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Thursday Thoughts: Forging and Letting Go of Long Relationships

May 7, 2020

Thursday Thoughts, Inspiration, Wisdom for Women Entrepreneurs, Female Business Owners, Small Businesses

Staring into the blazing amber coals of a fire in our “quarantine corner of the world,” where a forged piece of metal sizzled and wept in the heat, my husband of three decades etched a heart with our initials in the middle of a stone in the fire pit wall. A mango colored sky stretched out above us and songbirds, trying to mate in the cool spring air, fluttered around peering down on us with envy.

Forging life-lasting relationships of any kind takes both hard work and yet no work because it’s natural. What every human on earth is finding out during the Coronavirus Pandemic, with distances placed on loving relationships, is the strength, depth, and width of every connection they have as they calculate the risks and rewards of both quarantining and reopening themselves back up to warm embraces, face-to-face smiles, and delicate acts of kindness.

An optimistic-minded girl from the start of life, I’ve always chosen to love the depth of friendships. My heart has always been big enough to include more people in it, than not. This same essence and expression have made me the receiver of many long-lasting business relationships as well. Always one to include every type of woman business owner at my business table, no matter her age, race, financial status, sexual orientation, or religious beliefs, has opened both my heart and doors to an abundance of wonderful women. When one leaves my business orbit for some reason, my heart shrinks just a bit as I bid them adieu.

Yesterday I learned a valuable lesson about letting people go as they leave my life and business for different pursuits. As much as I wish to hold onto everyone who is dear to me, it’s not about what I want because it takes two people for relationships to work and continue on. Both parties must want the bond to strengthen and evolve. Sometimes without understanding why the same priorities and attitudes that connected individuals vanish like billowing smoke from a once roaring fire rising into the air for departure. It’s okay to let it go.

I hope today if you are faced with a changing, challenging relationship in your work or personal life, you stop to take a moment to thank the relationship, etch a moment in your heart to remember and let it go. We are stronger as humans and entrepreneurs when we can just move on from relationships that don’t serve us anymore and into existing ones that still do.

“Phases” is the Word of the Week For Entrepreneurs

May 6, 2020

Wednesday Wisdom, Inspiration and Business Strategies for Women Entrepreneurs, Female Business Owners, Small Businesses

Phases are an essential part of life. How else could the moon change from fullness to crescent shape in a month or a baby grow from being held in one’s arms to tittering down a hallway a year later? How could an entrepreneurial seed start as an idea only to expand into a million-dollar enterprise ten years later? Or in today’s pandemic, how could one’s hair, without dye and cuts, go from fashionable to out-of-control? It’s all about phases.

A phase is defined as a clearly distinguishable period in a process, in the development of something, or in a sequence of events. We see the word used more every day as our local and state governments plan an economic reopening of businesses and community activities. Every article in this week’s Syracuse Post Standard outlines different phases of reopening local regions in all areas of life and business cautiously planning on avoiding new cases of the Coronavirus.

One of the articles highlighted the fact small businesses are facing difficulties bringing back hourly employees since unemployment wages are higher than their past hourly rates. An extra $600 a week has been flowing into the bank accounts of employees furloughed by the Coronavirus making it essential for them to survive but near impossible for small business owners to match due to a lack of corporate revenue. There is nothing in life that is all positive or negative, not even the fairness of small businesses trying to get back on their feet.

Becoming a woman entrepreneur meant each of us had to create plans, economic, marketing, and financial ones to phase in our brilliant entrepreneurial idea into a living, breathing business which grew phase, by phase, to where it was in mid-March 2020. I believe the only way for female entrepreneurs to grow again is to do the same type of phase planning we did when we started our companies. As much as we wish we didn’t have to, we must review our business plans and adapt where we see necessary in order to successfully phase ourselves back into viable businesses. We can’t wish this crisis didn’t happen, we must look honestly at where we are, make projections based on our gut feelings and perhaps customer surveys and research, and create our own plans in alignment with government regulations to remain solvent with growth in sight.

Today’s Wednesday Wisdom is meant to motivate you to create new phases of reopening your business entity as the economy starts again. Part of that exercise must be worst-case scenario planning in case we are hit again with closures this summer or fall. What can you do right now, next month and next quarter to stabilize your finances, communicate with customers, and innovate new services or products to fit the demands of a new way of doing business? You owe it to yourself, employees, and customers to have a plan and communicate it. It is necessary to settle your client’s nerves and yours.

