There Is No Shortcut to Success

Want to know the secret to my success as a businesswoman?

I’ve been in business for almost sixteen years.  I’ve read scores of books on business and soapmaking, watched hours of webinars, sat in seminars, and spent time with my mentors, both in soapmaking and business.  Business isn’t a one-and-done proposition; it must be a continuing journey towards growth and improvement.

Being a home educator, I obviously love teaching.  Being a business owner, soapmaker, and cosmetic manufacturer, I love sharing that passion with others, teaching what I’ve learned through the years.  Whenever someone comes to me with a true desire to invest themselves in learning, I’m happy to take time to teach them.  I’ve even thought about offering classes in beginning soapmaking and setting up a small business.

One of the things that I’ve experienced many times is requests from newbies wanting my success.  If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me, “Can I have your best selling soap recipe?  I want to sell them at the flea market this weekend,” I’d have my dream beach house and be comfortable for life.  I thought those days were behind me.  Then Sunday happened.

A local lady I know messaged me on Facebook:  “Can you give me a crash course on making soap?”  I explained to her that there is no “crash course” to soapmaking.  I further shared that I spent six months learning how to make cold processed soap, and that’s the average.  I have books on techniques, formulation, oil analysis, soapmaking chemistry, and labeling.  This isn’t a quick and easy knowledge set; it takes time, dedication, and work.  I quickly got the feeling that the lady wasn’t interested in spending time learning the craft; she wanted my best soap formulation so she could make soaps to sell in our local area.  She wanted my 10+ years of knowledge and experience fast and free!  I gave her what she needed, though not what she wanted.  The lady wasn’t happy with this.  She wanted the shortcut.

The “shortcut” to success

Just as there are no shortcuts in soapmaking, there are no shortcuts in life.  If you want to be successful in any endeavor, you absolutely must invest the time to do it and do it well.

Business:  Those of us with successful businesses are enviable, I’m sure.  We have wholesale accounts, websites, active social media accounts, and a customer following.  We make it look easy, because no one sees the work we put in after hours (like right now it’s after 10:30 p.m. as I type this).  My friend and I put it, “It takes a lot of time and hard work to become an ‘overnight success.'”  Some people seem to have that one magical idea that nets them a small fortune seemingly overnight, but those people are few and far between.  The rest of us put in a lot of work, sweat, and tears into making our dreams profitable.

Fitness:  You’ve probably seen the great, awesome boiled egg diet that kept popping up all over social media a few weeks ago.  Lose 24 pounds in 2 weeks with the boiled egg diet!  This diet has nothing to do with eggs, though they’re great sources of low-fat protein.  The diet is very close to keto and extremely low calorie.  A quick estimate of calories indicates maybe 1000 calories a day and very few carbohydrates with this diet, so losing weight will be quick – and temporary.  Those pounds won’t stay off once the diet is over.  If you want lasting weight loss, deprivation isn’t the way to go.  You’ve got to make lasting life changes, not temporary weight changes, if health is your goal.

Peace of Mind:  Who doesn’t love a trip to the beach or the mountains?  We breathe in the fresh air and the change of scenery helps us unwind.  When we get home, though, it’s like all the stress and pressures quickly envelop us again.  That’s why I developed my beach-inspired soaps, so you can bring the beach home.  If you want to de-stress and stay calm, relaxing needs to be a daily goal.  Yoga, meditation, or just getting off by yourself to chill for a bit will help lower the stress, which will, in turn, improve other areas of your life.

So what’s the secret to my success?  Hard work.  Studying.  Learning from others.  Making material investments in my improvement.  Years of experience.  And years of mistakes.  Part of the joy of rebranding was starting fresh with all my years of experience as well as the lessons learned from my mistakes – lessons I happily pass along to others.  And underscoring it all,  I work with integrity.  A business owner can have vast amounts of knowledge and experience, but if they lack in basic integrity, then their business lacks in other ways, too.

What are some of the secrets of your success?  Please share them below.

