Starting A Business

what i’ve learned in 6 years of ups and downs in business

do you ever feel so pumped after listening to someone so successful only to feel deflated when you look at your own life? i’m with you. today, i want to share with you the ups and downs i’ve had in my own business. totally raw and real.

i’ll just start by telling you that i run a local service-based business in nashville. it’s all about interacting with customers and closing sales every day. i’m not a multi-millionaire, but i have successfully started and still run a 6 figure business which i’ll get to later.

here are the 5 things i’ve learned in the past 6 years.

1. hold on to your vision: no one will understand your vision until it is working. when i first started my company, i knew exactly how successful it could be…but no one else did. i almost quit several times in my first year. now that it is working successfully, the vision is a reality and people get it.

bottom line: you’ve got to prove it for people to believe your vision. don’t lose heart!

2. it’s supposed to be hard: anything worth doing in life has to be hard. if it were easy, everyone would do it and then it would be meaningless.

bottom line: make sure you have a good idea, and then just persist.

3. there are good phases and bad phases: the best day of your business life can be followed by the worst day ever. you might feel the need to go into therapy because you feel so emotionally unstable. don’t sweat it. it’s all normal. every entrepreneur feels this way.

bottom line: take the good and the bad with a large grain of salt. learn what you can from both success and failure.

4. obsess about your product and customer experience: do all that you can to make sure your product or service is unmatched. do it for the integrity of business and other benefits will follow. the best marketing is a happy customer.

bottom line: stay far away from people who market bad products. make your product excellent.

5. enjoy the process: for too long, i felt uneasy about where i was. i wanted to be in a thriving and self-sufficient business. there’s nothing wrong with being there now, but looking back, i realize how sweet the grind really is. it makes the payoff that much better.

bottom line: be where you are. push for more, but enjoy the day.

like i mentioned earlier, i am blessed to be among the businesses to survive and thrive and i now use the resources my business generates to support other creative ventures like writing a children’s book and some charity work that is in it’s infancy.

tell me…

what are you thinking these days? what lessons have you learned on your journey?

till next time,

grace

Podcast

SAIC 007: Creativity, Family, and Small Business Fun with Andrea Farmer

Andrea Farmer has created a beautiful experience for families through her very personalized and creative photo shoots.  Service based business rely heavily on customer experience and Andrea assures each client gets the VIP treatment!

Here are some things we talk about…

  1. Chasing a dream (even if it doesn’t seem realistic)
  2. Apprenticing with an Expert
  3. Starting over…moving and rebuilding a client base
  4. Balance & Sacrifice
  5. Outsourcing
  6. Taking Risks

Check out Andrea’s beautiful photography at www.AndreaFarmerPhotography.com 

I’m on this journey with you.  Subscribe to this podcast on iTunes

Blessings,
Grace

Podcast

SAIC 006: Franchise Fitness and Balance with Holly Coltea

 

Holly owns 2 Barre3 Franchise Studios and graciously shares her story and how the opportunity knocked.  It’s important to note her back story that had been preparing her for this life of entrepreneurship.  It’s not always glamorous, but if it’s in your blood…it’s all worthwhile.

Here are some things we talk about…

  1. The perks of being a franchise owner
  2. The challenges of being a business owner
  3. How to find balance
  4. Changing lives around us.

It’s such an incredible privilege to inspire change in people’s lives around us.  You can use your own skills and background to enhance someone else’s life.

I’m on this journey with you.  Subscribe to this podcast on iTunes

Blessings,
Grace

Podcast

SAIC 005: How to get stuff done (Goal Setting)

Do you have dreams and passions but don’t seem to be able to gain traction?  I’ve been there, too!  This episode is about setting goals…not too glamorous, but this can change your future!  Setting smart goals will help us move closer and closer to making dreams a reality.  So many times we get overwhelmed with the idea of achieving the end result, but chipping away at it strategically will not only get you there faster, but it will keep you more sane!

Here are 3 things about setting goals you need to know:

  1. A goal needs to be measurable
  2. You need accountability (even if it’s with yourself)
  3. Start Small

This is something I believe in and practice myself.  I’ve created a weekly calendar just for my goals and I’d love for you to have it too!  Click here to get your free calendar!

I’d love to hear from you!  Let me know how you set your goals!  How many goals do you focus on each day?

