Ask Yourself One Question to Reach Your Goals

Motivating yourself is an extremely difficult skill to hone.  In fact, I’ll go out on a limb here and say if you can’t self-motivate, you probably shouldn’t own your own business.  If you have the skill of self-motivation, however, nothing can hold you back.

Once you’ve stepped up to be your own boss it can be lonely at the top.  Instead of taking direction from a supervisor, you are setting the pace and direction at your business.  And while controlling your own destiny can be incredibly freeing, it can also lead to doubts, uncertainty and unfocused decisions.

See when you own a small business—hell even if you own a large business—every decision is important.  We already discussed the importance of hiring the right team—critical.  Your physical location, the appearance of your office, pricing, branding, marketing, whether or not you upgrade your toilet paper—all of these things add up to what your business is about and what clients you are trying to attract.  When every decision is important, you don’t want to make the “wrong” decision.  And fear of making the “wrong” decision often leads to making no decision at all.

With the stakes so high, how is it possible to stay motivated to grow your business and also keep your employees focused on growing the business?  Simple.  All you have to do is ask yourself: “What do I want?”

Whoa!  Time out.  Big T.  What?!  How is asking the question, “What do I want?” going to help me stay motivated?

Stay with me here…if you ask yourself “What do I want?” you’ll have a vision for where you want to get in business or life, whatever.  But if you don’t have that vision, you won’t get anywhere.

I once had a boss that said, “You should always know what your next job is before you even accept your current job.”  It was hard for me to understand the point he was trying to make because he would often get so angry at the office and yell at everyone that his nose would bleed. (I have since developed a slightly different management style—yelling without a bleeding nose.  Less messy.  Just kidding.)  But after I stopped working for him, I actually realized what he was saying.  You have to know your end point and make sure that every decision leads you in the direction of that final vision.

Ok.  Great.  I’ll figure out what I want and that will keep me motivated to get there.  Not quite.  You’ll want to take it one step further and create a Vision Board.

A Vision Board is a collection of images, words, or small trinkets that define your dreams and goals.  I have one—I actually had one in high school without knowing it.  I would tape cool pictures, magazine cutouts, and inspiring articles on my bedroom wall.  I also wrote out quotes on the wall with Sharpie.  Every day I would read one or two and it helped me stay motivated to get up for swim team in the morning and go back to practice in the afternoon.

My Vision Board now is similar but it also has pictures of the kind of kitchen I want and places I want to travel—all things that I’m working towards by growing my business.

What’s so interesting is that once you define your goals, they seem easier to reach.  You’ll stop coming up with excuses for trying to reach them.  And nothing will be holding you back.

Next post will discuss how to take it one step further and keep your team motivated.

Until then, stay on your toes!

How to Make a Latte Just Like Starbucks at Home

The Compound Effect tells its readers to stop paying $4.50+ for coffee every morning.  We all know we need to kick the habit and put our money elsewhere, but it’s so hard and so convenient to order coffee out.  I knew I couldn’t give up having a latte every day, so I did some research.  And it turns out there is a whole section of the Internet devoted to making coffee like Starbucks at home.  Sweet.

And you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on a fancy espresso machine.  Magic!

So here’s what you do…

Step 1:  Watch this video from about how to make a latte at home.  So easy.  I do it at least once a day.

Step 2: Buy the Aeropress for $29.95.

Buy the milk frother for $6.99.

Get yourself some Starbucks espresso from the grocery store or Starbucks itself and…BOOM!  You’ve got yourself a latte worth starting your day with.  Oh and you already made one little change that could compound into some big changes–like saving over $1,000 each year on take-out coffee.  Enjoy!

Are Your Bad Habits Holding Your Business Back?

I am an early riser.  I’ve always been able to just jump out of bed and get going when the alarm goes off.  No snooze.  No grace period.  Once I’m up, I’m up.  You can get so much done before the rest of the world gets up.  It’s truly amazing what you can accomplish when no one else is bothering you—I mean when you have total focus and some quiet.

Being able to get up early with a clear mind has definitely been an asset since I own 2 fitness studios and those 6:00 AM classes are always busy with our most dedicated clients.  Gotta be “on” to teach class that early in the morning.

But…at some point I started developing some really bad early morning habits that started to impact my business in a negative way.  What was I doing that was so bad?  When my alarm went off, the first thing I did was reach for my phone and check my email.  Uh, that’s not so bad, you might think.  You’re just checking your email.  You’d check it when you got into work.  I check my email all the time, no big deal.  What’s the problem with checking email when you get up?

