This week I celebrate my 2 year Anniversary of starting Foster Inc. The lessons learned... and shared... have been countless. Here are my top 12 (I was going to write 20 but it's almost midnight, 10 would have been a cop out so I settled on 12 - and they are pretty damn good):
Hard work 'does' pay off. You can not say I want to start a business and make it successful without putting in hard time. You have to find the time, throw your excuses out the window (nobody has time for them), and get down and dirty. When I started my first business back in 2002 (single, 29 and no kids), I worked 18 hour days and weekends to get it off the ground. I don't have that luxury now with a family and 3 kids but I work off hours, I don't watch TV, and I make sure that the days are as productive, scheduled and my time is accounted for. My kids go to bed, and I get on the computer and work nights (like right now) to get the things done that need to get done. There are 168 hours in the week and you only sleep for 49 of them (that is if you sleep for 7 hours a night, which most people don't). That leaves 119 hours a week to work your ass off. Check out this great TED Talk by Laura Vanderkam, a Time Management expert, on how to maximize your 'free' time.
Make your BED and teach your kids to make theirs. As women that are busy and don't have enough hours in the day, teach your kids how to make a bed. It's one less thing you have to do for them and at the end of the day, if all else goes to shit, at least you (and your kids) will feel that they got something accomplished. There's an amazing motivational commencement speech by Navy SEAL Admiral McRaven about 10 Lessons he learned in SEAL training. This is a life changer.
Write your mission and your vision on a piece of paper and post it on your wall at your work station so that you never forget why you started your business. You might seek advice and guidance from someone else (or multiple people), which is great, but always come back to YOUR mission and don't let someone else try to change that. When you feel you've gone astray or you're not getting the results you're getting, look up and read you mission statement and make sure you're on the right path.
You CAN'T do it all. So many women ask me, how do you do it all - kids, family, household crap, networking, charity events, religious committees, other groups.... I ask for help and don't take on things that don't bring me happiness and fulfillment. When you're so busy that you can't do it all, hire someone to help you.... even if it's someone to do the small tasks like errands, carpools. I also automate a lot of what I do - social media, scheduling meetings, dry cleaning delivery. Picking up your dry cleaning may seem like a quick task but it requires you to break away from what's important to do something that isn't going to bring money in the door. Spend your time on what matters.
Find a support system or a support group (Not-so-Shameless Plug: Foster Advisory Groups). These are your peeps - the ones you turn to for advice, support, hugs, carpooling. Every woman needs other women to lift her up and support her. Find your tribe and be consistent - don't flake on your group. They need you as much as you need them.
Have an end goal - don't start a business without one. Remember that every big business, started small. So knowing where you want to go, is crucial to your success and knowing this from the start, helps you plan and strategize to reach your end goals.
Be authentic when you sell yourself.... Tell people WHY you do what you do - Inspire them to WANT to work with you as opposed to your competition. Thank you Simon Sinek (watch his TED talk) for this incredible life and business lesson that has led to the success of so many, including many of the women I work with.
Commit yourself to your work - you can not half-ass a new business. Take a lesson from Gary Vaynerchuck. He built a business while still working full time at another.... because he wanted it 'badly' enough and made the time for it.
Learn your power stance - thank you Amy Cuddy for teaching me mine. Walk into a room like you f-ing own it. Standing strong, or as my friend and amazing Public Speaking Coach Stacee Mandeville says, your superhero pose, will actually change the way you feel physically because of the chemicals your body releases when you 'strike a pose'.
Have a plan. My favorite quote.... 'If you fail to plan, you might as well plan to fail.' Don't just get out there and start a business. You MUST have a plan and keep refreshing it year after year. Don't throw up a webpage and say I'm going to start a business. Get some help, find a mentor, take a course (Plug: FosterU Winter Session for women that want to start a new business kicks off in March - email me for more info). Unless you're looking for VC funding, you don't need a 20-page in-depth business plan but you do need a simple one.
Embrace the Suck - there are days where you feel like you can't give any more or find more time or deal with another hurdle..... BUT.... if you know the 'tough' part is coming, then you can embrace it and not let it wear you down. I learned this from a great book called 'The Way of the SEAL' and by marrying one. When our bodies start to give in and we feel like we can't possible give anymore, we can train our brains to take over... aka - embrace the suck' - and give us the strength we need to forge ahead. We are capable of 10x more than we think we are - when you're mentally prepared for it, you can embrace it, tackle it and conquer it.
Follow and Foster Your Passion - that thing burning inside you, that keeps you up at night and keeps you motivated and fired up during that day, that's the thing that you are meant to be doing. Figure out how to do it and go do it.
Two year, tons of clients, thousands of wins and watching women follow their passions, create successful businesses and smile wholeheartedly while doing it has been my greatest success. I look forward to connecting with thousands more women in 2017, connecting them to each other online (Fosterwomen.com) and offline. Thank you to all that have supported me these last two years. It's been the most incredible journey of my career and I look forward to many more to come.