In this book Sharon includes the same chapters as Napoleon Hill did in his classic original. However, she interviewed over 300 contemporary women to use their stories, experiences and quotes to explain Hill’s principals to a modern female audience.
“While the steps to success may be the same for men and women,” Sharon said, “we tend to approach them very differently.”
In this video we talked about Sharon’s quote, “To worry is to pray for what you do not want” and how this applies to Hill’s principals of success.
Sharon also explained how important it is to brand yourself as a knowledge expert, similar to what Hill discussed about the importance of specialized knowledge.
Hill coined the term “mastermind” and we discussed how that is just as important today. Women often already use an informal mastermind of girlfriends but a formalized approach can yield even better results.
We also discussed how decision is the opposite of procrastination. I struggle with this vice and it was good to hear how to beat it.
Finally, Sharon spoke about her final chapter, one that was not included in Hill’s original. What I liked best about this is how Sharon said that the idea of a balanced life – and the guilt women put ourselves through trying to achieve it – is a false idea. Balance means standing still and we want to keep moving forward. Some days we’ll work too long in our business and neglect our families; some days we’ll play hooky and spend the day at the beach. “If you don’t like the decisions you made yesterday, make new ones today,” is Sharon’s prescription for dealing with the lack of balance.
If you liked Napoleon Hill’s original book, you will love Sharon Lechter’s version. It’s a definite must for any success library.
This morning I was watching the attached video of Elizabeth Gilbert author of Eat Pray Love. She talked about the creative process and how sometimes the creativity comes from an external source, how the words or the poem or the music seems to come from outside the artist.
For a lot of business people this idea may seem a little airy fairy, woo hoo or whatever, and although I tend to be fairly firmly planted to the ground I know what she was talking about.
Once upon a time when I thought I wanted to write novels for living (which I may still do someday) I had an experience like that. I was writing at the computer and then suddenly the words seem to come from outside of me. I wrote and wrote and wrote with no idea what was coming next. I needed to finish putting words to computer to know what the end would be.
It was an uncanny experience and frankly scared the crap out of me. To be honest, it was the end of my fiction writing career.
When I turned to business I thought that this experience was behind me.
But listening to Elizabeth Gilbert speak in this Ted Talk made me realize that the process of building a business is not unlike the creative process of a writer or artist. Read More→
Ever since I decided to become an entrepreneur, I’ve studied marketing, business building, and business strategy. I’ve read books, magazines and ezines. I’ve attended teleseminars, participated in internet forums and spoken to other entrepreneurs. After all this studying, I began to suspect something.
Then I started researching my book The Baby Boomer Entrepreneur. I did more reading, searched more websites, attended more courses and talked to a lot more people. My suspicion started to be confirmed; to become a conclusion.
Building a successful business is not some great mystery. It’s not about coming up with a revolutionary new product – building a better mousetrap if you will. It’s not about being smarter or better or luckier. It’s not about learning some secret marketing strategy that only the top people know about.
Being a successful entrepreneur is fairly simple. It’s about understanding some business basics, having the right attitude and consistently doing the work necessary to succeed.
The Keys to Being a Successful Baby Boomer Entrepreneur
Some keys to successful entrepreneurship are:
Having a product or service that’s good – not necessarily the best, but good enough to provide value and satisfaction to the customer.
Having a plan – a business and marketing plan – and working towards this plan every day – even when the going gets tough, even when you’re scared out of your pants.
Having a larger vision, a vision of how your business and your life can be better – more rewarding, more interesting, more exciting.
Having a belief in yourself and your goals. No matter what roadblocks or setbacks turn up, you keep going forward because there’s no turning back. Even when you have doubts – and everyone does – you keep believing in yourself and your goals because these is no other option.
Knowing when to ask for help. In fact, the most successful entrepreneurs I’ve met all have colleagues, coaches, mentors, or boards of advisors helping them along the way. They also know when to hire outside help: accountants, webmasters, graphic designers, VAs.
Knowing what makes your business different and who your ideal clients are. It’s also being brave enough to turn away from less than perfect customers.
Investing in your business by getting training, hiring contractors, paying for marketing, buying equipment. It’s also about not spending money foolishly.
How Not to Succeed
Less than successful entrepreneurs have some things in common too.
They have difficulty telling others what they do. This is particularly true for people providing a service. I suspect that they doubt the value they have to offer – they don’t quite believe they’re worth what they’re asking, so they waffle.
They do little marketing, if any. What marketing they do is sporadic and inconsistent. They give up too soon. They send a dozen marketing letters or run a couple of ads in the paper. When the business doesn’t flood in, they give up. They don’t understand that marketing is like brushing your teeth. You don’t do it once and forget it. It’s a long term strategy.
Less than successful entrepreneurs don’t have a bigger vision. They can’t see beyond paying next month’s mortgage – and they don’t quite believe they can do that. They certainly can’t envision a time when they are financially comfortable; a time when their business is thriving.
Less than successful entrepreneurs can’t describe their ideal client. If you ask them, they are vague or just don’t know how to answer. They try to serve everyone rather than trying to find the clients they could best serve.
