Archive for Solopreneurs

Hey, Over Here!

Just as women tend NOT to keep our hands up in class, or defer to men at corporate meetings, we hesitate in every area of life to say, “Over here, please, I’ve got something important to say” and we often won’t keep our hand up till we are heard.

This is especially true in gatherings with both and men and women, whether business or social, and certainly in classes, trainings and workshops. At your next dinner party, meeting or gathering, pay attention to that. How much do the women speak, and do they mostly agree with and support others, or assert their own opinions? And the men?

Clearly this is a problem with deep roots and wide implications, much of which I can’t address here.

Let’s look closer at how this plays out for a woman in her own business, which is the focus for this and the next several blog posts. . Lack of confidence can lead to indecision and waffling, waiting for the perfect website, copy, or business offering before putting anything out there. Being overworked and underpaid is a big problem for women too.

Here’s a common place of indecision for many: even after having been advised to pick your niche and ‘plant your flag’, to declare who your clients are and how you serve them, you can’t decide or you resist the idea of niching. It’s hard to plant a flag if you are deferring to some internalized concept of a ‘perfect’ business, you’re waiting for someone to ‘call on you’ and tell you ‘Hey, great business concept”! If you don’t believe strongly in your ideas and your abilities or tend to always think others are better or have it more together, then you may waffle and avoid that moment of stepping out and declaring boldly what your business is, who it serves, and what results you get.

The not-good-enough problem makes you work harder, and accept a lower salary or lower fees than you might otherwise. After all you are still proving yourself to someone, right?

There’s a variation on not-good-enough that even has its own name, the ‘impostor syndrome’, documented in psychology studies. This affects men as well as women, and this is about how many successful accomplished people, when interviewed in depth, admitted to feeling like a fraud, a fake, an impostor. Even attorneys and other professionals said they didn’t feel fully knowledgeable or legit.

Clearly, this confidence thing is BIG for us as women and as entrepreneurs. Our level of confidence affects our ability to define our business, declare our niche and ideal client, and make the myriad of decisions that go with being in business. It affects whether we see the value of our work and charge accordingly, enthusiastically and clearly speak for your business and what you offer, even whether we can attract joint venture partners and capital. Ultimately, it affects how much you earn, and the quality of your life. We need to appreciate and acknowledge our abilities, to have the outer posture and inner stance that “I matter and what I have to say is important.” We need to envision ourselves successful, and project our energy out there in the world—to plant our flag and have our voices and wisdom be heard.

We need to stop waiting for Someone to “stamp” us or our work with their seal of approval stamp. It’s certainly nice to receive approval and appreciation but so often there really is no one there to give us a stamp of approval—we have to boldly follow our inner guidance. So, go ahead: Give that “approved” stamp to yourself and get on with things.

Finally at this ripe age, I am finally doing that–giving myself the approval and green light to be me–and I’m having a whole lot more FUN, MEANING and CLIENT ATTRACTION happening.

My challenge to the women and men who resonate with this message: Go ahead–Plant that flag, toot that horn, give yourself that “Approved” stamp..and watch what happens!

Categories : Solopreneurs
Comments (0)

Sure, men can lack confidence (and they often mask the lack differently than women) but study after study shows that this is a much bigger problem for women. We tend to be less confident—regardless of how talented we are. We are much more critical of ourselves and tend to have perfectionistic standards for ourselves. This starts young but becomes much more noticeable from the ages of 8-9 onwards, when girls tend to dumb themselves down.

There are many reasons why, including that girls and women are taught to be more yielding and obedient, not to be outspoken or assert ourselves. As women, our natural style of communication, which is less fact-based and more based on emotions and social connections, has not been valued. Therefore we tend to doubt and undermine ourselves as we speak, and water things down. We are more often interrupted, ignored or talked over, and our words, and we ourselves, as women, have not been respected or taken as seriously. A groundbreaking book on this is “In A Different Voice” by Carol Gilligan.

