Going the places that scare you: 10 Tips I’ve learned since starting my online biz

Busy business woman in office - Foter.com
Busy business woman in office

I’ve made lots of mistakes in my life, have lots of regrets. Received an excellent education in “the school of hard knocks.” One of the places I’ve made mistakes is in my online biz as a speaker, author, and an entrepreneur. I’ve done lots of things that scared me: public speaking, webinars, telecalls, creating videos, and recently my first broadcast Google Hangout event. Sometimes you have to do the things that scare you to achieve your dreams and goals. But now I can pass these mistakes onto you to help you avoid them and to achieve your success easier and faster.

Here are my 10 tips I’ve learned since starting my online business. 

1. God first. Listen to and obey Him. Jesus said apart from Him, we can do nothing. (John 15:5)

And I don’t want to try to do anything without God. Otherwise, it will fall flat and won’t be productive or fruitful. Conversely, when God is in what you’re doing, it will be a success. 

Our cross centerpiece. During the "Butterfly Exercise," we wrote down what we needed to release to God to be free on paper butterflies and laid them down at the foot of the cross.
the cross

2. Focus on your strengths; don’t operate from your weaknesses. When I first started my online biz, I was given very bad advice from my business coach/mentor in a class. She told me and others to basically do everything yourself: write your html sales pages, create your eBook graphics/ecovers, making your website, etc.

WRONG, WRONG, WRONG! I’m not a techy person, and this left me many nights in tears, totally overwhelmed, frustrated, and angry. God has anointed me to speak and write, and this is what I need to do.

A great resource to help you discover your strengths is the book, Strengths Finder 2.0 by New York Times Best Selling Author Tom Rath, available for sale at Amazon. It includes a test in it to assess your areas of strengths and talents.

You can take online tests to discover what your spiritual gifts are. I’ve included some links to these online tests and some resources here. Find out what your spiritual gifts, talents, and skills are, and do that. Outsource the rest.

3. Outsource. Hire people to help you. Fiverr, Elance, Odesk, and other places are great places to outsource work. Outsourcing allows you to use your gifts for God and walk in the anointing He has for you. 

woman working at laptop

4. Be unique, beautiful you. Don’t compare yourself to others or feel envious/jealous of them. The Bible says in Proverbs 14:30 NIV, “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.”

There is only one you. Be yourself. Stay in your lane and don’t worry about or look at others. Jealousy and envy will eat you alive, and will distract you from your God-Designed purpose. They also make you very unhappy and miserable, which keeps you from being successful or at peace!

No one else can do what God has called you to do and fulfill your purpose and mission on earth.

5. Balance. When I first started my online business, this was the one area where I really messed up. Don’t let your business consume and overtake your life like a monster. I would literally spend 10 to 12 hours a day working on my business, primarily my website.

I was obsessed with improving and tweaking it. This became a source of contention between Ray and me, and our daughter Leah and me. Since then, I’ve learned to balance my time between God, my family and friends, time alone, and my business. One of the things I really enjoy doing now is watching the red cardinals, doves, sparrows, and other birds at our bird feeders, with a cup of coffee in the morning and chai with a little creamer in the afternoon.

bird feeders
bird feeders
our sunroom, where I watch the birds each morning with my coffee or chai
our sunroom, where I watch the birds each morning with my coffee or chai

Sometimes I take a break from Facebook and other social media. I want to live a real life, not just a virtual one. I refuse to be a slave to social media! Social media is necessary for business and isn’t going away, but God intended us for relationships with Him and others in real life. 

Chicken kabob with veggies in Turkey
Chicken kabob with veggies in Turkey

Also, remember to eat! It’s important to include self-care: eating healthy, drinking plenty of water, exercising, sufficient sleep and rest, fun. You only have one body that will enable you to fulfill your purpose. Without your good health, you can’t do what God is calling you to do and be.  

As a speaker and author, it’s important to get your butt in the chair to work on your speaking presentations and books (or articles, blogs, video and webinar content, etc.).

But it’s also necessary to get your butt out of the chair to spend time with Jesus, your family, friends, and to refill yourself.

