Love a Rainy Day!

Sometimes a rainy day can bring some of the brightest sunshine into your life.

I am one of those people who actually likes rainy days.  The sound of soft rain tapping against the window panes, the low rumbling of thunder off in the distance, the aroma of fresh coffee brewing in the kitchen…these are all things that bring my creativity to the surface.  On these days, I feel the welcoming warmth of my home.  I don’t really care about going out unless I have to.  These days are my most productive as I work at my desk.  Even more than usual, I want to open my mind and let the words flow through my fingers on to the keyboard, writing down my thoughts and ideas, creating a story or a poem … painting a picture with the words.   For some reason, rainy days inspire me to find and write the words that bring sunshine back into my day.

These days are also extremely productive days for me in my business.  I am more likely to pick up the phone and call past clients, or cold call for new clients, hoping to find as many silver linings as possible to help brighten my day.  It seems to me that other people are more responsive on rainy days.  Maybe a smiling voice on the other end of the phone adds some sunshine to their day.  At least, to me, it seems like cold calling works better when the sun isn’t shining.  People aren’t thinking about getting out of the office to enjoy the beautiful weather.  Summer has so much to offer.  But, when it’s raining, it seems like you have their full attention.  Maybe that’s why I seem to set more appointments on rainy days than on sunny ones.

Being in business for yourself has its ups and downs, for sure.  It’s hard to keep yourself motivated every day.  Some days you’d rather just pull the covers up over your head and catch a few extra hours of sleep.  Other days you jump out of bed ready to run a marathon.  The important thing is to never give up on yourself.  Never forget your goals, and even on those days when you don’t feel like it, make an attempt to follow your plan to achieve those goals.  It’s funny how once you start walking in that direction, your day keeps getting better and better.

Don’t let the difficulties or challenges hold you back.  Nothing worth having is easy to attain, so expect to do the work that will bring you the results you are striving for.  Surround yourself with positive people.  Don’t let negative people ruin your day.  Put positive thoughts at the front of your mind by reading through your written goals, and reviewing your business plan to achieve those goals on a regular basis.  You can’t be negative if you have realistically positive goals and plans written down to help inspire and energize you.

Don’t expect overnight success.  Don’t stop when things seem like they are too hard.  Adversities are the storms of life, complete with dark clouds, and sometimes hurricanes, hail or tornadoes.  You can get through them if you stand strong.  The sun will come back out again, and those storms will make you stronger once you get through them.  Remember that they are there to teach you.  Use them as learning tools.  Use mistakes as learning tools.  Every problem you solve takes you closer to becoming the person you want to be, and making your business what you want it to be.

Take one step at a time, one day at a time, one hour at a time.  You, and only you, are in charge of your life, and your future.  Every day is a new chance to achieve something great.

Even when it’s raining, there are silver linings to be found.

So make today count.


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Setting Business Goals

Okay…You are either in the process of starting a business, or you already have one up and running.  Sometimes you feel overwhelmed, and sometimes you feel like you are running in circles and not accomplishing all the things you wanted to do.

One of the most important things you need to do to manage your time and business for peak performance is to set goals.  Don’t just have those goals in your head…you need to actually write them down on paper, and then write down a plan on how to reach each one of those goals.  These goals should reflect your vision of where you want to take your business.

Make sure your goals are realistic…set yearly, monthly, weekly and daily goals.  Then write down the steps (plan of action) that you have to take to reach each goal, starting with the daily goals.  It makes it easier to take things in smaller steps.  It won’t seem so overwhelming, and you will more easily see the realistic picture of what you can and can’t accomplish within certain time constraints.  Your plan of action will need to include smart marketing techniques that will fit into your budget.  If your budget is small, you can start by making phone calls to potential or previous clients to try to generate new business.  Always ask for referrals!  If your budget is larger, look at some of the options for print media, web based advertising, and mail out pieces.  I will cover marketing options in more detail another day.

