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I am grateful for ….YOU!

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I haven’t completed my first year in business yet. It’s been an amazing, exciting, and exhausting year. Sometimes it feels as if there have been many more downs than ups. I still struggle almost daily with figuring out my next step and trusting my gut to move forward.

On Friday my husband and I attended the Night of Worship at our church. It’s the kick off of the Celebration Giving and an opportunity to give thanks for all our blessings. It was about an hour and a half event filled with music, celebration, and prayer. It was amazing.

As I started thinking of all of the incredible things in my life and how lucky I am, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to share with all of you what I am grateful for – as you are 100% part of what I am grateful for in my business and in my life.

I could go on forever, so I decided to limit it to 10 things!

My husband.

My husband is the most patient, understanding human on the planet. Which is 100% necessary when your wife continues to add more and more new ideas to her (your) plate. I literally couldn’t do the things I do at work, in my business, and in life without the support of my husband. He’s genuinely my biggest supporter – and I thank God every day for him.

My Family.

You often hear stories of people whose families think their business ideas are ridiculous or don’t support or encourage them. I am so grateful for a family that stands behind me in every adventure in life. Both my family and my in-laws cheer me on, ask questions, and show a genuine interest and support in what I am building. While I’ve always had this kind of support in my life, it is not lost on me how rare this is, and I am so thankful for my family.

Central Exchange. 

In March I joined a Leadership Development organization that provided me personal development, networking, and the opportunity to grow. It’s been one of the best investments in both time and money that I’ve made in myself. I’ve made friends, I’ve found clients, I’ve grown my speaking skills, and have found a place to share my passion of empowering women. It’s been magical.

iFocus Marketing.

When you’re growing a “side hustle” everyone assumes it’s because you hate your day job. I am fortunate to say that is not the case for me. I love the team I work with, the team I have the opportunity to lead, and the leadership team I serve with. Many of the skills I have the privilege of sharing with my coaching clients have been fine tuned within my full time job and not a day goes by that I’m not grateful for that. Being part of growing an organization from the ground up is not for the faint of heart – and I’m honored to watch our team grow.

Business Coaches.

I’ve worked with two different business coaches since deciding I wanted to grow a business, but had no idea how. They’ve both been amazing resources, great inspiration, and their advice and expertise has been invaluable. It is super scary to make an investment when your business is in the red, but I’m not sure I would have a business at all had I not made those investments. I’m grateful for both of my coaches and for the courage to invest scary amounts of money to make things happy!

My Wine Family.

While my Wine Business has taken a backseat to growing my own brand, it’s not lost on me how meaningful this experience has been to me and my family. Not to mention, the first idea of starting a coaching business happened at Wine Camp in 2017. I am so grateful for the friendships, coaching, support, and WINE that goes along with this business. I’m grateful everyday for the women who have trusted me in growing their own business and the women who never give up on me! It’s been such a blessing in my life.

My clients.

Oh my clients. I am not sure how you wound up so far down on this list. I am so grateful for the women who have put their trust in me to help them grow. I don’t think they realize that I learn as much from them as they probably do for them. They give me energy. The fuel my passion for helping women. It’s the most humbling experience; having someone believe in you so much that they invest their hard earned money with you. It’s amazing – and I am so thankful for each and everyone client I’ve had the pleasure of working with.

My community.

This has been such a “side bonus” that I had no idea would happen when I built this business. I had no idea the relationships I would make the people I would get to work with along the way. Providing training and support to women from all walks of life has been such a blessing. Knowing that these women show up inside my Facebook group every week for my support is such an incredible feeling. And I LOVE pouring into them.

My Church.   

This has been such an incredible year in growing our faith. We are beyond blessed to have a found a Church and a community to raise our family with. We love serving the kids in our Church, connecting with our small group, and growing our relationship with Jesus. It’s been an amazing year and we’re so thankful we found our home.

My friends.

When you start a business, people don’t often to tell you that it can be a really polarizing experience. You put in a lot of hours, you constantly obsess about what you are doing, should be doing, and are getting ready to do. Your brain doesn’t turn off – and it can consume your life. And your relationships tend to suffer for that. I say all that to say THANK YOU to the friends who understand. For the ones that  continue to reach out. For the ones that support my business. For the ones that understand that this season is short – but the rewards will be incredible. Thank you for continuing to show up.

And a final THANK YOU to YOU! For reading this blog. For every like, share, and comment on social media. For every email that you open. For every introduction that you make. For cheering me on me. For being a part of my community. And for your belief in me. It’s invaluable.

Xoxo

 

My unpopular opinion on being busy

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I feel as if this topic keeps coming up, especially as we head into the holiday season. We’re all being pulled in a ton of different directions and we’re unsure of how to balance it all. Worse yet, we worry that if we’re not busy enough – we’re not doing enough.