From Small to Colossal to Small

Do you remember KB Toys?  KB Toys was a chain of inline stores found in malls nationwide in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, with a few tenacious remnants making it into the early aughts.  I loved this store!  They had the best selection of Barbie clothes anywhere – of course, with matching shoes.

Then the 80s brought the likes of Toys ‘R Us to markets nationwide.  While KB Toys was a large chain of small stores, TRU was a large chain of huge stores.  Now, TRU is closing its doors, demolished by billions in corporate debt, as well as its big box store competitors.  According to CNN, Amazon and other online retailers did not mark the beginning of the end of TRU as previously suspected.

The vast entities known as the major online retailers – walmart(dot)com and Amazon, to name the two biggest – certainly didn’t help matters any.  In the past ten years or so, while many people dragged themselves out into chilly late November weather to battle the after Thanksgiving toy store mobs, many others stayed home and shopped in their pajamas, enjoying free shipping and avoiding the crowds.  As Cyber Monday became more of a thing, businesses everywhere encouraged customers to buy online instead of from brick and mortar businesses.

Toys ‘R Us’s problems were at the corporate level.  Too much debt, too poorly managed assets.  Sure, I shopped at TRU several times, and I’ll never forget the excitement of completing our baby registry at Babies ‘R Us when Hubby and I were expecting our first child.  However, I never got that feeling shopping at TRU that I remembered from KB Toys.  While the warehouse-feeling space was vast, it felt impersonal, and there was seldom a great selection of what I wanted.  Two aisles of console games?  No, thank you.  An entire creepy doll aisle?  Get me outta here!  And by the time my older daughter was into Barbies…  Where the heck are all the Barbie ensembles???  Plus, I thought the prices were ridiculously high compared to KB Toys (when I was at a toy-buying age during the companies’ overlap).

Small retailers do struggle with this to some degree.  When will a corporate giant sink us?  Yet, a lot of us indie retailers were born, grew, and thrived over against our big box store counterparts.  We can offer what customers want.  Products I make and sell are not available from Bath & Body Works, for example.  Customers get to meet us personally and often get a sneak peek behind the scenes at what’s going on with our brands.  Many times, they also get the opportunity to give us quick feedback on products we carry that impact the business directly.  Small indie business becomes a relationship between seller and guest, and we love nurturing that relationship.

And now, what do I see but that KB Toys is coming back!  A company that revitalizes old brands has bought the KB Toys name and plans to open 1000 stores for Black Friday and the holiday selling season.  I suspect that a lot of GenXers who share my nostalgia around the brand and the experience of shopping there will line up to bring some of that remembered joy to their own children.  I hope the owners will not go big but will instead focus on smaller size with outstanding customer care.

KB Toys logo
KB Toys is coming back! So exciting!

The likes of Amazon and Walmart will be with us for the foreseeable future.  They’re both retail giants who have managed to maximize profits.  Additionally, Amazon treats its employees well and pays them far above the minimum wage favored by some retailers.  I enjoy my Prime membership and the perks it brings me as I happily click my way to new stuff.  Yet, the small indie retailers will also be around for the foreseeable future, because we can offer what no dot com can; a personal and personalized shopping experience.  Amazon is not going to message me to let me know that they have a new assortment of workout tanks or that those shorts I ordered are on sale if I want to get more of them.  However, a small business owner will take the time to contact a customer, making that person feel important.  Plus, we humans are tactile shoppers.  We like to feel, smell, and experience the things we’re thinking about buying.  No online experience can duplicate that.

How do you like to shop?  Will online retailers wipe out your brick & mortar shopping trips?

 

The Brilliant Buyer’s Guide to Leaving Product Reviews

You are not an idiot.  I know this.  You know this.  But sometimes, trying to find your way around the finer areas of a website sure can make you feel like one, can’t it?  Even with my own site, I try to make it do certain things, often accompanied by the thought, This is my blasted website! Why does it have to be so hard?  I’ve had a couple of inquiries from customers asking how they can leave reviews on products.  When I tested out my site, that’s the one thing I never thought about doing.  (After all, I think all of my products are the most amazing thing ever!)  So, I went through the steps of leaving a review so I could share them with you.

