Elayne Whitfield, BA, MVA ~ VA Industry ExpertSubscribe Now

Do You Need a Coach?

CoachingToday, more and more people are hiring life and business coaches. Coaches can help you set goals and create a plan for you to work towards achieving them. Similarly to fitness or athletic coach, life and business coaches help you develop your strengths and work around your weaknesses while getting you to a point where you are at your best.

Almost anyone could benefit from having a coach, but people who operate their own businesses from home may reap more rewards than those who work in offices. This reality is partially due to the fact that working from home will generally make you more isolated. If having someone to bounce ideas off or brainstorm with is something that you’re missing, a coach should be something to consider.

Coaches will also hold you accountable for your actions. If you are in direct sales for example, and your goal is to sell $400 worth of product each week, your coach will help you set mini goals to accomplish what you set out to achieve. When you meet with your coach and they ask you what you have done, you need to be honest. There is no convincing yourself that failing to reach a goal is no big deal when someone else is holding you accountable.

To name just a few, coaches can also help you with time management, leadership, and customer service skills. If you tend to procrastinate or struggle with fears of success or failure, a coach can help you work through it. Some other issues that coaches can guide you through are: creating a better balance between work and life, becoming more organized, and improving your communication skills.

Good coaches will also give you truly honest feedback. They will let you know where you are lacking and give you tips on how to improve. It can be hard to hear criticism, but if it makes you a better business person in the long run, it is worth it. And if dealing with criticism is something in-and-of-itself that you struggle with, a good coach will help you with that too!

Many coaches will offer a complimentary session or trial period to help determine if your personalities mesh well or not. Different coaches have different styles, so you may want to talk to several before you choose the right one for your needs. You may also want to ask them about their accreditation and experience. If you are having specific issues with a certain aspect of your business, ask if they have experience in that area.

A coach may choose to work with their clients via email, one-on-one telephone calls, or group calls. If you feel intimidated to speak up in a group session, let your coach know. Many people however enjoy group sessions as it allows them to see what other people are going through.
Coaching rates can vary quite a bit. You can expect to pay anywhere from $50/hour to several hundred per hour for the more accredited names.

It is important to remember that a coach is not a therapist and cannot fix your problems directly. They can guide you along the way to success, but you will need to be fully committed to making a change if you want to see real results.

5 Powerful Mind Strategies for Success

Mind Success StrategiesCreating a business can be a fantastic and challenging experience. You can wake up energized to begin the day and go to bed feeling overwhelmed and frustrated. The key to preserving your sanity through all of it is to maintain a positive mindset.

Easier said than done, right? Here are 5 key tips to help you create and sustain a positive mindset so you can attain the success you desire.

 

1. Surround yourself with successful and positive people

The influence people have over our own personal energy is amazing and often overlooked. Moods and attitudes are so easily spread. Think about how influential a simple smile from a stranger can be on your day and multiply that by 1000 to put into perspective the power of all of your interactions with friends, family, and associates. When you are surrounded by people who inspire you, believe in you, and want you to succeed, there energy radiates into you and helps you with everything that you do.

2. Create a mantra or an affirmation

Repeating positive affirmations has been shown to get people through tough times and to actually help them truly believe what they’re saying.

To find the right affirmations for you consider writing a quick list of your doubts, insecurities and complaints. These can be easily turned into affirmations that will help inspire you every day.

For example, if you write that you’re always feeling disorganized then your affirmation would be, “I am organized and in control.”  Repeat your affirmations several times a day or whenever you are feeling overwhelmed, and feel the power of positive thinking.

3. Capture negative thoughts

We all have negative thoughts from time to time but if they become too strong, negative thoughts and emotions can derail us and prevent us from achieving the things we desire. Containing such negativity takes practice and persistence. When you find yourself thinking negative thoughts or having negative emotions, find a trigger to turn them around. The affirmations mentioned above are a great way to turn the negative into positives. You can also find quick pick-me-ups like a favorite song, a walk outside in the fresh air, or some exercise to help improve your mood.

