Bite-Size Chunks of Wisdom

October 2012

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Fear – it’s built into our DNA. It’s what kept our ancestors alive for centuries – and wakes entrepreneurs at 3 am! Scientists tell us that some fear is good. We’ve all had the sweaty palm experience before an important presentation that improves our performance but when does too much fear spook your business growth?

What spooks entrepreneurs? Anyone who has launched an enterprise, large or small, knows the trepidation of the start-up and the accompanying fear of failure. Nevertheless, did you know that established entrepreneurs experience fear, too? Although a record of accomplishment quells fears of failure, business growth and expansion can actually spark new fears of success.

Although we think we’re the only entrepreneur spooked by various aspects of the business, you may be surprised to learn you’re not alone. Entrepreneurs at all levels of success experience a wide-range of teeth-chattering fears. Some of the more common are not making payroll, not generating enough revenue to cover overhead, fear of looking stupid, making a fool of oneself, fear of rejection, fear over whether or not the business will actually succeed, fear of charging what the business needs to be profitable, not having the right education or experience…the list is endless.

When is fear good? As we know, some fear is good. It’s the pit in the stomach before a presentation or a critical sales call that helps us perform better. Fear is also a great teacher. Fear of the unknown prompts us to complete the essential research that addresses the missing information that ultimately enhances success. Fear prompts us to take action.

How does fear get in the way of success? Fear becomes a real showstopper when it triggers inaction or paralyses you from making decisions. Overwhelming fear can also stop creativity or prevents us from taking leveraged risks. It can set off procrastination. And, worst of all, fear makes entrepreneurs ‘play it safe’.

How do you overcome fear? Have you heard the well-known mantra “Feel the fear and do it anyway?” Even though you’ve tried to buy into that notion, you may not have had much luck overcoming your fears. Trust me when I tell you that you’re not alone! What is needed are practical tools that keep fears at bay and allow forward movement. Here are a few for your consideration:

The most important tool for dealing with fear is to learn to reframe the perception of fear. Like Thomas Edison who invented the light bulb on his 10,000th attempt when asked by a young reporter how he felt about failing 999 times. As the story goes, Thomas Edison just smiled and replied, “Young man, I have not failed 999 times. I have simply found 999 ways how not to create a light bulb.”

What tools have you’ve discovered that prevent your business success from being spooked?

Related Blog Posts:

4 Steps to Reduce Information Overload & Raise Your Confidence

10 Things a Solopreneur Can Do Without

Getting Past Your Fears and Growing a Successful Business

Grow Your Business From the Inside Out

4 Things Entrepreneurs Can Learn from Howard Stern

“No man (or woman) is an island.” I’m sure you’re familiar with that famous saying. Essentially it means that no one learns, grows, and achieves in a vacuum – although sometimes we would like to think we can. 🙂

Coming together and working together is essential in today’s marketplace. There’s a special kind of magic that is created when a community of support and wise sage is formed. To steal a concept from a famous title — it takes a village to run a successful business.

Let’s take a look at your village….

Picture your “road to success”. It’s the one leading to your destination. (You do have a destination, don’t you? Hopefully, you’re not wandering aimlessly through the hills and valleys of life.) What does your road look like? Is it a superhighway? A cobblestone street? What are your beliefs about your “road to success”? Has your road been completed or is it still under construction? What do you need to do to finish the construction process?

Now, visualize the residents of your village. Or, to put it more aptly, who do you WANT to reside in your village? Do you want a baker, a candlestick maker, a town jester? (That would be me!) Seriously, who do you want and need to make your business come together in the way that you want. There’s nothing more disappointing than to be skipping down the yellow brick road only to discover that you’re on the

wrong road and you’re never going to see Kansas again. Do you need/want a CPA, banker, communications specialist, marketing consultant, graphic designer, attorney, business coach, executive assistant, a trusted, loyal friend? You’re the master of your craft so who is it that you need to surround yourself with that have the “other” skills to make your business a success and your dream a reality? What qualities do you want them to possess? (Hey, if you get to pick, why not be choosy?) What kind of expectations do you have of each one of your village people? Have you clearly communicated those expectations to them?

Let’s move on to the village environment. What is the climate like? Is it optimistic, energetic, chaotic, and creative with a free-flow of ideas? Or is it structured, organized, and calm? What kind of climate fosters your peak performance? If the current culture of your business doesn’t support the forward movement of you, your staff, or your business, change it. You are the meteorologist.

What other elements does your village need to succeed? How about a gym, a spa, a weekend get-a-way, a library? No one succeeds very easily without ongoing learning and a good dose of self-care.