  1. Sign in to your account.  This is in the upper right corner of your screen.  Once you login, you’ll be redirected to your personal account page.
    Sign in to your account. This is in the upper right corner.

    2.  Find the product(s) on the site you wish to review.  Unfortunately, the “my account” section doesn’t list individual items purchased, just quantity spent, order date, etc.  I chose Christmas Spice Body Creme.  The listing goes Product Name -> Quantity in Stock -> Price -> Add to cart, followed by the Paypal button and social share buttons.  Under that is the “Write a Review” box.

“Write a Review” box is right under the Paypal button and the social share icons.

3.  Submit your review.  A notification will pop up on my end to let me know I have a review I need to moderate, and once I do that, your review will show up on the website.

This is what it looks like on my end.

I absolutely promise you…  I will not delete negative product reviews.  (If you’re blasting my company or me, I will not approve those and strongly encourage you to contact me via my website, email, phone, Facebook messenger, snail mail, or carrier pigeon so we can discuss any problems you may have.)  Fragrance love is highly subjective, and how soaps treat different customers’ skin has a great deal of variance.  What doesn’t work for one person might be exactly what another customer is looking for.  Real life example here…  I had a supplier who never approved negative reviews.  Let’s say, for example, I’d bought a duplicated scent from that company.  It smelled marvelous, dead-on dupe for the original, but it was awful in cold-processed soap.  The scent itself morphed in ugly ways (means it stank), it turned my soap the color of spinach after it comes out of a baby, and it was just a disappointment for what I wanted to use it for.  If I left that as a review, the site’s owner would never have approved it.  However, that’s a warning to others who might want to use it in soap, while those who are shopping for it to use in other applications need to know how true it smells and that they’ll likely be pleased with it.

With my own site, I’ll take the same “it may help someone else” approach.  After all, that’s the reason I ask customers to leave reviews, right?  So your 2-star, “Dried out my skin” soap may be just what that customer with excessively oily skin is looking for.

If you have purchased something from me and have not yet reviewed it, I invite you again to cruise over to the website and do that.  It won’t take but a few minutes.  If you submit your review in the form of a poem – it can be freestyle, rhyming, haiku, sonnet, or whatever – I will find some way to reward both your creativity and your bravery.  It’ll either be as free shipping, something off your total purchase, or SOMETHING.  (This idea just came to me as I was typing this, so stay tuned for what I decide to do.)

 

Preparing for my Favorite Event

How’s your last week been?  We solemnly and with a good deal of relief enjoyed our first week post-soccer season.  In one respect, I was a little lost.  The time came when I would normally have prepared my practice plan, and there was no practice for which to play.  However, my younger daughter and I got to take a great – if not also occasionally creepy – walk while the older one was at dance.  Halloween came and went with a late night, tons of fun with friends, and almost as much candy.  In short, it was a good last week of fall break.

One of the major things I accomplished this past week was submitting the reservation for my spot for my absolute favorite show of the year.  Caveat:  I only do two events a year.  One I call my favorite local show, the other is my absolute favorite event of all.  My fave event is one I call, in short, the EPA Show.  Its long name is the Annual EPA Holiday Bake and Craft Show, so you can see why I’d shorten it.

There are four things that make this event my favorite.

  1. The people.  Each year that I work this show gives me the opportunity to reconnect with people who have known me since I was five – the few who are left, anyway – and those who I’ve met in the years of doing this show.  Some are fellow vendors, others are customers, and then there’s Romeo, the kick-butt line cook in the cafeteria who can bring a smile to my uncaffeinated lips as he slides an omelet to me. 
  2. The set-up.  Tables already in place.  A simple display.  Reduced product line.  All these go into making the schematics of setting up for this show quick and relatively easy.  Granted, I have to get through the security necessary in a government building and schlep everything from the underground loading dock to my spot – all without coffee! – but it’s easier than most other events.  Tear-down is even easier.
  3. My selling team.  This is the one event that my mom helps me vend.  One of the girls usually comes along, too.  Having help is always valuable, but having moments to sit back and watch them in action is delightful.  My younger daughter (then 7) had her first turn behind the table last year, and she totally rocked it!
  4. The booth fee.  Free is always good, right?  Well, it’s not entirely “free.”  I have to account for my time and gas, but I don’t have to pay to be there.

