What Will YOU Do When Business Disaster Strikes?

I must lose myself in action, lest I wither in despair. – Alfred Lord Tennyson

Entrepreneurs accept a few truths:

  • The potential for failure
  • A willingness to take chances and accept risks
  • Don’t quit easily—pivot, regroup, rebrand
  • Fail fast & learn from mistakes
  • Believe the risk is worth the reward
  • Will take more time than originally planned
  • Will take more money than originally planned

If we aren’t aware of these certainties as we enter an entrepreneurial pursuit, we soon experience and learn to accept them.

Try as we may to prepare for and avoid the risks and failures, they happen. It’s a part of the journey. Often, these failures present themselves as a financial threat. If you find yourself in that situation, here are some action tips to work you through the snag.

Review your business expenses

What areas can be shifted? Can you eliminate or reduce one service or combine to save money?

Are there overlapping services that can be clarified? If outsourcing business tasks, review with your service providers to ensure that they complement each other rather than compete.

If you attend networking or professional events, can you arrange ride share to save on gas and vehicle expenses? If you attend events that require an attendance fee, consider postponing these until the situation is resolved.

Hold a virtual coffee meeting. Hangouts, Messenger, and Skype make this possible and saves time, money, and traffic headaches for both parties.

Lifestyle review

Similar to the business review, what can be reduced or revised to cut costs to get you through the crisis? This doesn’t mean depriving yourself of necessities, but perhaps instead of going to the theater every weekend, you check out a movie from RedBox (if available), rent a movie from the library, or have an at-home movie night with friends.

What is the state of your emergency fund? If it has been accessed for an unexpected event, is there room for a little more? Can it (and you) spare 10% for the situation?

How soon can you replenish your emergency fund? Make it a habit to contribute regularly and as soon as possible once the crisis is over. Consider: how would you be impacted without the emergency fund?

Additional thoughts

  • Keep emergency fund active; maintain ½ balance
  • Maintain communication with support team & family—not everyone needs to know; just key players & investors
  • Review budget often (monthly is idea, quarterly at a minimum)
  • Have a backup plan: anticipate potential disasters and plan accordingly. Adjust as situations come and go, or if other ideas emerge
  • Fail fast
  • Recover faster
  • Recovery includes free-time to clear the brain which allows new ideas & possibilities in.

Entrepreneurs are a determined group of energized people who understand and accept the risks. If you encounter a crisis, the sooner you take action and implement a recovery plan, the sooner you will be charging forward again.

Got additional ideas to share? Let’s hear them in the comments below.

Kristen

Tired of 2nd Place? Step Out for Business Success

“The only thing that is stopping you from where you are to where you want to go is your comfort zone.” – Dhaval Gaudier

When I was 8, I was on a swim team. I loved swimming, I enjoyed training and I even enjoyed the competition. The only thing that held me back was my introverted nature: I feared standing out in a crowd; I feared being the center of attention.

When it came time to race, I became so nervous I barely heard the starting gun—though I never jumped the gun because that meant more attention on me. I didn’t hear the crowd, or the announcers, or my coach.

And I finished 2nd. Often.

It saddened me that I rarely took first place, but looking back, it made sense: #1 got all the attention and the spotlight; #2 was soon forgotten.

That mentality continued for the next 30 years until I became an entrepreneur. Suddenly, my fear of standing out and being the center of attention battled with my desire to be a successful business owner.

It was time to step out: out of my office, out of my comfort zone, out of my fears. Sound like something you need? Here are 5 Step Out practices to implement now.

STEP OUT 1—Attend events: Seek out the events that will build your brand’s awareness and attract your ideal audience (attending targeted events eliminates the awkwardness of feeling lost or out of place). Seek out people that will help put you in contact with ideal people as well.

STEP OUT 2—Introduce yourself: present your elevator speech then ask what issues they face related to your business (attention is on them rather than you).

*HINT: You have a solution to their problem. This is an information-gathering moment and you don’t have to be loud and flashy to do it.*

STEP OUT 3—Listen: listening is one of your strengths as an introvert. Get the conversation started with relevant questions then…listen. Let them talk. Present your solution.

