business planning

Understanding your “Why”

Do you know what your why is?

Do you know why people are always asking you if you know what your why is?

Understanding your why helps you make sure that what you’re doing in your business and how you’re communicating with your audience is really working well; it helps you stay on track and motivated.

Understanding your “Why”.png

When you ask most people what their why is, they think along the lines of: why are they a fitness coach/graphic designer, etc. – they are answering what they are doing right now. What their job title is. They are not answering their why in the way that I like to dig in to it, the way Simon Sinek does in his book Start With Why.

Start With Why

Simon Sinek’s book, “Start With Why” digs in to the heart of why your why is important. It explains how your why is beyond your business – it is something that is a part of who you are. Your why has been with you since you were young – and is a thread that ties everything you have done together.

Figuring out your why can actually be quite complicated. You need to dig in far deeper than just into what you do but figure out what is at the heart of the choices you make in life. What inspires you. What makes you feel fulfilled.

For example, I am not a business coach because I want to help business owners make more money and find clarity in their goals, etc. While it is something I want to communicate, it’s not my why.

My Why

My why is: community.

If I look through my entire life I see that I was always the one on the social committee, organizing group events, creating groups to get like-minded people together, etc. I have always enjoyed having people around me who are like-minded and want to celebrate the same things as me. I have always been about bringing people together. My why is: To bring people together in communities of support so that we can all be stronger together.


Why you need to find your why

Once you understand your why, you know what the right goals and choices are for you – and for your business. Making decisions can come back to your why, making it easier to choose.

Remember, your why is more than what you are doing right now – it may be part of it, but it is much more than that.

Once you find out what your motivation is, you will have a compass to help you create the right goals and it will be easier to achieve those goals because they will be more meaningful to you.

Do you know your why? If you don't, I encourage you to check on Simon Sinek's book Start With Why

5 Five money mistakes I made in 10 years

I have made a lot of mistakes over the years, but I have learned a lot too – especially when it comes to money.

This is part two of what I have learned in my 10 years as an entrepreneur. A lot of the mistakes I am sharing today could have been avoided with simple planning; something I have struggled with over the years (but fortunately have a better handle on now :) . Often, a business owner's problems with money stems from their beliefs or what their history is with money. I am not immune to these mistakes and I am hoping the experiences I share here are relatable and that I can help you avoid the same mistakes by sharing what I learned over the years.

5 money mistakes I made in 10 years

Have a budget

You need a budget. You need to know what your expenses are and how much you have to spend as well as how much you need and want to spend. When I had my first business, a clothing store, we didn’t really have a budget. We just bought what we wanted – if we thought something was cute and would sell then we would buy it. But we had no idea what our budget was in terms of what we needed to earn, how much we should spend on advertising, staffing and any other business related expenses.

A lot of entrepreneurs and small business owners do this same thing. The consequences of not having a budget can creep up on you slowly – before you know it you’re further into debt than you intended.

A budget does not need to be complicated. Know what you are earning, what you need to buy, know your numbers, and spend responsibly.

Don’t just “make up” your pricing

Entrepreneurs who offer a service often make up their prices based on what they think people are willing to pay versus what they are worth.

You need to know what you need to earn and what your hourly rate should be based on that number. You also need to keep in mind that you are not going be billing for every hour you are available to work; sometimes you will need to work ON your business. You need to consider the hours it takes for marketing, engaging with your Facebook Group, etc.

If you only want to work a certain number of hours per week then how much do you need to charge clients per hour in order to make the income you need to make? 

How much can you actually take home?

Don’t guess how much money you will take home at the end of the day. Most businesses are not built so that you earn $5, you get $5. Huge percentages of what you earn are going to different costs.

A good rule of thumb is the thirds rule.  1/3 goes to savings, 1/3 goes to expenses and then 1/3 goes to you. So, how much do you need to earn so that you can pay your bills and pay yourself? Think it through and plan for it!

I used to think I could pay myself 75% of what I made and only have 25% to pay my expenses – but this only increased my debt. Over time, I accepted that I needed to earn more money as well as think through how I could divide up the money I did earn to ensure my expenses, etc. were also covered.

What’s the bottom number? (Don’t start there!)

The lowest amount you’re willing to work for cannot be your price. Let’s say you figure out that you need to make $50 an hour in order to meet your income goal – don’t charge $50. Ask for more because this gives you the freedom to create packages, create discounts and deals when necessary, as well as give you some wiggle room to work for less if you need to.

