Day 126, Week 18 - On the Mend

Dear Comrades,

On Saturday, my husband opened a 4-pack of glow sticks, remnants of 4th of July plus good ol' fashion (cheap!) fun. One of the glow sticks was a dud. It didn't glow. :(  Of course, that is the one that had been given to me.

My husband and I couldn't help but see the symbolism in that package of glow sticks. We busted out laughing at me and the dud. It summed me up for the last week and half. Present? Yes. Glowing? Definitely not.

Felt like me before? I am sure you have. I hope not recently, though. I hope you have been glowing! :)

week 18 journal inspire to engage pin

The Darkness After the Big Event

Ever been really excited about something in your personal life or business life?

For example, I will train very hard for a triathlon. Close to the date, I start to hate the training and can't wait for the event to be over. Then, when it is finished, all I can think about is how I should have done things differently both in the race and in the training leading up. It is a high! An excitement to get back to it!

But, then, almost like a thief, a real low sneaks in a day later...a depression that the event is finished...a dark wondering about what to do next and if to do anything.

This time period always does a number on me...on my ego, my mental well being, my motivation, and my confidence.

I had this dark time happen again this week after I presented at the mompreneur luncheon I attend monthly. I was so excited to represent Inspire to Engage officially and to get to be a teacher again. (I love teaching!) 

At its conclusion, I had the same high...the leftover energy, the talk to myself about what I could've done differently, and an anticipation for a next time. 

But by that night, the darkness had started to creep into my mind. What am I doing with this thing? There will never be a next time. Those women there were so far ahead of me. What could I teach them? 

Luckily, I have been through big events like this one before. So I recognized the darkness for what it was...a part of the process my mind goes through when I complete something that pushes me physically, mentally, or emotionally. A triathlon. A teacher evaluation. A dissertation. An interview. 

Ever felt like me? Maybe you have or maybe you haven't.

I share for those that have experienced these feelings. You are not crazy. And you are not alone. I guess it is just a natural reaction that some of us have to stress and when the stressing event is over. (Athletic magazines dedicate whole issues to the low that many athletes feel after the big event is over.)

My advice...recognize it and try to move on. Recognizing the darkness takes away much of its power, and you then can start to prepare for your next endeavor.

The Importance of Sleep

I always have known how important sleep is to the body, soul, and mind. But, like your health, you take it for granted until you no longer can sleep.

This week, as I was on the mend, I experienced horrible coughing fits at night and an inability to fall asleep, even though I was exhausted.

It doesn't take many nights of this restless sleep to realize how important sleep is to your overall functioning.

We moms get a taste of this during the newborn phase with each of our children. And some of my friends and family tell me we have this to look forward to during menopause. (Oh. Yay.) I simply had forgotten and had lost my stamina to survive on chunky sleep. You know, you sleep for 2 hours here (1 chunk), awake an hour there (another chunk), then sleep for 1 hour here (yet another chunk). I call it chunky sleep, and it took a toll on me this week.

My brain foggy. My patience thin. My confidence low. My body weak. 

As I write, I lift up a prayer for those of you (and me) who find sleep elusive. I pray that you can sleep soon and sleep well. I pray that you are of clear mind and have energy so abundant that it can only be a gift from God.

Choosing Rose-Colored Glasses

Each week I try to end my journal on a positive note or tell about a positive experience I had concerning my biz.

This week, I had a real high--getting to officially represent my business at a mompreneur luncheon. And then I had a real low--the dark cloud of doubt and wonder that often hits me after a big event is over. In that darkness, nasty voices say things like, "Who are you to talk to those women? What could you possibly teach them? They are so much more advanced than you." Really beautiful thoughts, right?!

Because I recognized pretty quickly what was happening, I fought those snarling voices and put on rose-colored glasses.

I started to look at the bright side of the meeting. I admitted to myself how much knowledge was in that room on Thursday. I could learn so much from those women! (Instead of thinking how much I didn't teach them, I flipped my perspective...how much I could learn.) I started looking at their sites and gleaning tidbits of knowledge. I also acknowledged how much fun I had teaching again. If I got nothing else from that meeting, I got to do one of my favorite things in the world--teach! (Thank you, God, for giving me that chance.)

I share with the hopes that if someone else is hearing nasty, snarling voices, you find a way to quiet them. Choose to put on rose-colored glasses. It really is a choice. No more. No less.

Lastly, remember who made you. "For you made my inward parts; you wove me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works, and my soul knows it very well." Psalms 139: 13-14NASB

In plain Southern...God don't make no junk. :)

You are wonderful.

 

Prayerfully working,

Rachel


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Weekly Timesheet - A Summary

Research (3 hours suggested) = 1 hour

Content/Product (5 hours suggested) = 6 hours & 15 minutes

With Clients (4 hours suggested) = 3 hours & 45 minutes

Marketing (3 hours suggested) = 5 hours

Total = 16 hours

Takeaway = I am still spending too much time writing (content/product). I am going to work very hard this week to stay around 4 hours. I plan to place a sheet with the suggested time on my computer to help me stay more accountable.

Weekly Timesheet - Detailed

Monday - created "gifts" for moms that will attend the luncheon using Canva and printing at Staples (With Clients) for 2 hours Total = 2 hours

Tuesday - finished up handouts for mompreneur luncheon (Marketing) for 1 hour & 30 minutes; picked up "gift" for moms at luncheon from Staples (With Clients) for 15 minutes Total = 1 hour & 45 minutes

Wednesday - began working on this week's post but later culled it (Content/Product) for 1 hour; posted on Instagram (Marketing) for 15 minutes Total = 1 hour & 15 minutes

Thursday - created a "Work with me Page" for my websites (Marketing) for 2 hours; updated some posts with "Sign up for newsletter" option (Marketing) for 1 hour; added to I to E's Facebook page (Marketing) for 15 minutes; presented at mompreneur luncheon (With Clients) for 1 hour & 30 minutes Total = 4 hours & 45 minutes

Friday - worked on this week's blog post "You'll Shoot Your Eye Out" Moments (Content/Product) for 1 hour & 30 minutes Total = 1 hour & 30 minutes

Saturday - finished this week's post (Content/Product) for 1 hour & 30 minutes; created Pin for this week's post (Marketing) for 30 minutes; checked out the sites of moms at the mompreneur luncheon on Th (Research) for 1 hour; began working on journal entry for this week (Content/Product) for 1 hour Total = 4 hours

Sunday - finished this week's journal and total time for week (Content/Product) for 1 hour & 15 minutes; create Pin for this week's journal (Marketing) for 30 minutes Total = 1 hour & 45 minutes

Total = 16 hours

Day 119, Week 17 - Sick, Sick, Sick

Dear Comrades,

Some horrible "disease" has ravaged most of my husband's side of the family for the last month and half. My hopeful self thought I had somehow cheated the system and escaped its clutches.

WRONG!

It all started with a small ache between my shoulder blades. I dismissed it at first because Barrett, my brother-in-law, and I had done a tough workout two days before. I thought perhaps I was sore from that.

A couple hours later when the chills-then-sweating cycle began, I faced the truth...I was sick, not sore. :(

So, this journal will be short and sweet. (And all God's people said, Amen.)

I am feeling much better now. Praising God for that!

journal week 17 sick sick sick inspire to engage

Facebook, Here I Am!

Facebook, here I am!

Facebook, here I am.

Facebook, here I am?

I am not really sure how to write the title for this section. I stuck with the exclamation point because it best captures my optimism.

But, the period best describes my lackluster debut. You know, the one person clapping in the audience when the curtain closes.

And the question mark captures all of the questions I still have. Like I no nothing about this social media platform! Everybody acts like it is so simple, but there are icons, pictures, and words all over the screen. What do I do with all that?!

Anyways, you now can find me on Facebook at RachelEubanks.InspireToEngage. I warn you, though, it is a work in progress. :)

Excitement & Dread

Excitement because this is the first time I get to officially represent Inspire to Engage! Excitement because I get to facilitate a discussion among moms like me. As a former teacher, that is what I did all day...facilitate (hopefully!) meaningful discussions.

Dread because this is the first time I will represent Inspire to Engage. (Funny how the same fact can cause excitement and dread!) What if I am not ready? What if I can't steer the conversation back to the topics I have planned? Will I have anything significant to add to the conversation?

I know myself well enough now to recognize these feelings as my natural "prep" for a big event. I felt these emotions before big basketball games, races, triathlons, teacher evaluations, and now mompreneur meetings. :)

My mom used to tell me (and still does), "Just do your best."

I also love the verse, "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13

When I focus on these 2 mantras, it helps to lessen the dread and quiet some of the doubt.

Reflection in Sickness

When I am sick enough to spend 3 days in bed, I mostly just stare at the walls. TV, books, my phone, and conversations hold very little interest to me.

In my staring mode this past week, I vaguely noticed how many clothes were strewn around the house. I slightly noticed the toy cars and plastic tools that resided in my bed because my sons played alongside my sick body. I barely noticed the dishes piled in the sink.

See, these are things that bother me when I am feeling myself. But during my sick days, I just moved around them. It was only after I came out of my haze that I had the energy to care that there were clothes half folded from 3 days earlier, a plastic wrench tucked under my husband's pillow (actually endearing), and dishes and crumbs everywhere.

The reflection. Obviously, these things don't have to be done for my family and me to carry on. The boys did great through my illness, playing next to me in bed a lot. They were excited to get their daddy's undivided attention each afternoon. My sweet husband took over COMPLETELY when he got home from work. (Thank you, B.)

The reality. I focus better on the task at hand when other tasks have been handled. Certain things drive me crazy when left unattended. And, I am sure you can name some things too that when done, all feels right in your world...your life is in order.

The fine line. I am striving to find that delicate balance between what really is a must-do and what is a must-do only in my psycho brain. The sink doesn't really have to be empty of dishes for me to write a blog post. I know that on the surface level, but the inner workings of my brain doesn't always listen.

And, I know for sure that I am not the only woman to walk this fine line. I have a lot of friends and family just like me! (We're walking this tightrope together!)

Lastly, so thankful to God for healing this week. I try hard not to take for granted good health. But, any time I am sick like this, I realize that I still do in so many ways.

Prayerfully working and very thankful,

Rach


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Weekly Timesheet--Summary

With my illness affecting most of the week (Wednesday on), I only worked approximately 9 hours.

Research (3 hours suggested) - nothing

Content/Product - (5 hours suggested) - I am guessing around 4 hours. Luckily, I had my post on Butts and Failures written before the worst of my illness set in. I am writing this post on Sunday, and I feel much, much better.

With Clients - (4 hours suggested) - I am estimating around 2 hours. I have spent a little time preparing for the mompreneur luncheon coming up, which is as close to client work that I have right now.

Marketing - (3 hours suggested) - I am guessing around 3 hours with most of that time setting up my Facebook profile, etc.

 

 

 

 

Day 112, Week 16 - Board of Directors

Dear Comrades,

This week I was blessed to have a Board of Directors meeting. My board is comprised of my sister, one of my best friends April, and my husband. (They didn't even know they were on the Board. I appointed them. They took the news well.)

We met in Tuscaloosa at April's house for two days and brought our children along. With them all rather close in age (7, 5, 3, 3, and 3), they play together well. Most of the time! And since kiddos required our attention during the day, the Board meetings occurred outside the normal business hours...between 10:30 pm and 2:00 am. We had more important things to discuss from 9:00ish to 10:30ish like what type of dessert--cookies, ice cream, or doughnuts--should we have during our meetings. :)

And, let the record show, Brandon was absent from the meetings. It seemed his real job kept him at home. (I told him that he should get his priorities straight. Wink, wink.)

week 16 journal board of directors inspire to engage.png

Facebook, Here I Come!

As I write that phrase, I picture myself as a knight charging forward on my war-ready stead, sword drawn and pointed. That's me, ready to battle...I mean, join the Facebook community.

I know you are thinking...that is a "battle" many have fought, won, and even left the battlefield. You just showing up, girl?!

Yes, I am just showing up. I am a day late, dollar short kind of girl. Really, I am a social media scaredy cat. Instagram is about all I can handle.

But, I know I must take the plunge into Facebook. I think I am ready.

At least, I will be ready soon. With a few more pep talks from my Board members and maybe a tutorial (don't laugh!), I will create an account.

As far as marketing my business, which is essentially marketing myself, I know it is a step I must take. So, watch out, Facebook. Here I come! I am sure it will be more like Monty Python's take on knighthood than Kevin Costner's version. :)

The + and - of a Side Business

The plus. Because I am the owner of Inspire to Engage, I get to decide when and how I work. Another thing that is not necessarily a positive but still is in a way...I have no official clients right now. So, I have more freedom to do my research, writing, and marketing wherever and whenever. See, my schedule is not tied to clients' schedules.

Side note, I believe in JUST STARTING for this very reason. Of course I would love 100 paying clients. But right now my life is not set up to handle even 10 clients who want help with scheduling their time, being productive, or getting over the initial hump of starting a biz.

So, while I am waiting for that first client to come along, I simultaneously am developing and improving other processes critical to my business. Once I get my first client, writing a post or 2 a week will no longer be as overwhelming. I have been doing that for a while now and have gotten it down to a science (most weeks!). Also, creating and posting 4 to 5 times on Instagram each week is a normal part of my routine now. It doesn't take large chunks of my mental energy any more. (Remember, social media scaredy cat here!)

It is due of this gradual build of skills (and finances) that business giants like Dave Ramsey encourage others to "grow slowly." Growth over a productive, thoughtful, and prayerful time period is sustainable. And, we, the business owners, get seasons to focus on 1 or 2 aspects of the biz, instead of having to be an expert at every part on day 1.   

The minus. Because my business truly is a side business right now (and will be for several years), it is done on the edges of everything else. If I have a week where my schedule is different, like a couple days away from home or several doctors' appointments jammed into 2 days, then my side business work is consequentially affected. 

I find myself, usually without success, trying to squeeze 15 hours of work into 12 available hours to work. Does that make sense? Happened to you?

I know that on the surface this dilemma seems no different than with any other job. As a teacher, I both loved and hated 4-day weeks. Loved the extra day off. Hated the need to fit 5 days of curriculum into 4 days of school time.

But, this mompreneur-side-business gig is different, though, from my teaching job. See, as a paid teacher, those 4 days, from 7:30 to 2:45, were designated for me to officially go to work. As a mom/sidepreneur, I have to carve out 15 hours a week to work around whatever else is going on in my life. If an appointment falls during my children's naptime, then that is 2 hours I don't get to work on Inspire to Engage that day. I must find those work hours elsewhere.

Please know that I am not complaining. I love where I am at in this season of life. But, I want other mom/sidepreneurs to realize they are not alone or crazy if they have weeks when they don't accomplish what they usually do for their businesses. It is probably because other aspects of their lives were full...overflowing...extra exciting...or, perhaps, very draining. 

That is life, a natural ebb and flow. We just have to recognize it.

Meeting of the Board

I can't say enough how much I enjoyed my Board meetings this past week. They definitely weren't the norm.

First off, serious desserts were consumed.

Second, a lot of laughter echoed off the walls of April's kitchen where we sat, ate, and talked.

Of course, the later the meetings went, the more delirious we got. So much so, that at one point Sydney, April's crazy cat, was almost voted President of the board. But in a moment of clarity, we realized that when you have to scream, "Don't bite the hand that feeds you," as you sling food at her, Sydney may not have the servant's heart that we want for Inspire to Engage board members. :)

Seriously, no alcohol involved! We are now grown mommas so any moment after 11:00 pm greatly stretches our abilities to focus and to make sensible suggestions. :) Annie F. Downs, a Christian author and speaker, shared a t-shirt on Instagram recently. It said, "I'm ride or die (until about 9 PM or so)." Hilarious! Anyone over 30 or who is a parent recognizes that truth!

