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I've said this many times now- This pandemic is the worst. Seriously. We get forced from our industry where we're accustomed to constant human interaction and working with hundreds of people a day, to being at home alone and trying to figure out what to do.


Why am I assuming you're at home alone? - Because we're chefs. When did we even have time to develop those personal relationships before this fiasco? Some of us have roommates, but my roommate left last December. I was working as a consultant and a consulting chef and sales executive for a wholesale food company. I was furloughed in March, and my move was to focus on growing my consulting company. Thank God I had started my consulting company two years ago. Because it takes years to build a solid company with a regular clientele. This is why I take my job so damn seriously. I want to help people who I can empathize with- Because I have been in the thick of the struggle. For some reason life has lead me through my particular path. Thank God that I'm entrepreneurial, otherwise I would be S.O.L. and without a job in this industry. All while dealing with a plethora of other personal problems. Work has always been my saving grace.



I didn't become an entrepreneur overnight. I didn't learn to work for myself overnight. I've been working independently for 11 years. I had a huge learning curve as I learned how to manage myself.


The main thing to remember when you work for yourself is- if you do not produce great work, you don't get paid. You don't get paid. Meaning, you can't pay your bills. You don't have health insurance. You have no savings for the future. You can't travel. You could become homeless very quickly. Fun stuff .


Owning a business is hard. Being your own boss is difficult. You need to develop a few key strategies so that you can remain productive. Your productivity is directly related to your mental health and your ability to take action. That's a fact. So, you need to work on yourself in order to stay productive and innovative in your field.


My tips:


1) Wake up when you've rested enough


You should keep yourself on a regular schedule, but make sure that you're not overworking yourself.


Since I'm a consultant, some of my clients can't meet until after 5 pm. Some can only meet early morning. Because of that, I plan my weeks out on Mondays and develop a schedule for myself every week. I make sure to include enough time to sleep and enough time to get ready for my day. I also make sure I separate some time to enjoy life and spend time with family or friends.


2) Get ready for work every day


Shower, do your makeup, get dressed, make your bed, drink your coffee, eat a good breakfast, meditate


This helps with self confidence. If you feel good about yourself, you do a better job because you have a more positive energy. I like to work out when I can, so I don't put that on my list. The main point behind this tip is that you need to take care of yourself inside and outside so that you can have more mental and physical endurance .


3) Find a separate work space from your living space


Find a corner, set up a desk with your tools, have files organized and ready to go.

This helps you keep an organized mind. There's a lot of paperwork and other things you will need to run your business every day. Not everything can be kept in a computer. You need to have an area where you can transport yourself into another mental space.

I like to keep my spaces separate. My personal life is very separate from my professional life, although I live both lives simultaneously. As a woman, I am nurturing and I like to relax, sleep, watch movies, cook , listen to music, relax, relax, chill, and relax. That's all I do in my personal space.


I can't have my personal space also be my workspace because I'll have too much temptation to relax. Work requires discipline and consistency. No one can achieve that from working from their kitchen or their bedroom. You need to find a corner or a room- but you need to create a space that helps you remain productive.


4) Write a to do list and stick to it

You're going to get interrupted many times a day. You're going to get phone calls, emails, knocks on the door, etc. that you did not plan to address during the day. That's life, and that's okay. We all get interrupted. The most important thing is that you continue to move forward and check items off the list.

I write a to do list every Sunday night or Monday before I start the day. This helps me take the big tasks on first, and see if I can get any of the smaller tasks knocked off simultaneously. Sometimes I might complete my list, but most of the time I don't complete my list and I let some tasks roll over into the next day. I let it roll over because I need to make sure that my life remains in balance. The most important aspect of working from home is self management- and that includes self care and not overworking yourself.


5) Manage your anxiety

We want to get everything done. We need to get all of our work done. We just need to get it done thoughtfully and completely. You can't take on jobs and do a bad job. Doing a good job requires thought and patience. This will require doing everything step by step. We can't skip steps because skipping steps will cause us to do a bad job. So, we need to manage our time. Delegate if you can, and manage your anxiety to the best of your ability.

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed. I've learned what that feels like. I've learned that what works best for me is to stop everything I am doing and meditate. It's like a "time out" for myself. I go for a walk, or I sit on my couch for a bit, breathe and think through what my next steps will be.


You will constantly have hundreds of things to do. Because you are a business owner. If you want a successful business, you need to manage many projects and lead. Leaders are strong, calm, and steady in their thoughts.


6) Technology

Manage your tools. There are many platforms and tools online that will help you stay organized. USE THEM.

Use a CRM (Customer relationship management) system. Use Microsoft Office 365, Google Workspace, and whatever else helps you keep everything organized and updated. It is much easier to keep up with administrative duties than to let them pile up for you to deal with at the end of the year.

Make sure to schedule about an hour or two every day to make sure you're updating your programs and that your emails are all up to date.


