By Terri Fry Brukhartz, LCSW, CPCC

We all have those days when we just want to quit or cry or both. I had one of those just a couple of weeks ago. I was working hard on something and not getting results. There was one moment where I simultaneously felt like crying, running, and sticking with it—all at the same time.

It was easier not to quit because I have a vision for my life and my business that I find invigorating. All I have to do is “call it up”. Then I can get back on the horse.

You can get through those tough times faster and get on track more quickly, too, if you have a vision that works. Creating an effective vision will help guide your business decisions so that you can survive the inevitable bumps along the way. You can get back on the horse faster.

A vision isn’t only a dream, although that’s part of it. The other part is the anticipation that it will come to be. Expecting your vision, your dream, to come true is an important part of making it a reality. The hard part can be continuing to have that expectation when everything seems to be going wrong.

There are different ways to create a vision, but I can show you what works for me and my clients. It’s actually very simple:

Create your vision based on your values—what’s important to you.

When things are tough and you think of your vision, you should become excited not defeated. That excitement creates the resolve necessary to tackle it again.

I know you’re smart enough to realize that simply having a vision won’t make your dreams come true. You need goals, strategies, and actions that support it. You must have a vision first, though, in order for the latter to be effective.

How to Create Your Vision

 1. Without editing yourself or thinking too much about it, envision how you’d like your business to look and feel. For example how much money do you make? How many hours do you work? Employees? Answer some questions of your own. Then write down your answers. Congratulations! You now have a vision.

Writing your dreams down are an important part of making them work. It’s easier to just think about it, but writing is more effective. Whenever I write down what I want in my life, either it occurs or something pretty close to it does. I don’t write that I want it. I write that I have it.

I can’t explain it. I just take action and watch the magic unfold. It’s really wild. (Totally freaks my husband out.)

2. Do the same thing. Write as though your dream is happening now.  Start with the words, “I am…” or “my business is…” Don’t say”I’d like to…” or “I hope to…”

3. Dig deep. What’s important to you about the dream? What are the underlying values?

4. How do you FEEL now that you have the business of your dreams? Where in your body do you feel it? What is the sensation? Tingly? Light? Anything else? Write it down.

5. Create similar questions for your personal life. Let’s not forget that your business and your personal life make up YOUR LIFE. You should feel fulfilled and enriched by both.

Continue to think about your vision as you make decisions over the next week. Keep it in the forefront of your mind. Will your next action contribute to or detract from your dream?

Using your vision to guide your actions is extremely important. Everything you do, every decision you make should move you closer to your dream. Keep taking actions that contribute to making that vision a reality and you will be living it sooner than you think.

One more thing: Dreams are exciting. Don’t forget to enjoy yourself while you are making yours come true! Questions about the process? Having a difficult time finding those ever-important values? Just post your question or comment below and I’ll do my best to help.

Terri Fry Brukhartz, LCSW, CPCC, has been helping business professionals make more money, do what matters and thrive on their successes since 2001. Coach Terri began her career in 1982 working for advertising agency Leo Burnett and the internationally acclaimed TV conglomerate, CBS.  In 1987, Coach Terri started The Fry Group, Inc., a publishers’ representative firm. Clients included Details Magazine, Men’s Health, and Harvard Business Review. With her husband, two kids and two dogs in tow, it’s a wonder Coach Terri has enough time to get everything done! She resides in Chicago but works by phone with entrepreneurs around the world. Contact her by email or call 708-386-0500.Contact her by e-mail or call 708-386-0500.

 

Savethetatas.com (est. 2004) and The Save the Ta-tas® Foundation (est. 2008) were created as a way to fight breast cancer using laughter and fun by Julie Fikse, mother of twins. The  company offers apparel, accessories and lifestyle products from Save the ta-tas® and Laughter Heals® Gifts.

According to Fikse, living a balanced life as an entrepreneur, wife and mother and woman who wants to maintain a sense of self is very difficult. “I think the hardest part for me is being flexible,” she said. “I make plans for achievement that are constantly interrupted. I’m learning I
have to allow my life to be fluid as I roll with the disruptions and changes.”

Like many others, she uses list making as a tool to help her stay focused and on task. “I make a list of the most important things I want to accomplish each day. I keep the list short, no more than five things I can complete that will make me feel like the day was a success. I then tackle my list for the day leaving room for unexpected tasks and events.”

