17 Ways I Reconnected with Purpose in my Biz in 2017

Reflecting on Biz Purpose in 2017

As the year is winding down, hopefully you’ll have some time to rest, reflect and set some intentions for 2018. For me, amidst client deadlines, school events, holiday baking, traveling, and holiday decorating, I actually plan times where I relax [perhaps a bit too Type A?].

It’s About Working with intention

I spent a little time midweek this week to reflect on the things I did to bolster ME and make my biz feel more soulful. Here are 17 [too much? Never too many things to celebrate and be grateful for!] that made 2017 feel more purposeful. My hope is that these acts of deliberate self care; acts of caring for others; efforts to have impact in my work; choices to work so that my biz and my family were in harmony inspire you to reflect a bit on your year too in order to set intentions for 2018.

1. I sent these socks to a friend wrestling with a big biz decision. #carpediem

2. I completed one Whole30. I was tired of fueling my body with food that didn’t leave me feeling vibrant. I wasn’t sure I’d survive the NO WINE AND CREAM IN MY COFFEE bit. But I did. And guess what? A better fueled me led to more business. Hmm…coincidence? I think not. And I really enjoyed my first glass of Pinot after the 30 days were done. The entire family enjoyed this Whole30-friendly Shepherd’s Pie.

3. I bought a new car and then drove it cross-country on a SOLO roadtrip. WI, MN, IA, NE, CO, NV, CA in June. There is nothing quite as therapeutic as driving with the tunes loud and the windows open. Am I right?!? I had two breakthrough ideas during the trip that brought in 2 new clients.

4. I spent 20% of my working time doing work to benefit a cause. I was thrilled to support 15 different causes and organizations with cash donations, my time, and by providing my expertise to solve a challenge for them. I’ll be writing about the impact of these efforts here in the blog 2018.

5. I spent more time reading. I love books! I devoured this one in 2 days. Never easy with the family schedule. Personally, I’m planning more time to chill and do some reading in 2018. Books are like trusted friends, guides and companions, and I’m looking forward to spending time with them over the holidays and beyond. Next up on my stack of ‘TO READ’ books is this one. I expect Achor’s take will be that success and happiness are not competitive sports. Rather, they depend almost entirely on how well we connect with, relate to, and learn from each other. #bookbliss

6. I went to shows and viewed art more often. I even tried my hand at painting and art journaling.

7. I’m wearing this scarf nearly every chance I get. It’s like being wrapped in a soft hug. The ShedQuarters is chilly in the monring and it would be easy to use that temp as an excuse not to head out to the office early. This scarf makes it so cozy. The moral of this story: Plan for your own resistance and do what it takes to overcome your own natural inertia.

8. I learned from new mentors and stopped paying for programs. Sounds odd, I know, when part of the way I earn a living is teaching people through various learning programs, right?!? But I mostly got tired of the marketing hype that constantly left me feeling inadequate, flawed, or broken or that promised a miracle remedy to my challenges. Most often, I learn I already know the remedy and when I apply it with consistency, it shifts.

9. I left my house more messy and I cleaned up my body care.

10. I drank a green smoothie every day for 30 days. I relied on this and this for the inspiration and recipes to keep it interesting. Our current fave [now that the oranges are ripe in the backyard] Blend 2 oranges (peeled), 1 banana, 1 cup pineapple, 4 cups spinach and some coconut water. Sometimes we add a little avocado or hemp seeds or protein powder but this basic formula is a vitamin-packed winner every time.

11. I drank wine with friends and laughed until my sides hurt. #wineclubsarebetterwithfriends

12. I made it my goal to spend extra time talking with and helping an elderly neighbor lady. We threw her an impromptu birthday party. I’d invite her along when I walked the dog. She used to tell us how she hated the holidays since her husband died a few years ago. We brought her a wreath for her door and invited her to a community holiday event with us. This year she put up a Christmas tree and is making holiday plans. It warms my heart to see her looking toward the holidays with some happiness.

13. I learned to love and lean on my besties in deeper ways. #shoutouttomygirlgang

14. I retaught myself how to make bread. This is the most amazing loaf I made this year. My newest hidden talent is making a.maz.ing naan [if I do say so myself]. I make a modified version of this recipe. It is amazing. And simple.

15. I made more things by hand and supported other makers with my purchases. #doityourself #enjoytheprocess

16. I totally missed the mark on 2 big biz goals. You might wonder why a biz strategist is bragging about missing goals. But that’s the thing. I’m transparent. I set ambitious goals and sometimes I miss. And I learn + grow in the process. We don’t set goals to achieve them. We set goals to change our behaviors that prevent us from being as we want to be.

17. I persisted, even when I didn’t quite know what needed to happen next. And I read my daughter this story at the library nearly every week for a while. More for me than her. And that led us to reading all kinds of books about ordinary women [and men] who created powerful change. We loved this series of books by Brad Meltzer. One even inspired our oldest to be Amelia Earhart for her school’s Wax Museum. #girlpower #ordinarypeopledoextraordinarythings

So with that, lovely, I’m sincerely sending you wishes for peace and connection and joy as 2017 ends!


Denise

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The Purpose of Goals Might not be to Achieve Them

The purpose of goals might not be to achieve them

I didn’t accomplish all my goals this year.

Actually, I didn’t accomplish many of them. Last year, I did my 2017 planning in October and then got totally derailed by the election results.

I asked myself, as did many women business owners I know, if what I was doing really mattered to me. To the world. I pondered for months whether I was really working towards an important mission or simply in a pattern of doing work that paid me a living.

And I truly grew so tired of the consulting business model I had created as the lifeblood of my business. In my grief and exhaustion, I chased ideas that briefly felt like a path out of my discontent.

And they were all ridiculous distractions.

Wondermutt Woody
So this December, as I reflect on 2017, I am actually pleased I did not achieve many of the goals I set. [Umm…what?!?] Because muddling in my discontent really drove me deep instead of sending me scurrying about the yard digging shallow holes [like my wondermutt does every.damn.day]. So many of my goals for 2017 were simply shallow holes.

Mostly purposeless accomplishments.

