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

2018 Word of the year_ STRONG.png

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.

2018 Holiday Gift Guide for Business Owners

2018 Holiday Gift Guide for Business Owners 11.38.18 AM.png

With the holidays quickly approaching I have once again updated the gift guide I have created the past couple of years. Take a look at this year’s gift list for the entrepreneurs in your life - because business owners are special!

If there's one thing business owners are always looking for, it's more time. The more organized they can be - the better. There are a lot of really fabulous planners out there, and here are a few I've used or know are really popular and people find a lot of success with them:

Help them plan

Planner Pad - This is a planner I've purchased several times over the years and works on a funnel down approach. You list everything you have to do at the top of the week and funnel it down to when it will actually get done. 

Passion Planner is a planner I haven't personally used, but know a lot of people who really love it. They like that it balances the personal side of what needs to be done with the business side, It also includes sections that help you figure out what you want to do and how to break down the steps to achieve them.

Self Journal is a planner that's also a journal. There is a lot of room every day to map out your day but also to map out how you're meeting your goals, your wins, your lessons and your gratitude. Each journal lasts for three months (I also haven't used this one, but it looks fantastic!).

Bullet Journal is a great concept because you can turn any notebook into a planner, and it's also great for non-linear thinkers (though I couldn't get it to work for me...). You can mix your brainstorms, your monthly plans, your weekly plans, your daily plans, and you can also buy one that is pre-setup for you. 

I love my Moo business cards!

I love my Moo business cards!

Productive! This planner is designed by business coach, Shelagh Cummins, and is all about figuring out what your power moves are and working towards them. Check them out.

Paper, pens and stickers!

Entrepreneurs like me, like pretty stationary and fancy pens. Like, we really love them. Whether it's a gift card or a pretty journal, these are almost always a great gift idea (with the exception of a few people who have fully embraced the paperless way of life. :) 

These vinyl stickers from Sticker Mule are super durable

These vinyl stickers from Sticker Mule are super durable

Scribe Delivery - My husband got me this for my birthday and I literally squeal when I get my package every month. So many fun notebooks and pens!

Stickers - I love stickers and you can get so many fun ones, including custom ones of your logo! Sticker Mule is one I've used a couple of times (you can get branded mailers and packing tape from them too. (Use that link to get $10 off your first order).

A gift certificate for the things they are regularly ordering - Vista Print, Moo, Staples, etc. - search gift cards if it doesn't seem obvious how to find them! 

Pens! Lots of pens! (I think I could get 365 new pens every year for Christmas and still have days where I can't find one). ;) 

Technology

Entrepreneurs use tech a lot, and if you're anything like me, it wears out way faster than you'd like. I'm going to admit to my Apple bias here, but I'm sure there are great equivalents in Android and whatever the other tech is that I pretend doesn't exist.

A new computer - last year I was ready to move away from my all-laptop-all-the-time computer ways and get an iMac for my desk and start using my Macbook Air just for traveling. What a difference that has made for me - no more issues with over full harddrives or rebooting a computer not designed to deal with the amount of video I was trying to get it to deal with. I can’t imagine going back to running my business from a laptop again!

A smart watch - I got my first Apple Watch last year too and it’s been nice, but I admit, I don’t LOVE it. I’d love to hear how other people feel about smart watches. My next watch might be a fitbit instead :)

Noise-cancelling headphones - I had no idea until this past fall what the magic of noise-canceling headphones is all about. I work at home and I'm all alone most days so I didn't think there would be any value in them for me. It turns out that the noise-canceling feature is incredibly calming for my ADHD brain and helps me be more productive, so you'll often find me wearing huge headphones with nothing more than a light whooshing noise being broadcast through them while I'm sitting at my desk getting work done!

No more cleaning, no more cooking

Magic Fridge.png

A huge theme that comes up is having someone else take care of the cooking and cleaning (a lot of my examples for these are local, but I'm sure you can find something similar close to where you live).

There are all kinds of great local services for cleaning that you can look in to and you can also check out personal chef services (The Magic Fridge is a local one run by a friend of mine) that take the stress out of shopping, cooking and cleaning up after you cook.

There are also lots of services like Hello Fresh and Chef's Plate that will mail you all the ingredients for a set amount of meals per week, taking the stress of planning and shopping out of your weekly schedule and also making the recipes really easy to follow with relatively little prep required. There's also Supperworks where you can go and assemble everything you need for your own meals or pay a bit extra and they'll assemble everything you need.

