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Saturday Book Review: Built to Last

One of my favorite business books, Built to Last is the doctoral work of Jim Collins. The book attempts to look at what sets an entire company apart from other companies.

Many people look at successful companies and think it is one or two visionary products, a visionary leader, or just plain luck. In Built to Last, Collins and Porras survey hundreds of business executives asking them to list visionary companies. From the companies submitted, they looked at companies that were over 50 years old (not just one visionary leader) and had outperformed the stock market.

Once they had that list, they created a second list. This list was of companies that were in the same industry, were started around the same time as their counterparts, and had at least some measure of success in the company’s lifetime.

This gave them 18 visionary companies and 18 not-so-visionary ones.

The Lessons Learned

In the book, they came up with a list of items that the visionary companies generally had and the not-so-visionary ones did not.

While many people have criticized the results of the book, which led to Collins writing multiple books after this one, it is still a powerful example of how visionary businesses can impact their industries and the world.

BHAG

The BHAG, or Big Hairy Audacious Goal, is one of the items they came up with that I have often struggled with. I set goals that are too large and am unable to reach them. Looking at the goals they hold up, they were overly bold to the rest of the world, but to the people within the businesses the BHAGs just made sense.

This is one area where my understanding has grown since originally reading the book. The best goals stretch us but they are also attainable. Because when we achieve goals, we get to celebrate and win.

Preserve the Core

This is the term that Collins and Porras used to describe how the visionary companies all had values and culture that significantly impacted who that company was to the world. Whether it was Phillip Morris (who eventually went under because of tobacco regulations) and their radically individualism or Merck’s commitment to give away medicine to the developing world, each company had core values that were more important than the bottom line.

For aspiring business owners and entrepreneurs, freelance writers and marketers, I think this value is key for our success.

If we understand the core values of our readers, our customers, and our own team, we are able to build rapport, gain interest, and connect with them.

Have you read the book? If so, what were your most significant takeaways from Built to Last?

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Saturday Book Review: Entreleadership

EntreLeadership: 20 Years of Practical Business Wisdom from the Trenches was a great book to read the second time around, and I learned more now than I did then. I marked it up thoroughly so that I can use it as a reference guide for building Paul Davis Solutions, and hope to give you enough of an idea in this review to decide whether you want to buy it yourself.

Good Content for Various Stages of Business

In fifteen chapters, Dave Ramsey covers everything from defining a term he coined (combining entrepreneur and leader) through all the fundamentals of running a business. It is an ambitious project to include sales and marketing, accounting, human resources, strategic planning, business launching, decision making and more in one book, and Dave Ramsey does an admirable job.

Whether just starting or celebrating 30 years, EntreLeadership is a great tool for refreshing your understanding of the fundamental principles to running a business. If you have ever listened to Dave Ramsey’s radio show, you might have heard he gives the same advice your grandmother would give you, he just keeps his teeth in.

This book is no different. It has some solid, common sense principles for running a business and these are 3 key takeaways I got from the book (that will probably change the next time I read it).

Total Surrender

“My total surrender following my failure is at the root of our tremendous success today.” – Page 2

Personally, this was a significant quote for where my business is at right now. I find it comforting, because PDS is being built on the backs of many part-time businesses. In the first two chapters, Dave Ramsey offers his significant history as a business person as the reason and the method behind writing this book. The sub-title gives it away: 20 Years of Practical Business Wisdom from the Trenches.

This is one of the most inspiring parts of the book for a business person facing tough times; it reminds us that we are not alone and in every failure is buried the seed of success.

Selling Matters

Chapter 8, Death of a Salesman, is Dave Ramsey’s explanation on sales. Knowing his history with and love of selling from the introduction and chapter 1, I am surprised he waits until Chapter 8, but he had many prerequisites to cover. This chapter has some excellent points including the fact that everyone is in sales.

If you are asking someone out on a date, you are selling your prospect as a suitor.

If a child tries to convince their parents to buy something, they are selling the need for that toy to their parents.

This is a good reminder for any business person or employee: if you are not actively involved in getting and keeping customers for your business, there will eventually be no business.

Another good point to remember from this book is the sales cycle. Different from the inbound marketing cycle, the sales cycle involves qualifying a lead, building rapport with the lead, providing education/information to the lead, and closing the lead to a customer. As Dave Ramsey points out, if you have done the steps properly, people tend to close themselves and at that point you will be merely an order taker.

I would recommend this book just for the chapter on selling.

