Stepping out takes courage.
In the last post, I pointed out how a cushion can become a barrier rather than a launchpad for our new business.
If you are ready to go for it, consider that not all risk is created equal. You can make the process easier by approaching it this in order:
1. Mindset Tune Up
2. Smart action plan for foundation
3. Choosy action plan for sane progress
1. Mindset Tune Up
We start with mindset, because it determines the quality of your actions and outcome.
How do you rate yourself on the following :
Patience and positivity
Willingness to stand out - take risk
Connection and purpose
Those are 7 characteristics that successful women have said were key to their progress. Consider where you are strong and where you could improve.
Don't wait to have all 7 fine tuned to start, and this is why:
To be honest, one of the best things about trying to start a business is its like a wake up call, or even earthquake, that spurs personal development. I've got an example for you in a bit.
Start with awareness around where you are strong and where you could use improvement. How?
2. Smart Action Plan for your Foundation
As someone who spent a lot of time in the past on the couch, wringing my hands and reading about a life I wish I had, I now know that the #1 thing that causes improvement is practice, which means taking action.
3. Choosy action plan for sane progress
After you get your foundation in place, decide where your time is best spent, and how much to budget for outsourcing. How do you decide? I learned this the hard way.
A few months ago, I was up late, reworking a seemingly endless series of Keynote slides to update the DreamBiz Test Drive course. I was feeling panicky and trapped, because it was taking much longer than I thought it was going to. I suddenly saw myself as if someone else were watching me.
In a weird way, she was. My emerging Boss mindset showed up and she was not pleased.
Remember how I said the entrepreneurial journey will unearth your issues like a 9.0 earthquake?
She showed me very clearly that I was doing exactly one of the things we teach women to avoid in the DreamBiz Test Drive - I had been hiding behind things that I could do, that I was good at, for about 4 months - mostly production tasks that had nothing to do with business building skills.
The next day, hello Universe. I came across a blog post by a founder who had recently closed down her startup. She pointed out a similar dynamic - she and her team had worked hard and done all the cool startup stuff - except focus on getting customers.
I should have hired a graphic designer to update the course and build out the portal on my website.
I believe I would be much further ahead - by more than just the 4 months I spent on work I should have shopped out. This is what really stings - its not the money, its the time.
Not all activities lend the same velocity to your new business. When you focus on the right ones, its like a turbo charge. I re-worked Q4 and pushed out more list building and launching promotions than I had in the previous year, with growth to show for it. But not in the ways I expected, which is my favorite part.
How about you? Here is a list of typical activities new entrepreneurs do themselves before they hire them out. Almost all of us start out this way.
Which of those activities actually teach you something about your business operations that you can build on later? Better yet, which of them teach you something about your customer? These are my picks:
These are activities that don't teach you any new relevant skills for your business going forward:
That last is a killer that you may not even be thinking of yet. You should and this is why. As you find out more about how to engage with your online audience, you will quickly run into the statistics that show you that you probably need video.
With business video becoming a necessity, more and more entrepreneurs are editing their own videos. I understand why, but believe me, its a huge time suck learning a new skill that doesn’t have anything to do with your business (unless, of course, you are an aspiring video editor.)
As a former video producer, when people ask me “How should I edit my videos?”, my honest answer is “don’t”. I truly have their best interest at heart as far as helping them allocate their time. This is one reason I came up with the Fab Videos, Finally Done System - to remove the main obstacles that prevent many entrepreneurs creating a flow of good videos: lack of confidence, lack of video strategy, lack of know-how in simple shooting, and of course, editing.
In the process of playing bigger, you will make some mistakes. You will "waste" some money.
I paid a copy writer $100 to rework a page that I ended up not using. I paid a Facebook ads specialist a lot more than $100 to run ads for a campaign that netted zero sales. I could go give you many more examples.
Its fine. I'm not a robot or an efficiency algorithm. And I'm damn sure not an accountant.
