Are You Missing One of These in Your Business?

Thank you Christie Browning for today’s tips….

I love my business. If you know me, you know it!!!!  Whether it is my Thirty One business or my handcrafted angels, I love having my own business.  I love the flexibility. I love the freedom to take visions to fruition.  I love sharing my love with everyone.  Now, I will be the first to admit on any given day I miss out on opportunities.  On those days, I tend to be more focused on “making money” to pay bills, so I blow past some of the things I need to have a successful business.  Don’t get me wrong, making money (and paying bills) is what we work for.  The truth is, I can’t sustain my sales (neither can you) if your business isn’t built on a strong foundation.

#1 – Know where you’re going and why you want to get there

I know we have all answered (or at least tried to) the question of our why…. We need to know what it is to be successful, right?  I have talked about the emotional why many times – it is the real root of why you want to be in business.  It is the inner motivation which pushes you when your tired, you want to give up, you are out of your comfort zone, and to push past your fears. Why is being a success important to you?  What will you gain if you are successful?

I struggle with tapping into my emotional why. as a result of my MS.  The key to the emotional why is your ability to paint a vivid picture of what “success” looks like to you.  It isn’t the same for everyone!  By identifying what the finish line looks like, you will know when you cross it, so you can celebrate and know you’ve arrived!  Your finish line might be clearer as you get closer to it but you need a visual picture NOW. The visual should touch your heartstrings and drum up some emotions when you think of it.

Key #2 – It’s your business – make it so!

You are designing YOUR business so make it yours!  I know it sounds crazy BUT how many times have you tried to copy someone else’s business (especially in direct sales) because they have risen to the top of the company?  I have been there, done that and got the tee shirt.  It doesn’t work!  I am learning (yup, took me 7 years!) my business will be different and might probably come together in a different way because it is MINE!  Be sure to design your business around your strengths and passions. Structure it around your time and calendar whether it is a part time or a full time gig.  You get to call the shots.  The key is to be sure to be true to yourself .  Remember your customers buy because they trust you – stand out in a crowd for what you want your business to look like.

Key #3 – Put the right process in place to win

I don’t know about you BUT I LOVE vendor events and home parties.  I LOVE connecting with people face to face.  Some would say it is the glamorous side of our direct sales business.  The truth is, success is made behind the scenes, in the nitty-gritty facets of your business (the parts we may not like).  Just showing up at events or parties is not going to keep your business consistent nor is it going to guarantee you success.  So, what system do you use to keep track of all of the “other things” you HAVE to do?  Do you have set days for follow-up with customers?  Do you know your target market?  I use a tickler file and LOTS of notes on my planner to make sure I keep up with order follow-up, mailings, booking leads and so much more.

Key #4 – Making the noise to bring in the biz

For some, marketing is the fun stuff!  For others, it is a hodgepodge mess.  You need to know who you are as a business and who you are trying to serve.  Do you know what your brand is? Branding is simply something which when people see it they think of YOU (and the ripple effect is thinking of your business).  It is the tone and feel of your business – such as the colors, images, and graphics you use.  I ALWAYS say “Have a ThirtyOne-derful day” – my customers expect it.  LOL.  Angels have become a part of my marketing…. they are part of my team logo as well as the watermark I use in all of my graphics.   What do you want their experience to be like after they interacted with you and your company? I want my customers to know I am all about making a difference in their lives and the lives of others.  I want them to know I am a down to earth “take me as I am” kind of gal.  The key to great branding is to be true to you. Don’t try to be something your NOT because it won’t connect with or feel authentic to your customers. Your brand is an extension of YOU and should be reflected in all you do, say and show.

I know this sounds like A LOT so take it slow and easy.  Start with one and work your way through…. Which one will you start with?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Last Minute RSVP

Is your mailbox or email filled with invites?  It seems like there is always something going on. Someone is having a party,  getting married, or graduating.  Summer at the shore brings lots of invites for barbecues as well. I love getting invites and catching up with old friends is so much fun.  Today is a glimpse at life with a chronic illness…..

But these days, the excitement of an invite brings on a whole new realm of questions…. what’s the weather going to be like? Is it going to be outside in the middle of summer? Do I have anything else planned around the same time where I might not have enough energy?  Will brain fog cause me to forget names and memories?