Fiske acknowledges that many women tend to feel like a failure if they don’t accomplish everything there is to be done. “The truth is, we simply can’t do it all at one time but we can do one thing at a time! Prioritize, take hold of your dreams, and leave room for the surprises life brings,” she said.

Her most common advice to aspiring mom entrepreneurs is to just get started. “Take
it one step at a time. Tackle challenges as they come and celebrate the successes, big or small!”

Fikse recently created a new lifestyle brand, Laughter Heals® Gifts. The products are fun and fashionable. Her The ta-tas® Brand has donated 50 percent of their profits to the cause over the last six years and to date, has donated $790,000+ to fund the fight against cancer, including innovative cancer research. The company can be found at www.savethetatas.com and the nonprofit foundation at www.savethetatas.org!

By Chelsea Duggan

Raise your glasses, hip hip hooray, do a backflip, a somersault, and work your goals backwards today! Your resolutions will prosper, your success is key, you’re finding the path to who you want to be. Business is tricky, so be picky, and choose the path that you know. It leads down the road and points to your goal. It’s your C.H.O.I.C.E.

Choose your goal. This is the marathon goal that will take master discipline for the year to reach, the goal that makes you feel giddy with excitement, and yet still a little bit afraid. A smart friend once shared with me that women often undervalue themselves. This is your chance to choose to recognize how valuable you really are.

Have a plan to reach your goal. There is no brownie for getting there first; rather, the goal here is stealthy and steady. Each month of the year you should chip away at defined steps to reach your goal. In January, sketch your editorial calendar, and in February, write love letters to three new bloggers. The key to success is in the execution.

Own your plan and share it with others. Remember your very first best friend? The one you shared every scandalous detail of your desires with? Accountability partners can be like this best friend as they’re someone who will encourage you to overcome obstacles to achieve what you want.  You’ve shared your flame for fortune, you’ve got a great cheerleader, and you know you can do it. Hang your plan behind your desk where it can watch you work. Yeah, it’s still there.

Invoice your time. Women need to know that time equals money. We’ve all been there, working for free, making the juggle and holding the family together. Time is valuable and you should invoice it accordingly. Let’s say you have (ha!) three things to accomplish but only have time for two. What is the value in a per hour scenario for that third task? These are the tasks you can begin to outsource.

Choose to move forward. Take a step each day. If you break down your task into manageable steps you’ll be able to continue to move forward. There are going to be those days where it feels like you’re mud-wrestling pigs but as it turns out, you are a good wrestler. Backwards motion is bound to happen but taking action steps each day will keep the momentum forward moving.

Enjoy your success. Put on your theme song, sing at the top of your lungs and reward yourself for the success you’ve created. By making the C.H.O.I.C.E to plan your success you will reach your goals.

Chelsea Duggan:: An entrepreneur, parent and advocate for early childhood development through creative education, Chelsea Duggan is the Founder and Director of Milestar Babies. This innovative online resource enables busy parents to have an influential impact on newborn children, up to three years in age. Chelsea’s background in education – a passion she shares with her two children, so they themselves can enjoy a lifelong interest in learning – is at the center of Milestar Babies. That commitment to excellence starts with shared moments and teacher-designed lessons, which parents can further customize, so children can discover, synthesize and pursue their own discoveries. Chelsea believes that every child is an amazing individual, who deserves to learn at his or her own pace. This kid-tested, parent-approved philosophy is Chelsea’s distinctive concept, complemented by the convenience of the Internet and her dynamic site. A graduate of Northwestern and a member of the Chicago Women Entrepreneurs Network, Chelsea welcomes the opportunity to interact with parents and children throughout the nation and the world.

 

By Prerna Malik

With January in full swing, chances are you’re ramping up, getting all excited and are ready to make 2013 the BEST ever for your business. Great! Here are the 5 best ways to make sure that your business and you rock this year:

1. Take Action

While this list is in no particular order, I’d say, this tip will be right at the top, naturally. No amount of planning, goal-setting, learning is of use if you DON’T act on it. Whether it is applying search engine optimization to blog posts or using productivity tools, if you don’t do it, there will be NO improvement whatsoever. So, review what you learnt last year and act on it. Now.

2. Streamline Systems

Systems can be set up for new customer onboarding, customer service, feedback and pretty much everything else. Identify at least 3-5 areas of your business that would benefit from systems and then, work on setting them up.

