Definitions are always a good place to start. What is awareness?
Awareness- knowledge or perception of a situation or fact (Oxford Dictionary)
People attribute business success to many factors, but I think we might be inclined to think that those with three Cs succeed:
- Charisma- They have the “it” or “woo” factor.
- Capital- They have the money to make their dreams a reality.
- Company- They have the right people around them to promote them.
When businesses fail, we’ve heard that the majority fail in the first five years due to lack of finances. Interestingly, that’s the number two reason, according to Forbes (2017), with the number one reason being that the product or service that the person put on the market did not meet the market’s need. Interesting, huh?
Certainly having charisma, capital, and being in the right company help, but if you have all these advantages yet lack awareness of yourself and your market, you could still end up falling into the large category of businesses that fail because they didn’t meet their market’s needs.
Couldn’t we say that lack of awareness is at the crux of the failure to meet the market’s needs?
Awareness is needed through all seasons of business. Perhaps a person started with lots of awareness of the market and tons of solutions to boot, but times, technology, and needs change. Hence, the way a business runs, the team it acquires, and and the services and products it offers must evolve. Continuous awareness.
The third reason businesses fail is they don’t find the right team (CB Insights, 2019). Awareness of one’s personal strengths and weaknesses, awareness of the skillsets of others, or the awareness to foresee the consequences of keeping the wrong team players onboard all play into why business owners may not have the right team players. Typing that just made me flashback to the first time I had to fire someone. It was horrible. Like I was sick to my stomach. But the thought that made me more sick was what was going to happen in my company if I ignored my own awareness and the lack of awareness this person had about the effects of her actions on the organization.
We see the consequences of the lack of awareness in business on a daily basis: the person who posts WAY too much stuff on their personal or business social pages; the person who you don’t hear from except when they are trying to sell something; the business with zero personality; products that are a dime a dozen and have no stand-out factor in the market yet they are heavily pushed on the market; a company thinking that lowering their prices will move their products, when the real issue is the brand’s messaging hasn’t adequately communicated a value worth the pricetag no matter what it is.
It is certainly easier to look at others’ lack of self-awareness or market awareness, but it is more important to always be examining our own.
What do you plain suck at doing? For me, it’s paper organization. In college, people saw I had systems for everything- studying, test-taking, and putting my research together were areas I shined like a superstar. BUT, for the love of anything you hold dear, I prayed you would not ask me to borrow my awesomely bulleted notes, because the second I tore my notes out of my spiral notebook, they’d be lost forever. You would return them to me, and they would never again make their way back into my notebooks (which is why I kept spirals). I’ve tried every paper system under the sun, and spirals are still what work best for me, because I cannot maintain organization of small items and papers. A harder suck pill to swallow is that I stink at being a boss when the shite hits the fan; however, I excel at being a consultant to organizations (there’s a big difference!).
Over the years as I’ve expanded, rescaled, or morphed my business, I’ve found it so helpful to stay mindful of my awareness. I develop what I can strengthen and don’t beat myself up anymore over what I don’t do well. There are people and technology solutions for those things. The important thing is that we know what we do well. Reading books, taking assessments such as DISC or the Gallup Strengths Finder or the now-popular Enneagram help us take assessment of our strengths, know where we need support, and also recognize how others perceive us.
Be open to feedback. Stubbornness is different from resilience. A resilient business examines itself and its potential market to make ever-shifting decisions to match its offerings with the market’s needs. A stubborn business or business owner does not recognize or ignores the input of others more knowledgeable or errantly wants the market to change their behaviors rather than assume responsibility for the shifts needed to provide to the needs of the market.
It’s a new year, and January is a great time to start writing your business reading lists, find virtual or in-person events, join networking groups and chambers and begin cultivating relationships with people you will actively seek feedback and guidance from. What do you think you can do this year to grow your awareness as a leader and to welcome the feedback of trusted peers and mentors? Where could some simple steps towards increased awareness propel your business. How could these steps shed light on how you need shift your messaging services or product offerings?
It’s a lot to think about, but it’s worth the investment of time to think about.
Dream bigger, and your dreams will be more attainable when your awareness is at its highest!
You have a new business idea!
High five! You’re pumped! Fresh ideas are necessary for business growth and development. It may sound nerdy (it is nerdy), but I love nothing than a brainstorming session with myself. I have notebooks and an app filled with ideas. I learned long ago to write the ideas down. I used to think a brain spark I’d have was so good that there was no way I’d forget it, but something else would creep into that brain space and POOF. So, now, all the ideas get recorded.
But how do you get an idea off the ground? Should you let it fly? What do you need to do to give it legs to run? If you have a few minutes, pour your cup of coffee and let’s talk.
I used to do something else too. I’d try to act on all the ideas. They were so great, I thought, that they all needed to get put forth into the world. Big, big mistake. Enter big-time overwhelm, messed up priorities, lack of follow-through, and in the end, a lack of profitability.
