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The Encore Entrepreneur



This is Part 1 of a 5-part series we're doing to bring forward the importance of building a values-based business and a values-based life. Values are our guideposts. When we're out of alignment with our values, everything feels "off."

If you haven't tapped into your values yet, when things feel out of alignment, you might not know where to look for confirmation or answers.

In this first part of our series, we're going to give you a peek behind the curtain of Encore Empire and how we identified our personal values and used those to identify the values for the company.

We'll cover what our values mean to us and how we used them to set up Encore Empire as a values-based business and to create and nurture a values-based partnership.

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Episode Transcript:

[00:00] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: What do values mean to you? This is part one of a five-part series we're doing to bring forward the importance of building a values-based business and a values-based life. 

Values are our guideposts. 

When we're out of alignment with our values, everything feels off. If you haven't tapped into your values yet, when things feel out of alignment, you might not know where to look for confirmation or answers. In this first part of our series, we're going to give you a peek behind the curtain of Encore Empire and how we identified our personal values and used those to identify the values for the company. We'll cover what our values mean to us and how we use them to set up Encore Empire as a values-based business and to create and nurture a values-based partnership.

[01:55] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: Hey, hey, Carmen here! 

[01:57] Deirdre Harter: Hi, ladies, Deirdre here. 

If you haven't met us yet, I'm Deirdre Harder, a CPA with over 20 years of experience auditing and advising businesses of all sizes on how to build sustainable profitability into their companies. 

My business partner here is Carmen Reed-Gilkison. She's an Online Business Manager and Whole Person Certified Coach with over 25 years of marketing experience. 

Together, we are business strategists and the co-founders of Encore Empire, where we teach our clients the business of business through our high-touch, year-long coaching programs. We customize everything to fit your unique needs. Just as no two people are the same, no two businesses are the same. Therefore, we don't believe in making our clients fit into cookie-cutter frameworks. 

If you're ready to find out how far you can go by getting the guidance you need inside your business, head over to encoreempire.com/success. 

[03:02] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: Now, we're excited to bring this values series to everybody. 

We hear a lot about values in the online space, and we have a really interesting story about how we built our business around values and how we help our clients incorporate values into their businesses as well. 

Deirdre and I met in April of 2020, and we quickly saw that we had so many of the same goals. We decided to set up a short-term joint venture to test out what working together would be like because we had all these ideas, and we were like, oh my gosh, wouldn't it be great if we did this? And wouldn't it be great if we did that? But we didn't know each other for very long, right? 

We started this joint venture at the end of 2020, so it had only been a few months. We highly recommend for anyone who's considering working with someone else or partnering with someone else in that manner that you do a short-term venture first so that you can test it out. Because we really never know what it's going to be like to work with someone closely. 

When we're doing something, we're splitting something 50/50; how's that going to go? We each come in with our own ideas; we want to test it out, so we recommend testing out that kind of thing with short-term ventures. 

When we knew after doing our short-term venture and it was successful and we were still as excited, and we liked working with each other, and we saw that there was still synergy. We knew we were going to formalize our business, and we wanted to make sure we were in alignment in many areas—values being one of the most important. We knew that. So, I had developed a values exercise for my clients in my previous business, Midlife to Best Life, and I had seen what an impact it made. So, we used that framework. 

We each did the exercise on our own, and then we came together and we did the exercise for the business. Because when you're a business owner, there are two or more entities involved. It's you, and it's your business. And then, if you have business partners, that adds to the equation. And so, each of you needs to know what your values are, and then there needs to be a value for the business. 

So, if you're a solopreneur, you have personal values, but what are the values for your business? And we're going to walk you through how we did this over the next five episodes of this values series. So my personal values when we did the exercise were, or are, community, happiness, autonomy, making a difference, and adventure.

[05:39] Deirdre Harter: And my personal values when I did the exercise were community, trustworthiness, freedom, making a difference, and optimism. 

And so what we found is that we had some commonalities, right? Like we were sharing some of the same values, and, even if the word is different, like Carmen values happiness, mine is optimism. But those two really fall under the same grouping of types of values. And you're going to see this. We have a special download for you guys. We'll give that to you here so that you can also do these values exercises just like we did. You can use the very same form that we use, and it's really enlightening, and it's a lot of fun to do it. 

