M is for Mission-Based

blue target iconA couple of weeks ago I wrote an article about turning resolutions into achievable goals.

Following my own advice, I set a goal for myself to close 5 new clients in January. 2 weeks in, I had taken lots of steps in the article, started getting tons of leads and even got a couple of new clients.

But I discovered something very interesting. Although my leads were soaring and I started getting prospects really interested in working with me, many were not my ideal clients. Although I could technically offer what they were looking for, there were enough differences in each type of client that I would have to dedicate extra time, energy and resources to working with all of them. I would be all over the place.

They were not my ideal clients because they weren’t in line with my mission and how I can best serve humanity.  

So I was stuck having to make a decision: do I close these clients who I’m not super passionate about working with and potentially not deliver my best and be drained working with them?

No. You see, this is not a sustainable business model.

It is true that many times we must follow one path that doesn’t feel like it’s fulfilling our mission, but that provides us income to survive and certain skills we need to strengthen and prepare ourselves to continue fulfilling our mission.

I have a client who is an attorney entrepreneur who was doing mindless freelance work, when I helped her get clear about her mission and path about a year ago. We were both really excited, and she had and still has so much potential. A month after our Mission M.A.P. session, I did a follow-up with her in which she told me she replaced her freelance work by becoming an independent agent in a completely different industry. She still wanted to pursue her mission, but needed to gain some stable income first and couldn’t do the mindless legal work anymore.

Recently I spoke to her and she told me that looking back, she was just not confident in her abilities and her competency back then to go all-in with her mission. Over the last year she has built her network, learned how to be a salesperson and gained other valuable skills that are going to be important once she goes all in into her mission-driven business. Very importantly, she was clear that the job she’s in now is not her forever career.

A sustainable business is not one in which you close whatever clients are low hanging fruit just to get a check. That is survival. There is no strategy to that. Looking back over the last 7 years, I realized I went through periods of this. This is a recipe for burnout, not success.

You can have 1 or 2 clients or business avenues like this to build a financial foundation, parallel to building a sustainable business model with your ideal, mission-based clients.

Remember knowing who you want to work with (your target clients) and how you can best serve them (unique value proposition/client offering), is part of the Mission-Based Business & Branding process.

So to add to the previous article, make sure you create S.M.M.A.R.T. goals: Specific, Measurable, Mission-Based, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound.

Has this ever happened to you? Share in the comments below.

 

*For more guidance clarifying your mission,  creating your brand, setting business goals, and creating plans for action to achieve your goals, I’m offering new year coaching specials through the end of the month. If you or anyone you know needs that extra push, now is a great time to start! You can also set up a complimentary Discovery Call with me to learn about the Mission Based Branding and Business Method and see if it’s right for you.

Screw Credibility as a Motivator

credibility2This week in my year-end reflection, I looked back on my business and my entire 15-year career with clarity and compassion. I realized that at varying times I’ve toggled between being in growth/learning mode or being in contribution mode as motivation in my career. [Note these are part of the 6 human needs according to Tony Robbins — lower ego needs: Certainty, Variety, Significance and Love; higher spiritual needs: Growth and Contribution]. Although I’ve tried, rarely have I ever been motivated fully by both Growth and Contribution at the same time.

Another thing I noticed is that at times I was motivated by attaining Credibility. I’m referring to the titles, the degrees, the certifications, the courses, you name it. There’s a big difference between gaining all those notches on your belt out of a genuine passion for knowledge — or out of a need to feel important or better about yourself (aka Significance). Or because you believe you’re not enough (limiting belief).

Whenever I focused on gaining Credibility for myself or my business, I plateaued or eventually faltered. It’s because I wasn’t fully creating with passion and purpose; I wasn’t fully focused on serving others, rather my own ego. Not surprisingly, although there may have been some learning, it rarely resulted in much expansion and growth.

I’ve even spouted “increased Credibility” as a benefit of using some of my branding and positioning services; and that’s okay, but it’s not necessary. I know many mission-driven entrepreneurs who chase the next certification because they don’t believe they’re good enough right now to be trusted, reputable and taken seriously to gain clients. No judgment — I’ve been there too!

This is actually a form of self sabotage, because really, when are you credible enough? There’s the 10,000 expertise hours Tipping-Point theory according to Gladwell. But why spend years of your life to try to perfect a talent you were born with or experience acquired on your life journey?

Because my traditional understanding of success meant acquiring degrees and climbing up the corporate ladder, I was truly humbled when I first became an entrepreneur and saw others who were extraordinarily successful with no degree, no certifications and just a passion and mission to grow and contribute through business.

Needing all those graduate degrees, certifications and rolodex of contacts only serves your ego and not your clients. Sure, they may want to see a degree or license to intellectually validate their decision to work with you, but really your experience, learnings and most importantly your desire and passion to help them is what most serves them.

Of course, there are always some ego needs to fill. But if you want to be successful as a Missionpreneur, screw the credibility factor as a motivator and focus on your clients and doing what you’re passionate about, serving others and growing for your sake and the sake of who you are serving.

After channeling this message in my meditation today, I took a risk and started honing a new skill in my branding and business coaching business. It is not something I can necessarily flaunt my titles and degrees to show how “credible” I am. And yet, I know that it will serve others in a huge way.

Takeaway: You don’t need all the degrees and titles to start or have a successful business. You can help others no matter where you are in the process or how many certifications you have or don’t have. You may not see it right away, but find the way that best serves others where you’re at right now!

If you’re still stuck and need some guidance making it through murky waters, set up a time to chat with me for a complimentary clarity call: calendly.com/alexandrafigueredo!

You’re not alone

man despairToday is #WorldMentalHealthDay

Many people may see me as an overly happy, smiley and positive person. My sisters would get so annoyed with me as a kid because I would laugh and sing incessantly. I have family members that still call me “Sunshine,” “Isadora Duncan”(the ballerina), and the list goes on. Most of my life, I’ve been generally pretty happy, smiley and emotionally stable.

But as soon as I became an entrepreneur, things changed dramatically. Without the constant of a paycheck every 2 weeks, my already sensitive nature turned into hot mess emotional. I’ve never had a panic attack or cried uncontrollably until I became an entrepreneur. Some days I still cry multiple times a day.

At first I was really scared because I thought something was wrong with me. I’ve gone to therapy and done other holistic treatments like hypnosis and emotional freedom techniques (EFT/tapping).

“So how do you stay so happy and smiley?”, I get asked all the time.

Over the years I’ve been able to take advantage of these emotions and use them as invaluable feedback.

One thing I do is write, journal, jot down my thoughts and feelings–and if I start crying, get angry or pout, I go with it. I don’t try to hide them, suppress them, judge them, get angry or shame myself.

99% of the time, I feel instantly better after going through this process.

But I am not happy and smiley all the time. It is because I go through this exercise of allowing myself to feel my feelings and emotions and cry that I am able to release those, move on and feel more at peace and joyful.

And if you ever feel this way, know you’re not alone. I’m here for you if you ever want to talk or share your thoughts and feelings.

What do you do to manage your stress and emotions?

Love, peace, joy and occasional tears to you!

About Alexandra Figueredo:

Alexandra’s mission is to inspire, empower and support you to #BeTheMission! She is Founder & CEO of Latina Founders and Mission Based Branding Institute communications agency and training platform for impact businesses and entrepreneurs. This reformed banker turned “Missionpreneur” is also a speaker, author, writer, arts and culture lover, traveler (5 continents and counting!) and citizen of the world! Follow her musings at @OnAMissionAlex.

Don’t Give Up Your Weekends Working

When I was a kid, I remember a family member talking about how terrible it was to be in entertainment or hospitality because “then you’d give up your weekends working.” I think we were either talking about being performers or restaurant owners or both, but deep down I think it was a way to dissuade me from becoming Gloria Estefan!

Well, it stuck. What a shitty view to put on a young person. Do you see how we unknowingly self-sabotage ourselves sometimes based on other people’s screwed-up belief systems?

Subconsciously this taught me two things:

1) You shouldn’t follow your passion

2) You can’t work on the weekend and enjoy your weekend at the same time

Gloriaestefan_ahoyI enjoy food and singing, so I have no doubt I could have been a successful performer AND restaurant owner like Gloria Estefan. Instead I studied finance and became a banker because that was the “right thing to do.” It was safe. It was boring. And eventually I became dissatisfied and unfulfilled.

It’s not surprising that I struggled financially when I finally became an entrepreneur following my passion and working in something I enjoyed (at all hours of the week and weekend) because of underlying belief systems including that damned weekend killer.

But so many times I’ve proven that statement wrong. For example, I worked as a publicist for theaters and entertainment venues in the evenings and weekends and loved it!

Today I love working with Missionpreneurs.

This week, after long days of work, I’ve spent extra time in the evenings coaching mission-driven startups who are pitching their businesses this Thursday at a pitch competition at Venture Cafe Miami (@VentureCafeMia). Even though I’m doing it pro-bono, I enjoy it, I’m excited about it, I love helping them and I feel invested in their success. It doesn’t feel like “work” (and in this case, I’m not even getting paid).

I’ve often asked my clients and colleagues, what would you do if earning income were not necessary. After the usual “travel for a year,” most people want to do what they love and contribute. For me, I’d be doing what I’ve done today AND tonight — mentoring, empowering and supporting other mission-driven entrepreneurs and leaders.

Follow your passion and do what you enjoy even if you have to work during the evening, during the weekend, during lunch breaks, during your mani and pedi, or giving the mani and pedi…

This is your life.

If it makes you feel good, you certainly shouldn’t live your life by someone else’s standards.

By the way, it isn’t too late to course-correct and start on that path now. I did it at around 30. You can do it at any age.

Shoot, now may even be the right time to become the next Estefan.

 

Do you have a problem working evenings or weekends? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Alexandra’s mission is to inspire, empower and support you to #BeTheMission! She is Founder & CEO of Latina Founders and Mission Based Branding Institute communications agency and training platform for impact businesses and entrepreneurs. This reformed banker turned “Missionpreneur” is also a speaker, author, writer, arts and culture lover, traveler (5 continents and counting!) and citizen of the world! Follow her musings at @OnAMissionAlex.

Focus Impacts IMPACT

FocusOn my quest to be the best “Missionpreneur Mentor” I can be, I am constantly searching for what I refer to as the “hypotenuse solution” in all areas of business for myself and others. If you remember anything from high school geometry, the hypotenuse is the shortest distance in a right triangle–well I do that with business as in life.

As a Missionpreneur, my bright idea for a hypotenuse solution was to apply to a couple of startup accelerator programs for a startup I have been “starting up” for several years and now trying to revive. The thing is, I’m also running my own agency and involved in a few other ventures and charitable projects. You could say my attention is divided, and the startup is possibly the last on the priority list. Plus the startup itself is in the process of reinvention, so there is no clearly defined business model.  Not surprisingly, my startup didn’t get chosen for any of the programs I applied to.

At the same time, a close friend applied to a few accelerators and got chosen for one and is interviewing for another. These accelerators are extremely competitive, with over one thousand applicants for each. The fact his business got chosen as one of five teams out of over a thousand is a real accomplishment in and of itself. Not to mention the proverbial door-opening to resources, education, collaboration and of course, potential investor funding.

When I assess the difference between our two scenarios with respect to our startups, it comes down to FOCUS. Firstly, as the CEO of his startup, my friend focuses most of his time and attention on building that business, even though he is also a consultant who earns additional income outside of the startup. Secondly, that business itself has a very focused, clear and specific brand and mission; it’s not trying to do or be everything to everyone, although there is potential for future expansion. Thirdly, he made the accelerator application process a priority because he knew that this opportunity was the best way to accelerate and potentially skyrocket his business, revenue and investment potential quickly. He just knew he was going to get accepted to one of the programs, and although it was still a highly stressful process wrought with frustration and doubts, he never gave up until he made it. This inspires me as an entrepreneur.

It got me thinking about the founding of other startups that are now billion dollar businesses–Facebook, Airbnb, Apple, Lyft–and how their focused attention on one key product or service has helped them grow and scale and make a bigger impact on close to a billion people (or nearly two billion as of today in the case of Facebook). Or look at iconic brands with one key product such as Kleenex, Nike and Jacuzzi that still exist today and still lead the market and industry in brand recognition.

At the same time, there are some so-called impact aggregators with a huge mission to impact billions of people; their mission is inspiring and they are trying to find global solutions in many different areas. But instead they are so unfocused, scattered in their attention, chasing after several bright, shiny objects in multiple categories, that they are not quite making the big impact in any one area that they desire. In fact, I have a friend who is an industry expert and thought leader who works at one of these impact businesses and flat out told me in her professional opinion I would make a greater impact working at Facebook. Sure, none of the aforementioned businesses are perfect and their paths have certainly never been “easy”, but in terms of impact, FOCUS was a stronger strategy than trying to be everything to everyone.

How can you apply this to your career/business? Follow these three steps:

  1. What is your one big business goal or dream? Define that and make sure you are devoting most of your time and attention on this. If you can’t do that for any reason, then it shouldn’t be a surprise if you’re not progressing as well as you’d like in that venture.
  2. Does your career/business have a clear, focused mission, brand, business model and key service/product? If not, do an analysis of what is working and what isn’t working. Be as specific as possible, and focus your business and messaging on what works and transition out of what doesn’t.
  3. Prioritize opportunities to accelerate your impact.  Now that you’re focused on a venture that has a clear and specific brand and business model, you will more clearly see the opportunities that will skyrocket your business. Seek those opportunities and believe they are possible. You may even have clients and investors seeking you out! [As it turns out, one of the principals of the accelerator that accepted my friend actually found his startup on AngelList, a site focused on resources for startups!]

How has Focus or lack of focus helped or hurt your business? Is there a step I’m missing? Feel free to add your comments below. And remember, when in doubt:

Focus on Focus!

~Alexandra 😉

 

P.S. – Also if you need help focusing and clarifying your mission, brand and business, we can help! We offer full day or half day Mission M.A.P. sessions or Strategy Programs to get you to clear and stand out in your industry and attract your ideal clients. 

 

Be Perfectly Imperfect

Photo of me at templar castle, Peñiscola, Spain
Photo of me at templar castle, Peñiscola, Spain
Perfection doesn’t exist. It’s an illusion. Just do and be your best.
 
How has trying to be perfect impeded your growth or held you back?
 
I’ve struggled through this need to be perfect throughout my life, feeling that I had to change myself or be something else because I sought approval from other people. It’s affected everything from my career choices (I used to be a former banker), to relationships, to my body image.
Trying to be “perfect”, essentially something I’m not and can never live up to, has been a huge form of pain. Fitting a mold others’ put on me has caused me to go into professions and industries that were not mission-driven. Living up to others’ expectations, and also expecting those expectations on others has hurt countless relationships, personally and professionally. Even the need to be perfect caused a delusional tug-of-war in my mind that created guilt in the form of a distorted negative body image and even led to an eating disorder when I was a teenager. 
Perfectionism–AND lack of being perfect–has been a convenient form of self-sabotage. Apart from everything else I’ve mentioned, it’s kept me small, blocking the creative flow and preventing me from stepping up into the highest and fullest expression of myself. 
 
Again, perfection is an illusion. I choose now to be perfectly imperfect and rather strive to do and be my best, which I do every day. 
How about you? How have you tried to be perfect and how has it affected your creativity and authenticity? What helps you move past this?
Please share in the comments below.