*HINT: people want to be heard and want someone to LISTEN. Be that person and you’ve stepped into the coveted know-like-trust realm*

STEP OUT 4—Follow-up: now you have information to nurture the relationship and build yourself as a subject matter expert. The follow-up gives you the introvert-friendly way to do that. Let your content marketing plan do the heavy work:

  • newsletters
  • blogs
  • emails
  • social media
  • new platforms like Facebook Live and Periscope

All of these can be performed anywhere on the planet—including your quiet zone. Share everywhere. Explore new platforms. Be creative and experiment.

STEP OUT 5—Seek opportunities: regardless of where you are on the introvert-extrovert scale, the greatest growth comes from reaching out. There are people and organizations that are looking for experts to fill their schedule. Be the first to respond.

  • Offer to sit on a panel discussion in your expertise
  • offer to present at an industry-related event
  • reach out to podcast hosts to become a guest
  • volunteer to speak at a school, networking event, or professional organization

Yes, this is a huge undertaking for introvert business owners, but it’s a moment in time that carries a lot of weight toward business success. Start small, but start now! Step out for that moment then build from the results.

Kristen

What did you want to be when you grew up?


A doctor? A fireman? An actor? An astronaut?

That question catapults us back to our youth, often with a smile, recalling our youthful answer to that question. Now that we’re a few decades older, have you pursued your childhood dream of becoming a…? What twists and turns got you to where you are now? What obstacles, doubts, or fears did you have to overcome? Or are you still pursuing your goal?

At age 8, I knew I would be a writer. It started with journaling my dreams and progressed to fiction writing: science fiction, fantasy, adventure, and romance. I played with several niches without specializing in one. With Dad’s encouragement, I pursued anything related to writing with the intent to be a writer ‘when I grew up’. When it came time to enter college, Dad asked, “What are you going to study?”

“English and writing.”

“That will make a nice hobby, but it isn’t something that will support you,” he debated.

The argument continued for 2 years. While I attended Bowling Green State University in Ohio, Dad lovingly, and with the best intention, signed me up for courses he thought would lead to a stable career: chemistry, biology, computer science while I filled the electives with anything related to writing.

At the end of my second year, still an undecided major, Dad once again sat me at the kitchen table and gave me the ultimatum, “You have two weeks to name a major or you’re out of college.”

Those were the most stressful two weeks of my life. On the chosen day, I faced Dad across the kitchen table with Mom sitting between us. “Well?” he glared.

“Writing,” I mumbled, on the verge of tears.

“Try again!”

“Exercise Physiology.”

The look my parents gave me was unforgettable. If I hadn’t been so frightened, I would have laughed.

“What the hell is ‘exercise physiology’?” there was a distinct sneer in his voice.

After I explained the extensive medical and science background involved, the career opportunities, and income potential, Dad roared, “No daughter of mine is going to sweat for a living!”

I cried. Dad cussed. My brothers fled the house. Mom waited for the right moment. “Bill, dear, she fulfilled your requirements. So which will it be—writing or…exercise physiology?”

By 1986, I obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Sports Medicine at BGSU, and a Master’s Degree in Exercise Physiology at Utah State University in 1990.

However, it took me until 1999 to get a job in my ‘chosen’ profession, with a 45-minute one-way commute over a mountain pass (no kidding), working 3 days per week at a dollar above minimum wage. In my off hours, I secretly wrote: stories, articles, resumes, poems, anything to keep my desire-to-be-a-writer alive. I was a niche-less wonder, but enjoyed it all. As Dad predicted, it became a nice hobby. I submitted fiction stories with occasional success, but never gave up. I was still determined to become a writer.

A window of opportunity opened while attending the Cache County Fair. A friend had a booth promoting his fly-fishing shop and was asking passers-by to enter his tagline contest. Intrigued, I read the existing entries added mine, and won. Because of the overwhelming response to my tagline, he asked me to write catalogue descriptions and a brochure. The big bonus: he offered to pay for my writing! Up until then, I had been writing for free, believing ‘free’ would get my writing ‘out there’. That experience became my first entrepreneurial pivot, with a new focus on copywriting.

