Business: Stop lying, it IS personal.

‘Don’t take it personally, it’s just business” 

That’s what he said, right before he went into a huge rant and tore down a coworker to their very core. But everybody says that, right? “It’s just business” is supposed to mean that you shouldn’t show emotion, it shouldn’t hurt, you shouldn’t be personal or take things personally because it is “just business.”

I’m here to call BS on that lie, because let me tell you my friend, business is nothing if it’s not personal.

I had an experience yesterday that I will never forget, and I have to share it with you. See how you can relate…

I’ve been working with a new client, getting things set up for them to start a new program with me – let’s call them Client A. I’m used to most of my clients working in a very rapid-fire pace, but there were some things this client needed to do before we could start – fair enough.

While this client was getting things in order, another prospective client emailed me asking if we could talk – let’s call them Client B. Sure, why not – I’ll chat with them. My roster is technically full once Client A moves forward, but I’ll talk with them.

But Client B didn’t just want to talk. Client B wanted to work with me – and they were ready to move forward today. So I said “I don’t have the room for you to start today, Client B, but if you can wait a few days I’ll look into my other clients’ program dates and see when I can fit you in.” They agreed. No problem.

Client A was facing more and more challenges in getting started, though, and I couldn’t have a complete picture of my calendar until I knew when they were starting. Client B kept emailing – “any news yet?” And I kept responding, “No, not yet. Just a few more days.”

Days turned into over a week, and then the unthinkable happened for Client A – a big personal matter that needed all of their focus. One that, after my father’s strokes last year, hit close to home. I felt for them so deeply… But I knew I needed to give an answer to Client B.

So I did what the textbooks tell you to do. I did what the boss above would have done. I pulled up my business britches, expressed my condolences, and explained the situation with Client B. I asked if it were possible for Client A to move forward at all, even in the slightest way, so I could tell Client B with certainty.

Sometimes we make decisions based on whom we feel we should be rather than who we are. Those decisions, FYI, are typically wrong.

Client A came back with a no – it will have to wait, the personal matter was priority #1. If we couldn’t end up working together as a result, they were willing to make that sacrifice.

And in that moment, I had a decision to make. I could do the “business smart” thing, take Client B who was ready and willing and able to start right away, and send more condolences to Client A.

But here’s the thing – business isn’t just business. It is personal. It is intensely personal, especially when you spend all day genuinely caring about your clients and their success.

And so I did something that most hard-core business gurus, teachers, trainers, CEOs would write me off for. I emailed Client A:

“Client B can start in September, when another client is wrapping up their program. Your spot is waiting here for you when you get back. Let me know if there is anything I can do for you.”

A complete reverse in position, a shocker for Client A I’m sure. Then the email to Client B:

“I’m sorry, my roster is full until September. If you want to lay out a plan of action for then, we can get started after the summer.”

I still haven’t heard back, and don’t know if I will.

And that was the best possible decision I could have made.

It makes no business sense. I mean really, I just turned away a paying client for a client that is *likely* but not *guaranteed* to come on. I turned down money today for the potential of money next month.

But I couldn’t do it any other way. Reading their words, feeling the raw emotion of what they were going through – and then robbing them of something they really wanted to do? I couldn’t do it. There wasn’t a fibre in my being that would let me pull that trigger.

And that, my friends, is why business is personal.

Because sometimes you have to make the choice that will help you sleep at night.

I don’t know what will come of all of this, but I do know that no matter what happens, I can feel good about it.

When you spend your life building a business to serve others, when you spend your days genuinely caring about the success and joy and pain of others, business is deeply personal.

Have you had an experience like this? How did you handle it? Do you have any regrets? Share in the comments!

 

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The Story of RADIANCE – behind this very blog.

izzynmom

That right there.

That photo was taken on a Thursday afternoon. Most people would have been at work, but me – I was at the lake with my oldest daughter, celebrating the end of her first year of preschool with her friends. I absolutely love that photo.

So why am I here sharing it with you today?

Because she is one of my reasons why. My other daughter, my husband, our camping trips, my future flying lessons, and of course, the success of everyone I get to meet are some of the other reasons.

You have reasons, too – and they aren’t all about money. I know that. Not a lot of other “online entrepreneurs” or “business mentors” seem to realize it, but I know it.

Business isn’t just about business.

It’s about designing your life – taking control, experiencing freedom, building something with your own blood, sweat, and tears that takes on a life beyond you. Supporting your family. Taking trips. Checking things off of your bucket list. Growing as a person. Those are just a few of the other things that business is about.

And despite how it might look from the outside, it I’ve had to remember those reasons many times – just to keep going.

I shared with you last week that this blog is turning a new corner. That instead of sharing exercises and practices and stories, I’m going to share with you what is happening in my business. In real life. Like a no-makeup selfie of my business, every time there is something to share.

