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Entrepreneur Mom

with Aliza Sherman

If you own a business - home-based or otherwise - this is the blog where you'll find practical tips and smart ideas about entrepreneurship. I've started and run 4 different businesses so "been there, done that." I'll also invite successful entrepreneurs to share their best advice with you.

To learn more about Aliza, check out her profile on Work It, Mom! and her website,

Making Choices

Categories: Random Biz Rants, Uncategorized


Life is a series of choices. As I teach my 5-year-old about life and being a good citizen of the world and taking responsibility, I realize a major lesson for her is about the choices she makes and the consequences of those choices.

Choose “bad behavior,” and you’ll lose privileges. Choose “good behavior,” and you’ll find that life is much better for everyone.

But the world isn’t black and white. Even in business, the choices you make can make or break your business - or you. Or they might have little or no impact on anything. And the choices you make are never made - or played out - in a vacuum. There are other factors, other players, other influences.

So even if you choose “good behavior” or make what you feel is the “right choice,” it can create an avalanche of problems or cut out opportunity,.

For 2012, one of my focuses has been on paring down the projects I work on and the opportunities I accept. They either have to be things that make me say “Hell, Yeah!” or that pay me commensurate to my worth. The first criteria is something entrepreneur Derek Sivers talked about back in 2009 - a criteria for determining when you agree to do something. If it isn’t a “Hell, Yeah,” then it must be a “No.”

The second part - being paid commensurate to my worth - has always been a tough one for me because saying “No” simply because someone doesn’t have a budget seems…bad, somehow. Yet we all set goals for ourselves and our businesses, and if part of those goals are financial - which they should be in business - then wanting to be paid what your worth is a good thing.

Still, saying “No” can be painful. I  cringe. Feel guilty even.

I was recently offered a paying speaking gig, and although it wasn’t a “Hell, Yeah,” it was certainly an acceptable offer and my immediate inclination was to say yes. But then, another factor came to play in my decision, literally as I  composed an email to accept. I realized the event fell close to other business travel and suddenly my “few days away” from my husband and 5-year-old turned into 10 days including travel time.

The Family Factor. That’s another part of the complex puzzle of making choices. And after being away for 6 weeks last year for a book tour and several overseas speaking engagements, I vowed that in 2012, I’d make very conscious, careful choices about opportunities that took me away from home.

When I was single, I was a road warrior and loved every minute of it. Now that I have a child, I don’t only feel like I’m missing out on her life when I’m away, but it is also complicated and stressful figuring out childcare in our rural town. For the 6 weeks I was away last year, I flew my mom to our place from Florida to help out. But that’s too costly for 10 days away.

So I said “No.” And my gut churned. Words started flying around in my brain like “You reject this, and they’ll never ask you back” and “You just turned down money. You’re going to fail.” To get through those moments of panic, I kept telling myself “You can’t just chase the money. You can’t just chase the money.” I knew I was making the “right” decision but even found myself a little disappointed that I chose not to go.

Life is full of choices. Even the good ones might end up “bad.” But if you know in your heart why you are making those choices and can live with that, then stand strong. Nobody said it was easy.

What criteria do you use to make your business decisions? Is it all about the money…or more?

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5 comments so far...

  • Timely reading for me as I try and grow my freelance/blog/self-pub book WAHM ‘career’ in fewer hours. I’m still struggling with what to say yes to, most of it unpaid, and what to say no to. Thanks :)

    Rachel  |  February 2nd, 2012 at 8:13 am

  • Great post. I totally can relate with wanting to take on something - even when the compensation seems to be more than adequate. But you are dead on - there are so many other factors to consider. Even good decisions can cause unintended ripples.

    On a personal level, I’ve been weighing what I do with my freelance consulting against other creative efforts. Sure. I can develop an iOS app, help someone draft/envision a programming project, or some other task…and the money can be good at times. But what about the other trade offs? I wouldn’t be able to write in my journal - at least, from any other standpoint other than a burned out/uninspirational one. Or craft some poetry/creative writing “just because.” Most importantly, I would lose time drumming and just having fun making music…or hiking in the mountains.

    I know that my consulting/professional ambitions contributed a small part to the failure of my marriage (just grew apart and in two totally different directions - no harm, no foul). It gave me time to really think about life, and I wound up with this question to mull over and enjoy:

    With all of life’s changes - some out of your control, and some as a direct result of your actions - are you able to continually live, grow, and express yourself creatively? Would you be happy if you learned that today was your last day of good health, love, and happiness?

    Where would it be spent? Working on projects or working with people that inspire you? Or would it be spent just getting through the day - bringing in some additional cash but ultimately resulting in a trade off of what you’d like to do…if only you had the time.

    That has been the line which I use to determine how my day is going to unfold. It works not only in the consulting realm, but also for my creative interests and (oddly) my full time job. Sure, someone may fire off an angry/frustrated email - but so what? What if time was budgeted and managed like money? Would our lives change drastically?

    In any event, it’s a great thought for me to consider =) Love your blog posts and tweets. Keep it phunky!


    Rob Brennan  |  February 8th, 2012 at 1:50 pm

  • You touched a nerve about learning to say no. As an attorney who really wants to help people in a bind but with my own family to care for. I made the commitment to myself to say no to people who cannot afford to pay me what I am worth. Thank for letting me know I am not the only one who struggles with this.

    nicki  |  February 11th, 2012 at 7:14 pm

  • This is so timely for me. I routinely struggle with saying no. For those of us motivated by the desire and passion to serve others, saying no can feel like it goes against our values. But in those circumstances I remind myself that whenever I say “yes” to something it means I’m saying “no” to something else. And that “something else” is usually me: my relaxation time, gym time, time with my nephews & nieces, dating, etc. So when I say no to someone, I remind myself that I just said “Yes” to me.
    Spot on as always, Aliza!

    Renee Fishman  |  February 13th, 2012 at 1:23 am

  • I think it’s an awesome priveledge to have choices! We are surrounded with amazing choices each day. Our children have choices from the time they wake up ( what should I wear to school today ) till they crawl into thier bed at night. As parents we can help model the ” how to” make choices. The good over evil , as well as the mondain. The biggest choice I have facing me today is to plan out how to bring awareness to my getwell T shirt product line.the hospital gift shops we are selling in love us, but the flower shops won’t even listen to our pitch. So today’s choice …..avoid the flower shops and focus on the hospital gift shops. God grant me a courageous spirit to make the right choice.

    Therese  |  October 9th, 2012 at 12:39 pm