Approaching the finish line

I have heard athletes say that when they run a race that they get an energy boost when they can see the finish line.  I know that when I am working on a project (in my personal life that may be crocheting a blanket) as I get close to the end, I get a boost of enthusiasm for seeing the finished product.  We also find this in our business environment when coming to the completion of a project.

But, what happens when the finish line seems elusive?  What happens when the finish line is too far off?  How do we get that burst of energy and enthusiasm to complete our goals?

First, do you have your goals and your projects clearly articulated?  If you haven’t defined your target goals or projects you will never know when you are getting close to the finish line.  A sure fire way to have your enthusiasm for your business disappear and go into hiding.

Secondly, are your projects to big?  Is the finish line so far off in the distance that you lose your enthusiasm and quit the race?  If this is the case then look for smaller milestones within your project.  Make them realistic and meaningful, but know that each is important to moving you forward.  As you approach each interim milestone, see it as a finish line that you are looking forward to crossing.

What else in your business can be viewed as a finish line, even if it is not a ‘project’? Maybe there are people you want to connect with, a book that you want to read, or employees you want to get to know more.  Look at your ‘want to do’ list and see if you can look at it as accomplishing a goal.

When we see a finish line that we really want to cross, we discover a new found energy that propels us forward to that sense of accomplishment and joy.

What are some of the ‘finish lines’ for you in your business?

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Earth and Water Working Together

Creative ideas!  Ya gotta love ‘em.  I love listening to people who have so many unique and creative ideas.  It just gets everyone around them enthusiastic and thinking about possibilities.  Ideas are great in business.  It is what helps us to grow, but it can also be what starts to overwhelm us.

Too many ideas can get confusing and start to paralyze a business.  Unless we know how to prioritize and choose which ideas to start action on, they just all seem to be wandering around on the drawing board.  How do we find a balance between wild creativity and boundaries that help to channel the ideas forward?

For me it is useful to remember the qualities of the elements of Earth and Water on the Native American Medicine Wheel.  Together they make a great pair. Separate they tend to not get things done.

Here is how Earth and Water work together:

Earth:  Things like rocks.  They seem to be very stationary.  They seem to change very very slowly, if at all.

Water:  Very flowy.  Travels around and moves.

Earth, without water will resist change.

Earth with water will start to erode and be carved into something usually very beautiful.

Water without earth will flow everywhere.

There will be no direction and no good way for it to reach an end point.  Much water will be wasted in pools that do not serve a purpose.

Water with earth will be directed.  Rock walls will guide water down a river.  The boulders in the river will help to create rapids and eddies.  It is possible to direct the creative flow of water to a desired destination by the sturdiness of the rock.

So what does this have to do with getting creative ideas to work for your business?

If you are an Earth person, you may tend to not want to move forward with any new ideas.  It is not as easy for you.  If you are a Water person, you may have tons of ideas, but lack the guidance and direction to be able to put them into action.

 

Together, Earth and Water people make a great pair.  They compliment each other and help each other to move ideas forward in a way that results in success.

 

What do you do if you are a solopreneur?  How do your find the compliment to your strengths?  Here are some possibilities:

 

  • Join a group.   Try a mastermind group.   You have something to contribute to others and they are there to contribute to the group and support you.  Mastermind is a great way to still be your own boss, yet have a team around you.
  • Find a ‘buddy’.  Do you know a  solopreneur that you can trust and confide in, who will compliment your strengths?  If you feel a strong bond with them, try scheduling buddy sessions to help each other out.  A good buddy is truly priceless.
  • Hire a coach.  A business coach, like any coach will work on bringing out the best that’s already inside you. They can see your business in a way that you cannot because you are just too close to it.  Find someone who will be able to help you in those areas where you get stuck.  Find the ‘earth’ to your ‘water’ or vise verse.

You do not have to do everything in your business by yourself, especially inspiring yourself or keeping yourself on track.  Know your strengths and be willing to admit your weaknesses.  This will help you to know where to look for ways to get help and support.

Let me know if you have others ways that keep you inspired and moving forward.

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Sight Unseen

Do you have a business where people buy your product or service before they actually see the final results?

There are many business in this category.  Think about it. Architects promise to design you a new home.  Doctors offer you a way to feel better.  Graphic designers promise a creative logo.  Life coaches help you to find your direction.  Website designers promise a website that attracts visitation.

In all of these situations, you do not really know what the outcome will look or feel like, yet you still have to choose who you want to do business with.  It is not as if we say to our doctor, “Listen, I am going to work with you for the next month.  Now, if you and I together can get rid of this funky rash, then I will pay you.  If it is still there, you are out of luck and I am moving on to someone else.”  We don’t say to our website designer, “Look, show me what you are going to design.  I will ask 2 other designers to do the same thing, and then I will pick which one of them I like the best and pay that designer.”

We choose who we are going to work with based on criteria other than the final results. What are some of the factors we use to choose a service professional?

What have they done in the past?

We like to see examples of past work.  Can they show us logos or websites they have designed?  Do they have testimonials that express the results that others have achieved by working with them?  This helps to build confidence in them as a professional.

Do I like them?

When working with a service professional we want to like the person.  We want to have an enjoyable experience, because it is usually a process.  This is not a one time ‘buy and fly’, but a relationship.  We are looking for someone with whom we resonate.

How is their customer service?

We call on the phone, we want someone to respond.  We have opportunities to interact with service professionals and their offices before we make the buying decision.  If we have trouble getting answers and courtesy from them before we buy, we will not choose them.

Did someone refer me to them?

A personal referral goes a long way in helping us to choose our provider.  If our friend had a good experience with them, we feel confident that we will too.  We can ask our friend lots of questions to find out the ‘real story’.

Are they hearing what I want?