The bottom line is this:  if you accomplish your daily goals, you will find that your weekly, monthly and yearly goals will also happen, because it all starts with what you do on a daily basis.  What you do today determines what will be most likely to happen tomorrow.

It takes hard work to find success, but be sure to work also work smart.  Be consistent, and be flexible, because most days will have unexpected things that will pull you off task.  That’s why it is so important to be realistic in what you can expect to accomplish during any given day.  Make your list for tomorrow at the end of each day.  Include the things that did not get accomplished today, and try to limit the number of top priorities to 5 major tasks for each day that you HAVE to get done.  Get to your desk early every morning, and start your 5 major tasks right away.  These do not have to be difficult tasks to be major ones.  Sometimes even the most minor things can produce the most major results.  Things as simple as calling 10 past clients every morning (or 10 potential clients that have been referred, or that are likely to need your services)  Do the tasks first that you don’t like to do…that way they are out of the way and you have already gotten the hardest things finished and crossed off your list.

Take small bites and small steps.  At the end of each week, look back through your day planner and track your progress.  At the end of each month, do the same thing.  At the end of the year, you will look back and see how far you have come on your journey to reaching your bigger goals, and you will most certainly be pleased with your progress!


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Finding your business dream and making it come true

You know you have found your niche when you can’t wait to wake up and go to work in the morning.

Back in the mid 1990’s, I found mine!   Working very hard to learn all aspects of the business I found so fascinating, I soon learned that helping other people become successful had a huge impact on my life.  Using the talents and creative elements I already possessed was something I had never really done to a great extent, and each person I met gave me new perspective into the endless possibilities for success waiting for each person who is willing to take time to open the doors of opportunity that present themselves.

My original business partner was instrumental in teaching me how to start tapping in to my full potential.  It was his belief in me that made me start believing in myself, and start recognizing my own talents that had lain dormant for most of my life.  I’m not sure I had ever really seen the potential in myself that finally emerged.  We worked together successfully for several years, and built up recognition for our products and services, mostly as marketing within the real estate and sales industries.   Eventually, he decided to pursue an opportunity that required him to move to a different state.  It was time for me to decide whether to try to make a go of it by starting my own business, or throw in the towel and get another “regular” job.

I had very little money in my checking account at that time because I was putting most of what I made back into the business, and my savings was completely depleted.  I was a single mom, and I wondered what in the world I would if do if I had to get another job I hated, and abandon doing something I loved doing with all my heart.

Then I remembered my mother saying (over and over again) “where there’s a will, there’s a way”.

I’ve never been a quitter…and I knew in my heart that if I didn’t at least try to reach my dreams and goals, I would never know the success I yearned for.  I knew the journey would be more difficult without a suitable partner… so far I had always worked as part of a team, but I knew I was a very strong part of the team, and easily took the lead at least half of the time.  I knew I would be able to learn to do all the basic fundamental tasks that had been previously done by my partner, or I could hire someone else who could do them.

Since I loved this business so much, I believed with all my heart that there was no way I could fail if I gave it my all.  I knew I had the basics of what I needed to continue.  I knew that without a doubt, most of my previous clients would continue to work with me if I went on my own and started my own company.  So that’s what I did.

I had no startup money, no store front, nothing but my belief in my own talents and skills, and the knowledge to continue providing my clients with great ideas and marketing strategies, along with designing their promotional products and teaching them how to use them.  I set up my office at home in one of the bedrooms, and started speaking to sales professionals about marketing and personal promotion.  I began setting up personal promotion marketing workshops, breakfast and lunch meetings, at various locations, and also at certain businesses that gave me the use of their teaching or conference rooms to work with their sales people.  I began charging each person a fee to come to a workshop and put together their plan for the next year, paying my expenses with the money generated from the workshops.  We not only talked about promoting their business, but also keeping their plan within a realistic budget.  We created each individual plan, step by step, perfectly designed to that individuals needs and pocketbook.  Each was as different as their own unique personality, but they all were designed around the same principal.