Many of you in the service industry can probably relate to what I’m about to write.  Clients wait until the evening to complain over email.  They sit down and write out their complaints or sometimes just questions, but mostly complaints, in the evening.  Since I try not to check my email past 9:00 PM, I get all these messages first thing in the morning.  The first thing I see in the morning by checking my email are complaints.  And while I love my clients and work really hard to make sure they are getting superior customer service, reading about all the things you and your employees are doing wrong, incorrectly or inefficiently doesn’t make for a great mood in the morning when you’re trying to get ready for the day.  In fact, I started snoozing and needing a lot more coffee to be my peppy self.  I also started complaining more, being more resentful and just not having the best time at work.

As a successful business owner, you need to start each day as if it’s the most important day of your life.  Your energy needs to be high.  Your focus and dedication rock solid.  Why?  Because anything less will negatively impact your employees.  Yep.  Your employees.

Your Team looks to you to set the tone at your business.  If your tone is mopey and slightly on edge because you wake up and read negative emails first thing, it shouldn’t be surprising that your Team is mopey and slightly on edge as well.  They take their cues from you.

So, luckily I stopped looking at my email when I got up.  And started spending at least an hour reading business books or anything uplifting.  Sometimes I listen to business podcasts.  It was amazing.  My mood improved.  I didn’t feel so rushed in the morning.  And because I was operating with an improved outlook and mood—you guessed it—my Team started working harder as well.

If you are interested in furthering your success or even just getting on the right path to becoming more successful, I recommend the following:

The Compound Effect, Darren Hardy:  This book literally changed my life.  My business coach, Mary Ann, gave me a copy to read before one of our first meetings.  Since reading the book, I cancelled my cable, started reading every day, enacted a strict budget both for my personal spending and business spending, and stopped going to Starbucks every day for coffee (I still drink coffee.  And sometimes go to Starbucks.  Seriously, that would be terrible to have to give that up.  But I learned how to make a latte at home—that tastes just like Starbucks.  Bonus post tomorrow on that.  It’s really easy and I only had to spend $40 to get the right tools.)  Anyways, back to The Compound Effect…this book is all about making small changes that “compound” to effect bigger more amazing changes.  And it really works.  If you are in the fitness industry you can attest, like I can, that just making one change to work out on a regular basis leads to making other smarter choices about food and drinking.  Then all of a sudden you’ve lost weight and people are commenting about how good you look.  Anyways, get this book immediately, if not sooner.  Read it.  Implement just one suggestion—after all it’s called The Compound Effect.  See what happens.  (Oh, if you are reading this and you are one of my employees, don’t buy the book.  You’re getting a copy at our holiday party. #spoileralert)

Success Principles, Jack Canfield:  If you’re going to read a book after The Compound Effect, read this one.  Jack Canfield was the co-creator of the Chicken Soup for The Soul series.  In Success Principles, you will literally learn what the world’s most successful people do and how to apply those principles to your own life.  I need to read this book again.  There was so much information.  It’s the kind of book that you could re-read many times and always pick up something new.

Think & Grow Rich, Napolean Hill: First published in 1937, this book is still applicable to today’s modern business world.  A must read.

#GirlBoss, Sophia Amoruso: When you get tired of reading about how to be successful from old, white, dudes, read this.  Ok, it’s true Amoruso’s company, Nasty Gal, just filed for bankruptcy, but the message of the book is on point.

The Little Red Book of Selling: Jeffrey Gittomer: Love, love, love this book.  I learned two things from this book.  1) The workday starts the night before.  In other words, you need to look at what you have planned for the next day to start mentally mapping out how your day will go.  It works—if you have a plan and are mentally prepared, you win every time.  2) If you can’t get in front of the decision maker to make the sale, you suck.  Some of you might think this is harsh, but it’s so true, it’s not funny.  If you are having trouble selling, either your product isn’t what people want (aka. “it sucks”) or you do.   So get better!

The Edge: The Guide to Fulfilling Dreams, Maximizing Success and Enjoying a Lifetime of Achievement, Howard E. Ferguson: I first read this book in high school because my dad got a copy.  And it really helped me stay focused to get up every morning for swim team (I lettered all four years and went on to swim in college).  I don’t even think this book is in print anymore, but you can buy used copies on Amazon.  If you need a cliff notes of any of the books above, this is the book for you.  This book is about getting “the edge” in life and it is comprised of quotes from anyone who was successful in sports, business, or politics.  Disclaimer: this book was published in 1990, so there are quotes from OJ Simpson and Joe Paterno.  Just pretend someone else said them.

