The Power of a Promise

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This time of the year, probably more so than any other, is the time that we reminisce over our past, and contemplate our futures.

While we are attending gatherings with friends and families, breaking bread together, sharing gifts and good times, and rolling into the new year with new energy and gusto, we are also creating big dreams, setting exciting goals, and making important promises.  “I’m going to make 2016 my best year ever”, “I’m going to grow my list”, “I’m not going to work so hard”, “I’m going to finally get my health back” , “This is the year to pay off my debt.”

You know your promises – you’ve probably made them more than once in the past. Some you have kept; many are nagging reminders of unfulfilled commitments.

In Bill Phillips’ book Body for Life, he explains why keeping promises to ourselves is much more important than it appears on the surface.

Bill writes, “When you set an important goal you must promise yourself that you will finish what you start, no matter what.  That vow, although it might be very easy to break, is by far one of the most important ones to honor.  You see, the very essence of confidence is self-trust.  Would you trust anyone who repeatedly lied to you?  Someone who broke the rules of the game again and again?  Of course you wouldn’t. 

Beautiful woman with her fingers crossed behind her back

So if you’ve developed a pattern of not honoring self-promises, this is a great time to make a change.  If you can’t honor, trust, and depend on your own word, well… that may be the root of a lot of challenges in your life – a lot more than you realize.

 This is a critical – and eye opening – issue for each of us to face.

 Most people have a very hard time answering the simple question, “Do I keep my word to myself?” (Or, should I say, they have a hard time answering it honestly.)

 The thing about lying to ourselves is that we never, ever get away with it.  On the surface we may fool our minds into ignoring and not admitting what we’re doing, but deep down, in the place where all truth resides for each of us, in the place where we know and see ourselves as we really are – in that place, we are causing pain and damage every  time we’re not totally honest with ourselves…

 …It doesn’t have to be like that though.  No matter how long it has been like that, it doesn’t have to stay that way.  Contrary to what many people think, it’s a lot easier to keep the promises we make to ourselves than it is to break them.

 Keeping these promises unleashes enormous energy and potential.  That potential emptiness created by self-deception will become filled with strength, certainty – and yes, confidence – if you honor self-promises.  (We’ve all heard the phrase “The truth shall set you free”.  Well, nowhere is that more true than when we apply it to our relationship with ourselves.)”

So how can you take this knowledge and apply it to your business, career, health, finances and relationships?  Are there promises that you are making and not keeping?  How does that affect your energy, motivation and progress?  How does it make you feel about yourself?

So what can you do to make this shift?  How about starting small?  How about setting daily goals and sticking with them? commitment How about making the commitment to establish a business plan with activity goals and financial goals so you know where you are headed?   How about giving yourself permission to fail?  How about agreeing to measure and adjust along the way so you know you are not “stuck” with a plan that is not ideal?  What else can you do?

Fill out the link below to request the Power of Promise Assessment and Accountability worksheet…Complete the activities on this worksheet to increase your awareness around promises you make and keep, and those you make and break.  Additionally these activities will strengthen your promise making and keeping ‘muscle’ for more commitment, follow-through, confidence, and yes – trust.

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The significance of keeping promises to ourselves is profound.  Examine your own habits to see if in fact you break the promises you make to yourself.  And if so, make the shift to putting your promises at the top of your commitment list.

I can help you get clear on your business promises and provide you with accountability…ask me how!  Click HERE to request your complimentary Business Clarity Session where you will:

  • Gain CLARITY into exactly where you want your business to go and what’s standing in your way of more income and cash flows,
  • Leave the session CLEAR about the steps you need to take to leverage your time and create more profits and cash flow in your business, and
  • Find out the one simple step you can take IMMEDIATELY to get into action.

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12 things you can do before the year is through to increase your cash flow and get ready for 2016

With a few weeks left of the year, there’s still time to take some action to increase your cash flow and get organized for 2016.  Earlier today, I shared these tips with some fabulous entrepreneurs over my first annual holiday networking lunch and now I share them with you.  Here are just a few things you can do to end out your year on a positive note for your business and your bank account.

