Archive for entrepreneur

How to Avoid the 9 Mistakes Small Business Commonly Make

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to recognize the problems others are having and completely overlook the same thing in yourself?

When I opened my first business I made all the most common mistakes, and then some!  My sister could see what I was doing wrong, and was vocal about it.

I didn’t listen.

Every business article I read seemed to be saying the same thing – exactly opposite of what I was doing.

I didn’t listen.

After several months of pouring hours and hours into a business that didn’t make a single, red cent . . . I started to think that maybe I was doing something wrong. Of course, everywhere I turned I learned I was doing something wrong, but I wasn’t listening!

Unfortunately, the same thing happens to many small businesses. And, while I made many more than five, there are five more common mistakes that businesses make. Whether you are contemplating a home-based business or you are opening a new brick-and-mortar business, you’ll want to pay attention.

  1. Your business is driven by a plan and not something you’ve fallen in love with. My first love was medicine and my second was writing. I spent years working with adults and children who needed physical rehabilitation. At some point I fell in love with the idea of publishing a review journal in the area of head injury and spinal cord injury rehabilitation.

I spent several months contacting over 30 journals who published research content, asking permission to publish the abstracts of each article. Most of the journals that gave me permission also gave me a complimentary copy of the journal.

Next, I set about getting customers. Hospital libraries that served the needs of large rehabilitation departments were my easiest customer to get. Soon, I was copying those abstracts, publishing and binding the review journal and mailing them monthly to my customers.

I loved the idea and it seemed to be growing. That is, until Medscape and Medline came online and did the same thing on the internet – for free. I didn’t have a plan and I wasn’t flexible.  Within the months the business failed.

  1. April4PhoneListen to your customers, but trust your spreadsheets. Mistakes are made when you do either or. Customers and spreadsheets are not an either or approach. Your customers often know what they want and your spreadsheets tell the story if they are buying what they say will.

If you listen to just your customers you may end up losing the farm. If you just watch the spreadsheets, your customers will know their needs aren’t being heard or met. There is a middle ground and it’s your responsibility to find it.

In the same vein, don’t expand your business and employees too quickly. Your spreadsheets will tell you when you’re capable to taking on that overhead expense. Until that time you can plug the holes with a virtual assistant to a couple of freelancers.

  1. NEVER risk your retirement. It took you or your relatives a LONG time to build up their retirement savings. Leave them there. If you need extra capital look to the bank, angel investors or crowd funding. Leave your retirement and the savings of your friends and family exactly where it is.
  1. ALWAYS allow more time than you think you’ll need to get your business running. The first membership program I started started 4 months before it opened and I was up until 3 am the day before to finish the last little bit. No matter how far out you plan something always pops up. Mistakes are made, your products don’t arrive on time, your freelance writer doesn’t complete their projects, the website doesn’t get done. . . something WILL happen. Always best to be flexible and plan for longer than you think you’ll need.
  1. Your personal experience doesn’t translate to business experience, unless it is real business experience. If you are a fitness trainer, it doesn’t mean you know the intricacies of developing a membership based business. You can train the individual, and may have an incredible program to get that done, but that doesn’t translate to running a successful business.

This is the time to get advice and then send it through a filter. You can’t take the advice of everyone you meet, but you must take advice. It’s a fine line you walk between believing everything and believing nothing.

  1. You are the BOSS not all the employees – don’t try to do it all. If this is your first business and you’re operating on a shoestring, it’s likely you’re trying to wear all the hats in the business. However, it is important that you outsource what you can, when you can. You are the BOSS in this business. You will have to have some of the jobs, but you seriously can’t do all the jobs.

Every business needs the following: writer, copywriter, marketer, accountant, financial officer, marketing executive, webmaster, web developer, graphic designer, customer support, and the list goes on . . . There is NO WAY you can do all these things and stay sane. Your business needs the positions, but you don’t need to fill each of these positions.

Choose your assistants and freelancers carefully. Many people can do two or three things. And never, never, never give up control of the money. You might have an accountant or chief financial officer but the “checks” must all be signed by you. Too many businesses have been lost because someone the owner thought was trustworthy really wasn’t.April4Sales

  1. Products don’t sell themselves. You HAVE to be a salesperson whether you want to or not. In fact, when asked what the most important skill they possessed, more than 75 percent of CEOs said it was the ability to sell. You need to sell yourself, your business and your products.

Don’t be the stereotypical car salesman! Instead, learn the skills you need to sell your products, online or in person, because your products won’t sell themselves and people won’t buy from a car salesman.

