What You’re Building Is Bigger Than You

A business can be a prototype for the world you want to live in. -- Jennifer Armbrust

“A business can be a prototype of the world you want to live in.”

Jennifer Armbrust

You probably started your business to create the world you wanted to live in.

You thought about the kind of people you wanted to work with, the kind of work you wanted to do, the kind of time off you didn’t want to have to ask permission for, and the kind of flexible schedule that would allow you to accomplish more than work. 

I hope you accomplished a lot of that! 

Maybe some of it is still a work-in-progress…

Yet, as you are very well aware, the world doesn’t stop at your office door or even your front door.

If you want to build a business that prototypes the world you want to live in, you have to consider how your business is impacting your customers and your community. 

  • Does the structure of it embody the values you hold dear?
  • Do the offers you make reinforce your idea of how you want to build relationships with others?
  • Does your team reflect the way you want to see our communities organized?
  • Does your mindset as an entrepreneur and leader represent the mindset you want to see in the leaders of our community at large?

Building a business that is a prototype for the world you want to live in doesn’t just mean you get to live a great life (although that’s incredibly important). 

It also means that the decisions you make for your business reflect your greatest hopes and dreams for our society.

What you’re building has the capacity to be so much bigger than you. 

If you want to live up to that potential, you have to answer those questions. And then keep answering them so that you are always improving on the world you’re creating for yourself and others.

And today–today–I challenge you to rise up to that potential. 

Your potential gives me hope–hope that is growing day by day by day:

Between 1997 and 2014, non-employer firms in the United States grew by 60% (for contrast, traditional payroll jobs grew 12% in that same time).

What’s a non-employer firm, you ask? 

Well, it’s you. Or, if you’re not anymore, you most likely started your business as a non-employer firm.

Non-employer firms are–most often–the scrappy, creative, determined sort of micro businesses that have no employees. They consist solely of an owner creating something from scratch with an idea and loads of ambition.

This is an unprecedented rise in this measure. And that means…

There is an unprecedented number of entrepreneurs taking steps to create the world they want to live in. There is an unprecedented number of business owners building personal wealth and contributing to the common wealth.

There is real change afoot. 

And, it’s not coming from the top down.

It’s coming from the bottom up.

What you’re doing right now—by building your business, circumventing pre-established norms, creating value for others and wealth for yourself—is slowing but surely changing the dynamics of power in your community.

No matter which side of the aisle we sit on, I know that we agree that when creative, thoughtful, purpose-driven people of all different stripes have more influence over the direction of society, we all benefit.
 
So, thank you.
 
Thank you for showing up. Thank you for offering your voice. 
 
Thank you for offering a different solution. Thank you for toughing it out. 
 
It’s working.

The Next Big Thing in Social Media Is Small

The next big thing is social media is small.

The next big thing in social media is small.

As my friend and mastermind buddy Sarah Bray puts it, it’s the difference between big box stores and small shops:

When I was growing up, Wal-Mart was inevitable. It was just this place you had to go to get basic stuff. You needed it, and you didn’t think twice about how horrible it was. It was cheap and it was there.

But now, we have all these other options. We can shop locally. We can shop online. We can shop at Target. We don’t have to go to Wal-Mart anymore.

I hope this is what is happening with the web right now. That more of us are deciding that the Wal-Marts of the Internet aren’t really what we need, and that we can do better.

Wal-Mart, of course, is Facebook. Or maybe it’s Twitter. Really, it’s wherever you don’t want to be but feel like you have to for the sake of “getting the word out” about your business.

Social media–as a behemoth ready to send you tons of free traffic if only you can crack the code–is all but dead. 

And yet…

Long live social media!

Social media is getting smaller, more organized and less algorithmic, more people-focused and less startup-focused.

What this means for you is that you have a lot of control. Now, you no longer only have control over your content, you have control over the platform because the platform is yours.

You create the space, invite the people, and play in it together as you see fit.

You don’t “go on” social, you  are social.

Sarah is doing this with her own community and virtual co-working space, Gathered. I do this with The Lab.

But you don’t have to go rogue to make this new wave of social work for you and your community.

Live video is also working to create these spaces–within big boxes like Facebook or in small, private spaces like on Crowdcast (my new favorite thing).

