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The Power of AND

Power of ANDThe Power of AND is often lost in our black or white, left or right,  pass or fail world, what happened to AND?  Why is it either/or?

Did you know you can have a business AND happy customers (not to mention employees)?   How about eating (some) junk food AND eating healthy?  Yes, you can have a beautiful garden AND have someone else tend to it.  Did you know you can have a thriving business AND a healthy marriage? Did you know you can believe in the power of God AND the eloquence of science? Did you know you can care for the poor AND be a capitalist? Did you know you can state your opinion AND have a conversation with a dissenter without hating (them vs you, you vs. them)?

AND takes courage.  AND takes presence of mind. AND takes work.  AND takes intention. AND requires a higher level of brain power. AND requires more of us. But, anything worthwhile is worth working on.

 

Stop whining, blaming and complaining in its tracks with 1 simple tactic (and a cute kitten picture).

So, you are faced with another issue.  Yours, theirs, whoevers.  Stop whining, blaming and complaining immediately with 1 simple tactic.

Dee Dee Artner said, “Blaming others is an act of refusing to take responsibility. When a person can’t accept the fact or the reality, they blamed another person or the situation instead of taking accountability. If you have time to whine then you have time to find a solution.” 

I love that.  But, I take it one step further with all my critical relationships (my children, husband, employees, volunteers, etc.).  My simple tactic drastically reduces and in many cases, stops whining and complaining Stop whining, blaming and complainingin its tracks.  The tactic?  Insist that if a problem exists and they must “tell” you about it, then they must also bring to the table 3 solutions to fix it. Perhaps those 3 solutions aren’t applicable or realistic (especially in the case of a young child, story below) but what it does is shift the thinking to solution mode rather than stay in complaint mode. The other benefit to this trick is eventually the person will learn that they have to come to you with 3 solutions and they a): either don’t bring it to you or (even better) b): they figure out the solution and the problem is solved and done! Added benefit is children (and adults) start thinking strategically about problem-solving rather than having a reactive approach to problem solve.

Why do you have to keep children’s solutions in perspective?  I’ll tell you a story to illustrate. When I was a little girl of 6, I received a kitten as a gift by my beloved grandmother.  I Stop whining, blaming and complainingloved that kitten.  I called her Furful, because she was full of fur.  Well, after some time, it became evident that my older brother was allergic to her. My parents had to tell me the tragic news that Furful couldn’t live with us anymore and had to go to the local animal shelter.  I was heart-broken and in my wails I howled, “There must be another way!”  My dad in his infinite wisdom asked, “What would you have us do?” Sitting there looking up at my parents, I thought long and hard about my big brother (who I really didn’t like very much then) and how much I loved Furful.  I said in complete seriousness for my 6-year-old brain and broken heart, “Well, give HIM away!”  Furful you were never forgotten. 🙂

 

 

 

Show me the money, honey!

The standard entrepreneur and spouse dynamic can be very touchy.  As entrepreneurs, we have a high-risk tolerance.  Spouses typically have a much lower tolerance.  Entrepreneurs are optimistic and often obsessed with their business.  Spouse of entrepreneurs are often more wary of the business’ upside and don’t feel connected to it.  Entrepreneurs spend a lot of time with their “other” child, their baby, their business, which can breed resentment.  Add the dynamic of entrepreneur as wife AND spouse as husband and we’re all on new ground.  Now, throw in the different styles of handling money and that ground just gave way to a sinkhole. Just for added measure, men are typically more practical and women are often relational.  In fact, your husband’s practicalism can come across to you as resistance or lack of support. Put entrepreneurialism, male/female dynamics and different money styles in the same relationship and you have the potential of creating significant discourse in a marriage.  That just means it’s time for meaningful discussions.  It can take time, work and dedication to help our spouses understand our business, our dreams, our motivations with the hope they can become our allies. There is a lot of loneliness and heartache in the process, on both sides. Not just for us women, but for the men who love us and stay with us. But, I can help shorten your learning curve. And one of the shortest ways is to show me the money, honey!