I know that those stumbles are the price of learning that speeds up my overall progress.
I also spent money on taking risks and actions that have been invaluable to my progress so far. But no one could give me a guarantee of that ahead of time.
I had to step out to find out.
How about you? Can you look back on a moment that seemed like a failure, but in reality was a sharp or slippery stepping stone to the next level?
Whether we are moms or aunties, we obviously know how to nurture the young beings in our lives so they will grow and develop properly.
In other areas of our lives, where we are trying to grow, sometimes we hold back.
Today’s case in point: a business we are trying to start on the side of an otherwise comfortable life.
Generally speaking, if you are the sole breadwinner in your situation, like Jackie, this post is not for you.
Jackie is a single mom with a full time job that covers her living expenses while she is starting her business on the side. Women like Jackie tend to move faster and make progress more quickly.
Even though it is not easy, it may involve taking on debt or cutting back uncomfortably, Jackie feels empowered to spend money. She doesn’t have to negotiate with a life partner.
She knows that she can reasonably expect her existing salary to continue while she gets the foundation in place for a new venture.
Finally, Jackie knows that replacing the income from her current job is the key to making the transition to working for herself, so she’s more open to taking risks to get there sooner.
This makes for very busy days and weekends, of course. But it is an almost perfect combination of cushion and pressure cooker to add up to a huge advantage, even though it doesn’t always feel like it.
This isn’t just my opinion.
Why do you think the fastest rate of business creation, by a long shot, in the United States is coming from African American and immigrant women? These are 2 sectors of women in the US that are likely already working a day job, see opportunity in entrepreneurship, and need to show progress quickly on their side business because they don’t have much of a resource cushion.
They are showing the rest of us the way.
This post is for women starting a business from a place of abundance - a dual income situation, or a situation where one partner makes good money and the household doesn’t really “need” a second income.
In other words, a nice cushion.
On the one hand, that sounds like a dream scenario, right?
Well, it isn’t always, and especially for women.
The first point is obvious. It can undermine a sense of urgency. Entrepreneur magazine says this of people (not just women) with a cushion:
You’ll naturally consider your startup more of a hobby than a living, and you’ll be less motivated to nurture it to fruition. Rather than being motivated by the sink-or-swim nature of sole entrepreneurship, your safety net will keep you from fully mentally investing in your enterprise.*
The second point is more gender specific. Women usually deal with some level of guilt, self-doubt and fear. I'm not saying that's you. But if it rings a bell, read on.
Let’s say Viv has worked part time for years, and her spouse’s income pays the bills. She prioritized a flexible part-time schedule to accommodate her family's schedule. As her kids get older, she’s ready to scale her business, or perhaps start a new one.
In this case, Viv has more hesitation and reluctance to spend money on the business than Jackie does, because that would mean spending the money that her spouse makes, and likely some of their savings, on her business.
She also has to claim more of her time as her own, time that her family is used to her spending on their priorities.
Those can be hard conversations to have so Viv tries to save money by doing almost everything herself, at odd hours and late at night.
This leads to a tough cycle:
This isn’t growing your business on the side, this is sucking the enjoyment out of a hobby while keeping it on life support.
I’m projecting here, because I was Viv in many ways. I’ve interviewed dozens of women about their business dreams, too, and there are a lot of Vivs out there.
I also see women in dual income relationships who make good money do the same thing. The family takes amazing vacations, but suddenly when it comes to spending money on a VA to support her in a fledgling business, they can’t afford that.
I’m not here to tell anyone how to run their life, hobby, side business, or finances. If you are feeling frustrated or discontented, I am here to encourage you to make your choices and enjoy them, and not let creeping expectations undermine you.
I have heard women in this cycle express guilt over “not growing fast enough”. It’s a catch 22, they don’t spend money on the right things to help get them to where they can grow, or even fail, faster.
