3 Steps To Turning Up The Volume Of Your Voice

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It’s one thing to bite your tongue from an inappropriate retort when you’re driving in traffic and get cut off, and it’s another thing entirely when you stop yourself from contributing to a conversation because you feel inept. We all hold back at the right time for the right reasons, but sometimes it’s the wrong time and wrong reason; when others need to hear your voice but you’re not confident, then it’s problematic for your business.

You wouldn’t be in your role if you were incompetent, but you must believe this. Once you accept your part in the business, then you’ll speak from a place of confidence. You’ll have found your voice. Your strongest tool is the ability to promote yourself, provide for clients, or make contributions, so you must embrace the fact that it’s imperative to share your voice. Be heard.

Lack Of Confidence and Other Barriers

It’s not always easy to find this sense of confidence, but the more you enable yourself to speak with it, the more you will find and use your voice. It’s empowering. The difficulty lies in the fact that we create barriers and become our own worst enemy. We must learn how to break those barriers down!

Your business doesn’t have to suffer any more because you have stifled your voice. You can fix this at any time. Like right now… Small business coaches offer methods that will help, and you can take the following three steps to begin the process and release your voice.

1.      Practice Makes Perfect. If you find it difficult to promote yourself, then it’s important to keep putting yourself out there until it gets more comfortable. But you don’t have to jump into the deep end! Instead of heading to the nearest networking meeting where you’ll have to pump out your elevator speech to all in reach, start smaller. Place a few cold calls or send feeler emails in which you clarify your point of view about your business. Get used to the sound of your words and the feeling of talking about yourself, and then network into bigger and bigger circles as you gain confidence.

2.      Define Your Preferences. If you feel tugged or pulled by others’ will, then you may not have your feet firmly on the ground. Before you engage with clients or business vendors, make sure you know your own mind on the issues. Do you know your billing practices and where they fall competitively? Do you know if you even like working in a particular industry or with a certain type of client? Is there a certain type of client or work that you would turn down? Figuring out your preferences will not only avoid falling into pitfalls when it comes to clients or business practices, but you’ll feel more confident turning away or deflecting those that don’t fall within your parameters.  When you act with conviction, your voice comes through loud and clear.

3.      Meditations and Self-Reflection. When negative feelings begin to override your voice, you can turn to a mantra or quote that will remind you about the power of your voice. Find a mentor or coach who inspires you and pull from their repertoire. When you can counter the negativity, then you’ll conquer it.

These steps will get you started, but it might still be a struggle. Don’t be afraid to reach out and use resources that can share with you the knowledge to help uncover your voice. Look, you got this far, and you can go the distance. You just might have to turn up the volume a bit more on your voice.

Conquer the World by Finding Your Voice

Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash

Have you ever had a moment of doubt where you vacillated on a decision? You weren’t sure what to do, or you couldn’t say with conviction which choice was right. For some, this is a regular occurrence. The premise behind good business decisions is to act from a place of ownership. However, you need confidence in order to establish and take ownership over your business practices.

Finding Your Voice

We often describe confidence as a voice that speaks out. It’s the voice that speaks to our preferences, defends our decisions, and jumps into the fray when things must get done. When we use that voice, we expect acknowledgement and acceptance, confident expectations that demand a place at the table.

Using Your Voice

When you attend a meeting, you must speak your mind and be heard. That takes confidence! When you pursue or decline a project, you are exerting your preferences. Takes confidence! And the interesting thing about experiences that take confidence is that they also build it. Once you come through to the other side of an experience in which you acted confidently, then that experience gets added to your list of reasons to feel confident, further growing your stockpile of confidence.

There’s something else to the process, too. It’s empowering. When you can stand on your own two feet and proclaim yourself to the world, then you are a formidable force. Nothing can stop you! You own the world! You matter! When you approach your business with that kind of energy, imagine the results you will accomplish??

Getting To A Place Of Confidence

Not everyone comes equipped with a voracious confidence, but we all have the capacity to gain more. Look for ways to exercise your voice. Look for easy successes. Remember, confidence begets confidence, so the more times you experience a sense of confidence, the more confident you will grow.

While surviving a trial-by-fire situation may earn you instant confidence, it can also backfire if you experience failure. So, a more realistic approach is similar to getting results at the gym: slow and steady building.  Start from a safe place.

Find like-minded business groups that will support and allow your voice to emerge. For example, rather than attend a large informative lecture on a business topic, look for small-group sessions in which each participant contributes. There may also be associations to join that encourage membership meetings. Become a member, attend the meetings, and lend your voice to their cause. Any of these will build your confidence, shaping your voice so that you feel stronger asserting it.

Recognizing Your Voice

Once you embrace your voice, your confidence, then you will begin to find places in which to use it. You will recognize your strengths, opportunities in which you will succeed, and ways to overcome limits placed on you. It becomes a tool of empowerment that you can wield to improve, achieve, and —

— did I just hear you, shouting at the monitor, “AND CONQUER THE WORLD!” …now there’s that confidence. What will you do with it?

If you struggle with confidence, I can help. Reach out for a time to chat to see how you can build confidence to take you where you want to go.

Getting Back-To-Business

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Let’s take this time of year, the back-to-school season, during which children dust themselves off from summer break and get set for a new year, to do the same. Let’s shake the dust off our practices and assess our performance:  let’s get Back-To-Business. September hails a new season and a new school year, and we can ride the coattails of this event taking place all over the nation to focus inward and refresh our skills.

In the world of business, most milestones relate to a financial calendar; there are fiscal quarters and year-end accounts to wrap, but these are deadlines that don’t offer much time for reflection. In the meantime, we often get lax about practicing good habits and maintaining optimal performance, so we scramble to meet our financial deadlines without stopping to consider, “How am I doing? How are we doing as a business?”

