Where to Start if You Want to Grow Your Business

Today’s topic is for all my ladies who have dealt with desiring intelligent, purposeful business growth but aren’t able to see the path forward that will lead them there.

Right now, I am currently working with a lot of fitness studio owners who I am trying to help with this crossroads. Fitness studio owners, as well as many of the other mompreneurs that I work with, are “bootstrap” business owners.

“Bootstrap” business owners are those that start their businesses often times by taking small loans from themselves, family or sometimes banks and then really get in there and get their hands dirty. These entrepreneurs are very strong, self-reliant and driven people who are ready to really do all that it takes to move their business in the direction of their vision of success.

These individuals have often invested their personal assets (from college or retirement accounts) or that of close friends and family who really believe in them, their ideas and their future success. And though it is a wonderful thing to have those around you willing to genuinely invest in your dreams, it also has a tendency to put a lot of extra pressure on them to perform well enough to be capable of paying those loans back.

Once they get their business open, these are the business owners who are working ALL of the time and relying on their perseverance and grit to get them through and past the first year of business. They handle all of the marketing and networking while also being the one teaching the classes so they don’t have to pay someone else to do it and lose valuable profits. This business model is passionate and inspiring but it also very quickly leads to burnout. And especially in the case of a fitness studio owner, it leads to not only emotional burnout but also physical. Handling everything on your own takes a real toll on both your body and your mind.

Now, I’m not against doing the hard work for your business and occasionally making a crazy sacrifice for your dreams. I think that is something that is within every true entrepreneur, but if it is to be done, it’s important to have healthy boundaries around it. There needs to a plan and a defined beginning, middle, and end to the push you are making. It cannot be forever because not only is it simply not sustainable or healthy, but it can also very quickly form bad habits.

Beyond Bootstrapping

It can be hard to know what steps to take once you finally decide that your bootstrap time is coming to an end and you need to grow your business. What do you do now? What does true “growth” even mean? This is important, so read it twice if you need to, but growing your business needs to be an intentional choice. This is not something to come to by accident or just to let it grow in all directions without any guidance because it can (and will) take over. If you let your business run you instead of the other way around, it will eventually start to feel like the “job” you left years ago because it was controlling your priorities and running your life.

After you have decided you are ready for growth, you need to sit down and really make some S.M.A.R.T. Goals.

The traits of a S.M.A.R.T. goal are: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results, and Time.

Here are some things to think about as you get started:

  • Decide what portion of your business you want to grow and how you intend to watch or measure that growth as it happens.
  • Do you want to grow sales or profits?
  • Are you looking to up the numbers of products, programs or services you delivered versus last year?
  • What about the possibility of expanding your business resources or space?
  • Now, consider the option of hiring some addition heads and minds to help you in your business.
  • Could you use a business partner or office manager?
  • If you decide you aren’t ready to commit to a full-time employee, have you considered the option of a freelancer or online contractor to free up some time and help you accomplish some goals?

Asking and answering some of these questions for yourself can help you to really understand what your own definition of a successful business looks like and ensure you are able to see the path to growth and to enable yourself to really act on that path. So, what is your next step? Not sure? Still don’t know where to start? I’d love to help you make some plans and goals to get your business to where you want it. Contact me today for a free discovery session and let’s get started!

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Setting Goals for 2016 – What Do You Want to Get Done?

It’s here. The end of 2015. Is it just me or does it feel like it just got here?

Last week we talked about acknowledging and appreciating your ground covered and things accomplished this year. We also talked about taking the time necessary to reflect as to why you maybe didn’t accomplish some different things you had initially set out to do? Did you struggle to find the motivation or inspiration to push yourself just the little bit further? Did you learn something from your audience or market and decide to switch gears to some new, different goals?

The holiday season is usually the time that I sink in and slow down just a little. I don’t take on new crazy goal setting or new challenges. I slow down and enjoy family, food and some time to just breathe and reflect. So this week, we are just going to do an exercise with thinking, no pen or paper required.

Things to consider really thinking about:

  • Why you do your business?
  • What knowledge and skills you have acquired so far in your career?
  • How is that going to affect your life and business next year?
  • How is your life going to change next year?
  • Is it going to be the same?
  • Are you expecting a new baby?
  • Have kids leaving for college?
  • Are you going through separation or divorce?
  • Moving states or cities?
  • Job change for your partner or spouse?

Your lifestyle is absolutely going to impact your business and the goals that you set for yourself. Help yourself by consider your life and the changes you will experience before setting any goals for 2016. Considering your life and any changes can help you make your goals more realistic and achievable.

Are you hoping / planning for growth in your business in 2016? In what manner? Is this finally your year for scaling up? Considering some new employees or a new partner? How about a new passive income stream or branching out your services by offer a new live event or presentation? Could you benefit from a new marketing strategy?

This is not putting pen to paper. This is just about really thinking on your goals and hopes for 2016. Time for reflection on 2015 and projection for 2016. What most fires you up and gets you most excited? These are what will help you bring new business and profits. It feels great to acknowledge yourself and the work you put in to yield your results. Productivity makes us feel powerful and good. Stressed out and overwhelmed happens when we are stretched too thin.

Think about what you want your life to be like in 2016. Not goals. Separate. Just what you want your life to be like in 2016. Is your business too demanding for you right now? Is it taking over your home life? Your marriage and time with your children? Are you taking care of yourself and your mind, body and spirit? Taking care of family and life and business can be too much sometimes. Acknowledging when it’s too much is a powerful thing.

How do you want to FEEL at the end of 2016?

We will talk in January about how to make that happen for you and your business. We will discuss how to create an action plan to get you there. But for now, Happy Holidays and thank you so much for listening / reading along with me in 2015!

