Discover how to start and grow a business that affords you the freedom to #WorkFromWherever.
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Musings on Business, Life, and
the Balance Between the Two...
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There is no such thing as work-life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life.” - Alain de Botton
There are far greater things to strive for in life than balance.
There is no clear divide between work life and homelife anymore, nor should their be. Technology has made it possible for us to always be “in our offices”, but that doesn’t mean that we have to be a slave to our work. For the first time in history, we have completely removed the limitations of what “work life” looks like. We can answer emails from the beach, take conference calls while in the carpool lane with our kids. This lack of balance and boundaries is not a bad thing, in fact it is complete and total liberation.
My life is totally and completely unbalanced and I love it. My husband is my business partner and we enjoy discussing work across the dinner table together. In fact, it adds a whole other level of depth and dimension to our relationship.
Inspiration can strike at odd times. Sometimes you’ll find me working on a Saturday morning, and playing hooky in the park on Monday afternoon. My schedule is beautifully imbalanced, and I have no rigid routine. Most people start businesses to have more freedom but then shackle themselves to the idea of attaining of perfect balance.
It doesn’t exist.
I don’t travel to just take a “vacation”, I travel to be inspired, push myself to think outside the box and work from all over the world.
I work when I want to, on what I want to, from wherever I want - and I encourage you to do the same.
As a business owner there are no two days the same, but that’s why you become an entrepreneur in the first place. Embrace it.
The pressure to create “balance” plagues so many people and it’s not the reality when you run your own businesses. I can tell you from experience, when you start your own business, you will have to make sacrifices and your life will feel anything but balanced.
Nothing about starting a business is easy. It will probably be the hardest thing that you’ll ever do. You have to be up for the challenge. It will push you, tax you, stress you, but it will also force you to grow and become the person you have always dreamed of becoming.
The secret is not to fight it, but embrace it. Stop feeling the pressure to conform to this idea of “balance” and instead design your own the definition for your dream life.
“There are far greater things to strive for in life than balance.”
“I am a mom of two young kids, working full time while starting a business. Your pictures just scream freedom to me. And while when I achieve my business goals, my freedom will mean I can be in the carpool line, the pictures remind me anything is possible.”
Jennifer Kurko, Kiss Freely
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As a New Yorker, I have a responsibility to give it to you straight... If you want make something to express yourself – get a hobby. If you want to run a thriving business – create for your customers.
Too many entrepreneurs are “me monsters”, they start their businesses purely in pursuit of their own objectives: what do I enjoy doing? What do I want to make? What do I want to charge, etc. and so on...
It’s important to remember that YOU are only one part of the equation. The other essential part (that a lot of people quickly skip over) are the people that are actually going to pay for what you create - read the piece that determines whether or not your business is actually going to be a success.
Take the focus off of yourself and place it onto your customers. You will be astounded by the opportunity that it is front of you when you get out of your own way. Figure out where you can add the most value, and allow yourself to truly tap into what you are capable of.
The fastest way to fail it to try and sell what YOU want, instead of what your dream clients and customers need.
To start a successful business start by listening, observing and THEN creating.
I absolutely encourage you to put your own spin on things, but you must always be flexible and adapt to the information you receive from your customers.
I challenge you to step up and step into your role as a business owner. It’s time to take your business and yourself seriously.
“Take the focus off of yourself and place it onto your customers.”
“I think before I was treating my business more like a hobby rather than taking it seriously. But after learning from you and your programs, I see success more often now.”
Auret Esselen, Essetino Artists
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Many people wear perfectionism as a badge of honor, but I believe that it can be a painful pitfall. While perfectionism is a lovely goal, there comes a point when the most important thing is to just get your creation out into the world.
From extensive experience I can tell you that to succeed, speed of implementation and execution is everything.
Now don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying that your work should lack quality, but there is a big difference between creating something that’s quality vs. something that is “perfect.”
Don’t use waiting for something to be perfect as an excuse not to get something out into the world.
When I started my first apparel business, I had to do a lot of the work by hand. I had no idea what I was doing and at first the stuff was terrible. But I didn’t quit. In fact, the more I did it, the better my products became.
If you want to grow your business, you have to grow your skills. The only way to improve is to DO.
It’s all about the feedback loop. Get your stuff out there as fast as possible so that you can get feedback from your customers and get better.
Be brave and get your imperfect work out into the world.
“Be brave and get your imperfect work out into the world.”
“I started Bliss as an artist; I didn't feel like a business woman. But I felt so empowered after I found you Melanie. I started really seeing myself as a business woman with a real business. You pushed me to get better, to keep educating myself, and keep growing. As a result, my business skyrocketed”
Michelle Castro, Bliss Stamped Jewelry
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Being busy should not be a status symbol, and it is definitely not a metric of importance.
From my experience, busy people are not successful, and successful people aren’t busy.
There was a time in my life that I was so stressed and working so much that it stopped being fun. I no longer enjoyed what I was doing, and the quality of my work was severely suffering.
I realized that I was the only one to blame. I had complete control over what I was scheduling and when, and it was up to me to take back my life.
As an entrepreneur, we have the freedom to create our own schedules and if we are stressed and busy it’s our own fault.
To think BIG and have breakthroughs you must create space to think. You have to have time to learn, grow, and recharge properly.
To create great things you need to create space in your schedule to breathe. Just like a writer or an artist has to start with a blank page, you have to create some white space in your life for creativity and your best work to happen.
I’ve created white space in my life through a non-negotiable morning ritual: Before I ever look at my email inbox, I spend an hour of reading and writing. Then I make a list of MY GOALS for the day before I get pulled in a million different direction by other people's plans for my schedule.
If you don't prioritize your time, someone else will.
Stop working on everything, and instead spend your time on the right things. (If you’re not sure about what the right things are, you need The Attaché in your inbox.)
Do less, better. The real secret to success is to have the time and energy to focus on the most interesting work that can distinguish you in the marketplace. I can show you how.
“busy people are not successful, and successful people aren’t busy.”
“You have completely changed the way I work in my business. I am more clear on what I need to work on and what I'm working towards. And I totally LOOOOVE how you teach how to structure your tasks so that your overall goal feels inevitable. We managed to complete the planning, designing, and filming of an online course in two weeks, whereas it took us 5 months to complete our last course! That's truly the power of productivity right there.”
Auret Esselen, Essetino Artists
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Although it feels good to talk about passion, passion alone will not pay the bills.
“We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.”
In particular, I see entrepreneurs positioning passion over skills which is a huge mistake. Building competency and skills is what will help you to turn your passion into something powerful and properly get it out there in the world.
Without investing the time and energy to properly build your skills, your reach will always exceed your grasp.
I believe that as business owners, we are artists - and an artist is nothing without the pursuit of development of their technique.
The truth is that real success in business is achieved through the consistent and continuous development of skills. That is why I am so passionate about creating programs that help people build the skills that they need to succeed. See what I did there?
I’m not saying that passion is a bad thing. Passion is a wonderful thing. I am an incredibly passionate person. But something has happened recently in our society and people are putting passion on a pedestal above everything else.
Just really wanting to create great work is not enough, you have to put in the time and have the persistence to build the skills so that make it happen.
It will take a lot of hard work to bring your dream to life.
I had to work to build the skills to support my passions. When I started my first online apparel company, I had no idea how to work with suppliers, find wholesalers, get retail accounts or manage trade shows ― let alone even how to run an embroidery machine!
But that didn’t stop me. My husband Devin and I worked hard to improve our skills to match our drive so that we could succeed. And when traditional sales and marketing techniques weren’t working for us, we struck out and taught ourselve online marketing techniques that turned out to be the turning point for our business.
I believe entrepreneurship is an art ― no matter what you are producing. To create true “art,” you must be devoted to mastering your craft. That means devotion to improving your skills, through commitment and persistence. This is what transforms mediocre work into something truly magnificent will truly make an impact.
“Without investing the time and energy to properly build your skills, your reach will always exceed your grasp.”
“I had a strong feeling that working harder would not give me the results I wanted. I needed to work smarter. I just didn't know how... For me you are the model to make business online. My "work smarter" missing piece. With your example I now have a clear vision of what I want for me and my family. And more important - how I can make it happen with the resources and trainings you provide. I now earn five times more than I was earning working in a world renowned French course and ten times more then working at University. And I know I can scale it.”
Elena Kozliakova, elenakozliakova.com
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As business owners we are constantly pouring ourselves into our work, if we don’t take the time to fill ourselves back up we won’t have anything good to give.
Being overworked is not a virtue, it’s a hazard to the quality of what you produce.
When you work too much without properly re-charging not only does the quality of your work suffer, but it’s easy to miss big breakthroughs.
Make cultivating creativity a part of your life, a part of your daily routine. You need to take time to bring beauty into your world if you expect to put beauty out into it.
Creativity is intelligence having fun.” ― Albert Einstein
I make a habit of scheduling “inspiring activities” into my work week. Whether it’s visiting one of my favorite museums, reading a book, or flipping through great magazine. These activities are just as important (if not more) than the time that I spend answering emails or designing my products and programs.
Why? Because they re-energize me and get me to think outside of the box. I make connections and begin to come up with innovative ideas that are invaluable to the success of my business. Not to mention they help me to enjoy my work and keep me motivated.
Despite the rumors, even if you “love what you do” there are still going to be lots of days that running your business it is straight up hard work.
Always measure output, results, not just the time you spend working.
It’s so important to take time for yourself, recharge and surround yourself with inspiration. Taking time to live life will only inspire your work.
Actively seek out inspiration; don’t wait for it to find you.
“Despite the rumors, even if you “love what you do” there are still going to be lots of days that running your business is straight up hard work.”
“Your classic style and design sense is what draws me to you.
I love seeing you and your computer in a Cafe in Paris. It's an aspiration and inspiration.”
Lynne Dominick, The Roxie Grace Company
Do you feel stuck? Are you waiting for a breakthrough idea, or searching for a way to uplevel your work?
You are the books you read, the films you watch, the music you listen to, the people you meet, the dreams you have, and the conversations that you engage in.
The quality of your business is determined by the quality of your thinking. Watching reality tv and reading OKAY magazine is not training your brain for breakthroughs. What books are you reading? What kind of people are you surrounding yourself with? What are you mentally ingesting each day and how is it helping you to become the person that you need to be to attract the success that you’re after?
In order to live a fascinating life – one brimming with beauty, adventure, big ideas, and breakthrough thinking – you must surround yourself with precisely those things.”
People say, that you are what you eat. I say that you are what you read.
I would extend that to include the last five things you read, watched, or consumed. What would your sum look like right now, today?
We are what we consume, the shows we watch, the books we read, the thoughts of the people that we surround ourselves with.
What can you bring into your life to bring about more of what you want? What can you let go of in order to grow?
“The quality of your business is determined by the quality of your thinking.”
“You have impacted me in so many ways, Melanie. I have literally raised my standards because of you - your presentation and style of everything you release - courses, posts, webinars - has inspired me to re-brand and focus on producing more attractive, quality content.”
Auret Esselen, Essetino Artists