I can’t tell you how much I loved getting up and going to work every morning.  It was rewarding to know that I COULD do this on my own.  And I loved working out of my own home.  I was a mom and a grandmother, and my daughter and first born granddaughter lived with me, so it also gave me the flexibility I wanted to spend quality time with them.  I seriously believed that nothing could ever make me want to quit working.  The excitement of each new day was exhiliarating!

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Baby Steps; How I Ended Up as a Small Business Owner.

I had never really thought of owning my own business.  In fact, I had never had a job that I loved doing with all my heart.  Most of my years of employment were jobs that were below boring.  Jobs that I went to every day, motivated by the fact that someday I could retire and not have to go there anymore.  Ever. 

I remember when I was 14 or 15 years old, I was spending the night at one of my best girlfriend’s house one hot summer night.  Her father was a successful businessman, and although his business was still young, the discussion came up at the table that his business was growing very quickly.  He was so excited that he couldn’t stop talking about it.  He told us that the secret to success was finding something you love doing, and doing it with everything you have to give.   He said when you find that, it doesn’t even seem like work.  I thought that sounded like good advice, and I guess, subconsciously, I filed his words somewhere in the back of my mind for future reference.

Opportunity knocked on my door soon after I had been laid off from a sales job I hated, but was very good at.  A friend of mine was struggling with his home based business, and he needed someone to help bring in new clients.  He told me I was the best sales person he had ever met…and that he didn’t have any money to pay me, but I could work on a straight commission.  He generously structured the commission rate at a 50/50 split of the profits from the sales.  I raised my eyebrows, thinking that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  But then I remember him saying that 50% of something, is better than 100% of nothing.   That was something else that got filed in the back of my mind.

 Because I had strong sales experience, as well as years of general office and secretary duty on my resume, I decided to take him up on his offer, at least temporarily.   I didn’t know the details of what his business provided to clients, or why they needed his services and products, but I was willing to listen and learn.   I opened a door to my mind just far enough to walk through it…never thinking …for one minute… that this might be… the one thing …I loved doing enough …to want to do it… with all I had to give.    

That first day, we sat down at the table and started sharing our ideas, organizing and creating a work environment that was both positive and creative, and bringing with it excitement and enthusiasm for turning his business around.   Besides having a strong sales background, I also had a strong background in secretarial/office administration, so I was able to streamline the process of running the office.

Over the next few weeks I learned more and more about what his business did.  It was personal promotion, and the clients were mostly real estate agents and sales people or small business owners.  We consulted with them on what their goals were and how their business worked, and helped create a personal promotion marketing plan that would fit within their budget.  We strived to help them build the recognition they really needed in their marketplace to set them apart from their competition.  We did everything from coming up with creative ideas on subject matter to taking their photographs, coming up with tag lines and slogans, and creating the artwork for color photographic business cards, postcards, and brochures, among other products.  I went through all the files and recreated the data base, calling each past client as I went through each file and re-connecting with them to see how they were doing, and if they needed any new business cards or marketing products, or even ideas on building their visibility to a higher level in the marketplace.  They could hear the excitement in my voice, I guess, because  I started setting appointments.  With each new appointment, our excitement grew, and soon we went to the next level in the business… helping clients come up with their own personally unique marketing techniques by combining our ideas with theirs and writing out a plan.  Since I also had a background in creative writing, we started offering more products, such as personal or company brochures. we started writing more and more orders, and producing them.   I learned to do graphic design and layouts with photos and text on the computer, and I loved discovering new artistic talents and skills with each piece I created. 

Within 90 days, the business tripled, and I truly loved going to work every day.

I started in this business when people did not put their pictures on business cards.  But people think in images, and they visualize in color.  Our products were a way where they could leave a card that said “hello”.   A card that was the next best thing to a personal smile and a handshake. 

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