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August 23, 2008

Hijacked: When your business goes off course

One of the most appealing aspects of going into business for yourself is that you are finally your own boss. You can make your own schedule, work when you want, on your own terms. As an extension, your job can take into account what is important to you. Whether it be income, hours, flexibility, autonomy, the creative process, etc. How exciting! How refreshing!

Fast forward to weeks, months or years after you launched your business to find yourself working 24/7, with no flexibility in sight, making less than you'd planned, managing operations instead of creating, knee deep in the weeds. And did we forget to mention, not feeling very happy, productive or successful?

What happened?

You have officially been hijacked, yes hijacked - by YOUR own business.

How did this happen?!

Mostly likely, you haven’t paid proper attention to the way in which you have grown your business.

Let's back up a few steps and explain.

We all know that most businesses grow and change over time...production used to be in-house and is now outsourced... It used to be 100% service, and now there is product... You used be in one location, and now you are in several... You have added all sorts of fancy communication tools, or programs, or classes, or staff, or additional lines...

But it is hard to think about what changes will come when, instead, you are focused on what is immediate - going to market, getting the first client or account, paying the bills.And, during this heavily focused phase we are inclined to think that any growth is good. That means it is working, right? It is what many of us want, right?

Often, yes - Growth is Good!

BUT, what we neglect to recognize is that we have choice over HOW this growth occurs, WHAT direction our business takes and WHY.

We forget that we actually have control over these things. And, that instead of growing in the direction of least resistance (the next easy client, reemploying tactics that have worked in the past), we can actually chart the course of our business and make sounds decisions that continue to account for our individual goals and needs.

You can continue to run and grow a business that gives you the flexibility, income, autonomy that you desire by being very clear about your business goals and needs right up front and all along.

Your specific needs should be at the top of the agenda right up there with making money!Doing this is the only way that you can make your business WORK FOR YOU!

And, considering all the work and sacrifice you have given to your business doesn’t this seem only right?

Don't let yourself be hijacked by your business.

shared by Adelaide & Amy

August 14, 2008


Check out our post on the New York Women Social Entrepreneurs' Blog (NYSWE)!

This Strength in Numbers article is an adaptation of a concept piece that Amy and I wrote when In Good Company was just a teeny tiny idea that we had. It is so exciting to think about how far we have come and how much we have grown! IGC is now a real place with 175 dynamic members. Thanks to you all for your support, feedback, and most of all company (since this article is about peers and relationships)! We are honored that you choose our community as a source for collaboration, support, inspiration, and expertise.

And, if you haven't heard of NYSWE before, take the time to get connected. They are a wonderful group of women who are doing very good things in the world.

(NYWSE is the New York Chapter of Young Women Social Entrepreneurs (YWSE). In addition to events, such as member-led workshops, a group of ten to twenty women meets monthly to share stories and support each other. NYWSE members include seasoned social entrepreneurs, women transitioning from one career to another, and/or adding a social venture idea to their already full plates. NYWSE supports and promotes women social entrepreneurs through workshops, networking opportunities, and a book club forum.)

We have reprinted the article below:

Small and woman-owned. Few, if any, employees. Creating meaningful, flexible, and successful work. We know these women well. We are these women. Our clients are these women.

The good news is that we are in good company. Media and news sources continue to site the staggering rise in women business owners. A whopping 42% increase in the last 8 years, according to Center for Women’s Business Research!

Despite the sheer size of our community, however, we are always surprised to find out how isolating being a business owner can be. We have consistently found that while our clients interact heavily and frequently with their clients and industry colleagues, they have relatively small networks of other women business owners. One the whole, we are very disconnected from one another.

Why is this the case?

Perhaps it is because many of us work from home; perhaps it is because we are stretched for time and don’t prioritize connecting with others outside our business; perhaps it is because we all fear competition; or perhaps we find it hard to believe that as a professional services consultant we can learn from or help another type of business be it a store owner, designer, or freelancer.

Perhaps it is a combination of all these reasons that prevents us from investing the time to cultivate strong women business owner communities.

So we ask, ‘What is the cost of not cultivating strong peer relationships?’

Our experience has shown that our women business owner colleagues have an abundance of valuable and helpful expertise, experience, feedback, information, and resources. These relationships have enabled us to trouble-shoot and creatively solve problems, make stronger and wiser decisions, create new business opportunities, and forge strategic partnerships and alliances.