This year’s show is just a hair over a month away, and I started the grinding prep work last week as I wrapped and labeled soaps that have been happily curing for months.  I’ve got a few new products I’ll be bringing out for it, which I’ll be telling you about in the days and weeks ahead.  It’s gonna be great!  We can’t wait!

Charming Beachsides + Delightful Mermaids

Travel along with us to some gorgeous beaches with sparkling blue water and powdery sand.  Relax in a hammock under gracefully bowing palm trees.  Watch a summer storm rolling over the beach, clouds building and seagrasses swaying.  Hunt for seashells and build sandcastles.

Love mermaids?  You’ll find those here, too.  Maybe looking at mermaids isn’t your thing.  You’re awesome and fabulous!  YOU are a mermaid!  Find mermaid seashell bras and tricks for the latest in mermaid-inspired makeup.  Create your gorgeous tail and top off your whole ensemble with a fanciful seashell tiara.

There is but one place to find such amazing treasures, and that’s on my Pinterest boards.  That’s not all you’ll find!  I feature our incredible soaps with some on-location product pictures.  (Those are soooo much fun to take!)  You’ll also be able to grab some inspiration for living our healthy coastal lifestyle with yummy recipes and workout tips.

Coming soon, I’ll be adding recipes that are quick, easy, healthy, and family-friendly.  We’re busy people, and no way do we want healthy, delicious meals to rob us of precious family time.  (Hint:  The first one is for an absolutely delicious slow cooker tomato soup that’s welcome after a late soccer practice or a long day at work.)

Cruise on over to my Pinterest boards and follow us to get the latest updates on all sorts of fun, creative, yummy, and inspirational ideas.  Got a board you’re proud of?  Share your link below in the comments so we can check it out!

The Beautiful Game, Life, and Business

It has been called “the beautiful game,” and when you watch it, it’s easy to see how this can be so.  Twenty-two players on the pitch, running, blocking, passing, and kicking, their only protection a pair of shin guards.  They don shorts and jerseys, cleats and socks.  No matter the weather, the uniform is always the same.  Watching soccer played well affords viewers with examples of a clean – though physical – game, good sportsmanship, and the sense that rivals on the field are rivals only for the ninety minutes of regulation game time.  Otherwise, they bond over the beautiful game.  I have often watched professional or college games and enjoyed the play of muscles under skin as they bunched and released, the contour of a thigh as a player kicks the ball, the elongation of the back and neck when heading it.

As you likely know, our family is big into soccer.  My husband played as a child, coached our older daughter, and still loves teaching the sport to younger players.  We often see former players he coached, and parents and players smile and call him, “Coach Peter.”  I’ve been coaching younger children for quite a few seasons now, even though I didn’t play as a kid.  For me, I get to teach them to love the game and play it with joy.  Our daughters both have played several seasons each, and our older now referees and will help coach my teams at every opportunity.

When I coach, I have three rules for my team, and we go over these weekly:  Have fun.  Do your best.  Be good sports (both within our team and towards other teams’ players).  I was reflecting on these rules over the weekend after watching them play so beautifully in Saturday’s game, and it dawned on me that these same rules can apply to business as well.

Sport in childhood. Association football, show...
Sport in childhood. Association football, shown above, is a team sport which also provides opportunities to nurture social interaction skills. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(1) Have fun.  If you’re not having fun, what’s the point?  It can’t be all fun and games all the time.  In soccer, I have yet to meet anyone who loves running wind sprints (though I did have a player last season who smiled through three disciplinary laps at the end of practice).  There has to be work.  Likewise in business, sometimes it’s a lot of fun.  For me, creating the soaps and engaging with customers are what makes running my business most enjoyable.  Those are the things that make it fun and that see me through hours of creating content and bookkeeping.

