Simply Inspirational For Women in Business - Volume 2

Simply Inspirational For Women in Business™
Volume 2

Edited and Published
Dr. Cheryl Cottle
Cottle's Professional Consulting



I will like to acknowledge all the women who have contributed and submitted articles for this journal: Pat Matson, Tai Aracen, Judy Joseph McSween, Judy Hoberman, Shyla Logan, Lissa Cowan, Simmone L. Bowe Mullings, Shelley Jarrett, Gillian Wilba, Charly Leetham, Lyn Lucas and Yvette-Michelle Cottle Darby. I also want to thank Allison Valentine-Joseph for her poem, Yvette-Michelle Cottle Darby and Laura Putman for their photography. Thank you all for your generous contributions and support of Simply Inspirational for Women in Business Journal™ 2013. Without your support the journal would not have been possible.

I also want to thank, Maryam Abdallah, Karen May Di, Diane Kroe and Desi Christou for participating for the Business Profiles. As entrepreneurs we transcend every sector and industry. I especially love this element of the journal, because it reflects the diversity of entrepreneurship in which women are involved.

I want to thank Yvette-Michelle Cottle Darby and Don J. Darby for their role as Associate Editors, Layout Designers and Graphic Designers in the design and development of this journal. Their keen eyes and critical viewpoints have made this journal into the final product that it is. Thanks Yvette-Michelle and Don, for supporting me with my vision.

This journal was very time consuming, but was indeed a labor of love. It required a lot of love and dedication to come to fruition. I hope that each reader will gain some insight and will be inspired and motivated to work at realizing their dreams.


This publication of Simply Inspirational for Women in Business Journal™ is dedicated to women globally who are part of the collective mission to make women lives, free from violence, abuse and poverty. I hope that this journal will find its way to women across the globe and will have a positive impact upon their lives.

Simply Inspirational for Women in Business Journal™ is written by women for the empowerment of women. Every effort has been made to ensure that the presence of women is felt and seen in every aspect of the design and development of this publication.

To the women who contributed to the development of this journal: we appreciate your articles, poems, and photography. Without your commitment, this journal would not have been possible.

Thanks for supporting me with my vision: to reach the world carrying goodwill, and that as women we can rise above any adversities. Sharing our stories and experiences give us unity and strength of purpose. Individually we stand, but collaboratively we are a force that can combat any resistance; and like a rose bud, bloom into a beautiful rose. We are our best teachers, role models, leaders, motivators and agents of change.

To make my dedication a little more personal, I want to thank my two grand-boys, Matthew and Miles for just being who they are; very caring and loving. You have been my joy and light and have brought a great deal of joy to my life. You give me cause to rise every morning and make my day very productive.

Thanks! I love you both.

Sophia Story

Photography by Laura Putman

Author: Dr. Cheryl Cottle

Recently, I was asked by one of my colleagues from the academe, when I became a woman' advocate for empowerment? When I was asked the question, I reflected on when, and I realize that it has been many years ago and as early as when I was a little girl at around age 7 or  9, when I saw a woman being beaten and was lifted and thrown into a dirty drain by her husband. Some years later I saw another woman who had found refuge in our home after running away from her perpetrator. My mother extending her hand to assist this woman in her time of need.

On reflecting much deeper, I realized my divine gift  was teaching; and it was my purpose in life. I believe to foster empowerment, people should be given the opportunity to grow to their maximum capabilities and potential. I also believe that every one should be given the opportunity to be exposed to the most effective teaching and learning methodologies. I also strongly believe that an egalitarian educational approach should be implemented, and not one that foster divisiveness - classicism and racism.

It was this latter experience that I became more reflective and put more thought towards women living in violence and abuse; I also drew upon stories told by women in my family about others who have been battered. At that age, I felt that if women who were beaten by their husbands, were more confident, and saw themselves as beautiful, and had resources - - money, an education and a skill; that they could leverage with, they could be independent and therefore will be in position to wager for a better life.

As I got older, I saw that the empowerment of women as the solution to their circumstances; a life free-from-abuse and free-from-violence and free-from -poverty. I thought that if women were given the tools to empower themselves, it will give them a chance to change their lives and leave a legacy for their child, so the cycle does not continue. I saw that if women who were living in this social climate were taught how to achieve some degree of independence, there might be hope for a brighter future for them. How was that to be achieved? At that time I had no idea as to how the cycle-of violence and abuse could be stopped. It was much later in my early twenties that I understood the implications of social changes and the empowerment of people, regardless of gender, race, class or creed. I felt that if the government implemented social and educational programs that focus on skills training, knowledge-based education, and developing their self-confidence, self-esteem and self-worth; changing their perception of themselves, and provided opportunities for employment, would facilitate their independence.

I remembered that when I was around age 9 or so, I saw Sophia standing at our back door, naked and there was blood all over her body. She was running away from her husband. That night she found refuge at our home, my mother opened her doors to grant Sophia support. She was violently beaten by her husband. I was very shocked to see what he had done to her. Her face was battered, her jaws looked broken and she had lost some of her teeth. That is just to list some things. Thinking back, I shuddered, although it was not the first time I saw a woman being abused by her husband. Two years before I saw, my teacher being berated and thrown into a dirty drainage system. I also never saw violence and abuse in my home. I grew up with both of my parents and I never saw them engaged in fights. I also did not observe the folks in our community engaged in fights, overall; although you will hear from time as you passed  older women engaged in conversation that Mary or Jane were beaten by their husbands.  It wasn't a common practice. In sharing this story, I will use the pseudonyms Sophia to refer to the wife and Stephen to refer to the husband.

Sophia and Stephen had just gotten married. Sophia was from another village, and Stephen was a young man from a "good family" from our community. His parents were God-fearing people who worshiped the Lord. Ever since I knew Stephen, he always accompanied his parents to church. They were prominent people in our community. His mother was the mid-wife of the community. She delivered almost every baby that was born in the village and she was also known to be the woman to go to if you needed a cake for your wedding, christening, birthdays or special event. His father was well liked and was respected by all.

When, Sophia and Stephen got married, I was a flower girls for their wedding. My mother, using her skills in floral designs made the bouquet for the bride's maids and flower girls. At that time, people in our community joined forces to make sure that special events were indeed special. Sophia was our new bride. She married Stephen, and the community was happy to welcome her.

About a year after the wedding, around late evening we heard a knock on our backdoor. When my mother asked who it was, in a weak voice a woman responded  "Sophia". My mother rose and  open the door. I was surprise to see Sophia all in blood, battered, and tattered. Her eyes and lips were swollen too. My mother invited her in. Her tattered clothes, swollen eyes and lips caught my attention and I asked her," why did Stephen do this to you?" But as she began to explain, my mother suggested that she allow her to take her to the hospital. She refused to go to the hospital, so we nursed her wounds as best as we could.

Sophia hid out at our home for over a week not showing herself outside for one moment. Stephen did drop by our home to find out if we had seen her. Our home was the last house that she would have come across before coming to the main road that would have taken her away from the village. Stephen knew that she wasn't able to leave the village, because he knew when she ran, she did not have any clothing or shoes; and I guess suspected that mom was giving her shelter. Sophia went home after spending more than a week with us. Her life seems to have been normal after that. She had a baby girl sometime after, followed by a baby boy, followed by a few more girls. I did not hear anything about Sophia's beatings, I guessed, they had ended. Life seems to be normal.

