Seven-day workweeks, unpredictable work hours, business development constantly on the mind, and little to no personal time are just a few things every entrepreneur becomes very accustom to while enduring the hustle of starting and growing a business.
SPRING HAS SPRUNG
May is one of my favorite times of year, especially here in Maryland. The weather is at its absolute best; there are tons of things to do outside (i.e. festivals, boating, baseball games). Schools are hosting their proms and college grads are gearing up to jump into the real world for the first time. The energy is contagious and I love it.
I can’t help but think of how I felt as a college graduate back in 2008. I was excited, nervous, scared and eager to figure out my life all at the same time. I didn’t know exactly what that life was going to look like but I was excited to figure it out.
FUTURE ENTREPRENEURS OF AMERICA
My business partner and I recently spoke to a group of students at our Alma Mater Towson University about the series of steps and events that led to us running our own business. They students were so interested in what led to what and many of them were also interested in becoming entrepreneurs.
The truth is when I graduated from college I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I knew I loved people, planning events, marketing and sales. I knew I wanted a position or job that I was proud of. But how was I going to accomplish that?
University does a great job preparing us for the real world for the most part. We learn the educational and social skills required to get out there and function as adults. What University does not prepare us for is life because life is uncertain and unpredictable. We control our own destiny for the most part and I wish someone had told me that you don’t need your 5, 10, 20, 30-year plan locked down as soon as you were handed that diploma.
Here are some things I wish someone had shared with me as a newly graduated college student.
1. COME UP WITH A PLAN, BUT UNDERSTAND IT WILL CHANGE…A LOT
It’s important to set goals for yourself as soon as you graduate from University. There isn’t a right or wrong thing to do when you are fresh member of the real world, but it’s good to try a few things and see what you like.
When I graduated I made the decision to move back home for the summer, work in a restaurant and save as much money as I could. Once the summer ended I knew it was time to find a job, so that’s what I did.
2. BE YOU
The world is filled with so many different personalities, which makes it so great. In order to find a job or opportunity that is in line with your passion, you have to be yourself or it won’t work. I witness too many young adults trying to be someone they’re not because someone else said so. As an entrepreneur, I’ve learned that being different and standing out from the rest is what makes you awesome. Focus on what truly makes you happy and the rest will fall into place.
3. FIRST JOB = EXPERIENCE
I was so naïve when I first graduated. I thought I would get a really cool job in the events industry somewhere in the city, have my own office and be able to jet set around World. When this didn’t happen, I have to say I was a little bummed. I landed a job in sales, in the city, had a cube and a very strict 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. schedule.
It wasn’t the most glamorous job in the world, but it gave me the most amazing real-life corporate work experience and helped shape the work ethic I have today.
If you’re lucky enough to land your dream job straight out of college, good for you! For the rest of you, use your first job experience as a tool to learn best practices in business and try to have fun during the process.
4. IT’S A MARATHON NOT A RACE
Success doesn’t happen overnight; at least not for all of us. It takes a lot of blood sweat and tears to become a master at something. And even when we become masters at something, we’re always looking for ways to improve.
Being successful at what you do in life will take a lot of commitment and focus on your part. Don’t get frustrated if you aren’t exactly where you are “supposed” to be at age 23. Don’t put a timeline on yourself. I remember I used to think I would be married with kids by age 26, and that sure didn’t happen. Instead, I’m having the time of my life building a business that I love, working with a business partner who is amazing and meeting some of the coolest people I’ve ever met throughout the process.
If you work hard and are passionate about what you do, you will get there. Don’t stress.
5. BE PASSIONATE WITH EVERYTHING YOU DO
They say the average person will spend 30% (much more for entrepreneurs J) of their life working. So if that’s the case make sure you LOVE what you do. Too many people go through life unhappy with choices they make surrounding work and I never understood why. There are tons of different opportunities for work out there, be sure to find one that suits you and brings out your passion.
No one wants to work with or have someone work for them who is a Debbie-Downer. Embrace opportunities and turn your work into your passion. Results will always be positive and you will be happier overall.
I hope these bits of advice serves as some help to all you graduates. You should be proud of what you have accomplished thus far and excited about the next part of your journey you’re about to embark on. Always go through life with an open mind and heart.
CHARM CITY CRISIS
There’s no doubt that this week has brought out a lot of emotions in many people who live, work, and play in our beautiful Charm City. The series of violent events that occurred over the past week in Baltimore, MD are disappointing, scary and have wreaked havoc on the city and its people; sending many into crisis mode.
