Are You Willing to Do it Anyway?

by Chris Atley

The subconscious mind can be sneaky. It will do anything to keep us from stepping out of our comfort zone, including using old patterns and perspectives to cause choices that will follow suit. To keep you where you feel comfortable.

It’s designed to keep you safe and knows how to get your agreement to do just that. Which is great for some things in life, bit not being a business owner!

Being a business owner requires putting yourself out there and doing different things. It’s called innovation and requires stepping out of your comfort zone.

If you’re not aware of it, you will continue to spin your wheels and stay where you’re at in business (meaning the level you’re at). It’s what’s behind procrastination.

Your subconscious mind will literally talk you into doing the “busy” work first, while never really getting to what you need to do to grow your business. Thus remaining in maintenance mode.

Now, you still take action so you convince yourself it’s what you need to be doing, but you know deep down it’s not.

Your subconscious mind will throw all kinds of things at you to get you to stop. You might start judging what other people are doing or comparing yourself to others, and talk yourself out of taking those next steps.

Here’s the thing, you’ve got to keep taking action and you will feel better. You will see it’s not as scary as you thought – you are safe, and didn’t die from doing it!!!

That might sound obvious, but it’s why most people stop. Deep down they have a belief that they are unsafe, unloved, or some version of those beliefs.

Thus making them need the external love and approval from others, and avoiding like the plague anything that would jeopardize this.

This is why a new belief system needs to be created. An empowered and loving belief system like; I am safe, I am loved, I am loveable, etc. Repeating this often, while STILL taking the action.

It’s imperative. You must shine a light on this stuff and see it for what it is. It’s not the truth. And we don’t want it to stop you. This is why reaffirming the new belief while taking the action will help you strengthen the new belief, AND taking action feels good! You will feel more accomplished and confident.

You’ve gotta trust the process and just keep moving even if it feels uncomfortable. It will get better and taking action when you feel uncomfortable will be the new norm.

I’m not sure who said it but it’s a good one:

“Get Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable.”

Written by Success Speaker & Coach Chris Atley, CEO of Chris Atley LLC ~ Decisions by Design. For complimentary success tips for business and life, please visit

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unsplash-logoCaleb George

How She Does It: Anna Stout of Astute Communications

Anna Stout is the owner of Astute.Co, a digital marketing agency. She received her BFA in Graphic Design from Watkins College of Art, Design and Film, and began her career as a web designer and developer.

As President and CEO of Astute, she now oversees creative and technical production work completed while focusing on company growth and culture.

She is also the co-founder of "Speak: A Public Speaking Workshop for Women in Tech," where she leads discussion and provides practical takeaways to encourage more women to take the stage at tech events.

Anna is an active participant in the business and technology communities. You can find her participating in local tech conferences, serving as a volunteer mentor for the Pathway Women’s Business Center, or taking the stage as a nationally recognized speaker. Anna is the Vice President of the Nashville chapter of Women in Digital. Her 5-step process for planning a website was published and featured on the cover of the renowned international web design publication, Net Magazine.

Residing Nashville, TN with her husband and two sons, Anna is a successful business owner and proud “Woman in Tech.” She is dedicated to empowering other women in digital careers through ongoing educational opportunities and one-on-one mentoring.

About Astute Communications
Astute Communications is a digital marketing agency in Nashville, TN. We provide custom solutions to enhance and showcase your company’s brand and online visibility.

We offer a broad portfolio of services including Branding, Web Design and Development, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Online Advertising and Content Development. Our focus is on bridging the gap between beautiful design and the strategic use of data to drive awareness and increase revenues.

To see our recent work, or learn more about us, visit us at

Deb Bailey: Welcome to the Secrets of Success blog, Anna. So, how did you get started as an entrepreneur?

Anna Stout: Great to be here, Deb. I started my company, Astute Communications, right after the birth of my first child. I resigned from my position with a well-established agency to grow my business and my family simultaneously. But I started my entrepreneurial journey long before that...

I started as an entrepreneur with "The Soup Apple Kitchen," a mud-pie restaurant operated from my mom's greenhouse when I was about 6 years old. Then there was "Clover Creations," a hand drawn greeting card business I went door-to-door selling to my neighbors. My family was incredibly supportive, going so far as to buy rocks from me that I had handpicked from our gravel driveway (except my dad, who exclaimed, "I paid to have those rocks put there! I'm not buying them again!" ...He was supportive in other ways.)

I guess you could say I got started then... As a young, enterprising country girl. And now... as a not-as-young (but still young-ish) woman living in one of the country's hottest cities.

Deb: That's a wonderful entrepreneur origin story. Who are your ideal clients?