Wait, did I just say fail? Yes, I did. No one wants to think that their business is going to fail, especially if they are spending money that they don’t feel is “their money” on it.
But the reality is, sometimes money is not the problem. It’s the wasting of TIME that is the real robbery.
You do want to find out what is wrong with your idea sooner rather than later. If you have a cushion, there is a danger of spending 2 years “working on a business idea” that is bound for failure, rather than spend 6 months in an inexpensive process testing that idea, and move on or adjust if the first version “fails”.
When a side business is a good thing.
There is nothing wrong with a side business. I just talked to a friend in real estate about video for her business.
She said, "No, no! Don't tempt me, I don't want to be any busier than I am now."
That kind of clarity is healthy.
The problem is when our ego (and possibly others) tells us that isn't good enough, we harbor expectations around it being more than that, but in reality we don’t feed it enough - we starve it’s growth.
This is a recipe for discontent. Been there, done that.
1) Accept and enjoy that its a side business, part time for now. Have fun learning and experimenting.
2 ) Go for it.
I encourage you to consider #2.
If you are fortunate to live in the US, sitting on cushions created by education and decent income, and you want to build a business, consider taking on a little more risk to move faster.
I live in Mexico City and have traveled extensively.
One reason I live here is because it is much less expensive for me while I build my business. I chose not to pursue alimony during my divorce even though there was huge disparity between my earnings and my ex-husband's income (partly due to the Viv effect I just described above).
I started over with no source of support outside of savings, side work from online video editing, and fledgling revenue from some new ventures.
I only mention that to let you know I'm walking my talk, I'm not "shoulding" you and suggesting you do something I have not done, and continue to do.
Mexico City is filled with small entrepreneurs and thousands of family businesses. It is inspiring but it is not glamorous. Prices and wage are quite low. The retirement safety net does not exist unless you work for the government or big companies for years - those jobs are hard to get. It is long hours and a lot of hard work to make ends meet. The banks are terrible.
I also currently share my life with a man who grew up here without much money or good social connections. In Mexico, you need one or the other to get ahead.
Living outside of my country, seeing life here through his eyes, has shown me that even with the barriers (racial, gender) that still exist in the US and other developed countries, first world women have incredible opportunities and resources at their fingertips that women in other countries do not.
This is what the immigrants to our country see clearly. The American Dream for them is not home ownership. It is the freedom to start a small business in an environment where the rules are clear, their investment is protected by a functioning rule of law, and they are supported by a healthy banking system.
This is not meant to guilt anyone in the US. I'm also not saying that American women are automatically better off in every way. I like the way Latinas make time for friends, family and leisure. I don’t miss the hyper-consumeristic, over-scheduled pace of my homeland.
It’s simply to give you some perspective and encourage you to consider taking on a bit more risk to move faster.
Because quite frankly, ladies, the world needs you out here, sooner rather than later.
So if you are ready trade in a little cushion and grow your business, check out this post 3 Smart Steps for Women to Move a Side Business to Center Stage.
“I am the world’s worst on camera”
“I hate the way my voice sounds”
“I don’t know what to say”
“I don’t look good on camera”
In my 15 years as an online marketing video producer, every woman I worked with expressed this kind of anxiety before a video shoot.
Now, as we are working on a new system to helping women create their business videos, I know that fear of being on camera is something to face head on.
We are our own worst critics. Especially women.
This is why:
Genes and gender
Stage fright started back in cave-woman times.
When we are on camera, our brain knows we are trying to stand out.
Standing out was not a wise move for our distant mothers, who spent a lot of time taking cover, especially if they had children with them. The ancient part of our brain doesn’t differentiate between a exposed place on the tundra or a camera in our face.
We feel exposed and it triggers our fight or flight instincts. Either way, our brain is telling our body, “Get down! Hide!”
In modern times, gender plays a role, too. Many of us, especially achievement-oriented women, have perfectionist tendencies. Being on camera throws the perfectionist in us into overdrive!