Actions that would do nothing to further my mission of helping women work with greater purpose and feel deeper satisfaction by using their business as a tool to create social change.

Admitting that I fell into that planning trap of setting achievement-oriented goals that did not feed a bigger mission is a bitter pill to swallow. And yet, I’m deeply grateful for the opportunity to [re]learn that lesson.

I always remind myself [and the clients I work with] that we do not set goals to achieve them. The true value in setting goals is that the process of setting goals changes the way you act. Goals are a tool that can produce positive behavior.

So before I head into planning for the first quarter of 2018 (yes, I really only plan 3 months at a time now), I’m using some simple mindset practices to reconnect with my mission daily. I’m refocusing on the WHAT I want to accomplish, not the HOW I will accomplish it. I’m sharing some of these mindset practices over in my Facebook community #BusinessCreatingChange in short FB Live trainings. Want to get a reminder in your inbox of the day and time of the next one? Make sure you’re on the invitation list by dropping your name and email in the form below. Then join the Community [because I’m only sharing them there].

XOXO,
Denise

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Stuck in a Rut? 3 Tips to Rise up so You Rock your Big Purpose

Stuck In a Rut? 3 Tips to get out so you can rock your BIG Purpose

Most of us feel stuck in a rut at times. For me, the ruts can lead me directly to feelings of helplessness, sadness, irritability and sometimes even total resignation.

Is a rut really so bad?

Generally, no. A rut may be a normal, necessary time of stillness, quiet, even reflection that fuels our creativity, recharges our physical battery, and affords us the time + space to wrangle with dissonance in our life, our work and our ideas.

Instead, the kind of rut I’m talking about is the kind that lingers, that drains our body of health, that strains our relationships, and that stops us from pursuing our potential and living our purpose. Because I don’t think any of us are placed here to lay in bed and drown our sorrows in a potato chip bag or bottle of bourbon.

But geez, when you are in it, it can seem utterly impossible to get out of the rut. Am I right?

I’m on my way out of a rut this month and making a few subtle changes is having a notable impact. Here’s what I know for sure. Getting out a rut that detracts rather than a rut that restores is an act of personal leadership. For me, I lead myself out of ruts with two concrete strategies: shifting my mindset and engaging in some learning and personal development.

The social science research nerd in me knows that science tells us intentional or deliberate shifts in my thinking and doing some personal development can change the wiring in my mind and help guide me out of a rut. And get this..It’s not that my wiring (or your wiring) is broken or inadequate if we get stuck in some negative self-defeating spiral. It’s that over time, repeated exposure to certain thoughts and challenges begins to create a path that can only be overcome with intention and simple actions.

Blah blah blah. Everyone talks about Mindset

Yep. It’s talked about for a reason. Science and personal experience show us every day that the way you think does influence the way you feel and the way you act. With this in mind, it makes sense that changing from negative thoughts to positive thoughts can cause a shift in your overall mood and daily life.

So, while I’ve been in the rut, working with focus was hard. Parenting was hard. Listening and giving my sweetie attention was hard. I was tired, disengaged, and just felt ‘not right’ in my body or my thoughts.

After a few weeks of really ‘being’ with the feelings that feed the rut, I recommitted to positivity so that I could reconnect with other more desirable feelings of living and working with purpose, self-confidence, connection in my relationships, and improved physical health.

The ‘So What’ of Positive Thinking

When our thoughts are primarily affirming, research finds our body shows fewer signs of stress and the likelihood of illness and disease is decreased. That’s because our focus has shifted from primal emotions such as worry and fear to more intentional feelings of service, connection, and gratitude.

Yes, that shift in thinking can propel people to be more solution-focused and more likely to move past roadblocks, resulting in feelings of accomplishment. These accomplishments will naturally provide you with greater feelings of confidence and empowerment. People who feel strong in their abilities have the emotional energy to achieve greater success in their personal and professional lives.

And it stands to reason that confident people will take more risks to pursue what they want than those who are primarily influenced by negativity. Plus, nothing draws others to you more than positivity, confidence, and a vibe of ease. And that enhanced sense of belongingness and connection adds further fuel to the fire.

And for me the shift in thinking really restores physical well-being by helping reduce muscle tension, irritability, emotional eating, and feelings of exhaustion that ride shotgun with my ruts.

Why Shifting Thoughts Alone is Rarely Enough

Those thought grooves that land us in a rut are deep. And easy to slip back into. The likelihood of riding that same rut is high unless it is accompanied with some personal development work. Life certainly teaches us time and time again, there are no “quick fixes” or short cuts to personal development. It is a deliberate, disciplined process achieved by reflection, introspection and self-awareness. And it does not simply happen in our heads. Sometimes movement in our body or movement in our cells helps create or sustain shifts in our thinking. And that’s when lasting change happens.

Personal development is big business that encompasses topics ranging from spirituality, eating/fitness/physical healing, learning, relationships, and money. And there are certainly nay-sayers who think of personal development is a bunch of rubbish or profit-making woo. But there’s a reason for the popularity of personal development.

Dr. Wayne Dyer, once a student of Abraham Maslow, used to remind us that people are hard-wired to want to fulfill their potential. Psychology research has told us that we humans have higher needs than just our physical/biological needs of shelter, food, and physical safety. Instead we are hard-wired to strive for love, for friendship, for dignity, for self-respect, for individuality, for self-fulfillment, and for purposeful expression.

We want to feel fulfilled by our lives through conscious living in which we pursue the needs we deem most important. Essentially, in order to be happy, we humans must have the ability to pursue more than just the bare minimum. Failure to do so can lead to depression, addiction, or feeling stuck or trapped. Yep, it is the culprit that leads us to drown in that bag of chips or that bottle of bourbon.

For me, there are lots of ways I go after personal development. Sometimes I learn and grow by listening to podcasts, through reading, walking in nature, journaling, meditation, taking a class or joining a group of some kind. What works for you may vary. What is most important is using personal development as a tool to focus your energies on a goal and allowing yourself the freedom to let go of a lot of unnecessary things.

So often, the ultimate goal for personal development is to gain skills and a better understanding of your life’s purpose and help set priorities to live and work in alignment with that purpose. Because when you’re lit up with a passion and by the way you live life, it leads to feelings of fulfillment, motivation, and empowerment and it allows you to focus energies on those interactions that you value and cherish.

