7 Steps To Prepare For 2017

To prepare for 2017 work as a CEO and leader, it’s important to look at my past year.

Over the last year…

I’ve been diving deep into understanding online business, my role in it and how it will contribute to my income.

Online business word cloud

there. is. so. much. information.

Honestly, I’ve heard about some of this way of working over the years but have never truly studied what I needed to do to make it work for me including different techniques, case studies or even virtual mentors beyond Ramit Sethi, Pat Flynn and my fave inspiration MarieMarie Forleo Work


until this last year.

Work. Work. Work.

To prepare for the work I expected to do in 2016, I subscribed to way too many email lists, purchased digital products, downloaded and then turned off Periscope, created so many graphics with Canva and Typorama, and got down into the weeds of creating a semi-passive, digital empire that would work for me, my family, and my other interests (and company).

Yolanda Brown MBA Collage of Work in 2016


If you didn’t have a chance to help in adding to this by sharing what you need to become a better entrepreneur and/or community leader, I would love your comments. Start with this survey for mom entrepreneurs and leaders ;-).

I observed styles that were executed in some ways I thought would not work for me and other ways I figured would. Having a grip on my personal mission, vision, and values helped TREMENDOUSLY with filtering out the noise.

I just had to get to the point of doing the filtering.

I even created a great editorial calendar with themes for each month from this summer through the end of 2016. With a 2016 personal theme of EXCELLENCE, these monthly themes spoke to my quest to improve that trait in me.

Last week we had our vision boarding session and it was awesome. My theme for 2016 is EXCELLENCE so I added affirmations and imagery that spoke to excellence and outcomes I want from owning that in my life. I may add more to the #visionboard but here’s my base. This weekend is about creating the goals and #strategy to make it happen. Shout out to @surefire16 for joining in the session with all of our kids and mom too! #excellence #godswill #momlife #wealthcreator #sharelove #healthylife #wanderlust #lifestylebusiness #goals #writeabook #franchisebusiness #halfmarathon #cookmore #motivation #mindset #inspiration #businesswoman #bosslady #entrepreneur #mompreneur #christianpreneur #businesscoach #entrepreneurship #entrepreneurism #womeninbusiness #womeninbiz #momsinbusiness

A photo posted by Yolanda Brown, MBA (@yolandanichole777) on

I defined EXCELLENCE as pushing for daily practice to get better and better at my craft, particularly as a content provider.

The same thing I did to complete my first half-marathon almost a year ago.

Awesome work and plan. Poor execution.

I came up with some great topics to share that would relate well with my offers but took forever to actually write out the words.

The worst thing I did was HIDE my work by not talking about it every day with the world. I kept holding back on actually pushing publish on this blog or the live button on Facebook or Periscope because of feelings of inadequacy in this space or simply not being ready. There was always more information to gather before deciding on the right path for me 🙄 .

In some ways I actually wasn’t ready since I had nothing to sell that aligned with my vision. I’ve given away free content online for many years but admit to struggling with monetizing in a way that works.

I did hit publish on a few new lead magnets including:

Essential tools for creating income for the mobile mom entrepreneur


CEO Resource Library by Yolanda Brown, MBA

The CEO Library includes all of my free content upgrades and lead magnets as well some of the resources I access to help my business go.

And then my latest – 

Strategy Session with Yolanda Brown MBA

I also created and developed the following products:

Launch Your Business Now 10 day challenge


YESFilter - Determine who you are and say yes to more focused, meaningful work

and a fast upcoming Plan Your Business 30 Day Bootcamp. {Details soon}

This hasn’t been my sole focus in life either.

The highlights of the last nine months and what I’ve been busy doing:

  • selected, interviewed, and hired a new Executive Director as part of the transition team for Urban Ministries of Durham (UMD).
  • voted in as Vice-Chair of the board of directors for UMD.
  • advocated for the rights of others in a way I have not before including standing up to racism against my youngest son and therefore other young African-American boys.
  • grew in knowledge about the history of racial inequities in my country and the unhelpful implicit biases that I and so many around me continue to hold.
  • helped plan the Cub Scouts Occoneechee Council Cuboree (spring camping) and volunteered for the Mawat district summer day camp. I did these in addition to my regular duties as Pack Committee Chair (which I’m still learning) and building our pack’s leadership team. I supported Cub Scouting in a way I never expected but with gladness to help many boys have good, positive influences that help build strong character. This has become my contribution to mentoring the next generation in a way that I never expected but always hoped for especially without compromising my role as a mom.
  • continue to raise two happy, healthy, friendly boys and make sure they have experiences that help them grow into loving, well-balanced men.

