Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Profit? What Profit

It’s amazing the number of people who come to me for business or focus plans who haven’t given much thought to how their business makes a profit.    

Amazing but not surprising. 

To succeed in business, you have to have a genuine interest in profitability and most of us don’t.  We have an interest in product and how to promote that product.  Oftentimes promotion will be confused with profitability.  What gets little attention and sometimes even less strategy is the conversation around costs and what remains after they are paid.  

The good news is that you don’t need to be a math whiz to either find the profitability in your business or if it’s not there, create a profitable business model.  What you do need at a minimum is good accounting software (to track margins, net profit, accounts payable and receivables, etc.) and a small business accountant that’s willing to work with you and answer your questions.

But more importantly you need to develop a desire for all of this stuff. 

So many of us feel uncomfortable and lack self-confidence with regards to financial matters.  We’re unbelievably creative around advertising and promotion but lack that same enthusiasm for developing the components that lead to profitability.  I understand our complicated relationship to money, but it’s odd when we all say that making money is an important component in our businesses. 

Continue to look at what motivates you financially.  Explore your values and beliefs around money and how to develop a healthy interest in both tracking it and increasing it. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Wearing Labels

I have a thing about labels. 

Not the type stitched onto the inside shirt collar or the one embroidered on the poorly place butt pocket on jeans.

 I’m talking about the label I give myself based on circumstances.   I have a tendency to first make them up, try then on for size and then wear them while perfecting the part.

For instance when my ex-husband and I divorced, I gave myself the label “single mother” to my eight-year-old twin boys.  When I then decided to reopen Penny’s Pastries in Austin after our move from Washington DC, “single mother” + “struggling small business owner” seemed fitting.    

Just recently when we decided to put my mother in a nursing home, I became “daughter who puts her mother in a nursing home.”   I’m sure you can image what that looked like.. .oodles of guilt and shame.  

Sometimes it’s a different type of label. 

When I closed for the business at Southwest Airlines I became, “fearless woman who knows how to close big accounts.”  And when I decided to open my consultancy I morphed into, “wise woman who’s ready to share her experience.” 

What labels have you given yourself?  Are you aware of them. . .and how are they working for you?? 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Mind Tools

“One of the fastest ways to come face-to-face with your personal issues, weaknesses and overall character flaws is to open a small business.”  Or at least that’s what my friend Wilbert says.  I couldn’t agree more.

So for every business book or blog I read, I spend an equal amount of time (or more) on me.  I’m always diving deep looking for the values and beliefs that shape my behavior and direct my activity. 

This leads me to my friend and transformational coach Evelyn Talmadge, who I think is a genius.  With a great sense of humor and unbelievable insight she performs her work with what appears to be intuition and incredible listening skills.  Evelyn makes it seem easy.  However I’m her friend so I know the many hours she spends in instructional classes, workshops and seminars perfecting her craft and integrating innovative concepts that lead to permanent transformation.

Just recently I had three almost back-to-back sessions with Evelyn at her cozy Goalsmiths office.  I requested the sessions because I’d recognized a pattern that created barriers in my business and personal life.

My pattern looked something like this.  I’d have either a brilliant new business idea or something that could alter my personal life.  Excited, creative and focused I’d take this fabulous idea, develop a plan and start the work necessary to make it materialize. 

But somewhere along the way I’d become aware of an inner voice, dripping with caution warning me I was becoming “overly excited” and that it would be smart to “slow down.”  The voice would seem so logical, so authoritative that I would be mindful of and heed the warning.   

Accordingly, my activity would become tentative and perfectionistic.  My initial excitement would be replaced with doubt, leading to the simplest tasks taking forever.  Forward momentum would be lost or delayed, stalling the project.   

Combining my desire for change with Evelyn’s technology I was able to understand my destructive pattern, the probable origin, the long held belief that was holding it in place and my curious cycle of crazy distraction. 

I’m now about a week since my last session and I’m happy to report I've made an almost seamless slide into behavior that better supports me and moves me gently in my desired direction. 

Moral of the story. . .
Being a small business owner is not easy (I know - HUGE understatement!)  One of the best ways to make business easier and (interestingly enough) more profitable is to study both business basics and at the same time deepen your understanding of your fears, faults, motives and moods.  

You and your business will benefit.