Are you having fun in your business?

I grew up in a pretty serious household, where fun was not really embraced or encouraged, and frequently inappropriate in a “knock it off” or “quit goofing around” kind of way. We rarely broke out into spontaneous fun as a family, and unless I was playing by myself, on vacation, or at a friend’s house, my fun was structured or scheduled. Once in a blue moon, spontaneous fun could slip into our home, but it was more likely to be a strategically planned surprise party, or a hot air balloon ride at five in the morning after waiting six months for the weather conditions to be perfect.

(Go ahead and laugh at the pixie cut and the poor image quality. This was 1997 people. Nothing was digital or in high-definition… thank goodness!)

hot air balloon ride fun

There was something about fun that made it feel like a dark cloud of guilt hovered nearby, ready to shut things down in case our intoxicating levels of joy reached dangerous heights. That’s not to say I didn’t have any fun growing up or that I endured a miserable childhood. I just didn’t have parents who had time or the desire to play games, or chase after me on playgrounds. They were busy being successful so that my brother and I could have the latest and greatest things that made us cool, and accepted, at school.

I was taught that life was pretty serious and I looked down upon anyone who goofed off. Serious, serious, serious. That’s why I was on the honor roll.

Am I having fun in my business?

In my business, I’ve found a bigger, deeper lesson unfolding as I strive to enjoy what I do, find fulfillment in working with my clients, and help them make small changes in their businesses that have a big impact, all while laughing and having fun along the way.

Serious, serious, serious has been scratched out and replaced with fun, fun, fun.

There is so much to be serious about in life and I’m doing my best to inject business with less serious ways of achieving success and more ways of having fun while figuring out what works best for you in your business.

Kind of like when my high school science teacher brought in a container of liquid nitrogen and instantly turned a thawed hot dog into a frozen stick that shattered when you hit it with a hammer. (Anyone remember that? Here’s a video of Mr. Wizard and a student shattering a hot dog at 4:38: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-wJAG7GcQEI)

Give me the magic formula!

As entrepreneurs, we want the magic formula to be given to us so that we can go through the motions, take the necessary action steps, and *POOF* become successful. After all, that’s what is seems like is happening to the “overnight success” stories shared by the media. What we often don’t see or hear about are the failures (experiments) those entrepreneurs tried before finding out what worked for them.

In April’s Real Simple magazine (ironically), there is a story featuring a lawyer, Mae Tai O’Malley, who started her own law firm for women with kids who needed flexible schedules. In it she says, “I started at a large, traditional law firm. Later I worked part-time for various technology companies. I got asked to do some work for Goggle in 2006. I had three kids at that point and couldn’t take on all the work, so I thought, I’ll just hire one other mom. In looking for that person, I met a number of attorneys. That was the start of Paragon.” She’s now got 70 employees. *POOF* Success!

Real simple, right? All fun and games.

I call bullshit.

While I love that she’s rocking it, finding life balance, and helping other moms have fulfilling careers, I’m annoyed that the article doesn’t mention any of her struggles, the ups and downs of entrepreneurship, or the fact that her ego was likely in the back seat telling her how awful she was, explaining how it wasn’t going to work out, and asking her who she was to be doing this work.

After you’ve been in business a few years(or a few hours, really), you know better. You quickly realize that the article might paint a picture of rainbows and butterflies, but her reality was closer to changing diapers and wiping spit-up off her favorite Armani suit as she passed the kids to her nanny and hoped her cell phone held enough charge to last through the meeting until she could found a place to plug it in.

Sadly, there is no magic formula, that’s not how it works, and our overblown expectations can often lead us down a trail of disappointment with a strong desire to give up our passions and get a J-O-B instead of struggling through the ups and downs of entrepreneurship.

We need to face the fact that owning our own business is more of a personal journey of growth than anything else.

It’s not about being serious, following some formula, and doing it alone for fear of showing weakness.

Entrepreneurship is about learning to trust our intuition, going after what we want, surrounding ourselves with the people who can help us get where we want to go, and seeking the help and guidance we need to get there… while having fun on the journey.

It’s about finding the clarity we need to move forward in our business instead of comparing ourselves to everyone around us and what we think we should be doing.

It’s about doing what works best for us to support our goals and learn the lessons we need to learn in this lifetime.