As I watched things unfold throughout the day on Monday via Social Media and on TV, I found it very interesting to see how different people manage a crisis situation.
As an Event Planner, I’m not stranger to crisis management. That is what we do. We deal with issues as they come and are constantly putting out fires to ensure the event is a success and our clients are happy. As a small business owner, mastering this craft has been incredibly helpful. Things go wrong in business everyday. Crisis situations in business and in life are inevitable and unavoidable.
BE AMONG THE GREAT
However it’s in these moments of crisis that define ourselves as people and most of all, as leaders. I’ve seen many “leaders” be put in moments of crisis and forced to step up to the challenge of handling and managing the situation in front of them.
Through these situations, I’ve come to the realization that leaders are ultimately defined in their actions, not their titles. Crisis situations are those moments that separate bad, good and great leaders. Here are some ways to make sure you fall amongst the great.
STAY CALM AND DON’T LET THEM SEE YOU SWEAT
When you are in a leadership role, all eyes are on you. Every move you make will be critiqued. So don’t give them a reason to give you a bad critique. Always stay calm in crisis situations. The crisis is problem at hand; the last thing anyone needs is for the leader/manager to freak out.
DON’T MAKE EXCUSES
When a crisis occurs in your business, you need to deal with it head on. Don’t sit there and make excuses and try to convince yourself and everyone around you that “it’s not that bad.” The longer you avoid the situation, the worse it’s going to be.
PROACTIVELY PLAN FOR THE WORST
You should always have an idea of potential threats that your business could face. It’s important to be aware of these threats so you can create action plans ahead of time if a crisis does occur. Being ahead of the game is a good thing.
As a business owner and leader, there is really no place to hide in a crisis situation. You’re going to be faced with difficult and sometimes uncomfortable conversations, but that’s ok. You’re solving a problem; it’s not supposed to be easy. It’s your job to make sure things get handled quickly and efficiently. Instead of running away from the problem, attack it!
“CAUSE YOU HAD A BAD DAY”
Whether it’s a result of your alarm not going off, your computer crashing, your biggest client texting you non-stop because they’re upset, or because you totally bombed a presentation…we all experience bad days now and then.
Bad days are the worst. Especially when you’re an entrepreneur. We as business owners don’t have time to add a pity party to our already busy schedules.
WHEN IT RAINS IT POURS
I actually experienced one of these “bad days” this past week. It all started when I woke up Monday morning feeling like death. I was stuffed up, achy and feverish. All I wanted to do was curl up in a ball and sleep the day away. But I had more things on my to-do list than I knew what to do with, so that was not an option.
When I got to the office and attempted to tackle that lengthy to-do list, we had an unexpected crisis occur that required all of my attention. Nothing was getting done, which was stressful.
After we finished putting out fires for most of the day, my business partner and I decided to take a lunch break at 3:30 p.m. This was the highlight of my day. Finally, an opportunity to relax, have a beer, take my mind off work and recharge…oh, and to have my car towed!
One hour trip to the impound lot, $300.00, and few tears later; I was back in the office prepping for a very late night ahead.
TIME TO REFOCUS
The fact of the matter is, difficulties and obstacles in life, both personal and professional, are inevitable. They’re going to happen and when you are concentrating on building a business, it may seem obstacles appear more frequently than not.
It’s important NOT to focus on the obstacles you encounter, but instead focus on how you are going to handle them. Sure, I could have thrown my hands up in the air and called it quits for the day after my car was towed, but I didn’t. I chose to look at the obstacle that was thrown at me as an opportunity. “I never lose. I either win or I learn.” – unknown
HANDLE THAT “BAD DAY” LIKE A BOSS
As an entrepreneur, I strive to make a conscious effort to deal with situations in my life strategically verses reactionary. If I am having a bad day or if I’m feeling really down, I go through the following steps, which helps me stay positive and focused:
- ACKNOWLEGE IT: They always say the first step to recovery is to admit you have a problem. Well a bad day can quickly turn into a problem, so recognizing that and making the decision to turn it around is half the battle. The quicker you accept the fact that you can’t control what the Universe throws at you, the quicker you can move on!