Anna: Our ideal clients don't come from one specific industry. We love working with mid-sized companies who have begun to understand their place in the market, but don't know how to best leverage their opportunities. We maintain a broad and deep expertise in digital marketing and, for me, the clients that I get really excited about are the ones who have a deep passion for what they are doing, and understand the value that our marketing team can bring to their business.

Our ideal client believes in open communication, trust, and discovery. They understand that they will play an integral role in our marketing efforts–because no one knows their business better than they do. They understand that they've hired us because they believe we can help him, and they get out of their own way.

I love being the team that helps other companies level-up. The team that looks at their big goals and says, "Yes, let's do it!"

Deb: What inspires you to do the work you do?

Anna: My inspiration related to entrepreneurship is two-fold: First, it is rooted in a lifelong gratitude for the opportunity to have a real, positive impact on people's lives. I love being the person who says, "Yes, let's do it!," and then being able to take actionable steps to effect change.

My second motivation, which I only discovered in the last 5 years, is raising my 2 sons in a world where they can take for granted the idea of a woman as leader. I believe that if we can raise our children in a world where this is normal–where they can be comfortable seeing people of all genders, ethnicities, and religion in leadership positions, we will be able to truly put the best people, regardless of how they identify, in place for the betterment of our country.

Deb: That's very inspirational! What is your vision for your business?

Anna: In the next 5 years Astute will grow to support a staff of between 20-30 people, serving clients across industries with annual marketing budgets in the $250,000-$600,000 range. Within 10 years, we will have between 50-100 people on staff, and will be serving clients with marketing budgets in the $360,000-$1,100,000 range.

We will remain self-funded for the duration of this growth, with the exception of securing an available line of credit to support growth periods if necessary. Our growth will rely on a firm operational foundation along with expertise and service area expansion. We will continue to maintain a liberal financial runway to avoid losing momentum during slower periods. Our philosophy towards growth has always been slow and steady–allowing us to be nimble and make the necessary moves and investment when opportunities arise. The most important contribution to growth will be continuing to expand our expertise around retainer base services. This will make our revenue more predictable and allow us to anticipate and act on growth opportunities while maintaining stability.

From a marketing perspective, we will continue to invest in the growth of our individual employees–providing learning opportunities that will bolster our skillset and credibility–and will remain diligent about documenting and sharing our learnings with the community at large. We will maintain high return advertising campaigns to share our expertise, provide value, and establish credibility with people being exposed to our company for the first time. We will also engage is account-based marketing, targeting specific people at larger companies, developing and building relationships, and providing holistic marketing campaigns to those larger organizations.

Deb: There are a lot of people who desire to be business owners. What advice would you give to women entrepreneurs who are just starting out?

Anna: The longer I’ve been in business, the more I’ve learned about mistakes. How frequently they occur, which ones can be avoided and which ones are just part of the natural progression of things. Which to take to heart and which to let slide off my back.

Mistakes are never easy. Whether the mistake is my own or an oversight by a member of my team, each time I experience the full, crushing weight of its implication: We’re not good enough. We should have been better. If we were smarter, tighter, more dedicated. If we just had better processes, this could have been avoided.

But what I’ve realized over time is that while, yes, there have been stupid, embarrassing, avoidable mistakes, most of them, once unpacked, are mistakes that anyone could have made. And most of them, cliche as it may sound, have provided us with exactly the insight and opportunity we needed to continue to grow. To become smarter and more adept. To develop better processes.

This realization (and working to remember it!) has helped enormously. It helps to remember that the sky isn't falling. That it will be ok. It's important as an entrepreneur to keep moving forward–Learn from your mistakes, yes, but don't let them derail you.

Deb: Great advice. What is your favorite activity to relax and unwind?

Anna: I do adult gymnastics classes 3 times and week. It's physical, it's intense, and between two kids and owning a business it's virtually the only time in my life when there isn't someone saying "Stop doing what you're doing, and come do what I need you to do."

I love being that person for so many people, but I realized pretty quickly that if it was going to work, I was going to have to be that person for myself too. So, I started doing what I needed me to do, too.

Gymnastics is my me-time. It's the thing I always look forward to. It's my non-negotiable. And I encourage every woman, every person really, to have their own non-negotiable.

I also read at night, to disconnect my brain from the rest of the day.

Deb: What do you wish you could tell your younger self?

Anna: Don't focus so much on boys. Respect yourself. Go to class.

Deb: Thanks so much for stopping by, Anna! Please share website and social media URLs

Anna: I enjoyed it! Here are my links.


"Three Ways to Use Your Existing Content to Publish Your Book" with Deborah A. Bailey on Women Entrepreneurs Radio™

Show #475

Deborah A Bailey shares three ways to get your book published. If you're a coach, speaker or consultant find out how to stand out in a crowded market, create income streams and be featured as local and national media.