How can you have more fun in your business?

What can you do today to have more fun in your business?

Maybe you take a Friday off each month to enjoy a spa day with your best friend. Or you visit a new park each month with a good book and a sack lunch to explore your city and inhale fresh air. Maybe you do something that scares you and sign up to speak at an event you’ve never been to, or attend a conference that sounds cool. Maybe you have a dance party to celebrate every new client who hires you, every testimonial that comes in, or every time money enters your bank account.

If you like talking to people on the phone, maybe you invite people you network with to have a free call with you. Love food? Schedule a weekly lunch date at your favorite restaurants. If you like dogs, get out of the office and ask if someone wants to meet at a dog park to network. Sure it sounds crazy to do business at the dog park, but it would be memorable and could be fun.

Personally, I like talking with people about their businesses and the challenges they face so I invite them to hop on a free call with me. We get to know a bit more about each other, we share ideas, frequently figure out easy solutions to their most pressing issues, and some of them end up working with me or referring clients my way.

That’s my idea of fun.

It’s not about “making the sale” and “pressuring them to commit”.

It’s about making connections, being of service, and offering to help.

Once you figure that you, you’ll find that you’re having a lot more fun in your business.

What are you waiting for? Let’s have some fun!

Schedule a free clarity call with me here: http://simplifyyourmarketing.com/clarity/

Making Deeper Networking Connections

Do you like networking? Or see it as a necessary evil?

I talk a lot about the importance of networking, and I know that while it may come naturally to some, networking often makes people extremely uncomfortable.

What I’ve learned over the years is that networking isn’t really about selling yourself to everyone you meet. Instead, it’s about meeting new friends, making connections with people on a deeper level, having meaningful conversations, and learning about one another so you can genuinely help one another.

Networking

You won’t be a good match for many of the people you meet. Maybe you don’t need another lawyer, real estate broker, insurance representative, or  business coach in your contact list. Then again, maybe you do.

By networking one-on-one with the people you meet, you have the opportunity to make deeper connections, form more lasting bonds, and create loyal referral partners who will get to know, like, and trust you.

Not all of the relationships you cultivate will turn into referrals or end up as clients, but that isn’t the point. The point is, by making deeper connections with the people we meet, we can be present in the moment, honoring our human experiences, and learning to enjoy the company of one another unconditionally.

Once you connect with the people you meet unconditionally, you become irresistible.

Once your intentions are purely for the purpose of helping others instead of pushing your services, you become a trusted asset in their network.

Once you let go of the need to SELL and lead with your need to SERVE, everything else falls into place.

Like many things in business, what we think is the magic pill or the winning formula is actually just a diversion. What truly works is often counter intuitive, seemly impossible, and yet, surprisingly effective.

What can you do today to set the foundation for making a deeper connection with someone you know?

To learn more ways you can improve your networking game, register now for a free, 3-part video series on How to Network When You Hate Networking. I’ve done several of these trainings in person and have condensed the key learnings into 15-minute videos filled with tips on Where to go, Who to meet, and What to say at your next networking opportunity to make the time you spend networking much more effective and enjoyable.

The videos will be available March 15th so mark your calendar, and register here.

What do Valentine’s, Chocolates, and Your Ideal Clients Have in Common?

Valentine’s Day, Chocolates, and Ideal Clients?

That sounds like total happiness to me.

A day dedicated to the expression of love, the greatest food invention of all time, and working with my favorite clients. Total bliss.

But this post isn’t just about me… It’s really about you.

If you’re struggling to choose an “Ideal Client” (or as I call them, your “Favorite Client”), I invite you to follow me down a bit of a rabbit hole for a moment…

Think of it like this:

If you could go into a confectionery with all sorts of chocolates, fudge, candies, and even cheddar popcorn and potato chips for you savory folks, what one item in the store would you love to have all day, every day in unlimited supply? 

Be specific. Don’t cheat here and say “chocolate”.

Pick ONE item.Dark Choc

What did you pick? (You can email me or comment on the blog if you really want to have your vote count–it is an election year after all… and I can post results next month.)

For me, it’s dark chocolate, specifically dark chocolate covered peanuts. All day, every day.

Sure, I like some of the other stuff in the store.

