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What’s the Difference Between a Coach, a Mentor and a Consultant?

The difference between a coach and a mentor

They say that all the best people get support to get them to the top and to keep them there.  It is a sign of vision, strength, and drive to want to take your performance and productivity seriously enough to invest in yourself and your business in this way.  But how do you know what kind of support you need? 

I am often asked the difference between a coach, a mentor and a consultant.  As I use a blend of these techniques when I work with my clients, I thought I would share them with you.  Whereas there is a lot of overlap, the following is my interpretation of the differences:

What is a Coach?

Coaching assumes that you have all of the answers within you and a good coach will ask questions to elicit from you the answers you seek.  They may challenge you, uncover blind-spots and develop perspective.  You can expect to learn more about yourself and develop insights you would struggle to achieve on your own. 

A coach does not need to have more experience than you in your field of expertise as they will not provide advice.  What they will do is help you make decisions and move forwards towards a specific goal in a way which empowers you.  You may be encouraged to evaluate the options available to you prior to making a decision yourself.

Coaching tends to revolve around a particular task, goal or skill to be achieved.  Examples would be leadership skills, presentation skills, productivity.

The coach will hold you accountable and the focus is on skills development and productivity.

What is a Mentor?

A mentor, by comparison, is someone who has more experience than you in a field of expertise you wish to become more skilled at.  They will be someone to whom you will ask advice on a particular subject.

A mentor will offer more guidance and will be a sounding board for any problems.  They are a person you will turn to when things go wrong for encouragement and a listening ear.

Essentially, they will be someone you feel safe with and be able to confide in.

Mentoring is much more relationship-driven without a specific goal in mind and so tends to be long-term.  The mentor will tend to consider you in the context of your work and your personal life.

The focus is on personal development.

What is a Consultant?

A consultant has specialist expertise and will look at a problem, usually on a more systemic level.  They will do research and analysis and provide recommendations for its resolution.

The focus is on solving a specific business problem which may involve several people or departments within your organisation.

The consultant may be asked to manage the implementation of the solution for you.

The focus is on problem-solving.

In Summary

If you want to achieve a specific goal and to develop your skills, coaching is for you.  If you need support and a sounding-board and personal development, then mentoring is for you.  If you want to find the solution to a problem with an expert, then consulting is for you.  My clients like the fact that I can offer support in a way which is right for them in that moment.  Sometimes it is to offload, sometimes it is to provide an answer to a complicated problem and sometimes it is to discover skills you didn’t know you had.

If you would like to find out what would be appropriate for you, why not call me on 0845 130 08540845 130 0854 for a free telephone consultation?

© Tricia Woolfrey 2014

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A-Z of Business: Y – YOU – Are you the Problem or the Solution?

You and your business

 

Whether you are in business for yourself or working for others, it is natural in times of success to take credit for it.  But it’s tempting to blame external factors (other people, customers, the economy, market forces, etc) when things go wrong.

However, to do so is no help at all except that it massages a fragile ego.  You are still stuck.  The mark of a successful business-person is one who looks to themselves in times of challenge.  In this way, they retain control rather give away their power to outside forces.  To avoid looking to what you could do differently is to be a victim, powerless to make changes.  In this competitive world, it is unsustainable.  The power is in the ability to evolve.

All it takes is a different perspective.  Look to yourself for the solution and ask yourself the right questions:

  1. What factors have contributed to this problem?
  2. In what way(s) have I contributed to this problem?
  3. Where did I take my eye off the ball?
  4. What didn’t I do which I should have done?
  5. What did I do which I shouldn’t have done?
  6. What didn’t I do which I could have done?
  7. What steps can I take now which can remedy the situation?
  8. What steps can I take to avoid this happening in the future?
  9. Is this part of a bigger pattern?
  10. What else can I learn from this?

By putting yourself “at cause”, you take control, you evolve and you build a more robust business.  It takes courage, insight and humility.  Do you have what it takes?

It can be difficult doing this for yourself and this is where a good coach/mentor can really help.  Why not book a session now?  Call me on 0845 130 0854 to find out more.  You’ll be glad you did!

