5 simple steps can save you a TON of cash!

5StepsToolSelectionSave time and money by using this 5 step process before you buy anything!

OK time for a little tool talk. One thing I strongly encourage investment in no matter what your business model or how large or small you plan on growing is tools. Tools can open up the world of possibility for you. They can help automate lower level tasks, they can cross talk to share information from one tool to another, they can help organize records which will allow you to run advanced reports on any number of things, they can help keep you connected to others, etc….. I think you get the idea, tools can be beneficial for you but they can also be a trap.

There are tons of choices out there and everyone clamoring to get you to buy their solution and they make it hard to say no. Heck there are even tools out there you can get for free! Then there is the bundled deals and the step deal (get a bigger package at the lower price).  Endless enticements to pull you in. Normally you may think of just diving in and collecting tools that seem interesting or tools your friends may use. But I caution you not to. Not yet. Resist the urge to leap before you have done your homework. I fell for this more than once and learned the hard way. It's really easy to spend your money only to discover what you bought won't suit your needs and with software, there is a No Return policy. Once you purchase (or rent by the month) the sale is final and that money is gone forever.

So how will you know what to get or if the solution is the best for you? There is a simple process you can follow that can save you time and money and a whole lot of heart ache.

Step 1) What need or needs are you trying to solve? Clearly state what your needs are. Write as much detail as you can think of and feel free to add to it as you go. All solutions should help drive your business objectives directly or indirectly. Notice I did not say what the tools can do, you need to focus on your needs first!

Step 2) What are your priorities for your business? Some things are deal breakers and others are just nice to have. All qualities are not equal and sometimes you need to give up a “nice to have” in order to meet your

Step 3) List the tool solution and the top competitors. I try to get at least 3 or 4 solutions to compare. Some companies trade off a feature for something they feel is more important while others just haven't gotten to that 

Step 4) Compile a list of features and benefits for all of the tool brands you plan on testing. Rank the ones that are priorities for you that solve your needs now and into the near future.

Step 5) Test and evaluate based on performance against your selection criteria. Create a scoring method of A through E or F or maybe 1 through 10. Whatever works best for you and you can follow.

Once you have compiled all of the information, the choice becomes clear and the decision is objective. If you want to get my Tool Scoring cheat sheet, simply go here and I will deliver it to your e-mail.

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The Unshakable Vision

SnowflakeVisionThe very first step every Entrepreneur MUST take if they hope to be at all successful, is to create the unshakable vision for your dream future.

Stand up or risk falling

Have you ever heard the phrase “You have to stand for something or you will fall for anything”? In case you missed it before, let me introduce you to the phrase and the significance of its meaning for you in creating your ideal business lifestyle. No matter who you are or where you come from, if you are reading this article then the chance is that you have the same choices as any human being around you. No matter how low or how high up in society the person may be, we all have the same choice. We can choose to be led around by others, giving up our personal power and signing off our rights to aspire to greater things. Or, we can choose to make a stand for ourselves and create the life we envision.

Falling in line may seem like it is easy to do. Let someone else worry about all the details, all you have to do is show up and do the minimum to get by.  And it truly may be easy and feel like there is little to no resistance. You go in, do a little work, collect a paycheck, you may even get time off with pay and have your medical needs taken care of for you. Seems like a pretty sweet deal. Especially when you consider standing up for yourself means you may end up in the unknown and at times this can seem a bit frightening (and at times it is).  So we trade in our time and push someone else's dream forward. But what you have missed is the fact that you are, and always will be, just a cog in the wheel. Easily replaced, not critical to the vision, and in other words highly expendable.

Just when you think being complacent and numb just might work for you, the rug gets pulled and your balance is off. You were let go, laid off, down sized, right sized, divested, demoted, transferred, and any number of life altering actions taken that impact you greatly but you had no say in. Then it hits you, the real meaning of “You have to stand for something or you will fall for anything”.

You already have a vision, you just might not be aware of it.

You just realized you fell for the false security and sold yourself short. You had traded your vision for someone else's and you might not have even liked their vision. Heck you might have not been aware that you replaced any vision you may have had for yourself with the one the “company” gave you. At the very least, you let it control your destiny. They had guidelines for you and told you when you may or may not be promoted, what tasks you may or may not do, how much you were allowed to earn in pay. But don't worry. It's never too late (or too early) to take charge and create your own vision to stand for. And the best part, when it is done the right way, you can have a very strong personal vision while respecting  a company that may employ you for a time. It doesn't have to be all or nothing, you can have a solid unshakable vision for yourself and still work for someone else. After all, you may need that “angel funding” to help while your dream company gets its own legs.

