Self Sabotage: What you didn’t realize you were doing

30 07 2013

Self SabotageI assert that 99% of failed businesses are destroyed by the one person you’d least expect to wield the axe…

The creator.

But ask those business slayers, and the majority will have no idea what a starring role they played in their company’s demise.

Entrepreneurs are among the most self-aware group of individuals out there. The ability to recognize our own potential and maintain forward momentum in the face of criticism and doubt is what makes us visionaries.

So why would we kneecap our businesses without even realizing that we’re doing it?

It all goes back to self sabotage.

As discussed in previous posts, fear of failure, fear of success, fear of commitment, and just plain fear all play a role in WHY we commit self sabotage.

In today’s blog, let’s talk about HOW we self sabotage, and what we can do to reverse the damage.

UNDER-PLANNING

Entrepreneurs have a reputation for leap-now-look-later. It’s one of the things that makes us movers and shakers in a world of inaction and low expectation. But there is a line where visionary crosses over into carelessness. THAT is self sabotage.

When we start with no plan – no goals, no mission, no measurable benchmarks – then we’ve eliminated our source of motivation. And motivation is the fuel that powers our success.

If flying by the seat of your pants is how you operate best, go ahead and flap those fanny wings. But first give yourself a solid foundation from which to launch your trajectory.

OVER-PLANNING

Over-planning is the polar opposite of under-planning. It involves spending so much time creating the perfect business on paper or in our heads, that we never actually get around to making it happen!

This is the entrepreneurial equivalent of “all talk and no action.” Making a habit of it will ground our business for life.

So, when you catch yourself building castles in the sky, and twiddling your thumbs in reality, take a step – any step – to move you forward. The momentum you generate may be just what you need to succeed.

GETTING LOST IN THE DETAILS

A compliment to over-planning, getting lost in the details means spending ludicrous amounts of time sweating the small stuff, at the expense of accomplishing anything meaningful. Creating lists, blowing a day on little projects, and filing paperwork are a few of my favorite ways to avoid productive activity.

Getting lost in the details is the perfect self-sabotage – we justify it to ourselves and others by arguing that “it all needs to get done.” And sometimes it does, but RARELY do the little things need to be done that instant or even by us.

Prioritize, delegate, and give yourself the freedom and support to tackle the tasks that will legitimately move your business forward.

FATALISM

Those of you who have followed my blog are extremely well aware of how I feel about fatalism, superstition, and other scapegoating techniques – I loathe them. Fatalism entails placing responsibility for the success or failure of our business squarely in the hands of other people, events, and circumstances. This includes business advisers, family, economy, competitors, and current events.

Of all self sabotages, I consider this one the most dangerous. The moment we relinquish control of our business is the moment we relinquish control over our own future.

There is a very large difference between WEIGHING advice and circumstances in your decision making process, and BASING your decisions on them. If you find yourself stagnating because of something beyond your control, step back and reassess whether it truly is a roadblock, or an opportunity that – with a little elbow grease – can take you new and exciting directions.

Be honest with yourself. If your business is going nowhere fast, check to see where you may be getting in your own way. Find it, repair it, forgive yourself, and move on.

Otherwise, standing over the lifeless body of an up-and-coming business will be you, in the office, with self sabotage. Don’t be that criminal.

Be on your own side.”  ~ Rasheed Ogunlaru

Dawn M. Tomczyk-Bhajan  |  DMT Artistry, LLC   |  www.DMTArtistry.com

All content Copyright © 2013 DMT Artistry, LLC, unless otherwise noted. All Rights Reserved.

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Making the Hard Cuts

8 07 2013

Work-Life BalanceLoyal readers and DMT newbies alike, it feels good to connect with you again.

To the former, vanity leads me to assume that you’ve missed my bloggy insights, and so I would like to apologize right now for my disappearing act. I’m sorry. Your loyalty deserves better.

To the latter, you’ve happened upon this post at a very interesting stage in my blogging career. Glad to have your readership!

