I Found My Voice (and I didn’t even know it was missing)

A few years ago I was on the executive board of a non-profit organization that was being steered in the wrong direction by an executive director who was, quite simply, power-hungry. In his self-focused ambition to contort the mission of the organization to suit his own personal needs and desires, he had lost sight of the goals and purposes of the organization and the needs of the people we were trying to serve.

For months I wrestled with how to influence the situation in a positive manner. Long discussions with him and among the board and other leaders repeatedly led to no real resolution. When his behavior moved into the arena of being unethical and he refused to hear any voice but his own, I made the difficult decision to resign from my position as Secretary of the Board. I could no longer align myself with something that was simply not right. I had found my voice.

Within two days, more than half of the remaining board members resigned as well. They, too, had found their voices. While I had had no intention whatsoever to lead a mass exodus of board members, I had not realized that so many of the others felt the same way I did and had been afraid to say anything or take any action. I was immediately shunned by the director, who firmly rejected my offer to continue to serve in a less visible capacity on the advisory board. He also refused to even let me volunteer in any capacity within the organization.

As a direct result of me (and others) finding and using our voices, there was a subsequent overhaul in the leadership structure of the organization and today I both volunteer in the office and serve on the advisory board. The former director has “moved on.”

You may be asking yourself right about now, “Why is she telling me all this?” My reason is simple – to encourage you that in the face of a difficult situation you can and must find and use your voice to affect the positive change that needs to take place. As in my situation, you may not realize that others agree with you and are simply waiting for someone to take the lead and speak out.

And even if they don’t, speaking up and using your influence to affect change is empowering. Whether it is in the voting booth or the board room, from the sidewalk to the sandwich shop, find your voice and use it. Don’t be afraid of what others might think, say or do. Your approach to life and the situations you encounter is as unique as you are, and your voice really does matter.

So, clear your throat and step up to the microphone. Speak up. Speak out. Be the positive influence that will make the difference.

Watch brief video by John Maxwell on “Voice.”



Hang in There – Seasons Change

Road Through Forest

Somehow the summer has begun to slip away and here we are at the threshold of Autumn. As September gets underway, I eagerly anticipate the cooler temperatures, yummy fragrances (like pumpkin spice candles) and all the sights, sounds and activities that are unique to my favorite time of the year.

I think the reason I love Autumn so much is that it means I have made it through another crazy hot Texas summer (my least favorite of the seasons). It is as though my soul breathes a sigh of relief and begins to reach out for the favored things that now seem somehow closer and within reach.

As a business owner, I encounter seasons like this in my business as well – when I have somehow made it through the heat of an especially tough time and am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and can allow myself to get excited about what lies ahead.

Today, in a departure from the usual biz blog fare of passing along some frugal marketing idea or great new gadget, I want rather to encourage you, my fellow entrepreneur, to simply hang in there. It is no breaking news that these are tough economic times and that many of us have launched our own businesses because we were downsized, outsourced or simply set aside for one reason or another. Despite what some might want us to believe, we did build it, and because we built it, we are financially and emotionally invested in it to a degree that some will never fully understand.

If you are currently facing a season in your business that is uncertain, there are a few things I want you to know:

1. You are not alone. Many of us are in the same boat right now, and we need each other.

2. It will get better. We live in a country that has been blessed with a creative and determined collective entrepreneurial spirit. When times got hard for those who have gone before us, they found a way to get through it and thrive on the other side of it. We can and will do the same.

3. Your personal value is not attached to the success of your business. You are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God Himself. He adores you and chases after you with a fervor that you will never comprehend. If you close the doors to your business tomorrow, He will not love you any less.

So be encouraged. Continue doing what is right and good in the management of your business. Seasons change, and this one will give way to the next in due time. Stand firm in whatever God has put inside you to do. It will be worth it in the end.

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good.

