Most people/companies tend to focus on doing just one thing well, but that is not the path for everyone. For some of us, we have multiple areas of expertise and talents and a thirst to share them all with the world. Lisa Montanaro is one of those people. It is this sense of adventure and drive for reinvention that ultimately led her to create LM Organizing Solutions, LLC (LMOS).
Upon graduation from law school, she practiced employment, labor, education and disability law for 9 ½ years. Although she had a profound respect for the law, she did not appreciate the way it was practiced in our society. It became too negative in the hands of those that wanted to use it to fight. She was trained as a mediator and became a lawyer to help people, but she often felt a huge disconnect between her beliefs and her daily work. “I started to become restless and knew that there were other ways I could share my talents and expertise with people and organizations to improve the world. I did a lot of soul searching and arrived at the conclusion that I needed to leave the traditional practice of law and become an entrepreneur in order to truly make a difference.”
During that time of career transition, Lisa realized that she had been organizing people’s lives on an “amateur” level her whole life, and that her organizing and coaching skills transcended her work as a lawyer, teacher, mediator, writer, speaker, and performer.
In 2002, Lisa launched LMOS, which serves as the umbrella for her many areas of expertise, and provides a platform to offer a variety of services to clients. Through LMOS, she is able to offer productivity consulting, success coaching, business strategizing, and professional speaking to individuals and organizations. “These main focus areas allow me to combine my lifelong passion for creating order with my skills gained as an educator, mediator and performer, and lawyer. LMOS gives me the ability to enact positive, proactive change. My clients rely on me for leadership, guidance, support, encouragement, and coaching. “
Lisa considers herself “a multi-passionate entrepreneur”. “My business is both a profession and a passion”. She took a leap of faith and created a business that allows her to meld together many different, but related, “callings” at the same time, while helping people live more successful lives and operate more productive and profitable businesses. The result has been both successful and rewarding.
”Anyone that knows me (or even just meets me) can tell that I love my business and work really hard. But I’m not only a passionate entrepreneur, I am a multi-passionate person” One of the worst mistakes Lisa ever made when she first became an entrepreneur was to “compartmentalize” her life. “It dawned on me a few years ago that I don’t have a “personal life” and a “professional life,” but simply A LIFE. Consequently, I do things when they feel right, which might include writing an article or taking care of client work on a Saturday or Sunday morning, and going on a bike ride, taking a yoga class or heading out with my dogs on a hike on a Wednesday afternoon.” For Lisa, flexibility and freedom are part of what makes being self-employed so glorious. And yet, so many entrepreneurs continue to separate their personal and professional lives in ways that actually work to avoid any semblance of balance.
Lisa likes to mix things up and see how it feels. “I try to tap into my natural energy flow and rhythm so that I can do tasks when I am in top form, and not when I am “supposed” to”. This is easier said than done, and it is a constant battle to have the freedom and flexibility so many entrepreneurs crave. She still has to function within the 9-5 world we live in, and be able to serve her clients at a time when it is convenient for them. Lisa tries not to get caught up in the compartmentalization that can cause entrepreneurs to overwork and resent their business. She makes a conscious effort to cultivate her hobbies and passions. Not only does it help her to feel rejuvenated, but it also makes her a better and more well rounded entrepreneur because of her non-work related activities.
For example, Lisa loves to travel and explore new cultures. This could be viewed as only a personal activity. And yet, her travel and exploration of other cultures infiltrates her work in surprising and refreshing ways. “I sometimes find myself “studying” the ways of other cultures and comparing them to Americans in terms of productivity, work-life balance, attitudes on business, goal setting, etc. This makes me a better productivity consultant, success coach, business strategist, speaker and writer for sure!” Even a simple personal activity like taking a hike or bike ride can fill Lisa with wonderful new ideas to write or speak about, help her work through a client issue that she is helping him or her with, or clear her mind to make space to create new programs and products.
The bottom line is that being an entrepreneur affords Lisa the opportunity to benefit from a free flow of ideas, activities and use of time that feels authentic and allows her to be the best business owner and person she can be.
Lisa says that her biggest lesson learned was to “Feel the fear and do it anyway” or “Jump … and the net shall appear.” The main “fears” were the following:
– Perception of friends and family
– Hadn’t paid for student loans yet
– Good at being a lawyer, so why turn back on it?
– If being an entrepreneur didn’t work, could I go back?
Lisa overcame these fears in numerous ways.
She paid off my student loans so I would no longer owe money for my law degree. She also saved money and put it aside to help build her business and have a draw during the first year.
She stopped worrying about what others’ thought about her leaving the law. Many lawyer friends took it personally, when it was not about them at all. Lisa wasn’t running away from the law, she was running towards a great new career that she was eager to explore. “Once I stopped worrying about what others’ thought and gave myself permission to fully embrace my change, my mindset shifted and people stopped questioning my career change as much. I must have projected a much more confident decision. People can smell fear a mile away! :-)”
Lisa also realized that while she was great at being a lawyer, that didn’t mean she had to stay in the field. She had given it 9 years of full time practice and it was okay to leave it behind to explore other options. Lisa also came to the realization that she would be taking her legal training and education with her to any new career path, as the knowledge would influence everything else she did.
Lastly, Lisa decided to stop worrying about what would happen if she did not “make it” as an entrepreneur. “I knew that I needed a positive attitude to make it work, and in the worse case scenario, if it did not, I could always do something else, including going back to law if I so chose.”
So getting over the fear was a combination or trusting herself, shifting her mindset, and concrete research and planning.”
Lisa is happy to report that she is now in her 10th year of business as a successful entrepreneur!
Lisa took her business seriously from the start! “I was so excited to be doing something I love and no longer practicing law that I think I did not see myself as a “real” entrepreneur early on”. As time progressed and Lisa realized she was a “real” business owner, she started implementing business systems and that made a huge difference. It also caused an important mindset shift where she started seeing herself as an entrepreneur and, therefore, so did others. “We often start our businesses because we love doing the technical skill, but that is not enough. We are also a business owner. I wish I had seen that from the beginning as I would have taken myself much more seriously.”
Lisa’s recommendation to new business owners is to treat your business as a “real” business from the beginning. Put all of the operational procedures in place that you need to in order to have the business run like a well-oiled machine. Obtain proper insurance coverage, create a business structure that matches your needs, and protect yourself and your business through smart use of intellectual property, such as trademark and copyright. Start by “blueprinting” your business little by little and, over time, you will have an operations manual and proper protections in place so that the business runs and grows like a powerhouse!
Lisa plans to continue to be locally active, but globally engaged. She is offering her coaching, consulting and speaking services virtually and in person around the United States and soon, the world. “My mission is to marry my passions with my profits”. She is making a conscious choice to step into a bigger purpose to help people around the world. This is a personal decision to take her business to the next level to reach a wider audience, establish a strong online presence, and to do it without any full time employees.
Primary URL: http://www.lmorganizingsolutions.com
Lisa’s recommended reading:
- Finding Your North Star by Martha Beck
- Joyfully Jobless by Barbara Winter
- Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow by Marsha Sinetar
- The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber
- The Million-Dollar Consultant by Alan Weiss.