Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Growing and expanding your business: A few helpful tips to consider

Sally Field hit the nail on the head: “You like me…you really, really like me”. It’s the reason that she won the award. So how does this apply to your business? I was on a networking call a few days ago (try my best stay on top of what’s happening :-). Anyway, the person was sharing some tips: how to grow and expand your new business: basically how to get people to like (and buy from) you. The main focus was new business owners, particularly those focused on selling themselves. She also touched on re-vamping your business.

Now I admit, there are times when I hang up mid-call, but this one was remarkably helpful. So I thought that I’d share it with you, along with a few extra insights.

Here goes…

1. Work on defining and refining your focus: Who are you talking to? What problem are you solving? How are you doing it differently? Pay attention. Get out there. Try it on to see if it fits. Experience the people and places around you. See what it brings up for you.

2. Develop your own unique message. What mantra is your business built on? What new insights do have to share? For example: My message is all about moving you forward. Using your own creativity and strengths, you have the power to enhance what is possible, even when you feel hope has faded – even when you feel you’re too tired. No matter how many roadblocks you’re facing, there are ways to transform your experience!

3. Focus on creating relationships. See everyone as a connector or possible client. Get them to know…then like…then possibly buy from or partner with you. Get comfortable sharing or talking about your business. Start noticing how people react. Consider how their reaction can help you to grow. Also consider how you can help them. Lift others as you’re climbing your rope.

4. See each encounter as a 2 –sided coin. It’s not about you going out and collecting, but finding ways to create a win-win.

5. Find 10 people who you admire and then reach out to them. Make it a month long project. If they’re local, set up a meeting for lunch (coffee or tea, if you’re on a budget). Find out what made them successful. Share with them the path that you’re on.

6. Keep stretching yourself to build confidence. See your fears as a new chance to grow.

7. Revel in the idea of failure. I know it sounds strange, but it’s the best way to master your craft and uncover your true inner talents.

8. Weave in some time for reflection. Everyone will have some advice. You’ll start drowning in great information. Give yourself time to digest it and fit it in where you think it belongs.

9. Create your own signature system. This is a lot like creating a culture. What will your clients experience? How will they feel while they’re with you? How is that different from what they can get elsewhere?

10. Figure out how you’re going to market. This is all about knowing your strengths and considering the resources you have. This is also a great place to think about help. Consider hiring a Virtual Assistant (they generally cost about 10 bucks an hour). If the overhead seems too steep right now, consider focusing on a particular project.

11. Consider ways you can leverage your time. A big part of business is money and how to make it without losing your mind. Think about creating a product – an extension of your signature service. This is something you create only once but you can duplicate for continuous profit. Also consider bartering (exchanges services) or hiring out - copywriting, your website, etc. As multi-talented as you might be, try not to do it alone.

12. Find someone to hold you accountable. All of these efforts are great, but ideas fade if you stop taking action. As a Transition/Empowerment coach, this is the pearl I provide for my clients. I not only help them to dig deeper but to follow through on the goals that they set. There are also coaches focused on the specific dilemma you’re facing: Building your business model, sales and social media, overall business development. There are dozens of resources to help you and a lot of them offer free products (a blog, newsletter, e-books, etc).

13. Quick caveat. Starting (or expanding) a business is a brand new horizon. Advice is great, but working it in isn’t easy. Even in the business of moving people forward, I constantly need a dose of support – kicks in the butt as I go face my fears – inspiration for the times I get stuck. Having a dream and a plan is exciting, but building a circle to uplift you is priceless!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Creating your new and bold world: A story of full transformation!