But I LOVE dark chocolate covered peanuts.

I’ve been known to snub white chocolate, milk chocolate, hard candy, chewy/waxy candies, licorice, and any chocolate that is disastrously poured over pretzels or coffee beans (Yuck! No offense).

When it comes to the confectionery, I want to be known as “The Girl Who Loves Dark Chocolate Covered Peanuts”. 

You know why?

Because if anyone I know goes to the confectionery to buy me chocolates, the staff behind the counter will know to suggest the dark chocolate covered peanuts, and I’ll get exactly what I want every time.

Now think about how this applies to your business.

If you go around telling the world that you work with anyone with a pulse, you’ll get every variety of candy in the store… or none at all because people might send you ballet shoes, snow tires, or gourmet mustard instead.

But…

If you make it known that you want to work with mom entrepreneurs who have young children and are trying to figure out how to get clarity in their business to attract the right clients and build a business they love, guess what you’ll get?

Dark chocolate covered peanuts all day long.

And that, my friends, is what Valentine’s, chocolates, and your ideal clients have in common. The more clear you are about communicating who you love to work with, what you specifically want, and who you want to work with, you’ll start to attract your favorite ideal clients ALL. DAY. LONG.

And that’s the goal, right?

Delicious!

If you want help specifically defining your ideal client, clearly identify them, and communicating what you want to your referral network, sign up for a free clarity call with me today. It’s easy, fun, and might surprise you.  

P.S. If they are out of dark chocolate covered peanuts, squares of around 70% dark chocolate will do. My taste buds can work with that. Similarly, my business will attract things that are similar (dark chocolate covered almonds/dad entrepreneurs who want to get clear in their business and build on a solid marketing foundation), just by being clear on what I specifically want. Try it and watch your business soar!

Do Less on Social Media

Dear Fellow Entrepreneurs,

It’s come to my attention that many of you are feeling guilty about not posting enough on social media, not getting your email newsletter out on time, not posting to your blog consistently or as much as you’d like, and not having updated your website recently.

I’d like to offer you the next five seconds to beat yourself up for all of those things and let your ego go wild with all the nasty things it will say to you.

Ready?

Go.

One. Two. Three. Four. Five.

Times up.

Thank your ego for trying to keep you safe and kindly explain that you are taking your ego’s suggestions into consideration and choosing to move forward.

Now, I invite you to:

Ditch the guilt around not doing enough. It isn’t serving you.

Give up one thing you hate doing that you keep thinking you’re going to do.

Use the energy you have been using to beat yourself up and use it to take action that you know works and gets results.

Answer these questions for yourself:

  1. Why you are posting on social media, blogging, and sending newsletters?
  2. Do you like doing these things?
  3. Do they generate revenue for your business?
  4. Why do you think you *should* be doing more in these areas?
  5. Is it possible that you can do less of these things and achieve similar results?
  6. Is there something else you could be doing that is a better use of your time?
  7. How did anyone ever do business before social media was invented?

Is it possible that you don’t need to use social media and online marketing as a major part of your marketing mix?

I spoke with some really amazing women business owners today and kept hearing how they wish they were doing more to market their business. Sadly, doing more wouldn’t help them. Doing more of the right marketing might. But just doing “more” wasn’t going to do anything but exhaust them.

Just some food for thought.

If you’re interested in learning more about this idea of ditching the guilt and focusing on what works for your business, check out my new book, Finding Clarity: Design a Business You Love and Simplify Your Marketing. It’s available on Amazon.

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Or sign up for a free clarity call. I’d love to learn about your business and the issues you’re facing as you attempt to attract new clients.

Best wishes,

Amanda

Want to write a book?

I’m always hearing people say how much they want to write a book someday. It seems to be a popular dream high on a lot of bucket lists.

Most people don’t know where to start, don’t think they have time, aren’t sure what they would write about, don’t know the first thing about the publishing process, and write it off as a dream that will never come to be.

As the launch of my second book fast approaches (in six days, but who’s counting!), I wanted to take a few minutes to reflect on my process having self published a book and having worked with an author coach and publisher. I’ll offer some insight to anyone who is considering writing a book or just loves living vicariously through others.

