Have You Looked at Your Business Plan?

February 23, 2010 at 10:22 AM | Posted in content, leadership, opportunities | Leave a comment
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Have you built your business plan for 2010? YES! Great! I know it feels a bit like a tired topic but… have you LOOKED at your business plan lately? Are you moving according to your intentions? If not, why not? Where could you use some help? Motivation? Time management? Balance?

If you haven’t written your business plan for 2010 it’s not too late! You can always write a business plan. It doesn’t need to be built on the calendar year yours can run from March 1 to March 1.  Don’t let missing the mythical Jan.  1 cut off date convince you not to create a plan. New and existing businesses benefit from having a plan in place.

Your business plan can be the greatest ally available to your business.  This is your time to dream (you can build a plan that looks out 2 – 3 years, 5 years, 10!). When creating your 1-year plan really think about how you would like your business to look at the end of those 12 months. What changes do you want to make? What changes do you think are possible in 12 months? If you won’t reach the ultimate goal in 12 months what goals will you reach? Add the longer-range goal to your 2-year plan.

Get detailed with your plan. Decide specifically what percentage of income you would like to see come from each activity.

Then determine what dollar figure that percentage translates into. Do the percentages change based on month? What months are you releasing new programs? Remember you need time to create the program.

Once you have created a specific plan you feel good about it refer to it at least once a month. You put a lot of work into your plan, make sure you use it. Take the time to ask and honestly answer a few basic questions

  • Where are you seeing good results and why?
  • Where are you seeing not so good results and why?
  • What are you most challenged with and how is it affecting your plan?

Once you have answered the questions address the open issues. This is a great time for self-reflection. If you don’t know how to address the issues find a coach who can help you. Your plan and your bottom line will appreciate the time and effort you put in to creating a profitable and productive year!

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Does Anyone Know You Are an Expert?

February 19, 2010 at 3:26 PM | Posted in goals, leadership, opportunities | 1 Comment
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We all want to work with experts. We all consider ourselves expert in some area. How do we help our clients, who want to work with experts, discover that we are experts?

Luckily, with the internet, there are any number of venues for building your expert status. You do have to create that status. You can’t simply expect people to know you are an expert. Wouldn’t it be great if that was the way it worked? I have a technical background in Project Management, I’m a PMP, and I find many of us with technical backgrounds just assume everyone knows we are an expert. Not so!

While initials behind your name might be impressive to peers and people ‘in the know’ many people may have no idea what those initials signify. As someone who has a few initials I can put behind my name, CTACC and PMP for example, I know others with those same initials whose skills I don’t consider the same as mine. I’m sure you ALL have examples of your own!

You need to showcase exactly what your expertise is. A PMP is a Professional Project Manager; it doesn’t mean that I am an expert at the end-to-end process. There are some pieces I am better at than others. When you showcase your expertise and build that platform people understand where exactly your expertise resides.

It is no longer necessary to write and publish a traditional book to build your status. It helps greatly to have a book published and there are options like self-publishing and eBooks. Both options are viable and produce good results.

The Internet opens a world of opportunity for those who want to share their expertise with the world. Whether you are a coach, speaker or business owner your potential clients need to believe you are the expert that can help them with their issue.

What remains important as you share your expertise is that you continue to do it in your authentic voice. There is room for every expert and we are not a fit for every client. Individuals can immediately sense if someone is not being authentic. Sharing our expert status helps those clients who resonate with us find us and helps identify those who are better served working with others.

A few ideas on how to build your expert status:

  • • Hold a seminar
  • • Write a blog
  • • Share tips/tricks on social media
  • • Collaborate with other experts on a program

Do your best today

February 17, 2010 at 1:20 PM | Posted in leadership, opportunities | Leave a comment
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I’m watching the Olympics and thinking about doing my personal best. If you are familiar with The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz you know that he talks about doing your best every day. Every day your best will be a bit different. Any number of elements can impact what your best looks like day to day.

As speakers and coaches being your best every day can cover a lot of ground. When you are in front of a room full of people your best looks very different than when you are working one-on-one with a client. They are different skills sets and depending on how your day is going sometimes one skill set is easier to draw from than another.

Knowing where you are that day can make all the difference.  There are days when I am a much better coach than speaker. At least, that’s the way it feels. It may be that I am feeling more energized working one-on-one with someone, really helping then dig deep. Maybe I just didn’t get enough sleep and know it will be more difficult to feel the energy I need to make a room sparkle.

Whatever it might be acknowledge where you are. If you know you are speaking and your feeling a bit challenged contact that one person that always helps you get your mojo back. I bet you can find it for the speech. You can be your best that day! I’m sure your desire to do your very best will impact the audience in a positive way that leaves them feeling like you have empowered and uplifted them.

