Passion: Motivational Energy For Life & Business

Passion is the internal source of energy that we can tap into to achieve our goals!

Motivated EntrepreneursTwo of the most powerful sources of personal energy are passion and need. We’re internally driven to pursue the things in life that we require and those that we deeply desire in order to be happy and fulfilled. Our needs are fairly common, but our passions are as unique as our fingerprints. Passion is the energy source within each of us that is activated when our strongest interests are engaged.

Have you ever noticed that there are certain activities that inspire and energize you, while others drain your inner battery and make you feel run down? When something ignites our passion, we become interested, engaged, focused and highly motivated. Each of us possesses the capacity to experience passion, but few of us find the keys to activate it in a consistent and meaningful way. Tapping into your passion is the one true way to find fulfillment in your career, business and life.

If you do not have passion then you are basically just going through the motions. Passion is what drives you to pursue your purpose. It’s what keeps a smile on your face in the midst of adversity. The desire that burns and inflames your heart becomes the fuel that enables you to withstand whatever each day may bring. Most people can’t tell you the exact day that they lost interest in their job or business. That’s because when passion has burned out, it’s not immediately noticeable.

Motivation and enthusiasm can leak out of a person like air seeping out of a tire and all of a sudden, without warning, you are depleted of energy and have a hard time withstanding pressure. Remember, your strength is in the passion found inside of you. Connecting with your passion is important for your health, both mental and physical. And it is especially important for the work that you do. You are unlikely to be successful in a business or career if your batteries are depleted or if your energy reserves are seldom fired up.

In today’s business world, identifying your personal passion and developing work and life goals that tap this motivational energy source is a priority. In fact, defining your passion and determining how to capitalize on this internal power is one of the major challenges faced by entrepreneurs and professionals. Unleashing your potential is predicated on finding your passions. The key to having energy and motivation for life and work is to discover what engages this inner potential.

What dream, what hope, or what goal empowers you to persevere? What is it that you want to accomplish before leaving this earth? What goal have you set for yourself, your business, or your career that excites you at the very thought of accomplishment? The power of your personal passion is what keeps you from being stifled by the frustrations and dissatisfaction that comes with work. When you lose your passion, you feel no intensity to be productive. You begin to ignore things that would usually capture your attention. You stop focusing on the details and the important items of each day.

Keep your heart sober and don’t allow yourself to become intoxicated by the challenges of work at your job or in your business. Passion is the key to controlling your destiny and achieving mastery in your personal and professional life. Search your heart to find the passion that has been placed within you and it will become the wellspring from which you draw the strength to keep on moving forward!

Be Brave, Bold & Brilliant!

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Building A Community Around Your Personal Brand

Brand CommunityCommunities Are The Life Force Of Every Brand

No matter how great your brand is or how much you have to offer potential customers or clients, without a community, your brand won’t gain visibility and it may become stagnant. One of the most effective ways to make yourself known as the expert in your field is to build a community of followers who can help spread the word about your products, services and expertise. Brand communities provide you with an opportunity to create significant brand and business value by engaging your followers and enhancing customer loyalty.

Brand communities are established around common interests and mutual needs, and they allow your clients (current and potential ones) to connect with each other. As you share your expertise and have meaningful dialogue within your brand community, your “fans” interact with each other and will also spread the word about you and your brand to others. Regardless of how much you promote your personal brand, without the power of a community, your brand will not reach its full potential.

Engaging your followers reinforces your personal brand and increases your credibility. The more people you attract to your community, the more people will talk about your brand and begin to see you as the “go-to” person in your field. However, building a personal brand community takes time and it isn’t as easy as it sounds. Here are some steps that you can take to start building a community around your brand.