We did, though, have serious business talks...brainstorming ways for me to be more efficient at writing, how to expand my marketing by joining Facebook, and how to address participants at the mompreneur meeting I am facilitating soon.

I enjoyed the business discussions and take their suggestions very seriously. (You know...the surround-yourself-with-wise-counsel thing.) But even more, I appreciated the silliness, the laughter.

At times in your life, silliness, laughter, and moments with friends are the inspiration and motivation you need to continue on.

Hoping silliness for you,

Rach


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Share your email address below if you want new content weekly and like the simplicity of it coming straight to your inbox. (No work on your part. I get it!)

Don't want to share your email address? Not ready for that type of relationship yet?! (Believe me, I understand that too.) Feel free to follow me on Instagram (@inspiretoengage). I often share, what I think is, a creative and relevant pic I shot, a savvy blurb about my newly-published writing, and a link in my profile to it. The artistry will blow your mind! ;) Then, when you are ready, feel free to join the email list.

Weekly Summary Timesheet    *Detailed Timesheet Below

Total Time = 14 hours & 15 minutes

Research (3 hours suggested) = 2 hours

Content/Product (5 hours suggested) = 8 hours & 30 minutes

With Clients (4 hours suggested) = 0

Marketing (3 hours suggested) = 3 hours & 45 minutes

Takeaway = I blew it this week. I spent a large amount of time writing and zero time on clients (with actual ones or simply pretending). This week was not an average one with our (super fun!) trip to Tuscaloosa. I have not given up on myself yet. I think I can still lessen my writing time and increase my client time.

Detailed Timesheet

Monday - created and shared an Instagram post (Marketing) for 15 minutes; worked on 5 Dumb Things I Worried (Content/Product) for 2 hours total = 2 hours & 15 minutes

Tuesday - continued to revise, edit, and publish 5 Dumb Things post (Content/Product) for 1 hour & 30 minutes; made Pin for new post (Marketing) for 30 minutes; pinned on Pinterest (Marketing) for 30 minutes; created and emailed weekly newsletter (Marketing) for 30 minutes total = 3 hours

Wednesday - wrote and shared an Instagram post highlighting my recent writing, 5 Dumb Things (Marketing) for 30 minutes; Board meeting with Ape and sis (Research) for 1 hour    *in Tuscaloosa, AL with boys total = 1 hour & 30 minutes

Thursday - revised my Pin and thumbnail for my latest post (Marketing) for 30 minutes; Board meeting with Ape and sis (Research) for 1 hour    *in Tuscaloosa, AL with boys total = 1 hour & 30 minutes

Friday - created and shared an Instagram post (Marketing) for 15 minutes    *in Tuscaloosa, AL with boys   total = 15 minutes

Saturday - began writing post for next week, 44-0 post (Content/Product) for 1 hour & 45 minutes; began writing journal entry for the week (Content/Product) for 1 hour total = 2 hours & 45 minutes

Sunday - finished, revised, edited, and calculated time for this week's journal entry (Content/Product) 2 hours & 15 minutes; created Pin in Canva and pinned on Pinterest (Marketing) 45 minutes total = 3 hours

Total = 14 hours & 15 minutes      

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 105, Week 15 - The Balancing Act and Lucy Ricardo in the Candy Factory

Dear comrades,

Last week was a busy one. I am sure yours was as well.

Mine was a week full of great things…a trip to a water park, a wedding in my hometown, and a visit with a precious 7-week old baby girl and her beautiful mom. All of these events (and others) left me feeling energized and excited about life.

But, what these wonderful things meant was that I didn’t spend a great deal of time focused on Inspire to Engage.

This realization had me thinking about the balancing act that we strive to perfect in this crazy busy life.

the balancing act inspire to engage Rachel Eubanks

Just Call Me Lucy

It seems that I can never find the right balance between the different aspects of my life.

Have you ever seen the hilarious scene from the I Love Lucy Show when Lucy and her best friend Ethel work at a chocolate candy factory. When their job at a conveyor belt is explained to them by a demanding, impatient supervisor, it seems easy and straightforward. However, the belt (and thus the candy) gradually speeds up. As the pace gets too fast for the inexperienced Lucy and Ethel and in an attempt to make it appear as if they are doing their job, they begin stuffing the chocolates in their hats, down their shirts, and in their mouths. The scene is hysterical!

This is how I often feel when I have a week outside my norm. I just can't keep up the pace (and chocolates get stuffed in places they shouldn't be!).

For example, if I devote myself to Inspire to Engage one week, then I don’t play with the boys much. If I eat dinner or shop with good friends several nights during the month, then I miss out on opportunities with my own family. If I exercise every morning, then I don’t work enough hours on Inspire to Engage.

A girl can’t win! I feel as if the conveyor belt is moving too quickly. I start reverting to insane measures to appear as if I am keeping up.

Do you ever feel like this?

One image I want to leave with you that helps me a lot and one I thought of often this week uses juggling as an analogy. At a recent mompreneur meeting, one of our leaders shared this, which was told to her by a friend.

Picture yourself juggling GLASS balls with a few others at your feet. The glass balls represent different aspects of your life...family, business, friends, exercise, vacations, self-improvement, etc.

First, recognize the fact that you can only handle a certain number of objects at once. Too many in the air, they all come crashing down. In order to keep from breaking these glass balls, you will need to make a conscious effort to put one or two down when you feel you can no longer juggle them all. Because...if you keep at your current pace or start to add more balls to your juggling act without setting some down, you begin to flounder. Dropping some or all of the glass balls. Breaking them.

We end up like Lucy and Ethel, stuffing chocolate candies in our bras and in our mouths, when the pace gets to harried. An ugly (but hilarious) scene.

Instead, picture yourself juggling glass objects...intentionally setting down some things to keep them (or us) from breaking permanently. You'll pick up the objects again...next week, another day, or in a different season of life. But, for now, your focus needs to be elsewhere. Give yourself permission to juggle...successfully. I am working on it myself.

Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words, Words

If you have read any of my stuff, you probably have noticed that I am long winded. The words just keep coming.

First off, sorry.

Second, I am working on it. I know you are probably thinking, “It doesn’t seem so!” Her later posts are as long as earlier ones.

For me, it comes down to a balancing act (seems like a theme in this week’s journal!).

Each writer needs her own voice…the way she writes unique to herself.

You probably guessed it by now, but I am a big talker. Thus, my writing style is wordy. It is who I am.

Yet, I know that I personally grow impatient when a blog post goes on and on. Even if I love the writer! So, I cringe when I think about you doing the same with my work. Plus, several of the people I enjoy reading (and who have a large following) encourage bloggers to write shorter posts, 500-800 words. Eeeek. I am just a shade past that with most posts around 1500-2400 words. ;)

My gut tells me there is a place for short AND long posts. Sometimes good advice can be said in 600 words. Other times, you want all of the information in one place, one post--not in several short posts over a course of multiple weeks. In this case, longer posts have a place.

So, a goal of mine…to write more posts with 800 words or less. That way I have a mixture of lengths (because I have the long stuff covered already!).

On a side note, a friend of mine shared these 2 older posts with me. They are 2 of my favorite (ever!) and are written by Jen Hatmaker. (She's real and funny!) Yet, I still found myself skimming them because of their lengthiness. This taught me that you may love a person’s writing but still grow impatient to finish reading it…almost bored. If you do choose to read them, which I suggest, you will need Kleenex. One post will make you cry with laughter. The other one…very sweet, especially if you are in education.  

Worst End of School Year Mom Ever

Dear Teachers Everywhere

Dreamers' Meeting

I got a chance this week to have a Dreamers' Meeting with my friend April. For 6 months now, we have been scheduling these conversations every 4 to 6 weeks. We usually talk during our children’s naptimes. This practice gives us a good starting and ending time.

Each Dreamers’ Meeting, we discuss 2 major topics—what product ideas we have and what frustrations we are experiencing.

Often times, nothing is decided in these meetings. These conversations simply and profoundly serve as sounding boards. We get to say ideas aloud without fear of laughter. See, we both have a tug on our hearts to do something…maybe a business, maybe a blog, definitely serve our Savior, and probably involve writing.

We don’t have the answers for each other. We just are willing to listen and to provide motivation.

I want to encourage you to hold your own Dreamers’ Meetings. Ask a friend with an entrepreneur’s spirit or one with the same passion as you if you can call her. Tell her your ideas. Ask about hers. It is amazing what clarity you gain and encouragement you receive by saying your thoughts aloud to a kind friend.

Prayerfully dreaming,

Rach


Want To Read More?

Share your email address below if you want new content weekly and like the simplicity of it coming straight to your inbox. (No work on your part. I get it!)

Don't want to share your email address? Not ready for that type of relationship yet?! (Believe me, I understand that too.) Feel free to follow me on Instagram (@inspiretoengage). I often share, what I think is, a creative and relevant pic I shot, a savvy blurb about my newly-published writing, and a link in my profile to it. The artistry will blow your mind! ;) Then, when you are ready, feel free to join the email list.



Detailed Weekly Timesheet

Due to the busyness of this week (and the way I keep up with my work time on random sheets of notebook paper and in Notes on my phone), I have opted to not record my specific time. It would take significantly more minutes to gather my randomness and get it organized. I don't want to hurt my work for next week by belaboring this week's work.

Total Time = less than 15 hours

Weekly Summary

Takeaway - 1.) This week I had a goal of spending more time "with clients." See last week's journal for my reasoning. However, since I was "juggling" friends and family, I didn't meet my goal of 4 hours pretending as if I had clients. I am not sure if it will happen this upcoming week either with a special trip to Tuscaloosa from Wednesday to Friday.

2.) I plan to log my business hours in Squarespace (website platform) as I work this upcoming week. I dread every Sunday night having to gather all of my notes where I have worked and then organize them into the 4 categories (content, research, with clients, and marketing). If I will enter the hours throughout the week (instead of totaling all on Sunday), I won't dread Sundays anymore. 

 

Day 98, Week 14 - My Sis

Dear Comrades,

As bad as I felt last week, I felt that good this week! I am not sure how this drastic change occurred. 

I thanked God for energy again!

And, I went with it!

week 14 journal my sister inspire to engage

Working with Clients

Last week was a very low week for me. I was just so, so tired. But that tiredness brought me to God and gave me insights into some of my work habits. Some of which I am not proud of. Like working in frustration when my kids are around, instead of working with honor. (If you have the same problem as me, you might want to read 3 Mindsets for Working in Insanity.)

Another insight I gained, I was spending too much time writing. My 2 posts each week were taking about 6-8 hours to write. Originally, I told myself this was okay because I have no clients right now. See, Dan Miller's concept of 15 hours a week on a side business calls for 4 types of work--researching business practices or your niche for 3 hours; creating content or products for 5 hours, meeting with clients for 4 hours; and marketing yourself and your business for 3 hours a week.

Of course, these are just suggestions. But for someone like me who needs structure to be productive, I try to adhere to Dan's advice. So, for the last...ummmm...14 weeks, I have been combining the 5 hours of content/product time with the 4 hours of client time. That comes to about 9 hours of content time, which for me means writing.  

That is wonderful if I plan to make NO MONEY ever. I have a goal to coach other women who want to start a side business or who want to more productive each day. Therefore, I must actually figure a way to do that, instead of hiding behind my computer writing for a large portion of my 15 hours-a-week side business.

My new plan...to pretend as if I have clients. Before you think I am really crazy, hear me out. I plan to spend those 4 hours that Dan suggests preparing for future clients--reading books about coaching, watching coaching videos, developing activities that may be helpful in the future, and creating coaching packages (so if anyone ever asks about my services, I have something to say about benefits, prices, and structure). 

I started my "new plan" this week and used the time to prepare for a mompreneur meeting I am facilitating in July, since that will be the closest thing to clients I have ever had. :)

Instagram or Instasnag?

I love Instagram. I can't believe I am actually writing that statement because any social media is hard for me. To be completely truthful, if I didn't need a free platform for Inspire to Engage, I still wouldn't have an Instagram account. But, if I have to have one, Instagram it is! (Thanks, April, for pushing me there.) 

I have found, though, that simply loving Instagram does not grow your account to even 70 followers.

In other words, my Instagram is experiencing an instasnag. For several weeks now, longer than I want to admit, I have been stuck around 53 followers (and most of them are close friends and family, not potential clients). For a few days some bots will follow me, and I will hit, wait for it....57 followers. Then, one morning I will wake to find that I am back to 53 followers.

As my friend Cecilia said one day, "That is great, Rachel. Having 50 engaged followers is better than having a lot that don't really care about your message." To Cecilia, I say thank you for your positive spin on my lackluster following. I play your comment over in my head almost every time I look at Instagram. Even writing about it now lifts my spirit.

I know she is right about engaged followers. But, I also know I need a few more (like maybe 89) to grow Inspire to Engage to the empire I dream about. ;)

I completed an email course on Instagram this week to learn more about growing a business account. I gained a few helpful tips but no miracle cures. I know with anything worth having, it takes time. And, I am willing to do that. I just want to use my time wisely. Hence I plan to complete more free courses to learn other details about my favorite-if-I-have-to-choose-one platform. (When the money comes, I will invest in other Instagram courses that actually require dollars and cents. But, those classes aren't for my frugal self yet.)

My Sis

I wish everyone had a sister like I have.

She plays a pivotal role in Inspire to Engage (and in my life!). She often proofreads posts for me, but, even more importantly, she allows me to dream with her and to share my ideas for this business.

This week our families got to spend several days together. (Some serious fun was had!) During that time, she dedicated several hours to me when we talked about the content and my approach for the mompreneur meeting I am facilitating in July.

What's important about this sister talk for other mompreneurs? Maybe, nothing. Or, maybe the realization that you need people like her around you as well. I am blessed with a sister and several friends who are HONEST with me about my ideas. That means Sarah tells me when my ideas stink or don't match my business goals.

Now, don't misunderstand me. Sarah is the ultimate cheerleader. That is her natural tendency. So, I know it is not easy for her to tell me tough things. Yet, out of love for me and a desire to see this business grow (yet again because she loves me!), she says them anyway.

Another bonus...Sarah falls in the age group of women I am targeting for business and life coaching. Even though she has no desire to create her own business, she can offer insights to how my ideas may be perceived by other women in her age category and who are living a similar lifestyle. I am appreciative because as you know from the first section of this post (Working with Clients) I have no clients as of yet. I have no one to officially survey. Thus, her input is crucial right now.

As for me...I'm very thankful my sis is willing to play along.

As for you...surround yourself with people who, kindly yet honestly, will analyze your ideas and then, happily and prayerfully, dream big with you.