Together, rewiring our thinking and learning can be powerful tools to carry us toward our truest potential and our greatest purpose.

3 Reasons To shift from a Rut to Focusing on Your Potential

and how to make it happen

Your human potential ALWAYS has a BIG purpose – It is in our nature to want to make a positive contribution to something bigger than ourselves. We want what we do to matter in some way that is meaningful to us. We MUST have purpose, or we begin looking for it somewhere else. In terms of your business, how about instead of trying to learn the newest funnel strategy or sales closing technique [which totally take the humanity out interactions], why not let your humanity infect your interactions with followers and clients? In other words be a real person. Not some Insta flatlay of the perfect business woman or expert. Imagine that. Human beings interacting with other human beings to meet the needs of a lot human beings. Your business philosophy doesn’t need to be much more complicated than that.

Your truest potential doesn’t recognize limits – When we get to operate in our “zone”, we are completely unstoppable. Everything becomes a possibility. That kind of dedication and focus can not be manufactured so ask yourself, what excites you about your business? Then…shush my lovely and listen to the thoughts that bubble up. Seriously consider whatever comes up. Want to work from exotic locations? Want to stop wearing makeup and work clothes and just be you? Want to spend more time on charitable efforts? Use these ideas to fuel your plans.

The pursuit of your potential is contagious – Regardless of the field you work in, on some level, we are all in the business of delivering transformation to our customers or clients. Period. There’s something about taking the freedom to explore and hunt down your own potential. Your pursuit of your own potential will resonate with some amazing human beings that spring to life in the pursuit of their potential. Can I get an Amen?!?

Every human being on this planet has something amazing to bring to the world. And we all have some very ugly bits as well. When we lead ourselves with compassion, we recognize our own amazing potential and help clear a space for it to thrive. And we choke out the fuel that feeds the ugly bits. That’s our responsibility to ourselves, our businesses, our followers, and the clients we serve. And I don’t think I need to point out that profit can come from fostering your truest potential.

Here’s my charge to you lovely…Celebrate and foster your truest potential. Run wild. Be profitable.

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Don’t let the arrival of #PSL encourage you to punch out of your business for 2017

Don't let the arrival of PSL encourage you to punch out of your business for 2017
Happy New Year, Lovely!

No. I haven’t lost my mind or entered into a time travel portal. I’m a stepmom and the partner of a middle school teacher so back to school time and September always feel like a New Year for me in my business.

No. The ball isn’t dropping in Times Square. And the bubbly is not getting chilled yet [well, truth be told…I always have a bottle of bubbly in the fridge. [You know, for special occasions, like a Wednesday.]

A few years ago, as September approached, I felt a bit melancholy about not being the one starting fresh in September. Last year, I approached August and September with a whole new mindset…one focused on renewed commitment to business goals and celebrating progress.

Sure, by October, there are only 3 short months left in the year. All sorts of designers with gorgeous planning systems and coaches who offer masterminds will be marketing their special kind of magic to make the best of next year.

Tap, tap, tap. Is this on?

I just want to say this…

September and October are great times to elevate and boost your biz yet THIS YEAR.

So lovely, don’t punch out of your business when the pretty planners and Pumpkin Spice everythings become daily hourly distractions.

I’ve written about and taught others to use a technique for planning 60- and 90-day goals or sprints in your business. It’s a style of planning that allows you to respond and change course while still making progress on big goals.

After the recent blog post I wrote, Sharon sent me a PM and asked how long it takes me to plan my 60- or 90-day goals. She wondered if I booked a “retreat day or weekend” each quarter. I got the sense that the very act of planning felt a little overwhelming to her.

The truth? I spend about 5-10 minutes planning my 60- or 90-day sprints.

I grab a piece of scrap paper but you can grab this handy worksheet here. I get quiet for a minute. I decide how I want to feel as I work in the next 60- or 90-days. That word becomes my theme. After that, I get clear about 3 goals I want to achieve during the 60- or 90-days ahead. Sometimes I only plan 2 goals. I check in to make sure the goals make it possible for me to feel what I identified as my desired feeling. If they do, great! If they seem to contradict the feeling, I need to reevaluate.

After that, I do a brain dump of the action steps that get me closer to those goals and they become the roadmap of the tasks I get done during the next 60- or 90-days. Literally…my To Do list items.

That’s it. ChangeMakers realize they don’t need more time to realize their dreams. They make the most of the time they have. So avoid the pressure to punch out of your biz in fall and focus on next year and instead [as you sip your PSL], know with crystal clarity what you will do to move your business forward. It is epically important to you, your biz, those that rely on you and the world. Because ChangeMakers make progress.

Are you a changemaker? Grab your worksheet here and recommit to your biz goals yet this year!


Denise

P.S. I’m offering a groovy [free] training in a few weeks about the actual steps changemakers have used to weave cause into the work of their business so that their business thrives and makes a difference on a cause. I’d love to have you join me for the training. Why not create a 60- or 90-day plan to redesign your business to do good in the world on a cause that makes your heart go pitter-patter? Get your invitation to the training by going here.

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Relief v. Real Change. What is your goal for making a difference?

Be A GameChanger...add philanthropy to your business

Every day, millions of ordinary people exhibit generosity. Regardless of age, income, religion, or beliefs, most of us are hard-wired to want to touch the lives of others.

We write checks when natural disasters strike, we give to our schools and places of worship, or we run/walk in (or at least pledge for friends running) a marathon to find a cure.

I would call these acts of charity.

To me, charity is defined as aid given to those in need and is most often about providing immediate relief from suffering. Now, while it is providing this incredibly important relief right in the moment, charity does nothing to focus on preventing whatever problem it’s serving from happening again in the future. For instance, donating food to a soup kitchen is an important action to address the repercussions of a social problem. However, in this case, the donation of food does not change the larger system that created this problem in the first place.

So what other options are there? I talk about businesswomen and entrepreneurs being changemakers all the time. And what I really want to inspire and support is a rise in women-led business philanthropy.

