Before I started my business
Insurance was just beginning to feel the effect of the Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA, Obamacare). In 2008, I had designed and built my dream home and gotten married. Life was good. I was working for a large healthcare insurance company and coping with internal management challenges. The rumble started in 2010. There were whispers at the insurance company of a major overhaul like we had never seen. The executives seemed anxious. They had to begin thinking of shifting the entire organization to meet the challenges of doing business different. By 2011, just as I was finishing up my bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration of organization management, I started to physically feel the deafening calm before the storm.
The catalyst for starting my business
It occurred on January 24, 2013. After 26 years, I was told my services were no longer required. That was the longest relationship I had other than my family. I also filed for divorce which was finalized in February 2013. Initially, I was devastated. The time to become more financially independent was upon me. Struggles sharpen your survival skills.
It might sound crazy, but the same bill that cost me my job would in a matter of weeks also saved the life of one of my family members. The dismissal turned out to be the best thing that could happen to me and my family. I learned from those experiences never to put all my eggs in one basket ever again. I was also able to benefit from the Affordable Housing Act, which allowed me to adjust my mortgage payments. Life had settled down.
And, I found that the 26 years I spent were not wasted. The experiences helped me to establish a relationship with the people I now serve. I worked thirteen different positions on my previous job and learned how to become marketable when desiring to move from entry-level to manager…without a degree! This also helps me to create content quickly.
It was in 2011 when we were first made aware of the possibility of the shifts in our jobs. Instinctively, I started taking additional business classes in 2012 right as there was a layoff of sorts. I was determined that I would never put the control of my standard of living in someone else’s hands. The classes helped test your ideas in the real world, which added to my college learning and existing business acumen. The Launch Chattanooga administrators of the classes were and still are very supportive. In fact, after graduating from the class, they were my first customers. I wrote 17 business plans for other graduates and the institution paid me for them. I was ecstatic! I have been facilitating classes for them and others for the past four years.
In addition, the time off gave me time to pull out an old 2007 personal essay to see if it was book worthy. The essay evolved into “The Well Ran Dry: Memoirs of a Motherless Child,” which is a creative autobiography that I use to empower teens, women and men. It encourages them to look past their circumstances to see their best life. The book was accepted by the US Library of Congress in December 2013. It is available for free just by asking for it by name in over 16,000 public libraries in the United States. And, it is also available for purchase on Amazon.com, as well as all major online book outlets.
My original plan was to create business plans and get paid after the client received their funding. I quickly learned that was an unwise decision. So, I begin pulling from my experiences from previous employment. I assessed the needs of my Avatar. By doing this, I created more products like resumes, mock interviews, business and career coaching sessions and training workshops. I also formulated a strategy from over 25 years of professional speaking and youth messages in church to draw larger audiences.
My ideal clients are women between the ages of 34 and 54 who are struggling to find what they need to go next level. I help them to create a strategic plan for moving forward. Many times that means going back to find that passion project that was silenced by life’s noises. My current business model consists of multiple revenue streams, strong business relationships, and a zeal for helping startups specifically. I am still creating products, as needed. My next book is a five-part series designed to assist startups step by step. The book is in the production stage.
Exciting Plans for 2018
Just this past weekend, I spent major time with key influencers who gave me invaluable pointers on how to increase my social visibility. A few of them even did video with me. *check my LinkedIn page. In 2018, I plan to increase my revenue by a very substantial number over last year’s numbers. Also, I would like to touch the lives of more people and finish my five-part series: Building Your Own Business: The Startup Handbook, which is based on what I have seen over 30 years in Corporate America.
Lessons Learned/Words of Wisdom:
1) Get a mentor or business coach. Pay attention to both, what they say and what they don’t say.
2) Seek a successful like-minded community of founders and business people. Find your people!
3) Build a team. Yes, you probably can do it by yourself, but don’t. You really need a team…no for real, for real!
4) Utilize your local Small Business Development Center or Small Business Administration office in your area. They have free and budget-friendly information you need in your business life.
5) This is a journey. Enjoy it and be patient with your business and with yourself.
