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“I vowed that I would only work for myself”

Female Entrepreneur of the Week 9th July 2012

This story is about…

Female entrepreneur: Lena West

Company: Influence Expansion

Industry: Social Media

Location: USA

She started her business because: she vowed that she would only ever work for herself after her grandmother became ill.

Age range: 30s

What motivated you to start your business?

When I was in high school, my grandmother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. We lived hundreds of miles away from her and it was hard for my Mom to visit her as often as she would have liked due to her work schedule as an emergency room trauma medical specialist. In fact, my Mom would have dreams about visiting my grandmother and not being allowed in to see her – clearly her subconscious eating at her. I vowed then that I would only work for myself and I would only have a virtual company so both me and my team wouldn’t have to to choose between work and our families.

Tell us about your business…

InfluenceExpansion.com (formerly xynoMedia) is a company that helps women business owners to leverage social media to EXPAND their influence, EXPLODE their income and ROCK the world. We offer the only social media marketing training program developed specifically – and solely – for female entrepreneurs.

What is a day in the life of you like?

An average day for me starts off with meditation and prayer. Then I talk with my accountability partner each weekday morning. I then give a quick call to my Mom to see how she’s doing and feeling. Three to four days a week, I do some sort of physical activity. And, then I check for any emergency email from my team and then I start work on whatever internal project we’re working on. By that time, I have lunch and prepare for client work and “coachsulting” calls with clients and mentors in my social media mastermind groups. I then go through email and do a bit more client work and end my day. On Mondays, I write articles and guest blog posts. Fridays are my business development days.

What have been your biggest challenges so far with running your business?

Getting the right team in place – which thankfully, now I have! You can’t underestimate the importance of having the right people to support you. When you’re worried if things are getting done or if they’re being done the right way, you can’t focus on the things that the business owner should be focused on. I used to think that my team had to like me. I now see that it’s not about being friends (although having a positive relationship with your team always helps), it’s about having the best possible support your budget can buy.

How did you overcome these challenges?

I read lots of books about company culture and team dynamics (the Zappos book is great for that!). I also subscribed to the Topgrading hiring methodology. This is a very detailed way of making sure you only hire A players in your company. It’s mostly for larger companies, but I’ve adapted it to suit the needs of my smaller company. Many people take one look at the size of the book and they decide they don’t want to try it, but then again, those are the same people with broken teams wondering if their newsletter is being sent out :)

What have you found to be the most effective way to get new clients?

Speaking is the absolute best way to get clients! People get to experience you live, up close and personally. And, they figure if you can give all the great information you provide and they’re not even a client yet, they wonder what they’ll get when they become a client!

Also, simply asking for the business can’t be underestimated either. You get 0% of the business you don’t ask for.

What advice would you give to other business owners?

Don’t ask to have a bigger business. Ask for a BETTER business. Bigger is a natural side effect of being BETTER.

How do you keep motivated through difficult times?

I surround myself with supportive people. I speak with my accountability partner each weekday morning. I have various coaches and I have a host of friends I can call on if I feel confused, down or stuck. I also watch a lot of inspirational and motivational web video. But, when I really feel low, I pull out my brag book. It’s all my media clips, letters of thanks, etc. that I’ve received since 2000! After looking at that, I can’t help but to have a better outlook!

What’s your favourite quote?

“The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.”

{Maya Angelou}

Who inspires you?

My Mom

My Dad

My Aunt Agnes

Judge Judy

Do you have a business philosophy?

“For every nine people who denounce innovation…only one will encourage it. For every nine people who do things the way they have always been done, only one will ever wonder if there is a better way. For every nine people who stand in line in front of a locked building, only one will ever come around and check the back door. Our progress as a species rests squarely on the shoulders of that tenth person. The nine are satisfied with the things they are told are valuable. Person 10 determines for himself what has value.” — Za Rinpoche and Ashley Nebelsieck, The Backdoor to Enlightenment


Get in touch…

Website: http://InfluenceExpansion.com

Twitter: @LenaWest

Facebook Fanpage: http://facebook.com/LenaWest

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