Here’s the deal, my friend. Busy DOES NOT equal productive. I was chatting with another online business owner this week and she mentioned that she hates when people tell her they don’t have the time to implement the strategies she teaches. Mind you, these strategies could be business game-changers, but we’re all “too busy” doing whatever else we think it is we should be doing.

First, let me tell you why I think I’m qualified to have this conversation with you.

1 – I have a toddler and a 13 year old and a (really awesome) husband

2 – I work full-time

3 – I am growing a business alongside my full time job

4 – I volunteer at my church (twice a week) and participate in a small group once a week

5 – I do 2-4 wine tastings a month as an Independent Wine Consultant with Wine Shop At Home

6 – I lead a women’s networking group and actively participate in 2 others

I don’t tell you to this to brag or for any kind of support/sympathy/encouragement, etc. I tell you this because busy is relative. Busy is what we make of it. And busy is NOT always productive.

A few years ago I tried to stop telling people I was “busy” as a response to questions like “how are you?” or “what have you been up to?” Truth is, friend, no one cares. You know those people that try to “one-up” your business, like it’s a competition? It just all feels yucky and gives busy people this badge of honor because they’re….busy.

Busy isn’t always productive.

Sometime we’re just doing things to do them. We’re checking tasks off of lists. We’re updating our website one more time, editing our latest landing page, and make sure our weekly email is ready to go out. We’re writing blog after blog or writing another social media post that we may or may not post. We’re filling our time – but we’re not getting anything out of it.

I am NOT saying that these tasks are important tasks. If you checked all of those tasks off of your list, you might think you had a pretty productive day, right?! Here’s the follow up question (and one that might make me unpopular)…are any of those tasks actively making you money?

Yep, I said it.

Is the busy work in your business making you any money?!!

I know, I know. You’re going to argue that the social media, the landing pages, the blogs are NECESSARY to your business. You’re going to tell me that this is how you get and stay visible online. You’re doing to tell me that these are things you HAVE to do.

Here’s another question, that is likely to going to make me unpopular, are you doing these tasks because you feel like you HAVE to? Because someone told you this was the way to success? Because you feel obligated to some self imposed deadline?! Final question – are you doing these things to fill the time, because you’re afraid of actually taking real, money making action?!

Be honest with yourself here.

I write a blog every single week. At this point in my business, it does NOT actively make me money. So why am I wasting precious time writing it?! Because my blog is the part of my website that gets the most traffic. Because my blog gets my social media posts shared far and wide and because it starts conversations. At some point – that MIGHT make me money. So I do it.

I also do it because I am the ONLY person that can.  I cannot outsource my blog, because it’s MY opinion. Mine. And mine alone.

I outsource my social media. I outsourced an email project a few weeks ago. I’m looking at different options for Pinterest. I will likely hire someone to download my videos from Facebook, edit them, and upload them to YouTube.

Are these tasks that I can do? Yes, of course. Are these tasks that are actively making me money? Nope, not right now.

Another (unpopular) confession – I pay someone to clean my house once a month. I shouldn’t, but I do. I sacrifice in other ways for this luxury. I gave up manicures. I stopped eating lunch out. I switched from designer to drugstore brand makeup (gasp!). Because – my time is so much more valuable than any of those things.

Your time is your most valuable asset.

Have you ever stopped to think about that?

While you’re talking to your friends about how busy you are? While you’re scrolling through Facebook or binge watching Netflix? While you’re sitting on your couch drinking wine?

Every time you get asked to do something, take on a new project, get invited to a party or a networking event – is this worth your TIME?

Here’s the deal – the wine + Netflix time is 110% worth the time sometimes. You need time to rest and recharge. You cannot run on empty.

Your time, like most things, is a choice. What are you choosing to spend your time on? What can you outsource, that’s not helping you get closer to your goals or isn’t worth your most precious asset?

And please, please stop answering “how are you?!” with “busy…”

I Love Women’s Conferences

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Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the amazing opportunity to attend two different women’s conferences. Few things in life bring me more energy than connecting with and learning from other amazing women.

The first conference was put on by the National Association of Women’s Business Owners (NAWBO) and the second by the Kansas City Business Journal.

I wanted to take time this week to share with you my top takeaways from these conferences, as I thought there were both really amazing.

1 – Never stop learning.

No matter how long you’ve been in business, how great you are at what you do, how amazing the tribe around you is….never stop learning. Read books. Go to conferences. Listen to podcasts. Watch inspiring YouTube videos. Join Masterminds. Business is changing every single day. Never stop learning.

2 – As women, we need to STOP fighting one another.

We need to lift each other up. There is more than enough to go around. Celebrate the women around you. Support one another. Do business with other amazing women in business. Mentor another woman in business. Find another woman in business to mentor you. Stop competing. Champion each other. Other women in

business should be your allies; your support system – not your competitors.

3 – Be clear on your vision.

I recently blogged about the importance of mission and vision. But it’s worth repeating. What are your building? What is your plan? What are you working towards? This is so important. It’s easy to get bogged down, frustrated, tired, and overwhelmed. Use your vision to propel you forward. The day to day can be tough – use your vision to help you through the hard days.

4 – Stop saying yes to everything.

(I am SO guilty of this). You have to have space in your business and your life to think 

and process what is going on around you. We’re all so worried about missing out on an opportunity or disappointing someone that we take on things that aren’t in line with our vision. We take on things that cause us to stop taking care of ourselves. It’s important to weigh each and every decision against your goals, your vision, and what it means to your life to take on.

5 – Build a community.

Be a connector. Focus on other people – what can you do for them? And, make sure you do what you say you’re going to do! The most important part of being a connector is to GIVE! Networking is exponentially easier when you’re focused on helping other people.

6 – Focus on what you can control.

We are constantly trying to juggle everything, make everyone happy, and run in 38 different directions – which often makes us feel like we’re not doing anything well. Focus on what you can control. Be intentional with your time. What is draining your energy? If it’s draining your energy – WHY are you still doing?!

7 – Change the narrative in your head.

Would you talk to a friend like you talk to yourself? We have to be more gentle on ourselves along the way. Take care of yourself. Make time for yourself. Focus on who fills you up – and figure out how you can show up and serve the people in your life that matter most.

8 – Think about this: Do you accept people who do things differently than you do?

Are you creating an environment of exclusion instead of inclusion? If the answer isn’t one you like – give yourself grace – and figure out what you can do differently. You have to be okay with your choices – and STOP judging other people for theirs.

9 – We are all leaders – because we are all influencers.

Be aware of the impact you have on the people around you, both directly and indirectly. Before we can connect to other people – we have to know ourselves!! Once you know yourself – you can become an influencer for others. What do you want to be remembered for?

Overall, it was an incredible experience. I would attend both events again. None of these ideas are new to me – but it’s always great to hear from it from a different perspective. There’s something exciting about hearing from someone that has obtained the kind of success you’re working towards. And I wanted to share these thoughts and “nuggets” of wisdom with you!

Do you love attending conferences? What are some of the biggest takeaways of conference you’ve attended?

How to Start Conversations with Strangers Online – Without Pitching!

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One of the reasons we find sales uncomfortable is because we have to start conversations with strangers. I often get questions from clients around how to start a conversation or how to build a relationship with a stranger (without pitching).

I find this especially true with online entrepreneurs. We’ve all gotten the endless onslaught of direct messages trying to sell us something without any context. It feels yucky and pushy – which is the biggest pushback I get around sales!

“Ryann, I hate sales – it feels so gross…”

Good news, my friends! 

There are ways to start conversations with strangers and start building a relationship without trying to sell anything (until the time is right). I am going to give you ONE question to ask yourself every time you interact with a stranger…would I say this to a friend or family member? If the answer is NO – then don’t say it online!

Would you direct message a friend with a link to your calendar to ask them to schedule a time with you to talk? Or, would you send you send a message to a friend to download a “freebie” if you didn’t know if they needed the information inside of it? Would you send your sister a text message talking ONLY about yourself (when she didn’t ask how you were doing)?

Then WHYYYYY are we doing this to people online? Why are we sending people our calendar links to schedule time with us when we know nothing about them? Why are we sending links to our freebies to people if we don’t know if the freebie solves their problem? Why are we talking endlessly about ourselves?!

STOP. Just stop.

Here’s the deal, I don’t want you to feel bad if you’ve been doing this, that’s never my intention. I just want you to start thinking about how you feel, how you want to make buying decisions, and how you would talk to a friend or family member. Every single time you interact with people online – you should think about these things.

Okay, now we know what not to do, right?! Then, what is the right way to start a conversation with a stranger online?

Here’s the piece of advice I want you think of here – how would I start a conversation with this person if you were face to face? How do you start conversations at networking events? Cocktail parties?

You start with “small talk,” right?

I always start with thanking the person for connecting. Then, I ask them a question about themselves.

What are you most excited about in your business right now?!

What big things are you working on?

Tell me about you and your business?

If I saw a comment they left somewhere, I let them know that. “I love your comment on that post – and appreciate your insight…tell me about yourself!”

The point is start a conversation – just like you would in person.

Keep it light and high level. Ask follow up questions. “Oh wow, that’s really interesting – what kind of clients do you work with?” “Really – what kind of online course are you launching?”

Eventually – they will ask about you and what you do.