Probably the biggest mistake unsuccessful entrepreneurs make is trying to do it entirely on their own. They feel like asking for help is a sign of weakness or failure. Or it never occurs to them that they can ask for help.
Is the Baby Boomer Entrepreneur A Success?
So where do I fit in this picture? I’m floating in limbo between the two groups. I know what the key is to success. I know what needs to be done. I know I’m good at what I do. And I have absolute confidence that if I follow my plan, I will be successful.
So why am I not wildly successful yet? My entrepreneurial path has been one of “two steps forward, one step back.”
Every time I’m about to make a major leap forward towards achieving my goals, I do something to set myself back. I forget to follow up with a hot prospect. I waste time on busy work rather than productive tasks. I find excuses not to get down to work – as a mother there are always other things I “should” be doing. If all else fails, I get really sick.
Currently I’ve got plans for the next quarter. They are fairly ambitious but doable. Among other things, I plan to host a series of teleseminars on business building with guest experts, post a minimum of three blog posts a week and finish the first draft of my book. My income goals are ambitious but reasonable. All I need to do is take actions each day towards my goals.
So what’s happening? I spent most of yesterday laying on the couch re-reading a murder mystery. I didn’t do any marketing, didn’t write to my blog, didn’t follow up with some interviews for my book, didn’t add some pages to my blog that could help generate revenue. I was just a couch potato.
Tonight I was sitting on the couch, again, watching Grey’s Anatomy and started thinking that this is unacceptable. I need to make a change. I have big dreams, big plans, and I don’t want to waste any more time. I’m middle aged and don’t have any more time to *#@& around. That’s when I decided to write this post.
How I’ll Turn This Around
I can’t let another quarter go by without reaching my goals – or at least making a good attempt. So what will I do differently? Take my own advice.
I wrote that the biggest mistake less than successful entrepreneurs make is not asking for help. As an elder sibling and co-dependent, I hate asking for help. Giving help I can do; asking for it is painful.
Even when I do ask for help, I don’t ask very effectively. I paid money for a coaching program and was asked to write out barriers to my success and who I could ask for help. I couldn’t think of who to ask, and what help I could ask for.
No more. Tomorrow I’m going to call a therapist I’ve seen in the past and make an appointment to get help past this current slump. I’m going to reread a couple of inspirational business books instead of another mystery.
I’m going to pick one of the scary tasks I’ve been avoiding and do it first thing tomorrow. Then I’m going to put my butt in my chair and work for three solid hours before I take a break.
At the end of the day I’m going to pick up a bottle of wine, go to my friend Wendy’s and celebrate the fact that I’m not giving up. Celebrating achievements is another thing successful entrepreneurs do.
And Monday, I’m going to start it all over again.
Andrea J. Stenberg
If you’re interested in getting started with the financial markets you might want to check out spread trading
With only ten days left in 2007, I’ve been thinking about my goals and plans for 2008. These are not the infamous ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ that everyone makes with good intentions and then forgets about by January 15th. I’m talking about short and long term goals for my business and action plans for the next 90 days.
In fact, as I’ve been interviewing successful entrepreneurs for my forthcoming book, The Baby Boomer Entrepreneur, I’ve discovered that planning is a big part of their success. They don’t all use the same methods, but successful entrepreneurs all have a clear vision of what they want their businesses to be.
The first step to planning is to have a long term vision of where you want your business to be not just 90 days from now, but 12 months, three years, even ten years from now. When I was first introduced to this concept by my coach I didn’t really understand why I should bother. I barely knew what next week would look like. How could I ever think about ten years down the road?
But over time I’ve come to appreciate the value of this task. If you don’t have a vision – a big vision – for your business, it’s easy to get bogged down in the every day details, to get distracted, to get off track. For a long time I only focused on the bare minimum I needed to earn in my business to get by. And guess what? By focusing on the minimum, that’s what I got.
But when I started focusing on my long term goals and what I wanted for the bigger picture, things started to take shape. Opportunities started to fall into my lap. People started coming to me. I began to get excited about my business again. Instead of dragging myself out of bed just in time to get my son to school, I was leaping out of bed at 5 am so I could get a couple of hours of work in before having to make breakfast.
Now don’t get me wrong: a ten year vision is not carved in stone. We change over time, and what we want will change over time also. The current vision for my business is very different than the one I created 15 months ago. This is because I’ve learned more about my business and about myself. I have a better idea of what I want my business to be, not what I think I should want it to be.
Was the vision I create 15 months ago a waste of time because it wasn’t quite right? No! First, it was right for me at the time. I’ve changed a lot in that short period. Second, I’m absolutely convinced I wouldn’t be where I am, working on exciting projects, writing a book, and writing a blog, if I hadn’t gone through that process.
The other planning tool successful entrepreneurs have is a mission or purpose statement. When my coach asked me to create a mission statement for my business I resisted. I couldn’t see how this would help me. And I didn’t know what it should be. But after dragging my feet for a few weeks, I finally created one. Then I stuck it in a drawer and forgot about it.
