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Beyond Finances

Not too long ago, I received a heartfelt message from a dear family friend. She shared, “Over the past several weeks, my family has experienced extreme highs and extreme lows. We’ve experienced the pure joy and wonder of children being born into this world, we’ve celebrated and shared in the marriage of two loving people, and we have grieved the loss of a loved one.” 

She went on to explain that she’d recently lost a dear friend to a tragic accident. His death was unexpected. Unannounced. Unwanted. It came as quietly as the night. During his Life Celebration, she asserted that “Amidst the sorrow, I felt this unshakable stirring of peace. I felt that he watched his Celebration of Life with joy, ease, and happiness in his heart.” As she shared about her deceased friend’s great heart and generous love, I couldn’t help but to reflect on my own relationships and commitments. Was I truly creating a life that inspired me? Was I creating lasting impact or meaningful connections?

At his Life Celebration, I was told that over 750 people joined together to celebrate the impact of this man on their lives. 750 people…that’s a meaningful impact, wouldn’t you agree? 

You may wonder why I am sharing this with you all, my dear community. I share this to encourage you to continue keeping the faith. Mostly, the unwavering faith in yourself. Life is short. Enjoy every moment of it. As you continue to strive and grow your business and your financial goals, remember to enjoy the present, too. Remember to savor the space between where you are and where you desire to be. This week reminded me of the time-old saying: The journey is the destination. 

I also share this with you in deep gratitude. Your support and encouragement, your humanity and trust have allowed me a space in which to create my vision of service and community.  I wanted to take some time and speak to you beyond finances: I thank and acknowledge you for encouraging me to step outside of my comfort zone and the internal boundaries I had set for myself.  This week, I invite you to throw everything to the wind and do something exciting. This life is short, make it sweet! Go dance or skit or sing or laugh…give yourself this gift. You deserve it.

With Love and Joy from my heart,

Linda

 

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Slow + Steady Wins the Financial Race

One of my favorite childhood books is “The Tortoise and the Hare.” In the story, the slow-moving Tortoise sets out on a race against the speedy Hare. At first, the Tortoise lagged far behind – unable to see where the Hare was. The Hare, also aware of the growing distance between the two, decided to take a nap. “I have the time,” he thought.  

While he rested, the steady and committed Tortoise caught up and passed the Hare. When the Hare finally awoke from his nap, the Tortoise was already reaching the finish line. Even with the Hare’s burst of speed, he couldn’t win the race. The moral of the story is simple: slow and steady wins the race. 

What does a simple childhood classic have to do with your business and finances? Simple: slow and steady wins the race. You can’t build an empire overnight. If there’s a gap between what you want to accomplish in your company and what you’re able to do today, the best way to close that gap is by honing your skills. In The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey wrote, “It’s preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have—you.”  

Growing your business occurs when you master yourself, grow your knowledge, and build your skills. This might feel frustrating (because you want the results now), but stepping back to hone your skills will give you the edge needed to cut through more difficult challenges. 

Here are some easy-to-apply tips for remaining slow and steady as you work towards your goals: 

  1. Create new practices. It’s not always fun to be patient as you learn and grow your skills. It’s easy to give up or check out. If you want to avoid backsliding, be mindful of your inbuilt resistance to change. It really helps to create new practices to keep you accountable. When you feel an internal resistance to practicing a new skill like planning for the week ahead or learning your finances, commit to following a regular practice. 
  1. Seek Out More Than Results. Ask yourself if you’re seeking a quick fix or if you’re committed over the long-term to mastering your desired skill. Our preoccupation with goals, results, and the quick fix has separated us from our own experiences. 
  1. Get clear on your vision. Remember this is all about the slow and steady. Write out your vision and keep it somewhere that you can constantly see and be reminded of what you’re working towards. Make vision-based decisions rather than feeling-based decisions. When you don’t “feel like” continuing your practice, surrender to your commitments and do it anyways! 

If you’d like more support building your business and honing your financial skills, we invite you to reach out at hello@spirebusiness.com! We’d love to connect and see how we can support you. Slow and steady, my friend.  