- DO YOU: Once you’ve had a chance to gather your thoughts and calm down, do something for YOU. Go for a walk, grab a cup of tea or coffee, listen to some jams…do whatever calms your soul. I like to go somewhere quiet and meditate (which is something I’ve picked up recently and highly recommend to all entrepreneurs). Focus on yourself completely.
- UNCOVER THE SILVER LINING: This is my favorite step. After you’ve had time to calm down and focus on yourself, it’s time to uncover why that obstacle wrecked your day. There is always a lesson to be learned from a negative situation. Find it. When my car was towed the other day, my lesson was to slow down and really pay attention to my surroundings. There were signs (yes they were small signs) on the side of the street that I had failed to read. If I hadn’t been moving so quickly through my day, I would noticed them. Entrepreneurs are always running a mile a minute and we need to be told to slow down sometimes. It will only make us better.
- LET GO: I used to have a real problem fixating on things that didn’t go my way. Well that is no way to go through life, especially when you are in business for yourself. We need to be agile and willing to shift our focus or direction at any time. If your day was terrible, who cares? Move on. You never know if a bad situation is setting you up for an amazing one just around the corner.
So next time you’re having a bad day and feel like this…
LOCAL STARTUP NEWS, FOUNDER TIPS, AND MORE!
Breethe, Inc. is making an artificial lung for patients to take home from the hospital by Stephen Babcock - "Griffith is already a distinguished surgeon in heart and transplant surgery. With the new technology, he became a startup founder."
How to use existing customer data to drive traffic to your business by John Oechsle - "While there is no simple, step-by-step blueprint for small businesses to follow to increase traffic, there is a universal starting point"
OrderUp adds former Marriott senior counsel to its leadership team by Sarah Gantz - "The Baltimore-based online food ordering and delivery startup is growing quickly and Bennett is one of a few recent additions to the company’s executive leadership team."
COMMONALITY AMONGST ALL FOUNDERS
After our first StartUp Soiree back in January, my business partners and I received an email from a well-known business owner in Baltimore who had attended the event. He thanked us for the invitation, complimented the execution of the event, and said he was honored to be in a room full of other Founders. All really kind things, but it was what he said at the end of the email that really stood out to me.
He said that as he made his way around the room, he started to notice that many of the Founders he spoke to all shared a common emotion – fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of the next step. Fear of balance in their lives.
A profound observation that really got me thinking. Is fear the ultimate motivator amongst entrepreneurs?
AM I THE ONLY ONE?
When I left my corporate job to pursue Intrinsic Events full time, I experienced many different emotions. I was excited, extremely motivated, very focused – and scared out of my mind. I often wondered if it was just me or did all entrepreneurs feel this way? Did all entrepreneurs experience fear?
The answer is yes. All entrepreneurs have fears. We are human after all. But it’s the way they handle their fears that makes them different. Fear makes us feel uncomfortable and tends to invoke a fight-or-flight response. I’ve discovered that great entrepreneurs step out of their comfort zone and almost always take the fight response.
BE BIGGER THAN YOUR FEARS
The thing is, fear can make or break you as an entrepreneur. The key is learning and mastering the art of turning fear into a positive energy and never letting it control you.
As a business owner, it’s important to constantly evaluate yourself so you are able to grow personally and professionally. Over the past year, I experienced fears that were hindering my company’s growth. Instead of fleeing or becoming paralyzed by them, I attacked them and turned them into my ultimate motivators.
Here are some of those fears and how I handled them.
FEAR OF REJECTION
Ok, so who likes to feel rejected? Yeah, that’s right…NO ONE. We all long for acceptance and approval from others and when that doesn’t happen we tend to be crushed. It’s hard not to feel that way.
Business owners put so much time, energy and passion into their work. So when someone comes along and doesn’t like what we have to offer or chooses to take their business somewhere else, it sucks. And I don’t know about you, but I always used to take rejection personally. Key words, “used to.”
As an entrepreneur I had to learn that not everyone is going to want what I have to offer and that’s OK. Don’t let rejection be a fear that consumes you. Instead, use rejection as a motivation to do better next time. When a potential client turns me down, instead of getting upset I ask them “why?” Obtaining this feedback helps me improve my processes and services and I know that there is another opportunity right around the corner.
FEAR OF NOT BEING PERFECT
We’ve all heard the saying, “Nobody’s perfect” right? Well how come we don’t apply that same concept to ourselves in professionally? No business is perfect, bottom line. This is why entrepreneurs are constantly innovating, pushing the envelope and figuring out how their business can stand out from the rest. It’s what makes being a business owner awesome.