 4. Set goals/intentions and then be willing to let it go

The law of attraction says that we attract what we focus on the most. What most people forget however, is that this also applies to negative and desperate things as well. Set your goals and intentions, and then let them go. A certain amount of faith in yourself and in the power of attraction is necessary. Give it a try.

5. Be grateful

Gratitude is perhaps the single most powerful and positive tool for success. When you’re grateful for all of the wonderful things and people in your life the challenges you come across seem far less significant and easier to deal with.

Consider keeping a gratitude journal and make a practice of writing in it every day. That way, when you’re facing challenges a quick peek at all the amazing things in your life will give you a boost of positivity and make you feel as if you can tackle anything.  Also, knowing you have a journal to write in will make you more aware of the positive things that do happen in your life so you can appreciate them in the moment.

Success is always within your reach and with the right attitude you can accomplish anything you set your sights on.  Embrace these five powerful strategies and you’ll build a better business and live a happier, more satisfying life.

Self Sabotage – How to Recognize & Overcome it

Self sabotage – how to recognize and overcome itAre you your own worst enemy? As hard as it may be to realize, maybe the reason you aren't achieving the success that you want is because of self-sabotaging behaviour. The good thing about this however, is that you are the person who can fix it, the only person who can fix it!  It’s important to identify what you’re doing to yourself and then turn it around.

Playing the Waiting Game

If you find yourself saying, “I’ll do that once xyz happens” you should stop it right now. You may have always done this and not even realized it was a bad habit. “Once I lose weight I’ll go hiking.” “When I finish this client’s work I’ll write that book I've always wanted to.” “When I do x then I’ll do y.” It all makes sense but it’s just another one of putting things on the backburner indefinitely. If you don’t take action now, nothing will happen.

You Hang Around the Wrong People

Yes, even as an adult you can choose the wrong group of people to be friends with. If you often find yourself at odds with your friends’ values and life goals, or you find yourself apologizing for other people’s behaviour, then you’re likely just making excuses to avoid the inevitable conclusion. You've outgrown your friends and they are holding you back.

Saying: “I’ll never ….”

Fill in the blank with what you’ll never say, do or feel. Much of life’s success starts with your state of mind. If you don’t believe you’re business will grow or you’ll never lose that extra weight, you likely won’t. You have to envision the success you want to achieve to make it happen. If all you see is negative, that’s all you’ll get.

“I Don’t Want to Do It Alone”

Ultimately, you have to work for yourself. If you wait around for everyone to be on the same page as you, you may miss out on a great opportunity. Whether it’s starting a business, seeing a movie, or trying a new restaurant, don’t be afraid of doing anything by yourself.

Thinking You’re Not “As Smart As….”

In reality, someone out there is always going to be smarter, prettier, or better than you. By saying that you’re not something, you’re just putting yourself in a box that you will have a hard time getting out of. Forget about who you think you are, and do what it is that you want to do. There’s no need to hold yourself back worrying about perfection.

You Hide Your Feelings

When someone asks you a question about your feelings, it is important to not simply say “I’m fine” and leave it at that – especially when you are not fine. If you avoid negative feelings like this you can actually get stuck in a certain mindset. This is true whether it’s about work or something personal. You have to acknowledge things before they will change.

“My Client Needs Me”

Everyone is replaceable. If you find that you’re working with someone just because you think they need you, even when the relationship is not working for you, you’re really wasting your time. A client who is not compatible with you will drop you the moment they find someone they’re compatible with. Don’t do anyone any favours unless it is in your best interest and you really want to.

You Lack a Support System

Support can come in a variety of forms, from human support to electronic support. If you set up a good system to help you stick to your schedule (whether it’s for work or fun) and get help when you need it, you will be a lot more successful and a lot less stressed about time management.

Being self-aware enough to notice self-sabotaging behaviour will go far in helping you reduce it. Give some thought to how you’re running your life so that you can kick self-sabotaging behaviour to the curb.

