Sometimes we just can't accept what comes our way, we have to make our path and no longer accept anything less than what we want for ourselves and our loved ones.
There is a time and a place to work with that you have, but there is also a time and a place to get the job done and make it happen. We can get really busy taking lemons after lemons, making pitchers and pitchers, gallons and gallons of lemonade. When do we say, enough!?
One day we stop and say "I'm over it. I want something else and I'm not wasting anymore of my precious time unless it is on exactly what I want".
When we take what life gives us and we spend our precious time working with it ... we are inevitably inviting it into our lives, we are giving it a platform and saying "It's okay, you can take my time and my energy. I had nothing better to do".
It is a true skill for anyone, entrepreneur or not, to learn how to stop distracting things from entering our lives right at the door!
This simple gesture, signal to the world, signal to ourselves may be just what we need. You know the studies behind the "superhero pose" right?
Power Posing was first introduced by Amy Cuddy in 2010 when she suggested that standing in “high power” produces power by increasing testosterone and decreasing cortisol levels. What do you have to lose?
Let try them both! 1) Stop & 2) Superhero, or "High power" pose
How many of you small business owners are Ross? How many are Rachel...and who will admit, yup, they are a Chandler!?
There is no denying this is a strange time. Businesses cannot, and feel free to argue, cannot really make projections for each quarter. We can guess, and can even make calculated quantitative plans, but...if March 2020 taught Canadian business owners anything...it's "Nice effort, but nope."
If I said this 7 months ago, you would've said I was crazy. But here we have it, we are adapting...and already some of you forgot.
Please don't forget. Put it in your journal. In your calendar. In your CRM as a popup.
Don't get comfortable.
The fact is, we are not in control. Any time a mandate can change everything we worked for. So rather than blindly rolling with it and putting your hand out to whatever help you "graciously take". Plan. Prepare. Protect!
Look at worst case scenario...really look. Take off your Canadian conditioned glasses (which happen to be red and white, which colours also happen to make a lovely rose colour.. ahem ahem...just saying)...and really look.
Next, look at best case scenario.
Now bring those two hands together and meet somewhere in the middle. This usually falls in the area of "reason" "averages" "most probable".
Now pivot there.
What does your business need to do to be prepared for this "hands in the middle" scenario? What does your business look like? What do your financials look like? What does your family look like?
Rather than staying stuck in what you do now and what you've built, can you adapt to the "new norm"? Can you look at this as a long term plan, rather than "it's only for a few months"? (So many of us looked at it that way!!! No shame!)
We are in this together. And this is HOW we are in this together
▶️ By saying the hard things, working together and protecting each other!
So are you a Ross? Determined! "With a sketch and everything"? #wevegotthis
Are you a Rachel? Goes along, with little investment, but goes along. Heavy lifting. Carrying the burden blocks. Going in whatever direction she is told. #agreeable
Are you a Chandler? Reluctant to be there and is ready to quit. #imdone
Fall fashions need fall lips.
As a small business owner you have to look the part for whatever it is you are selling. And it's a 24/7 deal (If you are serious about what you are doing).
You are just as much the product as the physical product itself. And if you are the product...need I say more?
I have absolutely been in situations where I'm in the middle of sanding and painting shelves, laying flooring...and I need to run out. I end up in a great convo with some guy or some gal (potential customer/referral/IG audience)...and they ask...(cringe)...
"What is your store? What do you do? 🙈🙉🙊
My pale, tired, skin with drywall cracked hands and hair that looks more like desirable real estate for the blue jay that's been hanging out in my backyard than anything else...I cringe!!!! Do I say "I own a beauty and design studio"?...I am by no means a poster for it! So what do you do? People are very visual, and if you are thinking "they know you are laying floor, you are in #homedepot!" Think again! People do not excuse you. Unless you are selling mediocre service/products...then sure, you got by.
But I'm not talking to mediocre business owners am I? You aren't people who want to catch a small fish when you could have caught numerous ideal customers utilizing every moment.
Fast forward... #girlwashyourface has never been more applicable! Lol don't get caught like that. Everyday think about your business #marketing. TIP: find a quick topknot that looks on point (or any anti squirrel condo style) and find a fashionable lip that suits your complexion...it wont kill you to put mascara on either, I'm almost sure of it lol. (3 min max) All you want is to look alert and ready for anything, representing who you are and what you do.
No matter what you are up to, a top knot and a hot lip will still say, "I know what I'm doing, you should see me for my business services/products, I just also happen to be a bad ass #handywoman #DIYgoddess who takes pride in her shop".