Several months after writing (and forgetting) my mission statement I was asked to teach a writing course at Georgian College here in Owen Sound. Much to my surprise, I loved teaching. I loved interacting with students and helping them learn some of what I knew.
I also began talking with a friend and colleague about creating a workshop – Everyday Law of Attraction. I was really excited about this workshop but felt I was getting off track with my business.
Then I pulled out my mission statement. It read: “To use my writing and speaking skills to tell stories that excite, inspire and teach people.” Creating a workshop wasn’t getting me off track, it was finally getting me back on track.
Rediscovering my mission statement and using it to guide me was a real turning point for me. It was my mission statement that gave me “permission” to go ahead with putting on the workshop. It also inspired me to start writing my book, to create this blog and to start adding teaching, speaking and podcasting into my mix for 2008.
The best part is, as I’ve started focusing on my true passion, the other side of my business – copywriting – has also started to grow.
After creating a mission statement and long term vision and goals, how do I know what to work on when I get out of bed each day? That’s where my 90 day action plan comes in. I set a small number of goals (two to four) that I want to achieve in the next 90 days. Then I create an action plan and plug the action items onto my calendar.
Since I’ve started doing this, I’ve been much more productive. That’s because I’ve been working on tasks that move me forward towards my goals, not just engaging in busy work.
Over the next ten days I’ll be spending some time creating my goals for the year and my 90 day goals for the first quarter of 2008.
If you have a planning system or tool you use for your business, please add a comment and tell us about it.
Andrea J. Stenberg
As part of my planning process, I’m conducting a survey so I know what readers of TheBabyBoomerEntrepreneur.com would like to see in the coming months. Please let me know what you’re interested in seeing. Click Here to take survey
Sharon Evans, owner of Kinexions Holistic Health Studio, has broken every rule in the book; she has no business plan, makes snap decisions and follows her gut. Not a smart way to run a business – right?
Wrong! Although Sharon doesn’t have a written plan, she DOES have the one thing very successful entrepreneur must have – a very clear vision about what her business is and should be.
Kinexions is here to help people in a holistic and natural way.
Every decision Sharon makes about the business is measured against this vision and philosophy. If something doesn’t measure up, it’s not right for her business. On the other hand, if something matches her vision and philosophy Sharon jumps at it, no holds barred.
Like many women-owned businesses, Sharon started part-time. Her path to self-employment began when her employer gave her six month’s notice. Since she had been a part-time fitness instructor for a number of years, Sharon decided to pursue this field rather than look for another office job. During the six months, she took courses to become certified as a pilates instructor and began teaching at the local YMCA.
At the end of six months, Sharon was informed she wouldn’t be laid off after all; but the ball was already in motion. Sharon continued to teach part-time until the two jobs became too much. She approached her employer about working part-time so she could devote more time to her business. A year later, she turned in her notice and began her business full-time.
Flexibility has been one of Sharon’s strengths. When she noticed a number of her pilates clients had brain injuries, she took courses on treating people with brain injuries. While hosting a bridal spa day, the maid of honour mentioned she worked for a company selling natural soaps and lotions. Sharon loved the products and decided they’d be a perfect fit. She immediately placed an order and started selling them from her studio. Both these actions fit with her vision so Sharon could easily make the decision to act.
Purchasing the house she works out of was another “gut” decision based on her vision. She was renting a room in a nearby business and saw a sign for an open house. She came in and immediately felt she needed to have the house.
“People come in here and just go ‘ahhhh.’ We’re here to help and serve people. They are pampered; this is a place to just relax,” says Sharon. “I felt it when I first walked into the house.”
Service to the customer is an essential part of Sharon’s vision. “I think women-owned businesses are different because women are nurturers. We work hard at making sure people feel good,” says Sharon.
This service is key to Kinexions’ success. Whether Sharon’s just had an argument with the bank or her husband, the customer never sees that. From the moment they step through the door, everything is geared to making sure people feel good.
Another key to Sharon’s success is getting support. She has a friend who started her business about the same time. They share their struggles, joined the Chamber of Commerce together and give each other encouragement. “We borrow each other’s energy,” says Sharon. “Otherwise, you can get caught up in negativity.”
As with any business, getting customers through the door is Sharon’s biggest challenge. While she did some advertising and had an article written about her in the paper, they really haven’t been effective for her.
Her connections from teaching prior to opening her studio, word of mouth and networking have been her biggest sources of new business. The challenge with networking is the time. It takes time to network – time away from her business.
Many women entrepreneurs struggle with balancing family and work. Sharon feels she could only have started her business now. Her children are grown and don’t need her as much which allows her the time and energy to focus on her business. This is something she couldn’t have done when they were younger. The demands of family would have been too much to allow her to give the business the focus it needs.
The success of Sharon’s business shows that having a clear vision for your business is key to making it work. Even if you have a business plan, if you don’t have a clear vision and a philosophy for your business, you may not make the right decisions. If you really know what your business is about and where you want it to go, you can make even major decisions easily.