Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Give thanks by getting involved in a charitable pursuit.

As Thanksgiving approaches, we are once again reminded of the many reasons to be thankful. Even in trying economic times such as these, it’s almost always the case that we can look around and see others who are indeed less fortunate. As always, there are a myriad of ways to give back to your community, but the best way to channel your time, energy and resources is to follow your heart. In other words, identify problems in your community or the world that are important to you. So, my challenge to you is to pick three areas where your gifts could shine. Then, seek out organizations in your community that serve at least one of your chosen areas. Go to the Web site, contact the organization and start giving your time and resources in a way that demonstrates how truly thankful you are.

Barbara Fergus, owner and partner of the automotive dealership Midwestern Auto Group (MAG), has channeled much of her energy to philanthropy. She has a special interest in the arts and culture; consequently, that’s where she has placed most of her philanthropic focus. But she doesn’t shy away from other needs when she sees them. In fact, women’s leadership is also near and dear to her heart, and she is a proponent of policy change that will bring long-lasting results in that area. No doubt Barbara is thankful for her company’s success. More important, she has channeled that success into ways she can help others in her community. That’s what giving thanks by getting involved in a charitable pursuit is all about.

During the next few days, as you sit down with family and friends for a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner, think about how you might turn things around and help others in the community.

To learn more about finding and following your charitable passion, read Life Lesson 21 in Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Hard Work Does Pay Off

I have some great news to share. I was recently awarded the 2008 Stevie Award for Women in Business in the category for Best Entrepreneur.

Thanks to my amazing team at Real Living and all of our phenomenal agents and franchisees who continue to grow our brand throughout the country. Without your dedication and passion, this would not have been possible.

Remember that you can make your dreams a reality. With vision, steadfast determination and a great support system, you can achieve anything!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Finding Your Target Audience

Finding and targeting a well defined audience will help your business be successful. And focusing on women is a great idea.

You may be surprised to learn that women make up 51 percent of the U.S. population, but make 85 percent of all purchasing decisions. So even if your business doesn’t cater specifically to women, more than likely they’re still the ones making the decisions.

But remember, women are savvy consumers. That means you always want to be one step ahead. In order to reach them, you’ll need to make your business incredibly accessible. Create both an online and offline presence. By 2010, women will outnumber men online by more than 8 million. Further define your customers by narrowing it down even more. Where do your consumers live, work, shop, eat? How old are they? You need to be specific in your targeting. After all, more than half the population isn’t exactly a niche market.

To find out more about female consumers, check out Life Lessons sixteen and seventeen of Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Identify what you love to do.

Turn your avocation into a vocation, and you’ll never “work” another day.

While this is advice you’ve no doubt heard before, the real test is identifying what it is you love to do. Sometimes it can be too obvious, making it even harder to recognize. I suggest spending some time alone—time to soul search without the distractions of daily life. Then, think about how you like to spend your time when nothing else interferes. Write down some ideas. Brainstorm with people who are close to you and know you well. And be creative. Transforming what you love to do into an idea for a business isn’t always easy.

Linda Kick, founder of Our CupCakery in Dublin, Ohio, is a former teacher and manager who left education to pursue her passion for baking. According to Linda, it all started with the Easy-Bake Oven she received as a child. That’s what introduced her to baking, and through the years she often referred to herself as a closet baker. Now she spends long days baking everything from wedding cakes to gourmet cupcakes, but she’s having a blast. Linda always knew she liked to bake. Until recently, she just didn’t realize how she could turn her love of baking into a unique and viable business.

Learn more about Linda Kick and her thriving cupcake business at in the featured entrepreneurs section of RYI. Her contagious enthusiasm is bound to inspire you. Share your story!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Family Business: How to succeed!

Going into business with your family can be daunting, but not if you do it right! First, because this is your real brand, make it clear that you are the ultimate decision-maker in the group. Then, make sure each family member is qualified for the job, and define clear roles and responsibilities. If they’re not yet qualified, they can get some valuable work experience elsewhere before they join your team. Both my husband and I worked at other companies before starting work at Real Living. This is so important because family members are always being judged based on their relationship with the business owner—you! They’ll need that built-in credibility before they become a member of your team.

Once you’ve determined that they’re qualified, don’t allow them any special favors that would cause bad feelings among other team members. At the same time, don’t fall into the trap of holding them to a higher standard. That’s not fair either. But by far one of the hardest things you’ll have to master is to keep your personal lives out of the business. Equally hard is the challenge of keeping the business out of your personal lives. But you can do it, so, have fun!

To learn more about working with family members, listen to this podcast with Harley and I.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The power of female friendship can change the world.

What are you doing to connect with other women? Do you network with other women business owners or with women in the same or similar line of work? Have you considered joining a woman’s organization that would add meaning to your life—and to the lives of others? Here’s the message: Don’t isolate yourself. Reach out in a real and meaningful way, and not only will you be blessed, but you will touch the hearts of others. Begin by doing your homework. This will help you find the organizations and relationships that best suit your needs.

Debba Haupert, founder of Girlfriendology.com, knows firsthand that the power of female friendship can change the world. She lives it daily through her business, an online community for women based on female friendship. The site, which is designed to inspire women through semi-weekly podcast interviews with amazing women, also features shopping, reviews, blogs and more. Debba points out that men and children look to women for tending, as do other women. That said, if we take care of women, we take care of everyone. And that in turn makes the world a better place.

Check out Debba’s full profile on the RYI site, and start connecting and sharing with other women today!

Friday, November 7, 2008

It's Never to Late for a Fresh Start

Maybe your business needs to be re-energized, or you need to refocus your vision for the company of your dreams. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources that can guide you through the process. But first, you have to know what you want and where you’re going. Create a vision statement!

A vision statement, or road map for your brand, is basically a game plan. In one or two sentences, you can define your goals in a way that everybody understands and embraces. Determine a few words that embody what your business is about. I call them essence words, and they can help you craft a clear, well-defined vision statement. After that’s accomplished, get started on a business plan!

Check out Life Lesson Nine in Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs for a strategy map and RealYouIncorporated.com for vision boards.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Believe in yourself, as there is always another option.

Perhaps you’re experiencing a setback in your career, or maybe you’re faced with a new challenge, either personally or professionally. It could be that you’re bored with your current situation and you need something new and inspiring to set things in motion once again. Don’t panic. There are options. You just need to uncover them. Begin by reflecting on a similar situation in your life. Then use the memory of that experience to help you plan for the future. At the same time, identify your most resilient attributes. Are you flexible, determined and/or confident? Once you’ve identified some key attributes, combine them with what you’ve learned from past experiences, and move forward—all the while looking for new options.

Karen Hough, founder of ImprovEdge LLC, knows what it means to be flexible. She has taken her background in improvisational acting and applied it to the business world where she uses it to provide training and consulting to businesses. By doing so, she looks for ways to help people communicate, behave and work differently. Why? Because people can get stuck, and when that happens, they need to look for another option. Quite simply, they need to get unstuck. According to Hough, it’s not that hard to do—as long as you believe in yourself and remain open to other options.

What about you? Are you temporarily stuck? Do you lack motivation, or have you hit a roadblock in your career? Now is the time to look for options. Begin with Real Fact #1 in Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs—It All Starts With You. Then learn more about Karen Hough in RYI’s featured entrepreneur section.

Become a Featured Entrepreneur
Do you have advice based on your journey to entrepreneurship? Become a RYI featured entrepreneur by e-mailing me, or tell us your story in the Share Forum!