Tag: Opportunity

Do People Want You? When to say Yes!

Have you ever noticed how the busier you get the more people need you? I had an incredible day just a few weeks ago where I was offered four different opportunities to volunteer in some amazing capacities to help some incredible institutions and charities. Besides working in my businesses, I volunteer for different levels of support to several organizations, some in the chair, some as a once a year supporter. I love to help where I can, as I’m sure you, do but as you may have come to recognize, the more you do the more there is to do! So, when do you say ‘Yes’?

Benefit

The key to saying yes is to know what the benefit is to you and to the organization you are supporting. Here are the questions I ask when being offered a position and the process I go through to ensure I’m the right fit for them.

Time

The first question I ask is, how much time do they estimate I will be spending in this position. Some positions are project based and will require a significant amount of hours over a short period of time. Some are a long term commitment and require a small amount of time each year. The three details you need to know are:

  • How long is the commitment (e.g. 1 day, 1 week, 1 year, 3 years, etc.)
  • How many hours are estimated (I get them to average the amount of hours over the term)
  • What is the frequency of the hours? (For example, if it is a yearly commitment, will I put in all my time in two meetings, or will there be weekly work required?)

Why does this matter? Because if you do not have 10 hours a month to give over the next 3 years then you should not be volunteering. If you are not available to work 8 hours on the one key Saturday the project happens then you are not going to be helpful. If you cannot give 100% of yourself to ensure they are successful then you are not the person they are looking for. Remember, when committing to something like this you need to be passionate and excited to participate. If getting there is impossible you will not feel successful or be able to contribute on the level expected.

Focus

The best producers in business and in life are people that are able to focus on what they do because they are passionate and committed to seeing it done right. If someone offers you a position that does not align with your passion but you are considering it because you feel it is a good move for your image or your business, then I suggest you spend some time picturing yourself preparing for the work required. As a chair my preparation in the one group is not much more than an agenda-setting lunch meeting prior to the advisory meeting. For my committee position I often have several hours of documents to produce in-between meetings.

If you don’t know what work will be required, make sure you ask and then picture yourself doing it. You are not going to love every task required of the position but you should love the cause more then you dislike any part of it.

Fit

I’ve already been talking about fit in your time and your focus, but I want to point out personality fit as well. If you are going to be a part of this group for a long period of time (e.g. a year or more) then you will want to feel great about being around the same people at each meeting or event. If possible, ask if you can visit as a guest.

This saved me recently from being in a long, negative relationship. I had visited one of the volunteer business coaching offers I got. As you can imagine this was very appealing to me being that I coach entrepreneur for a living. The time required was going to work for me and the focus was exactly where my passion lies. I went as a guest and found that there was a person that I was challenged to work with. This does not happen often, but I knew I was going to be stressed every time I had to come to the meeting. I knew I would be angry at myself each time I started to develop my program for the meeting. I knew that every time this person interrupted another expert I would be steaming inside and I knew that that person was already a secured part of the group. I kept thinking of the benefit to my business, but what I needed to do was think of the benefit to my positive, giving capacity. I was not the right fit for this group. I would not bring ‘the best me’ I could, so I declined.

Don’t say ‘Yes’ unless you can commit to the time, you have the right focus, and you are the right fit. You cannot bring benefit to a group if you are not there, you are not passionate about their goals, and you are negative every time you show up. Note that when I said ‘no’ to the wrong group, the right fit came up the next week, and I had the capacity to do it, plus the group I said ‘no’ to found the right person to fit their needs. They got someone that brought passion and  positive energy to every meeting and I got a position to go to where I could be my absolute best.

Saying ‘No’ is not the end

If being a part of this group is where your passion lies and you are not the best fit for the position being offered and you still want to help, then ask if you can volunteer in a different capacity.

Do it Now or Later: Perfection Paralysis Revealed

Have you ever felt that your list of things to do keeps getting longer as you get closer to the time you need to launch something? Often we will set ourselves soft-release dates because we know that it is difficult to make hard-deadlines.

When you continually put off completing something because it never feels quite ready we referred to as ‘perfection paralysis’. This is the paralysis of the growth of business due to the inability to make some piece of the business perfect enough to share it with others. Business just does not work like that.

I have worked many years in manufacturing. The clients that I have had that are really successful meet their deadlines. They do this by defining their specifications (what they expect to create) and then they make it. They don’t add extra touches, because the client would like it, during this round of development. For every change they could add it would change the deadline. The problem with making changes during development is that the deadline date often does not change with it and it is then missed or it keeps getting pushed out arbitrarily. It has the side effect of making the people working on the project weary and frustrated because they feel ineffectual.

