How to plan for business success

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What do you need to plan for business success? Is it with a notebook and pen? An online course? A business coach? Recently, while getting ready for one of my workshops, I started thinking about everything needed to plan for business success. Here is what I came up with:

  1. Know where you want to go

    Without a bit of a roadmap it can be easy to get distracted, start a million different things, and consequently not follow through and finish any of them. Instead, you will feel frustrated that things aren't moving forward. A plan really helps, and trust me, as a person who isn't big on planning, it took me a lot to come around to that.

  2. Stop thinking you need to know it all

    You want to have a plan, but you don't have to plan everything forever. You can start with the next month if that's easiest! You can plan to keep things flexible enough to keep them interesting. You can make money without doing ALL THE THINGS you've heard will make more money. This is especially important for you over-planners out there. Some people keep jumping in with no idea what they're doing and others never jump in because they still aren't "ready." You don't need to have everything figured out to start moving forward.

  3. Know how much money you want to make

    You may not be able to make it from the start but you need to know what kind of money is going to make sure you feel good about running this business. And also understand that running a business means YOU have to save for taxes and you have expenses that people who work for others don't. If you want to make $5000 you need to earn more than $5000 so make sure you know your numbers.

    Knowing these numbers will help you figure out what you're going to sell and how you're going to sell it too. They all tie together!

  4. Do more of the things that feel good and that work well

    So many of us fight the stuff that's easy. So many of us feel guilty making money doing things that we enjoy, because "work is supposed to be hard." That is not true and I'll keep reminding you of that until I'm blue in the face.

    You're going to do the stuff you love with more heart. You're not going to procrastinate as much if you're selling things you love to do instead of things you know you can do but really wish you didn't have to do. Look for the things that light you up and look for the things that flow to you with ease and do more of those.

Take some time and think about how all of these play into your business. If you want ideas on how I can support you with any of them, let’s chat! I have a bunch of things coming up this summer that might be JUST the right fit.

What self-care looks like for me

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This past weekend I ran away from home.

After months of pushing really hard in my business and personal life, I was hitting a massive wall.

It was hard to admit at first, after all - I just home from a week in Punta Cana with my family, and the weekend before that trip I was at an art retreat.

But as most parents know, a vacation with three children is not "relaxing."

I put a lot of pressure on that trip to help me unwind and relax. I should have known better, I've been on trips like that before. While the kids are now old enough to not require me to be ON the entire time, we still had to coordinate a lot of people to do a lot of things, and they're still kids with a lot of energy and a lot of feelings.

I was so tired on that trip that between activities I didn't even have the energy to read a book, and I came home even more tired than when I left.

Meeting these pirates was a super fun highlight of our trip to the Dominican Republic!

Meeting these pirates was a super fun highlight of our trip to the Dominican Republic!

As an introvert, transitioning to homeschooling my son has meant that I don't have much alone time - and I had been alone for most of the week for the previous six years so this has been a big shift and change for me.

I felt tired ALL the time. I didn't feel like I was thinking clearly any more. I was not working well as a mom or as a business owner.

I was nearing burnout - but it was really hard to admit that when I felt like so many things were going so right. Can you burnout doing things you love? Have you heard people say, “do what you love and it never feels like work.” It’s not true. You can love what you do and still get really tired and burn out from it if you’re not careful.

So, I left Friday afternoon and headed up to the family cottage (which I'm grateful to have access to when needed, but happily would have rented one or an Airbnb for the weekend) and just stopped.

What self-care looks like for me

I took a three-hour nap that went right through dinner time.

I read a book.

I watched Netflix.

I slept whenever I felt tired.

I had meals whenever I felt like it - 11 am, 3 pm, 9 pm.

I ate what I felt like eating whenever I felt like it.

I painted.

I stared out the window at the trees and the water.

I didn't intend to work but I didn't intend to NOT work.

The more I sank into nothing, the more my brain woke up. New ideas popped into my head. I felt excited about things I haven't felt excited about in a while. I had the bandwidth to contemplate next steps instead of feeling required to do it.

What does self-care look like for you?

We don't all need the same things to take care of ourselves, but we all need to make sure that we stop and think about what works and what doesn't, and we need to make sure we’re not getting too caught up in how we think we SHOULD be feeling and operating.

I work better and smarter when I have more time by myself doing nothing. It's not being lazy or self-indulgent, it's being productive and poised to take on the world.

