More Than WE Know

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The Fun of Networking Online – Update

Posted by Liz Fuller on September 16, 2007

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Every day, I’m becoming a bigger believer in the opportunities inherent in online networking.

In the past few weeks, I have met some really interesting people through blogging, reading comments on my blog and writing comments on other people’s blogs. I have also joined several online networking groups which have expanded my social circle and given me lots of new ideas and inspiration.

I’ve already posted about some of these people, and will continue to post in more depth about the rest of them. When you have a chance, I suggest you check out some of these great sites:

Cafe30 – I love the energy of this site.  Towanda’s views are fresh and fun. She talks about marketing, trends, and current events.   One of my  favorite posts is her latest collection of unusual products for sale which includes an infant carrier designed to be hung on the stall wall while you use the public restroom!  As Socrates said – “How many are the things I can live without!”.

FunnyBusiness – Just about any business related topic is fair game on this site, which is about business culture but “delights in telling tales out of school”. Topics range from the story of “two teenaged boys fired from and sued by A&P for making a lewd rapper video involving the store’s produce” to “the differences in how men and women feel about using the office bathroom”. In her recent, more serious post on Anita Roddick’s death, she quoted several blogs, including MoreThanWeKnow.

Management Informatika – This is an energetic site that has been created by a group of MBA students in India. There are a variety of students and professionals writing on various topics related to business, economics, management and technology.  I love their slogan “Knowledge is Limitless” and applaud their enthusiasm for desiring to make their mark in the world.  I recently wrote a guest article for them and will write more periodically in the future.

Another interesting site is A Green Footprint.  This woman owned company helps businesses go green by reducing consumption, increasing efficiency, making eco-friendly choices, and implementing effective environmental communications. I will be writing more about this site next month around BlogActionDay.

Two other dynamic women entrepeneurs I have met recently are Crystal Berney,  independent broker for Ameriplan and author of Work at Home Facts, a blog on the challenges for moms working at home and Clarissa Mack, Promotional Consultant for BIP (Business is Personal) Promos. Both Crystal and Clarissa have agreed to be interviewed for MoreThanWeKnow – look for them in the coming weeks.

Other exciting sites I’ve written about previously but that are worth mentioning again are MyWomanOwnedBusiness (see post), LoveThemUP (see post) ,  Virtual Woman’sDay   (see post) and FinancialFashionHouse (see post). 

If you too want to expand your network from the comfort of your own home try these tips:

  • Join social networks that cater to people with similar interests as your own; Linked.in and Facebook are popular but their size can also be intimidating; the smaller groups are more intimate and can be just as good a source of contacts.
  • When you come across blogs that you relate  to, take the time to leave a comment and spark a conversation; your own site will be viewable in the entry so others who read your comment can also reach out to connect with you.
  • Participate in forum discussions on topics that are of interest to you; do a search on your favorite subject and the word “forum” and it’s more than likely one or more will pop up.

And don’t forget to network here!  – write a comment about your experiences networking on or send me a personal response on my about page.  I’d love to hear from you! 

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WE Celebrate Virtual Women’s Day

Posted by Liz Fuller on September 15, 2007

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Thanks to Heidi Richards at Virtual Woman’s Day for adding MoreThanWeKnow to her list of  “great woman bloggers”. 

Heidi is the Founder & CEO of The WECAI Network™   – an Internet network of organizations that “Helps Women Do Business on and off the WEB.”

She created Virtual Woman’s Day™ to bring together women from around the globe to network together, learn together and grow together. She intends women to do this by encouraging one another to share resources, promote products and services, increase our circle of influence and have some fun in the process.

Heidi arranges a monthly event called 1st Fridayz in which women network over the internet, sharing their products and ideas and listening to great speakers.  September’s topic was on Blogging for Business. It was such a success that they are going to continue the topic and do “Blogging for Business Part Two” on October 5th.

This is a great low-risk networking opportunity.  You don’t have to leave your home, you can participate as little or as much as you want, and you can easily follow up with people via email after the event. If you would like to participate, register for the WECAI network, and more details will be sent to you.    Don’t miss the fun!