Many years passed, and I now had my own home. It was close to where I grew up, and one night around 9:00 am EST, I heard a knock on my front door. When I opened, it was Sophia. Her face was covered in blood; it was streaming off her face. Her eyes swollen and her lips were also swollen. Sophia was a frightful sight. She was naked not even a shoe or a slipper. I took her in and nursed her wounds, just like my mother did over twenty years before. She stayed at my home for a week also.

Stephen came to my home the following day around 3:00pm, and asked me if I had seen her on Friday evening. It was now Sunday evening. He asked whether I had seen Sophia the night before. I asked him why and reminded him that it was the same question that he had asked my mother, so many years ago. He shyly pointed out that he and Sophia have had a "little fight". I pointed out that I had not seen her and that I was surprised to know that he was still violent towards his wife after so many years. I guessed he knew that she was at my home.

He knew she had no clothes, or money, and therefore could not go further than my house. He knew that she could not have accessed the main road without clothing. He left, and he did not come back. I guessed he knew that she would eventually come back home. She always did; at least twenty years ago, she did. She was just so predictable. A week later she went back home. I guessed Sophia's life continued to have some good times and some bad times sprinkled with some violent times or maybe some bad times and some violent times sprinkled with some good times. She never left him. I don't think that she ever reported the abuse. Sophia was liberated from Stephen's abuse, on his passing some years later. I felt that Sophia stayed with Stephen because she was not empowered. I always believed that if a woman was economically empowered, she would be better positioned to make decisions to affect her life positively. I am an advocate for women empowerment and I believe that empowerment also gives the woman the opportunity to contribute to the life of her family overall.During my years as an empowerment coach, I have directed many women to become entrepreneurs so that they can be self-sufficient, and be able to forge a life with self-respect and self-confidence.

I sat down one day to talk with Sophia. I had some questions that I wanted answered too. One of my question was: why throughout the years although Stephen continued to batter you, you stayed? Sophia explained that it was always difficult to leave. "The night I came to his home after the wedding, he berated and beat me in front of his friends. I thought that I could go back home and I went back, but my mother refused to give me a shelter and asked me why did you come here?" "And my mother says, "stay with your husband, you are now his responsibility." She also stated that she contacted her brother in Canada, but he too said that he could not assist her at this time in his life. What kept you from leaving, you could have left and taken your children with you? She said that she had thought about it, but she felt that she did not have the skills or the education to get employed, and more so what level of job I would have gotten." She also said that she also started having one baby after another - so many children, and the question was; where could she leave them to go? It was as if she felt trapped. She saw where she had no recourse.

Looking back, I realized that Sophia's story of violence and abuse was not my first experience. It wasn't the first wife bashing I saw. I had seen the ugly image of women violence and abuse before. I experienced this one; I was much younger. I was just about 7 years old when I saw Kelli, a pseudonym that I give her, violently lifted off her feet and thrown into a drain of stagnant water. It was around 8:00 am EST when Kelli was dressed for work. She was a teacher. She looked beautiful as her normal self every morning. At least I felt that she was beautiful when her husband lifted her off her feet and threw her into a pool of dirty, stagnant water that served as a drain off from a sty. Her children were there too. They were my friends and we were dressed for school and their mom was dressed for work.  I am not sure how many times their children witnessed it and we never spoke about the incident. Kelli was liberated from a life of violence, when he left her. I don't believe that economic empowerment is the dominant reason why some women stay in violent relationship. I believe that lack of personal empowerment is also a contributing factor. Women empowerment has to do with personal and economic empowerment; and I believe that it can save lives.

Do You Have a Plan?

Author: Judy Hoberman

The ups and downs of being an entrepreneur can take its toll on you. You spend hundreds of hours trying to get noticed, and when you finally start to gain traction in your business, life turns into an episode of Project Runway. One day you are in and the next day you are out. Throughout all the ups and downs, you have to keep your eye on the prize.

Go back and review your initial goals and objectives. Have they changed? Have you added to them? Is the business still your passion? No matter what, things change. As pastor and author Charles Swindoll so eloquently said, “Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react to it.” I always find it interesting to learn how and why people throw in the towel. When I was selling insurance, most of us wanted to quit every other day. Some did. In my mind, there was no room for failure. If you wanted to get something done and you couldn’t do it yourself, find someone that could help. Bring in the big guns, but do not quit.

As an entrepreneur, to be successful, you have to be excited and passionate about what you do;every day. Otherwise, you will have a new title — business owner — and at that point, maybe being in Corporate America was the better choice. Be prepared for the highs and lows in your business. I am not saying you have to be happy and peppy every day, but you need to have a positive outlook more days than not.

With that said, sometimes, no matter how hard you try, how many years of expertise you may have and how much time you gave it, there comes a time when you have to call it a day. While starting a business is hard, closing one is harder. Your ego and pride start to protest. What will people think and say? You might think your latest undertaking was just another failure to add to your list, but that is not the case. The fact is, not all ventures are successful. That does not mean your efforts were in vain. The trick is to time the closure well, so that you can cut your losses, take what you learned, and move forward.

Of course, my goal is to help you avoid that scenario. And the two best ways to ensure that you never have to face the pain of involuntarily shutting down your business are by planning ahead and pushing through. Planning would include the need to plan your budget, your promotional strategy, and your schedule. The more upfront planning you do, the more likely you are to achieve your short and long-term goals, and the less likely you are to be thrown off course as you build your business. But planning is more than just logistical considerations; it includes changing your mindset and putting checks and balances in place to get you back on track when challenges arise.

No matter how much planning you do, hard times will come. That is not only the nature of business, but the nature of the world at large. Economies go up and down. Technology changes the playing field. New competitors come along, who are faster or less expensive. In the big picture, none of those scenarios needs to lead to shutting down your business; instead, you must find ways to adapt and find the strength to keep on keeping’ on.

A book that is a must read for every entrepreneur is Three Feet from Gold by Sharon Lechter and Greg Reid. The title comes from the concept of someone who has been digging in a mineshaft for years and then throws in the towel, when it turns out they were only three feet away from the vein of gold that would have made them a millionaire. The book conveys an important lesson, based on the life of Napoleon Hill: “The most common cause of failure is quitting. Success always follows a similar pattern. First comes a dream, followed by struggle, and then there is victory. The problem is, most people give up in the struggle section and never get to sense what victory feels like.”

I have started over and recreated myself on many occasions. I have been very successful and have the accolades to prove that. But, I have never been as passionate about anything as I am with my company. Rather than digging in a mineshaft, I am working every day to promote my business and build relationships, adjusting goals when needed but staying in the game. That gold truly is just three feet away. Believing in you is the only answer. I have always said and will continue to believe that failure is not an option. When something isn’t working, you may need to give in a bit, but don’t give up.

