The Failure Files: Good Girl and Entrepreneurship Don’t Mix

Too much weight on shoulders leads to failure--image from pixabayFailure. We all experience failure and are taught to be ashamed of it. Only recently phrases like ‘fail fast’ and ‘embrace your failures’ have become popular, allowing us to see failure as an opportunity to learn. To learn from our failures, however, requires us to drag them out of the dark recesses of our past. We need to take a hard look at them, to study them, and harder still, accept them.

I’ve experienced several failures in my first 50 years. My problem: I kept them too close to the surface, unknowingly giving them permission to rule my life. Now, I recognize when they negatively influence my actions and can reframe my thoughts. It still isn’t easy which is why I’m starting The Failure Files, freely giving you the opportunity to learn from my failures. Are you ready?

Failure: too much good girl

This is probably the crux of all my failures. I was a good girl. I don’t even have a memory of causing undue strain on my parents. My younger brothers did plenty of that. School reports that embarrassed my parents. Police visits. Neighbor complaints. Drugs. Abuse. Alcohol. I saw the effects and avoided it all. While my brothers got arrested, I acquired my bachelor’s degree. While my brothers married and divorced twice apiece, I obtained my master’s degree and married.

Because I didn’t want to stir the pot, I tumbled into the obedient world of sheeple. I followed the herd, trusting and believing in a world that was getting ready to kick us all in the teeth. I graduated from high school in the top 10%, I immediately obtained a bachelor’s degree and got a job soon after, filling the non-work time by doing administrative work at my father’s or boyfriend’s place of business.

Failure #1: My good-girl status didn’t save me from unexpectedly losing my first REAL job 10 months later. It didn’t save me from spending a year in the unemployment line. It didn’t help me find a job in my chosen profession.

Recovery action: Go back to school. I obtained my master’s degree a few years later while working for the university to pay my education. During this time, I married and had my first child.

Failure #2: It took 10 years to find a job in my profession. I jumped on it, consequently accepting a salary that was 64 cents above minimum wage. Following 8 years of dedicated employment, my salary peeked at $9.08/hour.

Recovery action: I quit my job, without a follow up plan. I tentatively began my new business. In 2008.

Failure #3: Viewing divorce as failure. Playing all the society rules for life, marriage, career, contribution, and sacrifice didn’t save me from the sorrows of divorce. Even worse, I caved in to the embarrassment my parents expressed (We’re terrible parents. How did we go wrong?) and the emotional intimidation my husband heaped on me (my job will suffer, my credit score will suffer, it will take you too long to find another job—just like before). As a result, I wore my (I mean their) shame and disappeared with little to cling to. Hope, confidence, and stability shattered.

Recovery action: I recognized that my long-standing goodie-goodie status got me NOWHERE! Reality hit hard and I realized life gave no favors. I was overdue to be me without the constraints of what everyone expected me to be.

When I began my business, however, I struggled to fully release the good girl mentality.

Failure #4: Taken advantage of, under paid, and pushed aside. The business world does not tolerate goodie-goodies. It interacts with people who are willing to take risks, stand up for themselves, and don’t falter.

Recovery action: Take risks and chances without concern for what others think. Especially relevant: I had to be willing to upset the status quo.

It took a while to learn this and depleted my time, energy, and finances.

Lesson to Share

This isn’t a woe-is-me story, but a story I share because of the lessons learned. I had been over-manipulated by a youth where I saw the negative side of breaking the rules then inaccurately transferred that to all aspects of life and career. I learned that playing by the rules doesn’t guarantee anything other than being stomped upon. Breaking a few rules, as in doing something out of the ordinary, gets you noticed. The world likes those that shake up the world in a positive way.

My challenge to you: Let go, refuse to be haunted by your failures and surge forward to become happier, freer, and more confident.

How will you positively shake up the world?

Kristen Edens

The Wrong Kind of Busy: Conquering Social Media and Family Distractions

A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part
— Anonymous

Wrong Kind of Busy BlogFamily and social media: we love them but…they can easily suck our time away.  For several years, my day would begin by checking my inbox and social media feeds before my 10am business day began. What was intended as engagement with my online community unknowingly merged into online and offline play time. I justified my behavior by eating breakfast, chatting with family members, or snuggling with my kitties, labeling my actions as effective multi-tasking. It didn’t take long to realize (and deny) I was using prime business-building time to putz.

Not pleased with my discoveries, I sought out a solution. After some hard introspection
and consulting with my virtual assistant and social media expert, I’m actively
diminishing my online distract-ability habits. Here are 2 simple exercises to help you
limit the wrong kind of busy:

Identify your habits: which is your greatest weakness? Email? Facebook? Twitter? Pay
attention to your habits and the time engaged with each. How much is dedicated to
business? How much can you honestly count as non-business?

