Business Tips and Tricks

Strategies of Being Self-Employed

Sitting at my desk this morning struggling on what to write about….. I don’t have many days like this but I am grateful for A LOT of past posts to go back and rewrite or tweak.  Today is one of those days….  I wrote the original post in 2014.  It seems like a lifetime ago.

 

2014 was a busy year for me…. my Thirty One business was thriving and I was working a J.O.B. part time.  I think back to why I wanted to work for myself – in the beginning, oh so many years ago, I thought it would be fun to turn a hobby into making money.  Work when I want, do something I love which at the time was making premature baby clothes and the success would happen.  I never really thought about the business side of things.  It was my first learning lesson in owning my own business.  BUT the dream to be my own boss never died…

There were may other self-employment attempts which worked for a season…. let’s fast forward to today… today, my reason for being my own boss is so different.  I need to be able to make my own hours, I want to make money at something I love, and I need to have the flexibility to work when I can since my MS seems to decide to flare up at the worst times..  Being my own boss allows me to be available for family too.  It has allowed me to pay off old credit card debt.  It is a blessing I am truly grateful for.

Over the last year or so, I have split my time between my Thirty One business and my craft business ” Angels by Hope”.  I will always be a Thirty One girl but I struggle with providing the same quality customer service I did in past years.  Lists no longer seem to help and I get confused easily.  So hard to keep up with all of the amazing prints, products and specials.  My angels, on the other hand, have allowed me a creative outlet to move at my own pass.  I make angels, people buy them.  On occasion I get an order or two and can quickly get them out.  On days I struggle – I do nothing knowing I have stock to carry me through my next show.

I have heard many say “I want to be my own boss” or “I want my own business”.  They quickly join the direct sales bandwagon only to find out it takes work.  YUP!  Yes, your product may be amazing and sell itself.  Yes, the first few months are awesome because everyone wants to help you BUT what happens when friends and family stop buying to “help out”?  Many give up but there are some great strategies to help you build a successful business.

A blog on self-employed.com about “flexible strategies for the self-employed” had some great tips.  I’m not sure if they work for everyone but check them out and let us know what you think.

#1 – Strategize Your Time

Are you attached to your mobile device?  Are you a multi-tasker?  Believe it is or not, it could definitely be a problem.  I am forever sneaking in time to check my phone while waiting in line at the store.  Some would say this is great time management….. BUT since my business relies on connecting with other people, I can’t really connect when my head buried in my phone in the checkout line, right?  It is possible to “kill two birds with one stone” but be aware of your surroundings.

#2 Work Anywhere, Anytime

Inspiration can strike at any time. Are you able to leverage the motivation into something tangible? Keep this in perspective.  Being inspired is AWESOME but working all of the time, is not.  Make a note of things, take a picture but you don’t want to be remembered as the one who missed out on XYZ because you were working.

#3 Access to Everything, Everywhere

Do you use the cloud?   I am a MAC girl but I definitely am still learning how to use the cloud.  The idea of the cloud or Google Drive is you have the freedom to access your computer, no matter where you are, near or far.  Some days, I am grateful I don’t have access as I am sure my family is so I stop working and treasure the moments with them.

Your business is flexible, not optional#4 Flexible Living

Don’t use work as an excuse to not partake in the joys of life. Say “yes” and then figure out a strategy to make it happen. Isn’t this the main reason we all wanted to have our own business…

So, what are your thoughts on being self-employed – the good, the bad and the ugly?  Share them with us..

Have a blessed day!

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday: Mistakes

A mistake is defined as “an action or judgment that is misguided or wrong.” .  We have all made them from the little ones to the ones which wreck our lives or those around us.  Do you think of them as leaning lessons and are grateful for the mistake?  OR do you beat yourself up swearing to never do anything “stupid” like that again?

I will admit, depending on the mistake – I can go between the two.  No matter how you handle the mistake, you are not alone. It’s likely all of us have repeated some of our mistakes at one time or another and reacted differently each time.  The truth is if we never made mistakes, we wouldn’t learn much so it is one of those things we should be thankful for.

The good news is, you can learn from your mistakes. Then, instead of repeating them again, you’ll gain valuable wisdom to help you in the future.

1. Acknowledge Your Errors

Regardless of the size of the mistake or who it has effected,  you have to accept full responsibility for your role in what happened.  You need to ask yourself, “What role did I play in this?”.  The answer can be uncomfortable sometimes (okay, maybe most of the time), but you need to own your part.  Once you have said “I messed up,”  you can start to learn from it.  This is all part of changing and hopefully, not making the same mistake again.

2. Ask Yourself Tough Questions

You don’t want to dwell on your mistakes (this is a tough one for me) BUT reflecting on them can be productive. I don’t know about you but when I dwell on mistakes, I tend to beat myself up a little bit.  So, if you ask yourself these tough questions, it can turn a bashing session into a productive one:

  • What went wrong?
  • What could I do better next time?
  • What did I learn from this?

Write down your responses and you’ll see the situation a little more clearly. Seeing your answers on paper can help you think more logically about an irrational or emotional experience.  Let’s face it, we have all had them at one time.

3. Make A Plan

Beating yourself up for your mistakes won’t help you down the road.  It’s important to spend the bulk of your time thinking about how to do better in the future.  Make a plan to help avoid making a similar mistake. Be as detailed as possible but remain flexible since your plan may need to change  No matter how you track your progress, find a way to hold yourself accountable.  Remember what works for one person might not work with someone else.

4. Make It Harder To Mess Up

How will you be sure not to mess up again?  Does willpower alone prevent you from taking an unhealthy shortcut or from giving into immediate gratification (I want what I want when I want it). Increase your chances of success by making it harder to mess up again. Find creative ways to become more disciplined. If using credit cards is your struggle – cut up the cards or freeze them.  Yup, in a big block of ice.  Whenever you try to thaw the block of ice, you will realize how ridiculous the situation is and stop spending money you don’t have.

5. Create A List Of Reasons Why You Don’t Want To Make The Mistake Again

We all have weak moments and the next thing you know, we have made the same mistake again!  Why not create a list of all the reasons why you should stay on track and be self-disciplined,  you can refer to during tough times. Put the list some place where you can see it – if shopping is a problem, put the list in your wallet next to your debit/credit cards.  If flirting on social media is a thing, post your list on your computer so when you start scrolling or are tempted you see the list.  Is it a guarantee?  NO but it may help you to resist the temptation.  Self-discipline is like a muscle. Each time you delay gratification and make a healthy choice, you grow mentally stronger.

Mistakes aren’t always one big blunder. Sometimes, they are a series of little choices leading to failure.  So pay attention to your mistakes, no matter how big or how small they might seem. Recognize each mistake can be an opportunity to build mental muscle and become better.

Have a blessed day!

Business Tips and Tricks

How to Find Balance with Vacation Veronica

Today is the last day of school for many so enter Vacation Veronica.  You have consistently been working your business and along comes the “Double J” months.  The kids are on vacation.  The pool is calling.  The sun is enticing you.  Those inner gremlins taunt you with “you deserve a break”, “you worked hard” or “no one wants to shop during the summer”.  Yup, we have all heard or thought those things, right?  What will it hurt to take a few weeks off?  I will jump right back in when the kids are back in school.  Been there, done that and the results were not pretty.

Summer living is easy, at least here at the Jersey shore unless you are fighting traffic from all of the “shoobies”.  Pools, picnics, gardening, homemade ice cream, life at the beach, on the lake, and the lazy days of summer are what we want our lives to be full of, right?

Most adults have to work a JOB, so all of the fun summer things are squeezed into weekends or vacation.  For those who have their own business, there are BIG choices to make. Sometimes, it is hard to remember our “business is flexible, not optional”, especially if you want to get paid!

I know it is the end of June and we still have the whole summer to go, right?  What are you going to do with your business?

Have you mentally put your business on hold?  Are you going to do it all summer?  Sure you can BUT how is it going to effect your customers, your team, and maybe even your company.

We often talk about “vacations” during the holiday months, right?  I can’t be the only one who finds it hard to work between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  We tend to take a “holimonth instead of a holiday”. Not good for your business then and certainly not good during the summer.

Think about the excuses everyone has about not working their business during the year:

  • July/August – Summer time is vacation time, fun time. Who wants to work when everyone else is enjoying summer fun
  • September/October – Back to School and sports
  • November/December – holiday times.
  • January – No one has any money because they spent it all on gifts
  • April  – Easter or Spring Break
  • June – Graduations, weddings, end of school year parties, etc.

Do you see the pattern?  So, if you don’t have a plan, you can end up working your business maybe two months out of the year.  I don’t know about you but I definitely would have to work 24/7 to make sure I made enough money to pay the bills all year long.  No one says you can’t enjoy lots of vacation time when you have your own business, you just need to have a plan.

Here are the 5W’s of Direct Sales which helped me keep “Vacation Veronica” away:

  1. WHO will I share this with? Who will have my next show?
  2. WHAT do I want my business to provide for me? What is my vision? What difference do I want to make in this world?
  3. WHEN will I make time for my work and for my family?
  4. WHERE will I be in one year? Where is my time best spent right now?
  5. WHY am I really doing this? WHY does this bring me joy?

When I keep the answers to these questions in front of me, Vacation Veronica doesn’t have a chance to get me sidetracked. I am not saying we don’t all need a break but let’s put it in perspective. If you owned your own store-front and took a month off, don’t you think it would be hard to get back into the swing of things. What if you work a full-time job and took a month off? Would you want to go back to work and when you did, wouldn’t you still have vacation brain?

When you imagine your summer, think about what you want, and create an intentional plan.

Here’s to hoping Vacation Veronica doesn’t linger long at my house or yours.  Take a break and enjoy your family and friends but don’t neglect your business.  If you had a store front, you wouldn’t close for 2 weeks would you?  So why should you close your direct sales business for 2 weeks unless you are fully booked for the next 2 months – even then, I am not sure I would stop working my business.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Unclutter Your Life

Need Help Achieving Your Goal?

Yesterday we talked about “drawing a line in the sand”, hitting reset when we are stuck. Each month I set goal in my business – some months I struggle while others I knock it out of the park.  I am one of those always looking for the next coaching opportunity to help me get through a rough spot.  Did you know you, can actually coach yourself?

Thank you Valerie Burton for sharing these seven questions and inspiring me to troubleshoot some of my own challenges.  I’m not saying business coaching is not necessary or helpful but sometimes we can work through the challenges on our own to help us grow and move out of our comfort zone.  Let’s get started:

1. What are your three most important values?

Values are the concepts and principles you feel are most important – what you value in your life. For example, one of my values is caring/ concern for others. Taking care of others has always been important in my life.  I always wanted my own business because I wanted to make a difference in the lives of others – from the early days making premature baby clothes till now – caring for others is always in the forefront.  Research says we stick to our goals when they revolve around our values. Not sure what your values are?  CLICK HERE for a link to some examples.  What are your three most important values?

2. What goal would best reflect those values?

Once you know your values, think about your goals and ask, “Does this goal reflect what I value?” If it doesn’t reflect them at all, then it may be time to drop the goal. If the goal reflects a little, tweak it so it represents what matters most to you. When you make your goal more meaningful, you increase the likelihood you will persevere until you reach it.

3. What are the measurable signs I’ve reached my goal?

We have all heard of S.M.A.R.T. goals, right?  The bottom line is your goal should be very specific. For example, my goal to goal weight.  A more specific version of this goal could be, “I’m going to lose a pound a week for the next 3 months.” It is a goal you can measure at a doable pace. It becomes about you consistently changing small habits to be successful. With a specific goal, you are able to get very specific about what you need to do in order to achieve it.

4. What skill do I need to acquire in order to be able to reach my goal?

I dream big – some would say too big.  What about you?  If you dream big and you haven’t reached your goal yet, maybe there is a good reason.  Maybe you don’t have the skill set to fully achieve your goal.  Don’t get discouraged! Acquiring the right skills can become a goal to help you reach your goal. Why “acquire” instead of “learn”?  Sometimes you need to personally learn the skills and sometimes you need to find someone who has the skill so they can help you reach your goal.  You might hire someone to help you or team up with a partner, or it maybe have a conversation with someone who understands what it takes to reach the goal. “Be honest with yourself ” about the skills you need to reach your goal.

5. What is my game plan for handling a setback on my way to the goal?

Let’s face it, we will have setbacks. There will be disappointments. There may be failures along the way.  What happens when I don’t lose the pound a week or when my business calendar is not full?  Are you ready for them or are you convinced it will never happen?  SMACK!  We need a game plan so 1) it’s not a surprise because you’ve already planned for it, and 2) you already know what to do. Think ahead and ask yourself: “How will I handle a setback so I bounce back quickly and keep moving forward?”

6. Who is the best person(s) to give me feedback on my progress?

Feedback or accountability is necessary for success. Talk to someone who is objective, someone who can look at your work and say, “I’ve been there, done that and here’s what will work.” Remember the old saying “Iron sharpens iron”?  Ask and willing accept help from those who understand the process.

7. What is an alternative path to my goal?

Do you have a list of action steps and think there is only one way to achieve your goal?  Guess what?  You need to be flexible. Your path might not be the path meant to be used to reach the goal. Be open to an alternative path if your path is not working. Be flexible and creative, and sooner than not, you’ll arrive at your finish line.

What is your goal and does it reflect your values?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

 

So You Want to be a Leader?

Throwback Thursday: So You Want to be a Leader?

June starts a new “fiscal year” with Thirty One and I am sure it is the same with many direct sales companies.  It is when I start looking back, not just at the past year but at my journey. It is when I start setting goals for myself for the new year.

Thirty One is offering an incredible opportunity right now….a chance to earn FREE Fall products AND up to $5000 in Disney bucks.

I love this incentive because the focus is on sharing the gift of Thirty One, NOT becoming a leader.  For some the word leader is scary.  I have heard it a million times, “I don’t want to be a leader”, “I don’t have the time”, “I won’t know what to do”, and the list goes on.  The BIGGEST tip I have given my team is: just share the gift of Thirty One and stop focusing on whether or not you will (or won’t) be a leader.  Have fun.  Help others. Share the excitement and the love.  The rest will fall into place.

This is a blog I wrote back in June, 2013.  I had only been a Director with Thirty One for about 8 months.  The thing is, this is still true today:

I never thought of myself as a leader, let alone a great leader.  I have always been a “behind” the scenes girl.  When attention was drawn to the work I did, I backed away and gave credit to bosses or those on my team, anyone else but me since I did not like being in the spotlight.  When I made the official decision to go into leadership with my Direct Sales company – the thought terrified me (and still does sometimes).  What did I know about being a leader?  I didn’t want to let anyone down – my up-line, my team, my family or friends.   I have been a “people pleaser” most of my life, a follower and not a leader.   

An interesting quote by Direct Selling Education Foundation said “the more others respect you as a leader, the more successful your business will be.”  

Here are some basic tips to help you to be a LEADER:

  1. Keep your word.  This is a basic concept for life.  If you give someone your word, it should mean something.
  2. Be inclusive, welcoming and make others feel safe.  If you do not get this kind of support from you company sponsor or director, find someone in the company who makes you feel this way.  I have been blessed with an AMAZING Sponsor (National Executive Director) Hope Shortt.  I want to be like her when I grow up.  Yes, I am much older than her but she is a leader I would follow to the ends of the earth.  I want my team to feel the same way. 
  3. Encourage creative thinking.  This used to be hard for me, in my years in the non-profit world, as a Program Director.  I lacked confidence in myself so it was difficult to encourage creative thinking in my staff.  As I grew, so did they and so did my ability to encourage “outside of the box” thinking.  I encourage my team to build their business with a solid foundation of company standards (home parties, etc) and then get creative.  Make their business – THEIR business.  Stand out from the crowd. 
  4. Allow people to share ideas and concerns.  My early management style was a dictator.  Fear, low self-esteem and lack of confidence had me instilling marshall law. As I got, older and squashed the inner gremlins, I learned to temper my demands and be open to suggestions.  I had a potential recruit come to a team training and share how she felt with my current party style.  It was not pretty.  WOW! In a room full of other consultants, it was a hard pill to swallow.  I listened and thanked her for her suggestions.  Yes, I quickly changed my party style so everyone is having fun (or at least I hope so).
  5. Support others and help them grow.  I tell everyone who joins my team, they not only get their kit but they get me.  I am there to help them in good times and bad.  It isn’t just about MY income or MY goals but it is about helping them reach their dreams – big or small.     
  6. Maintain an exciting and fun atmosphere.  In my past life, this was tough for me.  I was insecure and thought too much fun was a sign of bad management.  Over time, I found it was important to have a place people enjoyed working and coming to every day.  My team tells me all of the time – You are crazy!  I like to make things fun for them, get them excited and then they share the excitement with their customers and their teams.
  7. Hold others accountable for their actions.  I was a tough boss in the workplace but EVERYONE got treated the same – good or bad.  As a leader In direct sales, I struggle with holding my team accountable for their actions/ goals.  I am always afraid they will perceive it as being all about me (and my paycheck) instead of hemming them attain their goals.  I will alway encourage them and help them along the way. 

As I have said before, I originally fell into leadership (as a Senior Consultant) but then I made a conscious decision to be a leader.  I do a little each week to work on my personal development.  I know  if I focus on overcoming my challenges as a leader, I will be able to be a more effective one for my team.  What qualities do you think make a good leader?

Have a ThirtyOne -derful day!