WHERE, OH WHERE HAS DAWN BEEN?

So, here’s what’s been going on…

Like many Type-A-ers, I’ve devoted a lifetime to burning my candle at both ends. Warning signs, red flags, and caution tape were buried under whirlwind pseudo-efficiency. Over the past several months, my health was flagging, my energy was flagging, and my Superwoman cape had definitely begun to fray.

That I couldn’t maintain both my existing modus operandi and my wellbeing at the same time was ridiculously evident. What to change was not.

MAKING THE HARD CUTS

I like feng shui. No, check that… I REALLY like feng shui. The concept of “space clearing” brings me peace. But now, instead of simply feng shui-ing my desk clutter, I needed to feng shui ME.

Simplification was in order – a process of consolidation and removal. I had a long look at what has been generating stress in my life. These were things that needed to be modified or discarded.

It was not easy, and it still is not easy. Asking an entrepreneur to “let go” is like asking an acrobat to sit still; it’s tremendously uncomfortable.

For those of you struggling with your own stress-induced battles, I’d like to share some insights on a few of my life-altering eliminations that may also help bring you sanity:

Guilt:  There’s guilt, and then there’s GUILT. Guilt is missing a deadline, forgetting to pick up your kids, and eating the extra slice of cake. GUILT is feeling that you are somehow inadequate, universally wrong, a mistake, or a burden on society. A combination of the two is more effective than a mosquito attack in a swamp – it will eat you alive.

In my entrepreneurial quest for perfection, I forgot something truly relevant and essential… I am human. I will make errors. I won’t always be everyone’s first, best, favorite, or most important, but that does not make me any less deserving of respect – self respect included.

Guilt is appropriate only when you stray from your own moral code – not someone else’s, your own. Otherwise, it’s a waste of brain space.

Guilt is easier to drop than GUILT, but when you start letting these go, I wager we’ll find you traipsing the hillsides, laughing over your lightened load.

Unfair Expectations:  As a general rule, I believe people mean well. When they ask for something without offering fair compensation (whatever you deem that to be: payment, gratitude, bartered service, recognition, etc.), it is rare that they understand the actual toll it will take on your time, family, or health. But their ignorance is not unkind.

However, their expectations are peanuts compared to the expectations we place on ourselves. Goals should have some basis in reality. No amount of plastic surgery will make me look like Shakira, and no cooking of the figures will turn me into an instant Donald Trump. These are silly examples, but some entrepreneurs ask themselves to accomplish eyebrow-raising feats on a daily basis… and berate themselves severely when they fall short. I was one of those.

Don’t misunderstand me – reach for the stars. But back your goals with sound research, reasonable expectations, and a flexible mind. Remember, failure and opportunity are often close allies.

Excuses:  Guilt and unfair expectations are easy highways to scapegoating. Rest assured that every action – or inaction – we take is of our own volition. Even with a proverbial “gun to the head,” we have a choice – take the bullet, sing the national anthem, duck and weave, freeze, follow orders…

Our choices generate repercussions and, particularly when we don’t like those repercussions, it is exquisitely tempting to lay blame on the circumstances or people most closely associated with them. The danger here is that, in doing this, we hand over – on a silver platter – control of ourselves and our business to someone or something else.

And if we don’t retain control over ourselves, we have nothing.

I’ve found myself using poor health, lack of time, conflicting priorities and similar excuses for DMT’s sluggish re-branding. And we’ve all met business owners that blame the economy, low quality clientele, big box store competitors, and so forth for their business’s “failure to thrive.” Look hard at these excuses. There isn’t one among them that can’t be circumnavigated in new and creative ways.

You’d be surprised by how empowering this realization can be. Accept responsibility… and run with it.

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

Although I’ve feng shui-ed many  parts of my life right out the door, blogging will not be one of them. I love to write, and will be continuing to post insights and commentary on entrepreneurial self betterment as the mood strikes me (i.e. at least once a month).