It is so important to actively engage and create your own vision

So the first step you want to take, before you go any farther down any road, is stop and create your true unshakable vision. Notice that I stated that you need an actively engaged vision. One that you consciously created. I chose my words specifically and carefully. Your vision, like anyone else's vision, is yours alone. We are all here to do something, to bring something forward for others and only you know what that is. We are all able to make the world a better place and create our own wealth in the process. But the vision of what that is and how we live in it is unique to every person. We can all go through the same steps to creating an unshakable vision, but the vision itself won't be the same for any two people.

It's like snowflakes. 07f7dd2fa6755993ffb478aeccda6d29

The vision you need to get clear about for you is what you want for your life. You make it so real that you can feel as if you were already there.

P.S. If you want help in the process of designing your Unshakable Vision, check out the self paced guided workshop I created for you.

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Develop Your Plan Before You Jump

DevelopPlanBefreJumpNo one would ever think of jumping out of a plane without a plan so why would you start a business or launch your career without one? I always find it fascinating when people just jump into one thing or the other or launch themselves without ever conceiving a plan. Even a half baked plan is better than nothing! Maybe we all need to take a lesson from sky divers. Would they ever recreation jump out of a plane without a plan? The answer is no.

Follow the plan that hits the zone

In sky diving they target a landing zone. This is where you are supposed to land at the end of your jump. It's all been planned out and timed to precision. All you need to do is follow the plan and you will have a fun jump that goes according to plan and avoid any land offs* or bounces.*

Sounds simple enough. Develop the plan and stick to it. Sure, to a seasoned veteran with many jumps under them but not for the novice. No one ever expects the beginner to develop the plan. There is a great deal that goes into a well developed plan from weather conditions, jump style, chute style,  type of plane, terrain for landing, to the jumpers themselves and all of their vital information .  It takes time and practice to be able to develop a solid plan for yourself.

When the margin for error is Zero

In sky diving the margin for error is so tight you might as well call it zero. Any error can result in serious injury or even death so you don't want to leave things to chance or make wild guesses. Your plan has to be well developed before you ever jump. In business we have a bit more latitude, but why not develop a plan that is solid and fool proof?

You can make your best guess and wing it. Worst case is failure but definitely not death. So why not let inspiration guide you? Well, if you want to wander around aimlessly and never get to your destination then no problem. But with the rest of us who want to achieve a goal, we need a plan to get there and chances are we would like to get there as soon as we possibly can because there are other goals we want to create and hit. We only have 24 hours in a day. There is no time  for wasting it on efforts that don't land you where you need to be.

Develop your plan before you jump  

Tandem_SkydiveSo if you have never jumped before, how are you supposed to be able to create a safe and effective plan for landing? You don't. You work with others who have gone before you and have done it so many times they can teach you how to do it and how to avoid mistakes they may have made along the way. Then you practice with experts who have your back. Literally and figuratively.  As your skill and knowledge grows so does your ability to tackle more and more complex jumps and plans. Eventually you can jump solo.

Who knows, one day, maybe you will want to pass on your learning to others. You may even be that tandem instructor one day where not only your life, but the lives of others is in your hands. You may get to be the one to introduce someone to the biggest thrill ever: Entrepreneurship.

*A Land Off is when you miss the landing zone. A Bounce is when you land to fast causing your body to bounce. This can result in severe injury or even fatality so you  never want to do this. Obviously!

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Believe it to achieve it

BelieveItI think I have heard this phrase so often that I am almost numb to it. So many people toss it around that it seems to have no impact on me anymore. But somebody must have caught me on the right angle with what they were saying that this phrase landed in my ear. Rather than pass it off as drivel, for some reason, I took the time to really read the words and think about each one and the totality of the statement.

I repeated it as a mantra when I was on a power walk:

Believe it to achieve it.

Believe it to achieve it.

Believe it to achieve it.

Then BAMM it hit me! I began to think on this in terms of my own life experiences. You will never get to where you want to be if you do not believe it can be achieved and, more importantly, that you can achieve it. The belief you have will limit where you go and what you do. If you believe you cannot do something and you tell yourself it enough times, you never will do that something. But there is a positive opposite to this (thank goodness). If you have the belief that you can do something then you will do it.

Why do I believe this statement on a personal level?

I don't think I did at any deep level at first. It sounded good, but come on, you can't really speak something into existence and just because you want to believe something doesn't make it real. Or does it? Here is what I did. I took the statement and then examined my life. I looked at my past and things I had accomplished that I was proud of or that I did not think I could do. It did not have to be miraculous. Then I transported myself back to the time long before the event, when the idea was a seed or when I was challenged (dared) to shoot for a goal way outside of my comfort.

I remembered how I felt and what I was thinking and I remembered chucking my preconception and allowing myself to just believe I could do it. For those events in my past, I was willing to suspend doubt.  Failure was not an option and nor was I going to back down. I believed I had achieved it already.