With live video, each post becomes a gathering spot. 

It’s fleeting, yes. But it’s also incredibly powerful. When you make an eyeball-to-eyeball connection with 5, 100, or 10,000 people for 5 minutes, you’re doing more good for your business in that time than a lifetime on Twitter.

Live video isn’t the next big thing because it’s new technology or a new tactic for connecting with your audience. Live video is big because of how small it makes our world for a few powerful moments. 

I suspect that more technology will come along and mimic this small world environment soon. 

I spoke with one of the pioneers of online business and social media marketing, Joel Comm, for this week’s episode of Profit. Power. Pursuit.

Joel told me that he sees live video as the thing we’ll be talking about with social for quite some time to come.

If you want to hear more about how live video creates small gathering spots for your community–and how Joel approaches new technology, platforms, and trends in social media, check out this week’s episode.

Click here to read the transcript or listen in to our conversation.

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When “Enough” Isn’t Enough

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Sometimes “enough” isn’t enough.

Set the bar for “enough” and, if you fall just a little short, you no longer have enough.

Here’s what I mean:

Let’s say you know that 8 clients per quarter is enough for your web design business. You have 6 lined up with deposits paid, so you announce you have 2 more openings.

You find those 2 new clients and you put them on the schedule. You stop looking.

One of them falls through. They have a hiccup and their plans just don’t work for working with you.

Now you only have 7 clients for the quarter.

Not too big of a deal… but it does represent about $6000 in revenue that you may or may not be able to find a replacement for.

The next quarter, the same thing happens.

Now you’re down $12000 for the year and things start to get tight.

This is what I mean when I say “enough” isn’t enough.

If you plan for just enough, you end up only doing enough to get “enough.”

Any bump in the road on the way to “enough” and now you have, well, less than enough.

That’s no way to plan for your business.

Or, your life.

When you plan to line up 12 clients per quarter, assuming 4 will fall through, the worst scenario you have to deal with is finding a junior designer to take on some of the workload.

That’s, potentially, another $18,000 in profit every quarter.

The other thing that happens is that your behavior starts to change.

You work differently when you’re aiming for a substantially bigger goal. You don’t just try to do more, you try new things.

When you think beyond enough, you fundamentally change how you approach the problem. Doing things differently can get you much bigger results.

That’s just one of the things I talked about with my clients and friends, Kathleen Shannon and Emily Thompson, this week on the Being Boss podcast.

We also geeked out on business models, some of the challenges Kathleen & Emily have faced in growing the Being Boss business, and common mistakes that business owners make that hold them back from explosive growth.

I had a blast recording this interview–it’s a real inside look at my conversations with clients.

Check it out:

This is the Difference Between a 6-figure Business and a 7-figure Business

What NaNoWriMo has to do with the difference between a 6-figure business and a 7-figure business

When Sean and I moved back to Pennsylvania a year ago, he quit his job to pursue his creative interests including fiction writing.

He’d dabbled in writing for quite some time, working on character development or penning short vignettes, but he’d never devoted himself to it. He couldn’t find the discipline to take a single idea from start to finish.

And he knew that no matter how many days he worked on character development or short vignettes, he wasn’t going to end up with a completed novel until he changed the way he was approaching the whole pursuit.

So he gave himself a massive challenge…

…he decided to tackle NaNoWriMo.

If you’re not familiar, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month and it happens every November, right alongside No Shave November (for which he is also a faithful participant). The goal is to write approximately 1650 words every day of the month so that you end the month with a 50,000-word manuscript.

You do it knowing full well that the manuscript will likely be terrible…

…but at least it will be done.

This was going to be a real test: going from a scant 100-200 words per day to 1650 words per day? How could he manage it?

Well, he did. He actually finished early and proudly printed off the entire 50,000+ word manuscript on November 30.

The reason he accomplished it was simple…

He made structural changes to the way he approached writing. He was no longer just trying to get in some writing 100-200 words at a time, he structured his day around achieving the necessary 1600 words.

It wasn’t a matter of time or hustle. It was a matter of design:

  • He stopped writing in a notebook and started writing in a Google Doc.
  • He stopped writing at the pub and started writing in an office.
  • He stopped putting it off til the end of the day and started prioritizing the action first thing.
  • He stopped second-guessing every artistic choice he made and started moving through the plot bit by bit.