To help you regain perspective, you should periodically evaluate:
  • What do you know that you know?
  • What do you know that you do not know?
  • What do you think you know?
  • What do others know that you do not know?
These simple questions may reveal some pertinent answers to foster your success.

Creating an Effective Business Plan

Author: Gillian Wilba

You have this awesome idea for a business. It’s in line with your passion, and you can envisage it adding value to the wider community. You’ve thought about it, prayed about it and bounced it off your significant other and your best friend. You are sure it’s going to be a smashing success. What is your next step? You have some savings put away which could serve as a starting point, but that money is by far not enough to launch your idea in a manner that would adequately bring your dream to reality. Face it, you need financing; the question is how are you going to get a financier to buy into your dream? Answer: You need a Business Plan!

A well-crafted Business Plan shows, in one document, the essence of your business. It incorporates the Background, Vision, Mission, Principals and Financial Projections for your company. The Business Plan also has to show the investor the manner in which you intend to run the day-to-day activities of your business, and the point at which you intend to break even and begin to generate a profit. It is also important that your Business Plan include the ways in which you, the business owner, intends to treat with and overcome any possible risk which may be inherent to your venture, as this addressing of risk will show the potential investor that you have taken all eventualities into consideration, and that you are not just building castles in the air.

A clearly defined Business Plan is divided into eight sections:
  • Executive Summary
  • Company Overview
  • Products and Services
  • Marketing Plan and Analysis
  • Operational Plan
  • Financial Plan Analysis
  • Risk Analysis, and
  • Capital Requirement.
It should also include as appendices the Curriculum Vitae of all Principals to the venture, with clearly defined competencies and skill sets; as well as spreadsheets showing Start-up Expenses and 12-Month Projected Cash Flow. For aesthetics sake, this document should be bound and formatted in a way that transmits the highest level of professionalism to your potential investors.

The Executive Summary, even though strategically located at the front of the Business Plan, is only written after all other sections of the Plan have been completed. This is because the Executive Summary serves as the précis of the Plan. It outlines, in summary the concept, current state of the business and when it was founded, all listed Principals with an outline of their competencies and achievements, the products and services which you will be offering and their direct and indirect benefits to potential customers, your market analysis, price, promotion and distribution strategies, start-up and operational costs, and expected profit and break-even time. This information should be served up in an exciting and palatable format, geared towards grabbing the attention of your potential investor, and whetting his appetite to delve deeper into the details on your exciting new venture.

The Company Overview is an outline of your business and what it brings to the table. It should begin with the back story of the business, and how it came to be, and should have an overview of the existing market which your enterprise seeks to satisfy, as well as some detail as to how your specific business will fit into the current market. The Company Overview should address your competitive advantage, hours of operation, location, possible challenges and overcoming strategies which resulted from a SWOT analysis of your business. A SWOT analysis is an assessment of the venture’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats, and should include both internal and external factors which impact on these elements. Do not be dismayed if there are more Threats and Weaknesses than Strengths and Opportunities. If you can show creative ways to overcome these negative elements, that can go a long way with a potential investor. Also to be included in the Company Overview should be your Mission and Vision Statements, as well as your intended Core Values. Your Vision Statement should describe your long-term view of your business and what you hope to achieve. 

Your Mission Statement should state exactly how you intend to achieve that Vision; and your Core Values should be those values which best describe your business, and which motivate its day-to-day activities (e.g. integrity, trust, efficiency). There should also be an in-depth view of each of your key personnel’s competencies and qualifications, as well as any achievements and accomplishments relevant to the business. The inclusion of an illustrated proposed corporate structure at this point would also be an asset.

The Plan should then outline all Products and Services being offered by your business, with some description attached to each product or service amplifying any distinguishing qualities of each which sets you apart from any other similar entity in the industry. Your Marketing Plan and Analysis should present the results of your market research and feasibility studies which you carried out. This entails an analysis of your product, as it related to the industry, and how that product distinguishes your business from its competitors, as well as justification for your pricing structure based on current market trends and demand. The Marketing Plan should also state how your chosen location of the business could maximize sales and profits; and it should also include any advertising/promotion strategies which you intend to implement to attract customers and generate sales. An illustration of a proposed floor plan, highlighting your use of space for product placement or ease of browsing for customers could also be included in this section.

The Operational Plan is where the rubber meets the road. This should include information about inventory requirements and suppliers, the facilities and the equipment to be used. You should also identify, and state how you would treat with, any potential problems which may interfere with your day-to-day operations and provision of service. You should also address any special needs which may be particular to your business and the measures which you intend to put in place to ensure quality product to your potential customers. It is also here in the Operational Plan that you deal with the issue of recruitment. How much staff will your business need, how do you intend to attract employees, and to ensure low turnover? What is your intended payroll structure (weekly, fortnightly, monthly) going to be? Will there be any extra benefits/incentives to employees? The answers to these questions should be addressed in the Operational Plan.

In your Financial Plan Analysis you describe your Start-up Expenses and Monthly Cash Flow for your business, with actual spreadsheets of these elements attached as appendices to the Plan. It is in the Financial Plan Analysis that you give the potential investor an idea of your break-even point, according to the itemized financial projectionist is imperative that all possible expenditures be addressed on these spreadsheets so that an accurate depiction of your finances can be made to investors. This should include all stock, furniture, equipment, leases and rentals, utility fees, insurances, salaries, advertising and signage, contingencies and projected sales based on your current pricing structure. You should also show at this point, the manner in which you intend to make returns to any financier for their investment i.e. how you intend to use your working capital.

Your Risk Analysis describes how you intend to deal with the possibility of damage, loss and injury which may have a negative impact on the profitability of your business; and your strategies for minimizing/dealing with these risks.

Your Business Plan should then be completed with a statement of your Capital Requirement, which is the outline of the financial outlay being requested of the proposed investor. This should be a summary citing financial projections and profit estimates (referred to in the appendices) justifying your overall request.

This may all seem like quite a bit of information, but going into this level of detail will also help concretize in your mind whether or not you are indeed ready to take your idea from the concept stage to reality. Addressing all these variables early can help you to circumvent possible failure, which seems so intrinsic to new businesses. Remember, lack of proper planning always leads to disastrous results!

Also as any potential investor will tell you, their primary interest is what they can get out of any transaction. How will their financial injection into your business benefit them? Therefore your Business Plan — your formal introduction, so to speak — should not only address what’s in it for them, but it should also answer every possible question which may give them pause, and serve up an inviting picture which will make your dream as exciting to them as it is to you.

About the Author >

Filling The Cracks In Your Business Foundation

Author: Shayla Logan
All but a few of my friends and clients are entrepreneurs; visionaries trying to bring a piece of themselves into the world and get paid for it. Most of them have a great persona but, when you sit down and engage them in honest conversation, they frequently talk about their struggle. They struggle with getting clients, making money, and sometimes even just staying afloat – all that struggle, despite being constantly inundated with information on how to make things work. Sound familiar?