How your situation speaks to your encounters will be customized to you, but you get the idea.
Disclaimer: Angry, boring or lazy also have a look.
If that's what you are selling, you do you.
I've been able to innovate and change a few things, I've been able to collect a rather awesome group of people...and all in all, for that alone I am completely content.
So back to business. Contentment, friends, bridges that are intact, loyal following...does that equal a successful business?*
Having friends is great
Having a Rolodex of contacts (sorry, to other generations, that's a fancy terms for a CRM)
Having an IG full of vanity metrics...
DOES NOT A BUSINESS MAKE
So sit back and ask yourself, "why am I doing this?" "Is this my livelihood?" "Could I live without this project!" "Could my family go without food, winter clothes, shelter...without this is".
If you need this business, if this is your "job" then stop treating it like a hobby and get real. How is this business going to feed you and your family? That's is not melodramatic!!!! Believe me, if you were an employee of your business....you would have a whole lot of rights...and feeding your family would be a legitimate concern. Don't pull a Cris and undervalue yourself for years. Know your worth, plan and implement!
People quickly forget. Oh do I have stories! They forget about everything you did for them... quickly and easily. So start putting yourself on the priority list!
What is your hour worth?
Is your product or service fulfilling this regularly?
What does that look like in 3 years? 5 years?
Start asking yourself, "Is what I'm doing scalable? And then get to the drawing board!
If 2020 taught you anything...
Sure, when you need to.
Every business requires a Hustle.
Economic changes & unprecedented time (ahem ahem ahem.... The C word!)
But is hustle the permanent hashtag for an entrepreneur?
I certainly hope not.
Hustle. Spelled backwards is "Eltsuh". And Eltsuh is the sound you make when you are burnt out, sick in bed and hurling.
The key is balance. We all say that, but how do you ACTUALLY do it. Right?
Don't look at me! What the heck do I know! I have a million ideas & projects and am helping people when I should be working on my own business! Oooooooh....
Wait...I do know a thing or two.
I make committments to myself and my immediate family because it forces me to stop, prioritize and stop.
I give myself permission to work when other people think I should be doing something else. But then I also give myself permission to read, study and connect with dear true friends, because I know there is an ROI. That may sound cold (ROI), but when you have hit rock bottom, have been hospitalized because you literally burnt out trying to please everyone...and not yourself...you start to calculate. If you have listened to me at all, you know I'm all about facts, figures, the nitty gritty. And we are all entrepreneurs right? So what's the ROI? ▶️ Peacefulness, happiness, trust, support. This is what you get back when you make time for most important people in your life.
It's up to you to decide what's important and how much you can reasonably give to each of those items. Every person has their own struggles. Their own limitations. Some people have nice nets parents have set up for them, (or grandparents) some are on their own and some are now parents themselves.
No matter what you do, if the thing that is stressing you out and is putting you on a heart monitor...might need to rethink that.
If that thing is you are lazy and procrastinate...👋 Slap! You need to figure out what you are afraid of, and face that fear asap! #mentalhealth is a #now #issue not a #tomorrow one.
There, that is one thing I know.
Me cerca 2010.
"You may feel that way, but what do the numbers say?" Is something my staff have heard me say over the last nine years. Even before owning my own Studio or Boutique location, turning to the numbers was a practice of mine, yes since my managing days.
In business, especially in sales many employees, reps, head office staff...(wow I'm just thinking about the roles I've had) it is very difficult to argue with surveys, reports, averages, counts, cashflow statements, UPTs, ATSs, RBRs, etc., etc., etc. All industries will have different calculators.
But the key is that solid businesses watch, track and review.
I have had employees (whether my own or ones I'm managing) say they FEEL as though they have been selling and should be rewarded. Or I've heard complaints about not being booked enough. Buuut then when we go the schedule vs. timing. vs. numbers it's like a flashing light hit the issue. "If you could finish as blowout under 75 minutes we could book you more". (Right 🙉)
Staff, employees, contractors, often (not always) come at you with emotion. It is your responsibility as a manager/owner to have concrete facts at hand in order to show what is really going on in the business.
Quarterly reviews with staff are non-negotiable. However much staff may contest (I've been guilty of pushing things back in order to appease) you must protect your business.
I had a labour board officer tell me once, "Do you know it's okay to say no? If they quit they quit. But the way you are "being nice" isn't protecting your business. I can see very clearly what is going on with you and your employee. Your problem is, you needed to say no. Don't bend your rules because they roll their eyes or make you feel bad. They are doing that because they want to take advantage". That is advice I will never forget.