I’ve always held myself to a very high standard professionally. My work has to be perfect and if I make a mistake and my work is sub-par, I am my worst critic. This mentality has made me an excellent worker, but isn’t the best mindset to have as an entrepreneur.
Instead, we must acknowledge that “perfect” doesn’t exist. We as professionals are always going to be evolving and the same goes with our businesses. So what I have learned to do is set deadlines, put my best work out there and to not get hung up on whether I think it’s perfect or not. Know that you can always go back and improve. If you obsess over perfection nothing will ever get accomplished and in time you will fail.
FEAR OF FAILURE
Ah yes, the fear amongst all of us entrepreneurs, whether we like to admit it or not.
None of us want to fail. We all want to produce an amazing product or service that our clients find useful and we want to run a profitable business, end of story. But when we all decide to become entrepreneurs, we are signing up to take risks. We don’t know if we are going to succeed or not.
Nothing in life is guaranteed. We don’t know how long we are going to be here, so it’s important to make the best of the hand we are dealt. This same concept can be applied to running a business.
One of my StartUp Soiree business partners recently shared a piece of advice, which was, “The only way to fail, is to not try. Just give it your everything.” (Thanks Nic!) His advice has stuck with me and really puts things in prospective when dealing with the fear of failing as a business owner.
We as entrepreneurs cannot stress over the possibility that we might fail. This will get us nowhere. Yes the possibility will always be present but the chance to build something great won’t. I’ve learned to focus on the building instead of the fear. This has helped me stay positive and true to what I was meant to do.
It sounds simple because it is. It’s a mind over matter thing and is a mentality necessary for all entrepreneurs to have.
PUNCH FEAR IN THE FACE
Being an entrepreneur has its scary moments, but that’s what makes it exciting. Fear is going to be a part of your journey, just remember to explore those feelings and use them to your advantage. Don’t let fear discourage you or throw you off course.
“Let your dreams be bigger than your fears and your actions louder than your words.” – Author Unknown
The WHAT, WHY, & WHERE surrounding your company’s event marketing strategy
“SHOULD WE HAVE THAT EVENT AGAIN THIS YEAR?”
As an Event Planner, I see various companies struggle year in and year out over this question. The question as to whether or not their company should include events as part of their yearly marketing plan.
Having been on the corporate side of things as an in house marketing/event professional and now being on the business owner side running an event management company, if there is one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that events should ALWAYS be a part of your company’s marketing strategy.
IT’S ALL ABOUT YOUR PEEPS
Bringing it back to Marketing 101, we all know a company’s marketing strategy always includes product, price, place, and promotion. But what these strategy plans often lack is a major “P” – PEOPLE.
Marketing is all about the people, whether it’s your employees, your executives, or your customers. These people are the ones who drive the other 4 P’s of a marketing strategy. Therefore, it should never be a question as to whether or not events should take place, let alone be a critical part of your marketing strategy.
EVENT STRATEGY & ROI
Meetings and events create value to stakeholders. This is accomplished by influencing the behavior of your event participants. If the event doesn’t make participants do something they would otherwise not have done, there is no value.
Hosting events is the best way for your business to engage your clients, motivate your employees, connect with prospects, get your brand in front of the right people, and ultimately create strategic relationships that lead to increased growth.
Even if you don’t have a strategic events strategy built into your current marketing plan, it’s never too late to start small, host events the right way by hiring a professional, and work with that professional to measure the ROI surrounding your events.
READY TO PLAN AN EVENT?
Outlined below are key questions to consider before implementing an events strategy, no matter what the purpose, size or budget. I’ve also included a simplified breakdown of event types, the goals/purpose of each event type, and some of my company’s, Intrinsic Events, top locations to host these events.
Before you develop your strategic event plan, you must ask yourself these critical questions:
1. What goals does our company want to achieve this year?
2. What events will assist our company in achieving these goals?
3. What is the purpose of each event?
4. What are the determining success factors for each event and how will they be measured?
5. What professional resources does our company have in place to execute these events and measure their ROI?
READY TO CREATE A SUCCESSFUL EVENT STRATEGY?
