All Posts by Winnie Anderson

Making the Jump from Employee to Entrepreneur

Millions of people dream of ditching their corporate or organizational job to start their own business. Hundreds of thousands of people do it each year, few of them are successful.

Watch and listen in as M. Shannon Hernandez shares…

  • what led her to give up a 15 year career as a teacher (with great benefits and a pension) for the uncertainty of being an entrepreneur
  • the 4 people she hired right away — even though she had no clients!
  • the pricing strategy she followed even though she had no experience in her new profession
  • how she managed to quickly turn her business into a profitable, global brand

Pick up a copy of Shannon’s book

Visit her website to learn more about the Content Personality(TM) quiz and Shannon’s offerings including her international retreats.

Join the Content Strategy Lab on Facebook

 

Managing a Growing Business and a Growing Family While Dealing with Depression

To listen to this episode, click the play button on the left. You can download this episode by clicking this link and then click the download arrow on the far right.

 

Welcome to the Courageous Entrepreneur Show. This is the show that shares information and inspiration to help you break free from self-doubt, limiting beliefs, and disempowering patterns and break through to create the thriving, successful business you dream of and deserve.

The show features interviews with entrepreneurs who’ve overcome amazing challenges to create success on their terms and experts who share insight and practical information to help you get past your blocks and move forward with courage, confidence, and clarity.

The show is available in both video and audio format on a variety of platforms including iTunes, You Tube, and on my website.

This episode along with the links and resources we mention can be found at Winnie Anderson dot com slash depression

You know, we have no problem talking about physical health issues. Someone asks how you’re doing and you say OK except my back is hurting today or I’m getting my knee replaced next week.

But when we have an emotional or mental health issue it’s difficult to admit and that can make it difficult to get help for.

Especially when you’re an entrepreneur.

It’s no secret that depression can be a problem for entrepreneurs and publications including the Guardian, Forbes, Inc, entrepreneur, fortune, and business insider have written about it. I’ll include links in the show notes to some of those articles.

So when I saw my friend and colleague Shanna Landoldt come clean about dealing with depression on FB I was floored.

I was impressed by her courage but also blown away because I never suspected she wrestled with the same issue I’ve wrestled with my entire life.

Shanna is a top recruiter and highly sought after media authority as a Career and LinkedIn Expert. She has been featured all across North America on NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, CityTV & CTV.

She has authored 6 books and is a 4x #1 International Best Selling Author. She works with authors to launch their books as #1 Best Sellers on Amazon.

Entrepreneurs, organizations and people interested in Career Advancement hire Shanna to create compelling LinkedIn Profiles that get them found for their expertise.

Organizations hire Shanna as a Keynote Speaker at Industry Events to share how to create a personal brand in your business using Social Media & LinkedIn.

manages depression.

So listen in as Shanna shares…

  • What made her admit she has depression and the aftermath of that admission
  • How long she’s been dealing with this and how it first manifested
  • The shocking incident that made her realize she really had a problem and needed help
  • How depression has impacted her professionally and how she manages it
  • Her tips for other entrepreneurs who deal with depression and who want to be successful inspite of it.

Some Additional Resources for You

Shanna on Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter

Her main website

Shanna’s book, Secrets From a Headhunter

Official definition of Depression at the American Psychological Association’s website

10 Signs It’s Time to Get Help for Depression

A Special Offer From Shanna

Shanna is an expert at creating LinkedIn profiles that get people found. If you want to learn more visit this link and check out her LinkedIn Profile Writing Service. When you talk to her be sure to tell you that you watched / heard her interview with me on The Courageous Entrepreneur Show! You’ll save $100.

Related Resources:

Mike Michalowicz – Business Growth Tips for Solo Professionals and Micro Firm Owners

The Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship

Depression Among Entrepreneurs is an Epidemic Nobody is Talking About 

Slowly But Surely, More Entrepreneurs are Coming Out About Depression, Seeking Support Online 

 

This Episode is Sponsored By…

The book, Brand Power Builder and its author, Duncan Moss of Moss Media Solutions.

This book is a field guide for serious entrepreneurs and business owners who understand the importance of owning and growing a strong Internet presence. You’ll discover the 9 powerful steps to:

  • Get control of your brand online
  • Defeat website hijackers
  • Rescue your orphaned website

You can get the Kindle version of the book on Amazon.

 

10 Tips to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

This  an edited episode of my livestream show, The Courageous Entrepreneur. It airs Monday through Friday at 11:30am ET on Facebook.  You can visit my business page to watch all of the unedited videos and Like the page to get notified when I go live.

 

Once we make the decision to go out on our own, it’s inevitable that we’ll start comparing ourselves to others who are also self-employed.

This type of behavior is deeply ingrained in us and can be seen in toddlers who recognize that another child has something they don’t and then baby B tries to take that thing away from baby A.

Growing up we’re compared to siblings, classmates, and neighbors in addition to seeing mass media and comparing ourselves to the rail thin models, journalists, and actors.

There’s healthy comparison which can work to empower us and then there’s unhealthy comparison which works to disempower and demoralize us.

Let’s look at the two of them.

Healthy comparison happens when you’re doing research and you look at the leaders in your profession or industry and you search for best practices and what works with the focus on reducing your learning curve or your path on the way to a specific outcome.

You look at websites for what’s working in terms of layout and content. You study offerings to see how things are packaged.

Then you think about what you’ve found and borrow what you like that works and modify it to fit yourself and your background.

During healthy comparison you don’t judge yourself as lacking or the other person as better than you. They’re where they are on their path and you’re where you are on yours.

Unhealthy comparison is when you look at what others do and focus on your inadequacy.

They’ve got a better website. They’re more successful. They’re more attractive. They speak better. Their message is more powerful.