This is a pretty good reading list to get you going.

When you’re operating your own business, it’s pretty easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day.  Setting some time up to learn is critical so that you can have the confidence to grow your business and develop your team.  I am convinced that 90% of successful business ownership is all between-the-ears.  The other 10% is just planning and hard work.  Meaning, if you’re struggling, you’ve got to change your perspective and outlook on life.  Get positive to have a positive impact on your sales.  If you don’t, your team will stagnate and you’ll just lag behind your competition.

So, bonus post tomorrow which will give details on how to make a great latte at home, without spending hundreds of dollars on a fancy espresso machine.  I’ll also post another cute pic of my dog, Harper.  And next week, I’ll discuss motivation.  How to stay motivated as well as how to keep your team motivated.  This can be tough when you have to motivate yourself day-in and day-out.  But it’s not impossible!

Until then, stay on your toes!



Refocus Your Marketing to Refocus Your Business

Marketing.  Admittedly the part of my business that I would rather spend as little time as possible.  The reason being that it seems like I spend money marketing my studios and then I never really know if it’s working.  I know marketing is important to attract new clients, but I never really felt confident about where to spend my marketing budget.  Was my message reaching my ideal client?  Did that person feel compelled to come into the studios to take class?  Who knows?!  I was approaching marketing in the wrong way.

The American Marketing Association has come up with the following definition of marketing.

Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.

Sweet.  I just reread that definition three times and I’m still not sure what it’s supposed to mean.  For small businesses, marketing is the cost of acquiring customers.  And it wasn’t until I embraced this definition of marketing that I actually got good at it.

Maybe you’re a marketing wiz, but for me, thinking of marketing as the cost of acquiring a customer or simply, what makes sense for me to spend to acquire a customer, was mind blowing.  Marketing was always kind of a nuisance and I was never sure how much to spend.  But this actually made sense.

So basically, you need to figure out the lifetime value of your ideal customer—how much revenue will you get from this customer from an initial purchase, over a year, over several years?  Once you have that value as a dollar amount, you’ll be able to determine what makes sense to acquire that customer.  If your customer only makes one purchase, then you’ll likely want to spend a lesser percentage of the revenue they generate to get them to buy.  If your customer is making predictable or reoccurring purchases and there is a high likelihood that you can up-sell them on other products and services that you offer, then maybe you spend more.

If you’ve been struggling with marketing and attracting new clients to your business, then changing your perspective on what marketing is can have a profound impact on your business growth.

But what if you are having trouble changing your perspective?  What if you feel so overwhelmed by running your business that you don’t know where to start to make changes?  In my next post, I’ll tell you what I’m reading and why it’s important for every business owner to start the day by reading (or listening to) uplifting business books.

Until then, stay on your toes!

How I Almost Lost My Business: A Lesson in Avoiding Hiring Mistakes

Hopefully you’ve learned some helpful information about why it’s important to hire a great team and how to develop them to be the best fit for your business.  Maybe you’ve even started writing out your business’ Vision, Mission and Culture statements.  Sweet, you’re already ahead of your competition.  They’re still fumbling around trying to understand why their team is dysfunctional.  If you haven’t and you’re going to hire one or more employees anytime soon, stop what you’re doing right now and commit to getting these things completed.  Seriously…fire up the laptop and get ‘er done!

Unfortunately, I didn’t always have my Vision, Mission and Culture statements defined for my studios and when I think back to all of the hiring mistakes I’ve made (and there have been MANY), it all boiled down to the individual being a bad fit for the studio culture.

That’s right.  Every bad hire I’ve ever made didn’t fit into our studio culture—specifically these people didn’t take class on a regular basis or ever.  I guess they just didn’t care about Pure Barre or value how great our classes are—and that’s what made them a terrible fit.

If you reflect back to any hiring mistakes you’ve made, I’m willing to bet you would find some similarities.  There are likely one or two things that make your business culture unique and the people that don’t excel in your environment likely don’t exhibit those core values.

But back to me and my past mistakes…  Many of my bad hires were just plain clueless.  One time, I hired a woman who had worked at another studio in the same role.  I thought, “Great.  She’ll already know what to do, so I won’t have to spend too much time training her and answering questions about how to use our client management software.”  Sadly, I was mistaken.  Every time the phone rang, she would answer: “Hello, Pure Barre Chapel Hill.”  Uh.  We’re in Winston-Salem.  We got a lot of hang-ups those few months she was there.  Head hits desk.  Bourbon is poured.

Another time, I was in the car driving out of town for my first vacation since opening the first studio.  A lovely employee called me and told me that she was quitting effective immediately and not coming in that evening/weekend so she could go to the beach.  I had to bring a car full of bulldogs back to the studio to finish out the day.  No vacation for me.  If I ever saw her again, I’d punch her in the face.

I’ve had someone quit before they even started.  That was pretty awesome.

But my biggest hiring mistake almost cost me both of my studios.  I would love to go into specifics, however, I’m sure there are some legal implications to consider.  And while I would love to be sued and join the ranks of REAL business owners, maybe I can push that one off until at least 2017.

The point I’m trying to make is this: if you don’t define what you want from your employees in each role for which you’re hiring and define your business culture, you could be one bad hire away from disaster.

But the good news is, if you have defined your business culture, you’ll always know the values that you’re looking for in a new hire as you’re building your team.  If someone doesn’t match every part of your Culture Statement, they aren’t a good fit and you shouldn’t hire them.

Maybe you’re thinking, I’m desperate to get some help?  Someone is better than no one. DON’T DO IT.  Especially if you’re desperate, DON’T DO IT.

My biggest hiring mistake was made under duress.  I thought I had to hire someone immediately.  I didn’t feel good about the decision and that little voice in the back of my head kept saying, “This isn’t good.  Not liking this situation.  They just don’t seem to fit in.”  If I had listened to my intuition, perhaps I would have avoided a lot of problems, late night drinking, and lost sleep.  And maybe I wouldn’t have put my businesses at risk.

Are you scared yet?  In truth, YOU, personally can make plenty of other bad decisions to wreck your business—if your business is suffering it’s not all about bad hires.  But technically, YOU did hire them.  Full circle.  Oops.

But back to the topic at hand…  Hiring employees needs to be a very deliberate and organized process.  If you don’t put in the work before the interview to define the role and what you need from your team, that’s when problems happen and you make bad hiring decisions.  And please listen to your intuition.  If you think something is wrong, take a step back and be careful making that hire.  In the end, listening to your intuition could save you time, money and lots of exasperation.

But it’s not all hopeless.  Not even close.  Please know that things are great with my studios now because I managed to make at least one really good decision.

My studios have turned around in large part because I decided to hire a business coach to get back on track.  May Ann Hauser is my coach and she’s with ActionCOACH.  She’s one of the top 100 coaches in the world.  And she’s right here in little ole’ Winston-Salem.  Lucky me!

If you are struggling to operate your business, or if your business struggles financially, get yourself a business coach.  Sure, it’s hard to stomach the price of coaching, but it’s an investment in yourself.  And the fees I’ve paid thus far have been more than covered by increased revenue and lower costs.  When I was an athlete, I had a coach to achieve success.  So it only makes sense to have one to help me stay focused on my business success.

Think of it this way: If you’re struggling, what you’re doing isn’t working.  You need a new perspective.  In order to gain that new view, you’re going to need the help of a coach whose only job is to make sure you make sound business decisions designed to grow your business to achieve your goals.

I truly think the sign of an effective leader is the ability to realize when things aren’t working, have the courage to change them, and don’t look back.  Ponder that over the weekend as you work ON your business.

Next week, I’ll delve into new ways to look at marketing as well as discuss why I wake up early and read every morning (and it’s not because my English Bulldog puppy has an incredible zest for life that starts at 4:30 AM).

Until then, stay on your toes!

I would love to hear if any of your bad hires didn’t fit your culture and why.  Comment below and we’ll all get a laugh at your misfortune.  Just kidding.  We might learn something and avoid another trip to the liquor store!  

Setting Your Team Up for Success

The words “team” and “building” might conjure up bad memories from business school of trust falls or building tricycles and racing them as full-grown adults.  Perhaps you still shutter at putting together a boat made out of nothing but a piece of cardboard and some plastic wrap to “sail” across a small pond in your business clothes—yeah, you get f**king soaked and have to drive home thinking: “What in the world did that teach me about working together as a team? We had to build a boat out of cardboard that doesn’t float and I basically went for an unexpected swim.”  Not that I’m still bitter about these experiences…

I think there is a misunderstanding about what team building really is for a small business.  Team building is any activity that enhances the work your team will complete at your business.  Activities like reviewing your specific operations processes, learning about a new product or service, and sales training would all be considered team building.  Activities like getting dinner together or going out for drinks are not team building exercises and in my opinion, should be considered rewards for meeting business goals.

Now that you’ve spent a lot of time and effort hiring the best possible team, you’ve got to spend time developing and training them.  There’s nothing worse in life than wasted talent and trust me your team has talent, so use it!

“But it’s so hard to delegate,” you might say.  “I can do everything myself faster and better than my employees.”  Um, remember what we talked about?  If you don’t grow your business, then it’s dying.  And, what’s the definition of a business, again?  Oh yeah, a profitable enterprise that works without you…find the time to document all of your business processes so your employees have a reference to refer to on how to do everything that you do.  You might find that someone on your team does things better than you.  Wouldn’t that be great!

Maybe you write an operations manual.  Maybe you write out sales sheets.  Maybe you write out role-playing scenarios to teach your team how to combat opposition to a sale of your product or service.  Maybe you write out phone scripts.  Whatever you do, write it down and teach your employees how to do it like you would.  For the record, I do all of those things at my studios.  Well, actually I have my amazing manager create them.  I review, and then she teaches everyone.  Delegating.  It works when you have the RIGHT team working for you.

Then after my team meets a sales goal, they are rewarded.  Last month, we all went out and got pedicures.  After all, it’s tough staying on your toes!

Remember, when your team is working FOR your business, you are free to work ON your business.  You will have time to develop a killer marketing strategy, or create an events calendar and budget for the next year.

It is imperative, however, that the team is always learning.  That means, you are always challenging them, giving them new goals, and spending time supporting their efforts.

Uh, it never ends, does it?  Nope.  But, if owning and operating a business was easy, everyone would do it!  Besides there is nothing better than rewarding your team for a job well done.  When I took my team out for those pedicures, seeing them all smiling and happy was sweet.  Ok, maybe they were just buzzed from drinking wine.  Don’t ruin it for me!  In my mind, they were happy to celebrate working hard and meeting our completely unrealistic goal of bringing in new clients for the month of September.  But they did it!  What did I say about talent?

Unfortunately, there may be times when your team is not working well together or you have made a hiring mistake.  I’ll discuss many of the hiring mistakes that I’ve made in my next post.  Some of them are funny, but one almost cost me my business.

Until then stay on your toes!

Where are all the good employees?

The owner of 2 successful restaurants in my area once told me that you aren’t really a business owner until you’ve fired someone, almost lost all of your money, and been sued.  I’ve managed to accomplish 2 out of 3, so I guess I’m almost there!  Goals!

But seriously, when I talk to small business owners or even friends that work for large corporations if the subject of hiring comes up the following is said:

“It’s so hard to find good people.”

“I can never find anyone good to work for me.”

“I wish I didn’t have employees.”

Are you depressed yet?  I mean, how are you supposed to grow a business that works without you if you have to rely on hiring employees that apparently aren’t good enough?

But before you throw in the towel, let’s consider two things: 1) If you think you’re never going to find these “good people” you won’t.  END OF STORY.  Stop the negative thoughts.  2) If you are having trouble finding these “good people” perhaps you’re not attracting the RIGHT people.  And that is what I’d like to focus on in this discussion—finding the RIGHT people for your business.

Awesome.  Tell me how to run a killer ad and where to place it to find these perfect employees.  Not so fast…

First, as the owner of your business, you need to do a little bit of work before running ads, interviewing, etc.  You need to define your business goals to attract the right candidates.  If you don’t define your business, your employees will do it for you and that’s not ideal since you’re the one with the vision of where the business will go and taking all the risk to get there.  What you’ll want to do is sit down and write out your business Vision, Mission and Culture Statements.

The Vision Statement will tell anyone reading what the business objective is.  It should be short, sweet and to the point.  Below is my studios’ Vision Statement to get you started:

Pure Barre Winston-Salem & Pure Barre Clemmons’ Vision Statement:

Dedicated to achieving strength, confidence and smiles.

The Mission Statement defines what the business does and goes into a little more detail than the Vision Statement.  It might delve into how you will accomplish the ideas established in the Vision Statement.  The Mission Statement should also serve as a guide to your employees of how they might conduct themselves in your business.  Here is what I came up with for my studios:

Mission Statement:

Pure Barre Winston-Salem and Pure Barre Clemmons is a team of committed, motivated and focused people who are always striving to be strong, balanced and caring.  We will work to ensure that everyone who walks through our doors is treated like family and leaves with a smile on their face.  We will challenge our clients to learn their true strength while achieving their fitness goals.  We believe that working out should be fun and that Pure Barre helps us live a balanced life which allows us to be our best selves.

And finally, the Culture Statement or the core values of your business—what you and your team value.  This is what you want to spend some time putting together.  If you don’t define your business culture, your employees will, and they might have other ideas than you—like, bad ideas.  And the whole point is to get you the best employees that fit into YOUR business culture.  You’re in charge so you get to establish the rules.

When I put my studios’ Culture Statement together, I already had a team of about 15 working for me so I used the creation of our Culture Statement as a team-building exercise.  I knew I wanted to define the areas of values, passion, excellence/high performance, communication, development & continuous learning and taking class.  I asked the Team to write out short descriptions of what they thought about these areas in relation to our Team.

It was great!  They all put a lot of effort into it and came up with some great ideas that I would never have thought of.  I combined these thoughts as well as my own (I am the owner after all) and now we have a Culture Statement that you can read below:

Pure Barre Winston-Salem & Pure Barre Clemmons Culture:

Values:  We believe in living a healthy, balanced lifestyle and support the journey our clients take as they do the same.  We greet each client by name or with a smile to show them that they are valued from the second they enter the door.  We build connections with our clients through fitness, strength and a supportive Pure Barre community.

Passion:  We work together as a Team to make our clients love to come to Pure Barre class and hate to leave the studio.  We want to help everyone who walks through our studio doors to perform and achieve things they previously thought impossible.  We truly love what we do and tell everyone how great Pure Barre is and how it has transformed our bodies.  If we meet someone who has never tried a Pure Barre class, we want them to be as passionate and devoted to the technique as we are.  Pure Barre is bigger than just going through the motions.

Excellence/High Performance:  We have high expectations for ourselves and we encourage each other and our clients to strive for excellence in each and every class.  We set the standard to make each class better than the one that preceded it—whether we’re teaching or taking.

Communication:  We work to ensure that no client leaves the studio feeling confused or unsatisfied.  During class we strive for clear cues and inspiring words.  There is genuine communication that takes place between clients and Team members to strengthen our Pure Barre community and complement the physical work that’s taking place in the studio.

Development & Continuous Learning:  We constantly challenge ourselves to learn, improve and build on our skills.  We believe that you can always learn something from each of our Team members no matter their level of experience.

Taking Class:  We love Pure Barre and can’t imagine a life without taking class each week.  When we take class, we are a positive example to each other and our clients.  Pure Barre is “your hour to change your body” and we make it a priority.

Ok.  So now you have your business Vision, Mission and Culture Statements and you’re feeling pretty good.  Ready for that ad?  Not quite yet.  You’ll also want to create a job description of the position you’re wanting to fill.  What do you want this new employee to do on a day-to-day basis?  Do they need special skills to fulfill the duties of the job?  Write it all out and get as organized as possible so when you meet with your candidates for interviews you already know what this new employee will need to do and what personality traits or skills they’ll need to have to meet your requirements.

Now you can write your ad.  Yes!  Finally!

Here is an ad I recently used to attract over 50 applicants to work in a front desk associate position at my studios.

If you’re the front desk associate we’re looking for… You’ll be…

Friendly, charming, enthusiastic and conscientious … You’d have a passion for Pure Barre, have high standards and be described as courteous, mature and a team player…

You’ll be responsible for 3 major roles with Pure Barre Winston-Salem/Pure Barre Clemmons—greeting clients and checking them into class, selling athletic clothing and accessories and daily operations, including keeping the studio clean and inviting as well as working with our teachers to provide a superior experience to our clients.

You’ll need to be well presented, trustworthy, punctual and love smiling.  If you aren’t already taking Pure Barre classes, you’ll need to commit to taking 3-4 classes each week—as loving Pure Barre and taking class is a key element of our culture.  You’ll be eager to take this opportunity to learn, grow and achieve well above average results.  You’ll apply the skills you already have in sales, windows-based programs and have worked previously in a similar role.

If you believe this is you, be ready to show us why when you call xxx-xxx-xxx to leave the answers to the following 3 questions:

  1. When was the last time you did something nice for someone “just because”? Explain why.

  2. What is the best word that describes you? Please pick only one.

  3. What was the last book you read?

I placed this ad on our studios’ Facebook and Instagram pages as well as through, which reaches out to a number of job positing sites.  You’ve probably never seen an ad like this, am I right?  My business coach, Mary Ann, gave me this template and recommended having every applicant call to answer 3 questions.  Why?

For two reasons, 1) It self-selects the best candidates.  I had over 50 people send their resume for this position, but only 30 left messages on my Google Voice number that recorded all the calls and also provided me a transcript of the call to print out and keep with each applicant’s resume.  Boom!  Already found the best 30 people in the group because they can follow directions.  2) This position requires the candidate to be friendly and have a great phone presence.  So I already know how these applicants will sound on the phone to clients.  Since a few of them rambled on and didn’t have the best phone presence, I was able to narrow down to 20 applicants.

Now interviewing 20 people would take forever and I don’t have that kind of time.  In fact, I really only had two hours to get these interviews done.  What to do?!  Two words: Group Interview.  Group interviews are great because they save you time and you can see how the candidates react to each other.  Are they too aggressive?  Are they rude?  Did one cut another off to get more talking time in?  Did one just say the same things as the others without coming up with original answers?  All great things to learn as you’re building your Team.

Next, I sent each candidate an email inviting them to a group interview during a time that worked for me.  Some couldn’t make it and we actually had to set up two separate interview times because I wanted to meet with a few select candidates that couldn’t make the initial time I had set up.  Boom!  10 people ready to interview on two different days.  Things are getting a little more manageable.

Before the interviews I ranked each candidate from 1 to 10.  One being the most qualified and ten being the least.  At this point all ten were qualified, but it’s important to be organized and make sure you are creating an interview process that gets you the best of the best.  I also had my Vision, Mission and Culture Statements ready as well as a few questions that I wanted to make sure were answered by each candidate.

During the interviews Mary Ann, did most of the questioning so I could listen and take notes, which was extremely helpful.  I’m sure many of you have interviewed someone and you’re so focused on what the next question is and what’s coming up next that you don’t really listen to the answers the candidate is giving.  You could have another employee or friend help you if you don’t have a business coach.  But … maybe you should get a business coach (more on that later).

Mary Ann introduced me and gave a brief description of the business and the role.  She then had me read our Vision, Mission and Culture Statements (Yes!  All the work putting those ideas together finally paid off!).  You might want to talk about what it’s like to work at your business, review the position description (Remember, you wrote that out already), pay structure, whatever is important to let the candidates know.  At this point, Mary Ann says “If any of this doesn’t sound good, you are welcome to leave.  We totally understand that this might not be the position for you.”

No one left because, of course, my business is amazing and working for me would be your dream come true—ok, just kidding.  But no one left.  If they did, that would be totally fine.  It would ensure that I was only selecting the best people that WANT TO WORK FOR ME.  Another self-selection point reached.

Then the candidates are asked individual questions and have time to ask their own questions.  And if I have any more questions I’ll ask at that time.  As the last step of the interview, the candidates are asked to fill out a questionnaire which is a great way to get any final thoughts.  The questionnaire had the following questions:

What did you hear that impressed or touched you?

What have you done in the past that you believe you could add value to the story I’ve told you?

What one hurdle, what impossible hurdle have you had to overcome in your life that has caused you to believe that you’re a keeper?

What is it about the position we described that appeals to you?

Any other comments?

After everything you’ve seen and heard do you want to go further in this interview process?

You probably want to give everyone about ten or fifteen minutes to write their responses.  I had one candidate write some very personal and touching things on her questionnaire.  I’m so glad we had this last step because it made me understand more about her and she established herself as a person I wanted to hire.  And now she works for me and is a great asset to the Team.

Sweet!  Interviews are over.  You can now compare the responses you got with the ranking you made before the interviews commenced and select your top choices.

Wouldn’t this process have been nice to learn in business school?!  I mean, it would be so great to learn some practical ways to actually hire great people.  Sigh.

You’ve identified a great new employee called them.  And you’re ready to hire them.  Everything is awesome, right?  Wrong.  Turns out your top choice took another job.  But, remember you have your ranked list, you can simply pick the next person on the list and offer them the position.  This happened to me the last time I held interviews and I didn’t skip a beat because I had identified several great people.  Now everything is awesome.

