How to Keep Your Life and Business On Track: An Exercise

Every month, I do a simple exercise to help keep my business on track. When I first began to use this formula, I thought it would simply help me see how much work I had to do and where to focus my efforts… But the more I used it, the more I realized that this exercise helps in many, many other ways.

Aside from helping to focus my efforts, it also helps to:

1. Show me how far I’ve come, giving me motivation to keep moving forward.
2. Reminds me of my priorities and biggest goals once per month.
3. Actually assist in the manifesting process by creating both gratitude and desire simultaneously, without conflict.

So what is this simple exercise? Well it is the monthly inventory – and I’m going to show you how to do it today. Complete this exercise at the beginning of each month, and you will start to see major shifts and changes in your business.

The Monthly Inventory

The entire process starts out by completing an inventory of my life and work, as it stands, right now. Here is an example from June 2014 (when I’m publishing this post, obviously.)

Inventory:
Family – 9
Career – 10
Health – 8
Finances – 8
Education – 8
Recreation – 10
Charitable – 4
Adventure – 8
Travel – 7
Romance – 3
Relationships – 4
Spiritual – 6

I rate each item on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being completely dissatisfied and 10 being completely satisfied. In the past, things like charity and spiritual have been higher because I’ve been focusing on those areas. But as you can see, I’ve been focusing on my health, recreation, and business – so relationships, charity, and spirit have suffered a bit. Now I know where I need to shift some of my focus to for the month ahead.

Once I’ve completed my inventory, I can set my goals for the next month. For smaller goals, I’ll simply state a deadline. For larger ones that have carried over from months past, I’ll measure my progress. Here is an example you might use:

Revenue Goal: $1000
Revenue Current: $750
Goal Progress: 75%

Client Roster Goal: 10
Clients Current: 7
Goal Progress: 70%

Create landing page for new promotion (June 10th)

Reach out to new partners for promotion and secure 5 (June 25th)

Spend an entire day with friends and family (June 15th)

Take meditation course from MindValley (June 30th)

Now obviously those are not my real goals for the month, I simply made them up here as an example. However, you can see how I have business goals – continuing to build on the success I’ve had – and personal goals that relate to the areas in my life that I rated low on my inventory.

Now I have 4 small goals and 2 large goals to work toward for this month, so aside from my regular client work, those things will be my focus. At the beginning of July, I’ll do the inventory again and create new goals – bolstering the areas that need improvement and staying course with those that are okay as they are.

That’s it.

If there is one caution with this process, however, it is to not get caught up in guilt or shame about areas in your life that are lacking. Perhaps if you, like me, have been focusing on fun, fitness, and finances, your romance and friendships may have suffered a bit. Or you could have gone the other way – spent so much time in spirit-land, swooning your sweetheart and hanging with friends that when you’re being honest, your business isn’t where you would like it to be.

This inventory is not the place for judgement! Do not “should” yourself into a specific goal. You will never be “All 10s”, it is nearly impossible without the zen habits of a Buddhist monk. Where you focus will rise, and where you take focus from will fall. That is okay. This inventory simply points out where you’re not satisfied so that if you choose, you can make it a priority again.

Go ahead – do the inventory and then post a comment here. What did you discover from this process?

Make new things possible – love the gap.

Ever since my husband and I met (over 6 years ago now…) we’ve been campers. We camped on Valentine’s Day (in the snow), over long weekends and late nights (in places you could only walk to), and slept 10 feet from gorgeous lakes seen only by the lucky few with a strong enough truck (or legs) to make it there. He even proposed while we were camping – on a cliff, above the river, in the woods. But 4 years ago, just before my oldest daughter was born, that changed.

Camping with a baby seemed like a crazy idea – especially the way we did it, in a tent in the backwoods. Suddenly our camping concerns were less about beer and a view than about diaper changing stations and climate control. Things changed. We decided that before we would go camping again, the kids would be a bit older and we would (gasp) have an RV.

There Was a Gap Between Where We Were and Where We Wanted to Be.

The past 4 years, we’ve moved twice, had another baby, started (and ended) my corporate career, and launched 3 businesses. Each time, there was a gap between where we were and what we wanted – and we closed it. But the RV remained elusive… Until a week ago, when we finally decided to make the leap.

Days and days were spent driving to dealerships, scanning Craigslist, driving for hours to see a tent trailer that turned out to be a piece of… “Junk”. We were almost giving up hope that we were going to close that gap, until we found it.

A 1995 Dutchmen with a toilet, shower, furnace, fridge and sink. Two beds, just the right size. A table and bench for seating and extra sleeping. And it was within budget! We towed it home on Wednesday night, and left on our first camping adventure as a family Thursday morning.

There were hiccups, of course. The winch stopped working – and we had to replace it (in the campground, with borrowed tools!) The showed leaked. The sink overflowed. The roof dropped a quart of water on Darren’s back at 4am Friday. All hiccups, but all fixable. We were camping, and we were in an RV!