Posted in blogging, marketing, motivation, networking, sales | 1 Comment »

Anita Roddick – Inspiration for Women Entrepreneurs

Posted by Liz Fuller on September 14, 2007

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One of the fortunes of being a Woman Entrepreneur in the 21st century is that we get to have role models to inspire us.  A generation before us, women were making things up as they went along with no indication whether or not what they were doing made sense.   As intimidating as that may sound, it had a certain appeal to singular, free-spirited, strong-minded individuals.  And it is to those bold, courageous women that many of us owe our inspiration as entrepreneurs.

One such inspiration for me has always been Anita Roddick, the founder of the Body Shop. Anita was one of the orignators of the idea of doing business to do good.  Ecological principles were a foundation of her business with its philosophy of re-use, re-fill and re-cycle. Later, she expanded her social activisim to include human rights, animal rights and sustainable environmental practices. 

Anita traveled the world to gain inspiration and to give assistance.  She was an author, a speaker, a teacher, and an activist.   She was an example for Women Entrepreneurs everywhere who want to achieve success and help the world to be a better place.

Anita passed away Monday from a brain hemorrhage, at the age of 64.  She lived every day of her life as if each moment counted – daring to do all the things that most of us only dream of.

In recent years, Anita maintained a blog that espoused her personal beliefs and strong opinions as well as represented her sense of fun and enthusiasm. 

Anita was a role model for those of us who continue in her spirit. In her words:

“Join me: I want to connect with people who share my outrage over the menace of global business practices, and who, like me, are seeking solutions. But I also want to tell – and hear, from you – stories that lift our spirits, that celebrate how glorious our planet is. Outrage and celebration – let’s run this gamut together.”

In the spirit of outrage and celebration, I invite you to journey with me as we build our businesses, create success for our families, and work together to make the world a better place.

Posted in marketing, motivation, networking, sales, Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

How Green Can Your Small Business Go?

Posted by Liz Fuller on September 13, 2007

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October 15th is Blog Action Day.  On that day more than 5000 blogs will post on one topic – the environment.   Each blogger will add his or her own unique perspective – political bloggers will post on politics and the environment,  parenting bloggers will post on children and the environment, and small business bloggers will post on (you guessed it) small business and the environment.

On that day, I would like to talk about general ways entrepreneurs can help the environment by running their busineses more efficiently and consciously.  But I would also like to talk about specific women entrepreneurs who are contributing in a positive way by: reducing waste, promoting recycling, cleaning up the environment, educating others, etc.

If you are a woman entrepreneur whose business is environmentally conscious and would like to be profiled on my blog, please comment below or contact me directly by using the reply section on my “about” page.

I look forward to hearing about your efforts to go green!!

Posted in marketing, motivation, networking, sales | 1 Comment »

Financial Freedom is Always in Fashion

Posted by Liz Fuller on September 12, 2007

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I recently met Cinnamon McCann in the new social network My Woman Owned Business.  With my new-found insight into expanding my social network, I quickly recognized Cinnamon’s potential to be a Mind Opener in my life.  

Cinnamon is the founder of Financial Fashion House.  Her business is dedicated to teaching women financial responsibility in a fun way based on “inspiration, laughter, creativity and hope”.  Cinnamon combines the dry and intimidating subject matter of finance, with the fun and frivolity of fashion, enabling her to convey powerful information to Women Entrepreneurs in a non-threatening way.

Her site offers classes, training and articles on topics ranging from economocial methods of starting a business to knowledgeable investments in the future.   Cinnamon’s site has video interviews, a new radio show and even fun t-shirts with slogans like “sexy entrepreneur”.   Her site is creative and fun and filled with valuable information provided in an engaging way. 

Cinnamon is an inspiring Woman Entrepreneur whose business is making a difference in the world. She is definitely a mind opener for me, who will stimulate me to think of new ways to connect with the world.

But don’t just take my word for it – watch one of Cinnamon’s insightful videos to hear one Woman Entrepreneur’s bold journey to financial independence. 

In this video, Cinnamon interviews Dawn Patrick-Wout,  Founder and President of About Interiors. About Interiors is one of the largest women-owned design centers in the Mid-Atlantic Region, specializing in commercial and residential interior design. Dawn has empowering advice for the budding Woman Entrepreneur, including “surround yourself with a great circle of friends who believe in you and will see you through when the times get rough”.

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Eight Roles That Friends Play for Entrepreneurs

Posted by Liz Fuller on September 10, 2007

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As we’ve been discussing in recent posts, part of the challenge of being an entrepreneur is isolation and loneliness. Much of our work is solitary; Being so focused on (some would say obsessed with) our business and our dreams, can further distance us from those around us.