Make sure you aren't accidentally earning way less than you deserve by not starting out at the right place. Earn what you need to make and charge what you need to make.

Save the HST

If you are charging sales tax then you need to save the sales tax. This sounds obvious, I know.

This is separate from your federal tax. I will admit that in the beginning, I didn’t do this, so when it came time to pay back my HST I had not put that money away and it took me a long time to pay it back. It's not that I didn't know I needed to save the HST, it's that I was falling behind by not charging properly, not budgeting properly, taking home the wrong amount of money and not having a plan - so I had to keep dipping in to the HST to pay all my expenses. I was not being smart! I now separate my HST so that it is now properly accounted for.

Consider all of these lessons pieces of a puzzle so that you have the money you need when you need it. This will save you from needless frustration and overwhelm. It will also prevent you from being underpaid.

Take the time to make a budget and create a plan so that you know what your numbers need to be and what that means in terms of how much you need to earn and how much you need to charge.

We all make mistakes in our businesses and you will likely still make some money mistakes in yours. That being said, a plan of action will do wonders to keep things on track.

It was MY coach that got me on track years ago and this is something I help my clients with regularly now. If you want to talk about how I can help you, book a free consultation and we'll talk. 

#20 – Entrepreneurial summer post mortem

Was your summer as great as you hoped? Were you hoping for more?

My life and business are built  around needing a fair amount of time off to be with my three kids over Christmas, spring break and during the summer. As an entrepreneur, taking any amount of time off requires planning.

What does it take to take time off as an entrepreneur

entrepreneurial summer post mortem

In the summer I take 4-5 weeks off and some summers have been great, but others (especially in the earlier years) have been stressful because I didn't have the right plans in place. It’s one thing to say you’re going to take a few weeks off from your business but in order to take time off successfully you need to plan so that your social media doesn’t drop off, people still know who you are, and so that you still have money coming in during that time or make more money previously so you are covered during your time off.

In the past I had missing systems, which got better as the years went by, but last summer despite the right systems in place, I was stressed out for a whole other reason - I had a hard time stepping away from my work. I also had a hard time being present with my kids. This made me realize that I needed to do a summer post-mortem to see what worked and didn't and that I should share it with everyone else so they could do it too.

Realizing you need to make a change

Hanging out with Anne of Green Gables on PEI

Hanging out with Anne of Green Gables on PEI

It turns out, the summer model I thought I wanted is not the model I really want for my life or my business. I am okay with this – it’s okay that I changed my mind. I realized that I do not want 4-5 weeks off in a row during the summer. I realized I would be much happier with smaller blocks of time off.

I realized that the more downtime I have, the more ideas about my business I have; however if I have all this time off to spend with my kids I don’t have the time to actually implement these ideas… and these ideas are forgotten by the time I am back to work because I have other things that need to be done.

By being off for numerous weeks in a row I also miss out on many opportunities. I couldn’t take action on them because I was off and that made me nervous.

Lastly, I love my job. I love my kids, but they are busy and can be very intense, so I need my work as a break from the chaos of kids life. I don’t do well with constantly being surrounded by noise and chaos; my ADHD brain needs quiet (which is why working from home works so well for me). I also find myself resenting the fact that I can’t be working, taking advantage of new opportunities and implementing my new ideas instead of enjoying time with my kids.

I took what I learned last summer and put it into place this summer. I was off and on from work a lot (I think some people thought I took the entire summer off ;) and it was FAR less stressful for me and I was more present when I was working and more present when I was with my kids. WIN WIN!

Knowing you’re not alone

We love Calypso Waterpark

We love Calypso Waterpark

Last summer as I got back to my regular calls with clients I heard from business owner after business owner that they had struggled with summer as well.

Summer, for entrepreneurs, isn’t always as fabulous as we think it is going to be. We make plans for fun activities and time to enjoy the warm weather, and yet it can be disappointing when you reflect back at how the summer actually went.

I want to acknowledge that you are not alone if summer is hard for you – as a parent or as an entrepreneur.

I want to challenge you to think through how your summer went - do a post mortem so you can decide what to keep the same and what to change for next year.