Charity v. Philanthropy

What’s the difference between charity and philanthropy you might wonder? I define a philanthropist as anyone who gives anything – time, money, experience, skills and networks – in any amount to create a better world.

There is a time for charity. Take Hurricane Harvey earlier this week. Tremendous charity will rise up in these first few days and weeks after Harvey has spent all it’s atmospheric energy and left it’s devastation for all of us to make right. Our collective challenge is in sticking with our initial conviction to help when the spotlights on the region dim. Today, many people impacted by Katrina are still struggling or suffering. As always, those who faced the worst of this storm will fall along the same fault lines of race and economic inequality that define our times.

In Texas and Louisiana, we have much work ahead of us to put things right again. Once the rain stops falling, once the flooding recedes, there will be much healing to be done. Not just for weeks or months, but for years. Charity was not enough fix the damage caused by Katrina. Collectively, we failed to make things right after Katrina for far too many. We can’t fail this time. We simply can’t.

It’s not that charity is bad or less-than philanthropy. It is a powerful tool in addressing pressing and urgent needs, often brought on by an emergency. My criticism of charity is that it is reactive, occasional, and sporadic. Far too often, charity is so busy reacting to urgent needs that they never really get to a point where they can examine and address underlying causes to the very issue they work on.

Relief from Suffering v. Real Change

To truly achieve lasting and transformative change, these occasional acts of goodness need to be transformed into focused and sustained efforts that create enduring impact by working on root causes.

This, lovelies, requires strategy.

At an event where women entrepreneurs gathered a while back, I talked with dozens of women about the beginnings of my consulting business when I worked solely with nonprofits by teaching them strategies to make greater impact through their work. More than half the business women there said, “Oh, I hope to start a nonprofit one day to do something about_______ (a cause they love).”

My response to them all was this, “I love your passion. You know, the world does not need one more nonprofit to solve the issues plaguing our world. Have you considered ways NOW to tap into exciting opportunities to collaborate and use your business to make a difference?”

Many of the women smiled politely and changed the subject.

What about you? Are you ready to recognize that everyone and anyone can be a philanthropist? Are you ready to step up and answer the call? I’ve got a new training coming out in late-September to help businesswomen weave philanthropy into their business. Want to be on the list to participate? Drop your name here to get on the waiting list for the [free] workshop.

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9 ChangeMaker Habits that Yield Greater Profits + Impact

9 Habits that Boost Profits + Impact

Truth be told, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with habits, routines, and plans. :: gasp ::
There’s a ‘strategist’ that doesn’t profess a love for routines and plans?!?

For years, I had my to-do list and my business plan mostly in my head. And for years, I avoided setting routines for getting things done in my business.

Yep, that didn’t always work so well. I’ve missed important meetings or calls, missed crucial deadlines. I’ve forgotten goals that made my heart go pitter-patter.

This attitude about plans and habits limited my ability to actually make my vision a reality and create impact in the world.

Because, yeah…it really is all an attitude.

My reluctance was not necessarily in using a planner, or documenting systems, or plotting out priorities on my calendar. That reluctance isn’t hard-wired. It’s an attitude that I’ve chosen to take…because I hold freedom to choose as a high-ranking value.

This all shifted after a mentor suggested that for 30 days I try a few simple weekly and monthly routines and short-planning sprints [I shared my sprint technique in this post]. That commitment to try some simple routines and habits shifted my productivity into overdrive and actually created more freedom [and more profit] in my business.

Yep, that’s right. This freedom-loving Founder + CEO was not burdened or constrained by plans + habits. Instead they created a path for growth.

Still, not all plans, systems and routines are created equally. I found certain habits led directly to more profitability in my business while others scattered my energy and wasted my time. When my time was wasted, it led to feelings of being short on time, high on stress, and low on cash.

So let me share a bit about the kinds of weekly and monthly routines that paid off directly for my freedom and profitability so that you can stay out of reaction mode and focus on making progress on big goals that yield positive impact in the world.

Monthly Routines that Pay

My first ‘habit’ was to set a day and time each month to do 4 key things:

  1. Review how much you’ve earned this month.
  2. I get so drained by uncertainty and guessing. And the cost on my progress when I’m guessing about money is even worse. So when I was ready to stop guessing and feeling stress about cash flow, I made a money date at the end of each month to review how much I’d sold/collected from clients. You can too.

    Write that number down.

    Then ask yourself, how does it compare to last month? How can I repeat it next month? What activities made it happen? What amount do you want to earn next month?

    Keeping an eye on your revenue stream is unsexy but gives you vital info about the actions you need to take to truly achieve the biz success and impact in the world that you want.

  3. Reach out to past clients and ask how they are doing
  4. When a project wraps up with a client or a product is delivered, what is your process for staying in touch? If you don’t have one, you are making it hard on yourself because research shows it costs five times as much (in real dollars as well as your energy) to attract a new customer, than to keep an existing one.

    And guess what most of us focus on when we are building our business?
    If you guessed attracting new customers or clients, I have a prize for you.

    And how about this…the likelihood of selling something to an existing client is more than 60% while the likelihood of selling something to a new client is less than 20%. And existing customers spend 30% more than new customers.

    See how this one links directly to profitability? Marketing research shows that a modest increase in repeat customers of only 5% can result in an increase in profits of 25% or more.

    Sorry to get all statsy there for a second. Because I know if you dream of running a business that does well so you can use the talents, expertise and followers of your business to do good on a cause, you really are about building a relationship with a client…not just making a sale.

    Still lovely, your impact is greater when you are making bank.

    So, stop focusing your marketing + networking efforts on new clients/customers and develop a stay-in-touch strategy for folks who already have a relationship with you and have backed that relationship by spending their money with you. [And another big hint: make sure your stay-in-touch strategy includes email because it is the most effective way to reach existing customers and generate additional sales].

  5. How many times did you actually offer your products or services that month?
  6. Lovely, I am so guilty of forgetting to remind people how they can pay me to help them solve challenges.

    I get it.

    Selling is a learned skill that many of us shy away from. I know you don’t want to be pushy, salesy, or obnoxious. But we’re all busy and can overlook the options for getting valuable help we need unless we are reminded.