If you’re like most entrepreneurs, you spend a lot of time, energy, and money trying to figure out the “how to” of your business. Your inbox is likely flooded with offers for classes, videos, and webinars for how to fill your list, how to close a sale, and how to improve your social media presence. Why then, with so much “how to” information available, do 25% of start-ups fail within the first year? I believe it is because many entrepreneurs try to build their business before they’ve built a solid foundation. The concept is similar to building a house. You could create the finest castle in the land but, if your foundation is weak, it will all crumble. So, what can you do?

To increase your chance of building a successful business, fill the cracks in your foundation. In other words, become solid in the “where, what, who and why”, before you start to focus on the “how”. Determine Your Where Ask yourself - does my business have a mission and vision statement? Is everything I do in my business geared towards fulfilling that mission and vision?
If you don’t know where you’re going, your path will be disjointed and disorganized. I meet an alarming numbers of entrepreneurs that start with a great idea but no thought of what they’d like their end goal to be. Knowing where you are headed will allow you to be strategic with your actions and decisions. Having a solid “where” is a major thing that shifts your efforts from being a hobby into being a business.

Hone Your What: A few years ago, I attended a marketing seminar with a major marketing guru. She had people stand up, one by one, and say what they do. Almost nobody, in a room full of attendees, could articulate what they did in a manner that sparked interest or excitement from the other participants. You may have something to offer that’s equivalent to the discovery of fire but if you can’t articulate what fire is and why I, as a potential client, might want it – then it doesn’t matter. Many entrepreneurs I meet forget that when someone asks, “What do you do?” what they’re really asking is, “What can you do for me?” To be successful, you need to be able to tell someone what you do in a way that they can clearly understand not only what it is you do but how it benefits them. Until your “what” is spoken, in terms of benefits, your sales conversions will be more difficult than they need to be.

Narrow Your Who: Your product or service might benefit everyone but, let’s be honest, not everyone will want it. There’s a difference between saying you sell coaching and saying you sell a way to end overwhelm for single parents. Yes, everyone could benefit from coaching but, if you never narrow your scope down beyond that, your marketing falls on deaf ears or gets pushed to the back burner. We, as consumers, listen with ears that are tuned to hear things that apply to us specifically. Many entrepreneurs think they will catch more clients by casting a broad net but the truth is, if the “who” you’re marketing to isn’t specific, nobody is going to hear it.

Know Your Why: Do you know why you are in business? Making money isn’t reason enough; you need a bigger reason. Having clarity on your why will be the thing that will motivate you and keep you going through the tougher times. Without a solid and compelling “why”, you will procrastinate, make choices based on money rather than your core values, and quit way before your time. Knowing your “why” will be the glue that holds your business together when times get tough.

Get Clear: What do these four things have in common? Clarity! Getting clear on the foundational aspects of your business will give you drive, confidence, direction, and magnetism. If you’ve been in business for a while and discover some of these elements are lacking for you, don’t worry. It’s never too late. As Henry David Thoreau says, “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”

About the Author >

POETRY: Enthusiastic is a Women

by A Valentine Joseph

Ambitious is a woman. 
She knows what she wants, 
Strive to get it, 
And she does. 

Boastful is a woman. 
She talks too much. 
Dawdle to get it, 
And she does not! 
Courageous is a woman. 
She stays on track 
Struggle to get it, And she does. 

Doubtful is a woman. 
She is blind. 
Gets lost on the way to get it. 
And she does not. 

Enthusiastic is a woman. 
She is open to anything, Ardent to get it, And she does. 

Faithless is a woman. 
She stumbles all the way, 
Groping to get it, And she does not. 

Generous is a woman. She is benevolent. 
Freely gives it away. She may get it back. 

Hatred is a woman.
She is festering. 
Cannot see it, And never gets it. 

Ignorance is a woman. 
She is witless. 
Don’t have a clue how to get it. 
And she does not. 

Joy is a woman. 
She is love. 
Elated to get it, And she does. 

Knowledgeable is a woman. 
She is no mystery Captures it. And she gets it. 
She is the ultimate woman. 

(Taken from A Valentine Joseph… Nostalgia)

Keeping Your Business Dreams Alive

Author: Simmone L. Bowe-Mullings

Coming up with a business idea is exciting. It is, in fact, something that many dream about because your own business gives you financial freedom, flexibility with time and scheduling, and the opportunity to leave a legacy in the world. Actually starting the business is exhilarating and extremely fulfilling. There is a thrill in knowing that that vision you saw in your head is a living, breathing organism that employs people and offers a product or service that is making a difference.

Lurking in the back of the mind of every entrepreneur is also a fear that you will fail. Watching your business go through tough times and wondering if you made a mistake conjures up a myriad of emotions, including fear, shame, guilt, self-doubt, and discouragement. For some, in order to not further incur loss, it is in the best interest of the owner and the business to close down and the decision to regroup, restructure and re-emerge is one of the hardest to make.

Bouncing back after a loss is challenging at best. Remember the two benefits of failure. First, if you do fail, you learn what doesn't work; and second, the failure gives you the opportunity to try a new approach. (Roger Von Oech)

As a woman in business, we have many competing forces: our mate, our children, our family, our friends, our business itself, and any other interests we may have outside of the business. As we in superhero fashion try to juggle it all, we may drop a ball or two. Sometimes it is the business that causes the most strain on all of those factors and we ask ourselves, was this really the right move? Is this truly my dream or a nightmare? Perhaps living a normal life with a regular job would be easier. In some ways it is, but the pain, frustration, and feelings of dissatisfaction are greater than the struggle of keeping the business dream alive.

Persistence is to the character of man as carbon is to steel. Napoleon Hill

So what do you do if your business is struggling and you’re challenged to keep your passion burning bright?
  • Go back to the mission and vision statement. Read it and reread it for inspiration and to ensure that you are still in alignment with its principles. Sometimes we stray away from the original purpose and hence, the struggle.
  • Analyze what is happening and make necessary adjustments. We have to have the courage and flexibility to change our methods if they are not yielding desired results. We can’t get stuck in an idea if the idea is not working. Discuss your feelings openly and honestly with trusted loved ones, mentor, coach or all of the above. Having a sounding board and different objective perspectives can really help to keep you from getting swallowed up in emotion and making skewed decisions.
  • Revisit your customer comments and testimonials to remind yourself how you have helped others. Often when I feel like giving up, I have divine encounters when I run into someone who is glowing about how much they enjoyed a presentation, class, workshop, or episode of my TV show. It helps me to keep the true beneficiaries of what I do in my gaze and not my feelings.
  • Find time to get away, regroup, meditate, pray, and maintain focus. This is important. We all need the time away, especially as women who try to do all and be all and hold it all together by ourselves. It is critical that you deal with your ‘stuff’ or your inner life as sometimes our destructive patterns hinder our own success and we self-sabotage, telling ourselves that the self-fulfilling prophecy was bound to happen when it does.
  • And if you have to close your doors, don’t think of it as a failure but as a courageous risk taken to go after your dreams. Look at it as a chance to try a new strategy. Sometimes it’s about timing, location, people, or planning. Examine your business idea and more importantly read the stories of those who tried, lost and re-emerged better than before to encourage you to keep pressing on. Our greatest glory of is in never falling, but in rising ever time we fall. ~ Confucius 
  • The greatest lesson to be learned from trials is that they come to make us better, firstly as a person, then as a business owner and leader. Just like in school, challenges will come, but the only way to graduate to the next dimension of growth and celebration is to pass the tests. In the famous words of Langston Hughes: “hold fast to dreams” because life without them is limited, barren, and bleak; life in pursuit of dreams is limitless, productive, and meaningful.

You Own Your Busines: But Do You Own Your Story?

Author: Lissa Cowan

You own your business, but do you own your story? How this one simple thing can help increase personal motivation and lead to greater success.

The Small Business Association reports that over 50 per cent of small businesses fail in the first five years. Some of the obvious reasons are lack of experience, poor location or not enough money. Although we rarely hear about less obvious reasons for business failure such as, not communicating our business story in a way that’s meaningful to our customers.

We all know a handful of people who love their jobs and can hardly wait to wake up and start their workday. Their enthusiasm is positively infectious and, because they truly believe in their product or service, it is a no-brainer for customers to want to buy what they’re offering. Yet, if you fell into your business and haven’t really considered why you’re in business in the first place, then it’s harder for you to market your services with true conviction.

Lack of capital and poor location aside, the way you interact with your customers about your product or service is key to whether you sink or swim. Two companies might sell exactly the same product however one might be raking in millions while the other treads water. Part of this could relate to the fact that the successful one owns her story, while the other one does not.

So what does it mean to own one’s story? Let’s say that you sell specialty teas online and think your product is one of the best out there in terms of quality, taste and brand presentation. How will you communicate this to your customers in a way that holds meaning? Maybe, as a child, you came to love tea because your mother introduced it to you and the two of you would sit and share stories about your day while drinking tea. Rather than telling people it’s the greatest tea in the world, show them instead by recounting your story. Your business story is about connection, being heard, family and love - will create a shared value and attract people to your product because it gives them a direct way to experience your brand.

Owning your story means getting to the heart of why you do what you do, and communicating those values to others. When you create an impacting story that resonates, you connect with your customers as though you are having a conversation with each one of them directly. This relationship becomes more lasting and will — in the end — create a more successful business.

Here are a few questions and ideas to help you work or re-work your business story:
  1. What were some thoughts you had about your business when you first began?
  2. Was your product or service created to fill a personal need or fill a need for other people?
  3. Was it based on a happy experience you had as a child or adult?
  4. What are some ways you could tell your story that would be relatable to your customers?
  5. Write a story around your product or service that is meaningful to you and creates shared value for others.
People look for a way to connect to your product or service, and the quickest, most effective way for them to do that is through your business story. In your story, they will recognize themselves and relate more readily to what you’re offering. Shared-value stories help us feel that we belong and are part of something larger than ourselves. They make it more likely for customers to buy your product or service, to understand its inherent value and see how it will enhance their lives.

When you own your story, your customers stand up and take notice. Your strengthened connection to your customers in turn motivates you to continue to build on your impacting story while increasing overall interest and engagement.

About the Author >

Profile: Diane Kroe

Author: Dr. Cheryl Cottle

Cottle's Professional Consulting Women in Business profile for September (2011) is Diane Kroe of Diane Kroe Inc, a design and manufacturing company that specializes in clothing for women. It is a Toronto; Canada based business that operates out of Diane’s Studio. Diane Kroe is an experienced entrepreneur who started her retail business over ten years ago with a store under the label of Diane Kroe on one of Toronto’s busiest commercial centre, Avenue Road. Today Diane leads Diane Kroe Inc; creating apparels for women who love to travel. She calls it The Travel Collection designed for women who love to travel in style.

Diane’s clothing lines are for women who love to travel in style and are beautifully designed, feminine, versatile and flexible. In addition, Diane also designs a private label clothing collections for Canada’s leading spas and resorts. Diane is the primary designer for her labels and all of her products are made locally. She proudly notes, “all my work is manufactured in Canada making it ideal for the tourist industry.” Ms. Kroe supports the local economy by providing employment to others within her local and national community.

Although Diane has been an independent business woman and a designer of her own private labels for many years, she has worked in the fashion industry for over twenty years. Diane pointed out that “I studied Fashion Arts at Seneca College and Ryerson, but gained most of my expertise working for designers in the industry.” Diane also noted that she worked for a fashion designer ― Judy Sokoloski under the label Streetwear in the late 80’s and later working for X:S Clothing in the early 90’s and her experience in fashion design and manufacturing does not stop there: She also designed for an international importing company that specialized in apparel and in that position, she traveled and toured garment manufacturing companies around the world; gaining a great deal of skills and knowledge which she transfered to her own business.

Women in business, who tell their stories as to why they started their own businesses often say freedom but Diane contributes her “why” to “creative freedom”. She notes that "I started my own business mainly because it gave me creative freedom. “Working for other companies I had to work within their brand restrictions.” Under her own business and label Diane felt that she had the creative freedom to design from her heart. This latter rationale ― control over one’s time or control over one’s life and not being limited to a nine-to-five schedule, provided her with the opportunity to live the life that she wants, as well as allow her creativity to flow. Ms. Kroe also pointed out that “over time I started a family and it was important for me to have control over my schedule. I soon realized that self-employment was perfect for my chosen lifestyle.”

Ms. Kroe describes the structure of her company as “quite simple” and adds that “I do (clothing) shows twice a year featuring my Travel Collection. I visit cities across Canada which takes me approximately 6 weeks each season.” She also adds that “in-between I supply spas and resorts with their merchandise from my Signature Spa Collection ― this I can do from anywhere by computer.” Diane states that “I chose this type of structure because I work hard for 12 weeks a year allowing me to be free the rest of the time.” This business structure is also perfect for Daine’s “chosen lifestyle” and it provides her with the opportunity to spend quality time with her family. She notes that “also my husband works in the film industry and is often on locations around the world so this business model allows me the flexibility I need for us to spend quality family time around his crazy schedule.”

Diane also faced challenges in her entrepreneurial journey, but she has found ways to minimize them. She noted that “being profitable while having freedom and flexibility were always a challenge for me” but she shares her strategies that worked for her to find a balance between maximizing her profit and maintaining her freedom and flexibility. She therefore notes that “many people believe you have to give up one for the other. In my case I did some research and learned how to automate a large portion of my work. I also learned how to reduce my overhead by working from home and farming out work rather than having the responsibility of hiring employees. I focus my time on products that bring me a higher gross profit margin and let people find me for the lower profit items. I no longer have to waste time traveling to work ― now I spend more time creating new designs and connecting with my clientele through social media.”

For most women in business, finance has been their number one challenge. How do I finance my business idea so that it can grow into a start-up and blossom into a successful business? This is a common question asked. Diane noted that “yes it was definitely a challenge” and elaborated that “I worked full time for a designer and worked on the weekend as a waitress to save up capital to start my business.” She also noted that “I had great moral support from my family but no financial support as my father was an entrepreneur himself and had suffered a stroke in his prime losing his business.” While she did not receive financial support from her father, she received invaluable advice which she used to build her business. She proudly adds “he guided me and taught me many valuable lessons. I eventually got a small business loan to expand and now my business finances it self.”

