My name is Adrienne Graham and I’m a former Broke Brand.
Yes, it’s true. Many women entrepreneurs lose their focus and balance, and their way, by not staying true to who they are and what they want. It takes a lot to run a company and even more to run multiple companies and a personal life.
Once upon a time, I was so concerned about pleasing everyone else that I became that Broke Brand and I was emotionally and financially maxed out. I was so concerned about pleasing everyone else, I chose to over give. I over gave of my time, over gave of my expertise, over gave of myself. It resulted in extremely low revenue (at some points no revenue), my body being physically tired and my mind being emotionally taxed. All in the name of looking out for others. I rationalized that I was building an “empire”, multiple companies that once at their pinnacle, would be phenomenal. If I could just hold on and keep on giving it would all be worth it.
Well that was just not sustainable. In fact, worrying about being there for everyone else almost cost me my health, my home and my businesses. One day I snapped to attention and looked at my life. Sure, everyone else was being fulfilled by me, but I was sorely lacking in motivation, money and options. I was depressed. I knew there needed to be a change and decided to make it happen. What I learned was that if I wanted to be a successful businesswoman, I had to set boundaries and stop people pleasing. I had to find a way to please myself, my family, my clients and the world without making myself sick and broke.
Here are four things I learned that helped me turn things around in my life so that I could have balance, peace and success…yes, it IS possible.
- I got focused on what my business goals were. When you run multiple businesses it’s easy to lose focus and be all over the map. All I knew was I wanted to “build an empire” and run companies (plural). So I started projects and companies without real plans. Early on, jumping into business without written plans served me well. But as I got older and more involved in the business world, I realized that without focus or a plan, I was increasing my odds of failure. I was also giving people mixed signals about what I wanted and needed. So I sat down and mapped out exactly how I envisioned each of my companies and who they would serve. That allowed me to be clear and connect with the appropriate people who could assist me. Then I asked for what I needed.
- I learned to set limits and say NO. When you’re starting out or shifting directions, it’s easy to believe that because you are new you have to give it all away. The “experts” will tell you to give, give, give, but they never give you a transition strategy. Nor do they tell you to who and under what circumstances you should give. Not knowing or setting real boundaries, I gave away so much that people were trained to expect my services and advice for free. Since I had a radio show, wrote for blogs and magazines, and spoke at events for free, people assumed they didn’t need to pay me. I started giving general advice and learned how to steer the conversation towards a mini screening to see if they really were ready to work with me to solve their problems or if they were a tire kicker. When I became confident of my value, the conversations became easier and people respected the value I brought to the table.
- I hired a team. I can’t tell you how vital hiring a team was to my life and my companies. I used to think I wore a cape and my real name was Superwoman. I had it all. I was a Mom, ran companies and I was growing popular. But I was doing everything all by myself. I overextended myself and worked horrible hours. In the process, I was not meeting all of my clients’ expectations. I thought I had to do it all myself because after all nobody could do what I do as well as I could for the good of my companies. Yeah, that’s a quick way to #failure. I sat down one day and looked at everything that it took to run the day-to-day of my companies, then I designed an ideal team and job descriptions. I then started hiring a little at a time until I could finally focus only on delivering services to my clients. Having the right team in place takes so much pressure off your shoulders. If you hire smart, give them the tools to do their jobs and stay out of their way, a great team can bring your company to new heights and alleviate a ton of stress. I still work, but I don’t stress myself over the minute details.
- I learned to take time for me. I used to go months and months without taking a break or any downtime. I was never too busy for people. Whatever it was, I did it. But something happens when you keep acting like you’re the energizer bunny…you BURN OUT. Eventually, I learned to take the entire month of December off. Without a team (see #3) I wouldn’t have been able to do that. What I found was that I’d work even harder and longer hours all year long, just so I could get to December. So I had to learn to find the right balance. I still take the month of December off, but I also take weekends throughout the year. Sometimes I stay home, sometimes I venture out. But I make it ME time. My health also suffered from my breakneck pace. I started taking the appropriate vitamins and started walking. I can’t say I “exercised”, but walking and eating better helped a lot. I also make sure I get my full 8 hours of sleep!
When you are clear about what you want, set boundaries, surround yourself with the right people and take time for taking care of you, balance is inevitable. Balance is possible but not easy. It takes work, mental conditioning and breaking a lot of old habits. It all starts with making the decision to have a better life and company. So what will you decide today?
My name is Adrienne Graham and I am no longer a Broke Brand, but a power mogul. I grow companies, teams and leaders, but I take care of ME first.
For more insight on business planning, visit Project Eve’s Business Planning section.
Adrienne Graham is the Founder & CEO of Empower Me! Corporation and the brand new Curvy Girl Closet. She works with companies on growth strategies in revenue, operations, staffing, optimization and customer experience. She is the author of No, You Can’t Pick My Brain. Connect with Adrienne on: Twitter | Facebook | Google + | LinkedIn|iTunes