Does your work bag work hard for you?

I’ve been looking for a new work bag for a while and today I finally succumbed. I needed a bag that could handle my full life. I needed a bag big enough to hold my laptop, my reading material, my items for the day, like meeting notes, mail, receipts and forms. And I wanted it to be stylish. Oh and I also needed compartments for my pens, keys, sunnies, wallet, tissues, business cards, toys that my kids hand me in the school yard as I wave them good bye. You get the picture. This bag needed to be stylish and smart. Oh, and it needs to be my mobile office.

Too much to ask?

Apparently not. When I interviewed Kristina Karlsson, founder of Kikki.K Swedish stationary chain, via e-mail for our blog post yesterday, I finally discovered I needed the Vaxholm. A classic shoulder bag in ‘Cognac’ leather. My search for the perfect work bag is over. This is totally my mobile office. I LOVE IT.

It features a separate padded compartment for your laptop, external and internal zip pockets, leather pen loops, phone pocket, leather cable wrap and attached key chain – this stylish leather bag has all the compartments you need to organise all your everyday essentials. It fits my laptop and it matches my small handbag that I can take to lunch.

Any of my bag lovers out there will understand what I’m talking about. Please let me know your thoughts.

Find it here:

Confidence Boosting

This week I have been reflecting on the topic of confidence as it came up in a session with a beautiful, talented client. She pinpointed that a lack of self-confidence is holding her back from achieving her ideal life and she’s sick to death of it.

It stirred me up and got me thinking. How can someone so talented, beautiful and blessed with so many gifts lack confidence? If my client has it all on the outside, why has her ‘inside’ suffering every step of the way?

It comes down to a belief about being ‘good enough’. If you’re carrying around the opinions of others inside your head when you’re trying to make decisions, move through your day and achieve all that life demands of you, then it’s 10 against 1. You’re literally carrying the weight of the world around with you.

Why not make your own choices and decisions and then let others argue later if they have the time. When was the last time you questioned a confident person? We tend not to. It’s interesting how the only people we tend to challenge are those who are self-doubters. It’s easy, we know they’ll re-consider, pause, hesitate. It’s sport.

While I know that we all need a good dose of confidence to perform well on a daily basis, I also know that vulnerability is a very important and often underestimated character trait. So what we’re talking about here is definitely not assuming a false air of self-importance. Or of being over-bearing or boastful or arrogant. Vulnerability is a strength and can be the source of great confidence.

So let’s consider some different types of confidence.

Confidence can mean certainty – for example, in a clinical trial, you need statistical evidence to show that you’re confident that a certain result will occur. I also need to be confident that the brain surgeon operating on me has done his training – proof of that will give me confidence to go under the knife.

In the public speaking arena, confidence is critical. You need to assume a persona or air of confidence in order to get up in front of many people and talk. We all need to feel a certain amount of confidence about everyday occurrences – like the sun is going to rise in the morning and ‘everything’s going to be o.k.’

So to lack confidence, means we’re going against the natural order of things.

If for instance, we’re carrying around a load of self-doubt and thoughts like ‘he or she might not like what I’ve decided here’. The question is: who are you going to value more – them or you? Who are you going to back? And if you abandon the driver’s seat of your own life, who’s going to step in? And are they going to do a better job than you? Probably not.

Time to take control of the wheel and drive the bus where you want to go. Passengers can always disembark at the next stop if they don’t like your destination. And they can always get back on board when they realise that you’re committed to the journey you’re on.

What does confidence mean to you? Who do you know who’s confident? What is it about the way they think that makes them so? What would happen if you stopped worrying about what others think?

The Female Entrepreneur – diligent, capable, resourceful, courageous, energetic, active, audacious, passionate, self assured, gutsy, enterprising, imaginative, plucky, industrious and opportunistic

Today’s female entrepreneur is described as diligent, capable, resourceful, courageous, energetic, active, audacious, passionate, self assured, gutsy, enterprising, imaginative, plucky, industrious and opportunistic. Despite all these words – and many words we didn’t list – overall she is courageous.

Woman have often found challenges in business, especially when up against men, they have not only the challenges of a career to contend with but trying to balance family and work and deal with many out there who feel a woman just isn’t as effective as a man in the entrepreneurial arena.

