Thursday Thoughts, inspiration and wisdom for women entrepreneurs and small businesses
Most people only talk about goals around the beginning of a new year but I have learned much more about goals the past six months and wanted to share my insight with you today.
In entrepreneurship we must set goals for our business plans when it comes to projections in revenue, number of customers, marketing and sales. We set them. We envision them. But often we aren’t really excited to achieve them because we know there is no one holding our feet to the fire wondering if we will. Time goes on and we hit part of our goals but most times we wander off into other duties before accomplishing them.
After I committed to run in the Boston Marathon on a Charity bib and knowing I had to raise $7,261 by April 5th and run 26.2 miles on April 17th, I learned how the intensity of a really big goal can motivate you. I shared these tips about what makes goals easier to attain at an event in Albany yesterday:
* The more audacious the goal, the more confidence you need to achieve it. You must believe 100% you can hit your target before you even take it on.
* Setting a deadline date is imperative to a goal’s completion. The looming date will energize you everyday to do at least one thing to get closer to the goal knowing the days are counting down.
* Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable becomes normal whether its running an extra 5 miles more than you thought you could, asking for a higher pay raise or going after a large new customer account. When you do something repetitively it just becomes habit.
* Having other people invested in your goal will motivate you and inspire them to keep you motivated. Other expectations can fuel your desire to slow down or stop. When you contemplate the people who have believed in you, you find the deep level push you need to complete the task.
* Belief in you is always of utmost importance in accomplishing anything big. When you have self doubt, push it away and remember why you thought you could do the goal to begin with. Keep your reasons close by to review anytime doubt surfaces.
The quote, “Go Big or Go Home” is a mantra to practice once you commit to something large. We must try to live bigger, believe deeper and try harder to achieve those really big dreams.
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?