Prayerfully working,

Rachel

 

Detailed Weekly Timesheet

Monday - continued working on Fathers' Day post (Content/Product) for 30 minutes; started working on notes for mompreneur meeting I am facilitating in July (W/ Clients) for 45 minutes total = 1 hour & 15 minutes

Tuesday - talked with sis about upcoming meeting I am facilitating (W/Clients) for 1 hour & 30 minutes; created 2 Instagram posts--zoo and chalk with Evie and boys (Marketing) for 30 minutes; revised Fathers' Day post (Content/Product) for 30 minutes total = 2 hours & 30 minutes

Wednesday - worked to revise & edit Fathers' Day post (Content/Product) for 1 hour; posted on Instagram (Marketing) for 15 minutes; began Instagram email course (Research) for 30 minutes; sent and discussed with sis a rough draft of the worksheet I plan to use when I facilitate the mompreneur meeting next month (w/clients) for 30 minutes total = 2 hours & 15 minutes

Thursday - continued working on Instagram email course (Research) for 30 minutes; began working on end-of-week post doing time sheet for this week (Content/Product) for 15 minutes; worked on next week's post (Content/Product) for 45 minutes; created Instagram post highlighting Fathers' Day blog (Marketing) for 15 minutes total = 1 hour & 45 minutes

Friday - researched for a post on 5 entrepreneurial women (Research) for 45 minutes; worked on next week's post (content/product) for 45 minutes; created Instagram post Highlighting Fathers' day blog (Marketing) for 15 minutes total = 1 hour & 45 minutes

Saturday - continued working on post for next week and sent to sis and Tammy for proofreading (Content/Product) for 1 hour; read article for 5 women (Research) for 30 minutes; worked on end-of-week post (Content/product) for 30 minutes total = 2 hours

Sunday - continued working on end-of-week post (Content/product) for 1 hour; created Pin for end-of-week post (Marketing) for 30 minutes total = 1 hour & 30 minutes

Total = 13 Hours

Weekly Summary

Research = 2 hours & 15 minutes

Content/Product = 6 hours & 15 minutes

With Clients = 2 hours & 45 minutes

Marketing = 1 hour & 45 minutes

Takeaway = I did much better this week with adhering to a well-rounded time structure for my business. I spent less time writing and more time thinking about future clients.

 

Day 91, Week 13 - Just Plain Tired

Dear Comrades,

It has been one of those weeks when all I can do is think how tired I am. (Do you feel me?) I am not sure why this week more than other weeks. No matter the reason, I was exhausted! 

Of course, that causes everything else to go downhill. As my friend Kathleen says, "only a first-world problem, though." None of my issues were truly issues as far as food on our table, clean water in our glasses, and clothes on our backs. And, for that, I am truly grateful!

I really should stop writing right now because I am blessed beyond measure in all things that count. For the sake of this business journal, though, I will continue.

week 13 inspire to engage journal

The Never-Ending Post

One of the difficulties I encountered this week was a never-ending post. I worked and worked (and worked!) to finish the third post in a series on scheduling (why to schedule, working the fringe hours, & working in insanity when kids are awake and home).

This week's post called "3 Mindsets for Working in Insanity" nearly drove me INSANE. I knew what I wanted to say but couldn't find the words to do it.

And when I did finally find words, I found too many. The sentences just kept oozing from my fingers at that point.

Yet...when I went back to revise the work, none of it made sense. (Some of you are like, "Hey, that is how all of her stuff is. Is she just figuring that out?! Bless her.") 

I believe the difficulty writing this post caused and was a result of my exhaustion this week. Does that make sense? To be the cause and also the result? It was a cycle I was in these past few days with everything I tried to do.

Needless to say, I finally got the post finished, a day late and a dollar short...but finished. Once posted, I immediately saw 2 typos. No, not in the body. Just in the title. No biggie (said sarcastically). So, I then spent another 15 minutes redoing the graphics that accompanied the post and then re-posting.

Seriously doing my best! My best this week just happens to be around 3rd-grade level.

The Time Frame

I first began to think I could actually attempt this entrepreneur thing when I heard a podcast by Dan Miller. In this podcast, he interviewed Patrick McGinnis, the author of The 10% Entrepreneur. It was in this podcast that 2 huge concepts converged, giving me the insight that I could try my own business while staying home full-time with my boys.

When I decided to tackle Inspire to Engage (to really go after it!), I employed Dan Miller's suggestion of 15 hours a week on a side business and to spread that time over 4 categories--research, content/product, time with clients, and marketing.

In my early weeks, I was almost religious about hitting his suggested time per category, except for the client time...for the obvious reason that I had NO clients. Then, a few weeks ago, I decided to take a short break from the rigid time slots and to focus on writing...to get in the habit of publishing 2 posts a week. I still aimed for 15 hours a week in total, just relaxed how I spent those 15 hours.

Well...I am here to report that the little break worked (and will be ending). It revealed 3 important things to me. I learned:

1.) I love to write.

In fact, I am good with spending all 15 hours a week doing that. Yet, that will not make me money at this point in my business. (And money is not everything. But, it is still something.)

2.) I would spend all of my time writing.

That means that I am not reading other people's blogs or insightful books. That means I am not researching and growing myself. I am only spending time in my own thoughts (which is a scary place at times). 

3.) I need structure to cause me to do scary things.

Dan Miller's time suggestions--3 hours on research, 5 hours on content/product, 4 hours with clients, and 3 hours on marketing--force me to focus on areas that are scary to me. Marketing...slap me in the face now. Time with clients...ha! I have none. But, that is the point with this business thing is to get clients. Right? Thus, I must spend time marketing and planning how to meet with clients.

All of that to say, I am returning to Dan's time suggestion for each category...at least loosely. I must push myself (and quit hiding behind my computer). 

The Act of Mowing

Spring. The warmer temps along with pop-up showers make it ideal for weeds and grass to grow. Here comes mowing season. My husband and I still do our mowing with a push mower. Our lot is only about half an acre, and we enjoy the exercise.

But mowing gives us more than exercise. It gives us quiet time. The repetitive action, being in God's creation, gaining a sense of accomplishment, and the purring sound that drowns out other noises make for a perfect time for your thoughts to wonder and for your prayers to ascend.

It was during this week's mowing that I asked God to help me have the energy to do daily things and to grow a business, a business I know He is guiding. The longer I mowed, the more He revealed to me.

First off, the post I wrote this week (the one that took me so long and brought me to my knees in exhaustion) was about ME! I am the one who needs to work with honor around her children and not work in frustration. It is not healthy or beneficial for any of us and definitely not Godly.

I can imagine God shaking his head at me and laughing softly to Himself. You know, the way we do when our children try really hard at something but don't quite pull it off. We say things like, "Bless her heart. She thinks she is doing a good job." That is what He thought about my attempt at helping other mothers. He wondered when I would realize the post and the process of writing it was about self-reflection on my actions and about drawing me closer to Him. (I hear you, Father. Sorry it took so long.)

Second, I realized in my quiet time (aka mowing session) that I was hiding behind my computer. I was busy writing all the time so I wouldn't have to think about other things like...coaching clients, when to meet with them, how to meet with them while balancing my mother duties, and actually how to get clients. You know, just good ol' fashion fear.

In high school, we had a passionate English teacher, Mrs. Chandler, that told us how she loved to bush hog her property. As a teenager, I thought that was pretty funny, maybe even strange. As an adult, I get it! Time with your thoughts and time with our God. Much is revealed while mowing, bush hogging, or what task that draws you closer to Him.

Prayerfully mowing,

Rachel

Weekly Time Sheet Summary

Yall, forgive me. I just. can't. do. it. this week. I already have revealed that I spent much of my time writing this week (+ one great mowing session!). So my summary would be something like this...lots of time on content (writing), a little bit of marketing on Instagram, and read a little in Seth Godin's book It's Your Turn.

Total Time = about 15 hours

 

Day 84, Week 12 - Pinterest, Have Pity on Me Please.

Dear Comrades,

This week has been a strange one with only a 4-day work week. (Of course, I love a holiday as much as the next girl. And, I really LOVE celebrating the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces. A sincere appreciation there.) Yet, my to-do lists - business and personal - have been almost untouched. Not from a lack of trying, though! Just not enough hours in the day. (I know you never feel that way!)

week 12 journal pinterest have pity inspire to engage

Pinterest

So…like most entrepreneurs who cater to women, I “market” myself on Pinterest. I had to use quotation marks there because I am sure any professional in marketing would (adamantly!) correct me by saying, “That ain’t marketing...what you do on Pinterest.”

I would gasp and reply, “What? I pin at least 1 of my own Pins a week and re-pin about 3 items a week. What is wrong with that?!”

So…when I say that I have been doing Pinterest, now you know to the extent of my skills and dedication. I honestly try!

I have determined, though, that any social media is difficult for me. If I focus on Instagram, then I am probably not pinning anything. If I pin a few items each day, then I probably am not posting any shots on Instagram. I am hoping with more time and practice, I can do 2 social media platforms at once. Bless my heart, until then.

Each week, I get an email from Pinterest with the subject line, “ Your most popular Pin! Drumroll, please…” And each week, I fall for it and open it excitedly.

This week I was greeted with (drumroll, please)…

Hi there,

People love your Pins! This Pin got 1 save last week.

When I write, I started laughing out loud, that doesn’t account for the tears rolling down my cheeks and the immediate need I felt to show my husband. When you have one of those uncontrollable laughing fits, it is even better when someone else joins in. So, I was anxious to make it a group experience!

After several minutes of cry-laughing together, my husband and I were able to calmly analyze why this email was so hilarious.  We believe it is in the opening line, “People love your Pins!” Your mind automatically asks--oh, I wonder how many people love my pins!

Then, it takes less than a second for your eyes to scan right and see…1. 1 people likes my Pin?! Huh?! I thought maybe more, based on the wording of the email.

Pinterest, please have pity on me. Next week, if I only have 1 of my Pins re-pinned you can simply skip the email. (Even my own sister suggests this! She, unlike you, Pinterest, feels pity for me.) Or, Pinterest, you can change the opening line to say, “A person loves your Pin.” That way I am let down gently from the very start.

I know the blame is mine. I must put more effort into Pinterest. And I plan to!  Who knows, with a very focused effort, I may get an email next week that says, “People love your Pins. This Pin got (drumroll please)...2 saves last week.”

Remember, you have a choice—to laugh or to cry. In this whole entrepreneurial thing, most situations (and I mean, almost all) should earn your tears of laughter…not your tears of sadness. Laughter keeps you moving forward, viewing tough spots as only bumps in the road…not dead ends.

Business Cards

Well, I did it. I actually did it.

I created and printed business cards this week.

I technically have been Inspire to Engage for over 3 months. But, I just made business cards. I may be a few weeks late on this project. Yet, I know the courage it requires to hand out cards…to announce to the world that you are officially in business. I didn’t have that kind of courage when I first started so having business cards then would have been pointless.

Originally, I started at Staples.com to create my business cards. I found options at the Custom Cards section of the site just a little too bland (since I know so much about graphics design…wink, wink.). Thus, I returned to my favorite graphics program – Canva.com.

At Canva.com, you can create a FREE account and make graphics for Facebook, your website, and your business cards. Once I created my card there, I then uploaded it to Staples.com for printing.

Because I am frugal (and, honestly, dreaming of having my ideas branded by a true professional one day), I opted to purchase only 250 cards. (At my rate of handing out cards, that amount will last me about 17,520 days or a mere 48 years.)   

Also due to frugality, I only printed on the front of the cards. Yet, I splurged and got the one-sided cards in glossy. (I know. I am crazy.)

Seriously, though, I am happy to have “business cards” off the ole to-do list!

Haters Gonna Hate and Wise Counsel Gonna Love

Once again this week I was reminded how important it is to keep yourself surrounded by people who move you forward…in a positive direction. Too many times, we let the comments of people who don’t love us or who don’t understand our goals to completely destroy us.

I was blessed to attend the Mompreneur Lunch at the Catalyst Center this week. The topics of mom guilt and cruel comments took front and center of our discussion. One hard-working momma had received a particularly cruel comment on Facebook, questioning her ability and desire to be a loving wife and mother. As you can imagine, she was crushed. She has worked hard to grow her business. But, the pain from such a thoughtless (and probably jealous) remark had caused her to question herself.

Several women encouraged her (and simply loved on her with their wise words). Below I listed two of the most powerful suggestions. They have played over in my head many times. Who knows, you may need to hear them as well.

1.) “You are allowing her to steal from you. She [the cruel commenter] is robbing you of your joy. And only you allow that.”

2.) “When I get criticized, I use this 3-part criticism test. a.) Who is the source? Someone I respect or not? b.) Does my criticized action align with my values? c.) Does my action align with my faith?

Let’s face it…this entrepreneurial thing causes you to question so much about yourself. You can easily lose confidence and start to doubt your motives. Am I being a good mother? A good wife? Should I continue? Will anyone be interested in doing business with me?

From what I have gathered in my reading and in my own experiences, these feelings are a natural part of creating something new...on your own.

You are going to doubt yourself at times, and others will question you as well. Surround yourself with wise counsel. Pray for discernment between wise counsel and those people simply making thoughtless, mean remarks. (Hint: The criticism test above may be just what you need to do this.)

Prayerfully moving forward,

Rachel

Timesheet - Weekly Summary

Research - 1 hour & 45 minutes (not including running time with audiobooks)

Content/Product - 7 hours & 30 minutes

With Clients - 0 hours...but maybe soon :)

Marketing - 2 hours & 45 minutes

Total Time: 12 hours

Takeaway: I was very consistent with Instagram this week, posting mostly between 11:00-2:00 each day. I did gain a few followers this week and got a lot of Likes (at least for me).

Detailed Timesheet for the Week

Monday - began writing Fringe Hours post (Content/Product) for 1 hour; made a post on IG (Marketing) for 15 minutes total = 1 hour & 15 minutes

Tuesday - continued writing on Fringe Hours post (Content/Product) for 1 hours; made an IG post (Marketing) for 15 minutes total = 1 hour & 15 minutes

Wednesday - finished Fringe Hours post (Content/Product) in 1 hour and 30 minutes; made an IG post (Marketing) for 15 minutes total = 1 hour & 45 minutes

Thursday - went to Mompreneur Lunch (Research) for 1 hour & 15 minutes; wrote a post on IG (Marketing) for 15 minutes total = 1 hour & 30 minutes

Friday - began reading It's Your Turn by Seth Godin (Research) for 30 minutes; revised and proofread Fringe Hours (Content/Product) for 1 hour; posted on IG (Marketing) for 15 minutes; wrote bio for an upcoming meeting that I will be presenting at (Marketing) for 30 minutes total = 2 hours & 15 minutes

Saturday - posted on IG (Marketing) for 15 minutes total = 15 minutes

Sunday - wrote, revised, and proofread end-of-week journal entry (Content/Product) for 3 hours; created Pin for Pinterest of the journal entry and pinned it (Marketing) for 45 minutes total = 3 hours & 45 minutes

Total = 12 hours

 

Day 70, Week 10 - A Yes, A Like, and A Chat with a Friend

Dear Comrades,

Last week, I was way down and barely in. This week, I am in. Not like rushing through the doors, hands up and screaming, "Let's get this party started."

But...I am in. Walking in confidently, head back, and a slight nod hello to others in the room. That is much improved from the image I had of myself last week as a bloodied boxer using the ring ropes to pull herself to a standing position.

What, you may ask, has this slight swagger in my step?

A yes, a like, and a chat with a friend. I do believe in celebrating successes, no matter how small they may seem to others. If it made me feel good about my work...my business, then I have chosen to celebrate it. It is a choice.

You can choose to laugh or to cry when starting a business. There's plenty of moments where these two options present themselves. Choose laugh. It keeps you moving forward. (I had another particularly entertaining week where I chose to laugh...a lot.)

yes like and a chat inspire to engage celebrating successes

A Yes

Last week I wrote about offering to lead a group meeting of mompreneurs. I attend these meetings on a fairly regular basis when my husband's work schedule allows him to be home with the boys. 

I wrote what I thought was a friendly and informative email offering my services to lead the next meeting. And I worked up the courage to press send. That was Monday.

I heard nothing.

Working up even more courage (and calling on some of my stalker-like qualities), I sent one more email. That was Friday.

I heard nothing.

Then, it happened. On just a normal day, when I was no longer checking my email every 23 minutes like I had been the week before, I opened my inbox and saw it! That was Tuesday.

I heard something.

