Building an Empire Without Losing Your Mind

Women in business

As women in this world we are constantly reminded that there is an ideal that we should attempt to meet. There are right and wrong ways to look, speak, and work, and those can change depending on who you are with at the time. It’s easy to get caught up in a whirlwind of perfectionism, but I’m here to tell you that being perfect gets you absolutely no where.

When you’re building your own business, you find that there is a fine line to walk. On one hand, you want to be excellent in everything that you do, but on the other hand, you don’t want to get so caught up with perfectionism that you don’t get anything done at all. So how do we do this?

Set reasonable expectations

Your business simply won’t take off over night. I know it seems to appear that way for some people, however what you may not see is the years and even decades of work that were put in to arrive at success. The process of growing a successful business is a marathon, not a sprint. So don’t try to rush it, put some roots down, settle in, and keep doing good work. To continue propelling yourself forward, set reasonable expectations for the next quarter, or the next year. When you set the bar too high you add unnecessary pressure to yourself and you miss all the small steps that make your business strong.

Set your priorities

When building your business, your priorities ought to be based around all of the important tasks that help you to grow. Often, we get into the habit of focusing too much on easy tasks because we get a sense of satisfaction from checking them off of the list. Creating spreadsheets and ordering office supplies are far easier and less intimidating tasks than the “s” word: sales. But sales and marketing are what make you money in the long run. Make sure your priorities are set based on what is going to move you and your business ahead.

Trust your team

We like to think we can do it all. But ladies, I promise you, it isn’t true. Don’t get me wrong, we can do a lot. Women are great leaders, excellent multi-taskers, and calm in the face of chaos. And fortunately, we’re also great at building community. Instead of overwhelming yourself with work, build a great team around you and empower them to do their jobs well.

Rest your mind

Research shows that after 50 hours of work each week your level of productivity begins to decline. That may be hard to believe since we’re told since a young age to work harder and study longer, but after a certain point those hours worked start to take a toll on your body and your mind. As the leader of your company, it’s critical that you are alert and focused, so make sure you know when it’s time to take a beat and get some rest. If this is hard for you, consider setting boundaries. Make sure your team knows not to call you in the evenings, and leave your phone and laptop out of your bedroom so you can ensure restful sleep without the temptation to check your email again.

You are your business’ greatest asset, but are you bringing your best self to the table? If you want to see your company and your vision grow, start thinking critically about how you can make better use of your time and set reasonable and achievable expectations for your work. And if you need a partner is growing your business, give us a call today. Our firm provides full-service accounting and bookkeeping as well as the trusted advice of a seasoned entrepreneur.

So, You’ve Decided to Become an Entrepreneur? The Path to Entrepreneur Success Starts with these 3 things.

You’re on your way to entrepreneur success!

Congratulations, you have taken the first step in your entrepreneurial journey! If you are here reading this post you’ve likely already begun to think of yourself as an entrepreneur, and maybe right now things are feeling really good, or maybe you have hit one of the many, inevitable bumps in the road. Regardless of where you find yourself today, the journey of an entrepreneur is as unpredictable as it is exciting. If you find yourself struggling at this moment in time remember that you are not alone, there are many people who have come before you and many more will come after you.

Stay focused, stay positive

Entrepreneurs are often very creative people, and creative people often find themselves with lots of varied interests and passions. It can be easy to try and combine all of those different passions into one new business, but by spreading your focus too broadly it’s easy to lose track of your original vision. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t have big dreams, but as you are building the foundation of your business, make sure that you remain focused and make choices that strengthen the fabric of your company. That doesn’t mean you have to let go of any of your wild and exciting dreams. Keep a notebook filled with your big ideas and return to it from time to time to see how those ideas can inform your current business, or lead you to a new business in the future.

Find a strong group of mentors

It is inevitable, you will, from time to time lose track of your next steps and you’ll feel lost and afraid. I understand you because I’ve been there before. Having a group of trusted mentors who know you, understand your vision for the future, and have experience building businesses or organizations of their own is an important asset when you find yourself in tricky place and you need help deciding what your next step should be. Strong mentorship is key to your success. If you’re not sure where to find a mentor, begin attending networking and business events, or introduce yourself to a business owner who you admire. Be bold in your pursuit of good advice, it is a valuable resource!

Trust your instincts

You started your business because you love what you do and what to see it through. On this journey you will come across situations and and well meaning people who try to direct you off of your path. Perhaps their vision for your business is different than yours, or they’d like to see you make a different choice for your life. Our well-meaning friends and family can sometimes drive us away from meeting our goals. Listen with an open heart, but always trust your instincts, they are the force that has directed you down this path so far.

