Setting boundaries is key to getting more done. When you know who you are, and what needs doing, you can focus. And that means saying no to the wrong opportunities, clients, relationships that don’t serve your purpose.
Setting boundaries enables you to go after the life you want.
But….we also can’t let boundaries box us in!
Setting a boundary that cars can’t cross the double yellow lines in traffic saves lives.
But, setting a boundary that you can’t go talk to that VP you really admire because that’s just not the way we do things around here helps no one.
To make change, invent, or ignite, we have to question certain boundaries. We have to cross them and see what’s on the other side. It could be better. If boundaries exist around people, or your work, or heck, your dreams – you owe it to yourself to step through.
How do we reconcile setting boundaries with smashing them?
We must ask: Is it a healthy boundary? If I set my schedule to get offline at 4 pm so I can pick up my son from school and spend time with him, that serves me. That is something that energizes me, gives me quality family time, and enables me to come back stronger and recharhed for my clients the next day.
But if I put up a boundary around becoming friends with my clients, who does that serve? I want to work with people I enjoy, and people I enjoy often become friends. You can dance the line between work and personal if you’re just open and honest. This also is true for corporate types. Some say, “Keep your personal life out of your work.” Which is true, to some extent, but it doesn’t mean we have to keep your humanity out of your work! You don’t park it at the door.
Get to know your work colleagues. Understand their lives. Check in. Then, when it comes time to collaborate, innovate, or invent, there is trust there. There is mutual understanding of each other’s lives outside of work. You can understand where someone is coming from, and build from there. It doesn’t serve you to set this boundary because it stops you from collaborating and effectively with and trusting each other.
When I was in corporate, I did my best work with a team of people I was close to. People I would work with all day and then go out for drinks with at night. We trusted each other. We could brainstorm crazy ideas without fear and create amazing marketing campaigns. We could adapt quickly when things went wrong during a global roadshow and trust each other to get someone to the airport on a moment’s notice. We had each other’s backs. We got each other through and delivered amazing work.
When you are pulled into creating a boundary, be sure it’s one that serves you. (Tweet This!)
As a business owner, or even just a busy executive or changemaker, the best skill you can master is prioritization. Since you can’t clone yourself and you do need to sleep (and perhaps see your spouse every once in a while), the art of saying no is a powerful tool in your arsenal.
Work and life are all about choices. You can say yes to more of the right things–the right projects, clients, people–ONLY IF you say no to others.
As an organization, your brand strategy can be a great compass to keep you on the right path and not get distracted by inefficient investments, bad advertising opportunities, new social media platforms, or other shiny objects.
Learning to say no is just as important as saying yes. But be sure you’re saying NO in a positive way.(TWEET THIS!)
I’ve seen many entrepreneurs in recent years swing so far the other way down the “learn to say no” track, that they make it impossible (and frankly, unpleasant) to do business with them.
You can say no with respect. Offer them a path forward if possible.“Wow, that sounds like an amazing project and opportunity. Unfortunately, I’m unable to help with it right now. Here are some other folks who might be able to work and I’m happy to make an introduction.”
You can say no with empathy: Some rules can be broken because…life. It’s not “making exceptions” – it’s being understanding. “My usual policy is that meetings cancelled with less than 24 hours notice require payment in full. But that is terrible about your daughter being ill. I hope she’s doing okay. You’ve definitely got a lot on your plate. Why don’t we go ahead and reschedule this for free this time- but I won’t be able to squeeze this in for another month. Does that work for you?”
You can say no with kindness and collaboration, rather than assuming ill intent or that someone is trying to take advantage of you. Not everyone is your mortal enemy so take it down a notch. Instead of:
(Huffing) “Well, it’s my policy and you did sign the contract so you knew this was an issue!”
Don’t confuse being unreasonable and aggressive with being professional.
How about: “What can we do together to remedy the situation while still staying true to the contract terms in Section 1B?” (and then go make sure that section of the contract is bolded and requires initials in the future!)
And if you decide to say no with this phrase “Nothing personal.” there are kind tones and aggressive tones. Remember, only 7% of your communication comes from the words you say. Non-verbal communication is everything, and that includes your tone of voice. As my mother used to scold, “It’s not what you said, it’s how you said it.” Usually before sending me to my room.