But for that to make any sense to you whatsoever – for it to have any impact – I have to lift the veil, and tell you the story of how this business came to be. Beyond the typical tales, you’re going to see the struggles, the triumph, and the reality of life behind it all.

And it started with her.

Years ago, Darren (that’s me other half!) and I were getting married in a few months and trying for a baby. Everything was planned out… We had the right house, the right vehicle, Darren had the right job, I was freelancing part time (I had been consulting and writing full time for 5-6 years by that point, but had slowed down once we got married) and everything was humming along.

Apparently not everything in life works out quite the way you plan, and it took a few different doctors to figure things out, but come November… We had an answer and we had hope. We found out in early December that we were expecting our long awaited miracle baby. That’s her above.

Fast forward to September 2nd, 2010. Our daughter was about to turn 1 month old, and Darren had returned to work… But when he came home that day, it didn’t take long to figure out that something was wrong.

He had been fired.

Not just from any job, but from a manufacturing job in the middle of a recession. One in which he had worked his pay up to a level that couldn’t be easily replaced. All less than a month after our precious miracle baby was born.

And I did what any crazy, semi-hormonal, entrepreneurial woman would do in that situation – I told him that everything would be fine, pulled out all of our retirement savings, applied for a loan, and told him to start a business.

The only problem was, he didn’t know the first thing about entrepreneurship and I was rusty on consulting, let alone teaching. We fumbled along for a few months, but I finally recognized that he just wasn’t passionate about making it happen. I started to get back into freelancing, helping him less and less…

Within 2 months, the business had completely failed – having never made a single dime.

Yep, I’m sitting here asking you to trust me with your journey and admitting failure – but I learned several valuable lessons from that experience.

You see, I was rusty on consulting – but I learned how to teach, train, and mentor from helping him move forward.

I learned even more over the next 18 months as I busted my butt day in and day out, freelancing and consulting. I supported our family and one gig after another, we made it through… Barely. We were constantly in emergency mode though, and eventually it just took its toll.

Less than two years after the journey started, we lost our house and moved in with my in-laws.

Ouch.

I love my in-laws from a distance. They’re fabulous to visit, and they will never, ever be thanked enough for the way they graciously took us in. But I was pregnant with our second child when it happened, our first was almost two, and we had just been through a crazy ride – living there sucked.

I tried my best over the coming months to cobble a business together, but again, I was constantly in emergency “get me out of here!” mode, and nothing was working. Clients would try to hire me, but something would stop it from happening.

Our second daughter was born, and came home to their house – my business still not taking off.

It was around then, following all of the “right” advice, doing all of the “right” business-y things, that I realized I had to be missing something. It couldn’t possibly be my skills, not after I had consulted so many companies to such huge growth. No, it had to be something else.

That’s when I discovered the truth behind the entrepreneurial mindset.

Nothing up until that point had been working, so I really believed that it couldn’t get any worse by following this “cooky” trail off into the spiritual realm. I had believed in the Law of Attraction and spirits, energies for a long time. So I began to absorb everything I could about mindset and manifestation. I started to tap into my own intuition more, and develop the innate abilities I’ve had since I was a child.

Teleseminars, webinars, classes, calls, books, blogs, newsletters, ecourses, and anything else I could get my hands on. And things… Things started to shift.

First, an old client came back and offered me work in marketing. Paying work. Good stuff.

So I went back and studied more. I took courses from Joe Vitale to get certified as a Master LOA Coach.

The babies started sleeping through the night. My marriage started to heal. My body started to heal. And then the client came back and offered me full time work as their Marketing Director.

The pay wasn’t great, but at that point, I was grateful. Full time! Paid work! A way out! An executive position! It was everything I thought I wanted. The low pay was supposed to be just a temporary thing, topped up with sales incentives and whatnot.

But then the incentives didn’t show up.

So I went back, and I studied more. And I learned one key thing that has served me more than any other manifestation, business, or marketing lesson I’ve ever learned.

You have to grow a big, brass pair to succeed in life.

You have to ask for what you want, and KNOW that you will get it. You have to be unwilling to accept any option other than success, and know that you will achieve it.

So I went to my client-turned-boss, and I asked. Well, more accurately, I told. I said I couldn’t support my family on that pay, so it was either step up or step out. He stepped up. Two weeks later we moved out of my in-laws and into our own home.

At the time, I thought my corporate job was a lifesaver.

I made them a ton of money in the beginning… But after awhile (I think around the 3rd time I was fired then rehired for the same job…) I realized that it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. I was yelled at constantly, my expertise was ignored, I was working 50-60 hours a week and being berated for not working enough. It was hell, honestly, and I started taking it out on my family.

I yelled at my kids. I cried almost every day. I wrote and brainstormed and dreamed of the day I had permission to break free. And then my dad had a stroke…

He healed from that one, thankfully. But then he had another. One more round of bedside visits, all night worry-sessions, coming together with the family and I realized enough was enough.