YEAR-END BUSINESS TIPS (that you can do any time of the year):

1. Look at where you are leaving money on the table.
• Take advantage of early payment discounts on payable invoices, and bulk purchase discounts (if they make sense for you)
• Take advantage of zero to low interest deferred payment options

2. Collect outstanding receivables
• Have tough money conversations with the people who are past due with paying you what they owe you
• Set up an automated payment plan – get your customers to pay your something, anything, to show they are committed to paying you for the services/goods they received from you
• Review your pricing and payment policies and procedures

3. Pre-sell, and get paid for services/goods to be delivered in the new year.
• Think of a Boxing Day/Week promotion that you can offer to pre-sell a 2016 package
• Plan your January and February time slots and get clients booked in those spots now

4. Plan 2016 with the end in mind. Think about your overall goal, where you want to play, how you will win your game, what capabilities/resources need to be in place, and what systems (including policies and processes) need to be adopted to achieve your goals. Set SMART (Specific, Meaningful, Action-oriented, Realistic, Time-bound) goals not only for the year as a whole, but chuck them down into 60-90 day periods as well.

5. Look back at 2015 and see what worked, and what didn’t, so you don’t make the same mistakes and can make improvements going into 2016. This means you have to get your year-to-date finances and accounting in order now (not April next year) since your numbers paint the picture of what has happened. Your numbers let you see the peaks and valleys of your business so you can better plan for them in 2016 – to make the valleys smaller and create more consistent (and increasing) revenues and cash flows throughout the year.

6. When looking at 2016 planning, book in your time off/vacation/self-care time first (make you the most important asset and take care of you first – afterall, if you’re out due to illness, who will run your business for you?). You’ll also want to book in your CEO/CFO strategy and reflection dates and stick to them (A reflection date is when you take the time to reflect on your business results for the last period and decide what actions to take to keep moving forward). I recommend reviewing your numbers weekly, but with deeper dive at least quarterly, giving you many more chances in the year to address issues and take necessary detours as things come up, and to be pro-active rather than reactive in your business.

YEAR-END TAX TIPS:  Most people don’t think about taxes until filing their return after the year is over. However, with various tax changes in store for us in 2016, there are a few things that you’ll want to consider BEFORE the year is done to optimize your taxes for the coming year.  Before the end of the year, to reduce your taxes for this year, you should consider:

7. Purchasing business equipment before year end – If equipment purchase is on your list to do, consider purchasing equipment before year-end instead of waiting until next year.  This allows you to accelerate your CCA (tax depreciation) claim and reduce your net income this year.

8. Paying reasonable salary to your children and spouse who are working for you
If you have kids or a partner who does work for your, pay them what they’re worth (a reasonable salary) – especially if they are in a low tax bracket. This keeps the money in the family and reduces your tax bill by legitimately splitting income.

9. Making car repairs if your car is used for business
If you use your car for business and it’s in need of repairs, and you’re looking to reduce your tax bill, consider getting those repairs done before the end of the year so you can deduct them on your 2015 tax return.

10. Making charitable donations
Charitable giving is very tax effective (giving you up to $45 tax credit on every dollar given) and you help those in need at the same time. But you must actually make the donation before the year is over. Also, one caveat I give clients, is to always check out the charity and how their dollars are spent before giving to the cause. It might sound like they’re doing good things, but when they spend 80% of the donations on administration, maybe not so much

11. Consider selling losing stocks to offset realized gains
If you have made capital gains on stocks that sold in the year, and you have some investments with accrued losses, consider selling them to offset the gains. Just be careful of the 30 day stop loss rule (where you cannot buy back the same stock you sold at a loss in the first 30 days of the sale, or the loss is denied)

12. Now that I’ve given you all these great tips, here’s the kicker…you may actually want to defer some of these tips until the new year, depending on what tax bracket you’ll be in. You’ll want to consider how the new Liberal government tax initiatives that are expected to take effect Jan 1, 2016 will impact you and plan accordingly, namely with respect to:

  • New higher taxes for personal income over $200k (Ontario combined rate will be 53.53%, now 49.53%) – if your income will be over $200k you might also consider whether you should incorporate and defer some taxes
  • A reduced tax rate for personal income between $44.7k and 89.4k (Ontario combined rate will be 20.5%, now 22%)
  • The reduced small business corporate tax rate to 11% from 9% which the new government is proposing to change/defer the 2% reduction to a later time
  • Proposed changes to what companies will be eligible for the small business deduction
  • The elimination of the Family Tax Cut
  • The elimination of UCCB and CCTB, replaced with Canada Child Benefit, which is purely income driven (payments starting in July 2016 based on 2015 income)

It’s really about knowing your numbers and what to do with them to maximize your cash flows.  So, what can you do right now, with 3 weeks left of 2015?   Estimate your 2015 income and tax liability NOW, and estimate your 2016 income and tax liability based on your 2016 plan.  Then, take action to optimize your income and tax liability between the 2 years, so you’ll know exactly what you’re paying/receiving for 2015 well in advance of filing your return – leaving you with peace of mind for tax time, and the freedom to focus all of your energy come January on running your business and creating results for 2016 in 2016.

If you would like assistance with your 2015 year-end tax strategy and with planning your 2016 vision, contact me ASAP to book your complimentary Clarity Session (a conversation whereby I help you get clarity on what to focus on in your business and the one inspired action you need to take to get going).  Limited spots available in December.  www.visionspire.ca

Helpful links:

Canadian Charities Listing – http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/chrts-gvng/lstngs/menu-eng.html

Canadian Income Tax Estimator – http://www.taxtips.ca/calculators/canadian-tax/canadian-tax-calculator.htm

Liberal tax changes (as per their election campaign, confirmed in the Dec. 4th Throne Speech) – https://www.liberal.ca/files/2015/05/Fairness-for-the-Middle-Class.pdf

achieve success

Entrepreneur Error #1: Not putting yourself in your target client’s shoes

I made a mistake – I got so wrapped up in my own excitement of wanting to help small business owners get ready for the year ahead with more ease, that I planned a full day workshop in the middle of December…on a FRIDAY!  YIKES!  My target clients don’t have time for that!  And that’s just it…I made the #1 mistake as an entrepreneur – I forgot to put myself in their shoes and consider their time…I was thinking of their needs and their struggles in business and how I could help, but neglected to consider the time of year – filled with holiday cheer and SCRAMBLE to close out the year, really before the holiday starts.  In addition to asking what I could help them with the most and how to relieve their pain points for this workshop, I should have asked WOULD they attend, on a Friday in December, one week before the kids get out of school for Christmas break.  I would have received a NO on that one.

So, what do you do when things don’t go as planned?  You make new ones!  I’m a huge proponent of planning (it’s essential to my business), but also of holding my expectations loosely (so not to throw a temper tantrum when sh** happens), and being able to re-direct quickly.  How do you do that?  You ask questions…you get curious as to what else is possible in the situation…you come up with new solutions, new plans, and you take inspired action to go with it.

December is a crazy time, but it’s also a time for necessary reflection and planning for business owners with a December year-end (it they haven’t done so already back in September/October when they really should have been doing that 2016 plan).  But with just over 3 weeks left of the year, it’s the time to think about what has worked in the past year, and what hasn’t.  It’s the time to do a last minute push to optimize your business and tax results to finish the year on a high note.

I would love for you to join me, if you could, on December 11 at the Club at North Halton (Georgetown), for a little celebration and networking, where I will share some year-end business and tax planning tips you can implement to help you finish out your year on a high note.

Tickets available on Eventbrite for just $25+HST (CLICK HERE for more info and to register)

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How to Harness the Power of Gratitude and Appreciation to Create Success

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As our friends in the US celebrate their Thanksgiving today, I’ve been reflecting this week on the power of gratitude and appreciation to create success.  I believe, and have experienced greatly, that every facet of our lives is intertwined – there is no separation – and have adopted an attitude of gratitude for every single facet (even the aspects that are “bad”).  Let me share with you how you can improve your business success by showing gratitude and appreciation in the 6 pillars of your business:

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  1. Clients– Without clients and customers, you have no revenues. When you look at most business models, they put their clients at the top – excellence in client service is their #1 goal.  As a service provider, I constantly strive to improve what and how I deliver to my clients…I want them to not only feel but KNOW they are appreciated.  It can be as simple as a thoughtful thank-you, or a client appreciation gift or special VIP treatment.  It’s not just the what you do to show appreciation, but the how often as well.  Having regular points of contact will increase the client’s experience with you.  No doubt, as a client, I like to feel appreciated and that I’m getting the best product or service for my investment.  As a client, when I feel appreciated, I’m more likely to do more business with you and contribute to your cash flow.  It’s easier to produce revenues from a few appreciated clients than it is to make cold sales.
  2. Employees (and contractors)– If you want to grow your business, you will have a team to support you, either a team of employees or a team of contracted support workers. Without them, you wouldn’t be able to do your business effectively, and your client’s experience would then suffer.  It’s a fact that happy employees are more productive and loyal employees.  It’s easy to give feedback when things aren’t going right, but what’s necessary is to give gratitude and appreciation to your team when thing ARE going right.  When employees feel appreciated, they will be even more committed to producing better results for you.
  3. Suppliers– We know that client and employee appreciation are key to driving your revenues, but what about your suppliers? I find that when I’m engaged with my suppliers, and show my gratitude for them with thank you’s and referrals, I’m more likely to get even better service from them.  It instils more trust in the relationship with them, and reduces my stress levels because I can trust that I’m going to get great results, and not “waste” my time having to do it over again myself (or have to pay to get someone to do it right).  Showing supplier appreciation can help get things done right the first time, and they may give you even more than what you paid for.
  4. Referral Network– I have to say that most of my clients have come from referrals. Without my referral network to support me when I started my business, I would have struggled and worked a lot harder to have those clients enter my world.  It goes without saying that I feel a world of gratitude to my referral network, but I could do a lot more to show that appreciation.  Other than one-on-one time, I’m now working on implementing a formal referral appreciation program.  It doesn’t have to be big, but I think showing your gratitude to referrals goes a long way in getting even more business and improving your business success.
  5. Family and Friends– Where would you be without the support of family and friends? When you’re so busy in your business, it’s easy to take family and friends for granted.  However, this group is likely your biggest fan base, and wants to see you succeed and celebrate in your success.  It’s important to stay connected and spend quality time building and maintaining your personal relationships and showing your appreciation.  Speaking first hand, I know this is an area I struggle with – sometimes it’s easier to appreciate strangers than it is to show your family and friends how much you love and appreciate them.  But, without support at home, the stress in your home relationships will spill over to create more stress in your business, and both will suffer.
  6. You– YOU are your business…As a small business owner or solopreneur, chances are, without you, your business would not operate. Therefore, it’s important for the success of your business that you appreciate you – take care of your body, mind and soul.  Take time-outs every day, and take those vacations where you un-plug for at lease one day a week.  Appreciating you also comes in the form of valuing your time.  So many people struggle with this, especially women – we tend to undercharge and over-deliver for our services, mostly because we are nurturers and want to make sure everyone is taken care of (usually at the expense of not taking care of ourselves).  When you value and appreciate yourself, you are more likely to attract the types of clients, team, and suppliers who will also value and appreciate you, and you will be more likely to value and appreciate your support network (family, friends, referrals, etc).  And THAT is great for business success!

To sum it all up, when you truly appreciate all of these pillars, and give no one more importance over the other, true success happens.  The trick is finding and giving balance to create harmony amongst them.  As we near the end of 2015 celebrating the  holidays, now’s the time to reflect on each of your 6 pillars and decide where you will take inspired action to improve those relationships heading into 2016.  In my experience, when you value and appreciate each of the 6 pillars, business success WILL follow, and so will greater freedom to give and receive even more appreciation.

Having an attitude of gratitude is a key to success…and I am eternally grateful to you – my readers.  Without you, I have no reason to share 🙂

If you would like to learn more about how to create value in your business, sign up for a complimentary Business Clarity Session

In celebration of this weekend of gratitude and thanksgiving, I’d also invite you to take advantage of a special APPRECIATION discount on my upcoming workshop on December 11th Build Your 3P’s of Success: Profits, Packages & Pricing (happening at the Club at North Halton in Georgetown, ON).  Use promotional code PROMO40 to receive 40% off registration (you pay $197+HST instead of $297+HST).  This Appreciation discount expires on November 30th.