But The Gap Remains.

We bought our first tent trailer, and once we make a few repairs it will be everything we need as a family. It would probably last us well into our old age if we took good care of it. No issues.

Pulling into a campground with tents and tent trailers, we felt like real “grown  up” campers. And then we saw it – the 23′ Creek Side bunkhouse we looked at last year. Hard walls. Proper water supply and holding tanks. Bunkbeds for the kids. A bigger fridge and more storage – all with a $20k price tag.

And we wanted it.

There we were, finally sitting in the tent trailer we’d been dreaming of for 4 years, and we wanted to step up. What we had wasn’t enough. And for a moment, I judged myself for feeling that way.

“Isn’t this what you wanted?”

“Shouldn’t you just be happy?”

“This is just rampant consumerism running through your brain!”

But I stopped myself. That was the gap. It never, ever goes away – every time you reach a goal, the gap will show you something newer, bigger, and better on the other side.

Before the tent trailer the Creek Side seemed a million years away, and yet now it is a simple trade in and a few thousand dollars to get an older model and we’re there. It is within reach in a couple of years.

So I loved the gap.

I loved it for showing me what is possible.

For bringing a dream closer to reality.

For reminding me that when we get the Creek Side, I’m going to want something else. A new truck, a bigger RV, a 5th wheel… Something else newer, bigger, better, and closer to my reality from that point.

The Gap Stretches Your Boundaries.

When you were 16, if you were anything like me all you wanted was to get your drivers’ permit. The symbol of freedom – being able to go off on your own somewhere. But once you got it, you probably wanted your own car. And then a better car (better on gas, faster, sexier, whatever your fancy.)

You didn’t just “get your permit” and stop wanting – having your drivers’ permit opened up new possibilities on the other side.

Embrace the gap for everything it is, and everything it shows you. Allow yourself to reach a goal, then revel in “what’s next”. Love the gap.

What is On The Other Side of Your Gap?

I want to hear from you – what is on the other side of your gap? What is your “big goal” – not the meaningless business one, with the numbers and the comparisons… The real emotional goal. Supporting your family? Getting the bigger house? The fancy car? The freedom to buy an RV and take off camping without having to answer to a boss, like I did?

Do you know how to close that gap? I want to show you – so let’s talk. For 15 minutes, I’ll listen to your biggest goals and refine them into a plan that makes sense for you. One you can actually implement (without the frustration and overwhelm of those boxed “systems” you see elsewhere.) Something that is personalized for you, your goals, your future, and your skills.

I’ll show you how to love the gap, and push it further – to stretch the boundaries of your imagination and reach entirely new goals.

And it’s completely free. No cost, no catch. You, me, and a plan to reach your next big thing. Just click here to schedule a time to chat.

See you on the other side…

– Cheryl

How Jessica Oman Overcame Commitment-Phobia to Launch Her Entrepreneurial Journey

Today’s guest post is courtesy of Jessica Oman, one of the most fabulous guests from the Start Something Telesummit who has so graciously decided to share her story here. She tells the true story of how scary it was for her to start her business, to commit to doing the one thing she does well, and shows off her storytelling chops in the process. Read on!

How I Overcame Commitment-Phobia to Launch My Entrepreneurial Journey

Here’s a little-known fact about me: I’m a commitment-phobe.

Actually, maybe it’s a totally obvious fact. Having a party on Saturday? I’ll respond “maybe” on your Facebook event page. Want me on your dragonboat team? Sure, but only as a spare paddler. Thirty day fitness challenge? Yeah, right. I’m lucky if I get through the first week (where’s my wine?).

So when I decided to start my own business, you can probably guess that I wasn’t all in.

The story goes like this: I was in a job I sort of enjoyed, but couldn’t make progress in. I was being paid way below market value. I felt under-appreciated. I had no power to create or improve systems to deliver a better product to the customers. And, I couldn’t use all of the skills I’d spent six years and $40,000 in university tuition (for three degrees) acquiring. It was frustrating, and I had to do something.

I’d thought about starting a business for a while – something that combined my business education with my strong writing skills and allowed me to have complete control over my work while only working with the clients I wanted. But there were two problems: 1) I couldn’t commit to what I specifically wanted to do, and 2) I only had $170 to fund this new venture, whatever it was going to be.

So I did what one who can’t commit to something does: I started advertising on Craigslist for gigs as a “writer and editor for individuals and small businesses”. I didn’t quit my job, of course. I used my $170 to register my business name, get a set of $5 business cards and buy a piece of software that I don’t even use anymore.

It didn’t take long to get my first gig – and it was a big, nasty one. A $3000 project that I thought was my ticket to entrepreneurial freedom. But I let the client take advantage of my willingness to be helpful, and in the end neither of us were happy. I waffled. Should I keep going? Do I suck at this?