Deborah is a writer, coach, author of several fiction and non-fiction books, and creator and host of the Women Entrepreneurs Radio™ podcast. 

How to Market Your Business with an Ebook

Free Self Publishing Overview Class

Book Coaching & Consulting Services

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"How to Use the Power of Sales Funnels to Book 5-10 Discovery Calls Every Week" with Reelika Schulte on Women Entrepreneurs Radio™

Show #467

During this conversation, Reelika shares:

  • what is a sales funnel 
  • how to get started and what do you need to analyze in order to make sure you can book the calls 

Reelika Schulte is an international business coach with honors degree in business, and the founder of Design Dream Lifestyle, where she teaches women from around the world how to use their life experiences to launch their own thriving online coaching business.

Growing up in Estonia, Reelika developed an entrepreneurial mindset after watching her parents start their own business after the fall of the Soviet Union. After working in her parents’ business and also in corporate finance for 10+ years, and running a personal finance blog, Reelika became an expert in balancing the personal and professional. She uses this business background and online savvy to encourage other women in the online coaching field and to expand their reach through sales funnels, conversions, lead generation, and passive revenue methods.

Her work has appeared in publications like Forbes, Shining Mentor Magazine, and The Huffington Post. She loves to speak about finding clients through automated marketing, creating signature coaching programs that sell, and building evergreen global coaching businesses.

She lives in Minnesota with her husband and her son.

Listen on Podomatic:

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4 Tips to Effective Networking

by Chris Atley

I have the privilege of speaking at a lot of events. I’m excited to share some tips on how to build meaningful relationships that lead to referrals.

4 Tips to Effective Networking

Tip #1: The know, like & trust factor. Most of you have probably heard about this before. Essentially people usually only refer others that they know, like and trust. The popular networking group, BNI, is structured in this way. A weekly meeting is held and at each meeting members are expected to pass a referral or to have met with someone from the group in-between meetings.

They understand that even when a person is involved in a networking group they will only refer to others within the group if they have a relationship with them and trust them. It takes a little time and effort to get to know someone before referring business to them and for it to be reciprocated. Find a group you resonate with and even better start speaking it at it instead!

Tip #2. Set the intention to have a great conversation when you’re meeting new people. I don’t know about you, but I find small talk exhausting. I don’t want to talk about the weather and surface level topics. I like having a deep conversation with people. It’s about connecting on a deeper level and building relationships with people you resonate with. I want to refer to people that I really like and believe in. If someone doesn’t sit right with me, then they probably won’t with the people I know either. I also know that they are a right fit for someone else. There is lots of abundance for everyone. I always set the intention before attending an event, that I will have at least one great conversation. Low and behold, I always do!

So definitely don’t go to a meeting and just hand out a bunch of cards and expect your phone to be ringing off the hook. Take the time to have at least one meaningful conversation with someone. You might be thinking that one connection versus reaching out to many doesn’t make sense. The reality though, is that people won’t just call you if you’ve passed your card to them and haven’t even at least met them. It’s a waste of cards. That one connection can make all of the difference.

Tip #3. Think about how you can honestly help people at these events. When I meet new people, I’m truly interested in how I can move them forward and I always have my ears open to whom I can connect them with in order to do just that. This serves a few purposes. First, it just feels good to help people without trying to “get” something for yourself. People don’t want to be “sold” to and these networking situations are especially awkward when people are trying to do just that.

I find it helpful to ask the person I’m talking to a bunch of questions about themselves and be thinking the whole time about I can help them. You will have your turn to let them know what you do too at the right time.

Second, by approaching the conversation his way, it helps to build the trust factor with them. They see that you are a genuine person and nice to be around. This is the first step in building a meaningful relationship.

Tip #4. What to do post-event? It’s important to have a follow-up system in place for the next morning after an event and to allot time for this in your calendar. For anyone I felt a connection with, I will invite them to continue the conversation. Meaning, I would like to start building a relationship with them whether the purpose is to work together personally or to add them as a center of influence (people who refer business to you).

For anyone I exchange cards with, I will make sure to send them a note by email the next morning, and then look for them on Facebook so that we can stay connected on a regular basis. For you this might be a different social media venue depending on which one you’ve had the most success with.

It’s also important to stay in touch with the people you meet on a regular basis. If they are a center of influence, then following-up with them in-person once a quarter is reasonable or more, depending on the amount of referrals they provide. Like any relationship that’s important, you want to be sure take the time to nourish it. Of course this shouldn’t feel like any type of chore, because the people you have developed these relationships with you likely really enjoy being around.

Happy Networking & Business Building!

Written by Success Speaker & Coach Chris Atley, CEO of Chris Atley LLC ~ Decisions by Design. For complimentary success tips for business and life, please visit

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