Posts tagged ‘Michele Rhoten’

August 14, 2008

Work-Life Balance- Maybe you can’t do balance?

Everyone wants balance. Is there such a thing? Clients hire me as a coach for this reason just as often as the clients who want more time and money.


In order to get some power with this concept lets shift how we think about balance. We tend to think of balance in terms of equal time to equal areas in our lives. In our minds, we relate to balance this way even though we know it isn’t possible to spend equal time to equal areas in our lives. Especially, when our work, for most of us, takes up more than half of our waking hours each day.


Let’s use a metaphor: Imagine that achieving balance is like being a great juggler. The balls you juggle represent areas of your life. What makes a great juggler is not that they are great at keeping the balls in the air at all times. What makes a great juggler is that they are great at getting the ball that has fallen, back in the air with relative ease and speed.


See if you recognize what type of juggler you are with these examples:


·        Do you ignore the balls, eventually tripping over them?

·        Do you spend a great deal of time and energy analyzing the balls on the ground as if understanding their state will help pick them up?

·        Do you stay upset because balls keep dropping, making the balls harder to keep up or pick up?

·        Do you create formulas and go to training for keeping the balls in the air, until confronted with the fact that balls drop, that’s what they do?


I have learned from my “wise” clients that balance is about noticing what is out and gracefully putting it back in. Balance is a dance with life. It has nothing to do with time or time management; rather it has everything to do with choosing what is important to you, choosing what is valuable to you and your level of attention to it.


Let’s address each juggling tendency and how to remedy it (you could have more than one):


·        If you ignore areas until a crisis of sorts occurs: Do an assessment of what actions, projects or practices would help. Start with easy items to check off your list first. For example if you ignore your financial well being in general. Your list may look like: see a financial planner, finish tax return, and turn in rebate on computer just purchased. Then start with what you perceive is easiest. As we free up the energy used to procrastinate we gain energy for the more difficult issues to address.

·        If you tend to assess and analyze rather than be in action: Get an accountability partner (coach, partner, or mentor) who will help develop a plan and assist you to stay in action.

·        If you feel overwhelmed and stressed from all there is to do: Focus on extreme self care to reduce anxiety and gain focus. For example: exercise, meditation, quiet time, and reading. You know what you need. Also focus on creating space in your life and business.  Throw unneeded items out. Give away things, projects and tasks. Hire someone to do it. Let go of extracurricular activities unless it adds to your extreme self care.

·        If you tend to be scattered trying to do it all and end up doing none of it well. Have a sit down with someone who knows you well and start committing to what matters most and eliminating what doesn’t. Mastery is a function of choosing what is important to you and going deep into that area. Not everything deserves your attention, choose and eliminate.


Once again, what makes a great juggler is not that they are great at keeping the balls in the air at all times. What makes a great juggler is that they are great at getting the ball that has fallen, back in the air with relative ease and speed.


Is it time to pick up that ball?


“Just as your car runs more smoothly and requires less energy to go faster and farther when the wheels are in perfect alignment, you perform better when your thoughts, feelings, emotions, goals, and values are in balance.” Brian Tracy



About the Author Alicia Fruin 


Owner of Profit Consulting Co., Alicia has become a leader in the field of coaching, consulting and training for small business. She has designed more than 80 custom training programs for hundreds of business owners in a variety of industries across the country. In addition, Alicia has coached managers, presidents and sales professionals on how to build a business truly worth having!

August 14, 2008

Embracing Business Crisis

“Without the strength to endure the crisis, one will not see the opportunity within. It is within the process of endurance that opportunity reveals itself.”

Chin-Ning Chu


Crisis is often an entry point; an opportunity to get real, tell the truth about our selves and our business. Definition of Crisis -The moment in which we know without a doubt that if we don’t make changes with ourselves and in our business we will lose. Unfortunately, at this point we usually have already lost quite a bit, which is what makes it a crisis! 


Understandably no one hopes for a crisis. Certainly this applies to our business or organization. Most of us as leaders would probably say one of our primary responsibilities is to prevent a crisis from ever occurring.

However, I have found that powerful lessons for all of us can be found in the middle of a business crisis. It isn’t uncommon for a leader to say, “Our staff has never pulled together more than when we were facing a crisis.” Possibly it’s the very real prospect of going out of business, facing a public relations catastrophe or even a natural disaster that causes people to unite.

And although this may not seem surprising, it does beg the question, “why?” Why do people set aside their usual disagreements and petty politics in the midst of a crisis?

I found one possible answer while contemplating teams and organizations that live in a perpetual state of daily crisis. Consider firefighters or soldiers in the midst of war.


At those moments, these are certainly some of the least political and divisive teams that you’ll find. For them, disagreement about budgets and lines of responsibility are ludicrous, or even worse, deadly. And that’s the point. When the stakes are clear and high, you know… life or death. Well-intentioned people can’t help but focus on the prevailing task at hand. Which is exactly what happens to businesses in crisis: they get focused around a compelling, over-arching goal. They put aside their egos and differences for the common good of the team or business.


We innately know this about ourselves and people which is why I personally believe some businesses create an ongoing atmosphere of chaos or crisis. Consider that there is another way, another option for focusing on the important and the common good. A way to stop avoiding the issue(s) and address what is not being said.


It starts with clear purposeful reasons to be in business, to do the job and to get the result. As the leader, it is your job to make sure your people have these:


·        A Vision

·        A Business purpose

·        Goals

·        Key measures for success in their own roles

·        Individual plans for growth and development 


“The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word ‘crisis’. One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger-but recognize the opportunity.”  John F. Kennedy


About the Author Alicia Fruin


Owner of Profit Consulting Co., Alicia Fruin has become a leader in the field of coaching, consulting and training for small business. She has designed more than 80 custom training programs for hundreds of business owners in a variety of industries across the country. In addition, Alicia has coached managers, presidents and sales professionals on how to build a business truly worth having!

August 14, 2008

Am I an Entrepreneur?

Businesses fail, and often. If you think you want to run your own business, but are not sure you can be a successful Entrepreneur, I am glad you are thinking about it… keep reading. How does an Entrepreneur think, act, and respond? Is your personality a fit for being a successful Entrepreneur? Do you have what it takes?


Until recently, Entrepreneurs were not well thought of. As recent as the 80’s we looked on them as un-educated business men involved in shady dealings. There was a general lack of knowledge and information about what makes them successful.


Big business was the place to be, now that’s all changed. Our generation and the ones after us expect so much more from our career/work than our parents did. We want money, satisfaction, self expression and flexible hours such as a 4 day work week and tele-commuting. We have more small businesses than ever before in our U.S. history. In addition, smaller businesses are now attracting great employees and competing with the corporate world by offering those employees exactly what they want.


Today we have books, courses and business coaches in abundance. Some universities now offer courses and degrees in entrepreneurship. Business professionals have vast resources and as a whole we have learned a lot about what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur. I realize there is probably no such thing as the perfect entrepreneurial profile, I have noticed that there are many characteristics that seem to show up repeatedly in my work as a business coach. So from my work with hundreds of entrepreneurs as a coach and trainer, this is my summary.

Successful Entrepreneurs are, have, or do…

Available – In small businesses, where there is no depth of management, the owner must be present to win. They can’t afford a support staff to cover all business roles, and therefore need to either work long hours; have very talented people or both.

Self-Motivated – Entrepreneurs do not function well in structured organizations and do not like someone having authority over them. Rules, bureaucracy and politics frustrate them. This is often what leads them to start their own business. They enjoy creating business strategies and thrive on the process of achieving their goals. Once they obtain a goal, they quickly move to a greater goal. They constantly look to the future vision of the business. They have a compelling drive to do their own thing in their own way. They value freedom over money.


Well-Being – Successful Entrepreneurs are physically sound and in good health. They can work for extended periods of time as needed. They understand the relationship between a healthy body and a sharp mind.


Practical-Pragmatic – Entrepreneurs can accept what is and what is not and deal with issues accordingly. They may or may not be idealistic, but they are rarely unrealistic. They want to know the facts and condition of a given situation at all times. They may be too trusting (because they are often idealist) and may not be sufficiently skeptical in their business dealings with other people.


Embrace Ambiguity – Entrepreneurs identify problems and begin working on their solution faster than other people. Uncertainty does not bother them because their Healthy Ego feels challenged and likes to solve problems. They are the natural “go to” person in the group or business.


Intelligence – Successful Entrepreneurs think fast on their feet. They can comprehend complex problems and circumstances that may require planning, strategy, or working on multiple business ideas at once. They have vision and are aware of important factors to consider. They are open minded and will consider different perspectives. They seem flexible and are not afraid to change direction when failing.


Healthy Ego – Entrepreneurs are confident when they feel in control of what they’re doing and often like to work alone. They tackle problems head on and quickly with confidence. They are persistent in problem solving and are not afraid of smart risks. They do well with adversity, because they thrive on their own level of confidence. Someone saying or thinking they can’t pull it off doesn’t bother them at all.


Urgency – Entrepreneurs have a sense of urgency. They have drive and high energy levels, they are achievement-oriented, and they are tireless in the pursuit of their goals.  Idleness makes them impatient, on edge, and anxious. They thrive on activity and are not likely to be found at the nail salon or golf course. When they are in the entrepreneurial mode, they are more likely to be found getting things done instead of all the other “to-do’s.”


Emotional Stability – Successful Entrepreneurs can handle stress and are even having fun! They are challenged rather than discouraged by setbacks or failures. Entrepreneurs are surprisingly uncomfortable when things are going well. This is when they will probably find a new project on which to focus their creative energy.


Ability to let go – Entrepreneurs are not always the best “people” people. They are often impatient and drive themselves and everyone around them. They also resist delegating key decisions or responsibilities. My favorite coaching question for the Entrepreneur is “who can help you with this?” It shakes them up every time.  It is not uncommon for the Entrepreneur to do the books, drive business development and buy the office supplies.


As the business grows and becomes an organization, Entrepreneurs go through a classic crisis (this is usually when they call us). They have become the bottle neck; their want for control has made it hard for them to hand over authority in the way that a growing business demands. Their strong direct approach makes them more likely to seek information directly from the source, bypassing the structured chains of authority and responsibility. Their interpersonal skills, which were adequate during the start-up phase, will cause them problems as they try to adjust and free themselves from the day to day operations. Cash flow, retention and low morale are symptoms of this issue.



Do you recognize yourself? Did you locate your likely strengths as an Entrepreneur? Did you identify potential barriers to your success? Awareness matters here. Focus on your strengths, be aware of your weaknesses and go for it!



Author Alicia Fruin–Owner of Profit Consulting Co., Alicia has become a leader in the field of coaching, consulting and training for small business. She has designed more than 80 custom training programs for hundreds of business owners in a variety of industries across the country. In addition, Alicia has coached managers, presidents and sales professionals on how to build a business truly worth having!

August 5, 2008

Finding the right Business Coach

Step #1 – Be clear about what you want. A good Business Coach is going to ask what it is that you want. While it may seem elementary, not everyone knows the answer to this question! Most people are not used to being asked what they want in life or in work. If it will help, start by listing all the things you know you do NOT want – and go from there. People hire coaches either because they want more of something or less of something else—or because they are facing a personal or professional dilemma. Still, others see something about coach that attracts them, whether they can articulate what that may be, or not.  The job of a coach is to model a great life and business!

Step #2 – Understand that Coaching is all about you! Coaching is about your life, your work, your goals, your needs, your desires, your dreams, your values, etc. – and NOT about the Coach’s life, work, goals, needs, desires, dreams, values, etc. This is your time and your space – and a trained and qualified coach is going to make this all about you! I like to think of it as offering my client a “sacred space” wherein they can come to share any and every thing on their mind and heart. In addition, like a fitting room, clients can try on new ideas like trying on a new suit of clothing – without fear of recrimination, competition, or judgment.


Step #3Interview More Than One Coach and have your own list of Questions Ready…The most important thing to look for in selecting a coach is finding someone with whom you feel you can easily relate in order to create and the most powerful partnership possible. Here are some questions you may want to ask prospective coaches: What is your coaching experience? (number of individuals you have coached, years of experience, types of situations, etc.); What is your coach specific training?  Do you hold an ICF or WABC Credential? Are you enrolled in an ICF Accredited Training Program? What are your coaching specialties or client areas you most often work in? What specialized skills or experience do you bring to your coaching? What is your philosophy about coaching? What is your specific process for coaching? (how sessions are conducted, frequency, etc.). What are some coaching success stories? (specific examples of individuals who have done well and examples of how you have added value). What is the average length of time you work with clients? What are your fees and how are they normally paid?


Step #4 – Retain your new Coach! 

When you are ready to retain the business coach that you have selected, be ready to do some work!  Most coaches will have you read over and sign a “Coaching Agreement” form that specifies the specifics you both have agreed upon with regard to the number and length of sessions per month; the initial duration of the coaching agreement; the agreed upon fee, etc. You may also be asked to sign a credit card authorization form to make convenient payments.

Alicia Fruin – Business Coach

August 5, 2008

Being “Open for business”

I have great admiration for small business owners. I love their entrepreneurial spirit, pioneering attitude, perseverance and strength. I am lucky enough to work with them daily as their business coach.


Through my role as coach, I am honored to witness courage in so many ways. The courage to expand and grow, the courage to ask for money, the courage to go after the big account, the courage to hire and fire when needed.


If you have never been an entrepreneur or known one, these activities might not seem like a big deal. In the beginning stages, small business owners are grappling with what they feel they can or cannot do. Their businesses are literally limited by their own self perception. For example: an owner who wants to double their revenue might have to learn how to let go and leverage themselves through others. So it makes sense that most entrepreneurs have to personally grow and develop themselves to move their businesses forward. Enter the business coach versus a consultant. A consultant is the expert and they advise.


So “What’s a business coach?” you ask? A business coach engages and facilitates focused dialogue. We challenge, inquire, provoke, cajole, inspire, offer support and collaborate with our clients on their business issues. Occasionally we give advice and consult a client when it is an area of expertise. Most of the time however, it is not about my wisdom. It is about the client’s wisdom. Coaches believe that the client has the answer.


Back to my point, in most cases the entrepreneur’s limiting beliefs are what is stopping the business from expanding. As limiting beliefs are identified the small business owner can see and be aware of new possibilities allowing for more awareness and choice. Finally this brings me to the title of the article. Are you “open for business”?


When we are “closed for business,” we already know how the business is, how our industry is and how our customers are, leaving no possibility or room for something else. Where there is certainty there is no possibility. We become frustrated and stuck.


Being “open for business” is about being aware of what your biases, limitations and limiting beliefs (filters) are and not letting that mindset run your business. When we are “open for business” we find opportunities and solve problems easily.  Okay, how do I do that” you say?


First get clear about your own filters by talking to a coach, asking your staff, interviewing your spouse or working with a mentor and then write them all down.


The next step is to identify how these filters have you stuck or stopped in your business. How do your limiting beliefs impact your business and its employees?


Then, make sure that you stay “open for business” by being engaged in conversations about your business with someone who knows what your filters are and is willing to say something when they come up. This could be an employee, partner, spouse, friend, mentor or coach.


You will be amazed at the difference this one shift from closed to open can make for your profitability and your sense of well being.


About the Author Alicia Fruin


Alicia is the owner of Profit Consulting Co., a business Education Company. They offer small business coaching, consulting and training. Alicia has designed over 80 customized training programs and led these programs for hundreds of business owners around the country in a variety of industries.  In addition, Alicia has coached managers, presidents and sales people on how to build a business truly worth having!

August 4, 2008

Working on your business

Most business owners are great at doing something.

Maybe you can create great graphic designs or cook well or maybe you have an eye for art? Somewhere along the way, you have taken what you are great at and turned it into a business.

If you have been successful at selling your product or your services, your business has likely grown over time, so you need more employees, more space, defined process and systems, and you probably need a vacation.

Because you have been a great designer, handyman or sales person there can be a strong pull to keep doing that work even after your business has grown after all its what you love to do, it is what you are good at. This is an example of working in your business. This happens to most if not all small business owners at one stage or another.

You may feel overwhelmed and overworked because you’re trying to take care of all areas in your business (making sales, your finances, customer service issues, even cleaning the toilets, etc).

You are like a one- man show even when there are people there working for you! This scenario is typical but it is not healthy for either you, your employees or the growth of your business. Why? Because you can only grow as big as your own ability to handle, everything and you most likely need to get a life.

Its time to stop working in your business as a technician and start working on your business as an owner!

Here are a few steps to get you started. Take a hard look at yourself and ask whether you are working in your business or on it.

·        Ask yourself “what are the two most important areas for me to focus on?” Are you sure? Are these in or on the business issues?

·        Now spend two hours a day at a minimum focusing on your top two “on the business issues”.

·        Make a commitment to remove yourself from repetitive tasks and assign them to competent employees.

·        You may need to redefine job descriptions, roles and accountabilities.

·        Be accountable to someone like a business coach or a key employee on a regular basis about the time you spend working on your business.

Working on your business will include activities such as;

·        Strategic planning for the next few years

·        Anticipating industry trends and positioning your company

·        Documenting business operating systems

·        Writing and implementing your marketing plan

·        Budgets and projections, recruiting and hiring key employees, evaluating your company culture.

·        Creating a plan for the culture you want and seeing it implemented

·        Networking in your community

·        Training for you and your employees


These are the activities that will keep your business healthy and growing, allowing your employees to thrive and develop. Best of all bringing you more time, freedom and probably more money!


Alicia Marie
Business Coaching and Training
Profit Consulting Co


Recommended reading – E Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber

August 4, 2008

Real Power

So what is real power, what is the nature of power? How do we access power? When do we feel powerless? Is there a difference between real power and conventional power? Dwelling in these questions has in and of itself affected my life. When I ask these questions, I am filled with insights into my own internal and external motivations. It is my intention to share these insights here and to leave you knowing that you already have all that it takes to be authentically powerful!


It seems part of our confusion about power is in the different meanings we have for power and how we view power.


So, “What is power”? The conventional view is typically expressed as control, authority, status or strength. Often, when using the word power, we have in mind the idea of controlling the actions of someone or something. We speak of will power or controlling our behavior or controlling our children, etc.


In George Orwell’s 1984, the main character Winston (I named my oldest son after him) is considering the control based society in which he lives and comes to the realization, “they can make you do and say anything but they can’t make you believe it.” So perhaps power, viewed as control is an illusion.


Frequently we mean strength when we use the word power.

We refer to physically strong people as powerful. We might call a nation powerful based on its military strength. In other words, the ability to inflict harm by a person, group or nation. At its very core all this is, is intimidation, bullying and it generates fear. So perhaps power, as strength is an illusion.


Power as authority? Most of our society is set up as such. We all know that just because someone has authority, it does not give them power. How many figureheads have we seen in large companies? How many times have we “pulled rank” on our children “because I said so!” just to have it backfire on us later?


What we have learned and often teach our children is that by virtue of position, people in authority have power. For example: teachers, parents, and police officers. Power through authority, an illusion maybe? At its best, it is not consistently effective or sustainable. I would also say that this belief system leaves the vast majority of us feeling powerless!


Climbing the ladder of success? This is the one I believe to be the most addictive, the attempt to find a suitable place for ourselves within a hierarchy or ranking system. Could be in our neighborhood, could be in the PTA, could be at your place of business, or even within your family. Ranking or status can be based on wealth, prestige and physical attributes. Look at how we revere our athletes or education, a PhD behind your name, now there is power.


See if you recognize yourself just a little here: “If I could just have some of these attributes like more education, more beauty or more money, I could have the power to control circumstances to my advantage; others will look up to me. I will feel happy and accepted.”


My definition of real power: Real power is about being able to transform results into a sustainable reality. It is also the capacity to translate your intention into reality. Webster’s definition, which I also like… the ability to act or produce an effect.


Conventional power has us react to life in fear, seeking control, force or status, hiding behind all the things we are not, the notion or belief in conventional power is in and of itself what holds you back from experiencing real power.


We have all experienced real power before. Some of us daily, some of us have moments at a time and others of us even less often. Take a moment and remember your last experience of real power. What were the qualities or circumstances of that experience?


Real power is identifiable by its absence of fear. Imagine the power of someone who is no longer ruled by fear, someone who is, therefore, immune to manipulation and control by others, someone who has moved to a new level of awareness. Imagine the quiet confidence and power of someone who is no longer addicted to the approval and affirmation of others, someone who is in touch with his or her real self. Imagine that this person is whole and complete even without their job, or their family or their status. Now imagine that this person with this quiet confidence, this person who no longer needs approval is you, think about it, what would life be like? What could you do in your business? Now imagine what you could do in your life!


Alicia Fruin – Owner of Profit Consulting Co.

Specializing in business education, all of our programs combine solid business strategy coupled with our expertise of how people learn and grow.

August 4, 2008

Well-Being: The missing ingredient to success!

Well-being is commonly used in philosophy to describe what is ultimately good for a person. Well-being is both subjective and personal.


I am so fortunate to work daily with successful, talented and passionate business owners! They are driven, have vision, work ethic and a strong moral compass. Far too often, their extreme business focus has left them unbalanced and often unhealthy. The effects are everywhere, in their relationships, their environment, and their finances and yes even their beloved business. Everyone around them sees the tired eyes with dark circles, the extra weight, not to mention the stressed out, adrenaline crazed look on their face.


Yes, we all see it, the employees, customers, the spouse, the children, and yours truly the business coach. In a very dignified way, my clients share their full schedules and often dialogue with me for strategic time saving techniques. Behind the words, the pragmatic tone, the professional guise, it seems as though they are really saying “please, I can’t take one more thing, I am exhausted, spent, when is it my time? HELP, I need space.” Through the telephone, I seem to be able to hear the quiet desperation behind each business conversation.


Maybe not the first call or even the first month but it isn’t long before I go there. “Tell me about how you take care of yourself?” or “How do you re-energize and stay focused?” I say. A loud silence follows then a muffled stutter “Well I took my kids to the zoo last month, ummm I guess I get my energy from work, ummm, that’s all I seem to do?” long sigh.


Remember these are highly intelligent, powerful and successful people, so of course, their employees do not say anything. Ditto for their spouses…maybe a thoughtful friend says a word or two about possibly needing time off but no one really says what everyone is thinking…take time off, you look awful, or even better you than me!


I understand. I really do, I own a small business too. The to-do list is never ending! Add to that the value we place as a society on self-sacrificing hard work, making money, getting ahead. Even the value “family first” can leave a well-meaning person feeling drained.


We all know we need to move our bodies and eat well to thrive physically. Add to that prayer or meditation for your spirit and mind. Let us not leave out loving relationships for our emotional well-being. So why is well–being seemingly expendable? Is the payoff worth the cost?


Each call I chip away at my hard working clients…getting them to take time off here and find some space there. Maybe they decide to go for a morning walk or stop drinking soda. Sometimes they just need permission from someone and make dramatic changes on their own. Always, Always, Always it elevates their business in both profit and productivity.


If you recognize yourself here, I ask that you use the same intelligence, creative spirit and drive that you used to start your business and take care of yourself. Trust that other entrepreneurs have taken the well-being challenge as well and have greatly improved their businesses but more importantly their lives!


Alicia Fruin

Business Coach