© Tricia Woolfrey 2013

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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A-Z of Business: O – Objection Handling – The Ten Essentials

Objection handling

 

Objections are an inevitable part of any selling process – whether you are selling products, services or an idea.  It is the part of the sale which leaves all but the very best sales people, influencers and negotiators trembling behind a façade of the “this-doesn’t-bother-me-at-all” faux-smile.  It’s what keeps most would-be sales people hiding under a duvet of busy-ness so they never get to make the call which could result in the rejection they fear so much.  And this is because they personalise the “rejection”.  They make it about themselves rather than a legitimate (or smoke-screen) concern. 

Sales is really a numbers game and you need to get through so many rejections before you can make one sale.  Objections are often a signal for more information and here are a few ideas to help you through with greater ease:

  1. First and foremost, don’t take it personally.  You can no more be an effective salesperson without objections as you could be an effective car without wheels.  Think of objections, instead, as “feedback”.
  2. The second “secret” is to build emotional resilience.  That’s a big subject to which I devote a whole chapter in my book 21 Ways and 21 Days to the Life You Want.  However, one quick way of building resilience is to view every experience as a learning opportunity.
  3. Prepare by listing all the objections you think you may receive – here are some common ones:
    • Price
    • Delivery terms
    • They already have a current supplier
  4. Practice active listening so that you really understand what they are saying, not what you want to hear or what fits into your well-prepared script.
  5. The easiest objection handling technique (and there are many) is the shopping list technique.  It flushes out any possible objections up front.  To do this, you need to elicit all their wants in advance and write them down.  When they have finished, ask “Anything else?” until you are sure you have everything.  Then say “So, if we meet all these needs, you will want to go ahead?”  This, of course, is assuming that you’re actually speaking to the decision maker.
  6. Think of your offering in terms of features and benefits.  Let’s say that you are selling a gardening magazine.  The feature may be that it is full of interesting articles by some of the country’s top experts.  The benefit might include some of the following: that it will provide easy-to-follow answers to all their gardening problems right when they need it so that they can enjoy a beautiful garden all-year round; they will spend less money on plants which were never suitable for their garden in the first place; they will be able to enjoy a hobby rather than be frustrated by the lack of progress; they will learn new skills, and create a space where they can relax/have fun with their kids/entertain friends/grow organic vegetables to make healthy meals for their families; they will have more time to enjoy being in their garden rather than working on their garden, etc.  The idea is to find out what they want and sell to those rather than have a blanket list.
  7. Avoid giving too many benefits because you dilute the message – just focus on their specific wants and needs.
  8. Move them through negative states into the positive state you want them to experience, ie. from cynicism to curiosity to openness and finally to enthusiasm.  I cover this in my Influencing for Better Business course.
  9. Once you have taken them through each of their shopping list items, ask if there is anything else they need.  Then, for any ongoing objections ask “If I could deal with this, would you be ready to go ahead?”.  Then come up with a solution to the problem that they are happy with. 
  10. When all objections are handled, ask for the sale.  You will be surprised how many people miss off this important element. 

I couldn’t finish this article without my bonus tip – limit your sales calls and sandwich them in between enjoyable activities that give you a sense of achievement.  This helps you to stay resourceful and to maintain your energy levels and resilience. 

If you would like to learn more about how you can handle objections, why not book for a coaching session, or onto my next Influencing for Better Business course?  Investing in yourself in this way can really yield exceptional results.  Call 0845 130 0854 for more information on how to accelerate your success.
 

© Tricia Woolfrey 2013

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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A-Z of Business: K – Knowledge – Your Competitive Edge?

It is estimated that 15% of success is from your technical skills whereas 85% is through gaining trust and respect.  So, what has knowledge to do with this?  Plenty, as it happens.  Knowledge covers the whole spectrum.  Good technical skills are, of course, important.  But not if the knowledge is out of date.  Technology is changing all the time – as are trends – and it is essential to keep abreast of what’s going on in your market place and in your profession.

