The Secret to Small Business Longevity with Career Coach Michelle Ward

The Secret to Small Business Longevity with Career Coach Michelle Ward

[smart_track_player url=”″ title=”The Secret to Small Business Longevity with Career Coach Michelle Ward” social=”true” social_twitter=”true” social_facebook=”true” social_pinterest=”true” social_email=”true” ]

The Nitty Gritty:

  • How to plan and pivot out of a crappy job
  • How a brand evolves and “grows up” over the life a business
  • Why entrepreneurship allows the flexibility to adjust your business when you face a negative or positive situation out of nowhere

My guest on the Profit. Power. Pursuit podcast this week is Michelle Ward, founder and career coach of When I Grow Up, a firm dedicated to helping creative women get out of their “soul-sucking jobs and discover—and launch!—their authentic, fulfilling businesses.” After 20 years of preparing for and pursuing her dream of being an actress, she suddenly realized it was no longer the life she wanted to lead and decided to get a “real job.” We talk about her own transition to discover her own dream career, how the When I Grow Up brand has evolved and how her business became her relief and release after being diagnosed with cancer.

Plan and pivot out of a soul-sucking job

The devil you know is oftentimes better than the devil you don’t.

– Michelle Ward

Michelle started to get beaten down by the business of show business, and decided that even though she had spent her life up to that point preparing for a career as an actress, it was no longer what she wanted to be when she “grew up.” But, she ultimately didn’t know WHAT she wanted to be and she didn’t want to settle for anything less than something she was passionate about. After a lot of soul searching and help from a career change class, she realized being an entrepreneur really fit everything she wanted for herself.

She became the coach that she couldn’t find. But, as Michelle shares in our interview, it took several years of planning and working a “grown-up” job as an executive assistant so she could pay her bills and get her training before she pivoted to a full-time career coach.

Evolution of the When I Grow Up brand

Overwhelmingly, my people told me that they were attracted to me and stayed around because they clicked with the name.

– Michelle Ward

Since Michelle’s name is so common, it never crossed her mind to use her name as her business name. After some deliberation, she settled on the name When I Grow Up because every time she would share it with others, they would laugh and “get it.”

There have been three different logo/brand shifts as the brand has grown up over the years. Michelle has worked with the same designer since the beginning of her business and during our conversation she shares how the look and feel of her brand has shifted. She’s really happy with where the brand is right now and Michelle believes that the caliber of the clients she attracts is a really big nod to the business name, brand, how she shows up online and how authentic she is.

Each year, Michelle creates an infographic to illustrate her business by the numbers that offers a fascinating look into her revenue streams and business expenses.

Adjust your business when necessary

Whether it’s something negative or positive out of nowhere the same rules can apply.

– Michelle Ward

Everybody responds differently to the trials and tribulations of life when being an entrepreneur, but the promise of entrepreneurship is that you have the ability to adjust your business in a way that works for your life circumstances. Michelle shares how she weathered the storms in her business including two different bouts with “boob cancer” in 2011 and 2015. At the forefront of her approach was honesty and transparency with her clients. Michelle explains how she adjusted her business during her surgery and treatment based on what she still wanted to do that made her feel good, what she thought she could manage and how she could alter the expectations to show up at a certain time and avoid feeling guilty if she wasn’t up to it.

I invite you to tune in to listen to the entire podcast where you will hear all the nitty-gritty details from this long-time entrepreneur and learn about a great opportunity to join Michelle at the Pivot Assembly, a virtual event with amazing career change experts, including yours truly, to learn about how to pivot out of your crappy job into a more traditional job or entrepreneurial work.

Each week you can learn from the experiences of successful entrepreneurs to build your own business. Subscribe to the Profit. Power. Pursuit. podcast on iTunes to get the nitty-gritty details about how these professionals built brands and teams and are living out their dreams as an entrepreneur.

