September 17, 2014

I want to share with you a few tidbits from Chapter 5, Minding Yourself. For some people the term minding yourself actually means managing you.Others  call it mastery over you.In other words, control yourself first so others will not do it for you.

Chapter 5 Minding Yourself

Keep your emotions under control:  Self-control is not the same as self-discipline. No matter what your age, your emotions can be your enemy if you let them get the best of you. People need to trust you and the ability to control emotions helps to reinforce their trust.To have self-control over your emotions is more than controlling your temper. For some keeping emotions under control may mean controlling the tongue when it is tempting to speak negatively behind someone’s back or waste time on gossip. I had to learn the hard way to bite my tongue when I wanted to say something snippy. As I grew into an entrepreneur there would be times the person I was snippy to had the resources I needed for business. My actions often cost me money and new relationships.

My father use to tell me to think before I spoke and not to say whatever came to my mind. There are times you may be right yet it is be better for the relationship to let the other person have the last word.

In high school my mother was always telling me to watch my tone of voice. When you learn to control your tone of voice you will see an amazing difference in how people respond.

Listening and asking questions helps to control impulsive behavior. It also help to understand the other person speaking, You are less likely to say something stupid or make an assumption that just is not true. It will also keep your temper from flaring if a negative conclusion is made.

Do you get overly excited and giggly like a young girl? Enthusiasm shows you are eager and passionate. Yet being overly excited, excessive laughter, and giggling like a young girl is a carryover from middle school.While these emotions appear to be positive, when speaking to people about your business or business idea, people will expect a certain level of maturity to be maintained. You want people to think of you as a mature female entrepreneur rather than a high school cheerleader. Foe some teenage girls this is a self-control challenge to overcome.

You can transform business and personal relationships with this one tip:  do not make assumptionsHow would you feel if everyone you met treated you with respect and did not make assumptions about what you said or did? Unfortunately most people make assumptions all the time without realizing it and most of the times these assumptions are not the truth. When  someone assumes to know what other people are thinking they are acting like a mind reader. It usually results in misunderstandings and at times even anger. As a result that person is opening up to problems.  

Think about the times you jumped to the conclusions and they were wrong. What happened? In my case it was always a disaster and really caused damage to some relationships. If there is one action I wish I had learned in high school it would be to not make assumptions. I want to see all young female entrepreneurs become successful with their businesses. Asking questions rather than making assumptions and jumping to conclusions is one step in becoming successful.

How well do you control impulses to buy things you really do not need? A college friend wanted to be sure this section on impulsive actions included shopping. Are you an impulsive shopper? If you already have a business being impulsive when an opportunity comes for your business man result in spending money unwisely. Impulsive shopping may also result in spending money set aside specifically for business supplies or other necessities.

For some business owners the reason for buying an unnecessary item is thinking it will be useful in the future. It may also be something to sell even if does not fit their market. Some people love to visit flea markets, thrift stores and garage/yard sales. It is fun to look until something at a super low price jumps out and the impulse hits to buy it.

I found myself buying online courses or services that were really not needed at the time. They may have been important in the future yet not at the time. Inevitably I did not have time to devote to the course or courses. The courses are not live with the instructor giving feedback or suggestions. They are on CD’s and the instructor may not even have time or want to answer questions.

For example I paid for an online course to learn how to have my own radio show. Part of the package was the opportunity to have a monthly show on an Internet radio station. I began learning a few steps when the show producer informed me I needed to sign up for a time slot to start my show immediately. The show producer was also the instructor. I was to pay for the programs, which meant getting sponsors or charging the guests a fee. That is when I realized too late the radio show was not beneficial for the Girls’ C.E.O. Connection. The time to promote it would take away from the time needed to make our other activities beneficial to our market. My impulse resulted in a waste of time, money, and a damaged relationship.

There have been other opportunities since that time. I now take two days and write down the pros and cons for how the course will be used. I then talk over the opportunity with business associates. If I had discussed the radio host online course with an associate I would not have purchased it.

Minding yourself takes time to learn and develop. In the long run controlling your emotions will help you as an entrepreneur and also in your life especially with family, relatives, and friends.

