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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Taking The Leap of Faith-Tips From A New Small Business Owner

My son, Joshua, illustrating taking a leap of faith.
I have been a small business owner since September 1, 2017 and the experience has been similar to a roller coaster at an amusement park-full of ups, sharp curves, downs and thumps.  Sounds fun, right??  Like with riding roller coasters, you have to have a "stomach" to launch out on your own. I am sharing my experience in the hopes of encouraging others who may be on the verge of taking that first step or leap of faith.  

1.  Dream, catch the dream and take the step-  I am a firm believer of pursuing one's dreams.  My pastor once challenged us to think about a cemetery in terms of all the unwritten books, businesses never launched, screenplays never created and other dreams that never came to fruition.  Do not let life pass you by while you sit on your dream.  Take the first step!

2. Set Goals-As a first time business owner, it was clear to me immediately that I needed to have clearly defined goals to ensure I was on track for success.  The SMART process is one that I employ to help me identify what needs to happen and when.  The acronym SMART was originally attributed to Dr. George Doran, and has taken on several slightly different variations.  

S - specific, significant, stretching
M - measurable, meaningful, motivational
A - agreed upon, attainable, achievable, acceptable, action-oriented
R - realistic, relevant, reasonable, rewarding, results-oriented
T - time-based, time-bound, timely, tangible, trackable

3. Establish and maintain a schedule-Now that I am not reporting for work at a designated time, I realized I needed discipline to establish and maintain some semblance of a schedule.  Since my business is home-based, it is very easy to get side-tracked and find myself, after a period of time, lost in household tasks or simply procrastinating.  A schedule is key!

4. Establish an organization method to track leads, next steps and goals.  A dry erase board, any form of electronic method such as Evernote or Apple Notes, or a good-old fashioned spreadsheet are methods to consider.  Essentially, if you do not have a method to track your progress, you will instead feel like a hamster in an exercise wheel, going in circles.

5. Have accountability partners-Not only do I have my husband's support, but I also have a prayer partner who prays with me daily for my business needs and aspirations.  Additionally, I have another individual who offers coaching as it pertains to my business. Remember to factor in the coaching suggestions you receive and to keep up with the "homework."

6. Plan a Launch Party-My husband and I hosted a launch party to announce our new business.  Our goals were to celebrate a new chapter in our lives with the start of the business, explain the purpose of the business to friends and family and to offer networking opportunities to all who were in attendance.  We met our goals!  To view our launch, visit: Super Extra Ordinary Mom Launch Party.

7. Network, network, network-Don't miss an opportunity to network with anyone you meet.  Even if they cannot use your product or service, they may know someone who can.  When filing for my business license, I missed the opportunity to meet the city's Mayor.  He was escorting a guest to the lobby when our eyes met.  He nodded his head towards my direction as a greeting and I waved back awkwardly, with my back glued to my chair.  As I watched him disappear down the hallway to his office, I kicked myself mentally for a missed opportunity.  It never hurts to make your requests known to whomever you meet.  You just never know where that may lead you!

8. Pray-For me, prayer is important in all aspects of my life, especially in my professional life.  I have been praying for open and closed doors-"Lord, if this opportunity is not in your will, then shut it down!"  The challenge, I discovered, is to be prepared for when those doors are closed.  Closed doors may sting the self-esteem a bit and the tendency is to focus on that door and why it is closed.  I learned that I had to shift my focus from "Why not?" to "What's next?"  It is also important to take time out during the day for spiritual renewal, whatever that may mean to you.  I usually start my day with spiritual renewal.

9. Brainstorm future ideas-I learned very quickly that it is important to stay two to three steps ahead in my planning.  For example, my goal is to have content available for my social media outlets on a weekly basis.  I have to think 2-3 weeks ahead and also be nimble in the event something happens in the world that may require my attention.  I also asked myself, "Would I hire me?" and "Would I fire me?" to think of ways to enhance my offerings.