These 4 simple changes meant that he octupled his production in largely the same amount of time he was spending on writing before. Not only that, but he actually set a goal and reached it.

Now, you might be wondering what this has to do with the difference between a 6-figure business and a 7-figure business.

Just like with Sean’s success and NaNoWriMo, what separates a 6-figure business from a 7-figure business is a matter of design.

A business that generates 6-figure revenue is rarely an underperforming 7-figure business. 

Just like Sean wasn’t really an underperforming novelist before he tackled NaNoWriMo.

A business that generates 6-figure revenue is one that’s designed to generate 6-figure revenue. A business that generates 7-figure revenue is one that’s designed to generate 7-figure revenue.

Of course, it’s also true that a 5-figure business is rarely an underperforming 6-figure business. A 5-figure business is most often designed to earn 5-figures.

No matter how much you hustle, no matter how much time you devote to it, no matter how many new skills you learn, if your business isn’t designed to reach your goal, it won’t.

What exactly do I mean when I say the “design” of your business?

  • Your prices
  • Your business model
  • The structure of your offers
  • The way you nurture prospects and customers
  • Your campaigns
  • Your team
  • Your brand
  • Your time management
  • Your project management

It all has to work together and be aligned with your goal–no matter what that might be.

There’s a good chance–whether you realize it right now or not–that your business design has had more in common with Sean’s 100-200 words per day than it does with the NaNoWriMo guideline of 1650 words per day.

You’ve been putting in time and energy… but it hasn’t been in the pursuit of a clear objective.

The reason NaNoWriMo’s 50,000-word goal works so well is that it’s easy to figure out exactly what you need to do to hit it. You take 50,000 and divide it by the 30 days in November. Then you make the structural changes to your routine to allow you to accomplish it day in and day out until the goal is met. 

Your business works the same way. You choose a goal and the adjust the design of your business accordingly. 

If you don’t choose, you’ll keep just getting by. If you don’t adjust, you’ll get down on yourself for never even getting close to where you want to be.

Choose a goal (maybe your next goal  is a 7-figure year) and adjust your design.

***

This week’s episode of Profit. Power. Pursuit. features Melanie Duncan, a serial entrepreneur in both the e-commerce and the information marketing spaces. 

The question of structure and designing your day, life, and business for success were the key themes of our conversation.

If you liked this story, I know you’ll love this episode. Check it out:

And remember…

…just because you haven’t reached a previous goal (say $150,000/yr) doesn’t mean you can’t set a new goal (say $750,000/yr).

Your past performance doesn’t change your worthiness. Nor does it change your ability to design your business to reach a higher goal now that you understand what your effort fell short. When you decide to set that new goal, go big.

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Why We Need to Talk About 6, 7, and 8-Figure Businesses

Why We Need to Talk About 6, 7, and 8-Figure Businesses

Is it all glitz?

Lately, I’ve seen a great deal of pushback against the glitzy promises in Facebook ads or webinars about 6 or 7-figure businesses.

People say they don’t need or want to grow a 6 or 7-figure business. They’re tired of the hype. They just want to figure out how to make what they have… work.

When I started my business, I wanted to earn enough to stay home with my daughter and still drink daily iced lattes. My goal? Maybe $500 per month.

As my first year in business progressed and I quickly surpassed my old salary (not a huge accomplishment), it started to dawn on me that I had created a full-time job.

I had to work at least 35-40 hours a week to maintain the work that was now paying bills. It was working but it wasn’t very exciting.

Soon, I was introduced to people who were earning quite a bit more than I was but had similar businesses, similar experience, and similar audiences. “What was the difference?” I thought to myself.

They had a different goal and, because of that, they had designed their businesses to earn 6 or 7-figures instead of 4 or 5.

What’s the difference?

They didn’t get lucky. They weren’t working harder.

They simply designed their businesses to perform differently. And they believed in their ability (and the business’s) to perform to their goals.

I didn’t know this was possible when I started my business. Sometime in my life, I had arbitrarily assigned myself an earning ceiling around $35,000 (band geeks and religion majors don’t generally earn much).

I initially designed my business to hit that number. When I did, I pushed hard to reach a little higher.

Then I realized that if I just redesigned my business a bit, I could easily hit $120k+. So I did. And I did. I’ve been redesigning it to hit bigger goals ever since and I’ve trained my clients to do the same.

That might sound trite and simplistic. But I assure you, it is not.

Honor what you’ve already achieved.

What I see happen so often is that business owners like you beat themselves up when they haven’t hit the “glitzy” numbers that others have advertised. They don’t recognize—and honor—that they’ve achieved what they designed to achieve.

In other words, there’s a very, very good chance that the revenue you’re bringing in right now is the revenue your business is currently designed to bring in.

Pat yourself on the back. Seriously. Most people can’t get anything off the ground, let alone make offers and sell them to customers they’ve courted with their own two hands (and words). You have already achieved greatly.

Between a rock and a hard place?

Of course, that doesn’t mean you’re at where you’d like to be.

In fact, you might find yourself between a rock (a business that’s paying some or all of the bills) and a hard place (big opportunities or goals that seem just out of reach).

It’s not so much that you or your business is underperforming as that you have a huge opportunity to design it to work better and produce more.

You see, your business is working. If you push harder and harder with the business design you have right now, you won’t make it work more for you. You’ll just be working harder at the model designed to produce what you’ve already produced.

Maybe you haven’t felt like you had the time to market your business properly…

Maybe you wonder how everyone else “keeps up with everything…”

Maybe the Impostor Complex reminds you of all those times when you’ve set a goal and haven’t reached it…

These aren’t personal shortcomings. They’re a result of having a business design that doesn’t match your goals. A smart business design creates time, reduces the amount of effort required of you, makes team-building easy, and makes goals reality.

If you’re going to break through to those sought-after outcomes, you need a new business design.

Would you rather push yourself to make a business work that’s designed to earn $75k per year? Or push yourself to make a business work that’s designed to make $250k per year? Or $1m per year?

It’s the same amount of work. But the work is different and the decisions are different–because the design is different.

Time to commit.

This is why it’s important to talk about 6, 7, and 8-figure businesses. If you don’t know how those businesses work, you can’t design a business that performs that way—nor do you have the information you need to make an informed decision about whether you want to build that kind of business or not.

I assure you: if you want to build a 7-figure business, you can. It’s available to you. It might take you time, research, and experimentation to find the right business design to hit that number. But it’s out there and it is yours if you want it.

Right now, you can choose to work hard at a 5-figure business design or you can choose to work hard at a 7-figure business design.

Yes, people use these numbers to wow you and glitzify you–but under all that is a real need to exposure yourself to something different so you can make an informed decision about the business you want to build.

What will you choose?

I truly hope you choose to stop getting by and start getting ahead with a fresh business design. To help, I’ve created a set of free training focused on guiding you through making simple tweaks that allow you to earn more at a more predictable pace.

Register below to get started or click here for more information.

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You Have to Fall In Love With the “Business Stuff” Too

Jasmine Star, photographer & blogger, on Profit. Power. Pursuit. with Tara Gentile

“I just want to get this business stuff figured out so I can get back to the stuff I actually like.”

I hear that all. the. time.

The thing is, the “business stuff” never goes away. The business stuff is what keeps paying the bills. The business stuff is what allows you to do creative, meaningful work.

And here’s another thing: the business stuff is your job.

Jasmine Star told me, “I am a photographer 20% of the time, and an entrepreneur and business woman 80% of the time.”

Lori Allen told me, “What people think is your job and what is really your job are often two different things.”

If this is the case (and it is), you’ve got to find a way to fall in love with the business stuff.

You can’t just tolerate it, you can’t just push through it.

You have to fall in love with it.

How do you do that?

Start with picking 1 thing about starting or growing your business that you’ve more-than-tolerated, maybe even enjoyed.

Product photography? Getting on the phone with prospects? Making marketing videos? Looking at your numbers?

Create a plan to go all in on that 1 thing.

How would you structure your business differently if you went all in on product photography?

How would you structure your business differently if you went all in on getting on the phone with prospects? Making marketing videos? Looking at your numbers?

Having a focus like that will start making the chemistry happen in other places of your business as well.

Still don’t think you can fall in love with the business side of your business?

Click here to read a very personal story.

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