Since we are hiring them on faith that the final product will reflect who we are, we want to make sure that they have heard us.  Were they listening when I was talking or were they talking while I was talking?  Did they ask about me, or did they just tell me about themselves and what they do?  Did they ask me probing questions?  Did they repeat back to me what they thought they heard?  We know when we are really being heard, so don’t try to fool us.

These are just some of the things that the consumer pays attention to, consciously or not, when choosing a service provider.  A good business manager will make sure that they are aware of the type of buying decision their prospects have in front of them and proactively help them to see their business in the best light.

Can you add to this list of decision making criteria?  Let me know.

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What Are You Manifesting?

I read a great article today about manifesting.  One of the great take-aways was the concept of reviewing everything in your present life.  Take a look at your situation, what you have, what you don’t have, and know that you have manifested it all.

I got out my trusty flip chart (I like to work on a vertical surface) and made 2 lists.  One was of all of the great things in my life.  One was of the things that are not going so well.

It was easy to write the lists of great things.  I loved writing them down.  They couldn’t hit the paper fast enough.  Then I took the time to look at each one and express genuine thanks for it.  What a great way to feel good and to appreciate all that you have.

Writing down the not so great things was really not fun.  I hated to admit that there were things in my life that weren’t going as I thought they should.  Still, I knew that searching them out and writing them down was important.  I made my list and then examined each one individually.  First I had to admit to myself that whatever the situation is, I had the power to create it.  Then I knew that I also have the power to change it (or at least how I perceive it… but that is another article all together).  I crossed off each situation that I did not want in my life and I wrote down a better outcome.

Moving boxes

One of the things that is ‘not going well’ for me is a delay in a move to a new condo.  It suddenly dawned on me that I was not helping the situation at all.  I have not lifted a finger to get ready.  No boxes are packed.  Not one!  My energy is totally saying, “I will always be here.  No need to pack and disrupt things.”  I got in the car, drove to the nearest liquor store (because they always have boxes – not for the booze) and picked up a couple of boxes.   It wasn’t a big gesture, but it was a start.  I then packed those boxes right away and a couple more for good measure.

Are there any items on your list that have to do with your business?  Are you brave enough to write them down?  Can you see where you can contribute in a tangible way to shifting the energy around them?  Do you need to make some phone calls?  take some courses?  Send out letters?  post some updates?  Visualize success?

No matter the state of the economy right now, you have the ability to tap into the abundance of the universe.  Don’t be afraid to look at what is preventing you from doing so, and making a shift.

Looking in The Wrong Places

This is a story about discovering that sometimes we are just looking in the wrong place for our answers.  It applies to life as well as to our business.

Air Conditioner in Hiding

The story goes like this…  I have been walking around my neighborhood for the past year, observing all of the details of the condos.  I look at who has nice flowers, who has replaced their windows, etc.  In the complex there is the ‘old’ section and the ‘new’ section.  In the the old section, where I my condo is, the air conditioner units are placed right outside of the dining room windows, which I do not appreciate, but so it is.  I noticed at the new units that they actually have a nice patio outside of their dining room windows.  Well, says I, that is an improvement.

The thing is, I could not figure out where they relocated the air units to in the newer homes.  I walked the neighborhood for another 8 months, each day looking for those units.   Finally one day I saw someone who lived there and asked him.  He kindly told me that they were right there, next to the walkway.  Sure enough, each condo had their unit right between the garage and the walkway.   Why didn’t I see it?  Well, they do have nice landscaping which is intended to hide the unit, but really, it doesn’t do that good a job.

The reason I didn’t see them is that where I live there is no space next to the garage.  I just assumed that is was the same.  I was blinded to what was there because of my preconceived notion of what should be.

This got me to thinking about my business.  What am I missing that is put right in front of me?  How do I know what it is if I can’t see it?  That is why we ask someone else.  This is why we have business partners, friends, mentors, mastermind groups, and coaches.  If you don’t have some trusted ‘councilors’ I recommend that you seek them out.  When you do have trusted council, don’t be afraid to ask the seemingly silly questions.

Strive for Confidence

I had the great pleasure of attending a wedding in Switzerland this month. One of the things that struck me when the DJ went from playing a popular song to playing a Viennese Waltz was that the dance floor was suddenly filled with couples of all ages waltzing. In the days that followed I wondered why I found that so impressive.  For me, it wasn’t the music but the confidence with which the men lead their partners around the floor.  Their confidence in their ability and the trust of their partner to guide them to the rhythm made for a beautiful experience.

This all got me to thinking about confidence.  Everything in life feels better when we are experiencing it through confidence.  This is true in your business as well as your personal life.  Think of the times that you have felt truly confident.  Many people take up hobbies based on something that they can do with confidence.  What is it for you?  Singing, woodworking, sewing, gardening?  Think of your hobby or something that you like to do, like dancing,   When you know what you are doing you enjoy it more and want to share it more.

Having confidence in business not only makes your life more enjoyable, but it also projects to your customers that you are someone they want to do business with.  It is not enough to just be good at what you do (that is the minimum that is expected), but you must also be able to confidently express to people what you do and how you help them. How are you doing with being able to clearly articulate what it is that your business provides?

Doing something with confidence can take practice.  If you are not feeling great about the way you convey your business message, make sure that you take some time to practice. Put together what it is that you want to say.  Make sure that you express how it is that you help people, not just what it is that you do.  Then practice, practice, practice.  As you practice it, you will also refine what you have to say.  Practicing can take time.  Make sure that you figure out how you will fit in time for practicing.

Expressing your message confidently is an important part of marketing your business. Having a clear conversation at any moment about your business is the minimum amount of marketing that you need to do.  So, if you are feeling bad that you are not doing any marketing, ask yourself if you can at the very least market your business with a short conversation anywhere and anytime.