I’m on this journey with you.  Subscribe to this podcast on iTunes.

Blessings,
Grace

 

Podcast

SAIC 004: What to do when you feel like quitting

What do you do when you’re completely stuck?  Do you feel like giving up?  It might really scare you.  Let me tell you something, I just don’t even mind that feeling anymore.

When I ran cross country in high school, our coaches would always stress “It’s the hard that makes it good.”  Maybe they just wanted us to finish a long run, but maybe they were on to something.  When I feel like giving up, it just makes me realize that I have to keep going.  The reality is that most people will give up.

Think about your alternative.  Do you like what your life will look like if you give up?  The answer might actually be yes.  If you’re okay with where your life was before you caught a vision or had a business idea, then you should quit.  My guess is that you don’t want to go back to that old way of living and thinking because you crave more purpose.  So, let’s tackle this overwhelm and laugh the next time we feel like giving up.

We have to get it in our heads that we WILL fail.  It’s not a matter of if, but how often.  This is not just fluffy motivational talk, it’s just impossible to try something new without pushing some boundaries…and if you do that, you’ll figure out what works and what doesn’t.  I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s actually dangerous to not fail (or not know you’re failing).

So, here’s what we need to do when we feel like quitting.

  1. Take a Break…Preferably exercise to get your blood pumping.  You won’t be productive if you’re sulking.
  2. Remind Yourself of Your Alternative
  3. Set some Clear, Definable Goals and start with something you’re good at
  4. Heads up: You will feel overwhelmed again…don’t panic:)  Just Repeat Steps 1-3

It’s taken me a while to get to the point of laughing at the though of quitting.  It just boils down to my commitment.  I am committed to this for the long haul.  Once you decide that for yourself, you will face discouragement with a bit more ease.

I’m on this journey with you.  Subscribe to this podcast on iTunes

Blessings,
Grace

Starting A Business

What It Really Takes to Start A Business (Even If You’re Stuck In The Grind)

It’s all a big lie…

Overnight successes…

Don’t believe the stories.  Behind every overnight success story, you will find caveats that that were conveniently left out.  Allow me to give you some truth and hope to fuel your ventures…

If you’ve made it to read this, you have something in you searching for more.  There are great things happening in the 9-5 world, but it’s not for everyone.  It’s great for the ones who love it, but if it feels like you’re stuck in the grind…YOU NEED OUT! 

So, what does it take?  What separates the successful from the hopefuls?  There are three things that I’ve observed in my own journey to success, affirmed by most every honest entrepreneur I’ve met or read about. 

Do these things and set yourself apart.

1. Follow Through. 

“I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”   Steve Jobs (the late CEO of Apple).

I believe in that 100%.   Do you have a business idea OR even just the hopes of leaving the grind? Just stick with it.  Some of the greatest companies in the country almost shut down before something turned around.

Expect to fail.  That’s right!  If you know that failures and low points are normal, you will have the foresight to follow-through.  If you truly have a good idea, we NEED you to turn it into a reality.

It is well documented that Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, was forced to resign in the mid-80s when the company was running at a loss.  Over a decade later, Apple purchased the new company he was working on and he was once again the CEO of Apple and went on to develop the iPod, iPhone, and iPad.

What about Airbnb?  This company worth $25 billion dollars was sustained on cereal in the initial stages when investors did not like the idea of homesharing as a business.  Of course, they have now changed the game in travel.  I’ll talk more about the single piece of advice that grew their customer loyalty and growth in a bit.

Coming out of the billion dollar range, what about something to serve a local audience?  When I started my first company, I was in the stagnant state for the first 9 months.  I almost quit (multiple times), but the grind was just not cutting it for me.  I kept persisting until things started moving and then it became a self sustaining machine.

Through my business, I replaced my nursing salary while only working half the time.  Because I followed through…

I’ve reached thousands of thankful clients

Have been invited to celebrity homes

And was a part of a pilot episode on CMT.

We need you to follow through.

2. Think like a pro.

When Airbnb was crashing in the early stages, Advisor Paul Graham said: “It’s better to have 100 people that love you than a million people that just sort of like you.  Find 100 people that love you.”  This changed their business.

That was not common sense. 

This is why you need to think like a pro. 

The major turn-around point for my business was when I gleaned from business mentors both locally and online.  You almost need to brainwash yourself and change your mindset. 