Limit your online time: from the discoveries above, set a specific time every day to
check email and social media feeds. Make your business activity the priority. Can you
accomplish your social media activity in under 45 minutes? Set a timer and stick to it.
OR, if you find yourself drifting toward distraction, move on to another business task.
Set your fun-time online activity for an end-of- day reward. It’s a tough pattern to break,
and doesn’t happen overnight, but will result in higher productivity in a short amount of
time.

Family is a different matter. Many of us pursued entrepreneurship for the benefit of
ourselves and our family. We chose this path to be closer physically and emotionally to
our children, but that proximity leads to high distract-ability. It requires new habits for
everyone, but the best progress starts with ourselves:

Discipline: identify your most productive times and set that as business time only! I
used to modify my work day around everyone else’s schedules and disasters but ended
up playing business catch-up more than moving forward. Avoid that trap and schedule
each day with your professional priorities.

Determine your work week: Many of us become entrepreneurs for the flexibility, so
be flexible for your business opportunities and emergencies: business projects,
outsourcing activities, technical issues, missed appointments, illness, new clients, and
more. Maintaining a schedule, flexibility within your schedule, and preparedness for the
unexpected will keep you on track for growth and for family intervention.

A lot of our busy-ness comes from the distractions we know and love most: family and
social media. It takes some practice to break an old habit in favor of another, but with
persistence, it can happen. For more insight into distractions, visit What are Your
Distraction Risk Factors?

What are your tips for managing social media and family? Comment below and share
with others who may need support and guidance.

Kristen Edens
Kris the Scribbler
A grandparent in business

Adventures in outsourcing: Accountant

Accounting NoteI have a confession: I flunked accounting. I was a sophomore at Bowling Green State University and rather eager to study accounting. I was fairly decent with math and had an interest to understand money flow and finances. Somewhere along the way, I took a nose dive. I couldn’t grasp the accounting concepts and fell behind. I was devastated; this was a required course and I disliked wasting my time. I had to repeat the course, hire a tutor, and squeaked by with a D.

Nevertheless, I still maintained the family finances, budget and taxes without trouble, but wasted no time seeking out an accountant for Kris the Scribbler.

My dad would have cringed. His mantra was, “Never trust anyone with your money, especially related to taxes.” For most of my life, I maintained a death grip on his belief for personal taxes, yet released it when it came to the complexities of business taxes. There were too many intricacies for my comfort:

  • tax status
  • investments
  • social security requirements
  • medical and health insurance
  • business expenses
  • profits and losses
  • quarterly payments
  • constantly changing tax laws

I already was irritable and impatient when it came to learning new software so programs like Quicken or Turbo Tax would have stalled me further. No…I needed an accountant! I reached out to Terri Hancock of Collins-Hancock Accounting and Tax Services, Inc. before I even registered with the state.

It wasn’t until his death in 2015 that I discovered dad had hired an accountant for his glassblowing business. I learned a lesson: dad may have had that strong personal finance mantra, but when it came to business, he took a different approach. I didn’t know it until I also became a business owner.

Since my work with Terri, I’ve avoided headaches and stress regarding all my tax issues. For instance,

  • Terri eased my budgeting concerns when I was contemplating hiring a virtual assistant
  • When 2015 tax forms were delayed, Terri informed me that my county was granted an extension for quarterlies and yearly filing following the severe floodingin December 2015.
  • I earned two tax credits based on my business activity
  • She reviews my business growth twice yearly and offers financial suggestions based on quarterly and yearly activity

These are all things that I otherwise wouldn’t know about if I attempted to manage my own taxes.

What are your outsourcing fears? What was the first task you outsourced? I’ll be sharing more of my outsourcing adventures throughout the year so watch for more. Please share with others who are ready for an adventure in outsourcing!

Thanks to John Beidle of Tax Planning StL for additional information for small business outsourcing.

Kristen Edens
Kris the Scribbler
A grandparent in business: making midlife better!

Swinging with your Eyes Closed—Taking Time for Yourself

Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us. — Maya Angelou

The pressure was building…

My daughter was stressing about her work schedule, daycare hours for my granddaughter, and applying to college, interspersed with loser-boyfriend tales.

My mother was worried about her health (which is relatively healthy for a 78 year old), my brother’s latest job issue, the presidential election and anything else she can conjure up.

My partner’s health continues to decline and he’s coping with constant extreme pain, while waiting for potential surgery.

My challenge is to turn off all this noise so that I keep up with client needs and business growth.

It’s not easy.

Even though I’m there for support and encouragement, I don’t get involved any deeper. If I do, my business and I suffer. However, those I love don’t comprehend the pressure all these issues put on me. They recognize the others as a nuisance; not themselves. Coping requires strict office hours on my behalf and limited exposure to their issues.