    Write down how many times you told people about your business or shared your services this month…not passively by posting a link on social media but directly in a personal message or conversation with someone.

    Now set a goal for next month. I guarantee if you can increase that number even a little, you will see an increase in your revenue. Maybe not immediately, but with consistency, you will see it quickly.

    There are real people with real needs that you can help them solve and they have no idea how to find you or hire you. Sharing what you do is the most effective way to help them get started.

  7. Decide on marketing and messaging themes for the month.
  8. Again, guilty as charged…I used to be all over the place with my social media and blog content. Then one day over wine, I asked my business besties to describe what problem they thought I solved or who might need my help. The people who know me + my biz the best gave me 6 different answers.

    ::shudder::
    Choosing a theme to focus my messages on has really meant I connect with women who follow me on a deeper level. And I can tell a cohesive story. And I can deliver more value. All important aspects of moving someone from follower to paying client.

    So, choose a theme for next month. Write it down. Brainstorm ideas and posts that fit the theme. Set goals.

Before I head into the weekly habits that pay of with increased profits and allow you to have greater impact, I decided to make this post into a handy checklist and you can grab your copy right here. Now, on to the weekly routines/habits…

Weekly Routines that make a difference

Weekly routines are really about breaking down big goals to weekly tasks and to-dos. I found when I nailed my weekly routines, a little goes a long way and they resulted in considerable freedom. So what do I do weekly?

  1. Understand the connection between time/effort spent + revenue generated.
  2. I am as capable as anyone of getting sucked into the rabbit hole of social media or obsessing about every word written in a blog post or client proposal but the result and connection to revenue of those activities are not equal. A carefully worded client proposal could yield me a $50,000 consulting contract. A blog post might not even yield $1.

    Understanding how different activities result in revenue makes it easier to set priorities for how you spend your time, especially when times get chaotic. So does every minute need to yield revenue?

    ::oh heck no::

    Your business needs you to spend time improving business, completing training, doing research, doing admin work, and these activities make it possible to create impact for your clients and the world.

    And to have world-changing impact, your business needs to be here for the long haul, you need to NOT BE stressed out and money needs to be flowing in to make those things possible.

  3. Do the Work
  4. Honestly, if you are busy, busy, busy all the time, you want to poke my eyes out for saying that, right?!? And honestly, we all lose track of time in a week. And that lost time comes at a cost to your success and your ability to make a difference in the world.

    So set a short list of 3-4 things you want to get done that week and then schedule time to make progress on them. Which leads me to the next weekly routine…

  5. Give Yourself more time To Complete Tasks
  6. Not as in work more hours. I suggested 3-4 things you want to do that week because a to-do list of 40 things is a ticket for disaster and feeling overwhelmed.

    I’ll bet your time goes like mine…you have an hour before you need to do something nonnegotiable [like pick a kid up from school or attend a meeting] so you buckle down on an item on your to do list. You carefully pick on that seems easy to get done in the time you have.

    And…it takes longer than you think to complete. So you feel the stress building as you watch the clock tick ahead to the time you need to stop. And you know you won’t finish. And you know it will be hard to get your head back in the game when you pick it up later.

    And that energetic baggage stays attached to that task, making it much harder to get done.

    Do yourself a favor…just give yourself 1.5 X the time you think you need to finish something. That has been the Golden Ticket for me.

  7. Shine the light on others
  8. Each week, I shine my light on the work of others I respect or admire if I feel like it will help the people who follow me. Better yet? Tag them in a post where you shine the light on them.

    This is a simple, generous way to grow your own presence and influence and to share information with your followers that you don’t have to create.

  9. Reflect on the week
  10. When you work for yourself, your top job is keeping things afloat…the business, the projects, and you. Assuring alignment and checking in on results is one sure way to do that.

    I block off time every Friday to check in and reflect on the week. It is a nonnegotiable block of time on my calendar. I spend 10 minutes thinking about when I felt great during the week, when the results I wanted occurred, and what actions led to those results.

    I also spend a few minutes setting goals for the following week. Then I wrap it all up with a celebration…a little break for a dog walk or a massage, some online shopping, or a glass of bubbly. You decide. But celebrating progress matters.

Want to grab a printable checklist of these essential monthly and weekly routines to kickstart your own habit? Grab this easy-to-use printable here and get started!

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Yep, Making a Difference Requires Steady Progress Toward Your Goals

To Make a Difference you must make progress

Squeeee…with the kids heading back to school I’m ready to get back to work full time.

I have to admit: Summer is a time of year where I work less. A lot less. My sweetie and the kids aren’t in school. We travel. Lounge around the pool. Host a few BBQs with friends. Spend time in Tahoe. Go camping.

This summer is no exception. And this year, throw in client work that had me back in my homeland for nearly 2 weeks and buying a new Subaru while I was there that I drove back to CA [because when I found a good person to buy a car from in 1989, I stayed loyal]. #soloroadtrip #1000mileperdayroadwarrior

That said, down time is always my absolute best planning time.

Yep, that’s right! Between swims and meditations and time spent at the beach and BBQs, I love to sit down with my fave markers and post-its and paper and map out my next big idea. [Yes, old school pen to paper is how I start most plans.]

If we’ve been hanging around together for a while, you know I advocate for planning for one big goal every 60-90 days. Some people call this style of planning cycle a “sprint”.

It’s a planning process that’s flexible but focused; simultaneously helping me get totally clear on my goals and setting me up with a step-by-step plan to stay on track but that still allows me to pivot and go with the flow on some aspects of my work [Important for me because I love making progress but hate feeling constrained].

Now not every planning technique works for everybody. But in a nutshell, here’s how I’m planning for my upcoming short sprint during these last days of summer in 4 quick steps. Even if you are not a mompreneur with school-aged kids heading back to school, this technique can help you make some headway in your biz:

1: Choose a goal for your sprint.

This is your ONE big goal for the next 60-90 days.
Of course, you can go after more than one goal — but it’s so important to focus your energy. If you choose a secondary goal, make sure it supports your first in some way, or set it aside and come back to it next quarter.