Summer Post Mortem Quiz

Take the following questions and answer them in your favourite notebook or a word document. The reflection and answers will help you figure out what your summer plans should look like NEXT summer.

  1. What was your plan for this summer? Describe in as much detail as possible how you thought it would go. For example, days or weeks off, extra help hired to make that happen, planned content, etc.

  2. What did your summer actually look like?
  3. How much did you work, how much did you not work?
  4. How stressed or not stressed were you?
  5. What went as expected and what didn't?
  6. How did it feel compared to what you planned?
  7. Was there any disconnect between what you wanted it to look like and what it actually did look like? Share where and how things did or didn't line up.
    Were your expectations off? Did you make last minute changes? Was it amazing? etc.
  8. What did you enjoy about your summer? For example, specific activities. Getting to travel. Doing nothing. Binging Netflix. Quality time with your spouse. Taking an hour a day to enjoy the outdoors.
  9. What did you not enjoy about your summer? For example, not enough time off. Too much time off. Felt too scattered. Seemed too organized. Not enough time outside. 
  10. Did you make enough money?
  11. Based on all of your answers - What do you want to keep in mind for next summer? Remember that by next summer your memories of this summer will be dimmer, so make some statements here that will help you know what needs to be a priority and what doesn't. For example: I won't book any meetings my first day back. I won't have more than X weeks off at a time. I need to hire someone to help manage ____. I need more time off next year. I would rather take long weekends than full weeks off.
  12. What needs to happen to make this a reality?

Spend a few minutes seeing what comes out for you. Answering these questions is the first step in making these plans that will help you effectively plan for next summer over the next ten months.

I hope you had a great summer and had a lot of great moments! But if you didn’t – let’s make a plan to make next summer a great one!

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#1: Three strategies to get the life and biz you want

#9: Managing Your Social Media While On Vacation

#11: Why your personal life can’t be separated from your business life

#18: Batching to save time and energy


#18 - Batching to save time and energy

Nicole Liloia is a former therapist turned accidental entrepreneur who does business strategy for other accidental entrepreneurs looking to scale their businesses and have multiple income streams. An accidental entrepreneur happens when someone starts making money doing something they enjoy, either through a hobby or side-hustle. They do not intend to start a business; they just start making money doing something they love and it evolves into a business. Nicole loves the business of owning a business, but it happened by accident. She thanks her batch system for keeping her business successful.

Batching to save time and money

The Internet has given birth to many new types of business, it has also seen many new businesses fail because they do not have the systems and plans in place to make that business sustainable. Some of these businesses start off lucky, but then they end up spending more money then they are earning, but it you’re committed to running a business long term then you need to make it work.

Mindset and Strategy

Business owners need to understand that business has ups and downs, highs and lows. You need to know this and be okay with this. You need to know this is a regular business cycle and not to get upset and quit during the downs and lows. You have to have a positive mindset to deal with this.

You also need a strategy. You need to strategize for today, tomorrow, this month and the entire year. You do not want to be caught flying by the seat of your pants. If you do you will be wondering where your next income is going to come from long term, instead of working to grow your business with intention.

If you have a strategy then you can work to grow your business and make a long term plan.

Understand your numbers

The amount of time you put into your business will bring in an income, but it may not be profitable right off the bat. You need to really think about your metrics and figure out how many people you can work with in a day, week or year. How can you reach your income goals? Do you need to create passive income streams or other ways to earn money? You need to also account for the time you have available and how many people you will need to talk to make a sale. Track all numbers – how long it takes to convert a potential client, the length of your sales conversations, etc. How long are these people remaining in your pipeline? You need to take all this into account when looking at your income long term – each month contributes to your overall income goal.

Passive income is one possibility, however it is much easier to be successful with passive income once you already have a steady income flow. Passive income is generally a lower income source and needs a large audience to sell to. Many passive income sources need to be created and generally cost money to complete, i.e. due to graphic design, web design, etc. Passive income should be incorporated into your long-term business strategy.

Stay Visible

It can be hard to be and stay visible as an entrepreneur. You need to market yourself and be consistent with your visibility. You need to find a pattern of visibility that you are comfortable with. Nicole sets aside 90-days in which she does hard core marketing and then backs off the rest of the time to focus on her clients. Again, you need to measure what works for you and your business day-to-day and for your overall income goals. If you batch your marketing efforts and repeat it over a specific amount of time then you don’t have to be in selling mode all the time if you don’t want to be. You can let people know ahead of time when you will be accepting new clients (in advance of your goals), which gets us out of being an accidental entrepreneur and into an intentional, strategic entrepreneur. This will help you get and stay ahead.