When I’m feeling unfocused and not able to find my best I take a few minutes to center myself. I sit quietly; try to clear my mind (Yep, I said try, some days I am more successful than others), to connect with my heart, my head and the earth around me. It might sound a bit ‘airy fairy’ but generally, that brings me back to a place of focus. Now I can work with any client knowing I am bringing my best to them.

Accepting that my best every day will differ every day allows me to be flexible in what I approach. For instance, there are some days when I just don’t feel like delving into the detail of a complicated project plan for a new program release. I do feel great energy around putting together one of the courses for that program. If I focus on where I can do my best I’ll work on the course. I can’t ignore the project plan forever but I find I work much better if I take advantage of the energy that is available right now. Most of the time the energy for the project plan comes back once I have spent some solid time working on the course. The result is I do my best on both areas of focus.

Do you have an advisory board?

February 8, 2010 at 3:32 PM | Posted in goals, leadership | 2 Comments
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I was talking to my advisory board about a business decision I need to make in the next week. One of the best things I ever did was put together my board. When I have a decision I am struggling with, for whatever reason, these are my go to people. They respect me so much they will tell me the truth, ask me to think through all implications of my actions, require that I tell them the truth and hold me accountable for everything I do and say.

What is my advisory board? I quickly realized that as a solo-preneur I need people to support me. When you work in a corporation you have peers and managers you trust that will help you with difficult decisions and choices within you career.  As a solo-preneur you don’t always have people you trust enough to ask for help or who will be honest and forthright with you. Your advisory board is that group of people (call them whatever you want- board of directors, go-to-people…).

An advisory board may become a critical support mechanism for your business. My board is a loosely held together group of individuals I trust. Their expertise lies in various areas and they are all successful in their own right. Some I have been friends with for years others are new friends and mentors. Regardless they are individuals I respect and who want to see me successful.

Your advisory board doesn’t have to be a formal group that gets together on a regular basis and hashes out your business. I don’t think I’ve ever had all of my board in one place at one time. There are 3 people on my board. I don’t take every decision to all of them. I discuss certain decisions with some of them some of the time.

For a while I didn’t have a board- I found myself struggling with decisions wishing I had some go to individuals. Then someone mentioned putting together an advisory board. I never looked back. It’s been one of the greatest most effective ways I have found to support my business.

If you haven’t put together your board I suggest you give a try.

Walking my Talk

January 31, 2010 at 1:39 PM | Posted in change, gratitude, leadership | Leave a comment
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It has been one of those weeks! A week that makes me wonder why I EVER thought being in business for myself was a good idea. And yet, I have NO desire to go to work for someone else.

This week has made me live all of the rules I preach to my clients. Monday and Tuesday my email was down.  Wednesday I spent 3 hours at the doctor’s office while my partner got stitches. Thursday I spent all afternoon visiting and counseling a good friend who found herself suddenly in the hospital. Friday I tried, somewhat successfully, to get caught up. And here I am on Sunday still catching up from the week.

I have really had to walk my talk this week! Every day I had to find ways to be in gratitude. Some way to appreciate good things going on in my life when it felt like there was so much chaos. I focused on my healthy family, pets and the work I did manage to get done every day.

Sitting in the doctor’s office and visiting the hospital led to a whole new level of gratitude and appreciation. How lucky I am to have a family that is generally healthy and happy!?

Because I am a solo-preneur I can arrange my day to help out my partner or a friend.  The ability to manage my day is a blessing. It’s one of the greatest gifts of being your own boss.

You need to maintain your focus when you are working on your business. Being an entrepreneur requires a certain level of focus and dedication. Managing your time and arranging your day to work for you is tremendously important. I found a few hours each day that allowed me to work without being disturbed.  I maintained focus on items that had a due date, so I didn’t miss my timelines, and on items that are driving revenue for me.

I’m using social media to build relationships and it does help to drive revenue but I chose to focus on other revenue venues. That’s something you need to be able to determine. Of all of the priorities you are focusing on, which are really driving revenue and which can you let drop for a few days without losing momentum.

If you aren’t sure which areas are which take the time to do the analysis. If you are unsure which items create the most business for you contact me.

Luckily my partner and friend are both getting better every day and I am getting caught up. I’m still thrilled I’m a solo-preneur; wouldn’t change that for the world!

