29 Ways to Be a (Healthy, Happy, Successful) Business Owner

SONY DSCSo what happens when Good Girls grow up?

They realize eventually that being a Good Girl isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. And sooner or later, they learn to let all that go.

In my experience, most women have to hit at least their mid-to-late 30’s before that shift begins. Slowly but surely a kind of restlessness sets in, as they realize that doing things the way they were always told to do them just flat doesn’t work.

No matter how hard they’ve tried, the day often comes when they wake up burned out. Worn out. Fed up.

They’re not happy. They want something more. They know they deserve it. And they’re (finally!)  ready to go after it.

And there’s nothing like starting your own business to speed that process up.

My own coach always says that the powerful thing about learning to run a business isn’t about running the business itself, it’s about who we become along the way as we learn.

And she’s right.

So even though you may start out trying to be a Very Good Girl, as a business owner, you will have to shift into being a Very Strong (and Happy) Woman instead.

If you don’t, you won’t last, and neither will your business.

So with that in mind, I thought I’d re-write my list from last week. See what you think.

Here’s 29 ways to be a (healthy, happy, successful) business owner.

That is, a Very Strong (and happy) Woman. :))

1. Do the work that feeds your soul. Then learn how to use that to feed your family.

2. Get really clear. Create a vision of what you (really) want your life and business to look like and feel like. Give yourself loving, unconditional permission to manifest that vision into reality.

3. Be the best at what you do. Invest in the ongoing education and training you need to keep your skills at the highest level.

4. Learn from those who are where you want to be. Study successful people that you admire. What do they do that works? What do you like? What might you do differently?

5. Set up systems that support you, and keep the operations of your business running smoothly. If you’re a creative, freedom loving person, realize that systems and structure won’t stifle that – they’ll support it.

6. Gather your resources. Do the research, then invest in the tools and supplies you need to run your business well. Upgrade those tools as your business grows, including team members when it’s time.

7. Get comfortable with money. And with profit. If this is hard for you (and for many of us, we’d rather do anything but!), get the help you need to make peace with money.

8. Stand for something as a company. Pay exceptional attention to quality in everything you do, and know what it is that you bring to the world.

9. But remember that perfection is an ideal, and that lovely imperfection is powerfully human. Your customers will love you even more for that.

10. Learn from misfires. Instead of beating yourself up when something doesn’t work, study it. What went wrong? What could you do differently next time?

11. Take really good care of your customers. Deliver what you say you will, when you say you will. If you can’t, be ready to explain why, and to make it right for them.

12. Set up clear, strong boundaries. You serve your clients better when you have clear expectations around what you will and won’t do, when you are and aren’t available. Learn how to say ‘no’, for their sake AND yours.

13. Help them figure out what they really need, and what their choices are for meeting those needs.

14. Understand that selling is service. If you have a product or service that would genuinely make a positive difference in their lives, share that with them. It would be unethical not to do so.

15. Be willing to refer. If you think they would be better served by going elsewhere (and that they’re not the best fit for you), share that with them as well. Then help guide them in the right direction.

16. Charge what you’re worth. Your clients will actually thank you (and value you even more) for doing so. And I guarantee that you’re worth more than you think you are.

17. Listen to your intuition. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. You don’t have to explain it. You’re the boss. Do things the way you want them done.

18. Take good care of yourself, body and soul. Owning a business is 24/7 work, but we are not 24/7 machines. Get the rest you need. Play. Hug your kids. Take a day off.

19. Honor your feelings. Find healthy, appropriate, effortless ways to allow them, express them, appreciate them, release them.

20. Get good help. Invest in the support you need to get through the tough days. Having the right coaches, therapists, or mastermind groups can make all the difference on the days when you feel like giving up. (And yes, you will have those days. We all do.)

21. Practice resilience. Journal. Meditate. Cry. Pray. Rest. Then get back up and get back at it. Breakdowns come before the greatest breakthroughs. Remember this.

22. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Recognize this as a sure sign that you are growing, and embrace it. Learn to allow others to do the same.

23. Take credit for what you do well. As a friend of mine always says, “it ain’t braggin’ if it’s true.” And if you don’t believe in who you are and what you do, why should your clients?