This could happen to you too. If you set a deadline and deliver on that date, you have achieved a goal and you will be keen to continue to create. If you continually develop, missing deadlines or, even worse, not setting deadlines you will feel like you can never close. Do yourself a favour, follow these three tips to give yourself and your business the reward of accomplishing great things and then continue to create.

3 Tips to Overcome this Debilitating Syndrome

1. Set a deadline that cannot be missed.

To make your deadline more concrete, invite people to be a witness to the unveiling. For instance, if I want to start a new program, I host a free introduction and in that introduction I announce the upcoming date for my new program. This way, people are expecting it at a specific time and I will be required to be ready on that date.

Tell people you have a new service, even if you don’t have a name for it. Announce your opening, even if the location is not ready. Advertise your new product, even if it is not complete. What is the worst that can happen? You will have to postpone. But I guarantee you won’t want to do that and you will be much more likely to be ready, even if it is not exactly the way you perceived it to be when complete.

2. Think to yourself, “just get started”.

The sooner you get started the sooner you can start making money with it. Make sure the key components are in place (the brand language is used, the clients can purchase it, it works as expected). If it is a good product you will have time to continually make it better, which is what you should be doing anyway.

3. Act ‘as if’

Act as if it is exactly what you wanted – then continue to improve as you grow the business. I guarantee that it will never be perfect and even if it is, within weeks of launching, something will be revealed that can make it even more perfect. Everything you create will be like a work of art in production. To create a business that grows, you will always need to be evaluating the value of your products and service and your client needs. Don’t think you can create something, launch it, and that is it.

So don’t waste excessive time making it perfect for that launch. Get the pieces in place to make the business work and your clients happy, launch, and then improve.

Check Out this Book

A great book to help you with this mindset is Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?, by Seth Godin, which spends some time on what he calls ‘shipping’.

Working from Home with Kids Around Equals More Support

If you are like me you are working from home because you chose to be more available for your family. I have three kids, 13, 11, and 9 and now they are home for the summer. What a gift I have to actually be able to share their summer memories with them. We live in a beautiful city with 4 public beaches and 20 km of parks along the water front. It is a dream-come-true for me.

So how do I get any work done during the summer when it can be so easy to be distracted by the needs of my kids? Let me share my three favourite strategies for enlisting my kids to help me with my business so I can have time to do things with them and for them during their break.

Get Their Buy-in

Don’t assume just because they are kids they won’t understand about responsibility and commitment. This is your opportunity to teach them what it really means by modelling the way.

  • Talk to them as if you expect them to understand.
  • Ask for their input.
  • They will have lots of questions so don’t hold back on the answers.

Kids love to be taken seriously and allowing them to know that they are a key part to your success gives them great pride in what you are doing. Don’t forget to praise them when they are doing things right (not just when they are causing distractions). You will be surprised how much buy-in I get from my kids as they grow up in my business.

BONUS – I will even hire my kids to shred paper or organize things on my desk to get them completely involved. This is a real win-win-win scenario. They get responsibility and a little money for completing work, I get help and my business gets potential business partners for the future. It may not be my business they get into, but they will certainly think about business as an option when trying to figure out where they fit in life.

Set Boundaries

If you want your time respected by others you first have to know exactly what it is you want them to respect. Let your kids know where you work, when you are working, what work they can interrupt and what work they cannot interrupt.

My work day is set from 8 am to 5 pm. This is not specifically when I work but this is the boundary I’ve set for my kids. If I’m in my office they are not allowed to just barge in and start talking. They have to wait until I acknowledge them. This is important because I spend a lot of time writing and once I’m in the zone it’s easy to get distracted and hard to pick up the thought again.

I also have a simple solution for no interruptions. It is the door on my office. If it is open they can come in and wait to talk to me. If it is closed I am unavailable. I tell them it is the same as Daddy being at work, you can’t just barge in to his office. They get that.

My kids will now police each other around respecting my time and space. I will hear someone giving instructions on what can and cannot be done, as if I was not even in the house, during my focused work time.

BONUS – You need to set focused work times for yourself. You will be most productive if you have several uninterrupted 90-minute times during the day. This way you can give yourself time to renew and open the door to be around your kids often.

Rewards for Them and You

One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was from one of my favourite mentors, Donna Douglas. First she let me know that “even a 2-year old will scrub a toilet”. The insight in this statement was that my kids will help when asked, and it was true. The second was a strategy she used, which was to pay her kids 1% of her income from her company for their support of her in her business.

