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.

What are your clients really paying for?

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Each day I interact with people in the service industry I see this topic come up for discussion – even if they don’t know this is the real question they are asking. Usually it is hidden in the conversation under the guise of how much they are charging, is it worth it, how much time it is taking, feeling guilty because the price is so high…you get the point. So, let’s break this down and really look at it. What exactly are your clients paying you for?

First, they are paying you for your knowledge. This is information you have gained through study, reading, viewing, just being aware. You know something about the project that your buyer does not. But is knowledge enough?  Heck no. I know about pulling a tooth to some degree, but I can promise you that I am not the one you want to visit if you have a toothache.  If knowledge alone isn’t enough – what else do you need?

Experience. Yep, experience matters. (Exactly why I suggest you call the dentist and not me in the above example with the toothache!) Experience is knowledge in action. Quite often knowing when not to do something is just as important as knowing when to do it. Experience is citical. It allows us to work with more precision, better final outcomes, the ability to adjust when necessary, and it can help us work faster.  But alas, knowledge and experience again are not enough.

Time. Time is a currency we spend each and every day. If someone is calling you for your services and they have the knowledge and the experience but no time to implement – time becomes very important in the transaction. It drives me crazy when a client will share with me that a potential buyer tells them they ‘could do the job but don’t have the time’ as if that should make you lower your rates. NO!  You are being hired because you have the time to do the work and that alone is valuable. (Not to mention the knowledge and experience that prompted them to call you in the first place.)

Value is our last element, but certainly not least. Being able to offer a great product or service that is worth the price paid shows the value of what you do. If I know how to do something, have experience and time but do sloppy work – the price will be argued.  This would put me in a terrible position to defend my worth. Conversely, if I have the knowledge and know how to implement (experience) within a given time frame with the best of product/service (value) – then there is nothing to argue about with regard to pricing or worth.

As a business owner – really think about what you have to offer in each of these areas: knowledge, experience, time and value. What are you offering them that they cannot do without you? How are you improving their life?  Charge for that. Own it….and no need to apologize!

If you need assistance with this, consider taking the Pricing Without Emotion course or getting involved in financial coaching with me. I would love to help you! Email me at Michele@ScarletThreadConsulting.com for more info on owning your worth.

Have You Got Traction?

What does it look like when a business is making forward progress and on the right track? Can you quantify this or is it just a feeling?  Could it be both?

Having traction requires forward motion with a clear destination identified (Vision). It is impossible to have forward motion in one direction if team members are pulling in a multitude of directions. Here are some areas of your business to evaluate to see if you have traction towards your vision:

1.      Is the vision of the company clear and can every team member define it?

2.      Are all team members committed to the vision as stated?  Are they all moving in the same direction?

3.      Does each team member understand how their job and responsibilities fit in to achieving the vision?

4.      Does each person hold themselves and the rest of the team accountable for attaining agreed upon milestones that are tied to the company vision?

5.      Do the internal processes of the company (marketing, financial, staff, etc.) support the vision and team members doing the work?

6.      Are issues identified quickly and a plan put in place to resolve?

Ask yourself these questions about your company – even if you are a one person wonder!  If you are in a group the same considerations apply. If you don’t like the answers you are seeing, reach out to Michele. She can help you craft a plan to move your company forward with a clear vision and a team that works together.

Can We All Just Get Along?

 Photo by  Andrew Branch  on  Unsplash

Photo by Andrew Branch on Unsplash

Working in a team environment, whether it is in business or private life, can be a challenge. The diversity that each person brings to the table is exciting, but if mismanaged can be debilitating! When involved in any group there are principles that allow for the group to be better in forward motion and ideas than any individual can be. Here are a few areas to be aware of when working with a team:

1.      Set Ground Rules.  Ground rules are important to any group. They can include a group hierarchy, structure, how to interact, communication rules, etc. Each person committed to following the rules will be an asset to the team. One person allowed to disregard these rules can wreak havoc. Deal with broken rules immediately to preserve the group dynamics.

2.      Show Appreciation.  Each person likes to be heard, appreciated, and recognized. However – not each person likes this to be done in the same way. In the book “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace” by Gary Chapman, he discusses different ways to give and receive appreciation. Take the time to know how your teammates want to be thanked for a job well done.

3.      Respectfully Disagree. No team will agree on everything all the time. It is just not possible. Make a clear decision to respectfully disagree – but support the outcome of the group. As long as the decision making is created following the ground rules and the charter for which the group was established, it should be supported. Keep internal discourse private and within the group.

Working in groups can be a wonderful opportunity to grow, be challenged above what you would challenge yourself, and have a collective forward motion that creates friendships, support and networks that will follow you for life. If you are interested in participating in such a group for the Interior Design or Workroom industry, you can email Michele about the Mastermind Alliance that Scarlet Thread Consulting supports.

