Do what you have to do, even when you don’t feel like it

the tortoise and the hare

the tortoise and the hare

As I was power walking my way to toned legs nirvana, I had a clumsy moment; I decided to embrace the teaching moment nature had given me, and translate it into a lesson about running a business.

Funny things happen when you begin walking around your neighborhood to get the simplest form of exercising in. Besides noticing that you should probably cut your grass because everyone else’s lawn is putting yours to shame, or potentially attracting a stalker, (switch up your habitual routines ladies) what you begin to notice over time is results. Sometimes the path you take is a pleasant walk, and sometimes if you don’t know where you’re going, you end up on a dead end street. Sometimes you never lose weight because the walking speed and time you put in don’t match the goals you’re trying to reach.  Sometimes, you just choose the wrong direction. Every now and then you run into other walkers and joggers, some may say hi, some may ignore you, heck, some may even make for new friends.  

But on this day, I stumbled on unleveled ground and injured my toe. I already had a brace on the one knee which was now pulsing, (the knee that is) and now the big toe on my “good” side was all jacked up. I didn’t have a car to just hop in, forgot my cell, and had no money to pay anybody to help me get to my destination, and my walking peeps were busy trying to meet their own goals. All of a sudden the neighborhood was a chilling ghost town with no one in sight.  My targeted destination (home) was just ahead even though I couldn’t see it, I felt exhausted and hurt.

What did I do? I took a breather, stretched out my leg cramps, remembered that the path I had chosen had a clearly defined end goal and destination which was just up ahead, I sucked it up and took my butt home. That’s right, I went limping down the street tired, frustrated, and doubtful about my abilities and the path I chose, I mean who the heck trips on a routine walk and injures themselves? Still, I pressed on and got to my destination.

What does this have to do with running a business?

Running a business is a part of your journey; it’s a path you choose to walk. It’s a path that takes a lot of energy and hard work before you see the fruit of your labor.  Some people try to run it as if it were a sprint; to the top of the mountain they go before they look ahead to see what possible dangers await them. They tumble down without good bearing. Every business leader I respect, never said it was easy. It’s not. Some days it’s sunny and it can feel like a beach party, you catch momentum and ride the waves.Other times it could feel like the coldest winter ever and you hope you have enough to hold over and weather the storm. Sometimes, you may have to work a job and on your business even though you wonder if you have enough time in the day to accomplish both.

But if you’re serious about running and growing a business you’re going to have to treat it like one. If you’re feeling tired, unmotivated, uninspired you still have to do what you have to do in order to go where you’re trying to go. There are employees who have no problem fulfilling the vision of the one who put them to work. Heck, they go in ill; they don’t want to waste a sick day on a sick day!

You make time for Scandal and Game of Thrones; and don’t hesitate to pull your credit card out to add to your shoe collection.

So why then would we not give ourselves that same kind of fighting chance to invest in and grow our business, tired, injured toes and all?

Flickr credit

What I’ve Learned after my 1st Year in Business

I’m a little late with this post because I didn’t want to write it knowing that I intend to blog a year in review post that would pretty much cover this particular slice of life. However, being that this is a personal journey blog- as in my posts reflect my own life lessons, whether I learned them the hard-knock way (living it out myself) or the reserved way (a study and decent comprehension of someone else’s lessons) a big chunk of my current journey is my entrepreneurial endeavors and I thought it fitting to highlight one of my biggest lessons learned in the 1st year with my current business.

My business partner and I founded A & D Media on July 2nd over coffee with a handshake, a laptop, less than 200 bucks and a dream.  

I don’t want to get too long-winded about this so I’ll just come out and say it: Starting a business was pretty easy. Being that we are essentially two home-based, service providing freelancers who came together to form a small company it wasn’t hard to get rolling in terms of legalities. Running and Growing a Successful Business on the other hand is Hard-Work!

I didn’t expect it to be easy and I certainly had no plot to get rich quick. Admittedly, I was very naïve to believe that things would just take off since our services were oh so in demand and I couldn’t find anyone else offering our services in our area (still laughing at myself on that one since everybody and their mama claims to be social media marketing consultant right about now). I would say one my biggest lessons learned this year was the importance of having a focused business plan.

While we did actually sit down to write a business plan and marketing plan however; we really didn’t know what we were doing. We got so excited about owning a business that we didn’t think to utilize the free resources offered through our local SBDC  We eventually got frustrated with sections of a business plan we didn’t understand, lost patience with our limited knowledge, and decided to just see what would happen if we “kinda sorta” told the people we already knew that we were offering service A and B.  Luckily for us, “kinda sorta” aka announcing to our personal social media connections and attending local networking events with business cards that read “Hire Us” printed on the back of them earned us our first clients.