In the story you read when you sign up for my newsletter, you read about how I “never looked back” after launching my business. That’s true – but the official launch didn’t happen until three months after this first hairy, difficult project. That’s right; I spent three months going back and forth about whether I should start a business that, today, does nothing else but teach other people how to start businesses!

Ironic, huh?

So believe me, if you’re thinking about starting a new company and you’re scared to commit, I get it. That was me, too. The thing that ultimately pushed me into entrepreneurship was simply this: the pain of staying at my job or looking for another one was greater than the pain of just quitting and getting on with what I really wanted to do.

When The Pain is Too Great, You Must Commit

This is what I always tell my clients now. When they’re unfocused, indecisive, or scared, I ask them to visualize the new bliss. What is life going to be like when you become an entrepreneur? If your business fails, is that worse than staying in your current situation? If it’s not – then do it. Start something.

It’s not that you can’t pivot once you’re in the throes of owning a business. It’s not that you can’t go back to a regular job if you want to or need to. It’s that while you’re doing this thing, you need to be all in if you want to experience all the success you envision today.

I used those Craigslist ads to learn more about the types of clients I wanted, so I could more clearly define them for myself and refine my business to serve them better. I’m no longer a “writer and editor for individuals and small businesses”. I’m a business planner who trains new entrepreneurs in health care, food, or service-based specialties to plan and launch successful and profitable small companies.

And you can guarantee I’m committed to that.

What Entrepreneurship Is Really About.

This post has been a long time coming, inspired today in large part by one of my absolutely RADIANT Entrepreneurs whom you’ll hear more about in the next month. This isn’t going to be tactical advice. If you’re looking for a step-by-step how-to of something, Google will help you more.

This post is distilling entrepreneurship to its core, in the hopes of attracting more people into the great big world of business.

For anyone who knows me well, or has been anywhere near my yard, it is no secret that I absolutely love gardening. In fact, I love it so much that our family of 4 eats almost all of our summer produce exclusively from our little 0.099 acre city lot – and I still have plenty of lawn left to dig up!

One of the things I find most interesting this time of year, as we’re putting together our food garden for the summer, is the parallels between gardening and entrepreneurship. I’ve talked about this before.

You plant a seed, you feed it and water it, watch it grow, and reap the rewards. Always feed and water your plant for the development stage it is in, and you’ll do well.

But the nourishment. What is it? Where does it come from? What is the difference between a business that grows (and grows big!) and a business that withers, shrinks, dies a slow death, or never even sprouts from the seed?

What makes an entrepreneur? What is entrepreneurship really about?

It should be no surprise to those reading this post that our society views entrepreneurship as a risk. Leaving a steady job to run a business, even if it already has substantial profit, is often referred to as “brave” to our faces – and crazy behind our backs.

So is it risk that makes an entrepreneur? Is it the constant risk that makes the difference between success and failure? Taking big risks is the recipe for success?

Well, yes and no. Taking big risks is important – but not stupid “this will probably both kill me physically and ruin me financially” risks. Successful entrepreneurs do one thing, they do it often, they do it with persistence, and they do it in the face of fear:

They ask.

Not for little things, like a hand unloading the groceries. We’re talking about:

  • Asking for the sale
  • Asking for promotion
  • Asking for the interview
  • Asking for the contract
  • Asking about opportunities
  • Asking for content
  • Asking for a solo mailing
  • Asking for advice
  • Asking for a social share
  • Asking to be let into the group
  • Asking the client if they’ll stay on after a price increase
  • Asking the President of the United States for a quote
  • Asking friends to connect you
  • Asking strangers to connect you more

If the difference between success and failure, thriving and death, a bumper crop and an empty field can be summed up into one word, the difference is that successful people ASK.

I’ve interviewed television hosts, had my events promoted to over 100k people, got on the phone with coaches that require 6 figure investments “just to chat”, closed deals, and to be honest, built my entire business on that premise – just ask.

So, do you want to be more successful? Do you want to reach out, do more, be more, and live your dream? Then tell me – what have you asked for today?

"Enjoy the ride"

journey

Success.

Part timing, part preparation, part opportunity, and part luck. As human beings and entrepreneurs, we have a tendency to focus on our goals. This is after all what we’ve been taught for most of our lives – to set goals, and push forward to achieve them.

Goals are funny things, though. They are not absolutes, like the number of hours in a day, set in definite terms and scientific rules. They are fluid, ever changing and evolving, just as we are.

Many entrepreneurs set goals, and this is an important process. To get something off the ground and gain momentum, you must have some idea of where you’re headed. But many of us get stuck on our journey when things aren’t progressing the way we anticipated. We fixate on our goals, striving and pushing toward them with an almost reckless pursuit at times.

This does not serve us.

I’ve been asked quite a bit recently about the organic, unfolding nature of business. How one can set long-term goals effectively, without endlessly focusing on them and dismissing any results that fall short as “failures.” I myself have been guilty of this habit at times, and it is destructive – both to your mindset, and to your ability to actually reach your goals.