Back to the Basics

In 305 pages, Dave Ramsey “spanned high-level leadership philosophy all the way to the daily mechanics of starting a business in your living room.” In order to cover so much in one book, he has to provide basic, common sense answers to most people’s questions. If you want a primer on the different types of social media, their market demographics, and how to reach them, this is not the book for you. If you want a reminder on how to find that information, this book is right for you. If you want a legal primer on contract law and human resources, you should not be reading a blog on marketing, AND this book is not right for you. If you want an overview of all the aspects of your business that you might be overlooking, including contracts and human resources, this is the book for you.

EntreLeadership: 20 Years of Practical Business Wisdom from the Trenches provides some common sense thoughts and guidelines to grow a business by and helped me remember some areas in my business that need improving.

So, on to the next step!

If you need help with your basics in marketing, creating content, or building inbound funnels, please contact me today to see if we would be a good fit.

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on some of the product/service links, I will earn a referral fee. 

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3 Questions to Ask Before You Look at Metrics

 

Before you wonder what is wrong with your sales and marketing stats,

Before you look at your SEO and SEM,

Before you split-test your CTA or headline,

Before you consider whether you have the right target market,

Ask yourself these questions:

Do I really understand what I am offering? 

If you do not know what product or service you are offering, your metrics will not help you. Find something that you can do that other people want before you look at metrics. For example, I have started a board game company, a book publishing company, and several network marketing endeavors, but none of those were things that people would actually pay me for. Then I started blogging and got paid.

Find something you do that other people want, before you wonder what marketing statistics are.

Do I think people need this?

If you don’t believe in what you do, why should anyone else? One of my current marketing clients spent some time blogging for other people on Blogmutt and then decided that an outsourced content writer was not her cup of tea. So she started writing Greater St. Louis Parks, and now has a site that she and I can recommend to anyone who travels through or lives in the greater St. Louis area.

Do I love Doing My Service or Using My Product? 

Again, you may think someone else needs the product, but if you have no means of connecting with your target audience, then you become a push salesperson.

Take some time to really consider these questions before any other question in your business. Only when you know that you do understand your product or service, you see that people need it, and you love the product as much as your customers do, only then can you truly succeed in marketing it: you understand your business, your product line, and most importantly, your target market.

 

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Staying in Business Through the First 4 Years: How the Art of Marketing Keeps You in Business

Have you heard the oft-quoted meme that 90% of businesses fail within the first 3 years? Or 5 years? Or 2?

Have you heard that 75% of statistics are made up on the spot? (Get the joke?) Yeah, business failure is one of those statistics, but according to a blog I found reading other blogs yesterday, the real number  is 33% of small businesses will close due to failure in the first 6 years.

In a similar manner, the NY Times tells us that there are 10 reasons small businesses fail, including the math doesn’t add up (too small a market, etc.), poor management (lack of focus and vision), and being in a declining market.

Whether it is 90% of businesses who fail or 33% of businesses, starting a small business is hard. One of the hardest things  you could possibly do. To make it easier, I am going to show in this post how marketing helps your business survive.

Defining Marketing

This paragraph definition for marketing is one of many I found at Heidi Cohen’s site.

The one idea I want to take from this definition is in the middle of the post:

“However, since the emergence of digital media, … [marketing] has increasingly  become more about companies building deeper, more meaningful, and lasting relationships with the people that they want to buy their products and services.”

Marketing is about relationships.

This is what has inspired me to look at marketing as an art form, as a collaborative creative process. If you have ever played in a symphony, you realize that certain types of art require a collaborative creative process. Marketing is one of these arts.

Good marketing involves input from customers, from the public, from your business alliance partners, and more.

The Back of My Head, Making Music

So, an original definition of The Art of Marketing:

The art of marketing is a collaborative process using the best of design, content, and analytics tools to create a beautiful process where customers are served by a business.

The art of marketing uses the best design, content, and analytics to beautifully serve your customers. Tweet: The art of marketing uses the best design, content, and analytics to beautifully serve your customers. https://ctt.ec/9XxtU+

Now, there are two types of great artists: those who work from their art, and those who work for their art.

Johann Sebastian Bach worked from his art; as a worship leader and performer, he was constantly creating music for his patrons in order to earn an income. He did not become popular until long after he died, when his art was discovered by Felix Mendelssohn.

Vincent Van Gogh worked for his art. He painted because his image of the world demanded an outlet. His first successful art exhibit of 71 paintings was in 1901, 11 years after his death.

