I'm sitting in a quiet, dark house, and I'm reflecting on the last year. On the last several years. My kids are still sleeping (thank you, Lord, that teens and pre-teens love to sleep!) and the tree is still decorated and is the only light in the room. The fireplace is on, because it's only 30 degrees outside. We just got fresh snow last night, so occasionally I hear the snowplows driving by, clearing the roads so life can continue today.
This year was a big one for our family. We bought our dream home, out of the cities, on a cul-de-sac and surrounded by trees and walking paths. It's been a long, long journey to get here, and I'm so grateful that we finally own the home we live in (we've been renting for the last 5 years while our business was growing). We put a lot of money and sweat into this home, to make it our own, and I'm so grateful to celebrate our first Christmas here, surrounded by my kids and extended family.
In just a couple years, our business has doubled. I've always had big dreams, but when they come true, it's a little stunning. The building years are so hard and long and tiring. But when the fruit of the harvest comes, it's exhilarating.
Maybe you're still building. Pushing. Dreaming. Believing. Efforting.
Don't give up.
If I could go back 5 years and have a little chat with myself, I would pour a cup of coffee and lean in and tell myself, "It's going to be hard. You're going to want to quit. Don't. Do not give up. Keep pressing in and learning and researching and growing. Keep the faith. Keep believing. Keep hiring the right people. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. And when it gets dark, keep going. It's just a tunnel. You can't even believe what is on the other side."
5 years ago Chris quit his job to come work with me on our company full time. It was probably a little premature, but we were used to things being tight. We were fluent in clipping coupons and freezing the spending. And with two of us working on the marketing and hiring and systems, we got a lot done in a very short period of time! We started Never Alone Business Services, alongside our music school, and both grew little by little. Our secret sauce is definitely a combination of marketing, systems, and hiring the right people. It's the fertile soil that allows everything to grow.
And here we are, 5 years later, and even though we have doubled, everything is actually so much easier. We have a rock star team in place, our systems are solid and predictable, and Chris and I have grown so much as a couple and as business owners.
As we look ahead to 2019 and all the lives we want to influence, we have a new perspective. We've been on this road long enough that we know it won't be easy. But we definitely know it will be worth it. We are chatting and praying and dreaming about what is next. And I'm so excited for what is to come.
Mark Your Calendar!
January 7th is our Never Alone planning day! If you are a member of the Inner Circle or on managed services, clear your calendar and join us for a 2019 planning day! Clear your day and clear your head. Come on a guided tour of writing down your goals and plans for the New Year
The Journal Challenge is Coming!
For 30 years I have been faithfully journaling. It's been a huge source of clarity and success for me. If you're ready to take your leadership and business success to the next level, then join us for the Journal Challenge. Sign up here. You'll get daily writing prompts, subject starters and a how-to guide. It's a fabulous way to start your new year out right. Every time you post in the FB group and participate in the challenges, you'll be entered into a drawing for 3 months free in the Inner Circle! $300 value! Woot!
Need a new website or to super-charge your marketing?
My January calendar is open and we are ready for you! Schedule a call to discuss a website refresh or to set up Google Ads, Facebook Ads, or Successful SEO. Our team is ready to help your business grow! We are simply obsessed with your success.
Book a call here:
No matter what is happening this time of year, there's one thing more important than anything else: family.
This month has been hard for my extended family. (You'll have to watch this week's video for the whole story.) But one message I've gotten through it all is how much family matters.
You are probably up to your eyeballs in Christmas prep, end-of-the-year business stuff, wrapping up 2018, and getting ready to start 2019. I get it. But can you pause for a bit? Can you take a break? Can you shut down the computer and make some cookies? Make some memories? Be really present for your kids, spouse, and friends? Because, really, isn't that what matters?
Coming up on Monday, January 7th, I'm doing something new. I'm hosting a Planning and Strategy day via Zoom. For 3 hours, we are going to clear space to make plans for the New Year. I'll give out handouts and direct the time to help you map out what you are going to accomplish and how you're going to get there. This is free for all Inner Circle Members and anyone on Managed Services (SEO, Google Ads management and FB ads management). Check your email for the invitation to join us!
Here's the thing: knowing that this planning day is coming will help you release all the stress and tension in your brain right now. Just file it away. We'll take some focused time (doesn't that sound lovely?) to make a plan for the New Year. So let's focus on the Christmas season, shall we? Work will always be there. Our family needs us now.
Simple ways to make more time for family during this season:
1. Buy a new puzzle. Set it up on a table and let people work on it throughout the day.
2. Watch old movies that bring back fond memories of years past.
3. Decorate sugar cookies (it's okay to buy the refrigerated dough!)
4. Turn on the "Christmas Traditional Radio" on Pandora. Another favorite of mine is "Michael W. Smith (Holiday) Radio"--wonderful orchestral arrangements!