TOP 10 EVENTS YOUR COMPANY SHOULD BE HOSTING
IF THE WORLD WAS PERFECT, IT WOULDN’T BE
In a perfect world, there would be no such thing as a bad day. We would never feel defeated as professionals. We would produce nothing but our best work at all times. Everyone would always be completely satisfied with the results we produced. In a perfect world, there would be no pissed off clients…ever.
Unfortunately, this world is far from perfect. Not everyday is going to be great. We do at times feel defeated. We don’t always produce the best work and live up to our full potential. And every now and then we come across clients who are unhappy, dissatisfied or downright angry with us.
MAKE IT RIGHT OR MAKE IT BETTER
I would be lying if I said I never made mistakes or never had a client upset or angry with me. The truth is, it happens. But what I have learned over the past few years working in the events industry and especially as an entrepreneur is that if you do mess up and a client is upset you have to either make it right or make it better.
Dealing with a pissed off client is never easy, but as entrepreneurs we have no choice but to take handle these situations quickly and with some finesse. Here are five steps that will help turn your unhappy client’s frown upside down…
1. REMAIN CALM…I REPEAT…REMAIN CALM
When you are dealing with an angry client, the last thing you want to do is freak out on them. It’s normal to feel a little defensive. We all work hard and have our client’s best interest at heart, but sometimes things get missed or miscommunication occurs. When a client is upset with something you do, the worst thing to do is react. When we react we lose control and give the other person the upper hand.
2. ASK QUESTIONS, AND LISTEN CAREFULLY
When people are upset no matter what the situation is, they usually just want someone to listen to them. This holds true when dealing with your clients. Clearly if your client is upset, they are going to have some things to say. So listen to them. Show them that you care about the issue at hand.
3. TAKE ACCOUNTABILITY
I have found success in dealing with unsatisfied clients by first taking a look at myself and taking accountability for the issue. Before you do anything else, you have to stop and take accountability of what you did wrong or could have done better. As entrepreneurs, we must consistently take a look in the mirror and make a change in order to learn and grow as professionals.
4. SUGGEST A SOLUTION AND RUN WITH IT
Conflict resolution is what event planners do best and it should be a common practice amongst all entrepreneurs. When there is an issue we need to evaluate all of the variables and act quickly to come up with a solution. Don’t sit around and think, “shoulda, woulda, coulda.” Just FIX IT.
5. ABOVE ALL ELSE, DON’T POINT FINGERS
When shit hits the fan, the worst thing you can do is sit around with your thumb up you’re butt and point fingers. It doesn’t matter whose fault it was, what matters is that there is an issue and it’s your job to find a solution.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY INTRINSIC EVENTS
Next month, my business partner and I will be celebrating a huge milestone in our business. In February of last year, we both left our corporate jobs to pursue our passion to build an event management company full time as entrepreneurs.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost an entire year already. Lately, I’ve found myself thinking a lot about how I felt this time last year. Feelings of excitement, anxiousness, and enthusiasm were constantly running through me. Although most of my emotions were positive, I remember being a little scared of the unknown – which I laugh about now because that never really stops.
PLAN TO HAVE A CHANGE IN PLANS
As an Event Planner I’m constantly told that I’m extremely Type A. I always have a plan A, B, and C for everything and rarely do I fly by the seat of my pants without thoroughly thinking things through. When you’re an entrepreneur you absolutely should have a plan, but it’s important to know that things are going to change…a lot.
Taking the leap from corporate employee to entrepreneur is no easy feat. It takes a lot of self-awareness, dedication and hustle to succeed.
Over this past year I have learned many, many lessons as a businesswoman and as a person that I wish I would have known as I was starting out. Here are some of them from me to you:
1. FOLLOW YOUR PASSION
Entrepreneurs are very passionate people. We love what we do and it shows in every aspect of our lives. It’s important to always have “why you started” at the forefront of your mind.
There are going to be times when you are scared, or you are unsure of what to do, or you’re insanely frustrated…that’s OK! No one said it was going to be easy. And if it was, everyone would work for themselves.
2. USE YOUR CORPORATE EXPERIENCE TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
I didn’t start out as an entrepreneur right away. I worked in Corporate America straight out of college for several years and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I learned SO much working for a large company. I gained insight on what it was like to run a successful company. I learned what to do and what not to do, which I’m very thankful for.
When I first entered the startup community in Baltimore, I was afraid of coming off as too corporate. But now this is something I embrace. It is important to me to have a certain level of professionalism and it has ultimately helped our business grow.
