nature. Built in, we are literally born with it. Think of the little kids on the playground seeing the tall slide or the teenager asked to call and order food or make an appointment. The hesitation, the wariness and the attempts to get out of it. We’ve all been there.

And for entrepreneurs, bread winners, wow, we definitely have our moments of just freezing or wanting to hide. Second guessing ourselves or escaping, at least temporarily. Putting yourself out there, selling yourself or your product…it can be very scary!

What’s the worst they can say?

In an old blog post, Jasmine Star shared the mantra’s her mother encouraged her to repeat when she was faced with fear. I love that! So much of what we play in our heads on repeat does come from our parents, our formative years.

I think my kids will hear “What’s the worst they can say?” Whenever they are faced with a decision or a crossroads, I always encourage them to try, to ask…the worst that can happen is someone says “NO” and they have to change direction. But at least they tried and aren’t left wondering – would have, could have or should have. You know?!?

Starting Today…Take a Step Forward

My message for you today is take a leap of faith. Whatever has you stuck, has you hiding or is just difficult to move past…take the first step.

Have a little faith in yourself, in your abilities, in your cause and in those around you. Act, Ask or as Nike would say “Just Do It!”

I promise you, the other side of fear is a whole lot better. You will know, you will learn and hopefully you will succeed. If not, there is always tomorrow. Just don’t give up!

5 Tips for Starting Your Business

Every where you look, there are classes for starting your business. Any Facebook group or job board you visit has visitors asking for work from home opportunities. Even the Small Business Administration highlights 10 steps you must take to start your business on their homepage.

But let’s face it, many of the results of these questions are filled with ads, trying to sell you a “startup kit” for their MLM or just too general to be actionable. This article is not that….any of that.

These are five steps you can do RIGHT NOW to start a business. Seriously! Start now…there is no better time than the present.

  1. Start with the Logistics – if you are like me. You already have a life or a job or maybe even both (lucky you!) And this new business must somehow fit in with everything else you have going on. So grab a pen and a piece of paper…and just start writing. Here are the things you need to think about:
    • What time do you have available for this business?
    • What supplies do you need for this business? (And differentiate between what you NEED versus what you want. And also what you already HAVE versus what must be acquired.)
    • What need will you fulfill with this business? And even better, whose need will you fulfill? (This is your target audience or ideal client.)
    • And finally, just do what I call “diarrhea of the mouth,” let it all out. All your hopes and dreams, all your goals and fears. Write it all down. Just write until your hand is tired and your brain is empty of the spinning ideas.
  2. Schedule a coffee date or three – Yes, seriously. This is an important part of starting your business. Call your closest friend(s) and ask them to meet you for coffee. One at a time, not altogether. Schedule it today or tomorrow, just as soon as you can. Grab your pen and paper from Step 1 and head out the door. Here’s what you are going to do during your coffee date:
    • Tell your friend about your business idea. Ask them for their honest feedback. And then listen to what they have to say. Take notes. Why am I doing this? Your friends know you best. They know your life, they know your heart. And they probably see your strengths and weaknesses, sometimes more clearly then you do. Even if they are not business minded, they will have some nuggets that will be helpful as you flesh things out. Take notes!
  3. Find your team – No, I’m not saying go hire a bunch of people. I don’t know many entrepreneurs or start ups that can do that right off the bat. And even if you can, this is not when you should start spending your resources. But after your brainstorming session and meetings with your friends, you definitely have a better idea of your plan. And more importantly, the things you can do and the things you can’t. So here’s what you are looking for:
    • Look for a mentor who has done this before. If not in the same industry, maybe the same situation…a small business owner who has had some success. Or a professional who has an expertise in something you need…sales, marketing, technology or ???? A great FREE resource for this is the SCORE program.
    • Ask a friend to be your accountability partner. It’s awfully easy to get overwhelmed as you begin to work your business. The plethora of moving pieces can make it easy to lose sight of the end goal. Having regular check ins with a friend, rather than someone associated or dependent on the business, just to vent and talk things out can be life changing. Try it, you will see.
    • Reach out to your social network, family networks for advice and expertise on things you have questions about.
    • Down the road, it will be time to hire a team…I’ve had some experience with that as well. Make sure you surround yourself with the right people. It’s important!
  4. Buy a big calendar – seriously. Go to your local office supply store and buy a desk calendar, the big, cheap one. Grab your brainstorming notepad from earlier, your notes from your meetings with your friends and mentor and make a plan. Not just a list of to dos, but a plan with deadlines and assignments.