The group coordinator asked if I could facilitate a meeting in July. I screamed "yes" at my phone, checked with my husband about his work schedule, and then informed her in an email (calmly) that I would love to.

The teacher in me is ridiculously excited! I love teaching and know that God has gifted me with this talent. He also challenges me to better myself. So, I am looking forward to planning for this meeting and to improving my craft.

Oh yeah...the business woman in me is excited as well. This is the first time I get to represent Inspire to Engage in an official, public fashion. 

What a yes can mean!

A Like

So for 10 weeks now I have been working diligently on this site. (I did have several months earlier where I pursued a different blog idea and learned a lot, not enough though, about creating a website.)

My goal for most of these weeks has been to write 2 posts a week--one topic specific post (which I place in the "Blog" section of my website) and one end-of-the-week journal entry (which I place in "The Journal" section of my website).

That equals about 20 pieces of writing I have shared with the world so far, albeit my world is rather small right now.

Until this week, I had never received a Like on one of my posts. I have received Likes on Instagram, which feels amazing and especially when you are just starting out. But, no one had ever pressed the Like button on my website.

Just like the Yes this week, it just happened on a random day. I wasn't even expecting it. I had gone to the post because I was linking to it from a new piece I was writing. I just happened to scroll to the bottom, and what did my little brown eyes see! The number 1 next to the word Like.

To my writer's heart and my skeptic's eyes, that number 1 was lit up like the Fourth of July...the flashing neon lights of Las Vegas...Times Square at night. In other words, it was a big deal! That person probably read the whole post to make it down to the Like button. What?! Wow!

The next day is when it got real crazy. I stumbled upon another post of mine that had 2 Likes! Watch out, world! :)

A Chat With A Friend

At the end of this week, I had an opportunity to visit with a faithful friend. My boys played upstairs in her bunk room while we chatted.

A few side notes before I share the relevance of our visit. First, the bunk room itself deserves its own blog post. Amazing! Second, "played upstairs while we chatted" is a general statement for...yanked out as many toys as possible and viciously handled them. Then several screams down the stairs detailing some "important" information or discovery they made. After a brief period of ignoring their squawking, I would inform them that I couldn't understand what they were saying. That would require a trip down the stairs to relay the original message to my face. Oh yeah...while downstairs, they would work the 2 dogs into a frenzy of barking, tail wagging, and jumping. This cycle repeated itself every 3 minutes and 17 seconds. So, when I say "played while we chatted," this is what I mean. 

Being a mompreneur is very glamorous! :)

And, luckily, my friend is a former teacher and a grandmother. She "chatted" like the professional she is!

My friend truly is a professional coach. Before retiring from education, her last position was as an instructional coach in the school where we both worked. Even today, she continues to learn more and more about coaching adults.

She has a way of seeing big picture while still analyzing each individual piece of the picture for problem areas. A unique gift of hers to see big picture down to the details.

During our visit, she challenged my thinking on several aspects of the business I am trying to grow. For example, she encouraged me to rely more on my teaching background. Her comments confirmed what God had put on my heart several months ago. She also urged me to continue refining my thoughts on my target audience. Who will be reading your writing? Who will care to listen as you speak?

So, what does this conversation mean to you, someone who doesn't know my wonderful friend?

1.) Be open to tough conversations about your business with people who love you. Beg them if you must but insist on honesty. (And, then, don't berate them if their suggestions or comments are hard to hear.) Recognize the courage it takes to give someone an honest opinion. It is much easier to simply say, "Oh that sounds good" or "I like your idea." But those remarks don't help you or your business to grow.

2.) Take time to reflect on the conversation. You don't have to make any changes to your business (if you don't want to). But the simple act of making a decision to change or not...to heed your friend's advice or not will strengthen your understanding of the business and of yourself as its owner. Your consideration or reflection places emphasis on the why and what of your business, two cornerstones that shouldn't be ignored.

3.) Know the difference between someone speaking out of love and an acquaintance speaking out of jealousy or stupidity. My friend always speaks with love and with intelligence. But she also tells it straight. (Thank you, Cecilia.)

We all have had at least one experience with someone who casually throws out a cutting remark like, "Why don't you..." or "You should do it like me." Those off-hand remarks and casual relationships are not what I am referring to here! You have my permission to dismiss those types of comments.

But don't reject observations about your business from loving, truth-speaking friends and family members. Instead, take time to reflect on those conversations.

To conclude, continue to surround yourself with people, things, and events that keep you moving forward and growing...in your business, your family life, your spiritual walk, your health, etc.

Prayerfully growing,

Rachel

Timesheet - Weekly Summary

Research - 30 minutes (not including running time with audiobooks)

Content/Product - 7 hours & 15 minutes

With Clients - 0 hours...but maybe soon :)

Marketing - 5 hours & 25 minutes

Total Time: 13 hours & 10 minutes

Takeaway: I am still spending a lot of time writing. I am trying to increase my writing speed and continue to produce 2 posts a week. I definitely will need to be faster if I plan to continue with 2 posts a week and hopefully have other responsibilities (like clients or speaking engagements) in the future!

Detailed Timesheet for the Week

Monday - writing 5 Ways to Find Gifts (Content/Product) for 50 minutes total = 50 minutes

Tuesday - did not work (in Birmingham with boys)

Wednesday - posted twice on Instagram, one highlighting a new post (Marketing) 45 minutes; began editing and revising a blog post for Dan Miller's site, to turn in as a possible guest post (Marketing) 2 hours total = 2 hours and 45 minutes

Thursday - posted on Instagram (Marketing) 20 minutes; read You are a Writer (Research) for 20 minutes; sent 15 Hours post to Dan Miller's team (Marketing) for 1 hour; continued writing, revising, editing, and published Gifts post (Content/Product) for 2 hours and 15 minutes; created Pin for Gift post and pinned (Marketing) for 15 minutes total = 4 hours & 10 minutes

Friday - posted on Instagram (Marketing) for 20 minutes; read ABCs of Speaking (Research) for 10 minutes; began writing anniversary post (Content/Product) for 30 minutes; began writing end-of-week post (Content/Product) for 30 minutes total = 1 hour & 30 minutes

Saturday - continued writing on end-of-week post (Content/Product) for 1 hour and 5 minutes total = 1 hour & 5 minutes

Sunday - continued writing on end-of-week post (Content/Product) for 2 hours and 5 minutes; created Pin and pinned end-of-week post (Marketing) for 45 minutes total = 2 hours & 50 minutes

Total = 13 hours & 10 minutes   

**I have been listening to Little Things, a new book by Andy Andrews, as I run.

 

 

 

Day 63, Week 9 - Collateral Beauty and the Awesomeness of Audio

Dear Comrades,

With Mothers' Day so recent, it had me thinking about my mom and the mom I want to be for my 2 boys. I want to remind you that setting goals and working hard to achieve them are honorable qualities...ones we strive to teach our children. Instead of feeling guilty about pursuing your dream and goals, be consistent...constant in how you love your children. Your aim as a parent is for your children to have a happy childhood...not a perfect childhood. That's just not humanly possible. (Honestly, I am preachin' to myself here.)

week 9 journal inspire to engage podcast and audiobooks

Way Down and Barely In

The old saying, "Down but not out," applied to me this week. That adage registers the image of a fighter...perhaps a boxer who has hit the mat and is crawling his way to a standing position one rope at a time.

The boxer...down but not out of the fight.

Me this week...way down (not just down--but way down) and barely in (as in--almost out).

To be brutally honest with you and with myself, I let a little (really a lot of) negativity creep into my mind this week.

I am pretty sure these maudlin feelings came about because of an email I wrote about possibly presenting at an upcoming event.

See, last week I decreed that I was stopping cold-email promotions for a while to focus on other content for my site. And, I didn't send any cold emails this week. (It was so hard to refrain from doing so. wink, wink) But, I did send an email to a lady who I know, admittedly not well yet a personal connection does exist, about speaking at a meeting in the future months.

I sent it on Monday. It's Saturday. I have heard nothing. Not even a no. A "no" would be better than hearing absolutely nothing.

Now, because of hearing nothing, I have a sliver of hope that my email is sitting in her junk box. One day she will be cleaning out that trash can and discover my jewel of an email gleaming like a gold nugget or a perfect diamond waiting to be scooped up. I have just a smidgen of hope.

I am way down and barely in.    

All of these feelings...hope, anger, fear, patience bring me to this age-old question.

How do I get started when I can't get started?

How do I convince someone to give me a chance when I have no history in the business of speaking and coaching adults? Yet, I still have a background in teaching, which is not a huge stretch from speaking and coaching adults. 

As I wallowed in my pity this week, I prayed to God often asking Him for guidance. Do I give up? Do I keep going? Do I send another email (and possibly move from interested in speaking to stalking you)? What do I do, God?

Collateral Beauty

He whispered to me several times this week to just be patient...to enjoy, almost relish, where I am at with this business. He insists, and I truly believe Him, there is beauty in confusion, sadness, and fear. When you make it out of the scary forest, you reflect on your journey and realize how you drew closer to Him. You had to rely on Him. Think about it, if things had gone just perfectly, you would have never leaned into Him as you did in the scary forest...during the uncertain times.

The phrase "collateral beauty" is beautiful to me.

It is a name of a movie that came out in 2016 starring Will Smith. The plot focuses on Will Smith's character dealing with the overwhelming grief of losing his daughter. I have not seen the movie, simply researched the plot.

I fell in love with the phrase "collateral beauty" because of OneRepublic's song Let's Hurt Tonight. The song is featured in the film, and scenes from the movie play throughout their music video. When the last note ends, Naomie Harris looks at Will Smith and says, "Just be sure to notice the collateral beauty."

The first time I heard the line, it stopped me in my tracks. "Just be sure to notice the collateral beauty." Be sure to notice the splendor...the beauty in life, even in difficult times.

Most people pair "collateral" with "damage." Collateral damage. What happens when something is unintentionally damaged...hurt...ruined in an event. When Company X closed, that was horrible. So many jobs lost! But the collateral damage was worse. Four of its suppliers were forced to close as well. Even more job lost.

But when "collateral" is joined with "beauty," a new meaning arises. From despair, pain, embarrassment, personal attacks, grief, illness, whatever difficult event, beauty appears. Beauty may accompany damage. Nonetheless, beauty is there. 

In no way do I liken my frustration and sadness with creating a business to a person's grief over losing a child or a parent or a spouse or to someone facing a terminal illness or a chronic disease. Please know I mean no disrespect.

I am simply sharing how I am able to view a tough week on my ego as a positive time in my life. I am choosing to see collateral beauty.

In my frustration, I am being stretched to view others' perspectives. In my anger, I am being humbled in my abilities. In my confusion, I am being drawn to the Lord, seeking His wisdom.

Those are beautiful traits to have and to mold. Collateral beauty, not collateral damage. 

The Power of Podcasts and The Awesomeness of Audiobooks

I try to end each journal entry with a section on how I am trying to learn more and to surround myself with people who long for growth. Don't be fooled...this section is more for me than it is for you. It is therapeutic for me to end each entry with a reflection about positive people or positive things.

Lately I have listened to some thought-provoking, not as in controversial but in causing me to think about my business, resources and wanted to share those with you.

I love audio (podcasts and audiobooks) because you can accomplish a mindless task while listening and learning. For example, I listen to an audiobook while I run throughout the week. I usually listen to a podcast while I clean the kitchen after dinner (assuming I can hear over my boys playing in the next room. I am sure that never happens at your house.)

Podcasts

Dan Miller's 48 Days - Dan Miller is the author of the popular book 48 Days to the Work You Love. On his weekly podcast, he answers followers' questions about entrepreneurship and how to improve their work lives and just their lives in general. He has a kind, yet direct style.

The Dave Ramsey Show - Dave's podcast/radio show focuses on personal finance and living a debt-free life. People call in to share their financial troubles and their financial victories. In the troubled calls, you learn money tips from Dave that may be applicable to your business. In the celebration calls, you learn how people pay off $50,000 or $100,000 in debt by having a plan and a dedication to the plan to reach their debt-free dream. Hmmm...seems like entrepreneurs may know a little about forming plans and staying dedicated to the plans (and to their dreams).

Smart Passive Income - This podcast is hosted by Pat Flynn. He interviews entrepreneurs from all kinds of niches to dissect their successes and to make these details accessible to listeners. He asks questions about business plans, marketing strategies, back stories, and even about their emotions as they started or expanded their companies.

Business Boutique - This podcast is similar to Smart Passive Income. It is hosted by Christy Wright, a Ramsey personality and the creator of Business Boutique events. Christy's focus is on women entrepreneurs and helping them overcome the logistics and the emotions of starting their own businesses.

Audiobooks

Funny thing here, I listened to most of these books while running. But, if I really, really liked them, I later purchased the actual words-on-paper books. I love writing in a great book!

Purple Cow - This is an iconic marketing book written by Seth Godin. His premise...marketing is not something done after a product is finished. Instead, marketing is a part of product development (not an afterthought!). How to do this? Create a remarkable product! It is a must-read for every business owner. (Plus, it is a short read so a great one to get your momentum started.)

EntreLeadership - This leadership book is written by Dave Ramsey and is a playbook for how he runs Ramsey Solutions. On the surface, I didn't think this book would be applicable to me since I am a one-man show. Yet, Dave gives advice for how to do business with other companies and how effective (and ineffective) contracts are. He even shares some of the mishaps of Ramsey Solutions, which gave this ole girl peace and hope. Obviously, making mistakes is a part of growing a business.

The 10% Entrepreneur - Patrick McGinnis wrote this book about his own adventures in 10% entrepreneurship. He lost his financial security in 2008 when many others did. This book helped me realize that I could keep my full-time stay-at-home mom job and be an entrepreneur as well. His mindset of giving only 10% of yourself to a venture was an eye-opening yet simple idea. I loved the opening third and the closing third of the book. Full disclosure though, I didn't really enjoy the middle.

The $100 Startup - Written by Chris Guillebeau, this book is a fun, inspiring read. Chris is a successful entrepreneur himself and weaves much of his story throughout the book. He goes a great giant step further and interviews a lot of other business owners from many niches. He shares their insights with readers.  Chris now has a podcast called Side Hustle School. You may find it helpful too.

Business Boutique - This handbook for starting a business is written by Christy Wright. Christy focuses on women entrepreneurs, giving as much advice about the emotions and beliefs needed to start a business as the logistics required. It is a moving, informative book.

In closing, I urge you to find some things (books, podcasts, TV shows, sermons, groups, meetings, friends, etc.) that keep you moving forward...keep you motivated...keep you inspired yet humble.

Prayerfully moving forward,

Rachel

P.S. In proofreading, I realized my recent fascination with boxing. Two weeks ago, I spent a large portion of my journal comparing myself to Rocky Balboa. I hope it is not a revelation for where I am to take this business. I don't think I will make it long as a boxer. :)

P.S.S. For most journal entries, I spend another 20 minutes typing in my timesheet and calculating my total times. But, since I don't like that part and because it is Mothers' Day, I am giving myself a little gift. I am not going to do it. :) Scroll below to see total time and a quick takeaway. 


Want To Read More?

But don't want to share your email address (believe me, I understand). Feel free to follow me on Instagram @inspiretoengage   I often share (what I think is) a creative and relevant pic I shot, a savvy blurb about my newly-published writing, and a link in the bio to it. The artistry will blow your mind! ;)

Share your email address below if you don't have an Instagram account. No judgements here! I didn't either for years and still don't have a Facebook page. I am not sure if that is stupidity or self-preservation. Anyways, I welcome your email address if you want to share it! :)

 

 

 

Weekly Timesheet - Summary

Total:  about 18 hours (I had a few hours to myself on Saturday as a Mothers' Day treat. I spent much of it working.)

