Monday, June 30, 2008

Why Entrepreneurs Need Vacations Without Email or Voicemail

I just returned from a one-week vacation at the beach with my husband and family. A whole week of lazing on the beach, swimming, body surfing, eating in hole-in-the-wall restaurants, and generally having a good time. How many times did I check voicemail and email? I checked email once just to make sure there were no major issues developing without my knowledge.

Many entrepreneurs don’t take enough vacations. They proudly tell me that they’re just too busy to take time off. This always amazes me, I mean, isn’t freedom one of the reasons you started your own business? Those that do take vacations take their smart phones and laptops along with them to let interruptions ruin their serenity.

What has happened to Work Life Balance? Or is it just a myth? Don’t we want to enjoy our lives and live the good life?

Many business owners miss out on living the good life. They reach a point where immersing themselves in the business without taking time off leads to burn out, lack of creativity, and high stress.

We all need to regenerate and recharge our batteries – a vacation without work can do this for us.

Don’t make the excuse that nobody can do your job except you – this just means you don’t want to delegate and give up control.

Don’t make the excuse that you can’t afford to go on vacation because you’d have to pay someone to do your job while you’re gone - this just means you aren’t charging enough for your product or service.

Don’t make the excuse that responding to email and voicemail on vacation is just the way entrepreneurs work – this means you are too scared to create the boundaries you need to enjoy your life.

If you’re ready to take a vacation without interruptions, I’ve devised a list of suggestions to help you live the good life.

Rules of the Road – Take your vacations the restful way

1. Plan your vacation in advance and inform key people as the time draws near.

2. Set realistic expectations with your clients and vendors. Let them know that you are planning a vacation without interruptions so that they don’t expect you to answer their calls or emails while you are gone.

3. Send an “Out of Office” Email blind copy to all your current clients and vendors advising them that you will have limited access to voicemail and email and that you will respond to their questions when you return. Give them a contact in your company who can handle emergency situations, or delegate to a Virtual Assistant.

4. Create an Autoresponder that will automatically notify those who email you that you are out of the office.

5. Create a Voicemail message that advises callers that you are out of the office. Let them know that their message is important, but if it can wait you will talk to them when you return.

6. Leave your blackberry and laptop at home.

7. Create a detailed week by week “how to guide” for employees or virtual assistants on how to handle possible issues should they come up. You can reuse this guide each time you vacation.

Grow Your Business and Prosper!
Suzanne Muusers
Business Coach for Entrepreneurs & Financial Advisors
Scottsdale, Arizona

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

True Purpose and Career Change

Do you know what you were meant to do with your life? Are you at a crossroad with some difficult decisions to make? Are you searching for more meaning?

We’ve all been there.

In 2003 I wanted desperately to have my own business again after four years working with large sums of money in the financial services industry. My husband was starting a business and was confused as to how to go about it. As I helped him navigate the start up phase of his new Design/Build business, something amazing happened. I realized that I knew quite a bit about business. How to start one. How to market. How to plan. How to be successful. After all, I’d had several of my own businesses since 1985.

About the same time I heard about a fascinating new profession called “Coaching”.

I was surfing the internet on Martin Luther King Day 2004 and the website of a well known coach came up in the search results. He asked “Could you be a coach? Could you make coaching your profession?” and I screemed “YES. YES. YES. THIS IS WHAT I WAS MEANT TO DO. THIS IS MY LIFE’S PURPOSE.”

So I busily set about researching coach training schools, took my training, and the rest is history.

If you are searching for what’s next in your life, I’d like to suggest a workshop that’s being given by three coaches in my network. Maria Busch, Debra Exner, and Ginny Kravitz are holding a free, in person workshop entitled “Now What?” on June 25th, 2008 at the offices of in Phoenix, Arizona. You can read more about the workshop here: Now What? -First Steps to move from thinking about a career change to doing something about it

Suzanne Muusers
Business Coach for Entrepreneurs & Financial Advisors
Scottsdale, Arizona

Monday, June 9, 2008

Café Carumba – An Example of How to Create a Purple Cow Brand

My husband and I had a great experience at a local Scottsdale restaurant recently that is the perfect example of a business with a great brand. We had breakfast at Café Carumba in old town. Here’s a restaurant that is not afraid to be different. From the ambiance to the local happenings, everything was unique.