The Importance of Taking Time for YOU

Woman relaxingYour parents or grandparents may have lived in an age where simple hard work was the best way to achieve success in their careers, but times are changing. It used to be true that if you worked hard, you were guaranteed to succeed, and this kind of work ethic has certainly built the economy that we all enjoy today. Fortunately or unfortunately however, these days are all but over. Running a business 364 days a year for 35+ years straight or sticking with a single company for your whole adult life to work your way up through the ranks are more often than not, ways of the past. Today, when it comes to work ethic, it’s about quality over quantity and that means taking time to make sure that you YOU are at your best.

It is common knowledge now that stress and overworking can lead to physical health problems. In the past, letting stress get the better of you would have been seen as a weakness, but with modern medicine we now know that stress can be a serious contributor to negative health. Taking time to relax, both after work and on your vacation days, will lead you to be more productive when you do work. In fact, the benefits of taking time to relax and recover from a busy work life are becoming so well documented that a law was recently put forward in Japan to make it mandatory to take a certain number of days off. This law does not have to do with employers being required to provide their employees with a certain number of vacation days, but rather with requiring employees to actually use a certain number of those days off that they are given. Time off is important and the benefits are becoming more and more widely known.

While reduced stress levels will benefit you physically and improve your productivity, knowing that you are able to regularly enjoy relaxing vacations will allow you to appreciate the lifestyle that you have overall. Stress could be a complete non-issue for you at your job and your day to day life could be relatively stress-free. But if you don’t have vacations to look forward to and enjoy, your happiness won’t be at the level that it could be and this could affect all aspects of your life. Taking time off to physically rest your body is important but so is associating your life overall with consistent and enjoyable holidays.

With all this being said, it is important to remember that your time off should actually allow you to have time to yourself. Taking holidays are one thing, but with family commitments and children around it is often easy to lose track of your own need to just relax. Make sure you get time away from work and that you use that time to focus on things that you like to do. You will enjoy it now and you will thank yourself for it later.

Life is not all about retirement and you do not need to be waiting around until your 70s to take a break. Working hard and saving is important, but so is enjoying the ride and taking time for you!

Tips for Sharing Your Unique Voice and Vision with the World

Colourful image of person singing or speakingYour blog, website, email newsletters, social media posts and other means by which you communicate with the world is how you share your voice, vision and perspectives. The ideas presented on these platforms are unique to you and this should be clearly reflected to your audience. If you want to stand out from your competition, there are many things you can do to separate yourself from the ordinary.

* Blog Regularly - The first thing you need to know about getting your vision and voice out into the world is that you need to do it regularly. Blog regularly, update social media regularly, appear as a guest regularly, and take every opportunity you can to be yourself representing your personal brand.

* Mix up the Formats - A blog doesn’t have to be text based. It can be in the form of infographics, memes, podcasts, videos and more. Use every content format that you can as long as it fits within your brand and the image you want to portray to your audience. Re-purpose content into new forms to get the word out to more people.

* Create a Plan of Action - The content that you create should have a purpose. The best way to ensure that the purpose matches your goals is to develop a plan that you will use across all channels; one that encompasses all promotions planned and events scheduled. Additionally, your plan can include current events and updated news if you’re ready.

* Understand Your Niche - You can never study your niche enough. Devote some of your time each week to understanding who your audience is and should be, inside and out. Study the history of your industry as well as what is happening today and what might happen in the future. Keeping your ear to the ground will make you a go-to expert in your niche and will keep your blog current.

* Know Your Audience - While you do want to add your own vision and voice, it’s also important to understand how far you can go without upsetting your core audience. For example, if you start a blog for people who are vegans and then change your mind, that’s okay, but realize that you’re going to change your audience entirely as well as the focus of your blog and this could disrupt what you have already established.

* Don’t Be Afraid to Be You - One of the most wonderful aspects of being online is the ability to be free to be yourself. You will find support and belonging for any lifestyle but you’ll also find detractors. To be truly authentic you cannot worry too much about your detractors. Put your audience and your true self first and foremost all the time.