Cheers and until next time,

Sylvia R.J. Scott, Founder

September 6, 2012

Part 2

Chapter 2 “Attitude”: Your Attitude Impacts How You Operate Your Business

Change the way you view the world and there will be nothing you cannot accomplish with talent, hard work, and positive relationships

My Story on Attitude

There have been times in my past I had a fearful attitude and would not confront those people who caused me problems or disagreed with me. I wanted to be known as a “nice person” all the time and although people thought I was positive, I hid behind a mask of fear.  I ran from problems and difficulties and eventually lost good friends, respect and valuable time.  It was time I could have spent making choices to correct the mistakes and if I failed-well so be it. Quite simply, I was more afraid of what people would think of me rather than accepting help to solve problems.  My fearful attitude led to blaming others for my mistakes.  I had great visions and potential to bring the business ideas to fruition. My attitude and decisions led me away from the path I charted.  Unfortunately it was with three businesses over a period of about 10 years. That was a lot of wasted time and energy.

You can understand how my fearful attitude with even one event caused me many problems.  My business plans were set back and I lost time and money.  How did I change my attitude?  I went back to school surrounded by wise people who gave me great advice. I learned from my mistakes that in the long run it was better to face problems and challenges, especially with other people.

 My friend Susan Wilson Solovic; author of It’s Your Biz, The Comfortable Guide to Becoming Your Own Boss (AMACON, October 11, 2011) says,  “Most people would learn from their mistakes if they were not so busy trying to blame someone else.” 

 

Starting a business while in high school (and actually anytime) takes more than a good idea for a product or service and then creating your vision.  You may be exceptionally talented with an amazingly strong and creative entrepreneurial spirit. Your attitude needs to reflect your spirit and vision.  You also need a realistic expectation along with an ability to persevere and hold onto your vision.  Additionally there are so many activities you need to focus your time and energy on when starting and launching your business. Continually developing and keeping a positive attitude may be hard to do. In reality though you need to keep a positive attitude from the beginning, to help you assimilate everything necessary for accelerating growth as your business develops.  Think of it this way, as you grow your business (and for some of you when you start your business), you will have unforeseen challenges.

Some of those challenges may come from your clients or customers. Your relationship with your customers is only as good as their last experience.  A bad attitude undermines the best ideas, plans, strategies and locations. 

  Your Attitude Towards Your Customers 

You know you have an idea that outdoes your “competition” and the way you have created your product/ service is the best and most efficient.  You are set in your vision and the way you want to accomplish it; however, your customer feedback indicates it would be better to do something different.

  • When your customers make suggestions will you look at the feedback as opportunities to make changes to benefit your business? OR
  • Will you take offense to the suggestions and continue doing it your way? After all it is your business and you know what is best.

Most likely your customers are not criticizing you, they are simply giving you feedback so you can give them what they need or want. What do you think will happen if you take offense to their suggestions and continue to do it your way?

  • This attitude normally leads to a loss of business followed by discouragement and in some cases anger.
  • Are you seriously willing to lose business before you are pushed into the change or in come cases go broke?
  • Are you ready to spend time to look for new customers, which takes away from productivity and sales?

What would happen if you look upon your customers as stockholders?  If you look at your customers as investors in your business would your attitude towards them be different? Your customers are actually investors in your company.  They are investing their money into your business and trust you to provide them with goods and services they want. It is your job to make them feel they are heard. You want them to respect your business and continue to spend money with you.  If you take on an attitude they are not important and ignore them there will be problems down the road.  Remember, although you own your company, you work for your customers-stockholders.

 True To Yourself

Sometime during your teenage years you will have heard the saying, “be true to yourself.”  If you haven’t yet, you will.  When you believe totally that your vision is right for you and the business you want to create is important you are being true to yourself.  Being able to tell people your vision is important to launching your business then continually building it.  This holds true with seeing your business as a success.  A positive personality attracts people around them. If you want to attract people to you and your business and keep them there -have a positive, enthusiastic attitude about your vision and mission!

Now here’s the catch and the challenge about being true to yourself and attracting people to your business.  Your parents, neighbors, school instructors and even counselors may think differently.  There will always be naysayers and critics in your life.  These are the people who will question your abilities as a young entrepreneur. Unfortunately this is more likely for you as a female than if you were a male, especially if you are in high school or college.  It happens frequently to highly educated women who start and grow businesses in non-traditional industries and industries known for being male-dominated. Keep your attitude positive and ignore the naysayers who insist you cannot accomplish your vision, that it is an impossible.  These people are not going to be your customers. It is important you do not let their criticism dampen your attitude to a point where you give up.  You need to keep a positive attitude or those classmates who make fun of your idea will drag you down if you listen to them. You do not want their negativity to influence your creativity and business plans?