Hopefully, in a year from now, you’ll look back at photos of your overgrown hairdo, relaxed work schedule, and creative plans to stay afloat knowing it was all a phase and loving the fact things are regular again.

Ordinary Moments of Resilience During the Pandemic

April 30, 2020

Inspiration and Thursday Thoughts during the Coronavirus Pandemic and National Pause

As the wind almost stopped me in my tracks walking up my old hilly country road, I passed two tall silos, once filled with corn, standing a perfect 6′ apart from each other as if they knew this was the safest distance to reside. Fluttering around the skeleton framework of an old barn two birds surfed the wind stopping mid-flight only to roll backward in delight with flapping wings. Just like California surfers riding the salty ocean waves, these joyful birds twirled, whirled, and gleefully went back for more action. If they could love the moment of full-throttle wind at the top of the hill, so would I.

Without wings or hair to flap in the wind, the strangest sensation of my eyelash-free eyelids flapping due the wind’s speed awoke me to this new experience but it didn’t stop my determination to reach the hill’s crest to view the valley of splendid rich green foilage on top of muddy farming hills not yet planted with corn. Passing along the edges of the rough road, I looked down to behold the beauty of tiny new purple flowers blooming here and there and everywhere as if to present me with a gift for my tenacity.

As I took in the beautiful vista that spilled out at the apex of the climb, the billowing clouds streaked by as if late for a party. Where were they going in such a rush I wondered, don’t they know the world has slowed down to take care of itself for awhile? Taking in one last gust of air in my lungs and shifting my weight to have the wind at my back, I was pushed back down the hill, past my new friends the birds and the flowers until I passed the familiar red barn lined with a black fence containing horses munching on their grassy lunch.

Our new way of living with the Coronavirus Pandemic might feel like the ferocious air keeping us from moving forward freely, but the moments of fluttering, playful birds, hungry horses, and spots of vibrant flowering plants along with our own patience and persistence will see us through especially if we gently allow ourselves to enjoy small, ordinary moments of resilience.

Stay positive my friends.

Wednesday Wisdom – Mad Money Decisions

April 29, 2020

Wednesday Wisdom, Inspiration, Business Advice for Women Entrepreneurs, Female Business Owners, Small Businesses

Just prior to New York State’s “Coronavirus Pause,” I was avoiding crowds due to a malfunctioning immune system, so I was hesitant to visit my local bank branch to find out why my debit card was turned down numerous times. Anxiety led me to believe someone stole my card number and drained my bank account so I checked my entire online bank statements and account first to see that wasn’t the case. I didn’t notice any irregular notifications so I assumed the stripe on the back of the card had been demagnetized.

As I approached the counter, lined with familiar bank tellers I said to one, “Can you order me a new debit card please because this one isn’t working?” I watched her expression change once she opened my account. “Your card is marked hot!” she said. The full hour following that statement required me to leave the branch, drive back to my house to call the debit card headquarters only to be told to return to the bank since they were the only ones who could lift the “hot hold” on the account. Upon re-entering the bank and waiting longer for the same bank teller as the first time, I said “Forget my debit card for now, I’ll just withdrawal money from my business checking account,” to which she said, “No you can’t, your account is on lockdown. You have to wait in line to see the bank manager.”

My bald head, turning red with anger, was appearing out of my pink baseball hat when I told her I couldn’t wait longer due to my health. “Oh, it won’t take long,” she said as I noticed the only bank manager on premise having a conversation with a client about a personal matter. In the imaginary cartoon bubble over my head, anyone could have seen several swear words. 20 minutes later the bank manager took my case. After another 20 minutes she figured out what was wrong. Simply put the bank needed to prove the account was mine and froze it totally until verification. Rest assured I never received notices. Eventually the bank lifted the no-access ban.

Freezing an entrepreneur’s access to her money is a serious offense in my mind. If verification is of vital importance, a customer service representative should have picked up the phone or simply flagged my bank account so when I walked into my bank branch to do normal business, a teller could notify me. Technology is not the best solution in all business matters especially when it involves stopping an entrepreneur’s access to capital.