The second, and scariest opportunity occurred in 2008. I quit the hospital job to pursue writing full-time. I was on the verge of divorce and needed a sustainable income to support myself. By 2009, I still wasn’t making enough to comfortably support a gnat, but the home life was no longer tolerable. In the midst of the economic recession, with no job, and only $729/month as income, I divorced, left the state and moved in with my cousin. I was terrified, heartbroken, and desperate.

Unaware of the true economic impact, I applied to jobs, but soon learned no one was hiring, especially a 45 year old, unemployed exercise physiologist with an outdated degree. Down, but not out, I cast all of Dad’s wisdom of a ‘stable career’ out the window and buckled down as a copywriter.

With my cousin’s help, I built a website and learned the basics of social media. I cussed and cried as I struggled with all the technical intricacies of owning an online business. Writing jobs began to pick up and I was becoming known as the outsourced writing expert for microbusinesses.

Yet the growth didn’t stop there. While I built a business, I also struggled with extreme social anxiety. In my early days as an entrepreneur, I dreaded networking and promoting myself, but knew it had to be done. What had started out as hours of ‘parking lot panic’ before an event, developed into blogs about how to overcome our fears in order to grow a business. The blogs led to offering a series of one-on-one sessions to teach ‘Social Success for the Quiet Entrepreneur’ at a local co-working space. The sessions filled up fast and I soon received requests for private coaching.

Over the last 8 years, I have learned that pursuing our goals isn’t as scary as thinking about it. We paralyze ourselves by the what-ifs, that we never take that first step. Additionally, I listened to, and believed, others who told me my ideas wouldn’t work. When I refused to believe it any further, I took a leap of personal faith. Whatever would happen, I had to trust that something would happen, and that I would be a stronger person for it. What has emerged is a joy of writing, solving content catastrophes for my clients, and an opportunity I never expected: encouraging introverts and others to pursue their own opportunities.

What did I want to be when I grew up? A writer! Did I expect to write for businesses? To become an introvert coach? To own my own business?

NO!!

However, I’m enjoying it all because I accepted the challenges and pursued them as far as they could go. The added bonus is the thrill of discovering what’s yet to come.

What’s your entrepreneurial/growing up story?

Kristen Edens
Kris the Scribbler

Networking Fear? Start with GOYA!

No doubt you’ve heard several practices to make networking work for you, but what isn’t addressed is what to do when you the cat has your tongue and your feet are buried in cement. We can make it our goal to attend two or more networking meetings each week, but they aren’t helpful if we can’t get moving and talking.

For years, this was my problem. My pre-networking activities consisted of staring at myself in the mirror, rehearsing my elevator speech and practicing opening lines. Then I’d get in the car and practice more while driving. I would always arrive early, because I needed time for ‘parking lot panic’. However, my pre-networking habits have diminished and I’m more comfortable with networking events (I still sometimes get the jitters, though).

It didn’t take long to realize that if I didn’t get moving and talking, I wasn’t going to reach my goals. I had to make changes and do it fast and it began with GOYA: Get off your Ass!

Here are my GOYA exercises to shake the networking jitters:

Remind yourself: you are not the only one feeling awkward or uncomfortable! Some hide it better than others, but most networking attendees have the jitters. AND, they are looking for ways to start a conversation, too.

In case you haven’t read it already, take a look at another blog I wrote on the benefits of arriving early: The Early Bird Gets the Leads.

If an early arrival isn’t possible, look for people you already know. Walk up to them, and even if they’re engaged in another conversation, it doesn’t hurt to wave and say a quick hello. Most of the time, the friend will introduce you to the new person.

Reach out to those hovering in the corner, near an exit or who are paying a little too much attention to their cell phones. These are classic ‘I’m not sure what to do next’ cues. So many times I have been that person and am building up courage to just say hello. Now I recognize the same behaviors in others and they are the first ones I approach.