  • Use Social Media to Meet Customer Needs: Use your social media platforms to “give” and “engage” as opposed to just selling. Social media is a great way to amass hundreds of thousands—even millions—of customers, but it will only happen through real engagement and meaningful interaction. People will buy from you once they get a feel for who you are, what you know and what you have to offer. When using social media, focus on answering the question, “Why would people form a community around your brand?” then devise a strategy based upon the answer.
  • Blog with a Distinct Purpose & Voice: Creating a blog is a great way to build a community for your brand. However, your blog should enlighten, educate, and ultimately – lead people somewhere. Don’t write blog posts just to share every thought that pops into your mind. Use your blog to create your own “voice” in the market around a particular topic or set of topics. Leverage your blog as a way to help people get to know who you are, what’s unique about you, and demonstrate your expertise on a specific subject.
  • Become a Great Storyteller: Everyone loves a good story – especially one that inspires, motivates or helps someone overcome a personal or professional challenge. Telling your story is the best way to let people know how you became the person that you are today and it gives people a glimpse into the real you. To build a community for your personal brand, something has to draw people to you and that generally happens when people are inspired to talk about you or share your story with others. Don’t be afraid to let people know how you’ve struggled to get to where you are. You can create a community with people who are inspired by your story.
  • Tap into the Power of Networking: People with notable brands nurture a network of contacts. There are undoubtedly a number of other experts in your particular niche and it’s critical to connect with other experts in order to gain knowledge and support from them. By connecting with other experts in your field, you can create relationships that will enhance your brand credibility and provide you with brand advocates. Real networking is about building relationships, genuine relationships.

Be Brave, Bold & Brilliant,

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Goals Are Dreams With Deadlines

Fulfilling Your Dream Is Easier When You Set Goals! 

Goals are dreams with deadlines!

 

Do you have a strategy for your business or career with specific goals? Do you wake up every morning focused on accomplishing those goals? Someone once told me that “Goals are dreams with deadlines”. Goals provide you with the energy that you need to keep moving towards your dream.

Reaching your business or career destination becomes much easier when you have clear goals that provide accurate direction. Goals help us to maintain our focus. Setting goals allows you to outline the steps that you need to take to accomplish your dreams. If making it through the year is all you expect and plan for, then that’s all you’re going to get. On the hand, if you set powerful, plausible goals that are aligned with your vision for success and balance them with day-to-day actions, you’re more likely to see great results.

Goals give you a target or something to aim for everyday and every year. We have to have goals because our dreams are so BIG and sometimes are dreams are also very broad. It can be overwhelming just thinking about our dreams – but if we take our dream and break it down into manageable, reasonable goals that we can work on each day – then getting to the finish line doesn’t seem quite so distant or so difficult.

Having goals also allows us to see and track our progress. By accomplishing stretch goals on a consistent basis, it will build your confidence and motivate you to keep pushing forward because you can see that you’re getting closer with every step that you take.

If you don’t have goals, tasks or action steps for each day and you wake up each morning and focus on your enormous dream – it can be exhausting and intimidating. It can even cause you to put your dream on hold and focus on something else – like going to a job each day that you hate, because it’s easier than trying to wrestle a Big Dream that feels insurmountable.

Start setting goals for your life, career and business. And make sure that your goals are reasonable, action-oriented, specific and most of all powerful! And by powerful – I mean transformative – not something that’s simple and already within your reach. Make sure that your goals stretch you and challenge you to reach your full potential and take you higher each and every day.

Be Brave, Bold & Brilliant,

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Success Takes Time – So Why Race Against The Clock?

Success Takes TimeSuccess takes time…literally. Almost everything that we want to have or accomplish in life takes time, such as building a business, losing weight, strengthening a marriage, getting a degree and climbing the corporate ladder. Our days are limited to 24 hours and we only have 7 days in a week.  We already know exactly how much time is available to us, so why does it always seem as if we’re “racing against the clock?” 

Well, even though we only have 24 hours in each day, we live in a world in which there are consistent expectations for us to accomplish more in those 24 hours than we did the year, month, week or day before. Our time doesn’t increase, but the demands placed upon us increase almost daily. We feel the pressure of time when there’s an imbalance between the demands placed upon us and the time that we have available to meet those demands.

Our globally connected society also contributes to the demands on our time. We are accessible anywhere and at any hour. This leads to working around the clock. Many people work from home, work while their having a meal, work while their watching TV, and even work while they’re on vacation.  The boundaries that used to exist between work, home and our social lives have almost been eliminated.

Demands upon our time also come in the form of information overload and the complexity of choosing between hundreds of options. We are bombarded with information all the time and from all directions.  Trying to keep up and stay on top of everything that comes our way is a time-consuming effort in and of itself.

Yet, because we don’t want to miss anything or get left behind, we labor to do it all.  In every second that the clock ticks, we continue to try and do it all, to review it all, to know it all and to buy it all – and rarely do we have the time to actually enjoy what we’re doing or what we have.

So is there a way to fulfill all of the demands placed upon us effectively and also enjoy the limited amount of time that we have?

Prioritizing your life and optimal management of your time is the key to leading an exceptional personal and professional life. The only way to master your time and be more productive is to concentrate on what’s really critical and important for your success. If success takes time– you will never be successful if you don’t learn how to optimize your time and prioritize your life? 

Optimizing your time starts with a shift in your mindset.  Here are 6 mindset adjustments that will help you to live a successful and stress free life:

  1.  Focus on working faster and smarter – not harder
  2. Take control of your day, delegate when needed, and don’t allow yourself to become overwhelmed
  3. Get comfortable saying “no”; if the task or activity does not move you closer to accomplishment of your goals
  4. Start each day with what’s critical, prioritize the balance of your day, and manage interruptions
  5. Stop procrastinating and start getting things done
  6. Consider time with your family and time for yourself to be sacred – no exceptions

 

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Be More Than Just Another Expert

Thought LeadersIn our highly competitive world, it is becoming harder and harder to stand out and be noticeable. Today, it is not enough to become a “speaker” or “coach” on a particular topic or niche. Nor is it enough to proclaim to be an “expert” in your field.  To make people listen and take notice, you’ll need to shape your brand and reputation using Thought Leadership.

Everyone is an Expert, so you must be Distinct

Every entrepreneur and professional proclaims to be an expert in their field.  So the challenge is figuring out how to position yourself as a Thought Leader. An expert is a person with a special skill or knowledge in a particular field. But a Thought Leader takes it a step further.  In addition to having specialized skill or knowledge, Thought Leaders move people with innovation and ideas.  They are trusted sources of information.  People follow Thought Leaders because they provide answers.  They are able to identify problems and are known for coming up with creative solutions.

Here are a few tips to help you become known as a Thought Leader:

  1. Focus on the right niche: This is one of the most important steps in thought leadership. You want to focus on a niche that you’re interested in and one that interests others as well. You don’t want to choose a topic that’s too broad – you want something more narrow and specific, something that a group of people really care about and are interested in.
  2. Know your topic inside and out: After you’ve chosen your niche, study it continuously.  Learn everything about it; be a life-long learner and commit to expanding your knowledge every day. It’s not enough to learn all that you can and then stop once you believe you know enough. True thought leaders know that you can never learn enough about a particular topic – as more and more methods and strategies evolve, experts continue to keep themselves updated with what’s current and what’s relevant. They are never stagnant. They keep up with the trends to continue being a trusted source of information.
  3. Be the Answer: Thought Leaders are the “go-to” people in their industries because their known for having the answers. Make sure that your messaging to your target audience shows your mastery of the subject matter. Establish a point of view on pertinent topics so that your followers trust your information and come to you for answers. 
  4. Share your knowledge Remember, just having the knowledge and skills does not make you a recognized authority. Be sure to share your knowledge or skill with others in a way that’s relevant and clear; know how to communicate effectively so that people will listen. A healthy balance must be maintained in imparting your knowledge to a group of people. Show your knowledge without appearing to be a showoff. Use jargon relevant to your field, but present your topic in simple terms.

Becoming a thought leader takes time and a lot of hard work. But as long as you stay committed to your goal, remain authentic, and continue to communicate with others, you will soon be able to establish trust with your audience and position yourself as more than just another expert in your field.

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The Path To Profitability

How to Get Better, Smarter and Richer

Small Business Success for Women in 2013 and Beyond

 

 

 

In light of the significant job losses resulting from the 2008 economic recession, there has been an intense focus on boosting small business as a way to stimulate job growth.  Yet, it’s becoming more evident that many of the issues plaguing the American workforce are also impacting the small business industry.  According to the Small Business Administration, as of 2010 there were 27 million small business firms in the U.S. and approximately 2.3 million have more than four employees.  However, 22 million of those firms are non-employer firms – better known as solo or micro entrepreneurs – with combined gross receipts of $950 billion.

This figure looks impressive as a whole, but when you divide the average revenue among 22 million small businesses, the typical “non-employer business” made approximately $43,000 in gross receipts.  Conversely, when you analyze the slice of the pie for women-owned small businesses, the numbers are much lower.  There are a number of reasons why solo and micro entrepreneurial women are not achieving higher revenues in their businesses, but it’s certainly not from lack of hard work and passion.

Women-owned small businesses, particularly solo and micro entrepreneurs, add tremendous value to the U.S. economy and we’re an important source of competition globally.  The statistics tell the story:

  • Women own 50% of all the solo and micro enterprises
  • 52% of the private workers are employed by solo and micro businesses with the largest proportion of those employees being younger, older, women, or part-time workers
  • Solo and micro entrepreneurs provide 80% of the net new jobs.  Sixty-seven percent of all workers received their initial on the job training from small business owners
  • 53% of solo/micro businesses are home-based and 3% are franchises

Additionally, the advancements in mobile technology and social media are leveling the playing field allowing solo and micro entrepreneurs to compete with their larger company counterparts. However, there’s still considerable room for improvement and we have to do better!  Going into 2013, we have to make sure that those who make up the heart and soul of our economy –solo and micro women entrepreneurs – receive earnings that are proportionate to our contribution.

Subsequently, just like the U.S. pathway to job creation, the path to increasing profitability for women small business owners is wrought with challenges.  Working with no staff or a small staff, limited time and a constrained budget, small business owners must find a way to balance the development and marketing of their ideas with the speed of the information age. Market and customer needs are continuously shifting and the size and pace of the information and services available all across the world to meet those needs creates fierce competition for solo entrepreneurs.

The shelf life of the current knowledge and specialization for most small business owners is already close to expiration. We now live in a “knowledge economy” where our skills inevitably lose their relevance and niche abilities may be difficult to apply as opportunities and technologies evolve.  Whether you have a product or service-based small business, it is also important for you to be able to see across market sectors and connect the dots between how innovations in one industry can be applied to another.

Economists and business leaders both agree that the solution to sustaining a small business and increasing profitability for entrepreneurs is ongoing and more specifically tailored development of core business skills. This will help to keep your business on the front lines moving into the future. In order for women to compete, remain relevant, and earn more in 2013 and beyond, we must pursue training to obtain ADVANCED BUSINESS KNOWLEDGE and consistently focus on ways to INNOVATE our products and services.

Watch the Path to Profitability Video:

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Is There A Business-Savvy Barrier For Black Women?

This post is to give Black Women in Business some food for thought.

If you’re a serious minded Black Business Woman, I’m sure that when you saw the term Business-Savvy Barrier in the title of this post, you raised your eyebrows and thought, “What the what?” But the numbers representing our success and progress compared to women in other races are startling. Black women business owners have come a long way in the past 20 years, but we still have a way to go.

Despite the growth of Black women entrepreneurs, there are multiple challenges, specifically regarding the income disparity experienced in the entrepreneurial sector. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, although Black female business ownership is up 59% since 2002, we only generate a little more than 3% of the gross sales receipts of the $1.2 billion dollars of all women-owned small business firms.

These are the demographics of the top three women-owned small business firms by race: White (72%); black (12%); and Asian (7%). While there are approximately 388,759 more Black women business owners than Asian women, they generate $51 million dollars more in annual gross sales receipts. Conversely, Black men with small businesses earn an average of $103,310 annually, compared to Black women business owners who earn an annual average of $43,000. This is disturbing and ladies, we must do better!

This suggests that Black men are somehow more successful in charting their ascent up the business ladder, being their own bosses, and spearheading their own economic futures. This may also indicate that Black female entrepreneurs have significant hurdles to overcome outside the corporate setting without access to capital, economic resources, angel investors, and eminent business advisors with “real-world” experience to help navigate the rough business terrain.

This should be an eye-opener for Black women business owners collectively. If, as the data indicates, we are struggling with disparity in gross sales receipts, what will it take to change the numbers? How can we enhance our Earning Power? I’ve already pointed out several barriers that we must overcome, but there are also other major obstacles such as lack of market expansion. Studies have also shown that Black women tend to network and sell toour own people, because we perceive that they are most interested in our products and services. But by far, the most substantial hurdle has to do with being Business-Savvy.

Is the research pointing to a legitimate short-coming? Is there a Business-Savvy Barrier for Black women entrepreneurs? Strong Business Acumen (the term I prefer) involves having solid business management skills such as, financial acumen, driving strategy and innovation, critical thinking, and the ability to build strategic relationships. This goes beyond technical skill and the depth of knowledge that you may have regarding your industry. So, for Black women, the missing element of the success and financial profitability equation is Business Acumen.

Black women have brilliant business ideas, but we have to shift our focus to learning how to become Masters in Business Acumen. Our businesses have the potential to get us a much bigger piece of the revenue pie. So how can Black women bridge the financial gap and greatly enhance our gross receipts over the next several years? Here are four steps that I suggest:

  1. Become More Business-Savvy: This means cultivate a deeper understanding of the business behind your business. From a business portfolio perspective, you must be cognizant of the primary functions that impact the bottom-line of your small business: Cash Flow (i.e. days of cash on hand and speed of cash generation), Customers (acquiring, serving and retaining them), Growth (achieved through new or enhanced products or services, reaching new customers, or moving into new markets), and Return (as a function of margin and velocity).
  2. Develop Financial Acumen: Don’t relegate this to a bookkeeper and then glance at the numbers when you get your reports. You must learn how to interpret the story that the numbers tell and take the appropriate action (strategic and/or tactical) in response to that story. This means knowing exactly what your company’s financial numbers mean and their implications.
  3. Constantly Focus on Business Strategy: The business arena is all about change, all the time, no matter what industry you’re in—and that’s more evident now than ever before. Your business strategy must do three things effectively: gain customer preference, create a sustainable competitive advantage, and leave money in the bank. To avoid the red zone of failure or to move from just breaking even, you must operate more strategically.
  4. Understand the Power of Positioning: Whether you are a new business owner or seasoned, you wear the mantle of a business leader. Innovation and strategy within your business will be driven by your great ideas and your ability to execute and implement those ideas. Understand your current position in the marketplace, see where your industry is heading and then take a LEAD position – get in the front of the line and deliver!

To know how closely you fit in the statistics, ask yourself this question: Based upon your tax return from 2011, would your accountant say that you have a “business” or a “hobby”?   I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.

Special Announcement: I have a new virtual service coming on October 16, 2012 that can help you enhance your Business Acumen.  Take a look at this e-Brochure to learn more.  If you are serious about becoming a Business-Savvy Woman and want to increase your earning potential, the MBA Center for Women can help you! If you would like more information or want to sign-up for the MBACW mailing list, please visit http://www.moniquestoner.com/the-mba-center-for-women/. The MBACW website and virtual training services can be previewed live on October 12, 2012 at www.mbacenterforwomen.com.

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Entrepreneurship versus Corporate Leadership: Are Women Really Torn?

So what do women really think about this debate?

Forbes recently released an article titled, “Entrepreneurship Is The New Women’s Movement” The article was quite intriguing and indicated that women are leaving the workforce in droves to become entrepreneurs.  The author, Natalie MacNeil, noted that women have started businesses at a higher rate than men for the last 20 years and tend to create home-based micro (less than 5 employees) and small businesses.

This article and many others that I’ve read on this topic all discussed the waning confidence that women have in obtaining career fulfillment in the corporate world. Each article indicated that women are tired of the long work hours, time spent away from family, lack of flexibility, office politics and the tiring climb to get to the top of the corporate ladder.  It would appear that entrepreneurship is a fitting alternative affording women the opportunity to create their own path and reshape their employment landscape.

On the other side of this coin, corporations have taken quantum leaps forward in working to build inclusive workplaces and expand opportunities for women in leadership. Many organizations have implemented women’s initiatives geared towards leadership training, mentoring, and advocacy to help women scale the ranks and succeed in their careers. There are also many associations with special programs designed to help get more women in C-Suite positions, such as Women MBA International, Women in Technology and Leading Women® Executives.

So what do you think?  Are women really fed up with the barriers and sluggish upward movement in corporate America? Do professional women actually view large organizations as wastelands where they feel jaded, under-valued, and limited in reaching their full potential? Or are women continuing to blaze the trail to the highest corporate roles and close the leadership gap? Do we have a remnant of women in large organizations being mentored and groomed through contingency programs who will finally obliterate the “glass ceiling” in ways that we’ve never imagined?

This is powerful food for thought for all ambitious business women. In terms of the Women’s Rights Movement and the more recent Women’s Empowerment Initiatives, how do we define women’s success?  At what point do we say, “Yes, we’ve finally made it?”  Do we push women to leave corporate America in the same way that we encouraged them to enter it in the 1970s?  Ultimately, I believe this question will probably boil down to what’s most important to each individual woman.

Every woman will have to look within her own heart and determine her values, goals and the ways in which she can be fulfilled professionally. And these things may change over the course of a woman’s life. I think we should encourage all women to follow their own path to success and provide them with the programs and resources needed to succeed on both fronts. I also think that there should be more efforts to help organizations discover and implement new pathways to move women into senior leadership roles.

There are pros and cons on both sides and women must consider them all and make decisions that are most advantageous for their own careers – whether in the corporate world or as business owners.  So what are your thoughts?  Please leave a comment and share your opinion on this issue.

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Resilience: Handling Personal and Professional Storms

An Inspirational Post for Business Women

(originally posted on Black Business Women Onlinewww.mybbwo.com)

For more than twenty years now, I’ve trained and coached women in leadership and business acumen and I am a staunch advocate for women being afforded the opportunity to utilize their talents and leave their mark as leaders in corporate America or the small business arena.  It gives me great pleasure to see so many women today pursuing their dreams as entrepreneurs and corporate executives. In an uncertain economy, women have proven that we are a stalwart force in the business world.

Consequently, as we sashay our way down the road to success, we will inevitably face a few storms – and some will be intense. Sales are down, your marketing strategies aren’t working, and your small business is quickly losing money….  Your corporation is undergoing an acquisition and as a member of the management team, your position is being considered for elimination…. Your doctor discovers a clogged artery in your heart during a routine checkup and immediately schedules you for surgery…. Your marriage of eighteen years has suddenly come to an end…. One of your ailing parents has been diagnosed with cancer and you will have to serve as caregiver during their treatment…. The list of personal and professional storms could go on and on.

Every woman has braved, battled and survived many storms in her life.  Some of us are even perceptive enough that we can actually smell the storm coming and we brace ourselves, because we know that this latest one will eventually pass just like the rest.  If you’re experienced in dealing with life’s storms you can often see what caused them and you understand the internal and external forces behind the strong winds.  Wisdom teaches you what doors to close, which windows to barricade and alerts you when you need to take shelter.  You either take shelter in your faith, within yourself, or with those who love and support you.

What makes some storms more difficult and disturbing is not simply that we are facing problems or emotionally difficult times; it’s the fact that it knocks us down before we’ve had a chance to brace ourselves. Some storms are neither light, nor gentle, nor quick in passing. Have you ever been through a storm that was so demanding and dramatic that it forced you to pay attention to your life, relationships, professional circumstances and inner self in a way that you never have before? I’m transparent enough to say that I have – recently and more than once. Some storms can be stubborn, compelling us to face the things that we want to avoid and insisting that we address those things that we have been reluctant to even imagine, let alone endure.

The word unexpected doesn’t even come close to describing how it feels when our reality is suddenly disrupted by circumstances, challenges and issues we never thought we would be facing.  One moment, you’re going about your business, and suddenly you look up and to your utter astonishment, everything has changed. In a state of bewilderment, you ask yourself, “What happened?”  Isn’t it amazing how some storms present themselves in the most shocking and surprising ways imaginable?  They don’t always afford us the luxury of preparation.  Personal and professional storms also don’t discriminate.  A surge of problems can erupt in your life whether you’re an executive in a C-suite role or a mom blogger working from home.

The good news is that storms aren’t necessarily indicative of your skill, talent or effectiveness. They also aren’t always a sign that you have veered from the course and are heading in the wrong direction. In business and in life, storms occur to help us learn, grow and improve. As professional women and entrepreneurs, we do not have an endless flow of stamina, ideas or skills. That’s why Resilience is vital to our success.  Resilience is the ability to bounce back, cope, renew, and revitalize, and learning to be resilient is a full-time job. Most women can demonstrate their ability to lead and wield influence during the best of times, but it’s the tough times and stormy moments that really breed and define a woman who is a great leader and role model for others.

Even though I have a successful career and a loving, supportive family, in the past few months, I have been in the midst of a storm.  It started with a diagnosis & treatment for deep vein thrombosis. Then it brought significant changes & challenges in my corporate consulting role; the ending of a few personal and professional relationships that had been an anchor to me for several years; and it ended with an unforeseen major surgery that required six weeks for recovery impacting my ability to work or take care of myself. I share my personal experience only as a means of encouragement for other women in business.  Wonder woman is a fictitious character – real women in today’s workforce have to contend with a number of different challenges both at home and in the office.

I feel more empowered and renewed now than before. The storm watered several dry places in my life and career, and revitalized my commitment to being a leader and a business coach for women.  If you are in the midst of a personal or professional storm, this is your opportunity to take control of your future, strengthen your resolve, and enhance the value that you bring to others and to the business world.  Whether you lead a business, nonprofit organization, civic association or a family, here are some thoughts for you to consider on being a resilient leader during tough and challenging times.

  •  Seize the Moment: This is your opportunity to bring out the best of who you are, so use this moment to grow and prosper like never before.
  •  Focus on Personal Mastery:  You will be a more powerful leader if you use this time to recognize and understand your own strengths and limitations.
  •  Don’t Complain:  Protesting what’s happening to you will only make you crawl into a defensive cocoon. Shake the dust off, learn the lessons, and focus on the offense.
  •  Build Self-Awareness: Self-Awareness helps you understand the context of your challenges and figure out what resources you need to develop within yourself.
  •  Take Time for Personal Growth:  The only way to grow and improve is through learning. Great leaders aren’t born; they are molded through years of learning and development.
  •  Plan Your Next Move:  If you have recently taken shelter from a storm, this is not the time to simply rely on a wing and a prayer. Use this time to map out your course with compass like accuracy.

We can’t stop the storms from coming into our lives, but we can use the storms as turning points.  Remember, what will make you a more powerful business woman and extraordinary leader is your ability to weather the storms, and come through them renewed with the wisdom and insight that you need for the next part of your success journey!

Question: Have you been through a personal or professional storm recently? How did it make you a better leader and business woman? I’d love to hear your story.

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Why Every Entrepreneur Must Be Innovative

In business, innovation is the catalyst to growth.  Innovation is the creation of better or more effective products, processes, services, or ideas that meet the evolving needs of a target market.  It’s a business discipline in which we continue to do things in new or better ways that create economic value.  Innovation is not just a consideration for large organizations, but it’s critical to the success of small business owners as well.  If you own a small business, you must incessantly look for new and better ways to satisfy your customer base and set yourself apart from your competitors.

Building your capacity to be innovative is possible, but it requires a willingness to be creative, to do old things in new ways, and to develop new skills. Innovation is what transforms a business.  It’s not the act of creating a new product or service; that’s invention.  Being innovative is when you take what you’re doing now and do it differently or in a way that outperforms everyone else.  It’s a matter of understanding the needs of your target market in such a way that you satisfy them with advancements that set you apart from your competitors.

Consider the advancements in certain industries that have transformed the consumer experience. Think back to when you had to go to the mall because online shopping didn’t exist.  Do you remember the days when there was no such thing as a hotel or airline Reward Program?  Isn’t it nice to go to a doctor’s appointment and your entire medical history is accessible to your physician through an application on his i-Pad?  These were all innovative ideas that transformed the way businesses provide services and demonstrate value to customers.  Think about your current line of business, in what ways could you transform your services that would put you miles ahead of your competition?

Innovation is not a trait of the exceptionally gifted entrepreneur.  It’s a skill that any ambitious business professional can learn, practice and master.  Moreover, with innovative skills, you can also improve your everyday business systems and processes.  As an entrepreneur, you must place the same value on having innovation as you do on your technical skills.  Through continued research and staying abreast of changes in your field, you can develop and become more proficient as an entrepreneurial innovator.

Innovation is about solving problems or meeting your customer needs in a way to increases your business’ profitability. Focus your innovative efforts in a way that they are directly aligned to your business goals.  It’s about doing what you do best and serving every customer exceptionally well and in a way that exceeds each of your competitors.  You can become a more innovative entrepreneur today – by having the courage to challenge conventional ways of thinking about how things are currently done and a willingness to do things in new ways.

Question: What do you think hinders entrepreneurs from being more innovative?

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