Gratitude and Giving Back

 Photo by  Maarten Deckers  on  Unsplash

I am so very thankful for all that I have. You are too, I am sure. We are told in scripture to give thanks in all things. Recently I heard the commencement speech by Sheryl Sandberg given at The University California, Berkeley on how gratitude in the face of losing her husband replaced a bit of her grief. Gratitude and giving are a big deal to us and those around us.

Thinking outward and giving back to others can be as beneficial for you as for those you are serving. First, it keeps us from focusing too much on ourselves and our issues/problems/concerns. Giving allows us to focus on those around us, their pain, difficulty, strife. It binds us together.

Giving also helps us forge new relationships with people, groups and companies. It creates broader connections and allows for work to be done on a larger scale than what might be accomplished alone. Being thankful for what we have and recognizing the gifts with which we have been entrusted to take care of ourselves and our community is a great way to start and end the day. Imagine if our day was book-ended in thankfulness to God for all that we have. What change to our own mindset would that kind of thinking provide?

Here is the cool thing – giving can be done on all scales. You may say you don’t have money to give – but you do your normal shopping on Amazon. Try out Amazon Smiles. You can select a charity of your choice to have a percentage of your normal shopping dollars allocated to. smile.amazon.com  Give of your time to someone – answer a question, go to lunch or coffee, listen to their story. Engage with people IN REAL LIFE if you can – not just through technology. Give someone the gift of really “seeing them”.

If you want to give on a larger scale with profits from your company – that would mean you need to have profits to allocate. Following a Profit First methodology of money management will allow for those dollars to be set aside, saved and then allocated as you wish. If you want help creating a profit account for giving – check out the Passion for Profit course that will walk you through the process.

Start with gratitude – and give. The world will be better off – and so will you.

 

 

New Notebooks and Freshly Sharpened Pencils

 Photo by  Joe Shillington  on  Unsplash

Each year at this time, for the last 17 years, going to get pencils, notebooks, erasers, crayons, glue sticks and any other varied school supply was always a highlight for me. You see – I love school supplies. Meg Ryan is speaking my language in the movie You’ve Got Mail when she talks about the smell of freshly sharpened pencils in the fall. I get her – she gets me.

This year was different. My sons are in college, crayons are not on the list, and they both said they did not need to go back-to-school shopping – they would just grab a few things while at school if they needed them. Ok then…

I am no longer needed to school supply shop – new phase of life. I have done well that they can get their own. But change, while good, is also bittersweet.

Change in our business is the same way. When first starting a business, we may be attending to every little detail – in detail, and with help from others. But as the business grows and changes and matures, it is easier and better sometimes to focus on the bigger picture, larger needs and not be so worried about the little things (graph paper in just the right dimensions anyone? Or that expensive T whatever calculator they will use for one semester?) Once we have systems in place with knowledge of the road we are traveling – we can relax a little and not worry so much.

This month I am focused on Financials – I know, shocker. Going back through the details for myself and with my clients. Teaching them to sharpen their pencils, go back to basics, double check the math and systems so that they can move ahead and focus on the bigger picture again knowing that they have what they need in place for good money management.

If you want to join us this month to take control of your business financials – join in the fun with Passion for Profit. Your bank accounts will thank you.

 

3 Elements of Success

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3 Elements Necessary for Success

Every week I talk with potential clients who are in a struggle of some type. The struggle is to either maintain or to grow their business.  From my experience - I have boiled down what is needed in business to these three things:

1. Client Conversion
Pretty much - the client has to agree to work with you. Not just any warm body - but your IDEAL client has to "know, like, trust" you and then engage. It is that simple (not really simple since this is your marketing strategy - but you know what I mean. They have to agree to spend money with you.)

2. Right product and service at right price
This is where we talk value. After the ideal client agrees to spend money you have to deliver product and service to fulfill your end of the deal. But here is the real deal - it needs to be the RIGHT product and service at the RIGHT price. And how is right defined?  You will know it is right when you feel like you are paid fairly for what you are delivering and the client feels like they are getting what they paid for. Anything more or less is not right and someone feels cheated or frustrated or taken advantage of.  (This is also known as your pricing strategy.)

3. Manage Expenses
OK - you have the ideal client purchasing the right product and service at the right price, the next step is to manage expenses. This means managing top line expenses (COGS) and bottom line operational expenses. If you do not keep your eye on both of these numbers and constantly adjust, then any money made will be spent without regard to the BIG financial goal. (This is your operational strategy.)

All three of these elements are important. You can see how if you sell to the wrong client at the wrong price the wrong product and don't manage the income that your business will sink. Seriously - just getting one of these elements wrong could cost you dearly. If you have an ideal client but price the product incorrectly - it hurts. If you have great client, great product and service but spend spend spend - trouble. Watching and managing and consistently reviewing your marketing, financial and operational strategies are a must for all business owners hoping and working towards success. 