Set a timer on your computer or laptop, iPhone or other phone, or even a kitchen timer as a reminder to get up out of your chair and do other things. (Remember the Pomodoro technique for greater productivity! I’d love to get the little red tomato timer!)

6. Know yourself. Know your purpose, mission, gifts, yourself. What works for others who are successful may not work or be for you. You may see someone all over Facebook and Twitter, doing webinars, creating videos, teaching marketing classes, and being a social media queen. But maybe you’re supposed to speak at live events and write books intead. Be YOU.

Stay intentionally and laser focused on God’s calling for your life so that you aren’t wasting time looking at your friends’ Facebook vacation pics, surfing the net shopping for clothes, watching TV reality and entertainment shows, playing games, etc.

Be serious about the call of God on your life. That doesn’t mean you can’t ever have any fun (we need fun and to just pull away from our business sometimes to de-stress!). But manage your time wisely each day.

Writing a to-do list
Writing a to-do list

I always make a to-do list every night for the next day. I’m obsessed with to-do lists. I love the feeling of accomplishment as I check things off my list. What I do is pray at the beginning of each day and ask God what HE wants me to do that day~ His priority for me. Jesus only did what He saw the Father doing. (John 5:19)

I may have 8 to 10 things on my to-do list, but the top two or three may be the ones that I get done that day. Then I move onto the next tasks the following day.

7. Invest. Invest in yourself, your business, but watch the Shiny Object Syndrome. I believe we should be life-long learners, learning something new every day. You can learn new things by hiring a coach, reading good books (read mine!), attending trainings like webinars, telecalls, college classes, and talking with other people.

I love to read and read every day. I prefer holding and reading a physical (print) book, but also read a lot of books using Kindle for PC and the Kindle app for my iPhone. I usually read at night before I go to sleep.

one of my office bookshelves
one of my office bookshelves

My husband Ray has a Kindle Fire that I bought him for his birthday last year, and he has 100’s of books on it. I encourage you to read a lot, especially if you are a speaker or writer.

I also believe if you’re a speaker, author, or have an online biz, you need a coach. I have an amazing, very successful business/writing coach, Shelley Hitz, who has written over 35 books. The royalties from hers and her husband CJ’s Amazon books pay their basic bills most of the time! She has coached 1000’s all over the world to write their first book. I’m now enrolled in her course, Author Audience Academy. Through what I learned in her writers’ training course, my new eBook, The Cinderella Story: The Power of Shoes became an Amazon Best Seller for its category and sub-categories the first day, which is a first for me as an author..

Coaching is so important. I also offer coaching to beginner speakers, writers, and online entrepreneurs here.

8. Get out of the house! Have a dinner date with your husband. Eat out or do something fun with your child(ren). Have coffee with a friend. Talk to people in real life. If you stay hidden behind your computer, laptop or iPad all the time, and not have relationships in real life, you’re going to get weird!

I see so many people today on their smart phones out in public when they’re with their spouse or kids, ignoring the people right in front of them to “connect” with others online. It’s sad and you will miss out on so much if you do this all the time.

me on beach in the Bahamas
me on beach in the Bahamas

Again, God created us for relationships. Go have fun with others. Spend time outdoors in the sunshine and fresh air. Travel to the beach (I am craving the ocean!), mountains, desert, a new town, city, state, or nation. Do something new and adventurous. This also gives you inspired content for your speaking and writing and your biz.

9. Follow your fun. Recently I was talking to my prayer/accountability partner, Doreen Penner, sharing how I enjoyed doing something. She encouraged me, “Follow your fun.” What wise words. I’ve thought about them a lot since she said it. 

Me in front of mountain in Jasper Canadian Rockies
Me in front of mountain in Jasper
Canadian Rockies

Follow your fun and your passion. Do what you love to do. I can’t imagine anything worse than being miserable, hating your job every day. Pursue your purpose and passion.

This may change and evolve over time. When I was a child, all I ever wanted to be when I grew up was a mom and a writer. God made those dreams come true. I’m the mom of 3 beautiful daughters, Heather, Eden, and Leah.