7) Invest


Manage your finances. Think toward the future. If your company takes off, you will get paid. Financial management is key for every business. You need to understand what your overhead is, and what you will do with the extra cash flow. My recommendation is to invest whatever cash flow you can invest. Put that money to work and build your future as you work on your present.

I am certified to help you with financial planning and investments. Please contact me if you need help with this. It's important to work with someone that you trust.


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If you need help implementing these tips- contact me! I am a consultant. If your business is based in Washington DC, chances are I can help you for free if you qualify for the DC SBDC program. Don't wait for tomorrow when you want the change now.


Sincerely,

Carolina

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Sit down. Think. Write.


1) How would you do it?

-What would your business look like?

-What would that cost?

-Furniture

-Equipment

-Staff

-Supplies

2) How will you get it to the people?

- How will you market your product?

-How will you distribute your product?

-How much does that cost?

3) Are there laws you need to abide by?

-What are your local laws?

-How much do those licenses cost?

-Do you need a special facility?


4) How will you do it?

-Do you have the money?

-Will you need to raise any money?

5) DO IT.


Just do it.


Everyone wants to start a business. Few are willing to write their own plans.


Let me make this clear:


A Business plan is an EXERCISE. It's a tool that you use to think your strategy through before you execute. This is why banks and other investors want to read it- they want to know that you have a plan as to how you will make money.


Please take the time to try. Actually, take the time to DO. Just do it. Write your own plan and have a consultant look it over and give you feedback. Because if you don't write your own plan, you're putting yourself at a disadvantage. You need to practice running your business before you do it. Practice makes perfect. Writing a plan helps you think critically and it helps you develop your ideas. Just try it.


Do it.


Write it first, and then email me so I can help you make it happen.


Sincerely,

Carolina




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You all know by now that this is more of a personal blog. I use this outlet for a few reasons:

1) To connect with potential new clients. I want you to get to know me as a person before a business woman. I can confidently say that I am a successful consultant and I have worked really hard to continue with my personal and professional growth. I am grateful for my clients. For all of you who allow me to live and to work in a field that I am passionate about.


2) To be honest and share raw information about my experiences. My successes but mostly my failures. I learned my lessons through hard work and a lot of perseverance. Some of my experiences seem unreal now that I look back at them. I'm proud of those sacrifices and those hard times. Honestly. I still have hard times. and this year has been one of the hardest ones. Trying to stay motivated and positive during a pandemic has been extremely difficult. I'm lucky I have my work and many projects to keep me moving. Nonetheless, I still feel lonely sometimes. Sometimes I feel like I need to do a little extra work to stay motivated and keep pushing forward. I only tell you this- because I want you to know that we all deal with that. I don't like to hide my weaknesses. Hopefully you read that and realize that it takes strength to acknowledge difficulty and identify how to make a change.


3) To have a place where I can look back and see personal growth. If I share my journey with all of you, you'll see it and experience it with me. I know people do read this because I see the metrics on my dashboard. I don't know how my words affect my readers. I just hope they help add something positive. The littlest of positivity can make a world of difference.




Motivation.


Have you ever woken up in the morning and just wanted to stay in bed all day? To be honest with you, I feel that way most days. The only thing that motivates me to get out of bed is the fact that I have to work. People count on me. If I didn't have that- I'd probably be in an extremely different situation.


My personal life is a struggle. I'm blessed because I have family and friends who love me. They're all busy with their own lives, so I try to stay busy with mine so that I don't feel the need to connect constantly.


Distractions are welcome. They're more than welcome, they're invited. I love distractions. I like forgetting about responsibilities and pressure. I like forgetting that we need to make money, pay bills, be healthy, move forward, and be successful. I like forgetting that and just living. Simply living. Maybe that's why I became a chef. Because no matter what was happening in the world around me- at school, at home, anywhere else. it never mattered when I walked into the kitchen. All I had to worry about was cooking. Peeling veggies, chopping, searing meat, simmering, filling orders, washing dishes, inventory- it all allowed me to forget the world, make my money, and go home without having to deal with any of the pressures that I had outside. Inside the kitchen has always been my safe space.


But then I dove into the world of business. I wanted a house. I wanted a full fridge with food. I wanted health insurance, and some sort of financial plan for the future. So I had to leave that life that comforted me as a cook. I had to try to find it in a world that some people can say is more intellectual. Is it more intellectual? maybe? It definitely requires more mental energy. More of the style of thinking that leads my brain into focusing on success as the world views it.


I love being a consultant. giving advice, training teams, building ideas, developing visions, developing recipes, executing plans, and making money. How do I stay motivated? By managing anxiety, by remembering what makes my happy, and by sharing my journey with my clients. Honesty and making a difference gives me motivation.


So what keeps you motivated? Focus on it and remember that we all have our off days and the days in which we feel invincible. Don't let the down days keep you down and just try to get back up the next day. Stay excited and stay motivated. Motivation seems to be the key to success.




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