  1. Focus, focus, focus. Just like location is essential in Real Estate, focus is essential to new and existing businesses. You absolutely need focus to complete a project or you’ll be distracted by the next shiny object in your life. Distraction will mean you miss the important issues in your business and will probably miss your business fairly quickly after that.
  1. Waiting until you’re perfect, or perfectly ready. If you’ve reached perfection then you’ve waited far too long. Every business makes mistakes. You’ll never reach perfection so there is really no point in trying. EXCEPT that waiting for perfection often means you’re either afraid of starting or failure.

Small businesses have a way of making you face your fears, especially if you have any intention of being successful. Here’s something you may have heard before – YOU can do it.

You can face your fears. You can be successful.

The only thing standing in your way is  . . . YOU.

We are all born with specific skills, talents, advantages and disadvantages. It’s how you use those factors that determine whether you’ll experience the success you’re aiming at. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

You have the abilities you need or can hire the people who can do what you don’t know how. If you don’t know how to build professional websites, don’t spend months learning. Hire it done and then get a better one later.

If you want a small business, then go out and GET IT!



Do You Need Experience to Achieve Successful Results?

Does being broke make you powerful?

I don’t think so! There IS a certain power behind your desire when you ARE broke.

Suddenly, back to the wall, debts to the ceiling, you realize that push has come to shove and there is no way out except by your own hand.

No one will be there to save you or bring you riches and gold. The only one left to save your behind is you.

Is that the power behind being broke?

Some say it is. Some believe that you first have to experience being broke to understand how to become financially successful.

But, by this logic you must first experience being abused to understand that this is not how anyone should be treated.

You must first jump off the bridge to understand that the water isn’t nearly as soft as it first appears.

Is there a power behind having firsthand, experiential knowledge of a thing and not just reading about it?

Going down this trail, the next question becomes – how can you experience something and gain the power of that experience without firsthand knowledge?

And . . . is there power in the knowledge of something you remember and ‘feel’ rather than read and understand?

Mr7QuestionCIThe answer to the first question lies in the answer to the second.

I remember things from my childhood that have driven my personality and my character as an adult. Many of these memories are good and many are not so good.

I have only to walk into a locker room to remember a conversation I overheard when I was a teenager. It was a conversation between two girls who I thought were my friends.

They never knew I heard what I heard. But those words changed who I became in the coming weeks, months and years. I learned a lesson I’ve not forgotten about the power of gossip and the pain of broken trust.

Of course, we were just teens and, young teenage girls being who they are, this shouldn’t have left an indelible mark.

But it did, and it has – in a good way.

The power of a lesson learned by experience develops into a change in character, decisions and choices.

I remember a young couple who lived in my home town. They both struggled with managing their weight.  One day we saw them out walking, both having dropped many pounds and looking healthier than ever.

My mom asked “what was it that triggered the change?”  The answer was that the man had a mild heart attack, and faced with the choice between better health and eating too much food, they chose health.

The young wife remarked that although it had been a challenge, it was amazing to them that it took a heart attack to show them that it was more important to eat to live, than it was to live to eat.

Experience led to a change in behavior that led to a change in results.

So, can you have the experience and gain the power without firsthand knowledge?

The answer to that question lies in the power behind visualization.

But not just any visualization!

Several years ago the movie “The Secret” made a splash with claims that in order to achieve a goal we must first believe that it’s possible. Of course that’s true.

But it led to many people sitting home in their easy chair, visualizing checks being delivered in the mail and unsure why they were experiencing bankruptcy.

The movie was accurate as far as it went. But without the additional admonition to take action to achieve those goals, too many people continued to wonder where their pot of gold had disappeared to.

Researchers have been able to pinpoint what happens when you visualize something positive happening in your life, without the experiential knowledge.

It saps your energy.March7TigerCI

In effect, positive visualization or fantasies resulted in a larger decrease in energy when they affected a pressing need in your life. (1) Meaning that when you need money and visualize getting a promotion, new client or other means of making that money, you lose the energy to pursue the object.

You have effectively tricked your brain into believing that what you want has already occurred. There is no need to continue to work or drive action toward a goal that has been achieved.

Instead, research finds that when you visualize the movement toward a goal, and not the achievement of the goal, you are more likely to reach your objective.

If it’s a new client you need, you’d best be visualizing yourself taking the action to acquire the client rather than visualizing actually working with a new client. The distinction is important to your results.

And it’s important to the answer to that first question: how can you experience something and gain the power of that experience without firsthand knowledge?

You gain experience and abilities through visualization.

Looking at brain patterns in weight lifters, researchers found that those weight lifters who visualized weight lifting gained an average of 13 percent muscle mass while those who did the actual lifting gained 30 percent muscle mass. (2)

Visualization gave the stationary weight lifters almost one half the gains of those who actually were lifting the weight!

Mental training is important in any sport, in any business and in any aspect of life in which you want to achieve success.

Want to be a better parent? Have more money? Get a better job? Be an entrepreneur?