You will be going against the grain, so you have to remind yourself constantly that there is a greater purpose.  You need to think like the successful to become successful.

Experts from all different fields all start sounding the same.  There is a unifying path to success.  This is why I love listening to interviews of Jerry Seinfeld, jazz pianist Bill Evans, and business gurus alike.  They are extreme examples of people going against the grain. 

Think like a pro to go pro.

3. Start.

This is in no way an afterthought.  This is your next step.  You might want to wait for the perfect moment, but can I let you in on a secret?  There is never going to be a good time.

We have to start. 

Perfectionism is the enemy of starting.  If you feel it creeping in, just tell yourself: “Start now.  Tweak later.”

This life we live…

This is it, it’s not a dress rehearsal.  It’s the real thing.

You don’t need to have an extra special business sense, loads of money or connections.  I didn’t have any of those and I know that you can succeed if you follow through, think like a pro, and start

Tell me…

which of these seems the hardest for you?

Podcast

SAIC 003: How to use your Expertise to Start Your Own Business

In this episode, I interview Ann Williams who I met through business during my first year of business.  Ann and I talk about her first business which was a Drop-In Childcare Center.  She and I both used our educational backgrounds to create a business.  It can seem very overwhelming to start a business, but we discuss that it’s just about meeting a need with your unique perspective.

Podcast

SAIC 002: Following your passions with Dave Ghazarian

It’s our first full length episode!  I wanted to start the podcast with the one who inspires me the most.  We go from talking about being a pharmacist & musician, to the dark ages, touring life, and how to follow your passions.  Share your thoughts in the comments below.  Thanks for listening!

Podcast

SAIC 001: Welcome to the small and IN CHARGE Podcast

 

If you’re like most people, the thought of starting your own business is inspiring and terrifying.  I’m here to simplify things and help you achieve your goals.  If you’ve found this podcast, you are searching for something more and I would be honored to walk you through the journey!

 

BRANDING

why a big-box retailer chose to partner with me

Sometimes, everything aligns to your advantage.  I have a deep rooted faith and believe it’s more than chance.  That’s not the focus of this post, though.
The real questions are…
1. What do you do to prepare for that moment?
2. What do you do once it comes?

I started my original business pretty naively, but with a very clear sense of purpose and branding.  I started a CPR training company geared towards parents.  All the expert training with a softer tone.  You can read more about that here.  Is that specific?  Yes.  Is that a good thing?  Definitely.  Despite the fact that the big bucks are in doing major corporate trainings, my inspiration and motivation led me to empowering parents.  I was very purposeful in all that I was doing for my Brand.  I hadn’t read any books on branding, it just flowed naturally from knowing my target so well.  Here are a few reasons why a company like Babies R Us chose to partner with me as one of their local partners.

1.Clear Branding.

Branding.  This word gets thrown around a lot.  I LOVE a well-thought-out brand.  Once you’re in business, I think you appreciate other brands more and are more loyal to them.  A brand in it’s simplest sense is the blend of the brand owner and the ideal customer.  In my case, I had an advantage.  Though I’m not a parent, my original inspiration for my business came from one of my close friends, making me part of my target market.  So, as you can see in the image above, I love modern design with a pop.  That image became one of the main images on my website.  Branding is so much more than images and logos.  It’s more about what the company represents.  The images are just there to accentuate your mission and passions.

2. Simple Message

When someone comes up to you and asks you what you do, what do you tell them?  When someone visits your website, what do they know right away?  Your message should be very clear.   You need to be able to tell someone what you do in just 1 sentence.  It’s really simple.  If you’re in business, you’re solving a problem.  What is that problem?  Here’s my statement:

“I help parents feel more confident about CPR and First Aid.”

Easy, right?  What’s your statement?  This should be communicated in every part of your business.

3. Good Follow-through

A clear brand with a simple message will only take you so far without good follow-through.  Now you need to over-deliver and exceed everyone’s expectation.  In effect, without good follow-through, you will just be a one-time business.  You don’t want to communicate something you won’t deliver.  This means that from the moment someone is first in touch with you through the times of repeat business, you will:

be prompt to respond,

give them your full attention,

correct any wrongs quickly,

look out only for their best interest,

and deliver everything with a smile.

What do you think?  How do you over-deliver?  Share in the comments below!