Thankfully thinking and times have changed, as a society we have come a long way and now women are being recognised and acknowledged for the work they do, and while there is still some need for *acceptance* the female entrepreneur’s courageous spirit is shining through. Women have begun turning to the small business/solo-professional field to become fully fledged entrepreneurs in their own right.

Women are no longer accepting of the *status-quo* they are up to the challenge of creating their OWN business dreams. They have the faith they need and trust in their own abilities to push against the tide and head off into those *uncharted waters*. It is this courageous spirit that allows her to open doors, close doors that don’t work for her and to develop new business skills. The female entrepreneur of today sets herself challenging goals, is willing to face anything and has an *onwards and upwards* plan to move ahead – from starting something new to completely re-inventing herself.

It’s her desire to succeed and the need to reach for her dreams that gives her the courage to achieve her goals.

As with anything the first step is the hardest, getting your business idea off the ground is daunting, but any feelings of anxiety or uncertainty can be conquered by that can-do courageous attitude. By believing in your goals, your morals and your skills you can achieve anything you set out to do. Stay true to yourself, stay motivated, set yourself goals and stick to them and seize any and all opportunities as they become available. This is the only way you can avoid any set-backs.

Today’s female entrepreneur doesn’t look back, she doesn’t pine over lost chances or missed opportunities she keeps to her goals, letting her heart and passion guide her. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger are words she lives by.

If your courage has gone into hiding – now is the time to sit down and visualise your goals, where do you want to be? How can you get there? Set yourself on the path to achieving your goals do whatever you need to do, achieve whatever you need to achieve to live that entrepreneurial dream.

Do it not just for yourself, but for those women out there, the ones who are looking up to you and admiring you for what you have achieved – you can become the role model for the next generation of female entrepreneurs.

5 Ways to Launch a Successful Online Business

  1. Decide and Do. Discover a problem that needs a solution. Instead of letting your ideas slip through your fingers, you decide to create a solution.
  2. Test and Test Again. A big reason why so many entrepreneurs fail is because they invest lots of time and money in their products or services before evaluating whether there is a market for them.
  3. Decide if you’re an entrepreneur or an inventor
  4. Find a Mentor
  5. Use Social MediaSuccessful Online Business

How to Build a Successful Online Business

I love the lifestyle that comes from running an online business. I get to work from home each day, set my own hours, choose my own projects, and enjoy abundant income. It’s hard for me to imagine how I’d feed myself without the Internet. When I think about income generation, I immediately think of the web.

I was talking to a successful entrepreneur recently who pointed out that building an online business is an exercise in personal development. He’s absolutely right. I’ve probably learned more valuable life lessons from my entrepreneurial pursuits than from any other areas of my life. Running a business tests you in so many ways — your self-discipline, your intelligence, your communication skills, your focus, etc. If you’re lacking in any of these areas, your business results will reflect it.

The real world of business can be unforgiving. Success is rewarded. Mistakes are punished. The benefit is that it keeps you honest. You can’t settle for weakness, laziness, and bad ideas, or your business will fail. There’s a huge chasm between an idea that sounds good and an idea that actually gets implemented and succeeds under real-world conditions. Anyone can come up with good ideas, but most people can’t successfully implement them.

Some people can’t handle the pressure of running their own business. They worry about the risk of failure. They’re looking at it from the wrong angle though. That risk is precisely the point. Risk is what helps you grow. It makes you stronger. An entrepreneur who fears risk is like a bodybuilder who’s afraid of barbells.

There have been times when I had to deal with tough problems, like having bills due but no money to pay them. These problems made me dig deep inside myself. My business compelled me to grow into the kind of person who could handle these sorts of things. I learned to trust myself to work hard, to stay focused under pressure, and to even enjoy the process.

We all have different levels of risk tolerance. You don’t need to stress yourself out to grow. You just need to challenge yourself in a way that stimulates you. Lift weights that are heavy and which tax your muscles… but which you can still successfully lift. Afterwards you may feel spent, but you’ll also grow from the experience. If you only do what comes easy for you, you’ll suffer from atrophy, and life will become rather boring and pointless.

Why an online business?

In the age of the Internet, I think almost everyone should have an online business… if only for the growth experience. It doesn’t cost much to start one, but it will teach you so much. Perhaps the greatest benefit is that you’ll learn you do have something of value to share with the world, something that can generate income for you for the rest of your life.