I spent all night one night at the hospital, came home the next day and got called a liar by my boss. I called my mom and cried – I asked for her to tell me it was okay to quit. I just needed to hear it was okay from someone else.

She told me it was okay. I called my boss and quit.

That was the end of October 2013. I had grown their business to over $300k in just months, before they decided they knew better and stopped listening. I decided to do the same thing for others who actually wanted my advice.

Well, after I took a few weeks off to enjoy my new-found freedom anyway!

So come November-ish, I sat down and finished my book. The one you got when you opted in to my newsletter.

I had one client in the spirits business from my pre-ex-corporate days, and that was IT. I marketed my book all November long, offered sessions, in fact I think I did 40 sessions before Christmas!

Aaannnd I walked out of it with no clients.

Zip. Nada. Zilch. My “amazing going to save us” business was going bust faster than you can say “ho ho ho.” And right during the holidays, too.

Our Christmas trip was cancelled, largely due to our inability to pay our rent. I buckled down again into mindset, but this time, I just had to reactivate everything I had learned.

I slowed down my sessions. I didn’t want quantity, I wanted quality.

I checked my mindset every day, before every session, before every activity.

I followed my own systems.

I stepped up and made big requests to start my telesummit.

I worked with my own coach.

And in January? I closed 3 new clients. Total revenue for the month was over $13k.

February slowed a bit, only doing about $4k.

March was hot again at $12k, April around $6k, and May – just last month – I hit $14k.

Do you know what that means? I’m on track for 6 figures – within 6 months, with a total of 600ish on my list.

Do you want to know something though? Do you want to know the best part of it all?

I spent it at the lake, at the park, in the library. I went to my daughter’s preschool. I played and painted pictures, I went camping and hiking, I got to spend my time writing great things and talking with amazing people and helping people reach success.

The best part was, I did what I want when I wanted to – I helped people and I was happy.

You can do it, too.

And no, you don’t have to work with me privately to make it happen. Sure, if we’re the right fit that could speed it up a whole lot – but it isn’t necessary. Nothing is necessary but the right mindset, the will and desire to succeed, and a few skills you can pick up right here on this blog.

That is the point of sharing the real journey. That is the point of sharing everything above, so you can see that no matter what you’re going through, success could be right on the other side. That you could be one small tweak away from achieving what you really want. That business isn’t just about money, but about life – at the root and in the results.

So what comes next?

I have a mentoring practice that supports my family. Great.

I get to hang out with and talk to amazing entrepreneurs doing incredible things. Love that part!

I’ve got a few products and some things kicking around that need more attention. No big deal.

What comes next is what I preach – I’ve done enough of the “Fire” step. I’ve executed and executed until I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that people want what I have. Now it is time to aim and get ready.

You’re going to watch right here on this blog as I move from lead-generating list with a basic opt-in to a full sales funnel, and I’m going to show you how I make every single step work.

The sheer volume of lessons and resources coming down the pipe between now and Christmas is going to make you absolutely GIDDY with delight. I know I’m super stoked for it all :)

So what do you think – are you ready for the play-by-play? The reality, the authentic struggle and triumph of it all? Have a question I didn’t answer? Share in the comments!

Shine bright, superstar!

- Cheryl

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The importance of relationships + a change coming to the blog…

relationships

I had a unique situation present itself in the past few weeks. It all started with an email dropped into my inbox about a company I knew, which led me to chase down their current status… And today, as a result, I’m sharing a cautionary tale with you.

This startup had an incredible product, huge potential, and a great team put together.

Within their first 3 months, they had made well over $300k – great by any standard.

But things started to take a strange turn from there. The relationships they had built to get them to $300k weren’t being respected. Some within the company thought they knew better, that the product would stand up on its own.

They thought they didn’t need relationships – that there was always someone else.

Time after time they lost partnerships, marketing opportunities, staff members, and sales because they didn’t respect their relationships.

They lost hundreds of thousands of dollars to bad contracts. Millions in potential sales to sabotaged marketing opportunities. They were even blacklisted by major brands, never to work with them again.

Their reputation began to precede them – and not in a good way.

I know that relationships are the most important part of any business. Every business is a sales business, and relationships are the foundation of sales. Unfortunately, they believed so blindly in their product that they thought they could succeed without anyone’s help. Today, as I just found out, they’re nowhere to be found.

I hear that they are technically still in business, waiting on something… But their phone is disconnected, their connections have abandoned them, and their team is all gone. There is nothing left.

Projected sales for their first year topped $1.7M – and they never reached it. Projected sales for 2014 are $0.

I’m telling you this for a reason.

This is about making you aware of what can happen when you don’t respect relationships.

Nobody owes you anything.

Your product will not stand on its own.

Relationships are the foundation of every successful business, and a lack of relationships is the foundation of every failure.