 

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What You Need to Know About Your Numbers

Here’s a daunting statistic: During the first three months of 2014, 382,000 small businesses started. During the same time, 364,000 small business stopped operations.*    

As a small business owner, I found this statistic frightening! Given that the majority of my clients are also entrepreneurs, I figured this is a topic that needs to be addressed. How can we make sure we are not part of the businesses that don’t make it?  Well, it is not just about working your butt off (we both know you already do that), it’s about understanding what is happening with your finances. Full stop.   

As business owners, we need to make sure that we have the right tools, knowledge, and strategies to support us in managing and growing our finances. An effective tool is the book, “Profit First” by Mike Michalowicz. Now hold on a minute, before you rush off to purchase the book, take a breath.  “Profit First” will teach you how to start putting some profit aside each month, BUT this will only happen if several things occur first.

  • Before we start, let’s review the basics of the Profit and Loss Statement and Balance Sheet. In generic terms, the Profit and Loss Statement shows us how much money came into and out of the business due to general business activities.  The Balance Sheet shows where the company stands at a particular point in time – how much money is in the bank, how much money is owed to others, and the equity in the business.
  • Next, let’s see how clean your numbers are. What do I mean by “clean”? Are your personal income and expenses mixed in with your business income and expenses?  Is your business income put into the correct account? What accounts are the business expenses, credit cards, and loan payments made from? When is the last time you reconciled your bank, credit cards, and loan accounts?  Are they spotless or could they use a little polishing up? (I know, that was a lot. So again: a deep breath. No need to panic, this is all about beginning to foster clarity and understanding. If you’re not clear yet, let’s connect!)
  • Finally, let’s make sure everything is up to date.  Has all the income been deposited? Have all of the payments been made?  When you run your financial reports for this year are they similar to past years? Is there a significant discrepancy? Do you understand why? Are you able to pay your bills on time each month? Are you able to take money out each month for your salary? As the owner, do you have to “loan” the business money?

As a small business owner, it is our responsibility to understand our financials. Remember, we can bring the horse to water, but we can’t make him drink.  The same goes for the business owner: the Bookkeeper or CPA can bring you your financials, but they can’t make you understand. If you feel you need deeper support or clarity around your numbers, please reach out today! We’ll be hosting online classes beginning this summer to teach you everything you need to know about numbers, profit, and strategy. Email us at hello@SpireBusiness.com!

Always,

Linda

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* Source BED from the Small Business Profiles of the States and Territories 2/2015.   

 

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How Being a Mom Makes You a Better Entrepreneur

I am many things – entrepreneur, wife, daughter, friend, colleague, boss lady. But the role that has most shaped who I am is that of mother. I have truly loved being a mother to my two children!  I have a 16 year old daughter – that just passed her driver’s permit test, mind you…I’m still at a loss for where the time went – and a 12 year old son who keeps reminding me that “ you don’t have to do that for me, mom. I can do it.” 

Soon they will leave the safe nest that my husband and I provided for them, they will spread their proverbial wings and fly. I will no longer be a part of the places they go, the decisions they make, or witness their daily lives. Even still, I remain present, offering encouragement, guidance, and support. They are, after all, my babies.

If someone had told me back in those naive days that “being a parent is wonderful, you will love it!  For 18 years, your child will remain completely reliant on you to provide 100% of their care and needs. They’ll remain as infants, needy and unable to fend for themselves. Some days – most days – will need to spoon feed them at each meal, change dirty diapers, bathe them, entertain them, and be on constant vigil to provide protection.” I think I would’ve blinked at them and reconsidered my eagerness to start a family. 18 years of infancy? No way!

While that may not be true about my children, it proved to be true for my business. This isn’t only true for me, it’s been the reality for so many of my clients – entrepreneurs and business owners. I invite you to think back to before you started your business.  Did you imagine that life would be more than what it’s been?  That your income would increase, the amount of hours you worked would decrease, that you would only do the tasks that you enjoyed, and that you would live a life of luxury and ease? I know that this was absolutely what I envisioned.  I thought, A couple years of hard work, then I will hire staff and step back from my business. It will basically run itself.

