Posts Tagged ‘Happiness’

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How Crayons Create Financial Peace

April 22, 2011

Crayons Create Financial PeaceMy biggest revelation about how to help others with their financial issues came when I began working on my own financial issues. In Telling the Truth, I point out the rather obvious fact why so many Americans with money problems can’t seem to get beyond them: we don’t talk about money so we have no opportunity to tell the truth about it.

We are a financially illiterate society. There are few places that you can go to work on your money, talk about your money, make your money better. I lay awake at night sometimes dreaming up solutions to this societal problem. And bit by bit, I create answers. That’s how we came to start Financial Boot Camps, and that’s how I tripped upon creating this exercise for a Boot Camp: draw your financial life with crayons.

The accountant in me questioned the exercise that the right side of my brain had created. “Um, that’s silly.” But the right side of my brain, the creative side that has been fed and nurtured by studying a lot of research into the psychological and emotional aspects of our relationship with our money said: “Forge on!”

The exercise was simple. The boot campers were to draw their financial life in a crayon pie chart, Read the rest of this entry ?

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My Dad: Lessons In How NOT to Own A Small Business

March 3, 2011

My Dad: Small Business Owner Mickey PowellToday is the anniversary of my dad’s passing. I learned a lot from him, many lessons to share with all of you about small business ownership. In summary: do not do it the way my Dad did!

First, to alleviate any perception that I am speaking ill of him, I want to share what a fine man he was. My love of community service comes from him. His dedication to making this world a better place is clear in this tribute:

http://www.fedflyfishers.org/Default.aspx?tabid=4520

Even his business ownership was, in a way, community service. He was ‘saving the family business.’ http://www.davidlnelson.md/FFF_FlyTyingGroup/Buszeks/BuszekHistory.htm

Now, on to telling the truth. As a child I watched my father work, work, work, and then work some more. He came home late for dinner, went back to work at night, and worked most weekends. Even our few vacations were often spent at work-related fly fishing conclaves or networking conferences. Both of my parents worked, hard, yet we never seemed to have any money. We weren’t destitute; dinner was always on the table. But money was always an uncomfortable issue. Always having a keen sense of numbers and business, even at a young age it was apparent to me that something wasn’t right. I often wondered, weren’t business owners supposed to be rich?

As a teenager, I became the bookkeeper for my dad’s business, and my childhood observations were clarified. The business was barely profitable. My dad either trusted me enough to let me see his truth, or he thought I was so inexperienced I wouldn’t get it. It wasn’t my place to ask.

But the questions I kept to myself then are the exact kinds of questions I ask clients now. And they are questions I want you to ask yourself if you own a business, no matter how large or small. Yes, even a side Tupperware business, or a little consulting gig, or do a bit of wedding photography. These are all businesses, and they do impact your family!

Here are 12 questions to ask yourself.

  • Do you spend less time with your children, spouse, or friends as a result of your business?
  • Have you ever paid an employee late?
  • Are there months that your business doesn’t pay you?
  • Do you ever put off buying basic things your family needs because your business needs the money more?
  • Have you ever lied (or avoided the truth) about your business’ finances to your spouse?
  • When was the last time you took a real vacation?
  • Do you avoid asking for professional advice about your business’ health?
  • Do you truly know how profitable your business is?
  • Is your business contributing to a retirement fund?
  • Do you have partnership agreements that aren’t in writing?
  • How much have you borrowed against your family’s home, retirement, savings, children’s college fund or inheritance?
  • Does your spouse’s income support your business?

If you don’t like your answer to more than a couple of these questions, it’s time to find a trusted advisor, a business coach, an external CFO, or a mastermind group and tell the truth. Print this blog out and put it in the front of a binder titled “Making My Business Better.” Make an action plan. Make it better. In six months, ask yourself the questions again. Then repeat.

What would my dad’s answers to these questions have been? 100% not good. In the 32 years I watched him run his business, I only saw his business run him. I’ve taken these lessons and have been committed to reverse engineer his mistakes into a balanced plan for running my business. I haven’t always been successful, but one of my life’s quests is to be just like my dad when it comes to community service, and exactly opposite my dad when it comes to small business ownership.

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Creative Brain vs. Business Brain

January 21, 2011

I love working with creatives: artists, actors, healing professionals, writers, photographers, all of them. Our society has created a “right brain vs. left brain” mentality. If you’re creative, you aren’t a strong business person. If you’re a strong business person, you aren’t creative. But we know black and white statements aren’t true. Creatives can make great business people, especially when they provide themselves with structure. Creatives have the ideas, the willingness and the passion to throw themselves full force into their work. And that is what it takes to be successful in business.

One of my inspiring clients decided, as a strategic business decision, that 2010 was going to be her year of “living as an artist.” She had long worked hard on her business; she had tethered herself to do the work, bring in the clients and earn a living. She had been successful enough, but by the time she got to me she wasn’t enjoying it much. Something needed to change.

“Creatives have the ideas, the willingness and the passion to throw themselves full force into their work. And that is what it takes to be successful in business.”

So 2010 was her year of living as an artist. Her mission was to fully embrace her creativity and joy of being an artist. Her goals, strategies and actions all supported that mission. There was still some structure: billable work, marketing, financial coaching and professional development. But the focus was on enjoying her creative talents, not on meeting her monthly revenue goals.

And what were the results? November and December were two of the most profitable months she’s ever had. And, she’s happy. It was a year of transformation and expansion for her. She’s well positioned to focus on revenue growth in 2011. Most important of all, she was well cared for, and she is, after all, the most valuable asset in her business.