While most women entrepreneur would say that the business strategies that they use that works for them are networking, having a mentor, marketing and business promotion, direct sales and or social media, Diane shares with us that her strategy is maintaining a manageable pace so that she can effectively manage her business. She shares with us why this is so important to her. She says, “My strategy is to remain at a steady manageable pace. Growing a business is not always profitable. Many people are mistaken with what it means to be successful. To me success is the luxury of having a profitable business that I love and to have an abundance of quality time with my friends and family while enjoying life to its fullest. It took me many years to come to this realization and learned the hard way.”

Computer-based technology plays an important role in Diane Kroe’s design and manufacturing business. Diane uses the computer and the internet to reach her clients world wide; and it allows her to process her orders, shipment and handling and process her payments. Ms. Kroe notes that “my computer allows me to work from anywhere in the world. I can run my business from the dock at my lake house or an airport while traveling. I connect with my customers on Facebook and Twitter and customer orders are automatically processed through Pay Pal. Signature Spa orders are shipped direct from the contractors so there are minimal problems while I’m away.”

In response to the question, what is your personal philosophy and how has it transcends your business philosophy, Diane provides us with an answer that shows how her personal and business philosophy impact her management style, creativity and designs. Diane notes “My business philosophy is less is more and change is everything. By less is more I try to create clothing that allow my customers to have less fashion and more style. “Fashion comes and goes but style is forever” ~Yves Saint Laurent.” She also notes that “structuring your business right allows you to work less while having more fun. I also believe that change is the foundation of life, so I base all of my designs on change. Life changes, our mood and circumstances also change, so I prefer creating designs that accommodate change."

Finding balance between work, self and family is often a difficult feat for most women entrepreneurs, particularly those with a family. I have spoken with many women entrepreneurs who noted that their most creative and productive time is when their children are at school or when they are asleep. Diane notes that to find balance, she makes a to-do- list and structure her time to get things done when her children are at school. She also notes that she too “work at night while they are in bed" and goes on to say that “I will work hard before a vacation so when I’m away I can focus on family time.”

Diane’s recommendation to other women entrepreneurs or women now thinking about entrepreneurship as a viable livelihood is a very long list of useful advice. Diane notes:
  1. First of all write down what success means to you then structure your business around it 
  2. Always have realistic goals. 
  3. Delegate work that you are not good at. For me it’s bookkeeping and accounting 
  4. Always pay your taxes. It will cost you more in the long run if not done properly and on time 
  5. Avoid partnerships, employees and overhead for as long as you can.
  6. Have a solid business plan and write it yourself. It will be the map to follow while building your business 
  7. Be grounded spiritually . . . do fair business and good things will happen (if you do unfair business bad karma will be at your heels) 
  8. Keep learning, reading and evolving 
  9. Take care of your self. When self employed if you are not well your business won’t do well
  10. Make sure to do something you are passionate about otherwise you’ll loose interest when times are tough 
  11. If you are planning to use the social media for promoting your brand make sure to minimize personal information The internet is a very powerful tool. Use it wisely
Diane also has future plans for Diane Kroe Inc. She notes that “in the future I would like to have my Signature Collection in Spas and Resorts world wide and would like to build a solid customer base for my Travel Collection while increasing my online sales. She would also like to increase her clientele across Canada by doing shows in each city twice a year.

This article was first published in 2011 on Women in Business Networking and Leadership Group.

Diane Kroe Inc.

Turning Your Craft Into Business

Author: Yvette-Michelle Cottle Darby

When I was a child I spent hours creating. I explored every form of craft that I got an opportunity to learn about. When it came time to pursue a career later in life, I started off studying the sciences. It was something that I enjoyed, but I discovered I was not passionate about. Taking the path to follow my passion meant that I had to embark on a whole new learning experience. I had to ask myself what it is that I saw myself coming for many years to come and identify how I was going to get there.

The first craft fair that I attended, I remember taking a collection of items I had sewn and some of my handmade jewellery. I was not sure what people would like, but used the feedback from friends and family as a guide. I do not recall making a profit at my first show, I am sure that if I was lucky I must have just broken even. However, what I do remember is the amazing feeling of my first sale. It felt amazing that someone I did not know really liked my work and was willing to purchase it. I was blown away by the thought that something that I had created was now some else's little treasure.

Over the years my creative journey has been steady but has taken a few twist and turns. My work has evolved and I have gained so much knowledge about how to manage a creative business. Much of this knowledge have been gained through trial and error. I have also had to step out of my comfort zone on occasion and have gained a diverse amount of skills. However, twenty years later the same amazing feeling remains when someone purchases my work. Seeing my ideas transformed into something new continues to fill me with joy and a sense of accomplishment. I cannot envision my life without creativity.

One can decide to nurture their creativity through a hobby and feel a sense of fulfilment by sharing their creations with friends and family. They may even choose to keep their creations private. However, for many the desire to live a creative life extends into transforming their creativity into business. Creating and being able to support yourself and your family through your creations can be a fulfilling and economically viable career path.

Over the years I have spoken to and assisted others in this transition. Some common questions have been; How can I make a viable living with my creative works? How do I price my work? How do I overcome the challenge of shifting between artist, designer or maker to that of sales agent?

Business Potential
With any business venture it is important to identify the viability of your business. Determine if there is a market for what you do and how you will reach your target audience. A creative business is no different than other businesses in this capacity. It is important to have an in-depth understanding of your market and having a plan is crucial to your businesses growth and survival.

I have found that pricing is a challenge that many creative entrepreneurs face. The pricing is not just about the materials and time spent in creating, but placing a price on creativity. This becomes a challenge on several levels, because the balance between what the market will bear is also a factor. How does one quantify their creativity? How unique are your creations? What value does your potential clients place on your work? These questions will address the salability of your work.

Your price will also be influenced by what others are doing in your industry. Having an understanding of the overall industry can be valuable and when it comes to pricing and being up to date on what is happening to influence the market, the availability of supplies and the cost of getting it to market.

If you are not confident approaching others and selling your work, that is one area where I strongly suggest seeking the skills of another. However, like so many things, practice can make perfect. Presenting the value of your work and having the ability to connect with those that can appreciate your work can take time. The more you provide yourself with opportunities to connect with others on your work the more proficient you will become with selling your work. An agent or other professional may also be invaluable.

Online platforms have made getting your work to market easier than ever. The options available today means that you can have your work sell itself with the aid of some well chosen descriptors. This provides you with an opportunity to connect with those interested in your work at a global level. It also means that the focus can be on your work and less so on your "sales pitch."

The Transition
Moving from a "regular day job" and predictable pay-cheque is a big decision, and should be made with some thought. Take the time to learn about the creative business sector you are interested in working. Ask others about their experiences and seek the expertise of others that can fill-in the gaps in your own skills. If you have a partner or family, discuss with them your desires and plan a strategy that will work best for all those involved.

Creative Business Industry
The creative business industry is a viable and growing industry globally. However, as with any change in ones life entering with a plan can save you valuable time and money. Having an understanding of your strengths and weaknesses is also important and knowing how to work within your resources.