To succeed in business today takes the collective genius of everyone in and everything around the village. Your business will move forward much more quickly when you tap into and leverage the power of interdependence.

What changes have you made to your village that have amplified your success?

You’ve worked hard to establish your business. It’s not only your way of life but you’ve made a substantial investment into ensuring it’s success. Therefore, hiring a strategic business coach is an excellent way to enhance the return on that investment into your business. To experience a meaningful ROI on business coaching, you want to develop a relationship with your business coach that creates a collaborative, supportive environment, one in which you excel. To achieve this, consider the who, what, why, where and how of developing an effective relationship.


Strategic business coaches are in the business of being there for you and business. You want them to understand how a small business operates so they may provide value to your company. You want to engage a strategic business coach that has an attitude of “partnering” so that you, and your business, achieve it’s potential.


You spend your time focusing on results; your business coach should too. To ensure success, hold some strategic business coaching sessions during which you introduce your concerns, goals and desires for your business. Don’t forget to discuss your beliefs about what you intend to achieve. Honesty and candor go a long way in establishing a relationship that produces results for you.


You’ve hired a strategic business coach for a reason. What is it? Create a formal list of reason(s) you’re hiring an outside professional and share it with your coach. Your relationship will be stronger and the results from your coaching will be greater when you and your business coach are both on the same page.


It’s up to you and your strategic business coach where you meet. In today’s virtually connected world, most business owners prefer to meet their coach via the telephone.  No matter what method you and your business coach choose to use, you’ll both want to be away from the hustle and bustle of your immediate work environments in order to give you and your business the focus and attention it deserves.


So how do you tie it all together? You know who you want to be your business coach and you know why you want to engage a coach—now you need to pull it all together for a successful strategic business coaching experience. To do that, keep the following points in mind:

  • Be comfortable with the business coach you engage – the most successful relationships are created with those you trust.
  • Realize the possibility of better things. Never let negative emotions or negativity about your business’s current performance bring you down.
  • Focus on results, but do not expect results to happen overnight.
  • Communicate with your strategic business coach about what you want from your business and from the coaching experience.

Related Blog Posts:

Every Entrepreneur Needs a Business Coach

What to Discuss With Your Strategic Coach

Everyone’s NOT a Trained Coach

Strategic Business Coach: Luxury or Necessity

What Entrepreneurs Benefit Most From Strategic Business Coaching

business growth fatigue

I would have written this blog yesterday – but I didn’t have “it” in me. I was mentally spent. It wasn’t because I hadn’t slept well the night before or put in an 18 hour day – I had reached my decision making capacity for the day and, like any overworked muscle, my brain was out of steam and needed to recuperate.

What happens to entrepreneurs who experience decision fatigue? Decision fatigue operates much like any other kind of fatigue. Entrepreneurs suffering from decision fatigue are easily distracted, have difficulty staying focused, experience greater pessimism, and lapses in judgment. Although one may not feel physically fatigued, entrepreneurs experience a decline in mental energy – the very currency needed to remain innovative and creative to grow the business.

What is decision fatigue? Decision fatigue and its twin, ego depletion, is a term first coined by social psychologist, Dr. Roy Baumeister, based on his studies on the transference of energy during mental activities. It appears his experiments revealed we have a finite supply of mental energy. The more decisions we make in any given day, regardless of their importance, the more our will power depletes. As will power declines, our ability to make smart choices, wise decisions, and think creativity deteriorates.

What causes decision fatigue? Simply – decision making! From the time your feet hit the floor, you’re making decisions that exhaust your will power. You decide what to wear, what to eat, what project to tackle first, what color to use in your logo, what topic to blog about, what solutions may solve your client challenges… Shall I go on? And, if you’re like most entrepreneurs, you tackle the items that are easiest to check off your list early in the day to free up your mind to focus on the more critical strategic decisions that influence the growth of your business. Can you see the problem here? By the time you get to the most critical influences of your business growth, you’re out of steam! You either half-heartedly make your way through the most critical aspects of growing your business or vow to tackle it tomorrow…and the cycle repeats itself.

How can you avoid decision fatigue and its resulting ineffectiveness? According to Dr. Baumeister, any decision you make in a day – whether it’s as insignificant as the size coffee to order at Starbucks or as important as selecting the best strategy for your business – requires mental energy. Based on his studies, it appears that decision fatigue is unavoidable but controllable. You can reduce the amount of mental energy drain with habitual routines that prevent having to make a decision. Like brushing your teeth; it doesn’t require much mental energy. You just do it.