At first it might not seem as obvious the value that other businesses have to offer you. However, once you dig a little deeper you may find for example that an independent lawyer has lots of advice on how to increase your margins, that a designer can offer feedback on the best ways to delegate and outsource tasks, that a consultant can share advice about how to create solid customer relationships, that a store owner can teach you about product line expansion, or that a freelancers can help you feel more comfortable selling yourself. There are countless things to learn and ways to leverage our collective experience and wisdom…if this information is shared.

You can start to build and cultivate a strong peer community with a few simple changes.

1. Get involved with other women business owners!
Instead of exclusively focusing your time and energy on those with whom you transact business, ask your peers for help and feedback on current business challenges, growth goals, business vision, and long-term plans. See what you can learn from their experiences and perspective. What is validated? What is challenged? What is solved?

2. Create cross-industry partnerships!
Instead of relying on your existing industry networks and contacts, reach out to women business owners in other industries to see what you can learn and leverage. Perhaps, together, you can craft a joint offering, referral system, or learn from each other’s typical business challenges and strategies.

3. Forge strong within-industry relationships!
Instead of fearing and shying away from your competition, you should know these businesses and make it a point to have a positive relationship with them. Carving out your own niche and being clear about your areas of specialty will enable you to comfortably work and collaborate with those you might otherwise see as competition. Consider the ways that you and successful others in your field could leverage your joint value and different areas of expertise. These relationships can also serve as great sources of referrals and trouble-shooting solutions.

We have made it part of our core business values to connect with our peers by creating a collegial community and fostering collaborative business relationships. This not only contributes to our bottom line but also enables us to better manage, grow, and enjoy our business. As peers, we encourage all women business owners to make it part of their business to connect with others, and to recognize the strength and wisdom that comes in numbers.

August 12, 2008


I wanted to let you all know about a fantastic upcoming event sponsored by O at Home and O, The Oprah Magazine on Thurs., August 21st from 7-9pm.

The theme, Comfort at Home, is taken up by experts who will be addressing those most essential home elements: finances, food, and furnishing!

Financial expert Jean Chatzky will be speaking about finding your financial comfort zone.

Interior designer, Thom Filicia from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, will be giving advice on how to create a comfortable home.

And, last but not least, Chef Art Smith (Oprah's former personal chef) will be performing comfort food demonstrations.

Being an interior design junkie, I am particularly excited to hear what Thom has to say. I saw the pictures of Thom's cottage home in a recent issue of Domino magazine and absolutely fell in love. I saved in my folder of home inspirations, but Domino is also nice enough to keep a slideshow online so you can see for yourself. I mean, the windows, the stairs, the floors - wood and flagstone, the lake, the dog! what is not to love.

Anyhow, I didn't want you all to miss out on this awesome opportunity to get up close and personal with some really amazing folks. It is sure to be a terrific evening.

Oh, and as an added bonus, a portion of the proceeds from ticket sales are going to Teach for America. So, you can feel really good about going.

To purchase tickets click here.

August 6, 2008

The Confident Entrepreneur

There are many different ideas and thoughts about what qualities make for a successful entrepreneur: fearlessness; inability to take no for an answer; tenacity…maybe just plain luck.

Lately, I have been giving a lot of thought to the role of confidence and its impact on success as an entrepreneur. I first began thinking about this when I responded to a call for a book that discusses successful women who attribute their success to having an uber-positive attitude, high level of self-confidence, or a willingness to take risks. Ever since then, of course, the subject of confidence continued to present itself in my conversations.

Why does confidence matter? For an entrepreneur, confidence comes in many forms. First, you must believe you can do it - build a business, go out and hang a shingle. This kind of confidence is not only important but it essential to making the initial leap. Hopefully this ‘I can do it’ feeling will continue to grow over time.

Beyond the belief that you can hack it on your own, you need to have confidence in yourself, your skills, your abilities, your products, and service offerings. For example, if you are a gifted mediator and you believe in your ability to help people in a unique way, that confidence may be the most important asset to your business.

Perhaps most importantly though, is another ‘core’ level of confidence – an entrepreneur’s ability to trust your instincts. That may translate to sticking to your guns about a design, a way of approaching an unexpected problem, or the rate of your business growth.

Confidence can come in many forms and certainly it can increase overtime but it must be present on a core level from the beginning.

posted by Amy