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I go in phases with my yoga practice. I love a 30-day yoga challenge and sometimes extend it for another 30-60 days. Then I often stop making it a priority because I’d rather go for my morning run or because that extra 30 minutes of sleep is enticing, but it’s not just my flexibility and ability to touch my toes that is effected by this, but my energy and focus at work as well.

Certainly part of my yoga life-goals is about achieving the headstand, or at least mastering crow pose, but part of the reason I get called back to practicing is because of how I feel throughout my day post-session. Don’t let Instagram fool you; yoga has nothing to do with how flexible your body is or what poses you’ve mastered, but about meeting yourself where you are and breathing into your movements. Whether I practice for ten minutes or an hour, the method of breathing in and out in rhythm brings focus to my body as a whole, and I feel more centered during my day and able to center that focus on my tasks, projects, and relationships.

Yoga has a plethora of benefits. Though it unfortunately won’t prevent difficult plights at work, it can certainly help entrepreneurs manage their stress and anxiety. Cash flow problems won’t be resolved by mastering the firefly pose, but what it can help is how to approach these problems with a clear mindset. Most entrepreneurs I know understand the importance of staying physically fit, but not as many commit the same time for their mental health.

Lizzie Brown, highlighted by Forbes, is the co-creator of Yoga Wake Up, an app that teaches busy entrepreneurs how to practice meditation and basic yoga postures. She shares that “yoga is a practice that adapts to whatever challenges are going on in your body and in your life.” The benefits of yoga for you as an entrepreneur are all about managing stress. When your day is inundated with employees asking questions, or you’re working around the clock to secure funding, a mindfulness practice can root you to the ground. This mindfulness and meditation is what yoga is at its core and your consistent practice, whether through an app or in a studio, will aid you in keeping control.

Yoga helps you let go of control, slow down your mind, practice patience, and take a moment away from screens and work to be with yourself. We’ve been fortunate at thinkspace Seattle to practice weekly with Jackie Lea as she leads member yoga each Wednesday. During our session we take extra time to stretch, open up our breathe and work out the kinks from sitting at a computer all day. After each session I’ve left feeling refreshed, re-energized, and ready to tackle my next project, whether for work or at home. You have so many options to practice yoga, via app, instructor, or online (might I recommend Yoga With Adriene?). You can do yourself and your business a favor – try challenging yourself to 30 days of yoga and be shocked at what more you can do.

In December we held an event at thinkspace about personal branding. Alec Mountain, Meetup host and Founder of Product Blitz, shared insight and tips about personal branding: “the brand you build around yourself and ultimately, the reputation people come to know and expect from you.” Alec explained that reputation can make all the difference in helping you land more opportunities, create better connections, and live a more fulfilling lifestyle.

The personal branding trend can drive benefits to your company. Though I’m not a marketing professional, I do have fairly strong research skills and thought I’d invest some time into learning more about this trend. What I found was that there were three overarching themes in how to strengthen your personal brand: be an expert, be authentic, create content.

Be an expert. What are you you good at? What do people know you for? If you are able to answer this question, than you solved the first challenge, but now make sure you truly are an expert on it. Read about it, write about it, practice it. Your niche is out there and when you can dial in on the thing you are expert about, they will be out there looking for you. The more specific, the better. Imagine being in need of a vegan marathoner health coach (shameless plug). There can’t be too many of those out there and to dial that into my SEO will help those searching for me that much easier.

Be authentic. Speaking about your own experience can go a long way. Not only will followers and potential customers feel a connection to you, but they will also learn to trust you and your suggestions. That being said, content shouldn’t always be about marketing and trying to be “salesy.” Followers are interested in seeing what you do in your downtime, whether it’s hiking, snowshoeing, standup comedy, or where you eat.  For example, if you recently tried the new baked potato restaurant in Ballard, Papas Hot Potatoes, and want to scream about how exciting the menu is, make sure to share about it.

Create content. Without content, what do you have to share? Without content, what expertise are you able to offer? While blog posts such as this certainly count towards content, the ease and popularity of videos on Facebook, Instagram and Youtube make it a popular choice. Experts in the field claim it as the hottest piece of content to produce. Personal branding experts tell you to come up with a purpose for your video; choose whether you want to educate, entertain or inspire. I’ve created a few videos helping clients learn to cook basic meals, helping them overcome the initial intimidation of cooking from scratch.

Whatever the purpose, it’s most important to simply have one. Ultimately, personal branding is a vehicle to help build brand awareness and help you reach your goals. If content creation or personal branding is something you are passionate about, I’d love to hear what kind of content you create and invite you to share your expertise with the thinkspace community. Is your expertise in another area? I invite you to share it with us in your own guest blog post! Email thinkspace and let us know you’re interested.

Resources: Entrepreneur.com , Forbes.com, Briar Prestidge

 

 

 

 

Halley Suitt Tucker HeadshotYou know when someone jokes that they have “done it all?” Halley Suitt Tucker could put Chief Everything Officer on her business card. Halley is currently living in Boston and writes for a living. You name it she writes it. Halley has been blogging for 10 years, went through Techstars, and is now writing books! Halley is also CEO of BoOkBoX, and created a Kickstarter to fund her novel and e-book “Founders Less Than Three” . Halley has incorporated her knowledge of startups and entrepreneurial knowledge into this new read, which will be available on Amazon August 15th. “Founders Less Than Three” is centered around 10 young entrepreneurs creating a startup and racing towards their demo day in Boston. Though fiction, there are solid pieces of advice and insight into starting a business.