I think so often we are afraid to pump up our corporate identity a notch because we are afraid to be criticized. In order for everyone to like us, we have to have a bland, boring, see-it-everyday identity. There’s also the cost factor. Hiring a professional is not cheap. I remember in 1989 when I hired my first graphics person. I paid $1000 for a professional company identity that was definitely not the norm. It was a tough cost to cough up, but that identity served me well for over ten years and helped me land a very prestigious client who would never have hired me with a plain jane boring business card.

What, you ask, makes Café Carumba so different? Here’s a rundown of what impressed me:

Business card: an old sephia colored photo of a bikini-wearing-woman playing a guitar. They obviously used the services of a professional designer with some out-of-the-box thinking. Is this a safe photo image? No way.

Tagline: Spirited Southwest Grill – this has two meanings, spirited as in beverages, and spirited as in personality. I like it.

Most expensive margarita: $9,999.00. How’s this for different?

Events: Cantina Tuesdays, Wine down Wednesdays, daily happy hour, The Margarita Bar Tuesday through Saturday, and several others I can’t remember.

Advertising: tents on the table advertising nightly events with inventive names and enticing food and drink options.

Environment: concrete bar area that is out of the ordinary and artistic; bright colors on the walls; nicely decorated outdoor patio.

When the urge strikes me to grab a bite to eat, I will go to Café Carumba because they have a well designed brand that wraps up their promotions into a unique, purple cow package. There are plenty of restaurants. There are plenty of investment advisors. And there are hoards of business coaches.

The moral of the story is: if you want to stand out from the crowd, create a brand that's not boring. Safe is boring. A good brand is never safe.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Women Seeking Success - Group Coaching

What do women entrepreneurs need to be successful? According to a 2006 study by OPEN from American Express, 43% of women business owners (vs. 32% of men) say the one thing they need to be more successful is money.

You can interpret that several ways. They need more capital to run their business. They need more income to cover overhead. Or they just plain need more sales.

I am a female entrepreneur. I’ve been involved in managing or owning a business since the early eighties (no kidding) and I can see clearly the issues and challenges women face. With my father as my role model, I absorbed the skills necessary to run a successful business. I have to say I learned to take risks. If I had played it safe I wouldn’t be here today. I’d be working a corporate job with hoards of other people. But I wouldn’t be happy and I wouldn’t be earning the kind of income I’ve always dreamed of earning. Having your own business affords women the lifestyle they crave. Work and life balanced together. In some ways that means having it all.

Is it possible to have it all? Can women entrepreneurs have a successful business without sacrificing their personal lives? YES! It can be done, but it is a learning process. It involves creating priorities and working smarter, not harder. It means not doing it on your own, but using your network and your noggin.

So what can women do to be more successful?

TAKE MORE RISKS!! Life is risky – You could be run over by a bus tomorrow. Working a 9-5 job is risky – You could be fired at any time. If you’ve always dreamed of having your own business, just do it! Invest the funds necessary to do it right. Don’t nickel and dime yourself to failure. I’ve seen it too often.

GET A MENTOR – I am lucky to have good old Dad as my mentor. Women need to develop relationships with other women AND with successful male business owners. Let’s face it. Men have been managing businesses far longer than women have – there is something to be learned from their history.

CREATE A SUCCESS PLAN – Write it down and make it real. What is it you really want to accomplish? What strategies will you utilize to get out of the box?

Because we have tunnel vision when it comes to our own businesses, it’s important to have the support of an outside person or group. I have created a group for women business owners where they can get support and brainstorming for their business: Women Seeking Success. There have been FIVE groups thus far. The 6th In Person Group will begin on July 8th 2008 and there are only 3 spots remaining.

This group is all about learning to MAKE MORE MONEY through Effortless Marketing: drawing business to you.

If you know a woman business owner who would like the support of other women entrepreneurs and who would love to learn enough in a six month group that can build and sustain their company for two to three years, please have them check out my group. You can sign up here: In Person Wait List - Women Seeking Success

Grow Your Business and Prosper!
Suzanne Muusers
Business Coach for Entrepreneurs & Financial Advisors
Scottsdale, Arizona