Thank you to Sarah Shaw for including the below post in her wonderful piece on What Do You Outsource First?

Be sure to read everyone’s suggestions at http://theentreprenettegazette.com/2011/07/27/what-do-you-outsource-first/

Here’s my response to Sarah’s question:

One night, many moons ago, I realized as I was paying bills at 4:00am,that I hated accounting. I was also honest enough to admit I didn’t know enough about “behind the scenes” technology or on line graphics. I drove myself crazy with the “I’ve got to learn this ALL”! So,I gave it up. I hired a virtual bookkeeper, a wonderful VA, and a graphic artist to help so I could concentrate on my strengths. You can start a business by yourself, but you can’t grow it alone. Get the help you need to share your very best.

“Welcome Back”, I said to myself. I took a break, visited with my kids, wrote some articles and a bit for my upcoming book. I emptied my head. Kayaked. Cooked new recipes. Danced in the moonlight.

I’m just sayin’ — It’s summer, and I gave myself a well-deserved break from my normal routine (though I might like to keep dancing in the moonlight as an activity).

My million dollar tip today is this: For your head, for your heart, for your health –Take a break.

When it’s time (you’ll know), just get back to what’s important to you.

For me, it’s helping entrepreneurs with their lives, and promoting their businesses, and making more money, so it can FUEL the life they want to live. And, how they’ll give.

It’s pretty easy to figure, once you get to what’s important.

This week, I was fortunate to interview Sarah Shaw from www.Entreprenette.com. I loved what she had to share with us, her tips for taking products to market, insights on being an entrepreneur, and the free PR distribution list she shared here. But, I didn’t love something else.

Me.

I was sick as a dog, wobbly, even got the name of her website wrong. (Forgive me, Sarah). I was doing all that I could to hold on and make it through, letting Sarah carry the ball. In all honesty, I lost my voice the week before, canceled the interview already once, and wanted to be respectful of her time, and honor my commitment. I prayed to have a voice, and be clear enough to ask the questions I had prepared weeks before the interview. It didn’t happen.

My body was stronger than my will, and the results were less than perfect.

Wabi-sabi. A Japanese term noting the art of imperfection.

I love to garden and know that a flower doesn’t bloom 365 days a year. Nor do we. I know that sometimes my favorite Greek meatballs don’t come out as good as usual because I forgot to buy scallions, or I didn’t use the cast iron frying pan and finish the batch off with a sprinkling of oregano. Sometimes things turn out differently than you plan. And, that’s ok. We have to give ourselves permission to have an off day, or week, or undefined time — and let it be, without beating ourselves up. That “ourselves”, includes me.

Leonard Cohen, the author, writes this:

Forget your perfect offering
There’s a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

Wabi-sabi is the beauty of things imperfect, modest and humble.

For me, an imperfect interview was part of letting go of my own perfection. Accepting an off day, and, being ok with it not just for me, but for my community.

Imperfection is perfection for where we need to be, and perhaps, what we need to learn.

It was such an important lesson for me — to lessen the load with grace.

It IS all good. It’s our minds that may not be in sync, at the time.

I’​m finding that with the current economic marketplace, I advise small business owners to give lots of added value.

Instead of discounting programs, I suggest that they add to an established program. That often makes a difference;​ i.e., a half day session included with a six month program, for business coaching for example.

There are many vendors that may offer your service, but you have to personalize your products to their needs (not yours) without giving up integrity, or doing it for free.

By adding a little extra, of their perceived value, you’​ll turn a prospect into a customer.

At my Make Money Monday’s stop this week, I had the opportunity to sit for about half an hour, and enjoy a cup of coffee waiting for my first appointment. I was delighted to have some time to rest and regroup my thoughts after a busy weekend.

In line, I heard a familiar voice that I recognized from years past. It was my plumber, Barry, who had moved out of town. Wanting to catch up, I invited him to sit with me, and in no time, we shared stories about business, family and life. I remember Barry fondly because he was working at my home the day “my water broke” when Vanessa, my first child was born. Being a plumber, and a good one, he took my comment literally, and wanted to fix the leak. He realized soon enough, that what I really needed was a ride to the hospital! 🙂

As I re-focused back to where I was (at Starbucks) and my conversation with Barry, I noticed he seemed excited to talk with me. He mentioned wanting to show me something, and left for a moment to go to his car. With a smile on his face, he came back with a small book.

Loving surprises, I opened the book. As I turned the pages, there were pictures of Barry, at 57 — a perfectly sculptured body builder, winning 2nd place in the Men’s Over 50 Championship.

Barry worked out for years, but for six months trained at an incredible rate, and ate certain foods in certain combinations that prepared him for this contest. He also deleted foods (and many of them) to prepare for this challenge. No wine. No pizza. And little desire, for some of the fun we take for granted.

Barry’s nutritionist and trainer were his team. Team Barry, supported the effort, but Barry alone, had the drive and discipline to get to his goal.

What do body building and business have in common? It takes time, commitment and effort to build a beautiful body — and time, commitment and effort to build a profitable business. There will be days you want to give up. There will be days you are hungry for more. There will be days you are so exhausted you just want to go to bed, and times when you might want to scream — in loneliness, fear or frustration.