Here the focus is not on what you can learn from them but on how lacking you are.

For an entrepreneur this is the path to depression, frustration, and misery.

This sort of comparison can happen even in supposedly supportive groups like a mastermind, accountability, or course group and that can lead to competition within the group.

But that’s not exactly negative.

The difference between healthy competition and unhealthy competition is the focus and interpretation of things.

Healthy competition is when the success of one person doesn’t mean failure for another. Where each member of the group is truly happy for the other and uses their colleague’s success as inspiration. Another’s success can be motivating. This happened with me when I met my friend John Cote, the host of the podcast Healthcare Elsewhere.

I met John not long after he launched the show and found his story so inspiring that I decided to launch my own show.

John’s attitude was “if I can do it anyone can” and I believed that too.

But still I don’t compare my show Let’s Talk Tech to his show Healthcare Elsewhere.

They’re different and we’re different.

But I think we all know the pain of comparing ourselves – especially in business – and finding ourselves lacking. Like I said, it can lead to depression and demotivation.

So how do you stop comparing yourself in a negative way?

Here are 7 things you can do.

  1. Be Grateful. This is a critical part of a successful attitude and triggers you energetically to become more attractive in every way. Think about it. Have you ever worked with ungrateful people? They never said thank you for help they got. They had this sense of entitlement every time the company or anyone else gave them something. They complain a lot because things aren’t good enough. Be grateful in all things for what you have. When you focus on the positive you attract people and opportunities.
  1. Be Happy for Others. I had to face the fact that at one point I was a very unhappy person. And I was jealous about the opportunities and successes that others got. Why didn’t good things happen to me? When I realized what I was thinking and how out of alignment those thoughts were with what I said I believed in my heart, I worked to become truly happy for others. I not only would tell them congratulations but I started sending notes and cards. I’d leave post-it notes for co-workers celebrating the smallest thing they did. I bought silly gifts for friends who got promotions. And I focused on becoming the best at what I did by building on my strengths and not focusing as much on my non-strengths.
  1. Examine your commitment. Sometimes we’ve been seduced into believing there’s a short cut to our goal. You might be able to avoid mistakes by following someone else’s path but you still have to make your own. So If you see someone making strides that you’re not, study what they’re doing. Would you be willing to make the sacrifices they made to get where they are? There’s an old saying that “everyone wants to be an author but no one wants to write the book.” Meaning that we might want the outcome but may not want to do the work to get it. How badly do you want to achieve something and why. Connecting to your core motivation can help you strengthen your commitment. But focus on what your achievement will do for others because the core mission we all share is to be in service to others.
  1. Be crystal clear on your goals.  “More money”…”more clients”….wanting to “serve more people” isn’t clarity. A penny is more money and I know I want more than that. Write your goals down (by hand if at all possible) and let them rest for a few days. If you read them and can ask questions about them then they’re not clear. The more clear you become the easier it is for your brain to focus on the outcome and support you to make it happen. And of course focus on what you DO want, not what you don’t.
  1. Focus on your own mission. Each of us has our own path to walk. Embrace your own mission of service and focus on that “inch wide and a mile deep” segment of the population you most want to serve. And truly see your work as a mission. When you do and you communicate what that is then those who are inspired by it while get behind you. You become easier to refer and easier to identify as an expert.
  1. Track your results. As legendary management guru Peter Drucker said, “What gets measured gets improved.”From monitoring our diets by writing down what we eat, to improving our fitness by tracking our steps, humans are motivated by tracking results. This is the only way you can really treat your business like a business. And it can inspire incremental improvements over your own (or your team’s) past performance. When I work with clients, this is an important part of supporting them with their goal attainment. It’s often the micro movements — toward a clear goal — that deliver the results we want.
  1. Practice good self care. Being self-employed is exciting and depressing all at the same time. It’s frustrating and liberating. It’s full of dichotomies and trade-offs. And while every entrepreneur works long hours building their business, we can’t afford not to take good care of ourselves. Sleeping well, working out, eating healthy food are all important in helping us manage our emotional state. Work too many 20 hour days and you’ll become cranky and miserable. It’s hard not to compare yourself to someone wildly successful who looks like they’ve got this great life with plenty of time off. But don’t do it. Remember, you’re seeing the outside that they likely work hard to control. Who knows what they wrestle with to make their life look so good.
  1. Change your inner monologue. Each of us has this constant chatter that runs through our heads nearly all day long. We figure out problems….we comment on the news….all inside our heads. Well that inner monologue can descend into a raging inner critic that can leave you comparing yourself to everyone from that skinny neighbor who runs past your office window every day to the Facebook friend who continuously posts these “Love my life!” posts.  While that might sound like you (’cause after all it IS your voice), it’s not you. It’s the voice of your worst critic from your past. Or it’s the voice of a situational critic — also from your past. Tell them to shut up. Start tuning in to what you’re saying to yourself, and change the script. Throw out the old tapes. They’re not serving you anyway. Be kind. Especially to yourself.
  1. Build relationships that support you. This is critical. Even if you’re an introvert like me, the chances are good you reach a point where you need to talk to actual adult humans. Cats are nice but not the same. There’s a reason prisons use solitary confinement as a punishment. So join productive and emotionally supportive groups online as well as in person and cultivate relationships with others who are similar to you. One of the great bonuses of taking courses or attending events is they often have a Facebook group. I’ve made some wonderful friendships with people all over the world as a result of online groups.
  1.  Celebrate. This is an important part of the whole business building, Law of Attraction stuff. I am working to improve on this. Too often we go from task to task, client to client, project to project without taking time to truly reward ourselves for our achievements. And if you’re like me — an adult survivor of child abuse — this may truly be a struggle. Those old tapes I mentioned in number 8 will replay and tell you that you don’t deserve to treat yourself. But oh yes you do. It’s demoralizing to continue to work without being rewarded. And you really do deserve to celebrate. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. I treat myself to lunch on the sofa with one of my three cats and a magazine. Sometimes I’ll go for a walk down to the river a few blocks away and just savor the quiet. Do something for yourself that feels like an indulgence. We know that gratitude is an important part of telling the Universe you’re ready for more. I think it’s also an important part of telling God thank you for the blessings you have.