What’s the most significant habit to develop? To avoid experiencing decision fatigue on the high priority issues affecting your business growth, focus on the most critical project(s) or decisions early in the day. This is when you’re mentally energized and fresh. Your will power is strongest and you’ll make the sharpest choices. Start each day by asking, “Given all the projects I have to accomplish today, which one(s) would move the business forward? Which one(s) would I be glad I completed should I run out of steam?” It’s the one decision you’ll be glad you made!

I’ve recently taken improv. Although it may be a bit out of character, (I’m more likely to take a course that feeds the ever-hungry left side of my brain.) it’s proven to be a worthwhile experience for business. How I came to take the class is likely fodder for a future blog, but what’s really more interesting is how improv fundamentals improve your business skills.

During our class, we discussed the three main rules of improv:

1. Getting agreement

2. Adding information, and

3. Committing to your character

Although all the rules create value in any business situation, the one entrepreneurs benefit most from is “committing to your character.” During class, we learned that making a commitment to your character makes you more believable to your audience. As a result, your audience is more apt to take the journey with you.

For example, one of our exercises was ‘be the expert’. The scene was a talk show. The topic – sex. The talk show ‘host’ introduced himself and his panel of ‘experts’. During the course of the talk show, each of us ‘experts’ on the panel needed to speak authoritatively and eloquently about our assigned area of expertise to make the audience believe that we were, in fact, the ‘expert’ that the talk show host said we were. It was hysterical! And, it made a valuable point that we can all take with us in business.

Think about it. When others ask about you and your business, do you lay claim to your ‘expertise’ or are you hesitant? Are you uncertain or indecisive? Apologetic? Maybe you don’t want to come off as the arrogant, egotistical business colleague who continually pontificates so you down-play your skill and knowledge. That’s unfortunate. Undermining your expertise renders you powerless with your audience and, according to the principles of improv, prevents your audience from getting behind you and believing in you.

Granted, as entrepreneurs, we all have moments – and even days – of uncertainty and insecurity. The key is never let your audience see your hesitation! Instead, dig deep. Commit to your expertise. Speak confidently about yourself and your business. Believe in yourself. And, before you know it, your audience will get behind you and support your efforts. BE THE EXPERT!

On the days you struggle to jump over a chalk mark, what have you found helpful in making the leap to ‘being the expert’?

Want more? Read on.

The Dirty Little Secret Most Entrepreneurs Won’t Admit

Uncover the Moments of Truth in Your Business

Grow Your Business from the Inside Out

4 Ways Entrepreneurs Sabotage Their Networking Efforts

How Your Mindset Sparks Business Success

What? As a smart, ambitious, innovative entrepreneur, you thought you had defined your business success, right? Think again! Most entrepreneurs believe they have created their unique definition of business success yet, once engaged in business coaching, they discover that their definition of success is not the success they really wanted for themselves. The success they are so passionately pursuing is influenced mightily by the expectations of others.

Wait a minute! Who are these elusive others defining success for you? These vague, indescribable others come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and degrees of influence. From our early days, parents and teachers told us to ‘stand up straight, respect your elders, and give it all we’ve got’. Today, business influencers and thought leaders profess that one needs to achieve monetary wealth, create a Fortune 500 company, be on the cover of Fast Company magazine for fill-in-the-blank, or pen a best-selling business book to achieve success.

I may be stretching it a bit but I think you get my point. It’s very common to adopt the principles, guidelines or standards of those we respect and admire without giving much thought to what success looks and feels like for us. And, you know what happens when you fail to adopt your personal definition of business success – not only does your true “success” elude you but the growing frustration and disappointment can become unbearable as the intangibility of attempting to achieve someone else’s success continues. Sound familiar?  If so, it might be time for a little scavenger hunt to find the definition of success for you and your business.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  1. Disconnect from the persuasion of others. To put your personal signature on your definition of success means disengaging from other’s description of success. This can be more difficult than you realize. In many ways, society and our circle of friends set the bar for what they define as success. Again, the thing to remember is that is about their expectations of and for you – not yours.
  2. Get clear on what success means to you. One of the biggest challenges most entrepreneurs face when deciding what success means to them is getting clear on what they really want. Like most, you’ve probably traveled down a dusty road in pursuit of success for so long that you’ve forgotten what’s most important to you. Don’t get frustrated if the image of success doesn’t come to you in a flash of brilliance. You may have to practice patience as you peel back the layers of other’s influence.
  3. Determine your own course. Like a salmon swimming upstream, it’s not always the path of least resistance that gets you to where you want to go. Sometimes it’s about being a bit unconventional in the way you approach your goals despite what the so-called ‘experts’ say or think.