Solicitors and doctors go through years of training in their profession before they are able to practice.  Yet, how much training have you had to run your own department, or your own business?  How much knowledge have you acquired to help you be successful?  Whether you are running a department or a business of your own, the knowledge you need to be effective is extremely broad and most people simply muddle through.  In the meantime, what happens to the trust and respect essential to 85% of your success?

The following table helps you to understand some of the fundamentals for trust and respect and the kind of knowledge you need for them:

TRUST AND RESPECT KNOW-HOW
Good people and rapport skills Influencing and leadership
Doing what you say you will do Planning and organising
Doing an excellent job Technical and delegation
Managing complaints effectively Problem solving and conflict management
Meeting your obligations Business acumen and resource management
Emotional intelligence Understanding of people and yourself and how to manage yourself and your relationships in times of stress

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Business knowledge – such as sales, marketing, finance, operations –  is important whether you run your own business or manage a department as you need to see how everything fits together.  These will help you to exploit strengths, minimise weaknesses, seize opportunities and handle threats from a point of strength.

So, how can you increase your knowledge?  Through coaching, training, reflective learning and study.  Often, you don’t know what you don’t know (in the case of business, ignorance is not bliss) and it is helpful to have someone there who can help you see your blind-spot. Having your own coach and mentor is an excellent step to take to help you stay on top of your game.  For more information call 0845 130 0854 for a no obligation chat.

© Tricia Woolfrey 2012

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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A-Z of Business: J – Judgement: The Key to Effective Decision Making

 

Judgement is your ability to assess a situation and to draw sound conclusions.  This is a key factor in your decision making process.  How do you judge whether something is right for your business or not?  And how do other people judge you and your business?  When you understand this, it can really help you:

a) make decisions which serve your business well
b) help you to help other people make judgements in your favour

There are various ways in which we may be convinced of something-

  • Number of examples – ie the third time you see something, you are sure it’s right
  • Automatically –  you don’t take too much convincing, you just automatically trust that something is right
  • Period of time – you need to think about something for a while before deciding, even if it is an obvious solution
  • A trusted source – if you hear it from someone you trust, or know they are doing the same thing, that’s enough to convince you
  • Logic – you need to evaluate the facts before deciding if something is right for you
  • Emotion – you tend to trust your gut
  • Impact on the bottom line – you will not be convinced of anything unless you see how it will affect the bottom line
  • Tried and tested – you need to see something working somewhere else before you think about it for yourself
  • Cynics – you are never truly convinced of anything

None are right or wrong in themselves.  However, it’s possible to rely too much on a particular method which could leave you vulnerable.  For example, going on gut instinct without checking the effect something has on your bottom line could affect the profitability of your business; relying on a period of time may mean that an opportunity is lost; being automatically convinced can be dangerous as there is no evaluation of the possible impact something may have; cynics can fail to take opportunities because they always find fault; depending on tried and tested methods can mean you are behind the curve in terms of your competition; relying on logic alone can mean that you are ignoring the not inconsiderable power of your intuition; depending on a trusted source requires that the trusted source be right 100% of the time or that their circumstances are the same as yours.

Ask yourself, what other factors do you need to consider when you are formulating your decisions?  Do re-read the decision making part of this series.

Finally, what to do with this information when considering your customers and prospects?  You will be well-advised to consider an example of all the above criteria in relation to your products and factor in where appropriate.  For example, Jack has a strong gut instinct but likes to back it up with number of examples, so you might want to either find three ways of proving your product, or expect to make your case over three appointments, and follow that up with “What does your gut tell you about the suitability of our product for your business?”

Or, Sally may make her decision solely on the bottom line.  So you may want to take the approach of showing the cost savings your product will give her, or the revenue potential, or perhaps some other way of impacting the bottom line.

If you aren’t sure about what someone else’s convincer strategy is, ask them how they decided to buy their latest car, computer system or even holiday.  This should give you a lot of clues.

Even the most successful business people have made bad judgements in their time. However, you can minimise yours by considering all of your options to make a more informed decision.

If you would like to discuss you own business decision making strategy, or change the way others judge your business, please contact us on 0845 130 0854.