It’s not easy.

The pot was on the verge of boiling over.

Wash. SP 5.10.16It was time to get away. Thanks to the help of my virtual assistant and social media manager, it became a reality. It didn’t take much to make it happen, either. In a few hours’ time, I had my trailer packed and ready to go. Initially, I would have preferred a weekend camping trip to spare weekdays, but few spots were available last minute. Inspired by my VA’s advice to break my email habit, I decided to do the almost-unthinkable: visit the state park Sunday through Wednesday.

 
It was better than expected:

  • No noise—only nature sounds, emphasized by a thunderstorm.
  • No camping neighbors.
  • No email distractions (my cell phone easily accessed my account, but I relied instead on my VA alerting me if any were urgent).
  • Good cell phone reception (I didn’t share that news with my family, but was available in an emergency).
  • Creative juices were active.
  • Productivity was high.
  • The scenery was grounding, soothing, therapeutic.
  • Discount for weekday camping.

All this was topped off with no emergencies from the family, though my mother did worry about me being in the ‘wild Missouri territory’ by myself.

The journey was a success and helped me to understand that I need more me time away from those I love. It’s healthy for them; it’s healthy for me and my business.

Here are tips to ensure you get recharge time, too:

  • Talk with your team members: they’ll encourage you and cover any business emergencies if they arise.
  • No team? No worries. Create an email autoresponder announcing your unavailability. Follow up upon your return.
  • Turn off your devices! Better yet; leave them home.
  • Remember: two or three days won’t bankrupt the company.
  • Sometimes the best escapes are spontaneous.
  • Try something a little out of the ordinary—like getting away midweek.
  • Tell your story: take time to write a few ideas on how your getaway helps your business. Anything you do to better your business will be appreciated by your clients.

When was the last time you recharged? You are probably overdue. Encourage others by sharing these tips then share your recharge story below.

(Thanks to Lisa Smelcer of Virtual Admin Experts for helping me not sweat the small stuff.)

Kristen Edens
Kris the Scribbler
A grandparent in business: making midlife better!

Adventures in Outsourcing: Virtual Assistant

animal-1298790_640There are days I look in the mirror and expect to see an octopus-like creature with eight or more arms. As a business owner, mother, grandmother, partner and all the other titles associated with being a certain age, I need those extra arms to get things done.

I have only two arms.

I’ve been in business for almost 10 years and at one point, I think I was keeping up with the tasks of owning a business. Then more clients called for another arm. More managerial tasks required another arm. Business growth and rebranding needed an arm. Caring for my granddaughter needed extra arms, too. Everything was growing faster than I could keep up with.

Something had to be done. So I altered my schedule to create a morning chipping plan: attack emails and all related tasks first thing in the morning. Before long, that one-hour segment turned into 4 hours, then 6, then more. The email list became almost manageable, but other tasks suffered. This wasn’t a good strategy.

After reading Virtual Freedom by Chris Ducker, I formulated a plan. Ducker recommends outsourcing administrative tasks overseas, however, I chose to stay closer to home. I reviewed my business budget and the positive impact hiring a social media marketer had for my business, then reached out to Jennifer Tamborski and Lisa Smelcer of Virtual Admin Experts:

“Hi Jennifer, this is Kristen. HEEELLLPPPP!” (It’s funny how my outsourcing calls begin this way!)

“How can I help?”

“I’m not sure. I’m floundering between keeping up with email, contacts, clients, marketing and maintaining a writing schedule. When I focus on one, the others add up and vice versa. I’m caught in an administrative whirlpool and I’m unable to swim out of it.”

As with Mich Hancock of 100th Monkey Media, Jennifer understood my problems and comforted me by saying, “That’s a common problem. I can help.” Jennifer listed all the tasks she could manage and we established an email management plan in November 2015. With that task off my shoulders, I began chipping away at the other running-a-business tasks while coping with email server and website technical issues, and underlying family intervention.

I needed more, but I knew this would dip into an uncomfortable cash-burn phase, where I’m spending more than I’m earning. I consulted my accountant who assured me the business could sustain this activity for a specified time and that the results would be beneficial for me and my business. In essence, she had confidence where I was floundering.

With that boost, I signed up for the mid-level VA package from Virtual Admin Experts May 2016. There’s a bit of a learning curve, but I’ll report on my progress in the near future.

What are your outsourcing fears? What was the first task you outsourced? I’ll be sharing more of my outsourcing adventures throughout the year so watch for more. Please share with others who are ready for an adventure in outsourcing!

Kristen Edens

Kris the Scribbler
A grandparent in business: making midlife better!
Image courtesy of Pixabay