We are so conditioned to being undermined, dismmissed or trivialized, that it shows up in our voice, posture and movements—even when we take center stage as a speaker and authority. In my training at the Authentic Speaker Academy, I noticed that each of the women speakers did some kind of shrug, giggle or other minimizing or hiding gesture whenever their speech called for them to assert their knowledge or make a declarative sentence. It was quite an eye-opener to see this so clearly.

Beyond research studies, it’s easy to observe the gender gap in confidence in everyday life. In her book about women and leadership called “Leaning In” , Sheryl Sandberg, CEO of Facebook, describes a meeting with consultants, where all of the women from the consulting firm seated themselves at a separate table, unasked, on their own—and stayed apart from the main boardroom table even though they were peers of their male colleagues. I experienced different versions of this many times during my 18 year career in the male dominated world of corporate finance and accounting.

I have no interest in blaming the women, or even the men, in this story. What needs attention and changing is the systemic undermining of women from our earliest days. We need to become more aware of it, and address this problem on many levels—starting with our everyday thoughts, feelings and actions. As a woman, whether you have a business, corporate career or mission in the world—for profit or not—you need to examine how holding back, perfectionism and procrastination are slowing down your progress towards your goals and impacting your business negatively. Awareness of this is key–but don’t stop there!

The next step is to learn how to address and transform these confidence issues, for your own personal growth, empowerment and prosperity and to become a model, inspiration and sister to other girls and women. This work around confidence needs to happen for your success in business, for the evolution of women-and men and the future of the Earth.

Now that’s what I call productive and enlightened multi-tasking!

Categories : Solopreneurs
Comments (2)

GROWING YOUR SELF-CONFIDENCE – 7 KEYS FOR  WOMEN IN BUSINESS

What is confidence?
One dictionary definition is: “a feeling or belief that you can do something well or succeed at something”.

Self-confidence seems like one of those things you either were born with or not.   That is mostly NOT true–great  news for all of us, and especially for women in any kind of business. Think of how confident you were when you took your very first step as a toddler: not very.   Yet, you stopped wobbling a long time ago. Now, do you assume you can walk or do you doubt each step?   No, you learned to be confident in your ability to walk.   You LEARNED by doing, by trying, wobbling, falling down and getting up again.

Lack of confidence makes us wobble in business and feel unsure of ourselves.   It also leads to the two P’s: Procrastination and Perfectionism.
“No, I can’t get that program out yet…I don’t have enough to offer.   I need more training, or better copy, or a prettier website.”   What’s your version of this? More importantly, when will you be ready, your offer good enough, your business polished enough?

Perfectionism rears its ugly head by insisting we need to get it right and ‘do the job’ ten times better than anyone else, just to feel adequate.     When your self-esteem depends on getting things right or being perfect, you will overwork—and probably undercharge as well.

Procrastination chimes in when it comes to taking a risk, like  putting your new program, product or marketing out there.   Lack of confidence makes you hesitate to take risks because “what if I’m wrong?”.   If, like most women, you were trained to be good, not make waves, and get the right answer in school–your self-esteem depends on getting things right, NOT on the number of chances you take!

The most successful entrepreneurs have confidence—not necessarily in their particular abilities, though of course that’s helpful—but in their ability to take risks and recover from challenges and set backs.   They are resilient and adaptable.   This is actually quite different from the kind of cocky self-esteem or bravado that we might associate with self-confidence.   I’ll tell you more about that later as it’s one of the 7 Keys to Self-Confidence in this current series of
blog posts.

Contrast that kind of hesitancy with how men are taught and raised….I still remember one of my coaches, Michael Port, saying “Ready,fire, aim!”.   I almost laughed because that was SO far from the way I and many women, operate.     Even the language was strange to me–shooting my clients is the last thing I ever want to do.   I realized Michael didn’t’ mean that literally, he was simply using the common language of business which was developed by men and is still the dominant mindset in the business world.   That aggressive, hunt-em-down language is a huge turn-off for me, and the women and men I serve, and in that moment I promised myself I’d  find and use new heart-based metaphors and language for business.

The main point he was making, which most women need to take to heart more, was “don’t wait to be perfect, get it out there, and then tweak it later. Get into action..!”

Where is your lack of confidence, perfectionism or procrastination holding YOU back from  promoting your business or taking inspired action?

That was on a card I gave to a friend—it hung on her bulletin board for years and made me smile every time.

In this “self-talk for success” mini course I seem to be writing for the 31 day Ultimate Blogging Challenge, it’s officially time to LIGHTEN UP.   I mean SERIOUSLY now, folks!   The minute you can find the humor in something you did (or didn’t do), you’re out of the trap of self criticism.       When you find yourself asking, “Now WHY did I do that?” or”Why didn’t I   think of that solution earlier?” or whatever has you slapping yourself upside your head…can you find the absurdity or the humor instead?
Even when something is truly no laughing matter,  you can restore your sanity and get back to a creative and inspired place with some laughter therapy.   Laughter has countless health benefits , including oxygenating the body which helps us think more clearly.   If you haven’t heard of laughter yoga, go check it out online or find a local class.   Great fun and very healing.

Here are some lighten up tools from the systems I work with:
1. Gobbledygook sounds: Speak nonsense words to another   person with inflections like you were actually conversing with them.   You’ll be giggling in no time.     Rumor has it that a group of scientists liked this so much, they now begin every meeting with gobbledygook.

2. Imagine whatever it is that you need to lighten up about is tiny, or huge, or play with the size of the characters, shrinking them down or blowing them up large, like Alice in Wonderland, or see the situation in a fun house mirror.

3. Fake it till you make it laughter: Even when there is absolute NOTHING funny, this will end up making your body feel as though you are laughing and you will get the health and emotional benefits of real laughter.   Plus you will almost certainly start laughing for real.

How to: Inhale, lean back slightly, throw your hands up over your head and bring them down as though you were slapping your thighs in hysterical laughter, exhale with a “ ha ha” sound.   Keep going and for even more laughs, do it a room with a bunch of   other people.

Go get lighter, I mean seriously dude!

Jul
10

Just say No! To interruptions

Posted by: | Comments (0)

LEven if they’re self-induced!   ESPECIALLY those!

I was just minding my own business online when an interesting email from a friend about solar flares and how they are affecting us caught my attention.   Since I’m on a mad blogging spree, I thought well, “I’d like to blog that! People need to know what is going on”   (and it helped me immensely as I’ve been feeling most strange lately, like a flu with no real flu symptoms).

Before I knew it I had logged into my other gmail account I don’t check that often (in order to get into my blog).   But I didn’t go to the blog, my other blog called http://heartsabode.blogspot.com, I started answering emails in that gmail account.   I completely lost track of what I was there for.   Meantime, I’ve got offers to finalize and things to get out to my webmaster….Whew!

In the healing arts and in counseling there is so much training and conversation about boundaries. Most of that focus was on relationships with other people.   But what about our relationship to information, especially online.   I would like to discover some good strategies for dealing with this so I don’t hijack my own time or allow non priorities to do so.

One of my coaches says she does not answer emails until her low energy time at 3pm, since other people’s emails are their agenda for her.   Of course she does have office assistants!   Still, answeirng emails at set times of day sounds like a plan.

Meantime, I will apply one of my own most useful questions here: What am I avoiding that needs to be get done here, by being on this onine distraction jag?

Okay, got it….on to taking that action.   I feel more focused and better already!

PS One of my upcoming offerings is called Joyful Manifesting, powerful energy work to clear out what stops you from having what you want.   PLUS a bonus new program free called  Manifesting Prosperity and Peace of Mind.   It’s not up on this site yet but you can check it out Joyfull Manifesting at www.joyful.manifesting.com.

Categories : Solopreneurs
Comments (0)
Jul
09

Confessions of a Slow Adapter

Posted by: | Comments (3)

I’ve been sharing with you how our survival programming causes us to resist change.   Down to our very cells, we are oriented to keeping things the same.    This has worked very well to keep humans alive and to continue the species.

But today’s conditions are radically different than what our bodies were designed for.   In business, those who refuse to grow and adapt to new technologies and to the fast pace of change get left behind. A good friend of mine, a successful veterinarian who has done business online since the early days of the internet, told me he’d ignored social media for about two years.   Traffic to his site started slowing down until he realized what was happening.

I confess I’ve resisted social media and adapting new technologies. I didn’t get what the ‘big deal’ was about social media and haven’t wanted to have to change what I’m doing with technology and marketing.   My passion is serving my clients, empowering and inspiring them, and providing great learning programs.   The joy is in that, not in marketing or in mastering new technology!   Like most solopreneurs, I wasn’t looking for a business, I was looking for a way to bring my work into the world, which asks me to set up and run my practice as a business.   I call it the accidental entrepreneur syndrome.

I have a colleague in Santa Fe, prosperity coach Joan Sotkin, who has been an early adapter of social media.   Her enthusiasm has inspired me, especially her statement that “Social media has opened the whole world to me”.  So, slowly, reluctantly, I’m getting with ‘the program.   And trusting that there is a place in the world for turtles like me, or why would there be any of us? Are you a turtle too? f you are a slow adapter, know that you are not alone.    We can support each other and ourselves in moving forward at the pace that feels natural to us.

Meantime, my attitude is changing.   I am seeing the amazing connections and opportunities this new world opens up, in terms of meeting interesting people, creating joint ventures, expanding my world, and reaching more people.     I commit to finding what works for me, and doing it strategically and consistently.    There, I’ve gone public!

What about you, what new adaptation are you willing to commit to?As I go deeper into blogging and learn more about social media, my attitude is changing.   I don’t necessarily want to spend as much time on the computer as I am, but I see now the amazing connections and opportunities that this new world opens up, in terms of meeting interesting people,   creating joint ventures, and reaching the world.   It’s actually getting to be (dare I say) fun !

 

Jul
07

People do what works!

Posted by: | Comments (0)

I love that quote of Dr. Phil’s.   It takes me out of self blame and smacking myself upside the head. So if I am looking at  a  self defeating behavior or  some negative self-talk, I can gently ask myself “How is  this working? What IS the hidden payoff here?”

Even  the most negative patterns have a hidden payoff. They are an attempt to  do SOMETHING for us that is positive. Try asking yourself, “What does this behavior actually get me?” “What is the payoff?”    If you’re working with your child aspects or “parts”  you can ask a particular part like your sulky three year old, “What are you trying to do for me (and use her name)?”   or “Oh, self-defeating habit, what ARE you trying to get that you think would be good for me?”

Be curious, be wlling to be surprised.

Hint: 9 times out of 10, what the habit is trying to do for you is to keep you safe and in your  comfort zone.  (Even when the comfort zone is no longer comfortable! We tend to stick with what we know even when it’s not so good, just because it’s familiar).   Other side of the coin: usually the habit is a way to stay small, invisible, under the radar or avoid success.

Perverse, isn’it? Why would we want to stay small or avoid success?   Seems irrational and like we are working against ourselves.   Yet  at a deeper level, it all makes sense.   I’ll explore that mystery more in the next post.

But back to the hidden payoff.   First you  discover what it is, or what need it’s trying to get met for you.   Then  you can see  how to meet this need yourself or get it met.  What would be supportive and help you move forward with self -love?  If the need is safety, start looking for ways to create more safety in your life—talking to a friend or coach, seeking a group, learning techniques like Sedona method or EFT to manage your emotions better, reducing stress through exercise, meditation, diet, supplements, etc.

What are you doing that really works for you, and what are you doing that is working but only to keep you safe?

 

In the last post I invited you to take a look at your  inner self-talk.   How is that going?  Did  you discover anything new or surprising about how you think and speak about yourself?     Most people are quite  hard on themselves and may not consciously realize they are immersed in a stream of self-criticism all day long.

If you are one of those people–don’t add another layer of negativity by beating yourself up about being self critical!    That’s just wrong, my friend.

Here’s a  technique that’s been  helpful for me and for my clients.   One of my trainings was in Gestalt Therapy (the Wildflowers Center for Compassionate Body Centered Gestalt therapy in New Jersey).   We  learned how to  dialogue with different parts of ourselves—the hurt child, the inner wise adult, the rebellious teenager, and with our   “shadow”—fears, angers and other parts of ourselves that we disown.

Each “part” or aspect of our self needs to be included and validated.   Each part has a voice with a message, telling us what we need.   If we don’t listen to the voice, eventually it will either get very loud and take over, or go underground and turn into an illness, a depression or some other kind of negative experience.   The bottom line is that when we reject a part of ourselves, sooner or later it will cause a problem.

This can show up  in almost any way, but common signs are  procrastination, avoiding putting yourself out there, being unwilling to set limits with a client, depression, irritability, mood swings or some other form of resistance (pick your favorite flavor!).

Where are you in resistance or struggling? What task, or part of your business is more difficult for you?   Chances are there’s at least one, and possibly several parts of yourself that are stuck and need to be heard.

I can, and would love to help you.   Feel free to contact me to learn more about how I could assist you.

Meantime, try these  ideas for working on your own with your critical voices and shadow parts.   An excellent book is called  Embracing Your Inner Critic, by Hal and Sidra Stone. It will teach you  how to work with your Inner Critic, your judging voices AND other voices that also want to be heard.  Another great resource is  a guided meditation called Overcoming the Self -Destruct, by Sanaya Roman.  (www.orindaben.com). In this meditation you imagine sitting at the center of an “inner council” meeting where all your parts get to speak, and then you explore how they can all work together towards a common goal or desire.

Be forewarned that this work is not comfortable and can be challenging, especially if you tend to be self critical.   Go gently with yourself.  In a culture of perfectionism and “you are not enough” it’s quite a stretch to learn to  be this welcoming and accepting of yourself.   If this kind of work is new for you, or you want to go deeper and need the right support,  I suggest finding an experienced guide–me, another coach, therapist or healer.    Besides working with you with these issues, I’d love to empower you by showing how to  do this work on your own.

Jump in and experiment.   Have  fun meeting your parts and dialoguing with them, and let me know how it goes.

An easy way to  do this is by asking yourself when you get up, or during the day if you are getting stuck or bogged down, “What do I need right now? What part of me needs attention, and what does she   (this part) need?”.   Enjoy the discovery and the healing, and don’t hesitate to ask if you need additional support!

 

How resilient are you?   How well do you bounce back from a business slowdown, or when you put out an offer and it doesn’t fly?   In these shifting, accelerating and uncertain times, resilience is critical for everyone and especially business owners.   It’s become a buzzword in the corporate world and in   organizational psychology.

Of course solopreneurs and small business owners have always had to be more resilient and flexible and this can actually be an advantage we have over big companies, and these days we need more resilience than ever.   What makes a critical difference when you need to regroup, learn from your experience, adapt to new conditions and get going again, is the story you tell yourself about what happened, and what you say about yourself.

Our self-image, and the way we talk to and treat ourselves was mostly formed when we were very young—up to the age of 7.   These ways of thinking and acting, which we learned from parents, her family members, caregivers, or our early teachers, get programmed into our subconscious mind in the early years.   These beliefs and patterns then become automatic—like a tape loop that plays over and over inside you.   What that means is that you can still be living out the beliefs you formed in infancy and childhood.   They might even go back to prenatal times or your birth process.   So if you had a difficult birth you might have concluded that “Life is a struggle” or “Life is harsh”.   Later on, if your parents favored a sibling, or had too many children to give you the love and attention you needed, you might have decided that   “What I need is not important” or “I can’t get the attention I need”.   Can you see how such beliefs could affect your profitability, your ability to get good help or even attract clients?

If you had a choice–and you do–would you rather run your business from your mature adult self or from your infant or neglected 3 year old self?   You can learn to interrupt these unconscious negative patterns and replace them. You CAN change your self talk, and there are many ways to do this.

There are healing systems   that directly address these patterns, such as hypnotherapy or EFT.   A very effective method, not as well known as these others, is called Accelerated Belief Clearing (ABC).   ABC work is an evolution of a system called Resonance Repatterning and it helps to identify and change old programming very quickly and effectively.   There are also ways to learn supportive self-talk through on your own.   That’s what I’ll be focusing on over the next 31 days, during the Ultimate Blog Challenge I’m participating in, organized by Michelle Shaeffer and Michele Scism.

I look forward to sharing these simple and empowering techniques with you!  The first step is awareness, so get your journal or open a new file on your computer, and over the next few days, ask yourself, “How do I think about, or speak to myself about problems in my business? What do I tell myself when business slows down, or new clients don’t come back?”   Feel free to share what you discover.

PS If you’re into blogging, come join us in the 31 Day Ultimate Blog Challenge!   It began July 1 but you can still join and it’s free!

www.ultimateblogchallenge.com

 

Aug
10

Getting Over Getting it Right

Posted by: | Comments (0)

Our school system trains us to get the right answer. “Being wrong” is a bad thing and leads to lower grades, disapproval, and feeling inadequate or like a failure.     As children growing up in this society, our self-esteem and confidence is shaped to large extent by how well we do in school.   For anyone who does not learn in the usual way, who has creative abilities that do not fit the mold, or has some kind of learning disability, this can be very damaging to that person’s self esteem—unless they are lucky enough to have understanding parents, a teacher or other mentoring adult to encourage them and acknowledge their unique gifts.

How does that translate to business, or especially self-employment?

The pressure to get it right, and only feeling valuable or successful when you do is a disaster.   Why? The biggest reason is because there is never one right way to  create a successful   business, there is never one right answer, there are always multiple paths to success.      The only requirement–and there are  as many ways to do this as there are unique individuals–is to  make sure your income exceeds your expenses,  ie, make a profit, in order to continue to stay in business and support yourself and your family.

Trying to be right can lead to several major time and energy drains.   One is perfectionism…where you can’t get started unless it’s perfect.   The perfect website, logo, mission statement, etc.   Or you get started but keep correcting, tweaking and revising because again, it’s not perfect.   How do you even know if it’s “right” “good” or “perfect?”

A cousin to that is analysis paralysis—over analyzing your statistics, strategies, or competition and not taking action.   Also in the family is the “Impostor Syndrome”—where you never feel like you know enough and somehow you are just ‘faking’ your expertise.   That in turn leads to “BSO” syndrome—chasing the latest bright shiny object.   The latest social media tool, the latest information product, course or coach.   And you know what that leads to, right?–the dreaded Information Overwhelm.

Bottom line is you can really get bogged down, even stuck in place by trying to be right.

Yes, there are proven business models, of how to run a profitable business, that will work better in particular industries.  Even within those models, there are many ways to ‘get it right’.   That’s where our creative genius, our fresh perspectives along with sound advice from mentors and those who’ve already succeeded, and listening to our intuitive and body based knowing, all of this  comes in handy.    

To get the most useful answers, start with a useful question.   That question is NOT  “what’s the right way?” but “what is the best service or product to focus on, what is the optimal business model, and way of operating that works for me and my clients? What makes sense and gives me a sense of “YES” or green light, GO,  given my current  resources of time, money and energy, my personal style and strengths, and the type of business and client I serve, at this point in time?”

I’m certainly NOT saying that you should not spend time learning from others, analyzing your market and looking at how you can best attract and serve your customers or clients. But some of the best learning you will do is by learning in action.   Staying in your head or planning a business on paper won’t actually provide the feedback you need to grow and maintain a successful business.  

Look at the different areas of your business and see if you are stuck anywhere on ‘getting it right”..and what do you need to get unstuck? Is it really more research, information or coaching? Or is it just letting go, letting things be good enough, and sending the arrow off into space?

I invite you to let go of the rigid chains of being right and having to be perfect, and enjoy the playground of creative ambiguity and trusting your gut!