So how can you cope? How can you set long term goals, and not allow the pursuit of those goals to play a destructive role in your business?

You begin by understanding the nature of a business.

Just like goals and human beings, businesses are not absolutes. They are constantly in evolution, shifting, changing shapes and forms. This is the true nature of business, and with each new stage come new goals, opportunities, challenges, and lessons.

It may be helpful for you, on your journey, to think of your business as an oak tree.

In the beginning, you plant an acorn. You envision the tall, mighty oak towering overhead one day – this is your goal, your entire reason for starting a business.

If you were able to peer under the ground, within a few weeks you would see changes in the acorn. From a seemingly solid little nut, cracks form and a sprout emerges reaching toward the sky. This is the very early stage of your company, but take note – the acorn had to split and change for the oak to sprout. Your vision and your goal likely will as well.

Soon the sprout emerges from the ground, and begins the journey into a real tree. This is when the oak (and your business) are at their most vulnerable. Being exposed to the world, to the elements, to reality presents new challenges and opportunities. You must overcome fear to emerge into this stage and begin to take root.

The seedling grows, and over the years shapes into a small tree. It has grown stronger, no longer living in a harsh and unforgiving world it has adapted to life outside of the nut. It provides shade, beauty, and bounty as much as it can. This is your business in adolescence – when you’re gaining ground, become self-sufficient, and growth becomes more routine.

Eventually the small tree becomes a mighty oak, hundreds or thousands of years old. It has finally achieved what you intended, but it will not stop growing. The mighty oak will continue to grow until it dies, much as your business will have to continue to grow once you’ve reached your goal.

It is easy to get impatient with an oak tree.

You planted the acorn, why can’t you just have the 600 year old oak right now?!?! But ask yourself – if the acorn were to turn into a mighty oak today, what would you be missing out on?

The joy of seeing it first sprout, the shade of a young oak, the journey it took from nut to tree that hardened it into something capable of sustaining itself at those heights. Indeed there is much beauty in the growth of an oak tree, just as there is beauty in the growth of your business.

You can’t water an acorn like an oak.

If you get too caught up on your ultimate goals, it can be destructive. We have already established this. But why? Why is it such a bad thing to get fixated on where you’re going, rather than where you are?

Because you are where you are, not where you are going.

If you poured gallons of water on an acorn, it is very likely the nut itself would rot. If you watered a mighty oak with a few tablespoons of water, it would likely die. You have to nurture your business for where it is, not where it is going or where it has been.

This is why an obsessive fixation on the ultimate goal is unhealthy. We push too hard, we grow too fast, and not only do we miss the beauty of our young business but we sabotage our own success.

The secret to setting goals is in releasing them.

You have to be okay with what your business is today, and nurture it for what it is today. If you’re brand new, stop focusing on the money you have to make by X date and start enjoying the birthing of your business. If you only have a few clients, enjoy the free time to work on creative pursuits in your company. If you’re maturing and ready to hire staff, enjoy the interview process without fixating on training or HR policies. If you’re thinking of selling your company, enjoy taking stock of what you’ve accomplished and finding the right person to take it over.

Stop and smell the roses, and remember – success is a journey, not a destination.

5 Blogs to Inspire You To Step Up

biggergame

I’ve been writing a lot lately about inspiration, playing a bigger game, stepping up and changing the world even when you’re afraid. I’m doing this, right now – stepping up and doing a soft-launch of projectRADIANT next week, breaking down what successful companies are doing and laying out their game plans for others to implement.

There are some big, big companies coming down the pipeline with their interviews – big, scary, OMG I have to actually talk to that awesome CEO companies – and it is absolutely magical.

I know what happens when you step up and play a bigger game, and many of you are starting to learn. But in celebration of the upcoming release of pR, I thought it would be appropriate to hear the opinions of other highly successful people on the whole “step up and do something big” philosophy.

5 Blogs to Inspire You To Step Up

1. Kevin Colleran’s “Go Big or Go Home” on The Wall Street Journal

Kevin’s key points: true entrepreneurs do something that is a little bit crazy, that changes the world, they know why they’re the right person for the job, they time things right, fail fast, and pivot even faster. It is well worth a read.

2. Seth Godin’s “Thinking Bigger

Of course Seth Godin doesn’t really need an introduction, but if you haven’t read this piece on his blog yet, you should. There is only one central thought here: “Ask bigger questions.” That is what takes a business from “idea” to “remarkable.” Check it out.

3. Mike Michalowicz’s “Don’t Overthink It”

It is no secret that I’m a huge fan of Mike and his ideas, and this is one of my favourites. Simple, to the point, and with a fantastic and relatable example, Mike tells you to stop living in your head and swing for the fences (or the woods.) This 3 minute read could change your whole year.