Takeaway: Once again, I was able to crank out 2 posts, but I am still taking too long to do so. I also spent a lot of time on Instagram this week and gained about 6 followers this week. (I am literally laughing at myself as I write how many followers I gained this week. But, I have to start somewhere.) I had one post (May 11th, I think) had 20 likes, the most I have ever gotten for a post. I have been analyzing why it was so well received...the hashtags, time of day, day of week, topic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 56, Week 8 - Mothers' Day and The Tortoise Wins

Dear Comrades,

Mothers' Day is around the corner. I want to wish you a happy one!

Lately, I have spent a lot of time pondering why moms (and dads) feel such guilt. It may have always been like this for parents, but it is definitely alive and well these days. In today's times, a lot of the guilt is centered around work. You feel guilty if you work outside the home. You feel guilty if you work inside the home but still ignore your children to get stuff done. Ugh! You can't win for losing!

This got me thinking about my mom who worked so hard (unapologetically!) throughout my childhood. I truly believe I was and am better for it. You may want to check out my post To My Hardworking, Steadfast Mom to see why I feel this way.

week 8 journal inspire to engage

The Tortoise Wins the Race. Right?

I have heard it said many times, "Don't pray for patience. Otherwise, you will get real opportunities to practice it!"

Well, last week I wrote about ways I was trying to increase my writing speed. After writing that section of tips, I proceeded to take longer to finish the end-of-the-week post than ever before. I just couldn't get my thoughts together. Ugh...how embarrassing and frustrating! Next I tried to pay tribute to my mother with a blog post for Mothers' Day. That post took me forever to write as well. (In my defense, although a weak one for a writer, it is more difficult to write about someone you know and love because you want readers to admire them as you do.)

For me, the saying would be something like, "Don't pray for writing speed. Otherwise you will get real opportunities to practice it (and fail!)." Anyways, I am trying to write faster, but it is a slow go. :) 

I am choosing to live by the lesson taught in Aesop's fable The Tortoise and the Hare. Keep working at it, and your hard work will pay off. The more I write and practice the tips I shared last week, the better I will become. Right? (I sure hope!)

To Ponder: Is there something in your business that is taking you longer than expected? Should you continue to be the Tortoise? Is the task one that has to be done by you? Is it necessary to your business at this time? 

(To answer my own questions--Since I am building a business/blog around my experiences and my research, I feel I should be the one doing the writing. I plan for writing to be a pillar of my business, and I truly love it. Now, if I could afford someone to do website design and management...I would no longer be playing the Tortoise in that show! I can promise you that!)

Not Promoting Myself Any More

For the last couple of weeks, one of my weekly goals is to practice courage by cold emailing Christian women's groups about speaking at one of their meetings.

I have cold emailed about seven groups and two of them twice. I really stepped up the courage game when I re-emailed two groups. I usually live by the rule that if someone doesn't respond the first time, then they aren't interested. I know in my head that is not always the case. I have ignored emails inadvertently when I told myself, "I will write them back when I finish this." Then I forget. Ugh.

But this week, I changed my marketing approach...drastically. I decided to stop emailing and to focus more on writing (since it obviously takes me years to crank out posts!) for the next few weeks. My thoughts are that as I write more I have more information and topics in my toolbox. It also looks more professional for someone to visit my site and see numerous examples of my work.

Now what I can't decide...is this new approach a wussy way out of promoting myself or is it a valid one for a few weeks.

I am voting--valid. To be honest, I have heard nothing back from any of my cold emails. Wait, I take that back. A kind office manager responded that she had forwarded on my email to the correct person. (Man, I don't like not having that excuse in my back pocket..wink, wink. It makes you feel even worse to know the right person received it and still isn't interested.)

A more accurate title for this section would be: Not Promoting Myself for a Few Weeks, Except on Instagram, Because I Need to Lick My Wounds and Regroup. This title was just a little long. :)

Mompreneur Group

Lastly, I can't state enough how inspiring and empowering it is to meet with like-minded women. I strongly encourage you to make it happen!

This week I had another Dreamers' Meeting with my friend April, aka The Enough Mom. It was wonderful to spend time on the phone talking about our goals, struggles, misunderstandings, and excitement. We always get off the phone feeling connected...not alone and not stupid for pursuing our dreams, which is often how you feel as an entrepreneur if you don't make a point to talk with others like you.

I also got to attend the monthly mompreneur lunch group at The Catalyst Center in Huntsville, AL. Each month, a different lady leads a discussion on topics relevant to mompreneurs. Just being in a room full of other mothers who are entrepreneurial minded gets your heart racing and brain reeling.

I strongly encourage you to spend time (on the phone, over the internet, or in person) with women who are like you trying to carve out a business of their own. You are more energized, and you realize you're in good company with this whole entrepreneurial thing. (FYI, I found my monthly mompreneur group by googling " mompreneur group" and my city.)

You are not alone!

Prayerfully trudging along,

Rachel

Weekly Timesheet Summary   *Detailed timesheet is below.

Research - (3 hours suggested) 3 hours & 40 minutes

Content/Products - (5 hours suggested) 9 hours & 55 minutes

With Clients - (4 hours suggested) 0 hours

Marketing - (3 hours suggested) 4 hours & 10 minutes

Total Time = 17 hours & 45 minutes

Detailed Timesheet

Monday - worked on Pinterest and 2 Pins of my Own (Marketing) for 1 hour; finished end-of-week post for last week (Content/Product) for 1 hour & 30 minutes; wrote part of Mothers' Day Post (Content/Product) for 2 hours Total = 4 hours & 30 minutes

Tuesday - had Dreamers' Meeting with April on Phone (Research) for 40 minutes; Posted on Instagram (Marketing) for 20 minutes; Read Abc's of Speaking (Research) for 20 minutes total = 1 hour & 20 minutes

Wednesday - Continued writing Mothers' Day post and started on Need-for-a-season opt-in (Content/product) for 45 minutes; posted on instagram (Marketing) for 15 minutes; finished and revised Mothers' day post (Content/product) for 1 hour & 40 minutes totatl = 2 hours & 40 minutes

thursday - worked on site to determine how to create an opt-in option (research) for 40 minutes; attended this month's mompreneur lunch meeting (research) for 1 hour & 30 minutes; consulted with my sister on perception of biz (research) for 30 minutes; posted on instagram (Marketing) for 10 minutes total = 2 hours & 50 minutes

friday - created pin for pinterest for Mothers' day post (Marketing) for 35 minutes total = 35 minutes

saturday - posted on instagram (Marketing) for 20 minutes; worked on Pinterest (Marketing) for 10 minutes; drafted an email about presenting at mompreneur group next month (Marketing) for 20 minutes; worked on website, about & speaking pages (Marketing) for 1 hour; wrote end-of-week post (content/product) for 2 hours & 30 minutes total = 4 hours & 20 minutes

sunday - finished timesheet and revised end-of-week post (content/product) for 1 hour & 30 minutes total = 1 hour & 30 minutes

total for week = 17 hours & 45 minutes

 

Day 49, Week 7 - The Likeness Betwen Rocky Balboa & Me

Dear Comrades,

I feel as if I have hit a stride with the tasks I try to accomplish each week, except with marketing perhaps. For example, I am now trying to write 2 posts a week--one topic specific (titled Blog on homepage) and one journal entry (titled Journal on homepage). For the last 2 weeks, I have met this goal.

So, there's something to celebrate!

I do worry, however, if I ever get any speaking gigs will I be able to maintain this rate of writing and work around 15 hours each week, which is one of my main priorities in this season of life. (Just like me to be worrying about something that has not even happened yet. Praying about that!)

week 7 inspire to engage

Training Myself to Write Faster

Picture Rocky Balboa as he runs up the steps in his gray jogging suit and sweat-covered self. Picture Rocky Balboa as he races Apollo on the beach. Both running as fast as they can.      Picture Rocky Balboa as he lifts up Pauli and the crew in a wooden cart (meant to be pulled by horses!).

Now, picture me. Lifting my computer (bicep and back work) and disconnecting it from the charger (wrist work). The wetness soaking my collar is from the water I spilled as I tried to drink and type simultaneously.

Basically, Rocky and I are one in the same--we both love to train in gray sweat pants. :) And, we both have significant reasons for training so hard. He wants and needs to win! I want and need to write blog posts faster.

With aiming to write 2 posts a week, work only 15 hours, and do business tasks other than just write during that time, my speed must increase.

For those of you writers (or aspiring to be), here are some tips I am trying. 

1.) Race. If you are competitive (remember I am Rocky!), you will like this part of training. Michael Hyatt, in his book Platform, tells how he challenges himself to write a post in 70 minutes. He sets a timer and tries to beat it. I am using his tip with this post. I have 30 minutes left to finish writing and revise.

2.) Revise and edit at the end. This strategy is so tough for me, but it works. For some reason, I love to go back over (and over and over again) what I have previously written before I continue writing anything else. I am going to be honest here with myself and with you. This is an avoidance strategy to keep from doing the grueling work of putting words on paper. For me, it is much easier to revise what is already written than to develop something new. (Just caught myself going back to read all of number 2. Stopped when I caught myself!)

3.) Think about an upcoming post a day or two ahead of writing it. This is another tip from Michael Hyatt. He says that he often determines what his topic will be and thinks about it before going to bed. Michael believes that "sleeping on it" helps him to organize his thoughts better. For me, this is a toss up. Sometimes I can't go to sleep for thinking all about my side business and the posts I want to write. I am going to try this strategy a little longer to determine its importance for me.

4.) Press Publish button sooner. I am one to read, read, and read again my posts before I hit Publish. I am so afraid that there are typos or words used incorrectly. Yet, Michael Hyatt reminded me in Platform that blogs can easily be corrected if a mistake is found. That reminder has lifted lots of the perfectionism.

5.) Write less words. The jury is still out on how many words blog posts should be. I have read some experts who say the long posts (2,000 words or more) get more reads. Other experts insist that posts should be between 500-700 words. That is all our attention spans can take these days. I am long winded naturally. So, I am trying to write some of my topic-specific posts shorter. I still haven't made it down to 500 words; that may kill me. ;) Not based on scientific merit, just my personal preference, I feel that readers enjoy a mixture--some long stuff and some short. I am trying that approach for now and challenging myself to write less words with certain posts.

I have increased my speed but not to the extent that I would like. It has only been 2 weeks so I plan to keep using these strategies. (Hey, Rocky didn't get his strength from 2 weeks of workouts!) Hopefully, then I will be racing through posts as fast as Rocky chased Apollo along the beach. :)

What aspect of your business is important but taking too much time to complete? Can you think of ways to increase your productivity?

Blowin' Up Instagram

I'm blowin' it up in every sense of the phrase. I am now up to 31 followers. Yes, you read that correctly--31 followers. And, that number stands if no one unfollows me between now and posting.

Hey, you either laugh or cry. I try to choose laugh every time, a lesson my grandfather and mother taught me. Something else I chant to myself...you have to start somewhere. Unless you are a TV, movie, music, or sports star, you will not gain 10,000 followers the moment you create an Instagram account. Believe me on this one. I experienced it first hand. 31 followers, enough said.

But, I did have a big day on Thursday with Instagram. I gained 6 new followers. It seemed to be tied to a post I shared that day about my son building a rock pile and hiding his cars in there.

So, I was left wondering why that happened. I had never gained 6 followers in a day. Was my post that riveting? Was it the hashtags I used? Was it because I followed some other momma bloggers earlier that morning? Also note, that I received lots of likes on Thursday! I was on cloud nine!

Then, The Bottom Falls Out

Because I was sitting on my proverbial cloud nine, I had all kinds of courage on Friday. I used that spunk and shared a post on Instagram highlighting a blog post I recently wrote--Guilt-Free Entrepreneurs for Moms. (This was only the second time I have shared my writing on Instagram.)

Then, crickets. Nothing.

Finally, a dear friend of mine...a man...liked my Instagram share on guilt-free entrepreneurship for mothers. (Thank you, Tommy! Your kindness always warms my heart and makes me smile.)

Remember one of my mottos--you can either laugh or cry; choose laugh.

So, I laughed. I laughed that my first Like for this post (after it sat for hours on Instagram) was from a man. :)

I did eventually get a few Likes, but it didn't blow up. For a social-media scaredy cat such as me, sharing my actual work takes a lot of courage. Receiving little feedback and no excitement hurts...hurts a lot.

These questions bounced in my head. Was it a dumb post? Not creative enough or too creative? Was it a topic of no interest to others? Is Friday around lunch a bad day and time to post? 

As I stated several paragraphs ago, I was busy blowin' up Instagram this week. I gained 6 whole followers. Yay! Then, I gathered the courage to share a blog post only to have it barely receive any notice. Bluh.

Yep, that's me. Blowin' up Instagram in every way this week.

Dust Myself Off

In Seth Godin's book Purple Cow, he writes, "If it was easy to be a rock star, then everyone would be one."

He is full of great lines. But, that line really stuck with me this week.

I was having a particularly low day on Saturday since my Instagram post on guilt-free entrepreneurship went over about as well as a skunk in a car.

I needed the reminded that things take time...things worth doing don't often come easily...to keep working.

A favorite quote of mine from Abraham Lincoln is, "I will study and prepare myself, and someday my chance will come." And Dave Ramsey says, "Twenty years later, you are an overnight success."

I have only been at this entrepreneur thing for about 9 months and working on this project for 7 weeks. In the scheme of life, that is a blink of an eye.

My point, I have to dust myself off. We are going to have big days when we feel we are really making progress. A few days (or moments!) later, we wonder if we will ever accomplish one of our goals. That's life, and that's business. We just have to keep at it.

I encourage you to do the same--dust yourself off. Celebrate the successes, no matter how small. Learn from the failures. Then, move on.

Rocky didn't win 'em all. He just didn't know how to quit.

Prayerfully working,

Rachel

 

Weekly Timesheet - Summary*Detailed timesheet below

Research (3 hours suggested) = 1 hour & 20 minutes

Content/Product (5 hours suggested) = 8 hours & 55 minutes

With Clients (4 hours suggested) = 0

Marketing (3 hours suggested) = 3 hours &  20 minutes

Total: 13 hours & 35 minutes

Takeaways: I am spending a lot of time writing! I am trying to get faster. For now, it is not hurting me because I don't have clients or speaking gigs. However, I need to plan for the future. Also, the Research time is a little skewed because I don't count the time I run and listen to books on my phone. Recently, I just finished Platform and started listening again to Purple Cow.

Detailed Timesheet

Monday - finished end-of-week post (Content/Product) for 1 hour & 40 minutes; contacted Amazon and a potential interviewee (Research) for 20 minutes; created a Pin for end-of-week post (Marketing) for 20 minutes; revised my About page and added a picture (Marketing) for 30 minutes = 2 hours & 50 minutes

Tuesday - worked on "Guilt-Free Entrepreneurship" post (Content/Product) for 1 hour; created an Instagram post (Marketing) for 10 minutes; pinned on Pinterest (Marketing) for 15 minutes = 1 hour & 25 minutes

Wednesday - cold emailed 2 women's church groups about speaking (Marketing) 1 hour & 10 minutes; posted on Instagram (Marketing) 10 minutes; Instagram research (Research) for 30 minutes; continued writing on "Guilt-Free Entrepreneurship" post (Content/Product) for 45 minutes; worked on graphics for post (Content/Product) for 30 minutes = 3 hours & 5 minutes

Thursday - posted on Instagram (Marketing) for 15 minutes; finished writing and revising--2 times because I forgot to save, Ugh! (Content/Product) for 1 hour & 30 minutes; research Instagram (Research) for 30 minutes total = 2 hours & 15 minutes

Friday - began writing "Mother's Day" post (Content/Product) for 20 minutes; wrote part of end-of-week post (Content/Product) for 1 hour & 40 minutes; tweeted about "Guilt-Free" post finished earlier this week (Marketing) for 5 minutes; shared "Guilt-Free" post on Instagram (Marketing) for 25 minutes total = 2 hours & 30 minutes

Saturday - wrote on end-of-week post (Content/Product) for 1 hour Total = 1 hour

Sunday - Continued writing end-of-week post (Content/Product) for 30 minutes Total = 30 minutes

total time = 13 hours & 35 minutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 42, Week 6 - Business Boutique Event

Dear Comrade,

This week I attended Business Boutique One-Day in Atlanta, GA. If you are not familiar, Business Boutique was created by Christy Wright and Dave Ramsey about 2 years ago. It now includes a podcast, a book, and events.

