Lessons Learned in 10 Years of Business

Charli and Lessons Learned

Let’s start with this…Double Digits!!! Can you believe I have been a business owner for 10 years?!! It’s a huge milestone for an entrepreneur, and I am so happy to celebrate with all of you!

As I look back on the last ten years, I have so much gratitude for the journey. I have had some huge celebrations and some disappointments and have learned great lessons from both.

Leadership

To be an entrepreneur, you must be a leader. You can’t pass this role off to someone else. Even if you have a team to help you, you must understand your responsibility within the organization to lead yourself and your team. When things are hard, it is your responsibility to share the vision toward improvement. As an activator, so many times I am ready to pass off a project to someone else to carry on. This is not possible for your company. It must be a reflection of you and your values as well as taking into account the views of your team.

I love the work around leadership and developing others. I’ve learned that it takes the individual (me included) deciding to do the work to grow. It really must be their idea. You can suggest and recommend things but a leaders must believe in themselves and their abilities. Sometimes that isn’t natural and sometimes there are limiting beliefs that are keep you from moving to the next level.

Team

When I started the company, it was so that I could have a job. I quickly realized in order to grow I would need help. I wasn’t sure who I needed but I knew I needed some help. I needed people around me that had strengths that were different than mine. I also needed someone that could stand in when I wasn’t able to be there. Each person that has worked for us had a significant influence on what the company is today and I love sharing this accomplishment with all of them. I will add, my team that navigated the pandemic and came through to now navigate my absence is showing remarkable abilities beyond my expectations! I am so proud of what we have built at Empowering Brands.

The Hard Stuff

I was a mom of three (under 6 yrs old) when I started my company. This was no doubt a challenge for our family and the business. My kids have seen me at my best and at my worst. What I know today is that I am glad my children are independent like their mom and know how to work hard. They also know that rewards come with challenges and the good ones usually come with a lot of hard work. Navigating family life and work commitments for both me and my husband, Carter, was a source of conflict especially when his job would ask why I couldn’t watch the kids every-time they were sick. I would get so angry as I was also building my business and there was no one else to do it. These were tough days… But I am so glad we made it through it because now, if my child needs me, I can be there. I can be there because we built a successful business and it allows me and my team the flexibility to work and have a wonderful family life. This is so important to me and one of the most rewarding parts of my business today.

Passion

You must be passionate about your work! If you lose that passion along the way, you must find it or adapt your business. Burnout is real and you must have purpose alongside the work to keep from tiring too quickly. For me, it’s my passion for water and empowering women! I wake up on mission each day and that makes no challenge to overwhelming.

Growth

Moving forward is essential. When you get complacent, you will soon see yourself or your team falling backward. There is a good way to see this forming… it starts with unresolved conflict. Is there something that keeps coming up but isn’t getting addressed? This is a sign to look for a root cause. Problems are often not related to the obvious.

Being Present

The best thing I implemented when Bekah joined our team is a weekly meeting and a Friday email check in. This has allowed us both to grow. It gives her access to me at an uninterrupted time as well as a way for her to keep me informed. There is a trust and accountability for each of us to be there for each other and accomplish our goals along the way. This system has allowed me to fully trust her and her abilities because I know her. I know her because I spend time with her and I believe this makes all the difference.

Entrepreneurship

Yes, I had to learn about cash-flow and credit lines. I still think I need more knowledge of investments and finance even if it was my college major. Having said that, these business tips and tricks are the easy part. The tough part of entrepreneurship is believing in yourself. You must have the courage to take risks and believe that you can accomplish your goals. You also need to be able to adapt and move on when things don’t work out as planned. This is all much easier with a network of encouragers! I am lucky to have such a diverse network. It has been key to my understanding in business and company culture as well as benefited me personally when I needed a good high-five !

So the best advice I can give if you are considering starting a business…Find you a cheerleader, a side of grit, and a list of all things that make you uniquely you. And know…You got this!

Vision

I think the role of the person creating the company has to be vision. They must have a clear vision of where the company is headed. This can change over time but I think it the owner doesn’t know what they what to accomplish then it will be hard to get their team to buy into the work. I do believe that each team member can have input into the vision but the responsibility for vision must stay with the creator as the final say. I say this because I believe the team looks to the entrepreneur for confirmation on next steps. I don’t believe real success is possible with a hand off approach unless the creator steps away completely. This is why staying involved with the people, products, and processes is so important for our leaders. We must understand the work we are asking others to accomplish.

Finding Your Voice

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Using Your Voice – Part 2

Charli-Using-her-Voice

We’ve previously written about how to Use Your Voice, Build Your Brand and have so much more to say on the topic. Previously we discussed using your voice in marketing, learning from others, and the benefits of public speaking. However, there are other unique and effective ways to your voice. Read on for more tips.