3. Schedule Time for Learning

As mom entrepreneurs, we often get so caught up in running the business and managing our home, we forget that we are responsible for our own business education as well. Whether it is learning about new social media marketing techniques or understanding how split testing works, we need to learn and of course, apply that learning. So make sure you pencil in time for learning in your planner this year.

4. Have Fun Working on Your Business

Finally, and most importantly, make sure that while you’re doing all of this and growing your business, you’re having fun too. Connect with other business owners, join a mastermind group, talk about your business with friends and family. Make sure that you treat your business as a business with respect and not reduce it to a hobby. Let your passion for what you do shine through and you’ll find that growing a business is really enjoyable and exciting.

So, are you ready to make 2013 the best year ever for your business? Share with me in the comments.

Author of How to be a Work-at-Home Mom: The Happily Ever After Guide to Leading the WAHM Life, Prerna Malik is a business blogger, social media expert and work-at-home mom coach who shares smart solutions for busy work-at-home moms and juggles multiple businesses with baking cupcakes with her daughter.

Gayle Goodman created Goodman Lynch Communications after she was laid off from her VP job in 2008. She offers marketing communications consulting services, including strategy, message development, branding and integrated communications.

Goodman and her husband are both entrepreneurs. She said the two share the responsibilities related to child care, i.e., school drop off/pick up, sick days, camps, activities, etc. Goodman said she operates by assigning blocks of time to different tasks. “In terms of my own balance, I dedicate a certain number of hours per day to clients, another block of time to my business (i.e., accounting and so on) and the rest of the time to family.”

“My schedule can fluctuate, but often I’m up early for exercise/daily readiness, then I get my daughter up, I’m off to work and Dad handles school drop off, I work most of the day, leave in time to pick her up, have family time, and then maybe work an hour or two in the evenings after she goes to bed. This works for me because I have a lot of energy,” she added.

Goodman said the keys to being successful are to believe in yourself and remain positive. “You can do anything you put your mind to,” she said. “If you feel yourself getting stressed, figure out what is important. If you don’t have enough balance time, maybe you dial back your hours a bit or hire some help to get your business done. This may require looking at your personal expenses and trimming your budget so you can afford it, but often these trade-offs are worth it to gain peace of mind.”

She also said that when needed, you can really trim your household budget. “You would be surprised by the money you can save by making small changes.”

For Goodman, most of her marketing is done through network connections. “I have more than 800 professional connections through LinkedIn, and I am very active in local networking groups. All of my business comes through a personal connection directly, or via a referral from a friend,” she said.

You can find Goodman Lynch Communications online.

By Abbey Fatica

I recently found a great quote by Steve Jobs that said “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”

Let’s be honest, 2012 wasn’t the best year in terms of business for me. We’ll call it my rebuilding season. In order for me to gain success, I had to go through a lot of losses, financially and mentally. To say, 2012 was a tough year doesn’t even scratch the surface.

I’ll admit it. I have been the owner of three different businesses this year and it wasn’t till the end of the year that I really found my stride. Don’t get me wrong, I worked really hard in all three businesses, sometimes working late at night, during my kids’ naps, answering emails and doing social media periodically throughout the day. When the kids didn’t need me, the businesses did.

Needless to say, I wasn’t completely loving what I was doing, so it turned into one menial task after another. In order for me to justify working at home and taking time away from my young children, I have to be doing something that I really love. When I would get an email, I would let out a huge sigh because whatever is on the other side was going to work that I didn’t want to do.  But I would do it so I wouldn’t let my client down, but there was no drive behind the work.

Call me a serial entrepreneur if you will but that is just because I hadn’t quite found my passion until just recently. Ever since I started working from home, I knew I wanted to work to promote bloggers and brands while being able to give back to charity. I just didn’t know in what capacity this looked like. All my businesses have incorporated some aspect of this ideal in their own way but there still was a lack of passion.

Finally in November 2012, my business partner and I created a series of books called Life Well Blogged; a compilation of blog posts written by hilarious bloggers. While reading some of our favorite bloggers one day, the idea of putting a bunch of these posts together in a book become the stepping stone to our next great idea. Readers would not only get a lighthearted laugh but they would also discover new writers who are bloggers they would have never heard of before. We were then able to promote bloggers and help them succeed. Another aspect of the Life Well Blogged series that resonates with both of us is that we plan on giving a portion of the proceeds to different charities.