As for the Business Boutique events, I liken them to church for business women. You get spiritual uplifting, business straight talk, and fellowship with women like you. Seriously, church for business women!

inspire to engage journal week 6 business boutique instagram

Practicing Courage

I have explained in previous posts that I like the phrase "practicing courage." This notion goes back to my high school and college days when I played basketball. In practice, we did things that we intended to repeat in game situations. Even though practices were intense, no one actually won or lost. If I had a rough practice, I got to try again at the next one. A bad game, on the other hand, meant a mark in the L column. 

Thus, I like to tell myself when I step out of my comfort zone in order to further my business that I am simply "practicing courage." It if doesn't go well, I get to try again soon. No biggie!

Christy Wright says that confidence is a muscle that must be used for it to get stronger. Her analogy is similar to mine. Keep at it, and things that once were a big deal are no longer so tough.

Elevator Pitch

One of the best things about Business Boutique events is being surrounded by other women who are creating or already running businesses. There's great power in that fellowship! And, the organizers realize that so they encourage you to talk with one another.

Yikes! I LOVE talking, but I feel so dumb when I try to explain my business and my goals. Am I the only one who experiences this? I sure hope not. To my ears, I sound like one of my young sons explaining his restaurant where you can get a chicken biscuit while they fix your broke-down motorcycle and wash your dog at the counter where you're eating!

The difference between my sons and me--they are confident that their restaurant is exactly what everyone wants. 

I knew these Business Boutique conversations were coming because I had attended an event last year. So, I psyched myself up for describing my business and even practiced in my vehicle my elevator pitch--a description of your business in the time it takes to ride an elevator a few floors. So, be informative, yet concise. Best practice is to start with the benefits, not the features of your product or service. How would the listener benefit from your business?

Side note, an obvious theme developed this week for me--practice. Practice courage, practice talking about my business, just practice something...everything. :) Seriously, practicing a thing that causes you anxiety is a way to combat your fear--to train your brain and body to properly respond when put into that situation or event.

I am happy to report that I gave my elevator pitch several times that day to women sitting close to me and listened intently while they gave me theirs. Each time, I got a little more confident.

Christy Wright has another saying about confidence and courage--fake it, until you feel like. How true! Keep practicing confidence, and you become more confident.

Social Media Scaredy Cat

It is ironic to talk about practicing courage in the first half of this journal and then call yourself a scaredy cat in the second half. Yet, the purpose of the this journal is honesty with you and with myself. So, for this week--courage and scaredy cat go in the same post. :)

My nemesis is social media. I am a weirdo that can describe all of my silly mess ups in this journal but cringe at the thought of putting a few words on Twitter or Instagram.

In fact, I had a fight with my sister about two months into my business endeavor over Twitter. I had created an account, taken over an hour to write a 140-word tweet, and just couldn't make myself actually tweet it. I called my sister crying. After a few minutes of gently trying to persuade me, she starts screaming into the phone, "Put your big girl pants on and do it!"  She shouted that line at me for about 30 seconds, which feels like an eternity when you are on the receiving end. It was a little bit scary, but she was right to "encourage" me. I needed it. I still didn't tweet that night, and my first tweet was only a retweet. Truly, I am a scaredy cat when it comes to social media.

At the writing of this post, I still don't have a Facebook page and don't plan to get one soon. I don't have time right now to learn the platform or to even manage it. Therefore, I have chosen to hold off with Facebook. And, let me be candid, I am practicing courage in many business areas right now, and I don't have the energy or desire to practice with this platform. Call me lazy, dumb, whatever. I call it self-preservation.

Instagram

About the time I got serious about creating a side business, my friend April suggested Instagram to me. She knew my fear of social media and told me that it just felt friendlier than Twitter to her.

I now have been a proud member of the Instagram community for about 2 months, and I do like it better than Twitter. Because I enjoy photography (even though I have no talent at it!) and because I can write as much as I want in the message, I am much happier with Instagram. I actually find some joy in sharing, which surprises me.

To continue with my theme of practicing courage this week, I decided to share on Instagram for the first time a post I had written for my business about the mindsets of sidepreneurs. Until then, all of my Instagram posts had been observations or about my sweet family.

Because many of my 23 followers are family members or friends from high school, it was like letting a secret out of the bag. I was finally telling them about my dream for a business of my own. I felt very exposed and vulnerable. What would they think of the post if they actually read it? Would they think I was stupid for trying this? Would they laugh at me?

I am lucky because I have several followers from the same wonderful family (the Colemans). It is because of their likes and comments that I have gained confidence enough to keep "practicing confidence" on Instagram. :) So after sharing my first business-related post, I held my breath and waited. Hopefully someone would like my post, at least one of the Colemans maybe. 

Sure enough, I received a "like," and then, even better, I got a text from Ginny, one of my best friends and a member of the Coleman clan. She wrote sweet things about enjoying my post and that she hoped I succeeded in this endeavor. My heart soared.

It is amazing what a few "likes" and some kind words can do for a fragile ego.

So this week...I urge you to practice courage. Determine a few scary tasks that need to be done. Write them down so you can check them off when you accomplish them. Ask God to give you strength to practice courage. Do the scary things. Celebrate your success.

Furthermore, be someone else's confidence boost. A few kind, yet honest words go a long way for someone who really needs to hear them.

Hopefully encouraging,

Rachel

 

Weekly Timesheet Summary

*Because I was on the road to Atlanta, then back and forth to my parents' home to get my boys, and the Business Boutique event on Wednesday, my detailed timesheet only made it to my notebook...not to the website. So, I only have the overall time below.

Total Time = 18 hours & 35 minutes

Explanation and Take Away:

1.) I counted my time at Business Boutique as work time (Research time specifically).

2.) I also counted about 2 hours of my drive home from Atlanta as work time because I consulted over the phone with my brother-in-law Ben about marketing strategies and then my friend April (Dreamers' Meeting). Of course my mind was reeling with ideas almost all of my drive time. :)

3.) No surprise, I want to spend more time next week contacting women's groups about speaking for them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 35, Week 5 - Just Oozing with Confidence

Dear Comrade,

I am not sure why I woke up Thursday just oozing with confidence and gumption, but I went with it. I deemed it Tenacious Thursday.

I do have a theory about this sudden burst of pluck. Stay tuned for my thoughts below.

Marketing Myself

One of my goals this week was to spend more time marketing myself as a speaker so my confidence boost on Thursday came at the perfect time. (Thank you, God. You always know what I need.)

See, lately I have spent a great deal of time working on my website. It is a shocking fact based on its appearance but a true one. I count that time each week in the Marketing category. According to Dan Miller's formula for creating a side business in 15 hours a week, you need to spend about 3 hours on marketing.

I count the grueling website work as marketing because I intend for my website to be a place where clients, potential and existing, gather. I want it to be a tool to attract those interested in my message...similar to an ever-evolving business card. My website is an advertisement (marketing 101) and also a product of mine. All of that to say, it is important, but it shouldn't get all of my "marketing time" each week because I have to get people to the site first!

Thus, one marketing goal this week was to email two women church groups that I had emailed several weeks back. Re-emailing is very hard for me because my initial thoughts are that they didn't respond the first time so they obviously aren't interested. Yet, Patrick McGinnis in his book The 10% Entrepreneur and Michael Hyatt in his book Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World both mention the importance of following up with potential clients or collaborators. Don't excessively email or obnoxiously call, but after an appropriate amount of time, contact the person once or twice more. McGinnis points out that we are all busy, and sometimes we need a second chance to respond to an opportunity or person.

So, with their trusted advice (don't fail me now, Patrick and Michael!), I emailed the two groups again. Guess what day...THURSDAY! I really was tenacious that day! At the writing of this post, I have heard nothing back, but it has only been a few days. :) Optimism rules!

Professional Email Address

I finally broke this week and spent the $5 a month it takes to get a professional looking email address - rachel@inspiretoengage.com. (To get this email, I used G Suite, which is a Google product, and registered through Squarespace, the platform I currently use for my website.) I am very thrifty in my business because, at this point, I have not earned any money. Instead, I have spent, although very thoughtfully and carefully. My husband and I have agreed to invest up to $1,000 of our own money. When that is gone, it will be deemed a hobby, and I will have to reevaluate...a lot of things. (I still have over $600 so that will get me more than 100 months of my personalized email. So all is good right now..wink, wink.)

I have heard it recommended by well-known individuals and everyday rock stars who are winning at this entrepreneurial thing that a professional email address lends to your credibility; people take you and your business more seriously. In Platform, Michael Hyatt tells a story of receiving solicitation from a "social media expert" whose email address was something like rooster776@ aol.com. Instantly you become leery of this so-called expert just because of the email address. Do you want Rooster advising you about tweets or Instagram posts? (Furthermore, Michael says that aol screams 1990s, not present day and the future.) If you choose to get a paid-for email address, most suggest using your name @ your business's or website's name (example: tammy@beautifuljewels.com or sarah@lovelylady.net)   

So, I have now become credible by purchasing a professional email address, right?

Wrong!

I Continue To Wow Myself

If optimism rules, then sarcasm is a high-ranking official. It gets me (and maybe you) through the tough, embarrassing times until optimism is back on top. :)

This ole girl was full of confidence on Thursday and emailing people left and right. Only after my husband sent me an email on FRIDAY NIGHT to my new professional address did I realize that I wasn't receiving email. I could send it all day long! But, I couldn't receive it.

Even better, when someone replied to my email or wrote one directly to me, they got some wonderful message about configuration being wrong. My credibility and professionalism just skyrocketed with those bounce-back emails! You can't buy that kind of marketing...you have to earn it! :)

To clarify my issue, I didn't configure the MX records correctly at my domain host. G Suite (Google) walks you through this process, but I obviously failed at that task. Please note, I sent a practice email to myself but did from another gmail account; the practice one came through just fine. Learn from me...do several practice runs and from a variety of email services.

To resolve my problem, I chose the Live Chat option at Namecheap, the company where I purchased my domain name. MX records must be fixed with your domain host (Namecheap for me). I love this company because it offers Live Chat as an option, and they do it well--kindly, quickly, and competently. As you can imagine, I have had several opportunities to try out their services. :)

Use Live Chat If Available

I strongly suggest Live Chat if you are technically challenged like me and a company offers it. Don't be a hero and try to do or learn everything yourself. If your gift is sewing, then sew. If you gift is cooking, then cook. If you gift is training others, then train. Let people with technology gifts us them, just as you want to use your gifts to serve people. This mindset saves you time and keeps you focused on the "ing" of your business! This is just a little tip from someone who wanted to understand every aspect of a website, hosting, coding, etc. Then, I reminded myself that I have no real passion for those topics and definitely am not gifted in those fields!

The Power of Positive Thinking And Writing

This week I worked on a blog post called "Little Successes Lead to Big Things." In this post I outline three things that happened to me lately that were positive...things that motivated me to continue on. For example, Brandon Gaille followed me on Pinterest; Brandon is a big deal in the entrepreneurial world and information-giving business. As I explained in my post, he didn't actually follow me; his podcast The Blog Millionaire did. Still, his picture is beside the podcast's logo so I count it as a personal following. :)  

My point in the post, and what I found in the actual act of writing it, is that focusing on good things puts you in a positive frame of mind. Read, write, think about, and talk about positive things. When you do this, those negative voices in your head lose their strength; no longer do they scream, "You can't do this." Instead, positive emotions like confidence and motivation take over. 

I challenge you to write down three positive things that have happened to you over the last few weeks or months. Simply remembering and then writing the positive things will alter your mindset for the day and for the tasks ahead.

Focusing on the positive,

Rachel

Weekly Timesheet - Summary

Research - (3 hours suggested)  1 hour & 35 minutes

Content/Product - (5 hours suggested) 7 hours & 10 minutes

With Clients - (4 hours suggested) 0 hours

Marketing - (3 hours suggested) 3 hours & 15 minutes

Total = 12 hours      *Detailed timesheet below

Takeaway = I spent a great deal of time writing, thinking, and revising this week. Because I don't have clients or speaking engagements yet, I assume that is okay. However, I could use the With Clients category as additional Marketing time as well and probably should. I also want to get quicker at writing posts. Platform has some good suggestions for doing that.

Detailed Timesheet

Monday - finished last week's end-of-week post (Content/Product) for 30 minutes; read Business Boutique (Research) for 20 minutes Total = 50 minutes

Tuesday - Finished timesheet from last week, forgot to add yesterday (Content/Product) for 20 minutes; worked on "Little Successes" blog post (Content/Product) for 1 hour & 25 minutes; looked at SheRevolution, a group I would love to speak at (Research) for 15 minutes; Read Business Boutique and ABC's of speaking for 20 minutes; worked to get professional-looking email address (Marketing) for 35 minutes total = 2 hours & 55 minutes

Wednesday - finished reading business boutique (research) for 10 minutes; worked more on "Little Successes" post (Content/product) for 1 hour total = 1 hour & 10 minutes

Thursday - emailed 2 potential speaking opportunities with women's groups (Marketing) for 30 minutes; emailed thank-yous to 2 ladies I have met recently who are doing great things & making a positive impact on me (marketing) for 20 minutes; completed a business boutique survey (Marketing) for 10 minutes; shared with Dan Miller's group that I had written a post inspired by his concept and sent a huge thank you to him (Marketing) for 5 minutes; revised and published "Little Successes" (Content/product) for 50 minutes; posted on Instagram (Marketing) for 15 minutes total = 2 hours & 10 minutes

Friday - Begin writing end-of-week post (content/product) for 1 hour & 5 minutes; read ABc's of speaking (Research) for 15 minutes; worked to fix Professional email issue (marketing) for 25 minutes; re-emailed people who got bounce-back emails (Marketing) for 15 minutes total = 2 hours

Saturday - continue writing end-of-week post (content/product) for 35 minutes; read abs's of speaking (research) for 15 minutes; posted on instagram (marketing) for 10 minutes total = 1 hour

sunday - continue writing and revising end-of-week post (content/product) for 1 hour & 15 minutes; calculated timesheet (content/product) for 10 minutes; worked to create story graphic for end-of-week post for pinterest (Marketing) for 30 minutes total= 1 hour & 55 minutes

total for week: 12 hours

 

Day 28, Week 4 - Know Your Priorities

Dear Comrade,

This week was one of reflection and reminders.

Disappointed in Myself

For 3 days this week, I hosted a yard sale at my house. My husband's grandmother, "Boss Lady" as I call her on yard sale days, enjoys making side money for herself and for other family members who add to her ever-growing collection of treasures. We have a lot of fun! My husband even takes off work to help Boss Lady and me.

On Saturday, I started complaining to him about how much I haven't worked this week...that I haven't spent 15 hours on my biz. I suddenly became disappointed in myself. For this week, my priorities were different, and I need to own that!

