What Can You Control?

In a time of uncontrollable outcomes, what are the elements of your life and business that you can control? For so long, we have been conditioned to create a system of inputs and outputs that provide us with some form of systematic results. Those expected outputs give us comfort, but don’t necessarily challenge us.

So, what can you control?

  1. You can control your responses. I know this is a hard one for me sometimes, too. We are flooded with plenty of responses to our messages, and just plain exposure to others messages, that make us feel triggered. Here is the key: you don’t have to respond. If you are presented with something that isn’t positive, constructive, or is just plain mean, turn it off and walk away. It is not worth a second of your time and energy.
  2. You can control your audience. This is where the power of your personal email or client database comes in. Don’t let your social media followers dictate your message or success. Bring the control back in to your own equity – and that is the audience members that you have already established and are growing.
  3. You can control your trajectory. The most important thing I have learned in life is that big goals take time. It will not happen overnight, and your success trajectory is entirely in your control. You have the ability to put in the amount of work that you feel serves you best. You have the ability to decide when and how and who. You have the ability to ask for the business, pivot your business, and make new connections that will continue to inch your way forward.
  4. You determine what success looks like. Yes – you do! Success to me may look completely different than success to you. Success does not have to mean a certain number of sales, or a certain dollar amount earned in a fiscal year. Success can mean taking back moments of time, or providing solutions to others. You need to get comfortable with what you are really going after – for you and you alone. It is easy to let others tell you what success should look like (as they are most likely sharing their version of success).

Take a deep breath my friend, and give yourself some grace and some time to realize that control is not always a concrete element.

What Would you STOP Doing?

We do lots of things – sometimes at the same time. I am going to challenge you to think about your business a little differently. Imagine that your business is profitable. Not just a hair into the black, but doing comfortably well. That may be hard to think about right now, but go with me for a minute.

What I want this exercise to do for you and your business, is to identify those areas that are true profit centers. It is easy to keep throwing out products and service offerings to your customer base to see what sticks, but in reality, we all have a small core profit base that if worked better could bring us higher profits.

What area of your business brings you the highest profit? What areas bring you the lowest profit (or none at all)? Take these two areas, and determine the percentage of time you spend on each of these. My hope is that your highest profit area gets the most of your time. If that is not the case, what do you need to STOP doing?

Business owners sometimes have the tendency to tryout new ideas – which is good! I am all for enhancing, evolving and making more efficient processes and products that continue to generate a customer base, and most importantly a profit, for your business. What I see happen over and over again, is those new ideas that stick around for a lot longer than they should. Like an houseguest who has overextended their welcome, these non-profitable and non-productive ideas have to go! Give them a little send off if you have to, but by no means see this as a failure. The best ideas are formed on the back of trying out a lot of so-so ideas.

So I ask you: What can you STOP doing today to give yourself and your business the breathing room to focus on your most profitable area?

Always be Learning

In an environment where we want to just get through the day sometimes, how are you expanding your thoughts? It is easy to get into a rut of doing the same thing day in and day out without question. Our brains love repetition, and the “auto pilot” mode can put us into a ho hum form of existence.

If you are reading this blog post, than you are searching for more, even if you don’t know what that “more” is yet. More could mean more excitement, more engagement, or even more time / money / challenges to conquer. Here’s where the value of learning comes into play. Learning something new (even if it is a new method of doing an old or existing activity) challenges your brain to get out of its own way and create new pathways.

Learning creates stimulation, conversation, and understanding of yourself and your environment. Try something out for me this week:

  • Brush your teeth with your alternate hand
  • Read an article / book / blog of a new author
  • Take a different route to work / school / on errands
  • Enroll in an online course
  • Try out a new hobby
  • Set up a meeting (even virtually) with someone you’d like to get to know better

It is these small action steps that create learning opportunities. I want you to continually be expanding your thought pathways. It might be uncomfortable at first, but the doors you are opening within yourself will spill light and energy into the rest of your life.

