Why Awareness Matters (A Whole Lot) For Your Business Success

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!

Geneva

 

 

How to Evaluate a New Business Idea

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!

Geneva

 

 

 

 

My Morning Routine: 4 Ways to Have a More Productive Start to Your Day

My Morning Routine: 4 Ways to Have a More Productive Start to Your Day

4 Ways to Have a More Productive Start to Your Day

Go From Manic Monday to a Money-Making Feel-Good Morning Routine

That darn alarm. It sounds signaling the start of Monday. The start of the business week. The start of insanity. You roll over and pretend like it’s not happening- the alarm, Monday, none of it.

Or you’re like me. A morning person. Even on vacation I revel in the peace of the early hours and glow of the rising sun.

Just like I think everyone can learn to write for their businesses, I know everyone, whether a self-proclaimed early bird or night owl, can learn to use just one hour of the morning to make a HUGE impact on their businesses’s bottom line and how the whole rest of the day rolls out.

I don’t know who said it first, but there’s a saying that says either you control your time or your time controls you.

When people want to know one of my success secrets or how I have time to run two businesses and a networking group and still have time to do anything else, I point to how my morning routine is critical in my productivity and sanity in trying to do all the things.

Someday is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you. -Tim Ferris, author of The Four Hour Work Week

We put off what should be done today for “someday.” I’ve been guilty too. No sugarcoating here, friends, but if you are going to run a successful business for the long-term, you have to learn to discipline your now- discipline of your time, talents, resources, and to engage self-care. Stewarding your time routines is a disciple that hits all four areas, as you will find your stress level and general mental state in a much better place to start your days to make better decisions for your business.

Let’s get to the good stuff! I’ve read lots of blogs like this about productive morning routines that are anything but simple, so first I’ll make a promise to you. I’m going to keep it simple. No complicated systems. My first directive to you to get your morning together is to get up at whatever time you need to to have an uninterrupted morning. So if your kids are up by 6:45 for school, you need to get up at 5:45. If you normally roll out of bed at 7am, get up at 6. If your mind has already started the, “But, I…,” you’re going to need to talk to your mindset. Find your hour and decide if need be to get into bed an hour earlier the night before. Don’t deplete your sleep. It’s so important to your health, wellness, and wealth!

Now you have your hour designated. I’m going to tell you exactly what I do in the hour I designate, and I think you can totally copy and paste my success routine into your morning.

  1. First 5 minutes after waking up, do nothing. Yep. That’s easy, right!? I give myself 5 minutes either by hitting the snooze (set for 5 minutes) or giving myself the small bit of time to stretch in bed and open my eyes. I love mornings, but I’m not trying to jump out of bed like a pop-tart!
  2. The next 25 minutes: I make my cup of coffee, and while it’s brewing, I drink a glass of lemon water and collagen. Cleanse. Strengthen. Caffinate! I grab my paper planner (I keep an agenda planner and a Google calendar). I’m going to suggest even if you keep all your scheduling on your phone to at least have a notebook designated for this part of your morning routine. Next I look over my schedule for the day, digest it, and I list:
    1. any calls I need to return.
    2. any follow-up actions I need to do.
    3. any opportunities I need to create- this could be asking someone for a virtual coffee or lunch date or following up a call or email.
    4. The last 5-10 minutes is either journaling, jotting ideas and brainstorms,  writing gratitude or most often for reading my latest business read.

What we are doing here is creating intention with our planned actions for the day in 3 simple steps.

What this part of my routine does is to help me prioritize people and opportunities following up while the “iron is still hot.” A long time ago, at a conference, I heard that 80% of a potential customer’s excitement dies off in 48 hours of whatever interaction sparked their interest. Whether that’s a hard fact or not, I must say I think it’s very true. This part of the morning routine ensures I don’t miss out on potential money or connections, because I was too slow on the uptake.

3. 15 minutes- Draft all emails and texts to return communication or make communications from the list above.                  Note that I said DRAFT. Why? It’s up to you, but as far as my business goes, it doesn’t open to my clients until                8am. I draft all the communications, so at 8 or a little after, I can go and click “send” in just seconds for them all.            It’s part of my boundaries system. My early time is for me not for opening the doors to business and their return            communications before I am good and ready.

4. 20 minutes- I eat breakfast, plan what I will eat for lunch, and fill up my water bottle. This way, I start my day                   well-nourished and ensure that I will put into my body later is not junk fueled by being rushed and making an                 impulsive decision based on my state of hangry. During this 20 minutes, I also give myself permission to putz                 around on my phone and social media. This part of the morning is the reward for the first 3 steps- getting out of             bed, making my lists, and making my communications. I will add this hour I talked about is not the time to plan               out social media posts for your business (unless you use the time of your last 20 minutes). Why? Because                     unless you are hardcore disciplined, you will likely fall down the rabbit hole of posts and web surfing and                         undermine your productivity. My social media planning is a whole other block I’ll blog about next week! Stay                   tuned!

That’s it! I promised you it would be super simple! You will be amazed by how staying disciplined with this morning routine will affect your bottom lines. When your communications to clients, contacts, and prospects are timely and your day begins with order and planning, it’s a natural by-product that you’ll make more money.

For another good read on getting your Monday started on the right track, click over to a 3 minute read https://genevamaresma.com/2020/08/03/chin-up-start-your-week-with-actions-that-create-optimism/.

Now you have time plans and some tools in your hand to get disciplined. Make a morning routine. Stick to it 5 days a week. The longer you do it, at some point, it just becomes automatic and you won’t think about it. I promise!

Dream Big and Shine On Sister!

Geneva

 

 

 

The New Networking

Up until mid-March, like me, you probably had a couple weekly networking groups on your calendar each week. Chamber groups. Local business owner groups. Women’s groups. You were dedicated to the communities you linked arms with to further the impact of overall business community.

Or perhaps, networking has felt daunting. Maybe you’re a newer business owner who has been watching the business community from the sidelines. You were about to dip your toes in the networking water when “the ‘rona” threw its hat in the game or wrench in the plans.

Good news. Whether you were well drenched or a toe dipper in networking, the playing field has been leveled for all of us, as we’re all adapting to the new virtual ways of doing networking. There’s no better time than now to dive in, because it’s kind of weird for us all!

I run a women’s networking group in the Tampa Bay area called Hearts and Heels. Prior to COVID-19, we had one big meeting each month to connect on a workshop topic and socialize over dinner. We maintain a very active online group. I love the face to face time we schedule each month and the side meetings that happen between the members. When I realized meeting in person was going to be a no-go for a while, I admit…I freaked out.

I knew I could go to an online model, but I myself did not particularly like the few online meetings I had done to that point. Between March to now, however, I’ve (and maybe you’ve) done probably hundreds of online meetings. Practice makes perfect, right?

I am convinced there are some ways we can all make the experience of online networking more comfortable. Here’s some tips to help you not feel like a fish out of water but like your online networking time is valuable to your business AND that you are contributing to the meetings. Let’s face it. Online networking isn’t going anywhere, even if the current world health situation was to disappear tomorrow.

  1. Get a 60 second commercial together. It’s going to happen. It’s going to be your turn to introduce yourself and give your 60 second elevator pitch. Write it down. There is no shame in reading off a cue card to make sure you use this 60 seconds as effectively as possible. BTW, I’ll go live this week on my FB page http://www.facebook.com/genevamaresma to talk about exactly how to do this!
  2. Before the meeting, create some personal goals. Perhaps you’d like to identify one or two people with whom to have a virtual coffee. Maybe you’d like to learn something specific from a workshop being given. Your goal, if you’re new to networking, may be to simply attend a group and get more comfortable with networking in general.
  3. Recognize that the true reward to you is in the follow-up and post-meeting connections. If you attend one or 100 networking meetings and never extend your efforts beyond the meeting itself, you’ll probably be in the camp that says, “Networking meetings didn’t work for me.” Networking is THE single most powerful form of marketing you can do for your business. Hands down. My entire first business was successfully built on word of mouth.
  4. Remember, networking is not a one and done, and many people unfortunately look at it this way. They will state, I didn’t make a sale. No one was interested in buying my products or services. That’s the wrong perspective. Networking groups are to create referral connections. Connections take time to build. No one will refer you until they know, like, and trust you. If you join a group, commit to it for a time and shift your focus to how you can pour into it and how you can give to the community over take from it. You will gain from it eventually, but you are going to have to authentically give to get.

So set a networking goal this week. Embrace virtual networking, because it’s here to stay! Be brave and try a group if you haven’t. If you’d like to join my group (for women in business), let me know, and I’d be happy to introduce you into it and I promise it’s fun and friendly!

Dream Big and Shine On!

Geneva

What Will You Leave Behind?

☔️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?