Renew Your Focus

Right now, take stock of your underlying feelings towards your work and renew your focus. So much of the work you do relates to personal passion, but the administrative side and the financial goals often take precedence over our emotional connection to the work. Over time, your laser-sharp focus may have blurred, losing its precision, so use the month of August to figure out your baseline reasons for working and set goals from there that will guide your actions come September and beyond. Take this time to remember why you’re doing this work; focus on your purpose.

There was a driving force behind your decision to go into business, and it’s still there. Tap into that core force and use this as a resource to gain direction. What did you want to accomplish then, and what do you want to accomplish now? What was your purpose for starting a business then, and how do you feel about that purpose now? Most likely, your purpose has changed, and you need to acknowledge that change in order to alter course and chart your direction.

Refresh Your Skills

Use this time of year to jump-start your skills by taking a class. Without a set curriculum or learning institution to guide us, it’s really important to continually research available options for skill development. Look for trends in business or guidance from a career coach to determine which new skills might benefit your business. Then, sign up! It’s very easy to want to take a class and then never sign up.

Time passes quickly when we aren’t beholden to an academic calendar that slowly progresses through the years until culminating with a graduation. This can be an advantage; if you’ve thought about adding new skills, get started! Before you know it, the time will pass, and you’ll have fulfilled this goal. Just think that had you signed up for a class last year, you’d be done by now!

This is also a time to refresh existing skills. Our brain operates from muscle-memory when we repeat the same procedures, so it’s possible to lose best practices through rote performance. Taking a refresher course about topics like finances or methods may remind you about the best ways to conduct business.

Don’t Wait

There is excitement in the air as kids gear up for a new school year, and you can borrow from their zeal. It’s time to get back-to-business and make some changes so that this time next year, you’ll be looking back on a year of growth and better business. If you are interested in improving your business, consider either the Better Business Coaching System or the Understanding Your Financials course.

There’s Still Time To Make This Your Year

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It’s back to school season, and the aisles are stocked full of school supplies. Who doesn’t love the fresh packages of pens and colorful bins of folders ready for the picking?! There’s something about those notebooks, clean and ready for scribbling notes, that makes this time of year feel hopeful and inspiring.

Just because you’re out of school and running a business doesn’t mean you won’t be able to appreciate this season. In many ways, we’re still in that mind-set of the academic year calendar, where summer is slower and fall gears up. You may not need to buy school supplies, but there are types of supplies for your business that you may want to get for the upcoming year.

Gearing Up

No, it’s not new notebooks and a fresh box of crayons, but you could still use some gear to jump start your year. Let’s imagine you have a Small Business Backpack. What constitutes gear for the creative entrepreneur and what would you put into your bag?

Creative Gear: A Pack Of Inspiration

 As a creative spirit, we’re always on the lookout for inspiration. Often, it’s an organic process, something strikes us when we least expect it. And it isn’t something we can manufacture, certainly not an object to add to a bag. However, there are ways we can seek inspiration or position ourselves to get inspired.

1.       New Experiences.  The more you experience, the more fuel for inspiration you’ll find. When we go through something different than our norm, our brains must process the experience. We adjust to make room for the input of new thinking, and therein is ample opportunity for inspiration to enter and take form.

2.       New Skills. When we do something the same way, we form habits. It’s difficult to alter our pattern and stray from our habit. However, an influx of new skills breaks our dependency on the familiar way to behave and provides a new course of action. Now, we’re in uncharted territory where it’s easier for inspiration to break out. We allow the “what if’s”:  “What if I do this…”  “What if this happens next…”  Every “what if” is a moment of inspiration.

Creative Gear: A Set Of Fortitude

Let’s face it; there’s quite a bit of rejection in the creative world. It’s a tough business, and you’ve got to have an equally tough approach to handling set-backs. Fortify yourself! There are many ways to build endurance and resilience through skill development.

1.       Learning The How-To’s. While running a business for creative services may be new to you, it’s a thriving market with a history of great success (The Renaissance!). Someone has had the same struggles and challenges as you, and there’s a way through. Learn a few “How-To’s” to help sidestep issues that plague most creative entrepreneurs and pave the way for a smoother road to success.

2.       Increasing Confidence. The more confident you feel, the more you’ll conquer. You’ll bounce back faster, too, after an upset. Confidence comes from a belief in and respect for yourself, and there are many ways to increase both. Business coaches know that mantras and meditations exist for a reason, and learning a combination of these exercises and methods may bolster your confidence to prepare you for any situation.

It’s time; the new year approaches and you can sign up today for the class, course, or appointment that will make a difference and create a new you. Not sure what to put in your business gear - email me, let's talk. Gather your gear and pack your bag, because we’re going to make this your year!

Lighten Your Load: Letting Go Of Shame

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Think about your last mistake, and you probably remember it quite well. Is there a feeling that comes with the memory, a little queasy sensation in your stomach that makes you fold up, shrink inward a bit? Did your shoulders rise to your ear, and did you feel like saying, “Ewww…” There is a mind/body connection that manifests our emotions physically, amplifying the effects of our feelings.

That queasiness and shoulder hunch?  Your body is registering shame, a sensation that makes you want to pull inward and away from the memory, hiding from the feeling.

Shame Weighs You Down

When we experience mistakes or failures, it’s a negative, visceral feeling. We physically feel ill, edgy, or anxious. It’s extremely uncomfortable to feel this way, therefore we shirk from thinking about anything to do with the experience.

While it’s normal to avoid the things that make us uncomfortable, it can also be dangerous. The problem or situation doesn’t go away. Shirking away only works short-term; it’s a place-holder until you address and fix the issue. Whatever it is, whether it’s a responsibility or a consequence that you shirk, pushing it away only makes it worse.

If you stay in your hiding place too long, you risk never coming out again and feeling permanently stuck there. Shame will keep you stuck, hold you back, and weigh you down.