DIY Self Publishing

A few years ago, when I had my first child, I wrote a book somewhat accidentally. Friends encouraged me to start a “mom blog” with all the funny stories about things that happened on my journey into motherhood. Like when our car froze to the street and we couldn’t get to the pediatrician. Or when I locked my daughter in the vestibule and forgot my keys in the house.

My father strongly urged me to compile them into a story and print a copy for him for Christmas. I did and it was a hot mess of a book full of typos and stories that ended abruptly. The book included black and white pictures of my daughter being cute and was organized by month so that you could see her growth and how much our lives were changed by introducing a child into our world.

My husband spent hours designing a cover with a collage of all the photos from the book.

And then my dad started selling copies of it to his friends!

It was so rough that I was beyond embarrassed and decided to clean it up as best I could without spending any money.

A family friend edited the manuscript for gross typos and tried to fix my poor grammar. One post was written in the present tense with the next post in the past tense, and the one after that switching randomly from one tense to the other.

I created a cheat sheet of words that needed to be hyphenated and capitalized so that I could be consistent with my edits. I used Photoshop to re-size the pictures. I spent endless hours formatting the Word document to make the book look presentable. I learned how to create an automated table of contents and set formatting standards in a document. I designed my own cover using a photo I had taken on our vacation to see my sister-in-law. And then I convinced my husband’s aunt to do another round of edits.

The manuscript came back with a sea of red edits that I entered into the Word file. I made final tweaks to the formatting and uploaded the file to CreateSpace.com for a proof.

All in, I invested maybe $500 into the book. Unless you count the $500 camera and gazillion hours writing, editing, proofing, and designing it. Even more if you add in the computer and software. I did buy an online training course put on by an author who explained how to promote a book in the early days of self publishing. I also bought a set of 10 ISBN numbers which identify your book in a unique cataloging system.

LTBOM CoverIt’s called, Lions & Tigers & Babies! Oh My!: One Mom’s Journey Through the First Year of Motherhood. But I never really promoted the book and, to this day, most people don’t know that I even wrote a book about my journey through the first year of motherhood. (Nevermind that it is part of a seven-book series detailing the first seven years of motherhood, and I have drafts of the six books that follow it.) I did buy a set of 500 bookmarks, that I designed, for less than $100. I gave those out as business cards to any moms I happened to randomly meet.

And my proud parents continued to call me an author and give or sell my books to everyone they knew. All told, I think there were 100-200 copies in circulation six years later and I heard that the library in my hometown had a copy that had been checked out several times.

I wrote it for my own personal enjoyment and learned several tricks and new skills along the way… mostly about how to improve my writing and grammar.

Getting Published

Fast forward a handful of years to me as a business owner. I went to a coaching conference in Atlanta and roomed with a woman who had an author coach and was publishing a book the next month. She instantly knew I needed to write a book and within a week, I was signed up to join a three-month program that would have my book published and promoted to all of the world.

Unlike the do-it-yourself method I knew, having an author coach, an editor, a book cover designer, a proofreader, and a launch team was a big, much needed, and awesome change.

My job was to figure out who I needed to write my book for and then write the book. Sure, I did edits, and made suggestions for the cover, but having someone lead me through the process, answer all of my questions, and help me get unstuck was priceless. Instead of taking years to write, the book was done in three months. Instead of doing it alone and never really promoting the book, I was part of a team of 20 authors all launching books on the same day! There was pressure for me to not let them down. I saw them struggling through the process and they saw my frustrations. But we didn’t stop and we did it together.

Instead of telling my family and friends I wrote a book, I had a launch team. It included my friends and family, the author coach’s staff, and the other 20 authors.

Instead of posting my book on Amazon, without any sort of launch party, and hoping it would be discovered, I was going to be interviewed on the red carpet at The Author Castle in Washington, DC with my story being broadcast to hundreds, if not thousands, of people.

Instead of selling 100 copies of my book (or having my parents give 100 copies away to their friends), I was projected to hit the best seller list within the first 48 hours of launching the book!

I invested a lot more money into this book, but I did so strategically. You see, this book is designed to share my signature process with entrepreneurs who are looking for more clarity in their business. It’s meant to give them a taste of the results that I achieve with my clients and acts as an invitation for struggling business owners to reach out to me for help. We can talk about the issues they face in their business, and see if it makes sense to work together.

And more importantly, for me anyway, is that by promoting this book, and sharing it with the world, I’ll have the chance to help a lot of people find clarity in their business. They won’t all hire me, but they might find a way to be 10% happier in their business. And if that’s the case, it was worth the investment of time and money to make a difference in the world and make someone else’s life a little better, and their business more successful.

To get your copy of Finding Clarity: Design a Business You Love and Simplify Your Marketing, visit Amazon.com. And be sure to write a review.

If you’re interested in writing a book… or want access to over 18 amazing books (that will be FREE on the 19th), sign up for the January 19th, 2016, launch event here. If you can’t make it to the event, sign up anyway to receive a recording of the event, links to 18 books for free, and incredible free offers from the authors!

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What does success look like to you?

Have you ever taken time to define what success looks like to you?

What do you want in life? What do you want in your business?

This is a question I’ve spent the last two months getting really clear on as I wrote a book called Finding Clarity: Design a Business You Love and Simplify Your Marketing. (Mark your calendars and watch for updates. It comes out January 19th on Amazon.)

I invested in an author coach, dedicated twelve weeks to getting clear on what I wanted to say, and who I wanted to write the book for. The process brought about a lot of shifts in my thinking, my business, who I want to serve, and how I see my success.

It also helped me realize how much goes into having a successful business beyond the daily motions of entrepreneurship (the invoices, client calls, website updates, and social media posts) and into the purpose, connection, and inspiration behind all successful businesses.

A successful business takes courage, and passion. 

Courage to forgot about what other people think and choose to follow your heart, serve the people you love to work with, and design your business around your needs instead of what you think others need. (Or in Ada’s case, courage to rock a crazy hat with your mom’s sunglasses on your morning walk to school.)

Courageous Ada

Passion to love what you do and do what you love in a way that is of great service to the people you serve.

Success can be scary, and as such, we tend to hold ourselves back from our own success as a way to stay safe in our mediocrity. We can hide behind what others think and what we think we should be doing. We can try to look busy in hopes that others will assume we are successful. But the truth is, it only matters what we think about ourselves.

I think… I have more to give… more passion, more courage to share my talents with the world and achieve my own definition of success.

I do not want to be mediocre. (What a funny word! Mediocre – adjective – of only moderate quality; not very good.)

I want to be successful. I want to change the world and inspire others to realize their own greatness along the way. I want to embrace every part of my success, hug the air right out of it, and breathe it all in.

I want to share what I’ve learned with entrepreneurs like me who have been struggling to realize their own success, get out of their own way, and share their gifts with the people they are meant to serve.

The cool part? That’s the whole point of my book. That’s what it does. It helps entrepreneurs find clarity and it helped me create a process to lead my clients through to ensure they achieve results. I’ve used it to help entrepreneurs get out of their own way, find the clarity they need to define their own success, and achieve greatness. And I plan to use it to help even more entrepreneurs find clarity in their business.

This is my window of opportunity. The success train is leaving the station and I’m getting on it, no matter how scared I might be.

Want to join me on the path to success? If so, let’s talk. Schedule time on my calendar. I have a sweet deal (one-on-one coaching at 40% off!) for five passionate and courageous entrepreneurs in honor of the book launch this month only. And I happen to be great at helping entrepreneurs find clarity in their business while defining their own success.

Would You Rather… Be Marketing Your Business or Serving Your Clients?

would you rather

Have you ever played “Would you rather?” It’s a game with a list of questions where you pick between two options that are both good or bad and then explain your choice.

This question came up in my business in the form of “Would you rather have a beautifully branded website and online presence, or would you rather be able to serve your clients really well?”

While the traditionally trained marketing person inside me screamed, “You need a website to be found these days!” the modern business woman in me (and my new Author Coach for the book I’m writing about marketing) said, “Your clients don’t even know you have a website.”

And you know what? She was right!

All of my early clients have come from networking and direct referrals. 

This realization was a game changer for me.

I felt so guilty for buying into the “old way” of doing things where all the marketing advice was telling entrepreneurs to start with a website. Dig deep into your pockets and fork over some start up capital for a website and a logo so that people can find you on the Internet.

That’s what I thought was the right thing to do. That’s what all of the courses and advisors and marketing specialists told me to do.