Show me the money, honeyIdeally, your business is a profit driven business vs. a drain-the-family-finances beast.  The surest way to drive a wedge between you and your husband is if you’re not contributing to the family coffers, regardless of the reasons why.  Are you also sacrificing family time, private time with your husband, household needs, your health, to work on your business?  If so, this will surely add to his level of frustration and resentment.

For everything, there is a season.  When you start a business it will take up a lot of your time. When a major project comes along and you need to give it your all (think of the launch of a new product line, a book, being on Shark Tank).  Hopefully, you secured the stakeholders (your family’s buy-in) to pursue these efforts.  Perhaps you had a serious health issue, family matter, or life-altering event that forced you to put the business on the back burner, but now you’re going at it with all 8 cylinders.  Putting those situations aside, have you been working at your business for 2-3 years and you’re still using the business as an excuse to avoid your responsibilities at home, for not contributing to the family account? Check out this post, “Is Your Business Your Lover?”, for some additional insight. Additionally, perhaps you’re treating your business as a hobby.   If you’re not sure, here’s a helpful post for you, “Is Your Business a Hobby or a Real Endeavor?

How do you determine if he is just being practical or if he is resentful and unsupportive of you building your blockbuster business?  It is best not to dismiss gripes, but to respond in a compassionate manner.  Ask him what he is worried or fearful of. Listen carefully to his response. Perhaps he’s worried about the future of your retirement accounts or is feeling ignored or sidelined. He may even be worried about your health.   You can make bargains like Nina did.  A stay-at-home mom with a rockin’ transcript business. When she started the Show me the money, honeybusiness, Mike was very leery, so Nina made small bargains with him. Such as, if she made $X in XYZ time-frame, they can purchase/do ABC.  Then she upped it a little with each new bargain. Over time, the “bargains” gave him concrete examples of her dedication and the potential for the business. Barbara, a lawyer who struggled to get her private practice going in the early years, consistently hit income goals. In other words, she hustled and her husband worried less.   Nina and Barbara didn’t come from an adversarial perspective but rather worked with their husbands to have their goals met. You’ll also need to address the issue and come to a thoughtful, realistic agreement that you and your husband can both live with.

Have you tried those tactics and your husband is still critical and unsupportive, but you know you’re building a blockbuster business?  Well, you’ve come to the right place.  Humans are created and wired to connect.  And those connections need to be supportive, helpful and encouraging.  By the way, I’m not talking about rubber-stamper-yes-people.  They can be just as detrimental as nay-sayers. But, that’s another post.  We need people in our corner building us up, not tearing us down. The world and our own inner critic do enough tearing down.  The community at Till Business Do Us Part will support you (Hug) and give you the practical advice when necessary (Shove).

Hug and a Shove,

Annette

4 Words to Memorize BEFORE Responding to Others

If you’re like me, you wish you had a simple formula in responding to others especially during tense times.  Use of these 4 words will create success that can change your life.  This is critical for everyone, when tested.  There was no better test for me than parenting my children.  I remember a particularly stressful season with my 2 then young children when I spotted a bumper sticker that read, “Is it Wise, Kind, and Truthful?”  Bingo!  I had something I could remember and latch on to.  But, over time, I realized I said things that just weren’t necessary to verbalize. 4 Words Will Create Success

This happened on the flip side, too.  I heard things that weren’t necessary and detracted from the intent of the conversation.  So I added “…and Necessary?”  My goal, now, is to have my response meet all 4 criteria.  When I follow this, a lot of hurt and pain is avoided; mine and the person I’m communicating with.  If what I want to say doesn’t meet all 4, I don’t open my mouth.  It really is that simple.

BONUS:  If someone says something particularly harsh or puzzling, just ask them, “Was that wise, kind, necessary and truthful?”

Introducing FREE Download: 7 Snark Stoppers. How to Stop or Slow-Down Your Husband’s Hurtful Comments

7-snark-stoppers-coverI’m so excited to GIVE YOU A FREE (and HELPFUL) GIFT! Introducing my free ebook, “7 Snark Stoppers. How to Stop or Slow-Down Your Husband’s Hurtful Comments.”  Some time ago, I realized that to give my business my best efforts, I had to create some peace with my husband. The first order of business was to change the dynamics of my communication style with my husband.  This ebook provides you with pointed advice and seven practical tools to get out of a rut and replace what may have become bad communication habits.

I’ve been in your shoes.  My husband had a very critical communication style and I didn’t have the tools to deal with it correctly.  This created a challenging and oftentimes chaotic marriage.  In fact, our marriage was at risk of collapsing.  This ebook is intended to give you some tools for dealing with criticism, snarky comments, back-handed sass and intentionally hurtful remarks.

7 Snark Stoppers are ready-made, field-tested, phrases to help you stop, or at the very least, slow-down, the onslaught of negativity and verbal abuse, without going to the dark side. ONE of you must remain grounded! 🙂 Just like exercise videos, I have created a beginner and an advanced option for each Snark Stopper. I urge you to select one or two Snark Stoppers and start with the beginner option.  Commit it/them to memory so you’ll be prepared when the next “exchange” occurs.   After you’ve naturally used it, several times, progress to the advanced option.  Be sure to rehearse it and make it yours.

Just fill out the form to the right and we will email you a PDF copy of, “7 Snark Stoppers, How To Stop or Slow-Down Your Husband’s Hurtful Comments.

I pray and hope that interactions with your husband will transform from cynical, sarcastic exchanges to meaningful connections that provide a pathway to appreciation and compromise.  In other words, a grown-up relationship that provides security, safety, and love.

As always, please let our wonderful community of women who share what you’re experiencing know what worked for you, what didn’t, or any new suggestions with a family-friendly comment, below.

I’m in Your Corner!

P.S.  Many of these will work with sassy co-workers and teenagers, too! 🙂

Is your business a hobby or a real endeavor?

hobbyHas your husband flat out said or joked around that your business is a “just” a hobby? Have you been plagued with doubts whether your business is real or not?  Do you constantly compare yourself with other businesses and/or business owners?  Well, pull up a chair; we’ve all been there.  But, doubt and comparison are a waste of your great brain.  The first thing you have to do is know the truth and the terms so can defend yourself to others, your husband and most importantly, your inner critic.

The first thing you have to do is define the words hobby and business.

HOBBY: an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation.  Money is spent on the hobby, but money is not derived from it.  There is nothing wrong with spending money or time on a hobby unless it is excessive or necessities are being neglected.

BUSINESS: the activity of making, buying, or selling goods or providing services in exchange for money.

Once you’ve identified you have a business, you define what style it is.  There are two main types: lifestyle and growth.

A lifestyle business is defined as one that allows you to maintain a particular lifestyle. It is often thought of as a solo endeavor.  It typically has limited scalability and potential for growth. It can have employees; it can even have big revenue.  But, it’s purpose is to allow you, the business owner, the ability to live your life on your terms while you run your company.   Old school pundits pigeon-holed creatives, photographers, artists, into this category.  Now, bloggers who are enriched by extended and frequent exotic travel with their families and who are blessed to have the flexibility in their day to watch every one of their child’s soccer games are changing the face of business.  With the explosion of technology, even professionals such as CPA’s and lawyers can have a virtual and nomadic lifestyle.   Home party consultants can generate enough income to pay for a child’s first bike, braces, family travel, and tuition. Typically, lifestyle businesses allow the business owner to work out of their home giving the illusion it isn’t a “real” job though that mindset is rapidly changing.

Replying to an unsupportive husband about your lifestyle business takes finesse.  You want to be firm and compassionate. Here’s an example Darcy, a home-party consultant, shared, “Bob, I like providing “(she listed what her income provided)” for the family. Being a (fill in the blank) gives me an outlet to be social and productive while not interfering with the primary responsibilities of being a mom/wife.” Then she added, “What worries you or what are you fearful of me doing this?”

For the blogger who is tired of hearing, “When are you going to get a real job?” you can lightheartedly reply, “Why would I leave behind travel, experiencing my children’s milestones, and the opportunity to enrich my readers, all while paying my bills and funding my retirement?”  Replace the specifics with your own experience(s) and repeat it over and over, in your head till you believe it, and to the naysayers of your (lifestyle business) life.

A growth business is defined as having revenues increase significantly every year, a strategic long-term vision, and an exit strategy for investors.  This business owner is typically your quintessential 80-hour p/week entrepreneur. Understanding the growth business takes an intimate understanding of the life-cycle of business. There are victorious highs and crushing lows.  Only a resilient business owner can navigate those choppy waters. Unsupportive husbands or ill-advised friends will often ask, “When are you going to give up this fantasy?” They don’t recognize the sacrifices you are making and what you need to do to grow and in some cases rescue the business (remember the mention of the life-cycle of business?).   Responding to the unsupportive husband is trickier because it is highly likely you’re consumed with your business and have neglected him.  You may be neglecting other important people in your life, such as your children, friends or your mother, too. OUCH!  Regardless, it is best not to dismiss gripes, but to respond in a compassionate manner. Ask him what he is worried or fearful of. Listen carefully to his response. Perhaps he’s worried you are spending all of the savings on the business (you shouldn’t be, after a point, but that’s another post), or that he’s feeling sidelined.  He may even be worried about your health. Regardless, you need to address the issue and come to a thoughtful, realistic agreement that you can both live with.

Hopefully, this gave you the needed information to practically address your husband’s comments. Bottom line, feel no shame with producing an income, as long as you’re not jeopardizing your primary relationships, your health or your soul.

As always, I welcome family-friendly, helpful comments!  Have you experienced defining or defending your business to your husband?  How did you respond?

Everywhere I turn, I hear anti-business sentiment. Should I start a business in this environment?

start a businessBusiness has gotten a bad rap, lately.  Whether it’s from the masses that don’t understand how (small) business is the engine of this country or some are suspicious (or jealous) about the perks that large multi-national companies provide their employees (Click here for some of the most I-wish-I-had-those creative perks) or a serious lack of understanding from the media by generalizing business as greedy or bloated.  But even though some may be, generalizing  is globalizing.  Some even say starting a business is only for the young (Gen X and technology start-ups are often synonymous).  I challenge those naysayers, cynics and pessimists.  Business in its purest form creates jobs, provides a needed product or service, pays taxes and makes their local communities better.

If you feel called to start a business, the timing is right in any environment.  Look at these examples:

  • Gerry and Rosie Wilson, in their late 60’s, started a small boutique winery, Wilson Creek Winery, in Temecula, CA, with 20 acres.  Now a multi-generation family business, Wilson Creek Winery has 900 acres, bottles 30,000 cases annually, hosts 1,000 people every weekend and has 75+ employees. Beyond their winery, tasting room and bottling facility, they have a restaurant, a hotel, and picnic grounds. They are also known as the largest destination wedding event site in Temecula, CA.  They have been recognized and awarded internationally for their famous Almond Sparkling Wine served worldwide and on US naval aircraft carriers.
  • Publix Supermarkets, Columbia Sportswear, Little Debbie Cakes and other recognizable names were started during the Great Depression.  In fact, it may be counter-intuitive, but the % of entrepreneurship eclipses the unemployment rate when our economy tanks.
  • Joy Mangano started her household product mega-business as a struggling, single mother of 3, by inventing a mop. She persevered against naysayers, detractors and product failures.
  • And then there’s me, Annette de Lancey Giacomazzi, founder of CastCoverz!, and author of the soon to be published book, Till Business Do Us Part, How to Thrive in Your Business & Survive Your UnSupportive Husband, and this blog, survived and even thrived among unbelievable odds.  Not only was I in a battle with my emotionally unsupportive husband on a near daily basis, but my first (and only) business partner went MIA after just 3 months then requested a big check or a law-suit (buyer beware: don’t go into business with friends without a Partnership Agreement; especially friends that have similar skill sets).  Then, my first run of manufactured goods was flawed and couldn’t be altered or sold (another expense).  Finally, I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer on my 50th birthday.  All those events took place during my first year of business!