So gather yourself, take a deep breath, steady your feet, and face that thing. Head-on, fully, and directly confront those feelings that make you want to hide. It’s the only way to move forward.

Face-off With Negativity

Scared you now, right? It’s okay! You’re starting to peek at your darkest place. I’m going there with you. We all feel that way at one time, and the first step away from these dark places is recognizing that everyone experiences this at one point—Especially entrepreneurs!

We skewer ourselves with the mantra, “I’m a failure!” any time something goes wrong until we learn that failure comes with the territory and it’s not the end of the line. It takes time to see success as a process, a series of steps that includes failures, and to realize that failure is like a bump in a very long road.

Work To Fix It and Feel Better

What made you shirk? Was it a lack of financial responsibility, a challenging you avoided, or a mistake you must own?  We can face these or anything with the next step, repairing the situation.

A tagline from a superglue commercial is, “Fix it and forget about it.” Once you begin to work toward fixing the situation, then you will be able to let go of the shame. Start now to fix your finances; look for a new challenge to tackle; acknowledge and ask for a second chance for that mistake—move away from the dark place shame sent you through actionable steps.

Strength in Numbers

These are not easy steps to take, particularly if shame has taken hold and weighed you down. Don’t fret alone! You may not have a defined support network, but one exists. Colleagues, coaches, friends, or anyone who supports you are resources to help you find ideas to fix the problem or work with you to spell out steps to take and fix the situation. Engage these resources further! Your support network are people who want to help and genuinely care about your success.

Focus on Success

Now, recall the feeling of a recent success. Did you feel big emotions, giddiness and joy? Were you full of energy and ready to take on the world? When you address the shame and work it out, these are the feelings that await. It is truly a success to overcome the negativity that holds us back. Unload the shame and lift yourself up so that you can get to your next success – or failure. Reach out if you need help identifying or removing shame from your business.

Deal With Shame By Taking Action

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It’s a myth that an ostrich hides its head in the sand, but that metaphor for handling problems is still prevalent. Ignoring something doesn’t make it go away. Never is this truer than when dealing with negative emotions.

If we neglect negative feelings of guilt, shame, or embarrassment for too long, letting them stew, then the situation worsens. Those emotions steal our energy and hold us back, and sometimes ignoring them long enough can turn deadly. The ostrich metaphor is a cautionary tale:  Lift your head up, address the source of those feelings, and take action while there’s still time.

The Shame Of Failure

If you own a business, then you’ve suffered a failure at some point. Part ‘n’ parcel for being a business owner. How did you deal with the shame? Too often, we don’t fully get rid of feeling ashamed.

For example, say you didn’t balance your check book, over-drafted your account, bounced a check to a customer, and received a negative rating—that’s a series of unfortunate events. It was a bad situation but feeling badly for too long only creates problems for the next situation.

The Shame Chain Reaction

Now, you’re ashamed and embarrassed, so you avoid that customer and lose the whole account. There are many scenarios in which shame affects behaviors but they all have one thing in common—everything ties back to the emotions you’re holding onto about the failure.

Shame can act like a weight holding us down. It is heavy and clings to us, making it difficult to get up. Unfortunately, that is the cure for shame: get up, overcome, and accomplish the next thing. You must let it go!

Recognize the Shackles of Shame

The starting point to letting go of shame is recognizing when you’re in its grip. Here are a few warning signs and ways to get help.

1.      There is a tendency to focus on the negative. You own the business, so for sure, the failure was “all my fault.” Berating yourself further erodes your sense of self. This is a shame spiral. When you only see the negative about yourself, the situation, or the whole world, then you need help with shame. Pervasive negativity is a mindset brought about by shame, and you must change it. Take action: Get a friend or coach to work with you on a better perspective. Label the incident as an exception to the rule; it’s not the way you normally do business.

2.      There is a tendency to feel loads of self-doubt. One failure may feel like a sign that you “can’t do this.” Once you tell yourself that you can’t, then everything you touch or see gets filtered through this savage doubt. If you don’t stop the doubt, then soon, you believe in it. Take action: Look at a balanced outcome and give yourself equal parts credit to the doubt. Don’t make the outcome inevitable; tell yourself that you might fail again, but what if you succeed?

3.      There is a tendency for extreme thinking. So you didn’t balance your check book and had a financial hiccup—you don’t throw out your whole account and never touch money again! Shame pushes feelings to the extremes, making you feel like things are impossible, never working, or always bad. Take action: Watch your word choices and keep things realistic – “. . . might be true,” “. . . sometimes happens,” “. . . often is the case,” “. . . historically that has been my experience….”

Unloading The Weight of Shame

Failure is part of the process on the road to success, and it’s even possible to turn a failure into a success. You can alter feelings of shame by changing your perspective; looking at the big picture and seeing the failure as a step in the learning process; or allowing yourself to channel that shame into positive energy and think that anything is possible – success or failure. One of my favorite books is “Failing Forward” by John C. Maxwell. It addresses this idea of using failure to create success.

No matter the reason for the shame, taking action will help you conquer shame and feel better. Don’t let shame cloud your ability to take action – if you can’t get out from under the shame alone, there are resources to help! You’re not alone.

What’s The Story About Your Financials?

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When a book is exciting, we call it a real page-turner. You simply can’t wait to find out what happens next, reading quickly to turn to the next page, and the next! Well, that’s life, too—or it could be. You could be starring in a story so exciting, you can’t wait to wake up the next day and see what happens. And, it’s all up to you—What story are you going to create??

Take Ownership Of Your Story

Every story has a setting of location and characters, and genres exist for all types of stories: horror, mystery, romance, comedy, epic, drama, etc. In life, you truly get to decide the type of story that you want to create. What types of people will you include in your life? How will you choose to react to a given situation? You are the author and lead character in the story – you get to develop the plot and decide the direction, and you get the starring role. Most importantly, you also get to make changes.