It is frustrating to always have to mark myself as “maybe”.  As much as my first thought is to say yes, I can never be sure how I will be on any given day.  The outside often fools people if they don’t understand what is happening on the inside.  I feel like I’m always marking off ‘maybe’ on Facebook invites, or doing at the very last minute RSVP’s. I don’t know about you but one of my pet peeves for years was when people didn’t RSVP to an invite or waited until the last minute. I always wanted to get a head count – the planner in me, but now I’m the indecisive person.

It’s not because I am procrastinating, I just have to be careful I don’t over commit myself, or you count me in and I end up having to cancel. I worry about what you will think.  Which one is more embarrassing –  sending a last minute RSVP or saying YES right away, only to have to cancel at the last minute.

Even though I am ALWAYS cold, it is easier for me to commit when it’s not during the warmer months (or extreme cold ones).  Now, living at the Jersey Shore makes it hard to judge and often a small window.  I may be cold BUT the heat is draining for many of us with MS.   I stopped doing outdoor events for just this reason.  It takes a lot of energy out of us.  I have been at parties where everyone is outside, and I keep going inside by myself.  People think I am hiding and in some ways they are right…. hiding from the heat or from sensory overload, or a multitude of other things which spring up unexpectedly.

I LOVE to plan but life takes on an entirely different planning process now.  I don’t want to be mean, and I don’t want to be the annoying person who waits until the last minute to RSVP.  I’m actually holding off to make sure I can actually attend and not have to duck out early or be a party pooper.

If you are reading this and you know someone with another chronic condition (you know I struggle with MS), don’t give up on them or take it personally.  I’m sure they, along with me, appreciate you’re thinking of us, and we don’t want you to stop inviting us.  It just requires we plan and plan and plan some more, and something still might happen to where we can’t make it the day before or day of.

I am learning to “Expect the unexpected”. I’m grateful for a supportive hubby who helps me to keep this in check.  I also need a lot of reminders, because I will forget thanks to the dreaded brain-fog.  Or worse, I will get confused on the dates/times, etc.  There are periods of never ending confusion, planning and forgetting… just to repeat the cycle multiple times.

The bottom line I’m getting at, is don’t take it personally when we don’t RSVP right away.  I know it’s annoying not to have a head count, and I’m trying my best to give you one. It’s stressful trying to juggle everything in the first place. It can also be very emotional for me to deal with… It can be upsetting and depressing at times.

Life with MS (or others with any chronic disease) has changed me in so many ways…. those who are with me daily see the good days and the bad days.  They get it and remind me when I tend to forget. Others struggle to understand.  Overall, I’m blessed to have an amazing support system.  So the next time it takes me forever to RSVP or I decline, don’t take it personally.  Know in my heart I would love to be there but it may be a day I’m struggling with MS.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

 

How to Stretch Yourself

When was the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone?  Be honest!  I don’t mean putting your toe out, finding it was too hard and giving up.  I mean really stretched yourself?

Honestly, I can’t remember when I last did.  To do it, I would have to BELIEVE in myself.  Hmm, I don’t know about you but I struggle with it.  On the outside many see a CEO of her own business who lives life on her terms.  The truth is most days I struggle to believe in myself!  Okay it is out there and I can’t take it back……

I always find when I stretch myself beyond my comfort zone, I am surprised it really isn’t as uncomfortable as I thought it would be.  As I stay in the “new zone”, I get more and more comfortable.

The last 60 days have been filled with lots of changes for me – personally and in my business.  All good things but things which needed to be done.  Clearing out the clutter to make way for more blessings!  One of the first things I wanted to do was create a list of goals.  I’m great for lists.  When we step out of our comfort zone, too many BIG goals can be so scary we retreat.  So I am working on being inspired.  I know vague, right?  Definitely not a SMART goal but I am working on one.  I am going to set a goal which stretches me and as a result will excite me enough to move into action.  I have been told a “stretch goal” will develop your character by tapping into your strengths.

Since MS seems to have wrecked havoc on my memory and my thought process, I struggle with figuring these kinds of things our.  I know the answers are all in my head, it is just getting them out and on paper.  Thank you Valerie Burton for these questions to help me (and you) find your stretch goal.  Answering these questions will help you (and me) find the inspiration to forge ahead and stick to the goal.  Who is ready to join me?

1. What vision feels just beyond your reach?

Are you great at helping others see their vision but you can’t see it for yourself even if you want it?  Yup, I’ve been there.  Do you want to double or triple your income?  Maybe you want to  explore your romantic streak or event your fun side. Do you dream of eating healthy, exercising and being at goal weight? The purpose of this goal is to not choose something realistic, but to choose something which feels beyond your reach — the one you think is as not really possible.  The truth is “it is possible”.  Do you have the faith to believe it? A stretch goal forces you to reach higher than you think you can. If you don’t have to stretch for it, it’s not big enough for this exercise.

2. What specific, measurable, and time-sensitive goal would bring you closer to that vision?

Now for the fun part where we get specific about the goal. Make it vivid. Describe it in a way you can measure your progress so you know when you have reached the finish line. And most importantly, give yourself a deadline. You know what happens when there’s no deadline, right? It’s always something you’ll start tomorrow. Before you know it, a year has passed and you set the same goal again!   Sort of like those New Year’s Resolutions.  We make them at the beginning of the year with no specific time frame in mind.  A year is a long time when you don’t have a plan.  Here is an example: “I’m going to have more fun and truly enjoy my life rather than treating every activity like a burden” is a great vision (not mine). You could break it down by saying, “I am going to travel for pleasure more. Once every three months I am going to take a fun trip, even if it’s just a weekend road trip somewhere adventurous. And my first trip will be four weeks from now.”

3. Who will you tell?

Make yourself accountable.  Don’t keep your vision and goal to yourself. Tell somebody. Actually,  tell EVERYONE who is a supportive person in your life. Negative people may throw water on your passion and excitement: “Are you sure?” “That sounds hard.” “You’ve never done that before!” You don’t need doubters to fill your head with negativity.  Find someone encouraging, they might even want to join you. Chances are if you keep it to yourself, you will  quietly drop the goal if you don’t achieve it. Commit to it. Declare it out loud. When we  share our plans with others, it is far more likely you’ll actually carry it out.

So, are you going to stop playing it safe?  Are you going to STRETCH????  Share your goal with us, so we can celebrate and encourage you along the way.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Penny Wise, Dollar Foolish

Penny wise and dollar foolish is a saying I have heard since I was little.  I will admit, it has been me on occasion – okay, maybe more occasions then I care to admit!  🙂

Halfway through the year and starting a new fiscal year at Thirty One this month is when review my goals and my finances.  Doing it mid-year check helps me keep things in balance or get back on track if I have wavered.

Life with MS (#MSwillnotdefineme) has been interesting to say the least.  No excuses, just the realization processing things doesn’t work unless I have a system.  A system to stay on track with bills.  A system to work my business.  Admittedly, the the money system faltered some in the first few months but I have grabbed the bull by the horns and am back on track with a new plan.

I hate to admit I am still learning money matters in my 60’s, but there are a few things I wish I had learned in my 20’s.  Learning is an ongoing process and I am determined not to give up on my goal.

#1 A bigger and better job doesn’t mean you get to spend more.  By keeping your costs the same when you increase your salary you’ll be able to save some.  I always thought more money meant I could spend more.  Silly me!

#2 Never spend more than what comes in.  And limit your cards to the lowest amount possible. This has been the toughest for this recovering addict to conquer. 

#3 Pay off any debt first.  Pay your credit card debt as soon as possible, those high interests won’t be doing you any good. Then once they are paid off DON”T use them anymore.

 

#4 Student loans on autopilot.  Students loans usually have a really small interest rate so make regular, steady payments to pay off your loan and it’ll soon be a thing of the past.  Check out too if you are eligible for a “forgiveness program”.  Make 120 payments on time & the balance of your loan is forgiven.  Works for the kids but not the parents.

#5 Build a back-up.  YES, saving is still important even if you have debt.  Make sure you always have a few hundred set aside for unexpected costs and bills.

#6 Insuring yourself is essential.  A crashed laptop, unforeseen doctors bill or stolen bike can wreak financial havoc if you’re not insured. The cost per month will pay off in the long run for any unexpected mishaps.

#7 Set long term goals to help you focus on what you really want. Figure out how much you’re gonna need and start saving now.

#8 Monetize your talent if you can.  Write blogposts, take photographs or try to monetize your special skills as (additional) income.  I have been a crafter for as long as I can remember.  I just wish I had of saved some of that money.

 

#9 Think about retirement.  This is especially important if you are your own boss.  Sadly, I learned too late it’s essential to put away money for the future.

#10 Lastly, here is a marvelous piece of advice given by StickleyMan on Thought Catalog. It’s reaaaaaally good.

Take some more chances. You know that idea that’s been ruminating in the back of your mind for years? That one that doesn’t have anything to do with your job or your mortgage. That one that falls outside your schema of living and routine and that you shrug off as some immature or impractical idea; as just some silly fantasy. Maybe it’s a crazy business idea or a trip to go live in a hut in India for three months or to breed Pygmy hippos or to become a juggling street performer. Whatever it is, explore it. Maybe even try it. I don’t mean take a stupid, life-threatening risk. I’m not suggesting a trying a lifestyle of meth addiction and bare-knuckle Fight Clubs. But something outside your comfort zone. Try it. Maybe you’ll fail miserably at it. But just try it. Because in about a decade when you’re responsible for more things and more people, you won’t be able to. And you’ll find yourself in a self-imposed mental prison of ‘what-ifs’. And take it for someone who didn’t because I was too scared, too embroiled in my own insecurities and addictions, and so heavily conditioned to fear failure – you’ll wish you did.

Any cash lessons you learned in the past year? Tell us in the comments, we’d love to hear how you spend and save.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

What was I trying to say?

Have you ever been in the middle of a sentence and forgot what you were going to say?  Or maybe you want to use a word in a conversation but can’t think of it? Or maybe even use the wrong word the wrong way?  Or better yet, have someone say something and you are clueless on what the meaning is of a word so you don’t understand what they said.  I know everyone has it happen on occasion, right?
This past month has been a struggle to find the right words from writing my blog to talking to people to even working with customers in my business.  I usually can play off not remembering the names of products or prints when talking to customers – I mean I know what the best product is to solve their particular need, I just can’t remember the name of the product.  I may remember customer’s faces but 99% of the time, I can’t remember their name.  Then there are those moments when hubby tells a joke and then has to explain it because I didn’t process any of the words.
Why am I tell you all of this? It has been awhile since I shared about my struggle with MS.  On the outside everything seems to be great while on the inside there is a never ending struggle to keep my life the same as it always has been.
Okay, back to words…..
We all use words ALL the time.  From speaking to thinking them in our head or writing them down on scraps of paper. Not a day goes by without the use of words. My words seem to come out all mixed up.  It is like someone poured all the words in my head into a blender and then dumped the chopped up words on a table. Some where along the lines, the words get lost. 

Thankfully when I write, I can proofread and wait before I hit send on an email or post on social media..  Otherwise, my sentences would have words which don’t belong or the sentence would ramble on forever.  The scary part for me is when I talk. I will say something and then pause for a moment wondering “What did I just say?”.  Most people are polite and just smile if what I said makes no sense.  While others will question what I said or meant which causes more frustration for me.  Then there are those times when I “thought” I said something or asked for help with something only to find out the words never actually came out of my mouth.  UGH!!!

I hear everything correctly in my head but the words coming out of my mouth…well, they aren’t the ones I was thinking.  It’s crazy how the filter between my brain and fingers, or my brain and mouth, seems to get things all mixed up.  Even when I am trying to read aloud from a piece of paper – my tongue seems to have a mind of its own.   I wonder if there’s a replacement filter I can install? They make filters for the car which is replaced after so many miles of use. My air filter in my office gets replaced after some many months.  Our water filter gets replaced every 6 months.  Maybe I can get a filter replacement for my brain?

I thought auto correct was the solution.  WRONG!  Auto correct messes me up even more. It rewrites my words into different words and inserts random words into sentences which has nothing to do with what I’m trying to say. The end result – I get more confused then I already was.  Is that possible?

Life with Multiple Sclerosis. I’m learning to laugh about situations or at least be honest and tell people what is happening.  No, I don’t look like I have MS.  This crazy disease is playing havoc on the inside of my body – messing with my words, making my arms and legs constantly tingle and robbing me of my memories.

There are many auto-immune diseases out there which play havoc with people on the inside while their outside appears to be “normal”.  Maybe not to them because they are living with the craziness of their disease.  So the next time someone stumbles on their words, says something totally out of wack in a conversation or seems clueless in a conversation – have some patience for you never know what may be happening on the inside.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!