Batch Activities

If you’re organized then you can take a step back and look at your goals and make sure you have enough money to run your business. This also allows you to batch your activities so nothing important is forgotten. For example, set aside a day and time a week or month where you can follow up with people. This way no one is forgotten. You will be able to build relationships this way and not forget about a potential client.

You can get a lot more done if you set aside a specific time to accomplish something rather than constantly stopping and starting again. You are also in the right frame of mind to stay focussed and be confident with the task at hand.

Nicole has a tool that helps people batch their business activities. Batch like a Boss helps business owners get ahead of stress, content, deadlines, and whatever else you need to do and start feeling accomplished and confident.

In order to be successful in business, be consistent, take action and have a clear, identifiable goal that can be measured and work every day to reach that goal and avoid panic mode.

Resources & Links

Nicole Liloia's website

Nicole's Batch Like a Boss worksheet

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#4: Where to start before starting a business

#9: Managing Your Social Media While On Vacation

#14: Why goal setting and planning suck

#17 - Stop the overwhelm - get Productive!

Do you find running a business overwhelming? Do you struggle to find the time to work ON your business as opposed to just in it?

Stop the overwhelm

Shelagh Cummins is a business coach and consultant specializing in helping women build and grow their businesses. Shelagh and I see a lot of business owners struggling with overwhelm. There is so much for business owners to do and so many wheels that need to be in alignment that it can be tricky to know where to focus without tipping the cart.

Do a brain dump

Take a piece of paper and do a brain dump of everything that is swimming around in your brain. Business owners carry so much in their brain from day-to-day that it’s important to put it down on paper. Don’t worry about organizing it – just get it out to get some clarity! Think about the one thing that will have the most amount of impact for you, your family and your business. What do you need the most of right now? This creates a priority list of what you need the most of: is it revenue, a better team, a marketing plan? What is it that you need that will have a domino affect on everything else?

Once this is out put it on a wall in front of you and start crossing off the things that are irrelevant or not that important. Then find the pieces that help you fill the immediate need. What are the milestones that you need to get done to get you the results you want the most? Do you need to hire help? Do you need to send an email to your mailing list?

Shelagh’s Productive! Planner helps you determine what you want the most and then determines the hurdles you need to get through to get there. Once you have the milestones, you then have to lay out the actions you need to take to get that end result. Once you have this figured out, just sit with it and be quiet with it, before you take any action at all.

Figure out your "one thing"

There is going to be many “gears” or things that you want to get done. But think about what needs to come first – what one gear or wheel needs to turn to make the others work? For example, if your one thing is to earn more revenue, then you need more clients and in order to get more clients you may need to ramp up your marketing strategies. It’s a matter of looking at all the conflicting pieces and figuring out which one is going to fuel the other ones. Focus on that ONE first.

Build out your plan

What is the end result of your project or goal? Why is that important to you? If you set a goal then you need to anchor it in something important. For example, if you want to earn more revenue don’t think of it in terms of a number, think of it in terms of what you will be able to do with that number. It allows you to derive from a place of purpose. For example, if you make $5000 you will be able to hire someone to help you grow your business or take a dream vacation.

Reach milestones

How do you get to that goal? What milestones do you have to reach to get there? If your goal is to reach a certain number, such as $5000 – think about how many services or products you have to sell to reach that number. Is it a matter of raising the quantity or products or services, increasing the price or decreasing the production costs? What do you have to do to sell that much of that product or service? Is it being more visible on social media or networking more? What has to happen for you to get the end result?

We don’t allow ourselves the time to plan forward. We instead focus on tasks that keep us busy, but don’t necessarily work on tasks that will move our businesses forward. It doesn’t have to be this way. By being quiet and strategic about the actions you take each and every day, you allow yourself the momentum needed to get to your end goal. Planning is key.

Make power moves

Power moves are strategic and intentional actions. For example, scrolling Facebook mindlessly is not a power move – calling a client you haven’t heard from in awhile – that’s a power move. It’s an action that can pack a lot of punch.

