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

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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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Connecting Business, Industry, and Life via Podcast

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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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ONE… the number denoting unity, the first in a set or series

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Some would argue that a word has one meaning. I believe words change depending on who uses them and how they are used. This year we will look into the power of one. What impact can ONE have on our world? I think we forget how much power we have as individuals. We have the power to affect change, to innovate, and to accelerate. We must look inward for the passions and purpose we are called to do. Then, we must share it. Your idea, thought, vision, technology is “the first in a series” and when you find others with this common mission, then we have unity. (the song U N I T Y, that’s a unity is now playing in my mind). I have seen this firsthand with Empowering Women in Industry. My search to find role models turned into a circle of women supporting women everyday.

We just completed our first conference series on #BetheChange! It included power women such as Barbara Trautlein and Shannon Bumgarner who discussed Change Intelligence and the Imposter Syndrome! After two events, we have trained and encouraged 320 women to be a better version of themselves as leaders in their communities! Our next conference theme will be #MakeanImpact. I hope you will plan to join us in New Orleans for #EmpoweringWomen2020 and support women in unity everyday! You can learn more at EmpoweringWomeninIndustry.com

As I continue to focus on how to make an impact, I look for ways I can draw attention to others creating positive change. What mission are you on? Drop me a note in the comments below!

Doing Good Things in 2020

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What will 2020 look like?

I chose this photo to allow our minds to fill in the blank… Who do you see around your conference table? Who will lead your team?  Take a moment and imagine who is around your table.  

Now, who else should be invited to join you there?  

I also chose this photo because the text, “Do Good Things” spoke to me.  As we look to make an impact in our industry, it must be done with a mindset of doing good work.  We must focus on coming together to share knowledge and experiences for the good of our industry. There is much work to do, but if we work together we can create change!

As I research leadership and workforce development, I am becoming acutely aware when things seem out of place. I feel a responsibility to act when I see things that should be done differently.  As many of you know, the challenge starts with knowing one’s own leadership style (or leading one’s self) and then understanding how best to be a catalyst for change.  As I work on developing my skills, I challenge you to do the same.  I challenge you to try to see things from another’s point of view and try to reach them where they are.

I have an experience to share that shines a light on the change I would like to see in our industry…

Earlier this year, I walked into a leadership group discussing how we could improve our workforce. This sounds like a great situation to walk into, but at a closer look I saw a challenge that needs our attention. The group around the conference table were all older white males dressed in suits. I don’t think this represents our workforce and I think we should work toward creating a group that better represents the workforce. There were no people of color.  No women. No young professionals. No facility workers.  As much as I respect those men in the room and value their insight as successful leaders in industry, I believe we could benefit from additional insight from a diverse group.  Now, building a diverse group of senior leaders is not easy.  We must recruit and explain why it is important to have a diverse and inclusive group.  These aren’t easy conversations.  It takes courage from leadership and the willingness to listen to others who may think differently.  We must also be willing to invite leaders who may not necessarily have the traditional titles associated with the C-suite. Statistics show the C-suite is not diverse, so how can we adapt and solve this problem.

I understand that an initiative to be diverse and inclusive doesn’t happen overnight. I do believe we have a responsibility to point out when we see things need to change, so that we can improve. As I learn how to do this more effectively, I hope this blog will inspire others to look at how they can be change agents as well.  The rest of this story is an example of something that “in my opinion” needs to change. 

As I turn to leave, I noticed there actually was a woman in the room.  She was a member of the event staff at the director level.  She sat on the edge of her chair leading forward to hear…  This image of her sitting in the back corner along the wall, the only one not at the table, is forever burned in my mind… 

In 2020, WE MUST DO BETTER!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on how to improve diversity and inclusion in the workforce. Comment here or feel free to send me a direct message.