Neither of these great artists are the ideal we want in a wealth consumption world, but when it comes to keeping your business alive through the first 6 years, they are both inspirational.

Surviving Business

Surviving the first 6 years requires a dedication to your business that many other people will not understand. “I am going to be rich.” is not a statement that will keep you going. A marketing minded mission gives you the strength to continue working when customers cancel, when your emails get ignored, when no one visits your website for weeks.

All of these things may happen to you, and what will you do to keep going when they do? The marketing mindset helps get through mortal wounds of a profit-motive business.

  • “I cannot get clients.” – Consistent content creation is key to getting new clients. A marketing artist creates for the joy of creation and failure to acquire new clients is motive to find other solutions while continuing to work on your business. In the 10 years I have been learning marketing, I have worked at over 10 different jobs and business ideas, including giving maternity shots to over 7000 cows. If I can do that while practicing my art, what can you do to provide while your business grows?
  • “My clients don’t pay enough.” – Art understands different levels of involvement. Some people want to enjoy art, some people want to participate. Some patrons need a single small item, others want consistent new content. Combining art and business understands that diversity in customer levels is key to practice.
  • “I don’t have enough  products or services.” – Marketing is about finding the product mix that your customers need. Art is about creating for the joy of it. When you combine art and marketing, you will create out of habit and this problem will be reversed.
  • “I don’t know who my ideal client is.” – This is understandable if you are just starting out. As an artist, remember that your first client is yourself. I have heard many marketers say that you are not your own ideal client, and I disagree. Your first client is yourself, because if you do not enjoy what you do, why do you expect anyone else to?
  • “I don’t have ANY clients.” – Find something else to do. Seriously, if you have no clients, find some work to do and find a place where you can get paid to do your work. Online, I have found work at Freelancer, Thumbtack, Wyzant, and Blogmutt. Offline I have found work from my coworking spot, my church, family, and local music stores who needed teachers. Keep looking for a client until you find one, and you might learn something about your own aesthetic along the way.

The First 3 Years

Getting through the first 3 years of a business is going to be the hardest part. But, treating your marketing as an artist will help in all aspects of your business.  As such, here are the final 5 areas the art of marketing will help you grow your business through the first 3 years and beyond.

Plan to Fail

I once heard of an author who bought all the copies of his first book because he thought it was not fit to publish. I have seen master potters throw 3 to 5 pots, breaking them down each time, until they find one they like. It took me 4 years to realize I was a poor violinist, and another 4 to actually sound good.

Artists fail all the time.

In business, do not plan all your success on one product. This does not honor your target market, does not help you plan for a product lifecycle, and does not give you opportunities to succeed when you do fail.

If you plan at least 3 product lines (currently mine are writing, consulting, affiliate sales, full-service marketing, tutoring, and violin teaching), you can succeed financially even if you have a 66% failure rate.

Give Yourself Time

Do not start a business when you need income yesterday. Two of my business failures were because I tried relying on them to provide for my family too early. Here are some things you can do to give yourself time to start a business:

  • Get part time work – Many part time jobs are easy enough that you can think through your business while doing repetitive tasks.
  • Drastically cut costs – What can family, friends, and customers do to help you out? This is the point where bartering makes sense, and if you have to spend time living in your parent’s house or your brother’s spare room, that’s ok.
  • Learn to DIY – You don’t know how long it will take to find something that clicks. During that time, you might have to do a lot of menial tasks because you cannot afford to do otherwise.

Learning an art takes time, and you need to give yourself that time in your business. Make certain that you are actually making enough money to pay for your four walls (food, housing, transportation, clothes) before you cut the cord to your part or full-time job.

Test, Change, Test, Change

In marketing speak they call this split-testing (try out two variations of a marketing theme and keep the better one), in music it’s called woodshedding.

Again, you don’t know what will make your business successful, so practice many things and keep what works.

Build Collaborative Relationships

The vision of the solitary artist is as romantic as it is false.

Vincent Van Gogh would still be a moody artistic failure if it wasn’t for his sister-in-law’s belief in him, even after he died.

Handel’s Messiah never would have been performed without  the support of nearly one hundred other musicians: violinists, trumpeters, flutists, choral singers, operatic stars, and more.

The more your business grows, the more you will need collaborative relationships.

Focus on Your Art

Starting a business is not for everyone. Mike Rowe tried to work with his hands many times before he built a business empire in show business about people working with their hands. There are still many successful business people who work within other businesses, and there is no shame in that.