24. Be decisive. You’re the CEO, and it’s up to you to call the shots. Call them.

25. Learn to love the tweak. If it doesn’t work, you can make a different decision next time.

26. Pay yourself first. And celebrate it! (This isn’t volunteer work. See #27.)

27. Then find ways to give back. There are countless ways to do this as a business owner that are good for your community AND good for you.

28. Own your authority. It’s your name on the letterhead, your company on the door. If it doesn’t fit with who you are, or how you want to show up in the world, change it.

29. And always, always follow #21. Being a business owner is one of the most exciting adventures you’ll ever have – but it’s not for the faint of heart. :))

Which one of these speaks to you the most?
Let me know, and tell me why, in the comments below. I’d really like to know!

Photo by Clemens v. Vogelsang on Flickr

How to Be a (Really Tired but) Very Good Girl

Little ShoesI’ve had a lot of clients lately who have been Very Good Girls.

And frankly, they’re a little tired of it.

(Thank heavens.)

I do a lot of different things in my work – guiding women through everything from how to grow their business to how to take better care of themselves to how to get through a zip-line tour.

But through it all, what I’m really doing is teaching them to believe in who they are, to  realize they have a right to be happy, and to treat themselves with as much respect as they treat others.

Sounds easy. Usually isn’t.

So I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be a Good Girl.

Here’s a few things that seem to fit, based partly on my own experience, and partly on what I see soooooo often in my coaching and counseling practice.

See what you think.

Here’s 29 Ways to Be a (Really Tired but) Very Good Girl

1. Help take care of your little brothers and sisters.

2. Help them get dressed in the mornings, get their teeth brushed and their school supplies ready.

3. In the evening, help them finish their homework and get ready for bed

4. Help your mom with the dishes, the laundry, and the housecleaning.

5. Do your homework every night.

6. Make very good grades.

7. Always do as you’re told by your parents, teachers, or any other authority figure.

8. Never question what they say. Never complain.

9. Get a part time job as soon as you’re old enough to do so.

10. If money is tight, give some of what you earn to your mom.

11. When arguments break out among your family or friends, do your best to smooth them over.

12. Pay very close attention to the feelings of everyone around you.

13. When you sense someone’s upset, do your best to calm them, make them feel better.

14. Make the men and boys in your life feel especially important, because you know they really need that.

15. Never question them. Never show them up. Never be better at something than they are.

16. Never get mad.

17. If someone mistreats you, try to be better, so they’ll be better.

18. Do your best to earn scholarships, so you can go to a good school and make your parents proud.

19. Volunteer at your church, the Red Cross, the local shelter, and the food pantry.

20. Hide your own feelings, no matter how strong they are. Always hold them in.

21. Never make anyone else uncomfortable.

22. Work harder than anyone around you. Make every minute count.

23. Be happy with a pay check that’s 20% less than the men you work with, because after all, you love your job, right?

24. Don’t worry when one of those men takes credit for your idea. Remember #14.

25. Always put your husband first, your children first, your church first, the elderly couple down the street first.

26. Never, ever, under any circumstances, put your Self first.

27. Never, ever, under any circumstances, ask for what you want, much less insist. That could be seen as selfish.

28. Remember that Good Girls are never Self-ish, because to do something for themselves might violate #21.

29. And always, always follow #16.

Does any of this fit for you? What did I miss?

Let me know in the comments below!

Photo Credit: by Moyan Brennan on Flickr

Your Most Important Job as a Business Owner (It’s Not What You Think)

Monopoly - Mark Strozier“So, what do you think?”, she asked. “Are you in?”

Walking briskly, moving excitedly from room to room, she suddenly paused, turned to me, and waited. I froze. Hesitated. Fumbled for an answer.

I had no idea what to say.

My colleague had moved to the area a few months earlier. Even before her move we’d talked about joining forces as business partners. Now that she was here, it was time to act.

I’d established a new business, a small private counseling practice that was off to a good start. She’d built, run and sold a clinic in her home state. Our potential was enormous and, to tell you the truth, a little daunting.

We were definitely about to grow, but this force in front of me – who eventually became one of my best friends – was used to thinking bigger than I was at that point.