What’s Your Story?

Every story has an antagonist and protagonist – what are yours? What are the challenges and in what ways do you overcome? Is there a victim or victor in your story? Life is a series of struggles; every struggle builds us, makes our story, and sweetens our victories. It’s up to you to determine how you’ll respond to struggle. Remember, only you can change the type of novel or direction of the story by controlling your perspective, choices, and actions. The final chapter has not yet been written.

How To Control Your Story

Even though it may seem as though you are responding to events that happen to you, you are actually making choices and determining outcomes.  You’re in charge.

It’s hard to recognize the power that we possess to manage our own business. Too often, we feel as though our success comes at the whim of fate or through chance. Do you feel like that last deal was lucky, or that the new client was fortuitous? To a degree, there is an element of chance, but don’t discount the work you put into it: you abided by the terms of the deal and you put yourself in the position to acquire new business.

Let me repeat: You put yourself into position; you established the narrative.

There’s More To The Story

Your narrative must include a plot, the driving force of the action. In the story of life and owning your own business, that plot comes in the form of your numbers. The bookkeeping and finances affect most decisions and outcomes. Therefore, managing these elements of your business will help you control the story.

Make Friends With The Numbers

Too often, most creatives avoid the bookkeeping and finances because they seem complicated, confusing, and scary. Most creatives find themselves in business because of their passion for their work, not for their love of accounting theory. Still, those numbers matter to your business and they drive your story.

Your finances determine the state of your business; understanding this part of your business gives you a complete picture. These numbers—the accounting, finances, bookkeeping, etc.— tell you where you’ve been, how you’re doing now, what to predict for the future, and more.

Build A Better Narrative

So if the numbers drive your story, and if you control the narrative, then you can decide on which type of story you want to create: a tragedy, or a drama. Start by outlining your plot, i.e. looking at your numbers. Find the right tools to help you get started and feel less confused and scared.  

Ready to write your story? Download your Financial Plan to get started.

Don’t Be Afraid Of The Numbers: How To Empower Yourself and Your Business

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Fear is a motivating factor, for sure – when we fear the consequences, we try our hardest to avoid them! As an extreme example, no one wants to foreclose on a house, and it’s a major fear that causes people to work like crazy and pay their mortgage. There is a healthy amount of fear that inspires behavior, but there is another type of reaction to fear that is less productive.

Sometimes, our fears cause us to shut down or bury our head in the sand, avoiding that which scares us. Reacting to fear by ignoring it is dangerous, and the consequences usually compound, growing worse and harder to resolve.

Moving Through Fear

It is good to stand strong in the face of fear, but strength is not always the answer to conquering fears. Sometimes, we need to diffuse the emotion all together and take away the feeling of being scared. In this case, it’s about power. Rather than muscle through (strength), empower yourself and get to the root of the fear. Most times, fears are like bubbles coming to the surface, emanating from something deeper. Rather than spend time popping the bubbles, dive down and see the real issue.

Identifying The Problem

As a creative small business owner, there are probably so many fears to face. Are any of these familiar fears? Will I succeed? Am I doing okay? Did they like my work? So, if these are the bubbles at the surface, let’s go a little deeper.

The question, Will I succeed? indicates a fear of failure, and questioning success relates to confidence. The definition of confidence is a high sense of self-respect, therefore, a big threat to confidence is self- doubt. Strength might require you to feel the fear and act anyways, but empowerment means looking at the reasons that created the confidence in the first place – years of experience, relevant education, past outcomes, satisfied clients, or excellent feedback. These are a concrete answer to that question, Will I succeed?

Likewise, concrete answers exist for all the fears if you dig deep enough:  Am I Doing Okay? Review your financials; Do they like my work? Ask for customer testimonials. You can learn the knowledge to gain power and stop the fears altogether. Knowledge equals power.

Finding Empowerment

Business owners who understand their financials empower themselves to succeed despite their fears. The numbers behind your business give you the power to pop those fear bubbles of doubt or uncertainty. Unfortunately, too many creatives who own businesses feel fear about tackling those numbers! They are afraid to attempt bookkeeping because it feels confusing, they feel overwhelmed with the tasks, or they are “bad” at math. It’s time to pop those fears.

Again, knowledge equals power, so if you do not know the terms, equations, or procedures for bookkeeping and financial reviews, then of course you will feel afraid of the process! The first step to digging deeper is learning about the names of financial tools and how they can help.

Create your own power by creating a financial plan. Click here to begin.

How To Control Your Finances So They Don’t Control You

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If I told you, “Start driving!”, your first question would be, “To where?!” It sure makes sense to have a direction before you put pedal to the metal.

So then why would someone operate a business without a financial plan? It’s the same thing—how will you know where you’re going if you don’t have a sense of the numbers that will get you there?

The Scary Side Of Finances

The financials are the management side of the business, and so many creatives put energy into the product without much attention to the finances. Often, the financials are just plain scary – these are the numbers that indicate whether the business is a success or failure. Sometimes, there just isn’t a knowledge base about finances to understand the terms or procedures to managing money; it’s confusing and therefore, scary to approach.

Either way, the numbers exist and ignoring them won’t serve you well. Your business must generate money to stay alive, and you better believe that it matters just as much as your production side. Don’t let your fear derail your business!

Get In Control Of Your Business

I have seen many clients discover that the numbers can be their friends and not their enemies. My knowledge about finances and understanding of their role in your business can be shared. Let me give you the power to control your finances!

Once you understand the numbers, much of the fear will dissipate. You can see your future and set your course based on our work today with your current finances; You can make forecasts, predictions, and begin to have a strategy for the future of your business; You can make decisions based on the cash flow and income statement so that you have a clear process to follow -- all by working with the numbers.