Tips to Showcase My Expertise: Now that I am a business strategist, every small business owner I have ever met knows exactly what they want to sell; however, few of them understand this is only one half of what they needed to become successful. The statistics don’t lie. There are 50-90% of business owners closing their shops anywhere from the first 18 months up to 5 years into their businesses’ life cycles. Some who make it past year five die in the next five years. Fully understanding how and when to pivot for your business is extremely important…in fact, not knowing can be fatal. I want to help women do business well. My students labeled me “The Business Plug” because I plug them into the resources and people they didn’t know exist. I strive every day to live up to what they see in me. I know how this journey started, but my ashes are truly turned into diamonds and I enjoy showing others how they can have the same or even more.
Network With Me: Join me in taking part in the 2018 One Million Woman Link Up to monetize LinkedIn. #SmartWomenPartnerGrowRich http://bit.ly/2JeQAfO
Business Email: Lsmbbusiness@gmail.com
Cell phone: (423) 838-3117
Look, I previously said you need to build a strong business network. I’ve found just the community for you and your business. Join me for the 2018 One Million Women Link Up!
#Comment #Like #Share #Lead #TheBusinessPlug
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The Business Plug
Since June 2017, I have been pouring into various nonprofit dreamers. These are various people in our community who dream of having impact at the ground level. They see problems and offer solutions. They are not about pointing out the issues and waiting for others to address them. They are not just singling out what’s wrong with our society. These are over seventy-five men and women who have rolled up their sleeves and put on their work gloves to get their hands dirty doing the work in our communities. Check out the videos from Logan, Sharon and Pamela to get n idea.:
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My social media community consists of new entrepreneurs in all age groups: tweens, teens, young adults, middle agers and seniors. My most seasoned follower is 90+ years young. She inboxes me a thumb up every now and then. It makes me smile. Whenever I am hosting an event or helping someone to find a reliable resource, as much as possible I pull from my online community because within my network are some of the sharpest, brightest entrepreneurs, creators, and doers. I get to watch how they do business over time so I get to see the reviews, the attitudes, the professionalism or the lack thereof. And, yes, there definitely are levels in my community. This gives me a range of personalities from which to draw resources.
Many of my followers are product gurus, meaning they are subject matter experts (SMEs) on the products or services they provide in the marketplace. However, with the exception of the ones I met in various learning situations, for the most part my social media network members have little to no knowledge of business or do not know what it takes to keep a business afloat. Now wait a minute…before you start to feel some kind of way thinking I’m be overly critical…the statistics bear me out. Depending on which industry their precious product or service follows, the failure rate ranges between fifty and ninety percent. Whoa! Now, this percentage isn’t because everyone has a bad idea nor is it because they have bad products. Most new entrepreneurs go into business without being properly educated in the subject of….”business.”
For this reason, when new entrepreneurs do business with me or contact me to see how to begin doing business, most times, I will offer them basic tips to help them look more polished. Some thank me and use the information to fine tune their approach, but then there are those who become offended. The ones who become offended are probably the ones who will close in 3-5 years because they are too head strong to listen to what me or their customers are telling them.
The “build it and they will come” approach only worked in that movie for Kevin. No one is required to pay you for your business idea. Customers are a privilege and should be treated as such. Therefore, it behooves smart business owners to listen to the advice from people who have been in business longer. Being cocky and impatient with your customers and business peers serves no one and most of all it could derail your wonderful business idea. If trusting the information you receive is an issue, I suggest getting a mentor as soon as possible so you can bounce ideas around.
New entrepreneurs should know as much, if not more, about the financials, marketing, sales, break even points, sales margins, profit margins, target customers, etc., as they do their product. Failure to spend time learning these things is a true recipe for the potential of failure. Find a community business class or take classes offered at a college. The investment will be worth it in the long run and will help the business to become sustainable. The Small Business Administration (www.sba.gov) has free information in person and online. It is the most under used resource in the business community. SCORE (www.score.org) is another invaluable resource that most new business owners fail to utilize.
Regardless of the new entrepreneur’s age, the ears and the ability to use them to perform active listening is paramount in the entrepreneur arena. There is so much to learn that new business owners have no idea how much they really don’t know. The first five years are crucial to their longevity and so it is imperative that they follow the “two ears, one mouth rule” by talking less and listening more. Applying this rule and soaking up all the information they can find to build their business acumen in their industry will help them to become experts and strong competitors. Couple that strength with patience and perseverance and they will be around for the long run. Dear new entrepreneur…your most valuable tools are your ears. Learn to use them well. All the best.
Linda Murray Bullard
Chief Business Strategist
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