In the meantime, know that your acknowledgements and feedback add fuel to my creativity. I am always glad to hear from you.

What “hard cuts” have you made that have changed your life?

I have come back again to where I belong; not an enchanted place, but the walls are strong.”  ~Dorothy H. Rath

Dawn M. Tomczyk-Bhajan  |  DMT Artistry, LLC   |  www.DMTArtistry.com

All content Copyright © 2013 DMT Artistry, LLC, unless otherwise noted. All Rights Reserved.





Rewind | BREATHE | Fast Forward

29 03 2013

Time outI’m about to impart a bit of Zen wisdom here. Buddha pose is optional.

Some of us live in the past; we usually call that “baggage.” (Sorry, past dwellers.)

Some of us live in the future; we often label that “forward thinking.” (Don’t toot your horn just yet, “to-be”ers.)

But in between rewinding to memories of what’s already been, and racing into events that have yet to be, there’s where we exist now: the present.

Now, there’s a time and a place for all three branches of living – past, present, and future. And I’m not going to go all “A Christmas Carol” on you in this blog. But entrepreneurs are a notoriously driven bunch – mulling intensely over past actions before surging ahead into future plans.

So today, on the brink of a holiday weekend, I feel compelled to share a little bit of well-worn wisdom that we all lose track of at some point or another:

PAUSE.

So simple. So essential.

A pause can be a vacation, a rare luxury for an entrepreneur, but it can also be as simple as sitting quietly for a few moments – mind parked in neutral – between activities. During those moments, you’re neither fretting over the previous activity, nor puzzling out the next.

You are simply existing.

If emptying your mind feels like a goliath undertaking, try focusing your attention on something instead – your thumb, an elbow, your breath… something completely innocuous.

You don’t need to be a yogi to work this technique. You just have to be human.

What’s the point? Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle if it doesn’t give you a chance to catch your breath, stop frantic thoughts, stimulate mental clarity, and/or help you keep things in perspective.

A few moments. Really. Please try it, and let me know how it works for you.

“Don’t just do something — Sit there!”  ~Anon.

Dawn M. Tomczyk-Bhajan  |  DMT Artistry, LLC   |  www.DMTArtistry.com

All content Copyright © 2013 DMT Artistry, LLC, unless otherwise noted. All Rights Reserved.





Target Markets: A Counterpoint

15 03 2013

two men wrestling with armsWell, this is interesting…

Recently, my twin brother, a professor of entrepreneurship, guest blogged about the critical importance and use of target markets in marketing your business.

This is neither a new nor radical point of view, as a quick search on the ‘Net will show. And it is a factor that we take into serious consideration on all DMT Artistry design projects.

However, I’ve just digested a very different view on the subject – VERY different – on the blog of a designer I admire greatly. It aptly addresses the personal side of what we do at DMT Artistry and, more particularly, why our tagline reads: “Designing You.”

I believe it’s important that you, also, have the opportunity to read this alternate viewpoint:

Click here to read the Before & After blog, “Who is your logo for?”

John McWade’s blog has inspired me to reassess how and who I prioritize in the design process.

My conclusion? Depends on the project! Both are essential, though to varying degrees on each and every project. Whether the client’s or the target audience’s preferences take precedence depends very much on the goals of that design, the desires of the client, and the needs of the business.

What are your thoughts on the subject? When push comes to shove, whose input should “reign supreme?”

Please share your thoughts in the comment section! (click “Comment” below)

Dawn M. Tomczyk-Bhajan  |  DMT Artistry, LLC   |  www.DMTArtistry.com

All content Copyright © 2013 DMT Artistry, LLC, unless otherwise noted. All Rights Reserved.





3 Steps to Always Get What You Want (or Need)

8 03 2013

Confused manPretty exciting title, isn’t it?! I bet you’re wondering how I can make such an outrageous claim.