Why would I, an accountant, support that kind of strategy? Because I’ve seen its effectiveness and profitability, over and over and over. If it’s done with intention and structure, it can be a very effective business decision for both creatives and for any other kind of business owner.

What’s your mission for 2011? Does it include creativity? Art? Health? If not, weave it in, and then write down what kind of return on investment you expect from giving yourself that gift.

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Holiday Financial Clarity

November 24, 2010

Manage Holiday Spending

Want financial clarity for the holidays?

Entertaining, stocking stuffers, extra travel expenses, cookies for the neighbors, decorations, office holiday party gifts, holiday grocery shopping and of course, presents… these are just a smattering of expenses that are about to edge their way into your spending plan over the next several weeks.

Whether you’ve been saving all year, plan to squeeze it into your regular monthly spending, plan to not partake in any of it, or have a credit card you use for the holidays, now is a good time to make a plan. Even if you don’t stick to your plan completely, just spending the time to fill out this handy holiday plan will provide you a road map for the trip you are about to take.

What are your priorities? What are your limits? What are your expectations?  How do you feel about the money you’ve spent during past holidays?  What could you do differently? And a favorite question from our Financial Boot Camps, what would your hero do?

 Print the “Manage Your Holiday Spending” guide from the AFSA Education Foundation. Take a walk, think it over, journal the above questions if you’d like, then get a pencil and a calculator and make your plan!

And… enjoy the season.

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Changing the World

June 19, 2010

Cape: yes | Tiara: looking

“I’m fairly certain that, given a Cape and a nice tiara, I could save the world.” ~www.curlygirldesign.com

I have a cape, and I’m trying to find a tiara. Some of you know that I have this crazy wonderful inspiration, and with this inspiration, and a tiara, I could change the world. Not save it, but change it.

I heard some great advice last night, as I do on the 3rd Friday of every month. “Read about people who have changed the world.” So I’m wondering, who would you read about? Who is one of your heroes or heroines?

And if you want to experience some of my crazy wonderful inspiration, save the date: July 10th, 6-9pm.

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Community Service, Leadership and Small Business

June 14, 2010

Tina Reynolds, Phyllis Lyon and Armistead Maupin

My best friend Tina Reynolds, owner of Uptown Studios, was honored today by the California Legislative LGBT Caucus for her extraordinary inability to stand by and watch even one person be treated as less than equal. I’ve know Tina for 15 years. We met when she was doing volunteer work for CARES, and through the years I can not begin to recall how many organizations, actions and activities she has led or been a part of. And not just LGBT issues; she’s an equal opportunity activist. I’m proud to be her friend, and I’m proud that she’s a role model for my daughter.

What does this have to do with small business? For those of us that own small business, we all know that we have less time, not more, to spend on our passions. How in the world does Tina have time to do all that she does? Well, there are 50 different ways to market your business in the ActionCOACH model. By doing what she loves, she has become a successful business owner. She could have spent all of her time going to endless networking events, but instead she has used the less direct path of following her passions and making a difference. You don’t get clients as quickly, but over time you get them just the same because we all want to do business with good people.

I’ve learned a lot from Tina about what it takes to be a business owner. She taught me that if you are going to own a business, you must connect with others. We  joke when one of us gets a new client, “did they come from the Yellow Pages?” Well the Yellow Pages hardly even exists now. She has inspired me, a bit of an introvert, to become a connector, and to even enjoy it.

A Cherished Friendship

I’ve also learned from Tina about how to be a better human being. We go walking in the early mornings around our fabulous midtown neighborhood. She says hi to everyone, and I mean everyone. Not just the people that are going to say hi back, and not just the people who look like they might. No matter who it is we pass, there is a cheery hello. It’s reminded me that that simple act of kindness can lift someone else’s spirit, even if just for 5 minutes.

Almost all of us that own a business began because we wanted to lift someone else’s spirit. And that’s what makes Tina Reynolds not simply a tireless activist for equal rights for all, but an amazing business owner as well.

p.s. She was honored amongst some amazing people. Today, I got to shake Phyllis Lyon’s hand and thank her for all she has done for us, for me. I also got to tell Armistead Maupin how incredibly funny his books are. If you don’t know who those two are, look them up on Wikipedia!

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Bobbleheads and Small Business Seriousness

June 12, 2010

I’ve had a particularly successful week on a number of fronts. Every day had a triumph, some large, some small. That’s a week well worked.

I was out celebrating with my friend Anne last night, and she gave me a gift in honor of my week: a Guy Noir, Private Eye bobblehead.

"A dark night in a city that knows how to keep its secrets. But high above the empty streets, on the 12th Floor of the ACME Building, one man is still trying to find the answers to life's persistent questions...Guy Noir, Private Eye."

I love Prairie Home Companion, but that wasn’t the purpose of the gift. The purpose was to remind me to not take myself too seriously, to not dive into workaholism just because I’ve got all these fun new projects and clients that are going to need my focus in the next couple of months. She said every time I see the head bobble, I’m supposed to ask myself, “have I done anything fun today?”

It’s the myth of business ownership. We get in to it thinking “oooh, flexibility!” My daughter Dakota was 4 when I started my business; it was a great idea. But after a couple of years I realized I was consumed. Dakota had less of me, not more. I’m very grateful I had that realization, and then did something about it.

I rarely work on the weekends anymore. But, this weekend, I have some special stuff to accomplish. One woman trying to find the answers to life’s persistent questions. And Guy is sitting here bobbing his head, reminding me that if I work smarter, I get to go have some fun tonight. And that makes me a better, and more successful, business owner.

Have you done anything fun today?