4. Dave Navarro’s “7 Steps to Playing a Bigger Game”

This is less “blog”, more “opt-in page” (and no, I’m not an affiliate.) But if there were ever a sales letter or opt-in page worth reading, this is it. Dave actually lays out what he believes the 7 steps to stepping up, including his thoughts on reducing the number of steps it takes to achieve your goals which is one of the best ways you can hack your own psychology to help you achieve greatness. It’s a long read, but well worth it.

5. KissMetrics “Lessons from Richard Branson”

I love Sir Branson. He is an amazing example of what you can do if you’re willing to take a stand for a product or service you believe that people deserve – and yes, that is really how he thinks. His Five Tips for Success about half way through will help you see why he has been so successful (especially if you implement #5.) Just go and read it, you know you want to!

So that’s it.

Those are the 5 posts you should read today if you want to step up and play bigger. What blogs or articles have you found inspiring on your path? Share in the comments!

On Courage and The Pain of Playing Small

You must make a choice to take a chance or nothing will ever change.

“You miss 100% of the shots you never take.”

– Wayne Gretzky

What is it you really want?

Not just what you think you can have, but if there were no more obstacles, no more barriers, nothing stopping you – what would you shoot for? What do you really, really want?

How much money would you have?

How big would your company be?

How much (or how little) would you work?

What kind of impact would you make in the world?

What would you do for your family?

What would you do for yourself?

Push beyond your current reality.

Don’t think of your limitations, ignore your limiting beliefs (you can’t have X without sacrificing Y, for example), and create a picture of exactly what your ideal life would be like. Stretch it – make it even bigger. Then bigger. Make your vision for yourself and your business so big that you hardly believe you could ever have it.

Think to yourself what that would give you. If this ideal life were magically dropped in your lap right now, how would you feel? What would you do? Who would you be?

Pretty amazing, right? The way it would feel to live your ideal life is pretty incredible.

Now ask yourself…

What is stopping you?

Your logical brain (coming from your limiting beliefs) will likely have a few answers for you. You may think…

“I don’t have enough money.”

“I’m not good enough.”

“My parents never taught me how.”

“I don’t have the right connections.”

“I’m just a mom/dad/coach/startup/kid/senior/whatever.”

Go ahead and listen to those thoughts for a minute. Take them in. How does it feel to think that way? How does it feel to focus your income goals on “what you need to survive”? How does it feel to think of yourself as “just an” anything?

That is the pain of playing small. And I’ll give you a hint – you aren’t meant to play that small. If you were, it wouldn’t be painful to think that way. It would be natural to think of yourself as insignificant and unimportant, and you would be happy and embrace it.

Feel the weight of all of those limitations, and then ask yourself…

What would it be like if all of those limitations disappeared?

Really and truly – if you had enough money (or didn’t need it), if you were good enough (or didn’t need to be), if everything that was stopping you just went away… How would you feel? What would you do?

Here’s the big secret: did you know that you have the power to make those limitations disappear?

You do – in a split second, if you wanted to.

If you want to move past all of your limitations and embrace your ideal life, you only have to have one thing:

Courage.

The courage to push through every “no” and keep going until you get a “yes”. The courage to stand up and ask for support from big people, big names, and claim your big impact. The courage to earn a lot of money without having to work yourself to death (yes, most of us have limiting beliefs around “working hard=making money”).

The courage to get up every morning and keep working toward your ideal life no matter what.

So – do you want it? Do you want the courage to stand up and claim what you really want in your life and your business? Do you want to play that big game, and achieve everything you have ever dreamed of and more?

Then fake it.

Not in a dishonest, pretend you’re the king of the world kind of way. Act as if you have the courage to do it now. Act as if nothing is stopping you, as if you’re willing to push past any obstacle and not let anything get you down.

Act as if you have the courage to reach for your dreams today.

Because if you’re playing small, if you’re struggling to make ends meet or to get that next sale or to have any kind of impact at all, it isn’t going to get better. Doing the same thing over and over again will not get you different results.

If you stay on your current course, the worst thing that can happen is X. If you make a choice to take a chance, the worst thing that can happen – it is still X. Your failure will not be any more catastrophic than if you hadn’t stuck your neck out at all, but your success has the potential to be that much bigger.

Fake the courage until you have it, because “you miss 100% of the shots you  never take.”

So share in the comments below – what shots are you going to take today?

 

The Biggest Mistake You're Making in Your Business… (and how to stop making it today.)

jumpingoffbridge

“I don’t want to be too… ‘corporate’.”

I probably hear that 4-5 times a week. There is this negative association with corporations, as though doing anything that they do makes you somehow less noble, less helpful, almost evil. Like to be fully corporate, you would have to run your business with a board of advisers that meet in a shadowy back alley – outside the fringes of the law.

I’ve heard that a bit more than usual this week, and it was my call to say this to you:

Stop saying that.

Do you know why corporate marketing looks different from small business marketing? Is it because they’re evil, or manipulative, or distant and uncaring?