This did not prove to be true. When was the last time you completely  stepped away and your business ran itself? Are you able to take off for a month, a week, or a day?  Did money continued to flow into your personal bank account while you were away? When you got back were you rested, relaxed, able to visit with the staff and chat without anxiety and overwhelm?  Or was there work piled on your desk or waiting in your inbox, problems and issues that needed your attention?  Or were all the issues handled, all the work completed, and nothing in need of your attention?

The reality is that the majority of small business owners never make it to this stage.  Most businesses stay in the “infant stage” –  where you need to provide constant attention to your business.  Where you need to perform the daily work or make sure others are doing it, where you need to watch over your staff or virtual assistants, where you need to provide the direction and plan where you want the business to go, where you need to make each and every decision…Sound familiar?

If you’ve been asking yourself the age old question, “How do I make more money, while at the same time working less hours?”  – take a breath. The answer is really not as hard as you think.  It is the implementation that takes time and some dedication. (But we both know you’ve got that part down. After all, it’s you baby).

For your business to start growing out of the infant stage and begin growing into the toddler stage, you need to start letting your business get some bumps and bruises…just like you let your toddler do when they began to explore their surroundings. Slowly you need to loosen your grip and let go – begin to delegate some of the tasks that are not essential for you to complete. I know, your business is important, sometimes it is hard to let go.  But the earlier you begin to delegate, the easier it becomes. 

Are there tips and tricks that can make this process easier?  Of course there are!  Over the next several articles, we will delve into some of them.  In the meantime, take a fresh look at your business and started deciding what is essential for you to do and what is not.  Next, determine what others can do for you and how you can watch over it.  

You’ve got this. Take care of yourself as your business begins to crawl.   Before you know it, your business (like my children) will be able to get by without you.

Gratefully,

Linda, Founder of Spire Business, Inc.

To schedule a complimentary call, click here today!

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Find Your Sweet Spot With The Pumpkin Plan

Congratulations, you own your own business!

You have customers and a website, you’re active on social media and you have marketing materials.

It seems like you should be set up for success. You believe you’re doing all the right things, but you feel:

  • Like your marketing is falling on deaf ears.
  • Pressure from your clients, prospects and competitors to lower your prices.
  • So busy! You can’t take on any more business because you can’t work any more hours.
  • Burned out and unsure how you can continue to grow.

If any of the above are true for you, then you are not operating from, or marketing to, your Sweet Spot.

As author and serial entrepreneur Mike Michalowicz points out in his book The Pumpkin Plan, growing an extraordinary business is just like growing an award winning, colossal pumpkin. Just as you need to start with a special seed to grow a giant pumpkin, you must also start with a special seed—your Sweet Spot—to experience extraordinary business growth.

How do you determine your Sweet Spot?

To determine your Sweet Spot, you must know:

  1. Your top customers – by clearly defining your top customers, you will be able to attract more of them.
  2. Your unique offering – if you stand out from others in your industry, you are no longer seen as having competitors and are not subject to competitive pricing.
  3. Your process – how you deliver consistent results.

Once you define these three areas, find out where they intersect. If you have children in school or are a math connoisseur, you know this as the Venn diagram. A Venn diagram uses a circle to represent a set. The circles are overlapped to indicate what one set has in common with the other sets. Where all three circle overlap is your special seed.

Pumpkin Plan - Sweet SpotThis is your Sweet Spot! Once you know your Sweet Spot making decisions like what to show and tell on social media, your website, and your marketing is easy. It will enable you to align your story directly with those that are seeking your unique services: your ideal prospects.

When you are operating from your Sweet Spot, business growth stops being hard.

Why? Because when you are in your Sweet Spot, you are profitably selling something unique that your best clients want more of! And you have the systems, processes and people in place to easily deliver it, without your direct involvement, over and over again.

As you update your website, marketing materials or post on social media, do it with intention! The intention that you will not receive many calls from prospects to learn more about your company and pricing, but from few clients who know that you are the solution to their need.

This is, in essence, what the Pumpkin Plan is all about – identifying your Sweet Spot so that you can make business decisions with intention.

To learn more about how to find your Sweet Spot click here.