I’ve made $100k+ just on relationships in the past two years – just from knowing someone, respecting them, helping them, and getting help in return. Clients, promotional partners, referral sources, and even people I refer to others.

You can do this too – if you respect the power of a relationship, if you understand the commitment of a partnership, if you give without expecting anything in return. You can do this if you genuinely form friendships, share from the heart, and be yourself.

Look at the most successful businesses online, and you will see one thing – they are all thriving on relationships. When they host a launch, everyone is promoting. When they mail to their list, 30k+ people are reading. Relationships are their business.

What will you do today to build a new relationship? Share in the comments!

A change coming to the blog…

A quick side note – there is a change coming to the blog, one that I think you’ll enjoy. Starting with next week’s post, I’m going to start a new blog series – one in which I share the real, behind the scenes look at how I built a 6-figure business in 6 months.

Posts will no longer take place only on Wednesdays, but instead I’ll be posting whenever there is something important to share. You’re going to hear about things like:

- My income reports for each month, and the sources of that income…

- Promotional experiments and their results…

- A behind-the-scenes play by play of every new project, collaboration and launch…

- Every challenge this business comes across as it grows, and the strategies we use to overcome those challenges…

- How I incorporate lifestyle design into my business, and the obstacles that get in the way…

- And a whole lot more.

In other words, I’m going to share my real life as a lifestyle entrepreneur with you – the ups, the downs, the problems and solutions, so that you can apply those lessons to your own business.

Is this scary? Yes.

Is this vulnerable? Yes.

Am I going to do it anyway? Absolutely.

It is time to come out from behind the strategies and share my real journey with you. If you want to walk this same path, you deserve to know both what is possible and what you might be up against. Sharing my journey is one way to show you.

This will start next week with a new post – the story of launching this business. I’ll share with you the steps that led to creating this company, the ups and downs of getting it going, and how we managed to reach sustainability so quickly.

From there, I’ll continue sharing our journey to $250k/year and beyond – enjoying my work just 10-15 hours a week.

I can’t wait to see you next week.

- Cheryl

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How to Keep Your Life and Business On Track: An Exercise

Every month, I do a simple exercise to help keep my business on track. When I first began to use this formula, I thought it would simply help me see how much work I had to do and where to focus my efforts… But the more I used it, the more I realized that this exercise helps in many, many other ways.

Aside from helping to focus my efforts, it also helps to:

1. Show me how far I’ve come, giving me motivation to keep moving forward.
2. Reminds me of my priorities and biggest goals once per month.
3. Actually assist in the manifesting process by creating both gratitude and desire simultaneously, without conflict.

So what is this simple exercise? Well it is the monthly inventory – and I’m going to show you how to do it today. Complete this exercise at the beginning of each month, and you will start to see major shifts and changes in your business.

The Monthly Inventory

The entire process starts out by completing an inventory of my life and work, as it stands, right now. Here is an example from June 2014 (when I’m publishing this post, obviously.)

Inventory:
Family – 9
Career – 10
Health – 8
Finances – 8
Education – 8
Recreation – 10
Charitable – 4
Adventure – 8
Travel – 7
Romance – 3
Relationships – 4
Spiritual – 6

I rate each item on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being completely dissatisfied and 10 being completely satisfied. In the past, things like charity and spiritual have been higher because I’ve been focusing on those areas. But as you can see, I’ve been focusing on my health, recreation, and business – so relationships, charity, and spirit have suffered a bit. Now I know where I need to shift some of my focus to for the month ahead.

Once I’ve completed my inventory, I can set my goals for the next month. For smaller goals, I’ll simply state a deadline. For larger ones that have carried over from months past, I’ll measure my progress. Here is an example you might use:

Revenue Goal: $1000
Revenue Current: $750
Goal Progress: 75%

Client Roster Goal: 10
Clients Current: 7
Goal Progress: 70%

Create landing page for new promotion (June 10th)

Reach out to new partners for promotion and secure 5 (June 25th)

Spend an entire day with friends and family (June 15th)

Take meditation course from MindValley (June 30th)

Now obviously those are not my real goals for the month, I simply made them up here as an example. However, you can see how I have business goals – continuing to build on the success I’ve had – and personal goals that relate to the areas in my life that I rated low on my inventory.

Now I have 4 small goals and 2 large goals to work toward for this month, so aside from my regular client work, those things will be my focus. At the beginning of July, I’ll do the inventory again and create new goals – bolstering the areas that need improvement and staying course with those that are okay as they are.

That’s it.

If there is one caution with this process, however, it is to not get caught up in guilt or shame about areas in your life that are lacking. Perhaps if you, like me, have been focusing on fun, fitness, and finances, your romance and friendships may have suffered a bit. Or you could have gone the other way – spent so much time in spirit-land, swooning your sweetheart and hanging with friends that when you’re being honest, your business isn’t where you would like it to be.