All ideas are good ideas, but all ideas are not good for now. -Geneva Maresma
Here are three ways to handle all the inspirational ideas you have to make sure they serve you instead of slicing into your goals.
- Categorize your ideas- act now, put on the shelf, toss in the fun bin. Does your idea line up with your long or short-term goals? If you can say, “Heck yes!” then act now on developing it. Could it line up with your goals at some time but it needs time to possibly be aligned? Put it on the shelf of ideas to keep revisiting. Is it a fun or exciting idea but would take you a totally different direction than the goals you’ve established? Then, toss it into the fun idea bin.
- Talk to a good business bestie about your idea. So many times I’ve had an idea that lights me all up inside, and when I’ve spent the time explaining it to a trusted business mind, I’ve found one of two things happen. As I’m explaining it, it begins to sound more and more complicated and is harder to articulate than it was to think about OR the other brain with whom I’m sharing “gets it” and jumps on my brainwave giving me affirmation. Ultimately, your business ideas have to excite others, so take your ideas to a trusted person or two, and you’ll get lots of clarity with what to do with it.
- Research. There aren’t too many brand new ways of doing things, but there are many fresh ways to go about old ideas. See what others have done with a similar concept. Google and read the results of others. Not only will you see how similar ideas have served other businesses, but chances are you’ll refine your idea to something even better than the original!
Let your mind move and those ideas flow. Act on those that have gone through these three screening steps with flying colors, and embrace one of the greatest aspects of entrepreneurship- innovation!
Dream big and shine on!
Let’s cut to the chase. If you want a long and healthy relationship with your business, you’ll have to establish boundaries around it.
Think of your business as a person. Do you want it calling you and texting you at 10pm? Do you want it to coerce you into work you’re not excited about? Would you want it to feel like it monopolizes all your time? I’m sure you’re saying, “Of course not,” but the truth is that without clear boundaries around how you conduct business and allocate your time resources to your business, you run the high probability of becoming resentful of your business. If you’ve ever been in a relationship with a friend or partner in which you feel resentment, it’s really not fun. It makes you less than the best version of yourself, and that is no way to have long-lasting relationship with your business.
The good news is that it doesn’t matter if you’ve been in business 5 days or 5 years, you can begin to groom habits that help you stay in harmony with the dream you have for your business. Here are 3 areas to examine and develop plans for to help you maintain balance through boundaries:
- Task Boundaries- Make a list of all the day to day tasks you need to manage like social media, returning emails, writing reports, packaging items…ALL the stuff. Set designated times of the day to tackle each in order to prevent flitting from task to task and checking in on social accounts are emails which will wrangle you in for more than work (Raise your hand if you’ve ever gone down the rabbit hole of social media? We’ve all done it and regretted how much time got sucked into nothing productive). Stick to your deal with yourself of when you will do these tasks.
- Customer and Client Boundaries- Before we talk about what boundaries to set up here, let’s talk about why we struggle with customer boundaries. One word. Fear. Scarcity mindset feeds the fear that if we are not all things to all people when they “need” us, they will land with our competition. However you respond to people will set the tone for what people expect of you. If you do not want to be answering emails at 8pm on a Monday, when you’d rather watch The Bachelor, then determine you won’t. Set an autoreply email for after the end of your business day, if you’d like, or be really good at disciplining yourself to respond to after-hours emails as one of your first tasks the next business day. When I first started in business, I struggled with client boundaries for a few years. I was over-delivering thinking I was giving exceptional customer service. I was providing great service, but it was through unsustainable behaviors at the cost of fights with my husband and lack of “me” time. I came to realize I could still provide outstanding care to my clients but had to prioritize my priorities first, otherwise, I was training my clients to act like young children who were constantly in need of me. I’m a stickler now for boundaries around texts and emails to my clients. A little secret… I often draft back text or email responses on Sunday mornings, but I don’t hit send until 8am Monday morning. Why? While I worked the weekend for a couple hours perhaps to alleviate my Monday morning time, I do not want my customers perceiving I work weekends. Texts and emails received after 6pm relative to work go on the next day’s task list. Lean in and listen closely friend. You have to know something. You’re amazing at what you do, and you are a wonderful person to do business with. That is your sell. Your people will not leave you if you are responsive when you tell them you will be. They do not do business with you, because you reply to all their FB comments immediately. They do business with you, because you are reliable and they have the confidence you will follow through on communication according to when you say you will. Build your business on the value of you and your integrity.
- Personal Time- I should have listed this one first in order. When you go to schedule your week (I do mine on Sundays), you must put your needs on the calendar first, and then the other time is work time. I have a need for 30 minutes in the morning to drink my coffee and eat my breakfast. I might write or watch the news or read during this time, too. It’s non-negotiable. I know when my day does not start this way, I will struggle the whole day feeling aligned. Whatever is important for your personal inner balance, schedule first. A workout. A half hour lunch. A dinner date with a friend. Time to curl your hair or put on makeup and your best face forward. It may sound silly, but a swipe of mascara, a pop of lip color, an outfit I like, and good hair make me feel put together which boosts my confidence that no matter who I run into during the day or what Zoom meeting I end up on, I represent myself for my business in the best way. I put on perfume, even when I have a day of video calls. Why? It simply makes me feel good. Set yourself as a priority, and whatever you do, do not compromise your boundaries during YOU time for one more email or one more phone call. They can wait, but your mental health is always immediate.
