Author Archives: jdstarman

Why a Butterfly?

Someone recently asked me why I chose a butterfly as the logo for Wise Women Leadership, and I thought that might be a good blog post for this month. For me, butterflies are the essence of change and transformation, and as the focus of my business is about changing or improving performance, I feel the two have a lot in common. 

Like butterflies, many of our businesses don’t just happen overnight, and they go through some significant changes to get to the end result. My idea around creating a supportive network for entrepreneurs and leaders to grow and change began as a seed many years ago. 

Like the caterpillar that eats its way through leaves to gain energy for the transformation, I spent time and gathered knowledge and experience about leadership. I have applied what I have learned about leadership with various business sectors and have found that there are underlying topics that cross business types and industry levels. For example:

Leadership is not about a title as much as it is about a skills, values, and communication.

Planning is something that takes resources in the present to preserve resources in the future.

 Self-care is as valuable a part of leadership as any knowledge or experience.

Each leader brings to the organization his or her own unique experience. For me, my unique self is adapting to change. For as long as I can remember I have had to adapt to circumstances and cultures, and this has given me a distinctive advantage when working with clients. I call it my magic sauce!

I was also asked why I chose the color purple. Purple signifies wisdom, creativity, and would you believe – magic! I believe that wisdom comes from life-long learning combined with experience. We are never too young or too old to learn something new every day, and when we keep connecting with people and places, our experience continues to grow. 

To me, creativity is essential for enjoying life.  I am at my best when I am learning something new, meeting new people, making new connections, or creating new offerings. When I am at my creative best time flies by quickly, my passion is in full bloom, and my energy is high. Even my hobbies allow me to explore my creative side; I love to garden and watch how plants grow, and I love to make quilts out of different colors and textures of fabric. I know I am at my lowest when I am not creative and things are tedious or too routine and this is when I look for ways to bring creativity back into my daily work and life.

What makes your creative energy flow? What excites you about your work or your life? Drop me a note and let me know mailto:jillian@wisewomenleadership.com .

Managing a Sustainable Business

Business Strategy

Earlier this month, I presented a webinar on Managing a Sustainable Business. As you look to grow your business and ensure your company’s longevity, it’s important to remember regardless of size, businesses exist for two main reasons:

Provide a product or service that meets an unmet need

Generate an acceptable return on invested resources.

If your product or service isn’t meeting a need, then the business most likely will not be able to generate an adequate customer base, and in turn not be able to generate a return on invested resources. The four factors important for a business to be sustainable include:

Market Positioning – A business needs to be in a market that is large enough to support growth regardless of the percentage of market share your company serves.  There are two methods you can use to grow market share:

generate new customers for your existing products or services

generate new products and services for your existing customers

Sometimes a business is not ready for the market due to limiting factors, or the market is not mature enough to purchase the products and services being offered. Having a clear understanding of the market is key to managing a sustainable business.

Leadership – A business needs to promote learning for everyone involved in the process of operating the organization. This includes:

learning about how the business functions

learning about the products and services the business offers

learning how to collaborate

learning how to be customer focused. 

Mentoring and coaching employees for succession and growth can have a significant impact on organizational culture. Keep in mind that open and authentic communication should also be part of the culture.

Operations – Having systems in place so that the business can operate effectively and efficiently are also important. One of the most important factors in operations is to make sure that internal resources are aligned with external demands. If you own a seasonal business, there may be times where inventories are lower than others, as well as staffing needs and resources.  Addressing the ups and downs of the business cycle should include a review of how work is being considered, and make sure that the right tasks are being incentivized.

Planning – While many businesses don’t work from both a strategic plan and an operating plan, a sustainable business knows the value of both. It’s important to understand the difference between a strategic plan and an operating plan:

A strategic plan maps the way

An operating plan works the day

Planning creates a map of how the business will address short and long-term goals, and should be structured enough to provide stability to the business and flexible enough to allow for contingencies.

I hope these highlights have been valuable, and please check out my upcoming webinars. If you have any questions or would like help managing a sustainable business please email me at jillian@wisewomenleadership.com.

Setting Goals

Dream Big – Set Goal – Take Action text with many light bulbs

This month I shared some tips about setting goals in the newsletter, and thought I would continue this topic here in the blog. Some people are really good a setting both long and short-term goals, while others struggle to set weekly and monthly goals. There are three main pieces to goal setting:

Know where you are now – take inventory of your personal and professional life and make a note of what you like and what you would like to change.

Think about where you want to be – this could be 6 months from now, 1 year, or 10 years. The key is to be clear in your mind what that future looks like.

Create a plan to get from where you are to where you want to be – this may sound simple, but you will find that you will need to make changes and adjustments along the way because life will throw you challenges.