The winners continue, not knowing if they’ll place first, second or third. They might not even qualify. But they do it.

They do their due diligence for their own reasons. They stay in business. Follow a plan. Get up every day and work – or work out, or both.

Much like Barry.

When I asked Barry why he did it, he told me it was all about discipline and deciding that this was important to him.

When I mentioned revamping my own nutrition, he told me I could do anything. I believe him, because of one thing… If it’s important to me, I know I’ll have the discipline.

The question is, what are we willing to have discipline for?

What’s your why?

Often when we feel like business is down or we missed an opportunity, we have a tendency to get “down” on ourselves.

But, little do we know that those setbacks, or what appear to be setbacks, are just little breathers – or spacers, as I like to call them, there to make us stop and re-analyze a situation and take note of “what is” and “ what isn’t” for real – in any given situation.

Take for example an event, where attendance is less than you expected. You prepared. You created material. You called in a videographer. You practiced. And had every intention of “rockin’ the crowd”. But, you were disappointed in the turnout.

The truth is: You had half the audience than you “expected.”

The Silver lining is this:

  • You made an impression to whoever showed up, and engaged them as your primary focus
  • You practiced your speech/talk/presentation so you’ll be better next time
  • You created handouts for your next event, and took that item off your to-do list
  • You have video footage, or audio snippets you can use in sales and marketing materials, including podcasts, social media, You Tube, pitches, promotional DVD’s
  • You took advantage of the one-on-one opportunity to connect with the organizers and hosts of the event, and can capitalize on that connection and relationship to get to the next level
  • Your brain kicked into “Ferrari gear” to make lemons out of lemonade, and it worked!

Most of you know I am an optimist, and believe that everything happens for a reason.

When you’re having one of those moments where the clouds are hanging low, STOP. Look at what this situation may be teaching you, and learn from it. Think about how you can use it to your advantage.

Most entrepreneurs have the uncanny ability to think on their feet.

Take the cloud and re-invent it, just as you do every day, in business and in life, to make it work for you.

One night, quite late, I visited my local Border’s bookstore.  I was looking for reference material on Confidence and Charisma for an upcoming tele-class.  Most of my lesson was thought through, but being a book junkie,  I wanted more scientific data. After all, is it true that confidence and charisma can be part of your DNA?  My listeners would want to know!

Lucky for me, I had the help of a wonderful Store Manager, Dan, who spent the last 15 minutes of his shift concentrating on my project – in fact, right up to the 10:00PM closing hour. For a slow Monday night, I probably raised his store’s GNP. I purchased four books, all business related, and promised to read every one of them in the next coming month.

While I was checking out, I introduced myself to Dan and told him who I was, what I was doing, and asked if there were ever opportunities for speaking engagements at Borders.

I followed up, about six weeks later in person, and again by phone. Then, by a proposal, bio, and photo – an electronic press kit of sorts.

Next month, on May 17th I have a speaking gig at Borders.  And, it will be customized to Border’s request, but also based on my expertise.

I’ll have six weeks of free publicity and promotion from Borders, and my team will be supporting me — preparing press releases, Facebook postings, and Tweeting about my talk.

One late night visit to a book store.

One opportunity to, “just ask”.

What are you asking for?

Robin Samora, Business & Life Strategist, discussed ways to use your brilliance to boost your bottom line at a gathering for small business owners and entrepreneurs at the Citizen’s Bank in East Milton on February 15.

The group was eager to learn from Samora, a successful entrepreneur who has launched two companies and makes it her mission to help small business owners make more profits, get more attention, and stand out in a crowded marketplace.

Robin, who has worked with major Fortune 500 companies promoting products and services, wanted to utilize her talents and years of business experience, realizing that she loved working one on one with clients and small businesses.

As a busy entrepreneur, running two businesses, and having a full life, I sometimes work till the wee hours of the morning, writing, planning, and listening to programs that my colleagues have presented. Kind of my own Continuing Education if you will.

This past Tuesday, I was in the zone and didn’t realize I had worked till 2 AM till I checked my kitchen clock. Late to bed and early to rise was the plan since I had a 9:30 AM appointment with a prospective client. A hockey advisor. The kind of man who invests time nurturing talented athletes across the country, and watches them grow and become NHL stars. Good thing I was meeting him at my favorite coffee shop (where I was also this past Monday for my Make Money Monday series).

Long story short.

I dropped a pen during the presentation, and looked down at my feet.

I was wearing two different shoes!

No one noticed but me. Both shoes were black – one with an open toe, the other a closed toe. LOL – the joke was on me.

What I love about this story is that it’s a great lesson that “if the shoe fits, wear it.” If you’re working at your optimum level, and making a great impression to a client, and know – deep down – that you are in your own zone of passion, truth, helping others and closing a sale – in your yoga pants, or mismatched shoes, does it really matter?

It’s your MESSAGE that counts. The MINDSET of Success. The power of all your MARKETING. Not the MIS-MATCH.

I’ve always believed that “variety is the spice of life”. Never thought it would include my shoes.

Thought this may make you smile.

Have a great weekend, and Happy Spring!