In a sense this worked for us because due to our personalities, we would’ve got stuck in planning mode and never made a move towards action. But in all honesty, without a plan it’s easy to lack focus, steer away from your mission and lose sight of your vision. If we had completed our plan the way I would’ve liked to, it would have been much easier to determine our success factors and measure our growth. It took us half of the 1st year to realize most of our initial goals weren’t realistic nor aligned to our means of accomplishing them and pretty much had to press the reset button and start again in January this time armed with the help of a local consultant and business coach. I believe it’s generally better to have a real business plan that truly details the bottom-line result for pretty much every business- Making a Profit, and action steps you need to take to accomplish it.  Overall, the first year proved to be full of tough lessons, surprisingly welcomed set-backs, as well as many sweet sweet victories

Until next time…

Accountability and Why It’s Important

Last week was well, something else. I was not in the best of moods, and I had a lot of family affairs to attend. I honestly wanted to take another vacation since my mini vacation was way too short. Somehow, I knew I would feel this way the week before I took my mini break and made arrangements with a close friend and fellow entrepreneur to start accountability calls. I actually, hate the idea of having to report to someone (hence the original reason for wanting to be my own boss…boy was I in for a rude awakening) because now, I’m not going at my pace (that’s been my excuse and I’ve been sticking with it). Although, showing up and then not showing up all of sudden would warrant some *ahems* and guilt trips from quite a few people in my online circle of friends, I knew that if I was going to take my life, my business, and my overall mind shift to the next level, I wanted (needed) more than a consultant to strategize with me, mentors who guide me, and even a coach to push me towards the win. I wanted to share in both the frustrations and euphoric pleasure of going after what you really want in life even when you don’t always feel like it.  I wanted to share this with someone who also had a coach and/or mentorship, was working through training, but just needed someone to talk things out with in a not so formal setting. I needed this because I want to show up in life because I want to not because I was trying to impress said coach/mentor. Most importantly, I wanted to share this with someone in my age group, a fellow Gen-Y explorer.

More and more I am beginning to really understand why people create small mastermind groups, and age targeted networking groups like YPNS. You just want to be around people who can relate to you, to share in a collective experience, and not always have to be in sales pitch mode although everything is marketing  So, after our first accountability call, I’m already feeling…overwhelmed, how the heck am I supposed to sound as interesting as her every week?!? Just kidding 😉 I’m really excited already, and talking things out with her gave me clarity and a new blog post too (Oh Yeah!). One thing we have to work on is making sure we don’t make it a venting and ranting session since we are already good friends.  I have a feeling we will probably grow our little circle of two in the future, to form our own little master mind group *shrugs* you never know. 

Anyway, I gave you some of my reasons for wanting an accountability partner, for business. I would love to hear some of yours. Why do you think it’s a good practice to have accountability in business and even in life? Better yet, maybe you guys can help me identify the best methods for finding the right accountability partner.

 

Flickr Credit: GrowWear

3 Tips on How to Keep Your Business Going

This is a revamp of a guest post I did. You can find the original article here

As a budding entrepreneur, I face challenges and obstacles almost on the regular. Once I finally learn one trick of the trade and feel comfortable about it, the trends have changed and I have to learn something new all over again. Although this can get frustrating, I’ve never been so excited about work in my life. I truly feel blessed that I am able to take this opportunity and pursue my dreams. With that being said I am aware of a very real enemy that comes to steal your dreams in sly manners such as loss of motivation, and fear.

Passion-based business doesn’t necessarily mean automatic success and sometimes that can be very discouraging. To keep on with the keeping on, I’ve developed a list of 3 ways I stay motivated, and pressing on during the trials and tribulations that come with Entrepreneurship.

1)    Get Accountability

When you’re just staring out in business you’re reminded many times that in order to be successful you need to develop a tendency towards action. By breaking up big goals into small manageable actions steps, you are well on your way to being successful. Sometimes we get off course and the winds of life blow us astray. Accountability keeps us anchored, so when the storms of life hit, we can get back on track and find balance. Accountability could be mentors near and far; your business partner (like in my case), a business coach, your mastermind group, and even your blog readers.

2)    When You’re too tired, or uninspired to create… Celebrate!