So now that we had our own values laid out and we were very clear on what they were, we decided that we needed to decide what the company values would be. You know, there were a lot of things that would be the same. So, for example, freedom. Like, Carmen had autonomy. I had freedom. Again, they fell in the same group. 

But instead of just thinking of ourselves, we were thinking about the company itself. What does this represent? And this is very important when it comes to establishing your brand and what your company stands for. The reason we're doing this five-part series is we're going to walk you through how these values play into how you build your business, how you create the experiences that you do, and how it's going to work inside of sales and marketing and all different areas of your business. So that's why this is not just kind of a fluffy conversation. This is like putting it to work in your business and how you can use it in your organization. 

So freedom. Now, freedom was one of the ones we chose for Encore Empire. And freedom means— this is our definition: That as human beings, we're free to make our own choices and choose our destiny, and we're free to be what we need to be and when we need to be it. And we're free to take the time we need for our personal lives. 

So this is kind of like a marriage of what we feel personally, but then when we look at it through the lens of the business, we can either have a business that provides this kind of freedom, or we can become a slave to the business. Has anybody here ever felt like a slave to their business? I know I did in my earlier businesses, for sure. 

The other part of this is that we want everything we do to be able to go through this filter of freedom. And so if we're going to decide on a strategy, for example, and that strategy is going to tie us down, like, let's say that we decided, oh, we really want to be there for our clients all the time, so we're going to make ourselves open 24/7. Well, that is not going to give us freedom, and it isn't the kind of freedom that we're building into the business. 

Our business is about helping others gain their freedom. And so we don't want to model a business that wouldn't provide that kind of freedom. 

Now, freedom became really important for me as I was growing up. My mom was an accountant. She started off working at a CPA firm. She was the office manager. She went on to get her accounting degree. And fun fact, my mom and I went to college, we attended classes together. Like, she got her degree at the same time I was getting my degree. So that was kind of fun. 

But what I saw for my mom is my mom didn't have much freedom. Like, I remember she would bring us to the office during tax season, and I would be sitting in the little break room and finding things to keep myself busy. So, she didn't really have freedom of time and freedom of choice when it came to her lifestyle. My dad, on the other hand, was an entrepreneur. And so, go figure, I became a CPA and an entrepreneur, right? 

And my dad had certain kinds of freedom, but he didn't have full freedom. Meaning, he was like that 24/7 guy. Like, the phone would be ringing from clients at 10:00 p.m. at night, and he'd be on the phone with them. He'd be going out on a Sunday afternoon to take care of something. So my dad also, again, yeah. Yes, he could roam around the house until 10:00 a.m. If he felt like it, but then he was paying the price for it later. And so that's really where my definition of freedom came from. I wanted a different kind of freedom and more freedom than they ever had.

[10:39] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: And then I, too, experienced this growing up. I'll be 60 in a couple of months. And so when you think back to that time, what was it like growing up in the ‘60s, ‘70s, and 80’s—things were different, right? 

My mom was a stay-at-home mom. My dad was a breadwinner, and he was also an entrepreneur. He was a founder of the company. He was one of five founders of the company that they founded. And he was like a really gregarious guy, full of life. And so he loved going to work and doing the things, and he got to travel all over the world. My mom, on the other hand, had to stay home with the three kids and “had to,” I don't want to put a negative spin on it, but I really saw the contrast between my dad being able to get up, go put on a show, and he loved to do that. Go out, he'd entertain, he'd do all this stuff. And my mom had to hold down the fort, and it was really difficult for her. 

Not only that, but she also was not very financially savvy. My dad took care of all the finances. I mean, it was a different era, right? The dad did all the things, the husband did the things, the wives, the stay-at-home moms—this is obviously a generality, not everyone experienced it this way— but in general terms, the wives stayed home, attended the house, and blah, blah, blah, all that stuff. 

And that really affected me when I was growing up. I could see that it was straining my mom. My dad got to get away and do his fun stuff at work, right? But my mom was there at home all the time dealing with the three kids who we didn't always behave, right? We were three sisters, so go figure, there were problems there, but it affected me. And so freedom, to me, is exactly what Deirdre said, that we are free to make our own choices and choose our destiny. 

I felt like my mom chose a path, and at that time in history, it wasn't easy to change the path that you chose, right? For women. And so now here we are, so lucky to be in this time where we get to make these choices, we get to be bold, we get to create the life that we want, and that's what freedom is for us. And Deirdre and I are just bound and determined to make this value, to build this value into our lives and our business. So that's what this value does for us. That's our guiding light. 

