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Your Story – Your Brand

  • Do you worry that everything you teach or promote has been “done before”? Do you think you have nothing new to add to the conversation, or that everyone has “heard it all before”?

Stop.

This kind of thinking is the number one killer of new businesses, and it is absolutely not true.

  • Wendy’s hamburger chain was conceived long after McDonald’s already had a huge piece of the fast food pie.
  • Dominos and Little Ceasar’s exist in the same niche quite well (as do many,   many others).
  • Marie Forleo, Carrie Wilkerson, Denise Duffield-Thomas and dozens of others all help online entrepreneurs find success.

Clearly, if there were only room for one superstar in any given field, many of our most-loved businesses would not exist today.

So what’s the lesson here? First, there is absolutely room for you.
But let’s take a closer look. If you really think about it, these “competitors” are unique individuals.

You won’t find a Quarter-Pounder wanna be on the Wendy’s menu. And Little Ceasar’s sells itself as the less expensive alternative to other pizza places. Likewise, Marie, Carrie and Denise are not clones of one another. They are very, very different, and because of that, they appeal to completely different audiences.

For new (or even established) business owners, this is a powerful lesson. In order to stand out from the crowd, you need to embrace your unique story, too.

The first step in your journey to your one-of-a-kind business is to discover your “why.” This is an essential question that all successful business owners must be able to answer. Your why might be as simple as more money or more free time, or it might be as complex as wanting to start a charity or spend summers on mission trips. (“Your Story – Your Brand,” takes you through specific steps to help you clarify and articulate your “why.” )

Along with your “why,” comes your story. Your unique background will appeal to your ideal client in a way that no one else’s will.

  • What struggles have you overcome?
  • What hardships have you faced?
  • How have you impacted someone else’s life?
  • How has another person impacted you?

Everyone struggles at some point, and when you meet your ideal client (that’s the 4th step in our Planner), she will resonate with your story, and you might just become her inspiration. Where no other offer, service or product has been just the right fit, you will be.

Accomplished entrepreneurs know that true success is found in that magical space where your passions, your goals, and your personality meet. Only when you take the time to get to know yourself well—when you do the “internal work” necessary to discover your unique story—will you find business growth to be nearly effortless.

Not only that, but when you are able to define what makes you unique, you’ll find you naturally appeal to just the right clients at just the right time. Marketing will automatically become easier, your funnel will fill itself, and sales will be painless.

And for a successful woman, that means a business you love, working with people who are more than just clients—they’re friends, too. Imagine the joy of waking up each day looking forward to “work.” That’s exactly what you’ll find when you uncover your unique story.

Our step-by-step Planner that will walk you through each of the 8 steps and exercises that will help you create your unique brand, and your unique selling proposition (that’s important!). It is free when you sign up for UWE’s Annual Success Event in July.

See you there! XOXO – Shawn

Wonder Woman Strikes a Chord

It’s no coincidence that the movie Wonder Woman has had such an impact on movie-goers and pop culture in general.

Women today really are transforming the world we live in, and we continue to be a powerful force for social change. Being a force for good, of course, almost always involves helping people achieve a measure of freedom and autonomy. (Wonder Woman leaves her island home to help free people from an evil force  that threatens humankind). In order to fulfill their potential, all people need access to resources. In modern terms, that translates to economic opportunity and involvement.

In terms of their economic influence, women’s participation in the world’s economy is growing at an astonishing rate. According to the UBS Report, women could add $12 trillion to the global economy in the next decade. Women’s wealth is growing faster than men’s. The rate of women-owned businesses is burgeoning, and has increased at a rate of 45% between 2009 and 2016, compared to just a 9% increase among all businesses.

In other words, women-owned businesses are increasing 5 times faster than the national average. That’s a BIG deal. But we also know that women express their social, political, and environmental values through their investment decisions. We also know that for women, success and wealth is more than just money. Women, more than any other group, tend to use their wealth and resources as leverage to further their priorities for social and environmental causes.

When Wonder Woman the movie swept into movie theaters this summer, it was struck a chord with movie-goers, but it also resonated with our broader society on a deeper level. Wonder Woman took to the battle field of World War I on the movie screen, while women around the country have taken to the economic playing field – and their power is growing.

As women entrepreneurs in 2017, we stand at a precipice – a moment in time when a great shift is occurring. But we are not riding this moment, this wave, as a little boat is pushed along by the wind. Rather, we are the wind. We ARE the change. We are wonder women who will discover and implement our power to be a force for good – through our industry, our creativity, our strength and our desire to make the world around us a more loving, peaceful, and prosperous place.

Happy Independence Day.

XOXO – Shawn

Women Entrepreneurs are Major Players in the World of Business

There are exciting things happening in the world of women entrepreneurs, and things are moving quickly. Women are now the dominant force in small business ownership and succeeding in industries that were once taboo for women. American Express’s State of Women-Owned Businesses Report details that the last fifteen years have seen an unprecedented 54% growth in women-owned startups. The National Association of Women Business Owners estimates that there are more than 9.1 million companies owned by women, employing nearly 7.9 million people, and generating over $1.4 trillion in sales. Now, more than ever, women are major players on the entrepreneurial field and now, more than ever, we need a place where women can come together to support and mentor one another.