I haven’t met you so I don’t know exactly where you fall on the spectrum of how you feel about:
By the time a girl reaches her 17th birthday, she will have seen more than 250,000 ads. We have a lifetime’s worth of media conditioning around #1 and #2, a myriad of different voices that basically boil down to one thing - you aren’t good enough.
And while I’m sure you are the exact person to be speaking about your business on video, if you don’t feel that way, it will affect #3.
That is because acceptance of where you are in the moment leads to confidence.
Practically speaking, if you are in business, you are already on stage 99% of the time.
We are simply capturing what you know best from the person best equipped to deliver the message - YOU.
Reframe to a Wisdom Sharing Mindset
So let's just take a minute and step away from the focus on, well, on ourselves.
What we are doing here is more than just a series of videos.
We are capturing your hard-earned wisdom to share it and connect with others.
A popular Facebook personality Nas Daily made a video about all the times he almost gave up because no one seemed to be listening.
One day, he made a video that stopped someone from commiting suicide. What might have happened if he had given up and never posted that video?
By the way, he just celebrated his billionth view. I can’t even really get my head around that, can you?
That may seem like an extreme example, so here is another.
I have a friend who commented recently that when she has a hard day, she thinks about the work I’m doing and it helps her. That makes me happy; I had no idea she was even paying attention.
The point is, apart from metrics and views and conversions and all the business reasons to be doing video, there is someone out there that needs to hear what you have to say.
The fact that video is hard at first, and no one is paying attention except your mom (thanks Mom!), is no reason not to try. Everyone starts with the first view on the first video. Everyone.
Let’s approach this process with enthusiasm, confidence and curiosity.
What to do:
We don’t have a lot of time here. I want to get to you shooting video and mirroring your brilliance as soon as possible. If you are struggling with a lot of dread around doing video here are some ideas.
I’m going to ask you to take a leap and start, today, saying no to those voices and replacing it with a more positive voice. A compassionate voice. The voice you use with your best friend or a young woman you are trying to encourage.
Your first script assignment is to create a 3 line script.
Write down your top 3 - 5 fears you have around being on camera.
I look old.
My voice is weird
I sound stiff.
Now, all of the above may be true, actually. So what?
Does everyone in your audience looks like a supermodel, or have an Oscar for their acting performance?
How about all the people posting their videos, maybe even some of your competition, while you sit and stew about how you look, or sound, or feel? Do they look perfect? Uh, no. Most likely not.
Think about the people that you follow and admire, not just online but in LIFE. Are every single one of them camera-ready perfection? No.
The point is, if you are honest and offering value, people DO NOT CARE if you look our sound less than perfect. It all adds up to your unique delivery.
Perfection isn't perfect, its a problem.
We are striving to connect with our audience, and vice versa. Perfection makes that harder.
I followed a very popular business coach for a few years. She did not start out with perfect videos, but she was sharing great content and she was CONSISTENT.
Now, she’s rich and famous, her videos are perfect, she looks gorgeous in each of them, her delivery is flawless, and she’s got a massive platform of fans.
A few months ago when I was feeling discouraged, I unsubscribed altogether from her list for awhile. Her life was just too perfect. What I needed was someone that seemed real in a way I could relate to.
All of her stories of struggle were from her past, it was as if everything she was working on in the moment was scripted and effortless. She has moved into the realm of celebrity.
Dial into the Gratitude Channel.
Look at your insecurities as a strength, they mirror where your current soul work is. They are containers for your wisdom that is now about to take an exciting leap in reach and impact! Channel some gratitude for the stage life has given you and the opportunity to create your videos. There are literally at least a billion women out there with heart, fire and drive, who do not have this opportunity in any realistic way.
Remember those fears you wrote down around being on camera?
Pretend your best friend just confessed those fears to you.
Write her a 3 line script to counteract her anxiety. For example:
You will not be undermined by outdated, critical voices in your head.
You are the best person to share this information because…….
You will have a calm, confident, positive attitude about your videos and let go of an expectation of perfection.
Now, make the statements personal:
I will not be undermined by outdated, critical voices in my head.
I am the best person to share this information because…….
I will have a calm, confident, positive attitude about my videos and let go of an expectation of perfection.
Write down your script and put it everywhere. If you have a meditation practice (which I highly recommend), add it to your meditation for a few weeks.
Put yellow stickies on your bathroom mirror, in your change purse, on your car dash, above the dog’s water bowl and on your coffee pot - all the places you visit several times a day.
Of course, when you get your home mini-studio set up, you will put the yellow stickies under the camera on the tripod, too.
Finally, do this:
Once you get your video strategy in place and outline your scripts, schedule some practice. Do some takes. Practice for your dog or cat, they will love it. (Well, your dog will. Your cat will yawn and look at her food bowl).
I don’t like to practice in the mirror - because we don’t see ourselves in the mirror the same way we do on camera. Its better to do a take and review it.
If you have any questions, we are here for you.
This is an excerpt from our Ultimate Guide to Fab Videos, Finally Done, the book included in our video coaching program.
If you would like to receive more tips for success on camera and other topics about videos for your business, you can sign up here:
Fab Videos, Finally Done list.
sources “Media Influence on Teens,” Allison LaVoie, 2003
Dear Ladies: I've talked to many women, I think we are all a little fatigued with the Sell Sell Sell approach online and in our email inboxes these days.
Sometimes its hard to know what to do, especially when you have a lot of questions and the main one is "Where Do I Start?"
Before spending a lot of money on an expensive coach or complex online course with thousands of other people, be sure you are ready.
But how do you know?
One of the first things we do when we want to start a business is look for advice and guidance. This is natural.
But just having a lot of questions does not mean you are ready for most “how to start a business” programs. Let me explain.
If you are looking on the internet, you will quickly come across advice, programs and coaches with huge budgets to advertise. (That, by the way, is not me. Like you, my budget doesn’t have a bunch of zeros behind it!)
There are some terrific resources out there for sure! You are likely on the email list of several of them. I know I am and I’m grateful for them.
The only problem is this: the failure rate for new businesses in the US is at least 50% in the first 5 years.
One big reason new businesses fail is that they run out of money, partly because people spend money on the wrong things, first.
Things like expensive complex business programs with a zillion other people, or high end coaching packages.
I’ve interviewed dozens of women with business ideas. One of them, we’ll call her Andrea, signed up for an expensive, complex business program online. She fretted about it and didn’t want to tell her partner or family.
She dove in, became overwhelmed, and quit, joining the estimated 40- 90% of people who enroll in online courses and don’t complete them.
Not only that, she felt guilty for having spent the money.
This is the opposite of how you should feel when you take the first step toward starting your business.
Why did Andrea have this outcome in a program where so many others take their ideas to the next level?
She wasn’t ready.
The key is you have to be ready.
How do you know?
You DON'T need an expensive multi-week program with thousands of other people or an executive coach to help you answer the most basic questions:
If you answered NO to 4 or more, than the answer is no, you should not sign up for an expensive coaching package or business education with a zillion other people.
The odds of your feeling lost, overwhelmed and quitting are high. I have talked to several women who have had this experience.
I don’t want that to be the outcome of your first baby steps with your DreamBiz idea!
You can find out the answers to all of the above in about a month, without spending a ton of time and money you don’t really have.
How do you find all of this out in an organized way, when you are working full time and don’t have a budget with lots of zeros and money falling out of your pocket?
The DreamBiz Test Drive miniseries - A FREE, 5 part video miniseries of short videos and some helpful downloads that walk you through the 5 steps to lay a very SMART foundation of the most important pieces of your business.
The total series is about 30 minutes long, you can binge watch it on your lunch break if you like.
We talk about you, your customer, your network, your Boss Mindset, how to visualize your business, and how to take your idea on a playdate.