Let me show you…

Long ago, I struggled with career choices. Job ads, career postings, and referral positions alternately bored, repelled, or filled me with dread.

Still, I knew it was time to pick something – ANYthing – to prevent complacency from pitching a tent in my brain.

Thank goodness for Mom.

While I was banging my head against the proverbial career ladder, my mother stepped in with a solution that was epic in its simplicity:

DEFINE IT

Truly, the secret to getting what you want starts with knowing WHAT the heck you want. While waffling between possibilities, I had utterly failed to define what I was looking for.

I may have been unsure, at the time, precisely which field I wanted to enter but, as Mom sagely noted, I sure knew how many hours I wanted to work, how far I was willing to drive, the type of coworkers I wanted to interact with, the quality of management I was looking for, the level of pay, the types of duties I wanted to be involved in, and even whether they would allow pets.

So, riddle me this: What do YOU truly want? Start with the foundation – a career, a significant other, a house, a pet, a lifestyle, a vacation… the list is endless.

Now, define it down to the last detail. What does it look like, feel like, act like? How does it work? How does it make you feel? Who else is involved? And don’t forget to define a realistic time frame in which it should happen.

This process can take days. Some of my lists (e.g. what I wanted in a husband) took several years, but just look how well it worked!! Soul mate!

Remember that what you want has to be something for YOU. You can’t WANT a person into becoming something they’re not. You can’t WANT Mt. Everest to suddenly appear in your backyard. But you CAN want yourself into a role, a relationship, a success, and an adventure.

RECOGNIZE IT

If you’ve done your homework in part one, part two should be a cakewalk. You already know precisely what you want, so you’re prepared to recognize opportunity when it knocks. It may come in unexpected forms – be alert, be open, be adventurous.

And if you want to improve the odds, refer back to your definitions regularly. Read them like an affirmation. The more often you review your list, the more adeptly you’ll spot stepping stones as they arise.

ACT ON IT

You have to believe in yourself to complete this final step – I mean, REALLY believe in yourself. Seizing opportunities can be intimidating, but doing so is how you get what you want.

This is the step where I believe most people lose momentum. That’s why “all talk and no action” is part of our day-to-day lingo. In the words of Nike’s immortal tagline: “Just Do It”.

The results may surprise you. Sometimes the process brings you, instead, what you truly need. Celebrate when this happens. Your “want” has grown up!

And there you have it: Three steps to always get what you want. My business, my husband, my home, my activities are testament to its success.

Let’s hear yours!

Author’s Note: Thanks, Mom!

“If you’re not actively involved in getting what you want, you don’t really want it.”  ~Peter McWilliams

Dawn M. Tomczyk-Bhajan  |  DMT Artistry, LLC   |  www.DMTArtistry.com

All content Copyright © 2013 DMT Artistry, LLC, unless otherwise noted. All Rights Reserved.





Target Markets: Love ‘em or lose business (Part III of III)

1 03 2013

Happy couple with a kid in their new homeThe final installment of Professor Dave’s (my twin brother!) guest blogger series about Target Markets:

Greetings again! This is the third blog post on target marketing. In the first one, we talked about identifying your business’s target markets. In the second, we walked through an example.

Today we’ll talk about how to use all that work you did to earn you more money.

To start out, let me tell you a short story. The other day, I was talking with some of my students in class. They were building a marketing plan for a realtor out here in Connecticut.

Students: So, we were thinking they should post pictures of their available houses on Facebook.

Me: Why?

Students: Because its free marketing!

Me: Um…

Students: Uh oh. We forgot something, didn’t we.

Do you see the issue they overlooked?

If you said that people looking for homes usually don’t go home shopping on Facebook, you hit the nail on the head. They forgot about using the target markets to help define the company’s marketing. They were trying to build a marketing strategy in a vacuum.

Your goal is to build a marketing campaign for each target market. Hometown Bicycles does a great job with this. They are trying to appeal to casual riders (target market 1), enthusiasts (target market 2), and racers (target market 3) who are looking for a friendly, home-like environment with people who are looking out for their well-being.