And, sadly, that’s still the primary advice out there on the Internet and… sorry to bear the bad news but… for most entrepreneurs in start up, it’s crap advice.

You don’t need a website to start a business.

I’ve heard story after story after story of business owners who don’t have any money left to invest in their business because they spent it all on a website that isn’t doing much of anything for their business except making them feel legitimate on the web.

Some of the business owners persevere while others fold up and go back to work for someone else in hopes of squirreling away enough money to try again another day.

It’s better for a for-profit business if those are paying clients so that, down the road we can invest in a logo, branding, and a website as part of a growth strategy. But for right now, we just need clients.

And before we can get clients, we need to know what we have to offer them, how we can serve them, and who they are. 

Sure, we can fumble around for a few months in the start-up phase trying to figure things out, reworking our elevator speech, and creating a new offer each week until something clicks.

But the best way to get clients is to get clear about your business, focus on the people you want to reach, and craft a message that communicates how you can help them. Once you have an idea around what you can do for them, then you can take the steps toward finding them, attracting them, and working with them on a paid basis.

While they are paying you, you’ll work out the kinks, figure out what you like and don’t like about your business, and start to home in on what you want your business to be. Then, and only then, will you truly be ready to create a brand and a website that conveys your message effectively — because your message will be clearly defined and come across easily.

Before you spend any money on marketing your business, help people. It’s through the action of helping people that you’ll learn what you would rather do in your business. Would you rather… serve clients one-on-one for a year, or work with a room full of people for an hour? Charge an hourly rate or offer programs for a set fee? Work with celebrities or your neighborhood pet owners?

It’s from experience that you’ll learn what you’d rather be doing in your business. Then you can DESIGN YOUR BUSINESS around what you love to do. You’ll want to CLEARLY know what you’re going to say, who you’re going to say it to, and how you can say it in a way that really connects with your audience.

If you’re struggling to find clarity in your business and are overwhelmed by too many options, click here to sign up for my free workbook Narrow Your Focus to Expand Your View: 5 Ways to Clarify Your Vision. And when you’re done, email me your answers for a free Clarity Call to learn how we can work together to Fast Forward to Clarity in your business.

The Customer Is Not Always Right

While watching my kids hang from the monkey bars and spin wildly on the playground equipment at our new school, my conversation with a fellow parent turned to the topic of marketing and how to find new clients. It’s the most common question I hear and the heart of all business development:

“Where do I go to find new clients?” 

It would be great to offer a quick solution, or some new clients on a platter, but my response is always, “It depends.”
20151012_customers
The customer is NOT always right.
I don’t want you to attract just anyone. I want you to attract the right customers. The ones you can do really great work for. The ones who appreciate your help. The ones you look forward to calling and are proud to call clients. They are your ideal customers.
I follow up with a few questions:
  1. Who do you most want to work with?
  2. What do you know about those “ideal” clients?
  3. Have you had/do you have any clients like them?
  4. Where have you found them in the past?
  5. Who can you reach out to for referrals?
These questions can be enough to get a new client with little effort and investment. At the very least, they can help you realize that you aren’t clear enough around what you want and help you focus on small actions you can take to attract new clients.
For example, the playground mom I spoke with is a family therapist. She realized (in our brief time together), that:
  1. She likes working with adoptive parents.
  2. Her ideal clients work with adoption agencies.
  3. She has some that she likes and could describe why they were ideal and what they had in common.
  4. The clients she liked the most were from an agency and were choosing counseling voluntarily to improve their family’s happiness.
  5. She was going to email an agency she had worked with in the past to let them know she has spaces available to take on new clients.

That’s not so hard, right?

The challenging part is getting clear on what you do want.

She doesn’t want to do all the administrative paperwork that comes with screening prospective parents for adoption. She wants to help parents who have adopted a child already in order to improve their home life.

That small detail completely changes who she is looking for and where she’s most likely to find them. It isn’t people who want to adopt children, but those who already have adopted children.
Clearly knowing what you want and who you want to work with helps SIMPLIFY the whole process.
If you’re struggling to determine who you want to work with or how to reach your ideal customers, schedule a Free Clarity Consultation to get clear on your marketing needs. I have 5 spaces available for Clarity Consultations this month. Let me know if you want one of them.

