Hello PME (Purpose-Minded Entrepreneurs) Crew!
Can you believe it? Making Straight Paths has been in the Earth for 5 years!!! Wow! That's someone's car payments, someone's child, an undergraduate degree, and a presidential term! When I first started this company I had no idea what I was doing nor that I would be doing it this long! But I'm so thankful for my journey and I want to share what I learned along the way. I really love the word success because it's so individualized yet definitely achievable. It's in my tagline and something I reflect on often. A couple of years ago I had a "Define Your Success" campaign that was pretty well successful (couldn't help it!). It helped me position my brand to work on some great collaborations but also forced me to really define it for myself and this business. Success for me was providing quality service at an affordable price to help people who believed in what they wanted to create find a clear way (straight path) to do so. I am so thankful that I have been able to help other entrepreneurs along their journey. 5 years later I can say I definitely am successful even in ways I never originally intended. I have a clear vision, established reputation, confidence in my abilities, a diverse and extensive network, and the wisdom of how to walk out the next 5 years better than the first 5! Here are my 5 elements of my success for you:
- Vision - This is one of my favorite things to talk about! Rooted and grounded in your purpose, your vision is how you see your purpose being executed and your roadmap to success. Having your own, clear, beautiful vision for your life and business is essential to your long term success. Without a vision you will be myopic and only look at current circumstances and not how they fit into the larger narrative. Further, you may begin to mirror other people's visions, accept what others tell you they visualize for you, or even worse become envious of someone who has a vision. In law school I had a general vision of what my life would be. I would graduate, pass the bar, practice law at a government entity or a policy focused company, meet my husband, start some investments, have a family, retire and start a company - specifically owning a store or a restaurant. (Well I guess that's not very general) I had plans! Overall I knew I wanted to be successful, have a wonderful marriage, and have a some pet projects that I really loved while working at a job that I hoped I would love as well. Then when opportunity knocked and I was offered to be paid for something I did for free I realized I may need to rethink this plan. The business I had planned to start when I was 50+ was here and now! When I failed the bar I realized I really needed to rethink this whole plan and get a new vision. And that's exactly what I did. I went back to every dream, thought, hope I had for myself and reorganized them into a view of my life for now and for the future that also was open enough for the inevitable changes and curveballs of life. Now armed with a clear roadmap I have been able work on projects that align with my goals and say no when others did not. I am able to make strategic decisions on creating campaigns, products, and services that help me build the business of my dreams. Creating a clear vision of what you want your life to look like and how you want your business to look is so helpful to avoid wasting time or being frustrated or confused on what to do. You will have confidence and will be able to make sound decisions and that is half of the battle when running a business. Like I said I love this topic so I created a whole course to help other entrepreneurs who need help with their vision that you can access here.
- Character - Another subject that I talk about often is how your character especially integrity is a big influence to your success. What you do and how you do it is often something potential clients, partners, collaborators, even investors pay more attention to then sometimes what you say. In an age when you can quickly be "established" online as an expert and seemingly successful through carefully crafted/staged photos there is more and more need to be perceived as authentic and honest before a potential client would even consider giving you their money. To establish and maintain good character and therefore a good reputation as a business owner you have to take a real hard look at what you value and then how/if those values are showing up in your life and business. If you say you believe in honesty but find ways to manipulate on your taxes or at the grocery store of course no one's going to believe you. I know, I know it seems small. Who doesn't tell a white lie now and then? But what starts out as a small problem will definitely become a crisis when more is on the line. Ok, maybe honestly is not your thing, how about gossip? Are you quick to be talking about and judging what others are working on or doing? Be careful, you may run across that person one day and they may have heard what you said because the same people you talked to also talked about you! I have had some horrible business experiences, I mean flat out bad. And I shared all of the dirty details with my friends, true friends, who also are not in my industry or even state. Of course you need to express yourself, just make sure it's with a safe business confidant and also learn how to become a safe business confidant. Even better learn how to not say some things. Bust out a journal and write it all down and out of your spirit. It boils down to the principle of sowing and reaping. If I sow envy, gossip, lies, and manipulation why would I be surprised when clients, partners, or even other business owners do it to me? Like attracts like, so shake off the dust and do better. Make intentional choices about what kind of business you want to build and how you want to be known in the community.