Focusing on your own issues…taking care of yourself…being grateful for everything in your life…all of that is important for you to manage your stress, stay motivated, and to continue growing in a healthy way.

3 Components of Authenticity

This video is an edited recording of my live show. Below is a post based on this video. The Courageous Entrepreneur airs live on Facebook Mondays through Fridays at 11:30am ET. If you’re on Facebook, Like my business page to get notified of when I’m going live. I also share tips and strategies to break free from the chains of disempowering patterns, limiting beliefs, and self-sabotage. You can also send me a Friend request on my personal page. 

I had 2 people in the last 4 weeks refer to me as “authentic.”

Merriam-webster.com  has several definitions for Authentic including “worthy of acceptance or belief”; “not false or imitation”; and “true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character”.

I’ve always thought of that term — “authentic” — as referring to people are are transparent…they don’t hide things.

I asked a Facebook group for what they’re trying to communicate about a person when they refer to them as “authentic” and this is what a couple of them said…

“They are ‘real’, they show who they are without apology, what you see is what you get, warts and all.” – Alan Cohen

“That their actions, behaviors, and words. How they treat others and how they show up when they think it doesn’t matter lines up with what they espouse.” – Meshell R. Baker

So calling someone authentic is high praise.

But being authentic is scary. Especially for someone like me who’s an introvert.

I do videos because I don’t want really want to leave my house.

Authenticity is scary because we risk being judged and we risk rejection.

Is there a limit to being authentic? If you decide to embrace authenticity, does that mean you’ve got to share every detail of your life and risk becoming one of the Kardashians?

I don’t think so.

But the benefits of being more of the real you and letting others see that are that it increases your Know-Like-Trust Quotient or your KLT-Q.

Studies have proven that decisions are made based on emotions and then rationalized through our intellect.

And we know that we all want to work with experts but we want to know, like, and trust those people.

We want to know the expert or authority “gets” us. Often that comes from learning about their backstory or their “origin” story.

So being fully you is an important part of positioning and pre-selling your services to attract great clients.

How do you become more authentic?

You apply these 3 components…

Be true to yourself. This can be hard because after being employees for so long it’s difficult to know what our own beliefs and values are. I think this requires a lot of  introspection in order to uncover your values but it also requires a lot of courage to live and act in a way that’s consistent with them because of that fear of rejection.

Here’s a great list of values that can help you identify what’s really important to you.

There’s a level of transparency that’s required for someone to be called “authentic”. You convey your personality in many ways….in your visual branding, your verbal branding, and in the amount of information and back story you share.

This is another reason why I forced myself to embrace video. It allows you to see and hear me and get a feel for my personality and beliefs. It can be hard to communicate that in writing.

Make values-based choices. We often project emotions, values, and beliefs on to other people when we hear what they say and watch what they do. We’re always on the alert for any inconsistency. For others to believe you’re making values-based choices your values need to be visible and audible to others. This again is why I love livestreaming and podcasting. Whether you’re a guest on someone else’s show or you decide to step out and host one yourself your voice and expressions are powerful communicators.  To be seen as making values-based choices you need to be comfortable sharing your values.

That can be very difficult for some of us.

So how do you be true to yourself, be transparent, and communicate that you make values-based choices?

Here are 5 tactics.

Create a manifesto or a credo. That’s a statement of beliefs. It can be in narrative form a la Jerry Maguire or it can be a list of beliefs. Either way it shows people what you stand for . You can decide to post it where people can easily see it — like on your About page or somewhere else — or you can keep it for yourself and your team. It can act as a reminder of what you stand for.

Let people in. This is particularly important when you run a small business, especially when you’re the brand of the business. I’m pretty reserved on social media – I typically don’t talk politics. I don’t talk very much about family. But every now and then I talk about my cats and show pictures of them. I sometimes ask for prayers for people who are sick. I share animal videos, especially if they’re really cute or really silly. I think of Facebook as where I work and I share the same sort of things with my virtual office mates as I would with live ones.

Don’t use the fact that you’re an introvert as an excuse to stay hidden and to not join the conversation. People truly want to know more about you, about why you started your business, and about who you are. Remember, we make decisions based on emotions and we work with people we know, like, and trust. If you don’t let people in then they aren’t going to have much to base their decisions on.

Use real pictures. People want to see you. They want a peak inside your life and work. So minimize the use of stock photography on your website. Showing real pictures of you, your team, your office and other real objects can help others create a connection with you.

Take a stand . The problem with trying to please everyone is you really please very few people if any. If you truly want to attract clients rather than chase after them, you’ve got to make it clear what you stand for. Clearly communicate your point of view (POV). Be clear on the problem you solve, the solution you offer, and the outcome or transformation you provide. The more people understand what you’re for the more they can feel a connection and see themselves working with you.

Don’t try to be perfect. It’s easy to be afraid to make mistakes. After all, we spent decades in corporate life watching others be punished for their mistakes. We also lived with the fear of being seen as week or not good enough. And if you have a natural tendency towards perfectionism corporate life only encouraged that. And out on your own it can be easy to carry those beliefs with you. Do your best. Manage client expectations. Be honest about what you can and can’t do and don’t exaggerate or lie. It’s ok to admit your mistakes. And it’s ok to share negatives from your past. Especially if it shows you as human and helps your audience relate to you.