Your Red Cardinal Rising

January 21, 2010 at 9:01 AM | Posted in goals, leadership, opportunities | Leave a comment
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I was walking downstairs when a loud crash startled me. I looked out the window to see a beautiful red Cardinal lying on its side on the porch. Apparently, he had flown into the window and knocked himself senseless. I sat beside the window trying to decide if I needed to hold a Cardinal funeral or if he would come around and fly away.

Mr. Cardinal tried to push himself on to his feet, he flopped around for a bit, laid still, tried again. He finally got back onto his feet. Then he stood there not moving except to blink. He was so close I could see the individual feathers, how the colors melted in to one another, and the fold in his eyelid when he blinked. He stood there for 15- 20 minutes, sometimes closing his eyes for 4 – 5 minutes at a time.

I started to wonder what he was thinking about. From a physical perspective he certainly could have been stunned, cartoon stars running a circle around his head, he might have had a concussion. And he had the fight to get back on his feet.

I’ve been there before. Thinking something was going to happen, flying blissfully along only to have it ripped away completely. It feels like you’ve run into a window. You can be stunned. Standing their blinking, trying to figure out what just happened. Just getting back on you feet is a bit of an issue.

I think most of us have had this happen at some point in our business. It’s easy to feel stunned when something doesn’t go exactly as you had planned. Like the Cardinal you need to get back on your feet. Take a few minutes to regroup, shake the stars out of your head.

Those who have taken some kind of hit, gotten back on their feet, found another way and triumphed exemplify true character and courage. Leaders do this every day. You can do this.

For every one of us that seemingly disastrous moment will look different. What is a disaster to you is a bump in the road to me and vice versa. You don’t have to do it alone. Friends and peers can provide support and encouragement.

Get back on your feet and take one step at a time. After a bit that ‘disaster’ won’t look so awful, it may actually feel like a gift. A gift that has allowed you to use courage, cunning, leadership and character to reach your goal! Think about all that you have learned from that moment.

I sat watching Mr. Cardinal. Slowly he started to turn his head from side to side. He moved around to face the front yard. With a loud chirp he flew off!

I’m not arrogant!

January 18, 2010 at 7:26 PM | Posted in leadership | Leave a comment
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How well do you know yourself? Do you know how your actions and words come across to peers, your audience, and your family?

Self-awareness can be a difficult skill to master. Even the most self-aware can, occasionally, use a reality check. How people perceive you can make a tremendous difference in your success as a leader and a businessperson.

What you perceive as helpful questioning during a meeting your peers may perceive as arrogance. Your attitude with subordinates or folks you are working with may be perceived as aggressive or over confident. Your quiet reserved manner may be screaming cold and uncaring to those around you.

How self-aware are you? I discuss this with clients frequently. Particularly when it comes to how we use our words. I was purchasing a Congratulations card this weekend and here’s an example of what one said-

Congratulations!

I hope you’re proud of yourself.

I don’t know about your father, but mine said, “I hope you’re proud of yourself.” most often when I had really messed something up and he was making a point. It wasn’t said in a favorable way. When I read that card I almost fell over! Based on my perception of the statement I would never give that card to anyone.

You have to ask yourself how your words are landing with the individuals to whom you are speaking. Your tone, inflection, facial expression and posture make a tremendous difference in how your words are received.

The concept is similar to your appearance. You certainly wouldn’t show up in a corporate attorneys office with shorts, a t-shirt and flip-flops on- not if you expected them to take you seriously. (Ok, maybe on casual Friday, but I doubt it.) You dress appropriately for the situation.

Your behaviour must be appropriate for the situation. If you would like people to believe you have their best interest at heart your words, tone, and expressions must all mirror that interest.

If you’re not sure how self-aware you are ask a trusted friend or peer to be honest about how you are perceived. Be prepared to get feedback you might not be prepared for initially and don’t ‘shoot the messenger’. Knowledge is power and once you know how you are perceived you can look at how your behaviour might be creating that perception.

I use a great tool with clients that really helps to hone in on how your peers, friends, co-workers, and subordinates perceive you. It allows us to identify areas for growth and areas of strength.

Take a look at what you are doing and ask how those around you might perceive your actions. Be your authentic self. Raise your self-awareness, choose to behave the way you want to be perceived and good things will happen.

Do you make lemonade?

January 16, 2010 at 2:20 PM | Posted in change, goals, opportunities | Leave a comment
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Some of you know I was going to run a training session today.  Fri. morning the class was cancelled. Not because of participants, there were plenty of those. But because of some last minute scheduling issues. The scheduler and the location had a miscommunication, at the last minute the class had to be cancelled.

I had my Saturday planned around the class and was looking forward to meeting a group of local solo-preneurs. The training was going to address many of the topics I address with my clients on a daily basis.