It’s super important to have boundaries, clarity, and conviction. You definitely don’t want to say yes if something is not the right fit, you don’t have time to do your best work, or you run yourself ragged. That’s not fair to the other person who needs you to be all-in. But…show some grace when you say no and you’ll not only still be able to prioritize or stick to your values, but you will also create a positive personal brand for yourself.
Try not to take “setting boundaries” so dangerously far that you build a wall around yourself that no one can–or wants to– scale.(TWEET THIS!)
Love running your own business, but overwhelmed by marketing and sales? There are so many options out there, it can be dizzying, even for a marketer like me.
But rest easy, friend. You’re about to get your whole world in order!
Today I’m interviewing marketing consultant Elizabeth Case of Yellow Dog Consulting.Elizabeth has been a long time sales and marketing pro and her firm helps small business owners manage their marketing and get more business.
Specifically, Elizabeth, “works with small business owners who love what they do, but the sales and marketing part of their job sucks their will to live.”
If this sounds like you, get ready to learn how to avoid overwhelm, how to build a realistic marketing plan, and which systems to put in place to make it all easier with marketing consultant.
Grab a pen and take notes. This is straight talk, and solid action.
If you want to get a better handle on your marketing plan and business development efforts for a steady stream of clients, please click below to watch the video interview!
* The mistakes you’re making that cause overwhelm (3:30)
* Why Elizabeth runs a successful business –and refuses to join Facebook. And why that hasn’t hurt her success one bit (5:54)
* Why you absolutely need to have an email newsletter (7:20)
* The go-to systems and processes you need in place, especially if you’re time or budget-strapped (11:49)
* Why a good follow-up system is VITAL to your success – and how to build one (13:09)
* What should be in your marketing plan to make it effective and realistic + the 3 most important things you need to make your marketing work (17:27)
* Her most important gem of wisdom for business success (25:40)
There is a lot of marketing you can do, but you don’t have to do it ALL. (TWEET THIS!)
While I might be a branding expert with years of experience in consulting and marketing, when I started out in 2008, I was not an expert at running a business. I cobbled together my operations and processes over the years.
Since then, I’ve learned a lot about running a business and working for myself. And that includes slowly finding many of the tools I use to run my business on a daily basis.
If you’re wondering what tools, software or apps might help your business run just a bit more smoothly, let me share my 5y favorite go-to’s with you.Full disclosure: A few of the links below are affiliate links, so if you decide to buy, we both win. You can trust me: I personally use everything on this list, almost on a daily basis!
LeadPages has changed my life. Yes, I used to build pages off my website and add a clunky little button and have to manage and maintain it, etc. I finally broke down a few years ago and quite simply, I can’t imagine being it. Landing pages are a breeze. Especially since the best performing landing pages are simple and uncluttered. You can add your branding and make them your own. A must if you want to build your email list and quickly and easily get new subscribers with different campaigns. I also use their Campaigns functionality, which operates as a shopping cart and integrates with Stripe (see Payment Processors below)
You’d better not be sending marketing emails from your personal email list and BCC’ing everyone – you’ll end up on a spam blacklist! Get thee to an email marketing platform immediately. While MailChimp is free for simple uses for under 2000 subs, I pay for Aweber now and have for several years. I need more list flexibility than MailChimp provides. Their service is the best. I can ask them anything and immediately get help. Truthfully, I’ve had some issues with more complex tasks and being able to route different funnels to the same list, but they are adding functionality all the time.
Social Media Posting:
I use Buffer to schedule my social media posts in advance. I’d like to say I was uber efficient and plan way ahead with a fully stocked queue at all time, but alas. I’m working on it. But when I do think ahead, I can easily schedule posts for Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest. They also offer Instagram. I don’t recommend using them for Facebook, as the Facebook algorithm dings you when you schedule with 3rd party apps (use Facebook’s native schedule for that). But Buffer is great if you plan in advance, want to set up promoting a colleague’s campaign, or even for when you are on vacation. I like to spend about 10-15 minutes stocking up my queue each week. But remember to still get on social media live every now and then to interact. It’s SOCIAL, people. Don’t just phone it in all the time!
Social Media Drip Campaigns:
I think I discovered Missing Lettr from another person’s blog post about productivity tools! Missing Lettr hooks up to your blog and when you publish a new post, it automatically sets up a year-long drip campaign. You can approve and edit all of the campaign posts, but once you do, BAM! You re-promote your content for an entire year without thinking about it. And it let’s you do some cool things, like create speech bubble images, which I kind of love. A huge promotional time-saver.