Creating Systems for Efficiency & Productivity with Indie Shopography founder Emily Thompson

Creating Systems for Efficiency & Productivity with Indie Shopography founder Emily Thompson

[smart_track_player url=”″ title=”Creating Systems for Efficiency & Productivity with Indie Shopography founder Emily Thompson” social=”true” social_twitter=”true” social_facebook=”true” social_pinterest=”true” social_email=”true” ]

The Nitty Gritty:

  • How purchasing a tanning salon when she was 18 set Emily on a track for entrepreneurship
  • Why extremely detailed process management will help you feel more productive
  • How Emily balances the demands of running two businesses

This week, my guest on the Profit. Power. Pursuit. podcast is Emily Thompson, founder of Indie Shopography and co-host of Being Boss, a podcast for creative entrepreneurs who want to up their game. At Indie Shopography, Emily helps creatives build and run online businesses from the design and development of their business websites to marketing and education products. Emily and I talk about the time she bought a tanning salon at the ripe age of 18, why her extremely detailed process management helps her feel more productive and how she balances running two businesses.

Lessons from owning a tanning salon

I remember thinking this would not be my last relationship with business.

– Emily Thompson

When Emily was 18 she worked at a tanning salon one night a week in exchange for getting to use the tanning beds herself. Even though she had never taken a business course and was young, she could tell the business was in trouble. Then, thanks to a combination of moxie and mettle she made a call to the owner and ended up buying the salon and owned her first business at age 18. During our conversation, Emily shares insights about this opportunity and although it was a relatively short period of time, she credits it with giving her the bug to be a business owner. Today, she is very intentional about building a business that really allows her to do work that works for her.

Detailed {often painstaking} to-do lists for optimum productivity

My trick for myself is breaking down those tasks so minutely that sometimes I can check off 5 things in 5 minutes because I really broke them down that small.

– Emily Thompson

Whether Emily is designing a website or developing a new educational product, her process is very much the same. She outlines her entire process in the podcast and emphasizes the power of her detailed to-do lists that break down tasks into bite-size chunks. Once she has that very detailed plan, she schedules it out by using Asana. Even though her to-do list may seem super overwhelming for every project, she knows that tackling each of those individual tasks—that are small and manageable—she will ultimately get to the end of it. When those to-dos are marked off, the end result is a new product or website has been created.

Secrets to juggling two businesses

I don’t have to wear too many hats. They’re the same hats, just different colors.

– Emily Thompson

In the podcast, Emily shares her experiences and thoughts about how to juggle being the boss for two different businesses. She loves that she doesn’t have to put all of her energy into one thing, and that makes having more than one business appealing to her. The two businesses give her enough structure to not pigeon-hole herself creatively into one creative endeavor. She and her partner at Being Boss put together a very detailed marketing calendar annually so that they have a clear view of what’s happening in all three of their businesses so nothing gets lost.

In the full episode, we talk more about Emily’s passion for Asana, the structure of her team, as well as what’s on the horizon for both of her businesses, plus a book launch next spring! I hope you’ll tune in to receive all her valuable insight.

Learn from today’s most innovative and inspiring entrepreneurs every week by subscribing to the Profit. Power. Pursuit. podcast on iTunes when you want to know how small business owners really manage their time, develop outstanding products, build their teams and get new customers.

The Ins & Outs of Authentic Networking with Art of Charm Co-founder Jordan Harbinger

The Ins & Outs of Authentic Networking with Art of Charm Co-founder Jordan Harbinger

[smart_track_player url=”″ title=”The Ins & Outs of Authentic Networking with Art of Charm Co-founder Jordan Harbinger” social=”true” social_twitter=”true” social_facebook=”true” social_pinterest=”true” social_email=”true” ]

The Nitty Gritty:

  • What a day in the life looks like for Jordan as an entrepreneur
  • What he does to manage his email and not waste time
  • How to maximize your return when you network

Networking guru Jordan Harbinger, co-founder of the Art of Charm podcast and franchise is my guest on this week’s episode of the Profit. Power. Pursuit. podcast. In this episode, we dig into his daily routine as an entrepreneur, he shared some email management tips I’m excited to implement and lots of valuable insight on the best way to network—we can all use that, right?

Jordan and his business partner AJ didn’t start out with the intention of creating a business together. What became the Art of Charm podcast started out as just conversations about nonverbal communication, persuasion, influence and even dating and attraction. Their friends found these conversations valuable and would join AJ and Jordan at restaurants and bars before any of us knew the term podcast. Soon, the team ventured online and even had air time on SiriusXM satellite radio. Their business continues to grow since having a weekly broadcast since 2006.

A Day In the Life of an Entrepreneur

I like to make damn sure that I’m engaging with people and practicing what we preach here at the Art of Charm and not just sitting up here writing books about networking and then never doing it.