If you need help with any of these strategies, reach out. Send me an email or type in an SOS. There is education and coaching available. Michele@ScarletThreadConsulting.com

What do THEY see?

Photo by Mike Kotsch on Unsplash

As a business owner, hopefully we all have an idea of our brand and how we want to be perceived. (If you don't reach out to me- I have a great class for that.) But, assuming that you know who you are in business and have a brand - let's talk about how others see us.

Recently I saw a business owner who was being "talked up" in her industry space as an expert. Of course, when we hear of someone who has an offering that we may be interested in - we are going to do a little online snooping to check them out. And that is just what I did. I visited her Facebook business page, her website and her Instagram. What I saw was a bit surprising. I am not going to call anyone out - because we all can learn from this - myself included.  I will share with you some of the elements of my surprise: lots of inspiration no real execution, less than stellar visuals, no real social proof, pictures that were seriously lacking spark and that created doubt.

Even if we have a brand my question to all of us is this, can others look at our social output (FB, IG, etc.) and come to the brand conclusion that matches our brand intent?  If not we need to pump the brakes. We should be able to tell who the business is, what it does, who it serves, and some idea of the work output. If your social media channels are only showing what inspires you - how do I know that you can translate that into actual designs or a finished product? If I only see "shares" of other people's work - how do I know that you can deliver the same thing? We may be inspired by and like some of the same elements, but I am online searching YOUR social media to see if you can deliver the product or service that you are selling.....and I want you to "show me the goods." (I am saying that in my best Jerry McGuire voice changing out money for goods...gotta keep it a little lighthearted!)

Step back. Go take a fresh look at your social media - ask a trusted friend to look for you. If what you are putting out in the world is not your BEST work, your BEST pictures and the BEST representation of what you have to offer - pivot - change it - remove the less than.....and help others see your business the way you want them to. 

Stuck or need help - check out the Build A Better Bio course which can help you really define who you are and how you want others to view you.

What is Profit?

This may seem like a very easy question to some - and for others it may seem way out there. Either way - let's talk about profit. Using a standard dictionary to define this word - profit is the leftover money in a company after all expenses have been paid. It is usually seen as extra or more than what is needed. 

Interestingly though, many entrepreneurs that I work with seldom have 'leftover' or 'more than' or 'extra.'  Why is that? Well, there are multiple reasons this can happen in a company - but let's look at two.

First, this can happen because we did not plan to have extra. Many times we price our work or services to just get the job and to pay the bills. We don't plan to have more than we need in our pricing because we want to be fair to the consumer often at the cost of the company. What good does it do to be 'fair or reasonable' to our customer if we are also not being 'fair and reasonable' to our own company? How long can a company exist that never takes the needs of the firm into account?  Not long. How fair and reasonable is it to do what is great for the client and then not be in existence the next time the client needs us because we did not plan for the future?

Second, I see a lack of profit even with planning to have it included in our pricing structure, due to poor money and expense management. Making money is one element to success but not the whole picture. Having money to pay salaries and to make a profit is the 'rest of the picture.' We have a tendency, if not watching and aware, to spend what we make - every last cent. We all know it is true. When is the last time you had a twenty dollar bill in your wallet and can account for every penny that was spent? It is easy to spend what we have and then wonder where it all went.

Profit is not something that happens by accident in most cases. Planning to have the company make more than is necessary to pay the bills then managing the expenses to allow for that profit to exist takes hard work and dedication. The Profit First method of bank balance accounting helps with this process and has been a lifesaver for many.

If you want to know more about the Profit First method and how it relates to the Interior Design or Custom Drapery Workroom industries give me a call. You can also check out the Passion for Profit course which self-guides you through implementing these principles in your own business. Make a profit, save for profit, use your profit wisely!

Get it RIGHT

So, how is it going?  Just asking this question of my clients often results in quite the conversation. See, we have an open relationship - so they know if I ask this, I really mean it....and they answer honestly. When we get into conversation about the business, products, services and clients, we can sometimes find that we are working out of alignment internally as well as externally.

What does that mean? It means simply, the product and services of the business do not clearly align with the customer or with our own business model. This can be due to a multitude of factors: value, price, time, quality, etc.

To check alignment we always want to ensure we have:

  • the RIGHT product/service
  • the RIGHT price/value
  • the RIGHT client

Getting it right for the consumer and right for your business creates a win-win and builds a buying relationship that lasts. Ask yourself where your business may not be in alignment. Address the issue and work with more peace. Trust me - it is worth the effort. Feeling out of alignment yourself?  Email me - let's chat.