In a way I’m jealous of the teenagers and 20-somethings who are growing up so Internet savvy. Any of them could start their own online businesses and get ahead financially at a young age. I would have loved to have been doing this in high school or college. It’s terrific that some people are becoming millionaires at such a young age, but I think the real success stories come from those who find a way to generate just a few thousand dollars per month, enough to cover their expenses.

My kids are only 4 and 7 years old, but I’m already thinking about how I might help them start their own websites soon. My daughter is very artistic, so who knows? Imagine if by the time she becomes an adult, she already has a steady stream of cashflow from websites she created during her teen years.

Building traffic

Running an online business is deceptively simple. Look at my web site, for example. The structure isn’t very complicated. It’s mostly just a lot of content and a lot of ads. But it consistently generates a nice five-figure monthly income. Anyone can do it, right?

Unfortunately, not everyone can do this. People try and fail all the time. The success stories get a lot of attention, but there are orders of magnitude more failures.

The key factor in building a successful online business is traffic. If you can’t build sufficient traffic, you won’t be able to generate much, if any, income. And unfortunately most people are really bad at building traffic. They apply completely inept strategies that don’t work, and they usually give up within a few months after starting.

Building traffic is not remotely easy for most people. This problem isn’t unique to the web though. You see it in every field. Some authors sell millions of books, while the average book doesn’t even sell 5,000 copies. Lots of people can write a book, but relatively few know how to sell a book. Lots of people can create a web site or blog these days, but few know how to attract large amounts of traffic.

If you can successfully build lots of traffic, it’s fairly easy to generate income from it. You also have time to figure it out. If you can grow your traffic, you can maintain your traffic, and that gives you time to figure out how to monetize the traffic.

In the past I’ve written articles trying to teach people how to build successful online businesses, including How to Make Money From Your Blog and How to Build a High-Traffic Website. Those were long, detailed articles, and both have become extremely popular in the blogosphere. I didn’t charge any money for this content — it’s all free. Those articles inspired a lot of people (hundreds that I know of) to enthusiastically start their own websites. Some of those people are doing quite well now, but most that I’ve been aware of have failed miserably.

Why most people fail

Why did most people fail? I think the reason was that the whole process of running an online business is just too complicated for most people. There are lots of ways to screw it up. It pained me to visit some of those sites and notice a dozen glaring mistakes within the first few seconds — blogs that didn’t enable permalinks, cutesy headlines with no keywords in them, bad choice of topics, page titles that still used the WordPress default format, hideously suboptimal ad layouts, hidden or missing contact info, etc. Any one of those mistakes could cripple a site’s results. More than one is a practically a death sentence. Such mistakes cause problems both for human visitors and search engines.

But at the same time, there were teenagers humming along just fine, generating four figures in monthly income after working on their sites for 6-12 months. They didn’t necessarily get everything right, but they were Internet savvy enough to fix the big problems early.

What bothered me most about this was that people were too often failing because of the technology. Many of them had great ideas and very good content. It was a shame to read some of their articles and think to myself, This is great stuff… too bad no one will ever see it.

The cruel and unfair part of online business is that if you aren’t very Internet savvy, you’ll make mistakes on the technical side that you’re totally oblivious to. You may get the content side right, but the technology will bite you and cripple your results.

In my “How to Make Money From Your Blog” Article, I did correctly identify this problem and suggested that 99 out of 100 people would fail because of it. But it’s still a pretty unfair situation. There are people who can write great content who really deserve to be getting a lot of readers, but because they don’t understand permalinks, RSS feeds, pinging, or other technologies, they’re doomed before they start.

Once I saw this happening, I basically decided I’d better shut up about encouraging people to run an online business. People kept asking me for new articles on the subject, but I didn’t think it was a good idea. I was concerned I’d be doing more harm than good.

A new solution

Recently I came across a vastly superior solution to this problem — a way for people to build a successful online business that doesn’t require them to become technology gurus.

What I recommend is a service called Site Build It! – it’s an all-in-one solution for creating and building an online business. You pay an annual fee for the service, and they provide you with all the tools you need to build an income-generating web site. They host the site for you, they help you register your domain name, and they provide integrated tools like point-and-click page generators, built-in blogging, form builders, RSS feeds, and lots more. Many of these details will be handled for you, so you don’t have to worry about them.

You still create your own content, and you use their tools (or your own familiar tools) to create a site based on your unique ideas. You focus on the content side. They help you with the technical implementation side.