So it threw me when she was ready, right off the bat, to jump to a new office space.

A really, really nice office space.

I’d already rented a small suite with just enough space for 3 people. It may have been in, ahem, a less-than-gorgeous office building – but the location was good, the parking plentiful, and the rent affordable.

The space in which we now stood was gorgeous, a beautifully restored, Victorian home with wrap around porches on a quiet street right in the middle of my small town. I’d peeked through the windows before, imagining what it would be like to work in such a beautiful space.

But never in a million years would I consider moving there; it was way over my head.

That is, until Linda blew into town.

My rent was about $350 a month for the space I was in. The Lillian HouseThis beautiful home would be about $1200 a month.

How in the world could we possibly make such an enormous leap?

So I hemmed and hawed, raised this point and that.

What about handicap access? Could we even use the (beautiful, early 20th century) fireplaces? What about the lease we already had? Where would people park?

On and on I went. Until, finally, Linda turned to me with a genuine smile and said, “Well, I’m going to rent it, so you can decide later what you want to do.”

That became a defining moment in our relationship (and a running joke), when I realized how focused, decisive and Courageous she was. And she realized, as she’d tell you today, that my “process was just a little different”.

It just takes me a little longer sometimes.

So she rented the main floor, and we did, indeed, join her a few months later. Before long, we doubled the space (and the rent), taking the 2nd floor too when we grew from four therapists to a full house of ten. Eventually, we became one of the premier private counseling centers in our region.

But that couldn’t have happened without a series of decisions.

  • My decision to start a practice, and a vision for what that practice would look like.
  • My decision to leave a paying job and devote myself full time to building that practice. (Even though it was scary.)
  • My decision to reach out and invite outstanding colleagues to join me.
  • Linda’s decision to sell her clinic and move half way across the country.
  • Our decision to move to a larger, beautiful, up-leveled space, even though that was scary too.
  • Our decision to add additional space after that, even before we had people to fill it.
  • Our decision to invite colleagues who fit our vision as we grew.

Each point, a crossroads.

Your most important job as a business owner isn’t what you think it is.

It’s not about making money.

Though goodness knows that’s really, really important.

And it’s not about providing a great service or developing a great product.

It’s not even about making the world a better place.

No, your most important job as a business owner, quite simply, is this.

It’s about making decisions.

Most of us don’t think about that much. In fact, until a decision is staring us in the face, we quite often tend to avoid the whole dang thing.

And yet – being the one who calls all the shots, means you’ve actually got to, well, call those shots.

It can be daunting sometimes.

Do I call on a potential client? Or leave her alone?
Do I offer a new service? Or revamp what I already have in place?
Do I hire an assistant? Or just work harder?
Do I work out of my home? Or rent a space in town?
Should I work on marketing right now? Or focus on my blog post?
I really just want to sleep another hour. Is that okay?

The decisions never stop. And there is no one else to make them.

They’re your’s.

And mine.

For 3 years, in many ways, I’ve been helping women uncover Courage that they already had but rarely recognized. We threw pottery on a wheel, put minnows on hooks, and flew off a cliff under the wings of a big beautiful kite. And I’ve loved every minute.

And yet, I’ve come to another crossroad, and made another decision. As I must.

(Though Linda won’t be surprised that it’s taken me a while to get here.)

Soon, I’ll be folding Secret Adventures into my private coaching practice. And that means they will no longer be offered to the public as a stand-alone service.

This has been a tough decision – but then again, the biggest ones usually are. 

So what about you?

What decisions have you been putting off?

And what decisions will you make THIS week, to move your business forward?

Tell us in the comments below, so we can support you along the way.

*****

Photo Credit: Mark Strozier, Wendy PItts Reeves on Flickr

Success is Never a Solo Journey

4 girls - beach - Riza NugrahaI really don’t mind traveling alone.

In fact, I love loading up my car with a stack of CD’s, a thermos of coffee and a well worn map close by on the front seat. Hitting the road with miles in front of me to drive as I wish is a tiny thrill I never quite grow tired of.

There’s just something innately freeing about the whole experience, because I set the course.