Ray and I with our 3 beautiful daughters, Heather, Leah, & Eden
Ray and I with our 3 beautiful daughters, Heather, Leah, & Eden

I’m also the author of eight books, and am now writing three more.

I never imagined I’d be a speaker, because I used to be very shy and was terrified of speaking in front of people publicly. God has a sense of humor. Several years ago, He opened the door for me to share my testimony about my 3 abortions at a Mennonite church women’s Bible study. I was physically shaking, my voice quivered, I sweat profusely, and I thought I’d faint. But God got me through it.

Since then, He has opened the door for me to speak, even in other nations like Haiti, Canada, the Bahamas, and Africa. I now love it and as my husband Ray recently wrote me in a letter, I now live to have a mic in my hands (and to travel!). 

Beth Jones, speaking in Kenya, Africa
me speaking in Kenya, Africa

There are times when we enter a season of rest. I went through this the last part of 2014. God told me to rest.

It may seem like you’re “on the shelf” and God isn’t using you or has forgotten about you. He hasn’t; He’s simply preparing you for what is next! You’re in a season of preparation by God the Potter. 

My purpose and my desires have changed and grown. Yours may, too. Fulfill your purpose. Follow your fun and passion, which are often closely tied to your purpose. I believe God puts these dreams and desires in our heart, when they align with His will.

10. Don’t give up and don’t quit. Dream big because we serve a big God! If you’ve been in the audience when I speak, attend my virtual events, or read my blog, you know this is my motto. I say it a lot.

God has definitely stretched me since I started my online business. He’s taken me way out of my comfort zones into some pretty scary places. He will do extraordinary things through ordinary lives.

But as I’ve leaned on Him and not my own understanding, and trusted Him, He’s done miraculous, amazing things in and through my life. It humbles me. I can only praise Him for all He’s done. God is so good!

Me in my element, speaking at Olathe Aglow
So happy!
Me in my element, speaking at Olathe Aglow

God has good plans for you. (Jeremiah 29:11) He wants to use you in a great way for His glory (and it’s about Jesus, not us!). Make sure you are aligned with His will and purpose for your life. Follow Him. 

When we try to do things in our flesh, they won’t work. There will be no fruit. Your life will feel barren. But when you are seeking God, there will be good fruit. You will not just be busy, but productive. 

Most of all, keep praying. Seek God’s direction for your life. God is the one who opens doors of favor and opportunity. 

Woman at fork in the road

I created a podcast sharing these tips. You can listen to it at Podbean by clicking here

You can also subscribe to my podcast at Itunes by clicking here.

I broadcast my very first Google Hangout this week, sharing these things I’ve learned. You can watch it on video at YouTube here

Those are my 10 tips I’ve learned since starting my online biz. I hope they’ve encouraged you. What have you learned in your online biz? Share your comments below. 


Tired of and bored with Facebook (and other social media sites)?

 Image courtesy of Basketman at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Basketman at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Are you sick and tired of Facebook? Burned out and bored with social media? Today I was talking with speaker/author Dana Arcuri about this. I shared with her that while I’ve met some AMAZING friends and business associates on social media, and am able to keep up with our grown daughters, their children, and family and friends who live in other states on Facebook (for which I’m extremely thankful), I’m tired and bored with social media. And I don’t want to just live a virtual life!

Apparently I’m not alone, because others want to leave Facebook. It’s crowded, it’s becoming more about advertising, and teens don’t want to use it any more because their family and friends are now on it (teens want to be independent!). And worse: it’s getting boring! So often users forget the cardinal rule of relationships: “Thou shalt not bore thy friends.”

Facebook can ruin relationships, according to this post by Elizabeth Bernstein. She writes that people post about what they eat, “uber cute kittens,” say they need to floss their teeth (yuck!), get lovey-dovey with a spouse (why do this?), or say rude things they wouldn’t normally say in a million years in real life (apparently they feel safe enough to act this way, hiding behind their laptop or computer).