When I resume podcasting in January, I will officially have been podcasting for 7 years. Holy cow! I think that is a huge accomplishment and maybe deserves a celebration! I am bad at thinking of that stuff though, so please let me a comment with any ideas you may have!

And also, if you have any questions or have a big decision to make this year, I’d love to help you. Find out more about working with me.

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6 Questions to Close Out 2014 Like a Boss

The end of the year often brings us full circle as we think about the things we have accomplished or fallen short of in the past year. To start 2015 off right, let’s take some time to review 2014—celebrating milestones, reflecting on lessons learned, and looking forward to 2015.

Here are the 6 questions we need to be asking:

1. What mistakes or failures occurred that you will let go of in 2015?
Everybody makes mistakes. Since there is no handbook for how to run your business, these mistakes are inevitable. Beating yourself up them is not the a way to get the energy you need to push forward. It’s important to learn from your mistakes, but it’s time to let go over them so they don’t control your actions in the coming year. Be purposeful, and be done with them.

2. What can you do to celebrate?
You set goals every year, but do you ever take the time to literally list out the accomplishments you had in a year? Pull out your business plan and review your personal goals. Then celebrate your successes, even if you didn’t quite achieve the goals you set. Progress counts, and that’s the fuel that will help you in your goal setting for next year.

3. What did you learn this year?
What an awesome thing to always be learning. I’m sure this year you learned a lot about yourself, your spouse, your kids, your priorities. Take a moment to think of the things you learned—whether it was intentional or by accident.

4. What is the most unexpected or surprising thing that happened to you this year?
Sometimes we get blindsided with unexpected events. Some are good, and some maybe not so good. Take some time to reflect on things that happened this year and how they impacted your goals and plans. Use this opportunity to give these things a chance to be felt and considered, given their proper place, and let go.

5. How close have you come to meeting your business and personal goals for 2014?
Check in with yourself and measure your progress. Take a look at where you got off track and whether the goals you set were right on, or need to be tweaked. Be honest with yourself so that you can move powerfully into next year with the right goals in place.

6. Considering the lessons you’ve learned this year, what will you do differently in 2015?
When you answer this question truthfully, you are on your way to setting powerful goals for the coming year. We are always learning, and if we put that new knowledge and wisdom into action, we’re absolutely setting ourselves up for success.

That’s it! I really hope you’ll take these questions and use them to close the book of 2014 and be ready to open that brand new one for 2015. And as always, I welcome your comments and questions!

Need some help with your goals for 2015? Ready to make a big decision? I’m here to help! Kick off your new year with some personal coaching!

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You get what you prepare for

That Mike Dooley…

His “Notes From the Universe” have inspired me again!

I just finished my group coaching call with the Mom Biz Makeover Program gals, and one of the mompreneurs was discussing how her business seemed to continually evolve. She was telling us how hard it was to let go of the brand (name, logo, website, etc.) that she has worked so hard to build, yet that she knows doesn’t represent where her business is heading and where she wants it to go anymore.

She’s not the only one. It happens to all of us mom entrepreneurs: you have to put a stake in the ground, give your business a name, and start building your message, your platform and your brand. But over time, you grow, get better at doing certain things, find that your market wants more of something and less of something from you, and if you’re going to thrive, you evolve to meet these changes.

So you wind up with a brand, a logo, a blog and a website that has cost you tons of time and money, but doesn’t convey the message you know will take you forward. And so you wind up doing something totally normal, but totally wrong: you attempt to straddle both. Or to put it another way, you say something like this: “Well, I really want my business to be X, but I’m not sure that I can get it there, so I figure I’ll keep holding onto my old stuff.”

Here’s the quote that I got from Mike Dooley today:

If someone wants “A” to happen, Lara, yet they prepare for “B,” they will always get “B.”

Prepare for “A”

Simple, isn’t it?

Take a look at what you’re committed to. Are you planning and preparing for that, or are you planning for it not to work out?

Photo credit: The Smithsonian via Flickr
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Notes on Commitment

So when you start something new, it’s usually easy to start it. You get excited about the possibilities. You have a lot of energy to give you a boost in the right direction. You haven’t ever done it before, so you don’t have an established pattern of resistance to break through. So that’s how things start.

But then, a few days, weeks or months into your new program or plan, it’s easy (and entirely natural) to want to bail on the whole thing. Very compelling thoughts creep into your head…thoughts that would allow you to rationally give this new commitment up, see it as wrong-headed and ill-planned, realize that the goal you planned isn’t that important to you anyway. Worse yet, sometimes we even start telling ourselves that we don’t deserve this thing that we thought we really wanted, or that we’re not truly capable of accomplishing it, given our weak nature. And hey–wouldn’t it be easier to just go back to “normal” and the way things always were? After all, you’re used to it and it’s always been enough or okay for you in the past…and it’s sooooooooooo much easier than change.

Well, that’s all normal.

But I’m committed to breaking through what’s normal for me. I suck at blogging. Only post randomly when I feel like it. Yet I know how important it is to blog frequently and on a regular basis.

And to combat that second paragraph, I’m writing this one. See, I signed up to write 10 blog posts in 10 days. I am walking out the door as soon as I hit “publish” to go have a drink with a girlfriend (a very rare treat since I normally can’t stay up past 9pm…). And since I promised two girlfriends I’d write everyday for 10 days, and as easy as it would be for me to justify this “special evening” as a good excuse to forgo my commitment, that just won’t do.

So there. I blogged.

Yahoo! Feels awesome to follow through on my commitment, even when I didn’t really feel like it and had lots of other really good things to do.


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