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Entrepreneur Garden 38: Traveling Mercies.

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Exodus 23:20 “Behold, I am going to send an Angel before you to guard you along the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared.


I can’t believe that it’s already been a year. 

It seems like only yesterday my wife got the call that she had been hired as the new traffic reporter for the local news station in Cincinnati. I remember it vividly. I remember the feeling of relief. I remember just being thankful. I remember the praise that went up. I remember wondering how in the world this was going to happen. Prior to getting that call, I will be honest, we were struggling financially. My wife had left a highly stressful work environment and decided that it was time to pursue her destiny. Which was great until it hit us that we were going to have to make it on one income until someone finally realized that she belonged on their station (and that call didn’t come for several months). As an entrepreneur, I have to admit that faith has pulled me through a lot of these types of scenarios. I was completely clueless how my business (which had just lost my highest paying client) was going to keep the lights on, food in the fridge, car notes paid and tuition payments up to date.I had stashed a few thousand dollars, but it was dwindling quickly. This job offer came right on time. But the road didn’t come easy.

There were a lot of obstacles that almost prevented us from moving forward. First off, our savings was disappearing and now we had to figure out how we were going to come up with the money required to move to an entirely new city. Our apartment complex in Indianapolis wouldn’t allow us to get out of the last 6 months of our lease, and we couldn’t find anyone to take it over either. At that same time, we needed to find a new place in Cincinnati and come up with first and last month’s rent. But even those things weren’t the immediate concerns. My wife was about to begin the commute of her life: two hours there, two hours back, EVERY day. Did I mention that she was working on the morning show? This means that she was rolling out of bed at around 1:30am to get ready and get on the road. There is something to be said about the kind of determination required to drive 200 miles a day in pursuit of your dreams. (There is also a lot of wear and tear on a vehicle as when you drive 1000 miles a week - so of course when we needed money the most is when the transmission started acting up.) There were a few times when she had to stay in Cincinnati overnight instead of traveling in fresh snowstorms, which required an extra amount of patience and responsibility from me on the homefront taking care of our girls. The road was difficult, but God granted us traveling mercies.

Joshua 1:9b “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

I’ve worn a medallion around my neck for about the last eight years with this verse on it, as a reminder that no matter where my talents take me, God is already there. Let’s be honest, it’s scary to follow your dreams. Whether that means working for someone else in your dream job, or creating your dream as an entrepreneur. There were days when my wife wondered if she should even take the job in Cincinnati - it seemed like the entire deck was stacked against us… but GOD said to go. He opened the door and it was up to us to walk through it. He has continued to provide us with traveling mercies over the course of the last year, not just on the roads, but on our journey through this life, and for that we’re grateful.

In the last year, my company TheAIDG has grown tremendously - that road trip has been one full of twists and turns and pot holes and construction and roadblocks and detours and well… rewards. Running that company for the last 9 1/2 years has given me the knowledge required to write this blog and EntrepreneurGarden has definitely picked up traction (thank you for riding with me in the passenger seat)! My speaking career is looking up, and God is continuing to send Angels ahead of me to prepare a place.

I just wanted to take time out to encourage you to keep your life in DRIVE. Even when it seems like all roads are blocked, pursue your purpose and trust God to keep the roads clear. I thank Him for the provisions. I thank Him for the safe roads. I thank Him for the traveling mercies.

[NEW COMMENTS SECTION BELOW! I’d love to hear your thoughts!]

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Entrepreneur Garden 37: 13 Things your business needs to do before 2013.

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1.    Turn off your phone’s ringer for an entire weekend. Trust me, it’s liberating. Believe it or not, I have kept my phone on silent for about 90% of the past decade.. With technologies like text messaging, voicemail and email, life (and business) goes on, even if your ringer is turned off.

2.    Find a charity in your local community that your company will support in the next year. Whether it be through employees making donations or showing up to volunteer, devote all of your efforts to impact one place for the entire year.

3.    Get organized. Look at your operation and discover things that didn’t move fluidly this year, and decide how you can tidy up the way you do things for next year.