If you want to start a business, it has to be larger than your desire for financial or schedule freedom. Starting a business, growing a business, and keeping a business is a passion, you need passion to drive it.

For me, my marketing is my art, for a counselor it is the finished product of healthy children. For an inventory handling business, your art is happy clients enjoying your product.

The art of marketing is a great tool to ensure that your business continues now and in the future. If you do not have the time or energy to do your own marketing, why don’t you send me an email and see if I can help you with your business?

 

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7 Tips for Planning Content Creation

If marketing is an art like conducting, content creation and promotion is the ability to count. In something this basic to your online business, content creation is a tremendous part of your marketing process.  These content creation tips will ensure that you are ready and able to go when life throws you a marketing cue.

The Art of Content Creation - Business Tips

Marketing focuses on your target market, understands them and their needs and delivers products and services to them in the best possible way. In the information and social environment we now live, content is the key delivery platform for getting your product or service in front of your target market.

That said, creating content that is meaningful, engaging, and speaks to your potential and current customers is difficult.

No worries, here are some tips on finding ways to reach your audience with the right content.

1. Repurpose Content. 

Simpy put, repurposed content takes one piece of content and publishes it on another platform or a different location. A blog on principles in business can be a good video, a video on opening a drone can be a great blog.

For example, I am not the best visual artist in the world, or even in my house. I would say my 4 year old just surpassed me in many visual arts. That said, visual art is an important and integral part of content marketing. We need images in blogs so that they share on Facebook, linked images get more engagement on Twitter, etc. As I was writing the beginning line to this blog, I thought, “That would make a good meme.”

Five minutes later on Canva and Voila! I have a meme and a photo for this blog: that is repurposed content.

2. Understand Your Why

I am reading EntreLeadership: 20 Years of Practical Business Wisdom from the Trenches by Dave Ramsey, and he talks about how customers buy from brands because of the brands why: what makes you want to be in business. For me, my business is about helping small businesses who are struggling with getting their identity in front of their customers.

This is my passion and a very big why.

I also have embraced the creative lifestyle required to become an excellent marketer.

What is your why? What are you doing for your customers that makes you get out of bed in the morning?

Understand that and you will have an easy time planning content.

3. Use a Calendar

I could write in detail on this, but why not just tell you to do it and send you to an excellent post by Sarah Arrow.

4. Write Often

I stopped writing at The Writer’s Cue for several months; I was busy with other clients and I did not know where I wanted to go with it. I was writing for solopreneurs and home-based business people, but was landing clients who were more on the small business side of things.

Now that I understand a little more about my client and my art, I am kicking off my marketing campaign with a one-month blogging challenge: a blog a day. After I successfully achieve that goal, I will back it down to probably 2 blogs a week.

Does it take that much writing to get the hang of content? Yes, yes it does.

5. Learn Grammar and Vocabulary Rules

Listen, you can have an informal voice and even drop swear words here and there. But, if your writing cannot be understood, you will not be able to interact with your customers.

The sentence, you which our reading, might could be ignorant to there understanding when your reaching out too ur customers

If that sentence looks normal, you need to take some writing tutoring before you try to manage your own content plan. Also, why are you reading a post on content creation tips? Go find a good book, read that. Then find another. Read it, too.

6. Use the Right Software

Ever heard of Grammarly? It is a great tool for managing grammar and vocabulary. Workflowy is a great tool for taking notes. Research some other software options for calendars, grammar, note taking, reading text back to you, and more.

7. Do, Be, Do, Be, Do

A comical quote from the 60’s is a good way to end this list and remind you that practice makes perfect. But, you need to do your writing, take time to watch how people interact with it, find out what pain points it answers, which ones it doesn’t and then do another practice round.

DO be DO be DO

What are some important content creation tips you use in your business writing?

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on some of the product/service links, I will earn a referral fee. 

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How Does a Solo-Preneur Create an Innovative Culture?

The core to any small business is the business owner. For many small businesses, like mine, the core is also the periphery. Many small business owners are trying hard to create a business system which amplifies their efforts over time and hope to someday, possibly, start thinking about culture and other fun stuff like that.

If that is you, I want to write a short post on how your location, your resting habits, and the people around you help create a culture of innovation, even if it is just you!

Location Matters

As a small business owner or independent freelance worker, your location matters. Even if you do everything online in a virtual community. Going unplugged and working primarily from coffee-shops is a great idea, but there are some drawbacks to not being intentional about your work and business location.

Costs are increased by choosing a poor location. Efficiency is decreased and technology is limited by the location you choose to work in or sell from. For example, I was working from home, writing and trying to build a business.