See, this week was about yard selling, and yard selling isn't just about pricing a few items.

Yard selling for us is about spending time with Boss Lady and learning lessons that only a grandmother can convey. It is about teaching my sons that you work for money. It is about working together as a family to accomplish a large goal.

You need to know that it takes multiple trips from Boss Lady's house to bring the treasure bins to my house for selling. My mother-in-law and father-in-law are often involved in the transporting of said treasures. It really is a family affair!

Remembering My Priorities

In a few quiet moments on Saturday (and there were not many that day!), God reminded me that my priorities this week had been the yard sale. It had been on my calendar for months; it didn't just sneak up. And, I had worked very hard at the front of the week on my business to compensate for a lack of free time during the yard sale days at the end of the week. I still, however, started to panic when I didn't spend my usual amount of time working at my business goals.

I share my angst and disappointment in myself this week as a reminder. We started our own businesses to have more time with our families...to have greater freedom...to have more flexibility. The yard sale should have represented my greater time, freedom, and flexibility. Instead, I let little voices in my head diminish some of my yard-sale joy (especially the last day) all because I didn't keep my priorities in the forefront of my mind. 

Have you ever felt angst or resentment over spending time with family, thinking you should be working? (That is a really, really hard thing to type and even harder to admit.) Knowing and reminding ourselves of our priorities for the day, the week, or the month help to cut down on the pull we feel between family and work. If you relate to these sentiments, you may find "How to Set Realistic Goals as an Entrepreneur" helpful. (I wrote it and am trying to live it with God's help!)

Value Yourself. Sleep!

I was able to attend a monthly mompreneur group this week (mostly because my husband had taken off to help with the yard sale ...left him and Boss Lady holding down the fort and the kids for a few hours).

Dana Stone from Rest Assured Consulting, a company focused on helping young children sleep well, and a fellow mompreneur talked with us about setting priorities, an obvious theme of mine this week. (God's working on me!) She challenged us to make SLEEP one of them. It was a great reminder that fatigue is not the only effect of sleep deprivation. How we treat our kids and husbands is often affected too. We are less patient with our children and more resentful towards our husbands. These sentiments rear their ugly heads because we aren't taking care of ourselves. Often we (unintentionally) make it everyone's problem, instead of our own problem.

So today, I am charging you (and me!) to make sleep a priority in whatever season of life you are in. Getting more sleep for a mom with a newborn at home will not equate to the same number of hours as a mom with older children. But, the priority is still the same for all of us mothers. Get more sleep!

Many wonderful things happen because of sleep! Think about...you are more efficient when you are awake and are more likely to find joy and fulfillment in activities versus drudgery and animosity. You are the only person who can make sleep a priority for yourself!

Don't Do It Alone!

In my area (Huntsville, AL) we have a great organization call The Catalyst Center for Business and Entrepreneurship. This center hosts the monthly mompreneur group I enjoy and is funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

I tell you about this center to encourage you to look around for a similar organization in your area. The Catalyst offers numerous trainings for small business owners, and many are free or for a very minimal cost.

Don't do it all by yourself! Learn from knowledgeable people and find others who relate to your goals, fears, and joys. 

Wishing you the best (and more sleep!),

Rachel

 

Weekly Timesheet - Summary

Total = 8 hours (yard sale week)

Research - 2 hours & 40 minutes

Content/Product - 3 hours

With Clients - 0 hours

Marketing - 2 hours & 20 minutes

My Takeaway = For the next week (and more), I want to concentrate on marketing but more "personal" methods like emailing, calling, and in-person meetings.

Detailed Timesheet

Monday-writing blog posts "Little Successes" (Content/Product) for 35 minutes; creating a Google Sheet that organizes tags and categories of my posts (Content/Product) for 10 minutes; worked on website deleting a few things I no longer wanted (Marketing) for 30 minutes; created an image for a post and to share on Pinterest (Marketing) for 30 minutes; reading Business Boutique (Research) for 20 minutes; researched some details for "Little Successes" post (Research) for 20 minutes = 2 hours & 25 minutes

Tuesday-worked on website finding pics for posts and editing pages (Marketing) for 40 minutes; worked with customer service to get me back into my online banking system for this biz and signed up for Business Boutique event in Nov. in Nashville (Research) for 15 minutes; read Business Boutique and finished EntreLeadership (Research) for 35 minutes = 1 hour & 30 minutes

Wednesday-interviewed my sister-in-law who has a small business on Facebook for a future blog post (Research) for 1 hour = 1 hour

Thursday-yard sale, no work on this biz = 0 hours

Friday-yard sale, no work on this biz = 0 hours

Saturday-race, yard sale, Monster Truck Jam with Family, no work on this biz =0 hours

Sunday-wrote this end-of-week blog post (Content/Product) for 2 hours & 15 minutes; created a story graphic for a pin on Pinterest for this blog post (Marketing) for 40 minutes; read Business Boutique (Research) for 10 minutes = 3 hours & 5 minutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 21, Week 3 - Squarespace, Wix, and Wordpress, oh my!

Dear Friend,

I tackled the ole website this week. I know what you are thinking. Really, she has actually spent time working on this thing?!

Yes, I actually have, and I realize that it is still very, very sad. I am trying to be honest, though, in this journal so I admit that I have had a big hand (the only one) in creating the appearance of this site. And, I spent more time on it this week than I had allotted myself. I am being honest with that too so that I have accountability to do better with time management next week.

I'm Killin' It!

In today's society, this statement has come to mean that you are owning it...crushing it...in other words, doing a great job with a task.

I DO NOT MEAN any of these things when I write, "I'm killin' it." I mean it literally. I want it dead...out of my life! Surely, I can't be the only one to feel this way about creating a website.

Even with a great platform like Squarespace, I still can't make my site look and behave like the ones of some of my favorite bloggers (Melyssa Griffin, Tiffany Griffin, & Michael Hyatt, to just name a few). Now, I know you are laughing at me because these people are big deals and also are using Wordpress.org for self-hosted sites. But, a girl can dream!

And, the more I work on my site, the more apparent it becomes that a great site takes three things.

1.) Lots of work! I am not scared of hard work, and you probably aren't either. However, a website is only a portion of what I am creating as a part of my overall business goals, yet it takes a majority of my time if I am not careful to limit how much I work on it.

2.) Lots of knowledge! Once again, I am not scared of hard work! I am willing to do the research to become knowledgeable, but this takes time too...time that I am willing to spend, up to a certain point. Hence, why you see the site you see! I have spent my allotted time (and more!) so now I am moving on. I will continue to improve this ugly thing over the coming weeks. (The perfectionist in me is screaming, "NO!" I am trying to grow myself and this business so I am taking others' advice here. I am not waiting until something is perfect before rolling it out. As Nike advertises, just do it!)

3.) Lots of people who know what they are doing! I have decided that the big names probably don't maintain their own websites any more on a day-to-day basis. I bet they started out as their own website developer, designer, and webmaster! Now, however, they have grown large enough to hire knowledgeable people to maintain their sites; that way they can focus on other aspects of their businesses.

What do these three realizations mean to a beginner like me (and maybe you) designing a site?

Do what you can with the amount of time and money you have!

1.) Ask yourself if a website is necessary. My sister-in-law is making money on the side creating specialty t-shirts; she is using her Facebook page for marketing, and PayPal and Square (and even Facebook) to accept payment. No website required!

2.) If a website is needed, allot yourself time each week or each month to improve your site.

3.) Make a list of the most important task to accomplish that week or month, and use your time to do that task. If you finish that task quicker than expected (extremely rare for me), tackle the next most important item on your website to-do list. But, when your time is up, move on to another aspect of your business.

4.) Grow your site slowly over weeks and months. Know that I am writing to myself here and anyone else who suffers from perfectionism!

Why Squarespace over Wordpress.org & Wix?

While I am rattling on about website design, I feel that I must be honest about what led me to Squarespace as my website-design platform. (Thanks, Jeff, for suggesting it.)

Squarespace vs. Wordpress.org

I am well aware of the hype around self-hosted sites using Wordpress.org as their design platforms. (A self-hosted site means you, yourself, purchase hosting services from an outside company like Bluehost or GoDaddy. Hosting is similar to buying a parking spot for your website on the internet.)

Yet, as I have lamented, I am no designer or developer. So even though I enjoyed using Wordpress.org at first and felt like a big-time developer doing it, all of the possibilities with plugins and themes became more of a burden than an advantage. I'm just being honest here. For example, it took huge amounts of time to research the best plugins and then determine whether to go with a free one or to spend money. The decisions were killing me and my time!

I admit, though, that it is very scary to think that Squarespace (or any company like them--Wix, Weebly, etc.) has ultimate control over my site and all of my hard work. In fact, that is a huge bonus of a self-hosted site; the power is balanced between you, the design platform (Wordpress.org), and the hosting company (Bluehost, GoDaddy, etc.). Squarespace, on the other hand, provides a platform for designing and hosts the site so almost all of the control is in their hands.

Squarespace vs. Wix

Squarespace and Wix are both hosted platforms, meaning you design your site there and get hosting there too...an all-in-one deal. (You cannot design your site there, and then purchase hosting elsewhere. Not an option.)

Wix is by far my favorite design platform because of its drop and drag interface. It is easy and fun to use. Also, Wix offers free websites. At one point, I had three websites there, and I hadn't spent a dime. This option is great for slowly perfecting a site over time without paying hosting fees. Of course that means the free site address includes wixsite.com within it. (example: yoursitename.wixsite.com)

Then even cooler, your free site can become a more professional site with just a click or two! You must pay for a plan from Wix first. (I suggest to start with paying month to month until you are positive about owning a website and/or using that company.) Once you have a paid-for plan at Wix, you can choose to assign your free site as your "Premium" one, meaning the one you have been playing around with for free quickly becomes the one that gives you more bells and whistles with Wix. It takes just a few clicks. At this point is when I suggest getting a domain name from Wix or having one you already own (from Namecheap, GoDaddy, etc.) connected to your Wix paid-for site.

But, I am with Squarespace for a reason right now. First, I had a very difficult time getting help from Wix. Most of Wix is very user friendly, and the Help tab is chocked full of info. Yet, I barely found an email address to ask a direct question after I couldn't find an answer at the Help section. It took some digging to find. Very frustrating! It was days later when I did receive an answer to my inquiry.

Second, and the straw that broke the camel's back, Wix is not a Pinterest-friendly design platform. I market to women, and women use Pinterest! As of February 2017, you could not "attach" a Pin-it button to an actual picture. The button stays where you first place it, which usually is on a photo you hope readers will pin. But if you add something to the post while still writing or revising, then the Pin-it button ends up in the middle of a paragraph, not on the picture. In other words, the Pin-it button is not assigned to the photo, but rather to the spot in the post you originally placed it. Sure, you can move again (and again and again) once you have finished editing. But, it is tiring and frustrating. Trust me. I tried that option for a post or two. Many users have asked Wix for a fix but to no avail. This problem is a deal breaker if your business or brand is closely tied to Pinterest.

Squarespace - The Happy Medium for Me, Right Now

Squarespace is a happy middle for me. Of course, I don't have as much overall freedom with it as I would designing with Wordpress.org. But, I like not having to decide every little detail, at least for now. And, even though it is more Pinterest friendly than Wix, it is not perfect. The Pin-it button attaches to every photo on the site, not just the pictures you want pinned. (With Squarespace, the button at least assigns itself to photos and isn't found wandering around in the middle of paragraphs as it does with Wix.) Furthermore, in Squarespace's Help section, there is a Contact tab where you can directly email someone with questions. Before deciding on Squarespace, I sent an email asking a random question; I received a kind response back within 24 hours. Squarespace offers a free 2-week trial that I strongly suggest using before paying. Its interface is not as easy as Wix's and does take some practice.

The Bottom Line

You must decide what website-design platform is right for you, or if you even need a website at this point. All the options available will have positives and negatives. By allotting yourself time to experiment with each for as cheap as possible, you will get a feel for what you can live with and what frustrates you too much. Most hosted sites (Wix, Squarespace, Weebly, etc.) offer free options or free trial periods. Wordpress.org is free to use, but you must have a host before starting. Therefore, go to Wordpress.org, choose a hosting company from the suggested list, and pay only for one month at a time; that is the cheapest way to get a trial with Wordpress.org.

Dreamers' Meeting

Not related to website designing (Yay!), my friend April and I held a Dreamers' Meeting over the phone where we dreamed together...set goals, threw out product ideas, and encouraged each other. Way more fun than going it alone!

I strongly suggest you find someone to dream with - your spouse, your sister, your best friend, a coworker, a neighbor, your grandmother, your mother, your brother, your father...someone who cares for you enough to listen, to ask about your progress, to call you out if you need redirecting, and to pray for you and your business.

Prayerfully working,

Rachel

 

Weekly Timesheet - Summary

Time Spent on Research - 3 hours & 25 minutes (suggested time by Dan Miller = 3 hours)

Time Spent with Clients - 0 hours, officially (suggested time by Dan Miller = 4 hours)

Time Spent on Content/Product - 4 hours & 25 minutes (suggested time by Dan Miller =  5 hrs.)

Time Spent on Marketing - 7 hours & 55 minutes (suggested time by Dan Miller = 3 hours)

Total Time = 15 hours & 45 minutes

My Takeaways = I realize I spent too much time on "Marketing". All of that time was spent on making this website more presentable. I am limiting myself next week to only a few hours on this task. For now, I am counting any work on my website as Marketing because I intend to use my site to gain customers and keep customers.

Detailed Timesheet

Monday - reading Business Boutique (Research) for 1 hour = 1 hour

Tuesday - reading Business Boutique (Research) for 1 hour; worked on website (Marketing) for 1 hour & 50 minutes; had a Dreamer's Meeting with April where we discussed our business goals (Marketing) for 40 minutes = 3 hours & 30 minutes

Wednesday - reading Business Boutique (Research) for 20 minutes; worked to make website at least presentable (Marketing) for 40 minutes; finished Dreamer's Meeting with April where we discussed product ideas (Content/Product) for 45 minutes = 1 hour & 45 minutes

Thursday - reading Business Boutique (Research) for 25 minutes; reading EntreLeadership (Research) for 10 minutes; worked again...ugh...on the ole website (Marketing) for 1 hour & 45 minutes = 2 hours & 20 minutes

Friday - writing end-of-week post (Content/Product) for 25 minutes; writing book review for this website (Content/Product) for 15 minutes; working on graphic for end-of-week post to share on Pinterest (Marketing) for 40 minutes; worked on the website (Marketing) for 1 hour & 25 minutes; reading Business Boutique (Research) for 20 minutes = 3 hours & 5 minutes

Saturday - reading Business Boutique (Research) for 10 minutes = 10 minutes

Sunday - writing end-of-week post (Content/Product) for 2 hours & 45 minutes; created post for Instagram (Marketing) for 15 minutes; tallying work time for this week (Content/Product) for 15 minutes; worked on website to get domain name error fixed (Marketing) for 40 minutes = 3 hours & 55 minutes

*For now, I am counting website work as Marketing because I intend to use it to gain customers and keep customers. It could easily fall under Research or even With Clients at this point of my business.

 

Day 14, Week 2 - Down...But Not Out

If last week was "Brave Week" (as I dubbed it), then this week would have to be the "Sick Week." I was technically only sick for about 24 hours, Monday afternoon until Tuesday afternoon. Being sick one day, though, has an exponential effect; I feel many days behind now, both with personal and business goals.