    Just a few planning tips that I have learned in my 14 years of working as a small business consultant:
    • Work backwards. If you set a firm and final deadline. Fill in the details by working back from that date.
    • Write in pen. And highlight! Many say write in pencil so you can erase and re-work things. I say write in pen, make a commitment to yourself. You can do this.
    • Hang your calendar on a wall where you see it ALL the time! I had mine over my bed for a long time…couldn’t go to bed without seeing it. Couldn’t get up without seeing it. Couldn’t come out of the bathroom without seeing it. Because let’s face it, as an entrepreneur, you will eat, sleep and even dream your business!
  5. Get down to business – you are now ready to work your business. For me, this means a daily to do list on Asana which sinks with my Google Calendar which reminds me throughout the hour, day, week of upcoming deadlines.

I’m telling you…these 5 steps will have you starting your business within days if not hours. You may be bootstrapping it, but you are starting. And once you start…well, that’s the first step right.

Your never fail until you stop trying!

Surround Yourself with the Right Team

You do not need two starters who play the same position.

Think about that for a minute. During the rush of the day, many of us wish we could clone ourselves in order to get more things done, more efficiently. Rather than surround yourself with the right team, you try to do it all.

You wear ourselves out, you mess up, you fall down because you don’t have the expertise to handle certain business aspects. Now don’t let this hurt your pride, you are brilliant, you are an expert in your field, but let’s face it, there just aren’t that many “know it alls” who really know it all. When you attempt to save money or avoid the hassle or insecurity of delegating, things fall through the cracks or get done poorly.

Hire a Team

This is the ultimate goal of a virtual assistant. A VA can bolster your weakness, give you back time where you are crunched and are experts on the back end of your business. The expertise provided by a VA varies from assistant to assistant. As do the work flows, industries they support and personalities.

And the reality is, a clone is not going to do the trick. What an effective and successful business owner needs is the right team around them. A team filled with players who are strong where others are weak, who have their own niche and expertise, who can do what the business owner cannot. (Or perhaps I should say, what the business owner should not do.)

You can find virtual assistants who specialize in all of the key business aspects from finance to sales, from marketing to systems. There are no limits to the things you can outsource.

But when you surround yourself with the right team to support your business as it grows and expands…well, you can’t go wrong there! So block off some time to make a list…of the things you don’t want to do, the things you have no idea how to do and frankly, the things you shouldn’t do. And then spend some time searching for the right team…

Site like Upwork and Guru are a great place to start in looking for help. Or ask your social and business networks. I promise you are not the only one struggling with these tasks and gaining control of your time.

The Year I Lost Everything – Lessons Learned from Business Failure

Three years ago, my kids and I were homeless. Thankfully it never went so far as us living in our car or a shelter, but we were wholly dependent on another family for our housing. I had to apply for food stamps. And I have never been so ashamed in my whole life!

And it’s taken every minute of these last years to be able to admit this publicly. To put out there just how thoroughly I failed as an entrepreneur. Do you have any idea how humbling that is?

I had been in business for over 10 years at that point. I wasn’t a start up. I had been doing this, the same thing. And in one fell swoop I was wiped out. And I hate to the bearer of bad news, but this can happen and has happened to many entrepreneurs.

And it’s really hard not to give up. Not to hang your head in shame and back track or worse still to give up on your dreams.

But my catastrophic failure as a business owner was one of the best lessons I ever learned. It wasn’t easy. In fact, it was miserable. But in the end, the many lessons I learned about business and about myself were well worth it. Here are a few of the lessons that I think every business owner needs to know.

Lessons Learned from Business Failure

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

As I grew my business, loyal clients took more and more of my time. I grew comfortable. And I stopped marketing, I stopped growing. And when my customers moved on…well, I was left high and dry. Now in my rebuilding phase…I am learning to diversify, to expand my marketing and to vary my clients and their industries. (And I might also be consider diversifying my product offerings.)

Swallow your pride and ask for help.

There is no shame is asking for help. We all need it at some point and in different areas. Reach out to your friends, your business network and tell them what you are looking for, what you have to offer and don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. It’s is amazing how powerful it is to learn you are not alone. And you never know who else might need to know they are not alone as well.

It’s okay to take time and revamp.

Breathe. Take a step back and let your thoughts flow over you. Makes lists. Talk to trusted advisors. Do some studying. And be open to change. Just because you fall down, it doesn’t mean you have to jump right back up. Sit there for a minute, evaluate the circumstances and then dust yourself off before you stand back up and take another stab at it.

There is more than one way to skin a cat.

You’ve heard the saying, never give up, try, try again. But that doesn’t mean you have to try the same thing over and over again. Sometimes you need to think outside the box. Sometimes you have to change paths completely. But hold true to your end goal…supporting your family doing something you love, having the freedom to be where you need or want to be or bringing a new product or service to market. Don’t quit because it didn’t work the way you started…take a look for a different route. And change it up a bit. Embrace what works and drop what doesn’t!

And most important…

Don’t ever give up on you, on your dreams!