The drama, the bragging, the boringness, the familiarity, and the constant promotional “Buy this!”are driving people away – especially young people – to other sites like YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Path, and Snapchat. Teens want more creative self-expression rather than telling all the mundane details of your life. 

Dana shared this article with me today, which was very eye-opening. 

Referring to Facebook as “FaceCrack,” likening it to crack cocaine, the article states that Facebook (and other social media sites like Twitter):

  • create brain changes similar to those hooked on drugs and alcohol;
  • diminish attention span, result in superficial learning, feed narcisstic tendencies (selfies!), and create a disconnect between your real-world personality and online identity; 
  • leaves people feeling lonely, miserable, envious, frustrated, and angry.

God made us for an intimate, fulfilling relationship with Him and others. He never created us to live just virtual lives, but to have real ones.

I’m extremely grateful for the wonderful friends and business contacts I’ve made on Facebook and other social media sites. They have enlarged my territory and given me a wider, even a global, platform for speaking and writing. Yes, absolutely, I will continue using social media to connect with friends and business peers. Social media is not just a fad, and it’s not going away.

But I absolutely refuse to be a social media slave.

I love the options the article How Facebook is Altering Your Mind suggest, and want to share them here, plus add a few of my own:

  • Read good books. Yes, paper ones.  Read my books. “You will notice with a good book you find a comfortable place to sit, the light is better, your breathing relaxes – your body and mind relax.” Books take you places you have never been. They also help you learn many new things, inspire and motivate you, and give you great, valuable content to share with others. My husband Ray and I devour books each week. 
  • Exercise. Get outside the house in the fresh air and sunshine. I’ve been doing this lately, and on the days where it’s too cold to walk at the track (like this past week, when it was only 7 degrees!), I work out to a kickboxing video. Just get moving! Live! Get fit and healthy so you can fulfill your God-given purpose. This is good for your body, soul, and spirit. 
  • Contemplate. Gift yourself the time to observe and reflect. Meditation is excellent mind training. Most major world religions teach this. For Christians, this would be time to meditate on the Bible, memorize Scriptures, and prayer. You can sit in a park, people-watch at the airport or coffee shop, enjoy the quiet of a library, or hike a mountain.
  • Do things in your community. Get involved. Church activities, sports, plays, farmer’s markets. “Get out and DO. You are wasting time on Facebook. If that last sentence rings true, turn it off and get out there. Life is beautiful.”
  • Take a missions trip. My friend Kim Weber and her son Nathaniel are planning a short-term missions trip to Haiti this fall. We have a mission field right here in the U.S. ~ our children and grandchildren, nephews and nieces; inner cities; slums. Make a difference where you are or go to a place where there’s a need and unselfishly help meet it.
  • Spend time with your family and friends. What good is it to have wonderful relationships online with friends, if you are ignoring the people in your own house or those God so carefully placed in your life? Let’s face it, if someone only spends time on a computer, laptop, or smart phone, they get weird. You were created for face to face relationships. Eat supper with your family at night. Go to lunch or coffee with a friend or biz peer. Go on a date with your husband or wife to see a good movie, or to a bookstore. Meet with other Christians for a Bible study, prayer, and/or worship. Have a girls’ night out with a jewelry party, chocolate cheesecake dessert, or fun pedicures. Enjoy and love your family and friends in real life!
  • Use your spiritual gifts, talents, and skills. Do what God has called and anointed you to do. For me, this is speaking and writing books. What are your spiritual gifts? Do you know? If not, find out what they are. You can take online tests. Read Spiritual Gifts and Ministries of the Holy Spirit by Lester Sumrall and Step Out and Take Your Place by Krista Dunk. Don’t be like the man who hid his talents in Matthew 25:8, but use your talents ~ and God will bless you with more. Live your life in a way to seek to please God.

 Please don’t misunderstand and think I hate Facebook or other social media sites and am telling you to get off them completely (or at all). Social media has been a blessing in my life and enriched my life through meeting new people and enabling me to do things (like speak in Canada, the Bahamas, and Africa) that I may have never been able to do, otherwise.

Social media is a TOOL. Use it as such. Keep things in balance. Just remember to live your REAL life – offline!