Ruth Medlin Consulting

SPEAKER l TRAINER l ENTREPRENEURIAL MENTOR

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Entrepreneurial​ Freedom

Entrepreneurial Freedom

July is the month that we celebrate America’s independence from Great Britain.  Although that hard-fought victory is 243 years old, we still celebrate it with parades, cookouts and fireworks. That got me to thinking about entrepreneurial freedom and what that means to each of us who owns a business. Entrepreneurial freedom is something that many of us hold near and dear to our hearts.  I worked in education, private industry and government in my 39 years as someone else’s employee.  Some jobs I enjoyed and others not so much.  Some of my bosses were like mentors to me and others were overpaid dictators who had no business being a manager/supervisor.  

Seven years ago, I decided it was time to stop working for someone else and start working for myself.  Talk about freedom!  It was like a bright light suddenly showed me the path to be a successful business owner.  As with any new thing, there were learning curves along the way.  Time management was a difficult one for me to master.  It seemed like I had all this ‘free time’ because I didn’t have to be at work at any specific time and so I became a procrastinator at first. After some close calls about meeting deadlines for clients, I soon learned to budget my time a lot better.  Finding new clients was another thing that I struggled with.  I am an introvert and find networking to be exhaustive.  I’m not very good at it either!  I found my tribe in women’s networking groups.  Somehow it was easier to meet other women and learn from them.  I also continued to seek out mentors who were ahead of me in their entrepreneurial journeys and I learned from them too.  So, make no mistake, becoming an entrepreneur is not as easy as it may look!

But here’s the payoff.  FREEDOM! I have the freedom to work when I want to and with people I enjoy.  I am my own boss and I love not answering to anyone but me.  My self-worth is my own to make.  My net worth is also my own to make. Some days are better than others, but just like those colonists who sought independence in 1776, I will continue to strive for my own independence on this entrepreneurial journey and enjoy every minute of it!

Clients Want an Experience-We All Do!

Last week I ventured into one of my favorite clothing stores to see what was new for spring and summer.  Mind you, I receive catalogs in the mail from this store and they have an excellent website that is easy to use for ordering from home.  But you see, I wanted more than the convenience of on line ordering, I wanted a shopping EXPERIENCE!  That got me thinking about how much we as consumers want more than a transaction, we want to feel as though we’ve gone through an experience in our consumerism.

As a business owner, I often think about how I can offer my clients an experience in the work I do for them.  And furthermore, what exactly is the experience that my clients are looking for?  Should I ask them?  Would they tell me or keep me guessing?  How do you turn a business transaction into an experience anyhow?

I was coming up with more questions than answers, so I decided to ask around to find out what kind of an experience that clients really want. Here are a few of their answers.

“I want to feel important, like I’m the only client that you have. If I’m having a good time talking with you, I don’t want to hear you say you have another client coming in in 5 minutes!  And I want to be listened to not sold to.”

“I want you to ‘get’ me. I am sometimes quirky, and I have a wicked sense of humor, and I am self-depreciating a lot.  That is off-putting to some people.  I just want you to allow me to be me and to be sincerely with me in our working relationship.”

“I like to take my time about deciding.  It may take me several conversations also to see the product I am looking for over a span of days.  I want you to be willing to cover the same ground with me, allowing me the freedom to think it through until I reach my decision.”

“I want to have fun!  I want you to have fun with me and the product or service you are selling to be fun!  I know what I want, so no sales pitch needed!” 

Well, ok, I guess what I heard was that everyone is different.  And that I need to become more in tune with my clients, to really listen to them and to help create that aura of magic that makes each interaction one that the client will remember as the kind of experience they are looking for!

The Gift

What would you do if you were given an extra hour to your day? Many entrepreneurs long for more time to get everything done.  As solopreneurs, we find that all tasks, details and problems fall on our shoulders.  We strive to get it all done and sometimes, too often, we fall short of our daily goals.  We moan and groan and sometimes say, “if I only had more time in the day!”  

Here’s what I know about time.  It can slip through our fingers so easily.  Some of us are judicious with our time.  We are clock driven.  We set deadlines, appointments and we keep to them to the very best of our abilities.  We take a certain pride in our careful planning. And yet, sometimes, our well-defined schedules are disrupted by things over which we have no control.  Take for instance an appointment at your Dr.’s office.  You plan your Dr. appointment hoping against all hope that the Dr. will be on time.  Often, they are not.  And so, we sit in the waiting room, looking at the clock, checking with the front desk to see how much longer that we will have to wait, and calculating how much time we are losing by just sitting and waiting.  But what if we saw this time not as wasted, but rather as a gift.  What if we could accomplish something worthwhile as we wait?  What if we regained control of our emotions about the long delay and we re-set our mental clock to use this gift of time?  What would that feel like?