It’s time to stop dreaming about the idea and take action on the steps to get there. You don’t have to ‘be broke’ or ‘reach rock bottom’ to experience the pain of regret, poor choices or bad decisions in order to drive your actions.

You only have to:

  1. determine that you can achieve the goal you want
  2. visualize the steps to achieve that goal
  3. take action on the visualization

If you don’t know the steps, ASK. There are plenty of people who have ‘been there and done that’ before you.  Most of these people are willing to help and point the way.

They aren’t going to do the work for you . . . but most people are willing to show you what needs to be done.

In his book, The Power of Broke, entrepreneur and branding consultant Daymond John, shares his perspective on the power of being broke and the motivation you’ll experience to drive you toward success. You will learn from each article and book you read. It’s not WHAT you learn but how you USE it that counts!





Building Your Independence One Brick at a Time

It was October of 2006 when I decided to get SERIOUS about developing a business that would be sustainable and profitable. It took me years to learn the ropes and many mistakes later before I could safely say that I was supporting my family without dipping into savings, retirement, life insurance or credit cards.

Yes! I used all four to keep body and soul together while struggling to build something I could be proud of. The divorce came at a very inopportune time.

Business was rolling along and I was making ends meet. Barely making those ends meet – but they were meeting!

And then the economy crashed and what I provided to my customers became expendable.

I was no longer needed. I was wanted. But in those days you purchased what was needed and not wanted.

So my income plummeted and it was a couple of years before I recovered. I blame the slow recovery on my inability to learn what had to be done in enough time.

The same things happen to small businesses around the country every year. Whether they are small home based businesses or brick and mortar businesses, the owners must pay attention to the changes in the economic landscape and determine if their product will make the grade.

Originally my small business was a way to express myself creatively and enjoy a bit of income. But after the divorce it was how I put bread and butter on the table.

Having a business has provided me with more than income. I’ve learned skills I’m using with other companies to help their business grow. I’ve gained strength I never thought possible. I’m learning the fine art of networking – when I’m really just a homebody and prefer to stay behind the scenes.

And, I’m putting food on the table without worrying about paying the rent every month.

Have you considered the benefits you’d reap if you spent an hour or two a day building something you could call your own?

Most people start their own business while working for someone else. And, that’s the best way to do it.

You have the safety net of a consistent salary, while building an additional income. Eventually you might make enough to quit your day job and stay home with your children.

What would that mean to you and to them?

Independence is a hard won process, especially as a single mom. You may not want your independence. Down deep inside you might want a partner by your side who can share the burdens of everyday living. But the reality is that right now, it’s not happening.

So how can you assert your own independence, teach your children the value of hard work and ingenuity, and be satisfied each night when you lay your head on your pillow?

The additional income is a great resource. You’ll be able to go out to dinner a little more, have drinks with your friends, go to the movies or buy those special pair of boots your teenage daughter has been drooling over.

But it’s more than income.

It’s independence. And with independence is the ability to CHOOSE dependence. You have the option to choose a partner and not to feel as if you need one to fill the gaps in your life – both relational and financial.

Because with a business that you own, marketing will force you to develop relationships with other people, create a circle of friends if you don’t have and will put you outside your comfort zone.

Truth be told, the growth that yields the most is that done outside of your comfort zone, and often during a time you feel you’ve failed.

Failure isn’t failure until you refuse to get up and try something new. When you get up and keep learning you’ve started growing.

Looking back these last seven years I am blessed by the growth I’ve undergone. Whether it’s personal pain or financial instability – I’ve been growing by leaps and bounds.

It’s time to identify the areas in your life that need some tweaking and developing.

Your children are watching you. Whether you know it or not – whether they say it or not, they are watching.

You are their compass. It’s a great responsibility and an awesome future that lies before you. Your actions will affect your children and your children’s children. When you can fully grasp that concept you may be completely overwhelmed.

That’s good – it’s the start of a whole new beginning and a whole new you!

I started this article with the intention of talking about why it’s important to have your own business and how you can get it done. But I realize that there are multiple opportunities for you start something at home, and multiple people who are willing to show you how to get that done.

What I needed eight years ago was a kick in the pants to get the thing started SERIOUSLY. I don’t mean dabbling daily in checking email, reading sales copy or checking out the newest and greatest way to drive traffic to a website.

I mean getting serious about choosing a business – not a website, not a scheme, not a process – but a business.

If you want to see yourself bringing home a little extra cash every month and growing that into a thriving business, then it’s time to get serious about doing things with intention and not getting up each day, putting your head down and getting the work done.

Now is the time to look up, take stock of where you are and determine where you want to be.



Why Building a Bigger Bottom Line is Not Just About Income

Balancing finances is only one of the challenges that single moms face during separation and divorce. It can be scary, overwhelming and keep you up nights wondering how in the world you can pay your credit card bills and if you can make the rent next month. What if the car breaks down? Will the kids get presents at Christmas this year?