Plan your day with intention

Start your day in a place of quiet. Visualize your day before it starts – walk through it in your head so you are ready and prepared for your day. Then recognize that one, nonnegotiable thing that needs to be done that day in order to be successful.

Ask yourself how you’re going to be powerful today or empathetic today – figure out who you need to be that day to get whatever your one thing is, done.

Prioritize your actions every day. It allows you to focus on what is important. Give yourself permission to be human and celebrate what you did accomplish and understand that what you didn’t accomplish will still be there tomorrow.

Resources & Links

Shelagh Cummins' website

Get your own copy of Shelagh's Productive! (Use Discount Code: CLEARANCE to get the planner for $20+HST!)

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#14 Why goal setting and planning suck

I hate planning - I really do. I'm the kind of gal who likes to fly by the seat of her pants; who likes to let inspiration take hold and GO GO GO!

There are so many reasons I hate it - any of these sound familiar?

  • I don't have time

  • I'm not ready for planning

  • Planning stifles my creativity

  • I'm doing fine without it

  • I don't follow the plans anyways!

  • It's all in my head so I don't need to write it down

If you've thought any of these things, let's keep talking and I'll tell you why I DO plan, even though I still think and feel these things on a regular basis. 

I don't have time

This is never going to go away - you're always going to have too much to do. You need to book in the time.

If you don't COMMIT to the time, you're not going to get things done. You need to figure out how to commit - do you need a coach? Do you need an accountability partner? Do you need to book a day out of your office somewhere to work on?

If you don't stop and think about your business, you end up missing all the places you have money you can be saving or making, all the places you can be saving time, or all the places that need re-evaluating.

You might be amazed how much extra time and money you find just stopping for a day and thinking about what you're doing and why.

I'm not ready

There are so many times when I'm talking to people and they tell me they aren't ready to work with a coach or stop and work on planning because they don't know what they want to do next.

I get it, you don't want to waste time working on the wrong thing; it's easier to stick with the status quo for now.

HOWEVER, if you don't stop and try to figure it out, if you don't talk to a coach or go through a workbook on planning, you're never going to make the time to get ready and you're going to keep running on that hamster wheel indefinitely. 

Don't let 'not feeling ready' stop you from taking the next step in your business. 

It stifles my creativity / I won't do it anyways

This is a BIG one for me. I never know what I want to do next. I don't want to be told what to do. This makes wanting to sit down and decide far in advance what will be happening next extremely unappealing to me.

The important thing to remember here is that we need to set realistic expectations when it comes to the results of our planning. Not every single thing we plan is going to work out. Not every single plan is going to be the right decision for us. We need to be ready to learn, explore, and experiment. If we make plans and decide in a month that we made the wrong plan and need to change it - that's OK. It also doesn't mean that the time you took planning was a waste of time. You learned a lot from making the plan and then figuring out what about that plan isn't something you want to do in your business.

Here's the other thing - when you think about planning that doesn't work for you, maybe you're thinking about the wrong kind of planning!

Not every method of planning works for every person. If you balk at the idea of step-by-step plans with dates attached, maybe you need to be more flexible with the way you plan and come up with ideas. Be willing to experiment and play to your strengths.

It's all in my head and that's working fine!

Getting things out of your head so you can look at it from a different angle is so important. It's really hard to get a true picture of everything when it's in your head. Things get forgotten, and you can't think of every possibility. You need to see things from other perspectives. 

While a lot of the times we can easily talk ourselves out of doing the planning because we're so busy, we don't feel ready or we feel it's going to be a waste of time, the truth is that it IS worth the time and effort to stop and re-evaluate. I challenge you to commit to some planning and goal setting for your business in the next month and see what happens!

What to do next

1) Book time to work on your business

2) Bring someone else in to help support you: a coach, a friend, or take a course. Find a person you can talk things through with.

3) Don't be afraid of planning - there is a system for each style of thinking and way of working - you just need to figure out what the right system is for you.

4) Set realistic expectations - if you think that you're suddenly going to make 100% more profit once you do some planning and it doesn't work, you're going to be really frustrated. Know that a lot of this is all about just spending time thinking - not every idea of plan is THE best one, but the act of doing the planning will help you in the long run.

5) Stop keeping everything in your head - talk it out to someone and get their feedback, voice record yourself and listen back to it, or just write it down. Take the time to see what things look like when it's more than just ideas floating around in your head.

If you're looking for more support you can:

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