Today’s blog post is to motivate you to double check your online bank accounts, statements or financial institution’s letters to make sure everything is square in your accounts. When it comes to YOUR money, make sure you understand how to access it at all times and have direct, and even pointed, conversations with bank representatives about what you expect. Don’t back down when it comes to accessing your hard-earned money.

Before I left the bank, the manager told me she was filing a complaint on my behalf even though I didn’t ask her to. I’m sure she wanted to satisfy me before leaving. If only they thought of that in the beginning of the entire process, the ordeal would have been avoided. Lesson learned…I hope.

A Woman’s Blessed Life – Motherhood Combined with Entrepreneurship

April 27, 2020

Monday Motivation, Working Mothers, Women Entrepreneurs, Female Business Owners

Waking at the crack of dawn on April 27th at 5:42 a.m. to be exact has been a twenty-five-year ritual. The early spring sky is still masked in darkness awaiting the crack of light from the morning’s sunrise. Birds chirp quietly as they too awaken to the dainty smell of newly grown, lime-green grass and tiny leaf buds extended on tree branches. Golden forsythia illuminates the morning shade if one looks hard enough. Right on time, reminiscent labor pains resurface alongside the pure joy of giving life to my second son.

Reading through a journal created for him to read someday, about his own budding personality full of loving tenderness and spit-fire persistence, I see a few journal entries talking about the profession I started as a woman entrepreneur running an event planning business when he was three and a half months old. My desire, like so many women, to balance motherhood with a career, made me a pioneering home-based female business owner on August 8, 1995, twenty-five years ago now. As my son grew in inches, weight, and skills from baby to toddler, so did I crawling, then walking straight and sturdy as the owner of my own company. We often forget about our early beginnings in all areas of our lives once we’ve mastered something.

As I came across this one journal entry, I was reminded of women today who struggle with balancing work and motherhood,

“Adam, I haven’t been a very good mother lately. I know all you want is my attention, someone to play with, and someone to be with. I’m afraid I’m so caught up in trying to do everything that I’m failing giving you what you need most. I decided to leave a corporate job and start my own business out of the house so I could be with you and your brother plus make money and do something I’ve always wanted to do. It worked out fine when you were small and when my business wasn’t so busy, but now you are older and my company busier and problems balancing both are beginning. Please know I love you and I’m really trying to do all of this so I can be with you and your brother. I love you, Mom”

Twenty-five years ago I didn’t have the luxury of technology the way business owners have it today. I bundled up my baby and toddler took them to the local library, rented out a computer for two hours to write business letters to clients, before checking out books for my sons and returning home for their naps and quiet time to fit in more entrepreneurial work. Every April 27th reminds me, not only of the gift of my son in my life, but of the commitment I made to myself to create an independent career using my talents, expertise, and education to offer my services to help people needing event planning and marketing support.

“Life hinges on small decisions,” is a poignant quote that rings in my ear when I think back on the decisions I made every single day to be a successful business owner and mother. Staring at my handsome 25-year-old son today on Facetime, from his quarantined workplace in his Manhattan apartment that looks out on the beautiful East River, he smiles joyfully the same way he has done every day of his life and as documented in his journal. I realize at the moment, the big and small decisions I made to be a working female entrepreneur and mother worked out perfectly fine. Beginnings if followed by determination, passion, and unwavering love, produce the things we are most proud of in our lives.

Tracy and Adam Higginbotham in Devon, England

As my son and I end our morning call so he can return to work as a civil engineer and I to my quarter-century entrepreneurial life, the sun crests on the horizon reminding me the best choice I ever made in life was to be a working mother with her own home-based business with two wonderful, loving, successful working men I call sons.

Go Beyond!

April 24, 2020

Inspiration, wisdom for Women Entrepreneurs, Female Business Owners, and Women Who Like Sports

The past three days had been heavy ones, filled with a bit of frustration after visiting one of my doctors and unhappy I couldn’t visit my son in New York City for his 25th birthday, I woke up determined to give myself a really good social distancing day that filled my spirit with happiness. If I couldn’t hug and sing to my beautiful son, like I’ve done the past 24 years, I was going to give myself the treat of biking early in the morning along the Erie Canal even if it was only 37 degrees.

