17 June 2017

I didn't need cash, I needed skills.

As a cash strapped new start up I was convinced that what I needed was money to get my business off the ground. I applied for a $500 loan at one point and was very disappointed when I didn't get it. My coach at the time didn't take it too seriously. He wanted me to go back to the drawing board and get more creative in finding money. 

Fast forward about 6 years and this is what I know to be true. Getting turned down for that loan was a blessing - I didn't need cash, I needed skills.  At the time, I had earmarked that money for a video I wanted to help market my service. But, that would have been a big waste of money -- I didn't know how to sell. I realize that now. Just as I realize that many of the obstacles along the way were blessings. 

Soooooo, ask yourself this - do you know how to sell your product or service? A good measure is ... have you sold one? A prettier website, a great video and a new suit won't get you closer to that sale if you can't close. Think about it, do you really need the cash or do you need skills? 

10 June 2017

Military Entrepreneurs - How Balancing a "Heart to Serve" with a "Profit Motive" Can Be a Recipe for Entrepreneurial Success for Veterans

This has been a week filled with emotions as I found myself meandering down memory lane. The years I spent serving my country were by far the best years of my life. Reinventing myself as an entrepreneur is definitely becoming a close second in terms of career satisfaction.  The satisfaction level of owning a business may have happened sooner if I had acquired the special sauce "profit motive" early on.

The "profit motive", an absolute essential in business is often a difficult topic for veterans to embrace. After all, the "heart to serve" is generally the number one motivator for them in the  military. The good news is that it will also serve them well in entrepreneurship. But failing to integrate the two will result in more than one failed endeavour.

When I was invited to be a navigator for the Prince's Operation Entrepreneur hosted by Dalhousie University this week, I was all over it. This week long intensive entrepreneurial program brings serving and retired military people together for a week of learning about business. The program was impressive and the soldiers and veterans who took part were inspiring.

There's a lot that takes place in the classroom and I'm a proponent of teaching Business Essentials to new entrepreneurs.  Let's not forget that there are certain lessons that  can only be learned with boots on the ground  - the topic of "profit motive" is one that I hold dear. I know that when I bring it up in the early days of entrepreneurship, I can literally see the discomfort with the topic. But the truth is, when we learn to balance that "heart to serve" with the "profit  motive" that business requires, we elevate our chances for success.

Entrepreneurship is an excellent choice for many veterans. They already have many of the core competencies necessary for success in business - that "heart to serve" is definitely the icing on the cake.

Soldiers have excellent skills in adaptability, we can stay the course even during the tough times. Communication, leadership and networking come natural to us. We not only set goals, we get the job done.

The one where I had the biggest learning curve was adopting the "profit motive" essential to business success. This week as I spoke with these new entrepreneurs I saw the same reaction that I had experienced in the early days. When asked whether I charged for my coaching - I said that I charged what I was worth.

Some struggled with that as they responded with "I'm not in it for the money." to which I responded "You won't be able to live your passion for long if you don't balance that big heart to serve with some practical common sense business motives around profit." That has been the biggest learning curve for me.

It's ok to want to make money. We all need money to survive. Money is just the medium through which we exchange service or as my friend reminded me - it's a measure of the pleasure you give your clients. It isn't some social evil. If you offer something that people want and appreciate, they understand why you get paid for that service. You are worth it. 

Want to know more about what we do at PeopleCan? Check out my website .

3 June 2017

There's nothing like the wrong environment to take the sizzle out of your entrepreneurial dreams

Are you a massive dreamer? Do you have a dream for your business that you only take out when no one is around? Tell the truth - does your dream scare you on occasion? I love big dreamers but not everyone does.
I'm a dreamer - I dream in technicolour. I also take bold action to make those dreams a reality - which irritates the heck out of people sometimes. I've been accused of being like a man when it comes to business. I prefer to call myself a women who is driven to succeed and I'm blessed to have surrounded myself with enough like minded people that the trolls can't really distract me now.
I've been busy this week planting a small garden in front of my house. I've claimed this piece of stubborn earth to create a space that I find appealing. It's been a task and a half. My first attempt to put the shovel into the ground sent a vibration to my skull - nothing could grow in this clay that was as solid as concrete. With my few tools, I managed to turn the dirt, add manure, rich soil and peat moss and I am proud of the fertile spot I have created. It's only been a week but I see evidence that the perennials are taking root.
Environment is important when you plant flowers..............and it matters even more when you plant dreams.
Look at the environment where you are trying to plant your big dream - are you planting in fertile ground? Will adding a few ingredients make it a "fertile patch" into which your dreams can flourish?
Or, is it time to find a new environment?
Had I struck bedrock when I put that shovel into the ground that day - I would have known not to waste my resources or my valuable time.
I've known tough environments. "Crabs in a bucket" is a term that is used to describe an environment. I love this analogy because I've lived in a bucket of crabs. In this analogy, one crab with a dream tries to get out of a bucket and all the other crabs jump on his back and try and climb over him - resulting in all crabs staying in the bucket.
It can look like this example that a client shared recently.
You open up shop in the community and people drive right past you to visit your competition in the next community. That's one example of what crabs in a bucket looks like. The message is all about lack of support that is necessary for growth. Planting your dream in an environment that isn't fertile for growth is a waste of valuable resources.
Take time to evaluate the environment before your take bold action.
Sometimes you can get the ground ready - add a few ingredients and turn the environment into one that is very supportive. My little flower garden is a good example. as is the place that I have chosen to grow my business this time.
There's nothing like a poorly chosen environment to take the sizzle out of your entrepreneurial dream. Take the time to choose well.