Grit Trumps Everything in Business

I was not a high performing young student. It’s embarrassing to admit, especially since today, I insist that my children pursue high levels of achievement in elementary school. (Translated loosely, this means “as many A’s as you can get.”) When I was their age, I did well, but after sixth grade, I started getting B’s and C’s — and even a few failing grades. Things improved a bit in high school. I graduated with a solid C average, yet managed somehow to get into college and law school, and then pass the Bar exam on the first try, and continue to serve on the prestigious Law Review. The only way I can explain how that record has allowed me to achieve nearly every major life and career goal I’ve set is, that I have grit. I have thought this way about myself for years, and now, there seems to be some scientific validation of it. Watch this video of Professor Angela Lee Duckworth’s six-minute Ted Talk to see what I mean.

See? I wanted to share this with you because I know how you feel sometimes in your business. You see other people making all kinds of money. They post Facebook pictures of their trips to exotic destinations. They share a picture of how they took their car to the shop — and the car just happens to be a Lexus. They post Instagram photos of all of the things they got their kids for their birthdays. It can be very disheartening to watch when you are just starting out or have been struggling to put all the pieces together.

This message should inspire and encourage you. Angela Lee Duckworth, an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Psychology, has studied inner city high school students and high level executives, and the conclusions are the same. Grit trumps smarts. What a relief

It’s Not About Balance. It’s About Priorities.

When Kenna Cote asked me to speak on the topic of work/life balance at the Central Soapers Workshop this weekend, I was thrilled. At first, I didn’t have a clue what I would say because I don’t think there is any such thing as work/life balance. There’s just life and all the stuff you have to do to make it great. Balance is a distraction. Priorities are what matter most, and if those are straight, then balance is a non-issue. That’s what I planned to say in Kansas today. As you now know, I won’t have a chance to say it. Instead, I am actually living it out.


As this very hour, my presentation on “work/life balance” (not) is being delivered by Lela Barker, an Indie Business Network member, and I know she is doing a super job. Meanwhile, I want to share the gist of my presentation with you now. Here is why pursuit of balance is a distracting waste of time. It’s not about balance. It’s about priorities.

My Presentation at Central Soapers

Due to an urgent family matter, I am unable to deliver my talk this Saturday at the Central Soapers Workshop in Overland Park, Kansas. The topic I was asked to speak on is Work/Life Balance, and the title of my presentation is Forget the Juggling and Just Drop All the Damn Plates. This situation presents an ironic opportunity for me to walk my talk. After all, my planned presentation shares my recommendation that, as women entrepreneurs with families, we should strive, not for balance, but to choose our actions based on a carefully selected set of predetermined priorities.

donna maria at central soapers

In case you’re wondering, I am not experiencing balance right now. But I am experiencing the peace that comes with knowing that this choice, as hard as it is to make, is the right one. I am choosing my utmost priority (my family) over a very high priority (my work). And that’s just the way it has to be in this moment.

Here’s the good news for those of you who will be at Central Soapers Workshop: my disappointment is your gain. Here’s why:

“5 Formulas to Keep Your Facebook Business Page Fresh and Engaging” by Donna Maria

If you don’t know how I feel about Facebook, you can find out here. If you don’t have time to click that link, let me quickly summarize. Facebook is a great place to promote your business so long as your core marketing tools are owned and controlled by you. If you don’t have your own blog, your own email newsletter, and your own website, don’t complain that Facebook is hiding your status updates from your fans.

facebook likes and fans

It is becoming increasingly clear that Facebook does not work for you unless you boost posts or buy ads, and even then, there are legitimate questions about how effective Facebook is. If you have a solid marketing core of your own, Facebook is tasty icing on top of that cake. (If you need help creating a solid marketing core, check out my Indie Business Blueprint training.) No matter what, if your Facebook Business Page does not look good, then your business does not look good. In fact, if for whatever reason you cannot invest in making your Facebook Business Page look good, then you should delete it. It’s better for it not to be there than for it to be there working against you. It’s easier than you think to maintain a great looking Facebook Business Page. Use these 5 formulas to keep your page looking fresh and appealing.

“6 Keys to Going Big Without Growing Big” by Donna Maria

When it comes to entrepreneurship, the saying “Go big or go home,” can be interpreted to mean that if your business if not big in size, then it somehow doesn’t count. I disagree with that philosophy. Bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better, and it sure doesn’t mean stronger or more profitable. In fact, a woman-led business that is too big to for the leader to comfortably lead, and still have a meaningful personal life, is probably too big no matter what the size.


Over the years, I’ve had multiple opportunities to increase the size of the Indie Business Network. People have offered to sell me their businesses from time to time. I have also considered taking out loans to staff up and hire more people so the Indie Business Network could become bigger. While I admire people who choose to grow in size, I know it’s not for me … at least not at this time in my life. And for me, that’s OK.

Women Lead In Creating and Consuming Social Media

After coaching and mentoring entrepreneurs for over a decade, I concluded that women tend to embrace using social media for business more quickly than men. This infographic seems to indicate that my conclusion is correct. If you are a woman business owner, this might be the most important tip I could share with you: leverage your relationship building instincts to expand your business through the efficient use of social media tools. Start with a blog and a newsletter, and then systematically share content across a manageable number of social media outlets. You’ll be glad you did.

Most Popular Social Media Sites Review: Why Women Are The Real Power Behind The Huge Success Of Tumblr, Pinterest and Instagram

Infographic courtesy of Finances

Question: Are you maximizing the use of social media tools to build and sustain your business?

I’ve Been Named to the Board of Directors of the North Carolina Natural Products Association

I’m very excited to share that I have been named to the Board of Directors of the North Carolina Natural Products Association. As such, I will be responsible for helping to govern the organization, and in particular, to assist with its public relations and media efforts. For those who don’t know, the North Carolina Natural Products Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to conserving, cultivating, and processing North Carolina grown medicinal plants. They have a great team already in place, and I’m thrilled to join them and to have the opportunity to make a positive contribution to sustainable agriculture in my adopted home state.


North Carolina is filled with an abundance of natural resources, and I’m excited to join forces with NC NPA to help Makers and creative entrepreneurs to cultivate and share the natural medicinal wonders that can be found here. If you’d like to learn more about the North Carolina Natural Products Association, visit their website and follow them on Facebook. To find out how you can become a supporter, click here.

“10 Steps To Starting A Mastermind Group That Works” by Donna Maria

I have been a part of at least one Mastermind group, sometimes more than one at a time, for several years. I have participated in virtual and in-person Mastermind groups. There are major differences between the two, but that’s for another post. This post shares how to start and manage a virtual Mastermind group, because its likely that you already have at least one virtual connection who you think would make a good Mastermind partner. There are also different types of Mastermind groups. This post discusses business Mastermind groups, but many of the principles I share would be useful to help you establish any type of Mastermind group.


Before I get to the 10 steps, I’ll first tell you what business Masterminding is and what it has meant to my business. A Mastermind group is a group of two or more similarly situated, like-minded people who gather regularly to address and solve their biggest business challenges. It’s different from coaching because there is no “coach.” In a Mastermind group, everyone is both coach and client.

I am looking forward to speaking at the Central soapers Workshop with other professionals, and hobbyists, in the soapmaking and bath and body business.

Date: March 22, 2014
Event: Central Soapers Workshop
Sponsor: Central Soapers
Venue: Capitol Federal Conference Center, Johnson County Community College
Location: 12345 College Blvd
Overland Park, KS 66210
Public: Public
Registration: Click here to register.
More Info: Click here for more information.