4.    Take your team to lunch. Not one of those “grab a quick bite to eat while we’re really still here to work” lunches though. Actually do an extended lunch break (maybe even let everyone stay on the clock?) and just hang out to give you a chance to really build the relationships.

5.    Read a book. In your leisure time, grab a good book. A nice fiction novel, not something too heavy, the key is to find an escape from business. If fiction is too fluffy and nonproductive for you and you can’t stop thinking about business, then I suggest ReWork by Jason Fried of 37Signals, The Accidental Creative by Todd Henry, or 60 Days to Change by Pete The Planner.

6.    Collaborate. The fact is that you don’t have to always compete with those in your industry. There are several in your community that you can team up with if you’re open to the idea.

7.    Send someone that has inspired you a hand written thank you letter. No matter what you’ve heard, no entrepreneur is “self-made”. There is someone that has influenced you in one way or another - even if it was just on social media. Tell them “Thank you”.

8.    Treat yourself. There’s something that you didn’t put on your Christmas list that you really want - so go get it (unless it’s a Bugatti).. Okay, so go get something that’s “reasonably” priced, that new pair of shoes, that purse etc. Or how about a spa day? You deserve it.

9.    Unblock the social sites in the workplace. Let’s be serious here. When people are ready to be productive, they will be. AND if they really want to be on facebook, they will be on there from their phones while on the clock anyway.. So stop treating your team like tweens..

10.  Go to sleep. If you’re anything like me, entrepreneurship is synonomous with long nights, but find one night to embrace a toddler bedtime. Hit the hay at around 8pm, and sleep until at least 8am.

11.  Try something new. This could mean a tasting new foods, changing the way you do business or transforming the environment & mood of your workplace.

12.  Barter. Trade is the original form of currency, but there’s no need for you to give me your newborn sheep.. I mean, it is 2012. Find someone who wants something from you and discover what you want from them and trade.

13.  Tell someone about EntrepreneurGarden.com. I think that it’s safe to assume that you’re here reading this blog because you’re awesome or because the blog is amazing or a little bit of both. Tell somebody to tell somebody.

[NEW COMMENTS SECTION BELOW! I’d love to hear your thoughts!]

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Entrepreneur Garden 29: Give Back.

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Tis the season. It’s almost that time. Already. The time of year when everyone starts to pretend that they have a heart of gold as thoughts of dancing orphans fill their minds. My official stance: “Uggh.” They were just standing out in the cold waiting in line to purchase a phone that costs more than a few months of rent in low income projects - and the day after Thanksgiving, they’ll be fighting people in Wal-Mart to get a great bargain on the latest, greatest flat screen TV… while people are starving. Welcome to America.

I realize that this isn’t the warm and fuzzy introduction you expected, especially if this is your first visit to the best business blog you’ve never heard of, and my opinion may not be popular - but I learned a long time ago that popularity will fade long before authenticity. 

The fact is that there are a lot of people who could benefit from entrepreneurs (and corporations) taking out just a little bit of their time to give back. And no, I don’t mean give back in the sense of “watch me on the news shaking hands with homeless people as I look into the camera and distribute stale peanut butter sandwiches” kind of way. I mean truly GIVE BACK. I suggest that every business take a day to discover ways that your company can assist the communities that you serve, and learn ways that you can use what you have to benefit someone else.


"Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms."  

-1 Peter 4:10


A few days ago, I got a text from one of my clients requesting I call an associate of theirs who needed me. I had no idea what I was calling for, but for some reason, I immediately stopped what I was doing to contact the individual - I just had a feeling that this was an urgent situation. In essence, the individual was doing a service project with a domestic violence shelter and needed a flyer to get the word out (and another designer had dropped the ball). Within a matter of hours, my in-kind donation of graphic design services was emailed and the new client was completely thrilled. I normally don’t share stories like this because I don’t want to come across as that guy who does work in the community for the sake of the cameras and attention. But, I really want entrepreneurs to grab hold of this principle as you’re starting out, so that as you grow you’ll have this willingness to serve in your company’s DNA.

