Why You Should Plan for Failure

PlanforfailureI was at a school conference last week and my son was impressing the teachers with his color-coded, neatly organized binder. (Let me preface by saying the words “neatly organized” are not often used when describing anything related to my wonderful son!) We congratulated him on taking the initiative and responsibility to get off to a great start to the school year. Then one of the teachers said, “So this is only the third day of school. What are you going to do when the binder starts to get messy in a few weeks? What’s your plan then?”

Now…I could have been upset by that question. They were predicting his failure! And my son could have felt deflated. After all, don’t they have faith that he can keep it organized all year long? But that’s not what was going on. This teacher was not trying to discourage him, she was trying to get him to think about his Failure Plan.

Lots of people don’t like the word “failure.” They avoid saying it and pretend it doesn’t exist. Like if you whisper the word “cancer” it somehow makes it less horrible. But failure is a reality. And you can’t avoid it. The best thing you can do is to learn how to react when it comes your way.

That’s why it’s so important to consider the possibility of failure and map out a plan for that scenario. When we create a Failure Plan, we give ourselves a security blanket. We recognize that failure is a possibility but we have the power to turn it around.

I think lack of a Failure Plan is the reason so many people give up on diets and exercise programs. They don’t know what to do when they fall off the wagon. They don’t know how to course correct. Because nobody ever talks about it. Nobody wants to admit that it’s possible you might eat a bag or Doritos and a sleeve of Oreos one night and feel so horrible about yourself that you can’t walk into the gym for a month. But if you have a plan…if you know what you will do…it’s easier to get back on track quickly. [Read more...]

How to Stop Giving Away Your Time and Working for Free

Stop Working for FreeA friend of mine recently spent an entire day volunteering her services as a retail consultant for a small shop owner who couldn’t afford to pay her. She sorted inventory, rearranged displays and even helped with pricing strategies. As I sat listening to her talk about the job, I wondered why we agree to such things. Why do intelligent, successful women give away their time and work for free?

We like to believe it’s because we are generous. We have a heart for service and we know God calls on us to care for others. So we are ready and willing to take on whatever task is asked of us. I’m guilty of it, too – I’ve agreed to far too many lunch requests with someone who wants to “pick my brain.” And I’ve offered my writing and marketing services pro-bono for dozens of organizations – each of which has a noble cause. Why? Partly because I want to. But often because I feel I have to.

When someone is in need, we help them. That’s what we do, right? That’s just the way it works.

Not exactly. I want to remind you that it doesn’t have to work that way for you. YOU don’t have to be the one to step up Every Single Time something needs to be done. And you certainly don’t need to say yes when you’re asked to give away your time and professional expertise.

Trust me – I know you have valid reasons for saying yes:

“It may lead to something bigger.”

“They can’t pay me now, but if I do a good job, I’ll be the first one they call when there is money in the budget.”

“It will look good on my resume/portfolio.”

“It’s my duty to help others in need – I’ve been blessed and I want to give back.”

“If I don’t do it, nobody will.”

There may be an element of truth to your reasons but I’m going to challenge you to say no anyway. I want to encourage you to keep your priorities (rather than the needs of others) at the forefront of your decision-making. I know that sounds selfish but it’s really more a matter of staying focused.

Giving away your time and talent is a wonderful way to serve others – as long as it doesn’t derail us from God’s plan. If you are constantly putting your own business or ministry (or worse – your family!) on the back burner while you help others, then you’re not really living your purpose.

Sometimes our desire to help others is a distraction or procrastination technique. It prevents us from doing what God is calling us to do. Because it’s easier to be in charge of the silent auction for the third year in a row than it is to write that memoir about finding Jesus and healing from addiction.

If you really want to be a good steward of all your gifts, then be wise in the way you share your time and talent. You just might discover you have more time to do the things that matter most. And – you may even improve your bottom line!

Five Ways to Stop Giving Away Your Time and Working for Free:

1. Run the Numbers. Decide on a percentage of your product or service you will provide pro-bono and don’t go above that number. For example, if you are a portrait photographer you may decide to offer one day of your time per month to a local non-profit.  If you teach a course or workshop then you may offer a certain number of scholarships for every 10 paying students. Once you choose a reasonable number and start tracking your time, you’ll feel better about saying no to additional requests because you’ll be able to quantify the pro-bono work you are already doing. [Read more...]

Do You Belong Here? A Peek Inside the Sisterhood of Christian Mompreneurs

Survey Results IGOne of the things I love most about what I do is getting to know some pretty fabulous women. When I stepped out in faith to create the International Christian Mompreneur Network, I was placing a call for help. I was reaching out to other moms just like me who were feeling overwhelmed and isolated as they juggled the challenges and joys of running a business while raising a family. These ladies answered my call for help and formed an extraordinary circle of support and encouragement for me and for one another. They’ve developed friendships as they’ve grown their businesses.

But lots of women wonder if they will fit in. They send me emails saying:

“My children are all grown and out of the house. Am I too old to join?”

Or…

“I don’t really have a business…it’s more of an idea right now. Can I still belong?”

Or…

“I’ve got a J-O-B but I hope to start my business soon. Is this the place for me?”

My answer is YES! Of course, you belong here! But sometimes it’s good to see the data – so you can really learn about the women God has placed in our lives. So, here’s a peek inside our circle.

The ladies in the Sisterhood of Christian Mompreneurs:

  • Live in 21 different states in the United States and one Canadian city.
  • Are older than you might think, with 57% of us in our 40s.
  • Have 2 or 3 children living at home – some more, some less.
  • Want to learn about a variety of different topics to help grow their business or ministry.
  • Take advantage of our private Facebook group for networking and support as well as our monthly group calls, opportunities to promote their businesses, training webinars and more.

(Keep in mind, these are just the ladies in our Sisterhood group. The full membership of the International Christian Mompreneur Network is even more diverse – with members from all over the world including Australia, United Kingdom, India, Philippines, Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia, Italy, Germany, New Zealand, Nigeria and more!) [Read more...]