You can sign up here: DreamBiz Video Miniseries
THIS IS WHAT IT IS NOT:
This is not a quickie offer to get you into an expensive coaching package or business education program with thousands of other people.
We are not selling anything with this offer at the end of your miniseries. There is no invitation to a sales webinar coming your way tomorrow.
If you want to join our small online Facebook group community after your miniseries, awesome! Feel free to ask us for the invitation, we would love to have you but we won’t be bugging you to join.
You won’t receive a deluge of sales emails from us or from other people - "influencers" - selling a course for us. Seriously, is that what you gave your email address to them for? So they could help yet another person sell something to you and profit from the referral?
We will put you on our email list to keep in touch. If at any time you don’t want to hear from us, simply unsubscribe or let us know and we’ll do it for you.
Thanks so much for reading through this. We hope you enjoy the miniseries if this seems like a fit for you.
Oh, and like I mentioned, my budget doesn’t have a bunch of zeros behind it. The wealthiest coaches dominate the online ad space - have you noticed you only see the same 1 or 2 coaches or companies in your feed?
I’m not complaining, that’s business, right?
One way you can help our mission to let women know they have everything they need right now to explore the important fundamentals of their business idea - for free - is to share this with a friend who might benefit.
Here is the page to sign up for the Video MiniSeries
All my best to you and for you -
The full DreamBiz Test Drive course is closed right now (and by the way, is not expensive or crowded with thousands of other people, either.) We will respectfully keep you posted on future course opportunities later in the year.
I'm on a call with Neil Murthy, a successful entrepreneur and mentor in Houston. I have my list of questions, most of which focus on prioritizing goals in the very early stages of a business.
Like a good mentor, he takes that line of questioning and blows it up to the stratosphere. He says, “I want you to step back from this week, month or even year. Your biggest goal should be that which you cannot complete in your lifetime. What impact do you want to leave behind? Then you work back from there.”
We may think that’s crazy talk, but in reality, it is a truth that is simply asking us to be intentional about our biggest life. When we die, it’s not like all trace of our life here on earth is wiped away immediately, right? What would you like to see still up and running the day after you are not? If your biggest goal doesn’t make you a little bit embarrassed to talk about, its not big enough.
If you have tried and failed with starting from today to map out a path to a big awesome long term goal, you are not alone. Our fear based brain undermines us quickly with overwhelm and doubt. Instead, start with the end in mind.
A note about being realistic about your goals:
For your biggest dream, go ahead and be crazy. I'm not saying that to be trite. There is a practical reason for this that I explain in a minute.
If you want to be an astronaut, put it down. If you want to be president, an elite athlete, a movie star, the best doctor on the planet, a real estate mogul - go ahead and write it down as if it has happened.
Then work backward in the way we’ve described above to what you should be working on today to make that happen.
Does this mean that by starting at 40 or 50+ years old you will actually be able to become an astronaut in 10 - 15 years? Probably not.
But don't let it stop you, and here is why:
In the process of breaking open what that big dream contains, you will discover the do-able thread that isn’t really about becoming an astronaut after all. It will likely be about something related to science, or teaching, or adventure that is eminently doable. There are thousands of steps one must take to become an astronaut, its in the journey that you will find the true outcome reveals itself.
Will I ever really own and run a gorgeous retreat center in nature? Maybe not, but that dream is rooted in some of my core values, and so I trust that letting it dictate some of my direction will lead me to meet the right people and take the right actions.
It provides part of the motivation that keeps me investing precious time and money into building a business when I could settle for living on a beach somewhere, work a lot less and scrimp my pennies until Social Security kicks in.
That wraps up the first step to setting the stage for Midlife Transformation - figuring out where you are going. Why doesn’t everyone do this? Why do we lose enthusiasm? Because its scary and involves risk. I talk about that in this blog post: How our Cave Woman Brain Keeps us Stuck.