When DeNio moved from upstate New York to Florida, she used it as an opportunity to try and start her own networking agency, but it was harder than she was expecting. Before fully committing to her business, she was juggling being a manager in the manufacturing industry and working part-time in building her business.
Although she brought a decade of experience from the corporate world with her, she still ran into various obstacles as she started her businesses — Accelerated Business Alliance and Your Business GPS. Let’s take a look at these challenges and how she was able to overcome them. Don’t forget to check out the end with a summary of DeNio’s Productivity Stack Quick Reference and her Read-Listen List!
Table of Contents
- Scaling & Success
- Hindsight: What DeNio would have done earlier
- DeNio’s Read-Watch-Listen List
- DeNio’s Productivity Stack Quick Reference
- More About Michelle DeNio
Challenge 1: From employee to employer — How to adjust to the shift
When DeNio started her business, adjusting to the entrepreneur life was harder than she thought. She still had her habits from working in the corporate world and felt she wasn’t productive as an entrepreneur. “I think it was a huge shift. Obviously, I came out of the corporate world.”
DeNio underestimated the transition from employee to employer and would spend all day in front of her computer without actually getting anything productive done. “When you’re an employee, you have a very specific job. You know exactly what you’re supposed to be doing, and there’s some flexibility in there, but now, all of a sudden, you’re an entrepreneur, and the day is yours. And so it’s being busy all day but not really being productive, I think was probably one of my biggest struggles.”
Trying to fit into the mold of a “successful entrepreneur” according to gurus was also one of her struggles when she was transitioning into business. Instead of helping her, these pieces of advice made her even less productive. “The other thing I found to be such a huge struggle in the first year of my business was trying to fit into these boxes of what all of these gurus tell you makes for a successful entrepreneur — the 5 A.M. Club, the time blocking. And that was not so productive for me. It’s just not how my body and my brain work and operate. And so I spent the first year trying to mold myself into this box of shoulds, and it just was not productive at all.”
Solution: She changed her mindset of having to work eight hours a day in order to be productive. Instead of working for the whole day, she made the most of her time by working until her task was done even if it only took a short amount of time. “You can get a lot done in a very short amount of time when you are focused and it does not necessarily require 8 hours, and that’s okay.
People: DeNio, virtual assistant
Systems: Proper time management, time blocking, and change of mindset
Challenge 2: How to start an online networking system from scratch
Moving from local networking to an online setup was something DeNio had to learn from scratch. “I had a fair number of clients. I had been doing a lot of local networking and so it was just a transition from moving them from a local [setup] to an online [setup]. Especially when you move to an online space, you stop networking, and you’re not doing a lot of in-person [networking], how do I have these conversations?”
But the challenge wasn’t using online tools because she was already comfortable leveraging online methods to help her reach her clients. She had to figure out the skills needed to network online effectively in order to create her client acquisition strategy. “Working on Zoom didn’t bother me. Setting the appointments, having the Zoom meetings, etc. was all fine, that was easy. I found that part of it pretty seamless. It was the ‘how do you network and how do you network effectively?
Solution: When she went full-time in her business, she hired a business coach that helped her clear out her goals. Her coach helped her discover what was essential for the business like creating email lists and lead magnets that DeNio used to effectively attract and have conversations with her clients.
She found her coach when she was working with an international networking group. “I was networking with a group that had local chapters, but then you have access to the national group as well so that you can network with all of the chapters and she was just in a different chapter.”
People: DeNio, virtual assistant, business coach
Systems: Training on effective online networking
Challenge 3: How to look for the right coach for your business
DeNio hired her first coach early in her business which helped her get things more organized, but she mentioned that she could’ve hired a more specific coach for her needs. “The coach that I hired was very used to working with very advanced business owners. I probably could have hired somebody at far less capacity and gotten a lot of the same result.”
Solution: Later in her business, she hired various coaches and mentors that taught specific programs rather than hiring an overall coach. “I have gotten very specific now into what exactly I am trying to learn.” By only hiring a mentor whenever she needed to learn something new, she maximized her ROI and growth.
She also joined an outside mastermind as a participant. “I invested into my own Mastermind because inside of the Alliance, I facilitate, I don’t actually participate. I joined a Mastermind because I truly believe in the power of a think tank community.”
People: DeNio, her coaches and mentors, the Femcity community, Champion’s Table Mastermind
Systems: Training in different programs, participating in masterminds
Challenge 4: How to keep your schedule lined up
DeNio struggled with her schedule, especially as her business grew and gained traction. She implemented different programs and services which led to more work. As a result, she had to keep juggling her one-to-one networking sessions and facilitating the Alliance Mastermind. She wanted to have a more organized schedule where she could prioritize affairs properly to give more quality service.
Solution: She scheduled a task for each day. “I give my days themes [about] very specific tasks. [On] Mondays, we’re all client calls. Tuesdays, we’re all for the Alliance, which is usually when I host the Mastermind meetings. We [also] host the individual cohorts with Masterminds on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Wednesdays were for networking and Fridays are kind of personal.” Being mindful was what helped her keep her schedule lined up and organized.
She also created a top five list that she used to determine what affairs get prioritized and done as soon as possible. The list included tasks that move the needle of the business forward and were time-sensitive. This helped her get the most out of her time and helped her schedule her tasks properly without having them overlap one another. “And I always make sure that I am very mindful of what I have available for the time because if it’s a day that I’m on calls, I am not going to put a big project on it, but I can put a quick intro on it because I can do those in between my calls.”