At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” 

~ Galatians 6:9 ~

Protect Your Home-Based Business

home based business

If there is any advantage to the tough economy we have been experiencing over the past few years, it is that America’s entrepreneurial spirit has gotten a shot in the tushy. Many who have lost their jobs, or anticipate losing them, are taking the opportunity to start their own businesses. And with the comfort and convenience of working from home, not to mention the low overhead, many are choosing to base their operations from the same place they eat and sleep. The home-based business is here to stay.

As one of said home-based entrepreneurs, I will be the first to acknowledge that for any new business, cash flow is a concern, and rightly slow. You have to operate within your means. With this mind, there are some expenses (things like licenses and insurance) that are simply necessary to protect your assets, and those of your family, especially if you are a sole proprietor.

One area that is often overlooked by small business owners is legal protection. It is an area where we typically roll the dice and hope nothing happens, because we know we can’t afford the average $300 per hour cost of consulting an attorney.

But it does not have to be this way. There IS a way to have access to legal counsel, contract review and other legal services without breaking the bank. The peace of mind that comes with knowing that you can pick up the phone at any time and call your attorney for advice is turbo-boosted by knowing that you don’t have to check you bank balance first. In fact, you only pay a small monthly fee. That’s it.

What I am referring to is a comprehensive legal services plan specifically designed for the home-based business that covers both your business AND your family.

Curious? Here is what the Expanded Family Life Events Legal Plan plus Home-Based Business Rider includes:

For Your Business

  • Phone consultations with your attorney on business matters
  • Letters written by your attorney on behalf of your business if the need arises
  • Debt collection letters on your behalf to help collect delinquent debts
  • Contract review so you can know exactly what you sign before you sign it
  • Trial defense services if your business is named in a civil suit (25% discount)
  • IRS audit legal services to include Schedule C
  • Free membership in GoSmallBiz – a powerful online resource developed by NFL Hall of Famer and Entrepreneur Fran Tarkenton specifically to empower micro business. GSB membership includes access to an online library of articles, Answers from the Masters, a monthly newsletter, access to personally consult with any of a national network of business consultants in a variety of specialties, including tax and accounting, human resources, marketing, insurance, technology, investment and more. Over 50,000 small businesses are already enjoying and utilizing their GSB membership. (View video by Fran Tarkenton)

For Your Family

Preventive Legal Services

  • Phone consultations on an unlimited number of topics
  • Letters or phone calls made on your behalf as needed
  • Contract/document review
  • Preparation of your will, living will and health care power of attorney (and that of your spouse)

Motor Vehicle Legal Services

  • Assistance with moving traffic violations
  • Defense if you or a covered family member are charged with manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, negligent homicide or vehicular homicide
  • Assistance with other vehicle-related issues such as damage recovery, driver’s license issues and personal legal injury assistance

Trial Defense Services

  • Pre-trial assistance and court representation if you or a covered family member are named in a civil or work-related criminal lawsuit

IRS Audit Legal Services

  • Consultation advice & assistance, audit representation negotiations and trial appearance if you are audited by the IRS

Member Discount

  • 25% member discount for any legal services not covered by another part of the plan

24-Hour Emergency Access

  • Toll-free emergency access to an attorney 24/7/365 if you or a covered family member are arrested, detained or questioned by law enforcement, are involved in a serious accident or if the authorities are trying to remove your children from your home

As you can see, the coverage is extensive. You might expect to pay out the nose for such protection, but it is actually available for less than the cost of a caramel macchiato per day – in fact, about half that, or less.

The plan is administered by Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc., a NYSE company that pioneered pre-paid legal service plans in the United States nearly 40 years ago. Members have access to the country’s largest network of provider attorneys whose sole mission is to provide first-rate legal care to PPL members.

Is your small business operated out of some place other than your home? No worries. Small business plans are available for you, too, even specialty plans for realtors, teachers, law enforcement officers and foster parents.

For more information, email me at rw@freestylebizsolutions.com or visit my website.  Your home-based business is worth protecting.