To me, she has always been beautiful. Always put together - never with a hair out of place. She’s the kind of woman who is always invited – the one who always seems to light up a room. But recently her story evolved. She decided it was time for some changes. So…she signed up for an exercise class (still embracing her “big girls” are bold women sexy ;). At first she told family and friends. But soon, the patterns had become more apparent: regular postings on Facebook with new habits and outlooks to follow. She started to explore her relationships; she started to create opportunities (the epitome of a strong single mother). As I mentioned, she has always been beautiful, but now she’s becoming a swan. It’s clear that her whole life is shifting. She’s eating differently. She’s found new ways to replenish her spirit. She’s creating a whole new community – a circle who she has inspired and who in turn are inspiring her. Now it’s more than just taking off weight (though she’s lost over 70 pounds :-). It’s more than just exercise classes (now including boot camps and dance and performances :-). She has started a journey of peace. She is feeding and revealing her purpose. When I wake up I look out for her postings – the story of her ups and her downs – the status of her light and her darkness. Every day she creates an adventure. Every day she reveals her new power!

(Inspired by one of my best friends, Ms. Marnell Hughes - Keep it moving, girl! You continue to make us all proud!)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Using your strengths as a springboard

If you’ve ever been in an interview before, you know that the question is coming. You wait for it. You read a few tips and some articles. You know exactly how you’re going to respond. “So what would you say are your strengths?” Of course after smiling you answer. But what does it all really mean? Were you really even telling the truth? Were you connecting with what you were saying or telling them what they wanted to hear?

OK, that’s a lot of questions. So strike all of that. What I’m really asking is do you know what your strengths really are? Forget about the interview for a second. Think about the strengths that you hold in your heart. I’m not just talking about what you do well, because those things may drain you entirely. You can be amazing at something you hate. I’m talking about the things that you do that help feed you. Maybe you’re not even good at it yet, but when you do it your heart starts to open. It’s those moments when you feel most alive. What are those things in your life?

I just finished reading a book, “The Truth About You: Your Secret to Success”. One of the exercises starts with a simple prompt: “I feel strong when …” If you have a chance this week, pull out a note pad and pencil. Carry it around with you. When you do something that makes you feel strong, write it down.

For example: I feel strong when I help people to embrace their true talent…OR I feel strong when I experience something that opens my mind…

As you write, start to notice the pattern. What do you gravitate to? How could these strengths find a place in your life: your work, your personal relationships, the things that you do to wind down? Think about the thematic qualities. Maybe you absolutely love helping people – maybe a specific group or type of people. Maybe you love sharing a particular story or lesson you’ve learned. Maybe you love creating new things – meeting new people. Maybe you love diversity and change in your life. Use what you see as a springboard. What can you do (or where could you go) for these strengths to show up? How could this change how you’re living? Sometimes we feel like we know where we’re going, until we unveil what our strengths really are.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Defusing your stress

As a habit I tend to stress out. I hear it. Feel it. And let the thought of it build up inside me. Most times I eventually catch it, but often I allow it to fester. So why am I sharing this? I guess because it's something that a lot of us do. We either imagine the worst that could happen or shy away to disarm our success. At some point we start to feel trapped. We feel like the walls will start crumbling. No matter how many deep breaths we take, the whole weight of it starts taking over.

So then what? Should we resolve to: oh well this stuff happens? Not sure I have an answer to that, but here’s something that helped me today.

1. Examine your emotional attachment. Think about what it reminds you of. Maybe a time in your past. Maybe something that you’ve always feared happening. Follow your mind for a moment. Where is it taking you? Is it filled with the worst case scenario? Why? Be honest with yourself. What value do you feel being threatened? What is it you’re trying to avoid?

2. Take out the bad for a moment. OK, things could surely go haywire, but then again maybe – just maybe - they won’t. Maybe it’s a new opportunity. Maybe this time something has changed – even if it’s just your perspective. It’s that whole hope for the best expect the worst philosophy. If you balance the good with the possible bad, your mind will embrace opportunities.

3. Address all of your ‘what if’s’ head on. Life isn’t perfect. Things do tend to jump off at times. There’s no need to throw sugar on it. The question is: what might you do? If that happens, how might you react? If the thought is well…angry, pissed off etc. OK. But what if you reacted differently? What if you shielded your button? What if you changed your direction? You project that you will feel one way, but what if you changed your perspective? What if you considered the source? How would that possibly change things?