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Think You Don’t Need a Business Plan?

In this video, Marcus Lemonis, host of The Profit, (thank you to Ink from Chase for posting on YouTube) tells you why you should have a business plan, and although it doesn’t have to be formal, it should be written down.  I whole-heartedly agree – writing things down provides a ton of clarity, and for me makes ideas more tangible and workable.  Once the ideas are clear, then you can develop a good plan, that answers a few key questions, against which you can execute and bring those great business ideas to fruition with much more ease than without a plan.  Statistics show that 85% of business failures are due to improper planning.  And as Benjamin Franklin said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”.  So, if you want success and better results, get those ideas written down and write out your plan (do your homework!).

If you don’t have a business plan, and/or don’t know where to start, you’ll want to read my post from last week 8 Steps to Create Your Road to Success  (8-simple-steps-create-business-success-linda-spencer).  Have questions or need help?  Contact me for a complimentary Business Clarity Session (valued at $247) Business Clarity Session Request Form

In one week, I kick-off my 4 month Success Readiness Program:  Create Your Business Roadmap to Success.  This intensive program is all about building the foundation for your business success.  Success Readiness is about learning and implementing the tools and best practices for you to create clear goals and action plans for your business.  Want more information – click Here (PS – registration closes Monday November 23rd, and there are only 2 spots left!)

https://youtu.be/qpmlKe6UoJ4

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Guest Speaker at Halton Hills Chamber of Commerce Lunch’n’Learn

Linda is the Guest speaker at Halton Hills Chamber of Commerce lunch’n’learn series – Inspire Your Vision for 2016 – Planning and Goal Setting

Halton Hills Chamber of Commerce
8 James Street
Georgetown, ON L7G 2H3
Follow Main Street North to Main Street South, turn right onto James Street ~ Downtown Georgetown.

Join us for a one hour Lunch & Learn session.

Register for Linda’s Lunch’n’Learn session

Holiday Networking Lunch & Year-end Planning Tips

Holiday Networking Lunch and Year-end Planning Tips

Friday, December 11, 2015, 12-2:00pm (doors open at 11:30am)

Location:  The Club at North Halton, 363 Maple Ave, Georgetown, ON L7G 5G2

Everyone is busy this time of year, but with a few weeks left of the year, it’s a perfect time to reflect and take some last minute actions to optimize your business and tax results for the year

If you’re like most people, probably the last thing on your mind at this time of year is tax optimization (usually people wait until March or April to think about this, when it’s far too late to do anything about the year that has already passed).  I would love for you to join me for lunch and to share with you some valuable tips and best practices you can take action on now to optimize your results for 2015, and carry on in the year ahead.

Specifically, I will share with you:

– My I.N.S.P.I.R.E.D Blueprint for Success

– 5 things you can do in the last 3 weeks of the year to set you up for success in 2016, and

– 10 year-end planning initiatives to optimize your taxes for 2015

Tickets are only $25+HST  (to cover a portion of the venue costs)

Free parking.

Tickets available online until Dec9th – ONLY $25+HST (to cover part of the venue costs)!

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8 Simple Steps to Create Your Business Success Road Map

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You know how it goes – you talk to financial advisors, they work with you to create a plan for financial savings and investment.  You talk to your fitness coach, they work with you to create a plan to reach your fitness goals.  You plan your wedding, your home renovations, your family vacations.  You spend time and money investing in planning in other areas of your life, why would you not do the same for your business?
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Investing in strategic business planning is essential for your business success.  A strategic business plan is your road map, your compass to guide you to where you want to go with your business.  It gives you clear direction of how to get from point A to point B without getting lost.  A good strategic business plan helps you to execute efficiently and not waste time with trial and error, or with what I like to call, the spaghetti method (throwing something at the wall and hoping it sticks).  A good strategic plan keeps you focused.
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It’s never too late (or too early) to create your business plan for success, whether you’re new to business and in the pre-launch phase, or have been in business for years.
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I get it, creating a business plan can be daunting (I know – I’ve seen the templates, tried to use them myself, and abandoned them as they gave me headaches).  You don’t need a 50 page business plan document, but you do need to invest some time and energy into the planning exercise if you want to have focus and direction.  My own business plan isn’t a 50 page document…it’s an organized, tabbed binder with different sections of business planning consideration (such as goals, target market, products & services, pricing strategies, sales & marketing strategies, financial plans, etc).

