Summer Lessons in Business

Being an entrepreneur has many blessings.  One of which is the immense amount of learning you do.  In no other field is there such a learning opportunity, except maybe health or technology.  An entrepreneur gets to learn many things that they wouldn’t have taken the time to learn otherwise, like finance, billing, web technology, communication, marketing, product development and creation, and strategic planning.  This summer I’ve learned quite a few things about running a business.

As simple or dumb as it sounds, you have to make sure you’re doing what you like.  If you’re no longer enjoying the work you’re doing it’s time for a change.  In the beginning of August I sat down and started working on some changes that I’m making to how I help people and what I focus on so that I continue to both meet the needs you have and enjoy what I’m doing.

Second, if you’re not communicating, it’s not getting done without you.  If you don’t put the marketing out there, nothing markets for you.  If you don’t update the website, no one does it for you.  If you don’t contact people on social media, they won’t contact you.  If you don’t take the time to care for your clients, you won’t have them for very long.  And even if you had a [virtual] assistant to help you, if you don’t communicate with them, the work still won’t get done.

Finally, you have to love learning.  Yep, if you don’t like change and learning new things, you’re much better off working at a job than running your own business.  It’s not always easy to adjust to the changes, especially if it takes you a while to make all the changes; because by the time you’ve made the changes, new changes already need to be put in place.

What lessons have you learned this summer?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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The Core of Commitment

This month we’ve been talking about commitment.  We’ve talked about commitment igniting action, commitment to your business and life,  some things you can be committed to, and being committed to who you are.  When it comes down to what commitment is, commitment is all about people.  Behind each and every commitment are people.

‘Of course there are!’  I can hear you saying.  Let’s get some perspective for a minute.  You can talk about politics and say it’s all about the money.  You can look at a painting and only see paint and brush strokes.  You can look at your dinner and only see food.  You can be in a business and make decisions based on strategic advantages.

But when you make a decision, a commitment, it becomes about you, the person.  It’s about your beliefs and views, your hopes, dreams, knowledge, and the people in your life.  It becomes personal.

What I don’t think we realize, or admit, is that when you make a commitment, when I make a commitment, it affects more people than just us.  One’s commitment to junk food means more expensive healthy food.   One’s commitment to throwing out everything affects their green neighbor.  A politician’s commitment to big businesses affects common citizens.  One’s commitment to poor parenting affects their child’s life.  Now, I’m not criticizing every commitment here, I’m just pointing out that any and all commitments you make have an affect on someone else.

This week before you make a commitment or decision I encourage you to stop and think about who will be affected by your commitment.  You’re never alone in your commitments.  If you’ve got some practical examples you’d like to share, I’d love to hear them below.

Dreams in 2011

On august 28 in 1963 Martin Luther King Jr gave a speech that radically changed America: the “I Have a Dream” speech.  Now in 2011, people still have dreams.  Some dreams have collapsed over the past few years with all the changes in the economy, others have been sidetracked from their dreams by a family situation,  and some have just decided not to have a dream.

As someone who is passionate about whole families, the thought that families don’t have dreams anymore scares me.  Do you want to know the truth?

It’s just as possible to live your dreams in 2011 as it was in 2006, 2000, 1990 or 1963.

The only difference between all those years is what the dream is, and how you’re going to reach that dream.  Things were different in 1963 than they are now.  They had different dreams than we should in 2011.  We should still dream for equality and freedom, but we should also dream of whole and fulfilling lives.

Where does that start? With your family.

The only way that we’ll be able to bring the dreams back to life is teaching our children, our neighbors children, and the children of our friends what it means to live honestly, how to be smart with money, and how to prepare for our future.  If you’re not living honestly, good with money or thinking about your next 10-50 years, you’ve got some learning to do along with the kids.

As a family it’s imperative to encourage each other, communicate clearly, plan for the future, care for the earth, support each other and dream really big dreams!  Dreams that don’t have to do with jobs, 2008, hate, or boring lives.

2012 is right around the corner, start your preparations now for what you will do differently then, as well as start dreaming about the dreams you have.  I’d love to hear what dreams you have, and invite you to share them below.