No, no, and no.

It looks different because it is. Corporations are marketing on a massive scale. They’re building brand associations, they’re creating a platform, they’re reaching hundreds of thousands, millions, and even billions of potential customers with their marketing.

They’re partnering with big name brands, getting major media attention every time they use the washroom or hire a new janitor, and just generally dominating their market.

Corporate marketing can feel impersonal because it can’t be one-on-one to hundreds of millions of people. How many personal emails or phone calls have you received from someone at Coca-Cola or Pepsi to get you to buy their products? That isn’t because they don’t care about their mission or their customers, it is simply that they’ve found more effective ways to reach you.

Many of you are probably saying “but I don’t want to be as big as Coke or Pepsi, so this doesn’t apply to me.” But, my friend, it absolutely does – and I know it does because I cause breakthroughs around this very challenge every week. For people just like you. (This is where you lean in and read intently…)

Being “corporate” isn’t what you’re afraid of.

In fact, being “corporate” just represents what you’re really afraid of. Something that scares the sh!t out of many of you, really.

Yes, there are some corporations that hurt people – no denying it. There are also people that hurt people, and with the negative focus of modern media, it is getting harder and harder to avoid hearing about them.

Microsoft has done some semi-evil things over the years (anti-trust lawsuit, anyone?) But did you know that they provide good paying jobs to over 100,000 people worldwide? That the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is working to solve world hunger with grants that also create dozens of jobs in developing countries?

But I forgot – you don’t want to be “corporate.” Why is that? Well, I think…

You’re avoiding playing a bigger game.

Because calling Sally over at Sally’s Health Spa to partner on a presentation to 10 of her best customers is easier than calling up Centrum and partnering with them to present your offerings to 10M people worldwide, right?

Because calling the local newspaper editor to share your story is easier than calling a journalist at People Magazine or TIME or The Wall Street Journal, right?

Because sitting there selling your own time and knowledge is easier than creating a product that can be replicated with or without you, right?

When you *are* the business, either you’re there and making money… Or you’re not there, and not making money. It is easier to do that than to scale, because your business getting bigger means you need to work a lot more – right?

Because staying small is easier than getting big, right?!?

But is it really?

A phone call to Sally and Centrum will take the same amount of time, and Sally is less familiar with promotional partnerships than Centrum is… She’ll probably take more convincing.

A call to the local newspaper editor won’t likely get you far, unless you’re in the local “clique” of important people… And because he is the only editor, it will probably take you weeks to chase him down. A quick email pitch to the editor at WSJ could be done in 5 minutes.

Selling your time and knowledge is easier at the beginning, when you don’t have a product to sell… But it is impossible to scale, and you end up owning your own job if you don’t evolve beyond that. “Well, if I want to make another $5k this year, I could work another 15 hours a week…” *shudder*

When you own a business and you grow enough to put someone else in charge, you sit around and help steer the vision of the company when you have time… All while getting a nice income from your creation.

Staying small isn’t easier than getting big.

Really, it isn’t. There are hundreds of thousands of companies out there trying to stay small. There are hundreds of companies calling Sally and John the Editor, hundreds of thousands selling their own time and knowledge.

The playing field opens up for the few who step up and play a bigger game. There’s just less competition the closer you get to the top.

So what are you really afraid of? Is it being corporate? Is it playing a bigger game? Is it working too many hours? Is it solving world hunger and creating 100k jobs?

No.

You’re afraid that you’re not good enough.

Who are you to call up Centrum, or WSJ? Who are you to create a product that sells millions of units per month, or to hire someone else to run your company? Who are you to build a company that helps millions, employs hundreds of thousands, generates billions in revenue, and doing it all while you’re enjoying your life?

Here is what I want you to understand: You don’t have to be good enough.

I mean, you already are, but you don’t have to be the best to have a huge impact and enjoy your life. You don’t have to create something amazing from scratch, or be the biggest innovator. Facebook is a publicly traded corporation worth billions, and they were a MySpace copycat. Apple is the same way, and they pay royalties on upwards of 100 patents for every single iPhone they sell.

You don’t need to be the best to have a huge impact, to change the world, to become a millionaire or a billionaire. In fact, to play a bigger game, you only need these:

brass-balls

They’re big, they’re brass, and they are the only difference between Bill Gates and that dude down the street who builds PCs in his basement. Mr. Gates had the “equipment” to walk into IBM’s office and strike a deal to put his operating system (one that he didn’t even create, he basically swiped it from Xerox) on every single PC they built, and pay him for it. That is what made Microsoft what it is today.

Now ask yourself, and be honest:

Do you want to help lots of people?

Do you want to be financially free?

Do you want to enjoy your life?

Do you want people to admire you for your accomplishments and your contribution to this world?

Then stop playing small.