A Lack of Motivation

It hurts to write this, but I feel I must be honest. I lost motivation to work on this project. I know these feelings of drudgery originated largely from my illness, but still, the feelings were there. As I shivered in bed with aching joints on Monday night, I couldn't imagine finding the courage to post on Instagram or even to write this end-of-the-week post.

The lack of motivation really started to play with my head. (It also could have been the fever doing it.) I thought I was weird to feel so unmotivated this early in a new project until I read a portion of Business Boutique by Christy Wright. (By preordering the book, I received an email with a chance to read an e-copy and then write a review at online bookstores before its release date.) In a section of the book about the importance of developing a business plan, Christy wrote, "You don't have the energy, you can't focus, and you've lost your motivation" (p. 100).

Signal the sigh of relief! So, I am not the only entrepreneur to lose motivation. Someone else identified with this feeling. Whew!

I am telling you this (just as Christy Wright did in her book) so you don't feel weird or alone if you suddenly lack motivation due to other things going on in your life (sickness for me in this instance). My motivation returned slowly this week as I got more and more energy.

Practicing Courage

As my energy and motivation returned so did my courage. I call it "practicing courage". That way, if my endeavor isn't an instant success I was only practicing. It is a mental game, but one that works for me.

I cold emailed a women's group at a local church on Thursday about speaking at an upcoming meeting, and I included a speaking sheet outlining some possible topics. I am not sure if "cold email" is a real term, but it is like cold calling...just through the form of email. Notice, that even though I practiced courage, I didn't go completely crazy and brandish it. If I did, I would have picked up the phone, called the church office, and asked to speak to a person in charge.

I am working up to that level of insane courage. At this time in my life, I am in pre-season practice. :) With one cold email a week, I actually may see the game field by age 86. Seriously, though, I am practicing courage on a daily and weekly basis, even if it is baby steps; each step will become longer until it is a full-on stride. Watch out, world! Here I come...slowly. :) 

Weekly Timesheet - Summary

Week 2 Total = 11 hours & 15 minutes (*sick first part of week)

Research = 3 hours & 50 minutes

Content/Product = 5 hours & 45 minutes

Marketing = 1 hour & 40 minutes

With Clients = 0 hours   *Technically, I have no clients. However, this time could be used on marketing or content/product creation until I have clients or speaking engagements. Because I was sick this week, I didn't use this available time. 

A Detailed Log of My Time Spent:

Monday - research for an informational post on 15 hours to a Side Business post (Content/Product) for 1 hour *could go in Research as well but plan to post on my site and submit to another site as a guest post so placed in Content/Product = 1 hour

Tuesday - sick Monday night and most of today = 0 hours

Wednesday - writing and revising an informational post on 15 Hours to a Side Business (Content/Product) for 2.5 hours; reading EntreLeadership (Research) for 45 minutes = 3 hours & 15 minutes

Thursday - worked on website (Marketing) for 1 hour; applied to do an early read and review of Business Boutique (Research) for 5 minutes; cold emailed a women's group at a local church about speaking at a future meeting (Marketing) for 30 minutes = 1 hour & 35 minutes

Friday - worked for my mother-in-law (not related to this project)

Saturday - read Business Boutique (Research) for 1.5 hours; posted on Instagram (Marketing) for 10 minutes = 1 hour & 40 minutes

Sunday - read Business Boutique (Research) for 1.5 hours; finished & revised 15 Hours to a Side Business post (Content/Product) for 35 minutes; wrote this end-of-week post (Content/Product) for 1.5 hours; weekly timesheet calculations (Content/Product) for 10 minutes = 3 hours & 45 minutes

Week 2's Total = 11 hours & 15 minutes

Day 7, Week 1 - I am woman. Hear me roar (Well...More Like Meow).

I nicknamed this week, "The Brave Week." If the nickname doesn't give it away, then the title of this post hints at my overall feelings. I felt invisible the first days of the week, and I am not sure why. Perhaps, it is because I am at the beginning of a project when everything and anything seem possible.

The Optimism and a Big Pile of Garbage

Dave Ramsey wrote in EntreLeadership, "Most business leaders are optimists and so they often see, and digest emotionally, that everything is going to work out exactly as projected" (p. 202). I can definitely relate to that quote; as I contemplate business ideas in my head, there is absolutely no way they will fail! They are genius! Yet, I have had many ideas already that didn't pan out, and I am just a few months into my entrepreneurial endeavors!

Due to my over-optimism, I won't allow myself to fund my ideas without cash to pay for them. I implemented this rule not long after God put in my heart to create something of my own. The rule was further confirmed when I read this quote in EntreLeadership about Ramsey Solutions, "I am sure our gleaming mountain of success is actually a pile of garbage, a pile of mistakes and missteps, only we are standing on it rather than lying buried under it." (p. 196). Throughout this chapter of the book, Dave describes some of the missteps his company has made over the years. The descriptions really wake you up because you realize that savvy business guys like Dave Ramsey make big miscalculations. If they did and will again, then surely I have and will as I fight to develop my own business.

My Sister Yelled At Me

Okay, my sister didn't really yell at me, more like spoke with some spunk.

I got to go to my parents' home this weekend to celebrate my brother-in-law's, my niece's, and my birthday. I purposefully did not mention this new project (of oversharing my own thoughts and plans in order to help others gain confidence and clarity as they start their own side businesses) to my sister. I wanted her to look at my website-in-progress without prior knowledge; that way she would look with fresh eyes and no assumptions. 

My sister is one of my biggest fans; she completely believes in me, and I appreciate her more than she can possibly know.

But, after she got finished reading the few items I had completed on my site, she passionately (a more sophisticated way of saying "loudly") told me that I must have my business goal stated on my site--upfront, center, and bold. Of course, I tried to defend how I had my site at the time (hence, where the "passionate talking" occurred between us.) I didn't agree with her opinion.

However, after I had a while to consider her thoughts on my site, I realized she was right. She had done exactly what I had asked her to do--to look at my site as a new visitor would. Sis knew that some people may enjoy reading my journal, but they quickly would want to know what I was trying to accomplish. Why was even writing a business journal?

Lessons Learned

Well, duh! She was so right! I tell you this story for several reasons. First, if you ask someone's opinion, be prepared for it...the good, the bad, and the ugly. :) It is a real friend (or sister) who speaks in love and who gives you his/her honest thoughts, even if it is not a glowing review. My sister spoke out of love because she truly wants me to succeed in the long game; her fake praises now doesn't lead to success with others in the future.

Second, give yourself time to reflect on someone's opinions. Of course, you should not take everyone's advice who offers it or who you solicit. Take time to consider their thoughts and pray to God for wisdom about what to do with the advice. Business Insider did an interesting article several years ago focused on the failures of people many of us now consider successful. For example, the authors reported that Walt Disney 'lacked imagination and had no good ideas,' and this was said by a newspaper editor who fired him! J.K. Rowling, Oprah Winfrey, Dick Cheney, and Sir Isaac Newton were just a few more that this article highlighted their tough starts. What if these people had stopped just because someone didn't see the genius in their ideas or in them? But with that said, the importance of wise counsel cannot be overstated. The best policy--continue to solicit advice from trusted individuals while seeking wisdom from your Heavenly Father.

Third, don't let questions or different opinions from your confidants breed self-doubt. It is only natural to start second guessing yourself when someone else doesn't just love your idea as much as you do, and especially when that person is someone you greatly trust. But, in the case of my sister and me, her suggestion for my website was only that--a suggestion for my site. Sis still believes in what I am trying to do and still thinks I am intelligent enough to do it. Yet, the moment she made the suggestion, I began to question why I was even attempting this and why someone would be interested in my work. Self-doubt is a SNEAKY and UGLY thing! So, I knocked back that hideous creature by reminding myself that I had solicited her opinion and that she was speaking in love.

To Conclude

I gave myself a pep talk and took my sister's advice. After all, she was right; others will want to know what I am trying to accomplish with my business--help others gain confidence and clarity while seeking God's wisdom to create side businesses of their own.

My confidence was big time this week until I was questioned (even by one of my biggest fans). Thus, I ended the week meowing, not roaring.

But, at least I am still in the game and better for it. :)

Lastly, thanks, Sis. I know you didn't realize our 10 minute discussion would be an integral part of this post. I love you...your passion for life, your devotion to your family and friends, and your love for our Heavenly Father. I hope every part-time entrepreneur has someone like you in his/her life.

 

Week 1 Timesheet

Researching - 2 hours & 35 minutes

Content or Products - 5 hours & 40 minutes

With Clients - 2 hours & 45 minutes

Marketing - 4 hours & 35 minutes

Week's Total = 15 hours & 35 minutes    **See below for specifics.

Monday - wrote Day 1 journal post (Content) for 1.5 hours; added pins on my Pinterest boards (Marketing) for 15 minutes= 1 hour & 45 minutes of work (not including thinking time that just happens when you least expect it or if you have a few free moments here and there)

Tuesday - revised and edited Day 1 journal post (Content) for 1 hour; wrote goals for the week (Research) for 5 minutes; looked for free photos to use on blog posts (Content) for 40 minutes; read EntreLeadership (Research) for 20 minutes = 2 hours & 5 minutes

Wednesday - worked to find an audience for speaking (With Clients) for 45 minutes, which I feel God is leading me to do right now; wrote a portion of my Speaking Sheet (With Clients) for 1 hour; reading EntreLeadership (Research) for 30 minutes; added pins to my Pinterest boards (Marketing) for 20 minutes = 2 hours & 35 minutes

Thursday - finished and revised Speaking Sheet (With Clients) for 1 hour; continue to work on this website (Marketing) for 1 hour; called and emailed a possible speaking opportunity (Marketing) for 15 minutes; posted on Instagram (Marketing) for 10 minutes; added pins to my Pinterest boards (Marketing) for 10 minutes; reading EntreLeadership (Research) for 30 minutes = 3 hours & 5 minutes

Friday - created a PDF (Wonderfully Made) as a sign up opt-in (Marketing) for 1 hour & 45 minutes; Reading EntreLeadership (Research) for 20 minutes; made an Instagram post (Marketing) for 10 minutes = 2 hours & 15 minutes

Saturday - reading EntreLeadership (Research) for 30 minutes = 30 minutes

Sunday - finished Day 7 post for Journal and completed timesheet (Content) for 2.5 hours; reading EntreLeadership (Research) for 20 minutes; worked on structure of website (Marketing) for 30 minutes = 3 hours & 20 minutes

Week Total = 15 hours & 35 minutes

*When I exercise, I often listen to an audiobook. This week, I listened to The 10% Entrepreneur by Patrick McGinnis. I do not count this time in the spreadsheet because I am not devoting myself to business; I consider it exercise time and just choose often to listen to informational books or podcasts then.

 

 

 

Day 1, Week 1 - The First Official Day...Unofficially

Today is the day...the day I am officially starting this project. (It happens to be my 37th birthday as well!) I will take one year to blog about the feelings, successes, and setbacks I experience, along with the ideas and plans I have for creating a side business. I am looking at it as an experiment, and when I do that, it lifts a great burden...a pressure on myself to succeed. To be completely honest, I am the only one who put the pressure there.

Yet, this is an unofficial start in a way. The desire to develop a business of my own has been on my heart now for about six months, and so I have pursued several things already...like a blog about home decorating, another blog similar to this one about helping entrepreneurs, and almost taught a class on creating your own simple website. In those six months of reflection, prayer, dreaming, and doing, I have read a lot, talked a lot, and worked a lot. But, none of these activities actually created a business, and yet, it was still an important time of molding my ideas and learning from others. That time period of wandering can't be discredited. In fact, it was in that time, I started developing this Squarespace site (after using Wordpress.org and Wix). And, believe me, learning what you want in a site and finding the right platform can't be overlooked if your side gig requires a website!

Found a Little Courage Along the Way

Also during my wandering time, I found a little courage to step out of my comfort zone to "network." Please know, COURAGE REALLY CAN'T BE UNDERSTATED! (I am starting to realize that having courage is the deal; it is second only to God's direction/blessing for you and your side business.)

My brother-in-law Ben Eubanks is an HR guru and an entrepreneur; he was blogging and collecting email addresses before blogging became an official verb and before everybody had 3 email addresses a piece. He is what I consider a full-time entrepreneur, and he serves as an unofficial consultant to me because he is just that kind of guy. He encouraged me (like gave me a pump-up speech and made it seem so easy) to reach out to Vicki Morris, a woman he had met through some of his HR work. Ben said she was kind, energetic, and passionate about her work, someone who knew lots of people in Huntsville and that I would enjoy talking with.

I mentioned it off offhandedly to my husband who further encouraged me to at least email her. I mean really! All she can say is no! (Sidebar: My husband believes I can do anything I put my head and heart into;  he is a gift from God for this fearful girl.)

So, I found a smidgen of courage to craft an email asking her to lunch, and right before I clicked Send, I said to myself literally out loud, "I don't even know her. So what if she doesn't write back or says no." (I know that was a pessimistic outlook. However, it was my coping mechanism for possible rejection.)

And, if I am brutally honest with myself, I also was scared that she might say yes to my invitation. It is one thing to talk about starting a business; it is another to actually put yourself out there and do something about it.  What I have found with myself, I talk a good game, yet I am scared of failure and of success. Strange but true.

Vicki Morris quickly replied back...and gave me a possible date for lunch. Then, I had another set of problems because I had to prepare myself to talk with someone way more successful than me, who I did not know at all, and who wasn't in my family. (Family members tend to be excited about your business goals, even when they probably shouldn't be.)

We met for lunch recently where we talked about many things we had in common and things that she had accomplished. It was a great experience! My husband later asked about the lunch, and without hesitation, I responded, "She is a rock star." Vicki was a stay-at-home mom for 15 years who created her own side business during that time selling music curriculum that she wrote herself for local preschools. Since then, she has gone back to work full time carefully carving out a name for herself as a marketing professional and an all around go getter in North Alabama. 

Hearing the story of another woman who had a desire to create something of her own was uplifting for me and inspirational. Funny how finding just an ounce of courage can generate other positive feelings and even more courage.

Thanks, Patrick and Dan!

Patrick McGinnis' book The 10% Entrepreneur and Dan Miller's 48 Days podcast played a huge part in molding this project. Dan recently interviewed Patrick about his book. To open the podcast, Dan made a statement something like, "People think I want everyone to be an entrepreneur, but I don't want that if you don't want to be." It was with that statement that I began slowly letting out the air that I had been holding for a while (and I didn't even realize I had been holding my breath until that statement).

See, I had been thinking that if I wanted something of my own, I had to be all in, and I just couldn't figure out how to be a professional entrepreneur and be a mother too. I was already feeling convicted because I had left a fulfilling job as a teacher of 13 years to stay home full time with my two young sons. I had loved my job, the people there, and the students I taught, but God put a desire in my heart to be home with my sons. With creating something of my own, I didn't want to go back to a life of working nonstop and always being frustrated with my sons because of work I still had to do.

Dan's statement gave me hope that I didn't have to be a full-time entrepreneur, and as I listened to the rest of the interview with Patrick, I started to completely embrace (picture a big bear hug) the idea of giving 10% of myself to a side venture. In the earlier six months, I was constantly plagued with feelings of inadequacies because I was never writing, pinning, tweeting, or reading enough. I would never make it in the online giver-of-knowledge industry if I didn't work harder. The problem with working harder and longer...I would become a stay-at-home, full-time entrepreneur with a side hustle of parenting. And, that is not why I walked away from a teaching job I enjoyed! 

So, thanks, Patrick, for sharing the notion of keeping your full-time gig and only invested 10% of yourself into a new business venture.

Thank you, Dan, for claiming that a side business can be created in only 15 hours a week! I am excited (and to be honest, nervous) to find out!