Sometimes, it’s a simple gesture of offering your product or service pro-bono to a worthy non-profit organization that’s just getting on its feet. Sometimes, it’s getting a group of your employees together to go build homes with local organizations. Sometimes, it’s visiting a crowd funding website and making a donation to a worthwhile cause or individual. Sometimes, it’s volunteering with youth in your community to show them that there is another way to become successful outside of what is showcased on MTV and BET. Sometimes, it’s gathering up the extra coats and blankets in your home on a particularly frigid night and riding around with friends searching for homeless people who may not have a warm coat to help them make it through the night.

In our America, we are often so busy being busy that we forget that we are all placed here with a certain number of gifts, and given plenty of opportunities to use them to benefit the people around us. Not just around holidays, but EVERY day. Find something that you care about as an individual and find a way to weave that that one thing into your brand’s DNA. It’s essential that you find a way to give back - a way to serve the communities that you live and work in. And there is no app that will do that for you in your amazingly fancy new phone.

How has EntrepreneurGarden.com helped YOUR business? I’d love to hear from you. Please drop me an email testimonial: EntrepreneurGarden@gmail.com



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Entrepreneur Garden 26: Mind Your Own Business.

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Mindin’ other people’s business seems to be high-toned
I got all that I can do just to mind my own
Why don’t you mind your own business
If you mind your own business, you’ll be busy all the time.

-Hank Williams Sr.
 

For those of you who may be new to EntrepreneurGarden, you may not be aware of the fact that I recently added jogging to my list of things that a grown man should do in a feeble attempt to grab hold of his slipping youth. I can honestly say that the past few months have been a roller coaster that have included moments of triumph and shame, but through it all, I’ve attempted to keep a firm grip on my determination. Just as important as determination is the ability to focus. It has been a challenge - but I’m getting better

This past Saturday, I decided that it was time for me to put myself to the test. I needed to see if all of those early morning runs had finally started to pay off. I rolled my 35 year old body over to the side of the bed, sat up on the edge and decided that “today is the day”. A few weeks prior, while on my jog, I saw a sign at a local park for a 5K run that was coming up. Now, that day had arrived.

As I arrived at the park to register (yes, I waited until the day of just in case I decided to punk out), the mood was festive and people were already warming up, stretching - the whole nine. Immediately, I started to feel kind of intimidated by what I was witnessing, and I had to tell myself, “Mind Your Own Business”. I couldn’t allow myself to be absorbed with how other people were going to run their races, but I had to instead only be concerned with how I was going to run my race. I had no idea what other people had done to prepare for this race or how many races they had run in the past - but I did know how I had trained for this, my first run. 

In business, sometimes we get so distracted by what everyone else is doing that we forget how to run our own race. We start watching our competitor’s feet and how they’re moving, and how fast they’re going and we forget all about the work that we have put in training because now we’re trying to keep pace with someone else… and that is a recipe for disaster. Our breathing is off, out steps are sporadic and our rhythm is unnatural - all in the name of competition. In reality, we are actually setting ourselves up for a tremendous loss.

There were times during my run when there were volunteers on the side of the road who were in place with dixie cups of cool water to provide refreshment. There were people who were there to point direction, and there were even a few people along the way who were there just to cheer us on and provide encouragement. These were people I had never seen before and will never see again. But there were two constants the entire race. My wife and youngest daughter were there at the starting line. They were there at the halfway point. They were there near the end. And they were there waiting for me at the finish.

As you’re building your enterprise, you too will have people that you meet along the way who will want to do whatever they can to help you grow your business. There will be the ones who are there to provide a temporary push to get you to the next level, and those who will be able to actually invest in your success. Hopefully, there will also be a few who are there from start to finish along the way cheering you on, providing the motivation you need to pick up the momentum when you start to feel drained - people who are just as involved in your race as you are.

Along your journey, there will be hills and valleys, places were the road is broken (and competitors who run right by you). But you must keep running. Be comfortable with the fact that you will finish - maybe not when you originally planned to… but in due season. Find the strength within to stay in your own lane, running your own race at your own pace. Mind your own business. Turn the music up in your headphones, get in the zone and JUST RUN.



How has EntrepreneurGarden.com helped YOUR business? I’d love to hear from you. Please drop me an email testimonial: EntrepreneurGarden@gmail.com



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