Starting your new business is as hard and scary as it is thrilling and rewarding. Don’t let yourself be intimidated by the big steps and choices that are coming up next for you. You are brave and courageous for even starting this journey, so remember to surround yourself with people who believe in you, stay focused, and trust your instincts. And as your business grows I hope you will reach out to me for any of the bookkeeping and accounting services that you need. It would be my honor to help you grow, contact me today for a free consultation.

 

Persistence is Key to Building a Business

successful business

Entrepreneurship is a tough road, and too often very talented people end up discouraged when failure inevitably knocks at their door. If you’re just now getting started on your path to entrepreneurship, do yourself a favor and come to terms with the idea that things won’t always go perfectly. That’s not to say you should live in fear of the future, but rather with an awareness that it will come. When failure does come your way, there is one thing that will help you to continue moving forward: persistence. Like many other skills, persistence is a muscle that you build over time and with experience, here are some tips that will help.

  1. Question your “no’s”

Whether you’re an entrepreneur or not, getting used to hearing the word no is simply an inevitability in this life. As a kid you hear “no you may not play with that,” which turns into “no you may not go out on a school night” in your teen years, and eventually turns into “no, you can’t have that job” or that house, or take that trip, you can fill in the blanks for yourself. And while there are some unavoidable “no’s,” they’re not all your destiny. An important skill to learn when becoming an entrepreneur is to constantly question your “nos.” Every great invention or advancement in technology was started by someone who once heard “no.” So next time someone tells you that what you want isn’t possible, listen to them with a critical ear. Is this the right moment to exercise persistence?

  1. Surround yourself with positivity

The skill of persistence is developed over time, and like any other skill, the more you do it the easier it is. But getting started is sometimes the hard part. To be honest, I think some people come by it naturally, but that isn’t the case for everyone. One way to boost your persistence quota is to surround yourself with positive people who believe in you and your dreams. We tend to mirror the people we spend a majority of our time with, so if you want to be positive, confident, and motivated you should surround yourself with people who exude those qualities.

  1. Set yourself up for success

The act of persistence takes energy and preparation. Without a plan “B” you’ll fall flat each time something doesn’t workout in your favor. Take care of yourself. Eat foods that nourish your body, stay hydrated, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep. Be prepared and energized to take the next best step when plan “A” falls through. At the end of the day, persistence is worthless if not paired with preparation.

No one wants to think about failure, but it is inevitable when you are building a business. Something, probably many things, will eventually go wrong and require you to push beyond what you thought you could do to ensure your dream moves forward. Persistence is a skill that is built and honed over time, and persistence combined with passion, preparation, and a good idea are the building blocks to a successful business. Do you need support as you build upon your dreams? Give us a call!

Do Something For Someone Else

Helping-HandAre you sad or bored or restless? Do you watch too much TV? Are you isolated? Do you have problems? Well there is a cure for all of that! Do something for someone else!

It takes your focus off of yourself and your own problems and helps you see that there are others who are much worse off. It also helps you make lifelong friends.

We, as humans, are here on this earth together, to help each other. No one should have to manage alone. Yet how many people are alone and forgotten? How many are overwhelmed with their responsibilities?

That was me….a single mother with four small children with no income and very low self-esteem. My own mother and my friends were my saving grace. I can’t even begin to tell you how they brought hope and joy to my life and helped me through that extraordinarily trying time. Each and every person who helped, no matter how seemingly small their contribution, is in part responsible for my incredible success today. They all helped bring me from a place of darkness into the light.

Since I’ve recovered, it has been my turn to pass it on. And each and every person I help in the future or have helped in the past will pass it on to the next person who will pass it on to the next. It’s a beautiful cycle!

Nothing makes you feel better about yourself than to make a difference in the life of another human. Opportunities abound, just look around. Take out the garbage cans for an elderly neighbor. Listen to a friend without interrupting. Volunteer at the soup kitchen, church, food pantry or YMCA. Watch children for a single mom so she can have a momentary break. Step in and give respite care for someone who is overwhelmed with the care of a sick relative. Give encouragement, it’s free and easy. How about a smile to brighten someone’s day?

What goes around comes around so eventually your kindness will come back to you, multiplied many times over. But even if that weren’t true, the joy received from giving with a pure heart is priceless!

Don’t Clean Your Plate

leftovers-on-plateDid your mother ever tell you to clean your plate? Well stop it! There’s an obesity epidemic in America and much of it is caused by well-meaning mothers. No, I’m not throwing stones, except maybe at myself. I’m as guilty as the next mom.

We called it “food wars”. With four children and three adults in the house when they were little, we went through gobs of food. “Waste not, want not” was spoken frequently. “Clean your plate, there are starving children in China” was lobbed at the children and laden with guilt for throwing away food. Fortunately, they came out unscathed and none are obese, but it could have been different.

