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Advice & Insights for Small Business

Get small business advice from our handpicked selection of Canada’s small business leaders. Give your business an edge through powerful talks, expert 1-on-1 advice, networking opportunities and valuable workshops.

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ACT ON IT! Success and Empowerment System for Entrepreneurs and Business Owners

You know WHAT to do but don’t have the results you expected. Learn why the soft skills are the hard skills and how to act on them with Erin Acton, certified life and business coach.

If you’ve ever thought, “I’m doing all the ‘right’ things. Why isn’t this working?” you likely have an issue with a soft skill. Working harder and harder for fewer results can crush the spirit of even the most resilient. It doesn’t have to be that way. Find out that when you act on a seemingly insignificant soft skill, you can create massive growth for your business this year.

In this interactive and personalized experience, Erin will walk you through a fun and engaging session where you will discover if you need to focus on your soft skills.

You’ll learn:
• How to tell if you have a hard-skill or soft-skill problem
• Why you’d even want to work on soft skills when you could be working
on something specifically related to your business (like a marketing plan)
• How soft skills impact your business results

Date: January 26, 2018
Event: SOHO Victoria
Topic: ACT ON IT! Success and Empowerment System for Entrepreneurs and Business Owners
Venue: Victoria Conference Centre
Location: 720 Douglas St
Victoria, BC
Public: Public
Registration: Click here to register.
More Info: Click here for more information.

Need a speaker for your next event? Contact me erin at erin acton dot com

A Personal Story and Request

Burnout to Balance Bootcamp Red Cross of Canada Fundraiser
September 21, 2017

It was coming up on Christmas. I had a job interview lined up that had the potential to crack me out of the radio news industry and into the communications world. I had been in radio for the last 10 years, and I wanted out so badly. I’d prepped a resume, a portfolio of my radio and TV news clips, and totally revamped my resume, and made it to the interview stage. I was so excited! The interview was set for Monday and so I was spending that Friday night prepping.

And that’s when I got a call. It was a call that I had been both fearing and expecting.

You see, 16 years earlier when I was 12, my dad was diagnosed with cancer. Yes, he persevered 16 years after being diagnosed with a stage-3 cancer (out of 4 stages), and persevered through what I can only imagine is unimaginable pain as it slowly spread throughout the rest of his body, twisting his spine, splotching his vision, and stealing his strength. We knew what was happening. I knew I was going to get this call one day.

It was my sisters. They were already back at my parents for the holidays. “Erin, it’s time to come home to be with Dad.”

And yet, in that moment it was totally unexpected. Now? Right before my interview? At Christmas? Are you freaking kidding me? There was no question though what I was going to do. I hopped on the next flight home and let the organization know I couldn’t make the interview. If it was meant to be, it would happen.

That’s my point: even when you know something is happening, you don’t know WHEN it will happen. You never know when you’re going to need support until you need it. We received support from a couple of organizations and so many people during those last couple of weeks of my dad’s life. One of them was the Red Cross. They have a medical equipment loan program. Did you know that? I didn’t until that week. We walked in and they gave us equipment, free of charge, that helped make my family and my dad’s life just a little bit easier in those last few days. It was still traumatic. And we KNEW it was going to happen.

Imagine what it must be like for the people who are hit with the unexpected: wildfire that consumes homes and communities in sometimes mere minutes, earthquakes like the one in Mexico this past week that level schools in seconds, hurricanes like the ones hammering the Caribbean and East Coast.

One thing you can count on is knowing that the Red Cross will be there for you should you ever need them. No questions. Just support and supplies in your moment of need.

It’s because of that that I’m inviting you to take this opportunity to donate to the Red Cross and make a profound impact for someone who really needs it right now.

And to make it fun (because #fun!) I’m providing some incentives:

Your donation of up to $99 via my official Red Cross website (link below): Receive a hard copy of my Stop Overwhelm training. Organizations hire me to train their teams on this technique to identify overwhelm as it’s happening, nip it in the bud, and get calm so they can regain their focus and increase productivity.

Your donation of $100 and up to $499: The first five donations will receive as a thank-you gift, one hour of coaching with me. What would one hour of objective insight from a certified life and business coach be worth to you and your business?

Your donation of $500 and up: The first five will receive the gift of a VIP Day with me. This is a full day of coaching with all of my time, energy, and attention on you. What might a day of strategy setting, roadblock clearing, and opportunity leveraging do for your life, career, and/or business?

Plus, I am personally matching all donations up to $500.

DONATIONS ARE NOW CLOSED.

PS – I got the job. We rescheduled the interview for the New Year and I nailed it. And as a beautiful bonus, Dad stuck it out long enough to enjoy Christmas dinner with all of us and passed away a couple of days later. Of all the Christmas gifts I’ve had, the best one by far was waking up that Christmas morning and hearing my Dad’s voice upstairs. We got one last Christmas morning with him and I am so grateful. <3

#gratitude #love #community #giveback

Working Too Hard With No Other Option?

How to Have More Work-Life Balance

Need to give ‘er and have no other option but to work hard? I’m sharing five steps to make sure that you still have work-life balance.

First, make sure you know the signs of overwhelm. This is critical because overwhelm slows you down, scatters your thoughts, and makes you less productive. When you need to knuckle down and buckle down, overwhelm is a huge cramp in your side. Watch last week’s video here for the detailed information or read the written summary so that you can learn the signs and then stop it in its tracks. Download a free tool to get calm in 3-2-1 so you can get calm and focused and get back to business.

Then, once you know those signs and have your tool to address overwhelm, here are five steps you need to take to ensure you have more balance.

Step 1: Set Work-Life Balance Goals

Without a goal, the likelihood of achieving work-life balance when you’re really busy isn’t all that feasible. When you set a goal, you make an intentional choice to add more balance to your life. With this goal, choose something that won’t add a lot to your already full plate. A great choice is to add some form of physical movement. This is a healthy way to deal with stress. A 30-minute walk in nature has been shown to lower stress hormones in your blood. Keep it simple and doable.

Step 2: Make Self-Care Non-Negotiable

Just like the oxygen masks in planes, ensure you take care of your needs so that you can take care of others’. This doesn’t mean you need to spend a day at the spa (though that is lovely). It can be as easy as brushing your teeth a couple of times a day, or washing your face before you go to bed, or drinking lots of water throughout the day. It could also be taking 30 seconds for yourself to complete the exercise I outline in the free stop-overwhelm download. It’s like a re-set button.

Step 3: Get Clear On Your Vision, Purpose, and Values

People who have a strong connection to serving others have been found to be more resilient than those who don’t. When you do your work, think about the impact it has on others. Then, think about your vision. What are you working toward? Also, what do you have to look forward to? And, get clear on your values. Those who are able to incorporate their values in their day-to-day, experience greater overall satisfaction with their lives.

Step 4: Clear Your Plate

When the pressure is on, ensure you only take care of the need to dos, not the nice to dos or things others can do. This means that you will likely need to ask for support, or accept it when others offer. Maybe there are some volunteer duties that, while important, can be put to the side temporarily. Maybe you can delegate some things to others. Maybe it means lowering your standards in some areas. Do you need to wash the dishes every day, or can they be done every second or third day? Or better yet, can someone else do them? There may be easy choices to make here, but if you’re like most people, there will be some things on your plate that you’d love to remove but may involve a conversation that you’d rather not have. I have a process called Get What You Want that clients are raving about that supports you to have these kinds of conversations.

Step 5: Set Boundaries And Say No

In order to clear your plate, give some thought to the current boundaries you have in place. If you don’t have any, set some and then be prepared to reinforce them. When you have clear boundaries, it is that much easier to know when to say no to opportunities that fall outside the line. When you say no, you’re actually saying yes to you and the priorities you have chosen to keep on your plate.

I’m diving deep on these five steps topics with training, support, and group coaching during my three-day, in-person Burnout to Balance Bootcamp. As of the time this post was published, there were still some spots available. To learn more about the event, go to www.burnouttobalancebootcamp.com. If you’re interested but have some questions, feel free to contact me. I would be happy to hold the space for you in making that decision.

If you shared this post, I’d really appreciate it. 🙂

4 Signs You May Be Overwhelmed

4 Signs You May Be Overwhelmed

Often times, we don’t realize we have been overwhelmed until we’re out of it. I’m going to share with you today how overwhelm shows up so that you can be prepared for it the next time it happens. Because when you know what to look for, you can get out of overwhelm and get back to doing all of the things that are on your plate.

Below is the quick notes version. For the full meal deal, watch the video.

First, what overwhelm is

Overwhelm is you body taking care of you. It’s your fight-flight-freeze stress response.

A bit of stress is a good thing. It can help us hit our deadlines.

If you’ve ever seen athletes compete at the Olympics, you’ve seen the positive benefits of stress – driving us to go faster, farther. Or when you or your child is in danger, boom, you do what you need to do to get your child safe.

That’s good. Stress protects our life.

But the body doesn’t know the difference between life-threatening threats and perceived threats. It responds the exact same way whether a car is about to mow you down or a new project lands on your lap Friday afternoon (and by the way, it’s due on Monday).

Here are the four ways overwhelm impacts us.

1. We feel overwhelm in the body

  • Racing heart
  • Shallow breathing
  • Muscle tension, aches, pains
  • Headache
  • Fatigue, problems sleeping
  • Jumpiness
  • Upset stomach, nausea
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Problems eating
  • Sex drive, or lack of it.

2. We feel overwhelm in our emotions

  • Frustrated/angry
  • Worried
  • Keyed up
  • Reduced confidence
  • Guilty, ashamed
  • Depressed/withdrawn
  • Numb
  • Impatient

3. We notice overwhelm in our brains and thoughts

  • Poor concentration and lack of focus
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Memory issues
  • Reduced impulse control

4. We experience overwhelm in our behaviours and actions

  • Smoke more than usual
  • Drink more alcohol than normal
  • Use more recreational or prescriptions drugs than we usually do
  • Fidget because of pent-up energy or the feeling we want to run away
  • Withdraw from conversations and social life
  • Non-stop talking (for someone who is usually more measured in their speaking)
  • Zone out in front of the TV

Once you recognize overwhelm is happening, you need a way to stop the overwhelm in its tracks so that you can get calm and focused and back to being productive. I cover this in detail in my workshops. To explore having me cover how to do this in a more detailed and interactive way with your company or within your team, send me an email or call me. I can present workshops on stopping overwhelm or building resilience for the long haul, among others.

For individuals, you can receive a fr.ee copy of my in depth training at www.stoptheoverwhelm.com. This training shares the exact steps to take to put the brakes on overwhelm with a simple yet highly effective process to get back to calm, focus, and productivity.

A Eureka Moment

I have a story for you today about an a-ha moment that I got by dusting off my bicycle. It has a great takeaway for you if you are working on up-leveling your career or business.

My daughter is starting to ride her bicycle and she’s getting to the point where she can possibly go on a ride with the family. It inspired me to pull my bicycle out of the basement, pump air in the tires, and take it for a spin.

When I started riding, I noticed a pain in my back that has caused me problems for a number of years. I felt it pretty much as soon as I got on the bike. This is a pain that I have done a ton of things and spent a lot of time, money, and energy on trying to fix it. And here, not two minutes into my ride and the pain is back. It would be logical to assume that cycling is the issue. Perhaps I shouldn’t be riding the bike if I get back pain. By the cycling wasn’t the issue. It was HOW I was sitting on the bicycle.

I know this because a couple of months ago while doing some yoga, the very experienced teacher took one look at me in my very first pose and noticed how I was holding my back. She pressed her finger on the spot that was hurting (how could she tell?) and told me to stop arching my back and to flatten my spine more. I didn’t realize I had been arching my back. When I made this small and subtle shift in the way I held my spine, the pain went away. Instantly.

It was the very same pain that I experienced riding my bike. As I rode, I remembered this and made sure I straightened my back. The pain went away. So simple! An incredible result for such an easy adjustment.

I couldn’t help but shake my head about the amount of time I had spent over the past decade (at least) working with registered massage therapists to make my back pain go away. They were great and very skilled at what they did and their worked helped to ease the muscles in the short-term. However, it didn’t fix the problem. It’s because we were trying to address what was showing up–my sore muscles–instead of fixing the issue at the source. My muscles weren’t the problem: the way I held my spine was.

How does this apply to where you’re at with your career or business?

So often we spend years working to address a problem but we’re not really getting to the source. We don’t make the adjustment we need to make. Instead, we massage our way around it because we don’t know what’s causing the pain in the first place.

Time management is a great pain that people often ask me to help them with. When I look at what’s happening for them, managing time isn’t the issue. It’s other stuff underneath that. For example, one client I worked with filled her days, evenings and weekends with work. She told me that she felt exhausted at the end of the day because she had been so busy but she didn’t feel like she accomplished anything. Through coaching, she cleared her evenings and weekends of the work. “What am I going to do with all of this time now?” We had a good laugh about that – a great problem to have. What was going on? She had a disempowering underlying story that caused her to fill her days with busy work instead of the things that would really make a difference in her growing business. When our conversations revealed this, she started making big changes. Except they didn’t feel big. They were tweaks. Subtle and simple. Just like the adjustment I made to my spine.

That’s what can happen when you work with someone who is skilled in the area that you need help in and can identify the source of what’s causing the pain.

I am helping people to find out what’s happening at the source, and then if they need them, providing them with tools, strategies, and support as they make their adjustments. And that empowers them to have only the things on their plate that they want on there so they can do their brilliant work in the world. So they can say no, set boundaries in the areas that are most important to them, to

I’m covering all of this at my event in Victoria, BC from September 21-23. We are diving deep. You will build strategies and set the goals, and I’ll be supporting you with systems and processes and on-the-spot coaching so that you can take action, save time, be more productive, and create better results than you can on your own. You’ll learn which actions move your business forward instead of the ones that keep you feeling busy all day but exhausted and wondering if you accomplished anything. And you get to do this with other committed people who are working on the same things.

After the live event, you get to receive ongoing support and coaching. This will let you take what you learned and created at the event and implement it in real time when you’re back in “the real world.” But it’s only for those who make the decision that they’re in. It’s for the action takers who know they can’t waste any more time and money and energy on things that aren’t addressing the root source of what’s causing their pain.

Early bird tickets are only available until the end of the month. Then the investment to attend more than doubles.

If you have questions, leave me a comment or set up a call to talk to me. erin at erin acton dot com

Register at www.burnouttobalancebootcamp.com

Make Your Business Peachy

What does your business have to do with a peach?

This is for those in business or those with a J-O-B and a side business.

I was on a road trip through the Okanagan in British Columbia’s beautiful interior and stopped to pick up some boxes of peaches and cherries. I had grand plans to make jams, cobblers, and pies but before I knew it, they were sitting getting nearly past ripe and attracting more fruit flies than I thought was possible.

How many times might you have an idea but you let it sit on the shelf until it attracts fruit flies?

How many times do you go to a networking event with the intention to get leads or business cards, but instead let them sit and take up space on your desk?

Or you might structure your business so that you have a box of peaches – great ideas and intentions for what you want to create. So many wonderful things you want to contribute or turn into beautiful jams. What happens when you don’t have systems, processes, strategies in place to turn those peaches that will create deliciousness for someone else?

You need proven systems, strategies, and support so that you can be more productive, save more time and create better results than you can merely going with the flow.

You need a goal and concrete plan in place so that you know what you’re working toward. Then you know how many peaches you need in order to make that jam. Is it a couple of boxes? Or do you only need one? What if you need three boxes but you only bought two–then what do you do? Those great intentions, your dreams, won’t happen unless you know what you need to make them happen. Get those goals in place for your business.

You need the right tools for the job. You need strategies and systems. Try making jam without a recipe. It might turn out but you could also get botulism and die. Don’t let your business spoil because you aren’t using the right systems and strategies!

You need a special sauce to sprinkle into your business so that it all gels together. That’s your love, support, nurturing and attention to your products, services, and clients.

You need to package your products and services well. And you need to make sure they’re super clean so that, again, they don’t spoil down the road.

Without these structures in place–tools, support, strategies and plans–you can end up with a lot of smashed peaches but not a great outcome even after you’ve spent all of that time, money, energy and your heart and soul working to make your jam.

And if you do happen to have fruit flies around, you need to know how to deal with them. You need to have something to get them out of your peaches and out of your business.

I’m putting this all together in a three-day live event in gorgeous Victoria, BC on September 21-23 where we will be making beautiful business jam together. I am helping business owners and entrepreneurs like you to build the strategies and to set the goals, and then supporting you with systems and processes so that you can take action, save time, be more productive, and create better results than you can on your own. You’ll learn which actions move your business forward instead of the actions that keep you feeling busy all day but exhausted and wondering if you accomplished anything. Plus, I’m doing personalized, on-the-spot coaching so that you create even deeper awareness, insight, and a-has that will move you and your business forward. And the cherry on top is that you’ll be in a room with other committed people who are doing the same thing. You’ll be able to receive and provide support (and hugs and high fives).

And then, I’m following it up with eight weeks of online group coaching so that you can take what you created at the event and then implement it in real time when you’re back in “the real world.” How many times have you been pumped up and bursting with ideas and excitement at an event but then lose that enthusiasm because you didn’t have ongoing support or accountability to follow through? That’s exactly why I’m including this 8-week program as a bonus for this event. I want you to have incredible success that lasts!

Early bird tickets are only available until the end of the month. Then the investment to attend more than doubles.

Register at www.burnouttobalancebootcamp.com

I can’t wait to make beautiful jam with you there.

Are You A Marigold?

This Is Not A Gardening Blog Post

Are You A Marigold?

Just so you know, this post has nothing to do with gardening. It has everything to do with you.

You’ll relate to this post if you’ve been working really, really hard on your business or career and it just keeps turning out slugs.

~ <3 ~ <3 ~

I love marigolds.

They’re so beautiful. They’re happy. They smell great.

I used to plant marigolds when I lived in Prince George, BC–a great town and a great town to plant marigolds in–but I had a problem. They kept getting eaten by slugs.

I’d awake in the morning, eager to see my new garden only to find that the slugs had been busy the night before. They crawled up to the base of the buds–they liked the buds the best–and ate a hole in the bottom and then crawled in and devoured the whole bud from the inside. Just before they were ready to bloom. The bud was done. It died. That gorgeous flower never got to shine its beautiful, sunny presence in my garden.

This drove me crazy! I tried a lot of things to keep the slugs from eating my marigold buds.

Apparently copper tape that you can wrap in a ring around plants will help to keep the slugs out.

That didn’t work.

I tried egg shells. I heard that slugs don’t like crawling across broken egg shells. I saved my empty egg shells, washed them out and let them air dry and then crushed them into jagged shards and then sprinkled them in rings around all of my marigolds.

That didn’t work.

I tried beer in a shallow dish. Apparently, slugs like the smell of beer and then will drown themselves in the cup. So I got a shallow dish, dug a shallow pit that would fit the dish perfectly, carefully poured my husband’s beer into the dish and went to sleep dreaming of the full dish of slugs I’d have the next morning.

That didn’t work.

I had the potential of a beautiful garden set to bloom but it wasn’t happening because of these darned slugs.

All of this effort that I had been putting in to keep the slugs from eating my marigold buds was completely and totally ineffective.

They were hiding in this soil that I had spent so many hours sweating over and nurturing. I built compost, a labour intensive process, where I hand turned big piles with a shovel every week to create this incredible, rich, loamy mulch so my plants could thrive and grow. The slugs loved this mulch, and they loved hiding underneath the thyme, a plant that spreads low over the soil like a carpet.

What if I went after the source? I was determined to rid my garden of them, so I started to search out those slugs and pick them, by hand, one-by-one out of my garden.

I thought I would be dealing with slugs about an inch long. That’s the size they were in my mind. And hoo boy, if I knew the size the slugs grow to here on Vancouver Island where I now live (4 or 5 inches), I might not have been so eager. But no, these slugs were tiny. So tiny, that they were easy to overlook. Easy to underestimate the damage they could cause.

When I finally started picking out those slugs–actually addressing the issue at the source instead of managing the issue–my garden started to flourish.

The exact same things happens in our businesses. We have such potential for beautiful gardens but we have slugs hiding in there, in the mulch that we have so lovingly crafted. They’re waiting for their moment to come out. Your self doubt is a slug that will keep your bud from blooming. Another one: waiting until your website or online program or elevator pitch is perfect. Another: I don’t know if people really NEED my services. Another: filling your days with busy work instead of productive work.

What are some of the slugs keeping your garden from blooming?

I’m human. I still have some slugs hiding in my fertile soil as I work to build a business. I was at a conference recently with about 1,000-1,500 phenomenal women business owners. When the speaker asked whether people were feeling fulfilled in their businesses, the vast majority of people said they weren’t. They feel exhausted. And they said they needed help in all of the areas that I help people with: to have processes and systems so they spend their time more productively, to clear their plate (or plates), to stop feeling so exhausted and instead LOVE and appreciate the garden they have created.

You want to know what it feels like to have only the things on your plate that make your heart sing and help you to make the impact on the world that you know you’re here to give, but right now you don’t know how to get the other stuff off your plate.

Or, you feel like you need systems and structure so that you can use your time more wisely, instead of getting to the end of the day feeling like you’ve wasted it or wondering what the heck you accomplished.

You know you need boundaries but you have no idea how to start setting them. Or maybe you set them and then make exceptions until your boundaries are gone again.

You want to know how to manage your time better.

To say no, even when it will be difficult.

These are the little slugs that creep into our gardens and keep our flowers from blooming.

When I saw those hands rise up and heard people asking how they can do those things, I knew that I could help all of those people in that room. That they needed my help. They need my systems and strategies and support backed by research.

I’m betting you could use some help in this area too.

I’m diving deep into these areas at an event coming up on September 21-23 in Victoria, BC. I invite you to sign up.

If you’re feeling exhausted, you don’t need to. There is a way to move forward. I know that way because I have spent the time, I’ve been exhausted and overwhelmed and I have plucked those slugs out of my garden.

If you know you have slugs that are keeping you from blooming, register for my event at www.burnouttobalancebootcamp.com. Join me and the others who have already booked their flights for next month.

Find out what it feels like to have a garden that’s free from slugs.

www.burnouttobalancebootcamp.com

A Story of Determination

When catastrophe strikes… what I did when the unthinkable happened.

This story will resonate with you if you have ever felt like you’ve been in a situation where disaster struck. It seems like it’s game over. That’s it. You have no other option but to quit.

* * *

So there I am on a quest with a friend of mine to cycle across Canada.

We’ve just set out. We started that morning at Mile Zero in Victoria, BC to travel the Trans Canada Highway across this beautiful country of ours.

I was tiring out and feeling my muscles and we weren’t even 30 kilometers into our trip. I decided to pull over, rest, and stretch to stave off what was sure to be excruciating stiffness the next day.

I pulled my heel to my butt to stretch out my leg when my knee made a horrible sound. A crunching sound. I thought, “Oh crap.”

I couldn’t straighten my leg. I couldn’t put any weight on my leg. I couldn’t walk.

On DAY ONE of what was supposed to be an epic trip.

What was I going to do?

My friend and I had been planning this trip for months. I had quit my job so I could do this trip! We had told everyone about our plans. Imagine! Quitting on the first day.

My friend was further up the hill, by this point probably wondering what the heck was going on.

What was I going to tell her? “Oh hey, no biggie but we’re going to have to quit our trip.” Yeah right. That was so not happening.

Quitting wasn’t an option for me.

My hobbling wasn’t improving and in fact, I could feel my knee swelling.

I was stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Or so I thought.

I remembered then, thanks to the great bicycle tune-up the week before, that I didn’t need to straighten my leg to ride my bike. When the bicycle guy was adjusting my bike seat, he told me the cycling is easiest when the seat is positioned so that the leg isn’t fully extended.

With nothing to lose, I hopped to my bike, put it in the easiest gear, and gave it a shot.

I couldn’t walk, but amazingly, I could ride!

Can you imagine what would have happened if we had thrown in the towel on day one of our epic adventure?

If I had given up that day, I would not have the amazing scrapbook full of pictures of adventures upon adventures. And I would not have the photos of me, a deep tanned brown hugging my mom, grandma, and grandpa back at my hometown airport being able to say, “I did it!! I cycled across Canada!”

I keep a piece of the chain that carried me across Canada on my desk to remind me of the incredible strength, determination, courage, and perseverance I have within me.

In life, in business, in your career, you will be met with obstacles that seem insurmountable. It will feel like something you won’t be able to overcome.

You have incredible strength, determination, courage, and perseverance in you as well.

Even when it looks like things have gone to pot and there are no good outcomes, there is always a way forward. Trust that you will be able to find your way through.

 

If you find this post inspiring, please share it with others.