This inventory is not the place for judgement! Do not “should” yourself into a specific goal. You will never be “All 10s”, it is nearly impossible without the zen habits of a Buddhist monk. Where you focus will rise, and where you take focus from will fall. That is okay. This inventory simply points out where you’re not satisfied so that if you choose, you can make it a priority again.

Go ahead – do the inventory and then post a comment here. What did you discover from this process?

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Top 10 Motivational Blog Posts

solveproblems

Feel stuck? Not getting motivated? Today’s post features the best of the best motivational posts from around the web to help you beat procrastination, get things done, stay motivated (even when things suck), and keep moving forward in your business. My apologies for the overlinking to Steve Pavlina, but if you’ve yet to read his articles, you’re missing out on some motivational mindhacking magic!

Enjoy, and don’t forget – if you like a post, make sure to leave a comment on the authors’ blogs. They love that stuff!

1. 1 Step Back, 2 Steps Forward

This killer piece from Sparkpeople is intended for fitness motivation, but it can be applied to any area of your life. Pay special attention to the section on guilt. When you waste all day surfing Facebook and feel bad about it, it doesn’t need to be the end of your success!

2. How to Wake Up Feeling Totally Alert

Okay, so I’m still mastering this one… I’m an admitted night owl with a serious hate for mornings. But thanks to this and other posts by Steve Pavlina on waking up early, feeling better, and getting more energy, I’m now doing 7:30am regularly and without as much groaning as 10am used to cause. Just be aware, mornings are often more productive – you may end up more successful if you implement this post.

3. How to Set Goals You Will Actually Achieve

In another gem from Steve Pavlina, he teaches you how to properly set goals. This time, however, instead of using “SMART” systems and all of that jazz, he teaches you how to set goals that feel good and actually get you somewhere. I’ve used this with great success – this one post will change your entire perspective on goal setting.

4. Why Should I Set Goals?

Now that we know how to set goals, let’s get TimeThoughts.org’s opinions on why we should – and what might be stopping you. If you’ve been feeling stuck or procrastinating lately, take a look at the section on “Overwhelm” – it might help.

5. How to Find Inspiration

Yes, this is actually on EzineArticles.com – and normally it is hardly a resource I would consider. But this nice little article gives you 8 quick, easy to digest ideas for when you’re running low on inspiration. When you can’t get inspired, you need something quick and dirty to get you moving again and this little piece will do the trick.

6. What Drives You To Success?

Aside from the absolutely horrid header pattern (sorry), the article itself… Well it is actually kind of a downer. BUT all is not lost. These are the 10 most common motivators to success from the executives who have achieved it. See where you can see yourself. Once you know your true motivation, you’ll find that you can inspire and reward yourself much more effectively.

7. Achieving Peak Motivation

Back to Steve Pavlina’s blog for a little bit of woo-woo – here we have the concept of polarization and the effect it has on motivation. To sum up this concept, we are driven either by love or by fear, and what drives us will dictate how motivated we are and how long we can sustain that motivation. Love conquers all, etc. etc. Check out the article itself for a more in-depth discussion on the concept, and how you can use it to get – well, motivated.

8. Do You Know What You Really Want?

I’ve watched others suffer through this… They had the perfect suburban life all lined up until they realized how much the “American Dream” sucked. I went through a similar version myself with an existential crisis last year. No one is immune to this question, but knowing the answer (and then figuring out what you really do want) can go a long way to motivate you. Check out this short article for a quick tutorial on desire and judgement.

9. Our Limitations Are Self-Imposed

Feel like you can’t do something? Like you’re not the kind of person that ____? Or that _____ doesn’t happen to people like you? Then give this piece a quick read! It will help you understand the differences between real limitations and those that come from your experience and perceptions, so that you can overcome anything that stands in your way.

10. How to Stay Positive When Business is Slow

We’ve all been here… Things just aren’t going (or growing) the way that you want, and it can be tough to stay positive. These 6 quick steps should get you back in your groove and working toward the success you deserve – and a couple of them might even help that success come faster.

So there you have it – my top 10 business motivational posts. Do you have a post on your blog, or someone else’s, that you’ve found especially motivating? Share in the comments!

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Make new things possible – love the gap.

Ever since my husband and I met (over 6 years ago now…) we’ve been campers. We camped on Valentine’s Day (in the snow), over long weekends and late nights (in places you could only walk to), and slept 10 feet from gorgeous lakes seen only by the lucky few with a strong enough truck (or legs) to make it there. He even proposed while we were camping – on a cliff, above the river, in the woods. But 4 years ago, just before my oldest daughter was born, that changed.

Camping with a baby seemed like a crazy idea – especially the way we did it, in a tent in the backwoods. Suddenly our camping concerns were less about beer and a view than about diaper changing stations and climate control. Things changed. We decided that before we would go camping again, the kids would be a bit older and we would (gasp) have an RV.