If you can't think of an instance in your own life, think of other great achievers who succeeded against what others may have believed. History is full of them. Edison knew he would create the incandescent light bulb, he had seen it. It doesn't matter that it took 200 plus tries. Teddy Roosevelt knew he would be President and in fact he holds the record for being the youngest president, just 42 when he took office.

How do you begin to believe?

It's like asking ‘Where do the seeds of faith take root?‘ But I believe faith and belief in things not seen come from the same place.  From deep inside where hope resides. Where you quiet the cynic and shed away years of negative programming from yourself and others around you. Where you allow for possibility. It starts with a desire, a wish, an idea, an inspiration. Once you have formed the seed, you begin to “experience ” it. You become familiar with the feelings, the texture, the visual aspects  With the right nourishing the seed takes root and becomes a deep knowing. It becomes so familiar that it's as if it has already happened or you have already achieved it. Then it's just a matter of the rest of the world catching up.

What if you are still having trouble really believing?

Sometimes you just need to trust someone else's belief and that has to get you through. I never thought I could ever run a marathon. A full 26.2 mile marathon and live to tell the tale. If you had met me, you probably would have said the same thing at the time. But I did not have to do it all on my own. Turns out someone I respected who had done it said I could and I was willing to believe him. He believed in me even though I could not see it.

So no question in my mind I could do it. I had never ran before, I had no concept of how far 26.2 miles was but I believed I could run it. After all I had 12 months to train and this guy said that was plenty of time. So before I stepped out the door and before I went anywhere in my shoes, I already had a clear vision of me running in the last half mile of a full 26.2 mile marathon and I was smiling when I did it. Janice_SiliconValleyMarathon06

Fast forward the 12 months and I did just that, not just once but several times and a few more afterwards. In my short three year marathon career, I did 4 full marathons, 3 or 4 half marathons and 2 10k fun runs. And in each one, I had enough gas in the tank to run it across the finish line, held my head up high and carry a big ‘ole ear to ear grin.

Can you achieve anything you want?

Perhaps. I do not know.  I am willing to believe so! There is physics and the physical law to contend with and my scientific rational mind would have lots of great arguments about why something is not possible. But then the artist in me awakes and says “What about Quantum physics?” All things may be possible and are happening at the same time and reality in the physical world is our manifestation and manipulation of matter. Wouldn't that be cool?! Definitely worthwhile to investigate   But for now I know I can tell you from personal experience, that beliefs do create your reality.

As far as you creating your reality, why not work in belief that it is already here?!  Is that any harder than the negative?

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Gaining the Confidence to Jump

ConfidenceJumpWe all have our futures in our own hands. Jump or don't jump, the choice is yours to make. Our fates are created in the choices we make every day in the instant we make them. No matter how little or how small they all play a role in our future. it won't always seem so drastic and dramatic as jumping off a high cliff into deep dark water or jumping out a perfectly safe airplane. But sometimes it might.

So how does a sky diver or a cliff diver have the confidence to do it? How do they do it with ease? Why are they smiling? And why in the heck would they do it again?!

I can tell you in one word: Confidence

But how do you think they got that confidence? Turns out they went through the same steps we all go through. At some point they made a decision about what they wanted. You might have done the same. Maybe it was to start your own company or build a business on the side part time for a little nest egg. Or maybe you decided you wanted to advance your career or just change jobs. At some point you had decided you wanted more than the existing status quo.

Once you decide, there is no going back so it's on to the next important step; you need to come up with a plan. We can talk more about plans another time. Let's just put a pin it and know there has to be a plan that has a great deal of information with it. Before you ever jump out of a plane or free dive off of a 100 foot cliff, there are many steps and actions you're going to go through. No one in their right mind would just say “Hey I think I'll cliff jump from 100 feet right now” . So what do you think the first step in the plan would be? Research!

Research the sport and all of the variables. The styles, the techniques, the conditions to find the one that suits them the best or that they have the most interest in. All of this leads them to the next, and most critical action; finding others to learn from.

They find coaches and clubs and teams to join so they can learn the skills. The practice their developing skills in front of the advisors, get feedback, and make corrections. They do this over and over and over again until it becomes like second nature. Once they are ready they have gained the confidence they need to safely (and joyfully) take that big jump. Their experience and the feedback from others has taught them they can trust the landing. They can let go of nervousness or insecurities. They have the confidence so they can enjoy the thrill and exhilaration, the sheer joy of the sport.

Business is no different. You make a decision to take action, work up a plan, you do your research, then you find someone or a group of someone's who can help guide you. The team you build around you can make all the difference in you gaining the confidence you need to thrive in building your business.

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