But if they do need to cook, they might love some cooking classes!

Pampering 

A gift certificate to their favourite spa or for a massage was high on the list for many of the entrepreneurs in my group.

A day away at a spot like Le Nordik or Scandinave Spa for example. A massage from a local clinic is also always appreciated, such as Byward Massage Therapy Clinic or the Massage and Treatment Clinic in Orleans.

Bring on the drinks!

Beer, wine, coffee, tea - we like a variety of drinks as entrepreneurs, whether it be for during the day or for when we put our feet up at the end of the day. Here are a few ideas when it comes to the drinks department. I'm a big fan of subscription services in this category. :) 

Beer subscription service - we have Brew Box here in Ontario but there are many great ones. 

Nespresso is a popular coffee machine with lots of varieties of coffees - even better if more comes to your door every month. 

How about a box of wine delivered to you every three months? If only I liked red wine this would be perfect for me. 

Citrus Silver.jpg

Meaningful bling

A piece of jewelry that speaks to our goals and dreams is a thoughtful way to commemorate all the hard work business women do.

I know for one I would love a bracelet like this from Citrus Silver with your word for the year.

For the “geek” in your life - check out Geeky Delight necklaces! Perfect for the Doctor Who or Harry Potter fan!

The gift of creativity

IMG_8168 2.JPG

Unique, colourful and one-of-a-kind, Red Raspberry Studios creates art pieces that are as whimsical as the owner themselves! A piece of art from this studio will bring joy to whoever receives it - just check out the piece created just for me.

If the business owner in your life is creative, give them the gift of a full-day creative retreat experience! “Joyful Flow” is happening February 2nd, 2019. Includes light lunch, wine, guided meditation, intention setting, acrylic painting. No artistic experience required. Visit InDetail.ca for more information.

I had fun thinking of all the ways we could celebrate the entrepreneurs in our lives - maybe this sparked a few ideas for you. Leave me a comment letting me know if you'll be adding any of these to your shopping list!

To note: A few of these are affiliate links, most are not, but all are things I truly believe in and nothing is included just to make a buck :) 

How to find time as an entrepreneur

How to find time as an entrepreneur

If you feel like there is ALWAYS too much to do, trust me when I say – you are not alone.

Almost every business owner I talk to feels like they never slow down. There is ALWAYS so much to do. It’s discouraging to constantly look at a to-do list longer than a city block (those people who only have to-do lists as long as their arms… pfft!). 

It even seems like the all “gurus” are telling you that working harder and more is the only way to reach success. “If you want to sleep and watch TV, I guess you don’t want it badly enough!

This JP Sears spoof video was just what I needed when it comes to this mentality because it points out how silly some of it is. Working long hours, not getting enough sleep, trying to do ten million things at once, trying to be everywhere all of the time…not only is it going to exhaust you, but it’s also not effective.

So, here are a few things for you to think about when you feel like there is ALWAYS too much to do:

  • We’re entrepreneurs – We’re always going to come up with MORE to do. Once you understand that you can’t possibly do all the things that you’ve set out for yourself, and you know that there is always going to be more (if you find space in your schedule, you’ll fill it!) then you will understand that your to-do list isn’t meant to ever be finished. You’re not failing if it’s always long. Cut yourself some slack when it comes to how much “more” there is to do.

  • What is working really well right now? Even more specifically, what is working really well right now that is helping you to achieve your goals?

    Are there certain tactics that help you make more sales? Get more prospects?

    If increased sales is one of your goals, make sure that you’re doing THOSE activities first and don’t worry as much about all the other things you think you “SHOULD” be doing. I often tell my clients to stop focusing so much on social media and to just go out and make personal connections with people – because sometimes it’s about connecting and making relationships with new clients, not just “having a presence.”

    There are always things that you can stop doing or do more effectively. Most of us get so busy just DOING that we don’t stop to make sure we’re doing the right things.

  • What is taking up a lot of your time but not getting results? Make a list. Can you skip it for a day or a week? Can you just stop doing it? What takes you a long time because you hate doing it or you’re not very good at it?

  • Is it time to outsource? If your to-do list is beyond manageable with client work here is another thing to think about: is it time to hire someone to help you with that work?

