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Swimming in the Rush of Business Change

Wednesday, 23rd July 2014

Business today is a rush of change. The technology and how to best use it in swimmingyour business is constantly moving and growing. Businessowners are drowning in new information, new opportunities, and the promising new ways of running a business. Many work to adapt to the newest and greatest technology, trying to keep up with the way social media changes and the other shiftings in the computer world. So how does a business person navigate through all the mounds of change and glut of information? How do they find a way to grow their business the way they want it?

One of the most helpful modern technologies for getting around to new places is the GPS system. GPS systems outline the routes that you can take to get to where you want to go. They will show you alternative routes, and the GPS never gets upset and is very matter of fact when the driver makes a wrong turn.

There are different levels of help a GPS can provide. I had a GPS guide me when I traveled through Idaho. When I came to a stop, the GPS said, “Now get out and walk.” I was on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere. That’s when I knew its guidance had flaws. The same thing has happened when the GPS announced that I have arrived at my destination when I am driving in the middle of an intersection.

I have worked with other GPS systems that function much better than the one that got me lost. Some of my favorite GPS systems are the ones that configure the current traffic and what the best routes are to take, considering the typical parking lot of cars during rush hour.

Just as there are different levels of GPS systems, there are different levels of business coaches. Some coaches are middle of the road, and will get you to the places you want to go some of the time. Others have many more tools as their resources that factor in what direction your business is going, and where gridlock will stop your progress.

No coach can foresee everything that will prevent you from going from point A to point B, but those coaches who are on top of their game have had a lot of experience with helping business men and women through the forest, and their directions will be more clear than the coaches who lack as much experience.

The influx of change that is constantly flooding the market makes it so that a business person may be harming themselves when making the decision to not get the help of a GPS coach who can guide them through the maze. It would best serve the business person to make sure that they get the best kind of GPS system or coach that keeps their finger on the pulse of the market and knows about the changes, so that their directions will keep the congested areas of business in mind.

The Ground Stretch Principle for Real Business Growth

Wednesday, 16th July 2014

After the first couple of years of starting his or her business,  the business owner often shifts the attention from creating a business and getting it going, to how to grow the business.  This is the next stage in business growth, and can be a tricky one if not approached with solid principles in place.

During the first couple of years, the business owner is often  maxed out on time, especially if he/she is wearing multiple hats because there is not enough profit to bring in help.  There comes a point in most businesses where regular profit is coming in, and the owner starts thinking about how to expand in a way that he or she will make more money and not have to work so hard as they had to in the beginning.

It at this point the Ground Stretch Principal comes into play.  In yoga the yogateacher first starts the practice off with some grounding techniques.  The teacher will often have the class take deep breaths and to also set specific intentions for the practice.  This grounding practice helps the yogi student’s mind to settle and prepare for what will be coming and to determine what kind of experience they want to have.

When a business owner desires to progress to the next level in their business, it’s time to take a moment to ground themselves before they start making plans.  This grounding will serve them by delving to a deep center place.  This in turns enables the owner to build their business from a place of power.

After the yoga teacher has led the class through some starting positions, the teacher often guides the class into more challenging positions.  The teacher will then encourage the class to breathe into the posture, thus allowing the student to get deeper into the position.  After the yogi has grounded into the pose, then the teacher will encourage the student to go deeper into the stretch.  I am always amazed at how much deeper I can go the second or third time around after I have given my muscles a chance to understand the position. Eventually the muscles relax into the position, thus giving me the ability to stretch deeper.

This same principle works in growing your business. The more the owner grounds into where they are and then learns what systems and structures need to be in place, then through guidance get into that position, it is time for some grounding.  The owner holds that new way of being in business until he or she is slightly comfortable, then it is time to stretch their abilities a little more and sink into that task.

Grounding and stretching works well to progress in your yoga practice, and the same principles works well if applied to growing your business practice.

Zone Blocks to Increase Productivity

Wednesday, 9th July 2014

taskingWhen creative entrepreneurs research time management and how they can get more done, they are often told they need to put everything on a calendar and schedule it.  I have talked to many creative entrepreneurs who have tried this only to get frustrated.

The reason the creatives get frustrated is that they aren’t wired to follow a schedule and be told that they need to do this exact thing at this exact time and proceed through their day like that.

I have found that most creatives I have worked with do better by implementing an energy management system.  What is an energy management system?  This is a system where the entrepreneur works with the flow of his or her energy and capitalize on it.  For example, most entrepreneurs’ energy is highest in mid-morning, so scheduling  the most important tasks between 10 am-1pm often works well. Doing the most important task first, gives a boost of energy by just knowing that task is handled.  That boost of energy helps a creative person to stay motivated and finish the next thing on the list.