5. Turn off all the lights and just gaze at your Christmas tree.
6. Eat pizza on a quilt in the family room.
7. Go on a walk after the sun sets. Listen to the stillness.
8. Make Chex Mix. Add M&M's.
9. Diffuse "Christmas Spirit" by Young Living oils. Let the scent become part of your traditions. Whenever you smell it, let the memories come floodig back.
10. Enjoy the Christmas mess. The years fly by so quickly and soon it will all be gone.
More ideas? Send them to me. I'd love to hear!
Congratulations, James Zeck on publishing your website! We’re excited for you!!
Welcome, new Facebook management clients! We are thrilled to help you get new clients from FB this coming year!
Congrats to our clients who are crushing the competition and dominating the online space on page 1 of Google!
We have more Happy Kids, Growing Biz books available! Order yours (and the acccomanying workbook) HERE.
I'm on a journey.
I'm challenging myself to feel the fear and go for it anyway.
Some of the things I'm going for are big and some aren't a big deal to other people. But I won't let fear stop me. If there is something I really want to do (or feel I am supposed to do, like a nudge from God) I'm going to do it.
This week, I recorded a video for you to tell you about the first time I've ever colored my hair. I know, for some of you, this is totally silly. But I've never ever highlighted or colored my hair, and for some reason (control freak maybe??) it was a really big deal!
The day turned out really funny (you'll have to watch the video to see why) and all is well with my hair color (you can hardly tell any difference, but I really like it!) but the bigger lesson is to feel the fear and go for it anyway.
2019 is just around the corner and I want to do some big things.
I'd love to hear about YOUR 2019 goals. What are you cooking up? What are you dreaming about? And are your goals so big they scare you? I hope so. =)
The process of being scared and doing it anyway is so incredibly exhilarating.
Let's do it together this year.
"You're so black and white."
"You're so quiet."
"You're such a procrastinator!"
Ever heard these labels spoken by friends or family?
We are all uniquely wired by the Creator and no one is like another. And yet, there are certain personality traits that stand out and motivations that certain people have in common.
Last 4th of July, my entire family was sitting on my deck, enjoying the day, and my brother Erik confessed he was obsessed with the personality typing of the Enneagram. I had never heard of it, and was still figuring out Myers Briggs, and since every description was a number, I was fairly uninterested in learning yet another typing method. However, throughout the year, more and more people have been talking about Enneagram and it's piqued my interest. I started Googling a few articles and images and then I was REALLY intrigued. This month, in our Inner Circle, we are discussing the Kolbe, which is GREAT for identifying the right people to hire in your organization. But the Enneagram is different. This is another layer of what we are motivated by.
I listened to the Storybrand podcast about Enneagram last week (super good--I highly recommend you check it out!) and decided to buy the book, "The Road Back to You." On the plane and back to Stamford this week, I've devoured the book. It's opened my eyes so much and given me fresh insight into myself, my kids, my husband, and my extended family members.
If you've ever clashed with your spouse or team members and cannot figure out WHY you feel like you're approaching things from two vastly different perspectives, maybe the Enneagram will open up some great conversation.
What does the Enneagram do for you?
1. Uncovers the uniqueness of each individual.
2. Does not hold a person back, but offers insight into the journey of life.
3. Connects us to ourselves so we can be free of old baggage and grow into a more mature version of ourselves.
As leaders, if we are always growing, then our company can grow. If we remain stuck in old patterns and old hurts, we will ultimately keep repeating our same mistakes over and over. Especially as creative business owners, the hurt can run deep and we can feel like no one understands us. Sometimes we hire very left-brained, logical team members (or marry them!) and the differences can seem unsurmountable. Dare I say that Enneagram can save marriages? It's true. When we truly understand where our spouse is coming from, it will release us from feeling like they are against us, but rather just coming from a different perspective.
Interested in learning more about Enneagram alongside me?
1. First, listen to these two podcasts (especially good for leaders!)
2. Next, check out this book:
3. For extra fun, google your Enneagram type and click "images." Explore the amazing images and graphics out there to unlock more intricacies about yourself, your spouse, and your team!
I know you're super busy this time of year, but maybe when things settle down, you have have a little time for brain candy and you can explore the Enneagram more. If you already know your type, let me know your number! I'd love to hear your insights!
A couple free tests to figure out YOUR type:
I haven't found a test I LOVE yet (let me know if you have one you recommend) but instead, I've gotten the best information while learning about each type on the podcast and through the book, "The Road Back to You."