I use a few tools for this. PayPal is my standard for both taking and sending payments. It’s what I started out with. And you can set up subscription payments with them as well. But…I’ve started using Stripe for digital products because there is better integration for some marketing funnels I put together. Since I’m less familiar with it, I haven’t quite figured it out as easily as PayPal…but my VA knows, so that’s all that matters! And when I sell books onsite at an event, I use Square on my iPad or phone.
Email marketing? Landing pages? Social Media sharing? Check out @redslice’s 5 go-to tech tools that run her consulting and online business! (TWEET THIS!)
Do you feel like you never have enough time?
Are you so crazy busy, you can’t get anything done?
Do you feel like the weeks are zipping along in a chaotic, unmemorable haze?
What would it feel like to get it all done and still find time for the important stuff: self-care, quality time with your kids, a walk in the park? You know…time freedom? Time when you feel “off the clock.”
That time freedom is so alluring…and so elusive. Or is it?
I am thrilled to share my interview with time management and productivity expert Laura Vanderkam. Laura is the author of several books, including the new Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done. She is the co-host, with Sarah Hart-Unger, of the podcast Best of Both Worlds. Her TED talk, “How to gain control of your free time,” has been viewed more than 6 million times. She lives outside Philadelphia with her husband and four (!!!)children, and blogs at LauraVanderkam.com.
Yeah, so she personally and professionally knows a lot about managing time.
Her book was amazing. More than practical and data-driven time management advice, it is a profound look at time nourishment: How to slow down time, create precious memories and savor each moment of every day, no matter if you’re at work or at play.
We covered it all in the video interview below: Where your time really goes, how to keep a time diary so you can feel time abundant versus time scarce, why planning actually gives you more freedom, how to slow down time, and practical tips for being more productive while savoring more of your life and creating memories.
If you yearn to feel less busy while getting more done, making time to enjoy your days, watch the video interview below!
What Laura learned when 900 people with full time jobs and families tracked their time for a day – and what she has learned about herself by keeping a time diary for three years.
Why equally busy people can feel time abundant versus time scarce and why some have time for everything and can feel “off the clock” more often while others feel stressed, manic and unproductive.
Why our generation “feels” busier (7:42) “The issue is not that we’re busier, but that we have leisure time which we’re just chopping up throughout the day and that our quest for constant stimuli in wasted activity, like checking our phones, actually robs us of more intentional, thoughtful uses of our time.”
Why fun takes effort! Why the best planners are those who also have the most freedom with their time…and why freedom does not mean having no obligations. (10:14)
“We don’t want our fun to take effort, but when we don’t put effort into our fun we only get effortless fun. In the long run, the effortless fun isn’t really all that memorable or enjoyable.” (TWEET THIS!)
Pro tip: Front-load your week to get more of the important stuff done (16:47)
Our remembering selves and our anticipating selves are the keys to making time move more slowly. Why our human brains can’t actually be blissful “in the moment” and why that’s totally okay! (19:14)
What being “in the moment really means” to create a lasting memory. And why you shouldn’t always listen to your “experiencing” self when making decisions about how to spend your time. (22:42)
How to get yourself out of the victim mentality of time happening to “you” – and the surprising lesson you will learn from a woman with 18 month-old triplets who tracked her time to discover she had 3 hours of personal time every day! (24:30)
Why everyone should track their time. And why you might not want to because you’re clinging to a false story or source of identity: “I’m a busy entrepreneur or I give everything to my family so I have no time for myself!” (26:20)
Balancing planning and routine with memory-making. How to make everyday tasks more memorable with a “mindset toward adventure” (30:10)
Research that explains why the years fly by now but high school seemed like it lasted forever! (31:23)
How to create “conscious artifacts” (35:14)
Why intentional moments of nothing can make time feel plentiful. (36:34 )
And don’t miss Laura’s tactical pro tips to make more time and do more of what you love – including how to do Friday Planning Sessions. (41:32 )
“Expectations and demands are infinite, but time is finite. You’re always choosing and you have to choose open space.” (TWEET THIS!)
Did any of Laura’s advice change your thinking, like it did for me? How do you currently manage your busy schedule or where do you have challenges? Reply back to this email and let me know!
Be careful about giving advice. It can come back to haunt you.
My almost 4-year-old burned me pretty badly the other day.
The modern world does not do us any favors when it comes to presence and focus. I work very intentionally with my son to help him avoid overwhelm and concentrate on one task at a time. When he starts flipping through another book while I’m reading one to him, I gently take it from his hands. When he jumps from one game to another, I stop him and we make a game out of putting the first one away. When I’m speaking to him, I encourage him to look me in the eye and put down whatever he’s working on to ensure he’s listening.
“We have to focus on one thing at a time,” is my mantra for him.
The other day, we missed the freeway exit for his swim class. When he asked why we were going on little detour, I said, “Mommy missed our exit, honey. I wasn’t focusing, was I?” He nodded.
A few days later, I was driving him to preschool, my mind abuzz with the day’s to-do list. Sure enough, we drove straight through the light instead of turning right and had to double-back.
“Why are we turning around?” he asked.
“Because I got distracted and didn’t turn when I was supposed to.”
He gave me a stern look, “You weren’t focusing, Mommy.”
Out of the mouths of babes.
Multitasking is a myth.Science proves that we don’t really do tasks simultaneously: We’re just switching focus. And it takes longer to complete tasks that way because of stopping and starting. Efficiency goes out the window.
And yet, God love us, we still try.
When it comes to promoting your work, you may be tempted to try a million different tactics to see what sticks. After all, there’s a lot out there, right? We live in an age of marketing overwhelm.
You’re right to test and tweak. But not all at the same time! The truth is that you’ll just do a lot of things really badly – and not see results.
Quality over quantity wins. Every. Single. Time.
It’s better to focus on doing a few things really well, mastering them, if you want to see results for your revenue, visibility and impact.
To help you tackle your focus challenges and breathe easier while getting more results, please download a FREE taste from my upcoming MOMENTUM Pro self-study program by clicking the button below. This Playbook is titled Simplify Your Marketing Plan and it’s all about how to streamline and focus for results. I promise: You don’t have to do it all!
If you like this playbook and want a more streamlined, non-overwhelming, completely do-able way to master your marketing, check out MOMENTUM Pro! It’s all about focus, providing a step-by-step system to take one action at a time and gain clients, visibility and revenue.
“How can I get all of this done?!” is one of the most popular brand and marketing laments I hear from small business owners and solopreneurs.
We all know that marketing and promoting our business can take a lot of time. Time we just don’t seem to have if we want to also have a life.
First and foremost, crafting a strong, clear brand strategybefore you start punching through your marketing to-do list can save you BOATLOADS of upfront time…not to mention money, headache, mistakes and dead-ends. You essentially draw the map before you embark on the journey so you know you’re heading in the right direction.
But even then, just writing a blog post or creating a newsletter or preparing a slide deck…..from idea generation to content development to the technical nuts and bolts, it all takes so much time!
Marketing can be exhausting and a total time-suck. This is coming from….a marketer. (Tweet this!)
Maybe we would all have more fun with marketing if each task didn’t take so damn long!
Here are 6 simple but effective marketing time-savers:
Create in batches: I schedule “content creation” times on my weekly calendar to work on blog posts, new course materials, or even a new guide. If I don’t do this, I’m distracted throughout my entire week as ideas hit me, or as I use it as an excuse to escape other tasks I should be doing! These times are sacred and I treat them like a client meeting You can focus on cranking out more than one thing at a time and get ahead of your calendar. If you blog weekly, set aside one day every 3 months to create your blog posts all in one sitting. And when those ideas hit you in the shower or while you’re trying to do something else? Simply jot them down in your phone and tackle them when your designated creation time comes.
Schedule in advance: My go-to tools are BufferApp to pre-schedule social media posts, WordPress to pre-schedule my blog posts – plus Facebook’s native scheduler within my brand page, as Facebook HATES when you use 3rd party scheduling apps and reduces your post relevance in their algorithm, meaning less people see it in their feeds. Scheduling in advance frees up your time and mental energy. You cross something off your to-do list once every so often and then you’re done.
Related to this, schedule ANY task you need to do on your calendar. I live by this. When it’s on my calendar, I know I have set aside time to do it – and I don’t worry about it at all until that time comes!
Create a text-only email newsletter: Being a brand queen, I adore fancy, beautiful email templates. And it makes sense to use visuals if you show products or need to evoke a mood. But, for me, a) it takes more time to create, find images or deal with crazy formatting and b) my audience often reads my emails on their mobile device, which means text is best for reading on the go. My emails still look nice and neat with formatted text, but there are no fancy headers or imagery. When I switched to text-only emails several years ago, I not only saved a ton of time, but my emails became more like intimate letters to friends (like, you know, ACTUALLY sending an email to a friend!) and audience engagement went up. Just sayin.
Set a timer for social media: The ultimate time-suck. Even if you follow #2, you still need to get in and interact with your audience on social media – It’s social after all – which possibly means falling down the rabbit hole and linking all over the place for hours on end. Simply set a timer and pop in for 15 minutes every other day or some other interval that works for you. Put this time on your calendar like a meeting if you need to. And make sure you don’t go over your 15-minute mark!
Use an online scheduler: If I could get back all the time ever spent trying to schedule a meeting with someone over email, I’d probably add three years to my life. No joke. When you work for yourself, this can easily take 20 emails and 2 hours of your day. Some folks pay assistants for this but you can do it yourself. Investing in Calendly was a game-changer for me. TimeTrade and Doodle are other ones (Doodle is great if you have multiple people you’re wrangling into a meeting). While not a “marketing tool” per se, can I just tell you how much more time I have for marketing now that I use this?!
Outsource: I know this one can get tricky if you are on a budget, but hear me out: If you bill your time out for $100 an hour, isn’t it worth spending that hour on a paying client rather than on updating your website, setting up your email newsletter, writing copy or finding and resizing social media images? What small tasks add up to a big headache for you? What tasks only need your final blessing, not your involvement, to be successful? I posted some outsourcing resources for you in this blog post.
Crave more time-saving tips, sanity savers and realistic goal-setting approaches to avoid getting crushed? Check out: The Juicy Guide to Goal Setting and Time Management: Advice on How to Wrangle Your Calendarand Slay Overwhelm, available right here!
When it comes to the end of your life, will you look back with regret or gratitude?
Unlike other tasks you may be able to put off, the thing about regret is that you kind of have to plan for this question right now. You know, since you’re currently living your life.
Life is not a dress rehearsal, people.
My mom, Elizabeth, passed away on January 30, 2016. She was 85 years old. She died rather suddenly for someone who has been ill for a long time with heart failure. In the end, it was, oddly enough, not her heart issues, but pneumonia and then a hospital infection that turned into sepsis, which sealed her fate.
She passed away surrounded by family and especially her faithful husband of 61 years, my dad. Before she left this world, she knew her four kids were successful, healthy and loved. She knew her grandchildren. And yes, she even got the chance to see my baby boy, the last grandchild. Her life was full of family, friends, travel, and love.
We should all be so lucky.
I think mom’s only true regret was never having had the chance to go to college. When her youngerbrother ditched college to join the Navy, it was not even a realistic notion to use the money for my mom. What did girls need with a college education, thought my Italian immigrant grandparents? Mom even told my brother a story about being scared when, as a young girl, she almost lost some library books, “ I mean, I was petrified. Mom didn’t even think girls needed to be reading in the first place.” Can you imagine?
She married at 24, but mom still worked. She was a legal secretary/office manager for many years before her kids came along later in life and the worked part-time off and on, focused on raising her family.
I always thought my life was so different from hers. Part of that was by design: My mother wanted me to have all the educational opportunities she never had. She wanted me to stand on my own two feet and not have to rely on any man for anything except love.
But when she made sacrifices for me, I don’t think she realized just how different it would make our lives. I was a single girl focused on my career, living in the city for many years. I broke off an engagement in my late twenties and didn’t get married until my early thirties. I moved far away from home. I had adventures (and misadventures) my mom probably never imagined.
I rebelled so much against the traditional path that my mom, deep in her heart, would have liked me to follow. While she wanted me to have all the opportunities, in the end, I believe she wanted me to choose her path simply because she knew how happy it made her. When I didn’t, she wasn’t sure what to make of me. I wanted to follow my passions and I thought she just couldn’t relate. But, boy, was she proud.
Now, I realize how much her life was the lesson I needed all along. I see now that Mom followed her heart. She lived with few regrets. (Tweet)
She may not have blazed career trails or invented things to live her passion. But, that is because those were not her passions. Hers were different and, yes, she pursued them with gusto. She went on an epic cross-country road trip with my dad before they had kids. She enjoyed Caribbean cruises and Canadian casino bus trips. She traveled to Italy several times and kept in constant touch with family there, helping us kids forge relationships between our generation of cousins as well.
She read (voraciously). She went to every social gathering, party and picnic. She led clubs and volunteered at PTA, standing up to the administration on policies that she thought hurt her kids.