The best way to stay healthy and happy is to watch your portions. Restaurant portions are way too large! If you eat out, share with a friend or wrap up half of the food for tomorrow’s lunch before you start eating. Or leave half of it on your plate.

Choose healthy alternatives to fried, greasy food laden with chemicals. Believe it or not, healthy food tastes better!

Your diet is what you eat every day, not a sporadic event in your life when you starve yourself to lose weight. That only serves to slow your metabolism so you regain it later when you return to poor eating habits. The best way to maintain a healthy weight is to eat healthy most of the time and move your body. This is not to say don’t enjoy a small piece of cake at a birthday party. Of course you can stray once in a while. Just don’t make it a regular occurrence.

Frequent, small, healthy meals works best. Eat more early in the day and less later in the day. Exercise, even if it’s just walking around the block or taking the stairs at work. Eat slowly. Your brain doesn’t know your stomach is full for 20 minutes. Practice leaving just a bite of food on the plate then graduate to leaving more. And above all, love and forgive yourself!

Unleashing Your Creativity

butterfly_with_handsCreativity is something we perceive ourselves to either have or not. There seems to be no middle ground, we’re either right or left brain dominant. This diagnosis is many times allowed to define our abilities. You’re either a creative type or you aren’t, right? Wrong!

Every one of us has creativity lurking. It just gets covered up. The stifling can be caused by criticism, long to-do lists and just not taking the time to explore it, as well as more sinister culprits like childhood abuse. And when we think we aren’t creative, we don’t even try to nurture this part of ourselves. We push it away in favor of more measureable pursuits.

So, the question becomes “How can I be more creative?” . The answer lies in being quiet. This is one of the most overlooked solutions to a myriad of problems….just be quiet. Relax. The answers lie within you.

Be still and listen to that small voice. Observe the world around you. Keep a journal. Write down the thoughts that come into your head. Maybe make a list of more creative things you always wanted to do but never did, either because you felt embarrassed and that you would be ridiculed or just because you didn’t have the time. Here are some examples:

* Dancing
* Singing
* Writing
* Photography
* Cooking
* Playing an instrument
* Teaching
* Decorating/designing
* Public speaking
* Painting/art
* Acting
* Business

These represent my own list. As an accountant, I always felt uncreative. Only in recent years have I realized that the creativity was there all along.

The first glimpse I got was in the business arena. There are many ways to structure a business deal if you just think outside the box a little. Only I didn’t realize at the time how creative it really was.

Now? Well, it’s a totally different story. Most of my life is lived in the creative arena. Just this week I’ve enjoyed six of the other items on that list.

It’s simple, really. Go unleash your creativity!

One Step at a Time

It occurred to me this afternoon that we tendone-step-at-a-time to be afraid to go for what we want because we can’t see all of the steps it takes to get there.  This confuses our brains so much that in many cases, it renders us helpless.

We become unable to move because without knowledge of what lies ahead, success cannot be guaranteed, so we then do nothing.  Sometimes for years on end we do nothing.  Then we wonder why Joe next door was so lucky to be successful and we aren’t.

Hmmm, is Joe really lucky or did he create his own luck by moving in the direction of his goal? Joe probably wasn’t able to see the path any better than we were.  He was just brave enough to take that first step.

And the only difference between those who get things done and those who don’t can be as small as just having the willingness to take the step.  If the first step goes well, take the second.  If the resources you need for the second are there and it makes sense to take the third, do it.  And so it goes.  We move toward success one step at a time.

There are no guarantees.  There is no instant gratification here, it takes time and focused effort.  It takes being able to listen to that still, small voice inside of you that says this path is good for you or not.  It takes being able to recognize the resources that are put in front of you.  It takes being able to make lemonade out of the lemons that sometimes appear before us.

When difficulties arise, we need to ask the question “What can I do differently to help this work?” In many cases, those “lemons” are really “dollars” or “hours” in disguise.  I’ve actually experienced this on several different occasions.

Something would happen that make it look like I was failing, so it forced me to look for ways to do things more effectively. The new way saved me time and/or money.

So, walk your path, be willing to listen and look for lemons.

Don’t Follow The Crowd

follow-the-crowd

Have you ever wondered why we, as humans, tend to follow the crowd?  My theory is that our education system teaches us to be followers.  It’s not designed to inspire free thinking or looking “outside the box” for solutions.

Generally, at school, there is only one acceptable or “right” answer. This causes us to look for the answer the teacher (or parent, friend, colleague, boss) wants and disregard any other way around the problem.  It teaches us to follow instead of lead, and that’s what most of us end up doing for the rest of our lives.

We finish school and go out to get a “good job”, where our boss is our leader and gives us instructions on company policy for doing every task.

And this follower mentality permeates into every other area of our lives…where we live, what toys we have, what car we drive, what clothes we wear, what TV shows we watch, how we spend our leisure time, etc.

We tend to look at what others are doing and copy them. This, in time, creates a life of quiet desperation instead of empowered achievement.  We’re running to “keep up with the Jones’”, which leaves us in debt to own things we really didn’t want in the first place.

I challenge you to look for areas in your life where you can buck the trend and use your thinking skills, areas where you can sit quietly and determine what you really want, without thought of what someone else would think.

Attachment

letting-go-of-attachment
In our culture, financial success is applauded. People who have more material wealth are recognized and looked up to. Business owners, particularly, are held in high esteem. They are sought out to serve as community leaders, as directors on the boards of nonprofits, as people who get things done. And with good reason…business owners, generally, have accomplished something big. They have achieved the American Dream.

But, being attached to the business can create some big issues. A business can be viewed as a big, sleek, beautiful, luxury yacht, loved by its owner as a testament to their great business acumen and financial wherewithal.

That’s all well and good until the economy turns south and the business starts to falter. Or the need for that product or service produced ceases to exist. What then? The owner typically starts losing their self-esteem.

They try to hold onto the thing that they’ve created and hold dear. But no matter what they do, the yacht is sinking! OMG! Now what? When the owner of the business is emotionally tied to the business (yacht), he/she sinks with it.

I see it all too often. When the business collapses, the owner sinks into a deep depression that is most difficult to recover from.

But there’s a better way. Instead of sinking, what if the owner wasn’t anchored to the boat and could swim to shore or be picked up by a passing freighter? That owner still possesses the skills necessary to rebuild.

He/she is quite capable, through their years of experience in building the first business, of becoming more successful, much faster than before. Not the best case scenario, but certainly better than being dragged down by a sinking ship!

How would you feel if your business collapsed tomorrow? Any amount of bad or sad is too much! It’s wasted energy to commiserate about what could have been or should have been. Let it go and move on.

This applies to anything…a lover, a car, a house, etc. Attachment always causes issues.

Teenage Angst

bound heartDoes parenting a teenager strike fear in your heart?  Do you dread the teenage times that seem to be fraught with danger and turmoil for yourself and your child?  Are you already in that period of rebellion with your child/children?

In our society, we’re taught that teenagers are rebellious, difficult and will surely cause trouble if we don’t keep them under strict control.  I was with you on that.

In fact, I completely and totally screwed up with my oldest son because I harbored that notion. Good thing it was only a temporary set-back.  We both lived through it and have come out on the other end much more enlightened.

What if I told you that you could create a relationship with your teen that included the two of you enjoying time together, the child seeking your advice and doing as you ask with a good attitude?

That you could trust your child to do the right thing whether you were there to watch them or not?  Farfetched?  Well, maybe for some, but I’ve created it with my four teenagers.

In fact, because my brother had a new baby and my mother was called for duty at his house, my 4 teens ended up at home by themselves for three days while I was out of town.  I wasn’t worried and they behaved themselves completely.  So, the question is, how can you create this with your children?  I’ll tell you…..

It all starts with respect.  Not demanding respect as most parents do, but giving it.  My kids so appreciate that I show them the respect they deserve.  I treat them like human beings, not children who need constant guidance.  I treat them like the young adults they are.

Think of how much more today’s teens are exposed to than we were when we were their age.  With the social media and more open dialogue on TV, they are light years ahead of us in terms of what they know about sex and drugs.  We, as parents, should take this into consideration in our interaction with them.

How does that feel?  A little different, maybe?  We’re conditioned in our society to not respect our children, but if you did, what message would that give the child?  That you love them?  That you believe they have the marvelous capability of making a good decision? That you have their best Interests at heart?  Yes!  It most certainly conveys all of those messages.

So, what does that mean?  Well, the teenage years are years when the child is trying to find his or her own way.  To discover who they are and grow into their personalities.  If we show them that we love and respect them, and that it’s our job as their parents to help them grow those wings with which to fly, they will fly and live up to our expectations.

Instead, many parents cut the wings of their teens to keep them grounded and under control.  The only problem is that this will always backfire and cause problems for everyone.

Give your teen some space.  Allow them room in which to fly and fall.  Allow them to make mistakes that don’t have such huge consequences as the mistakes we make as adults do. Be there to catch them when they do fall.

It helps them learn very important lessons and grow into their decision making capabilities.  You’ll be forever grateful you did when your children become self-sufficient adults.

Happy parenting.