What should I be doing to/for/at my business during COVID?

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Nobody likes the unknown.  Right now it is hard to forecast, and it is hard to know when a good decision is a safe decision.  Here is what I can tell you, and hope to provide you with some control and confidence in your business:

  1. Business ownership will always have risks.  The economy will always go up and down, and your client needs will also evolve.  I want you to embrace the fact that change and risk are part of life and definitely part of business.  Things will be hard, and then opportunities will bubble up.  You can prepare and plan for those stormy times, and have the confidence that it will get better.
  2. Take the opportunity to dig deep and evaluate how you conduct your business.  Many of us have been forced out of our normal working spaces and into a remote or home based environment.  What is working for you now?  What was a challenge, or continues to be a challenge?  I want  you think about even those basics like:  How do you use technology?  How do you use your personal office space?  What have you found that was a surprise, and you may continue using it once we are back to “normal”?  I know for our office, the ability to communicate quickly and through a variety of technologies (like: MS Teams and Zoom) will be mainstays once we return.
  3. What can you do without? Major changes, especially sudden changes like the COVID pandemic, create a scarcity mindset.  You may have found that those “must haves” are no longer even basic needs.  Can your business survive, and even thrive, without those former expenses?  Have you realized some savings in your business that you could then reallocate elsewhere?
  4. What do you need to invest in?  This is a hard one during this time, but one area I want you to carefully consider.  You need to ALWAYS be evaluating your business to make sure it is healthy.  It is too easy to get busy (and who doesn’t like a busy schedule with lots of business coming in?), and not pay attention to the foundation of where you want to go.  Being aware of upgraded technologies, making sure your security measures are up to snuff, and also ensuring your communication strategy to your client base and prospective client base is top notch.  Without it, you will quickly be behind should another economic dip occur.  If you have the means, create a strategy for investment.  Believe it or not, NOW is the time to invest in infrastructure, best practices, and strategic initiatives.  You will create a more solid, successful business if you use this time to maybe not do things the way they have always been done.

When is the Right Time to Start a Business?

I have been asked this question hundreds of times over the past few years, and wanted to provide you with the answer.  If you are asking yourself (or me for that matter) when is the right time to start a business?  The answer is that ANYTIME is the right time to start a business.

Here is a little secret:  You will never have enough money, time, social medial followers, support or perfect business plan before you start.  Just like other large life decisions, the right time will NEVER be perfect.

What you can do, is get really comfortable with the variables at play.  I’ve created a new eBook and accompanying Online Course to walk you through those variables and get you ready to launch.  To give you a taste of what you can do to get ready, consider the following steps:

  1. Cash Flow – How much money do you have in the bank and/or how much access do you have to investor funds, credit and other sources of funding?  Get real with your finances, and determine how much risk you are willing to take (and for how long) to get up and running.
  2. Team of Experts – Who is going to be your advisor, mentor and have your back as you get started?  Do you have a knowledgeable Accountant, Attorney, Commercial Realtor, Financial Institution, and Insurance Agent that you can include as part of your plan and your team?
  3. Business Plan – There are templates a plenty out there to help you put together your business plan, and I highly recommend putting one together (even if you’ve already launched).  Formatting your ideas into a workable, and measurable plan, will not only keep you on track, but position your business for growth.
  4. Benchmarks – How will you know if you are successful and profitable?  Gaining a good perspective on what success looks like for you will be paramount in how you take the next steps.

 

Are You a Generalist or a Specialist?

The Kansas City Chiefs have just won the SuperBowl.  Surrounding any major accomplishment like this, comes the evaluation of the skills and abilities of the players involved.  Granted, it takes a combination of individual and team strengths to get a win in a sport like football, but what areas should you specialize in and where should you focus on a more generalized approach to create success?

Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs Quarterback, has been lauded for his ability to be a generalist.  His past high school sports days playing a variety of sports: baseball, basketball and also football, has provided him with unique abilities that have transferred into his football career with gusto.  His ability to pass without looking and read where he teammates were going to be came from his basketball days.  His on the move side arm throws were developed playing shortstop.  Mahomes, and his coaches, realized that he has a unique ability to capture skills and create muscle memory from plays that aren’t necessarily on the football field.

In thinking about your skill set, where does this place you?  What particular skills are you really good at (I.e. a specialist)?  You might be amazing at analyzing a financial statement and identifying areas for improvement, but maybe your delivery style of these results is sub-par to achieve buy in from your team.  I use this example in the business world, as we all tend to flock towards those skills that are easy first.  Better yet, if they are easy and also interesting to us, becoming a specialist is the path we pursue.

Becoming an effective generalist takes a more complicated approach.  You can very easily spin your wheels and waste a lot of time trying to be everything to everyone.  What I want for you to consider is what general skills can you develop to get you the results you want in a certain area?  Take my example from above with the financial analyst.  If you are not able to achieve success through your specialized approach, what generalized skills can you develop that compliment your specialty?  Is it creating connections with team members that can present your information for you in a more effective manner?  Is it seeking out opportunities to develop your own presentation skills?

One area of life that I like to encourage everyone to get engaged with is non-profit boards.  Regardless of the area of your business, seeking out volunteer opportunities in the form of board and committee work can provide you with a personally rewarding experience in an area that fills your heart.  In addition to this, board work creates a platform to learn a variety of skills that can be applied to your business.  Things like: running a meeting, due process, board member recruitment and fundraising events are all skills that can be captured through board service.  If you have the benefit of being a part of an effective board, with strong leadership and engagement, the skills that you will develop can be applied to any area of your life to be more effective.  Board service allows you to test those skills amongst individuals that have a lot to share from their own experiences, and will help you create your own set of generalist skills.

 

New Year, YES You!

Yes photo

The new year is here, and the time to say YES! to the things you want to do is now.  I know you have been kicking around those ideas, inspirations and “if only I could…” thoughts for months now, and are waiting for the perfect time to get started.  Here is a little secret…NOW is the best time to get started.  Not tomorrow, not yesterday, right now.

Let’s back up a minute.  I am the perpetual planner.  I like to be able to know all of the outcomes, paths to take, and especially how much investment of my time, finances and abilities some new venture is going to cost me.  I like to analyze the heck out of any new idea to first determine if I have the chops to see it through.  What I am mostly testing myself for is if I have the drive and ambition to get started, and not necessarily be successful at it.  If I am ok with the outcome (whether it be pass or fail) will I pull the trigger and get started?

So I ask you this: what big hairy goal are you on the verge of starting right now?  Is it looking for a new job, losing weight, a physical fitness goal, booking a vacation?  The list is long for all of us.  What is that one thing that is on your mind everyday that keeps you thinking of ways to bring it to the forefront?

How to say YES!

  1. Ask questions – a lot of questions.  What I have realized is that there are a lot of resources out there to help you – for free!  I just listened to a free webinar today that walked me through how to guest post for additional PR for my podcast, blog, and social media sites.  Free information is available – everywhere you look!
  2. Determine what will be your first step.  Your first step can be as simple as going online to determine what gym memberships are available in your area (if your goal is to get into a fitness routine).  Each step builds momentum, and each question you ask leads to another.  Make it as simple as possible.  Baby step it out.
  3. Speak your truth.  As you get moving taking those first steps, your goal will become more and more real to you.  Talk about it.  Share it with your family, friends and colleagues.  The more you get into the “how to” of your goal, the more you will know how passionate you are about it.  If you believe you can do something (however hard it is) it will be your truth to whomever you share it with.
  4. Stick with it for at least 30 days.  You are in the process of creating new habits, and good ones I hope!  Keep putting one foot in front of another for at least the first month to get in a pattern of seeking more, learning more and seeing results.  It will get easier.
  5. Level Up.  After the first 30 days, I bet you have all but mastered a new skill set.  Even if it is just one.  For those fitness goal enthusiasts, it may be that you have committed to working out for 30 minutes each day (and by the way – this is my #1 goal right now).  If you have accomplished this goal for 30 days straight, then it is time to take on another goal and level up.  You are building upon your momentum, and creating good habits in your life will open the door to create more.