Think of it this way, it is hard to soar with the eagles when you stay on the ground with the chickens (or when you have to live with the turkeys).  Eagles fly above all the others. Turkeys and chickens wander around on the ground.  They cannot really get past their fenced in lives.  Your winning attitude will result in you looking at the changes as opportunities to grow and to keep you on your path to a successful business.

 Eleanor Roosevelt had this to say about being true to yourself:  “Do what you feel in your heart to be right, for you’ll be criticized anyway. You will be damned if you do and damned if you don’t.”  Do the very best that is in you, let change grow you and live your life consistent with your highest values and aspirations.

 

Sara Blakely and How How Her Attitude Helped her Start and Grow Her Business

There is one more story I want to tell you that I find a reminder to roll with the punches and maintain a positive attitude no matter the circumstances. It is also an example of a business owner that listened to customer feedback, followed the advice at times and became one of the most successful female entrepreneurs of the 21st century.   For those of you who have already taken your idea and launched a business, keep up your good attitude and you never know where it will take you.  You may become the next Sara Blakley, founder, owner and inventor of SPANX hosiery and Assets bodywear.

In 1998 when Sara Blakely wanted to launch her company to manufacture SPANX pantyhose she had more than a difficult time getting others to believe in her idea.  After all, why would any woman want footless pantyhose that also got rid of the underwear lines when wearing slacks or jeans?  You should know she never had a business course.  Although Sara was a sales trainer during the day and a standup comedian at night she was determined to learn all she could about trademarks and patents. The lawyers in Georgia she talked to about a trademark and patent thought her idea was crazy.  In fact some layers thought she was part of the television comedy, Candid Camera.  To keep costs down, Sara wrote the patent and later found a lawyer who helped write the claims. Sara’s mother sketched the original product drawing for the SPANX patent with Sara as the model.  The patent was approved and she trademarked the name SPANX online.  Sara needed to find a mill to help her make up SPANX samples.  She researched hosiery manufacturers over the Internet and contacted a few by phone.  She took a week off from work and drove to North Carolina from Georgia to find a hosiery manufacturer to work with her.  They all thought her idea would not work.  When they found out she was working for herself along with handling the financing they turned her down.

Sara did not give up and kept working on ways to get a prototype made.  Two weeks after she was in North Carolina meeting with mill owners, one of them called her to say he would give her a chance.  Why?  Because his daughters thought the SPANX pantyhose idea was worth it. The prototype took one year to complete because Sara wanted women to find it comfortable to wear every day. Sara’s story continues on an entrepreneurship journey that was not easy.  Sara’s attitude never wavered.  She believed in herself and her idea.  Her attitude was infectious and her friends got behind her to help get SPANX into major retail stores. One more point, customer feedback is on the keys to the success of Sara’s business.  She listens to all the suggestions.  In fact it was from customer suggestions that two of Sara’s top sellers were invented.  Oh yes, Sara has more than 100 styles with her products being sold all over the world.

In 2004 Sara took off three months from her business to become a contestant on Richard Branson’s reality TV show, The Rebel Billionaire: Branson’s Quest for the Best.  There were 16 contestants who wanted to prove to the founder of  Virgin Worldwide, Richard Branson they could run his business. Sara Blakely came in second and she won $750,000 to create the Sara Blakely Foundation to support and empower women to start their own businesses.  Sara Blakely became a young millionaire from a crazy idea and keeping an upbeat, positive attitude. However she combined her positive attitude with humility, accepting guidance, determination, perseverance and yes talent.

Related articles

Look forward to hearing from you.  We welcome comments about the post and the fact it is part of Chapter 2 “Attitude” in our new book, Realizing a Vision.

Cheers and until next time,

Sylvia R.J. Scott, Founder and Managing Director

August 26, 2012

Chapter 2 Attitude: Your Attitude Impacts How You Operate Your Business

Change the way you view the world and there will be nothing you cannot accomplish with talent, hard work, and positive relationships

 Your Attitude makes all the difference in the world with charting your business path from the start.  A confident attitude open to learning and discipline will assist you with implementing everything necessary for accelerating growth as your business develops. For some of you this may relate to launching your business.  I will give you examples of difficult situations young entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs found themselves in quite unexpectedly.  The decisions they made or were forced into making were determined by their attitudes.