So the second value that Encore Empire has and that we have together, is community. Community means developing a strong, supportive community where we give to each other and collaborate for the good of all. And that's really important. It's so important to create a sisterhood, to create a family, to create collaborative relationship building that's— one of our mentors used to always say, or she says— businesses grow at the speed of relationships. And that's exactly it. 

So relationship marketing and building relationships is what's foundational to having a successful business. And how do you do that? Well, creating a community is a great way to do that. So one of the first things we did was to establish a community on Facebook, the Empire of Unstoppable Women, which we absolutely love. 

We knew we needed to have a space to interact with women who needed our help. We knew that we wanted to stand for people over profit through relationship building. And that is what this community is for. And it's also for each of you to support one another. We try to provide many different ways that you can interact, engage, and support one another. And so we encourage that always.

[14:30] Deirdre Harter: Now, when we started our first coaching program, we did not have a client community at the time. So we'd started our public community, but we didn't have a client community. We were offering one-on-one coaching services for women entrepreneurs who needed help with learning the business of business and building profitability into their businesses. 

But one of our clients, after a period of time, expressed how much she would like to have community among other like-minded women who were also working on their businesses. And although we had the Facebook community, what she was referring to was a more intimate type of community. A community where more like a mastermind, where we could brainstorm and get ideas and support from each other. So we thought that was a really great idea. And so we put that into place, and our clients love it. And we love seeing how the collaborations happen.

[15:54] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: So, the next value that we have collectively and for Encore Empire is making a difference. We wanted to build a business to make a difference. It's not just about going out there and trading time for money or bringing in as much money as absolutely possible. What we really wanted to do was make a difference. 

And that goes back to our stories, right? We saw where our parents were maybe trapped in certain ways, and then growing up, when you grow up, and you get into corporate, and you are under the thumb of the corporate system, which I'm not against corporate. Corporate was a great time for me in my life, but I felt like when I was there, I wasn't really making a difference. My work was important. It was good. We did great stuff, awesome. But I wanted to really make a difference, and so did Deirdre. 

So, we believe in relationship-building as a way to develop deep connections that create a ripple effect of good in the world. And we believe in people over profit. As we said, this is so important because when we are in the online space and through our journey, there's this whole bro marketing thing. And bro marketing does not only apply to the males of our species. Bro marketing is more like marketing at any expense to get as much money as possible. That's how we look at bro marketing. 

We don't believe in that. That's believing in profit over people. And we are absolutely on the other side of the coin. We believe in people over profit. Our client's success is our success. So if we are not delivering on our promise and our clients are not getting the success, well, then we are not successful. And other ways people market or they have their businesses; they don't care. They sell, sell, sell. It's about how many sales do they make. Who cares then once the sale is made, then they're hands off. And that is just not the way to work. It's not the way we work. 

The women we attract are impact-driven and heart-centered. We don't work with people who are simply out to make a buck. We work with women who are out to make a difference and who also understand that earning income in their business is what fuels impact.

[18:30] Deirdre Harter: So another one of the values of our company is simplicity. Now, humans tend to overcomplicate things. I think we all know this. At Encore Empire, we believe in systems and frameworks to create a rinse and repeat processes that allow us to focus on the 20% of things that bring in 80% of the results. And yet one of the most common issues that we run into ourselves and that we help our clients with is this simplifying process. 

Simplifying sounds simple, and yet it is not simple at all. It's much harder. It's very easy to complicate things and just keep adding, adding, adding. It is much more difficult to take away and still ensure the results. So it's easy to tell yourself you're doing really good work when you're working hard. And a lot of times, we feel like, okay, well, if we're not getting the result we want, we just need to work harder. We need to do more. Does this sound familiar to anyone? 

However, working smarter and not harder is what we really want, and it's what we really need. And it's the only way to build a business that supports both your health and your lifestyle. Now, how many times do you stay busy, yet you feel like you get nothing done? 

Have you guys had those days or weeks and sometimes even months? 

Well, that's a sign of busy work, not strategic work. So, we need to get off the hamster wheel of busyness and embrace the exponential power that simplicity provides. And so that's why we've chosen simplicity as one of our values.