Another important part of energy management is to know what helps you to get the kind of energy that you need to accomplish the tasks before you.  For instance, most entrepreneurs need to do some kind of consistent marketing. I have found that for me to set aside a marketing day is a great way to accomplish one of my least favorite tasks.  I bunch all my marketing-like tasks together to do on Wednesday.  Why Wednesday?  Because Wednesday is the day I get up early and go to a network meeting.  I know by being around all that networking and marketing energy I am more likely to absorb it on that day and to run with it.

I also know that being an introvert and doing all that outgoing stuff,  like talking to people for a whole day, will drain me, so the next day I schedule is an introvert day, and I do my introvert tasks like writing.

Another thing to look at is which day is the best day to get all those annoying little things done.  I love bunching them together and blasting through them.  I often schedule those for days that are filled with interruptions, and it is hard for me to get flow—or in mother language, it’s an early day out of school for my children,  so in-between clients, I am constantly driving back and forth to school.

Now what you need to do probably won’t look the same as mine, but hopefully you can see how I arrange my days around my energy. The environment, and tasks I need to do affect my energy, so if I plan for this, I can show up as my best, to get the tasks done.  Using this perspective, you can draft the perfect energy management system for you.

What Do People Have to Do With Business Growth?

Monday, 30th June 2014

I had recently moved to a new state when my former husband filed for divorce. From the stress of going through a complicated divorce, becoming a single mother, and still running a business, I hunkered down and rolled up my sleeves to build a new life, a better one, one that was more in alignment with who I was becoming.

In the mastermind group I belong to, I shared that although I was meditating twice a day, practicing yoga four times a week, watching what I was eating, and making time to play with the kids, and occasionally getting a massage, the reports came back from the doctor that my cortisol, the stress hormone, was still out of whack, even though I was functioning well. I couldn’t understand what I was missing.

The mastermind leader asked, “How many people do you know in your town?”

That answer was easy, about 40 people, 38 of them were in the business network group that I belonged to. He looked at me with surprise, and I explained that I was really busy and didn’t get out much. I didn’t have time to make it to the local yoga class or exercise class and just did that at home in-between clients.

The leader of the group then asked why I was launching my own local mastermind group. I brightened up and told him I believed in the power of group coaching, and I have seen business owners totally transform from plugging along in their business to streamlining it, working less, and getting more of the results they wanted. I have seen how people flourish in a safe community that supports them and believes in them.

friendsHe then turned my own words against me. “Don’t you think you need that community for yourself? You know, some place where you aren’t the leader. Some place where you can express your worries and concerns?”

He was right. We all need community whether to grow our business faster or to decrease our stress. This is one of those factors in modern society that isn’t so easy to implement into our lives. especially if you are like me and new to a place and haven’t made much of an effort to get to know people, not an easy task for a full-fledged introvert.

That is the irony of human nature. The harmful things people sometimes do to us makes us want to withdraw and isolate ourselves, but this very action will cause harmful effects to our bodies and spirits. According to science, we are wired for connection. So maybe you would thrive more in a mastermind group where you have community support to grow your business, or, if you are like me and need people to help you feel a little more stable and who will assist you in getting back on your feet, we may all need to get out there and mingle.

Transforming Work to Play

Monday, 23rd June 2014

In the 2014 Winter Olympics, there was a lot of talk about the athletes and their performances. Some of the athletes who traveled to Russia to play had sterling reputations because of their past performances. In the world of sports, they have been considered exceptionally talented and have earned recognition for their talent. Yet once they performed on the Olympic stage, many of them couldn’t seem to get their minds in the game. They stumbled, fell, and TV viewers started hearing things like, “This performance was so unlike that athlete.” And, “That performance must be a major disappointment.”

What happened? Clearly these athletes have major talent and have proven it at other times. There could be a lot of personal reasons going on that we as viewers are not privy to, but mindset has to be one of the major contributors.

performanceOne of the attributes that I notice in many of the athletes that didn’t choke at the games was their ability to relax to a point that they could smile and enjoy their experience. I have also observed that singers who are able to be at ease in contests more often do the best.

Why? In the book, Talent is Overrated, the author describes this. When a person reaches true mastery in their field, they are able to see all the systems and structures that take place. Once they master a certain skill level, they develop the ability to look at the whole system. When they reach a level where doing that is easy for them, performing their craft or sport becomes play, while others still have to think about what is going on.

In order for you to prevent being taken out of your game and your performance, it is important to have a regular schedule and cultivate good habits that continually build your skills. These good practices make it easier for you to slip into the zone of your performance so you can smile more and transform your work to play.

How Good are you at Prioritizing

Monday, 16th June 2014

plannerI talked with an entrepreneur today who has many exciting projects going on with a lot of opportunity. When I asked him which project was the most important, he looked at me with sincerity in his eyes and said, “They are all really important.”