You don’t have to sacrifice yourself and your priorities, you don’t have to be something you’re not, you don’t have to work like a dog or lie, cheat, and steal. You  just have to have the courage to step up, to put yourself out there, to align with people who are bigger than you are today, and to keep pushing until you make it.

Here is your challenge:

Do one thing, every day, that takes courage.

It could be that call to a big name magazine, or a partnership proposal to a Fortune 500 Company, or pitching a guest blog post to The Huffington Post, or sending one of your products to an A-List celebrity asking for their support.

Do one thing every day that pushes you into a bigger  game.

Even if you decide to stay small anyway, being small is a lot more fun when you’ve got big support.

– Cheryl

What to do when you're feeling uninspired…

How to get inspired and get back to work - fast.

10AM, every day. Not insanely early, in fact a late start by most accounts… But 10AM is the time I use to sit out on my front porch and admire the view down into the valley below my home. Just me, the warmth of my latte, and the view.

Parents return from their morning errands, with only the littlest children in tow. School is in. The eagles soar, the trees sway gently in the breeze, and the mighty glacier-fed river rushes below. It is a post-card perfect picture, something you could imagine Robert Bateman painting in his studio for display in a gallery. Breathtaking, serene, and humbling, the perfect accompaniment to my steamed milk and espresso.

Then you hear it.

Whir, whir, whir, whir…

The smallest of whispers, getting closer and closer. Louder and louder. Never deafening, so quiet that even a hushed conversation could mute the familiar sound.

Whir, whir, whir, whir…

The sound approaches, still out of sight but drawing me in with the familiarity of a thousand childhood summers.

Whir, whir, whir, whir…

And he appears. This same man, almost every day, just after 10am.

He is an elderly man, with at least 75 years of stories and wisdom behind him. He wears his jeans, his hiking boots, his coat. This must be his uniform, the way he dresses each day when he gets out of bed. There is a reflective safety vest draped over his delicate, weathered shoulders, likely at the insistence of his wife. I sit and watch, imagining her standing at their kitchen sink washing the dishes from breakfast – the same way she has for the last 50 years or more.

And he rides his old bicycle up the hill.

Whir, whir, whir, whir…

His frame, strong as ever is draped over the tubes of steel and rubber, bobbing and rocking as he makes his way to the top.

Whir, whir, whir, whir…

Suddenly, a car approaches in the opposite direction. A black Mercedes, likely a resident of the multi-million dollar homes resting on the crest of the hill behind me. A single driver, a man who appears to be in his mid-thirties, brings the car to a stop next to the man. The man on his bicycle stops, rests his feet on the ground, and lifts his head.

I perch on the edge of my seat, just close enough to hear their conversation yet far enough away not to intrude on their world.

“You’ve taken away all of my excuses,” the younger man says. “I stopped riding 10 years ago, thinking I was getting too old to keep doing it. But I see you here, every day, riding up to the top of the hill. You’ve taken away all of my excuses.”

The elderly man pauses, his face softening at the odd compliment. “When did you start riding?” he asks.

“I started in junior high. I loved the feeling of it, but when life got too busy to keep racing I just stopped. How about you?” the younger man prods.

“I started when I was 38 years old. My kids were growing up and I wanted to do something just for myself. I don’t always ride up this hill anymore, some days I have to stay in the valley, and some days I have to stay home. But whenever I can, I come here. Just look at the mountains, how could you not?” The elderly man shifts his weight and leans back, as if in awe of the beauty around him.

“I’m 38,” the younger man says. “You really have taken away every excuse I could think of. How do you keep doing it?”

“I’m 79 years old, and I’ve been doing this for over 40 years. I’ll do this until I can’t anymore. It isn’t a choice, this is just what I do.”

The young man pauses for a moment. You can see his expression change, even at a distance. “I’m going to start riding again. I’m just going to do it. You’ve inspired me. Thank you. What is your name?”

A truck comes up behind them, muting the sounds of their conversation. The younger man carries on down the hill, smiling and nodding at the elderly gentleman. The older man mounts back to his bike, just a few dozen feet from the crest of the hill, and pushes forward. And up he goes.

Whir, whir, whir, whir…

I never caught their names. I don’t know where either of them live. The elderly man is riding up less and less these days, but a curious sight caught my eye last week.

It was the younger man. Covered from head to toe in spandex, embroidered with a dozen logos from the Tour d’ France in black and yellow. And he was on his bike, speeding down the hill with the happiness of a little boy on his first two-wheeler. Smiling, riding, and taking in the view.

And so, my friend, I leave you with this today. When you’re feeling uninspired, when you think of quitting or taking a day off, when you can’t bring yourself to write that blog post or send that email or make that phone call, I want you to remember.

That fateful winter day, a 79 year old man was just doing the same thing he had done every morning for over 40 years. He got out of bed, mounted his bike, and rode. A simple thing.

But just the simple act of getting up and doing what he does – of not quitting, not taking a day off, not giving up despite his obvious and valid reasons to take a rest – inspired another man to get up weeks later, and rekindle his love of the sport.