I always want a business goal to be attainable, but also something that feels exciting for me when I hit it. For example, maybe you want to make a certain amount in profit this quarter, or land features on 5 of your dream media outlets during the holiday gift-giving season, or finally launch a new free offering for your audience.

Whatever it is – write it down in your planner, and somewhere you can see it and refer to it every day during the sprint. This holds you accountable AND keeps you tuned into your dreams.

2: Write down major milestones that are on your road to reaching your goal.

For example, if you decided to launch a new jewelry line, milestones could include:

  • Design the jewelry.
  • Draft some sort of lead magnet to attract new followers and jewelry lovers.
  • Write your promotional email sequences + Social media posts
  • Make the samples of the line.
  • Launch the new line to your followers and fans.
  • Produce jewelry as you sell it.

3: Do a brain dump of all tasks ahead of you required to reach those milestones.

To continue with the design a jewelry line example, you’d need to:
Decide on materials to be used in the line
Develop a prototype of each piece in the jewelry line
Source materials
Produce the pieces (or arrange for/manage the production if you use a team)
Decide on packaging
Design packaging
Source packaging materials
And more…

4: Once you’re clear on the steps, get them into your planner.

Chose 1-3 tasks per day, and make sure it all feels achievable. But here’s where most business advice falls short: As you plan out your days in your calendar, think beyond the tasks you want to complete. How do you want to feel as you work on these tasks? What focus can you put on your health and well-being? Do you want to drink a certain amount of water a day, or meditate for 5 minutes each morning or evening, or spend a certain amount of time with your sweetie and kids around the dinner table?

Setting small-but-achievable health and self-care goals, and penciling them in among your task list is an essential part of fostering your own CEO resilience and improving the likelihood you’ll make progress on big goals. And you’ll be a more productive, happy, healthy, awesome version of you for all 2-3 months.

What about you? What is your BIG goal for the nest 60-90 days? Do you have any go-to goal-getter tips to share? Let me know in the comments by clicking on the Did it spark something? SWEET. Let’s talk on Facebook. link in the green bar below. Don’t be shy!

XOXO,
Denise

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Four Tips to Finding Your Perfect Cause SoulMate

4 Tips to Find Your Cause SoulMate

Part 3 of a 4-part Series

Let this soak in for a minute…There are over one million registered nonprofits.

Why does this matter? Because to design a business that does good for a cause, you’ll want collaborate with a nonprofit partner that does work on that cause already.

I have a hard time finding a car wash I like and I only have a few dozen choices. So imagine the challenge of finding a well-aligned nonprofit to partner with as your expand the purpose of your business to include social good. A bit overwhelming to say the least, right?

I’ve worked with nonprofits for more than 16 years and can offer some tips on finding a nonprofit partner that is aligned with your business and your vision for doing good. I use the following questions to guide clients in creating their plan to pick a nonprofit partner:

Tip 1: Do the nonprofit’s values align with your company values and resonate with your clients?

Aligning the spirit of your biz and spirit of the nonprofit is so essential. Recently, a friend’s cool new startup company aligned with the cool new cause. They both gain from the trendiness of the other. If your two mission statements seem like they could apply to either cause or company, that’s probably a good start.

It’s a huge plus when a nonprofit can directly touch your customers. When a company I worked with decided to collaborate with the American Cancer Society, the American Cancer Society regularly went to their office and offered quit-smoking programs and nutrition programs. The mission of the nonprofit directly benefitted the company by educating employees on how to be healthier. The same type of programs could be offered to your customers as a part of your cause partnership. When the benefits of aligning with the cause can be shared with your clients or customers, the nonprofit will likely benefit and the impact you create for your cause will be greater too.

Tip 2: Does the nonprofit understand a partnership?

One of the biggest frustrations I hear businesses share about engaging in collaboration with causes is that nonprofits always have their hand out, asking for money. And what if your business strategy is not focused on donating money but rather providing talent and expertise to a project? To successfully partner with an organization on a project or a cause, you need to find a nonprofit that understands the why behind your cause-related efforts as well as the way in which your business will support the cause.

If you promote the nonprofit and the cause to your followers and fans, how much might you impact their fundraising efforts or their efforts to recruit volunteers? Does your business have expertise the nonprofit desperately needs (i.e., social media marketing, training staff, etc.). All these kinds of ‘exchanges’ make a smaller company an attractive partner for a nonprofit. So before you align your business with a nonprofit you must make sure the organization understands that you want to be more than just a funder. They need to know that you want to form a strategic partnership that has specific business benefits for both parties. While it can take time, it’s worth the effort to talk with potential cause partners about how each partner can help the other, how the partnership can create marketing opportunities for both parties, and how you will collaboratively track and measure impact and results.

Tip 3: Speaking of impact and results…

It’s tempting to align with a well-known national nonprofit because their brand or reputation can have a positive impact on your business and brand by association. If you are a solopreneur or small business, you could find yourself a small fish in a big pond. So if your heart is yearning to make a bigger difference on an issue, look for nonprofit collaborators that will let you play as big as you want to.

Many solopreneurs find it easiest to start with local collaborative partnerships and have a tangible impact rather than to spread their efforts thin with a national or international cause. The choice is really yours but I always ask clients, can the organization enable you to have as big an impact on your cause as you want?

Tip 4: Can they deliver?

There’s the possibility that a nonprofit enthusiastically invites you to collaborate because they’re struggling. Let’s face it…entrepreneurs like to bring their many skills, swoop in and save the day. If this happens, I always advise clients to be cautious.

If a nonprofit’s misfortune is the result of mismanagement, you could find your cause collaboration to be a time-wasting money pit with little chance to make an impact on a cause you are committed to. Look for signs that they are well-managed, strategic, and make progress on their mission and their stated goals.

What ideas do you have about adding social good to the way you do business? What cause would you like to make a difference on? Share this post (using the handy-dandy share icons below), tag me and tell me about it in the post you share, okay? I just introduced a cool biz owner who was looking to do more on an issue in her community with a cool nonprofit that was ready and excited to find new partners. #matchmakerofadifferentkind

P.S. If you want to go back and see Part 1 of this series [about the importance of designing an business capable of doing well and doing good in the world], you can find here.