Record. Record. Record. Review!
Here is a taste of what this post will be...
My 3rd business was "The Capelli Club".
It was the first business that required a professional commercial location.
That was a lot to take on as a 26 year old (in 2010/2011). So it makes a lot of sense that my first big project was based within the Beauty/Salon world. My experience within the industry and the unique aspects I was bringing to the industry is what secured the funding for the start-up!
But, that is when the commercial property and City of Ottawa education began! Had it not been for my industry experience, resilience and quickly developed lady-balls of steal - - my doors would have been close by the 6th month! No Joke!
Some people choose to start a small business to fulfill their passions, some just can't do the 9-5 for one more day and others may even contemplate the idea out of necessity because they’ve gotta do something to make extra money to help the family. Then there are the ones who want to do more than just make their own money. They are the ones we call entrepreneurs, and those ones are driven by a special internal desire to build a legacy. Entrepreneurs focus on building processes, procedures and automation.
Whatever your reasons are, it is important to take a good hard look at the realities and what it REALLY means to start a business and to run a business. There is a very ugly side to business and you'll most likely age a bit over your first 5 years. Yikes!(TIP: Sileca Gel, Trust me!)
Those same people who want to "Be My Own Boss" and buy cups and binders with "GirlBoss" or “Entrepreneur Life” written all over them (you know those ones, the passion-driven, freedom-seeking ones that started their journey filled with courage and optimism) often become some of the most rushed, busy, stressed and financially burdened people out there.
Yes you get to create your own wealth, and yes many days you have some flexibility with your schedule, but the other side is that you are also solely responsible for creating your own wealth, and flexibly in schedule can often sound like this --"Yes I can work from 6:00am to 1:00pm, get in my car and pick up our sick kid from school, make them some soup and put them to bed for the afternoon, but then I'm back at work from 3:00 pm to 12:00 am...only to start all over the very next morning. Did I eat today, I can't remember".
The self-employed and especially the entrepreneurs out there, live for the flexibility and forfeit the entitled scheduled breaks and 2 weeks vacation each year.
(Chew on that for a minute).
That’s right. With flexibility comes great responsibility...and longer hours, and everyone else thinking you are available at the drop of a hat, etc etc. You just gave up working 37.5 hours for someone else, to work 80 hours for yourself (and all with very little regard from others who just don't get it).
While you are starting a small business you may feel as though you are hitting roadblock after roadblock. Your mind and your time will be occupied with things like: taxes and regulations, employee hiring and firing, labour board compliance and many other human resource items, often little or no working capital, permits, city and province/state regulations, bookkeeping, inventory issues, low revenues, increases in the cost of living, etc. When people say to you, just do this on your “free time” or why not over “the weekend?", you may look at them as though they have two heads. "I don't have free time" you may just yell out one day. And the term "weekend" will no longer apply.
And with all this going on, you must find it in yourself to ensure your cash-flow is being managed and your customers are being given the golden treatment. You may find yourself becoming, as Tony Soprano puts it, "The sad clown". Laughing on the outside, but crying on the inside.
Oh ya, then there is the emotional turmoil that comes with modern day extortion and the many poorly regulated "review" platforms. Oh my.
So by this point you are saying, "Wow thanks Cris for all the doom and gloom, why on earth would I want to start my own business now?"
Just remember, I said to you it is important to take a good hard look at the realities and what it REALLY means to start a business and to run a business. This is just an exercise, not a scare tactic. This exercise is laying out all types of problems, stresses and challenges so you can prepare and make a strategic plan to conquer and win! When you know what challenges lay before you, you can prepare yourself and succeed.
Can you imagine if the first time Tom Brady played as a quarterback, he dropped the ball and ran off the field because a linebacker was making their way for him. Sounds absolutely ridiculous right? Because it is. Yes a linebacker is big and strong, and if he hits Brady, he could really cause some damage. But Brady knows this. He has planned for this. He gets out there on the field and executes his mission. Has he had some bruises? Did he blow out his left knee in the season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs? He sure did. But overall, he has been an NFL Ironman because he works with his team and strategies the heck out of their games. Now you may not always agree with his "alleged strategies" but that’s a topic for another time. The point here is Plan, Protect and Play!
There is no need to reinvent the wheel, so talk to local business owners. Reach out to some within similar industries on social media. Read. Read. Then read some more. Draw out your playing field and strategize how you will prepare for and deal with the inevitable things that regularly happen in business. Because once you do, all you have to worry about is playing the game. And playing this game is so much fun, not to mention it can come with all kinds of rewards for both you and your family.