  1. How to Stand Out, Find Your Voice, and Not Get Lost in the Shuffle

There is a sea of voices out there. It can be difficult to find yours, so we recommend beginning by starting with your why. What are you trying to accomplish and why? What gives you passion and joy? Be vulnerable about what you do and challenges. This will help get others wanting to hear what you have to say. Followers must believe and trust you in order for you to help solve their problems, so be accurate as you are being open. You may realize there a niche you fit into. For example, my own Empowering Women in Industry was created when I saw the need for women in the industries to have a platform of their own. In a male dominated space, we lose that organic conversation with women so we need to create it.

  1. Embrace Social Media

In short, social media is an extension of how you network with people. It offers resources to get to know people, their background, and even what they are looking for currently. Social media is a tool just like any content distributor from television to radio that allows you to share message to a broader audience. LinkedIn is great for professional connects. Be sure to fill out your profile with details relevant to your industry, and you will be rewarded with contacts. Zoom is great for meetings, video chats, and can even be beneficial to your business, your personal health, and it can help you follow the right people.

Not comfortable using social media or don’t have the time? Get a third party to manage your accounts.

  1. Give Interviews

As many of you may already know, I love hosting and appearing on podcasts of all kinds to share whatever expertise I can. Everyone involved often finds it a pleasant and satisfying experience, not to mention the knowledge you can bring to the audiences. You may have a friend with a podcast who needs guests. Everyone has a podcast now a days and is looking for guests. Go through your client list to see if anyone is doing so. Don’t be afraid to use a potential client list as well. Find the podcasts, make an offer to appear, and see if they bite. Include why they should use you and the value you can bring. You may even search for podcasts in your industry. The bigger the audience the better, but don’t turn down any relevant option. Worst case scenario, a rarely seen podcast can help you prepare for a bigger one.

If you’re ready, why not start your own podcast? We have done just that with the Empowering Industry Podcasts. We discuss all sorts of relevant topics in a combination of “Let’s Get Social,” “Industry news with EP&E, and “Industry Interview.”

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Use Your Voice, Build Your Brand

Use Your Voice, Build Your Brand

Earlier this year I discussed what I have learned about my Mission in the 9th Year of Business. It was difficult for me to pinpoint one clear lesson. However, one of the most important ones I learned over the years was the importance of using your voice. Communication is our voice and one of the most valuable tools we have in our toolbox.

  1. Use Your Voice for Marketing

Your website, marketing materials, ads, etc. can only do so much design-wise. It is essential you learn how to use your voice to make each of these stand out. It is important that you not only show you understand your business but have a love for it as well. The voice must be clear and consistent in everything from your mailed pieces to even text messages. Be a thought leader in your industry by sharing your unique message. Don’t forget social media posts as they are the easiest to create but the ones that can make the most difference in certain scenarios. For example, I don’t see myself as Charli on social media. I see myself as front and center in my industry with the experience and knowledge to help others empower themselves.

  1. Learn Voice Lessons From Others

No doubt there are at least one or two people in your industry whose voice you can learn from. One of my favorite voices is that of Shannon Bumgarner, the new host of the Empowering Women Podcast. She combines 20 years of experience in a male dominated manufacturing world with a background growing up in textiles and furniture. Her “blue collar roots,” engineering degree, and love of products and services that make our world better define her voice. Better still, she is a voice for women in the industry who may think they are alone. She started #Femspired to see gender parody in the technical fields by 2040. As you can probably tell, she focuses around thinking big and her voice follows. It not only makes her distinct, it makes her bold.

  1. Don’t be Afraid to Present

Public speaking may be a top fear of yours, but you should get past it. I know many professionals, especially women, who made their mark on the industry by using their voice by giving presentations, panel participation, keynote speeches, and more. In fact, I heard about Shannon through an amazing presentation she gave. It had her peers a buzz about her, and the word eventually reached me. You also have a unique, knowledgeable voice, so don’t be afraid to share it in as many venues as possible. My goal on all the Empowering Brands is to give people the power and authority do something. It starts with a voice, a story, and can be so empowering in the end.

Feel free to sign up for the Empowering Women Podcast already on our third season. You may subscribe to get the latest episodes or click here to get the episode featuring myself and Shannon.

 

Sources:

http://charlikmatthews.com/2020/06/

https://empoweringpumps.com/podcast/

https://industrialstrengthmarketing.com/insights/podcast/empowering-marketing-girl-charli-matthews/

https://www.empoweringwomeninindustry.com/podcast/episode/4e0950c2/empowering-women-podcast-introduction-to-season-3

Understanding the Mission in my 9th year of Business

Charli Magic-EmpoweringBrands-98

This week, I took some time to reflect on my last nine years of being a business owner. I found it hard to pinpoint one lesson or theme to the journey.  I believe it is because I constantly grow and change each year. So, I’ll focus on this last year and three things that became very clear to me.

