20 September 2014

My First Business Coach – My Father

Long before terms like business coach, networking, pipelines and sales cycles were trendy, my father considered himself the go to guy for anything hobby farm related. He was a horse trader and my mother would swear that he would trade her if he got the right money. My father had all of the natural networking skill needed to be a successful business man. It was closing the deal that was a challenge for him. He would work a room, loved helping others and with just a rotary dial phone, he was The Connector Guy. When people needed something related to an animal, their first question would be “Did you call Randell?” My father knew the value of networking.


This week I attended a couple of networking events and I couldn’t help but think of him. I watched people who were seasoned networkers and others who were just beginning and I wondered what he would tell anyone who asked how to do it.  As a teacher of business process, we often reverse engineer a task to see what the component parts are. I look at my father to see what that was. He would walk into a room and walk right up to a person he didn’t know and introduce  himself. He had the confidence to do that because he loved his people and he knew it was going to be fun. He would tell a story, make them laugh and set up a time to meet again. When we would get outside my father would pull a pencil from behind his ear and ask me to write a number down. Horse men don’t have business cards.


As a connector guy, he provided value add first. He always helped people find the people they needed to connect with. My father would be on the phone most evenings and we would hear him say “I’ll tell you why I’m phoning you. I got a fella needs a ……”  I know he’d tell you to help someone get what they need and the sale will come. I meet so many people who try and sell in that first introduction.


Nobody likes a stick in the mud. We would rather buy from someone who will also give us a light dusting of humour with our sale. My father always made people laugh. It makes people feel good and we remember people who make us feel good. We do business with folks we know and trust.


I can hear my father say “I must give buddy a call.” I’d ask “What for?” My father didn’t need a reason. People loved hearing from him and talking about what they had in common. In the conversation he would be planting seeds about this and that. It wasn’t awkward, the conversation naturally went that way. My father would tell me not to push too hard too early.

Last night I read the poem to him called  “The Race”. We both enjoy it and it’s about getting up again after a fall. Don’t worry about getting it right the first time, get up and try again if it is a flop the first time.

“You’re never going to get good at it if you give up.” Happy Networking.

13 September 2014

3 Steps to Getting Over Frustration and On with Business

Don’t quit – frustration is a call to action.

Are you frustrated and ready to throw in the towel? I’ve been there and I’m glad that you’re here reading this. One day I am  sitting here with a friend and I am pissed. I’d worked my ass off to get where I was and where I was wasn’t all that great a place. No sales, can’t pay the bills – one failed attempt after another.


After a long rant I said “I quit. I was never meant to be in business. No one wants what I’m selling. I’m not cut out for this. I’m done!! Yes they were strong words but they were even stronger if you know the context. I was living on a disability pension. I am legally blind and even if I was not disabled, finding a job at my age is a challenge. Giving up was the equivalent of saying “I’ll just live on my disability pension for the next 30 years or so.” I was frustrated.


My good friend Peter was great at not mincing words. He said “Debbie, listen to yourself. You’re not a quitter. You haven’t invested all of this energy to quit. Frustration is a call to action.”

He was right and it was just what I needed at the time. I licked my wounds and took a good hard look at myself. I am now headed down a new road but not before I learned a few lessons. If you are frustrated, here is what I would suggest:


1. Take a break and take an inventory of what you can do. You’ve got a lot of great skills that got you into business in the first place. Maybe you need a couple of new skills to get you to the next level.

2. Seek out help if you need it. Have you really humbled yourself or are you pissed because it is not coming easier to you?  I needed a coach to get me through this one.  Skills you need in business have nothing to do with selling the features of your product. It’s about learning to market.

3. Get a Peter in your life. Loads of people will tell you what you’re doing right. Most people won’t be honest. But a true friend will give you the goods. I’m grateful that Peter made me mad enough to get help that day. Find someone who will give you that kind of support.

Debbie describes herself as a resultant entrepreneur who is having the time of her life.

5 September 2014

Budgets in 5 Simple Steps

Like most lessons I have learned tendency to wait for hard knocks before I get it. Not always the best choice, but it is what it is.  When I went bankrupt, I forced myself to learn how to budget. There was no way I was ending up back in that place again. Might I assume that you’re reading this because it is your time. Welcome aboard – you’re in great company.

In my program on financial literacy called The Buck Stops Here, I teach many new skills. We usually wind up needing these skills because somewhere along the way we missed that class on financial savvy. Maybe there was no class. I’ve only ever known borrowing from Peter to pay Paul and then hitting up Matthew and Mark. It only works for so long.  If you’re still reading, the good news is that you’re about to change all that.

People fail at diets and budgets because they take on too much all at once. I suggest a gentle approach. But hey, it’s your life.


Track your spending  for a minimum of three months to get a real sense of what your spending habits are. Where are you leaking valuable money? Tracking is like slowly pulling your head out of the sand. It gives you a lazer sharp focus on where the dough is going.

Own it. It’s your life and you need to take responsibility for it if you want to make changes. When you have had a chance to digest it, you’re ready for the next step.


In this day and age, many of our bills are taken directly from our bank account. How many of your bills are stacked in a pile unopened? Take inventory of you must pay out each month. Print off a statement of each bill and don’t miss any. Stick them in a binder – let’s call it the budget binder. Don’t miss any – gym membership, car insurance, line of credit, student loan payment, etc.


How much money do you have coming in during the month? Many folks have a steady income – job security and they can count on the same money from week to week or month to month. Fixed income is easier to budget. Entrepreneurs have a different reality as you know. But you can still budget. What do you have coming in each month?


Take your calendar and a black marker. Put the income in on the dates that you will receive it. Now take your red marker and enter the bill payments on the date that they are coming out of the account.

Don’t stop there – remember the tracking that you were doing. Look at the miscellaneous spending that went on. Put those numbers in if they are realistic.

No one is watching you. Don’t try and make a budget of what you should spend. Make it real – what will you spend your money on this month? If you are in deficit, you are in deficit. You can’t change all of the bad habits in one day. Give yourself a break. Have a long hard look and again, own the budget. It’s yours and as scary as it is, it is real.

We are all done sweeping things under the rug.


At the end of the month you pull it all out again. Because you have continued the practice of tracking your spending, you can now enter the actual numbers. You may do this periodically throughout the month. Either way, it’s all there in black and red. How did you make out? Were there any surprises? Do you need to make a change or two. It is up to you where you go from here. Do you need to take a second job?

It is your choice after all The Buck Stops Here.