I know, I know, all these tests can seem overwhelming or even pointless sometimes, but knowing yourself and being dedicated to self-growth and self-development is the secret sauce of every successful person. If you're serious about growing your company, then grow yourself. You'll get through obstacles much easier if you know where they are coming from!
Congrats to Colorado Music School! They published their site and they are rockin' and rollin'!
Welcome to our 23 new Inner Circle Members! We are so glad you've joined us!
Not in the Inner Circle yet? Save $100 per month!
Quick, join before the price goes up for new members on January 1.
Lock in your rate of $97/month now before the price goes up to $197/month.
When my third receptionist quit on me suddenly, I was face-to-face with the possibility that I was on the wrong track.
I was supposed to be walking out the door with my kids to go to our homeschool co-op and instead, I was reading an email that said, "Sorry, but I got a better job offer. Next week is my last week." My breath caught in my throat and I eeked out, "Get your shoes on, kids" and shut and locked the bathroom door. I fell to my knees and started sobbing.
"I can't do this anymore! God...help me..."
It was a half sob, half prayer, and mostly desperation.
This was the final straw. I was SO stressed out and unsure that I was even on the right track anymore.
Was I really supposed to be growing a company while my kids still so desperately needed me?
Should I really be trying to hire staff that continually let me down and left me in a lurch?
Did I have ANY clue what I was doing?
Should I shut it all down and just start over when my kids were older?
I stopped all my thoughts and prayed. "God, you HAVE TO take over. I cannot do this. I need you."
I had a commercial lease signed, a building, students who needed me, and teachers who were counting on me. I couldn't quit. I just couldn't.
I dried my tears, put my shoulders back, and faked a calm I did not feel because I had to get my kids in the van.
How do you know if you're on the right track?
The questions swirling in your mind will terrorize you. I have been there so many times.
Running a company is easier than all of this questioning and confusion, in my opinion.
One you have absolute clarity with the direction you are headed, it's actually quite easy to soldier on.
But the doubt? The confusion? The pain? That will suck you under.
I made it through that day. And another. And soon I figured out how to hire the RIGHT people. The dream team. The staff that wouldn't give 6 weeks notice and then just not show up the next day (just to spite me). The employees that have MY back and who will do anything to keep this machine rolling along.
If you are questioning if you are on the right track...if you are really qualified to even run this business...if this is really the right time for your family, then you need focus, strategy, and support.
If you just can't figure out how to hire the RIGHT staff who will support you (and not make your life harder than it is right now), you need our Inner Circle. This month's focus is on hiring the RIGHT people. I've discovered tools and tricks for the entire interview process (I've been hiring people for 20 years!) and I'm going to lay them all out for you. It does NOT have to be guesswork and luck (in fact, that's exactly what it cannot be).
(And when you commit to yourself and your business for 1 year in our Inner Circle, you'll get a 1 hour strategy session with me. You'll end our session with clarity and direction. I promise.)
I know December is crazy. I know you have a million things to do.
But if you don't prioritize YOU, then who will? You will continue to do all the things for all the people and YOUR dreams will continue to be pushed to the bottom of the To Do list (I know because I've been there. And it actually sent me into depression. But that's a story for another day).
Turn on those Christmas tree lights. Grab a blanket and your laptop. Instead of Netflix, let's binge watch videos in the Inner Circle. I've given you all my best tools to help you get out of the spin and overwhelm.
2019 can be your best year yet.
But first you need clarity.
And that can be found in the Never Alone Inner Circle. Just come join us.
You don't have to do life alone. You don't have to keep pushing through.
Take the first step. Then keep prioritizing YOU.
If God has called you to this mission, HE will give you the next steps. HE will lead and guide. Just ask.
Afterall, this isn't about you at all. It's about the people you are leading and serving.
And they need you to fulfill your calling.
For a couple weeks, I've been trying to get up the nerve to read the first chapter of my book, "Happy Kids, Growing Biz," out loud on Facebook Live.
I knew I was supposed to do it.
But it was scaring the crap out of me.
It felt so vulnerable. To read my story from my writing out loud online? Seemed like a crazy idea.
But I knew I was supposed to do it. So I did.
The response was better than I even anticipated. Did you get a chance to watch it? You can catch the replay HERE.
And if you know someone who needs this story? This hope? This message? Would you share it with them? You can tag them or share it to your timeline or even share in Messenger.
Hope is contagious. Let's spread it.
Join us in the Inner Circle. The price is just $97 per month but it goes up to $197 on January 1. So grab your seat and let's get you on the path of clarity.
If God's called you, He will equip you. Just follow His lead.
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About the Author
Hi, I'm Jen Hickle!