Looking Big But Staying Manageable

When I struck out on my own 18 years ago, having your office in your home wasn’t stylish. It wasn’t even acceptable. I did everything I could to negate the question in my client’s presence or at least go around it. I talked in terms of my team. I never mentioned my office. I made sure I was always available on their time and terms so they never had to come to me.

How silly.

I was ahead of my time. I was saving money in overhead and energy and passing those savings along to my clients. Now, working from home is the American Dream.

Every business needs is a few tools, all compliments of our great world of technology. Implement the right ones and you can compete with the Fortune 500 companies of the world. Actually, you can be better than the Fortune 500 companies because they’re layered down in bureaucracy and meetings. You’re free as a bird.

Never mix the home phone and the business phone. Cell phone, in my opinion, is a necessity. Don’t have an 800# unless it’s absolutely necessary because it costs you money, however, an 800# makes you automatically look big.

Have a website. Get one for free on WIX (www.wix.com) and get your own domain name for $12 bucks or less at GoDaddy (www.godaddy.net). Wix will host your site for free and when you’re ready you can add e-commerce for less than $10 bucks a month.

Never hire staff if you don’t have to, there are too many outsourcing options available and you can hire the talent you need only when you need it.

Keep your marketing activities limited to 2 or at most 3 items. Most small business owners go in a million different directions (which I call shiny object syndrome) and end up with negligible results.

Look big. Stay manageable. Savor your resources and give the kids a hug.

Granny and Panty Liners

In one of my darkest moments of our money mania, I happened to be at Hy-Vee, the grocery store. I watched as a little hunchbacked old lady bought groceries including 8 boxes of panti-liners, and I remember wondering what she could possibly need all those for.

I watched as she pushed her heavy cart to the parking lot alone, feeling very alone in my own soul. I offered to help her with her groceries and as we headed toward the cars, we talked. She told me she’d just lost her husband of many years, and I felt even more heartbroken than I had a few minutes before.

I loaded the groceries as she fumbled about in her purse. I wished her a good-day and turned around as she yelled “wait, I have something for you.” My first thought was that she wanted to tip me, and I didn’t want anything for my few seconds of grocery handling.

She handed me 3 business cards printed on parchment paper. They each had 3 words…”Expect a Miracle.” I glanced again to make sure I was looking at them right. We hugged, parted and I got in my truck to head home.

At that very moment, all I needed was a glimmer of hope. Expect a miracle resonated in my soul. I started to cry…tears streaming down my face. Dennis and I needed a miracle, in the worst way. Had God sent an angel disguised as a widowed Granny buying panty-liners to give me hope and let me know that things were going to be okay?

Three days later our mega-mansion sold, clearing almost $700,000 of our $2.3 million of debt. 1 burden lifted. $1.6 million to go.

I believe in miracles and angels dressed as Grannies. Do you?

Multi-tasking Mania

When my children were 2, 4 and 7, I started my business. I worked out of my basement bedroom and pretended to be official. In all actuality, I was official except I didn’t understand how life could be this amazing and be real. I had zero guilt and infinite time to be a wife, Mother and a business-owner.

I got to be with my kids. I got to go to the swimming pool. I got to write proposals for huge companies and get paid simply by mailing them an invoice. No one told me when to come and go. I answered my voicemail when I wanted to. I listened to kids whine and bicker incessantly. I planted tulips. I provided treats for the school room mothers.

I was the consummate multi-tasker. Still am. Except now I’m juggling different things than I was when my kids were small. Multi-tasking is thought of as a badge of honor for a Mom. I can bake the cookies, bounce the kids, bring home the bacon and send an email all at the same time. It’s nice to be that talented.

It’s also exhausting. Multi-tasking is overrated. Talking on the phone while picking up the blocks while watching for the end of day school bus while deciding what to have for dinner can make you crazy. I know. I did it.

Slow down. Do fewer things well. Give yourself permission to focus.
My motto: Do less, be more.

Top 10 Chick Flicks of All Time

Movies change us. A sentence like “You Complete Me” becomes a cultural mantra. You know we all love a good cry. So I put together my Top 10 Chick Flicks of All Time for you to see. Just looking through the movie covers makes me happy! We’re working on the Top 100 list so help us compile it with your personal favorites.

The Top 10 List
Father of the Bride
Love Story
The Notebook
You’ve Got Mail
Last Holiday
The Notebook
Gone With The Wind
Sleepless in Seattle
PS I Love You
When Harry Met Sally
Something’s Gotta Give

Father of the Bride

The Best Chocolate Cake Ever

Need a chocolate cake recipe that’s survived generations? This recipe was my Grandma’s and I still think about her when I make it. The key to the recipe’s success is the buttermilk. The best part of making it is eating the batter straight out of the bowl.

Grandma’s Chocolate Cake

2/3 Cup Crisco
2 eggs
2 Cups Sugar
2 Tablespoons Heaping Hershey’s Cocoa
1/2 Cup Buttermilk
2 Teaspoons Baking Soda
2 Cups Flour
1/4 Teaspoon Vanilla
1 Cup Hot Water

Ice with your favorite icing (I’m not a purist, I use it straight out of the can.)

Put in two round cake pans that have been greased (I use Crisco) and floured.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

What Children Really Need From Grandma?

Yesterday, I wrote about the joy of being a grandma. This is one of my Encouragement To Go collection prints that I thought says it well.

What Children Really Need From Grandma?

They don’t need more technology…they need to talk.
They don’t need to get cleaned up…they need to get messy.
They don’t need a lecture…they need a listener.
They don’t need a 3-course meal…vanilla ice cream on a cake cone will do.
They don’t need structured play…they need to hop, skip and jump.
They don’t need to go to a movie…they need to make their own.
They don’t need you to buy them a toy…they need you to make chocolate chip cookies with them.
They don’t need your money…they need your time.
They don’t need your fears…they need your faith in them.
They don’t need a hand-out, they need you to take their hand.
They don’t need a critic, they need a cheerleader.
And most of all, they don’t need thing to always be lovely, they simply need you and your love.

If you wish to purchase the print, simply go to the Encouragement To Go link.

The Most Important Thing To Remember

“You are not your money. You are a living, breathing human being with infinite potential and unlimited greatness. Do not gauge your worth by your bank account or your yearly income. Who you are is not what you earn…it is what and who you become. How you treat people. How you use your talents and gifts. The kindness you exude to others. The way you make people feel when they walk into a room.

Money is man’s measurement of success, it is not success. It is simply an exchange of energy and goods. Peace and contentment can never be found in a dollar bill or a coin of metal, these jewels can only be found in the depths of your own heart and soul.”
Copyright 2011, Cheryl Thompson, Encouragement To Go

Prints will soon be available for “You Are Not Your Money” from the EncouragementToGo collection. Check back soon.