Another important factor is to have that future goal – or where you want to be – as clear as possible. Creating clear, actionable goals is accomplished by making them:

  • Specific and easy to understand. Be as specific as you can try to include your senses in your description of what you want to accomplish
  • Measurable so you know how far you have gone to reaching your goal. A large or long-term goal can be broken down into small action steps that you can celebrate completing.
  • Achievable based on the resources you have at your disposal. You may find that you will need to acquire of build the resources you need to complete the goal, and this should also be part of the consideration before you undertake the task.
  • Relevant to you and your lifestyle. If a goal doesn’t resonate with you an all levels then you are less likely to reach the goal. It may be the right goal but the wrong timing!
  • Time-bound so that there is an end date to the process. As you create your goal and the subsequent action steps towards the goal, assign due dates and check off and celebrate when you reach each step.

I hope this helps you if you are setting goals or making adjustments to goals you already have in place. If you have any questions or would like help setting goals please let me know mailto:jillian@wisewomenleadership.com

Seasonal Transformation

Falling Leaves

I live in the mid-west, and the seasonal changes around me are showing signs of shedding what is no longer needed. Have you considered doing the same? As I approach this time of year, I have learned to take stock of what I am spending time and energy working on. Taking a tip from nature, I assess what I no longer need to be focused on (especially those activities that are energy zapping), and prepare to open up space so I can dig into new opportunities.

In the Fall trees shed their leaves and go dormant to store up energy for new growth in the Spring. Likewise, taking time to assess priorities and projects will free up space to potentially add more interesting, productive, prospects that are a better return on your investment of knowledge, skills, and abilities. Sometimes it is a simple as prioritizing tasks and to-do lists to identifying how you are using your time. As you do this, you can also see if tasks or projects need to be eliminated, especially if they no longer add value.

What are you working on that is energy draining? Can this project be discontinued or handed off to someone else? Does your calendar and schedule include time for self-care and growth? If you had no restrictions on your time and energy, what would be your ideal project look like? How energized would this make you feel? This is where you should be focusing your energy!

The Stress Factor

The Stress Factor

Like many small business owners, I am not working with just one business or one client each day/week. I have to manage where my energy is used to generate the best outcome. Some weeks external factors create stress, and if not managed correctly stress can be the underlying cause to many negative impacts on our lives.

Stress is a feeling people have when they’re overloaded and struggling to cope with demands on work, relationships, finances, or other situations that pose real or perceived challenges or threats to a person’s wellbeing. Stress can be a motivator and it can be essential to survival. However, too much stress can decrease immune activity, slow down digestion, and prevent sleep.

Stress is a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances. Stress is the body’s reaction to any change that requires an adjustment or response. The body reacts to these changes with physical, mental, and emotional responses. According to the Cleveland Clinic, stress is a normal part of life that people experience – stress from the body, stress from thoughts, or stress from the environment.

Being aware of how you react to stressors can help reduce negative impacts and manage more effective strategies to cope with stress. As leaders, it is important to develop effective stress reducing strategies. Some strategies that help reduce or manage the impact of stress include: exercise, balanced nutrition, time for relaxation, breathing practices, mediation, and prioritizing what is important.

Professional Development Impacts Business Growth

Business Growth

In order for a business to grow, those invested in the business must also grow. Entrepreneurs and leaders of small businesses often find it difficult to allocate time for professional development, and sadly when the leaders don’t grow then the business can lose some or all of its potential to grow. It is vital that as leaders we schedule time for our own professional development in order to stay in tune with changing trends in the industry, in technology, in processes, and in policies that affect our business.

In John Maxwell’s book “The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth,” John recommends making an appointment in your calendar for professional growth. We schedule clients, meetings, inventory, as well as time to read and reply to email, so why not begin to set aside time each week to increase your knowledge and understanding of specific topics that can impact the growth of your business.

Start small. For example, you could read an article about the impact of social media on developing new customers, or listen to a podcast related to customer service. The important thing is to schedule the time and then track what you learn from the time spent learning new information, skills, or processes.

It has been proven that it takes at least 3-4 weeks to develop a habit, so I challenge you to schedule 20-30 minutes in your calendar for 4-6 weeks and create a professional growth plan. The plan will identify what you will do during the time, and describe why this is important to the business. You might look at ways to improve sales, train or manage employees, identify new marketing strategies, or other topics related to your specific business.

Keep a notebook (physical or electronic) where you can evaluate how to apply what you learn to your business; assess if you can use the information as it is given, or possibly adapt the information to your specific business. Documenting what you are learning and describing how you will use it is a great way to process new knowledge, and often it will give you inspiration to make changes the will positively impact your business. Share your progress.

Speed of Light

Speed of Light

After facing challenges last year and surgery in January, I am finally getting back to things I started last year. As I looked back at my Blog Posts, I had to smile when I realized that the last one focused on self-care. Self-care has held me together through many challenges. If you have a foundation of self-care practices, then you will automatically have habits or rituals in place when faced with difficult situations (stressors). Changes in technology and the 24/7 world around us make it essential that we are prepared to face whatever stress impacts our daily lives. Stress can be physical, psychological, emotional, or environmental, and our bodies will either react or be trained to act in a specific way to the stress. For example, sitting too long at work puts stress on the body, and the stress can be lessened by getting up and moving. One way to train your body is to set a timer – either on your computer, phone or fitness device. In order to live and work at the new speed of light, we need to make sure that we are taking care of these amazing bodies that we have the responsibility to maintain.