However, a strong support system  is essential  to our success as entrepreneurs.  Surprisingly, simply having a wide circle of friends, or even one close friend, is not the same as having a strong support system.  According to Tom Rath, there are actually eight distinct support roles that we need in our lives to be our best selves:   

Builder – encourages us to be more and do more

Champion – believes in us; cheers us on; promotes our causes; says good stuff about us behind our backs

Collaborator – shares similar passions, interests, and ambitions with us

Companion – always there for us; friendships that can last a lifetime

Connector – socializer; can introduce us to the right people

Energizer – makes us feel more positive and motivated; fun to be around

Mind opener – broadens our perspective on life; introduces us to new ideas

Navigator – gives us advice; helps us keep moving forward when times get tough 

It would seem ideal, and certainly most time efficient,  to find a single person who could play all of those roles for us.   But many of us make a mistake when we expect our friends or families to be something that they are not. Just because they love us and may be great in one role, does not mean that they have the personality to behave in all of these roles. In fact, Tom Rath says it is a mistake to put that type of burden on any one person.    It is important to have a circle of friends who can fill the various needs we have in our lives.

I have to say that before reading this book, I had not clinically examined my relationships.   I tended to hang out with people who lived or worked near me, who I enjoyed and who made me laugh.

But since reading the book, I realize that the majority of my friendships are with companions, collaborators and energizers.  Left to my own devices, I would probably continue to build more friendships like these.  They are enjoyable and enable me to stay within my comfort zone.

But as an entrepreneur, I need some people in my life who are going to encourage me to grow.

After doing some analysis of my friendships, I realized that I could definitely benefit from more mind openers and connectors.  These people could help me see new possibilities and introduce me to new people.

I could also use some builders and champions.  Building a business can be hard work and it is easy to get discouraged.  Having more people who encourage me to take risks, and believe in me when I am down would help me keep from giving up when things get rough.

I also could use some navigators in my life – these are the people who can see around obstacles and help strategize around challenges.  They could help me create an action plan when I am feeling stuck.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m not going to go out and cold-bloodedly cultivate people with these traits or conduct screening interviews at my next networking event.  But I am going to give new consideration to my existing and prospective relationships. 

Instead of disregarding people who have different opinions than I do – I’m going to consider whether they can actually open my mind to new ideas. 

Instead of glossing over compliments as merely polite – I’m going to assume they are heartfelt and sincere and feel good about the way those people makes me feel.

Instead of keeping all my problems to myself and thinking I need to be the “lone ranger” – I am going to seek out advice from others and consider whether I could actually apply it to my situation.

I believe that being consciously aware of the value of these roles in my life, and being open to cultivating them,  will naturally help me to build them.

What type of relationships do you tend to build? What types of relationships could you benefit from? Please share your thoughts – I’d love to hear them.

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Friends are Vital to Small Business Success

Posted by Liz Fuller on September 7, 2007

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How engaged do you feel in your business? 

Do you get up every morning eager to start the day, or do you find yourself looking for ways to postpone the inevitable email, phone calls and paperwork? 

Do you look forward to serving your customers, or feel frustrated that they seem to grow more annoying every day? 

Do you find yourself wondering where the fun has gone?

I’ve been reading Tom Rath’s book Vital Friends which delves into research that indicates that the single most important factor in feeling engaged – is whether or not you have a best friend at work.  

In fact,  research shows that if you have a best friend at work you are significantly more likely to:

  • engage your customers
  • get more done in less time
  • have fun on the job
  • have a safe workplace with fewer accidents
  • innovate and share new ideas
  • feel informed and know that your opinions count
  • have the opportunity to focus on your strengths each day

Rath’s research focused on corporate environments. But it made me wonder about the implications for entrepreneurs, who many times work by themselves. 

Wouldn’t you like to reap these benefits in your own life?

In yesterday’s post we discussed how important it is to have a support system in order to see you through the loneliness and challenges of being in business for yourself. Today’s post demonstrates that a strong support system is necessary in order to give our best to our business, our customers and ourselves.

So, what can solo-entrepreneurs do to obtain the benefits of friendship in the workplace?

One method is to look for creative opportunities to partner with other entrepreneurs in similar professions:

  • collaborate with others on presentations, books, and workshops
  • swap ideas for marketing and advertising
  • create a mastermind group to focus on business development
  • volunteer with others in professional organizations
  • share publicity on community service projects

What other methods do you use to increase your connection to others? How does partnering with others on projects or presentations influence your mood and energy level?  