There is a clear before and after that comes from taking control of your finances. In the creative world, uncertainty is the nature of the work. However, it is possible to make some concrete and specific actions about your finances even in the face of the unknown. Once you can control those aspects, then you will see your business from a very different vantage point that puts you in a position of power.

Come work with me to reduce any fears about finances and embrace the numbers as your friend, and you will see the difference in your business. Click here to learn how you can start to unravel the mystery of the numbers, end your fears, and take charge of your finances and business.

Facing The Fear Of Your Financials

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There I am, talking to a highly motivated and enthusiastic creative business owner whose energy was palpable, a bright light shining from her very eyes, who suddenly shut down, light draining away, as though the plug was pulled and the energy zapped out. And I did it – I said the words, “Financial Plan.”

I could see her internal voice: *Zap* “Disconnecting…. Powering down….  Good-bye…“ Instantly deflated, no more enthusiasm.

Why Financials Shut You Down

Herein lies the difficulty for creative business owners:  managing the financials feels like getting tackled by the opposition. The numbers take us away from our creative focus and require a whole different mindset. It’s confusing, uncertain, and difficult, so you feel that “punched in the gut” sensation of being fearful, deflated, and paralyzed.

I get it, and most people feel this way. Numbers force us to stop and look at the business from the management side, require administrative time, and usually scare us silly as an indicator of our success. We don’t often have the business acumen to know the right terms or how they work; we don’t see the picture that they paint or the story that they tell.

So we shut down.

But your reaction to addressing this vital business function serves to define your success. The numbers won’t go away and ignoring them only begets worse circumstances that eventually can’t be ignored.

Feel The Fear And Act Anyways

If we examine the fear, much of it comes from the unknown. Without a business degree or knowledge about finances, maybe you don’t know how to really look at the numbers. Maybe you only focus on the money coming in and going out, in which case you are missing a whole bunch more to the story.

I can show you how the numbers work together to create plans, sustain your business, develop more business, and manage the workload – if you look at them right, they tell the story of your present and future business. Instead of scary, they may be reassuring or even inspiring.

Imagine if you could confront those numbers and feel excited, enthusiastic, and powerful? Instead of dreading your financial reviews, what if you felt a happy sense of anticipation? It can happen.

All you really need to do today is decide that it’s time to think about your finances. It’s okay to feel afraid. Remember, I will help you understand them. And, the first step is easy, and it requires a simple questionnaire to get you started. From there, I’ll work with you to break down the process of understanding your financials so that you can see your story.

It’s time to stop the fear and get ready to take control of your business. Let’s talk more about your Financial Plan – There, I said it again, and instead of shutting down, choose to click here and learn more about Understanding Your Financials. Soon, it will be a conversation that you dive into, not dodge.

Success Is The Sum Of Your Actions Today

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Your business did not happen overnight. You experienced stages that required many months, or years, of preparation leading up to the point you struck out on your own. Everything you’ve been through has brought you to this point; “we are the sum total of our experiences’”.

Do you remember taking your first steps as a baby? Probably not because this usually occurs between 9 and 12 months, sometimes later. However, the proud parents readily regale listeners with the saga of their child’s first steps, but they are the ones who know the full story; that first step came after many, many trials and error.

Learning to walk is like owning a business. There are skills to learn and it takes time. Walking begins with the body’s early muscle development, a process that primes the leg, thigh, and core muscles to stand. First, we get strong enough to walk by crawling, and then we stand, stumble and fall, walking as the last step of the process. The success came after many stages of trial and error peppered with tenacity and perseverance.

If we apply that to the future, then the result of the actions you take today, tomorrow, and into the future will determine your success. What if you could start today to prepare for future success? What if you could envision the equation in which the sum was your success? Imagine a roadmap exists that shows you the steps to transform today’s business plan into a successful outcome. It’s not just a figment of imagination; it’s something that I have been able to document.

As a business coach, I see this transformation all the time as my clients develop their proverbial wings and fly into the sky, more successful today than they had been yesterday. As a matter of fact, I’ve seen so many clients transform, that I have created a series based on their experiences; it is a product of the total experiences in which I’ve been honored to participate and witness greatness. There’s no magic formula, but there are some very real actions you can take to increase your success.

I’m ready to work with you too and create your success story. Are you ready to take your first steps toward great success? We can start today!

Business Bravery: How To Recognize And Manage Your Fears

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Whether for reassurance, enlightenment, or understanding, we’re all seeking answers. We hold within us unspoken questions that drive our behaviors, and in business, these internal questions often relate to our ability, self-esteem, and aptitude.

It’s perfectly okay to question ourselves, and many times we perform better because we analyze our actions. However, when the questioning undermines your efforts, then it’s time to recognize and manage this behavior.

There’s an age-old dialogue between parent and child in which the child says, “But mom, you’re never afraid! I wish I could be as brave as you.” In response, the sage mother whispers back, “I’m often scared; I just don’t let that stop me. True bravery is when you are afraid, but you keep going anyways.”

In a similar vein, the questions that undermine our business selves tend to hinge on our fears. While fear is a healthy emotion to feel and often motivates us, we also need to recognize when to heed our fears and when to just keep going.

It’s difficult because some components of fear are not within our control. When we’re afraid, there are physiological reactions that happen automatically. Our bodies develop a heightened awareness and we become acutely in tune with our surroundings. Fear is a built-in caution device that keeps us safe. Have you heard of fight or flight? Fear causes us to either slow down and go with caution (stay and fight), or run like wild and get outta there (flight).

So what are we afraid of in business? How does this translate? Well, it’s not usually an external fear that causes us to flee or fight—it’s the internal fears that make us give up, quit, and head for the hills. Those questions about ourselves that undermine our business come from this place of inner fear. Therefore, when we can figure out the inner workings of our internal fears, then we are more likely to keep going.

It may seem counter-intuitive that we create our own business opportunities and yet we are our own worst enemy. Why would we ever get in our own way and stop ourselves? We’ve worked so hard to create this business. Wouldn’t you expect yourself to just push and push and push?

Not so much—there’s some psychology at work as well. Sometimes, we don’t listen to our instincts because our emotions crowd out these truth signals. Instead of hearing the message from our gut, we’re getting interference from our emotions, obscuring the real drive behind our actions.

Once your motives become cloudy, disrupted by emotion, then it’s even harder to make good decisions, calculate the odds, and plan for the future. You’ve lost the ability to filter your emotions out of your business.

But never fear, a solution is here! There are ways to access those inner fears, bring them into the light, and vanquish them. Through a few coaching techniques, you can dissect these fears and figure out why you’re sabotaging your own success.

Let’s face the fear together! Download my free worksheet, Your First Step To Success, and we will tackle this process– how to harness your fears and reign in the doubts, keeping yourself ahead in the race.

Did You Survive or Thrive Today?

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In the natural course of a business owner’s agenda, there’s much to survive. Client missed your appointment? Reallocate your time. Deal is bigger than you thought? Gather and redistribute your resources. Product failed the expectation? Pivot so fast your feet smoke.

It’s clear, a true survival skill is adaptability and a close second is flexibility. These are good qualities, but if you lose that sense of satisfaction in response to your efforts, you may no longer be thriving, even if you are managing to survive.

Being a survivor in the small business world is a great accomplishment, but when I evaluate success, it measures out to be one-part effort to one-part satisfaction. Surviving day-to-day may not equate to success if you lack that sense of satisfaction, that feeling of thriving.

It’s important to recognize the difference between surviving and thriving and evaluate where you stand. To assess your needle on the gauge between these extremes, ask yourself the following three questions:

1.      When you end the week tired, ask yourself, Am I too tired? Sure, you had to pivot, reallocate, redistribute, and produce a ton, but it’s all a labor of love. When you find yourself expending energy because you want to and enjoy the challenge, then it’s a sign of thriving. Your success comes from passion, and while it’s not a limitless resource, its depth is subterranean.

2.      What is the purpose of all this? The effort to own a small business may start with a desire to do meaningful work or to give life to your creative soul, but is this still true? If you find yourself looking at work tasks as chores, then it might be a sign you need to reevaluate your purpose. The more purpose you feel, the more you can generate the energy required to sustain your small business.

 3.      Do feel like you make sacrifices or make priorities? When you are the boss, things like free time, massage appointments, or fun-filled family weekends may become luxuries you don’t often get to enjoy anymore, or at least, not as frequently. Instead, you have traded those experiences for the ones that come with running your own business – meetings, phone calls, work hours, or planning sessions. These things take priority and may not be relaxing, but they are rewarding when it’s done to support your business. However, when those missed luxuries begin to feel like sacrifices, you may need to pay attention to that sense of disappointment and loss.

And, don’t despair if you come up short on the thriving meter – re-evaluating does not mean giving up. Use this as a starting point to make some changes so that you can thrive, and stay mindful of your place on the gauge in case your ability to thrive begins to falter.

Remember, you’re a survivor—you’re adaptable, and so you can find a way to succeed and thrive if you need to. Join the Better Business Coaching System for support in your journey to thrive.

Mistakes Happen – What Matters Is How You Handle Them

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It happens. It’s part of business, and it stinks—we all make mistakes. You can’t avoid mistakes forever, and the odds are pretty good that one will happen eventually.

Rather than live in fear of the moment, plan to manage the mistake. A good business practice is to apply a process for troubleshooting and managing mistakes.

Step One - Acknowledgment

Kids say, “My Bad”, when they make a mistake. They are demonstrating Acknowledgement, the first step in recovering from a mistake. Most of a client’s distress about a mistake comes from wondering how you’ll handle it and the extent of the confrontation that takes place. When you own the problem and/or the solution, you automatically diffuse the situation.

You are really managing your clients’ expectations and impressions of your company. They want to see that you are in charge, taking responsibility as appropriate, and recognizing the importance of the situation—without any dramatics.

Step Two - Personal Reaction Space

You’re not a robot, and you won’t feel good about a mistake. Give yourself room to feel the emotional responses to a mistake. You might feel dread, shame, anger, panic, or frustration—all or any one of these are acceptable reactions. However, solutions are more difficult to come by with emotions in the way; they will not serve you in this step. Once you take time with the emotion, then let it go. Focus on a solution.

Step Three - Work For A Solution.

For every problem, there is a solution. As a wise woman once told me, “It will be okay in the end, and if it’s not okay, then it’s not the end.” This is the step where you take some actions. Here’s a plan to follow:

1.      Quality Check – Do your QC:  Go back and see where the breakdown occurred.

2.      Determine Root Cause – Find the moment that created the problem.

3.      Fix the Error – Whether it’s an over-order or price adjustment, make it right.

4.      Share Accountability - If there was responsibility on both sides, propose splitting any costs.

At the end of the day, it’s okay to make a mistake; just be ready to fix it. After all, your character and reputation are not built on the fact that you may have made a mistake - but in how you deal with it. If you are struggling, check out the Better Business Coaching System. Working with Michele and her team means you never have to deal with this alone.

Learn To Trust Your Gut

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Trusting yourself in business is important. Like – really important. I am not asking you to have belief or trust in something or someone who has not proven themselves, but in YOU. You are the business owner. You know your clients, you know your business, you know your desired outcomes, and you know what it takes to get the job done. Trust that experience and knowledge.

Each day I speak with clients about their business, their family life, friendships, love relationships and more. Even though we are focusing on business principles and practices for the most part the decision making we do always pours over into our personal lives. We are the same people at home and business. And every day I am asked what I would do in their situation. And you know what – it is easy to be an arm chair quarterback and call the shots – but we all know the game is different when you are on the field. My question back to them –and to you - is what do you want to do, what do you think is the right move?