There Was a Gap Between Where We Were and Where We Wanted to Be.

The past 4 years, we’ve moved twice, had another baby, started (and ended) my corporate career, and launched 3 businesses. Each time, there was a gap between where we were and what we wanted – and we closed it. But the RV remained elusive… Until a week ago, when we finally decided to make the leap.

Days and days were spent driving to dealerships, scanning Craigslist, driving for hours to see a tent trailer that turned out to be a piece of… “Junk”. We were almost giving up hope that we were going to close that gap, until we found it.

A 1995 Dutchmen with a toilet, shower, furnace, fridge and sink. Two beds, just the right size. A table and bench for seating and extra sleeping. And it was within budget! We towed it home on Wednesday night, and left on our first camping adventure as a family Thursday morning.

There were hiccups, of course. The winch stopped working – and we had to replace it (in the campground, with borrowed tools!) The showed leaked. The sink overflowed. The roof dropped a quart of water on Darren’s back at 4am Friday. All hiccups, but all fixable. We were camping, and we were in an RV!

But The Gap Remains.

We bought our first tent trailer, and once we make a few repairs it will be everything we need as a family. It would probably last us well into our old age if we took good care of it. No issues.

Pulling into a campground with tents and tent trailers, we felt like real “grown  up” campers. And then we saw it – the 23′ Creek Side bunkhouse we looked at last year. Hard walls. Proper water supply and holding tanks. Bunkbeds for the kids. A bigger fridge and more storage – all with a $20k price tag.

And we wanted it.

There we were, finally sitting in the tent trailer we’d been dreaming of for 4 years, and we wanted to step up. What we had wasn’t enough. And for a moment, I judged myself for feeling that way.

“Isn’t this what you wanted?”

“Shouldn’t you just be happy?”

“This is just rampant consumerism running through your brain!”

But I stopped myself. That was the gap. It never, ever goes away – every time you reach a goal, the gap will show you something newer, bigger, and better on the other side.

Before the tent trailer the Creek Side seemed a million years away, and yet now it is a simple trade in and a few thousand dollars to get an older model and we’re there. It is within reach in a couple of years.

So I loved the gap.

I loved it for showing me what is possible.

For bringing a dream closer to reality.

For reminding me that when we get the Creek Side, I’m going to want something else. A new truck, a bigger RV, a 5th wheel… Something else newer, bigger, better, and closer to my reality from that point.

The Gap Stretches Your Boundaries.

When you were 16, if you were anything like me all you wanted was to get your drivers’ permit. The symbol of freedom – being able to go off on your own somewhere. But once you got it, you probably wanted your own car. And then a better car (better on gas, faster, sexier, whatever your fancy.)

You didn’t just “get your permit” and stop wanting – having your drivers’ permit opened up new possibilities on the other side.

Embrace the gap for everything it is, and everything it shows you. Allow yourself to reach a goal, then revel in “what’s next”. Love the gap.

What is On The Other Side of Your Gap?

I want to hear from you – what is on the other side of your gap? What is your “big goal” – not the meaningless business one, with the numbers and the comparisons… The real emotional goal. Supporting your family? Getting the bigger house? The fancy car? The freedom to buy an RV and take off camping without having to answer to a boss, like I did?

Do you know how to close that gap? I want to show you – so let’s talk. For 15 minutes, I’ll listen to your biggest goals and refine them into a plan that makes sense for you. One you can actually implement (without the frustration and overwhelm of those boxed “systems” you see elsewhere.) Something that is personalized for you, your goals, your future, and your skills.

I’ll show you how to love the gap, and push it further – to stretch the boundaries of your imagination and reach entirely new goals.

And it’s completely free. No cost, no catch. You, me, and a plan to reach your next big thing. Just click here to schedule a time to chat.

See you on the other side…

- Cheryl

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How Jessica Oman Overcame Commitment-Phobia to Launch Her Entrepreneurial Journey

Today’s guest post is courtesy of Jessica Oman, one of the most fabulous guests from the Start Something Telesummit who has so graciously decided to share her story here. She tells the true story of how scary it was for her to start her business, to commit to doing the one thing she does well, and shows off her storytelling chops in the process. Read on!

How I Overcame Commitment-Phobia to Launch My Entrepreneurial Journey

Here’s a little-known fact about me: I’m a commitment-phobe.

Actually, maybe it’s a totally obvious fact. Having a party on Saturday? I’ll respond “maybe” on your Facebook event page. Want me on your dragonboat team? Sure, but only as a spare paddler. Thirty day fitness challenge? Yeah, right. I’m lucky if I get through the first week (where’s my wine?).

So when I decided to start my own business, you can probably guess that I wasn’t all in.

The story goes like this: I was in a job I sort of enjoyed, but couldn’t make progress in. I was being paid way below market value. I felt under-appreciated. I had no power to create or improve systems to deliver a better product to the customers. And, I couldn’t use all of the skills I’d spent six years and $40,000 in university tuition (for three degrees) acquiring. It was frustrating, and I had to do something.

I’d thought about starting a business for a while – something that combined my business education with my strong writing skills and allowed me to have complete control over my work while only working with the clients I wanted. But there were two problems: 1) I couldn’t commit to what I specifically wanted to do, and 2) I only had $170 to fund this new venture, whatever it was going to be.

So I did what one who can’t commit to something does: I started advertising on Craigslist for gigs as a “writer and editor for individuals and small businesses”. I didn’t quit my job, of course. I used my $170 to register my business name, get a set of $5 business cards and buy a piece of software that I don’t even use anymore.

It didn’t take long to get my first gig – and it was a big, nasty one. A $3000 project that I thought was my ticket to entrepreneurial freedom. But I let the client take advantage of my willingness to be helpful, and in the end neither of us were happy. I waffled. Should I keep going? Do I suck at this?

In the story you read when you sign up for my newsletter, you read about how I “never looked back” after launching my business. That’s true – but the official launch didn’t happen until three months after this first hairy, difficult project. That’s right; I spent three months going back and forth about whether I should start a business that, today, does nothing else but teach other people how to start businesses!

Ironic, huh?

So believe me, if you’re thinking about starting a new company and you’re scared to commit, I get it. That was me, too. The thing that ultimately pushed me into entrepreneurship was simply this: the pain of staying at my job or looking for another one was greater than the pain of just quitting and getting on with what I really wanted to do.

When The Pain is Too Great, You Must Commit

This is what I always tell my clients now. When they’re unfocused, indecisive, or scared, I ask them to visualize the new bliss. What is life going to be like when you become an entrepreneur? If your business fails, is that worse than staying in your current situation? If it’s not – then do it. Start something.

It’s not that you can’t pivot once you’re in the throes of owning a business. It’s not that you can’t go back to a regular job if you want to or need to. It’s that while you’re doing this thing, you need to be all in if you want to experience all the success you envision today.

I used those Craigslist ads to learn more about the types of clients I wanted, so I could more clearly define them for myself and refine my business to serve them better. I’m no longer a “writer and editor for individuals and small businesses”. I’m a business planner who trains new entrepreneurs in health care, food, or service-based specialties to plan and launch successful and profitable small companies.

And you can guarantee I’m committed to that.

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Guest Posters Wanted!

No regular advice post today, instead I have a request. The CherylWoodhouse.com blog is looking for guest posters to assist in developing content over the next few months, while a big project is underway. If you’re interested in writing for our growing audience and getting some cool perks, here is what we’re looking for:

  1. We want to hear your stories. What have you overcome in your business that you believe could help others? What are you still struggling with? We want the raw, real truth and we’re looking for entrepreneurs who aren’t afraid to share. These pieces will become part of a library for entrepreneurs to look at when they’re struggling, and find camaraderie with others who have gone through the same. Original content only, please.
     
  2. Pieces should be submitted in .txt (Notepad) format, with images attached to your email and links included in brackets. There are no limits on relevant links, but we reserve the right to remove any links that we feel don’t add to the piece. An example for reference:
     
    This is my really cool article. Another really cool article can be found here (http://myrelevantlink.com).
     
  3. Grammar and punctuation do not need to be perfect, but errors should not interrupt the flow of the piece. We reserve the right to edit as needed.
     
  4. I will personally coach and guide you through the process of improving your article and byline, using my copywriting expertise. Yep, you get free copy coaching in exchange for your guest post. You don’t have to take the advice, but it is there if you should want it.
     
  5. Please include your Google+ profile link, so we can attribute the article to you as an author. Bonus – this has huge perks for your SEO on your own site as well!
     
  6. If you would like your post to coincide with something specific (launch, new program, holiday, etc.) we will do our best to accommodate you, but unfortunately we cannot make any promises. We do ask that you make yourself available to respond to comments and questions!
     
  7. If you enjoy the process of guest posting on the blog, we would appreciate you sharing the word and leaving us with a testimonial so that we can attract future contributors.

That’s it for now. If you’re interested in contributing to the blog, click here to email me – include your top 3 post ideas and we’ll work together to find the best fit! Any questions, drop them in the comments below. Happy posting!

- Cheryl

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What Entrepreneurship Is Really About.

entrepreneurroots

This post has been a long time coming, inspired today in large part by one of my absolutely RADIANT Entrepreneurs whom you’ll hear more about in the next month. This isn’t going to be tactical advice. If you’re looking for a step-by-step how-to of something, Google will help you more.

This post is distilling entrepreneurship to its core, in the hopes of attracting more people into the great big world of business.

For anyone who knows me well, or has been anywhere near my yard, it is no secret that I absolutely love gardening. In fact, I love it so much that our family of 4 eats almost all of our summer produce exclusively from our little 0.099 acre city lot - and I still have plenty of lawn left to dig up!