That said, there is still more to do for this year to be a success in my book.

The Struggle is Real

At times, I struggled as a leader and, often, sole decision-maker, particularly over my children’s well-beings. I have to remind myself that in leadership, I chose it not others, so I shouldn’t expect them to do or even want to do what I do.

At the end of the day, work must be done and it’s bigger than me. I can’t be frustrated about the indecisiveness of others and be indecisive myself. Thankfully, I’ve taken my advice and started tapping into strategic advisers just to talk things out, relieve some anxiety and make better decisions. I look forward to the day when I can delegate more too.

I’ve said NO to opportunities that sounded REALLY enticing but would add one more thing to my plate and take focus away from work I’m still building or I’m already neglecting (like my company and my running – no half-marathons this month 😥 ).

We Have One Quarter Left

With my two growing boys to raise and the life I desperately want to live, I know I have to step things up a notch… to put it lightly.

After experiencing losses in my family this year of both young and middle-aged men, it’s crucial for me to get this right for me and the boys. Part of my life mission is to show them how to live a good life and that’s just frankly not happening. I’m not in pursuit of perfection but I am in the pursuit of excellence… joy… peace.

Over the next few months, I’ll be grinding daily to pull off my vision for this year, and decide on the theme and plan for 2017. I feel much more confident and prepared for 2017 than I was for 2016 this time last year.

This time last year, I was more distracted except for my single great focus on crossing the finish line of my first half-marathon! Having a running partner was so crucial to that success.

I am challenging myself to release content every day for the next 45 days.

Why you may ask?

Because it’s time and I am prepared.

Just confirmed tonight by watching this video after it randomly popped on my social feed

(language warning: cursing persists but the message is awesome and relevant)

Watch for more to come from me very soon.

Your Turn To Prepare For 2017 With A Call To Action For October!

  1. Review your work and experiences since January especially things that took you out of your comfort zone. Setbacks included – consider what you can learn from them and how to mitigate them so you can reduce any losses.
  2. Write out the accomplishments and note how you have grown.
  3. Create a visual of the fruit of your work AND list them out in text. Consider creating a video or slideshow to have it in another format especially if you plan to share with the masses.
  4. Celebrate! I bet you got more accomplished than you thought you did.
  5. Review your plan for the last quarter of 2016. Make sure it is aligned with what you want out of life (or life this year). If you have no plan, create it to end the year on a good, measurable note. It’s never too late to create or start a plan when the buck stops with you anyway.
  6. In a similar vein, begin brainstorming about 2017 and how you want to grow in the year – personally and professionally. Think of the last couple of months and pull out any frustrations, patterns, or sentiments you have noticed. How can you explore, improve or change these?
  7. Choose inspiration to pull you through your plan. What is your reward for following through with this plan? Not the monetary rewards that come naturally, but the reward you will purchase as a gift to yourself for fulfilling commitments to yourself. A real family vacation for you and your children? That new shiny car you’ve been eyeing for way too long? Or because your legacy can’t wait any longer???

You don’t have to plan for 2017 immediately but I strongly suggest a deadline now (and may I suggest it be prior to Thanksgiving so you won’t be distracted by the holiday season… if that’s your thing).

How will you finish 2016 and prepare for 2017? Share in the comments.

P.S. My favorite mentors this season have been:

Course experts: Regina Anaejinou, Melyssa Griffin

List-building experts: Bryan Harris, Melyssa Griffin

General life/business success

Motivation Monday: Be Awesome

"Doesn't matter if you've failed, if you've been beaten. All that really matters is if you get back up and try again. Because winning is fun, but winning when nobody thought you would IS JUST AWESOME." - Unknown. Be Awesome!