Sometimes, because you love what you do, you can end up working yourself into the ground, (Especially when you are first starting out). Exhaustion kills creativity, and the things that inspired you before seem to just weigh you down. That’s when it’s time to take a break and just live. Celebrate everything you’ve accomplished thus far. If you finally got a website up, even if that’s as far as you got right now, celebrate it, have a website launch party if that makes you feel better. You’re amazing and everyone who matters knows the potential in you. As a Gen-Y Entrepreneur my biggest worry is that people won’t take me seriously if I let loose from time to time and just have fun and act my age. I now know that when I take time to smell the roses and enjoy being me, I work better and smarter because I come back to the table refreshed, and inspired. I also realized that I want to work with people who want to work with me; I’m a cartoon lovin, comic book reading, dance star (in my head), who also happens to love helping people realize their dream. Which brings me to the next point…

3)    Stay True to Yourself and Honor Your Values

I’m sure you’ve heard of personal branding. Personal branding is essentially building a reputation for yourself and letting that reputation precede you.  Businesses are run by people, or a person, You. It makes no sense to have a business run by you but you have to put on another persona to run your business. It won’t be fun, it’s a waste of time for everyone involved and it makes you lose inspiration to keep going. I kindly remind myself and whoever wants to challenge the things that bring me peace that my business has a real “home grown” not machine manufactured human behind it (I was referencing The Matrix if you couldn’t tell). I laugh, I cry, I need sleep, and yes I want to spend time with my family and loved ones too. I also realize the amazing spirit inside of all humans, and if I click my heals 3 times, and flow with what life has to offer me, I can really fly and be everything I feel I’m called to be.

At the end of the day, because I consider myself a woman of faith, I’m always humbly reminded that Everything is made possible through the Lord who gives me vision.

 

5 Lessons I’ve learned as a Network Marketer

If you didn’t know, I was a La Bella Gift Basket Consultant for a little over a year.  When I found the opportunity, I had no idea what I was getting myself into, and I was extremely shy to start. Eventually, I slowly but surely began to grow out of my introverted shell and grow my business and networking skills.  In wanting to invest more attention to growing my social media marketing business, I decided close this particular chapter in my story. But I couldn’t close down shop without sharing some of my experiences with you. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned while on my journey as a network marketer.

  1. It takes Money to make Money! The saying is so true. If you want to expand your reach as a network marketer, you’re going to have to see yourself as an entrepreneur and invest in your business. I found that when people wanted to know about the business opportunity they didn’t want to pay the fees associated with it. Network marketing is a business and all businesses need funds to get started and keep afloat. Throw the get rich quick with no investment out the window, more than likely, it’s not going to happen.
  2. Don’t be afraid to show up. It’s called network marketing for a reason. If you don’t talk to people about your business, give out your marketing pieces, (like business cards), or advertise no one will know about you and your business… I caught a flat tire; after the road side rescue well rescued me, I managed to strike up a small conversation and slip them my business card before they drove away, you never know.
  3. Go Hard or Go Home! Most network marketing companies come with training materials, support forums, conference calls, company newsletters, even marketing and customer service ideas and materials to use….USE THEM! Get on the calls, utilize the training, learn from and try to adapt the style of successful consultants. Work on your business; that may mean cutting back on the re-runs of Law & Order SVU, working nights after you get off from work, working weekends even though you want to sleep in or hang out with your friends, especially if it is a side hustle.
  4. If you’re not passionate about the industry, it shows. This goes along with point # 3. One thing I noticed about the some most successful consultants in my company and the gifting industry, they actually make baskets themselves and enjoy doing so. I, on the other hand do not.  It is easier to market, and sell something when you know, or at least have a desire to learn about the craftsmanship and thought process that goes into it, much like it’s easier to write about a topic that is already near and dear to your heart. It’s also easier to network with likeminded people when your head is filled with your products and services. At the end of the day, it’s your business, so it makes sense to choose something you’re passionate about.
  5. Patience is a virtue! It’s been said that people who declare that they are going to travel the road of entrepreneurship quit too fast.  When I first started with the company, the moment I realized that the people who I thought were going to purchase my gifts were not interested in supporting my business, I wanted to give up. But I hung in there, shifted my approach, and eventually sold a few hundred dollars worth of beautiful gift baskets (not bad for someone with no sales experience).

In the midst of my first business venture, I have found myself more drawn to help other newbie entrepreneurs and progressive minded individuals by doing work I love and have a strong desire gain more knowledge to improve upon. Admittedly, I may not have wanted to explore my different passions, which mostly revolve around empowerment and strengthening communities if I didn’t decide to get started somewhere, and do something about wanting more for my life.

“The truth of the matter is that there’s nothing you can’t accomplish if: (1) you clearly decide what it is that you’re absolutely committed to achieving, (2) you’re willing to take massive action, (3) you notice what’s working or not, and (4) you continue to change your approach until you achieve what you want, using whatever life gives you along the way” –A. Robbins

 

Until next time……