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DREAM. PLAN. EXECUTE, with ease, by going the most direct, efficient way possible.
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Having a good strategic business plan is absolutely essential to your success and the lack thereof is why so many businesses fail.  In fact, 85% of business failures are due to lack of improper planning and organization.
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But you don’t need a 50 page plan to succeed.  What you do need is a simple, executable plan that will help you succeed!  And you need to do your homework!  A written plan is just evidence that you’ve done your homework to ensure the viability of your big idea and to set a clear direction and path to success.
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Here are 8 simple steps to creating your business plan for success:


  1.  Start with the end in mind – where do you want your business to go? Write down your goals for the next year, 3 years, 10 years.  Really challenge yourself – Dream BIG!  If you think small, you’ll play small – so think BIG!

  2. Know where you are now, financially, systematically, operationally. This means you’re going to have to get organized with your financials and conduct a little internal assessment of where your are now.

  3. Analyze the gaps to see where you need to invest more time/effort/resources. What skills to you need to develop?  Where do you need to shift your time and resources?  What money and success mindsets and habits do you need to adopt to help close those gaps?

  4. Clarify your target market , understand your market and competitors, and build your marketing plan. Do your homework and get really crystal clear here – it will drive almost everything else in your business plan, including how you’re going to fill some of those gaps you identified.

  5. Build your service offerings in such a way that addresses your clients biggest pain points with ease, and create a financial plan based delivering those service offerings (focus on a few key priorities instead of trying to offer everything under the sun to everyone). You can now tweak and finalize your marketing plan.

  6. Identify systems and your team that will support you and your business. You can’t do it all yourself, as least not efficiently and without burnout.  You need a team, whether it’s hiring employees or hiring out certain functions of your business (such as bookkeeping, sales and administration).  Decide on the systems that are going to support you the most and create the most ease for you in your business.  Systems can be as simple as checklists and calendars, to full operations manuals and fully automated end-to-end solutions.   Automate as much as possible.

  7. Have back up plans for when things don’t quite go as initially planned. Every business hits roadblocks at some point – power failures, illness, market crashes, changes in direction.  And you need to be prepared to make detours so that the roadblocks don’t derail your journey to success.

  8. Start driving your way to success, and celebrate the milestones as you reach them. Check in with how you’re doing against your plans, and build in what I call reflection days – days that you take to reflect how your week/month/year went, what you’re doing well, and where you’ve fallen short, so you can adjust your course as needed.

Remember, business success does not happen over night.  And business planning is not a one-time thing.   Your plan is a living, breathing document (or binder with tabs in my case), that should be revisited at least annually (quarterly is better). Take time to stop and reflect regularly to see where you are in achieving your goals, and to adjust your course as necessary to get back on track if you’ve been derailed.
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Where you focus your attention is where you will get results.  So get planning and take inspired action to realize those business results that you want to achieve!  I love success stories and would love to hear how you’re doing so I can share in celebrating your success!   Email me at Linda@visionspire.ca.
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PS – If you are ready for assistance with building or even reviewing your plans, book your complimentary clarity call to clarify what your next steps should be.  I’d be happy to help you build your strategy and action plan for success!

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Weathering the Storms – Team Support

I think one of the most difficult things as a business owner (especially women) is reaching out for help.   We tend to believe that we can do it all ourselves, to run our business, our homes, our lives and weather the storms alone.  Truth is, we don’t need to, and why would we want to?  The worst thing we could do is keep all the burden to ourselves for ourselves – it will only lead to stress, illness, burnout and ultimate business failure.  The biggest step to take is to change our mindset, from lone warrior to co-creator, and to acknowledge we do need help to create our dream with more ease.  Then, we need to ask for that help.  There is a whole team of people just waiting for us to ask for their help in creating our business success.
Read more on setting business goals and reflection to hold your confidence during the storms of your business in my contribution to Halton Hills Chamber of Commerce blog posted November 5, 2015…
(This post is also published on my former site LindaSpencerTaxConsulting.com)