If an entrepreneur doesn’t know how to make their “To Do List” and prioritize what is really important and then recognize what is mildly important and then determine what would simply be nice to get done, they are going to end up working harder and getting more and more exhausted. Unfortunately this chaos of lack of crystal clear direction will spin over to other areas of their life, and will create more confusion and pressure.

The first step to stop this “too-much-to-do” and “everything-is-important” nightmare is to recognize that what you are doing is not working, and is also costing you money, time and resources.

Second step is to get really clear about what the most important step is. I have worked with many business owners who get truly lost on this part. Everything has potential and it all ties together in a whole. If you are suffering from this experience, the first questions to ask yourself are, “Are you meeting your bills? Are you bringing home profit?” If you are not, then that is top priority. You are not in business to make work for yourself. You are in business to make a living.

If you do have the bottom line covered, then the next question to ask is what is the most important thing that needs to be accomplished or done in order to get my business to the next level? How strong is my business foundation? Where am I weak? Am I working too much, and if the answer is yes, why?

After you have gotten clear on what is the most important task or goal to accomplish, it is vital for you to make a master plan of what you are saying no to. What is flat out just not that important?

Step four narrows it down to what you are going to say yes to. Hint: in business that should be no more than four things. Write down what that list is.

If you are still struggling on what to say yes and no to, work with a 10 scale. 1 being that you can’t stand the job, and 10 being that you absolutely have to do that project right now.

Step five is to look at all the items that are not on the first thing you must do, and not on the list that you aren’t going to do, and get out your calendar and schedule when you are going to work on each of the other projects as main focuses.

Saying yes to everything is saying no to quality, getting things done, and peace of mind. Getting clear on your top priorities is an essential work to do for your business.

Ways to Stop Working So Hard

Wednesday, 11th June 2014

sleepMost entrepreneurs, once they have a solid foundation under them, want to know how to keep getting the same results financially but also have a life outside of work.

This desire will lead the business owner, if they are truly motivated, to fix the struggle of working constantly by looking into time management solutions. Although time management can be an extremely helpful place to look to find those sought after hours, it is not the place that will provide you with the best results. Oftentimes entrepreneurs will implement more systems, chunk their time, and utilize their schedule more, but if they don’t have the sustainable energy to follow their new plan, they will never get the results they are truly capable of. If you want to work less and sustain your income, or even make more, the first place that you need to look is how you are managing your energy. Are you maintaining a steady blood sugar level so you don’t have those dreaded lows in the early afternoon? (Work requires food intake every two to three hours).

  • Are you getting 7-8 hours of sleep so that you approach your work fresh and invigorated?
  • Have you addressed all major health concerns so you are functioning at your best?
  • Do you have mind-management practices to release a daily build up of stress like: yoga, meditation, regular walks in nature?
  • Do you have some way to connect to the divine, universe, or higher power so you feel a stronger connection to a bigger purpose daily?
  • Are you crystal clear on your mission for work and how it contributes overall so that you are in alignment with your work?

These and other areas are critical to look at to develop a way to manage your energy so that when you are working on a task, you are on fire and can easily flow through what needs to be done and go to the next thing on the list.

Set Yourself Apart from Your Competitors

Monday, 2nd June 2014

How do you set yourself apart from your competitors? This is an important marketing and business question that most business owners find themselves answering on a semi-regular basis. If your business is based on craft or a skill that you love to do not only would you be answering this question based on marketing distinction but the business owners often ask this question from the point-of-view of improving their craft or skill.

The path of mastery is an ambitious journey and one that requires dedication. In

highwire

the book Talent Is Overrated, it is explained that scientific research suggests that the more time a person puts into their craft, the more likely he/she will achieve the top mastery level. The book also suggests that one of the biggest determining factors to help you soar in mastering your craft is how often and how well you engage in practice. Not just any practice, but a different method from the average person’s performance while practicing, compared to those who achieve mastery. For the artist and the businessperson, it is important to perform “deliberate practice.” In their heavily researched findings, deliberate practice looks a very specific way.

Before we get into what it looks like, lets first define it. Deliberate practice is a way to engage in an activity that creates growth in skills that you are not strong in. That means that the person practicing is engaged in the part or parts of their craft that they are weakest. They work on it and practice it until they achieve a high level of skill. An example of this in business would be to approach a customer for a sale of your product or service. A businessperson who wants to become top in their field, and if sales happens to be part of it, would ask for the sale, practicing over and over again until they figured out what works and what doesn’t.

Here are the five components, according to Talent is Overrated, that have to be included in deliberate practice:

  1. The task is designed specifically to improve performance, often with a teacher or coach’s help
  2. Repeat the task often
  3. Feedback is given on the result in a consistent manner
  4. The activity is highly demanding mentally
  5. The actual doing of the practice isn’t much fun

If you want to set yourself apart from your competitors in the actual delivery of your craft, the only way to authentically achieve this, according to research, is through dedicating many hours practicing, using the right methods.