* Be Consistent Across all Channels - Whether it’s your blog or a social media channel, it’s important that you keep the same flavor, voice, and vision apparent in each space. This will make you appear more trustworthy and help your audience get to know you even better.

* Engage Authentically with your Audience - Outside of blog posts, social media posts and other forms of content that you put out into the world, there are also discussions and comment sections in which you can engage. Be yourself when you interact with your audience, too. They want to know what you really think and this is a great way to do so.

Each blog post or other content platform that you send out into the world is important all on its own. Content spreads your message, establishes you as an expert, and drives traffic through keywords and more. Each deserves the attention called for to bring your unique voice and vision to them.

Even if you hire someone to write for you as a ghostwriter, it’s important that you edit the content to bring more of yourself to the blog. Whether it’s a sign-off phrase you want to use, or a special way with words that impacts your readers, be yourself. What matters is that you’re consistently yourself no matter where the content appears.

How to Find Your Place in an Entrepreneur World

Business people standing in front of map of the worldDeciding to become an entrepreneur is just the beginning of a major life change. The idea of owning your own business and controlling your schedule excites you, but you’re not yet sure exactly what it is that you should do. Thankfully, by answering the following questions you can narrow down your choices and find your place in the entrepreneur world.

What are your interests?
While you don’t need to be an expert in the business you choose in order to start, it will help you get ahead of the game if you have some interest in the field already. And if you have a passion for it, even better.

How much starting capital do you have?
Don’t panic if you have nothing saved up to get started, but it’s important to be accurate and know what you have before you begin. Figure out if there are things you can sell quickly to gather some money to get you going. If you have a number in mind then you’ll know which business ideas are out of bounds and which ones you can truly make happen. This is not the time for pie-in-the-sky thinking, this is a time for being realistic.

What skills do you have?
Even if you’re not sure yet what you want to do, identify the skills that you have. Do you enjoy people? If so, what kind of people do you like the most and who would you like working with the most? Often, starting with your target audience is the best way to choose a business. If you can narrow down your skill level and the type of people you want to work with, you will get far in choosing a business start-up idea.

What skills can you buy?
When you start a business it’s important to realize that you cannot (and should not) do everything. If your budget is super tight you might have to start with what you know instead of what you can buy. However, knowing what you can buy will help you imagine the future as your business grows.

What skills should you learn?
If you’ve realized you have holes in your skill level, are they skills you can easily learn? If something has come to mind that needs licensure, how difficult is it to get? How long will it take? What will it cost? How will you get to the classes; are they online or offline?

What resources do you have?
Some of the resources you already have might include a computer, internet access, and even your skills and people that you know. Make a list of any resource, be it a person, place, or thing that can help you reach your business ownership goals.

What resources do you need?
As you listed the resources that you have, you likely came up with some resources you do not have but need to get. Don’t panic; just make the list and think about listing them in order from "must have" to just "want to have."

What type of personality do you have?
Are you reclusive? Do you enjoy spending long hours in front of your computer or would you like to do something that is more active? Do you like being with a certain type of person? Are you a morning person or a night person? When you identify how you work best and whom you work best with, it will help narrow down your choices.

What is your risk toleration level?
Everyone has a certain level of risk aversion. One way to look at it is to ask: how much can you stand to lose without destroying your marriage, losing your home, or giving up time with your children? If you have a low tolerance for risk, you may not want to become a day trader.

How much time do you have to devote?
If you currently have a job that you have to go to and are just wanting to start a business part time, it’s important to identify how much time you can realistically devote to getting a business off the ground at the moment. Even if it’s just two hours a night after dinner, that is something you can do to start a business. But, the amount of time along with the other information you’ve gathered here will help narrow down your choices.

Answering these questions can help you determine the area you should enter into as an entrepreneur. Giving the next steps after your self-evaluation a lot of thought and consideration as you craft a plan of action will ensure your success in the long term.