Commit Actions of Gratitude For December

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There is more to gratitude than opening yourself to the feelings of thankfulness; there are actions, too. Actions of gratitude vary in scope, but not all of them are large gestures. Often, the smaller ones are more meaningful. The smallest action that expresses your gratitude and makes a big impact is the unsolicited and simple “thank you.”

It doesn’t take much to express your thanks, however, too often, we don’t stop to extend our gratitude or tell others when they are meaningful in our lives. What would it be like to do this?

While it would be nice to make a habit out of this in daily life (and while I urge you to consider and apply this), I certainly want to emphasize the benefits and importance of establishing this as a good business practice: take time to thank others for their impact on your business.

As a business owner, there are some key folks who should be recognized. It goes without saying that should you have employees, they are first on the list! But there are others who may not be so obvious that deserve recognition.

  • Thanking Supporters - Inquiries About Your Business

Giving thanks to those who support you may also seem obvious, but not all forms of support happen overtly. Is there someone who wanted to know more about your work, or who acknowledged your enterprise? That is someone who supports you! Their recognition is legitimacy of your business. All it takes is a moment to say, “Thanks for talking with me about my work!” Remember, gratitude doesn’t have to be grand or showy to be meaningful.

  •  Thanking Kindness – Beyond Business-as-Usual

In the world of business, we often have to sacrifice our emotions when making business decisions—but we’re also not automatons!  Sometimes, genuine emotions crop up in the business world, particularly in the creative industry where so much is subjective and caters to preferences. Honor those who speak kindness or who may have made you feel a little more connected than just “doing business.” It’s okay to thank them with a heart-felt comment like, “I appreciate our ability to work so well together” to honor the connection.

  •  Thanking Generosity – Going Above and Beyond

When we hear the word, “generosity,” monetary value is usually the first association we make—someone was generously giving money. Truly, generosity encompasses much more; we are generous with our time, energy, efforts, etc. If you received a referral, then that person took time to think about you and make the effort to share your contact information; if someone anticipated your needs and operates in an organized manner, then that is someone who is generous with their efforts; and finally, if someone is always on time, that is someone who respects your time. For one or all these types of people, a small “I appreciate your efforts and enjoy working with you” gives some generosity back.

And now, a moment I have been looking forward to since I’ve been thinking about it,

~ Thank you for spending your time with me here! ~

If you would like some dedicated time with me in 2019, please send me an email with your needs and let’s see how I can assist.

A Holiday Tour Of Gratitude

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With the end of November in sight, the New Year is almost upon us. However, let’s not be done with Thanksgiving too quickly! Before we say good-bye to the holiday about thankfulness, let’s participate in an exercise of Gratitude. Looking back, in what ways can our celebrations of the holidays help us appreciate our business?

Ringing In The New Year

Remember back to the last day of good ol’ 2017. Did you make resolutions for the new year? Most celebrations of New Years are not complete without the famous (or infamous) list of Resolutions. We come up with one or two or a handful of ideas that we will resolve to accomplish in the new year.

It’s a powerful concept—the idea of a resolve means setting a standard and applying your force of will to meet it. When you do follow your resolve, then you stand proud in your ability to have created the result, to have had the will to do so, and to have followed through. While these are good things, it also means that, conversely, not sticking to your resolution brings feelings of failure and self-doubt, shame that you don’t have the will to accomplish the resolution. However, the only way to truly succeed with a resolution is to have commitment to it in the first place. Anything else is just a wish.

Do you truly want to achieve that goal? In business, in life, you must acknowledge the difference between your wish and your resolve. In what do you really believe and in what way will you accomplish it?  Before you set a resolution or a goal, decide if you’re committed.

Looking back, what were your resolutions and what were your wishes?

What will it take to turn a wish into a resolve?

Three Cheers For The Red White And Blue

Fast forward to the summer, six months later, and it’s the Celebration of Independence, the July 4th holiday. We commemorate the independence of our nation with a flurry of proud moments, from a parade to picnic to fireworks display. At each event, we decorate with the colors of our nation, Red, White, and Blue. At each event, we re-enact the emotions that came from winning a battle for independence: exhilaration, joy, excitement, and wonder.

The beauty of this holiday is the ability to celebrate the meaning of winning independence. There was a battle, hard-fought and dearly won. We know that the years before were arduous, but we focus on the celebration. We don’t ignore the hard times leading up to the moments of independence, but we embrace the victory.

