Advice and Inspiration for Women and Women Entrepreneurs
Sage advice flowed into my ears yesterday. Wisdom came from twenty, fifty and seventy year old women who crossed my path during an ordinary day. It’s amazing to begin a day not realizing who we will meet along the day’s journey.
As many of you have read, I am in the final stages of preparing to run in the biggest race of my life and as the date approaches my nerves and confidence are starting to shake. It’s no different than when anything big occurs in our life like letting our children take off driving a car for the first time, starting a new job or even opening the doors to our first business; the closer the launch date the more anxiety swells within us.
The first piece of advice came from a twenty year old female lacing up my new sneakers which will carry me down 26.2 miles on the streets of Boston. In a very excited voice she said, “You got this!” Her response reminded me of my own 20 year old confident self.
Guidance came from my forty year old marathon coach shortly before dinner bolstering my mind with race day tips. The laundry list of what I should and shouldn’t do settled me down because it was knowledge from someone who had run this race many times before.
Finally as the day was closing, a conference call with my friend Kathrine Switzer who is racing this massive event again – but not since 1976 and never at the age of 70 – shared her trepidation as well as her realistic expectations for race day. After hearing her self-doubts, made my own self-doubts valid.
Often in business when we are nervous about an extraordinary challenge, we forget sage advice from people who have experienced the same situation can illuminate our spirits. Only through communicating apprehension and qualms and having someone listen and share their insights can we settle into the knowledge that others have done what we are hoping to do. Their success is enough to pull us through our own experience.
Today’s Wednesday Wisdom is to assure you that you are never alone in your journey to accomplish something larger than you imagined. When you find yourself unsure, seek advice from anyone who has already accomplished what you hope to achieve. Their experiences and words of wisdom might be all you need to feel more confident to proceed forward.
Remember people come into our paths unexpectedly at all times on normal days. Pay attention to their junction in your life because wisdom can be found in ordinary days.
Monday Motivation for women entrepreneurs and small business owners
As I listened to a woman entrepreneur who runs a million dollar in sales company talk about ways to keep a business afloat in difficult economic times, the word “profit holes” was introduced to my vocabulary.
The speaker discussed how small businesses are threatened by profits holes that undermine their business by sucking out hard-earned profits. Most business owners can identify large profit holes and stop them pretty quickly because they create a lot of attention that cause an obvious impact on the survival of the business.
But most companies can’t or don’t identify small profit holes or money that trickles out every month. Taken individually, none of the small holes have a tremendous impact on the business, but collectively, they amount to a small fortune.
No matter if you want to double your profits or at least starting making a profit, identifying and plugging little profit holes within your enterprise will help you greatly. Here are some suggestions for identifying and dealing with profit holes:
* Produce a monthly Profit & Lost Statement which shows every dollar spent within the month. Make sure to analyze spent money within the business. Compare monthly P&L statements to make sure costs aren’t rising. Make adjustments where necessary. Ex: In 2012, I spent $8,000 on roses for my events. Never realizing how much money they were costing me, I have adjusted my floral selection and quantity to significantly reduce that cost without getting rid of the expense completely.
* Challenge yourself to find opportunities to increase pricing; even if it takes you a little bit out of your comfort zone. Consider raising prices to afford specific profit holes. Most entrepreneurs are fearful of raising prices. Even a small 3% increase in price might be enough to make your company more profit.
* Set new revenue savings goals while you are plugging profit holes. Remember every single dollar in reduced expense equals a dollar for dollar increase in your profit. Savings can carry over year-to-year which further compounds the return on your investment.
By dedicating time, focus and control over your expenses should increase your company’s profit and value. Make it a priority starting today.
Inspiration for women business owners, entrepreneurs and runners
On a warm summer August day, I received an invitation to participate in a historic American event. My first reaction was disbelief in being invited. The second thought was “no way” could I partake in such a lofty goal and occasion. The third response was “okay, let’s do this” and accepting the invitation a couple days later. Now 32 days to go to this momentous experience, my heart is racing faster as I envision myself partaking in this very big dream.
Preparation is essential in major events in life. People prepare to enter college by taking SAT tests. Expecting parents prepare for their first child by attending Lamaze classes. Sixteen year olds practice for their driver’s test. Almost everything in life that is new takes preparation.
Although I was a business major in college, I also needed to get ready to become an entrepreneur by taking additional courses through the SBDC to gain additional knowledge. I spoke to successful entrepreneurs who had made it past their first couple hard years in business. I didn’t expect I could just open the door to my business, walk inside all ready to go without some preparation.