Just by doing what he does, he took away all of the excuses for someone else.

His form isn’t perfect, he isn’t draped in medals, he doesn’t have the fanciest gear, and he has never been interviewed by the media for his accomplishments. And he taught me, that:

You don’t need to be “somebody” to be something to someone.
(^^Click to tweet^^)

If you’re struggling today, if you’re feeling uninspired, don’t rest on your laurels. Don’t wait for things to get better, or easier, or to “make it big” before you bother. Get out of bed, and do what you do. You just never know who you might inspire.

How to Actually Launch Your Business This Week (Part 2)

Open-for-BusinessIn last week’s post, we talked about launching your business quickly by finding a service-based offering that fulfills the same need as the product you want to develop. This week, we’re going to talk about how to actually launch your service-based business quickly and awesomely (in a way that doesn’t lead to more overwhelm, frustration, information overload, and – you know – bad stuff in general.)

Are you ready to get clients or customers for your service-based business this week? There are a few quick things you need to do…

1. Get clear on your outcome. What is it that you do for people? What problem does it solve? Don’t focus on the solution (your service), focus on the problem (why someone would buy your service.) Get completely clear on the problem you solve, the emotions around it, the people who have it, and the people you want to help. Be passionate about solving this problem!

2. Create an initial offering that knocks their socks off. You know that one little gem you have – the one thing you do for paying clients that makes people say “wow”, burst into tears of joy, or just generally freak out in the presence of your awesomeness? Find a way to do that – for free. Yep, give away your biggest and most powerful tool. This won’t solve their whole problem (it never does), but what you share will likely show your ideal clients that a) their problem can be solved and b) you can help them do it.

3. Figure out where the people you want to help are looking for an answer right freakin’ now! I don’t mean where they hang out, I mean when someone is in a panic about solving the problem you solve, where do they go? What do they do? If someone is mid-breakdown because they want this problem solved really badly, where do they turn? This isn’t as hard as you think. If you’re really hungry, you go to the restaurant instead of the grocery store. If you’re really fed up with your dog making a mess on the carpet, you go to the pet store for a solution to make him stay away. Where are your rabid, hungry buyers already looking for a solution?

4. Go there. Physically, virtually, whatever suits your fancy – it doesn’t matter. You get out of this what you put into it. If someone is in buying mode, looking to solve a problem, you want to be where they are. Professional service people like VAs, writers, etc. this is your time to start checking Craigslist, Elance and oDesk! I have even found coaching clients on oDesk. I have friends and family who found six-figure writing contracts on Craigslist. Not kidding. Go where the buyers are already looking for you.

5. Master the sales conversation. This part is a bit big for a blog post, but here is the general gist of it: Ask them what they really want. Get them to share it all with you – every detail, every thought, every emotion. Make them feel really good thinking about what they want. Ask what is stopping them from having it. Ask what it is costing them not to have it. Have them describe what it would do for them if they could overcome those challenges and get what they want. Ask how committed they are to getting it on a scale of 1-10.

Then say, “You know – I’ve helped a lot of people just like you get those kinds of results. I actually have a program designed for people in your situation, with your challenges and your goals. Would you like to hear about it?” Lay it all out – the benefits of what you do, asking if they think it would be helpful along the way. When they ask about the cost, offer a money-back guarantee first, then state your price. If they object, call them on it – they told you it was important, but they’re not willing to invest their time/money/whatever. Is it really that important?

6. Repeat #4 as often as necessary. Use the 5 circles of marketing to find 5 different ways to reach your target audience for maximum results. Guest blog posts, forums, groups, networking meetings, events, whatever you can do to get in front of buyers – do it.

7. Ask for help and feedback. This is not the time to be the standoff-ish expert, ask for feedback and genuinely care about what people tell you! Ask your friends, family, colleagues, whoever you can for referrals. Get on the phone with as many people as you can to ask about their challenges and obstacles so you can shape your offering. Practice your initial offering talk, session, what have you on anyone who will listen. Post on your groups and forums looking for feedback on your content. Ask for help! Be humble. This is you, standing in your commitment to make your business work. If you don’t share with those who love and support you now, when will you?

This will launch your business quickly. Period.

Planning comes later. Business cards might be helpful, but don’t agonize over them. Even your website can come later if it stops you – you can launch and generate revenue, get clients, this *week* if you really implement this process. Don’t wait – start something!

Want to use this article on your site? Go ahead! Just include this byline at the end:

Cheryl Woodhouse is the Intuitive Marketing Mentor, helping entrepreneurs build wildly successful businesses with less frustration, overwhelm, and stress. Using her groundbreaking business modelling methods, she simplifies marketing, growth, and success into systems that any entrepreneur can implement while playing to the strengths of every individual. You can gain access to these innovative strategies for free by visiting her blog at CherylWoodhouse.com