Don’t let anyone denigrate business or your calling to start one.  Going into business is courageous, humbling and noble.  You can either have a business or you can have excuses.  But, you can’t have both.

Your Happy Warrior (a person undiscouraged even in the face of difficulties; plucky crusader),

Annette de Lancey Giacomazzi

What this blog isn’t

 

  • What this blog isn'tIt isn’t about complaining or whining. Because complainers want 1 of 2 things: to have someone to fix “it” (because it is easier to complain than find a solution) or they want validation for their feelings or beliefs. Neither promotes growth and learning.  If your husband is a chronic complainer, don’t complain about him.  If you complain about your husband, stop.  When we’re hurting and confused about anything or anyone, the knee-jerk reaction is to complain because it gives the perception we’re doing something.  But, in reality, it keeps us from taking action. Let’s not forget, that complaining is a drain and boring. Who wants to be that?
  • It isn’t about husband bashing.  No matter how difficult your situation is or you perceive it to be,  do NOT lower your responses to his level.   You may not recognize it, but he is still a human being and has value.  Rise above it and when you do, do it well and with all the respect you can muster.

Please consider this your safe, happy place where you can get answers to questions you didn’t even know you had. Have faith knowing TBDUP is the place to find clarity, direction, support, and encouragement.

I’ve been there.   Breathe. We’ll get there, together.

Annette de Lancey Giacomazzi

 

Doubters and Pouters, Boosters and Backers

boosters and backers“Tell me with whom you associate, and I will tell you who you are.”  Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe.  German author and statesman (1800’s)

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Jim Rohn, Author, Entrepreneur, Motivational Speaker (late 1900’s)

“You are who you associate with. Look around at your 5 closest friends and that’s who you are.  If you don’t want to be that person, you know what you’ve gotta do.”  Will Smith, actor (contemporary)

“Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.”  Unknown

“He who walks with wise friends will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer.” Proverbs 13:20

Timeless advice from all walks of life.  Quick, name the 5 people that you spend the most time with.  How would you categorize them?   As a…

  • Doubter and Pouter?

Or as a

  • Booster and Backer?

You need to associate with people that motivate and inspire you, who lift you up. You need to surround yourself with people that challenge you to be a better you. Surround yourself with dreamers and doers, movers and shakers, boosters and backers.  But, mostly surround yourself with people who believe in you, especially when you don’t.

If the people closest to you (family, employees, clients, friends,…) are not supportive, it is even more imperative that you find a strong support network.  Sadly, it may be time to separate the wheat from the chaff.  Though painful and possibly scary, you may have to release relationships that aren’t serving you well, anymore.


Just as important: who are YOU to your 5 closest people?  Are you a Doubter and Pouter or a Booster and a Backer?

Your Happy Warrior (a person undiscouraged even in the face of difficulties; a plucky crusader),

Annette de Lancey Giacomazzi

 

 

How Healthy is Your Business?

healthy businessHopefully, you check in with your doctor and dentist, annually.  You might even schedule an every 6 month cleaning at the dentist, and some annual required exams, after a certain age, or if you’re in a high-risk category.  But, have you considered doing the same for your business?  Your business has a pulse and you need to keep it strong to withstand market volatility and crises (they happen to every business, so it’s best to be prepared).   Following are some key performance indicators (KPI’s) or metrics that every business owner needs to know:

  • Financial Metrics

Cash Flow, Balance Sheet, P&L are the basics.  Make sure debt as % of revenue and net income are the basics, too.  Whittle that number down every quarter.   Be sure to include industry specific metrics, too.  As a manufacturer, I need to know inventory turns and labor rates. Another financial metric I watch is the funding level of an emergency account to the equivalent of 6 months expenses.  My favorite game-changing book is Profit First, by Michael Michalowicz. Mike challenged all my assumptions about sales (expenses) = profit.  Mike’s premise and the book’s bottom-line:  profit shouldn’t be considered last.  My company is leaner and more profitable since I read the book (about 3 years ago). Oh, and it is an entertaining, laugh-out-loud, “uh-huh, that is so me!” read.