My office was the kitchen, and my preschool age children spent part of their day sitting at the table learning to read, talking to me, drawing pictures, and watching videos. This was not ideal. It was costing me time and efficiency to work there and my laptop had given up the ghost a few months back.

My Coworking Cubicle

Happy In My Cubicle

Since I had not means to move to a coffee shop and could not work at home, I had to get creative. Thankfully, I was able to find Loom Coworking in Fort Mill. I was able to move my clunky desktop into the office and start working there within one day.

The location you work is important to your business, and it may be any one of the following places: coffee shops, beaches or other “resort” type locations, coworking offices, a spare room at home, your kitchen table, or a traditional  business lease. It is important that you remember that the location you work in needs to give you ample opportunities to network with others, to do focused work, and to be able to put your pen down at the end of a work session.

Dropping The Pencil

I have to credit Morgan Snyder of Ransomed Heart for this idea, but it is key to building a healthy culture that breeds innovation in work. His Christmas blog from 2013 is a classic in my inspirational repertoire; he talks about finding the deeper magic (credit to CS Lewis) in his family one snowy day. He talks about dropping the pencil early to go home and fight for an intimate moment with his family. Now that I am working from a coworking space with a clunky computer, I am learning how valuable this idea is to building quality relationships with my family, myself, and God and how limiting my work time actually drives to increased productivity, rather than the other way around.

I know when I come into the office in the morning that I have limited time before I have to put my work down and go home. So I have to plan and commit to a course of action for my day that will increase my business and be accomplished in the hours I have allotted to that day’s work. This drives high energy innovation in the moment and also creates opportunities for me to recharge. When I drop the pencil, I have a 15 minute drive to be back to my family where I review how my day went, pray through my successes and failures, and prepare to go home and rest.

The next day, or next shift, I come back ready to work with a clear understanding of the limited time I have available. Finding time to rest and recharge is essential. If you want to have an innovative culture as a small business owner/freelancer, devote time each day and each week to rest, recharge, and love people around you.

MasterMind for Innovation

Innovative ideas I have worked on in the last week: recruiting students from a college planner (tutoring business), helping my wife take a semester off of grad school to recover from a busy summer and some stress in our family’s health (personal), and committing to writing 30 blogs in 30 days (writing work).  All of these innovative moments in my life are the result of spending time with others and getting on the same wavelength as them relationally, what sales guru Napoleon Hill called a mastermind.

The Master Mind principle: Two or more people actively engaged in the pursuit of a definite purpose with a positive mental attitude, constitute an unbeatable force. - Napoleon Hill

If you are going to create a positive, innovative culture in your life that drives you to greater success, you need to focus on finding a great location, taking time to recharge, and building masterminds with others!

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The 5 Reasons Why I Run My Own Business Online

5 Reasons Why I Do Freelance Writing

Towards the end of last week, I was facing the distressing daily doldrums brought about by less than delightful performance statistics, and I wondered why I keep getting up and going into work. I wanted to take some time to talk about why we keep doing the hustle when we are starting an online business.

Family

As Genavieve Muwana states so beautifully in this post, our children have a way of inspiring us. When her five year old son jumped in all on his own it reminded her of the fact that the little ones in our lives often have a clearer idea of what it takes to succeed than we do.

Although they are almost as distracting as they are inspirational, these individuals are my reason for getting up and going to work:

3 Reasons I Hustle

Customers

I love serving my customers. When you work in as many diverse jobs as I have, you begin to see that every job has someone who needs help at the end of it. When it comes to freelance and ghostwriting, the only success we have to show at the end of the day is the fact that we have satisfied customers.

When I cannot send my customers away happy, it leaves a feeling of dis-ease that really puts me off my rocker. Thankfully, I have been equipped with tools to recover (more on that later). But, when I provide high quality service and products to my customers, it inspires me to do better work.

Quality Work

Whether it is writing a short post like this one or doing something with much more research (like the eBook I am writing on starting a freelance writing career), I love doing good work. It is inspiring to read through my writing and think: “Yeah, I wrote that!”

This is an essential attitude to have in whatever you do in life. One of the reasons I never became a professional violinist was because I knew that I was way too easily satisfied with good enough. I love to play, but I do not love to play so well that I am my own worst critic. When it comes to serving my customers (whether in writing, editing, or tutoring), I am always seeking to get better and grow.