I can stick to main roads if I’m in a hurry, or sample back roads if I want to explore. I can go the way I’ve always gone or try a completely different route if I want. If I drive some weird road just to see where it goes, no one complains, and getting lost becomes part of the fun.

I also get to set the pace. I can drive as fast as I want, if I can get away with it. :)) Or I can mosey along and take my sweet time, if that’s how I feel.

I am, quite literally, in the driver’s seat.

So no, I really don’t mind traveling alone at all.

But sometimes, having the right friend along can really make a difference.

Like, when I’m driving a stick shift.
From the right side of the car.
On the left side of the road.
In an unfamiliar city with 9.7 million people.
During the morning rush hour.
While fighting a really bad case of jet lag.

Sometimes, having the right help, well, helps.

I once spent a week with a friend exploring England and Scotland before she took up residence to do some graduate work in Oxford. Our very first challenge was to find our way from the airport to a B&B where we planned to stay that first night.

Right off the bat we were deep into Adventure.

I managed the car and the traffic. She did her best to make sense of the map. We made several trips around the same block, I’m sure of it, and earned quite a few glares as we stumbled our way across London.

It’s probably a good thing you weren’t there to see that part. :)

But stumble across town we did, by jove. And eventually we arrived, which was in fact, a small miracle in and of itself.

I could have made it by myself, but it would have been much, much harder to do. And nowhere near as much fun.

Entrepreneurs like to travel alone, too.

In fact, just like a good solo road trip, being an entrepreneur can be pretty intoxicating stuff.  We love diving deep into a new Adventure – testing our skills and seeing what’s possible.

We set the course. And we set the pace.

We do what we want, the way we want, when we want.

We, too, are in the driver’s seat.

But the road to success is never a solo journey.
Not really.

In fact, no one, and I mean no one, makes it to the top of any field or any endeavor without help along the way.

And lots of it.

I’ve been running one business or another for over 20 years, and I’ve always, always surrounded myself with support. Over time, that’s ranged from meeting colleagues for a cup of coffee and brainstorming, to taking courses on running a business, to joining Facebook forums and Linked In groups.

But I have, by far, made the most progress
and experienced the greatest success
when I was willing to invest
in my own growth as a business owner.

And I’ve done that by hiring the best teachers I could find – whether I could afford it or not.

I hired my first business coach in 2005, and have had others off and on ever since. At each stage of the journey, I’ve made a bigger commitment, scaring myself to death every time.

Never, have I regretted it.

These days, I work with 2 coaches, AND an accountability partner that I talk to weekly, AND I’m part of a mastermind group with members from all over the world. In fact, I just got back from our quarterly retreat last week over in Asheville, North Carolina.

And this is what my support group looks like these days. :)

Uplevel Retreat 2014.10.24

The Uplevel Academy Gold Mastermind

So where are you are in this process, right now?

Do you want to start your own business, but don’t know how?

Have you been in business for a while, but find yourself stuck in struggle, unclear and unsure of what your next steps should be?

It may be that you’re doing well, but that overwhelm is leering over your shoulder, threatening to throw you off track.

Wherever you find yourself, don’t travel alone.

My private coaching clients are women who are serious about building a business, and a life, that feeds their families AND their souls.  They put everything they have into this work, and their growth is tangible. They start treating themselves, and their business, with a new kind of respect.

It’s not always easy – hardly ever, in fact.

But it’s real. And good.
Incomes go up. Confidence goes up.
Joy comes back.

And on the days when all of that feels a little shaky, they have someone there to get them through the inevitable rough spots and back on their feet.

If you’re an entrepreneur, or want to be, I encourage you to seek out the support you need to get where you want to go. There’s a ton of help out there, just waiting for you to ask for it.

If nothing else, gather a few like-minded friends and start a mutual mastermind. Reach out to someone you admire and ask her to mentor you. Join a Linked In group for business owners and start asking questions. Find someone on the same path and hold each other accountable to your goals. And dreams.

And if it feels like some private coaching could make a difference, then reach out to me. There’s a really good chance that I may be able to help.

I’ve been doing this a long time, and I don’t mind traveling alone. But on this trip, personally, I want company.

I really encourage you to find the same.

Photo Credits: Riza Nugraha, Christine Kane.