Most networking meetings offer food or drinks. If you still have the jitters, stand next to the edibles because everyone comes by to check out the offerings. It’s also a common gathering place for others building up their networking courage—we can look busy and attentive while nibbling on snacks instead of looking lost and awkward standing alone in a large room. Say hello to everyone who approaches. Mention how yummy the dip or the hummus or the punch is. This is the perfect opportunity to add, “What do you do?” In a minute or so, the person will ask about you.

These GOYA exercises have helped me ease the pain of reaching out during events. How do you handle the networking jitters? What networking exercises do you have? Share them in the comments below. (Thanks to Eva from Knews.co for inspiring this topic!)

Happy writing!
Kris the Scribbler

Introvert to Impromptu Presenter: How Do I Do It?

“The secret to life is to put yourself in the right lighting. For some it’s a Broadway spotlight, for others, a lamplit desk.” ~ Susan Cain

What’s it take to run a successful business?

For me, as an introvert, I needed to develop social confidence. That meant attending public events. Lots of them. In my first 3 years of business, I attended 3 to 5 networking events, within a 150 mile radius, per week. When my confidence wanes, or when I get too comfortable, I add more to my agenda.

This week I attended my first Medici Magic Meetup sponsored by the Medici MediaSpace, a new co-working space in St. Louis. Upon entering the room, several pairs of eyes turned to greet me—always an anxiety-inducing situation for an introvert. However, I implemented my GOYA strategy for a successful event, which included the dreaded saying hi to everyone in attendance. Individually.

Next, each of the 15 attendees were offered a moment to introduce themselves. When my turn came, with heart rate and blood pressure soaring, I introduced myself as:

A content development service which attracts clients and guides them through the sales funnel, plus an introvert coach to help introverts achieve their social goals.

Next, we were briefed on Medici’s event format where the audience chooses the discussions. No longer one to let my social fears hold back opportunity, my arm fired into the air, terrifying my brain into whipping up a topic before I was called on: Content Creation: Where are you in the Sales Funnel?

Throughout the first 4 mini-presentations, I listened, participated, while putting together an on-the-spot discussion. With 20 minutes left in the 2 hour meetup, Josh Levey, a co-founder for Medici, pointed to me and said, “I want to say first that you are the most fun introvert that I ever met!” (Thank you, Josh!) I stood, anxiety returning once again, and shared a quick story about being an introvert, my 2-hour parking lot panic and my reward system of chocolate. The crowd enjoyed my story and I noticed a woman, in the back, with a bright smile directed at me. My presentation went well, I received great questions, replied with solutions, and concluded with a call to action.

The result:

  • Several attendees and I had extended conversations
  • It was suggested I do a Ted Talk about my introvert experience—an opportunity that I would never have considered <2 years ago!
  • I arranged an interview for the Missouri SourceLink
  • I’ll be an upcoming guest on the TLC Radio show
  • I provided an introduction for one of the attendees

As I was heading to leave, Theo Clark of TLC Radio, called me aside and introduced me to the woman with the bright smile: Brittany Blount, executive assistant and radio producer with TLC Radio. As a fellow introvert, she was eager to ask me, “How did you do it?”

Again, I was flattered. I shared that I still experience anxiety and it’s an ongoing process to accomplish my goals. Then she asked, “How long did it take you to get over it?”

“It’s not something you’ll be totally rid of nor will you want to,” I explained. “There is strength and joy in solitude, thriving in our own company, and working in a quiet environment.”

With pen and paper ready, Brittany was ready to catch every nugget:

  • Acknowledge and accept your introvert tendencies; that includes the anxiety in social situations. Practice at home, in front of the mirror, and if you are comfortable, in front of family members.
  • Recognize your weakness: which part of a social situation is hardest for you: convincing yourself to attend? Introducing yourself to others? Entering an existing conversation? Exiting a conversation? Once you identify that, ask yourself what it will take to move past the fear.
  • Practice & prepare; have your tagline, elevator speech, and answers to potential questions memorized. Know them so well that you can present without freezing or Filler Words.
  • Go with a goal: what do you wish to accomplish from this event? You are there for a reason, so have your goals memorized so you don’t flee when the discomfort appears.
  • Make the situation about others: start by saying hello and asking them to share what they do. Then listen. But be ready, they’ll ask you the same question.
  • Reward yourself: not before, not during. After! Have that reward waiting for you in the car or at home.
  • Relax: even with your reward and the satisfaction of reaching your goal, you’ll be exhausted. Find a quiet place. Block off noise, people, and distractions. If that’s difficult for your family to understand, let them know you need some undisturbed time alone.