If you want to shine and truly see your dreams reveal themselves, getting harmony and balance with your work and within yourself is one of the keys that opens the doors to fruitfulness and success.
This is as important a business strategy as any others I teach. It’s foundational and life-changing. I’m here to support your boundary plan and cheer you on, sister!
Dream Big and Shine On!
If you live on planet Earth, you’ve faced a huge possible fog ahead of your 2020 goals in the huge changes we’ve all experienced the last couple months. You can still know where you’re headed even if there’s a storm threatening to make you forget your destination.
Today, I want to talk to you about your dream. When I was younger, my mother often told me to “Get my head out of the clouds.” Usually, she was referring to me thinking about boys or my social life or what she saw as potential threats to my academic or personal success. Sometimes, though, my daydreams were not about marrying Jordan Knight from New Kids on the Block but were really about my heart visions.
Much of our lives and often by people who really care about us, we’re conditioned to live in the practical, and I believe as we get older, we forget how to dream in vivid color. We forget the inner child who could take a box and with a little glue, some paper, and some markers create a time machine. We literally slow thinking outside the box and dreaming in vivid color.
In this time where life has taken a sharp shift for us all, through discussions with friends in business and further sparked by some recent reading, I’ve really been contemplating how to tap into my 10 year old self. She was old enough to know she couldn’t become a Disney princess when she grew up but kept her head in the clouds enough to imagine influencing the world. She wrote tons of vivid dreams in her Little Women inspired diary (remember the ones with the lock and little key?) visualizing her dream home, thinking about the type of healthcare provider she wanted to one day become.
Today, I’m telling you and myself, “Get your head in the clouds.” Give yourself time each week to contemplate the ideas you have for your business or personal development that make your heart jump. Don’t think too much about how to get there. Your kid brain never started making a list of all the reasons the dream wouldn’t work, so don’t go there. Sit in the joy of the colors of your dream and remind yourself that whatever is bubbling up is there in your mind and heart for a purpose- your purpose.
I’ve found as I’ve permitted myself the freedom to dream more recently that the goals have become clearer. The things that were muddy for a while are cleaner and brighter. My goals have new life breathed into them.
So find a hammock, porch, shade tree, or beach to sit in this week and have a talk with your 10 year old self. What would she be telling your adult self about your goals? Which dreams would she have? I bet that child could reveal a thing or two to you.
What is it? How can you take the ordinary “box” you have of your business or personal life and turn it into something extraordinary? Dream away…
☔️Oh rainy day. How I love thee. If you’re in the Tampa Bay area, it’s been a wonderful stormy day…not the piddly rain that is just enough to make the Florida air soupy once the sun steams the streets, but the thunder rumbling, air cleansing, sit and read or write kind of day all day storm.
I have a question for you and for me, too.
I’ve seriously been contemplating the opposite of many posts I’ve seen. Instead of what will I do first when life reverts to some parts of its old self, because the answers are easy anyway- Disney and beach, I’ve been asking,
🤔”What do I not want to return to?”
You see, we have had the chance to reset and rearrange. I can take my life back however I wish. I can let go of whatever I now see I am better to release. You can too.
Early on in this quarantine journey, I had visions of tackling the calligraphy learning set I gifted myself for Christmas, beginning to make Christmas wreaths, and picking up my guitar and hanging with YouTube tutorials. I was going to do these three things and a few other projects before reentering the world. I’m sure you also had some gangbusters plan of all the productive things you’d do. But here’s the realization I had- we don’t have to shove these pursuits into quarantine time. We can do them whenever, because we get to decide what’s meaningful to life moving forward. We can pick up the heavy overpacked suitcase of our past lives or unload some of the weight.
My time is what’s heavy in my suitcase. Lugging heavy time luggage is par for the course sometimes in life, but I no longer want to pull time out of my sleeve like a magician with a neverending scarf. It’s either there or not. I either have it or I don’t. Even if I have it, it’s mine to do something of my choosing based on what I know I need to be my best self. Some days Disney is going to win over volunteering and a beer with one friend over an event I “should” be at. Other days, my best self is when my cup is full, and I can effectively pour into others.
My goal is that people and causes dear to me will never be in an unknowing affair relationship- you know when you have to cheat time mentally from one event or person to give to another? I’m ok with making those choices every once in a blue moon, but I don’t want to return back to feeling like I’m “dating” 10 obligations at once all while trying to convince myself the “one” I’m currently investing my time is the most important while I really just want to be sipping a champagne flight in France at Epcot🥂.
There’s my truth. What is it you want to leave behind?