Growing up the child of a ski instructor who brought my sister and me to ski, every single weekend from 7 a.m. – 4 p.m. as she taught lessons, gave me the toughness I needed to exercise in any type of weather conditions and temperature. A sunny, brisk spring morning looked pretty perfect to me and my Underarmour clothes and husband’s fast bike. Throw in my Apple airbuds, Dave Matthews Band music, and purple Asiac sneakers, with a cold bottle of water and I was raring to go.

At first I was only going to bike 4 miles and turn around where I typically do, but the lure of the fresh air in my lungs, lime green buds lining the small bushes along the dirt path, and a clear Erie canal over my shoulder, prompted me to go farther and farther until I felt the sting in my legs which would give me just enough energy to turn around and bike back to the start. As I biked farther down the path, people walking dogs and a few runners disappeared out of sight, it was only me, my bike, and nature enjoying the cool wind and sunshine.

As I went deeper into the unknown of the path, I passed a woman planting new flowers in a garden memorial for her son who died years ago, a gushing waterfall with babbling sound, a dam built by winter’s busy beavers, and wooden trail markers. I stopped a few times to take in the views or a sip of water but kept going on this unexpected mini-adventure. I wanted to be tired when I was done, like how I felt after long 9 or 10 mile runs training for the Boston Marathon. There is beauty in physical exhaustion. I wanted it.

An achy tug in my right hip, which has been healing from a hip tear, was what indicated the time to turn around. Pausing running because of the injury was something I haven’t enjoyed doing for nine months and I wasn’t going to let a bike ride undo its healing. Around I turned, making sure to take in as much beauty as I could while thanking God for what I was seeing and experiencing until I finally arrived back at my car after a 15-mile total ride. I felt so good, just so good. It is exactly what I needed to lift my spirits.

Today I encourage you to get outside or do something brand new or harder than you want, to feel a sense of new accomplishment in your life. It doesn’t have to be riding 15 miles (or should it?). It can be anything that boosts your mood, makes you feel invincible, elevates your mindset, and gives you a surge of joy. Whether your week has been “heavy” or not, any time you go beyond your own expectations in any task, you are rewarded. Why not grab that free reward today for yourself or your family and decide on something extra hard, challenging, or just new to do to give your soul and body some extra happiness.

Reopening Business Strategies After the Pandemic

April 22, 2020

Inspiration, Motivation for Women Entrepreneurs, Female Business Owners and Small Businesses

Revive, resurrect, renew, regenerate…all synonyms for a word being talked about more and more each day – and it’s not a word that means spa treatments, although every woman entrepreneur stressed about her business’ vitality could use some spa time. The word I’m referring to is reopen – a word on the tongues of every state, federal, and local authority as well as in households and businesses, both big and small, across our country.

Take it from me, reopening a business after taking a “pause” from a 1.5-year medical sabbatical had to be well thought out. To resurrect me personally and professionally, took mental strength, readiness, and resolve. Renewing my 15-year-old business to full capacity, involved excellent communication, patience, and trust things could return to normal after being gone. Periodically during my sabbatical, I wanted to return to work but reconsidered knowing it wasn’t the right time or because my plan to return wasn’t finalized. I need both to re-emerge successfully.

Like you, I don’t know what is going to happen when the social distancing and regulations are lifted from the Coronavirus Pandemic, but I will share some wisdom from my book “Under the Rose-Colored Hat” which touched partially on what I learned after being gone from the marketplace.

* Before you return to work, if you haven’t already, be a great communicator with your clients, be honest with them about where you stand with your business reopening, and what you need from them. They will understand and the loyal ones will support you.

* Surround yourself with positive-minded people who can help you through this delicate time period if you have anxiety about reopening your company. For me, personally, other women entrepreneurs were my greatest support. Lean on a few of them to help you through.

* Share your difficult story because it might help others and open your world to new people, customers, and opportunities you wouldn’t have before.

* When you and your company emerge successfully share your positive story in book form, blogging, articles, and speaking engagements.

Today’s post should remind you just like a great spa treatment, vacation, or blessed time with the ones you love rejuvenates, renews and revives us, so will reopening our businesses to full capacity again in the right time and with the right planning, communication, and efforts.

In these quiet days until your doors open again, cherish the time you have to plan, prioritize, and plan for your reopening. I promise you based on my own experience, you will bounce back again with a new appreciation and love for being an entrepreneur.

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