Check your Judgments at the Door

I’m a big fan of what I thought to be a growing trend of people who are doing business and living honestly, and with the best interests of everyone at heart.  But, the truth is that there are quite a few who aren’t on the bandwagon yet.

Bill Hybels said, “What’s further saddening to me is the growing trend, specifically in the United States culture, to throw stones first and ask questions later.”

Why should you throw stones first?  Actually, why throw stones at all?  When you throw a stone you are most likely to break something.  Maybe you break a window, maybe it’s a finger, or maybe it’s a broken heart.

In this world of preferences, options, opportunities, varieties, differences, variations, and changes, the likelihood that you jumped to an incorrect conclusion before you threw that stone is a very high one.

I would much rather ask questions and get to know you, than jump to a judgment that is completely off base.  Is it easy to not jump to conclusions? No, we’re a jumpy society.  It takes a lot of work to suspend your judgment of someone or something.

My question for you today is what good does throwing stones do?  Does it actually feel good to sling nasty things at your “competition”? Do you feel good seeing the pissed or crushed look on someone when you immediately sweep them under the rug without giving them the time to explain or clarify?

So before you leave your house this week, make sure you’ve got your keys, wallet, computer, cell phone and any other necessarys, and leave your snap judgments behind your locked and closed door.

The Action of Whole Living

“Commitment ignites action.”

This great quote I found while considering what whole living had to do with our theme this month, commitment.  Are you feeling alive, on purpose and driven about anything?  No?  Maybe that’s because you’re not committed to anything!

What am I committed to?  I’m committed to sharing hope, showing people possibilities, sharing ideas and helping people live the amazing life that’s possible in 2011.  How do you know I’m committed to this?  Because I blog (3 times a week on 3 blogs), share inspirational, personal thoughts on Facebook and Twitter and started and run 3 businesses helping individuals, families and businesses live incredible, successful, whole, happy, fulfilling lives doing what they do best.

Why am I committed to taking action on those things?  Because I see so many unhappy and unsuccessful people and businesses that have so much untapped potential, who are living as victims or because of things they weren’t aware of-and that’s simply not right.

It all starts with a passion.  When you’re able to live your passions and are committed to them, you’ll see many pieces of your life fall into place.   What are you passionate about? Are you passionate enough to make a commitment to your passion and start living in a way that impacts others positively? If so, I’d love for you to share your passions, commitments and actions below.

Fall Friendships

As fall approaches and a new school year as well, I thought  it would be helpful to share some tips for making friends.  After all, with a new school year not only do the kids have an opportunity to meet new kids, you as a parent will also be introduced to many new parents and potential friends too.

Food:
Personally I think that food is one of the best and easiest ways to make friends with someone.  Not only can you share something tasty, it’s an instant point of connection and conversation starter.  You’ll either be known as the person who makes the best food, or the kid with the coolest parents.

Be Positive:
I must admit that I like making friends with positive people.  You don’t have to be bubbly and over-the-top about it, you just need to not be negative all the time.  If you hang out with positive people, you’ll also be a positive person, you’ll have a better outlook on the world and you’ll make friends easier.

Get Out There:
I’m not one for hitting the bars or (I’ll be honest) networking meetings.  For those of us who don’t enjoy things like that, try workshops, courses or volunteering.  I’ve met some of the most interesting and awesome people while doing volunteer work.  The best thing is that I’m almost positive they’ll be interested in what I’m interested in because they’re there.

Practice:
Start with something like Twitter or Facebook to meet people and learn people skills.  I’m not saying that people you meet there aren’t real people and you shouldn’t consider them as “real” friends, actually I have made some great friendships through the social networks.  But it’s a lot easier to be yourself when you’re working through a computer and not in person (they can’t laugh at you when you spill your drink or wear something that totally clashes).

Be…
Be you and be open!  This is the best, and hardest, advice I can share.  If you don’t know who you are, it will be hard to put yourself out there to meet new friends.  You must be yourself, and you must limit, put away and ignore your judgments of people when you’re meeting for the first time.

Oh, and one more thought: remember it’s all supposed to be FUN!

I hope this helps you get started this fall, I’d love to hear your tips for making new friends too.  Share them below.