It’s a much smaller scale, but you have also battled for independence as an entrepreneur. Are you recognizing the battles in your business? Are you focusing on the wins or bothered by the scars? You’re a creative talent that fought to become more than just a craft or hobby; you’re an enterprise.

Are you celebrating exhilaration, joy, excitement, and wonder??

Please Pass The Turkey

Now we arrive to November, a month in which we honor the past with Gratitude. We are grateful to the pioneers who ventured here, to those who helped them along the way, and to the heroes who made it all possible.

Before November ends, give yourself some Gratitude. You’re a pioneer, you ventured into uncharted territory, you’ve reached out to others for help along the way, and you have witnessed heroism. Before we say “good-bye” to November, let’s look in the mirror and give thanks.

What will you say to yourself?

Need help with affirmations and gratitude? Reach out.

Is Your Business Ready For This Time Of Year?

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One of the reasons we look forward to November is, of course, Thanksgiving. This holiday centers on food and sharing an abundance with others, reminding us to be thankful. Originally a celebration of Harvest, the holiday is also a bookmark in the farmer’s almanac, reminding us that we’re standing on the threshold of winter and to prepare for the darker, starker Winter days ahead.

So, November has arrived, and we’re only two months away from year-end. It may not be your fiscal year end, but it certainly marks the passage of another year in which you’re in business. We’re standing on the threshold of a new year’s arrival, and it’s time to take stock.

·         What do you have in abundance?

·         What have you shared with others?

·         What will you do to prepare for darker, starker days ahead?

Let’s take a look at some good measures that will help you make the most of this time period to gain perspective and set some goals.

Gather At The Meeting Table

This November hold a meeting in which you gather and acknowledge your bounty.

1.       What are the good things that occurred in your business in the last eleven months?

2.       What goals have you accomplished?

3.       Of what do you have an abundance – effective skills, knowledge, clients, projects, patience, understanding, profit, etc.?

Take stock of all the great and good things you have done in your business or accomplished for your business.

Also, the Thanksgiving holiday promotes thankfulness and including others, so bring others into the fold and share with those who have affected your work:  any vendors, employees, family, friends, supporters, etc., who have joined you on the path to today’s success. Take any opportunity whether you see them in person or send them thank you cards to tell them reasons for your appreciation.

Celebrate the Harvest of Your Efforts

You’ve been working hard these past 11 months, and it’s time to acknowledge your efforts. Hopefully, you’ve started and will continue to celebrate your efforts moving forward but take time to reflect and celebrate the work thus far.

1.       Compare Year-To-Date Data to create a before-and-after picture of your efforts

2.       Find one success from each month, write these on Post-Its, and put them around your workspace

3.       Give yourself a reward that’s tangible (new gadget) or experiential (yoga retreat) so that you take time to receive it

However you feel comfortable celebrating, devote time to acknowledging and rewarding your efforts.

Preparing For Winter

When Thanksgiving originated, Winter meant uncertain days with no guarantee of survival. No one knew if the snow would strand them indoors for a day, weeks, or months, so many people stock-piled their resources and kept them near.

While your business may not be facing a blizzard, there are always tough times and uncertainty to survive.

·         How will you prepare?

·         What can you do to prepare?

·         Do you have resources enough to stockpile? Which ones?

This is a good time to also take stock of any weaknesses in your business and shore them up. What areas need more attention, or do you need help to get them stronger? Don’t wait until the winds are blowing through the cracks and the snow blocks your door, barring an exit – get your strategy in place today to survive any difficult times that might be ahead.

If you need help celebrating or preparing, please reach out to me. You can also download this Financial Health Checkup to assist you in knowing where to start.

How To Accomplish Change In Your Business

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It’s come to this:  You learned new ideas, set some great goals, and waited for results to roll in. Now, it’s time to evaluate the results. Are they indeed rolling in? Often, there’s a gap between the desire for making changes and actually creating the change. In large-scale business, there is a whole process for implementing new practices that often gets overlooked in small business. So, now’s the time to take stock:  When it comes to implementing your new ideas into current business, have you established a change management strategy?

Mind the Gap: Big Business As Roadmap

Big business understands that the gears of change move slowly, and that across the organization, it can be a mammoth effort to get everyone on board, accept and apply the new ideas, and then follow through to enforce the new practices. On a larger scale, executives release changes in phases, leaders disperse instructions to managers, and employees receive multiple exposure to the plan to ensure their buy-in throughout the implementation.