The Formula for Success

If you’re like me, when you hear about women who traded in their nine-to-five jobs and took the deep dive into entrepreneurship – and are now killing it with their own businesses, you might be a little skeptical. I know I was. I kind of eyed these women sideways, curious but doubtful deep down about the wisdom of starting a business with little more than an idea, a laptop and an internet connection. I thought that kind of success must be an anomaly, and it must be attributable to either phenomenal talent, luck, looks, or some magic combination of all three.

Well … Not So! As it turns out, a lot of women  have had tremendous success with their own (often online) businesses, and it turns out that it’s not really luck, talent or looks that are responsible for their success. (Which is good news for me, because I don’t really believe in luck, I have adequate but not super duper talent, and I’m definitely NOT photogenic.) Nope. Turns out it’s good old-fashioned courage, determination and work ethic that account for success as an entrepreneur. Just like everything else. Duh! It took me awhile, but eventually I understood and applied that formula for myself. It wasn’t the first time I had tapped into my super power – But it took me awhile to realize I already had the formula, and had already applied it, albeit in a different context. (You probably have too!)

When I started graduate school, with two children and one on the way, to fail was simply not an option. Once I had been accepted to the program, taken out the student loans,  registered for classes, and moved my family to a new city, I was going to by-damn get that degree. Some people thought I was nuts. Some of my friends thought I had guts. For me it was simple: I was just determined to do what I needed to do to to accomplish the goal. Period. I was committed, and whatever I didn’t know, I’d learn. Whatever resources I needed, I would find. I had no way of knowing all of the problems I’d need to solve, or obstacles I’d need to overcome, and it’s good that I didn’t. I just took each one as they came along, and two years later I was receiving my diploma, with my baby in my arms, and my other two sons cheering as I crossed the stage.

I’m not some freak who doesn’t need sleep, I’m not some super-student or super-mom, but I am determined, and I stuck with the program. Turns out, that’s a pretty universal formula for success. Whether you are planning to get in shape, take up dog-training, learn how to make sushi at home, or whatever. Find someone who has already done it (a teacher, coach, or mentor), learn the new skills you need to learn, follow the program, and don’t quit. Go at it like a single pregnant woman with two kids, a Volkswagen on it’s last legs, and a big fat student loan. Failure is not an option.

 

 

Eye on the Prize

Well, it’s official … I am now a grandmother! My son and wonderful daughter-in-law are proud parents to a gorgeous baby boy. We are so relieved he is finally here, after three days of labor! Mom is exhausted, of course, but over-the-moon happy. My daughter-in-law was told years ago that she would not be able to have children, so it was a complete surprise and miracle when she and my son learned they were expecting a baby.

What a precious moment in time this is. Of course, I am thinking about my own babies, my experiences of motherhood, and the feelings of anticipation and wonderment. When my daughter-in-law was laboring, near the end, she and my son began to feel discouraged. My message to them was: “Keep your eye on the prize.” I kept reminding them that there was a miracle waiting at the end of this trial. And sure enough – after a long three days, their beautiful son is in their arms! Their adventure – their journey has begun.

I have found that many entrepreneurs get discouraged somewhere, often early in the journey. Faced with new things to learn or challenging technology, financial obstacles or early marketing failures, most new entrepreneurs simply quit. And that is the difference between success and failure as an entrepreneur. You must keep getting up when you fall, you must stay in the game, you must keep learning – especially from your failures! Each failure is one step closer to success, a lesson we can check off as completed.

At the end of the day, tenacity is the ticket. Keep your eye on the prize. What is the prize for you? For me, it is the freedom to be with my family and my new grandson, the ability to live where I want, and work when I want. What keeps you motivated? What is your Why? I encourage you to spend some time thinking about your prize – what will get you through the tough moments. Write them down, meditate on them. Then expect a miracle.

Women Entrepreneurs Inspire Me

As we emerge from the first weeks of the Trump administration,  I have to admit, at times I have felt downright disheartened by the political tension and divisiveness that strain our communities and relationships. BUT, the brilliant, persistent light that definitely out-shines fear and uncertainty, and brings warmth and clarity to my world are the bright, courageous, and forward-looking women who joined and participate in United Women Entrepreneurs.

I founded this group, wondering: “Are there any other women out there who find that entrepreneurship can feel a bit lonely?” “Are they wondering how to launch their dream business?” “Are there other women who need support and feedback regarding a business they’re already nurturing?” And speaking of nurturing, THAT would be nice! Especially in such strange and uncertain times.

Well, I have to admit I was surprised at the response. We are less than a year old, yet we are almost 400 members strong. And I do mean STRONG. What a generous, knowledgeable, and supportive and community we have created. We are committed to our own and each other’s success – through our mutual support and sharing with one another. I have learned that together, there is almost no dream that is out of reach. Together, we don’t just weather the storm, but we sail ahead, confident and successful.

To all those whom I have met and come to know as dear friends, thank you, thank you. To all those whom I have yet to meet – come join us! We welcome (and need) your input. We have a lot more activities and events planned for the year ahead. If you can’t make our Monday Mastermind Group, then plan on joining us for Happy Hour. Also, we are looking forward to our first annual event – so stay tuned!

Here’s to Us! Here’s to Our Wondrous Selves in 2017!

Love, love and more love,

Shawn