Going Against the Mastermind

Tuesday, 27th May 2014

wise owls

My entire mastermind group told me what I was about to do was a big mistake. Not quietly, but with adamant lectures about how I was throwing away everything that I had built up, and that if I continued down the path I had chosen, that all I would end up with at the end of it was a piece of paper and lots of wasted time and money.

I had recently been filed with divorce papers, and as I thought about that experience and what I wanted to create in the future, I declared to myself that I wasn’t going to settle in the romantic relationship department. As I looked around at the men in my life, the thought occurred to me that I might be single for a while. The next thought immediately popped into my head, “Then I am going back for my MFA in Writing.” A few hours later I started the application process.

I had wanted to get an MFA in Writing for years. It was one of my dreams, so I was completely surprised at the reaction of my mastermind group. They told me that I was selling myself short. My business was about ready to take off in a big way, and this decision was a way for me to sabotage or to hide from success.

Their reaction caused me to pause and to think. What determines sabotage? What defines following one’s dreams? What is the action of hiding versus an act of following one’s passion? Could it just be a matter of perception? How does one determine if a sacrifice is worth it?

I mumbled to my mastermind group that I was going to be a single mother now and needed a steadier job. I also needed health insurance. There just so happened to be the dean of a university in my mastermind group, and he shook his head. “You make more now and you know it. You will never be able to make as much as a teacher as you would doing coaching. If you do this you are leaving a lot of money on the table.” He let that settle before he added, “Do you have any idea how much time a master’s requires? I see so many people work around the clock, and what they end up with in the end is a piece of paper. You don’t need that paper. You could teach at colleges right now, unless you want to become a professor.”

The sad truth was that he was right. The group was right. So what did I decide to do? I am now currently in the MFA for Writing program. Why? Because it is my dream. When it boiled down to it, one question helped me to decide on whether to continue to work for the MFA or to build my business. The question wasn’t how much money I’d make because coaching fulltime would be a better choice money-wise. It wasn’t about spending the past years building a business and if I walked away how much time I would I lose. No, instead, the question that cleared my head was: When I die will it matter to me if I made it as an extremely successful business person? The answer was “No.” Then the next question: Would I regret not learning as much as I could about the craft of writing and giving that love of my mine one more chance? “YES!”

Bottom line, there are a lot of ways to look at your big decisions and where you are going in your life. If you want to make the right decisions for you, it is time to get really honest and to sort through what you value most and go for it!

Implementation Day

Monday, 19th May 2014

checks

Many entrepreneurs are overwhelmed with all the daily operations of their business. They struggle to make progress in the areas they want to grow.  Others suffer from so many things to do that they feel they are never truly gaining ground on anything. A great solution for this dilemma is called “implementation day”. This is a day where the entrepreneur blocks out the entire day to get something important done. If you cannot make time for an entire day, even a half-day will yield great rewards. Some of the types of implementation days I have created and have worked with others to try are:

  • Marketing days, where we worked on the marketing
  • Copyrighting
  • Launch dates
  • Article writing days, where I wrote articles for my newsletter, finished up creating an e-course, and wrote an e-course.

As you can see, the tasks can be just about anything that you need  to grow your business or to keep your business running smoothly. Here are some of the rules for establishing an effective Implementation Day:

  • Have an implementation day buddy.
    It is way too easy not to hold true to the day and getting things done. It’s easy to let other things take over the day when you don’t have a partner to hold you accountable.
  • Go somewhere different.
    It is best if you can go somewhere that is not easy for distractions to find you.  If you are able to really focus on your task and not have a multitude of interruptions, you will more likely get into the flow and have a more successful day.
  • Prioritize what is most important for you to accomplish, and then work down the list.
    It is essential to know what your main goal of the day is and then have a second goal.  Make sure that you have everything you need to get the goal done and you have things lined up.  The point of implementation day is to get things done, so make sure you have organized so there is no thinking about what you are going to do.
  • Be very specific about how often you are going to take breaks and what they look like.
    Breaks are important and needed in order to function and produce, but you don’t want the breaks to get out of hand.  So make an agreement with your accountability partner concerning what you will do and won’t do.
  • Make sure that you have proper nourishment and drink with you.
    It is impossible to keep on working at your best if you are suffering from a sugar low or you are thirsty.  Make sure to have supportive food and drink around you.
  • Keep track of how much you have accomplished.
    Make sure that you note, before you start, where you are in your project, and then mark how much you accomplished by the end of the day.  Being able to see how much you have accomplished is a huge reward that not only gives you a sense of accomplishment but lets you see how effective your implementation day was.
  • Schedule you next implementation day.
    A great thing about implementation days is that they don’t  have to be a one shot day.  It is something that you can put into your schedule on a regular bases.

Your life and your business is going to feel much different after scheduling regular implementation days and giving yourself the blessing of single focus.