Although we are certain to fail at some things in life, what distinguishes a few of us is the fortitude to keep trying and trying again. As single parents, we especially seem to have a target on our backs with expectations for us to lose (though many surely want us to win).

This Motivation Monday, I urge you to keep moving even when things look dark. Just like babies who try to walk (fall)… try to walk (fall)… try to walk (fall)… then learn to walk AND run, when we keep pursuing/ practicing/ becoming an expert at something we initially failed at, we WILL succeed and be awesome in spite of the haters!

It doesn’t matter if you’ve failed, if you’ve been beaten. All that really matters is if you get back up and try again. Because winning is fun, but winning when nobody thought you would is just awesome. – Unknown

J.K. Rowling

One of the most famous single parents in recent history who continued to “fail” and had many people who thought she wouldn’t win… but succeeded anyway in a most awesome way! As a divorced mother of one living on welfare, she bravely put herself out there and shared her words with the world. Despite her manuscript being rejected 12 times, one publisher said yes and Rowling changed the literature world with her ideas,  and became one of the richest people in the U.K. She fought depression and became a self-made billionaire! Even as an accomplished author, she recently attempted to publish a now best-selling novel under a pseudonym and WAS STILL REJECTED… until one said yes… all it takes is one.

We can’t all expect to have a JK Rowling story, but we can sure try.

Watch her speak to Harvard graduates about the benefits of failure (21 minutes):

Rowling’s 2010 interview with Oprah (42 minutes):


It doesn't matter if you've failed, if you've been beaten. All that really matters is if you get back up and try again. Because winning is fun, but winning when nobody thought you would is just awesome. - Unknown Click To Tweet

Keep moving. Don’t internalize negativity. Be awesome!

Entrepreneur Profile: Kimora Lee Simmons

Entrepreneur Profile - Kimora Lee Simmons

Kimora Lee Simmons, President and Creative Director of Phat Fashions, has to have a profile on this blog because she is a member of my generation, a Mom Mogul, and from St. Louis, MO! Since I’m just putting my Mom Mogul boots on, it’s important for me to see that there are people who are doing it quite successfully. Her industry and way of life is very different from mine but I am impressed by her confidence and ability to balance it all.

Diverse Streams of Income

Kimora Lee Simmons started her career in fashion as an international teenage model. Over the last 12 years, she has created a fashion empire – a lifestyle brand – with Phat Fashions and its labels. She has a diverse income stream with a career product portfolio including the before mentioned fashion empire, a highly reviewed book Fabulosity: What It Is and How To Get It, highly rated reality show Life in the Fab Lane, and several other business ventures… she has a total of 20 businesses! Finally, she’s philanthropic and gives back to several causes including a scholarship for young women in our hometown. She quickly says she doesn’t do all of this alone and is fortunate to have a good network of support to do this and raise a family.

Kimora Lee Simmons: Mogulosiphy

Watch a short video with some of this mogul’s philosophy about business.

Entrepreneur Lessons from Kimora Lee Simmons

  1. Consistency is key to establishing a lifestyle brand. Although the products are different, the message is the same throughout – fabulous!
  2. Maintain relationships that keep you grounded to keep your head on straight and give you a calm spirit.
  3. Appreciate all that life has for you and go after those experiences you want.
  4. Do not be afraid to walk away from a partnership that is not good for you.
  5. Always think of fresh ideas for your business and include others in this brainstorming.
  6. No matter what your background is, be confident in what you are doing.
  7. Don’t get too attached to your brand. Be open to sell it some day!

Keep up with Kimora Lee Simmons on her official website: www.kls.com.

Entrepreneur Profile: David Steward

Entrepreneur Profile David Steward

David Steward is founder and chairman of World Wide Technology, a St. Louis, MO based firm that David Stewardspecializes in supplying technology and supply chain solutions to customers around the world. It is the second African-American owned firm to reach the billion dollar revenue mark in the 1990s (the first was TLC Beatrice International, a global food and beverage distributor led by Reginald F. Lewis in 1987).