(2) Do your best.  There’s an unofficial family motto in my family:  “If you’re going to do it, might as well do it right the first time.”  Yes, there are times when we make mistakes; that’s not what Grandpa – and probably his Grandpa before him – meant by “doing it right.”  We don’t take shortcuts.  We invest the time and attention into doing a good job from the start.  For example, when building a shelving unit, it’s easy to suspend boards between other boards and screw them into place.  However, you’re going to be left with a unit where the boards sag in the middle, the wood splinters around the nails, and the entire thing falls apart.  Sure, it may have only taken half an hour to construct, but it won’t be long before you’re having to tear it apart and start over.  Alternatively, you could take a little bit more time, adding supports and changing the construction to make it stronger.  It might take four hours to build, but it will last through anything but fire.

That’s the same in running my business or any business.  I want to invest the extra time and care into making something strong and long-lasting.  I could go about it half-assed, but whatever business endeavor I’m tackling won’t last very long at all.  It’ll be sloppy and careless, and in addition to being structurally weak, it’ll be unpleasant for people to see.  When I’m perusing businesses’ social media offerings or websites and see poor spelling, grammar, and punctuation, I wonder how much care they give their products if their presentation to the world is that sloppy and shows that great a lack in care and proofreading.  In this, too, I have the mindset of, “If I’m not doing my best, why bother doing it at all?”

(3) Be good sports.  On my teams, good sportsmanship involves how players treat each other and how my players treat opposing players.  Even in practice, I don’t allow players to criticize each other or to harp on each other’s mistakes.  In play, this means not only watching elbows, pushing, and tripping (all illegal fouls), but also not saying things like, “You suck!” or “You call that a kick?”  Taking this a little further, I also encourage them to at least recognize when the other team does something well.  Praise such as “Good hustle!” and “Nice save.” demonstrates that they have the best attitude for success on the field and off.

In business – and life – raising others up costs us nothing.  In the maker community, we often praise each other’s efforts, and we laugh together on mistakes.  It’s nearly impossible not to laugh in commiseration when one’s young child strews black oxide powder all over one’s work space.  And kitchen.  And powder room.  And living room.  Then, because they’ve walked through it, they leave little black footprints up the stairs and down the hall.  (Can you tell I have firsthand experience with this situation?)  It takes more effort to follow a maker in order to point out their mistakes and to slam them publicly than it does to follow that same maker and give them “likes” and affirmations on their work.  My business requires all the time and energy I can give it, so finding time to insult another maker is pointless to me.  However, seeing their picture on IG or FB and clicking the “heart” or the “thumbs up” takes no discernible time out of my day.

My goal with the kids on the team is not only to give them skills to be tremendous soccer players, but also to give them skills for life.  The rules I created and enforce will help them be better students, better workers, and better citizens.

What rules can you think of that would benefit both players in youth-league sports and in life?

What Are You Selling?

You’ve heard me say before that we’re an entrepreneurial family, with my husband, our older daughter, and I all having our own businesses.  Our daughter’s mowing business has all but died this year, with many people taking care of their own lawns, a customer moving, and so forth – despite her serious hustle to drive new business.  That’s meant she’s had to find other ways to earn money.

My husband’s business continues to grow with requests for some light landscaping and organic fertilization treatments.  The girls go out to work with him on those days and take care of those jobs so he can focus on applying the inorganic chemicals.  They get to engage with the customers and get paid for the work they do.

Suddenly this summer, mermaid soaps have taken off like crazy!  The older daughter is the “Mermaid Diva,” crafting gorgeous mermaid soaps, each one beautifully unique.  I pay her for each one.  Between making soaps and working with her dad, my daughter has made up about half of her usual summer income.  She’s driven, because she is earning the money she needs to complete her soccer referee’s certification course; this will enable her to make even more money over the next year.  She’s saving up for next summer’s mission trip, next year’s sports (soccer, dance, or both), and next year’s awesome Language Arts class, should she decide to take it.

Mermaid soap
Sparkly mermaid soaps in Crystal Coast Morning. They are beautiful!