Section 1: What does attitude mean?  What does it mean with respect to launching and growing your business? Why does  a positive attitude assist in the growth of your business?  Many people will tell you that a positive attitude will get you everything you want.  Unfortunately just having a good attitude does not mean you will get you everything you want.  Therefore I hope these points will shed some realistic perspective on your attitude and its impact on your life as a business owner.

  • Attitude is a behavior.  It is how you view something or behave towards people, things, situations and challenges.  You
  • You have a choice everyday on what your attitude will be towards the day’s events.
  • Your attitude impacts how your mind relates to challenges and growth opportunities.  It shapes your response to whatever happens to you and within your business.  When you keep a positive attitude when faced with problems your mind will find ways to solve them. The problems become opportunities to help you accomplish your mission.
  • Attitude makes all the difference in how others perceive you, either as a positive or negative personality.  When you solve a problem or face a challenge head-on, you will be a good influence with the people watching you.
  • Attitude can be contagious with those around you and make a world of difference with how people respond to you.  It will determine if people want to invest in you and your business.
  • In business it will also determine how people want to be connected with you.  Do they want to do business with you, work for you, and in many cases support and promote you?  Do they want to work with you only at a distance or on a minimal or limited time?
  • In addition, a strong positive attitude towards facing your challenges and fears head on and with perseverance gives your path a more exciting and interesting route.

I have never met anyone who began a business or even took the first steps with a less than positive attitude. In fact most are optimistic.  Now moving forward while growing a business you may find yourself developing a bad or negative attitude towards customers, competitors and in some cases with staff or Board members.  I advise you to always remember your attitude will make or break your business.  A bad attitude destroys companies.

Merely having a good attitude does not mean you will get everything you want in business or in life.  Combining an optimistic, positive attitude with talent, perseverance and determination does not guarantee success will come.  There will be challenging times that will stretch your positive attitude to its limits. This is when the attitude you choose will determine your future.  The first two examples I want to give you are about two very talented and determined aspiring entrepreneurs.  These two young women found themselves facing unexpected obstacles. When faced with their respective challenges they took responsibility for their attitudes.  Both girls decided their decisions were good for them at the time. You may or may not agree with what they did and you may have done things differently.  However, their decisions led each of them on a path to accomplish their missions in ways they had not considered originally.

(1.) Aspiring Founder of a Website Design Firm:  Mandy Martin has the skills and talent to create websites.  She wants to start a Website design business.  Her goal is to service non-profits and social entrepreneurs.  Mandy has a great attitude, the talent and is excited to start putting the business plan together.  In her market research Mandy learns her growth projections and financial expectations are not very realistic.  In fact the competition in the area where Mandy wants to locate is very intense, more so than she had originally considered.  It would take more money than Mandy had budgeted to attract and build a customer base. The business may not break even as soon as she planned.  In Mandy’s mind there were too many obstacles to launch the business at that time.  However she kept a good attitude while looking at other opportunities coming out of her market research.  Mandy Martin decided it would be better to work for someone else until she has acquired the finances and resources to launch her own business.  One of the resources is time.  Mandy would need time to attract and build a good client base while spending time and money on other areas of the business.

During her research Mandy found design firms that serviced her ideal clients, non-profits and social entrepreneurs.  Mandy’s enthusiastic attitude about designing web sites for her target market assisted her with finding a full-time position.  Mandy’s challenges became opportunities to use her talents to work with non-profits and social enterprises. Mandy knew launching her own web site design firm was in her future, once the time, finances, and location fit together.  What might have happened if the Mandy Martin had taken on a negative, depressed attitude?  If it happened to you, what would you do?

(2.) Aspiring Fashion Designer (this is partially a true story):  Andrea Adams wants to have a fashion design business.  She is very talented, has an exceptional portfolio of her best apparel designs and has even written a business plan.  Andrea has a very upbeat and positive attitude.   However she does not have basic apparel construction skills.  In other words Andrea does not know how to sew and fit patterns.  One option for Andrea would be to find experienced people to work with her to fill in for those skills she lacks. She will need additional money to pay those she hires.

A positive, confident attitude motivates people to develop useful skills, persevere long enough to gain experience, and to work diligently.  In the case of my friend Andrea Adams, how she responds to a need for these skills will determine her future, even when she has others with the skills working for her. The most obvious is to enroll in a basic sewing class and followed by a pattern making course.  What are some other opportunities Andrea might have with a positive attitude, even if it means taking longer to start her own fashion design firm?  Here are some options:

  • Enroll in a fashion design and merchandising program through the adult education-continuing education school.  Many design schools offer continuing education programs at night and on weekends.
  • Show her portfolio to an established apparel design firm and see if they will hire her as a one of their designers.  She will need to accept that whatever she designs for them is property of the company.  This type of job will help her learn about the design process and how to develop a rapport with resources.
  • Take on a partner who has the technical skills and work out an agreement with job responsibilities and commitments.