10. Make time for exercise-Managing your own business can produce a great deal of stress.  Exercising will help combat the stress.  I attempt to build in walks throughout my day to give myself a break and to minimize the amount of stress I encounter.  Joining a virtual exercise group such as on Fibit or MapMy Run can also help hold you accountable to daily exercise goals.  #behealthy

11. Don't focus on what's not coming your way-Similar to dealing with closed doors, focusing on the contract that is not being approved fast enough or that one key relationship that you think will skyrocket your business will not be helpful and will produce negative energy.  It will be important to channel your energy on things that are happening and any wins, big or small, that you experience in your business.

12. Every moment matters-As a small business owner, you have to be ever-mindful of how you spend your time.  By asking the question, "Will this put money in my pocket?," can help you to determine if the task you are entertaining is worth your time.  I recently heard a speaker state that unless the activity you are doing on Facebook is making you money then it is "Wastebook".  I am not suggesting that you are to never spend time on social media or t.v. or any other activity where you are simply zoning out.  I challenge you, however, to be strategic with your time and make certain each moment counts.

13. Fight discouragement during the waiting game-It can be downright frustrating to wait for responses to your proposals or requests for networking as well as receiving rejections during that process.  Counter discouragement by keeping your goals at the forefront of your mind and relying on your accountability partners and support system for encouragement.  You will need encouragement regularly so definitely make certain you have the right people in your corner.  In terms of rejection, awhile ago my colleague Dethra U. Giles created a FB group called "The Rejection Project."  Our task was to ask for things throughout our day where we would typically expect to receive a NO in response.  The experience was liberating as I read others' stories and shared my own experiences of receiving a YES when I expected a NO.  Each no gets you closer to a YES.

14. Watch simmering pots-I am not a cook nor a chef but as a new business owner, I have become adept at watching simmering pots which is a phrase my coach, Monica McCoy, likes to use.  You will have a business deal percolating over here, and one over there and one in the works over there-all simmering pots that you are waiting to boil over into successful closed deals.  Watch and wait!

15. Don't entertain negative energy-Recently, I had an unfortunate experience of being blocked by an individual I had just met on LinkedIn.  I won't bore you with the gory details but I found myself brooding over the incident attempting to identify what went wrong.  Then I realized I was putting forth way too much effort on a situation that may have been a blessing in disguise.  It is important to recognize energy drainers and to remove yourself from that energy immediately.  It is a waste of your now very precious time and not where your efforts should be.  

16.  Circumstances can make you lose focus-Depending on your personal situation, your business may be your only or main source of income and the contract procurement process can make you lose your mind.  I will certainly admit that there have been times where I second-guessed my decision to launch out and wondered if I would fail miserably.  It is at those times that I recognized the negative thoughts going through my mind, STOPPED the thoughts, and changed my focus.  As my mentor Tom Darrow stated during the night of our launch party, that if we fail, we will fail forward.  #focus    

17. Create your own water cooler environment or holiday gathering-After years of being in the office, it is very different to now only have my family members around me for the majority of my day.  Admittedly, I had grown accustomed to the occasional conversation that would occur near the water cooler at work or even the holiday party where everyone brought in a covered dish.  I discovered that working at places such as the library, Starbucks or McDonald's offered the limited social exposure I sought.  If your business is a home-based business, it is good to get out among the living every now and then.  :-) 

18.  Marketing plan- I have been fortunate to participate in a business class that is offered through my church.  The Bronner Business Institute (BBI) has helped me tremendously with identifying and creating a marketing plan, understanding my customers and positioning myself for success in the market as well as a host of other business-related skills.  If you have been fortunate to take business classes throughout your career, awesome!  If not, I highly recommend getting connected to a business class to further support your efforts.

19.  Don't wait for others to create opportunities for you-Waiting for return phone calls and emails can be daunting.  While waiting, think of ways to create your own opportunities for business, whether that means hosting a webinar, offering your product in a unique way to a target audience or collaborating with another colleague in your field/industry to further your business.  You will be amazed at how creative you can become.  

20.  Make the decision, focus, enjoy the journey-Enjoy the natural excitement that comes with owning your own business.  There is no other feeling like it in terms of the freedom it brings even if it is like riding a roller coaster.  #scarybutfun

Shatanese is the owner of Super Extra Ordinary Mom, LLC, a HR Consultancy that delivers leadership and development training with an emphasis on diversity and inclusion.