One of the things I find most interesting this time of year, as we’re putting together our food garden for the summer, is the parallels between gardening and entrepreneurship. I’ve talked about this before.

You plant a seed, you feed it and water it, watch it grow, and reap the rewards. Always feed and water your plant for the development stage it is in, and you’ll do well.

But the nourishment. What is it? Where does it come from? What is the difference between a business that grows (and grows big!) and a business that withers, shrinks, dies a slow death, or never even sprouts from the seed?

What makes an entrepreneur? What is entrepreneurship really about?

It should be no surprise to those reading this post that our society views entrepreneurship as a risk. Leaving a steady job to run a business, even if it already has substantial profit, is often referred to as “brave” to our faces – and crazy behind our backs.

So is it risk that makes an entrepreneur? Is it the constant risk that makes the difference between success and failure? Taking big risks is the recipe for success?

Well, yes and no. Taking big risks is important – but not stupid “this will probably both kill me physically and ruin me financially” risks. Successful entrepreneurs do one thing, they do it often, they do it with persistence, and they do it in the face of fear:

They ask.

Not for little things, like a hand unloading the groceries. We’re talking about:

  • Asking for the sale
  • Asking for promotion
  • Asking for the interview
  • Asking for the contract
  • Asking about opportunities
  • Asking for content
  • Asking for a solo mailing
  • Asking for advice
  • Asking for a social share
  • Asking to be let into the group
  • Asking the client if they’ll stay on after a price increase
  • Asking the President of the United States for a quote
  • Asking friends to connect you
  • Asking strangers to connect you more

If the difference between success and failure, thriving and death, a bumper crop and an empty field can be summed up into one word, the difference is that successful people ASK.

I’ve interviewed television hosts, had my events promoted to over 100k people, got on the phone with coaches that require 6 figure investments “just to chat”, closed deals, and to be honest, built my entire business on that premise – just ask.

So, do you want to be more successful? Do you want to reach out, do more, be more, and live your dream? Then tell me - what have you asked for today?

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I had to share this story today.

A departure from my usual posts, I wanted to share this story with you today. Sometimes, in the course of “doing what I do” and helping entrepreneurs and companies to succeed, the little successes get lost in the big ones. That isn’t the case in the story of William Isley, teacher and student of The Emotion Code and new entrepreneur.

Read his story here – unedited, in his own words when I asked him to tell the story of his first client:

Greetings,

During my first two months of working with Cheryl she has helped me shift my perceptions of my self. I have no questions as to whether I can help people. Been doing that all my life. My questions where about whether someone would pay me for my abilities. The shift she brought me through is phenomenal.

One of her programs is a crash course in what makes an entrepreneur and how does one get started. Totally amazing!

She helped me laser in on who I’m most comfortable working with and what are they looking for. She helped me see what I started out looking for as a way to get to where I am. I had forgotten the why of how I got here. She helped me go back in time and rediscover the language and wording that I used to find the folks that helped me.

One assignment was to do 5 practice intro sessions with 5 safe people. So, during the two weeks between assignments life happened and I was unable to do those sessions. I sent her an email totally stressed out that I hadn’t been able to do the assignment. She assured me the all was well and to simply breath. We put off the session for a week on the condition that I would actually do the assignment.

I did get my 5 sessions done. From those 5 sessions, one client signed up for my 3 session starter package, and two that asked me to talk to them in 2-3 months for my 3 month package. Since I did my sessions with busy people I was not surprised about the delay. I was more excited that if they could have hired me ‘right now’ they would have.

The key to the whole thing was focusing on the fact that I was practicing to get better and not trying to land a client because I NEEDED the money. Cheryl gave me a wonderful concept. The idea that I could give potential clients options for answers that aren’t no. Going with the flow of spirit is how I do my sessions and making my offers at the end are grounded in what does the client need and not in how much I need to make at the moment. I’m here to make a difference in the world, the knowledge that I can do that AND get paid for it is icing on the cake.

- William Isley
   Silencing Suicide Radio

What I love most about this story is that it is so relatable. Even in my journey as an entrepreneur, when starting something new it is hard to remember where you came from. It can be difficult to remember your big why – and how you made your own journey. William was able to get back to that place, and after several years of feeling lost and stuck, finally got his first clients.

The amazing thing is that he still doesn’t give himself enough credit. From our first chat to finishing the program was about 60 days, yes. The actual program, and the actual work, was less than one month. William went from “wantrepreneur” to getting paid for the difference he wants to make in less than 30 days.

Congratulations, William! You’ve earned this success, and thank you for sharing your story with me. I invite everyone reading this to share your congratulations in the comments below, and if you’re ready to make a difference in the world – and get paid for it – drop me an email. I would love to publish your success story here, too.

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