So, on Hometown’s website and in the store it showcases and celebrates people who compete, appealing to the racers. Hometown employees are trained to be incredibly knowledgeable about bikes and will take the time to talk extensively about them because experts like to talk with people as excited about bikes as they are. Hometown also has a section of its website dedicated to pets and another about the saga of a little jabeñero plant along with slogans and pictures geared around establishing the friendly, family-like environment so casual riders doing internet research easily see what sort of people they would be working with. And Hometown Bicycles is shaping up to be an incredible success!

Target markets are powerful tools, and I would love to see how you use them. So go and do great things! And if you need someone to help you implement your awesomely redesigned marketing campaign, I’m sure Dawn would be more than happy to help! [Dave’s right – I would!]

Author Bio:  ”Dave Tomczyk, is an Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship and Strategy at Quinnipiac University. His background is pretty diverse, including video game development, working at NASA, a Masters in Economics, and some work in astronomy. And a love of target markets!”

Dawn M. Tomczyk-Bhajan  |  DMT Artistry, LLC   |  www.DMTArtistry.com

All content Copyright © 2013 DMT Artistry, LLC, unless otherwise noted. All Rights Reserved.





Target Markets: Love ’em or lose business (Part II of III)

22 02 2013

Russian nesting dollsPart II of Professor Dave’s (my twin brother!) guest blogger series about Target Markets:

Greetings again! Last week we talked about the four components of a target market. This week, we’re going down the rabbit hole a bit more!

Your goal is to define your target market as much as possible. The more you know about them, the easier it is to design a marketing campaign that will attract them, which we’ll talk about in Part III. But be warned: don’t try to fit all of your customers into one target market. Most businesses have two (or more!) target markets.

Take a realtor, for example. They have six different target markets: first-time buyers, home buyers, apartment buyers, vacation home buyers, commercial buyers, and sellers. While they all share some similarities, there are enough differences between them to treat them separately, especially for marketing purposes.

For example, first-time buyers tend to be much less sure of the buying process and need more handholding than other home buyers. They tend to be just married and/or just starting a family. They also are usually relatively new into their careers, so they are looking for less expensive homes. And… wait a minute. We’ve started to define the target market!

That’s the beauty of target markets—you likely already know what your business’s target markets are if you stop to think about it for a bit. But let’s go through an example of how you can clearly identify one.

TARGET MARKET CASE STUDY: FIRST-TIME HOME BUYERS

  • Demographic: Usually ages 25-35, recently married, college educated, looking for a home in the $100,000 to $200,000 range (incomes in the $50,000 to $100,000 range), may have just started a family (1-2 kids), likely still paying off loans from school.
  • Geographic: Looking to move within 50 miles of the realtor office.
  • Psychographic: Scared or nervous about the home buying process, but also excited about owning their own home. Usually moving from an apartment, so they may not be aware of all the maintenance requirements a house will need. Often thinking about school systems and feeling of the neighborhood. Use the internet a lot to help with the home purchasing decision.
  • Use-based: They will on average interact with the realtors 10 or more times but make only one purchase, which will likely last them for multiple years.

The more specific you can get, the better. Be careful of identifying too many target markets, though! Your goal is to keep the number manageable, so if you find yourself dealing with 10 or more target markets, see which ones you can combine together. We’ll see why in next week’s post.

Until then, happy pondering! And if you need help, I happen to have a twin sister who’s great at identifying target markets…

Author Bio:  ”Dave Tomczyk, is an Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship and Strategy at Quinnipiac University. His background is pretty diverse, including video game development, working at NASA, a Masters in Economics, and some work in astronomy. And a love of target markets!”

Dawn M. Tomczyk-Bhajan  |  DMT Artistry, LLC   |  www.DMTArtistry.com

All content Copyright © 2013 DMT Artistry, LLC, unless otherwise noted. All Rights Reserved.