Halley’s friend, mentor, and author of APE – Guy Kawasaki – once told her “If you thought starting a book was hard, wait until you try to finish one.” We are so lucky to have Halley launching her (finished!) book at Hackers and Founders August 20th.  We’ll be meeting at the Bellevue Microsoft Store at 6pm that Tuesday. Please join us, and RSVP here.

Business PrioritiesSo many entrepreneurs have it together. They own successful businesses but still spend time doing the things that they love; spending time with their family, working on their hobbies, or playing their favorite sport. Every once in a while I meet business owners whose families have fallen apart, they work really long hours and generally just forget about their priorities. While this can work for a certain time period, it’s really not something that any business owner should keep up. Eventually, whether its 6 months or two years, they will get burnt out.When you are thinking about starting your own business, begin thinking right away about your schedule and what you will be spending time on. If you started your business before you were sure of your priorities, it doesn’t mean that you can’t start now. Take some time to consider what’s really important to you and make a numbered list with your most important priority at the top. Then, take a look at your calendar and plan out chunks of time during the week where you can spend time working on your priorities.

Mapping out your activities is the best way to ensure that you won’t burn out too quickly. Also, the people in your life will be happy to see what you are still planning on spending time with them. More than likely, they will be even bigger supporters of your business knowing that you have a plan in place to keep your priorities where they should be.

Starting a business can be tough stuff. It can take years to get your company to the level that you want it to be. But, once you’ve become confident in your business model and the way things are going for your current business, you may start thinking about expanding and growing your business. Growing a company can be awesome but it can take a lot of hard work and dedication and there are definitely things you should keep in mind. Below, I’ve listed three important things to keep in mind if you are thinking about growing your business.

1.     Learn from those around you.

Even though this might be your first business you don’t have to make a bunch of mistakes. There are so many people who have started their own business before you. Learn from their mistakes.

2.     Hire people smarter than you.

You really don’t have to be all things to all people. Figure out what your good at and hire other people to do everything else.

3.     Don’t grow for the sake of growth.

Make sure that you are making your decision to grow your company at the right time. Don’t just grow for the sake of growth. Make sure you are ready for more hard work and that your company can handle the expansion.

Do you have anything to add to this? Any other tips that I missed or experiences with growing your own business that you would like to share?

Starting a BusinessEntrepreneurs are passionate about their startups. Many are so eager to get started with their newest, greatest business idea that they rush out to get their licensing from their city and state, then sprint to press the “Go Button.” In reality, it really shouldn’t take too long to get your business up and running but there is a little more to it than just obtaining your licensing. Here are three things to do that will make your start up look legitimate right off the bat.

  1. Get a website. Just in case you didn’t know, phone books have been replaced with this thing called the internet. People now use the internet to get information. Without a website, how do you expect your clients to find you? Websites are a great way to introduce potential clients, investors and partners to your business style, concepts and information. If you are not skilled in the ways of website development, there are plenty of great people out there who can do it for you for a relatively low cost (and, if you don’t know of any, I can give you some amazing referrals).
  2. Get a professional email address and separate phone number. I know that the AwesomeBob123@hotmail.com account is what you’ve always used. But, this really isn’t appropriate for business. Even if your email address is reasonable, you really should be using your business domain to host your email. This is another thing that those savvy website designers can set up for you. As far as a professional phone line goes, you really want to have your calls separated from each other. Local and toll free numbers go for extremely cheap these days and you can even forward the line to your cell. Then it will be separated for when you finally decide that you can get your own business phone. (If you don’t know where to get a cheap business phone number, you can talk to me about that too!)
  3. Get a business address. The internet is a great resource for information but the amount of information that can be attained by strangers is also a bit scary. Many new business owners set up their company with their home address. This is a bad idea. It is very easy for to find the registered address for any given business. Online maps have made it all too easy for people to look up addresses, find out right where that address is and even view the area via satellite street views. Not sure if you feel comfortable with this, but most of the time this is clearly not a good idea. We, at thinkspace, actually offer a Redmond business address for just $59 per month (and includes much more than the address) and should be providing other locations very soon.

There are quite a few things you should do to ensure you get your start up off on the right foot, but these seem to be the most vital (and not always all that obvious). Anything you think I missed?

Straight from Seth Godin’s blog — it’s an old one from 2007. I love reading older blog posts for the first time and looking at them as hindsight 20/20… especially from Seth Godin.

Small business success

Three things you need:

  1. the ability to abandon a plan when it doesn’t work,
  2. the confidence to do the right thing even when it costs you money in the short run, and
  3. enough belief in other people that you don’t try to do everything yourself.

My three word take away: 1) Flexibility; 2) Confidence; 3) Trust.

Carolynn Duncan will be holding a Coffee with an Expert Clinic inside thinkspace on September 18 between 8:30am and 8:00pm. Carolynn works with FundingUniverse.com and Epic Ventures and has a background in venture capital, angel investing, and high-tech entrepreneurship. Carolynn will be holding a free Group Q&A event between 8:45am and 9:30am with time for networking from 9:30am and 10:00am. She is also taking requests for private 1:1 appointments throughout the day.  The cost for the private 1:1 appointments is $25 for a 30 minute session.

To RSVP for the free clinic click here: Upcoming.com.

To RSVP for a private 1:1 event click here: Coffee Clinic at thinkspace.