To her, this was the most productive thing she implemented. “Because I know that if I get these top five [things] done, they are going to move the needle in the business forward. I’m not going to get feeling behind. I can make sure and get those five things done, feel super accomplished, and then anything else is a bonus, in my opinion.”
People: DeNio, virtual assistants,
Systems: Theme blocking — a scheduling strategy where a theme or a specific task is assigned for each day.
Challenge 5: How outsourcing and staying in your lane produce the best results in your business
Coming from the corporate world, DeNio knows the power of having a good team. She understands the importance of having people to rely on for things that you don’t have expertise in. “I have invested in my business since day one. Obviously, some investments were better than others. [There are] things that I wouldn’t have done, but having a team has always been beneficial for me.”
DeNio can do creative tasks and other things but said that this would consume a lot of her time — a resource she could use for more productive things.
Solution: She hired VAs and outsourced a creative team that worked on graphics, copywriting, and other creative tasks. This helped her focus on her clients and have conversations with them. “I prefer to be having conversations. I love to be in coffee shops. I love to be teaching. So, somebody else can maintain the creative work.”
As Accelerated Business Alliance grew, she also brought in a community manager so she wouldn’t have to keep 100% of her focus on the Mastermind.
People: DeNio, virtual assistants, community manager
Systems: Outsourcing VAs and a community manager to take over her creative tasks
Scaling & Success
Challenge 6: How to keep your business evolving
When DeNio started her business, she only began with her one-to-one sessions. Throughout the years, she tried out multiple strategies and services that led to the growth of her company. “My business has, like I said, evolved. I have launched multiple different offers. Courses, mini-courses.”
She wanted to stay on top of the business trends in order to keep up and move her business forward accordingly. “I think that’s really important too for business owners, in general, to just be mindful of the evolution of something.”
Solution: At the end of every year, she conducts a business planning program in which she creates different offers such as courses and other services. DeNio makes use of this time to review her progress and continuously morph her company into what she wants. She always tries to come up with ideas and is not afraid of the risk that comes with it as long as she thinks that it will help grow her business.
Systems: Annual business planning program to create services
Challenge 7: How to properly support an online community business
DeNio is a firm believer that nobody should have to build their business alone, that’s why she started her business in the first place. Whether it was one-to-one or in her Mastermind group, she had made it her mission to give her clients the best support they can get. “I feel very strongly that everybody should have access to mentorship and support inside of their business, no matter where they are, no matter what stage of business they are at, and what their definition is.”
Solution: DeNio created a mastermind program where entrepreneurs can support each other. It went through various halts and changes until she was sure that the program was something that can give quality service. “It [Accelerated Business Alliance] has morphed a lot. I think that it’s really important too for business owners, in general, to be mindful of the evolution of something. And just because you put it out there once and it worked well or maybe it didn’t go as well, it does not mean that you should give up on the idea. It just might mean that it might need a little tweaking.”
After she successfully established Accelerated Business Alliance, she hired a community manager and continued to focus on giving one-to-one sessions. “I was always falling back on one-to-one [sessions]. I do thrive in the one-to-one space. I love to serve in that way.”
“Now with the 2022 version of the Accelerated Business Alliance. The vision and what that looks like now are totally different and that really has become such a beautiful space so I love being there.”
People: DeNio, virtual assistants, community manager
Systems: Hiring a community manager to maintain her network community as she facilitates her business
Hindsight: What DeNio would have done earlier
While DeNio is good at having conversations with her clients, one thing that she had a problem with in the past was figuring out what to do next. “I’m very good at having conversations all day and booking coffee chats, but [what is] the next step?” So, one thing she would have done earlier was a better sales process or lead generation process earlier. “I would 100% come up with some form of system that I now have that I have not had up until this point.” Having that proper system in those money making activities would have made everything for her much easier.
Also, finding someone who specialized in that field was another thing she regrets not doing back then. “Finding somebody that is really good on the back end, too. Being very specific in what you’re looking for with a VA.”
Michelle DeNio’s mission of creating a space for entrepreneurs is one of the driving forces behind her business’ success. With her incredible networking skills and passion for helping the business community, she was able to create two successful businesses that are still going strong five years later.
Her tenacity and determination to keep on trying even after halting the Accelerated Business Alliance multiple times prove that we shouldn’t stop trying until we succeed. Her awareness of her limitations and expertise was also a big part of her success. Knowing when to do things herself and when to ask for assistance from others made her more productive and efficient.
Having a corporate background gave DeNio her fair share of trouble, especially in her mindset during her transition, but it also gave her advantages. She knew the importance of having a good team in order to succeed and her experience in networking helped her gain clients. Her ideals and belief in women’s empowerment are also apparent in her work and motivations.
With all these combined, Michelle DeNio was able to become a successful business strategist and business owner.
DeNio’s Read-Watch-Listen List
- The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level by Gay Hendricks — a book about the limits that we put on ourselves, especially in business ownership.
- ProjectMe with Tiffany Carter — a podcast with an aim to help women become financially free through education, empowerment, and proven straightforward strategies.
- Daily Mind Medicine — Why she listens: It’s a 4-minute bite-sized mind medicine that is just enough to fire up your day.
DeNio’s Productivity Stack Quick Reference
Scaling & Success Stack
More About Michelle DeNio
Michelle DeNio is the founder of Accelerated Business Alliance and Your Business GPS — an expert Business Strategist and Coach — helping online service providers navigate their most efficient, profitable, and sustainable path to business success, freedom, and a lifestyle they dream of.
Michelle is your number one referral partner who tells you what you need to hear and always has your back.
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