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Entrepreneurs Don’t have to Be Isolated

Posted by Liz Fuller on September 6, 2007

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One of the recurring themes with my readers and clients is that of loneliness.   Even if they don’t come right out and say the words “I’m lonely”, it is there between the lines.  They tell me that their “friends don’t understand why they don’t get a real job”,  their “mother is worried they can’t support themselves”,  and their “spouse doesn’t take their business seriously”. 

Building a business for yourself can be extremely isolating. There is no one who shares the same vision of the future that you do.  The dream you have for yourself and for your business is fragile.  It takes a lot of energy to keep that dream alive despite your own doubts and fears, let alone those of others.

Successful entrepreneurs are those who find a support system early on. Most are not fortunate enough to have one ready-made; Smart entrepreneurs make it a point to build one, even before they need it.  They know that having others who believe in them can help to keep their dream alive when their vision starts to fade.

Support systems are crucial to success because it is vitally important to have someone who you can share your concerns with and who will listen without judgment.  As Entrepreneurs we all  need a safe place to explore ideas, options, and possibilities.  We need to be able to express our doubts, fears, and worries without the fear that we will be shot down, ridiculed or simply patted on the head. 

Ideally we need someone who sees our strengths even when we no longer do, and reminds us of why we and our business are going to be successful.

So how do you find someone to be all and do all those things in your life?

The first place to look is within your existing circle of friends and family. Is there anyone you could reach out to who meets that criteria?  Don’t feel bad if there isn’t.  Many times family members are too dependent on our success to be objective and supportive  – they are afraid, too.  And while your friends want to help, some will discourage you because they don’t want to see you hurt, while others won’t be able to control their own feelings of envy because you are pursuing something they would like to do.

The next place to look is within the network that you are developing. Remember networking isn’t just about finding prospective customers. Networking helps you find a circle of like-minded people who are on a similar journey.   Sometimes it is easier to share concerns with acquaintances than it is with family members. You are able to express doubts without being as emotional. They are able to listen more objectively.  And if they are also entrepreneurs, they will relate to your experiences. 

Most towns have a chamber of commerce, a rotary club or a women’s business organization such as ABWA, BPW or NAWBO.  If there are no network opportunities in your area, you can also reach out to online networks such as LinkedIn  or My Woman Owned Business network, forums or by writing comments on blogs such as this one.

A third option is a SCORE counselor.  SCORE is a national volunteer service providing free counseling to America’s Small Business from experienced entrepreneurs or professionals.  Many cities have a SCORE office but SCORE also offers online support.  Their support tends to be short-term and topic specific but they can help you to obejectively explore concerns when you have a crisis.

A fourth option is to hire a professional coach.  Coaches combine objectivity with a long-term relationship.  Coaches provide a safe, objective place to explore doubts, fears and options. They listen without judgment and help their clients seek answers. They remind clients of their strengths or point out strengths the clients didn’t even know they had. Coaches also have the advantage of perspective as they see many clients struggle with similar issues. Many coaches are also experienced in aspects of business and can help educate the client about choices without giving advice.

Coaching is most effectiveness when there is a strong relationship between a coach and client. Be sure to find a coach that you connect with. Most offer a complimentary consultation to determine whether there is a good fit.  Coach referrals can be gotten through the ICF, International Coaching Federation.   I occasionally have openings in my own practice, or know of coaches who have openings so feel free to contact me directly as well.

The key is to not remain isolated; businesses that might otherwise be successful can falter due to loneliness and isolation.  Building a business is hard; Being an entrepreneur can be lonely; But you do not have to be alone – there are 19 million entrepreneurs in this country, 10 million of whom are women. 

Reach out. Take a risk. Share yourself.  Don’t give up. Above all, Keep your dream alive.

What support challenges do you have? Who helps you keep your dreams alive? I’d love to hear about it – please comment below or reply to me confidentially on my About page.

Posted in marketing, motivation, networking, sales | 4 Comments »

Work/Life Balance for the Entrepreneur

Posted by Liz Fuller on September 5, 2007

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In yesterday’s post I discussed the challenge of taking a break from working. Entrepreneurs are prone to becoming workaholics, especially when we have found something that fuels our passion.