In small business, you’re the change agent as well as recipient. How do you manage change throughout your organization?

Managing Change In Small Business

I’d say the first step is already in place: recognizing the need for change and understanding the type of change you’d like to see. There are many ideas rolling around your mind, from pumping up the power of your voice to understanding your financials better to improving profit. You’ve probably made some lists of goals, created a running to-do list, and worked with your profit coach to identify the change you’d like to make. That’s a great start!

So, let’s get to the next step, breaking the goals down into manageable actions. As a change agent for yourself, you need to link those goals to actionable steps with deadlines. When will you complete each? Map your strategy for change to a timeline so that you can see the big picture of growth.

Then, decide on mile markers, points in time that evaluate your process and demonstrate growth. When will you check on the process and review your progress? What will you use to measure rate of growth?

Finally, continue to create buy-in with yourself; stay motivated. What will remind you that these changes are important? How will you keep your “eye on the prize”? Motivational strategies abound, from daily affirmations to coaching to calendar reminders, to stay focused on the big picture that makes this all worth it.

Are We Done Yet?

Wait—not quite done…in what ways will you enforce the change? You’ll need to make sure things stick. What can you do to be accountable for the changes? One way is to make a commitment to a third party, someone outside of your organization who will expect to see your changes. For example, make an announcement and build an expectation in clients that you’ll work to achieve. For example, “Coming soon! . . .” or “Next month, watch for …”

Change Takes Time

No matter the size of the business, any business will need to manage change with structure and strategy. If we go back to the beginning, let’s revise that initial concept to look like this:  You learned new ideas, set some great goals, established a strategy to implement the goals, and plotted a timeline for results.

Now, you’re ready; it’s time for a change. Don’t stop - keep going - you have help when you need it - reach out.

Measuring Growth: Evaluating Your Progress

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You would laugh out loud if I tell you to head to the nearest doorway, stand with your back to the wall, and mark a line with a pencil just at the top of your head. But that’s what we’re going to do! –Sort of…. It’s time to measure your growth and see the progress you’ve made. Concrete evidence of growth inspires and creates more impetus to continue with the plan. When you can see your growth, you feel more accomplished and likely to keep going!

Finding A Wall to Measure Against

So, what will we measure you against? How can you track your progress? First, determine the span of time over which you want to evaluate growth. One month is probably too little, and one year may be too late. In business, a quarterly review works pretty well to capture the rate of change for growth, so stick with that.

Next, determine the factors you want to measure. There are a number of factors that you should be tracking. What evidence of growth exists? We’ll start with a few basics:  client load and profit accumulation.

Now, take a look back in time, about six months ago. Collect the data, then jump forward three months, measure again, and compare.

Client load

In the creative world, clients come and go – you may establish repeat business, but you may also have a majority of one-and-done clients. You don’t want to track growth by the quantity of clients, but by the quality of clients. Are you working with the type of clientele you desire? Do you have challenging projects, or more cookie-cutter one-offs? The goal is to build a client base that provides profit but also attracts more clients of similar ilk. About six months ago, you might have projects that represent income, but not profit. Were you able to build from there?

If you see more complex clients with larger scopes of work, then your business practices for finding new customers have been working. If you don’t, it’s time to re-evaluate your methods. Are you using your voice? Do you need more ideas about ways to reach and cultivate new business?

Accumulating Profit

The numbers, the number, the numbers! It’s all in the numbers. Have you been conducting your financial reviews? This might be an easy process for you, then. If you’re applying the strategies, then you can compare and see if your profits are growing. If you’re not seeing profit, then it’s time to re-evaluate your efforts. What story are the numbers telling? What areas of your business need more attention?

If you have not been keeping up on financials, you may need to gather your data before performing an analysis. … are you still feeling that tightening in your chest and clenching your jaw when you hear that talk about numbers? That is a reaction to evaluate – a signal that you may need more help with financials. If you still find yourself feeling stressed about numbers, it’s time to reach out.

Growth is Difficult

Have you heard of growing pains? It’s a real sensation that happens as the body develops, but it’s also a real thing for your business to experience, too. Remember those bumps in the road? Mistakes in business are lessons from which to learn, and your evaluation of growth may be bumpy. Take the results and react accordingly.

Hey, see there?  You’re already a notch above where you were last quarter. Email me if you need assistance or accountability. I am here for you;

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

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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!