 

Summertime Slow Down

It is officially summer, and that can mean slower times for your business as clients and colleagues are out of the office more with vacations and travel.  I hope that you are also taking advantage of the longer days to get in some good R&R!

When this season presents itself with pockets of time in between client interactions, how do you handle it?  Do you go into panic mode for not being able to get a quick response, or do you take advantage of the time to do some planning?

A mid-year check up is a way to take a temperature read and make sure your business is on track, and make any needed adjustments.  Here are some tools to get you started:

1. Pull out the SMART Goals that you put together at the beginning of the year. If you skipped that step earlier, now is a great time to establish SMART Goals for the remainder of the year.   SMART stands for:  Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Based.  Start with 3 to 5 goals that you want to accomplish, and apply the SMART Goal strategy to each of them.

2. Do a gut check.  What have you accomplished in the past 6 months in each of these areas?  Be honest with yourself.  It is a-ok to not have met your goals at this point in the year, but I bet you have made progress.  List out the steps you have taken, and additional actions that you need to take to get you there.

3. Identify the easy wins.  This is where you can build momentum by getting those tasks crossed off your list, and stepping it up.  Easy wins may be something as small as setting up a meeting with a vendor to gain additional insight.  That is progress.

4. What CAN you accomplish?  If your goals have taken a left turn, rework them.  If you need ideas, click on this link for Business Goals. You still have a good 6 months of time ahead of you, and a lot can be accomplished before the end of the year.

#GoalSetting #Goals #GoalAccomplishment #midyearcheckup

 

 

 

 

 

Run-ing

We all run.  We run to work, school, errands, and back home again every single day.  What are you doing that is outside of your everyday?  What are you doing to put the “ing” into your movement?

We are in constant motion, even when we are sitting still.  We are thinking of what to do next, anticipating the next time we will get up and move.  When I refer to the “ing” in running, what I mean is what gives purpose and meaning to your actions?  Do you run just to get from point A to point B? or is there intention and purpose?

Action creates clarity

On October 15, 2016, I ran my first marathon.  I’ll be completely honest, running a marathon was not something I set out to do at first.  My husband and I started running together several years ago, and enjoyed participating in charity races where beer was involved at the end.  It became a social event with friends, and we enjoyed the camaraderie of other runners, and the push it gave us to go farther.  When my husband made the suggestion to run 26.2 miles, I cringed.  Thinking of completing that length of a run when my husband first mentioned it was daunting.  I didn’t think it was possible.  I then got out a calendar, and googled marathon race training.  With 6 months of planning, I could feasibly complete the task at hand.  The only problem? I had to move, and move with purpose.

We began in March with some shorter runs during the week after work, and longer runs on the weekends.  As the weather got warmer, and the days longer, our runs became our routine.  We researched nutrition for creating stamina, to keep cramping at bay, and to stay hydrated.  We mapped our training routes to keep us pushing the mileage, and to be close enough to home in case an emergency came up.  We nursed blistered feet, swollen legs, and snarky complaints as the runs got tougher.

The race day came, and we were ready.  Before the sun came up, we are off.  I’m pleased to say that I successfully completed this marathon, with my amazing husband with me every step of the way.  It was hands down the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  It hurt – a lot, and my feet were a mess, but I never wanted to stop.  The one thing that my husband kept saying to me was “it’s all in your mind.”  He was right.  Pushing yourself to do something extrordinary has mostly to do with your will to succeed.  The “ing” of that serious feat was the motion of my thoughts, the ability to think ahead, and the support I had put in place to get me across that finish line.

As we wrap up 2017, think about the “ing” in your life.  Where do you want to go, and what steps are you willing to take to get there?