I was no more than 9 years old when I first started sketching dress ideas. I still remember the first "dress" I made. It was constructed from a red and white checker quilting fabric (think traditional Italian restaurant) with a few pineapple images in every other checker box. I had found the fabric for a few dollars and was determined to turn it into my favourite Sunday dress.
I wasn't quite comfortable yet with our sewing machine, so I stitched it by hand. A waist band was fashioned and the fabric was gathered to create the flow of a skirt. Due to the simplicity of the design, I decided a white t-shirt under the "dress" would be best.
I do not recall if I wore this "masterpiece" more than once, but I clearly remember feeling proud and fabulous on one special Sunday occasion. My mother and grandmother entertained the idea and let me wear this craft of a dress! Could you ask for better support?!
Paris Hart Designs
By the time I was 15 years of age, my skills improved greatly and I was receiving contract inquiries. We didn't have a computer at home, so this was just another time I used the local library resources. There I made my very first letterhead. At that time I thought "Paris Hart Designs" would be an amazing name! Little did I know a different "Paris" was soon to explode all over the tabloids!
Paris Hart Designs officially started in January of 2002, was with me throughout high-school and was the name on my receipts when I issued invoices to my clients from school and from my part-time employment connections.
I entered the business fair at school and won second place during the business fair for my branding and business plan. I had launched a slipper collection with customizable options for my pretend clients.
When I reached University and was well into my first semester, an Italian professor insisted on calling me "Cristella".
My mother's maiden name is Bumbacco (Calabrese) and I was raised in a small Italian community. I didn't appreciate my heritage growing up, you just grow up surrounded by people, no one tells you they are Italian. No one says you are eating Italian food, it's just food.
It wasn't until I was an adolescent and began researching my hometown and grandparents, that I began to embrace my roots. When people asked me what I was, I rhymed off "French, Italian, Irish and Dutch, a quarter of each".
When it came to the arts, food and rich culture, the Italian part of me, yes that full-quarter, grew and grew and grew. Who knew an Italian class could hit me so hard.
Crystal Jean, became, "Cristella Gina". The name was founded in 2003 (replacing Paris Hart Designs) and it remains a special part of me, still showing up and influencing my branding today, Cristella Mac and Cristella Betty Ray.
I entered the workforce at the early age of 13, when my family faced a few financial set-backs after a big move to a new city.
I, like other girls my age, babysat and did odd jobs in the neighbourhood growing up. Like many young kids, our first jobs are usually for family members. You know how it goes, you babysit your younger cousins or wash dishes in your uncle's restaurant as soon as you are tall enough to reach the sink.
Grade eight, however, was a little different for me when compared to my peers. When I say I entered the workforce, I'm tempted to say "the real workforce" - - but I wouldn't want to belittle daycare and working for family as a kid--learning to work is important no matter how it comes to you. What I'm referring to is having to apply and convince a stranger to take a chance on you.
I reached my full height at 13 and even though I didn't wear makeup yet, I looked a bit older than my peers. When I spoke, this also caused people to believe I was older than I was for some reason as well. (I still remember, during my first month at the new elementary school, being scolded for not being in a teacher's meeting while I walked down the hall. No joke.) I never understood that since it is hard to hear yourself, but all this combined, I was given the opportunity to prove I had a solid work ethic and that I didn't have to be asked or shown twice. I was hired as a hostess at a local restaurant and was given a regular weekend shift. Yes that is right. That meant elementary school Monday to Friday and work both Saturday and Sunday ... at 13 years of age.
My mother, Jeannie, involved me in the family budget early on, we were a team! (Actually we still are a team). Debit and credit statements were a part of my day-to-day life. So it was easy for me, at the age of 13 to realize more deposits were needed in order for their family to make it through this transition period. Even though it was an odd schedule for an eighth grader, you do what you gotta do for the family.
I proudly contributed and saved my money. My mother constantly encouraged me to keep as much money as I could in the bank. I will never forget however, that December of 1998, when I surpassed $1000.00 in my Royal Bank Leo statement booklet (yes, it was a kid's account) and my mom said it would be a nice treat for me to buy myself something really special. I had been working hard and keeping this schedule for four months by that point and had only been spending money on family needed and school related items.
That navy blue designer turtleneck sweater will always hold a special place with me. Got it on an amazing sale too!".
Little side note. Today that $1000 dollars saved making minimum wage would be more like $2500 to give you an idea.
Cris Mac is an entrepreneur through and through. She refers to her businesses as "projects" and is constantly working on something new, helping others along the way.