What other choices did Andrea Adams have to launch the business?  If Andrea had decided to wait on launching the business, what might she have done?

There will be adverse situations in your life that are not a result of your attitude or actions.  You may have the best attitude in the world and people are drawn to you by it.  However, your positive attitude will not stop natural disasters or problems with the economy from hitting you.  Your business partners or associates may make decisions beyond your control. The decisions are not a result of your attitude. In other words, you are not the cause of the challenges or adversity brought on by someone else’s actions or decisions.  Having a positive attitude, being confident, believing in your own success and that of your business will always be a definite advantage.  What you do control is your attitude your response and how you handle the situation. You need to be realistic in looking at the situation and think of the different ways to change the impact on your life and that of your business.

Your passion and positive attitude can change how you view the situation even though you cannot change what happened.  The following is an example of how wanting something so badly and keeping a positive attitude will not change the actions and decisions of others:

After college graduation? Keep the business going or shut it down? I mentored three young women entrepreneurs their senior year at Boston University.  Nancy  and two of her classmates had started an online cosmetic business during their junior year. Nancy was a make-up stylist and knew the market well. The business was her idea and while she worked through high school for a well-known cosmetic company Nancy developed a good rapport with suppliers.  Therefore in the business Nancy headed up product development and sales. One of the partners managed the financial accounting and the other marketing.  Nancy’s family was in support of her business and let the company use their garage for inventory and shipping. In fact they helped fill orders to be shipped. Shortly before graduation the two partners decided to pursue full-time jobs inline with their college majors. Nancy was taken by complete surprise and devastated. The business was all she wanted to do after graduation. Her attitude went from upbeat and positive to angry and resentful.  Nancy sunk into depression, got rid of the inventory in her parent’s garage and shut down the company website.  As well as being angry with her partners, Nancy was angry with her career counselors at Boston University.  While Nancy’s goal was to run her business after graduation she thought her counselors had not properly prepared her for a job search.

In the end, Nancy accepted an entry-level job she hated.  After a few months she accepted a position with a cosmetic manufacturer based in Florida.  It sounds like a good ending. However consider what might have happened if Nancy had decided the exit of her partners was as an opportunity?  After all Nancy was the one with the knowledge, contacts, relationships and formulas.

  • Most likely Nancy’s family would have stepped in to help her while she decided how to do it on her own.
  • Nancy had professors at Boston University’s School of Management who would have helped her consider different options.
  • Nancy could have taken a part-time job that would give her the flexibility to work on the business. After a few months there would be a good chance Nancy could work full-time on her business. We really do not know.

What is important here is that Nancy’s attitude would influence her decision(s), which would then determine her future career steps.  Nancy will never know the opportunities she passed up by letting an unplanned negative situation turn her winning attitude sour.

What would you have done? If it has happened to you, what did you do?

On an added note:  Nancy’s business management professor told me she saw the changes coming.  It was not unusual for college entrepreneurs to change direction once graduation was upon them.  The advantage for young entrepreneurs like Nancy is they can pick themselves up and start all over.  It is easier to start over because they do not have obligations the older entrepreneurs have like mortgage payments, home insurance and certain types of taxes like property and school.

(4.) The Demise of a Business The third example is about a young entrepreneur whose attitude was the demise of his business.  It happened at the beginning of the economic collapse in the United States in early 2008.  The economic conditions were not the result of his attitude.  However how his response to the adverse condition was based all upon his attitude.  His future recovery was also the result of his attitude change and the willingness to learn.