Own Your Strengths

You might not want to hear this, and it might make you uncomfortable, but… you need to stop trying to be everything to everyone if you want to excel in your business.

And, as a consumer, you need to accept that you can’t necessarily get everything you want from one place.

And that’s okay.

That’s how it should be.

You don’t have to save the world or get everyone to love you.

You just have to serve the people who need you, and those who you can serve best.

You have to own your strengths.

It’s a lesson I’ve spent the last few months learning first hand.

The biggest part of that lesson, for me anyway, was learning how to see what I’m actually good at, and then accepting those talents as my gifts to this world.

What are you REALLY, REALLY good at?

What would friends say if you asked them?

Sometimes, that will be enough to see your gifts. Other times it won’t.

A better question might be, “What do you do so naturally that you don’t even realize you do it?” 

Want a clue? Listen to what you say right after receiving a compliment. If it’s anything along the lines of, “That’s just what I do,” “It was easy,” or “No problem,” alarm bells should be ringing because you are getting close.

We recently moved from a condo to a single-family home (that tripled our space and added a yard), hosted pizza night for over thirty neighbors (even though we could have easily played the new kid on the block card and gotten out of hosting this year), invited everyone we knew over for a housewarming open house (that lasted twelve hours and had over 112 people attend for drinks, food and fun), and then went to a block party that lasted an entire Saturday in the rain (for which we co-hosted the lunch portion for around 60 adults and kids) all within a two month period (not to mention unpacking, registering the kids for school, assembling furniture, and enjoying our summer).

I kept hearing, “It’s amazing that you’re hosting a party after only being here six weeks.” “How is it that you know people on the block already and I’ve lived here 60 years and I don’t even know them?” And, “You got the reclusive guy that we didn’t even know lived here to come to pizza night? How did you do that?” I kept brushing it off as nothing.

After all, it’s just what I do.

I build community. It’s my gift.

I’m surprisingly good at building community wherever I go, enhancing communities that already exist, and harnessing the power of groups to work toward a common goal. Who knew?

Narrow it down, a lot.

Instead of being a photographer, you need to be a wedding, boudoir, and family portrait photographer with a flattering flare for style and design. That’s way more fun to say at parties, right? Who wants to meet her?

For a long time, I thought I was good at general business marketing. After fifteen years in the business, I’ve learned that I’m better at helping entrepreneurs market their services, brand their businesses (come up with ideas for names that resonate for them, guide them on how to have logos designed that express their essence), draft strategies to efficiently reach their best clients, and give them the words to clearly state what they do so that they can attract the people they can best serve. I help them take their big visions and plant the seeds to grow an empire.

How cool is that? (Assuming you aren’t intimidated by having an empire or starting a revolution…)

Lead. Collaborate. Contribute.

If you’re an entrepreneur, chances are that you’re a leader. And you’ve probably heard Laurence J. Peter’s famous quote, “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.”

I always knew I was a leader, but I also thought I could be a follower when more of a supporting role was needed. That was a wishy-washy place to be. So instead of being a leader or a follower, I’ve decided to be what I refer to as a collaborative leader. Someone who helps my clients tackle tough questions, think through challenging issues, connect with their intuitive reactions (do a gut check to make sure they are on the right path), and take actions that make the most sense toward their goals. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to pitch in when someone is in a bind, but I’ll be a contributor, not a follower.

“Lead, contribute, or go find something that brings you joy.” ~Amanda H. Young

Admit your shortcomings. 

Are you good at bookkeeping? Graphic design? Website development? Information technology? Writing? Speaking? Networking? Payroll? Painting? Cutting hair?

You might be good at several things, but you also might be trying to do it all.

I’m all for learning new skills and trying new things. I mowed my lawn and drove a 26-foot moving truck before realizing I didn’t really like doing either one. I also considered repainting a few walls in our house, ever so briefly, and then remembered how much I hate painting and needed professional help. Here’s the genius work of my professional painter. The wall used to be maroon. He did five areas of my house in less than five days and didn’t even need to tape things off first!

professional painter

I built my own website, and swapped out a few lines of HTML code, but I’m not a website designer and it’s far from anything that brings me joy. I’m not a graphic designer. I’m not a technology person. I can’t fix software or hardware problems beyond restarting the computer and clicking the ‘install’ button as needed.