I don’t recommend this solution for everyone. If you’ve already built a successful website that generates thousands of dollars a month for you, you won’t need this. I don’t need it myself. But if you’re one of those people that have been held back by the technical complexity, then this is definitely something you should look at. This is the kind of solution I’d recommend in a heartbeat for my non-programmer friends who want to get something going online but quickly become lost in a sea of jargon.

There’s a lot to explain about this service and why I think it’s a great idea for most people interested in building a successful online business. So I wrote a whole separate article about that here:

Build Your Own Successful Online Business

That article is my personal impression of the Site Build It! service, and it contains many links to their site for more info. The most important link is their 30-minute video tour. If you have even a slight interest in running an online business, it will be worth your time to watch it. It starts out mostly motivational, but it becomes more educational as it goes along. Even if you’re not interested in their service, I think you’ll get something out of it. I especially liked the segment on monetization strategies.

If you’re interested, just be aware that it will take some time for you to look into this service and decide if it’s right for you. The Site Build It! site has a lot of detailed information on it. In my article I’ll provide you with some ideas for where to get started to find the most critical pages. If you really like to do your homework before making a decision like this, you’ll find no shortage of detail.

An extra benefit for those who already have successful web sites

Site Build It! also has one of the most generous affiliate programs on the Internet. Some of their affiliates earn more than $10,000 per month. I recently became an affiliate myself after seeing what a great service this will be for people. If you’re looking for new income sources for your web site, just read the last section of Build Your Own Successful Online Business, which will explain why this affiliate program is so strong.

Running an online business can be a wonderful growth experience, and the income and freedom it can provide is certainly nice too. People really shouldn’t be deprived of this opportunity for technical reasons. The self-publishing power of blogging technology has gotten us partway there, but it’s only one piece to the puzzle. I encourage you to take a good look at Site Build It!, since I think you’ll find that their system fills in the remaining gaps, putting online business success within reach of most people.

This is by no means a get-rich-quick program. You’ll still need to put in the time and energy to create quality content for your web site, but at least you won’t have to worry as much about the technical side.

Get your Energy Flowing

Being a mother with ambition leads you on a journey of incredible personal transformation on every level. Your way of being, living and working takes on a whole new dimension constantly bringing to the forefront your core needs and values (especially when these are NOT being met); your relationship, who you are as a person, what you want out of life and of course it is also a journey of legacy, of ‘being the mum you want to see in the world’, living by example and through our parenting and lifestyle choices truly influencing a future world where adults are balanced, capable, innovative and kind.

For the woman who wants to be all and do all, it is possible, on one condition.

Fuel up YOUR tank first.

Take care of your most precious asset so that it can take you where you want to go.

If you feel dull, heavy, lethargic, stressed, uncomfortable in our own skin, you’re not going to be performing as your work demands, you’re not going to feel sexy and affectionate with your partner, you’re certainly not going to be the vibrant, patient, engaged mother you want to be.

As intelligent, conscious women you know what to do, but somehow it can be so hard to fit in. It is so easy to judge, blame, feel guilt and go down the negative self talk spiral and yet when we let go of perfection it makes it all so very possible.

It’s what you do most of the time that counts, not what you do some of the time. My clients (and I) love the 80/20 concept. You do what you can when you can and the times when you can’t, it’s ok, let it go, in the grand scheme of things you’re doing a great job.

Balance doesn’t happen over one meal, one missed gym session, one day but rather over a week or a month even.

When it comes to ensuring you have that energy flow on a daily basis there’s really no way around it, you need to ensure that you’re getting those basics in, the basics that every human being needs to survive but that you only just manage to squeeze in when you have spare time:

  1. Drink at least 2 liters of water
  2. Get to bed by 11pm latest
  3. Keep your fitness up every single day even if it’s a 5 minute stretch at home
  4. Take some deep long breaths of fresh air
  5. Make sure you have healthy snacks on hand to prevent you reaching out for something that will only make you feel guilty (yes, 70%+ organic dark chocolate is a perfect choice).

Start here and the monumental shifts you’ll experience just from doing this will motivate you to take it one step further.

Guest blogger:

This post was by guest blogger Caroline Cain. Thanks for your inspiration Caroline! Caroline is a Nutritionist and Lifestyle Mentor passionate about supporting women entrepreneurs in creating an incredible life through health, mindset, living a wellness lifestyle and bringing it all back to our most important asset: ourselves.