Being authentic doesn’t mean that you over-share and provide a nonstop stream of social media posts about every aspect of your life.

But it does mean finding a way to come out of your shell and create more of connection with your audience by sharing more of yourself.

More of your true self.

You maybe be pleasantly surprised to find it’s easier to create what you always wanted – a large, passionate following that sees you as you really are and values you because of it.

5 Critical Actions That Will Help You Attract Clients and Opportunities

Building a consulting, coaching, or other business as an expert problem solver can be
isolating, frustrating, and depressing.

It feels like a never-ending process of trying to get noticed, inspire those who notice you to learn more, and then invite them to take the next step to work with you.

All of those things are very challenging for 4 big reasons.

  1. Getting attention is a challenge because there are so many distractions
  2. You have to figure out where those you want to reach are and where they’re most open to your message
  3. While you’re trying to educate and inspire them they’re also dealing with a lot of other issues that may or may not be more important than the problem you solve.
  4. People will choose to work with people who they believe are experts. One of the things that impacts our perception of someone else as an expert is we see them more and hear more about them then we do others. This is part of building a brand for yourself and your business.

You can’t change that.

But what you can do is embrace 5 actions that will have a  big impact on growing your business and attracting more potential clients and opportunities…

  1. Get crystal clear on your message including the problem you solve, the impact of that problem, and the outcome you deliver. Best selling author Mike Michalowicz who wrote Toiletpaper Entrepreneur, the Pumpkin Plan, Profit First, and Surge does this in the form of what he calls a Rally Cry. (Yes, I know that’s grammatically incorrect but it’s what HE calls it.) This is like a cross between a mission and a tagline. His cry is to eradicate entrepreneurial poverty. When you see your work as the mission it really is it can help you stay focused and inspired.
  2. Narrow your focus. As counter-intuitive as it is, narrowing your focus is a great way to make it easier to get noticed because it’s like you gave yourself permission to be the expert. It’s easier to  can be seen as the go-to person to the specific audience that has that specific problem. It gives you permission to ignore things that aren’t in that focus. I call this “a slice of a slice”. The more crowded the market the more you have to specialize. There’s one specific audience you want to talk to. They’re the ones who will recognize you as the expert you are because they relate to your background and achievements. They recognize and value your knowledege, skills, abilities, and experience.
  3. Put yourself out there in a big way and do it consistently. This is where the conflict between our needs and wants comes in. There’s a saying that you’ve got to fail forward fast. Those of us who are corporate escapees can have a real block around this and for those of us who are recovering perfectionists it’s even worse. In corporate life I’ll bet you saw people who made mistakes and got punished for them. They got chewed out. Their reputation was damaged. They may have gotten demoted. Some got fired. So it can be terrifying to put yourself out there in a big way because you’re emotionally scarred after seeing or experiencing that. Corporate life didn’t really set us up for success as independent professionals and entrepreneurs. So you’ve got to reconcile these emotions and it requires detaching from the outcome. It also requires developing the self-love and faith in yourself so your self-esteem isn’t at risk when you make an offer that no one takes you up on or you present a proposal and get told no.There’s any number of strategies you can apply and tactics you can accomplish to put yourself out there and attract clients. But they have to be done in a consistent manner. The fact that you put up a blog post and it didn’t get any traffic or that you put up a video and no one came to see it live doesn’t mean it’s not working. We cognitively know it will take more effort than that but we’re still disappointed when it doesn’t work. We want to be that overnight success that others seem to be. But in reality it takes effort. And it takes changing the effort you’re expending. You don’t need to take huge action but instead take small actions, moving forward, and you’ll make that next big leap.
  4. Find a supportive community and participate in it. Going out on your own is a courageous move. But at the same time it’s incredibly isolating since most of the people you know probably can’t relate to you now. But as a social animal, you do need to find supportive peers who can encourage you, cheer you, and gently push you while sharing their knowledge and feedback with you.
  5. Take action. There’s a great image I saw on Facebook designed by Sylvia Duckworth. It’s called the Iceberg Illusion. It shows the tip of the iceberg that’s above the water and that’s labeled “success” Then it shows the giant piece of the iceberg and all of the effort that’s going on below the surface that people don’t see.  Do something. Everyday do small actions that move your toward your ultimate goal. And never give up.

So your reflection exercise for today is to think about what you’re doing to get known and be seen along with the emotions that’s bringing up and how you’re managing them.

And your action step is to make a list of all of the potential actions you could take to attract potential clients. Then identify what you’re not willing to do and what you are willing to do.  Once you’ve got a handle on what you’re not willing to do you’ve got to ask yourself if you’re willing to accept that your movement may take more time than you want it to.

Look at your calendar and plan to do at least one thing to attract potential clients every day. You want to eventually aim for doing at least 5 things every day that will make you more visible and raise your Know-Like-Trust Quotient with those you’d like to connect with — whether they’re potential clients, potential referral partners, or potential collaboration partners.

 

 

Sylvia LaFair Discusses the Patterns That Hold Us Back From Success

Welcome to the Courageous Entrepreneur Show. This is the show that shares information and inspiration to help you break free from self-doubt, limiting beliefs, and disempowering patterns and break through to create the thriving, successful business you dream of and deserve.

The show includes interviews with entrepreneurs who’ve overcome amazing challenges to create success on their terms and experts who share insight and practical information to help you get past your blocks and move forward with courage, confidence, and clarity.

If you like what you hear I hope you’ll share the show with your contacts including clients and colleagues.

To listen to the episode, just press the forward arrow in the far left under the image. To download the episode to your device of choice, you can right click this link, then choose Save As, and save the recording to your preferred destination. 

 

In today’s episode, leadership expert Dr. Sylvia LaFair discusses how behavior patterns that kept us safe as children actively hold us back from achieving the success we want.

Get Sylvia’s award-winning books:

Don’t Bring It to Work: Breaking the Family Patterns That Limit Success

Gutsy: How Women Leaders Make Change (Sylvia recommends that women start with this one)

 

Guest Contact Information and Special Offers

Take the Pattern Aware Quiz (TM)

Sylvia’s articles on Inc.com

A special offer for the first 10 viewers! Contact Sylvia and let her know you heard / saw her on The Courageous Entrepreneur Show and get a free 20 minute consultation directly with her!

Call her at: 570-630-3858

Contact Sylvia via email at sylvia (at) CEOptions (dot) com (type that as you would a normal email address)

Sylvia on LinkedIn

Sylvia on Twitter

Sylvia on You Tube

 

 

 

6 Steps to Finish the Year Strong and Build Momentum for the New Year

runner-woman-finishlineJust under a year ago you had high hopes that this year would be full of amazing things and this would be YOUR year.

Sure you got some things done; did some good work; but are you sure you’re going to end things on a high note or will it be something off-key?

It’s easy to allow ourselves to get distracted by the holiday season ahead and use the excuse that “nothing much gets done at this time of year” to just limp to the finish line.

You might have used a variation of that excuse at different times of the year…spring…summer….the World Series….football…this list is really endless when it comes to excuse-making opportunities.

Whether your business is off-track or you’ve had a successful year, my guess is there’s still something that needs to be done that would wrap this year up powerfully and set you up for a great start to the new one just ahead.

Here are 6 steps you can take to move forward now to finish the year on a high note and to set you up for more success in the coming year.

  1. Identify the most important actions you could take in your business that would help you make it to the next level, get you important results, or set you up for a successful start to the year.

Set a timer for 3 minutes and then write or type everything you can think of. Don’t judge. Don’t edit. Don’t even correct your spelling. Just do a massive brain dump.

  1. Whittle the list down to 5 things that would make the biggest impact. Don’t get rid of the other stuff because you identified it for a reason. Save that somewhere else and reflect on it later.

Make sure you don’t wuss out and pick things that just keep you feeling busy but really wouldn’t make much of an impact. For example, “Learning how to use Twitter” is not going to help you and your business make a big leap unless you’re a giant retailer with a big list and you haven’t started using Twitter yet.

3. Cut down to the single most important thing – it’s likely the thing you’ve been procrastinating about most – and it should be something that only you can do. And yes, I realize this is when you start getting nervous and looking for reasons to not take action. You’ll tell yourself, “I have to…” or “I don’t know how to…”and think up something that will distract you from the big thing.

This is the voice of the gremlin I call “Mini-Me”.

This little creature believes that making progress is scary and wants to keep you right where you are.

Your objective at this point is to recognize Mini-Me’s antics and then start making small movements forward. This will help her / him realize you’re in control and are going to be ok.

Funny how resistance rears its head as you start making more and more progress.

  1. Think about what would define success in that project or task by the end of the year. What would you need to do that would help you either finish this year strong and feel good about it or set you up to start the new year off successfully? Capture this somewhere – a journal, Evernote, One Note….

One of the biggest reasons we struggle to achieve our goals is that we don’t have a crystal clear picture of exactly what we want.

“More” isn’t crystal clear. A penny is more. A sucky client is more.

If it’s easier to think about what you don’t want then focus on that first. The point is that you should be able to give such a clear description of what you want that an artist could draw a picture of it.

Your brain needs to know what it’s working towards and what it’s supposed to focus on.

Without that sort of clarity it’s left jumping from idea to idea because it’s wondering “Is this it?!”, “Is this it?”

Help your brain focus by giving it extremely clear direction.

  1. Get going! The hardest step is to actually take action. Some people can take a big leap and some things are easier to make a big leap with. Most of us – for most things that would really move us forward – find it hard to take even the smallest step. Tony Robbins talks about how humans typically move to escape pain. So somehow you’ve got to recognize that the discomfort of change is worth it because staying where you are is just too painful.
  1. Keep moving! Ever wonder why you can get started on a new habit and then suddenly revert back to your old behavior (which might be just doing nothing?) The answer is in resistance.

Remember Mini-Me? Well as we begin to move closer to our goal Mini-Me suddenly starts realizing what’s going on and s/he’ll raise a big stink. It’s easy to revert back to your old behavior of getting distracted, creating drama, over-scheduling yourself, or whatever other unhelpful behaviors you normally start embracing.

The key to making lasting change and to really achieving your goals is to keep moving.

Whether you call it persistence, stick-to-it-iveness, determination, or something else, the critical element of achievement is in maintaining momentum, recognizing resistance, and remaining aware so you can course correct to get refocused on the goal.

By doing those things, you continue to take action and ultimately achieve your goal.

So stop reading this and get going.

Remember, it takes clarity and consistent action to achieve your goals, finish the year strong, and set yourself up for success; so start with being as clear as possible.

The “Where to Start” Advice Every Guru Gives That’s Dead Wrong (and what to do instead)

red_tulips_white_tulipEvery guru says to start at the same point – identify your Ideal Client. They tell you that’s the most important thing and that without clarity on that you’ll struggle.

I think they’re dead wrong when they’re talking to service professionals – coaches, consultants, healers, and licensed professionals – like us.

You started your practice because you…

  • Have skills you love to use and want to spend all your time using them
  • Have a passion for the work you do, for the outcome you deliver – whether it’s for helping others manage stress, grow their business, write better books, or something else. You want to help others do, be, and have more than they have now.
  • Feel called to a mission. I’ve asked service providers why they do what they do and many feel drawn to solve a problem or make an impact in some way. They almost can’t explain why they do it; they just know they have to.

There’s some internal knowing that this is the work you were meant to do. Service professionals are led by the service they want to deliver.

That’s what drives you — making a difference…serving others…through the skills you have.

So when the gurus start preaching that your first step is to focus on an Ideal Client or target market you struggle to figure out who that is or should be for you.

This can leave you feeling like you’re stupid because you can’t figure out something that they say is basic.

But they’ve got it backwards. At least when it comes to service professionals like coaches, consultants, or healers.

What You Need to Do Before Worrying About Who Your Ideal Client Is

Before we can possibly know our Ideal Client, we need to be clear on our Big Idea.

Legendary advertising executive David Ogilvy is credited with coining the phrase, “Big Idea”. And his effectiveness with using it was a good part of what made him legendary.

Having a Big Idea means you’ve got a unique approach to a problem. It’s your unique solution built on your unique slant on a specific problem.

So expressing a Big Idea means communicating…

  • The problem you solve
  • Your Point of View about the problem you solve
  • The outcome or transformation you provide

When you’re trying to grow a business, have bills to pay, and empty cupboards to fill it can make you feel a bit panicky to  focus on what you think of as a small segment of  the population.

You’re likely nervous about turning people down or saying you only with a specific type of person or that you only solve a specific type of problem.

You can also feel really uncomfortable (to put it mildly) about putting yourself out there.

Benefits of Getting Clear About Your Big Idea

But talking about your Big Idea…talking about the problem that needs to be solved and why people struggle to solve it…is a lot easier. It put’s the attention on the problem, not on you.

And when you deeply understand the problem you solve and the outcome you provide, better than anyone else, then you can start to see who has that problem and who wants the outcome you offer.

When you’re clear about your Big Idea and stay on message talking about issues that relate to  it then you’re going to attract people who have that problem you solve and who want the solution you provide in the way you provide it.

You become the go-to person for your particular audience.

The Foundation of Your Big Idea

The most important element that forms the foundation of your Big Idea is your Point of View (POV).

Your POV is the set of beliefs you have about the work you do and the problem you solve. It’s your approach and philosophy about solving the problem.

It informs everything you do and guides the way you do it.

Here’s a quick example.

On a video call, my friends who are livestreaming experts they told me I needed to check out a new livestream service that’s all the rage.

But a friend of mine in an English speaking country outside of the US posted on Facebook a negative experience he had with this company.

My friend’s assessment was the livestreaming company’s rep had no idea how to talk to a professional and acted like a child.

What my friend described certainly sounded like very poor service. Since he was dealing with a manager of this new company, it sounds like they either don’t know how to hire good people or they’re developing a culture with a chip on its shoulder — one that doesn’t value clients.

So my reaction when my friends suggested I have this company on the show was very strong.

No.

I don’t want to help bad companies get attention and attract business when they obviously don’t put the effort into hiring and / or training top notch people. Or they care so little about their staff that they create an environment that causes these people to then act out.

Can you hear my values in there? The importance I place on staffing, training, and organizational development?

That forms the foundation of my POV about service, culture, and staffing.

Your beliefs, values, and philosophy become very obvious when something tests them.

So when you hear some guru go on about how the first thing you need to do is identify a target market… and you struggle to identify one…it’s easy to feel like you’re stupid. But you’re not.

They just assume you’re clear on your Big Idea. That you’re clear on your core message, the problem you solve, and the outcome you deliver.

But it’s very likely that you’re not.

That’s not because you’re stupid. It’s because you’ve been focusing too hard on getting clients.

But you can’t get as many clients — or Ideal Clients — until you’re clear on your core message.

You do need a clear audience to communicate with, and the more you know about them the easier it is to attract them.

But you can’t attract them if you don’t understand their problem and your solution and why your solution is right for them.

You’ll struggle to attract them if you don’t have a Big Idea and if you don’t have a clear message delivered consistently across different platforms.

So if you’ve been sweating to figure out an ideal client, or avatar, or brand persona, or whatever is the buzz phrase of the moment, I’m giving you permission to stop worrying about that right now.

Instead, focus on gaining crystal clarity on your Big Idea.

Focus on being clear about the problem you solve, the solution you provide, the POV you have, and packaging all that into your Big Idea so people understand you and what you’re all about.

Then get your message out powerfully — in a way that reaches and resonates with your ideal client so she takes the next step to learn more about you and the solution you provide.

Then as you see who is naturally attracted to you, you can decide how to adjust your message in order to attract more of those people who you truly want to work with and less of those who aren’t a perfect fit.

Your Ideal Client or Avatar will make itself known to you because that’s who resonates with your message.

10 Steps to a Courageous Business Life, part 2

lion-maleThat famous philosopher Anonymous said, “Being self-employed is the toughest self-development program you’ll ever go through.”

She was right.

You really come face-to-face with your own crap.

It’s time to tune into how we get in our own way and limit our own success.

In last week’s article I shared the first 5 steps to creating and leading a courageous business life. I’m going to share steps 6 through 10 with you this week.

6. Detach from the Outcome. This is the 2nd most important step in this entire process. The most important is developing self-awareness. Detaching from the outcome is a simple concept that can take years to perfect; but if there was one single thing that helped me have the tremendous breakthrough I wanted it was this step.

I think this is one of those things that it helps to look first at what it is not.

Think about the last time you lost a client.

Maybe you spent days creating a proposal and quote and they turned you down. Or maybe you talked to someone about speaking at their event and they said no.

If you got emotionally upset about that it means you were attached to the outcome.

This happens when you take whatever happened personally or you feel as though someone “pushed your buttons”.

It means some aspect of your pride and self-esteem was hurt by what happened.

