Balance Is Not a Four-Letter Word

What does the word “balance” mean to you? Balance can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. I’ve noticed that many people stonesthink that life balance isn’t possible, or even desirable, because they are hung up on the word “balance.” Some folks think that balance means dividing up your time equally between work and home. I don’t know about you, but that does not sound appealing to me at all.

If you’re a left-brain, math-type, maybe you think of life balance the same way you think of balancing your check book.  Again, not much fun to me.  I guess I have a more right-brained, creative view of balance.   To me, balance is about finding your perfect mix or flow.  It’s like plant fertilizer.  If you want your orchid to grow and blossom, you have to find the right fertilizer mix for that particular plant. Orchids need the right balance, of soil, water, and sunlight to really thrive.

Work life balance is not about equalizing everything–it’s about creating harmony between your business and your personal life. 

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Maybe You Should Keep Your Day Job

Over the last year I’ve seen several women entrepreneurs quit their full-time jobs in order to work on their businesses full-time.  Some of themLetter of Resignation had great success while others really struggled and ended up burning themselves out, put their businesses on hold, and headed back to a j.o.b.

The main difference that I noticed between the two groups was a lack of planning on the part of the entrepreneurs who struggled. The one’s who dove in head-first without checking out the water had a rude awakening when they hit bottom. The biggest challenge they had was that they had quit their jobs prematurely. One day, they just decided that it was finally time to grow their own business so they gave their 2 weeks’ notice and quit their job.

I know you have heard phrases like, “start before you’re ready” or “take the first step and the next step will appear,” well you also need to look both ways before crossing the street. There is a big difference between taking a risk and being reckless. A little planning and forethought goes a long way.

Here are the top 5 things you should do before you quit your day job:

1) Know how you are going to pay the bills.

Many of the successful entrepreneurs you see today were working at some type of job when they first started out in their business.  Sure, some of them were homeless and living out of their car or sleeping on their best friend’s couch, but is that really what you want for yourself? Their struggle doesn’t have to be your struggle. Not everyone thrives under desperation.

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Help More People by Charging What You’re Worth

Women entrepreneurs commonly undervalue their time and expertise by under-charging for their services. To be honest, there are several 'Worth' highlighted, under 'Value'reasons why women entrepreneurs do this: from lack of confidence to trying to do a good deed (and everything in between). Some women entrepreneurs routinely barter or discount their services so they can “serve more people.” Usually that’s just a cover for not owning their true value.

Let me be clear; under-charging is good for no one. It’s not good for you. It’s not good for your clients. It’s not good for your potential clients. It’s not good for the people you are meant to serve. Under-charging obviously siphons money from your bottom line but it also makes you work harder and longer than you would if you just charged what you’re worth. If you’re struggling with low profits, lack of time, lack of energy, and lack of resources because you are charging too little for your services, how does that help you help more people? It doesn’t.

It took me a while to figure this out. When I first started my business, I charged so little and gave away so much service for free that it was a struggle to take on new clients. The clients I was working with received a lot of value for their money, but I couldn’t afford to help more people because my existing clients were consuming all of my resources without truly compensating me for the value I was providing. Even non-profits need cash flowing in to meet their client’s needs and compensate for the services they provide. Luckily, I figured out that undercharging was an express ticket to overworking, under-earning and going out of business.

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3 Ways to Uphold Your Boundaries and Make a Massive Impact

Many women entrepreneurs struggle with establishing and upholding boundaries. As a result, they give until they have nothing left to give. Are you on one too many volunteer committees? Are you the “go-to” person whenever someone needs 500 cookies for the “last minute” bake sale? Do you drop whatever you’re doing to take random phone calls? Do you schedule appointments with clients at all hours of the day? Do you habitually give away services above and beyond what you agreed upon without charging for them because you want to be nice or maybe you want to avoid an unpleasant conversation about money?

If you are like most women, you are a caretaker by nature. Women entrepreneurs are very passionate about helping others and are dedicated to making sure the needs of others are met. In fact, you probably find that you spend most of your time tending to the needs and requests of others around you. You may even find yourself saying “yes” to requests and commitments when you know you should be saying “no.”

Don’t get me wrong, a strong desire to give and help others is very admirable; in fact, it is one of our core values at BrightFire. However, in order to give abundantly, you must have abundance to give. Randomly giving away services or habitually over-delivering on agreements will undercut your profits and undermine your ability to give back in a more impactful way. Carelessly giving away your time without carving out time to grow your business or time to reenergize and renew yourself is a big mistake. You cannot develop your business or live passionately when you are running on empty. You have probably heard the saying, “You can’t give to others, if you don’t give to yourself first.” It’s absolutely true.

Here are 3 ways to uphold your boundaries so you can make a massive impact: 

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Are You Flying by the Seat of Your Pants?

Are you using the “fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants” approach to running your business? Many women entrepreneurs are. Generally speaking, Profile of a Flying Attractive Womanwomen tend to be very intuitive and trust their instincts to guide them along the right path. This is actually a fabulous gift in most situations. If you have this gift, consider yourself blessed and cultivate it as much as possible. However, if you feel like you’re lost when it comes to steering your business down the road to success, hear me out.

Many women business owners are working very hard, spinning their wheels in the ditch alongside the road to success because they don’t have a planned course of action. As you can imagine, this can be very costly in terms of time, money, energy, and frustration.

So how do you avoid the wheel spinning?

Here are 4 tips to keep you firmly grounded on the path to growing your business:

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Don’t Go it Alone

In my last post, I talked about how to know if a project is “DIY or Don’t You Dare”.  One of the reasons so many solo entrepreneurs struggle goingitalonewith productivity and profitability is that they take “solo” to the extreme. They work completely alone without getting the support they desperately need in order to be successful.

Are you wearing all of the hats in your business? If you are, you’re likely spending a huge amount of time working on technical and administrative tasks that are not directly generating income for you. If you’re spending a huge amount of time working on tasks that are not generating an income, you’re wasting time and money.

“Going it alone” is a mistake for many reasons. Not only are you wasting time and money, but you are probably impeding your business growth and putting yourself at risk should any problems arise. For example, unless you are a small business attorney and a CPA, you should have at least two other members on your team.

As a solo entrepreneur, it is easy to get sucked into your own little isolated world. Working from home is great, but it can also be lonely, if you don’t have the support of others who understand what it is you’re trying to accomplish. It can be hard to stay focused and motivated. You can’t grow your business without growing relationships, and as I always say, “your pets don’t count.” You have to have some human interaction with people who can support you as clients, colleagues, family, friends, and mentors.

Here’s the solution to “going it alone”…

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Do it Yourself or Don’t You Dare?

I love the enthusiastic “I-can-do-anything” attitude that most entrepreneurs have. But, as with most gifts, it can also be a curse if it isn’t used LaptopWomanScreamingwisely. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should.

Recently, I’ve encountered so many new entrepreneurs (and even some who aren’t so new) that are spending buckets of time doing all kinds of projects that they really shouldn’t be–projects that they absolutely should leave to the professionals so that they can focus on their real responsibilities (like connecting with real people and growing their business).

I know when you are just starting out in business you may have a limited budget and may be confused about where you should invest your time, energy, and money. Don’t worry, I’m here to clear up the confusion.

Here’s a handy little checklist to help you determine if something is a “DIY “or a “Don’t You Dare”

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Words You Should and Shouldn’t Use in Sales Conversations

The words you choose to use matter. Words are very powerful.  In, fact the words that you use may positively or negatively impact your Mutesales.

You have probably heard at some point that people buy things based on emotion and then justify their purchase with logical reasons.

In every sales conversation, the buyer holds some degree of ambivalence around making a buying decision.  On one hand they want the promised outcome, but on the other hand, it is going to cost them something (money, time, energy, etc), so there is some fear and worry around making the right decision.

Emotions can either pull a potential client towards working with you or sway them in the opposite direction. Every word that you say elicits some sort of emotion, either positive or negative. Because of this, it is important to be mindful of using words that elicit positive emotions toward working with you and avoid using words that evoke negative emotions.

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Sell the Finished Product Not the Bits and Pieces

I’m sure you’ve been told or at least heard the phrase, “Sell benefits not features.” Well, I’d like to take it one step further.  Not only do youtoyparts want to focus on selling benefits, you also need to focus on selling the finished product or end result.  Benefits are only benefits if they somehow support achieving the desired outcome.

I have 3 little girls and one thing that I’ve noticed is how good toy companies are at selling the finished product.  Whenever we buy some toy, whether it’s a doll house or a bicycle, it comes in a package with all these bits and pieces that need to be assembled.  The picture on the box, however, always shows the finished product.  The bicycle on display, is always “road-ready.” Why? Because we buy the finished product.  Toy companies know that they can’t leave it to our imaginations to visualize the potential within all of the bits and pieces, how the bits and pieces fit together, or why we even need all of those parts.  Therefore, they focus on the finished product.

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Don’t Flake Out on the Follow Up

Over the years, I’ve met a boatload of women entrepreneurs that spend a lot of time networking each week and speaking to different groups and organizations only to wind up with a less-than-ideal number of clients. womanatbar

If you’ve been reading my writing for any length of time, you might know that I consider speaking and networking to be high-octane marketing strategies. High-octane marketing strategies are strategies that quickly result in leads that turn into paying clients. So why do I see so many service-based business owners struggling to get clients this way.  The answer is simple: lack of follow up and follow through.

Imagine this …

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