With 32 days to go until I run my first ever marathon, the most popular one in the United States of America – the Boston Marathon, I am starting to feel my heart beat faster, my mind question the decision and my legs start shaking. Have I prepared enough? Will I be ready? Most importantly will my 52 year old body carry me through to the end? Will I raise the last $1,600 for my charity bib to support 261Fearless.org.
When we doubt our preparedness for any big attempt, we must remind ourselves of what we have done to get ready. I have run increasing miles since September. I hired a coach to train me. I have altered my diet. I have surrounded myself with like-minded women who will run beside me. There is nothing more I can do but get to that start line in 32 more days and run that race!
I hope today you are inspired to prepare yourself for your next big “race” – whatever that race is for you – in your personal life or business. I can tell you one thing I will be glad when the race is over and I have crossed that finish line knowing I did all I could to accomplish the feat. I hope you have the same feeling next time you cross your own big finish line.
The heavy blanket of bright white snow envelopes everything out my office window. All is white, all is bright, and everything is buried. As I sit in my warm, cozy office illuminated by nature’s light and heated by a wood burning stove in a house built in 1877 when Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Matilda Joslyn Gage were suffragettes, I imagine them bundling up to trudge outside to do chores, attend secret gatherings and envision a spring of new women’s rights.
Living in modern times we often forget about the luxuries and privileges we have including the comfort of our homes and offices, phones, refrigeration for food and snow plows that clear roads. Not only did the fore mothers have to work and live through harsher elements in the late 1800’s, they did so while fighting to win equality for women.
Without automobiles, phones, computers, social media and a much slower mail service, how did they communicate and gather with like-minded women? I think of Harriet Tubman and her decade of walking back and forth on foot to free slaves in all kinds of conditions – perhaps even in the amount of snow we received the past few days. If there is anything a blessed snow day should give women entrepreneurs is the ability to appreciate the modern times we live in that allows us to do work, talk and travel even when Mother Nature surprises us on the Ides of March.
Sure we might have a long to-do-list today, unhappy customers, and proposals that are rejected, but what we forget is our “rough” work day or snow day with our children home clamoring to play while we try to conduct business, is nothing compared to the tribulations the brave women who came before us faced trying to gain equality.
Today’s Wednesday Wisdom is to remind you during the half way point in Women’s History Month, to stop and appreciate the efforts of the women who worked during 1877 in much harder conditions then we do and how their persistence through heavy days gave us the freedoms we have at this moment. If shoveling the driveway, putting off meetings and rescheduling events seems tough, maybe we need to rethink what “tough” is by looking back in time.
I intend to work “hard” today staring out my 1877 windows periodically at the two feet of snow wishing Susan, Elizabeth or Harriet were walking down the road with heavy shawls around their shoulders coming to knock on my door so we could meet about really important activities like women’s rights. What will you be doing today and how comfortable will you be doing it?
Inspiration and motivation for women, women entrepreneurs and small business owners
There was no other time but the present moment to do something I had planned on doing but hadn’t gotten around to doing yet. You know the feeling when you set a goal, see yourself accomplishing the goal and yet hesitate to get moving towards the goal. Two words reverberated in my mind, “baby steps.”
I had come across those two words “baby steps” three times yesterday. First as I started on an 11 mile run around Onondaga Lake my longest run in preparing for the 2017 Boston Marathon on a Charity Bib for 261Fearless.org, discovering my step mother with Alzheimer’s Disease finally agreed to use a walker, and talking to a beloved member of my organization faced with cancer. All three of us were taking baby steps yesterday.
As I headed out for my first “long run” towards my Boston Marathon goal which was less than 40 days, I told myself I could do my 11 miles if I took one step at a time – baby steps – of sorts to complete the 2 hour challenge. This philosophy took me easily to the half way point in ease and then back almost to the end before I needed to take baby steps the last half mile to get to the finish line. I didn’t mind taking the baby steps at the end because I had accomplished what I intended to do. Who cared whether my steps at the end of the run where large or small? I just wanted to finish the goal.
Sometimes in entrepreneurship or business we find ourselves in the same predicament. We want to grow bigger or take on a larger client or add new products and services to expand offerings but realize it will take many steps to get to the end. Smart business owners understand to accomplish any major feat sometimes it takes baby steps to start with and sometimes even in the middle when we run into problems. We don’t stop because we are faced with adversity, we just slow down, recalculating our pace and setting a new speed to get to the end goal.
There are so many comparisons in running a big race and running a company. They flood my mind every step I take. I try to harness them as I run past a calm lake through the woods and out to the light again. I pray I remember the lessons to institute in my business and share with my followers the next time I’m at my desk. Well yesterday’s lesson was definitely to remind people to remember that it is alright to use baby steps to get to the end of a really big goal. All that counts is we got it in the end!