  •  Professional Development

Education, Leadership Training, Coaching, Motivation, Success, and Industry Certifications.  No one operates in a vacuum.  In fact, we’re often (too often) in our own head and it’s kinda myopic in there. As your company’s leader, you need to get out of the office and be among your peers.  In addition, you need to stay abreast of the latest thought leaders.  Commit to reading 2 dozen business books a year, that’s only 2 p/month. Considering it takes 3-4 hours for the average reader to read and absorb a book, multiply that by 2 books p/month, that’s only 10-15 minutes a day. Audiobooks are fine.  But, recent research shows reading engages (good) parts of the brain that listening doesn’t. Don’t know where to start?  Read E-Myth, by Richard Gerber, it’s a seminal business classic.  He distills why we all need to process our business functions.  And it’s a well-told story, too. Take an on-line course or two to improve your skills and hire a coach; a good great one.  Your hand should be shaking when you are hitting that “enter” button to pay their fees.  On that note, if you expect people to pay for your time, you need to walk that walk, too.

  • Employee Metrics

Appreciation, Retention and Development Programs;  Sales p/employee, employee hours (sick-time, overtime, accrued vacation time); company benefits, timed response and satisfaction rates for employees directly involved with customers. Employee manual updates need to be logged, as well.

  • Customer Metrics

Without your customers, you wouldn’t have a business.  So you better know this one up, down and sideways.  I know my customer demographics and my end-user stats (they are not always the same).  I measure the # of orders, the AOV (Average Order Value), LTV (Life-Time Customer Value [tip: breakout the profit, too!]), CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost), CPC (Cost p/conversion), conversion % (for e-commerce stores; otherwise closure rate), CRM (customer relationship management) stats, return %, pipeline stats (# of visitors to store, sources of customers, etc…), social media stats (# of followers, posts, re-tweets, etc…) every week.

  • Process Metrics

Process is more than IT or engineering.  Process metrics monitor, evaluate and improve processes company-wide. From the simple, how employees answer the phone, to how refunds are processed, to the more sophisticated EDI for inventory controls, process is part of every company.  You think this doesn’t apply to your company?  Again, I encourage you to read E-Myth.  Mr. Gerber takes us on an entrepreneurial journey with Sarah, a fictional small town pie-maker.  If you’re like me, you’ll be converting her pies to your widgets.

  • Sales & Marketing Metrics

Though closely linked to Customer Metrics, classic numbers to follow are ROAS (return on ad spend) for each channel/medium, # of blog entries (and stats on those [tip: watch what’s effective and replicate it]), sales p/employee and p/account executive.  Do you have a metric to track follow up of calls, brochures, inquiries? I guarantee you, you are leaving dollars on the table if you have no formal process or system.

  • Strategic Metrics

I left the most important for last.  You need to spend time working on your business not just in it.  If you take 1 day p/month, off-site, to just think, dream and strategize about your business you will be farther ahead 1 year from today.

Things to think about are: what worked?  what didn’t? where do I want the business to be in 1 year?  What does it look like? How can I get there?  Who or what will I need to get there?  Who are our customers? What do they look like? What do they need?  What can I give them? What isn’t being met in the marketplace today? What strategic partnerships should I pursue?  What do they look like? How do I get there?  How are we perceived in the community? What can I do for my employees? What’s my exit strategy? Will I leave it as a legacy for my family? Should I liquidate? Should I sell? To whom? My employees? A competitor or a strategic partner? How do I prepare for maximum value and a meaningful exit regardless if I leave it as a legacy, close it down through a liquidation or a sale?   

At bare minimum, you should review the above metrics at least once p/month.  Only then can you address problematic trends, or dedicate more resources to solutions that are working.  Once you have them identified consider consolidating them to a dashboard on your computer screen.  Domo and GuidingMetrics are two I like. All the info and basic stats in one place change the way you manage your business and your team.

What did I miss?  Post your helpful comments below.