Shatanese resides in Atlanta, GA with her husband and their six children.  She enjoys walks on the beach and colorful sunrises.  Shatanese's goal is to encourage others to find the extraordinary in every day moments.

Invite Shatanese as your next guest speaker or trainer!


Follow Shatanese on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Exercising Their Minds During The Holiday Season

The holiday season is upon us and school bells will be ringing a final time as students race home to begin their holiday breaks.  Research has shown that children's retention is impacted during school breaks.  Why not incorporate fun activities that can involve the entire family to keep those skills sharpened during each break?  The alphabet game and a pile of leaves can do wonders!  Check out these suggestions...

The Alphabet Game-As your family makes its way to various
locations during the holidays, encourage everyone in your vehicle to participate in the alphabet game.  This happens to be one my family's favorite past-times when we travel.

How to play: Each participant attempts to find road signs that begin with every letter of the alphabet.  Any sign is fair game-restaurant signs, interstate signs, advertisements, etc.  You can even decide as a group to use words found on other vehicles, especially semi-trucks, which are oftentimes rich with muli-word text.  Keep in mind you may struggle with various letters within the alphabet such as Q, X, Y and Z.  The group can decide to be creative with how words will be identified for those letters.

Holiday Dinner Math-When you finally arrive at your destination, you can stir up the kids' math skills by discussing the number of guests and various items on the menu.

How to play: As you are waiting for dinner to be served or as you are preparing your plates, ask the kids to think about how many of the guests will enjoy each of the side dishes.  For example, they can count the guests and the side dishes and offer a guesstimate of which side dish will have the most eaters or a timeframe of how soon it will be consumed as a result of the number of guests who enjoy it.  You can also ask them to determine how many slices can be cut from a pie, a cake or even the ham or the turkey.  One other activity could be to ponder the number of fluid ounces of gravy or egg nog which are being consumed by guests.  Of course, if niblets have been added to the gravy, a discussion regarding the amount of space each niblet takes in the gravy could occur as well.  Lastly, you and the children can discuss the colors they see among the delicious spread of food and how each dish complements each other as a colorful palate.

Pile of Leaves-Once the meal has been eaten, friends and family may be looking for a way to work off some of those calories.  Take the family outside and engage in a Pile of Leaves game!

How to play: Encourage the kids to rake the leaves into four equal piles.  They can then guesstimate how many leaves are in each pile.  Ask the kids to determine the fraction of leaves that are each color, i.e. brown, orange, yellow, etc.  You can also discuss velocity and projection as you ask the kids to determine how far the leaves will fly if they run at various speeds through the leaves or jumping into the leaves.  Of course, at the end of these games, the best fun is to have all of the leaves in a huge pile and invite all friends and family to take a quick plunge.  We love this part!!  :-)

Count The Blessings: Counting blessings during the holidays can serve as a reminder of challenges the family has overcome throughout the year and the opportunity to experience life as a team.  The children can add up the number of blessings shared and marvel at the goodness the family has experienced.

These quick and fun games are a great way to keep everyone entertained while maintaining skills obtained during the school year.

Looking for more creative ideas to use during the breaks?  Watch your pumpkins scramble to decode these yummy words! 

For more fun with spelling go to

Answer Key: 

Shatanese is a the owner of Super Extra Ordinary Mom, LLC, a HR Consultancy that delivers leadership and development training with an emphasis on diversity and inclusion.

Shatanese resides in Atlanta, GA with her husband and their six children.  She enjoys walks on the beach and colorful sunrises.  Shatanese's goal is to encourage others to find the extraordinary in every day moments.

Invite Shatanese as your next guest speaker or trainer!


Follow Shatanese on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Career Tips from a New Marine, My Son

My son, Azaan, recently graduated from the United States Marine Corps (USMC) bootcamp, one of the most traumatic transformations of his life.  I asked him about his experience and was delighted to hear some of the tips he learned while on Parris Island.  These tips can be applied to all aspects of life, especially our work lives.