© Tricia Woolfrey 2012

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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A-Z of Business: I – Influencing Skills

The ability to positively influence others with integrity is a key skill in business.  It affects your ability to have people buy into you, your business, your product and your ideas.  It impacts your leadership style and your ability to build constructive relationships.  It can also be incredibly stressful if you are unable to influence people constructively, impacting your productivity, your sales and even your profitability.

Influence is about your ability to have a positive effect on someone.  It differs from manipulation in that it is undertaken with integrity and regard to the interest of the other party.   It’s about having people buy in to your ideas and perspectives, so that they say ‘yes’ to you more.

 

The talent for influence requires flexibility in style, clarity of outcome, the ability to understand a situation from several perspectives, and creating and maintaining a resourceful state, particularly during times of conflict, or when the stakes are high.

It is not about imposing but inspiring someone to take a particular action, while maintaining strong rapport and building positive relationships.

There are numerous language patterns which enhance your capacity to increase your powers of influence which are too numerous to go into in this short article but which I teach to many of my clients and which I include on my Influencing Skills training course.  The issue, though, is not what the skills are, but the effect that they can have on your success.  They can help you deal with objections and concerns so that you are able to transform potentially negative situations elegantly. It’s the YES factor!

 

Whether your intention is to create change, elicit support or diffuse potentially contentious situations, influencing skills can be a real boon to you in your business.

For further details, please contact Tricia Woolfrey on 0845 130 0854 or see www.pw-consulting.co.uk.

© Tricia Woolfrey 2012

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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A-Z of Business: H – Health – How Can Your Business Be Healthy If You’re Not?

 

To succeed in business you need to be firing on all cylinders.  In fact, you could say that the health of your business is a reflection of your own health.  If you are tired all the time, or run down with frequent bouts of colds and flu, suffer frequent headaches or if you are at the mercy of IBS, can you really be functioning at your best?

Health is more than just an absence of symptoms.  When you are healthy in every sense of the word (physically and emotionally), you will have more stamina and energy to deal with the stressors of business life; mentally you will have clarity of thought and direction, the ability to solve problems quickly and your memory will be more reliable; you will feel more motivated and less irritable; health will also mean that your immune system is strong to safeguard you from colds and flu as well as more serious illnesses.

If you’re feeling tired-all-the-time, or low motivation, it could well be as a result of your body needing to be stronger and healthier.

Your health can be affected by many factors including:

  • Food choices
  • Depleted nutrition in foods
  • Cellular health
  • Alcohol
  • Sugar
  • Cigarettes
  • Stress
  • Negative emotions
  • Environment
  • Lack of exercise

Taking care of yourself is taking care of business. We take great care of our cars:  fill them with petrol, make sure there is enough oil and water, take them for a regular MOT, but are you doing this for yourself?  For a health MOT, call 0845 130 0854.

© Tricia Woolfrey 2012

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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A-Z of Business: F – Finance – 5 Tips to Help Your Business Succeed

 

1.  Cash is King

Cash flow is the main reason for business succeeding or failing.  An apparently successful business may have a full order book, and even good levels of projected profit, but if funds cannot be collected from customers in a reasonable timescale the business will fail.  You should ensure your customers are aware of your payment terms before carrying out tasks and where possible advanced payments, should be requested.

Tip – Get paid on time by ensuring you have regular communication with your customer and that you have an effective credit control procedure.

 

2.  Overtrading

This is where a business has a full order book but struggles to convert turnover (sales) into profit.  This situation usually develops when tasks are taken on at a cheaper rate when compared to competitors in order to secure orders.  Subsequently, the business becomes very busy but the income generated is not sufficient in order make a profit, and so the business fails.  This strategy can be used carefully in order to try and build a reputation but for small businesses it should not be used in the long-term.  Remember “turnover is vanity, but profit is sanity”.

Tip – You are usually in business to make money so ensure you do not under-sell your products or services unless you have a clearly defined plan.

3.  Control the Controllable

Fixed costs – these costs do not vary regardless of the business activity undertaken, i.e. rent and rates.

Variable costs – these are dependant on the level of activity, i.e. heat and light or staff overtime.