I knew I had gotten “my groove back” when I enjoyed receiving emails from prospective contributors, wanted to chat with people on different social media networks all the time and couldn’t keep my mouth shut about the current book we were working on. I was just so excited about this project and still am because it incorporates every initial reason that I wanted to work at home in the first place. It took all my love of working with people, helping people, and getting to do something that I was passionate about and put it all in one place.

So for 2013, your goals might be to make more money, get more sales, or have a stronger presence in your social media community, but there is no way you are going to achieve these without the passion!

Abbey Fatica balances her time everyday between her husband, three kids and her businesses. Yes, businesses! Ever since she started working from home and being her own boss in 2009, she has started companies like Living Your Moment and TrackerSphere working with brands and bloggers enhancing her clients visibility through social media channels. Her newest venture includes writing a nine part book series called Life Well Blogged, a collection of humorous blog posts. While she is all over on social media, you follow her currently on Twitter @LifeWellBlogged and on Facebook at Life Well Blogged.

Stay competitive, cut costs, and make time for what matters

Entrepreneurship and motherhood are among the most challenging and rewarding jobs humans can do—so those who do both have to take advantage of every possible tool to increase efficiency and save time. Fortunately, there are apps that can turn your smartphone into a Swiss army knife of productivity, organization, and automation, so you can stay ahead of the game and make more time for family.  Here are a few of my personal favorites—they’re cheap, versatile, and simple to use.

1. LinkedIn (Android, iOS)

Networking is one of the biggest challenges for mompreneurs—you can’t attend every conference, fly across the country on a day’s notice, or catch the normal water-cooler networking that office workers can. For that reason, your online networking is all the more important—and LinkedIn, for all its faults, is the broadest network to stay on top of trends and make essential contacts. (Cost: free)

2. Google Drive (Android, iOS)

Sharing and syncing your documents and files is a big part of modern business. Whether you are collaborating on a project with a colleague, working on your presentation on the go, or sharing photos, grocery lists and calendars with your family, Google Drive is a favorite cloud service that links to your Gmail account, and allows effortless sharing. (Cost: free)

3. Cozi Family Calendar (Android, iOS)

Other apps and services offer calendars, but the Cozi Family Calendar app is designed and packed full of features to help calm the chaos of family life. The core of the app is definitely the shared calendar, which allows multiple users to create and share events, and set reminders that can be sent out via text and email. Also key are the to-do lists, shopping lists, and journal features. (Cost: free)

4. White Noise (Android, iOS)

This is a great app for those times when the noise in the house seems overwhelming, especially while you’re trying to concentrate on a project or get to sleep. White Noise contains over 40 high quality sound loops designed to help you sleep better. There is a free lite version, so you can give it a shot, and upgrade if you decide it’s worth it. (Cost: 1.99)

5. Skype (Android, iOS)

The quintessential desktop communication tool is available for your mobile device as well. Skype Mobile allows you to conference with your work associates while running errands, working from home, and driving to soccer practice. Some video features will require you to have a front-facing camera on your mobile device—if you don’t have one, check out a T-Mobile LG cell phone so you can start teleconferencing. (Cost: free)

6. Ego (iOS)

If your job includes your own website or blog, Ego is for you. Ego provides an all-in-one experience for managing your website statistics. You can easily monitor visits to your site (sorted by hourly, daily, and monthly), how many people are following your Twitter account, Vimeo views, Google Analytics, and Mint information. Available only on iOS for iPhone and iPad, this is a crucial app to keep you up to date on your web stats that matter most. (Cost: 1.99)

7. Genius Scan (Android, iOS)

How many times have you wanted to just scan an article, business card, or other document, but were either on the run, or otherwise not near a scanner? Genius Scan is a powerful image scanner that uses the camera in your cell phone to create JPEG or PDF images, and then upload to your favorite cloud service of choice (Box, Dropbox, Evernote, etc.). Genius scan is packed with features like page detection and perspective correction, which make it one of the most versatile and power image scanning applications around.

Julia Peterson is a writer for AndGeeks.com, a popular website that provides up-to-date news, detailed commentary, and unbiased reviews on cell phones and related topics. Julia resides in Galveston, Texas in a cozy little house in the country with her husband, young son, and their Labrador retriever, Darby.