Having a really long to-do list isn’t failing and nor is feeling like there’s always TOO much to do. On a regular basis take a breath and assess what you’re trying to get done and why. Then prioritize and decide what can wait, what can be deleted off the list and what can be outsourced.

You’ve got this! 

If you want more support in figuring out what the right priorities are for you and your business, one of my coaching programs might be a good fit. Book a consultation so we can figure out which one.

Success on your own terms

What does success look like for you?

Define success in your own way!

Is it a nice house with a two car garage?

Is it being a manager at work?

Is it making six figures?

Is it travelling two times a year… maybe three?

Is it simply MORE?

Success can be a bit of a sneaky/tricky/slippery beast. Why? Because we don’t really know what success means to us.

This is what *I* “knew” from growing up in my world.

Success looked like :

  • Finish high school and go to university and get a degree. And then a Master’s. And then probably a PhD.
  • Get a good job and move up the ranks as high as possible
  • Buy a house
  • Buy a car
  • Get married
  • Have some kids
  • Buy a bigger car
  • Buy a bigger house
  • Keep getting promotions (you need more money)
  • Provide for your kids – sports, music, all the opportunities to make them well-rounded individuals
  • Go on trips – bring the kids and expose them to the world and culture
  • Keep going until the kids move out, you retire, and then you’re done

Do you recognize this picture of success?

Has yours ever been like it?

I thought it was mine – but it wasn’t – I never created it, it was just what I thought I was supposed to be working towards for a really long time.

Now… don’t get me wrong. It’s not at all a bad picture. It’s a fairly nice picture to me, even as I think about it now. But I needed to make sure my definition of success and the goals I was creating for myself were MINE.

So, let’s talk about how I journeyed on this path:

I got a degree (just one) and then later I got a diploma. I travelled overseas, I bought a car, I got a job in my field, I got a promotion, I bought a house, I got married, I had a baby, and then I didn’t wan’t to go back to my job.

WHAT?!

Wellman Family

I jumped off my path – and I was okay. I was okay with less money and “less success” because I wanted to be with my kid more. I wanted to feel less stressed and I wanted to explore the life of being an entrepreneur (I started my first business – an online clothing store – during my maternity leave).

So, I jumped off the path, but here’s what I called that..  "Choosing to not be successful right now."

But that wasn’t what that was – that was me defining what success looked like for ME. Because success was quality time with my family. It was not feeling stressed all the time. It was making sure I had the flexibility in my life to try new projects and business ideas. And by that measure, I was really successful!

As my kids got older and my businesses changed and I became a marketing coach and then a business coach, money and career success came back to the forefront. I had to re-visit what success was going to look like for me.

As an entrepreneur, a lot of what I saw in role models was to work all the time and HUSTLE to build the biggest, fastest business possible. I didn’t want that and, at first, it was hard to believe that was okay.

Because what I wanted was to work school bus hours and I wanted to take 10 weeks off a year to spend a lot of the school holidays with my kids and still have time to do things for me and with my husband.

That wasn’t what I saw as possible. I saw making lots of money and being successful or again… choosing to be less successful. So, I thought I was choosing to be okay with not being successful for awhile longer.

But really, I was simply defining what I wanted MY success to look like:

  • Creating a community of support for business owners
  • Coaching business women and helping guide them to a place where they love their business and are make good money doing it
  • Spending time with my kids
  • Spending time at the cottage
  • Having the flexibility to start new projects that call to me when I want to
Women Talk Ottawa  - one of the communities of support I am building

Women Talk Ottawa  - one of the communities of support I am building

And so by that measure I AM successful... not putting it off awhile longer!

And here’s the other thing – it turns out you don’t HAVE to work crazy hours and hustle all the time to make good money. I didn’t need to sacrifice decent money to do all those things. I just needed to realize the way I was building success didn’t have to look like how others were doing it!

I am SO successful and I believe you all can be too.

I challenge you to spend some time with your vision of success.

Is the one you have now the one you created? Or is it one you inherited? Or is it one that was formed by society or family and expectations from the people around you?

What does success look like for you?

Are the things you’re striving for the things you truly want?

Something I see in a lot my work are many people living their lives on autopilot. I challenge you to ACTIVELY choose what success looks like for you – on your own terms.

It took loads of pressure off my back to know that I get to choose what success looks like to me, and it can do the same for you!