Tight control and effective monitoring of these costs is essential.  Whilst fixed costs by their very nature are easier to control, effective negotiation with suppliers is an important step.  Variable costs can often get out of control if not properly managed, i.e. buying stock recklessly can tie up cash and may lead to unforeseen losses.

Tip – Ensure there is an efficient method of recording  and managing costs.  Monitor them on a regular basis.

4.  Supplier Relationships

Negotiating with your suppliers is important in order to gain value for money but when evaluating a potential supplier do not focus solely on the costs.  You should try and build a close working relationship with your suppliers and also consider the following:

  1. Product efficiency – do they have a good reputation for supplying reliable products?
  2. Delivery – can delivery be made in a timely manner?
  3. Payment Terms – extended terms can often ease your own cash flow concerns.

Tip – Ensure you question potential suppliers to ensure they meet your key criteria.

5.  Initial Funding

Many small businesses often underestimate the amount of necessary funding needed to commence trading or start a new product line or service.  This lack of funding will immediately restrict any business capacity and will greatly threaten the potential growth and stability of your business.  Always identify and try to properly estimate the amount of money needed to launch your business and to cover the costs for at least the first year which should include both running expenses and capital investment.

Tip – Take time to plan the financial implications of your business plans.

With thanks to:

Colin Bentall FCCA
Ford Bentall LLP
www.fordbentall.co.uk

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A-Z of Business: E – Employees: The Ten Fundamentals for Motivated and Productive Staff

Employees can make or break your business.  Finding the right ones, putting them in the right roles and keeping them motivated can feel like a full time job in itself.  Making poor hiring decisions and mismanaging your employees is alarmingly expensive, and can influence the morale of the rest of your team, as well as having a detrimental impact on your business and your time.  Here are my ten fundamentals to get you started:

  1. When hiring, be clear about the skills, knowledge, attitudes and motivations you want from the individual.  If they don’t have the right attitude, no matter how skilful a leader you are, keeping them focussed, productive and positive will be a drain on your energy, your team and your business.
  2. Being clear about what motivates an individual helps you match them to your vacancy.  An extrovert will not thrive in an isolated role; a big thinker will make expensive errors in a job requiring lots of detail work.  Their motivation will drop quicker than you can say “job satisfaction”.
  3. An effective interview process ensures that you treat every applicant equally, you leave no stone unturned and that you are making a balanced business decision, rather than reacting to their charm at interview.  Charm over substance is never a good hiring strategy.  In addition, many hiring decisions are based on urgent need – consequences are not considered until they are experienced in glorious and painful high definition.
  4. Make sure you involve the right people in your interview process.  Having input and feedback from people who will be working with the new recruit is invaluable – not just to have a second opinion, but also to make sure they buy into the hiring decision.
  5. A comprehensive induction process will make sure your new hire gets up to speed and feels part of the company as quickly as possible.  Things to consider are:  computer, phone and desk (yes, some people forget to plan these for new recruits!); meeting work colleagues, other departments, learning about the company, it’s products, values, processes and procedures, what to do and where to go if there are any problems.
  6. Make sure your new recruit is pre-announced to the rest of the team so they are expecting them and can extend a warm welcome.  I have seen new-hires feel shunned because their team-members were not expecting them and didn’t understand the reason for them joining.
  7. Have regular 1:1s to discuss progress, plans and projects.  It is also a good time to discuss any concerns they have and, do please make sure you take action promised – it can be very demoralising otherwise.  1:1s, well run, are hugely motivational and can be a great way of increasing confidence, productivity and motivation.
  8. Delegate well.  To do this, you need to understand the skillset and motivation levels of each individual member of your team.  Some people need a lot of support and direction, others will require more autonomy.  Delegation is not about abdication, nor does it involve micro-management.  It’s about giving them what they need to perform well.  This is a complex and important area that could benefit from a several blogs in its own right.
  9. Know when to take remedial action.  A disciplinary – formal or otherwise – is about improvement.  Inaction can make a bad problem worse as the employee believes that poor performance is acceptable.  Worse, fellow-employees may also see that this is the new standard they can relax into.  Worse still, if you decide to dismiss someone after a period of inaction, it may be difficult to prove your case in a tribunal.  Dealing with problems as they arise is essential.
  10. Develop your individuals.  You need to develop them in the right way, in the right things.  You can develop them through training, coaching, increased responsibility, new projects, and secondments.