After rising in corporate America with companies like Missouri Pacific Railroad and Federal Express, David Steward scratched his entrepreneurial itch and founded (or actually bought) his first enterprise, Transportation Business Specialists in 1984. Functionally, this business worked for his background in the transportation industry and knowledge of accountancy. With the opening of his second company, Transport Administrative Services, he was able to capture a higher margin business within his same value chain in the transportation industry by pursuing larger corporate customers.

Through his work with these firms, he discovered a niche of using technology to solve business problems. With this concept and seven employees, he founded World Wide Technology in 1990. The company had a tough time growing, but Steward ensured he made payroll even if it meant not paying himself. At one point, times were so hard, Steward’s car was repossessed. Ultimately, with the support of the Small Business Administration (SBA), he began to pursue and was able to secure contracts with the federal government. By 2003, company revenues grew passed $1 billion. As of 2010, they are approaching $3 billion with an employee base greater than 1,000. Steward remains the chairman of the board and wrote a book titled Doing Business by the Good Book.

Five Entrepreneur Lessons from David Steward

  1. Be true to yourself and what you want out of life. You only get to do it once so you might as well make it count!
  2. Remain connected and curious about your industry and its trends. Yet be open to venture into different industries to make sure you are walking in your greatest mission.
  3. Serve others and you will be blessed.
  4. His words: “Good leadership is love.” My interpretation: When leading others, treat them with respect and help serve their needs so that they can best serve yours.
  5. His words: “Blessed to be a blessing.” My interpretation: use your time, talent and treasure to give to others.

For more information on David Steward, review the following links:

Entrepreneur Profile: Annie Malone

Entrepreneur Profile: Annie Malone

I first heard about Annie Malone while growing up in St. Louis, MO. There is an orphanage named after her as well as an infamous May Day parade. I’m glad to learn more about her story and hope to see her story shared more and more.


Annie Turnbo Malone was a pioneering African-American woman who some say was actually the first African-American millionaire in the United States (Madam C.J. Walker was trained by and worked for Malone before her own entrepreneurial journey).

Annie Malone Creates the Black Hair Care Industry

Around the beginning of the 20th century, Malone developed the first chemical straightening product to not damage African-American hair. Given the racialAnnie Malone climate of the time, she could not use traditional channels of selling products so she adopted door-to-door sales, in-person demonstrations, and marketing through Black press outlets. When she was ready to grow nationally, she hired local agents in cities across the country (and even the world) to do the same thing – providing opportunities similar to what we would find in network marketing today. With over 75,000 Poro agents that reached all the way to Philippines and beyond, her empire grew.

Malone Creates Jobs and Life For a Community

In 1918, she founded and built Poro College, the first cosmetology school in America dedicated to black hair care, to train those who interested in joining her network system. The building of this college in the African-American neighborhood in St. Louis was significant because it also demonstrated her commitment to giving to others. Not only was it used to train people in cosmetology, but it also became a major center for other African-American economic activities. She provided access to jobs, other types of training, and even entertainment to people who were denied access to these activities for so long. There was dining, a hotel and a large auditorium. Nearly 2,000 people in St. Louis were a part of the Poro College family at one point!

Malone was also a passionate philanthropist, giving much of her fortune to charities (and family). She taught all of her agents to embrace the same value. In 1919, she seeded the building of the St. Louis Colored Orphans Home (now known as the Annie Malone Children and Family Service Center) and served as President of their board of directors for several years.

Annie Malone Video Profile by St. Louis news channel

By the 1920s, Annie Malone was reportedly worth more than $14 million.

Unfortunately, much of her fortune was lost between her outstanding generosity, a nasty divorce, lawsuits, and past due taxes. When she passed away in 1957, her estate was worth $100,000.

Entrepreneur lessons from Annie Malone

  1. Hire others to help sell your goods and offer incentives that will motivate them to grow your product or service.
  2. Create barriers of entry to your market so that others (particularly former employees) will find it difficult to copy your business model.
  3. Make sure you understand your finances and hire someone to properly manage them when they become too excessive for you to both work your business and maintain its finances.
  4. Draw a clear line between business and personal when dealing with family in both ways – put it all in writing.
  5. Give to your community, within reason, and your legacy will continue beyond your business product.

For more information about Annie Malone, view the following links: