Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Is Your Business At The Bottom Of Your To-Do-List?

Solo professionals fail in business because of one of three things. The first is lack of clarity and focus about what they do, how it benefits others, and how much time they must invest to create a business that both serves others and makes a profit. In this article, Sue discusses what happens when your business is at the bottom of your to-do list.

By Sue Painter

If you are a female solo professional, chances are that your business is not making as much money as you’d like it to. Perhaps when you got the thought to go out on your own you held a vision of more flexibility, a freer schedule, and making at least as much money as you were making working for someone else. Perhaps you even secretly thought that you had the chance to make it big, pulling in much more money, paying off your mortgage, easily paying for a child’s college education.

Let me ask you.....where is your business now, compared to that vision? Where is it compared to your secret thought? Have you given up on that dream?

I read a story about makeovers in a recent edition of O magazine that made me think about how women so often put their business at the bottom of their to-do list. We do it to ourselves and our businesses, actually. We think we’re being unselfish and giving, taking care of others before ourselves. But are we, really? Listen to one comment from the O makeover article:

“With the new looks came a new attitude. What a makeover does for all of us is point out that there are BIG possibilities for us all. Maybe we’ll get the idea that from a makeover, we can take another step toward change in other areas of our lives.”

Lack of attention to one’s self is no way to teach our children to stand up and be counted, is it? Making sure that everyone else has new clothes while we schlep around in last year’s sweats only makes us both look and feel at the bottom of the barrel. Paying for private lessons for our children while refusing to spend the money to take a workshop for ourselves sells ourselves and our business short.

Think about it. If you fail to give yourself and your business the nurturing you both deserve, you send a silent message that you are not worth your own time and care, and that your business isn’t important enough to make a difference in anyone’s life. Is that the truth? I doubt it. But you are showing how little you believe you can make it really big when you continue to play safe and small. You are refusing to serve others with your business, in a way that only you can uniquely serve.

When you really tune in to your old business vision what does it look like? Have you lost your early enthusiasm? How can you get it back? And if you did, how much cleaner and better would you see the way to that secret vision you have? How much more freedom would you have to be with your friends and family? How much less worry over financial matters would you have? What kind of example would you set for family and friends and other entrepreneurs if you kick-started your business again and made it provide for you at a high level? It would be a powerful message, wouldn’t it?

That’s just not going to happen if you take care of everyone else’s current needs first. Take care of yourself and your business, so that you have the wealth needed to take care of those you love. You aren’t here to serve your family and friends everything on a platter. In fact, if you do, they will learn directly from you to lean on others rather than themselves. Is that what you want?

I heard a quote last week that really made me stop and think. “A strong focus now creates a different future later.” How do you focus now on your business, so that you can have that different future? Here are three ways:

* Change your lifestyle and your schedule around so that you are spending at least two hours every single day building your business. No excuses. You are in business for yourself, right? Two hours a day is a bare minimum. Otherwise, your business is nothing more than a hobby. You can work part time, but you can’t work no time. Two hours, minimum, every day.

* Create a calendar for the entire year. Plan in your vacation weeks, at least three long weekend retreat times for yourself to focus solely on your business, and time for learning what you don’t know but need to know in order to build your income. If you are running out of hours in the week, get help for the low-level stuff and keep your eye on the stuff that creates future income.

* Get a mentor or a coach. Virtually every single wealthy business owner works with someone who can pull them out of the weeds when they need it, give them perspective, and save them a lot of time in mastering new tasks. No excuses. Don’t tell yourself you can’t afford it, tell yourself the cost of doing without is much higher than what you’ll pay. Think return on investment, not cost. That’s how a business owner thinks, after all. Are you one, or not?

Sue Painter is a marketing therapist whose expertise is finding the dark and murky under-places that keep your business from succeeding. She develops business plans that work, and strategic marketing plans that take dead aim at your target market. You can subscribe to her Marketing Tips e-zine at .

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