Be honest with yourself. It’s much more exciting. And, btw, it’s okay to want what you want.

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Before the dawn of the coaching profession in the early 90’s, there were limited resources available to support entrepreneurs in their business growth. Most entrepreneurs looked to business consultants to help them achieve their desired outcomes. Business consultants possess special knowledge or skills that help all sorts of businesses find and implement solutions – for a fee. Not to say that business coaches don’t charge a fee, however, the business model used by business consultants to deliver on the outcomes make it financially impossible for most small to mid-size companies to access support to grow their enterprises. Enter the strategic business coach….

A strategic business coach is much like the coach you had in college. Whether it was your volleyball, basketball, or vocal coach, they knew how to bring out your very best. A strategic business coach brings out the best of you and your business. A business coach focuses on the big picture and supports your efforts in identifying strategies to turn your business into what you want it to be. And, at times, a strategic coach inspires you to keep moving forward toward your goals, all while collaborating on actionable steps to develop and grow your business.

The Overall Goal

A business coach wants your business to succeed, plus is committed to your growth as an entrepreneur. As business coaches, we recognize that your business grows in direct relationship to your personal and professional development. That’s why we take the time to get to know you as a person.

As strategic business coaches, we understand that you’re the expert in your business. Our role, as your business coach, is to bring synergy and structure to the relationship to help you accomplish more than you would by yourself. Entrepreneurs engaged with business coaches take more action, think bigger, and get the job done, thanks to the accountability the coaching relationship offers. A strategic business coach’s expertise is knowing how to help entrepreneurs make better decisions, set higher goals, gain greater clarity, achieve sharper focus, develop success habits, and restructure your personal and professional life for maximum performance and balance. A few of us can also coach you through the development of management strategies, goals, time-management methods, and even marketing tactics focused around your strengths. Essentially, a strategic business coach synthesizes the best from psychology, business, finance, philosophy, and spirituality to help you realize your goals and dreams.

A business consultant, on the other hand, does not get knee-deep into the entirety of your business, nor are they interested in discovering what makes you tick. Instead, the consultant focuses on the project at hand, to advise you and, if need be, do it for you. Additionally, there is little background training involved with becoming a business consultant, whereas a business coach experiences an average of 2 years of coach training from an accredited, certified coaching program before hanging out their shingle.

Benefits of Strategic Business Coaches

Though consultants come with a focused expertise, the fact remains that they don’t take the time to dig down to the root of the challenges your business is experiencing. This simply acts as a band-aid. Since a business consultant doesn’t uncover the reasons your business stumbled, you’ll most likely trip and fall again after a quick-fix solution aimed at the symptoms is implemented.

Strategic business coaches not only pick you up and dust you off after you stumble, they coach you to discover the source of the misstep, help you develop strategies and solutions  targeted at the source to ensure that the changes you implement are sustainable — and that’s something every entrepreneur can support to see their business grow.

Related Blog Posts:

Strategic Business Coaching Produces Results You Can Measure

Your Business. Your Vision. Your Success. Our Strategic Coaching

Uncover the Moments of Truth in Your Business with a Strategic Coach

The Four Stages of Growing Your Business

Say “Heck Yeah” to Growing Your Business

The first day of the month signals a new beginning. No matter how often I’ve veered off course from my intended plan during the previous month, I get a reboot. No matter the missteps or detours, the slate is wiped clean. It’s my very own entrepreneurial Etch-A-Sketch moment!

For those of you who may not be familiar, the Etch-A-Sketch was one of the most popular toys in my day. I played for hours creating one masterpiece after another. The two knobs on the front face of the Etch-A-Sketch created horizontal and vertical movement. The aluminum powder and plastic beads responded beautifully to each turn of the knob. To master the right-left and up-down movements took genuine skill, patience, and practice.

Growing a business is not unlike creating a work of art using an Etch-A-Sketch. You zig and zag. You go back and repeat. Each little turn adds to the picture. More importantly, you learn which moves work and which ones don’t. When it becomes necessary – when you’ve deviated off course and need a fresh perspective – your built-in eraser system gives you a fresh perspective and an opportunity to begin again.

I love the unblemished start of each month.

What’s your first-day, fresh-start routine that keeps your business on track?

Core Business Assessment


Brooke Billingsley

Vice President
Perception Strategies

Synnovatia is a strategic coaching firm that is detailed and knowledgeable about business. i have a small business that grew from $150K to $750K because of the goal setting and resources that Synnovatia provided. It saves me years of learning on my own.

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