She cheered on her favorite football teams. She cooked giant holiday feasts and crowded as much family as would fit around the table.
When she couldn’t have kids after years of trying, she never gave up hope. Then she had my brothers in her late thirties, a ridiculously late age back in 1966. And then me, six years later, at age 42. She hustled. She got me and my older brother into acting as kids and shuttled us all over Manhattan. She knew exactly what we all wanted for Christmas–and I have no doubt shopped for and wrapped most of it herself
She raised a family and gave us a magical childhood of simple pleasures: boisterous holidays, family vacations, a modest summer house in Mastic Beach, Long Island (seriously, NOT The Hamptons!), full of lazy summer afternoons spent reading, feeding swans, swimming, and boating–no camps or video games! And, of course, warm summer nights where fireflies lit up our games of Tag in the backyard.
She moved from NY to Ohio in her early fifties to start a whole new life when my dad’s company relocated us. She nursed both my grandmother and my great-aunt in their ailing old ages until they each passed away.
My mom’s health was deteriorating over the past few years. It was always a tightrope when I returned home from visits there. Would this be the last time? One can never be sure. So it was always, “I love you” before every parting, at the end of every phone call.
I stayed home a little longer than usual this past Christmas, a full week which then got extended due to cancelled flights and bad weather. Maybe the Universe knew?! I made sure she got to watch my little one play in her living room for a few hours. She was not the most talkative or “herself” in recent years but it was enough to be in her presence, making small talk. I gave her an extra big hug and kiss upon leaving, and made sure my one and a half year-old son did the same. “Say ‘I’ll see you soon, Nonnie’,” I encouraged him. She loved hearing him say “Nonnie” in that sweet little baby voice of his.
Did Mom have other regrets? I’ll never know for sure. But in the last few weeks, I’ve realized that her life was one big adventure of enjoying the people and moments that mean the most. A life I always thought so different from mine. And yet…. she followed her own passions just as I want to follow mine. Exactly the kind of life I want as well. One big adventure. Soaking it all in.
No regrets. Just love.
So I ask you: Today, at this moment, are you setting up your life to do the same? Are you launching that business, writing that book, taking that trip, or simply spending time with the people who matter most?And remember, like my Mom, living a life without regret is not about “living hard” or doing crazy, epic things, either, unless that’s truly what calls to your soul.
Are you following the passions close to your own heart or simply living a life others say you should have? Are you measuring your success with someone else’s yardstick?
At the end, when it’s all said and done, no one will care about your course launches or “six-figure business” or book deal or social media followers or marketing to-do list. My mom never had any of those things and she could have cared less. She was just fine.
In the end, are you going to have no regrets, just love?
A wise mentor sits with a serene smile, staring into the bright eyes of the eager protégée. She wraps her arm around the fresh young person and whispers, “Everything is going to be alright. Here’s all you really need to know…”
I’m going to bet that was not your experience when embarking on entrepreneurship or self-employment. If you’re like me, it felt more like getting shoved into a deep ocean. Some days, the current drifts you to new islands and opportunities. Other days, you flail in the choppy waves, praying for a lifeline. One day, the seas are calm and effortless. The next day, the waves pound you over and over again into the hard sand.
After leaving the safe harbor of a successful corporate life in 2008, I was fortunate enough to find resources and mentors who helped me along my journey. Some drifted in and out like a passing life raft, right when I needed them most. Others joined me on my journey and never left my side: mentors and collaborators whom I treasure for their insights.
These amazing humans – and the many years I’ve now been out on my own – have taught me so much. And by “so much,” I mean answering questions I never knew I should have (“What the heck is “use tax?”) and preparing me for situations I could have never seen coming even with high-powered binoculars (a clear contract doesn’t protect you from a nightmare client who signs it without reading it). It doesn’t matter how many books you read or classes you take. Until you’re in it, there’s so much you don’t even know you don’t know.
And that’s a good thing. Otherwise, most of us wouldn’t do it!
Here are two of the biggest lessons from my entrepreneurial experience thus far. Please note: I have a long way to go and a whole lot more to learn.
But when you get so far down a certain trail, it’s your duty and responsibility to reach your hand back and shepherd those traveling with you. Leave no man or woman behind, I say.(Tweet this!)
Lesson #1: Opportunity favors those who prepare.