Perfect.  You’re done.  You’ve hired someone and can go back to work.  Not a chance!  This is just the beginning.  You now have to develop this employee, make sure they are working to their potential and most importantly make sure they are working to add value your business.

Oh man.  This business ownership thing just got real.

Not to worry, next week, I’d like to discuss setting yourself up for success including developing your team and surrounding yourself with the right people.  I’m sure you’re also curious as to how I almost lost my business and I’ll tell you more about that too.

I would love to hear your thoughts on hiring and building your team.  Please comment below and we can swap ideas.

Until then, keep on your toes!


Are you running your business? Or is your business running you?

There is no better time for a woman to own and operate her own business.  You can’t log onto Social Media for more than a nanosecond without glancing at posts followed by #ladyboss, #girlboss, #bossbabe or something similar.  It seems like everyone is starting a business and posting away about how amazing their life has become because they are now their own boss.

But are these #legitbosses really #beingboss?  Are they running a business?  Or is the business running them?

I’m Carolyn and I own two Pure Barre studios in the Winston-Salem, North Carolina area.  With the help of about 20 employees, we operate these studios 7 days-a-week serving approximately 150 clients each day.  Before I stepped onto the roller coaster of business ownership, I worked on Capitol Hill, for a few political campaigns, went to business school and then spent a few years as an investment banker.  So of course, those professions and an MBA made me a natural to own two boutique fitness studios—haha!  More on that career transition later…

There is nothing better than working for yourself, however, the ride is rocky, complete with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.  I opened my first studio over four years ago and thought I had things pretty well figured out.  So I opened a second.  And while my successes were bigger, so were my problems.  In fact, if I had not made some pretty radical decisions about six months ago, I might not be in business anymore.  Since I’ve made the decision that I don’t ever—and I mean EVER—want to work for anyone else again, it’s pretty scary to think that I almost lost it all.

If you are already a business owner you are probably struggling with the same problems I had:

“Seriously, it’s so hard to hire good people.”

“Hobbies, what hobbies?  Free time—you’re joking, right?  I don’t have time for anything beyond my business.”

“Um, where is all my money?  Am I just working to pay American Express?”

“I can’t pay myself, because I have to pay my employees first.”  –BIG T!  If you aren’t paying yourself, start immediately.  I mean, like yesterday immediately.  Your employees don’t work for free and you shouldn’t either.

I take full responsibility for my business successes and failures.  I made all the decisions to shape my business.  But it wasn’t until I looked at running my business differently that great things really started to happen for me.

See, the definition of a business is:

A commercial, PROFITABLE, enterprise that works…WITHOUT YOU.

This means that you are free to work ON your business not IN it.  The business is fully functioning without you. 

–Brad Sugars, Founder of ActionCOACH

Does that describe your business?  Can you stay home or go on vacation and everything will happen without you?  Will the doors be unlocked and clients served?  Will you see money deposited into your bank account?  If the answer is no, then you own a job, not a business.  But don’t worry—there’s hope!  I had to hire a business coach (Mary Ann, who I can’t say enough good things about) to understand the meaning of these words and refocus my efforts.

Unless you are working ON your business, you will never grow your business.  This means if you aren’t working on the strategies required to have operations, marketing and financial plans, you’ll keep asking yourself the same questions above—having the same problems and wondering why you aren’t living the #bosslady life that you were hoping for.  If you don’t agree with the definition above, you’ll keep having to do everything yourself, make less money, and be miserable while doing it.  Definitely not what I signed up for when I opened my studios.

Now some of you are shaking your heads thinking … “Sure.  Sounds great.  But how do I get my business to run without me?  In my dreams, maybe.  I have to be there for everything to happen.”  Well, guess what?  If you don’t focus ON your business, you aren’t growing your business and it’s dying.  Yep.  That’s right.  If your business isn’t growing it’s dying.  Now, if you have just started your business, you might have to do everything yourself in the beginning, but eventually you’ll need to hire employees or outsource so you can grow and expand.  If you don’t plan on growing…then what’s the point?  Why deal with the stress of owning your own business?

Once I realized how important it is to hire the right team and give them the responsibility of running my business, then things started falling into place.  Hiring the right team is the difference between owning a job and owning a business.

“But how do I find a great team?”  I’m glad you asked!  I’ll talk about what I did to hire the best team I’ve ever had in my next post on Thursday, November 3rd.  I’ll lay out a step-by-step interview process for hiring employees and why it attracts great prospects.

Until then, keep on your toes!