3. BE PREPARED TO HUSTLE
I knew working for myself was not going to be a walk in the park. Growing up, I saw my parents busting their asses running their own businesses. This is something I always admired in them.
The fact is you need to be prepared to work harder than you ever have in your life. You are building something from fabulous; it’s going to take time and lots of elbow grease.
If you thought entrepreneurship was going to fit inside a typical “9-5” schedule, you’re wrong. The hours will be long, the work will be tough, you may miss out on some social events with friends from time to time, but it will all be worth it.
4. DON’T BE ASHAMED TO ASK FOR GUIDANCE
Even the best business leaders seek guidance. All entrepreneurs should at some point seek out a business mentor. It’s important to have someone who can provide first hand experience and knowledge and act as a true sounding board while you’re building your business.
I’m so fortunate to have many mentors in my life. I value their opinions and seek out their advice and guidance and it’s been a true eye-opening experience. You aren’t going to know everything starting out.
5. EMPOWER OTHERS ALONG THE WAY
I realized that over the past year I cannot and will not become a great leader in my company and community with out the ability to empower others. Whether it’s a peer, an employee, an industry partner, or an intern make sure you take time to help others reach their goals and grow. We will all benefit from this.
Have you ever been woken up by your alarm, and all you wanted to do was hit the snooze button and take the day off? Have you ever had a meeting scheduled that you wanted to just blow off? Or have you had a huge project that you let sit untouched until it was too late?
“AINT NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT!”
We’ve all been there at some point in our professional lives right? No matter how you label it – whether it is procrastination, laziness or downright exhaustion…entrepreneurs don’t have time for that.
Luckily for us, we as entrepreneurs all possess a special phenomenon deep inside that keeps us going. A feeling that continuously feeds our passion from within and fuels the drive to accomplish our goals each and everyday.
This beautiful thing is called intrinsic motivation.
ARE YOU CRAZY?
When my business partner and I first started our event management company, many people thought we were crazy and were pretty vocal about it too. We were often asked how we were going to make it on our own and how could we leave Corporate America; giving up a consistent paycheck with benefits.
I always thought it was interesting that everyone seemed so concerned about our financial security. They didn’t seem to understand what was truly driving us to go follow our passion.
WHAT MOTIVATES YOU?
We all have things that motivate us throughout life. Some are motivated by money, some are motivated by gratification and approval from others, some are motivated by power, and the list goes on and on.
WHAT MOTIVATES ME
I absolutely love what I do for a living. I get up every morning excited for new challenges, eager to meet new people and continuously find ways to build my business. Wanting to produce great work and to help people is what motivates me.
A lot of people ask me “Why did you name your company Intrinsic Events?”
My business partner and I follow a simple belief that motivation from within produces extraordinary results and success. We also believe and agree with entrepreneur extraordinaire Steve Jobs, that “the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”
Since going off on my own as an entrepreneur, I have had the privilege to meet so many inspirational business owners. I’m always so wowed by the level of intelligence, extreme drive and amount of passion each one possesses.
Every entrepreneur is different in the sense of what he or she brings to the table and how they go about running their own business. But the one common link we as entrepreneurs all have, is that we love what we do and are passionate about our work.
THE INTRINSIC WAY
I’ve said it before; starting a business is not easy. It takes a lot of hard work, blood, sweat and tears but if you are intrinsically motivated from within I promise it will evolve much easier.
Don’t worry about the money, the fame, and the power that comes from owning a successful business. Never lose site on why you started in the first place. Focus on that passion that led you to where you are now and the rest will fall into place naturally.
AULD LANG SYNE
It’s that time of year again! The New Year is right around the corner. And you know what that means – making a new year’s resolution, right? You know the drill, resolutions to be healthier, happier, more successful, etc. All great ideas, but personally I take a different approach.
I used to make them too, until I realized…they don’t work. In fact, studies show that more than half the country begins the New Year with one or more resolutions, but only 8% are successful in keeping them.
Like everyone else, I look forward to each New Year being healthier, happier and more successful, both personally and professionally. But what I’ve learned as an entrepreneur, there’s only one real “resolution” that works 100% of the time! No matter what dreams, aspirations or goals you have for the New Year, this simple 3-step formula works every time: Action-Reflection-Repeat.
IT’S A LIFESTYLE
As business owners, it’s natural for us to look ahead and plan for the New Year. But for me, the process of Action-Reflection-Repeat is more than a New Year’s resolution; it’s a way of life.