Getting to where I am now isn’t easy and requires ongoing practice, refining, pushing past self-doubt and sometimes tears. What keeps me going is the desire to solve content catastrophes for my clients—making the client my priority. With time, patience, and understanding, you can do it and remain true to yourself.

To learn more about my GOYA Strategy and introvert coaching, call me at 314-856-5747 or write me at kris@kristhescribbler.com

Kristen Edens
An introvert in business

Educate, Communicate, Collaborate: Top Takeaways from AMA-STL

What’s new in marketing? Attend a local AMA chapter or conference to find out in a knowledge-packed half-day event! I had the pleasure of being invited to attend the 56th Annual St. Louis American Marketing Association Student Conference. Even with ‘student’ in the title, each generation was represented, bringing with them insight, experience, and a willingness to learn and apply the latest marketing strategies for business success. As has been the norm, content is still a high necessity, but the manner in which it is created and distributed has evolved. Below are the highlights from the presenters from this high-intensity conference.

Matt D’Rion, Worry Free Marketing: How to Achieve Positive Impact with an Effective Website. 5 needed elements include:

  • SEO—search engine optimization, defined as any action taken to attract leads to your website. A missing element for many business owners is the SEO title; the more descriptive this title, the easier it will be for Google to rank, read, and direct your readers.
  • Website Copy—a critical aspect of the user experience (UX). Give your reader something to do. Make the click tabs easy to find and easy to follow. Take your readers on a journey that builds a relationship, serves their needs, and solves their problems.
  • User Experience—you have a few seconds to give your visitor what they need. If they don’t find it FAST, they are gone. Use this opportunity to generate an opportunity to connect, donate, or participate.
  • Lead Generation->Sales Funnel—keep your visitors on the site with calls to action and informative content. Make it simple to move through the sales funnel while building a relationship of trust.

Andrea Olson, Prag’madik: Building a Differentiated Global Brand

Andrea shares her branding expertise with this handy summary of 10 Commandments of Global Branding. While her focus is global, these points are equally significant regardless of whether your audience is local or international:

  • Understand similarities and differences across cultural landscapes
  • Don’t take shortcuts
  • Establish marketing infrastructure locally
  • Embrace integrated marketing communications (technology)
  • Cultivate local partnerships
  • Balance standardization and adaptation
  • Establish operable guidelines (customization)
  • Establish success metrics
  • Leverage core brand elements
  • Adapt and refine continually

Johanna Dettman and Kaysha Hanock, tSunela: How a Digital Marketing Partnership Can Impact Client Retention and Referral Patterns

The team at tSunela discussed blending traditional marketing methods with the social/digital marketing strategies that’s dominating today’s business strategy:

  • Digital marketing is easier to track; traditional marketing is not.
  • Combining both marketing styles allows a business to stay relevant, saves time & money, provides more flexibility, offers an objective perspective, and measures ROI (return on investment).

Their advice when partnering:

  • Don’t hide collaboration from the partnership—let everyone know upfront who is involved with your marketing initiatives.
  • Share research, data, plans, with other team members
  • Provide timelines for project completion
  • Review strategies to ensure consistent communication
  • Define roles of all involved
  • Do not take or accept guarantees: the environment is changing too fast to promise results.
  • Involve traditional and digital marketers in pitch sessions
  • Refer clients to one another as often as possible
  • Keep the focus on the client!

Keynote Speakers Eric Stisser, Sr. VO of Corporate Sales for St. Louis Blues and Jackie Miller, Dir. Of Corporate Sponsorship & Activation for St. Louis Blues.