Whether it is saying no to an opportunity or yes to a new hire or no to a software platform or yes to a new service provider – each of us has a gut feeling that is based off of years of experience, knowledge, failure and success. We seriously need to learn to trust that feeling, and try to put words and explanations around it so that we can evaluate. And when we know what we should do and have confidence in our choice – we need to act. The longer we try to create a narrative in our mind that makes sense as opposed to really looking at the truth in the situation, the more we diminish that inner check. We are quieting our own voice. 

Each of us is the expert in our own business. What works for one may or may not work for another. Use your resources (past, present and future) to the best of your ability and move forward. If this confidence is foreign to you, and you need help, check out the Better Business Coaching System. There are many webinars and exercises that help you get back in touch with your thoughts, desires and choices. Enjoy owning your business again!

Don’t Get Derailed Before You Really Begin!

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Ok, so it never fails to happen. Every year – and I mean every year – I work well in advance to create my goals, plans, dreams and success stories for the year. And every year by mid-January something happens to make me feel derailed before I even begin.

For each of us, that derailment could be different but I would guess that it is quite similar. Some of the derailment could come from seeing what others are doing that you are not. Comparison is seriously the thief of joy. Maybe it could be looking at the to-do list that comes with your dreams and aspirations and feeling overwhelmed before you get started.  Or honestly, just a good dose of self-doubt. Wondering to yourself what you were thinking when you made these plans. Were you having a temporary lapse in judgment?

While all of this happens to many of us – and it is quite normal, we don’t have to believe these lies and stay trapped and sad when we were just on a planning high.  Here are three tips to get your groove back before you even really started.

1.      Connect with your WHY. Really really get excited about why you set these goals and what you are doing to meet them. Connect to the outcome, not the work. When it gets tough, and it will, remember the end goal and make sure it has impact and deep meaning for you.

2.      Evaluate and prioritize the to-do list. When we first create these goals, we are so darn excited that we want to do it all now. But the more we think, consider and plan, the more we see we need to do. When looking at the long list of tasks – it gets overwhelming. Break down your plans into quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily goals. Work on those items that are significant in nature – not just those that are urgent or important. Plan time to relax and have fun (balance people – balance!)

3.      Believe you can. Our success (or lack thereof) begins in our thoughts. Believe you can reach the goals before you – seriously believe you can – and no one can stop you. Quit looking at what others are doing and comparing. Instead, cheer them on their course of discovery and success and hopefully they will do the same for you.

Your journey may be very different from someone else’s. Run your race and let them run theirs. Cheer for others, recognize their successes, model after it where it applies and leave the rest. Share with those around you. Form community. All of this will help you not derail before you begin.

If you want help creating your goals or joining in community, check out the Better Business Series online coaching. You will have automatic cheerleaders built in!

Profitability is a Daily Choice

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Years ago I believed that profitability was a state of being instead of a state of doing or of mind. Meaning, look at the bottom line on your income statement – are you profitable or not. But as I dug in a little deeper I determined that profitability was more than that. Here are three ways to work towards profitability one step or choice at a time.

1.      Make profitability a conscious choice. Every choice and decision we make takes us closer to our goal or further away. If we have made a clear and actionable set of goals, then we need to consider what we do in terms of profitability with every single decision – not just in a year-end evaluation of the income statement. It is really easy to just keep paying bills or doing things the same old way – just because we always have. But is that still working for the company profitability?  If not, change it.

2.      Make profitability fun. Saving money and making wise choices with our time, money and talents should be fun. If we have a negative connotation around cutting expenses or saving then it is easy to feel like we are being told NO all the time. Turn it around – and look at it as YES to profits and NO to unnecessary expenditures of time and energy. Celebrate the growing profits!

3.      Make profitability about more than the numbers. Numbers are just indicators. Indicators of success, wealth, impact, expenses, etc. We need to be profitable with our time and energy and other resources to really see a great increase in overall profitability. If your employees are miserable, then you are not as profitable as you could be. If something takes 5 hours that could be done in 2 if you were not multi-tasking – then you are not as profitable as you could be. Look at every aspect of your business for clues to increasing profitability.

Profitability is what we all hope to achieve. We can do this by having fun and being mindful of how the choices of everyone in the company has an effect on financial profits, efficiency, happiness in the workplace and more. Need help identifying profit leaks in your company? Reach out. We are here to help.

Putting YOU back in YOUR business

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Mirror, Mirror on the wall....

Funny, I would not have thought that this was a discussion we would ever have with business owners. However, given the current quick and immediate access to education and information  – yep, we need to talk about it.

See, information, education and ideas are everywhere. And most of the time – this is a great thing. We can take the new ideas and information and apply it to our lives and business in a way that propels us forward towards our bigger vision and goals  - with unencumbered growth and a joyful heart without issue - right?

Nope – not how it works. I have been having A LOT – and I mean A LOT of discussions with business owners who are finding themselves more stuck than ever as more information comes into their lives. The very information that is meant to be transformative creates inaction. Why? Because many times the information we receive is from different vantage points and is contradictory to the last bit of information we have heard.  Want to STOP the inaction and instead move forward in a way that is natural for you? Here are my suggestions for putting YOU back in YOUR business.

Tip #1: Be you. Identify what you love, what you want, your strengths, your vision, your WHY. Own it all.  Write it down – on paper – print it out. Read often.

Tip #2: With any new idea – refer to Tip #1. Does it align with you? Does it sound great for you? If not, put it away. There is no idea police coming after you for not implementing a new idea. If it sounds interesting, within your strengths (or your team's strengths), investigate.  We are all unique – what worked for one person or business might not work for every person/business.