For the Money

Recently I featured Stained Glass artist Michelle as a Feature Friday contributor.  One thing she said caught my attention and I wanted to hear your thoughts on it.  Michelle said,

“So now, once again God has led me to do something I never dreamed of — own and run my own business.  Right now I’m wearing all the hats: designing, marketing, creating, shipping, accounting, buying supplies and more, but my husband and kids have been so supportive.  We have had some big financial needs, which led me down this path, using the talents I have...”

What if the smartest decision you could make was to do what Michelle, myself and countless other individuals have done, start a business?  What if using your talents was the best way to meet your big financial needs?

While you shouldn’t start a business solely for the purpose of making money, it is one aspect that you should take into consideration.  I believe a business starts from talents, inspiration or meeting a need that isn’t being met in the world or community.   A by-product of starting a business, especially one that is based on your talents and a need in the world, is that you should make good money!  Maybe initially you won’t make as much as you would’ve with a traditional job, but over time having your own business means that you will have a better opportunity to make more money and help more people than you would at a job.

What about you?  Can I encourage you to consider starting a business?  Start part-time and see how you like it.  If you’ve got questions or concerns, I’d love to help you think them through.  Send me a message through my website or ask your question below.

Whole Living: Having it All

It’s funny because I know many people are told that if you have this thing or that thing you’ve got it all.  But the truth is in 2011 we can’t focus on having just one thing.  Without being selfish, can I say that I want it all?

I want…

A real, honest relationship with God

A thriving, satisfying relationship with my partner

Friends I can talk with and learn from

Clients I can inspire and encourage

Children of my own that fill me with joy

Delicious and healthy food each day

Time spent outside in nature every day

Moments that take my breath away

Do I have all that I want?  No, I don’t, not yet anyway.  But I’m ready to embark on a new challenge: the ‘what if’ challenge.

What if…

God chose to bless me in amazing ways every day?

I found new ways each day to be in touch with my partner?

I had friends that loved me and supported me?

I had an abundance of clients who in turn shared their gifts with other people?

I had beautiful and happy children?

Everything I ate was delicious and healthy?

Nature found me in new ways each day?

Each moment was more amazing than the last?

What if your life was as amazing, blessed and thriving as you always dreamed it would be?  I would love to hear your “wants” and “what if’s,” and I would be thrilled if you would join me in choosing to look for the “what if’s” in life.  Share your thoughts and comments below.

Back to School Already?

It seems like school is just around the corner!  Ease the transition for your kids with these fun ideas.

Playing games can be fun and educating:

Practice your math with a beach ball, play air golf, captain’s calling, sidewalk skellzies, 15 seconds of fame, go on a treasure hunt or open your own diner.

Making food is another great way to teach your kids different kinds of math:

Try these ideas: pencil cake, sandwich on a stick, date nut bars, curried chicken salad, banana chocolate chip muffins, and taco roll-ups.

Do some crafts to help your kids get ready for school:

Tote-ally cool, homemade school carryall tins, velvet journal, pencil buddies, magazine bead bracelet, cereal box tote bag, easy weave newsprint basket, matchbox locket.

If you’re in a really homework mood, you can do some of these more school related activities.

What about you?  What have you done with your kids to help them get ready for school?  Share your ideas below.

Are You Committed?

One of the best questions to ask yourself is are you committed to your business and your success in life?  If you’ve said yes, let’s talk about what commitment is.

The dictionary defines commitment as “to pledge (oneself) to a position on an issue or question” and “to bind or obligate.”  This may sound a little scary to those who went into business to have freedom.  But the truth is that if you don’t feel any obligation towards your future, you might as well throw in the towel now.

Just because you’re committed to your businesses’ success, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have options and alternatives.  One of the best things about being committed to being successful in business (or life) is that you have the ability to make the changes and decisions that will position yourself for success.

You don’t have to be bound to one option and one thing only working, what you need to be committed to is making, creating, and discovering what works best for you.

Life is all about discovery throughout your journey. The question is are you committed to taking the time to discover the truth about yourself, your business and your future?  Or would you rather have life make the commitments and decisions for you?

The sooner you commit yourself to being in charge of your life and your future, the sooner you’ll see results you love.

I’d love to help you with your decision and commitment, ask your questions below or contact me through my website.