[20:14] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: That's right. And the fifth and final value that we chose for Encore Empire was ethics. We believe in being good stewards of time, money, and relationships both in our businesses and for others. We promote win-win ethical business practices in everything we do. 

We do not take advantage of others to create success for ourselves. And that goes back to when I talked about the bro marketing and the things that we see, and we've all seen that kind of thing. Or you could think about the used car salesman, that cliche and that stereotype. There are people out there who are unscrupulous, right? They just want to make a buck. They're out to make a buck at anyone's expense. They aren't looking to create win-win and to have an ethical business. 

And to do business ethically and with integrity means we're just as invested in your success as we are in ours. In fact, as I said before, if you're not successful, then we're not successful. So that's how we look at it. And that's very important to both of us.

[21:24] Deirdre Harter: I'm going to add one more thing onto this ethics part. We kind of know what ethics and integrity are, and we can all agree on all of that. But there's a part of ethics that I'm not sure everyone thinks about it the same way that I think about it. 

When we say good stewards, good stewards means we're being put in charge of something, right? It's our responsibility to ensure that something's being taken care of. We are stewards of our businesses. 

Our business is a separate entity. So we are stewards of that. We're stewards of our time and our money, and our relationships. And I think we can all see the relationship part. That's fairly easy to see being ethical in relationships. But if we talk about time and money, we can also be like, okay, I'm being a good steward of the money. That means that we're not being frivolous or throwing it away or wasteful, but it also means that we're being smart about it and that we are investing the money that is required, that we're investing the time that is required in order to be the steward of this business that we have. 

And so I think that this is just a slightly different perspective, especially with our time. And that's why Carmen and I feel so strongly about strategy. We feel strategy is what's ethical because if we're not using strategy, we're not being good stewards of those things.

[22:53] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: Yeah. And I think that comes back to the fact that even if you're a solopreneur, there are two of you that have two sets of values. You need to create your personal values and the values for the business. Because if you look at what Deirdre and I said for our personal values, not only some of them were very similar, but they weren't exact, right? We're different people. 

And then the values for Encore Empire are not exactly one or the other of ours. We have to look at the business as something separate. What is your business? Out in the world, it’s its own entity, and what is the mission of that business? And too many times, I think it's really easy to get tied up in our identity being the business or the business is us and we are the business. And yes, we are a big part of it. Without us, there wouldn't be the business. However, as Deirdre just mentioned, stewardship over our business is what's required. And that means we are a separate entity, and we're not the same. 

So our mission, when we're talking about being ethical, is to provide value to each and every one of you. 

  • We know that building a business isn't easy. 
  • We know there are no shortcuts. 
  • We know that things need to be done at the right time and in the right order.

And we pride ourselves on delivering value with integrity. So our question for you is, and we'd love for you to drop this in the chat for anyone watching on Facebook—have you identified your values? And if so, let us know what they are. And if you haven't, we have a simple three-step process to help you do so for yourself personally and for your business. And if you head over to vip.encoreempire.com/values you will get it. That will take you to our VIP portal. That's what the VIP means. And that's where you will be able to grab the PDF download of the values exercise, the exact one that we used. 

And we really encourage you to do so because values are our guiding lights. And we're going to go into this more during the next four sessions of this five-part series, where when something doesn't feel in alignment, or something feels off, a lot of times it can be traced back to the fact that somehow we're out of alignment with our values. So values are so key.

[25:30] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: Yes, I will drop— Kristen. I'll drop the link in the comments. We've got Rhian here and Denise here and Candy and Kristen. Thank you so much, ladies, for being here as well.

[25:45] Deirdre Harter: Great, ladies! So be sure and tune in next week when we're going to do part two of Creating a Values-Based Business. We hope that you get a whole lot of inspiration and get your exercises done so that this is going to give you some insights that you might normally get.

[26:04] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: Yeah, and I love—Kim says her values are simplicity, basic, straightforward, without a lot of bells and whistles. Old school. A traditional focus on hard work, integrity, quality, inquisitive, always looking for ways to make things work better. Simply gratitude for the opportunity to serve, for enjoyable work, for daily blessings and relationships. Key to success in any endeavor. We couldn't agree more. Kim, thank you so much for sharing.

[26:30] Deirdre Harter: Yep. And I'm super impressed that you have that right there, and you dropped it in the comments.

[26:34] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: That's right. Very good. All right, ladies, we will see you next week.


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