Finances

I have some addictions that I must feed: I need to eat multiple times a day. I need to drink water. I prefer sleeping indoors. My family has similar problems. All that adds up to hefty bills every month. I know that if I am passionate about serving my customers, creating quality results from my labor, and providing for my family. Finances will follow.

Fun

Finally, I actually enjoy this. I love thinking up new posts. I love researching what works and what doesn’t in marketing content. I always thought I would be a novelist, but I have discovered something in the last 3 years: I don’t enjoy writing novels nearly as much as I do marketing content.

Not to say that I will never write a novel. Also, I love reading them, so if anyone wants a free novel review, please contact me.

That’s it: I do this because I want to provide for my family, care for my customers, create quality results, increase my finances, and have fun!

What are your reasons for working? Please, please, please comment below!

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5 Challenges a Small Business Owner Can Perform to Grow Personally and In Business

Tremendous Quote

Charlie “Tremendous” Jones is often credited with saying that you will be exactly the same person in exactly the same place five years from now as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read. While this is often quoted to the point of being a truism, there are actually multiple ways to increase your personal value as a business owner and an individual. With social and electronic information available to every business owner, the issue at hand is whether you can take the time from a busy week and integrate learning and growth with your business goals.

Challenges are valuable ways for you to focus your learning and networking and increase what you read (it doesn’t have to be a book) and who you meet (it doesn’t have to be a physical meeting).

Facebook Challenges

There are List Building Challenges, Blogging Challenges, and more that an individual can enter to do self-improvement and practical business activities within a network of peers. If you need to increase your health because of the stress of running a small business, find a challenge and a support community to help you get through the difficult day-to-day commitment to doing health.

Facebook Challenges often provide informative content (daily updates, emails, and personal responses to your questions) while also expanding your network (you meet both the hosts and many of the participants in the challenge).

A Reading Challenge

Charlie Jones was not the only person I have read who talks about the value of reading to grow your business. During a particularly challenging time in life, I was feeling like a failure in business and in life, so I set a challenge to read one book a week for the next 6 years. Now, for some people, this is a little like setting a challenge to earn a million dollars this year or speak in front of a live audience of 10,000 people. Both are unobtainable. I am not most people, and this challenge is one of the few long-term goals I have set and accomplished (I passed the two-year mark with 100 books on my list last week. A little behind, but definitely in the ballpark for completion).

Whether you read a lot or a little, a personal reading challenge (You can use Goodreads or Facebook if you want a social/electronic method to track it) is a great way to improve your knowledge, empathy, and understanding of many, many things.

Learn A Language Challenge

When I was working out of my house, I set a challenge to see how far I could get in Spanish on Duolingo. Although I have let it lapse because of other things, I will probably reset my personal challenge in the near future with a different goal. Before it was to spend 10 minutes a day learning Spanish, my next challenge would be to finish the course in a specific time frame.

Learning a language gives you the ability to target a specific market segment otherwise unavailable to you. It also expands your view of the world as you begin to see through the lenses of different cultures and language groups.

Interpersonal Challenges

My wife and I have been reading Joy Starts Here with Pastors Dana and Pam of Center City Chapel, in Charlotte. The book has many interpersonal challenges that have grown us as individuals and in our marriage. These challenges include taking time to appreciate and thank each other every day. If you are facing overwhelming negativity and fear in your small business, a challenge with supportive team members (family, employees, church, social club, business partners, etc) could provide a great method to rewire the way your brain thinks and create a positive environment in your home or workplace.

The results in my work and home life have been terrific, and I love using the idea of listing one or two things that we appreciate about each other or are thankful for with my kids every day. It gives me a tool to change the sometimes stressful act of getting a 4 year old and a 2 year old to eat into a blessed act of enjoying each other and food. I also get to thank my wife (an intelligent, creative, and independent woman who blogs at Priscilla Speaks) for the commitment she has made to teaching our children. It’s a win-win-win.

What interpersonal areas do you seek improvement in?

Networking Challenges

When I go to any business event, sales presentation, or other meeting, I make a goal to meet at least one new person. This is not a goal to make a sales connect or any other specific business-related issue. It is a challenge to meet and network with people, because we are all in this thing called life, together.

When you are around people, what kind of activities or expressions can you do to ensure that you make more personal connections while still growing your network? Maybe commit to email someone within a day after getting a business card? Maybe challenge yourself to attend 4 networking opportunities a month?

My networking challenge for all of you who read this post is to share it on Pinterest, with the nice little infographic in the beginning. Can you help me out by sharing this post to your business/self-improvement board on Pinterest?

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