This can happen any time there’s an emotional response to something and it can be as simple as your feelings get hurt or you get angry.

The more awareness you develop on this issue, the more work you do to remove emotion from your work, the less your self is attached to it and you’re able to examine things that happen for what they are – things that happen.

Someone turning down a quote isn’t a rejection of you personally. But…even if they thought to themselves, “This person is too annoying to work with so I’m going to turn them down,” it should make you happy. Because you probably wouldn’t have enjoyed working with them anyway.

The point here is to not feel rejected if someone turns you down…to not feel stupid if something you didn’t do brought you a result you didn’t want. Look at what it really is – data for you to work with.

7. Understand the business of business. Service professionals like us start our business because we…

  • Want to use our gifts. We recognize there’s some skill set we have that we’re drawn to use.
  • Feel called to a mission. Service professionals are very likely to feel our work is a calling….a vocation. Often there’s a feeling of wanting to make a big impact on the world.
  • Have a passion for the work. We love what we do and our specialty that it’s all we want to spend our time doing. We don’t so much think of building a business as much as we think of doing that thing we do. And since it’s so obvious to us that others need what we offer we can be shocked when they don’t jump at the chance to work with us.
  • Became accidental entrepreneurs. We may find ourselves unemployed and recognize that it’s an opportunity to go out on our own. Or you may feel you have no other choice because you weren’t able to find another job.

Even if you went to school and majored in business there’s a big difference between studying business and running one. And there are very different skill sets at play here. The great skills you have in the “what” you do are very different from the skill set needed to run, market, sell, and manage the profitability of a business.

The added challenge in this is separating the emotional issues from the nuts and bolts of running the business. We may be caught up under-charging, over-delivering to the point we’re no longer profitable. We can get caught up in bright, shiny object syndrome and end up buying course after course, system after system, all because we can recognize the power they have but they’re never the magic wand gurus can make them out to be.

And understanding the business of your business can help remove the emotion from many of the decisions that need to be made.

If you understand your expenses and revenue goals along with your sales process and how long it takes you to bring in revenue then you’re more likely to price your offerings appropriately and not be trapped under-charging or over-spending.

8. Take Massive Action. Yes I know sometimes a baby step is all you can bring yourself to take. That’s fine if it’s truly all you can muster. It’s better than nothing; and you’ll realize nothing awful happened. Nothing that’s not correctable anyway. But I started to realize that if I kept taking baby steps I’d continue to struggle with underachieving and it wouldn’t be enough to have the breakthrough I wanted. As I started to spend more time around risk takers who jumped on whatever new idea they had I began to see that was the best path for me. There’s an old saying that “the Universe rewards action>’ Well, it can’t reward you if you aren’t taking any. Look at it this way: You can watch people swim. You can read about swimming. You can talk about swimming. You can read books about swimming. But you’ll never be able to swim if you don’t actually get in the water and start swimming. So whether you jump in or climb down the ladder…get in the pool already will ya?

9. Have Faith. Now, don’t get weirded out. Acording to Merriam-webster.com Faith is “belief in something for which there is no proof.” More defnitions include “allegiance to a duty or a person”, and “strong belief or trust in someone or something”

Whether you believe in a higher power (for me, that higher power is God) or whether you believe in yourself, or both, success requires faith. It requires you to believe in something for which there is no proof – yet. It requires you to have allegiance to a person (YOU!). And it certainly means you have a strong believe or trust in yourself.

As entrepreneurs, we can talk a good game, but our actions are what demonstrate we have faith or we don’t.
Our lack of faith comes from a lack of confidence in ourselves….from a lack of faith that we can achieve what we dream of….from an underlying sense that we’re not worthy of what we want and not good enough to achieve it.

Internal faith – faith in yourself – grows out of love. So if you find yourself struggling to take the massive action you need to achieve what you say you want, then you’ve got to confront the issue and begin to reconcile this issue. If you don’t believe in yourself no one else will either.

10.Stay in your genius zone. We know full well that being an entrepreneur requires us to do everything. We’re not just the deliverer of the service we provide – which you’re likely to be absolutely outstanding at – but we’re the marketing department, sales, accounting, and the tech department. We cannot possibly be outstanding in all those roles and the others we’re called on to perform. And yet, we beat ourselves up like the eye doctor I talked to who called herself “stupid” because she was struggling to write the sales copy for her website.

This woman is no one’s idea of stupid. She went to medical school! She treats patients. And yet she feels dumb because she feels she should be able to write copy – a job people go to school for, get degrees in, and make the whole focus of their work.

The more you can recognize what your gifts are, build a business around those gifts, and then outsource non-genius work to others who excel in those skills the happier you’ll be.
That doesn’t give you a pass at learning the business of business. But it does charge you with building a business that allows you to truly thrive and that means working with contractors or hiring employees who can easily do the work you can’t.

Think about how confident you are when you’re working directly in the tasks you excel in. That’s when work isn’t really work.

It doesn’t mean you won’t make mistakes or that you won’t have problems. But it means those situations are likely to be fewer and less severe when you stay in your genius zone.

And you’re giving someone else work that matches their gifts too.

Being an entrepreneur is risky. It’s not for everyone. But in order to truly excel…to make the impact we dream of making…to earn the rewards we dream of earning…it requires us to take each of the 10- steps. It requires us to continuously work towards becoming a better person and becoming a better business person.

And it requires us to confidently and courageously move forward.

If you’re ready to take your business to the next level of success but can’t seem to bring yourself to take the massive action needed to get you there, then you’ve got a confidence problem.

I’ve created the Confidence Builder Series to share the strategies and tactics that helped me get out of my own way and achieve the breakthrough I had been dreaming of.