Their job was to not bother her while she was working, and like I described above, she had boundaries around what that meant to them. It does work. When you say to them, “if I have to stop to help you right now I cannot get my work finished and I won’t get paid”, they know it affects them as well.

BONUS – get them a bank account as soon as possible so you can transfer money directly from your account to theirs. This way they will also learn about saving, credit, and debit early in life. The sooner you introduce them to the tools they will need in business and life the sooner you can start on your succession plan.

They will grow up so fast. If you are as lucky as I am to have this opportunity to really spend time with your kids, then don’t miss out.

Your Story

There are so many other really great strategies, from getting the right support to part-time nannies. Let us know why you love working at home with your kids and your favourite strategy for dealing with your time and theirs effectively.

6 “Musts” that make a Great Entrepreneur

This is part of my presentation that I like to give to high school and college level students. I’m sharing it with you so you can see the qualities and experience that went into the business you have built.

Must be educated

OK now you’re thinking, “she’s nuts.” “I didn’t have to go to school to get an MBA to run my successful business.” True, but you did have to have some type of education; whether it was training, apprenticeship, experience, or a traditional education you definitely did not come into your business without skills and knowledge.

In the book, “The Secrets of the Millionaire Mind,” T. Harv Eker talks about failing over and over again at his jobs, but as the book eludes, he does become very wealthy.  His first big idea took a few thousand dollar investment to open a fitness store, which he grew into a chain in 2.5 years and sold for over a million dollars.  He attributes his skills and education to the jobs he had.  He explains how he viewed each job as a paid education to owning his own business.

Must see something where others do not

There are so many opportunities out there. The best ideas are usually fairly simple in concept and sometimes very hard to implement but it is the idea to do something in a way that no one else does it that allows a business to stand out and become successful.

Yesterday I had the privilege of being at an expo where Amanda Lang of CBC News was talking to Peter Aceto, the CEO of ING Direct Canada. When ING Direct Canada opened in 1997 people could not believe that there was a bank that had no physical presences. The founders of this bank knew there was a better way to ensure people could “save their money” and that was to cut out all the overhead. “How do you build a bank without a bank”, was the question they had to answer. As we know, it has become a very successful business model, started in Netherlands in 1991 and now in over 40 countries. It even has competitors, like Presidents Choice Financial launched in 1996. Someone saw the need and then looked for a solution that was not what everyone else was looking for.

Must be willing to Act

This is the key component of an entrepreneur. We have all heard someone say, “I could have done that,” or “my 10 year old could have done that better”, and yet they do not act on it. The entrepreneur can see the opportunity and does something about it to make the change. They are willing to take a chance, to struggle, to build, to create, to manage and to succeed or to fail.

Yesterday I also had the privilege hearing Amanda Lang of CBC News interview Sir Richard Branson. She asked him why he did what he did even after his businesses were successful. He explained that in the beginning of a business the owner need to be the figurehead or brand. The business, if built correctly, would become the brand as it grows. To do that he likes to “exercise his creativity” and he has acted on many of those creative moments. In his company Virgin there are over 300 branded companies. He explains that he does what he does so that “at the end of the year you hope to have enough money to pay the bills so you can go on creating.” Like many entrepreneurs he works to be able to create more and his simple answer to “why?” was “Nothing ventured, nothing gained”.

Must be willing to risk their own…

We all know of the very successful entrepreneurs like, Gates, Jobs, Brin & Page, Trump, etc. Our society holds entrepreneurs in high-esteem because what they do seems unreachable to the average person. But when these people started out they were just average people. They were scoffed at. They worked out of their homes or garages. They enlisted friends to help. They risked their own money to make things happen and they risked being known as a dreamer or unrealistic. The entrepreneur must risk a lot to find their path to success.

Must have unshakeable vision and dedication

It is very uncommon for a business to be instantly successful. It took Google many years to even make their first commercial product. Their vision was so clear they were able to get funding for their development even when they did not know how it was going to become commercially viable. They answered a need with their authentic passion and it paid off.

Must be willing to learn, grow, and change

An entrepreneur must be familiar with every position within their start-up, from bookkeeping to sales. To be able to understand how to communicate to suppliers, prospects, clients and past clients as well as your peers and competitors the entrepreneur has to take on a bigger role.
Who?

There is so much to learn about being an entrepreneur that as you go through the process of implementing you will be inundated with tonnes of new information, ways of thinking, and ideas. If you do not accept the opportunities to change, your business will not be able to make the changes it needs to grow and become successful.

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