And I’m okay with that.

I’m not all things to all people.

I’m a marketing strategist who helps entrepreneurs with service-based business figure out how to build and expand their companies to be a positive force for change in the world.

Who are you?

For more ideas on how to own your strengths, and narrow your business to serve your best clients, signup for my free workbook, More Fun Than a Root Canal: Five Ways to Make Marketing Less Painful.

Simplify Your Marketing

More Fun Than a Root Canal: Five Ways to Make Marketing Less Painful

How Building a Community Can Boost Your Business

When people think of their community, they most often define it as the people living in their home town.

When I think of community, I think of all of the different groups I’m part of that define me.

We recently moved to a new community that is a better fit for our family with young kids. The houses are more spacious and have back yards. The neighbors are more friendly, visible, and approachable, and less transient.

Ada and Iain's New House
With the real estate market moving swiftly, there wasn’t time to meet the neighbors, ask about the street, dig up dirt on the school, or learn much more than could be gathered by the consistently glowing reputation for great schools, friendly neighborhoods, and a liberal disposition.
I didn’t really know what to expect.
You can imagine my relief on day one when, as we were unloading the moving truck, my neighbor passed me a slip of paper with her phone number on it and urged me to call or text if we needed anything… even something silly like a roll of toilet paper.
I had found my people and my place in this world.
A few days later, I received marshmallow swirl brownies and an invite to weekly pizza nights held by neighborhood families to build community on the block… and to avoid having to cook on Wednesdays.
Then a play date at the neighbor’s pool, where we met even more neighbors with kids the same age as mine.
I was quickly added to the neighborhood contact email list and invited to Shakespeare night, a birthday party, BrewFest, movie night, and two block parties already scheduled for the fall.
Seriously? Somebody pinch me!
This was heaven.
I had stepped into a community that was already well established. And then I was instantly welcomed, invited in, offered a drink, and embraced with open arms.
This was the community I longed for. Similar to the clubs, block parties, and neighborhood events I had organized in the city… except that this was already a well-oiled machine. I didn’t have to build it from scratch.
It took years at our old place to establish a sense of community among our condo neighbors, classmates’ parents, and fellow knitters. But it was worth it to feel like I belonged to something bigger.
What shifted for me in this move was the realization that the same rules apply for your business community.
You might be saying, “But what community? I only work with a handful of clients and they don’t interact with one another.”
Think about it this way… Where do you love going to eat, drink, or shop? Do they know your name? Are there familiar faces? Is the service consistent and are you made to feel comfortable?
You might think of a “community” as your neighbors or your hometown, but it is so much more… and your business could really benefit from it.
Take another look at your business.
You could have several communities:
  • Your employees
  • Your current clients
  • Your past clients
  • Different levels of clients – some may be VIP level clients
  • Your vendors
  • Your social media followers
  • Your networking partners
  • Your industry organizations and advocates
  • Your physical business neighbors
  • Your local businesses in your Chamber of Commerce
Communities can be made with most groups that have common interests and goals. 
There is often a feeling and friendship associated with each community, and they can create strong bonds that, from a marketing perspective, are priceless.
Those community bonds can make clients more loyal, and can help you attract referrals. The friendships made within a community can even boost your confidence and create the connections you need to take your business to the next level.
What can you do to strengthen or build your business community?
Pick one community for starters. Are there ways you can participate in your community more? Make them feel more welcome? Invite them to interact in a way that is good for everyone’s business? How can building your community help you reach your business goals?
Maybe you’ll:
  • Donate your services to a community partner in order to get in front of potential clients.
  • Introduce clients who work with similar customers and suggest they partner on a project.
  • Host a party for all of your high-end clients to network for business.
  • Create a business group to share strategies for dealing with everyday business challenges.
  • Start a local group for people in your industry who work with different clients and can refer business to one another.
  • Launch a business book club to meet your neighbors and grow your business.
  • Join a service organization to add a new community to your collection while serving others and expanding your business.
  • Or just build one-on-one friendships with individual clients so they feel a personal connection to you.
If you’re wondering how you can build a stronger community to strengthen your business, grab time on my online calendar for a free, thirty-minute marketing assessment to find ways to Simplify Your Marketing and help your business thrive.