It’s a balancing act that’s easier when you’re married and so much more challenging when you’re alone. It’s possible that after just a couple months your ex may begin to resent the money he’s sending for child support. Of course this isn’t true of all ex-husbands.

In most states your ex will be making child support and spousal support payments through a state agency. However, there are extra expenses that may have been covered in the divorce agreement, but which require he make the payments to you personally. Some dads are better at this than others.


But, here’s the hard truth about financial difficulties and being a single mother. The reality is that we can have a reasonable expectation that the support check will be in our account each month when the state agency removes it from our ex-spouses’ work check, when he’s working. That’s it. That’s what we can rely on.

The great thing is that today you can have a future that YOU define and that isn’t defined for you. Is that future nerve wracking? HECK YES! But, it is also full of more potential and greater success than you could have otherwise imagined.

Why is that?

Because pressure changes everything. Pressure in our lives changes the way we do things. Without being pressured to get out of our comfort zone, we might never change. We might never consider the opportunities that lie before us. But, with pressure to move beyond what we find comfortable, we’re more likely to make choices and decisions that result in greater success.

Of course adding to your bottom line and improving the overall outlook of your budget has benefits that don’t need explanation. You can pay the bills on time, not stress at the grocery store and stop worrying about how close to the limit you are on the credit cards.

But there are even more important benefits to your home and your children, because these benefits demonstrate your ability to face challenges in life and find creative solutions. This benefit alone is a gift of a future.

At a time in the growth of my own business, when I wasn’t sure how things would come together each month, I published my first book on Amazon. I used Create Space to produce the hard copy of the book and ordered a proof to be sure that it was formatted correctly.

When that book came in the mail I could not have been more excited to hold it in my hands. I was literally vibrating with excitement and joy. This had been a dream of mine since I was 14 – to write and publish. And suddenly, I knew that if I gave myself the grace and patience needed to grow, I could accomplish what I wanted.

That book in my hands showed me that dreams do come true when you work at what you want, practice consistency and persistence and, as Winston Churchill once elaborated to a group of graduating college students,

“Never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

Too often we fall short of the goal because we stop trying before arriving.

It is NOT smart to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results. But, it is smart to try, fail, get up and try again – learning from the mistakes that were made. Only this way will you be able to hold that dream in your hands and fairly tremble with unabashed joy.

For these reasons, and so many more, it’s your turn to make the choice to expand your freedom. There are so many reasons to consider starting a small business at home. It can be in your spare time, after work, in the evening or on the weekends. You can start something yourself or work with another person or company who is already established. The true goal is growth – personal, financial, relational and parental.

  1. Tax write offs are the primary reason that people list for starting a home based business. This is a benefit that helps at tax time. But, before writing off your entire apartment, the electric bill and the Internet bill, you must talk with your tax preparer. There are specific rules to the amount of space you can deduct, gas, clothing, utilities, insurance, Internet access and other expenses. If you go outside the parameters and deduct something you shouldn’t, you will experience more pain than gain. Uncle Sam doesn’t give gifts. Live within the rules and established boundaries and you will reap certain reward.
  1. Demonstrates to the children that anything is possible when you put your mind to it. This is priceless. You show your children your strength, courage and creativity in a way that they couldn’t experience any other way. Do not leave it to their imagination to figure it out. Sit down and talk with them about the business, what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, the challenges and how you’re meeting them. You can explain all this to children from five to twenty-five at their own developmental level. You might be surprised by the ideas you get from small children who think well outside the box that we’ve put ourselves in as adults.
  1. Adds more income to your household budget. Yay! Even a little more each month can help pay the utility bill, or make paying the grocery bill less painful. Engage your children as much as possible in what you’re doing so you aren’t taking time away from them to meet your budget, but instead are involving them in something you can all grow together.
  1. Increases your own self esteem. Your first check or Paypal payment will be amazing. It’s an incredible feeling to open your Paypal account and see there’s money you earned from selling crafts, writing, information or other people’s products. Suddenly you’ll feel great and more in control of your future. Remember that succeeding checks don’t come without the effort, work, marketing and work. Yes, work was mentioned twice for a good reason.
  1. Creates an outlet for a side of yourself you are probably ignoring right now. Let’s face it, most of your time is taken up with work, keeping your home together, parenting and being the chief-cook-and-bottle-washer. In other words, you’re doing everything for everyone except yourself. Your small business is a great way to express your creative side and do it in a way that you feel is productive and brings something of value to your family. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t also find balance in your life by taking breaks, having some fun and enjoying the life you’ve been given. But, using creative juices to increase your bottom line and motivate your children feeds your own self-esteem in way that can’t be fed any other way.