Is Running A Business Like Bathing A Cat?

Obviously enjoying the experience

Obviously enjoying the experience

An important business lesson can be gleaned from the correlation between running a business and bathing a cat.

A Twitter friend, @alohabruce, recently tweeted that he was going to give their cat a bath. I immediately conjured up images of him donning armor as if preparing for battle with the wife close behind with a 2′ fishing net. I saw a wet figure with shredded gloves and sweat on the brow.

The next day I inquired how it went. He said the cat loves bathing and they both enjoy what amounts to a precious bonding experience. Hmmm, I still have my doubts but I can see the possibility in my mind now. It dawned on me that many people perceive running a business the same way I did bathing a cat.

I used to believe that everything fell on a side—right or wrong, good or bad, easy or hard. It took me a long time to realize that our perception creates our realities. It’s why two people can look at the very same situation and see two completely different things.

My point is—perception is powerful. Don’t let your perceptions undermine your success.

As we grapple through a challenging recession and try to redefine ourselves many people are starting new businesses. Others are playing the “who will survive” game with existing businesses.  Here are five ways to stay on the winning side of perceptions:

Address your doubts

Do you wonder if your business idea is good enough to warrant the risk of starting or expanding a business? Talk to business people, potential clients and, for that matter, complete strangers. Ask what they think about your idea.  Would they use it? Do they need it? What would they pay for it? You get the idea.

You may still wake in the middle of the night wondering. The key is to move the scale to a favorable point in your mind. If you can’t move it there, don’t fight it—move on. I’ve discarded tons of ideas that I initially perceived to be brilliant.

Know it’s better to be smart than right

Research your ideas and the industry. When you’re done, research it more. The more you know the less you have to fear. You’re also less likely to base your decisions on your perceptions alone.

Don’t wait, do something

Friends and associates have heard me say far too many times—“I had that idea! If only…” These are not ideas that ended up in the discard pile mind you. These, I’m sorry to say, can be found in the, Vicki took no action, pile.

They were perceived as too expensive to pursue or too far out of my realm of knowledge and ability. Tsk on me! I let perception get in the way of letting me make an informed decision.

Filter information

Although I previously told you to field your idea to lots of folks, you have to sift through their thoughts and see how they mesh with yours. How many times have you heard someone say—“If it were a good idea, someone would’ve done it already”?

Just imagine how many great inventions would have never come to fruition if the inventors listened only to the naysayers and let their perceptions become their own.

Broaden your experiences and viewpoints

It’s said that you don’t know someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. This old American proverb needn’t be taken literally but it makes a valid point. Keep in mind potential clients come from a variety of experiences. Never assume you know what they need or want.

Make a practice of stepping out of your comfort zone. Strive to experience life from many points of view. Before you know it, the boundaries of your perceptions will grow exponentially.

If you’re not following me on Twitter, chalk it up to a new experience and start following me @vickidar. I’ll be watching for you. Let me know you found me here!

Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go. ~ T.S. Eliot


The Art of Traveling Well

Tips that will help whether you're travel one night or twenty

Tips that will help whether you're travel one night or twenty

Tips for carefree travel

Over the years, I’ve spent more and more time traveling—frequent short trips back and forth across the state and other more distant jaunts spanning the globe. Whether you travel occasionally or frequently for business or pleasure, these tips should help you feel on top of your game.

Wheels, wheels, wheels If your luggage doesn’t have wheels, give it away. This includes your computer/shoulder bag. This is especially critical, as airlines have made the switch to the one bag only rule. Get a computer bag with wheels and a little extra space. Many times it has saved the day when my too full suitcase was over the weight limit.

Pack light  Be creative Think double duty. Don’t even attempt to cover every possible situation. You never have as much time to do everything you thought you would. Think layers and coordinating, interchangeable items. Accessorize up and down. The same camisole can work on the beach and dressed up for dinner later that evening. Choose shoes that transition well between casual and dressy.

Even if you travel just a few times a year, keep a fully stocked ready to roll toiletry bag. It’s inevitable you will forget things if you try gather what you need just before departing. It’s worth the investment to buy a second set of the things you use daily. You can also pick up some small travel containers and fill those for your second set to save some money. Check and refill anything that needs attention when you return and you’ll be set for the next trip. has Q10 Facial Film Soap (paper thin tiny sheets of face cleanser) that is oh so portable and feels great on your skin.

On a side note, I’ve become a sunscreen fanatic. When you’re traveling, the sun is sure to find you. As I gain on the big 5-0, I admit, it’s sheer vanity as much as a concern for battling the health hazards of the sun that I am not without my protection. For both reasons, though, I encourage you to always use sunscreen. There are small handy dandy sunscreen sticks that look like giant lip balm and Peter Thomas Roth makes a great SPF 30 self-contained brush and mineral powder.

A computer in your pocket The popularity of the iPhone, Blackberry and likes is not without reason. I can do many of the tasks on my iPhone that I usually do on my computer. I have access to my email, twitter and facebook accounts. I can check the weather, the tides and the status of my flight. I can look for a nearby restaurant. The list is endless. Good or bad—productivity need never stop.

The virtual world Recently, I did a post about our virtual receptionist. Any of us can be anywhere and the phone system will find us (what’s that saying?…you can run but you can’t hide). I also recently switched to a virtual merchant account. No longer does anyone need to be in the office, at the terminal, to process credit cards. Bills are now paid online saving time, paper and stamps. Newspaper delivery can be stopped and started online. Look for ways to manage mundane tasks better.

Entertainment at your fingertips Watching movies is in my top five to-dos. I tried Netflix when it first hit the market but quickly tired of the wait time between DVD deliveries (usually no fault of Netflix but more my failure to drop the DVD in the mail). The new and improved version of this convenient movie and more service fills the wait voids with unlimited use of its streaming video library. Yep, that’s right; picture Masterpiece Theatre on one side of your screen with a spreadsheet on the other.

Amazon’s Kindle deserves a mention here, also. This wonderful, lightweight little gem lets you download books and magazines from any location. I have to admit, I didn’t think I’d like giving up the feeling of turning the pages of a book but I love my Kindle.

You gotta eat Speaking of Amazon, I am a frequent visitor and customer. One of my favorite food items, and many others, are now available on a subscription basis. My case of GoGo Steamed Rice Bowls (scrumptious little containers that produce two servings of perfectly cooked organic brown rice in a mere 90 seconds ala microwave!) arrives on schedule every other month. Not only does it save me the trouble of remembering to reorder but it also lowers my cost and awards me with free shipping. And yes, my shelf safe (kind of a scary term but sometimes a girl has to do what a girl has to do when the rice cooker has to stay behind) rice often travels with me.

Eating out is always one of the delights of travel. It’s fun to try new places. Its also all too easy to skip meals or on the other end of the spectrum, eat too much of the wrong things at the wrong times. I used to feel a little vegetable deprived when I was on the road but have found that most restaurants will gladly substitute veggies for part of your dish—even at breakfast!

Another good idea is to make your own trail mix packets. Keep these will you always and you’ll never get to the hunger point that will have you grabbing a candy bar to chug with your fifth cup of coffee. Much of the trail mix you find on the store shelves has a high percentage of dried fruit that often contains other preservatives. Nuts are a great source of protein and a satisfying snack. Opt for fresh fruit instead. And, lastly, stay hydrated. Use a water bottle for not only easy portability but to remind yourself that you need another twelve ounces.

I could go on but this post has grown rather long and there’s always another day!  Happy travels. For my closing thought…

No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow. ~Lin Yutang

Let Your Passion Set You Free OR Help! I’m Scared!

Put your passion to work

Put your passion to work

When you think about passion, does it conjure up visions of two people intertwined in a passionate embrace. Whether you’re romantically involved or not, seek to integrate passion into your everyday lives. Passion can fuel your energy better than a cup of coffee and help you navigate through resistance.
A young friend and I have been discussing her desire to start a business. Sam, my friend, is brimming with questions. The big ones—How did you know what business to start? How do know the right things to do to compete? Did you need lots of money to start a business?
Like many would be entrepreneurs, Sam would love to spend her days doing things she loves on her own terms. How do you know, though, which business is the “right” one? Sam struggles with the nagging doubt that she wouldn’t have anything “special” enough to offer.
Although I believe the ideas I’ve based my businesses on were teetering on the edge of brilliance (ok…I admit it…I secretly always thought they were over the edge), they didn’t have the cultural impact of, say, the invention of the telephone or computers.
What they did have was the benefit of a passion for invention and creativity that I have been nurturing all my life . Can passion alone make a business succeed? No. Can it be a critical factor in your success? Absolutely. I’ve often had people comment on how courageous I was starting my businesses. I love this quote by Ambrose Redmoon:

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.”

When it comes to starting a business, that something else would be you! It might also be the realization that you can make difference in the lives of others by making a difference in your own. Always remember that every thought you think and every action you take is creating your future. You are what you believe you are and your passion can set you free to focus and be all you can be—It’s like an “advance pass go” to success card.

Passion resides within all of us. Find yours and you’re on your way.