DO NOT START SELLING. We make the mistake of thinking this is your opportunity to speak up and talk about yourself and wind up oversharing. Answer the question – deliver your elevator pitch – and then ask them another question.

My goal is to learn as much as possible about a person in the first few exchanges. I want to know what they do, what kind of clients they work with, and then eventually will ask about challenges in their business. I start to ask people their stories – when and why did you start your business?  Is this something you’ve always wanted to do?

I know, I know – we’re like 20 messages in right now.

Just like you would be in a conversation with a girlfriend or cousin, right?!

Eventually, I will let the person know that I think they could find value in joining my Facebook group or downloading my 10 Questions To Ask To Hear Yes More Often. But only after I have a specific reason WHY they should. “You mentioned wanting to work with more clients – I have a totally free Facebook group that would be a great resource to you – we’d love to have you.”

Will this take longer? YES.

Will people ignore you? YES.

Will people pitch you when you’re trying to make conversation and get to know them? YES.

Then WHY would I do this?

It helps you filter out the people you don’t want to work with. It helps you start building relationships faster – in turn, bringing on clients faster. People start referring you to their friends. They start telling people about how much value you’ve provide for them. Even if they’ve only talked to you once.

You become a real human being – not just another pushy salesperson.

You’ve heard the saying “anything worth doing is worth doing right,” right?

When you put in the time, provide value, and treat people like you would a friend or family member – you will start attracting more people into your tribe. Even if they don’t do business with you – they know you, like you, and trust you – and will refer you to others.

And that is what it’s all about – the more value you can provide, the more raving fans you will create, and the larger your reach will be!

Mission and Vision

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As we continue talking about goal setting, it’s important that we are clear on our mission and our vision for our business. It’s fine to set a financial goal for yourself and your business, but it becomes watered down if you’re not super focused on your mission and your vision.

People tend to get these two things confused. We also tend overthink them, because we think our mission and our vision have to be deep, emotional things.

Good news, my friend. It doesn’t have to be! Your mission and your vision are just that. What are you on a mission to do with your business? What is your vision? What do you see evolving for you and your business over the years? What is your ultimate “end game,” if you will?

What is a mission statement?

A mission statement explains what you are, your reason for doing what you do and the reason that your business exists. Your mission statement will help you define who your customers are, what you do to serve them, and the change you wish to impact.

Again, your reason can be because you’re passionate about something specific or because you’re looking to make dramatic life changes. It can be HUGE or it can be simple. But there is a reason that you’re doing what you’re doing – and it needs to be part of your mission statement.

Whether big or small, your mission has to be enough to keep you going. It has to be enough to get you out of bed every morning and help you through the tough times. Again, doesn’t have to be hugely meaningful to anyone but YOU.

Think 3-4 sentences. You don’t want to ramble or go on forever. But clear, be specific. Tell your story.

Once we’re clear on our mission statement, it becomes easier to set our goals. If our goals aren’t in line with our mission statement – one or the other need to be updated.

What is a vision statement?

A vision statement is about where you’re going. Who will you be in 3 years? 5 years? 10 years? Your vision statement is what you aspire to be. It focuses on your hopes and your dreams for your brand and your business.

Again, this is a short message. It’s maybe a few sentences, a paragraph at best.

Why is this super short exercise so important? It gives you the vision for your future. Are you working towards a speaking career? Writing a book? Becoming a major influencer in the online space? Where do you see yourself going?

The vision statement brings these things to life. It helps drive decisions for your business. It can help you inspire yourself or your team.

Why are these things important?

If you’re not clear on what you do, why you do it, who you do it for, and where you’re going – business can be really hard. It can be hard to craft good sales emails, write social media posts, run productive discovery and sales calls when you’re not clear on what you’re doing!

Your mission statement and your vision statement help you get focused on what your business is and what you want it to be. This will help you learn what to say “yes” to and what to say “no” to. It’s the benchmark in which you will hold yourself to.

It can also help you tell your story to your potential clients. People like to know what people stand for. The more you share, the more of the right people you will attract to your business.

What if I don’t know?! What if I’m not clear?

Well then, sister, you’ve got some work to do. Remember, this isn’t set in stone. You can pivot, you can make changes, you can update. You’re allowed to change your mind. But you need to start somewhere.

Try this – go to a coffee shop, a park, a quiet space where you can think…whatever your happy place is. Bring a notebook and a pen. Put away your phone, laptop, etc. And just take notes. Daydream. Doodle. Think about why you started your business. Think about the results you want your clients to get. In this exercise, there are no stupid ideas or bad ideas. Just write.

Then, go back through your notes. Is there a theme? Are the same things popping up? Are the same goals apparent?

Then…you have it! Now, you can enlist a friend, coach, trust colleague to help you flush it all out! But you’re well on your way to having a mission and vision statement for your business!

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