A creative business can be rewarding on many levels. I hope that if you are considering this carrier and life path that you will find the fulfilment you seek. We all define success differently, so I hope you find your success and an opportunity to live the creative life you want.

Creativity in Business: The Importance of Passion and Creativity

Author: Lyn Lucas

I want to first say that I feel privileged and honored to receive Lyn Lucas’s story. Thanks for sharing your love, passion, pain, achievements and accomplishments. I will certainly pass on the mantel of encouragement and empowerment to other women internationally. I strongly believe our shared experiences are priceless. So it is with great honor and love I share your story Lyn.

This story is intended to motivate and inspire you to follow your vision and passion. Many of us use our age as a deterrent factor and so we don’t do. We don’t push to achieve our dreams. Many of us say “I am too old now”, “what sense will it make for me to go back to school; or it’s now to late to pick up ballet.” It is my dream to complete a PhD in Psychology, and I think that I will pursue it. I heard my daughter today telling her mother-in-law, “my mother was not so much a neat freak as her mom, but she had a place for everything, and every where was paper or books. She was always either studying for a test or writing a research paper.” I realized then that I should be back studying. I should be back in school pursing my degree in psychology. Although I completed by doctorate in education and often felt that psychology is where I should be. So I will look into that, to make sure that when the end comes, I would have painted my canvas with every color of the world. I should have lived a life with no regrets. Please read Lyn Lucas’s story. She has shared it with us. It just might empower you.

Creativity in Business - The importance of Passion and Challenges Faced by Women and How to Overcome them


Whose story am I sharing? Hi, my name is Lyn Lucas; I am a Lawyer specializing in Family Law, and the Owner of Online Divorce Lawyer. I manage this online business as a division of my law practice, Lucas & Associates, Lawyers and Mediators in Newcastle, NSW, Australia. Over a period of almost twenty years I have helped hundreds of clients to resolve their property and children’s issues, and enabled them to move forward in their lives. I am 70 years of age, and studied Law as a mature aged student, qualifying at the age of 52.
Lyn loves a Challenge I enjoy a challenge, and at times these have come thick and fast! I am grateful for the opportunity to tell you a part of my story and hope I can inspire you to squarely face up to challenges, learn from your mistakes, and believe that you are never too old to follow your dream.

Lyn’s position in Law For most of my working life I was employed as a Legal Secretary, then as a Law Clerk. My first marriage became a little shaky in 1986 so I decided to increase my skills to improve my financial position. I had met and worked with many lawyers and believed that “If they can do it, so can I.” Initially I enrolled for a twelve month Open Foundation Course through the University of Newcastle – it was a long time since I had left school and I wanted to brush up on researching, writing assignments, and studying.

I needed to continue to earn an income, so I enrolled in an external law course at the University of Sydney, continued working full time with a medium-size law firm, studying and completing assignments, and attending lectures in Sydney on two weekends each semester. Discrimination of women in the legal field . . . equally pay for men and women was unheard of. Dealing with discrimination, harassment and unlawful dismissal.

Lyn Deal with discrimination in the Workplace
At that time there was still discrimination against women in the legal field, although my employers were supportive in paying for my text books, and allowing me a week’s study leave twice a year prior to exams. About six months prior to my final exams I had an annual staff review and feeling very brave, asked that once I was admitted as a lawyer I be treated the same as the male lawyers in the firm, and be paid an equivalent salary. I certainly didn’t think this was unreasonable as I had more experience than some of them, and brought in higher fees. However the knee jerk reaction of the Managing Partner and Practice Manager was truly amazing – how dare I ask for equality! Thereafter, followed six months of hell, including allegations of misconduct and criticism of my work, obviously attempts to force me to resign. I was at a critical stage of my study and could not consider resigning and losing wages, so I continued on as usual, until finally the Managing Partner terminated my employment with no real reason other than I was obviously unhappy and nothing was going to change.
I had learned a strong work ethic from my parents (I can’t remember my father ever having a sick day) and I was totally devastated after being “fired”. I had just finished my final exams, but once my employment was terminated I had real fears as to future employment and whether I would be granted an exemption from attending a six month course at the College of Law. Graduates who had gained practical experience during their studies were normally granted an exemption, but I was not sure that my employer would provide the relevant evidence of my practical experience.
Workplace Stress and Discrimination On top of this drama, I was not even sure I would pass my final exams as I had suffered a stressful six months at work. I was paying a mortgage on my home (I had then separated from my first husband and struggled to purchase a home of my own) and I was fearful that my home would be lost if I had to attend the College. I would not be able to work during my College attendance and would have 5 hours travel each day to and from the College. And I didn’t have a job anyway! With support from family, mentors and friends I made an application for compensation for unfair dismissal against my former employer, and finally resolved a payment settlement that enabled me to survive financially until I found employment. I was also provided with the relevant evidence to allow me to obtain an exemption from attendance at the College of Law.

Stuff Happens For A reason, and there is a positive for very negative and I have the ability to pick myself up, dust myself down and get on with it I do believe that “stuff happens” for a reason, and there is a positive for every negative, and I do have an ability to pick myself up, dust myself down, and get on with it. Within a short period I was able to find casual work, then employment as a Lawyer working in Family Law, and in February 1999 I had the choice to open my own law practice – so I went for it!

Family Law has always been a passion, I feel satisfaction from being able to help people at a very emotional and traumatic time, and watch them come out the other end of the tunnel with the confidence and self respect and esteem they had lost after their separation. In 1995 I trained as a Mediator, and am able to bring these skills into my work of negotiating property settlements for my clients.

About five years ago I had the opportunity to be part of an online business offering services to clients purchasing and selling real estate. Joint venture partners included a website offering services to clients to list their homes for sale online, and other online businesses offering pre-purchase building inspections, insurance, finance and electrical inspections. A year or two later, with two business partners, we commenced an online business women’s membership site. A few years later, again with two business partners, we started a digital business and lifestyle magazine.

Lessons Learned I am no longer a part of those businesses, the first two businesses folded, and I resigned from the third. What have I learned from participating in those businesses? Certainly the hardest lesson is to choose your business partners carefully, make sure you know them well personally, that they are experienced business people who can demonstrate that they have previously operated successful businesses and that they share similar ethics and dreams for the business you plan to run together.

Another lesson I learned was to stick with your “core” business where you have the experience and knowledge to be an expert in your field, where you can find a niche within that field – then claim that niche, and dominate it. And so was born the concept of my new business, Online Divorce Lawyer. Law is my core business; I have 20 years experience in family law and the knowledge and credibility to be recognized as an expert in that field. Over the years I have helped hundreds of clients to resolve their disputes about where the children will live and the time they will spend with the other parent, and to divide their property. Because I have been through two divorces I have a great deal of empathy with my clients, and understand the grief they suffer after the loss of a partner and a future planned together, and the emotional trauma they suffer in having to go through court proceedings to resolve their disputes.