Naveen Akbari began his web-based communications business while attending a prestigious university in Northern California. He was very talented, intelligent and had positive, confident attitude. Nate had a successful web-based student consulting business while in high school.  In fact he sold it for over $1 million while taking his final exams.  In fact Nate did not tell his parents about his high school business until he sold it.  Nate’s parents wanted him to concentrate on his college studies rather than launch another company.  However Nate thought he could launch a soon to be profitable business while keeping his grades up to par.  Realistically he did not.  When the economic downturn hit Nate did not know how to handle it.  The economic crisis in California was considered one of the worse in the United States. Nate’s pride kept him from asking for advice and getting guidance on important changes needed to keep the business going.  As a result Nate’s business went under. While he felt sorry for himself, Nate let go of his pride, and told his parents what happened.  Nate’s parents helped him to see the failure of the business as a time to correct his mistakes and look at new options.  Nate’s parents advised him to get his MBA.  Thanks to their supportive attitude towards Nate, he stopped feeling sorry for himself and accepted there would be time to start over once he had an MBA. Although Nate let his ego get in the way of handling adversity successfully, he never lost his vision even.  While in graduate school Nate became a bit wiser, gained confidence and dropped his know it all, arrogant attitude. Nate’s humble, positive attitude that was open to guidance helped him to assimilate everything necessary for accelerating growth of his new business.

To be continued with “My Story on Attitude”

August 2, 2012: Second post of Chapter 1, from Realizing a Vision, the Book

Chapter 1 Realizing a Vision of Owning A Business: Dream It and Do It

SECTION 1:  Talent, Passion and Strengths with  Part 2 of Strengths and Weaknesses

1.) Your talents, strengths, and weaknesses.

This is important to remember:  Your strengths are not what you are good at and your weaknesses are not what you are bad at even though that’s what you have been taught growing up—and you will continue to be told until you can identify and state what they are and are not.  Your greatest strength is not your greatest weakness. Be honest with yourself when you look at your talents and then your strengths and weaknesses.  It has to be what you know you love and what you know just does not fit.  Your strengths and weaknesses will never change to be the opposite.  You may find you have other talents which is fine.  However, talents do not always equate to strengths.

What are your strengths? A strength is an activity you consistently do near perfect performance.  Consistently is key here. Because a strength is something you do consistently.  It is an activity that you are successful with and can see yourself doing repeatedly and enjoying it all the time.  Your strengths leave you excited. You can do the activity forever.  Your strengths are something that mays you feel good and strong.  When you finish you may of course be drained. However you are satisfied, feeling great and once you take a break will be ready to go again. I find with my strengths I can really concentrate on the activity while growing from or with it.  I know my brain is growing from it.

Additionally your strengths are not what people are doing for you.  That means when someone compliments your job or say idea, it makes you feel special. You may be complimented on a job well done or completing a deadline and it makes you feel special. However it may be something you were bored doing. You don’t enjoy doing it even if you are good all the time with it.  Just because someone compliments you doesn’t make the ability a strength.

 What are your weaknesses?  A weakness is any activity  that makes you feel weak after you have done it.  You may be very good at it although your favorite part of it is the ending.  You are go glad that is done. In fact you may think “ I can’t wait to get this over.” That is really a weakness.

In high school on all the standardized tests the results indicated I was strong in science and math.  My course scores did not show it. In fact when it came to chemistry I hated it and did not really try in the class. The formulas and signs made no sense to me.  What nobody knew at the time was I had dyslexia and still have it.  Of course chemistry and similar courses with signs and numbers would be draining.  I knew in  of time chemistry was going to be too hard.  Unfortunately none of teachers or advisors told me how and why I needed it with a fashion career. What I did not realize in fashion and working with fabrics it is necessary to know how chemicals will react to both natural and synthetic fibers.  It became even more important as more synthetic fibers were created and mixed with natural fibers or other synthetics.  I loved working with fabrics and figuring how to combine different ones to create interesting looks.  It was a passion and I could experiment with fabrics endlessly. This included working with interior fabrics to combine with apparel fabrics as well as creating apparel out of interior fabrics. It was all chemistry. It was fun to learn and then experiment how the chemicals reacted to the fibers.  Chemistry was not one of my weaknesses.  It was actually a strength and it became stronger I learned very quickly what and how chemicals reacted together and with the fibers.

 Your weakness is something YOU do that drains you or makes you feel weak It is NOT something another person does or says to you.  For example, you are in a meeting and someone makes a derogatory remark about your work or how you handled a project.  Of course the person and the remark makes you feel weak.  That is not necessarily a weakness because you enjoyed finishing the project.  If there were some areas in the project that needed tweaking you would most likely make changes next time. If the other person does not see it, then that is their loss.  And if they do, the person is probably just jealous you actually enjoyed finishing the project. Remember, it is the problem of the other person and their interpretation.