And Part 2 of the series hits on picking a cause you want to make an impact on and is here.

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C is for Cause or How Your Biz Can Partner with a Nonprofit + Do Good [Pt. 2]

C is for Collaboration + Change

Part 2 of a 4-Part Series

“I feel like I’ve gone through a shift…or maybe a refocusing. I love my business and the work I do AND I feel called to really do more in the world. You know…to make it better in a bigger way. There really aren’t many guides to help you do this.”

This was how Kim started out a conversation at a MeetUp event a few months ago. She is a successful businesswoman who was exploring ways to make a bigger difference on an issue in her community that was tugging at her heartstrings.

She didn’t want to simply write out a donation check. She wanted to roll up her sleeves, use her expertise, be involved in creating a solution.

Kim is like a growing number of women business owners…women who do not want to leave their business, or start a nonprofit, or simply give money to a cause. They want to find a way to weave more meaning and purpose into the way they work. Add some heart to their business model. Play a part in healing what ails their communities. And continue running their vibrant business.

As I talked with Kim at the event, she seemed to struggle with the hows…
how could she balance running her business and being involved in the community cause
how she would even get involved
how she could effectively bring her talents to serve the efforts
how NOT to let the cause consume her and her business.

Like so many other shifts we might make in our business strategy, focusing on the hows is never the place to start. Shifting business strategy calls on us to focus on the whats first.

I asked Kim questions about what cause she was passionate about, what skills she felt she could offer to create change for that cause, what shifts she was willing to make in her business model so that her business could support her cause-focused work, what success in her cause-focused efforts would look or feel like.

When you start by getting clear on the whats, the hows get a whole lot easier.

After chatting about the whats, Kim felt she could best make a difference if she approached a community nonprofit that was making impact on her chosen cause and partner with them in an annual campaign.

Do you share some of those same feelings Kim expressed? A desire to do something more on an issue but do it in a way that keeps you focused on your awesome biz?

This post is part of a four-part series that will introduce you to the hows of partnering with a nonprofit so that you can increase your cause footprint and impact. Over the next few posts I’ll cover how to effectively choose a cause, how to choose a collaborating nonprofit to work with, how to vet each other to assure a good collaboration, and best practices for building a successful collaboration.

So on to Part 1…

How to Choose a Cause

There was a time when a business chose a cause to partner with because one of the company’s leaders knew someone at a nonprofit…a relative, a neighbor, a golf buddy. The trouble with a partnership of convenience is that as leadership changed in the company, the company’s involvement changed in the cause. Sometimes that pairing of convenience also creates problems for both the business and the nonprofit because the company’s mission and the nonprofit’s mission weren’t well aligned. Without that thoughtful alignment, it is considerably more challenging to have impact.

Start here: Know the difference between cause and organization.

Though the word “cause” is commonly used for the organization you align with, I advise clients to look at a cause in a more general way, taking it back to its true meaning. A cause is a devotion to improving a social issue. It’s helping kids in the hospital get well, preventing suicide or bringing clean water to developing countries. Organizations like Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, The Trevor Project and World Vision are the vehicles that can help you initiate that change. Cause and the organization that affects that cause are different concepts, but they’re tightly related. Your business needs to choose a cause or issue where you want to make a difference and you want to choose an organization that will help you achieve that change.

How’s your fit?

Fit has become essential in effective collaborations today. A poor fit with your cause and your nonprofit partner can mean lackluster results, lessened impact or even a negative impression on the reputation of your business, the nonprofit, or the cause in general. Though you may already have some great nonprofit collaborators in mind, it’s important to step back and look at the cause first.

What to ask when evaluating a cause to support:

  • Would there be a business benefit to supporting this cause?
  • How do your business and the cause touch or align?
  • Does the cause resonate with your customers, clients, and fans?

Business benefit sounds kinda harsh or cold, right?

Sometimes when I ask a curious business woman about how she thinks her company might benefit from collaborating on a cause, she bristles at the thought of personally benefitting from efforts to “do good” just for the sake of doing good.

And here’s the thing…if your business is going make a sustained difference on a cause, the cause-focused efforts need to be baked into the way the business operates, the marketing it does, the way in which it just ‘lives; in the world. If you, as a business owner are going to make those kinds of changes and help them stick in your business, it is far more likely to happen if the business experiences some benefit. Otherwise, at the first sign of challenge, it will be easy just to drop it.

Part of assessing your potential business benefit is deciding the degree of risk you want to assume…some cause partners will be controversial, others will be safe bets. You know your clients and customers the best. Consider partnering with a cause that touches their hearts and that will satisfy your desire to make an impact.

There is no shame in giving of your talents or expertise in collaboration with a nonprofit and allowing that cause-related work to reflect well on your brand and ultimately benefit your company.

How do your business and the cause touch or align?

Kroger Grocery’s Round Up program encourages customers to round up their grocery bill to the next $10 with the difference going to feed the needy through a number of community cause partnerships. Feeding people is Kroger’s core business and it’s become their cause as well. When your business and your cause align this closely, you’ll find it easier to deliver on the mission. Luxottica has brought nine million pair of glasses to the poor through their work with the nonprofit group OneSight. With donations of lenses and frames from their business partners, they’ve used their industry connections to have a bigger impact on their cause.

Does the cause resonate with your clients, customers, and fans?

The cause needs to matter to your clients, customers and fans as well as to you. For instance, Dick’s Sporting Goods launched their Sports Matter campaign – that focuses on developing community sports programs for kids and includes peer-to-peer fundraising software for stakeholders, including their customers. Sure, they could have partnered with Children’s Hospital to help children fighting deadly diseases because it has high appeal, but instead they picked a cause that would resonate well with their customer base.

Why does this matter? One of your great strengths as a cause collaborator is your ability to mobilize your clients, customers and fans to do something in support of the cause too. And mobilizing your clients, customers, and fans to get involved in the cause is easiest when the call to action is simple and the cause is aligned.