– Jordan Harbinger

As he would advise any business owner, Jordan checks email first thing every morning to be sure to jump on any issues or negativity before it has a chance to get out of hand. He also spends a bit of time every morning on personal development; right now he’s learning Chinese! In addition, he studies his craft and will watch other interviewers each day to get his creative juices flowing. Following that, he works his network by checking in with friends and colleagues and then does extensive show prep for the podcast.

Jordan is also responsible for engaging his audience on Twitter and Facebook. Although he delegates regularly posting, he personally handles responses to posts as “it’s a little disingenuous to say, tweet at me, and some person in the Philippines is pretending to be you.”

He schedules all admin duties and meetings on Monday, so he can spend the rest of the week on creative pursuits. And to avoid micromanaging, he checks in on the work his employees are doing just once per week. A lot of his responsibilities are scheduled and regular which is great because it makes it predictable. If there is ever any sort of emergency, he can plan to be flexible for that because he’s not just flying by the seat of his pants all day every day.

Email Management

Jordan triages his email every morning with the assistance of Spark, an app that helps him quickly see the important messages and organize the rest. If there is anything that needs done immediately, he delegates those tasks. He suggests that every time you look at an email you need to make a decision about its level of importance and what to do with it. If you don’t have the time to make a decision, don’t look at the email at all. It’s just a waste of time, because you’ll have to re-read it later when you are going to make a decision about it.

Networking Is Usually about a Serendipitous Relationship

The only way to maximize your return on your networking is to help everyone you can without actually expecting anything in return.

– Jordan Harbinger

Most people network with a specific target in mind and want to meet a particular person because they think that person will deliver opportunities. In Jordan’s experience, they rarely do, even though hobnobbing with celebrities or powerful people does make for good cocktail party conversation.

You usually can’t see the opportunities that you end up getting because they are over the horizon. So, the way that you get them is by helping other people without expecting anything in return. Those are the same types of people that will then later on reciprocate.

Check out the entire podcast to learn more about networking, how to avoid a major faux pas of networking, what’s next for Art of Charm including The Art of Networking, a new course on CreativeLive, and more!

Each week I interview today’s brilliant entrepreneurs who offer listeners nuggets of wisdom for anyone building a business. I hope you will join me and subscribe in iTunes so you never miss out!

Business versus Startup, Managers versus Entrepreneurs

Is your venture a business or a startup?
Are you a manager or an entrepreneur?

Think it’s all semantics? It might be. But it also might be the source of a lot of tension in your day-to-day operations.

Quick Quiz

  1. Do you make time for creating & investigating new ideas? Yes or No
  2. Would you prefer to spend most of your business time working for your clients/customers? Yes or No
  3. Does evolving & changing your business excite & energize you? Yes or No
  4. Do you prefer getting it right & sticking with it? Yes or No

If you answered “yes” to questions 1 & 3, you’re the entrepreneur-type. If you answered “yes” to question 2 & 4, you’re the manager-type.

Entrepreneurs & Startups

A startup is a human institution designed to deliver a new product or service under conditions of extreme uncertainty.
Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup

Entrepreneurs thrive in environments of uncertainty. Change is a constant – and welcome – companion for these business adventurers. They are on a quest to discover and rediscover a product that creates value, innovation that disrupts a market, and a business that “works.”

Entrepreneurs create & run startups. Startups are businesses driven by the hunt for an unknown prey. Startups must be built for agility. One or 10 wrong moves won’t kill a startup but moving too slowly will. A startup is focused on implementing then learning and then implementing and learning again.

If you’re an entrepreneur running a startup, you probably thrive on short-term projects, experimentation, and learning new techniques.

To do: Make time in your schedule every week for thinking on, designing for, and playing at something new. Don’t succumb to guilt because you’re not spending time hustling for new clients or working on the things that pay the bills. Yes, that’s important but, if you don’t indulge your creative/innovative side, you’ll lose interest in your venture.

Also, be prepared to bring others onto your team quickly, you’ll need support in administration & management to grow the business beyond its initial stages.

Watch out for: Boredom. Recognize that many businesses aren’t meant to remain startups forever. It’s possible for you to get to a point where your desire to create & innovate in your current venture withers away. If you sense this is a possibility, be sure to be building your business so that you can step away from it, either by putting management in place or by selling it.