1.  Always give 100%. 

Azaan was required to give his all at all times throughout the grueling 13 week transformation.  While most of our work environments are not like the US Marine Corps bootcamp, I am certain there are days when we all feel like giving up and quitting.  At those moments, attempt to assess what is causing the duress.  Once that assessment is made, you have the opportunity to determine if you can change the situation or if it is outside of your control.  My son only had control of his attitude during bootcamp and in many cases, our attitude is exactly what we may need to change to allow ourselves to give 100%.

2.  It's never just about you.  

As a recruit, Azaan had to learn how to work with each individual in his platoon.  He learned very quickly that what he was experiencing was not about him and that he had to factor in others with each decision and action he took.  He also had to look out for anyone who was struggling.  "No man left behind" was the motto he embraced during bootcamp and still carries in his heart.

In our work environments, it usually is not just about us.  Of course, there are those moments when we are receiving accolades for a job well-done but most of the time, we are to have an outward focus.  What do our customers want?  What are the expectations of our shareholders?  What goals are being attempted by senior leadership?  Those questions should influence our actions and approaches to problems.  The moment we lose sight of this perspective is the moment we jeopardize the overall effectiveness of our companies.

3.  Don't be stupid.  

Simple, somewhat crass and yet powerful.  Azaan shared that he had to be mindful of every action and decision he made during basic training and his drill instructor reminded them regularly (and loudly) "Don't be stupid."  One false move could have caused his entire platoon to experience an afternoon of extra PT (physical training).  As such, he was careful to be deliberate and intentional with his interactions.   There was at least one instance when my son was caught sleeping during instruction.  He said he wanted to instantly disappear and did his best to recover from the embarrassment of waking up to find his classmates and drill instructor staring at him.

At work, we too should be careful not to be "stupid."  Whether that means not responding to an email while we are angry or not intentionally ignoring a company policy, being mindful of our behavior is critical to our professional success.  

4.  Pay yourself first.

When the recruits finally became Marines and were given Liberty, personal time, they were instructed to pay themselves first.  Not necessarily monetarily, but with time for family and vacation time.  I thought this was a novel idea because too often we find ourselves at work but not at 100% in terms of our mental health.  We will put our companies, our families and our stresses front and center before we decide to take care of ourselves.  Mental health is key and sometimes it is ok to simply take a mental health day.  The benefits far outweigh any reason not to do so.

5.  Seek self-improvement.

Self-improvement is now a way of life for my son.  He is regularly seeking ways to improve his time for the last mile he ran, or the number of pull-ups he can complete in a designated timeframe.  A little bit better is on the other side of initiating self-improvement.

Our approach to our careers should be similar.  I understand that not everyone has the desire to be the "super employee" at their place of employment.  I am encouraging everyone, however, to be aware of ways to self-improve.  Even the slightest positive change can go a long way.

6.  Push yourself especially when you feel like you can't.  

My son shared numerous instances where he believed his body had been pushed to limits he never thought possible.  He described grueling marches which consisted of several miles in extremely warm weather.  He highlighted the difficulty of dragging another platoon mate who was asked to "play dead" and how he thought he was crawling in the sand forever with the extra weight while the entire time thinking of going home.

There will inevitably be days at work where we want to pack up our items and go home.  Or months when we feel as if we are not making the progress we desire in our careers.  Or like my son, where we feel as if we are carrying colleagues who are like dead weight.  Don't give up.  Keep pushing yourself, especially when you feel like you can't.

I hope these tips offered by my new Marine not only encourage you to be your best at work, but also encourage you to be always faithful to your goals and dreams. #semperfi

Shatanese is a the owner of Super Extra Ordinary Mom, LLC, a HR Consultancy that delivers leadership and development training with an emphasis on diversity and inclusion.  

Shatanese resides in Atlanta, GA with her husband and their six children.  She enjoys walks on the beach and colorful sunrises.  Shatanese's goal is to encourage others to find the extraordinary in every day moments.

Invite Shatanese as your next guest speaker or trainer!


Follow Shatanese on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.