In next Tuesday’s post filled with hot tips, I’ll cover the questions you can ask when choosing the right nonprofit organization to collaborate with so that you find a dream partner for doing good. Know someone who wants to add a bit more purpose to her work by doing good on a cause? Share this post and tag me with #BusinessCreatingChangeCollective and I’ll enter you in a drawing for a copy of the book Conscious Capitalism by John Mackey and Rajendra Sisodia.

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Isn’t it Possible the Purpose of Your Business is Greater?

3 Simple Strategy Tips to Tweak Your Business Model to Amp Your Purpose

Part 1 of a 4-part series

If you want any kind of change, there needs to be a declaration by somebody that something more is possible. Let me make that kind of declaration now about our businesses…

It is possible that the purpose of your business is greater than you currently recognize.

And to shift to that greater purpose, you have to make some tweaks to strategy. But this is not some jargony post about business models…though it is about designing a business that does well + does good in the world.

In my work as a business strategist, I see and hear plenty about business models. And honestly, most of what’s out there is jargony and uninspired. When I follow some entrepreneurial thought leaders, they run the risk of losing me if they talk too much about business models.

But truth be told, I spend a lot of time helping clients iron out the moving parts of their business that the gurus would call a business model. And I love that work. It’s like the best strategy game ever for this research-loving geek.

But I know. Lots of us claim to just not give a rip about our business model. Many solo- and smallpreneurs I meet haven’t buddied up to the idea of business model. So, let me demystify this idea of a business model and share 3 common roadblocks my clients face when they begin the process of redesigning their business to amp up their purpose by adding some cause-related work.[And not being someone who likes to dwell on the shortcomings, I’ll offer a tip so you can avoid those roadblocks too.]

WHAT IS A BUSINESS MODEL?

When management-types or the Sharks on Shark Tank ask about a business model — as in, “So what’s your business model?” — they really want an answer to a much more direct and basic question: “How do you plan to make money?”

And more specifically, behind the question of ‘What is your Business Model?’ there is really a menu of other questions like:

  • What customer problem or challenge do you solve?
  • Who’s your target customer?
  • What value do you deliver?
  • How will you reach, acquire, and keep customers?
  • How will you define and differentiate your offering?
  • How will you generate revenue?
  • What’s your cost structure? Profit margin?

And because I work with women business owners looking to add a social-good element to their business model, it is also important to ask these questions in fleshing out a business model:

  • What is the cause you serve?
  • How will you serve that cause?
  • How will you track your impact?
  • How will your cause efforts impact cost, revenue, and profit?

CREATING A BUSINESS MODEL THAT WORKS

Some business models are as old as the marketplace itself; others are as new as the Internet. Some have weathered the test of time; others are still highly experimental.

The simplest business model involves creating a product and selling it directly to customers. Other models involve selling wholesale to retailers, selling through distributors, licensing products to other companies, selling online, selling through auctions, and countless other alternatives. No one-size-fits-all solution exists. In fact, most businesses use some combination of business models to arrive at the model that works for them.

STUMBLING BLOCK 1: STAYING IN THE BLACK

Successful business owners routinely delve into the nitty-gritty details of their company’s finances —income statements, balance sheets, cash flow, budgeting, and all the details that can make or break a company’s future.

The business model’s look at the numbers is way more basic: Figure out where the money will come from. Who will pay? How much? How often? And what portion of every sale will make its way to your bottom line in the form of — here’s the magic word — profit.

While a woman may operate a profitable business, when she decides to add some element of cause-related work, the time, resources, or efforts dedicated to a cause will impact the company’s cash flow and it’s bottom line.

TIP 1: In the process of designing a business that does well and does good, a woman must make adjustments in her pricing, her revenue-generating strategy, or the costs in order to assure the business stays profitable when stepping up to do good in the world.

STUMBLING BLOCK 2: TIMING YOUR FUTURE

How you expect to make money is one part of your business model, but when you expect the money to roll in is another important factor. Some companies run up costs and spend cash for months to prepare products that benefit a cause and that sell seasonally. Or a businesswoman dedicates time and expertise to a cause and she is unable to engage in revenue-generating work during that same time. For that reason, your business model must include a timeline that takes the following into account:

The costs you expect to incur when your business engages in cause-related work
The source of funds to pay for these costs
A schedule showing when you expect revenues to come in

Thinking through these kinds of timing issues allows you to even out the flow of revenue and can reduce the disruption that might be caused when you add cause-specific work into your business model.

TIP 2: Business women who have effectively added cause into their business model have found creative ways to weave cause efforts into the production demands or their busy service seasons so that the business is not over-burdened.

STUMBLING BLOCK 3: NOT HAVING THE RIGHT INFO TO SPEAK TO CUSTOMERS’ HEARTS

An effective business model takes into account customers’ buying behavior…when customers buy a product or service, what they value, the frequency of purchases, how their values may influence purchase decisions.

When a businesswoman wants to add cause into the business model, she must become savvier at marketing and branding so that the company speaks more effectively to those values that influence purchase decisions. Gone are the days of ‘Flash Sales’ to drum up revenue. Storytelling and thoughtful branding will become essential tools. One small biz leader I met recently said her cause-focused work ’empowered women to live healthy, independent lives’.

Lofty platitudes aside…cause-focused efforts need to make real changes for people or the planet. Changes that you can observe, feel, measure. Can you guess what this business’ cause-related work is based on what they said? They were an employment agency that recently added a program where they hired and trained women who were refugees (many of whom had been former victims of human trafficking) to work in manufacturing.

So tracking data that speaks to the social impact the company wants to make matters. There is nothing in entrepreneurship that prepares us to track impact on cause-related issues. No business guru will offer advice or tools to do that. It must be thoughtfully planned, rooted in your values, and done consistently with simple systems you design. Sure, the employment agency I just mentioned could count how many women they trained and placed for employment but that hardly speaks to the social impact. They needed to understand how good-paying, stable employment for these women means these women are less likely to be victimized again, that their children are more likely to stay in school, that these women are less likely to rely on social support programs paid for by tax dollars. Those are the social impacts. And the kinds of information we track to speak about those is very different than counting how many are trained and employed.

TIP 3: Your cause-related efforts will add to the value you deliver to customers as long as your customers’ beliefs align with the cause. Spend the time to redesign some of your marketing messages and speak more to their hearts.

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