- Action - Honey! Stop talking to be talking or having meetings to be having meetings! Get to work! Play you some Rihanna (work, work, work is being played on loop as I write this - I practice what I preach) and get it done! I am a HUGE fan of a good plan! I got pages all over my wall and notepads all over my desk but at the end of the day I learned that action trumps everything! Without action you cannot evaluate, grow, and change for the better because NOTHING has been done. Now I am very clear one of the hindrances of taking action is fear. Fear will have you questioning everything! What am I doing? Should I be doing this? What qualifies me? Maybe I should get a real job. After you go a couple times around the fear carousel I need you to get off and take a seat. You can do this. Further, if you really believe you have a purpose to serve through your business, that someone needs what you have created it is your duty to get up and give it everything you have. Each step you take will move you closer to your goal. I remember when I first started I had to call a friend who had a business and ask her how to create my first quote and how to price myself. Then I went to the bookstore (the discount bookstore - hey I had a budget) and bought all the books I could afford about starting a business (Need some suggestions on a good book no fear I have a recommended reading list here). I looked online for resources and fell in love with the You Tube videos from Marie Forleo and other successful entrepreneurs who were willing to teach me. I went to networking events and asked for advice. I eventually found a coach and still have one today (all coaches need a coach). Later I invested in conferences and masterminds. At each step I had to invest in learning and take action with that I knew needed to be done. If you are going to do this thing call entrepreneurship you will have to commit. That doesn't mean you need a million dollar budget, you just need to commit to DOING the best you can with what you have. My first website was horrible (see screenshots below) but I did it because it needed to be done. Then I could tweak it and eventually overhaul it a couple of times to my current version. If you want to get better you have to first get started...
- Network - It's almost a four letter word because so many people overuse and abuse the term. Nevertheless, you have to do it but what's more important is that you should learn how to do it well. Even if you're shy or an introvert find a way to network or you will struggle to grow. If no one knows you exist how will you serve anyone? Early on in my business I would go to just about any event that had the word business in it. Now I am very selective. But in the beginning you have to cast a wide net. Learn what you like and don't like and above all be authentic and act with integrity. People do business with people they know, like, and trust so don't blow a potential relationship being sleezy or desperate. After you cast a wide net, narrow down what events fuel your growth, or connect you with potential clients, or even both. One of favorite books on the subject is Book Yourself Solid in the book he discussed how to introduce yourself as a real person and not with an elevator speech. Think about how you are presenting yourself as opposed to seeing people as walking leads. Some of my best referrals came from almost complete strangers. They were just people that I explained myself and my vision to and they passed my info on. Also when you are really clear about what you do and who you serve you can begin to host your own networking events. Building a community is a great way to grow your network and establish your brand. Another way is to be a good connector. Don't hoard all of your contacts to yourself. Connect others that you meet to resources they need, people they should meet, or events they may be interested in. Again the goal is not to have a hidden agenda but to be helpful and when the time comes someone will help you.
- Grace - Ooooh this is one I took a while to learn. As I turn 30 this year I have really learned grace at another level. I used to think grace was just a popular word people like to use when they intentionally do wrong but want everyone to turn a blind eye to it, but I now see it as the journey we all must take with ourselves. Whether intentional or not mistakes will happen that's how you grow. But how you treat yourself and others after a mistake is what grace is. As mother Maya told us, "People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." Learn the ability to acknowledge the mistake, assess it fairly, and move on. Otherwise you are trapping yourself or even others at that point in time and time waits for no one. So while you're still in 1996 talking about that time such and such hurt your feelings they have moved on. Or if you're still in December and we're all in a new year you're missing out. There are new opportunities all around you. Don't miss them being broken, angry, or stuck. Release what happened, release your expectation of what should have happen, and keep moving. Do better. Apply what you learned but realize that's the point of the journey to learn!
I hope these 5 elements are helpful for you along your entrepreneurial journey. If you enjoyed these tips and want to help me celebrate here's how:
Check out my website and see if there is a service you need or someone you know needs! Here's what I do:
Business Coaching - Helping you learn how to start and KEEP a successful business - For new or growing entrepreneurs (less than 3 yrs in business).
Business Consulting - Helping you to expand your business by organizing your office, upgrading your systems, or refreshing your brand or marketing materials - For established/seasoned entrepreneurs (5+ yrs in business).
Speaking - I LOVE to speak to groups or organizations about starting, running, or growing a successful business! If you would like to fire up your group with purpose-minded tips and techniques please feel free to contact me!
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