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION
Action is the first and most important step, yet this is where many of us get stuck. Why? Because as entrepreneurs no one hands us a blueprint or a roadmap outlining the steps necessary to make our businesses work. That is totally up to us and only happens through action.
So why do we get stuck? Could it be because we think we have to make it happen all at once? Or because each step has to be perfectly in sync or we get paralyzed? Or maybe it’s because we aren’t certain which step to take next. Sound familiar? As business owners, we’ve all been there. But what we know for certain: success lies in action. So take the first step, no matter how small, and remember the words of Robert Collier, “Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” Even one small step forward will take your further than doing nothing at all. It’s that simple.
A TIME TO REFLECT
While action gets us moving, it’s equally important to pause and reflect. For you see, life and business can only be understood backwards; but must be lived forwards. As entrepreneurs we are always moving forward into the unknown. It is only through reflection – looking back and assessing what worked, what didn’t – that we find our inspiration and next steps. One tool I’ve used for years is journaling. What started out as a young girl’s diary has evolved into a business plan for life. It’s a practice that continues to serve me well, both personally and professionally.
REPEAT, IT’S EASY
So there you have it: once you’ve gotten into the rhythm of action and reflection, repeat is the easiest step in this formula. Being an entrepreneur is like a dance. We do it because it’s exciting and fun and we love it, even in times of uncertainty. And perhaps it is that uncertainty that leads us all to make New Year’s resolutions in the first place. To look forward, make a plan, chart a course, and strive for new goals in the New Year. As entrepreneurs, we don’t limit ourselves to just one New Year’s resolution, because every day is a new day to make a plan, chart a course, and achieve greatness.
BORN TO BE AN ENTREPRENEUR
From as far back as I can remember that is what I liked to do. Growing up I was always creating things. I danced and choreographed countless routines, played business owner in a make believe store, taught school to make believe students, and lived by my own rules in my make believe world.
Both my parents were entrepreneurs who worked hard and lived the lives they wanted. I wanted to grow up to be just like them – I know, so cliché.
I always thought this was the way my life would be. I’d grow up, go to college, have my own business, have my own office, have my own rules. I imagined all the projects I’d create and the meaningful work I would do.
BUT THEN LIFE HAPPENED…
Before I knew it, I was graduating from college, without a business, without an office and unsure where my path would lead.
I wish I knew then what I know now: “Getting lost along your path is a part of finding the path you are meant to be on.” – Robin Sharma, Speaker and Author of Lead Without a Title. Back then, that’s exactly how I felt. I was out of school and at a loss as to what to do next.
So I did what most newly college grads do, I began the job search. After a few stressful weeks and a number of interviews, I landed my first real job! I was excited about my career path – the chance to create, contribute and do something meaningful.
REALITY SET IN
But soon that excitement wore off. I found myself sitting in a cube working day in and day out. I didn’t have an office, I didn’t make my own schedule, but worse, my creativity was hindered. The reality was I was forced to follow a manual and color within the lines; creativity was not part of my job description. I started to feel boxed in.
Growing up, creativity was at the heart of everything I did. I was always encouraged to follow my heart’s desire. So that’s what I did.
I moved on to a new job. I was excited for new challenges and the chance to be creative again. I was part of a team where creating and collaborating was part of my job description. But I still felt hindered by the box someone else had defined.
Don’t get me wrong, day-to-day I really enjoyed what I was doing. However it wasn’t long before I felt the same familiar feeling of wanting more in my professional life.
And that’s when it happened. That’s when I knew what I had to do. I left Corporate America and started Intrinsic Events.
I BELIEVED I COULD BECOME IT.
Today, I’ve come to realize I was never really lost. Each step along the way was leading me to where I was meant to be. I believed at a young age, I was born to be an entrepreneur and now I am.
Was it scary to leave Corporate America and start my own business? Oh yeah. But at some point, it became scarier not to. Was it the most fulfilling thing I’ve ever done? Absolutely. Do I have any regrets? Not one.
No matter where you are on your path, it’s important to remember “we all need to lead where we are planted and shine where we find ourselves.” – Robin Sharma, Speaker and Author of Lead Without a Title.
Listen to your heart. Embrace the twists and turns on your path, even when you’re feeling lost. Trust you are being led to where you are meant to be. It worked for me and it will work for you too.