A few months back I was reading a fascinating article in Entrepreneur.com about how few entrepreneurs start a business with the end in mind. The all important exit strategy seems elusive to many of us yet it is so important to have that end goal in mind.
I was so impressed by the points in the article and the level of advice given, plus the fact that she’d just written a book called Show Me The Money that I just decided to email Chia-Li Chien and tell her so.
Chia-Li Chien is the founder and chief strategist of Chien Associates LLC, a strategy and implementation management consulting firm that helps women entrepreneurs to convert their business into meaningful personal wealth.
She’s also one of the most organized and productive women I know that focuses on her priorities and getting results. I was impressed by her prompt, friendly and professional reply, scheduling of our Skype interview and her follow up and her sense of humour.
Chia-Li even shared her incredible calendar with me that is fully colour coded and is planned months in advance with weekly sessions blocked out for marketing, writing, business development, workshops and more.
I knew we all could learn a great deal from her years of experience in time management and business systems, but more importantly her financial prowess and passion in helping women invest in themselves.
Here’s our interview below plus listen to our recorded Skype call where I ask Chia-Li specifically about exit planning, time management tips and more.
Tell me why having an exit plan is so important for women in business?
Creating a business is not just a means of “lifestyle”. As women we often end up taking care of everyone else in the world except for ourselves and we also neglect to view our business as an investment asset.
When you start to view it from this perspective though, you will actually demand an annual return and a certain growth in value over time. Without this end in mind you will not get where you want to be, or achieve financial independence so you can enjoy doing the thing you love the most.
In your opinion, what’s the biggest challenge women face in viewing their business as investment?
They don’t see it as a real investment asset, most view it as “lifestyle” or in reality a job. Let me elaborate, if an owner takes less than $100K salary from the business, she effectively created a job for herself.
If an owner takes less than $250K salary from the business, she created a “lifestyle” for herself.
Until you create 2 to 5 times of the value you’re not creating wealth for yourself at all. The biggest challenge I see women face is “but I am not in the business to make that much money”. My answer is always the same, then work for someone else, it’s a lot easier that way.
What do you love most about helping women achieve financial freedom?
I’ve been there, and can relate to their challenges. We all have family and business to juggle and there is no one formula that fits all. Everyone is unique, and each woman her own set of challenges that I love to help solve.
Most importantly, I am a great connector and can help my clients connect to big customers/clients and stay focused. I love to see them grow and it is the most rewarding thing for me to witness.
You’re a master at time management, what are your top 5 tips for managing your week?
#1. Preview your week: Check your week’s schedule on previous Friday night or early Monday morning so you can familiarise how your week layout looks.
#2. Block Time: Block out time in your calendar such as
- Staff meetings
- Training (for you)
- Green block (making money time)
- Client service/design time
- Marketing/Sales (unless you have staff to do this)
- Review/monitor Company KPI (Key Performance Indicators)
- Paperwork time – something you have to do but make NO money for such as filing, signing contracts, etc. Your staff can do most of this but there are still some things you need to do.
- YOU Time – such as family time, nap time, fitness time, etc.
#3. Be true to yourself: Once you have your own systems down, follow your own rule so your staff can keep you honest.
#3. Put your To Do on your calendar: Block them out into the categories above. So you don’t get side-tracked easily.
#4. Take Care of Yourself. If you need time to nap, put a nap time in your calendar.
I wake up at 5 AM everyday; naturally, I am exhausted by 3 pm. Therefore, I block out 3 to 5 pm for cooking for family or nap time for me. You don’t have to be a super women. Yes, I get home from the office by 3, but continue to work few hours after 6 or 7 pm.
You put aside 25% of your time for marketing your business, what’s your key focus?
My key focus on marketing is to land speaking engagements and interviews. In professional services, the most effective way to generate qualified leads is to get in front of qualified suspects (they may not be prospects yet).
Often it will lead to another speaking engagement or prospective meeting.
This can include “center of influence” or COI, those business entities that have the same target clients as you do, and they refer clients to you. I also call them Market Makers and I cover this in more detail in my book.
What are some of the top books you’ve read that have made a personal difference to you and influenced you and why?
Most of Dr. Wayne Dyers’ books – very much aligned with spiritual, purpose and passion and John Maxwell’s books
– great leadership books.
I believe that we all have to do what we’ve been called to do, that which is truly aligned to our passion, purpose and core talents to thrive in our lives. Finding the passion and purpose is not easy.
To recognize them and align them with your core talents is even harder because at the end of the day, you have to make money out of that. So these books have greatly influenced me.
But to be honest, there are many more Chinese books that I read that influenced me as I was growing up. Those are the ones built my foundation, integrity and value in life. Mostly Tao or Lao Tzu related.
What’s the most exciting thing that’s happening in your world right now?
I’d say it’s getting requests from people that I don’t know about my Show Me The Money – Run Your Business Like A Prosperous Investor book. I’ve received many requests for consultations or sometimes just simple one or two quick questions.
Because of that, I am planning to launch “Ask Jolly” for women entrepreneurs to call in for a live show. I am the Suze Orman version for Women Entrepreneurs.
What is your key piece of advice to any female considering becoming an entrepreneur?
I hate to tell you to read my book, but in chapter one, I reveal an ancient Chinese secret for success. Sorry, ladies, there is really no secret here, but some smart hard work as I mention this previously published article “Secrets of a Successful Exit”.
If you can get the first and 2nd set right, you’ll have a great start. You ultimately have to be honest to yourself whether it is worth that much effort to create a business.
To win a signed copy of `Show Me The Money’ just tweet this message:
I want to win a copy of `Show Me The Money! and learn how to treat my business as an investment via @womanzworld
Chia-Li is also a columnist for WomenEntrepreneur.com & Fox Business online and her interviews appear in the New York Times “You’re the Boss” Blog. Chi-Li also serves on several womens’ boards and provides pro bono services to the community. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org