Moving forward I will guard time for myself even more. I blocked off time in my calendar years ago for quiet and down time but over the last couple of years I filled ALL of that time with parenting stuff and/or appointments for myself to work on my health. Important, but not actually the down and quiet rest time I need. So I'm re-jigging my schedule again, this time to accommodate for parenting time, health time, and ME time.

If I want to be productive and effective in my work, this is mandatory; even though it feels counterintuitive to work less to make more money. We've been taught that the only way to make more money and achieve more success is to work HARDER. As someone who has never worked effectively on a traditional timeline, I need to keep reminding myself that doesn’t work for me.

When's the last time you did something to help yourself this way?

Choosing to believe in magic

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The holidays are pretty magical, especially when you have small children.

The magic of Santa Claus. The magic of the Elf on the Shelf (let me be real here, this Elf on the Shelf business and his reputation for arriving on December 1st can be pretty exhausting. RIGHT?).

But the excitement in kids’ eyes make it so worthwhile.

I especially love the magical stories my kids have.

"I saw the elf wink at me! Nobody believes me, but I saw it and it's true!"

"Last year at Christmas I woke up in the middle of the night because I thought it was morning and I saw Santa putting the presents under the tree!"

The belief in the magic all around them is simply magical. But, as kids get older, mine are now 9 and 12, the magic starts to fade.

My 12-year-old finally admitted to not believing any more (though I’ve known for a couple of years that he didn't) and one of my 9-year-olds keeps telling me the kids at school say none of it is real and she tells them to stuff it (because she isn't ready to stop believing).

I have thought about the business of believing, and the energy kids put into continuing to believe for as long as possible, and how we need to re-embrace that way of looking at the world.

The older we get, the less magic we believe in. We get black and white about things and insist on proof before believing things.

I am working on reinstating my belief in magic.

I am inspired by the love of life and hope and belief in all good things that I see in kids. We see what we want to see. I want to see more magic.

So, I'm letting go and trying not to control all facets of everything in my life. I'm looking for magic and serendipitous opportunities.

And you know what? The more I believe it's going to happen, the more it does happen.

Believing good things are going to come my way and being ready to receive good things have translated into more money, more opportunities, and more happiness.

If I want to look at the black and white reasons for that, I can probably find them in the strategies I implemented and the hard work I put into it all. But, I was working hard before and I had plans and strategies as well and nothing was really working or clicking.

So, I’m choosing to believe it’s the magic instead.

Where can you find a bit of magic in your life and business? 

The power of believing in YOUR way

Your unique balance

What makes one person feel safe, secure, comfortable and confident can be vastly different from what makes another person feel that way. Recently, I was thinking about one way I do things differently than most people I know: when I go on road trips, I hate to pre-book my hotels.

This makes many of my friends and family SO uncomfortable!

“Doesn’t it stress you out to not know where you’re going and what the plan is to get there?”

Nope! I get stressed out feeling locked into things! How am I going to know when I want to stop? My friends get personally stressed out for me when I tell them I don’t book a hotel, unable to separate how they would feel in my situation.

“What if you can’t find a hotel?”

I always find a hotel, maybe not at the first place I stop, but it always works out (and I always feel confident it will while we’re figuring it out). And my measure for “works out” is probably quite different than it is for other people because the thing I’m LOOKING for is not “safety” or “security” or “comfort in knowing” it’s “freedom to change my mind and be spontaneous.”

You may not like to road trip my way, but that doesn’t mean my way isn’t great because I’m getting what I’m looking to get out of the experience! I always believe it is going to work out and it always does. 🙂

This same idea applies to the different ways people run their businesses.

Some people like everything very structured and planned out and some like to fly by the seat of their pants (I fall into the second category).

There is great merit in having a well-structured and predictable business model (and the need for this gets more and more important the bigger you grow) but there is also great merit in having a business that is built to suit the things that are important to you (I need to have room in my business to create new things regularly. If I booked up all my time on the same things in a repeated manner for a year in advance, I would feel claustrophobic in my business).

Now, I’m not saying it’s a good idea to never have a plan, but it’s okay if you’re someone who likes to keep things feeling fresh and different on a regular basis.

You can run your business that way too, you just need to to know where and how to keep the freedom, spontaneity and creativity alive for yourself, while keeping the infrastructure of your business sound (you don’t need to book the hotel but you DO need to know you have money to pay for a hotel and a well-maintained vehicle to get you there).

We all get to prioritize what works for us and what we value and want to create. You can find the perfect balance for you by acknowledging what’s important to you, what motivates you, and what will keep you primed for success in your business. It’s the power of believing what you love and desire WILL work for you and lead you to success.

If you want to figure out how to find that balance for YOU and how you can use that to create success in your business, let’s chat. I’d love to learn more about what is important and motivates you as a business owner and how I could support you in achieving that!

2018 Word of the year: STRONG

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I want to share a little story about my 2018 word.

Last fall, while I was at a retreat they announced we were going to play capture the flag.

Capture the flag, like most team/group sports or anything that puts my physical skills on display really brings out my deepest darkest fears – shame, embarrassment and guilt about being so terrible and not being a team player.

I've done a lot of work on myself over the last number of years so there are a few things I now know about myself that came up when the game was announced.

1. My reaction wasn't rational. I knew I was being irrational, but I also knew thinking myself out of it and just enjoying the game wasn't going to happen.

2. I was learning to work on my boundaries. Turns out capture the flag makes me miserable, I could have opted out and just not played. I had that choice!

I decided that I would go and watch the game but not play. Boundaries. Go me!

When I arrived at the field they asked me to play. I said, "No thanks, I just want to watch" and then the universe said to me, "Let's test these boundaries, Lara" and collectively the group then said,

“Awww... C'mon. We're an uneven number of players - we need you!”

And the people pleaser in me, the person who doesn't like to let people down, the person who was terrified of being blamed for the whole team losing screamed, "Oh my God! You have to do it now! It's going to be terrible and you're going to suck, but they're all looking at you, so you HAVE NO CHOICE!!"

So, full of dread (always an excellent way to ensure fun during a game) I walked on to the field.

People ran by me and I didn't know what I was doing…it was going badly! This was worse than any other time I had played because now I knew the solution to those feelings was to NOT play and on top of suddenly being in the game I knew it was my own damn fault for not sticking to my boundaries.

Tears started streaming down my face and a kind person (I honestly can't even remember who it was) told me it was okay if I just wanted to leave.

So, I walked off the field and into the woods on a that crisp fall day, and, surrounded by the beauty and calm of trees, I sobbed. I sobbed for almost half an hour as I walked through the woods trying to calm down.

Walking off the field was far from the end of my shame and emotional breakdown. I was angry at myself for having played at all. I was angry at myself for not sticking to my boundaries and for so easily being swayed into doing something I didn't want to do.  

I was angry at the ladies on the field for getting me to play (trust me, my rational brain knows that's ridiculous, "c’mon, we want you and need you" is hardly some kind of evil pressure tactic of villains).

Over the last few years I have picked a word for the year. In 2017 the word was "open." I wanted to be open to learning, open to being guided, open to letting go of control. I was in the midst of trying to figure out what my 2018 word should be while at this retreat and as I stood in the woods beating myself up and going through a million emotions all about an insignificant game of capture the flag I had known all along that I couldn't handle, I figured out my 2018 word: STRONG.

Strong wasn't about muscles. It wasn't about the strength to stand up to people. It was about being strong enough to look even further within to see what was going on. It was finding the strength within to hold my boundaries and to learn to not feel guilty about or responsible for everyone else before myself. It was about feeling like the Lara I was WAS strong and it was time to own that, it was time to get out of my own damn way.

And I did. The incredible year that was 2018 is the subject of another story entirely, but here is what I hope everyone can take from this:

  • Your mindset and your subconscious can impact everything in massive ways. Don’t beat yourself up for the struggles you have because we all have them and there ARE ways to work through them.

  • You are strong and you are capable, even if it doesn't feel like it some days.

  • You might need to get out of your own way too, and you might need help doing it. I've needed a team of people and 10s of 1000s of dollars to just start that process, but it's been worth every penny!

What was your word in 2018? Will you choose a word for 2019? 

Reflection and setting intentions can be the kind of work we know we should do but avoid. Join me for a special call on New Year's Day at 1 pm. I'll be guiding participants through a series of prompts helping and supporting everyone to step into 2019 feeling empowered and on the right path for their unique selves, dreams and strengths. Sign up here - and don’t worry, if you can’t make it live, a replay will be sent following the live broadcast.