This team discussed the marketing efforts of the St. Louis Blues Winter Classic. Both speakers mentioned that a lot of time and dedication went into producing a successful event, but the vital factors that emerged were:

  • Be polite, persistent, engaged.
  • Communicate!
  • Look up, not down—look people in the eye and get involved. Talk. Communicate. Leave your cell phone at home and give listeners your full attention.
  • Most of all: remember it’s always a team environment.

The current marketing trends may seem overwhelming but what is emerging is collaboration and cooperation across all spectrums, including marketing styles, generational expertise, and a wiser consumer. What can you bring to your business as a student, business owner or entrepreneur?

Kristen Edens
Kris the Scribbler

Tweet Chats: A Great Resource for Continuing Education and Relationship Building

My first introduction to tweet chats occurred out of desperation. I wanted to attend a blogging conference and couldn’t arrange the time, travel, and expense around my business life and caregiving life. I was rather discouraged that I couldn’t attend and jumped online to research alternatives.

While visiting the blog conference’s twitter page, I noticed a tweet that invited followers to a tweet chat. After a quick search to discover what a ‘tweet chat’ was, I decided to give it a try.

A tweet chat is a live Twitter event, usually moderated and focused around a general topic. To filter all the chatter on Twitter into a single conversation a hashtag is used. A set time is also established so that the moderator, guest or host is available to engage in the conversation.

*Hint for newcomers: high tweet volume is expected. My advice: read fast!*

Even though my meager attempts to reply to an interesting thread were way behind the initial post, I learned A LOT, gained several new followers and have found many more Twitter Chats to enjoy. They have become a weekly source of continuing education, relationship building, online networking, also leading to increased reach and exposure. Another benefit is a crash-course lesson in Twitter. I have almost mastered Tweet Chat (a platform that streams chat feeds in a neat and orderly manner) and recommend you use this or a similar tool to simplify the experience.

Here are my favorite chats to date (February 2017):

#blogchat Sunday 9pmET/6pmPT: founder and moderator Mack Collier introduced this chat to discuss blog-related themes from idea generating, blogging platforms, tools, trends, best practices and much, much more.

#blogelevated Monday 10pmET/7pmPT: Blog Elevated is a chat, conference and Facebook community dedicated to bloggers and influencers.

#blogher17 Tuesday 1pmET/10amPT: is a chat dedicated to women bloggers and the annual BlogHer conference. Their mission is to create opportunities and build exposure. The topics cover issues related to these goals.

#contentchat Monday 3pmET/12pmPT: Erika Heald moderates this chat which brings together content creators and content marketers to share their challenges and best practices.

#cmworld Tuesday at 12pmET/9amPT: sponsored by the Content Marketing Institute, participants discuss the latest trends in content marketing and receive advice from experts.

#smallbizchat Wednesday at 8pmET/5pmPT: Launched by Melissa Emerson, this chat is a peer-to-peer mentoring program to help entrepreneurs get answers to their small business questions.

Watch your Twitter notifications for all the people who commented, retweeted or followed you following the tweet chat. It’s a good place to return after you’ve caught your breath, your heart rate has returned to normal, and you can respond in a calm manner. Here’s a tip: a lot of chat participants will continue to respond over the next 24 hours. You won’t be the only one needing to breathe and catch up!

Each of these chats are focused on my professional interests, but there are hundreds of chats covering an almost endless supply of topics. To view what’s available, Twitter Chat Schedule is an easy way to search.

Just beware: tweet chats are addicting! Do you have a favorite chat? Share it below!

Kristen Edens
Kris the Scribbler

Business Mistakes Learned the Hard Way: 5 Entrepreneurs Share their Story

Where are you in your entrepreneurial pursuits? Idea stage? Development stage? Growth Stage? Whatever stage that may be, there is excitement and uncertainty. Many of us know to seek out mentors, business coaches, and peers about their experiences and insights. For good reason too: learn from them. Listen to their advice. Take their words of wisdom and apply it to your own situation. Yet, regardless of where we are in the process, we will encounter obstacles and problems. We KNOW we will make mistakes; we KNOW there will be failure, but we fight to minimize the depth of failure. However, there are situations that pop up without warning or they creep up on us to create havoc. These 5 entrepreneurs share their story and lessons learned:

Jennifer Tamborski

Jennifer Tamborski, Virtual Admin Experts: “Hiring people and being a leader is entirely different from the corporate world. I hired employees and set them loose, assuming they knew what I knew. When they came back to me confused and lost, I realized I didn’t have the processes necessary for my employees to effectively perform their job. It’s a process I had to learn as I taught them.”