 Bringing your talents into the picture

To develop a strength you need certain innate talents. Why?  Your skills and knowledge when applied to your talent will make the talent better.  In other words, practice makes you stronger, makes the ideas flow more smoothly. You can have a skill that when combined with your talent gives you the foundation to build on a strength.  So when you identify your most powerful talents and then make them better through skills and knowledge, you will be creating your strengths.

 2.) All of this does not mean you have to be well-rounded. You do need to be sharp and think about what you need to complement your weaknesses.  In other words, you do not need to be strong in every detail of your business or say as a leader in a school or after-school club.  Think of it this way: The vision for your business once you get into it will have activities that you are good doing, yet totally drain you and you hate doing them. There will be activities that you really have no idea what to do and need to learn a new skill.  For a while, you will need to just do it.

What may be feasible for you starting out is to find a relative or friend whose interests, skills or strengths will complement you. This will be your first lesson in surrounding yourself with effective people to make your business well-rounded and your life easier.  You can also apply this to your high school clubs or youth programs if you are a leader.  It may not be easy, however it is better than surrounding yourself with people who have the exact same characteristics as you.   This leads to point 3.)

 3.)  Maximize your strengths and manage or neutralize your weaknesses. It doesn’t mean to ignore your weaknesses rather you learn how to deal with them  Why would you want to work on your weakness(es) when you can only get seventeen pecent better?

Here’s an example of how talents can be either a strength and weakness:  One of your talents is fashion design and working with fabrics to bring your designs to life.  Your strength is in designing apparel.  You instinctively know where to source the best fabrics to create the apparel. One of your talents is negotiation and it is definitely a strength.  You consistently negotiate the best prices, delivery and shipping details.  You love all of this and could spend your time doing it almost 24 hours a day (with a couple of hours of sleep).  You thrive on bringing all the pieces together to arrange the most profitable while always the most fashionable apparel designs for your business.  You are in your strength zone which is also your comfort zone.

Your trait to be detailed-oriented allows you to become stronger with your apparel designing, fabric sourcing and negotiating. However, no matter how detailed you are with bringing all the components together to create your apparel designs, you dread doing the paperwork in the office. You will procrastinate getting the details of the paperwork organized even though you know if a fabric shipment is lost or late the information is needed for tracking the shipments.  No matter how much your business partner or administrative person will harp on you to get it done, it is like the kiss of death for you. It takes you away from being creative and working to make your customers happy.  To make matters worst, what you dread even more is tracing shipments that are slowed down, lost or held up for any reason. If a fabric shipment has to be tracked because it may be lost or is very late in arriving, you are not the person to do it. No matter how much you try to do this type of work, you will never reach the point that it is second nature to you.  It’s just not in you. These activities are considered a weakness.  You need someone who looks at the tedious activities as a challenge to be overcome.  You know this person loves to get in the middle of the problem, figure out what needs to be done to solve it and then gets it done. This person thrives on restoring order and saving the day.

How do you manage your weaknesses as in #3?  Think about what was described in # 2 above.There is more than one way to solve your challenge: 

Stop doing it:  Find someone else to do it in your business or on your team.  Of course you may need to do it yourself at first,  yet when possible get someone else to do it.  You are much more valuable working within your strength zone in your business than on a weakness.

  • Is there a friend who will work with you that loves to organize paperwork and solve mysteries, like what happened to the deliveries.
  • Is there a relative who can help? It does not have to be a parent
  • What about a neighbor with experience who wants to help you

This leads to partnering with someone whose strength is in the area of your weakness. This is more than a person who steps in to do the job.  This is someone who can work with you, along side of you and shares your vision and mission. Also, make sure you actually like this person and can work together. Find somebody that you can work with at 3AM tired and cranky. FYI:  That’s what Bill Gates did after a bit.  He found a partner.

  • Final option when the above is not an option: Do everything yourself until the above options become available.

Here is one point with your strength zone and managing weaknesses.  Push yourself within your comfort zone rather than pushing beyond your comfort zone:  When you push yourself within your comfort zone you have the greatest opportunity to learn and grow your strengths.  Once you really know yourself,  if you push yourself outside your comfort zone, you may find it will only cause you a lot of frustration.

 

 

July 21.2012:  First post of Chapter 1 from Realizing a Vision, The Book

Chapter 1 Realizing a Vision of Owning A Business: Dream It and Do It

Imagine yourself leading your own business while being a leader in your community or in the world.  What kind of entrepreneur will YOU be?

There are so many options open to you.  Perhaps you have already decided what you are going to do and have actually begun your entrepreneurial journey.  Whether you are wanting to start a business now or in the future OR you have already done so, the information throughout the book is from a female perspective.  It is a perspective women entrepreneurs and business owners have found to work for them as they start and grow successful businesses.

 SECTION 1:  Talent, Passion and Strengths

It takes all three to start and run your business.  It takes all three to be a strong woman leader.

What are your talents?

You need to know your talents no matter what you set out to do.

All of you have talents. Your talents are things you do naturally that others say they wish they could do.  In other words your talents are something that come easily to you that most likely others will pay for because they cannot do it. By the way, talent and passion are not always the same.  They can be although not always.

I want you to think about this because you most likely have talents you have never considered or are hidden.  Keep an open mind on what people say you do well and where they see you doing your best. Don’t get discouraged easily. Entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes with different talents but the one quality that ties them all together is their tenacity. It might just be the talent you never realized that will make your passion become a reality

  • What one particular thing do you do VERY well with effortless ease? You might not even realize you are doing it because of how WELL you do it!
  • What is it that you LOVE to do the most? What is the one thing that while you´re doing  it, time freezes and hours slip by without you even noticing.
  • Everything around your hidden talent automatically interests you, every conversation spikes your interest.
  • Whenever you are doing or performing your hidden talent, even if you are unconsciously doing it, you feel happy, at ease, peaceful, secure and comfortable with yourself.

What are your talents that you know about right now?

Following the guidelines above, what are your hidden talents?

What is your dominant talent?  What activity do you do where you get totally lost in it and lose track of time? Is this an activity that takes you very little time to learn and as you are doing it you can skip steps and continue to excel as well as put your own twist to it. You are drawn to the activity even at an early age-it’s a yearning to do it, a passion to do it, even if you have to put it off.

Passion

What’s this thing called passion?  What is your passion?  It is an intangible quality that successful entrepreneurs and business owners are obsessed about.  You need to be passionate about your product, service or cause to be confident you can accomplish your business venture.  Your passion is something you can do everyday for the next 5-10-15 years without getting tired of it.

 Push Your Passion to the Limit

  • What makes you feel energized, connected and stimulated?  When you feel this way do you get so focused that you lose track of time?
  • Your passion is not a hobby.  Your passion is something you can do 24 hours a day.
  • Instead of doing what other people tell you to, you make a business out of the one thing or sometimes more than one thing that consumes your thoughts.  You are obsessed with it.
  • The ideas, hopes and possibilities your mind will naturally move towards.  It’s the thing you want to focus your time and attention on because it feels right for you.
  • Is your passion strong enough to continually fuel your desire to stay focused and follow through even when faced with obstacles and adversity (which you will).  A strong passion for something will make you stronger and give you the fortitude to move forward and not quit when the going gets rough.

Going on vacation, one of your school sponsored trips or a Spring Break trip?  Even if you go someplace you visit every year, look around and see what sparks your passion.

Think of all possible ways how you can pursue your passion.  Brainstorm all possible ways you can pursue your passion. The more business opportunities you see the easier it will be to find the one that will work for you.

For example: You love to bake. You also love to decorate the cakes you bake. What are the different business opportunities you can do with your passion to bake and also decorate?

1.) Design birthday and special occasion cakes you sell by special order

2.) Create cake and cupcake designs to sell to local bakeries

3.) Work with bakeries on their special order cakes for birthday parties, graduations, anniversaries and weddings

4.) Teach baking and cake decorating to private individuals or in classes.

5.) Sell your cakes and cupcakes at street fairs, flea markets and craft shows.

The more business opportunities you see the easier it will be to find the one that will work for you.

Strengths and Weaknesses

In thinking about your vision (written and visually) and your answers to the questions,you need to know your true strengths and weaknesses.  These are not the ones people have told you have all the way through school.

This topic is relevant to your business’ success as well as the success in your own life.  I want to be sure you understand it and take it seriously even if your teachers and family don’t get it.  Some people will give you directions based on their own experience and perceptions of you. There may also be direction given that they learned from years of so-called truths for a success life.   What these people do not know are your strengths may not be what they see and are actually weaknesses.

You cannot do it all in your business.  Some of the skills and talents needed to make your business work will come from others.  This the same with teams when you are one of the leaders in a school club or an after-school group. You want other people to complement your strengths and talents.  Remember your weaknesses are strengths for someone else.

Until next time and thank you,

Sylvia RJ Scott, Founder and Managing Director, Girl’s CEO Connection

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