Plan: The 4 Letter Word in Business

Plan.  For some of us it’s a four letter word.  Though some parts of my business, I’ll admit,  are a little fly by the seat of my pants, I’m pretty serious about my yearly planning.

Here’s how I do it (This is how I plan for my businesses, in another post I’ll talk about how I handle my personal annual planning through an exercise I like to call New Years Roles & Goals):

I start with a look at financials and see if I’ve met my money goals.  I dig deeper and then look at how many new customers I acquired the previous 12 months and look especially at the percent of repeat customers.  I look at customers that have been previous customers but didn’t order at all last year.  This provides me a whole lot to look at and spend most of my review time here.

Next, I look at where I spent my marketing dollars and track my return on investment for each of my ads, events, networking groups, etc, individually.  (If you don’t currently track your return on investment for your marketing dollars I suggest you make this a priority this year.  It’s very enlightening.)  When I was studying marketing back in college, I learned that your marketing efforts over time should yield a four times return on your initial marketing investment.  In today’s marketing, you should be excited if you can get a two times return on your investment.  That’s why it’s so critical to see if your marketing dollars are, in fact, turning into qualified leads and customers.

Then, I review my processes and see what can be streamlined, outsourced or delegated.  This is my favorite part.  I get serious about what I want to focus on and what I can have someone else do.  This is where I get empowered in my personal goals and what I want to spend time on in the coming year.

Finally, I set some goals.  I make a vision board, and I post both where I can see them everyday.

This quarter, I’m rewriting my business plan from start to finish.  When I started Doodads 15 years ago the internet wasn’t nearly as beneficial as it is now.  The internet has completely changed how I interact with suppliers, place orders and involve employees (who work from home!).  So, I’m starting with a clean slate to see what I come up with.  I’m excited and scared at the same time.   Send chocolate. ;)

If you haven’t done so already, you’re probably saying, “This is too much work!”  Planning isn’t meant to be daunting, but it’s meant to be thorough.   And it’s meant to provide you a clear view of the past so you can move forward with confidence.   In time, your planning will become something you crave instead of something you curse.

I believe in the adage (that some credit to Benjamin Franklin, though the internet wasn’t clear on final credits) “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”  So my charge to you: it’s not too late.  If you haven’t already done your annual review, make plans to do it now.

I know that this isn’t the only way to plan.  How do you do it?

Until then, happy planning!

Making Money as a Speaker

Chicago Public Speakers Association in association with Small Business Forum Radio and Magazine present, “Making money as a speaker” May 18th 12noon-3:30pm Pacific. Join radio personality and speaker Tony Wilkins and Marcus Carter, Director -Chicago Public Speaker’s Association for this free interactive teleseminar with today’s top speakers. Topics and speakers include:

Tony Wilkins-Sales Conversion tips

Minette Riordan-“Are You a Bulldozer or a Border Collie? What Speakers Need to Know to Build Credibility with Their Audience”

Kimi Avary- 3 Keys to Delivering your talk for BOTH men and women: Critical Secrets you NEED to Know

Elizabeth Bachman -Mastering a Signature Speech That Sells

Michelle McCullough- Diversifying your sales offerings (audio, video, consulting, etc.)

Barney Kramer-“Simplicity is Critical to Good Speeches.”

Ivy Slater-5 Steps That Lead To More Sales And More Money

  • Each speaker will offer a 20 min talk with time for Q and A after each talk.


Tony Wilkins- Media personality (Small Business Forum Radio )and author of

The Career Whisperer- A step by step guide to booking speaking engagements.

Michelle McCullough -social media coach with a successful podcast

Ivy Slater- prosperity coach

Barney Kramer – Leadership coach

Kimi Avary-

Elizabeth Bachman

WHENWednesday, May 18, 2016 from 12:00 PM to 3:30 PM (PDT) – Add to Calendar

Comparison Equals Despair

Ever had one of those moments where someone says something to you and a light bulb goes on?  It happened to me last year when my business coach Tiffany Peterson said to me, “Comparison equals despair.”

In 2010, I went in search of Life Balance and found that Life Balance was a myth.  That year long process turned me into a better coach and consultant, resulted in creating two live events on the subject and ultimately led to the creation of my product The Life Balance Myth that ships out in May.

In 2011, I went in search of MY path and gave up on what everyone else was doing.  It’s so easy to look at other successful people and say, “What am I doing wrong?  Why can’t I be like that?” And then either try hard to be like THEM (instead of themselves) or go into a pit of despair that ultimately sucks all the energy out and there’s no room for growth and preservation.  I’ve done both of the above.  I’ve always been so worried that I was doing something wrong that I stopped trying at times.

The truth is, I don’t have to be the next Brendon Burchard, Jack Canfield, Oprah or Tiffany Peterson.  I have to be me: Michelle McCullough.  My path, course and outcomes will be very different than theirs, but if I spend all my time comparing myself, I’ll never be me because I’m too worried about being them.

Here’s the other thing about comparisons, our perspective is skewed:

One of the reasons why we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our-behind-the-scenes to other people’s highlight reel.
– Pastor Steven Furtick

Isn’t that juicy?

Our side by side comparisons are not apples to apples.  What we see is not reality, its only the highlights of someone’s life compared to the whole picture of ours.