Understanding Mission

I have always felt that I didn’t quite fit in this industry.  Not because I am a woman, WOMEN fit here. ( my staff edited Girl to Woman here… I love thinking of myself as a girl… Just a girl underestimated but determined to shine – I think that is why I love Gwen’s song, “Just a Girl”).  I had felt at odds because I didn’t make or design anything. I often join organizations where I am listed as a media partner without “real” membership, a right to vote, or permission to be present in certain settings.  This created doubt in my mind if I truly belonged. I questioned if I could truly make a difference in the industry. This had been my limiting belief. After much reflection, I know I create and design things all the time. Having said that, I think my asset to the industry is my voice.  Communication, our voice, is one of the most valuable tools we have in the toolbox! I understand now the value of communications and how much our community needs media to share stories where the world can understand them.  It is also our job to use our voice to share the hard stories and to let leadership know when something is important to our industry.  As I worked with my team to create the #EmpoweringIndustryPodcast, I felt myself come alive. The voice of industry… a mission that I could proudly champion.  I am truly interested in the lives of the people who help our world run. I have met so many people over the last 17 years in the pump & equipment industry, and I am happiest when I am giving back to this community.  Connecting engineers and operators, sales and marketing, CEOs to interns, and welders to fashionistas!  This really inspires me, and I can see the difference it makes in the lives of others.  So my purpose hasn’t changed – I am still very much a part of this industry, and I love connecting and sharing stories of the amazing workforce that makes up… Industry!

Taking Care of myself

Ok. I am not expert in self-care, but I have made time to study it and improve. To be able to improve, we must be able to focus.  If you want focus, your brain must get the H2O it needs to work!  Otherwise, there will be no real focus happening… So, drink more water! It’s a habit worth forming! That wasn’t the hard part for me. My biggest challenge was giving myself permission to rest. I like to work. I like to travel. I like to meet with the best in our industry, but I found that I didn’t make time each day to reflect or reset.  Looking back, I think breathing was just too much of a pause sometimes 🙂 I have been learning how to stop and take time to just breathe. As a woman of faith, I start my day with a moment with God.  It is wonderful to know there is a purpose for your life each day and that you are loved without having to earn that love through works. If you start your day looking at how you can add value to other people’s life, it really makes a difference in your conversations and your work. Then, I plan my breaks throughout the day.  As a person who doesn’t like routine or stopping when a project isn’t finished, it was hard. But, I realize I am a better thinker when I shift gears for a bit when I feel my body tiring.  This doesn’t even have to be just sitting and doing nothing (this is stressful for me).  I can just do something different for a while. Usually I walk outside and check on my roses or go play a quick tennis match with my daughter (this is me just running after balls really). Sometimes I take a moment to paint or color, or take a good nap with my NapBar box! Then, I can come back to the project refreshed and with a renewed mind.

Encouragement from a network

I think the number one reason for our company’s success is the power of our network.  This Community has embraced my #charlimagic and continues to support me every day.  They have also supported our team, and for that I am truly thankful! I have an amazing team who loves our community as much as I do and enjoys serving the needs of our customers each day.  I am truly thankful for everyone who has helped me grow the Empowering Pumps & Equipment platform where we connect, inform, and educate the industry with purposeful content. We will continue to be your information and connection hub for the pump & equipment industry!  I would also like to recognize the women and men who have joined the Empowering Women in Industry Community! You have encouraged and inspired me this year to chase those big dreams and know that I absolutely belong in this industry with all you amazing leaders. I am truly thankful for you and look forward to another amazing year together!

Connecting Business, Industry, and Life via Podcast

EIP-promo-episode1-IG-3

In the Summer of 2016, I wrote a blog under the same title, Connecting Business and Life. I actually wrote about this in 2013 as well.. I guess it is my thing!  I’d like to begin this blog the same way I began the one in 2016…

“One of my favorite sayings is “There is no work-life balance, there is just life!” I say this because I live it everyday. I enjoy my work, but it is more than that. I am blessed to get to work in an industry that shows me daily how my business, the pump industry, is vital to life. From drinking water to manufacturing, none of it would be viable without pumps.”

This year I felt called to connect my business and life more closely. I have been debating a podcast for a few years now, but I didn’t want to “start something new.” But after Bethany visited Alabama in February, I told her my idea and she was excited for it. She encouraged me and help me take the next step toward this vision. I wrote down all my thoughts in my journal about who I could interview and what topics I would want to cover. Then, I sat on it. Late Feb, I attended the Hydraulic Institute’s conference and I felt something nudging me to use my voice. I heard it several times while I was there. Seems like this event is a right of passage every year. I evaluate my growth by the conversations and events that occur. I think this event means so much to me because I truly care about the pump industry. This time was not different, I felt I had information to contribute and if we work together we can solve them. But there seemed to be an extra “voice” in my head telling me to speak up.

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