Thursday, September 26, 2013

Networking for Success

Principle 25 of Jack Canfield's book 'The Principles of Success' is titled 'Drop out of the Ain't if Awful Club and Surround Yourself with Successful People.' It begins with a great quote from Jim Rohn, a self-made millionaire and author. His quote simply states "You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with."

Really think about who you spend the most time with - friends, family, workers. It really is true that you start to think and act like the people you are around most of the time. So, while I hope to see myself as someone who can help and inspire other women to achieve their dream of running their own business, I realize that I must also search out and find women who have already attained the level of success that I am aspiring to. It goes full circle.

I currently don't have anyone in my life that I can talk to about running my business. Any ideas I get are from searching on the internet or reading books. That can be so limiting and, truth be told, also lonely. I want to discuss ideas, get motivated, and share successes with women who are also striving to run their own businesses. I want to hear their stories, not just rehash my own in my head every day! :-)

There is a great website called It advertises itself as the world's largest network of local groups. They make it easy for anyone to organize a local group or find one of the thousands already meeting up face-to-face. More than 9,000 groups get together in local communities each day, each one with the goal of improving themselves or their communities.

The process is easy - you just enter your city and your interest. I entered Womens Business Networking and there were probably over 100 groups that showed up. While many did not fit the criteria I was looking for, I did find two that looked like they could be very interesting and beneficial for me to join. Both are geared to women entrepreneurs running their own businesses; meetings are created to network, provide motivation, and learn skills for succeeding in business - exactly what I'm looking for!

Over the course of the next 2 weeks, I will attend meetings for these two groups to see if this is something that will benefit me. I'm looking forward to getting out and expanding myself - a bit out of my comfort zone, but that's the only way to grow.

How do you get inspired and motivated in your business?
Do you have a network of business professionals to draw upon for feedback and ideas?
Have you tried to join networking groups? If so, did it work for you?

Friday, September 20, 2013

Are You A Business Or A Hobby?

Whenever I have an issue and I'm unsure of the course of action I should take, I always first ask myself this one important question "Am I a business or a hobby?". The answer to that question is, of course, a business. Usually just that one simple reminder gives me the right course of action to take. If you were a customer, what would you expect from a business?

I see sellers on the Etsy forums all the time asking questions that show they clearly haven't yet made the mental leap from hobby to business. For example, I see this one issue come up time and time again - the package that got lost in the mail. Usually, the Etsy seller will come on the forum and ask what they should do. Often times, the tracking shows that the package has been delivered, but the customer is stating that they haven't received it. This does happen from time to time. It has happened to me a handful of times in the 5 years that I've been selling on-line. If you consider yourself a legitimate business, the answer is obvious - you either refund the customer or send another package. Do you lose some money in the process? Yes, you do. But, that is the cost of doing 'business'.

However, this does go both ways. I also see Etsy sellers coming to the forums because they are being 'bullied' by a customer. A customer is making unreasonable demands and threatening to leave bad feedback if the seller doesn't comply. Again, you ask yourself if you are a business or a hobby. A business doesn't allow itself to be bullied by going against their own policies just because a customer threatens them. It's always good practice to bend your policies to give good customer service as needed, but it's not necessary to always succumb to demands that are not core to your business values. We all want good feedback and should always strive to deliver the best product and customer service, but one bad feedback isn't going to ruin your business and you must always trust your own judgment. It's ok to say no and risk losing a sale when it doesn't feel right.

Next time you are faced with a difficult situation, first ask yourself if you are a business or a hobby. That will usually lead you to the correct action.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

How Do You Present Your Business to Others?

I have an acquaintance that I talk to you every so often. One of the first things she always asks me (in this exact phrase) is 'How is your little side business going?'. She's a really nice person and I know she is genuinely asking me in a nice way about my jewelry business, but it has always grated on me whenever she asks. It makes me feel like she is being condescending and belittling, although I know that is not her intention. Last time she asked, I sort of bristled and said 'Well, it's not so little anymore.' Then I moved on to another subject.

During one of my morning walks, I started thinking about this exchange of words and I immediately became agitated at her comment/question. I then thought back to the times when I've mentioned my jewelry business to strangers or someone I meet briefly and they say something like "Oh how nice! I bought my 8 year niece a jewelry making kit - it's so cute." (or something similar). I'm sure we've all been on the receiving end of these comments. We know that the people delivering these blows to our ego don't intentionally mean to be snide or rude, but it still comes off that way, or at least that's the way we feel.

But then I had a sudden epiphany. It wasn't her fault that she refers to my business as 'little' and 'side'. It's my fault! I must obviously be conveying that message to her otherwise she wouldn't have that image. In fact, each time she asks that question I only reinforce her belief by quickly changing the subject. I then realized that I do that all the time. If someone asks me a question about my business, I usually make a brief statement that it's going well and then I move on to something else. I don't really like talking about myself and I feel that talking about my business would be boring to others and if I mention how happy I am and that my sales are good, they'll think I'm boasting.

Also, if I meet someone and they ask what I do for a living, I always mention my day job as a software manager. I don't even bring up my jewelry business. Part of the reason is that I'm protecting myself from the usual 'Oh, how nice...' comment that often comes. But, I also still have trouble parting from my identity as a corporate professional. I worked hard to get my college degree and have worked in the corporate world for a long time. It's hard to change gears sometimes. It's been who I am for so long that I have a hard time switching over to business owner. But if I don't take myself seriously, how can I expect someone else to?

So, next time someone asks me how my business is going, I'm going to respond like this:
'It's going great! My sales have been steadily increasing and I'm really excited with the direction my company is taking. I've been asked to participate on some other retail sites, so I'm really looking forward to these new venues. I've added some new product lines and they have been really well received. I'm on my way to achieving my dream of quitting my day job and pursuing this full-time!'.

Now, isn't that so much better! Why haven't I done that before?

The next time I meet someone and they ask me what I do, I'll respond this way:
'I'm the owner of Theresa Rose Designs - I sell my handcrafted jewelry design on-line. I specialize in affordable handmade silver and gold jewelry and have been growing it steadily over the last 5 years. Lately, I've been really growing with bridal and personalized custom jewelry, which has been an exciting new venture for me. I'm also now starting to branch out onto some new internet sites, so it's been really exciting.'

I now can't wait for someone to ask me about my business!

Is this common? Do most of us have a tendency to downplay our business achievements? Are we sometimes too wrapped up in our identities as mothers, wives, corporate professionals, etc. that we don't give ourselves the same recognition as independent business owners?

I'm sure I'm not alone in this mode of thinking. I think many of us do this unconsciously and it doesn't serve us well. I am going to work on presenting myself and my business more enthusiastically. I wonder how many opportunities have passed me by because I gave the impression that I wasn't serious about my business.

What do you think? How do you present yourself to others when asked about your business?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Finding My Purpose

We all question our purpose in life at some point in our lives - sometimes many times in our life.

Lately I've been really thinking about what my purpose is supposed to be here in this lifetime. We often read about people doing amazing things - building schools for the under privileged, feeding the hungry, etc.
Whenever I meditated on this subject, I kept going back to my jewelry business, which to be perfectly honest, was really frustrating! It felt so trivial. While other people are actually making a big difference in world, I'm making handmade jewelry. I just didn't get it. I felt like I should apologize for my seemingly materialistic calling. What the heck?

About a month ago, during my morning walk (you'll hear me often refer to this walk because this is when I seem to get my best inspiration), I decided to stop fighting my inner voice and accept what I kept going back to - that my jewelry business was, in some way, my purpose in life. I decided to 'go with the flow' and see what happened. I can say that I was immediately relieved and enthusiastic. Rather than fight my inner voice, I was going to get on with what made me happy - living my dream of running my own jewelry design business.

I think it was later that week that I came across the book 'The Success Principles' (synchronicity, perhaps?). I downloaded it onto my Kindle and committed myself to reading one principle per day and working on obtaining my dream of a successful business - no more apologizing to myself for not taking the time to cure world hunger or find the cure to cancer. I was going to go full board into my business.

Very quickly into the book, I came upon Principle #2 - 'Be Clear Why You're Here' - aka - find your purpose. This book has an exercise to determine your purpose. The steps are as follows:

1. List two of your unique personal qualities. I chose 'creativity' and 'intuition'.
2. List ways you enjoy expressing those qualities when interacting with others. I chose to 'help', 'support', inspire, and 'mentor'.
3. Assume the world is perfect right now. What does it look like? I chose 'everyone was pursuing their own dreams and living the life they want - working in a way that expresses themselves and enjoying their time.
4. Combine them into one statement.

So, within 10 minutes. I had it. Here is my purpose:
My purpose is to use my creativity and intuition to help, mentor, and inspire other women who want to live their dreams of running their own business.

It suddenly made so much sense! Every time I spoke about my business to other women and they exclaimed how much they wished they could ditch the 9 to 5 job and do the same thing, I would enthusiastically encourage them.

I get so excited when I read my purpose (which I do every day). It inspires me and motivates me to do my best. I guess that's how I know that it is right for me.

Perform this exercise on your own - what do you come up with? Are you surprised or does it make sense to you?

I'm not sure yet how I will go about serving this purpose. I hope this blog is a start and will blossom into other ideas as time goes on. I will take it one day at a time, work on my own business and see what transpires.

I feel very strongly that it's important to have a support system when you venture out on your own and pursue your passion. Women are great about supporting each other and lending an ear when others need to vent or need feedback on an idea. I hope this blog can help in that way. I welcome comments and a regular dialog.

What is going on in your business? Are you already well established, just starting out or are you still contemplating making that leap into independence?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Purpose of This Blog

I haven't posted to my blog for quite a long time (as my daughter pointed out to me a couple of weeks ago!). I have a few posts partially written, but haven't had the motivation to finish them. I've struggled with this blog, wondering what to write about that may be interesting to other people - then I realized the answer has been so obvious all along. From now on I'm dedicating my blog to running my own business. Truth be told, one of the reasons I haven't been writing lately is that business has really taken off in the last month. I spend the majority of my day making and selling my handcrafted jewelry, exactly what I want to be doing! So, I feel like I'm really living my dream.

But, there's always been a pull for me to continue this blog and I now know why. I've always felt like my jewelry business has been part of a path to something more. I've never known what that meant, I just felt it deep inside of me - until a few weeks ago. I finally figured it out and it all makes sense. This is what I will continue to blog about.

There's so much I want to share and write. I want to help other people realize their dream of running their own business. There's a good reason why my business is suddenly growing and if I can help other people achieve their dreams, then it has served its purpose - and so have I.

I will be writing regularly about the changes I'm making - what's working and what's not working.

If you are reading this and want to be successful in running your own business, I highly suggest purchasing the book 'The Success Principles' by Jack Canfield. I am currently using this book and it is highly effective! My blogs will often be centering around the concepts that I'm learning and utilizing straight from this book.

My next post will be about how I found my purpose in life. I know that sounds a little dramatic, but it's actually what set this whole thing in motion - and I truly believe it's exactly what you need to do to be successful. The book actually shows you how to figure out your purpose and it can be very eye-opening. It's not always what you think.

Until next time...