While I had a very successful corporate marketing career, I dreamed of doing my own thing and enjoying more flexibility to pursue other passions, like writing and acting. Red Slice started as a personal blog full of whimsical wine, film and cultural musings. It then became a business website I would tinker with on the side as I dreamed, “If I worked for myself, how would I position my services? What message would I want to convey? What brand would I build?” In 2008, when the writing was on the wall and my last tech company laid off the marketing department in prep for a sale, opportunity knocked–and I was ready. I flipped the switch on that hidden website and Red Slice as a brand consultancy was born.
Lesson #2: Don’t worry about the how so much as the what and why. The how will find you (or you will find it) when the time is right. Just take action and keep moving forward.
The road was not always easy. Maybe you can relate?! I am often still unsure of what the hell I’m doing. But amazingly enough, once you start down the path to what you want and put it out there, all of the sudden an advisor, article, connection or opportunity will magically appear right when you need it most.
When I craved more strategy work and less tactical project work and didn’t know how to free up my time to go after it, a friend offered her coaching services to me, leading to my signature offerings still popular today.
When I needed a new accountant, a successful entrepreneur recommended hers – and I’ve happily been with that firm ever since.
When I desperately needed a fresh creative writer for my client work, a colleague launched a website that week with the most brilliant copy I’d ever read and I immediately contacted the writer she hired, which led to not one, but two fruitful writing partnerships that are the cornerstone of my work.
When a publishing agent got interested in my book idea and asked to see a “formal proposal” I had no idea what that was but said “Sure, I’ll send you one!” As if on cue, my good friend told me she happened to enroll in a proposal writing class starting the very next week so I jumped in and joined her.
When I was truly overwhelmed by my work and life right after my brain injury, I decided to just take it day by day and start small, by sponsoring a marketing event. At that event, I happened to meet a “stress coach” and started working with her within the month to get myself unstuck and moving forward.
When I decided to self-publish my second book and had no idea where to begin, I just started writing it and figured it would all work out. I then remembered a virtual assistant who I had interviewed the year before to help with marketing my first book. She is now my self-publishing angel and handles everything for me.
There are so many more examples I could give you. Somehow, someway, the right people just enter your life at just the right time. Or you read an article that tells you about the exact solution to the challenge you are facing.
I’ve got a confession to make. The past few months have been full of angst for me over a simple and tired question you’ve most likely faced yourself:
What do I want to do when I grow up?
Now, I realize this is ridiculous coming from a 40-something wife, mother and business owner who seems to have it all locked down. I mean, seriously, shouldn’t I be all grown up by now? Surely publishing books and working with amazing clients should be enough, right? Let’s just coast into retirement.
Except that’s not me. And if you’re reading this, I don’t think it’s you either. While I love it all, I am always looking to the next horizon, challenge, and creative endeavor. Right now, I’m retrenching to figure out what my next book, project and evolution of Red Slice is going to look like. Basically figuring out how I can find my new passion while still serving my audience.
Part of being a changemaker and rockstar is that you never settle. You’re always itching for the next big adventure and passionate about that crazy idea that the world needs.
Whether it’s on a global scale or in your own backyard, passionate people crave “newness.” And with that comes constant evaluation, analysis and action. A churning restlessness to peek around the next corner.
But how do you get to that elusive answer? Especially if you have many different interests, passions and “slices” to what you want to offer.
Here’s a trick:
Start With No.
Sometimes placing parameters around what we don’t want to do, say or be helps us whittle down to the core of what makes us tick. Instead of trying so hard to pick something in the vast whitespace of possibility, box yourself in a little bit and back into the answer.
What don’t you want your business to look like? Which brand do you least want to emulate? What type of clients drain your energy? Which customers are not a good fit for you? What topic do you not want to write about? What product or service do you hate the idea of selling?
When you’re not sure which road to take, pare down your choices by asking which way you don’t want to go. (Tweet this!)
I discovered the value of this many times when trying to decide what to have for dinner. My husband and I often get the bright idea to go out to eat or order in, which inevitably leads to…
“Where do you want to go?”
“I don’t know. Where do you want to go?”
We’ve discovered that if we start with what we’re not in the mood for, we’ll land more quickly on what we are in the mood for. We back into the answer.
Next time you’re floundering to make a decision or find your next step, try starting with no.
What decisions have you made by narrowing down what you didn’t want in order to get to what you did want? How could this technique help with your next moves for your business or project? Please share below in the Comments!