Yesterday evening, my husband told me about his former employer – now independent – offering customers a discount on their first treatment if they sign up.  It’s similar to what a major corporate competitor does, though on a larger scale.  Thanks to what I’ve learned throughout the time of my business and the years I’ve been a part of IBN and under the mentorship of Donna Maria, I was able to help him reframe how he thinks about driving his business.  The conversation went something like this:

Me:  “Big box stores have gotten customers trained to think they must always get a discount.  Big Company XYZ (the corporate competitor) probably averages about $50 per lawn, accounting for both postage stamp-size and high-end neighborhoods.  The local office may get $10-$20 of that for their operating costs and to pay their employees.  Where does the rest go?  It keeps the CEO in boats and vacation homes.  The techs are like worker drones.  That’s it.”

Him:  “No company I’ve ever worked for has ever given customers a discount for signing up.”

Me:  “OK.  And for good reason.  Why do you think that is?”

Him:  “They didn’t need to.  They were selling quality.”

Me:  “Exactly.  How closely do you pay attention to car commercials?”

Him:  “I really don’t.”

Me:  “Think about Chevy, Ford, and Honda commercials.  What do they focus on?”

Him:  “Their features.”

Me:  “No.  Their affordability.  Every single one sells their cars on ‘4000 off MSRP or ‘Just 249 per month.’  They’re selling on price.  Now, think about Mercedes or BMW.  You know the Lincoln commercials with Matthew McConaughey?  What are they selling?”

Him:  “Luxury.  Handling.  Performance.”

Me:  “Right.  And how often do you ever see prices on commercials for high-end vehicles?”

Him:  “You don’t.”

Me:  “Because those car manufacturers are selling quality vehicles, and their customers don’t care about the price when they’re getting quality.  What are you selling to your customers?”

Him:  “My brand.”

Me (smiling):  “Wrong.  Try again.”

He looked at me with a smile, not quite sure what I was looking for.  I smiled back and said, “Let me know when you’ve figured it out.”

As indie business owners, we have to be aware of our motivation and even more aware of what we’re selling.  We’re not selling a product or a service; we’re selling ourselves.  I’ve often privately thought that being a business owner is like legalized prostitution without the sex.  We’re selling bits of ourselves to our customers, hoping fervently that they’ll come back for more.  Packed in with every soap or every lawn treatment, we’re selling ourselves, our back stories, our experience, and our knowledge.  

We’re selling to build our hopes and dreams, to leave a legacy for the next generation, whether that’s the next generation in our families or in the larger entrepreneurial community.

Why do you do what you do?  What are you selling to people?

 

Starting with the Finish in View

No secret…  I walk a few times a week.  I’ve walked in pretty-chilly temps and I’ve walked in weather where I begin pouring sweat as soon as I step out of the house – like walking through the sauna that is North Carolina in the summer.  I don’t walk because I like freezing my butt off or sweating out two pounds of liquid in under an hour.  In fact, if I could get the same benefits from not-walking, I would in a heartbeat, but the truth is, I can’t, and walking really does have a whole lot of benefits – psychological, holistically physical, emotional, and even spiritual.

When I start my walks, within the first quarter mile, I mentally plan my route and start thinking of the very end – that last quarter mile when I can start slowing it down, check my pulse, log in the time and calorie burn, and get more comfortable.  I think about which route I’ll follow.  It’s always the same four streets, but depending on how I walk them, it can be 2.5 miles or 2.8 miles.  It may seem silly to think about finishing my walk before I have barely begun, but envisioning the end helps motivate me through every step and prevents me from taking short-cuts – skipping that little bit of .2 mile or not going down that short street.

Similarly, thinking about the end of a business venture from the outset helps a business owner work towards that goal, that completion, that teleos.  As we celebrate 15 years of soapy business, I reflect back on those early days, and I did not have an end-game in sight.  It wasn’t until several – SEVERAL! – years down the road that I began to think about things like having a brick-and-mortar store and passing my business down to my children.  That particular route requires certain steps and a certain amount of time, just like when I opt for “route A” of my walking choices.  Going the B&M route means striving to build up the revenue to sustain such a venture, taking into account overhead, staffing needs, retail traffic ebbs and flows, and so forth.  Passing the business down to my daughters requires teaching them every aspect of the business, not just the technical aspects, but also the passion and the why.