Tip #3: Commit. Choose a path and commit to excellence and completion. We have to stop chasing new ideas like the proverbial “squirrel.” We are giving ourselves an attention disorder because we keep changing directions. Find what works for you with ideas/technology/planning – and put your head down, and get it done. Seriously – at some point – turn off the noise of the outside world screaming at you for what you should be doing and can’t get done. Focus on what you know is most important.

If you find yourself stuck – ask for help. Get an advisor, mentor, and/or coach to help you decipher through the noise and create a unique plan of action just for you. Then go do that! Put YOU in your process, in your vision, in your company. Stop trying to be everybody else – because that will shut you down.

Michele and her team are happy to help you find YOU again. Reach out if you are interested.

Lessons from a horse and a Segway

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WHOA Nelly! Talk about being outside of my comfort zone for the month of October.  First, I went horseback riding (and conquered a fear or two), then two weeks later took a two hour Segway tour around downtown Philadelphia. Again, a fear or two, or three were conquered. Outside of conquering a few fears – I learned a lot about balance. And that is what I want to talk about today.

In my coaching practice almost every person mentions the need for balance. Either balancing tasks for today (urgent/important) or tasks for tomorrow (significant), or family and life balance with work. We all feel this need more than ever with the opportunities before us and fast pace that everything is moving.

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Here were a few lessons that being on a horse and on a Segway taught me. Funny – I would not have seen the similarity prior to doing these two activities so closely together.

Lesson #1: My balance was predicated to some degree on the balance of where I put my trust. Meaning, I had to trust the horse and trust the Segway to be balance and to try to keep balance – and then find my balance on top of that. The guide on our trail ride told us the horse will always watch where to walk and will shift its weight to maintain balance. It does not want to fall. The Segway guide told us the same thing about the Segway. It is built to maintain balance. On both of these, as I got on each, we took a minute to find our balance together. As we moved together, I had to shift my balance based on the terrain and how the horse and Segway reacted to that terrain.

In your life and business, where are you placing your trust? Is it trustworthy? Does it try to inherently maintain balance and are you balancing along with it?

Lesson #2: Balance takes work. Creating and maintaining balance are two different activities tightly woven together. To get the initial balance took one set of movements. To continue that balance as we moved forward (or backward) took constant adjustments. Going slowly was different than trotting or going at maximum speed. Moving weight, shifting stance, redirecting the reins or handles all made a difference in our direction and how to balance to stay upright and comfortable.

Are you adjusting to stay in balance or did you try to do it once and then let the moment to moment work go off of your radar? Focus is needed along with a commitment to remain in balance.

Lesson #3: Balance is hard work and you may get sore spots! Ha. I can tell you that for more than a week certain body parts hurt after doing an hour and a half trail ride. Why? Because when learning how to balance on a trotting horse, I had to learn how to do things differently than when we were just walking. There were body parts and muscles that had not been used the same way before. The same happened after the Segway ride. My toes hurt – yes my toes. Based on how you balance the toes and heels are where weight is shifted. We had an excellent time on both rides – horse and Segway – but in both, to find my balance it took different muscles to be engaged, different focus and different strategies. It was not a one size fits all in any way, shape or form.

Are you willing to be uncomfortable to create the balance you have identified and desire? Are you willing to engage new muscles and focus to carry through? If you need help with a plan or accountability to reach this goal, email Michele. She would love to help you!

Everyone Has a Challenge

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Recently I met with a group of women for a retreat. The goal was to challenge ourselves a little and to also relax. Due to the weather, we put both challenging activities into the same day. To begin, we went horseback riding in the Catskill Mountains in the morning and then a strenuous hike up a mountain, about 3 miles round trip, in the afternoon. It was literally up (over 1000 foot change in elevation) and a mile and a half each way over rocky terrain. Some of our climbing was using a Spiderman method – on our feet and hands like we were scaling up a building.

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While this may not be a challenge for everyone – it was for most of us. But here is where it gets interesting – our challenge was not the same. My challenge was that I am a Type 1 diabetic and I know that strenuous activity causes my blood sugar to drop. I had packed all my diabetes supplies and I had them in my back pack. Thankfully I have a glucose monitor that gives me updates every 5 minutes so I could treat my low blood sugars as I went along. The entire group asked if I was okay and made it a safe environment for me to be able to stop when needed.

Another of our hikers literally had the soles of her shoes fall off – Seriously! – as we began the hike. She did the entire 3 miles with her shoes taped over her feet with first aid tape. When we were all debriefing after the hike she mentioned that if we had all quit to get her another pair of shoes that none of us would have returned. She did not want to miss the opportunity because she had never been hiking. She was a trooper - no doubt!

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A third person had severe allergies that cause asthmatic reactions, so being outside and climbing at that level caused her concern. 

While we were hiking it was really interesting to hear, see, and experience each person push through their own challenges. Some were physical and some were mental. On one of our adventures the leader had her own struggle with the activity, and she was vulnerable enough to let us know. To be able to see the honesty and share in the triumph of overcoming the obstacle was really something to celebrate. 

We all made it up the mountain – and it was super difficult. When we got to the top the view from all of the vistas was magnificent. It was worth the work. In all honesty, we almost forgot how hard it was to get to the top. The pain of the climb was immediately removed and the view replaced it. We all closed our eyes and just listened. We stayed quiet and took it in. Then we headed back down another 1.5 miles – over rock, taking care with our steps and facing the challenge of going back down. Our mantra – no woman left behind.

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In your business you may be facing a challenge. You may feel like you are alone. Share with someone what you are going through. The shared experience and the vulnerability helped us to create a bond, which I know will be meaningful for all of us for some time. You can have the same. Keep doing the hard work. The view from the top is fantastic!

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If you need a group of supportive business owners to share your challenge, to be supportive, to experience the view from the top – ask Michele about the Mastermind Alliance program. You don’t have to do this alone.