The great news is that time opened up for other things on Fri. and Saturday. Yet, I felt badly for the folks that had signed up for the class. It had been on their calendars for quite a while and now at the last minute it was cancelled.

I decided to make lemonade out of lemons- is that the right saying?? The point is I wanted to figure out another way to share this information with group. I put together a conference call for a few days later, sent an email to the group and folks are already responding to come to the conference call.

What originally felt like a bad thing has now turned around to something great. The conference call is open to the entire group- not just the folks that originally signed up, I still get to meet some wonderful people and share information I know they can use.

That’s the beauty and the challenge of being a solo-preneur- you can either accept a situation that doesn’t feel good or you can find a way to turn it into something great. Either way it is up to YOU.

This goes directly to your attitude. Think opportunity; believe there is opportunity regardless of the situation. All you have to do is identify the opportunity and a way to make it happen.

Your attitude makes all the difference. If you are thinking about opportunities, not in an obsessive-compulsive way, but in a way that leaves you open to change, they will certainly show up. When the training class was cancelled I immediately started to think about how I could get information to the attendees and still have a bit of interaction with them. WALA! The conference call was born!

I’m looking forward to the conference call; to meeting the solo-preneurs and sharing information that will help grow their business. I made lemonade! Join me at the lemonade stand?

Change your assumptions

January 13, 2010 at 5:16 PM | Posted in change, goals, opportunities | 2 Comments
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I was talking to my coach today, as a business owner I have a coach. Her insights, intuition, ability to push me and test my ideas are truly invaluable.

I was wrestling with a decision this morning and contacted my coach for some assistance. We discussed the decision, potential outcomes, drawbacks, etc. and assumptions. That is the key word- assumptions. I realized that I was using a very limited set of assumptions to attempt to make the decision.

Note I was making assumptions. I was taking something for granted, specifically that certain events had to follow one another in a very specific order. That assumption was making my decision very difficult. My coach challenged me to change the assumption. After all, I wasn’t using facts I was just guessing.

As soon as I changed my assumption my attitude about the entire decision changed.   All of a sudden it was much easier to see a very positive outcome and the fit within my business.

I didn’t have to check my assumptions with other people, to make sure that they met other goals; I had the power to change my assumption. We don’t always have the luxury of changing our assumptions without checking with others. That is, also, the beauty of assumptions- you can go find the information so your assumption is no longer a guess- you then have a fact with which to work.

Back to my morning decision-

I changed my assumption and it felt like an entire world opened up to me. Do you have assumptions you could change? Look at things from a different perspective. Turn your assumption upside down. Maybe there is a much easier way of getting from point A to point B- there certainly was for me!

Baby, (I’m grateful) for the cold outside!

December 21, 2009 at 9:46 AM | Posted in gratitude, opportunities | 2 Comments
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[tweetmeme source=”jen_conaway”]

Baby, is cold outside! Here in North Carolina it was 20 degrees Fahrenheit when I let the dogs out this morning. Cold enough to make me want to crawl back into bed!

Instead, I took a moment to appreciate the cold. The way my breath curled into beautiful strands of mist in the early morning sunlight. The quiet of the woods, the crunch of leaves, frost on the windows. As long as I know I can go inside to feel warm and cozy the trappings of a cold day are beautiful.

If I didn’t have a warm place to go I imagine the cold day would be more of a challenge than a work of art. I was reminded, again, to be grateful. I am grateful for the roof over my head, for the heat, the food on my table, all of the things that make daily life possible.

I am also grateful for my business. My clients, the flexibility I have because I work for myself, the fact that I do something I love every day, the knowledge that I can help someone create the business and life they want… I could go on but you get the idea.

It may sound airy fairy, but five minutes spent looking at all of the good things about your business can completely change your attitude for the rest of the day. You shift into a more positive frame of mind that allows you to approach everything from that perspective.

You might not have as many clients as you would like, but you have clients. You might not have made your quarterly sales goals, but you made sales. You didn’t make the 10 calls you wanted to make yesterday, but you made 8 of them. Focus on what has gone well and what is going well.

This is a wonderful time of year to take a few minutes and be grateful, for everything you have in your business and personal life. I encourage you to make this a daily habit. First thing in the morning, before you log on to your computer, as your pouring your morning cup of coffee- just breath and be grateful. Make a list in your head of everything you appreciate. The list might include many of the same items every day and that’s ok. My list always includes the dogs and my ‘significant other’.

If you’re really feeling adventurous do a bit of dreaming. How would it feel to have all of the speaking engagements you want? To have your client calendar full 4 weeks in advance? To double your sales numbers for the quarter?

I am grateful for all of YOU!!

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