Finally, you need to check with our intuition and find out the path that’s right for you.  I’m a huge fan of Brendon Burchard’s.  He set a path in his book “The Millionaire Messenger” for a coach/author/speaker to make a million dollars in a year.  When you read it, it’s so straight forward that you can say, “I could do that.”  And in reality, anyone dedicated to doing the work probably could.  Who doesn’t want a million bucks?!

Then, I thought to myself, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”  I’m in a different stage in my life, and I’m secure with that.  I have two little kids that I want to give more attention to them than I could if I did that plan at this point in my life.  So, I said to myself, “How about a million in five years,” and that resonated with me.

The bottom line is it’s your life, not theirs.  I’m all about mentors, and role models.  I’m all about coaches and trail blazers that help put you on the right path for you, but again it’s YOUR path.  You decide the pace.  You decide the destination and you decide the journey.

Embrace YOUR life, and enjoy the peace that comes from following your own path.

Happy Thursday,



Insightful Questions Thanks to HP's Interview of Me on

I was honored to be interviewed by HP’s almost exactly a year ago.  We talked about Startup Princess and Doodads Promotional Products.

You can find the interview here.

A year later, here are some interesting observations:

1. I was criticized for saying the phrase, “pile of crap”.  I totally agree that it’s less than lady-like, and at the time didn’t realize I had said it.  I said it in reference to Life Balance.  She asked me what I thought about it and I was honest in my own words.  Insightful question #1: What are the limits on the things you SHOULD and SHOULDN’T say publicly, even if you say them privately?

2. I was then, and always will be, a serial entrepreneur.  Since the article I’ve added a full speaking and consulting business to my Startup Princess and Doodads Promotional Products Businesses.  Insightful question #2: How much is too much?  Do you think it’s possible for someone to be able to successfully run 3 businesses?

3. Lately, I’ve been marveling at this thing called the internet.  It’s amazing that I can do what I love while my children play in the background (well, I can’t speak while my children play in the background, but you catch my drift).  Insightful question #3: How does the internet effect what you do today?  If the internet did not exist, would your job exist?

4. Just as HP’s humble beginnings where in the garage of 367 Addison Avenue we all have our own launching pad.  I credit my friend Karen for making me take a marketing class with her in High School (at the time I wanted to be a kindergarten teacher).  If it weren’t for her, and that class that flipped a switch for me at the age of 17, I wouldn’t be here.  Insightful question #4: What are your humble beginnings, or humble RE-beginnings?

How’s that for a motivational Monday?  Sometimes a quick look back can help us root in a foundation that can move us forward.  I love looking back to see how far I’ve come.

To a great week!

entrepreneur, michelle mccullough, Happy Monday,


Book Review: The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur

Title: The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur

Author: Mike Michalowicz

End Rating: Worth Reading

Total Number of Pages: 175

Okay, so I’m going to come clean.  I read this book on the toilet.  No lie.  Something about the title and toilet paper on the cover (or perhaps that’s the only place a mom can get dedicated time to read a book) inspired me to read it on the porceline throne.

Let me start off by saying I’m a huge fan of Mike Michalowicz, the author, and after first being introduced to him in 2008, I’ve become involved in his community for entrepreneurs.  I’m on his email list (which isn’t annoying and always offers pertinent information), I watch his little movie segments online, and because of him and his emails, I was featured in the project “An American Entrepreneur” in 2009.  He’s started a number of successful businesses and can put his money where his mouth is.

I’ll start with what I liked: First of all, his book is overall a great read.  Michalowicz’s passion for business oozes out of every page, and you can tell this guy LOVES business ownership.  It’s a contagious passion that makes me inspired to run my business with more heart and he really digs deep with you PERSONALLY to find out what drives you to run or start your business.  We all have that voice inside us that he calls “The Wall of Limiting Beliefs” that tells us we’ll never make it, we’ll never make a single dollar, and so on, and he helps each person find what drives them to break down that wall.  It was a great reminder for me.  As I prepare for baby #2 (due in December) I’m faced with a whole new “Wall” and his book helped me get through some times when I wanted to just throw in the towel.

Second, like it’s title, it inspired me to use what I’ve got and run with it.  Especially in tough economic times, it’s easy to get discouraged and think “I don’t have the resources to …(fill in the blank).”  But we all have unique gifts and talents and we can use the resources we have instead of spending our time wishing we had others.  Michalowicz encourages creativity, ingenuity and hard work to get you through any business situation.  We could all use a reminder to be a little more positive and just get to work.

Here’s what surprised me (and I’ve shared my thoughts with him personally through Twitter): If you have a problem with occasional foul language, you’ll be surprised by the use of expletives throughout the book.  Michalowicz is a no-nonsense guy and he says it like it is.  If that’s a big deal to you, at least I warned you in advance.  Rest assured, you won’t find a swear word on every page, but they are there.  Perhaps in support of the “potty” theme throughout the book.  Michalowicz even warns in the introduction, “The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart…”

One final note:  This is a GREAT book for those getting started in business or if you have a dream in development.  I’ve been in business for 10 years and I was still able to get GREAT information but he does gear his message towards those who are starting up.

Michalowicz says in the book, “My goal for The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur is to be different and far better than the traditional business books and burned-out grad school rhetoric, from the first word to the last.”  Well Michael, to me, you succeeded.  Thanks for a great read and I recommend it to all of you!

For more information about Michael Michalowicz and the TPE community go to