But I heard back from several of you that your challenge lies in the opposite direction – you have trouble staying motivated.  Sure, you still love the idea of your business, but you tend to avoid some of the less appealing aspects.  Items that are less interesting or downright unsettling keep dropping to the bottom of your to-do list. Before you realize it, it’s been weeks since you balanced your checkbook, sent out a follow-up invoice, made a sales call, or pitched a workshop.

We even find ourselves putting off working on the aspects of the business that we do like. Maybe you love to create new designs or write articles or develop workshops. Even so, we put off these activities because we fear that our end product won’t be “good enough”.  We prefer the vision we have in our mind to the product we create with our hands.

The common theme between both challenges: working too much or working too little is balance; We need to find the right proportion of work in our daily lives.

One way to do this is to put more structure around our enterprises:

  • establish work hours – either specific hours that you work (ex. 8 to 3) or a specific amount of hours (ex. 7 hours per day)
  • establish goals for the week – make a list on Sunday of all the things you will get done the following week and by when 
  • partner with an accountability buddy – check in, in the morning to let them know what you plan to accomplish during the day and then check in, in the evening to let them know whether or not you succeeded

 I know that part of the reason you went into business for yourself is because you wanted the schedule flexibility that comes with it.  But sometimes, we need structure and consistency in order to focus our minds and our actions.  If we think we have all the time in the world to get something done – it may never get done.  Limits drive action; actions drive results.

So, between now and next Monday, decide what you are going to accomplish next week and the hours in which you are going to get it done.  Whether your goal is to get more done or to work fewer hours, establishing an action plan will help.

Once you have an action plan, find an accountability buddy within your network or feel free to use this post. Just write in the comment section what your goals are and when you will achieve them and then let me know at the end of the week how you have done.  I look forward to hearing from you.

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Labor Day – Entrepreneur’s Holiday?

Posted by Liz Fuller on September 4, 2007

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I’m writing this post on the train heading into NY. I spent Labor Day weekend at our house on the lake in Connecticut.  I really tried to get into the spirit of Labor Day this year and did my best to refrain from working.  My husband and I went kayaking, and swimming, planted fall flowers and had an “end of summer” picnic with our neighbors.   All in all, a pretty respectable observance of the “working (wo)man’s” holiday.  But I have to admit that my mind repeatedly wandered to challenges in my business, and more than once I picked up my laptop to respond to an email or check my blogstats.

Labor day was originally conceived to give a break to the average worker.  I guess it was assumed that management had enough time off; this one was for the laborer. Work life has changed a lot since 1882; it is no longer as easy to tell when we are working and when we are not; it is also not as easy to tell who is the laborer and who is management, especially in regards to entrepreneurs.

In the 19th century, you were either working, or you weren’t.  In the factory, in the fields, in the store, in the mines  – working; anything else – not.  But in the 21st century, we take our jobs with us – in the forms of Blackberries, Treos, cell phones, pagers, laptops, wi-fi connections and satellite wireless cards.  We can always be making one more call, checking in with one more client  or writing one more article.  We can be reached 24×7, 365 days per year and even more, it’s harder to turn our minds off of the problems and challenges of our “knowledge work” . 

As entrepreneurs, we fall somewhere in the murky realm between laborers and management.  In theory, we are managment, even leaders – as we develop the strategies to design and market our products and services. But in many cases, we are also the laborers – producing the products, packaging the merchandise, fulfilling the orders, making the sales calls, and setting the appointments. 

Many of us have difficulty taking time off – our businesses depend on our efforts, afterall. And for many of us, our work is also our passion, which means that sometimes the thing that feels most fun is actually – more work!

While all work and no play will make Jack a dull boy, it will make Jill a burned out entrepreneur.  As hard as it is, we all  need to take time for ourselves. We need to get away from the constant, everyday demands of our business.  And the irony is that if we do, we’ll return with greater perspective, greater passion, greater creativity and greater energy than if we had continued working straight through.

Most of us have businesses that our great-grandparents would not be able to recognize or understand.  The world has changed dramatically since they first established Labor Day. But their rationale and their wisdom still holds true – every so often, we need to take a day off from our work. What looks like doing nothing – is really doing something.  We are giving ourselves a chance to gain perspective, to re-energize and to refuel. 

How did you spend your Labor Day? Are you able to shut off your business now and then? I’d love to hear your secrets – please share below.

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