Lesson learned: a clear, concise, communication and documentation plan must be established. Follow-up with employees is just as important as follow-up with clients.

**

Chris MacLellan

Chris MacLellan, Whole Care Network: “My theological background inspired me to trust without hesitation. That approach to life did not transfer well to business. I didn’t discover this until I handed over the IP (intellectual property) to a business connection in which the gesture was not reciprocated. As a result, I lost lots of money and my humility. It took a great deal of time to restructure my business, much of which conflicted with my trusting nature.”

Lesson learned: Life skills do not always transfer well to business skills.

**

Mary Scott

Mary Scott, Make Believe TV: “Create a clear, contractual arrangement for each project which includes payment agreements and pricing for situations that influence the service offered. All decisions must be clear and understood before the project (or any part of the business arrangement) begins. If it isn’t clear, it will cost a lot of time, money, and frustration.

Lesson learned: Do not rush into a project without the proper documentation.

**

Angie Monko

Angie Monko, Harmony Harbor Coaching: “I jumped into business without a clear plan, quickly becoming distracted by multiple business objectives. I didn’t recognize the situation until ~18 months later when cash flow and momentum declined. It took another 18 months to create a business plan and to begin recovery.”

Lesson learned: Create a business plan, follow it, and revise as your business shifts and grows.

**

Paul Heirendt, True Bearing Advisors: During my corporate days, I had ‘two young guys’ working with me. They frequently joked, ‘You’re not the boss of me’, which resulted in them learning very little and becoming a liability rather than an asset. I eventually left the corporate world and took one of these young guys with me. As his urging, we moved into his uncle’s free office space in downtown St. Louis. The caveat: the uncle’s son must become the CEO of my company. With no written partnership and nearly 100% of the company in my name, I dealt with legal issues, lost opportunities, lost revenue, and lots of bad blood.”

Lesson learned: It’s better off not partnering unless each member can prove their value AND share the same business goals.

**

These entrepreneurs faced some crushing blows to their business growth but regrouped, adjusted and recovered. Communication and documentation were the top business issues. How can you apply their lessons? Share your ideas or stories below.

Kristen Edens
Kris the Scribbler

Entrepreneurs: Are you a Pantster or a Plotter with Your Business Style?

Calendar-Pen

“Vision leads to proper planning and proper planning leads to successful completion.” 
― Farshad Asl, The “No Excuses” Mindset: A Life of Purpose, Passion, and Clarity

 

In the fiction-writing world, two terms define what sort of writer we are:

Pantster: we write by the seat of our pants

or

Plotter: we plot everything out before writing a single word into our first draft.

As an entrepreneur, which are you?

While one form of getting things done isn’t better than the other (as long as it gets done!), plotting requires a bit more planning. If you are a plotter, as I am, here is the process as it has developed for me:

Urgency—don’t make 1 year business goals to yourself or your business—make it 1 month. Break each goal into visible segments that highly depend on one another. Just as you wouldn’t miss a deadline to a client, made a high-demand deadline for yourself.

Accountability—who in your support team will keep you on target, but also stays on target? Choose someone who sets a good example rather than living by the ‘do as I say, not as I do’ mantra. Bad habits are contagious.

Hustle—this is the personal kick we give ourselves to get things done. This is the attitude we take when we’re rather watch tv, drink another cup of coffee, or go shopping with a pantster. We sacrifice to make our vision a reality. This is what brings us deep satisfaction when things happen. We must hustle through the obstacles, landmines and vultures that attempt to trip us up.