The  free-to-attend monthly series is held on the 3rd Thursday each month through December of 2016. Head over to the Confidence Builder page to check out the upcoming sessions and register.

 

10 Steps to a Courageous Business Life – part 1

be-brave-chalkboardAs we navigate through the third quarter and take some time to enjoy summer, we need to think about wrapping up the year with a bang and taking action now to make the coming year our best yet.

The skills and strategies that got you to this point in your business are unlikely to be the same skills and strategies that will take you to the next level – whatever that may be.

And the biggest thing we need to worry about is getting tripped up by our fears.

Franklin D. Roosevelt – our 32nd president – said it best when he said “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Man did that guy nail it.

Fear can cloud your thinking and hijack your actions. And since we entrepreneurs are walking a tightrope every day it can get pretty scary out here even on the days when things are rolling our way.

It’s worse for those of us who have emotional baggage we’re in the process of unpacking.

There are 10 steps we absolutely must take that will enable us to take control over not just the rest of the year but also over the rest of our business life.

These actions have helped me put down those heavy bags I’ve been dragging around for years and have helped me step forward with confidence and positivity as I actively create the future I dream of.

  1. This influences success in several ways. First of all, you’ve got to recognize that what you want isn’t what you’ve got. You’ve also got to recognize that often problems start with us. Maybe we have faulty or fuzzy thinking or poor execution of strategy. Maybe we’re not communicating our offers effectively. Or maybe we’re not putting ourselves out there in a bigger way to attract more of our best audience.
  2. Take Responsibility. The next step is a natural off-shoot of the first. You have to take responsibility for everything you have control over – your thoughts, actions, emotions, and (at least part of) the results you get. You can’t control whether someone buys from you or not. But you can take responsibility for understanding your audience so well that you create messages that resonate with them and help them move forward.You can’t control whether someone on your team does their job or not but you can start by hiring the right people, giving them the tools they need to do the job, helping them understand their role, and communicating with them clearly and frequently, and creating an environment where it’s easy for them and not threatening for them to ask questions.While you do your best to deliver the promised results to your client you really can’t control whether they’ll be satisfied or not. Some people are impossible to please. But you CAN be sure you’re on the same page with them and that their expectations match your intended deliverables and results. Taking responsibility might seem scary at first but it’s incredibly freeing when you accept that you’re not responsible for the rest of the world.
  3. This is probably the biggest reason we don’t get what we want. We don’t really know what we want to start with. “More clients” isn’t clear and neither is “more money”. Having one new client that’s a pain to work with and who doesn’t pay you is still “more clients.” Finding a penny on the ground fits the definition of “more money”. Here’s how I explain this to my clients.Imagine you could put out an All Points Bulletin through the police to catch what you want (it could be your ideal client…the amount you want to charge….or anything else). Your description of what you want needs to be so crystal clear that the cops could catch it and bring it right to you. No case of mistaken identity.I know that’s a little crazy of an example but it’s usually one people get.
  4. End the Conflict Between Your Needs and Wants. When I finally faced the fact that I was the only person who was going to create the outcome I wanted I was then able to start uncovering why I wasn’t as successful as I dreamed of being and as people told me I “should” be.As I thought about what I was doing and what I wasn’t doing along with the results I wanted, I realized that my needs were getting in the way of my wants.This was a powerful aha.I’ll give you the biggest example.I want to make money. I want to serve people and I want to be handsomely rewarded for the work I do.

    But I had lost my sales mojo.

    I would just not get into sales conversations.

    Why? Because I had a fear of rejection tied to my need to be loved.

    So the “want” — money, impact – wasn’t going to happen with the business model I had constructed as long as my fear of rejection and rear of being unloved and unlovable was there.

    As long as I feared rejection I wouldn’t take the chance of being rejected.

    As soon as I created a model and adopted the belief that I’m sharing information and people either want it or they don’t, the pressure came off me. Also, I realized that looking for love from my clients is a big mistake. Business is business and people saying no to me wasn’t a rejection of me personally. But hearing no is depressing so I needed to develop skills and design a business model that minimized my reliance on a sales process.

  5. Make Peace with the Past. This is a truism we may not want to face but we’re the product of our past in addition to our DNA.And “unfinished business” as therapists, coaches, and counselors call it can haunt us into our adult lives.I know because it happened to me.I had adopted strategies that were pretty effective at navigating life as a child in an emotionally abusive home.As I got older and started to work for emotionally abusive bosses, I used some of the old strategies and developed some new ones.

    For example, I decided that if I did everything perfectly as a child then my mother wouldn’t have any reason to yell at me.

    That’s a pretty reasonable bit of logic for a 7 year old to make and in my mind it provided some level of protection.

    Unfortunately we know perfectionism will hold you back as an adult.

    Another strategy I adopted as a child was I wouldn’t speak unless I was spoken to. And it helped that that was a cultural norm for children in my generation anyway.

    So while if I didn’t say anything that would draw attention to myself or upset my mom’s emotional applecart the child version of me felt she was doing a good job of self-protection; the adult in me who doesn’t speak unless spoken too can struggle to make connections with strangers. That makes business building activity like networking difficult to impossible.

    Once I recognized this pattern of behavior I was then able to examine the connection between my conflicting needs and wants while choosing new strategies that were appropriate for life as an entrepreneur.

    Next week, I’ll share the next 5 steps to building a courageous business life. For this issue, your cocktail – or reflection – exercise is to reflect on each of these 5 steps and gently reflect on how they currently present themselves in your life and behavior. It could be a lot, a little, or a moderate amount.

    And your action step for this week is to start a notebook or journal where you can begin to get clarity on what you really, truly want – in business and in life.

    Until next week, keep moving towards your goals and don’t let anything stand in your way.