Speaking with Conviction and From the Heart

Speaking with Conviction and From the Heart

Recently, I spoke at a conference and my topic was “I Feel Good! A Guide for Entrepreneurs”. I have a strong affinity for entrepreneurs who are just starting out or struggling with their businesses.  Sometimes, the struggle has to do with leading yourself and your team members and sometimes it’s about having the courage to become a success. Either way, the struggle is real and can be the breaking point.

Here’s what I know for certain.  Each one of us starts our entrepreneurial journey with conviction and heart.  That’s why some of my guiding principles have to do with following through, seeking sound counsel from others who are successful and listening to your gut!  Being an entrepreneur isn’t for the faint of heart!  You sometimes must make tough decisions you’d rather not make, and you must work long hours to achieve your financial goals.  Many entrepreneurs are internally second-guessing themselves and boy let me just say that isn’t a great thing to do.  You must quiet the voices in your head that are telling you negative things about your business.  Tune them out.  Instead, pump up the volume on all the positive and good thoughts.  Say them out loud!  “I am the one to rely on” and “If it is meant to Be, it is up to Me!”  

As I told my audience at the conference, be the You that everyone else strives to be!  Confidence and bold moves to secure your entrepreneurial future. Find a positive affirmation and say it often.  Look like you are successful!  Don’t be in your jammies on a call, put on your best outfit, and some powerful red lipstick and rock your product like a superstar!

When I see successful entrepreneurs, I want to give them a shout out.  They are who we all want to be.  So, have conviction and a deep belief in yourself.  You are meant to Shine! 

Start Somewhere!

Start Somewhere!

Meeting new entrepreneurs is always a treat for me.  I love to hear their stories and their dreams. Often dreams just kind of stay in that holding pattern of “someday when I’m…”  I believe that dreams are very good things for most of us because they give us ideas and goals. However, dreams can also go nowhere.  We repeat the same dream over and over again and without us really knowing it, we are projecting the wrong message to ourselves and our customers.  That message is this: “I’m a non-starter and I’m going nowhere fast.”

So, here’s my message today-Start Somewhere!  It doesn’t matter if you’ve been in business for yourself for 5 months or 5 years, you must start somewhere.  So, what if you start in the middle? At least you are moving forward. Recently, a good friend asked me to help her re-start her business.  We had a Business Analysis Assessment session and what we discovered was that she’d never really followed up on her business plan. Now the plan was about 5 years old and it was a good basic business plan complete with a checkoff sheet with listed tasks.  The trouble was, my friend Never dug in with the set of start-up tasks that were listed! When I asked her why, she mentioned that she’d always hated “to do” lists and that’s what this task sheet reminded her of. I got it and I told her that she wasn’t ever going to use this business plan because every time she opened the binder to get started, she saw the task list and it was an automatic fail.  I asked her how she worked without a to do list? And her reply was “I just know what needs to be done and I dig in and do it.” Ok now we had our answer. In order for her to re-start her business, she had to decide what needed to be done and go and do it! We took the task sheet out of the binder and put it in the shredder! Just that one simple move made so much difference for her. So what if she started in the middle?  So what if she didn’t use to do lists? What is important is to GET STARTED.

How do you see your business right now?  Are you in a holding pattern? What’s holding you back from being wildly successful?  What’s the next BIG thing you want to conquer? You see, it doesn’t matter what you do, what’s important is that you just do whatever it is to meet your goals and get the job done!

 

Are You Writing A Book?

Are You Writing A Book Yet?

As an entrepreneur, many of us are so busy working our businesses that when it comes to even thinking about writing anything, we just kind of shy away from it or we say, ‘someday,’ or ‘when I get around to it.’  For some of us, writing is not something we are good at. And still, others think we have nothing important to say.

It’s time to debunk those old messages and to begin to start writing.  I joined a writing group this spring just to get myself back in the habit of writing.  Our group leader, Carol Walkner, gives us some prompts and we are given 10 minutes to write our hearts out.  This is not a critique group, but rather a group to listen and to point out phrases or sentences that stand out in our writing.  I am learning to listen to my own inner voice and to weave words or phrases into blogs. Suddenly the thought of writing a book doesn’t seem so far away.

What are you waiting for?  Start writing! Put your thoughts to paper.  Join a writer’s group. Collaborate with a friend and exchange writings. Challenge yourself to become an expert in your field and write about it.  The time is now, and the world is waiting to hear from you!

 

The Business of Following Up

We’ve all heard this a million times, “the fortune is in the follow-up.”  And we all know that to be true. Following up with potential business clients is key to being a successful entrepreneur.  Then, why oh why, please can you tell me why so many of us have trouble following up? I think the simple answer is that we don’t like the word “no.”  We don’t want to be rejected, so rather than having a follow-up conversation, we simply drop the ball.

Here’s an important question.  Why are we in business in the first place?  If you don’t like rejection, then find another way to earn a living!  

Another reason I think some of us don’t follow up is fear!  What if we were to take rejection and fear and throw them out the window?  What I mean is, what if we could reframe our thinking to see rejection and fear as positive things.  What if we saw them as learning experiences, to hone our craft of asking for the sale; getting better at it as we went?

A friend of mine, Terry Sayre who has a successful coaching business in California describes it as a risk or die scenario.  If you take a small risk by calling back a potential client to ask for the sale and they say thanks, but no thanks. You’ve taken only a small risk.  Did you get hurt from their no thanks? Did you keel over in a heap, did you ball your eyes out? Did you die from it? Nope, none of the above. What you’ve gained according to Terry is the ability to ask for, listen to and overcome objections.  Still didn’t get the sale? Consider it a learning experience and move on to the next call!

Put yourself in the shoes of a being a client.  You’ve listened to and read up on the product you’re interested in and you’re interested, but you just need a little more time or maybe you need a little more information before you make that decision to buy.  Maybe you’re wondering why the salesperson hasn’t called you back? So, you decide to take a wait and see approach. You’re waiting to see what the salesperson will do.

And right there, we see and understand the problem. Two people, a potential buyer and a potential seller are each waiting for the other person to call or make the next point of contact!  Hello!!! When it’s put into that context, do you see that you, as the potential seller really has the upper hand and by making that call, talking with the potential buyer we become the true professional that we are meant to be!

Follow-up already!  Your clients are waiting for your call!

 

Teeing Up for Fall

Another fast summer is ending.  Each year, I find myself asking “where did summer go?”  It’s becoming apparent that time is flying by, almost faster than the speed of light.  Now I can’t complain, because my summer has been a good one.  Lots of time to write, vacation and read, my three favorite things to do, so it’s not like I didn’t have a good summer, it just seems that I could do with maybe another 2 months of those long summer days.  Are you feeling that way too?

Never mind!  It’s on to fall, full speed ahead.  I do have some great things to look forward to in fall.  If you’ve been following me, you know that my business partner Jim Gray and I are one month into our newly created Influencer Community.  We are having fun working out all our mini-crisis, none of which is worth describing here.  This is my first time working with a full-fledged business partner, so I’ve had to learn to “know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em.”  Check out the info about the Influencer Community on my website.  And if you want to learn more about the IC and participate in a zoom presentation call, just let me know.

So, come on in, Fall!  I’ve got my fall wreathes ready and I’m about to go to Starbuck’s for my first Pumpkin Spice Latte.  Could life get much better?  I think not!!

Don’t Let Your New-Found Knowledge Go To Waste!

Don’t Let Your New-Found Knowledge Go To Waste!

I just got back from a business conference and I am pumped full of ideas for my business.  There was so much information, so many vendors to see, not to mention networking opportunities!  I took copious notes, checked out vendor offers and made some preliminary decisions about how to use this new-found knowledge in my business.  Exciting and excited!

And then reality hits once I land at the airport and I am driving home.  I am eager to see my pets, sleep in my own bed and get my clothes laundried.  I pull into the driveway and breath a sigh. Back to my real world full of mundane responsibilities.  But wait, what about all that knowledge? What about those bright ideas? What about all those connections?

Here’s what I’ve learned.  Home is home, but there is still a business to run.  So, I dusted off my conference notes, and boom, creative juice started to flow.  I got a couple of freebie downloads and started a top 5 list of how these would help me to create some business flow and I got excited all over again.

Be sure to utilize and capitalize on new-found knowledge.  You just never know where it might take you!

 

Celebrating 6 Years!

Celebrating 6 Years!

This doesn’t seem possible, but it is, Ruth Medlin Consulting is celebrating it’s 6th year in business.  It’s funny how life and business take twists and turns.  Six years ago, I was suffering under oppressive leadership in my job.  I was gagging from lack of professional leadership (perhaps that’s why I teach entrepreneurial leadership today) and spending my 40-hour work weeks being miserable.  I knew I had to take action and when the little angel inside my head kept telling me to “Jump! Take a leap of faith and an early retirement!” and start my own consulting/training business I finally listened!

Being in business for one’s self is truly a twisty and turny kind of event.  Initially, I spent my first 3-4 years working as a facilitator in community-type leadership programs.  But I found some of the same kinds of things happening that had happened in my last job. I was answering to people whose leadership styles didn’t match mine and who never could seem to get it in their heads that I was an entrepreneur, not an employee.  So, after a few years, I felt the need to re-invent my business model to exclude leadership facilitator from my list of qualifications.

That’s when I started on my path of speaking to women who needed to hear some encouraging news.  And my Power of One speaking gigs started. It is great to see women take the reins of their businesses and manage and lead like the boss they knew they could be. And if my “7 C’s of Leadership” programs are helping women to be their own bosses, well yahoo for them and me.

Another twist came last year when I decided to relocate to the Midwest and sold my farm to head to Cincinnati, Ohio.  It was like starting my business all over again. I had to work at gaining creditability, being liked and most importantly, being trusted and valued.  It hasn’t been easy however; the rewards certainly outweighed the risks.

So, yay to being my own boss and congratulations to me for celebrating 6 exciting years!

Cheers!

 

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