Marketing Turnaround - 2017


Structure Matters

By Gail Z. Martin

When you leave corporate life and strike out as an entrepreneur, you quickly notice that you miss the lovely support that was always just a few steps away.

Computer problems? There's no IT department, so you either fix it yourself or find someone who can. Ditto accounting, marketing, sales - you get the picture.

As a business owner, you're the CEO - and the one who empties the garbage cans. It's a real adjustment to make.

Setting up systems is crucial to your Fresh Start Success. Your systems need to be suited to your personality so that you use them without constant friction.

Creating systems isn't always intuitive, but having them is essential. As you consider your reinvention, think about how you want to structure your new business, as well as the impact you want to have in the world.

If systems and structure aren't your strong point, find a mentor who can help you avoid pitfalls. Getting the structure and systems in place at the beginning can be a real factor in creating your Fresh Start Success!

Building Systems

Lisa knows entrepreneurship firsthand. She studied business in college and went on to earn a master's of science in administration. She became a vice president of human resources for a large healthcare system early in her career and enjoyed a lot of success. A number of mergers and acquisitions gave her the opportunity to gain plenty of experience in organizational change.

While she was the catalyst for successful union negotiations, had high employee engagement scores, and was good at turning chaos into order, when the decision was made to dismantle the division she was working in, she laid everyone off, including herself.

Lisa wanted to find a similar position, but in 2001, she was in her mid-30s and there were few vice president of human resources positions open. People said she looked “too young" for the job.

Then one day, Lisa was driving down the highway, and something popped up from the freeway. She covered her face with her hands, and a tire iron flew into the front seat, shattering the windshield. Lisa shook off the glass and realized she had no injuries, but the tire iron had only missed her by four inches, and it left a six-inch gash in her hood. When the cops came to the scene of the accident, all three of them said, “Geez, you're on this Earth for a reason," because she survived without injury.

“All I had known my entire career was working for someone else," Lisa said. “I had been asking God whether I should start a business and write a book, and then the accident happened, and I knew I was here to do something important."

The first two years striking out on her own were hard. Thanks to her background in quality improvement, Lisa was very good at streamlining and found that coaching was intuitive for her. She was good at helping people control costs and save money. Her mentor asked her what her conversion rate was and she reported eighty percent, thinking that wasn't very good, but that success rate stunned her mentor.

That's when Lisa realized her system was working well. She intuitively assessed how people wanted to receive their information, and then validated those prospects through her pre-qualification systems, and that led to them becoming very successful clients.

At that point, Lisa decided she was onto something. She created her own signature program and started attracting people who wanted to know how to build systems to show their uniqueness and work in alignment with who they were. Lisa created Excellerate Associates, an entrepreneurial and leadership institute, to share her vision.

After Lisa began coaching, she realized she needed to make a mental shift to focus on what she wanted to contribute to the world, instead of what she wanted out of coaching. “I wanted to make an impact. I didn't want someone who was making the transformation from corporate employee to success to struggle as long as I did. Gradually, I developed systems to make that transformation easier. If I'd had my own system right from the start, I believe I could have cut two years off my three-year learning curve," she says.

Lisa also wanted to make a contribution based on her unique self and to work in alignment with who she was, rather than trying to fit someone else's mold. “Being in alignment makes it much easier to triage priorities," she says. “And I needed to figure it out quickly because I did not want to keep working a ninety-hour week."

So she worked with a coach for over a year to shift from a self-serving point of view to a vision of contributing to the world. “I learned that it's not all about me, me, me," she said. “People are put in your path for a reason," Lisa says. “That proved itself again and again as I was networking while I developed my program. You just don't know who you're going to meet."

With her hardwiring, she empowered business owners to transform their contribution in the world.

Lisa discovered that she had always connected disparate ideas, and her skills were honed by working in chaotic organizations without good infrastructure. “In successful businesses, you create accountabilities and strong systems. When that is missing, there is chaos. Now, I've married both hardwiring and systems to create a powerful shift, and it is something we teach through my business."

The third year of business was the tipping point for Lisa, when she hit “critical mass" and revenue went way up. Now, Lisa and her team of Profitability Lab Leaders educate small business owners, entrepreneurs, and business leaders on biological hardwiring. Mental “wiring" is biological and dictates the type of environment in which a person is best equipped to thrive and succeed, and the kind of environment in which people prefer to live and work. She is also the best-selling author of “Me, Myself, and Why? Get More Clients Now!" and the co-author of “Leading Women."

The Take-Away

What kind of environment makes you the happiest and most productive? Don't automatically replicate the standard office or repeat what you're used to if that was part of what made you unhappy or less fulfilled in prior jobs. Start with understanding your natural wiring. Think outside the cubicle!

When you work in alignment with who you are innately, it's not work.

Maybe you thrive working around other people. Consider planning to spend some of your day working from a coffee shop, library, or fast food venue, rent a keyman office in a shared office building, and do a lot of networking events.

If solitude helps you focus, find a quiet place where you can gather your thoughts. Reinvent your approach to filing, document storage, and other key aspects. As long as you meet legal requirements, create systems that work well for the way you think and work. Make creating the right environment part of your Fresh Start Success!

Excerpted from Fresh Start Success: Reinvent Your Work, Reimagine Your Life and Re-ignite Your Passion