4. Try breaking it down. If it seems too big then maybe it is. Again be honest with what you are feeling. Maybe you just need to break up the pieces - step by step – one day at a time. Don’t allow all the chaos to flood you!

5. Listen to yourself. Discomfort is there for a reason. It comes with its own unique message. The key is getting to know who you are and why you react how you do. What about this makes you anxious? What about it is making you stressed? Again, think about your values: peace, family, self-perception…There’s often something that you fear you’ll be losing? Your sanity? The joy you’ve been wanting for others? Breaking a vow that you’ve made to yourself? Find out what it is, and then find a way to express yourself honestly – even if it starts with your mirror.

It's all about taking first steps ;o)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Have you taken a second today?

So today I woke up well intentioned. I have this to get done. I have that thing to do. But right now I just want to relax. I want to sit back and let it all go. Ever felt that way? Outside the whole world’s rushing forward but you need to sit back and just pause. Despite the urge that you have to keep going your mind and your body collapse. Your heart and your soul start to open. Then all of the chatter is gone. All of the judgment has faded. It’s just you and your own self-reflection – erasing the noise in your head. Sometimes we just need to take it: a moment to relax and reflect. The work will be eagarly waiting - right now is your chance to just be!

Learning to celebrate you

I’m sure we’ve all been there. You clean up the house. You wash all the dishes. You pick up some clothes from the floor … And then you catch a glimpse of yourself. Your hair is all out of place. Your eyes are only half open, but still you have errands to run. For a second you stop and you sigh, wondering how all of this happened. You flash back to when things were different – when you used to take care of yourself - when your appearance was still “put together”.

This happens to us all the time. There’s so much you‘re doing for others, that you forget to do something for you. So the question is: how can you change that? What’s one thing that you could start doing? Painting your nails late on Friday? Buying a new scented lotion? What little ways can you celebrate you? Next time you see a window filled with flowers, what’s stopping you from going inside? Next time you stop to get groceries, what’s keeping you from that bar of dark chocolate? You’re beautiful. You’re amazing. You deserve it. Now go out there and celebrate you!

Taking a moment to listen

Whenever you’re going through something, that’s when people come with the knowledge. You need to do this. You shouldn’t do that. We’re saying this because we all love you. Fun isn’t it? You wish it was happening now. OK maybe not. Maybe it’s annoying as hell. You could use a little less of their love. But it’s not easy is it? You love them. You know they’re seeing something. But you’re wondering how you really feel. How do you want to move forward? Maybe you have some idea, but somehow their voices get louder and sometimes you start to act out. You refuse to do what they tell you. You refuse to let them all win. But take a step back for a minute. If everyone’s saying it, then what do they see? What do you see that is different? In the end it will be your decision, but what perspective are they coming from? Sit with it for a second. Listen to what they are saying - then see how it feels for yourself? How does it match up with your values? How could it be of benefit to you? Maybe it’s just their opinion but maybe it’s a reflection of you.

Who are you being right now?

If you’re like me you have a few personalities. On Monday you’re the nice quiet type. On Tuesday you’re a pit bull in heels. No matter how much you try to predict it, there’s no telling who’s going to show up. The question is: who are you being right now? Do you see life as a lesson you’re learning or a conspiracy to keep you pissed off? Have you decided to let fear make you over or are you ready to get out there and try?

So often we declare what we want but ignore who we need to become. Maybe you want to be healthy. Maybe you want to find love. But who are you being to get there? In what ways can you change your perspective? I thought about this a lot when I was in and out of the hospital. I thought about the words I was using. I could have chosen to say I was helpless – that my soul and my body were weak. To be honest, I did have those moments. But that’s why I felt how I felt. On the days when I said I was sick, that’s exactly how my body reacted. On the days that I said I felt joy, a new strength would build up deep inside me. It’s funny how all of that happens – how we feel based on who we are being.

Think about it. Think about who you’re being right now. Are you angry? Are you happy? Are you hopeful and filled with new promise? How does that affect how you’re feeling? How can who you're being turn your darkness to light?