Last year in the midst of the rebrand, the brick-and-mortar suddenly became less important to me, and the girls have no desire to run a soapmaking business, though they love making soap.  They love the creativity and the design aspects, and the chemistry of it fascinates them, but that’s as far as their enthusiasm goes.  So, it’s become time to work with another end-game in mind.

To be honest, I haven’t entirely worked that out, yet.  Part of the rebrand involved an increased focus on wholesale and private label, though retail is still a very strong part of my business.  At this point, though, I’d more love to have a separate work shop than a full-blown B&M.  I’d enjoy the space separate from the house to make, wrap, and store my products.  The completion of my business now would be having a strong business to sell off in – ideally – one huge chunk to someone who’d love and nurture it as I do.  Again, this route requires a certain path, a certain set of steps, a particular journey to traverse.

Without the finish in sight, I could just meander along, making this product or that product, selling whenever, pushing for sales when I felt like it and ignoring my business when I didn’t.  Similarly, when I walk for my health, having a defined time frame and route ensures I do at least as much as I need to, and it also restricts me from following whims that could take me on long treks – not that that would necessarily be a bad thing, but when the family is expecting me to be gone a certain amount of time, being gone for 2-3 times that would cause them to worry.

Goals are essential, but goals without a defined end are just nebulous scratchings on a dry-erase board, the result of moments or hours of brainstorming.  As you set your goals, whether fitness, business, or lifestyle, determine to look at the end.  It’s likely not the end, but it is an end, often that of a chapter before the next beginning.

Pushing Through

I didn’t want to do it.  Despite knowing I must get some much-needed exercise today, it was a struggle getting out there.  My legs were still feeling remnants of the abuse from earlier in the week, it’s less-than-warm outside, and I have some business-related computer-based matters that need my attention in addition to planning tomorrow evening’s soccer practice.  Yeah, I put it off.  Even after my older daughter “helped” me out by grabbing my sneakers and workout clothes for me (without my asking her to), I still found another ten minutes’ worth of reasons not to strike out.

But finally, I could put it off no more.  Though the sun was out and the sky was a vibrant, cloudless blue, the wind stabbed through my top like knives and stung my cheeks.  The muscles in my legs were still a bit tight.  I was cold.  All I wanted was to be inside in my warm, fleecy bumwear in front of my computer with a mug of hot chocolate getting work done.  For about fifteen seconds, I gave serious consideration to turning around and going back home.  But sheer determination and nothing short of stubbornness kept me going.

I did it.  I did it for 47 minutes and almost 3 miles.  I did it despite the bitter wind and my desire to be warm inside.  I warmed up and kicked my heart rate up to my perfect target rate.  Best yet, I had that time for my brain to be free of distractions, which gave it room to plan my soccer practice, formulate a new direction in my business, and mentally draft this blog post.

Business requires us to push through sometimes, too.  I’m facing hours of website work this weekend, which is my absolute least favorite thing to do for my business.  It has to get done, though.  Other business owners may love that type of stuff but hate dealing with the public (my favorite).  Regardless of what your least favorite task is or how much you may not be feeling one of your more enjoyable ones, as business owners, we have to push through and get things done.

The past month has stymied my drive and creativity, and in the evolution of my business, especially over against changing technologies, I have to push through yet again with a new angle and a new way of connecting with my customers.  I love my customers, talking to them and hearing their stories, but that is one thing I really miss about not doing as many events – I just don’t get to connect with them like I used to.  Sure, blog posts and emails are great, but it all too often feels like a one-sided conversation.

To that end, I am going to be launching a brand new Facebook group just for Coastal Carolina Soap Company’s customers, whether you have bought from us or you just love our brand story and want to stay connected.  The link will be going out very soon, so be on the lookout for that.  Maybe my blog posts come right to your inbox, or perhaps you see them on Facebook, Twitter, or some other social media outlet.  You can find out about this incredible new group by subscribing to this blog or also by signing up to receive our emails (one of which handily contains links to each blog post for the month).

We hope you will join us, and we look forward to connecting with you in new and exciting ways beginning next week!