An editorial calendar for yourself—what do you want to accomplish this month? How can you break it down weekly? Daily? When I was in college, I created an elaborate schedule that include classes, homework, meals, exercise time, friend time, and spare time. As with all these things, they start out well, but they fizzled because of family, friends, and situations (in reality, excuses, avoidance, and delay). To make your personal calendar work for you is to train yourself so those external influences won’t derail or distract you. Implement your virtual assistant, accountability partner, favorite scheduling tool or app. USE THEM—CONSTANTLY!

Establish a consequence chart—what happens if you miss a goal? Make it visible, make it painful. If a weekend vacation is your motivator, then that’s your lost opportunity. If attending an industry conference is your motivator, then HUSTLE so you can attend! If contributing to your child’s college fund or your retirement fund is your motivator—if you don’t reach your business goals, you don’t have the revenue to contribute. OUCH!! If that’s not motivating enough, get out of business.

Create a daily schedule—just as when you worked your 9 to 5 job, you had a set schedule. Make one for your business. As business owners, we have the freedom and flexibility to establish our schedule based on our early-bird vs night-owl preferences, our family, and our self-care. Create a schedule that works for YOU—not someone else, but keep your clients at the forefront. If needed, find an off-site location that gives you the space and uninterrupted time you need to reach your business goals. It’s tough, but it’s necessary for you and your business success.

The busier we get and the more responsibilities we take on (family, business, self), it becomes a little more necessary to plot our course. Looking through your own habits, preferences, and lifestyle, how do you describe your entrepreneurial style?

Kristen Edens

A grandparent in business

Live Long and Prosper—Lessons Learned in 2015, part 2

S. Miles fdp.net 1.17.16Last week I shared the business lessons I learned from 2015. This week I’m sharing the unexpected rewards that resulted from being open to new ideas. Even though they’re scary when we’re in the midst of them, the overall results are positive for our business. How many of these have you experienced in 2015?

Public speaking: the more we present, the easier it becomes. After being coaxed by Marc Bowers, the ProductCamp organizer, I accepted the challenge to present at their ‘unconference’. As one of 40+ eager presenters, my co-presenter Joyce Mellow and I received enough votes for Taglines, Touchpoints and Logos to be one of fifteen presenters for the event. The result: over 25 new connections and two new clients.

Asking for the opportunity: most opportunities are available for the asking. With a little research and reaching out, I landed 5 speaking gigs and was invited to 3 others, 2 were last minute. The magic: say yes every time!

New social media: social media has a way of making us feel left behind, including the learning curve to implement and maintain. When Periscope came along, I jumped in quick. With help from my business coach and the Perigirls Facebook page, I picked it up fast. It’s new, it’s fairly easy, and it’s a good way for introverted entrepreneurs to communicate with their audience. This will be a big part of my 2016 business plan.

Niche-focused: narrowing a niche makes a BIG difference! Many freelancers start out as generalists, with those first few years exploring one’s strengths and weaknesses. I found this time to be helpful as my business developed its own voice. The result: Grandparents in Business emerged with a focus on business owners and entrepreneurs over 50. From there, things REALLY began to happen. Instead of attracting twenty-something single moms and computer geeks in Dubai, I was attracting solid leads and connections.

Podcasts and radio shows—in the 3 quarter of last year, I was invited to participate in 4 podcasts and 2 radio shows. These opportunities came from networking, speaking, blogging and building awareness of my ‘new’ brand. The shows were an unexpected bonus which expanded my reach and increased my connections. The plan: follow up with podcasters; implement these opportunities to promote the podcasters and their events.

Punching through the comfort zone: this was a biggie that warranted its own blog. I had attended an IdeaBounce competition for business owners over 50. The organizers were looking for extras and I volunteered. Being unprepared did not hinder my results, probably because I didn’t have time to panic. The result: I was one of 4 winners out of 14 presenters. I won breakfast with the judges, $100, and several great new connections.

All of these events came from doing or pursuing a new opportunity. What opportunities have you taken in the past year? Or do you struggle to find them? Share your stories below. If you need to flesh out opportunities for you and your business, send me a note! We’ll discover them together.

p.s. don’t forget to celebrate your successes!

Kristen Edens
A grandparent in business

(photo courtesy of Stuart Miles of freedigitalphotos.net)