Also, be mindful of shiny things. Shiny things are projects or ideas that take you away from your true purpose. Novelty is important to you and should be considered carefully but not at the expense of the learning cycle you’re in.

Managers & Businesses

…you switch from riding the rocket to playing the long patient game. You’ve reached a level of business expertise and positioning such that the only way you’re going to get better is to focus on the long game of expertise and market share.
— Charlie Gilkey, Productive Flourishing

Charlie’s series on the stages of business is helpful for both manager-types & entrepreneur-types but especially so for managers.

Managers are focused on greatness. They prefer getting things right the first time and then slowly optimizing from there. They bank on the long tail. They thrive in long-term relationships with customers & clients. Their businesses are powerhouses of word-of-mouth sales. They learn and then implement.

Managers run & maintain businesses. A business is an enterprise with a proven model. It runs like a top. As long as it’s spinning, it’s generating profit.

If you’re a manager, you probably live for doing the work you created your business to do in systems that help you do that work better.

To do: Indulge two of your strengths and create a system for gathering referrals. Incorporate it into your client emails or create marketing geared at existing customers. Make sure your team knows referrals are a priority for you.

Also, reach out to 3rd party perspectives on a regular basis. A business coach, copywriter, or PR specialist might help you see opportunities that would have otherwise been missed.

Watch out for: Getting comfortable. It’s easy to get comfortable cruising along when you’re a seasoned manager and your business is working. But surprises do come. Make a habit of considering different scenarios (both positive & negative) to train or brain to embrace the unknown.

Also, look for opportunities to leverage your (or your team’s) time. When you love the work that you do and create a business for that express purpose, it’s very easy to get comfortable doing that work on a pay-for-play basis. You get paid when you work. It’s difficult to create freedom in a business like this so make time to work out ways to leverage what you do to generate profit.

What does it all mean?

Ventures that succeed over the long haul need both types of people — or more specifically both skill sets. This isn’t a judgement call; there is no better or worse. Understanding what energizes & strengthens you helps you understand how you can serve your own business best.

To begin, grow, or change direction, you’ll need to call on your entrepreneurial skill set. If this is where you thrive, you’re pretty well set. If this is what causes you some pain, get help. To maintain a low-stress business, you’ll need to call on your managerial skill set. If this is where you thrive, again, you’re pretty well set. If this is what causes you some pain, get help.

Running a business is not a solo act. Whether you’re a solo entrepreneur or the focal point of a team, it’s important to realize that there are multiple roles required for keeping your business running smoothly. Neglect a role and you’ll suffer for it.

So tell me – what are you: an entrepreneur or a manager? Answer in the comments and/or click here to tweet it!

if you don’t challenge yourself, who will?

rocky mountains from the air

Are you up for a challenge?

Are you willing to try something that’s never been done? Are you willing to think what’s never been thought? Speak what’s never been spoken?

One of the greatest challenges of being an entrepreneur is that there is no one left telling you what to do. No one. You’ll hear whispers from clients. You’ll receive ideas from coaches. You’ll get inspired by research.

But no one will really tell you what to do.

Or dictate how you do it.

Or schedule it for you.

That part is up to you.

Indeed, it’s not even so much what you do as much as it is pushing the envelope. Are you willing to try a fresh strategy? A crazy idea?

But we end up allowing research to pass as an action item, we search for endless tutorials instead of giving it a go, we walk in others foot steps instead of forging our own trail. Entrepreneurs can’t afford (quite literally) to be followers. Sure, you can borrow from others success – but if you’re unwilling to lead with some small part of your business, it’s time to stop kidding yourself about what you’re trying to achieve.

Are you willing to challenge yourself further than you’ve ever been challenged before?

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. But you could try. I bet you’d learn something in the process.

Look at it as an opportunity to try stuff out. “Ask yourself, ‘What do I get to do?’ not ‘What do I have to do?'” Good advice for any DIY pursuit, actually.
— Mark Frauenfelder, Made by Hand (quoting Steve Gerischer)

It’s our privilege as entrepreneurs, movers & shakers, up & comers, big-thinking power people to create tasks that we don’t know how to do right now. It’s our joy to stretch our skills & ideas beyond recognition. It’s our entitlement to make mistakes while we’re learning.

We must challenge ourselves.

If you don’t challenge yourself, who will?

Find me elsewhere: