5 Must-Read Life + Business Books

Dear leader who’s a reader,

In this week’s letter, I wanted to share with you 5 of my favorite recent reads on life and business, as an addition to my recommended reading list.  I believe there’s nothing more powerful than connecting through story, and I’m pretty obsessed with learning more about psychology, personal development, and making more money.  I’m so grateful for these authors who share their knowledge and wisdom in such an accessible way.  I consider authors to be a form of “passive mentoring” because their books are a great way to learn from their experiences and expertise.  So, without further ado, here’s my list of recent favorite reads!  

1. Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown

Brene Brown has SUCH a gift of articulating complex emotions and experiences so you can *finally* identify the truth of what’s really going on.  In Braving the Wilderness, Brene talks about how true belonging extends from connections and having the courage to stand alone.  She shares about her early experiences of not feeling like she belonged in her family and the impact that had on her.  As women, as entrepreneurs, it’s so relatable when we find ourselves in situation where we feel different and not worthy of belonging, but this book gives you the tools to be able to find the courage to stay true to you.   

On a political note, there have been so many divisive issues so this book helps you to navigate how to have tough conversations in a civil way.  I believe you can apply this same concept to your business because it’s important to stand up for your values AND respect other people who may differ from you.  We have so much we can learn from each other.  



She also breaks down the components of TRUST so you can have the language to know how to build better relationships with other people AND yourself.  For example, when a boss tells you that “she doesn’t trust you”, that’s a HUGE claim and not helpful feedback in knowing what you change.  So, her 7 components of trust is super helpful in knowing what area you can improve upon.  It’s actually what inspired me to choose “Trust” as my word for 2018 (and given me a framework on how to build it).  If you’re a Brene Brown, read this book!  

2. Profit First by Mike Michalowicz  

When it comes to business finances, we’ve heard that Income - Expenses = Profit.  But when we spend MORE than what we make, we’re just hoping that we’ll make a profit.  In this book, Mike Michalowicz challenges you to put profit FIRST so your Income - Profit = Expenses.  This books is a super helpful (and funny) guide to help you take control of your business finances.  It’s like Dave Ramsey’s envelope system for your business so you have a plan for your income, expenses, profit, paying yourself, tithe, and taxes.  

It’s one of my goals this year to fully implement this system, and so far, it’s helping me feel like I have MORE freedom in my finances because of this type of plan for my money.  I also like how he gives examples of how this works for different types and sizes of business, and how flexible it can be to meet you where you are currently and help you work towards those goals.  If you’re looking for a business book for your money, I’d recommend this one!    

3. The Road Back to You by Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile

I’m pretty much a personality type junkie, so I become obsessed when a friend told me about the Enneagram.  It’s an ancient personality typing system with a spiritual bent to it.  It’s different than the Myers-Briggs or StrengthsFinder because it’s based on 9 different personality types, and describes each type in terms of what truly motivates you, what sin you struggle with, and how you behave when you’re healthy, or unhealthy.  

This book is an introduction to the Enneagram and gives a description to each one so it was helpful in giving more insight to my personality (I’m a 7!).  If you’re interested in learning more about your strengths and shadow side, then go read this book!  

4. Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller

Want to get more effective with your marketing?  Donald Miller shows you how to incorporate the elements of storytelling into your brand message so you’re clear on how to communicate the value you provide in the eyes of your customers.  I’d HIGHLY recommend this book, especially if you’re a service-based solopreneur who has trouble answering the question, “What do you do?”

It’ll help you hone in on your message, help you to see yourself as the guide (and not the hero) of your client’s story, and know how to simplify your words so it makes sense and makes sales.  

5. Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

With the tagline, “Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant To Be”, how can you go wrong?  After reading this book, I’d definitely want Rachel Hollis to be MY life coach.  She’s a successful entrepreneur of a media company and mama of 4, so I loved how real she was about her journey to get to where she is today and dispelling the lies she *used* to believe.  

I could definitely relate to ALL of the lies but the ones the stand out to me are, “Something else will make me happy,” “I’m not good enough”, and “I’m should be further along than I am”.  She lovingly (and hilariously) shares her embarrassing stories and talks about things we’re all thinking but afraid to admit, so I found it really refreshing to read this book.  She's been through some TOUGH stuff (rough childhood, brother's suicide, fostering kids) and still has a perspective on life that will encourage you to take ownership of it and rise to its challenges.  She also includes tips on “what helped her” with practical tips to help you chase your dreams, raise a family, let go of fear and get out of your own way for YOUR life.  

These are my favorite business books that I've read recently that covers the span from mindset, money, marketing, and leadership!  I'd love to know YOUR favorite books in the comment below. 

Don't forget, if you would like support in building your business to change your life and the lives of your clients, then book a discovery call with me to chat about how I can help you reach your business goals!  

With joy, 

What You Need to Know About Creating Compelling Content

You posted about your new coaching or creative business on Facebook to friend and family, letting them know about your new endeavor and that you're taking on new clients.  You share about your passion on Instagram and get a few likes, but nothing more.  You send out an email to some former colleagues asking if they can be your beta client or be a model to start your photography portfolio. 

Those are all great ways to get started on your entrepreneurial journey, but creating compelling content is key to consistently attracting the right clients what will want to work with you.  The truth is: if you're a service provider -- the clearest and most compelling marketer wins the client.  Your strategic marketing is what will empower you to do the work you are created to do. 

So, today, I wanted to get you the low-down on "what you need to know about creating compelling content."  Because if you're getting starting or committed to getting established, a creative and strategic marketing plan is what will help you "put yourself out there" and get noticed by the people who matter. 

But first things first: content is the value you provide to potential clients up front so they can get to know, trust, and like you.  When we're talking about an online business, this could be anything from your Instagram photos and captions, Facebook posts, email newsletter, blog posts, and webinars and live calls.  If you're a coach, I like to think of it more like a curriculum of topics and tips you can use to teach and educate your prospects, peers, and clients about who you are and what you do.  If you're a creative, I like to think of it as the written, illustrated, visual expression of your craft to appeal to your potential buyers. 

Okay, so now that we're clear, let's chat about the challenges.  If you have a ton of brilliant ideas and not sure how to implement, then creating content could feel overwhelm.  Where do I post?  What do I say?  Will people even pay attention?  How do I grow my audience?  How LONG is this going to take? 

Whoa, slow down.  I got you.  Here is a simple step-by-step framework into honing your message into a marketing plan of action. 

1. Start with "why".  The first step is ALWAYS getting clear on your "what" and your "why."  What's the purpose of your online presence?  To get clients?  To build a relationships with potential vendors?  To share your story and message to the world?  Your purpose is what will guide your plan, so take a few moments to get clear on your "why" and the goals you have for putting in this work. 

2. Get clear on your expertise.  As a starting point, it's important to identify your main message, your audience (their desires, needs, and challenges), and what you want to be known for.  Pick a few specific topics that you take a stand for. 

For example, if you make one-of-a-kind custom jewelry made entirely of recycled materials, some topics could include: your inspiration design process, your mission to save the earth and environment, and tips on how to wear the jewelry.  Or, if you're a health coach who helps busy moms with nutrition for their families, it could be: quick and simple meal planning and recipes, exercise for the whole family, or holistic health care with body, mind, and soul. 

If you're getting started and not quite sure yet....that's okay!  Brainstorm a few ideas, and then COMMIT to trying out your message for 90 days.  That will give you plenty of feedback to test to see if it's working for you. 

3. Pick Your Social Media Platforms.  Get strategically in front of your audience by choosing the right platforms.  You can even start with 1-2 platforms, get really confident for it to work for you, and add on from there.  Here's a quick start guide for you from Typenine Creatives:

 

4. Create Your Content Headlines.  Now that you know your top 3 topics, and the platform you're focusing on, you can start to flesh out your content.  For platforms like your blog and newsletter, you can think of 12-13 "headline" or topics that could fall under your top 3 topics so you plan out your content out in advance. Keep in mind that these headlines should focused on how your expertise meets your audience's needs and desires. 

For example, the health coach's headlines could be:

- A week's worth of nutritious recipes for the family in 30 min.
- How to Choose the Seasonal Vegetables
- A Gluten-Free Guide to Eating Out at Restaurants
- Free, Fun, Active Family Activities to Do in the Fall
- 5 Meal-Planning Tips from a Health & Wellness Pro

Get the point?  Having your top 3 "Buckets" of themes to write about can be helpful to give structure to brainstorming ideas for blogs & newsletters you could write about. 

The social media twist: You can apply the same principle to your social media platforms by brainstorming images and captions of specific topics that you could post about.  Or, you can repurpose your blog content into social media sized chunks and post it on there. 

5. Get Organized.  Schedule it!  Now that you have your headlines and topics to write about, you can create a content calendar by using a tool like Trello, Google Docs/Calendar, or a Wordpress plugin to schedule when you'd like to post these blog posts.  Then, you can set aside time in your schedule to create and write out the content of those posts.  For me, I like to spend Fridays creating content.  So I'll write the next week's Facebook posts and blog content & newsletter that will be schedule to publish the following week.  My typically repurpose my content in a different way for each platform, but have a theme for the week focuses what I'll be writing about. 

For social media, scheduling tools like Hootsuite, CoSchedule, Later (for Instagram), or PostPlanner (for Facebook) are great ways to schedule your posts all at time so you don't have to spend time posting them manually. 

The key is here: to plan ahead and give yourself some time to actually write out the content to post so you don't feel like you're scrambling to do it last minute. 

6. Commit, Track, and Evaluate.  Growing an online presence takes time and consistency.  So choose a level of commitment that you can stick to.  For example, a blog post once a week and posting on Facebook 2x/week may be a good starting point.  Whatever you choose, stick with it, track your results in terms of engagement and ultimately # of inquiries to evaluate to see how effective your content strategy plan is. 

Once you put into practice this structure, you'll begin to streamline a process that works well for you.  Create compelling content is what will help you get visible and build a strong foundation for your online presence.  If you'd like some 1-on-1 support in this arena, then check out the 90 min. "Income + Influence" Intensive, where we will focus on YOUR strengths, YOUR message, and YOUR audience so we can create a personalized content marketing plan to grow your online presence.  Check out these details here: http://www.shichencoaching.com/intensive.  Snag your spot today! 

With joy,

 

 

 

4 Empowering Money Mantras for Entrepreneurs

A couple of weeks ago, I asked my Facebook community,  “What’s one thing you WISHED more women in business talked openly about?”  

An overwhelming response was, “Money.”

That it’s okay to WANT to make more money.  That it’s okay to charge for your services.  That’s it’s okay to invest in getting support to help you lead the business you desire.  

Money can be a taboo topic, but as entrepreneurs, it’s super important to know your numbers and the financial health of your business.  I believe the more we talk about money (ex. mindset, tips, and best practices) the more comfortable we can be about developing healthy habits in our lives and businesses.  

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So this week, we’ll engage in a conversation around money as I share with you my favorite money mindset mantras to empower you to earn, invest, save, and give your money in a way that you feel comfortable with.  

1. Earning Money Mantra: The greatest service I provide my clients is in a paid capacity.

As entrepreneurs, we have the power to set our own rates and prices and earn as much or as little as we would like.  

When I first started out in this coaching business, I actually felt guilty for charging people to hire me.  “I’m so passionate about this, I’d do it for free!”  “This comes so easily to me, and I have to work HARD to earn money!”  These were some personal money stories that held me back from my earning potential in my business — as if work, enjoyment, and true service had to be mutually exclusive.  

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That’s when I realized that money is just an exchange — I provide an excellent service to serve my clients and in exchange they pay me for my guidance towards their desired result.  This allows me to be okay with earning money because it’s a vehicle to support my clients with my expertise and my family with additional income.  

Let me know below, does this mantra resonate with you?  What’s your take on earning money?   

2. Investing Money Mantra: The risk now is worth the return later.

You know the phrase, “You have to spend money to make money”?  This is true when you’re running a business because often times, we have to invest in education, equipment, and team members in order to keep things operating and help us get to the next season of business.  

Now I’m not an advocate for reckless spending, but I am a proponent of making wise choices to receive the support, structure, and systems you need so you can build a sustainable business EVEN IF it feels scary or outside of your comfort zone.  

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Sometimes what holds us back is waiting until we have things perfectly BEFORE we get help or delay investing in education until we have clients when the whole point of education, equipment, and team members are to help you make more money to work with more clients.  As long as you stay consistent and set things up properly, you will see a return on your investment.  

So whenever I *know* the next right step is to invest in the right coach/program, online tools, and team member, I remind myself: “The risk now is worth the return later.”  

How about you?  Does it feel scary or exciting for you to invest in what your business needs?  

3. Saving Money Mantra: The more savings I have, the more choices I have.

Your business profits are like your business savings accounts so they more money you have put away the more resources you have in case of emergency and the more options you have for your future growth.  

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Setting aside money for taxes, paying myself, and profits are money habits I’m cultivating so every dollar has a purpose.  The more savings I set aside, the more empowered I can be about the choices I make.  

4. Giving Money Mantra: Giving back my money blesses others AND keeps me grounded.

A common fear in business is the fear of success, or feeling like loads of money will change you and your character.  I believe the best way to kick this fear in the face is to be generous and give back a percentage of your business money at ALL income levels.  

The mantra, “Giving back my money blesses others AND keeps me grounded” motivates me to earn more money so I can give more away and ultimately see money as a tool and not an idol.  

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Money is a magnifier so what you do with little you can do with a lot so building a generosity habit helps you to be and stay heart-centered with your business.  

Money, money, money.  It’s an important facet of our businesses and as we evaluate how we think about it, how we interact with it, and how we feel about it, we can be more empowered to build habits to help us earn, invest, save, and give in our businesses.

If you’d like to dive deeper into making more money in the business you desire, then I encourage you to book a discovery call to see if working together would be the next right step.  

With joy,
 

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4 Steps For Simple Content Creation

Content marketing is a powerful way to spread the word about your business and connect with your growing audience.  From social media, blogging, email newsletters, videos, and podcasts, there’s never been a more accessible way to share value with your potential clients.  

The purpose behind content marketing is to create ways to educate, entertain, and bond with your audience, so they can get to know you, like what you’re all about, and trust you enough to hire you.  

Now, creating the content itself can be a challenge — especially if you’re committed to being consistent with you it.  Writer’s block, visibility, organization, and repurposing can keep you stuck from producing content that converts.  So this week, we’ll talk about how to create content in a way that’s simple and strategic so it engages your audience and leads to more sales.  

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1. Make sure your mindset supports you to CREATE!  

When it comes to creating content, there can be major mindset hurdles to overcome.  For me personally, one block I had was feeling like I have nothing original to say.  This thought kept me staring at a blinking cursor on a blank page for wayyyy too long!  

The truth is, I DON’T have anything original to say…because it’s all been said before.  BUT — I DO have original experiences, perspectives, and stories that I can use to teach MY audience and relate to them in MY way.  

One of my mentors would say, “You are SOMEONE’S messenger” which gave me the permission to take my knowledge and use my words to teach the content, because it may be the way someone needs to hear it.  

Letting go of the pressure to be perfect, original, smart, or whatever may be a great first step in allowing yourself to show up to be YOU and cultivating more inspiration for your words.  

2. Know What You’re Selling So Your Content is Strategic

In order for us to create content FOR our business, we need to know what specific product or service we’d like to sell.  This helps us be intentional that our content is leading our audiences to a way to work with us.  

This is also a great opportunity for us to educate our audiences on topics that may what to learn about, address concerns they may have, and ultimately attract the RIGHT people and repel the wrong ones.  

For example, if I’m intentionally filling my 1:1 business coaching practice, I’ll specifically create content around CEO/leadership mindset, sales strategy, and client experience tips so that I’m giving value around the work that I do.  

Another example could be an Essential Oils educator who would like to sell out a workshop.  She could share about the different products, before/after results, and answer FAQs.  

When you know what you’re selling and create content around that, it gives you a framework or filter to write about which can actually lead to even more inspiration.  

3. Get specific with your expertise.  

What do you want to be known for?  

Your content is the cornerstone for sharing your expertise.  So instead of overwhelming yourself and your audience by writing about EVERYTHING you know (because I know you know a LOT), let’s narrow it down to 3-5 content categories so you can write a weekly theme for each.

Let’s use business coaching again as an example with CEO mindset, sales, and client experience as my content categories.  Under CEO mindset, I can go even further and write about clarifying your mission and message one week, hiring your dream team the following week, and identifying your income producing activities the week after that.  

It helps my audience as well because they can go deeper into learning about a topic.        

4. Share it across all platforms

Once I write the content for each theme, I want to share it everywhere and repurpose it so it reaches the right people.  

Each weekly theme allows me to write social media posts.  This can be turned into a longer blog post that is published on my web site and sent out to my Letters For Leaders e-newsletter community.  

This way, I can engage with my audience and do my best to make sure my content is making a difference in people’s lives.  One of my favorite things is to answer comments and emails from people to hear more about their challenges and how I can serve them.  This type of engagement inspires me with more ideas for content so I can continue to create things that resonate with people.  

Content marketing doesn’t have to be intimidating once you find a rhythm that works for you.  When you get specific on what’s holding you back, what you’re selling, what you want to be known for, and what your favorite platforms/type of content are, YOU have the power to connect with your audience in a way that works for you.  

Let me know in the comments what was your biggest takeaway from this week’s blog post!  

With joy, 

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One Sales Strategy You Can't Afford To Skip

Ever had a BIG business idea that you want to bring to life?  Or want to launch something you *know* you’re called to, and *know* that it can help a lot of people?  But you have questions, wondering, “Do people really need/want this?  Will they buy it?  How can I clearly communicate the VALUE of it?”  

You’re searching for clarity on whether or not creating this service will be worth your time, energy, and expertise.  The best way to find out the answers to your questions is to ASK!  In order words, when you ask your audience about their needs, challenges, and feedback on your proposed solution, you get more data, feedback, and confirmation on whether or not your idea will serve them (and therefore lead to more clients and more money in the bank).  

The pre-validation process is probably one of the most POWERFUL yet under talked about tools for your sales process.  So it’s time to let the “secret” out so you can get more clarity on your business ideas.  

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This week, I’ll share with you my process of pre-validating my ideas and my favorite go-to questions to ask so you you’re equipped with creating a method that works for you.  

The reason why most people skip right over this step is because they get an inspired idea and want to implement it, like yesterday.  Or, they have a vague idea of what they’d like to create and it feels scary to ask people for feedback before it's fully formalized.  

Remember: the purpose of pre-validation is not to sell (yet), but it’s to get super curious about your prospect’s world and to confirm whether or not creating this service is worth pursuing.  

A “real world” example of pre-validation would be figuring out what to give my husband for Christmas.  When I assume I know what he wants or have an idea of what I think he needs, my gifts tend to flop (despite the amount of time, money, and energy I spent creating it).  But when I take the time to find out what he wants, what would be helpful, and even asking for a wish list, my gifts truly meets his needs and ultimately serves him (which makes me a happy wife).  

So where do you even start?  

A simple and effective way is to create a survey through Google Forms or Typeform, or to conduct market research calls.   For my 1:1 services, I prefer to conduct market research calls so I can ask people follow-up questions on the spot.

Keep in mind: DO NOT ASK friends and family.  You may be tempted because it feels like scary, but unless they are your target demographic, they will either tell you it’s a good idea because they want to be nice (when they don’t fully understand what you’re doing), or tell you why it’ll flop (when they don’t fully understand what you’re doing).  Neither is helpful at this point.  

Instead, you could review questionnaires from your past clients, or you could post it in Facebook groups of people with your ideal clients, ask friend/family for referrals, or attend meet ups to build relationships with people who you could talk to.  Starting with people you know and building out from there would be a great place to start.  

1. Ask to Understand Your Client’s Needs and Challenges

To kick off, it’s important to understand what your prospect’s biggest needs and challenges are when it comes to your area of expertise.  Sometimes we’re too close to what we do, or get stuck speaking industry language.  These questions allow you to truly empathize with where they are by understanding what they’re dealing with.  

Here are some of my favorites questions:
What is your biggest challenge when it comes to [your area of expertise here]?
What do you *wish* you knew about [your area of expertise here]?
What is your biggest [your area of expertise] goal?  Why is that important to you?  

I like to keep it conversational and my questions open-ended to let my prospects share what’s on their minds.  

2. Asking to Understand Past Experiences

Sometimes it’s hard for people to clearly articulate what they want (…too many choices!), but it’s easy for people to talk about their past experiences and what they liked and didn’t like.  

So these types of questions help uncover their thoughts on services and products they’ve used in the past.  This information is valuable because they can key in on what’s important to them, and perhaps if there’s a gap or differentiator that you could potentially create.  

Here’s some of my favorite questions to ask:

What have you tried in the past to help solve your [area of expertise] challenge?
What did you like about it?  
If you were to do it again, what would you like to do differently?  

I just like to get super curious (and non-judgmental) so I can understand where they are coming from.  

3. Asking to Validate YOUR proposed solution

Sometimes ideas sound good in our heads, but when we ask people want their specific feedback is on it, their outside perspective is super valuable.  

Here are some of my go-to questions around validating my idea:

After hearing what I’d like to create, what are you thoughts around [this feature]?  
What are questions/concerns/feedback you have about [this solution]?
Would you buy this?  How much would you pay for something like this?  

Being straightforward that I value their opinion and want to create something that *truly* meets their needs, I open up the conversation to allow them to share their thoughts.  

After going through the pre-validation process, you’re better equipped to make more informed decision on how to proceed with your business idea.  I love to stay in touch with the people I talk to (and even offer them bonus incentives like a free coaching session, or discounts on the service I end up creating), because I couldn’t do it without their input.  At the end of the day, my business exists to serve them so I want to make sure that my services and products are things that will ultimately help them build a business and life they desire.  

If you would like a more deep dive resource for the pre-validation process, I recommend the resource, “Ask” by Ryan Levesque.  He has a thorough and step-by-step process of helping you ask the right questions and what to do with it.  

As always, feel free to reach out to let me know what your biggest takeaway is!  

With joy,

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