I created Online Divorce Lawyer for a couple of reasons - my frustration with the family law system and its effect on clients who are already suffering emotionally, and trying to find a business that I could manage from home in semi-retirement. The business is unique, I know of no other law practice similar to it in Australia. The Family Law Act is a federal act, the legislation is the same in each State, so I can represent clients nationally. The Family Law Act has gone through many amendments during the years I have practiced, each time trying to streamline and simplify a very difficult area of law, but it continues to cause frustration and emotional stress to many clients, particularly those who have agreed on how their property is to be divided, and they then discover they have to comply with the strict provisions of the Act. It causes problems to me when I have to explain to clients why costs are escalating because complying with the system has lengthened the procedure. Obviously costs increase when clients are in conflict and dispute, and the matter needs to be litigated to reach a resolution.
My niche is now to focus on, and work with, couples who are not in dispute and who do not want to go through the Family Law Court. In most cases they realize that their separation and division of property will be much easier if they can come to their own agreement (rather than have a judge make a decision for them about their children and/or property) and they will save costs. Legal costs come out of the property pool, so both parties lose out when thousands of dollars are paid to the Court and to lawyers, valuers, accountants and financial advisers.

The ripple effect of a separation and divorce is incredible – children and extended family are affected, friends are torn between which party they should support (and many friends simply walk away because it is too hard). My experience is that if couples can put their differences aside, and avoid bitterness and feelings of revenge, they can have a continuing civil relationship. This is imperative if there are children involved.

My focus is to save time, stress and legal costs for our clients. We provide simple solutions for difficult divorces, resulting in a saving of thousands of dollars in legal fees. Our efficient services assist our clients to experience an amicable divorce, and give certainty in the time it takes for their property settlement to be resolved, lessening the grief and trauma of a separation and divorce. So after many challenges along the way, I am now comfortable in having found my niche business, I have claimed it – and am now working toward dominating that niche, and making separation and divorce an easier road for my clients to travel.

About the Author >

I Know About Transitioning To a New Career Late in Life

Author: Judy Joseph McSheen

I know about transitioning to a new career late in life. I know now about the Joy and Power of Silence. I know about the Answers that Lie Within, if we remain still enough to tap into them. I know about the joy of uncovering the patterns in our lives that either propel us or impede us from achieving our life's purpose. I know about the struggle and conflict as my life purpose unfolded for me in slow motion and I had to be still and listen, rather than charge forth. I know about patience.

As a child I loved animals and dream that one day I would be a vet. That balloon was deflated when both my best friend and I applied to various Canadian vet schools and we were not accepted by any.
To me it made absolute sense at the time and no one attempted to dissuade me, I was good at chemistry in high school, so I combed the English universities to find a chemistry course that looked interesting. I applied, got accepted and I was off to become an Industrial Chemist. My best friend coincidentally applied to the same university to pursue a programme in Finance and International Banking and was also accepted.

Fortunately the course I selected was a “sandwich course”, so I had the opportunity to spend 15 months in the industry. It was during that time that I realised that research though my forte, was not my passion. I ended the final year of my first degree with a vow to develop my business skills, so I could enter a world where I could meet “lots of people from international backgrounds.” That led me to pursue a Masters degree in Export Management and International Business.

I graduated and returned home, thinking that I had struck gold, as my first job entailed researching industry sectors and interacting with a wide range of high ranking local and international diplomatic, business and political personnel. However, I was yet to define my career. What did I want to become? It was certainly a case of if you don’t know where you are going; any road will get you there. In hindsight, my being bright was not an asset, because it allowed me to perform to a high standard in whatever area I was placed, but I was yet to define what I wanted to do. I was yet to experience the restlessness of a search for the unrecoverable.

After eight years at managerial level, I left the corporate sector and established my own consultancy firm and simultaneously operated as an Associate Consultant to an international Brussels based organisation. The one constant was that I was still required to do conduct research and I was still collaborating with high level international business persons. Then the road turned again, as a friend recommended me for the position of CEO at a local firm. For the first time I said “no” to an offer to change direction. But then, a reputable businessman, with whom I also did associate consultancy work at the time, advised that I should take up the position. In his words “that is a no brainer for you. You will get the most experience that you will ever get anywhere” and so my “no” changed to yes.

Like a reed in the wind I was off again. Soon my Spanish was polished enough to negotiate with our Venezuelan suppliers. I was thrilled by the challenge of as a female, having to address a group of Spanish speaking businessmen in their own language. I started hesitantly with a translator and after about five minutes. Minutes, during which I had to “correct” the translator, I jumped in on my own. It was on one such trip to Venezuela that the tides turned again, as a supplier offered me distribution rights for his product. With no research, I accepted and flung myself into launching my own import and distribution business. I was fortunate, in that I was rapidly able to penetrate the local market.

What I had not catered for in my naiveté, was (i) unscrupulous individuals who began to bring in my products black market and undersell me and (ii) for a distribution business to be truly successful you need to carry an appropriate basket of products. I saw my profit margins declining and simultaneously the crime situation in my country commenced to worsen.
I had to make a decision for the first time in my life – what did I really want to do? What type of business did I want to be in? The answer was consultancy. And as I began to wonder about the specific type of consultancy service I would offer. I fell back into my cycle, as I received a call from a relative, inviting me to join an Organisation Development Consulting firm.

I literally joined, not clear as to what OD entailed, but knowing that my corporate experience, common sense and intelligence would be an asset. It was when I began to do my OD Certification Programme that I fully understood and appreciated the associated theory and concepts and their application. It was while doing my certification that I was exposed to meditation practice - a practice that was to transform my life. Through meditation, I became highly introspective and much more confident, clear and focussed on what I wanted to do, who I wanted to be.

By this time I had hit the 50 year mark. I was hesitant to leave the consulting firm. I convinced myself that it was primarily because of the family attachment - but meditation has a way of revealing truths. I recognised that my penchant for risks had died. As I reflected, I also realised that I was most alive when I took risks. Through my reflections, I also realised that I had begun to live two lives in parallel – a spiritual life and a professional life. I prayed to God that the two would become fully integrated. The period was to be one of turmoil in my late life.

One day I attended a seminar, in which one of the topics the facilitator covered was the need to Surrender if we want to achieve what you really want and that there is a time between leaving behind and achieving what you want when you are in free fall. You literally have nothing to hold onto. There is risk - an essential part of getting to where you want. My favourite visual of this is the ballerina leaping across the chasm. I tendered my resignation, effective that same month. There was a sense of relief in knowing what I had to leave behind, but a sense of anxiety in not knowing what would unfold. It is over these last three years that I have recreated, re-branded and found my whole self. It was during this period that I came to a full frontal and in your face understanding of Faith, Fear and Surrender.

It was during this period that the concept of Time Out Corporate and Personal Interventions emerged. I discovered very early in its development, that its potential is way more than I can imagine. As I am inspired, I add modules. There were many times during the last three years that I considered taking the easy way out and returning to corporate life. Each time the thought surfaced, it was snuffed out by an affirmation and reconfirmation that I was on my track. Not the track that the outer world keeps trying to define for me, but the track that my inner voice has placed me on. There is a deep sense of fulfilment that I experience, knowing that my spiritual and professional lives have been fully integrated.

My success I measure by the number of lives I positively impact as I continue my journey. My dream - that the Time Out concept will take root locally, regionally and internationally.

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