Do You Have One Foot In, One Foot Out of Your Business?

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fence_flickr_6985757255_da37053867_zImage by Simon Harrod

It’s inevitable.

At some point in the life cycle of your business, you will question whether you want to continue to own that business.

But the questioning sneaks up on you. It’s not like you wake up one day and decide to sit down with yourself over a latté and ask the tough questions.

The more typical scenario looks like this:

Some time after the honeymoon phase, the luster of business ownership begins to wear off.

You become increasingly adept at putting out fires, even enjoying the rush and the feeling of resourcefulness that comes with it.

After spending a sustained period of time in the fire-fighting phase {sometimes years, sometimes decades}, you being to wonder whether it’s all worth it. The long hours, the inability to take a real vacation, the cringing whenever you’re away from the business and the phone rings.

You just don’t have the same energy or enthusiasm for it that you once did.

On good days, you love owning your business. On tough days, you’d like nothing better than to throw in the towel and escape. These are the days when the thought of being an employee is so tempting.

At this point, few of us have the presence of mind or the courage to have the Latté Session. It’s natural to avoid the tough conversations.

Instead you begin to energetically check out of your business. You are now straddling the fence – one foot in and one foot out.

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5 Technology Tools That Will Save You Time, Energy & Money

Light bulbs

Light bulbsImage by Kenny Louie

As a small business owner, you fill many roles that are performed by entire departments in large corporations. You are often your own Executive Committee, wearing the hat of everyone from the President & Chief Executive Officer through every VP title you can think of.

One of my favorite executive hats to wear is that of the Chief Technology Officer.

Why? Because when I find and implement really great automation tools, I get to spend more time in my Zone of Genius and less effort slogging through my day.

Here are some of my favorite technology tools that I have used to automate my work ~ all are free or have free options with extremely low-cost upgrade versions.

1. Trello | Organize Anything

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Ahh, my new technology love. . . . I first heard about Trello ~ a free, cloud-based, online organizational tool ~ from several of my clients who were loving it for project management in their business. I started to explore it myself a couple of months ago and now wonder how I lived so long without it!

If you’re like me and have a tendency to jot down notes, ideas, and to-do lists on various Post-It notes, spiral notebooks, and notes in your iPhone . . . but then lose track of where you wrote them, this tool will change your life.

Like a room full of super-powered whiteboards, Trello allows you to create boards to organize anything ~ by yourself of with others ~ and everything gets updated and synced between your devices. You can add checklists, photos, videos, links to web pages ~ even assign tasks to others and include due dates.

Trello has now become an external storage device for my brain. I use it to house and manage my weekly priorities, blog post ideas, links to articles, ideas and resources for building my business, helpful images, concepts I’m developing . . . anything that I want to remember, refer to or use later. I also share boards with people I’ve hired to work with me remotely, which saves us from a ton of emails flying back and forth!

Stop trying to use your brain to remember all those flashes of brilliance and excellent resources . . . just drop them into a Trello board and use that beautiful brain for bigger and better things!

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How to Be Happier, Healthier and Wealthier: Change Your Radio Station

vintage radio

vintage radioImage by Tom Godber

It may sound crazy, but it’s true! Tuning in to a different radio station ~ both literally and metaphorically ~ really can make a huge difference in the results you experience.

I love to listen to music during my morning power walks, using the Pandora app on my phone.

Lately, though, I’ve been noticing how many of the songs out there seem to be centered around really downer topics ~ even though I really like the artists and the melodies, I’m kinda done with the lyrics speaking to heartbreak, loss and shattered dreams.

Don’t get me wrong ~ sometimes those songs are perfect when you’re ready for a good soak in the bathtub {a glass of wine in one hand and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s in the other} and a big ugly cry to release emotions that are ready to go. But as part of my daily exercise when I’d like to get fired up and motivated for my day? Not so much.

So yesterday morning, as I headed out on my walk, I decided to create a new station on Pandora. The song that I seeded the station with was Happy by Pharrell Williams. I mean, how can you not get your groove on when you hear that song?

Well, Pandora got where I was headed and continued to stream more happy, upbeat, smile-inducing music until I was practically strutting down the trail like something out of Soul Train.

And the fun didn’t end there. My elevated mood, courtesy of my new Happy Radio station, continued on as I began my work day, excited and powerful. And my day just continued to get better and better, with so many great things occurring one after the other.

The switch in radio stations literally brightened my day and set the tone for more good things to come in.

And now for the metaphor {you knew it was coming} . . .

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6 Checkpoint Loops for Reaching Your Goals in Record Time

water-ripple_flickr_4636802041_89755b719c_zImage by Hiroyuki Takeda

Quick question for you: Do you seem to be more productive when you are focused on a goal or when you spend your day drifting, being tossed around by the current of events?

Yeah, me too. But even though I know I’ll reach my goals faster when I set clear and focused intentions and goals, it’s not always easy to do that.

It’s especially challenging when I’m tired, overwhelmed, or having an “off” day. This is the point at which many of us get sucked into Drifter mode because we don’t feel like sticking to a practice of setting goals and intentions.

I have found that I can keep myself out of the default Drifter mode more easily when I have a framework or system in place that supports and encourages a more intentional approach.

The framework that I have found to be the most effective is a system of periodic Checkpoint Loops {an official term ~ I just made it up}.

Think of a series of concentric circles, like ripples made by a drop of water, with each Checkpoint Loop being one of those circles.

At the beginning of each of these Checkpoint Loops, you set your goals and/or intentions.

At the end of that loop, you look at all you’ve accomplished: Did you meet the goal? Are you being, doing or having the thing that you intended? If not, do you choose to continue on toward accomplishing it, or is it time to let that one go to make room for something else? And you celebrate ~ even if “only” for the lessons you learned along the way.

Here are the Checkpoint Loops that you may choose to set up for yourself.

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You Do Business Like a Girl!

You Do Business Like a Girl

You Do Business Like a GirlImage by William Murphy

The business world ~ especially the small business world ~ is in the midst of a massive shift away from a very masculine-dominant system to one that is far more feminine in nature than ever before. And that is a very good thing.

Don’t worry ~ I am not about to break into chants of “Girls rule, Boys drool!”

This is not about women, hopped up on estrogen, angrily reclaiming “what is ours.”

This is not about shifting the balance of power ~ like a pendulum moving from one polarity to the other ~ from men to women.

This is not even about male-dominated industries or women-owned businesses.

It is about masculine energy and feminine energy.

The influx of women into the world of small business ownership over the past few decades has generated a huge increase in the amount of feminine energy that has been woven into the way business is transacted.

Feminine energies are the qualities like connection, creativity, collaboration, service, giving, emotions, and intuition. Typically, these are based more in the heart than in the head, more in the right brain than in the left brain.

Feminine energy is extremely useful in providing services. It is what makes you and your business warm and welcoming to others. It makes your customers feel listened to and cared for. These wonderful qualities allow you to connect with your clients on a deep level and really understand their dreams, doubts and desires.

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