Thursday, October 27, 2011

Learn From My Mistakes

I have been in business for myself for ten years now so you’d think I would learn and not repeat mistakes from the past.

Maybe it is menopause and my short term memory is shot, but yet again, I find myself feeling ripped off and while I am loath to admit it, I am partly to blame.

It actually all boils down to communication, or the lack of it.  Just like with teenagers, you have to ask the right questions and when you don’t, you forge ahead with misinformation and make assumptions - a dangerous way to go.  When you don’t have the full picture of what is involved, you proceed unaware that trouble lurks around the corner.

So what have I learned this time?

1.        When you don’t know, what you don’t know – ask the silly questions, do your homework and have the other person explain in full what is involved in the project and for how much.
2.        Get it in writing, spelling out exactly what will be done and what each component will cost and how the person will be reimbursed, with a payment schedule.
3.        Be specific on what you want, why you want it and how the end product will be used.

4.        Don’t expect other people to resolve problems in the way you would and then you won’t be disappointed.

I guess I am just a lifelong learner.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Beyond the Writing

When I was pregnant I remember focusing so much on getting through the childbirth, that I gave little thought to what happens after the delivery.  

Likewise, I put all my energies into writing my book and getting the message right, that I paid little attention to how we were going to sell and market the book, once it was published.

In fact, in my book  Day to Day – Tales of business, life and everything in between, I compare starting a business with motherhood.  As in both instances you can go through such a wide range of emotions, from joy and excitement to out and out fear and self-doubt that you are not up for the role – be it as a parent or as an entrepreneur. Well I now want to add publishing a book to being similar to giving birth. 

In fact, authoring a book is a whole new career and for us creative types, sales is not always our forte.  Truth be told, it makes me downright uncomfortable.  I can do a great job selling and marketing other people’s products, but my own – and my own book about myself to boot, it is just not happening very easily. 

 Silly really because I know I have an important message to share.  It is almost as if I expect people to know this through osmosis and buy the book anyway.  And I have heard from those who have bought it, that it is a good read, which is reassuring and good to know.

So trust me all you would-be authors, just like childbirth, writing the book is just the beginning.  It’s a whole new world out there and I, for one, am taking toddler steps as I learn the ropes.    

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Be True to Yourself

Are you running a business or pursuing a hobby?  challenged Pat Mussieux, our speaker at a recent dinner event.  Good question. 

So much depends on why you started your business in the first place and what your end goal is and lastly your definition of success.

For many women, turning a hobby into a business is a logical next step but that doesn’t mean that they want to make lots of money, but more that they want to lead a productive life and pursue a passion.  Does that mean they are not true “business owners?”

I’d argue that they are, but their definition of success is different.  For each and every one of us, our definition will vary.  The key is to be true to your own.

We all strive for different things out of our businesses, and yes, when you have to put food on the table, you need to be more driven to succeed, you have to be.  But for some, the motivation is more about taking control of our lives or living a meaningful life that makes a difference in the lives of others.

I’d hate for us to get into the same competition from years gone by, when stay-at-home moms and those who worked outside the home, each considered themselves better than the other. 

Why you start, pursue and build a business is your choice and how big you want to make it, is up to you.  Don’t let others determine your definition of success. Let’s respect the decisions others make and not compare or compete with one another on who is a “real” entrepreneur.  We all are, to one degree or another.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Taking risks

I have been talking and writing a lot lately about taking risks, stepping out of your comfort zone.

One of my suggestions to get used to the concept, is to just drive home a different way and deciding I should practice what I preach, that’s what I did today.

I was feeling quite adventurous as I went straight ahead, instead of turning right.  First thing I noticed was a local hotel where a friend will be staying next month. Good to know, it’s not actually where I thought it was.

Next as I turned the corner I noticed several large trucks and a young woman holding a stop sign.  My first thought was to be pleased that there was a woman working on the site.  That generous thought lasted two minutes, maybe three max, as the traffic came to a standstill.  Five minutes later we were all still there.  Nothing was moving either way.

Eventually being the A type personality that I am, along with the other less patient drivers, I did a three-point turn and got back onto the main road and came home the usual way, thwarted in my attempt to step outside my travelling box.

So what did I learn from this little escapade?  There were no signs warning you of the road works ahead, but then in life, we don’t see flashing neon signs of danger either.  You just have to deal with the cards you are dealt with, make a decision and move on or in this instance, turn around.

Instead of being in autopilot, I was much more observant than usual, taking note of my surroundings.  It isn’t wrong to take a risk, but like anything you do for the first time, it could take you longer than you think to reach your destination! 

But hey nothing ventured, nothing gained. I now know where the hotel is.