Chandler

Archive for February, 2011


How to Hibernate a Small Business

February 27th, 2011 in Uncategorized comment Comments Off

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My coaching business has been in hibernation for one week.  This is intentional as I am due to have a baby around March 4th (that’s in 5-6 days).  I have been planning my “leave of absence” for a very long time.  At times I have worried that creating a baby and a business at the same time were completely incompatible.  At other times, I have felt strongly that they are complimentary projects. 

It only occurred to me as I write this post to search for guidance on the net how to put a business on hold. Surprizingly, my search turned up only a few articles (a rarity these days!):

  1. Can You Put Your Business “On Hold” Due to Health Reasons?
  2. Putting Your Business On Hold
  3. Mothers in Business: Growing a Business Sometimes Follows Your Children’s Path

Given the paucity of information, I will share some questions I feel need to be answered in formulating a plan to put your business on hold:

  1. How long will your business be “on hold”??  Are you going on vacation? Extended travel? Are you sick? Are you having a baby?  If the timeframe can be clearly defined and articulated, it is important to do so.  If the timeframe is indefinite, you will need to decide what you are willing to communicate, to whom, and what the consequences might be.
  2. What does “on hold” mean for your business? Will all operations cease for a period of time?  Will you still be able to meet some orders or provide some services?  What can your customers/ clients / prospects / employees expect while you are away from the business?
  3. What boundaries do you need to set for yourself? What lines in the sand do you need to draw in order to execute the plan you intend?  How will you walk away from your business if that is what is needed for whatever your reasons?
  4. What do you need to communicate to others (to set boundaries and expectations for them)? What is your official line?  Who needs to know about your plan ( i.e. your clients, colleagues, associates, employees, suppliers etc.)?  When will you tell them?  Where else will you share the news (i.e. on your website, in your blog, on your company voice mail, in an autoresponder in your email etc.)
  5. Who will support you? Who will support you to stick to your plan?  Who do the work if your business is still going to provide some products or services? 
  6. How will you manage your finances? What other sources of income will you have (i.e., private or government insurance, savings, line of credit, loans)?  Will the business have ongoing expenses even while on hold? Are there new ways to generate income during the on hold period (i.e. referral fees)? Are there any tax filing requirements during the time you will be away from the business? Who will handle this?
  7. What will your current clients and prospects tolerate? Do you have a loyal client base who will accept your leave and come back when your business is back in full tilt? Can they go without your product or service for the period your business will be on hiatus?  Would it make more sense to refer them to another business you trust will provide them what they need? Will new prospects who want to work with you/ your business be patient enough to wait or will you lose them to the competition?  
  8. What can you maintain? Is there a middle ground that keeps you in the business just to the degree that you can handle (i.e. Can you still post to your business blog? Can you still respond to queries? Can you still attend some industry or networking events?).  It is important to know what you still can do while still taking care of your other needs (i.e. looking after a baby or family member, getting treatment. convalescing, travelling etc.)
  9. What is your “come back” plan? While you cannot necessarily expect to turn on the revenue tap the minute you come back to your business, you can plan how you will get things rolling again. Will you come back gradually or all at once? Whom will you contact to let them know you are back? What type of promotional offer could generate the right kind of business faster? Are you able to pre-book any business for when you are back before you leave the business? Might you consider partnering with another business for referrals?  Will you need to do other work to generate income during the ramp up period?
  10. How will you course correct? In case you need to do this again in future or want to help a fellow entrepreneur go through this process, how can you keep track of what you’ve done well and your mistakes (your key learnings)?  How can you make course adjustments even while you are on leave?

In my case, I am taking a six month leave from my business.  I may coach on a very part-time basis after 3-4 months depending on how I feel and whether or not I have a baby that is easy to care for. For the first 3-4 months, I will not do any coaching and I have clearly communicated this to all my clients as well as IMPACT Consulting , a Toronto coaching company for whom I do corporate leadership and business development coaching.  While it took me a long time to commit to walking away from my business to take a maternity leave, I am now fully on board and I don’t expect to have any difficulties focussing on motherhood. I started telling clients very early (i.e. last fall) that I was pregnant and would be going on leave. An interesting thing seemed to happen with many of them…they accelerated their own processes in order to be in a good place re: their coaching objectives by the end of February when I planned to wrap up.

For a while, I considered bringing in associates to work under the Chandler Coaches banner.  In the end, I decided I would prefer to simply refer work to other coaches whom I trust so that clients would get great coaching and I would not be managing others/ doing invoicing etc while on leave. As my pregnancy has been planned for a long time, I have put in place a plan to manage my finances while on leave. 

Some of my clients plan to come back to my coaching practice when I am back. Others have finished their work for now.  I will need to continue business development efforts to generate new leads and follow up with existing prospects and former clients. 

I am sharing my plan here on my blog and may adjust my work voice mail.  In my case though, I am not going to be travelling or in hospital while on leave so I will be able to correspond in a timely way with anyone who contacts me for business.

Time will tell what I am able to maintain. For now, I would like to continue blogging and I may make it to a few coaching breakfasts etc.  I am not setting high expectations for myself and at the same time, I want to leave the door open for some part-time coaching before the end of six months if I feel like I am up for it.

So that’s my plan.  In truth, I would love to be so inspired by my new little baby that I follow in Pam Slim’s footsteps and have an extremely creative business period post baby.

For now, while I wait for labour to start, I have time to ask you: Have I forgotten anything for my own business hibernation? Does my 10 point list need anything else? Have you got any real life “business on hold” stories to share? I would love to hear from you. ———

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Boy or Girl: Care to Wager?

February 25th, 2011 in Uncategorized comment 69 Comments »

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I just finished making cookies (see the packages below).  Is this nesting behaviour or simply a craving?  No matter.  Tomorrow I am 39 weeks pregnant and I just had the idea that it would be fun to have a blog contest.  My brother Tim and his wife Natasha called me last night from Singapore (they are travelling around the world for 7 months) and urged me to get my father going on taking bets in the family. He’s agreed to be our bookie for the family but let’s make this little competition a little more interesting.

The Contest

Penelope Trunk sent out books.  I have been promising to send out cookies so here’s the deal: Guess the baby’s sex and then come closest in terms of birth date, time of birth and birth weight, ; if you are the winner, I will send you a big batch of cookies in the mail (or deliver them to you if you are in Montreal) as soon as I adjust to being a new mother.  

Here are a few facts to help you (and to even the playing field a bit):

  • My due date is March 4th (one week from tomorrow);
  • My doctor doesn’t want to let me go over my due date by much if at all (given my age);
  • The estimated weight of the baby at the last ultrasound (at 34 weeks) was 5 lbs 3 oz which was precisely average.

 

Ok…so….is my bundle a girl?

Or a boy?

When will he/ she be born (date and time)?

How much will he/ she weigh?

A big batch of cookies hangs in the balance so let’s hear from you below in the comments section by midnight tomorrow (Friday the 25th, 2011).

Judging

To qualify, you need to get the sex right; next you need to be closet to the date and time without going over (like The Price is Right); finally, I will look at birth weight.

________

If you like what you are reading, please click “Like” and share this post.  Most of my posts are more substantive.  Consider subscribing on the right hand side…this just means a summary of my blog posts will show up in your email box on Sundays. Alternatively, you can click the RSS button and have my posts show up in your Google Reader.

Be An Experiential Epicure And Nudge Up Your Happiness

February 20th, 2011 in Uncategorized comment 2 Comments »

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Photo from Cafe Johnsonia blog site at cafejohnsonia.blogspot.com

My friend James and I were talking about happiness yesterday over tea and delicious lemon cookies (I add the cookie detail because it’s hard not to be happy, at least for a short while, when one is consuming delectable cookies). James is not the kind of guy to laugh and smile all the time yet he is consistently a very peaceful and contented guy.   I tend to agree with the happiness set point theory which essentially says that we all have a genetically determined mood level that the vagaries of life may nudge upward or downward, but only for a while until we return to our set point.

I have been appreciating how happy I feel lately as I expect my baby, am learning all kinds of new things, have just wrapped up some very meaningful coaching work with a number of clients and am surrounded by support.   Perhaps I am enjoying how my life circumstances have nudged me upward for now.  In honour of this, I want to share a few resources: 

  1. My close friend and fellow coach Tanya Geisler just launched The Joy Pages.  She wrote The Joy Pages in honour of her mom who died several years ago. Her mom lived by the mantra “don’t postpone joy!” and Tanya has wanted to create these pages for a long time.  You can download her interactive workbook for free by subscribing at her site; just look to the right hand side for the beautiful trees that are sprawling off the margins on purpose!
  2. I am getting really sick of Oprah. I caught as bit of one of her shows while she was in Australia and thought to myself “Good God, this woman is really over the top with all her favourite things…”.  Martha Beck, life coach, on the other hand, often writes worthwhile articles in O Magazine.  Last month she wrote The 20 Questions That Could Change Your Life.   In coaching, we are all about powerful questions and I believe Martha has hit on some that really measure up for those looking for meaningful/ happy lives.
  3. Our March book club selection is The Happiness Project  by Gretchen Rubin. Keener that I am, I bought it and read it this week in the hopes that even though my baby will surely be born by our book club meeting, I might be able to attend with my babe.  I really didn’t like this book and I cannot tell you exactly why. I think it is because Gretchen’s year long happiness project had too many foci, too many rules, too many projects and was too damn cerebral.   I did, however, like her notion of creating her own splendid truths and some personal commandments.  Read this book if you really want to make happiness a serious project. 

Taken all together I say get The Joy Pages, ponder the 20 questions and skip the book unless you really want a deep dive.   And if you also believe in the set point theory, nudge yourself to the higher registers of your range by following the late Dr. David T. Lykken’s advice:

Be an experiential epicure. A steady diet of simple pleasures will keep you above your set point. Find the small things that you know give you a little high — a good meal, working in the garden, time with friends — and sprinkle your life with them. In the long run, that will leave you happier than some grand achievement that gives you a big lift for a while.

Single and Showered with Support

February 15th, 2011 in Uncategorized comment 20 Comments »

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Andy Warhol Shower Cupcakes ..."the idea of waiting for something makes it more enticing". The cupcakes at the other shower were "to die for" too!

This past Saturday I attended Bientôt Bébe, the hospital’s prenatal course, at the Royal Victoria where I will be delivering my baby sometime very soon.   I was THE only single woman there among a sea of a dozen couples.  The nurse who was leading the course didn’t seem used to having single women in the class and her language the entire day was focussed on the couple.   When it came time to practice massage during labour, I was the “lucky” contestant called to the stage to be her guinea pig.    

Fortunately, I have thick skin about this stuff.  Even still, as we watched the video in which the husband was incredibly supportive during labour (many friends who are mothers would say this is the exception), I found myself feeling sad and very on my own. Certainly, I would love to to sharing the birthing process and my newborn with a loving partner and father. Ultimately though, I chose to have a baby myself  because it didn’t feel right to create a family with any of the men I have been in relationships with.    As I have told many friends, I have a lot of confidence that I will someday be sharing my child with a loving partner. I am just doing it backwards out of biological necessity.  Perhaps my love life will unfold in keeping with this kookie horoscope a friend sent me earlier this week:

“CANCER (June 21-July 22): Your love story has elements of a farce mixed
with a soap opera, fairy tale, and ghost story. For a normal human being,
it might be too intense and convoluted to deal with; it requires so much
willing suspension of disbelief and involves so much letting go of certainty
that no one in their right mind would agree to its demands. Luckily, you’re
not a normal human being these days, and you’re not particularly in your
right mind. That’s why I say unto you: Ride this snaky tale for all it’s
worth. Enjoy every plot twist and riddle as if you’ve been given an epic
myth you can ponder and learn from for the next ten years. Happy
Valentine Daze, Cancerian!”

The flip side to this “woe is me” perspective above is that I have been showered with support through my fertility journey and particularly though my pregnancy.  I cannot tell you if I have had more support as a single woman than a woman in a couple would have had but I suspect the answer is YES. 

The newly painted baby room and some adorable gifts hanging out together.

If you read my last post, you know I like to make lists.  I would love to make comprehensive list of all the support I have had just to see it for myself but I will surely forget to acknowledge someone.  Instead I will talk in slightly more general terms: Two close friends hosted baby showers for me in Toronto and Montreal respectively. My Toastmasters group also held a “baby shower” themed evening;  another close friend attended many medical procedures with me  and will be with me in labour too; my dad flew up to Montreal last week from Charlottetown to do house projects and my aunt had flown up earlier and help me get organized; friends have done everything from sort baby clothes hand me downs to moving furniture and have even painted the baby room from top to bottom; other friends and my sister gave me maternity clothes (and baby clothes); my landlord has been shovelling all the snow; some of my clients have sent gifts; my mom is flying up on my due date to help me for 3 weeks! And I even received a baby book in the mail from my favourite blogger Penelope Trunk, who said I didn’t really qualify for her book give away offer because my baby wasn’t even born yet and then proceeded to send me a lovely book with a yellow bow anyway!

Duck at the Door from Penelope Trunk

And so, what I am learning these days is that perhaps I can have everything I want in life, just not all at the same time. And that having a supportive family and an incredible group of friends, colleagues and clients helps me feel strong. I am certainly not alone in any of this. And I am GRATEFUL.
______________
I have given myself full permission to blog on whatever topic inspires me these days. Generally, I like to tie my posts to some type of business theme. As I wrap up my work to take a few months off for a maternity leave, I am naturally more in tune with my naval and all things baby.  Nonetheless, I think there are parallels one can draw to business too.  Being an entrepreneur can be a very lonely endeavour unless one is surrounded by a village of support.
 
——

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A Fearful Bookworm

February 10th, 2011 in Uncategorized comment 2 Comments »

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image from www.freeclipartnow.com

I am a list maker.  At any given time these days I have lists on the go for:

My work “to do’s” (will you think me quite anal when I tell you this particular list has a dozen sub-sections?)

Tasks in preparation for the arrival of my baby (due March 4th)

Shopping in preparation for the baby and my trip to the hospital for labour and delivery

Blog ideas

Business development prospects

Groceries

Thank you notes to write

Making lists and accomplishing the items is satisfying to me.  It also helps me to focus.  Did you know that the brain of a pregnant woman is 3-8% smaller?  I cannot blaim pregnancy though. I have been a list maker for as long as I can remember.  You will see below what motivates me to make lists but before I expose myself, I want to share one particular list with you.

This is a list of all the books I have read since the beginning of December. I knew I had been reading a lot but was astounded when I listed them all.  

Non Fiction

  1. The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels-  Michael Watkins
  2. The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work-  Shawn Achor
  3. The Leadership Challenge- Kouzes & Posner
  4. Changing My Mind- Margaret Trudeau
  5. Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain- Portia de Rossi
  6. The Art of Non-Conformity- Chris Guillebeau
  7. Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual- Michael Pollen
  8. The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy (or Everything Your Doctor Won’t Tell You) – Vicki Iodine

Fiction

  1. The Help – Kathryn Socket
  2. The Secret Life of Bees – Sue Monk Kidd
  3. Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures – Vincent Lam
  4. Olive Kitteridge – Elizabeth Strout
  5. The Distant Hours - Kate Morton (I gave up with 100 pages left as it was dragging!)

In Progress

  1. Best feeding: How to Breastfeed Your Baby - Suzanne Arms, Chloe Fisher, and Mary Renfrew
  2. Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child – Marc Weissbluth, M.D.
  3. The Happiest Baby on the Block: The New Way to Calm Crying and Help Your Newborn Baby Sleep Longer -  Harvey Karp M.D.
  4. The Book of Awesome – Neil Pasricha (There is a great TED Talk by Neil here)
  5. Insert good fiction book here…anyone have any suggestions? I would like to read something that doesn’t talk about the five steps on how to soothe your baby with the Cuddle Cure!

I said I have a point and I do.  I could talk about how making lists increases productivity but you likely know that already.  What is way more interesting to me is what motivates me to make all these lists (and what motivated me to read like crazy during the past two months).  I believe it is fear.  Fear of forgetting something and looking bad.  Fear of not delivering and dissappointing someone. Fear of not being prepared.  And in the case of the reading…fear of having no time to ever read again once I have a child! 

Yes, of course I am also motivated by productivity, great client service, and especially all the learning I gain from books.  But isn’t it interesting that fear is right up there? 

I wouldn’t change how I have behaved the past couple of months.  I will soon wind down from my work and I will feel good knowing I have served my clients well and that I am as prepared as one can be to have my baby.  Similarly, I wouldn’t unread any of the books I choose to read. 

But isn’t it interesting to notice all the places fear shows up?  Where does it show up for you?

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Forward Motion and A Ukelele!

February 1st, 2011 in Uncategorized comment 6 Comments »

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My Nanny MacLeod in her new residence being visited by my brother's dog Gracie.

 

Two weeks ago, my family (well, really my parents and my aunt) moved my 90 year old grandmother from her own home near my parents place to a community care home.  
 
The Not So Funny Part
A number of years ago, Nanny was diagnosed as having early stage Alzheimer’s Disease.  At the time, she was simply forgetful. Since her diagnosis, she has managed to live in her own home albeit with ever increasing support from my parents, my aunt and several neighbours.   For as long as I can remember, her response to “how are you?” has been “physically, I am fine…but there is not much between my ears”.  Nonetheless, in her mind,  she has still been taking out her own garbage, cooking her own meals, baking, and cutting her own grass.  In reality, she has no short-term memory and hasn’t been doing any of this for a long while.  Ironically, she still does the daily word jumble and cryptoquote from The Guardian.  That baffles the mind.
 
Reaching an agreement to move Nanny took a very long time and was very hard on my mom and my aunt for different reasons.   It was particularly difficult because my grandmother threatened to go kicking and screaming and a few times even suggested she would take poison if they attempted to move her. 
  
I spent one night with my grandmother in a hotel room in Halifax this past September during my brother’s wedding.  Several times during the night, I witnessed her efforts to claw her way out of the room in total confusion.  Admittedly, I wasn’t convinced she would settle into a new setting very easily. What I was convinced about, though, was the need for my mother and my aunt to take some type of action, at least on a trial basis.
 
The Make You Smile Part
Two weeks ago, the long discussed move went down.  I think we all held our breath to see what would happen. My family did everything they could to make it easy on Nanny (i.e. my dad moved her TV and stereo in before she arrived, my mother stayed overnight with her the first night, my aunt played cribbage with her as a distraction, her neighbours arrived with flowers and chocolates etc.).  And while she was pretty confused by nightfall, she didn’t bolt for the door.  And she didn’t take poison!
 
The Make You Laugh Out Loud Part
About a week ago, we all got this email from my mom:
 
Thought you would all be interested in knowing what Nanny has been up to during the past week. I had a chat with the activity director at Andrew’s today and she tells me that Mom has attended all of the scheduled events and always appears to be fully participating and enjoying herself. I know she does not remember where she has been [after the fact] but when in the moment she is happy.
 
Here’s what she has been doing: 
  • Several afternoon concerts
  • Fun and Fitness (4 mornings a week)
  • Church (twice already)
  • Resident birthday party (held once a month for all those who celebrate in the month)
  • Choir Practice
  • Bible study
  • And you will love this one-yeesterday she went to ukelele lessons!!!!
  • Tomorrow is Bingo and Monday is games day.
 
 
… That’s a lot of progress in one week don’t you think? I walked her down to supper and she went in smiling and took her seat. Yesterday, I took her out for a hair cut and she just walked right back in without question. Perhaps there are good things about not having any short term memory.
 
I know that there will be set backs but it has convinced me that she is in the right place.
My parents took Nanny to their home for dinner on Saturday night and upon returning her back to her new home, she asked the front desk clerk, “Have any men been calling for me?” Often, her lack of inhibitions can be irksome and inappropriate. Sometimes it is just downright playful and funny!
 
This Whole StoryRe-affirms a Few Things For Me:
  • When in doubt, choose forward motion and make a decision (and then do everything in your power to make sure it was a good decision or be willing to make a new decision if things don’t pan out);
  • Things are rarely as bad as you can imagine and one can waste an incredible amount of energy and suffer greatly by worrying about the future;
  • The things you dread can often become delights if you give them space to unfold and pay attention to the positives;
  • Old dogs can learn new tricks…though in the case of Nanny and the ukelele, I am betting that she won’t be giving a concert any time soon!