Hiring and managing employees is highly rewarding when done well.  It is, however, a minefield.  If you are even slightly concerned, or are not getting the results you want, do seek support.  With the right structures and skills in place, you can experience the rewards on several levels:  a better relationship with your staff, an empowered and motivated workforce, happier customers, greater profit and a reputation as being an employer of choice.

To your success.

Tricia Woolfrey

PS For help with hiring the right people and effective people management and development call 0845 130 0854.  This is not something you want to leave to chance.

© Tricia Woolfrey 2012

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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A-Z of Business: D – Decision Making

 

Of all the things you have to do in business, making effective decisions is probably the most important.  Decisions can vary from a simple yes” or “no”, or between a variety of options or even to determine what the options are.  The subject of the decision can also be varied from hiring and firing, appointing the right supplier, deciding whether to increase your product portfolio or consolidate, expand or downsize, borrow or cut costs.  Each of these decisions can have long term consequences so it’s prudent to make sure your decision-making is pretty robust.  Delay can be as destructive as the bad decision.

Here are my top ten tips to effective decision-making:

  1. Clarify the problem you want to resolve – different people may have a different perspective on what the problem is.
  2. Include relevant stakeholders in the decision-making process – if the right people are not involved, they can adversely impact the implementation of your decision.
  3. Brainstorm all the options – don’t judge them yet, just put all the options down on paper.  Essentially this is about becoming aware of what you could do before you decide what you should do.  If you go into the shoulds too early, you cut yourself off from creativity.
  4. Determine what will let you know the decision was a good one.
  5. Make a list of the pros and cons of each option and for each stakeholder including:
    • Costs involved, especially whether the solution outweighs the problem it is intended to resolve
    • Effect on profit
    • Effect on customer relations
    • Impact on employees and workflow
    • Ability to support the decision in terms of skills, time and resources (a lot of good decisions don’t work out because of the lack of infrastructure to make them happen).
  6. Ask yourself whether it is line with your personal and business values – if it is not, it is bound to lead you into hot water at some point.
  7. If you are not at peace with the decision ask yourself what the concern is.  Is there a way of addressing this concern whilst going forward with the decision?
  8. Make sure the solution is treating the cause of the problem rather than the results.
  9. Consider any negative outcomes which may result from your decision and minimise those as much as possible – even the best decisions can have negative consequences – sometimes the best decision is not the most popular so it’s important to think of the short-term and long-term implications and how you can mediate those.
  10. Last, but by no means least, develop an implementation plan – no point in going through all of this if it isn’t going to bear fruit.

Finally, problems to avoid:

  • Analysis paralysis – you can spend too much time gathering data to make your decision – get the balance right.  Often the information being collected is to provide comfort rather than to influence your decision either way. Gather only what you need.
  • Procrastination – the enemy of success and the refuge for those who fear failure.  Procrastination can cause missed deadlines, missed opportunities, wasted resources, delayed projects, and frustrated customers, vendors, employees and co-workers .  It can often cause a loss of respect.  The worst thing is not to do anything.  Much better to anticipate problems and plan for them.
  • Impulsivity.  This is often the curse of the enthusiast.  They often rely on their “gut” but the decisions are not backed up by critical thinking around consequences and implementation issues.  Make calculated decisions and then your gut will tell you if it’s right or not.   A “niggle” can tell you that there is something you’ve overlooked.
  • Ignoring different viewpoints.  Sometimes the best ideas come from the most unexpected places and if you are filtering information through your ego, you are closed off to this.  At the same time, you don’t want to pander to people’s ideas if they don’t work.  It’s important simply to be open and receptive. Sometimes someone else’s idea might not be right in itself but is the seed for something which is.

I can’t resist one more tip:  ask yourself whether it will feel like the right decision a year from now.  This often flushes out any unconscious concerns or validates a difficult decision.

To your success,

Tricia Woolfrey
© Tricia Woolfrey 2012

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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