Episode 47: Susan Urquhart-Brown inspires us toward Career Success and Pushes our Entrepreneurial Edges!
Have you been thinking of breaking out and starting your own business? Are there fears and obstacles coming up as you get closer to making it a reality? Well get ready to receive an infusion of encouragement and support from a highly successful Career and Entrepreneur Coach, Susan Urquhart-Brown.
In Susan’s new book The Accidental Entrepreneur: 50 Things I Wish Someone had Told me about Starting a Business she outlines the many aspects of starting a business from wherever you are now in your life. Tune in as we blaze a trail through the wild terrain of entrepreneurialism with “M.A.G.I.C” Goals, dissolving fears (False Evidence Appearing Real), vision boards, and knowing the 10 traits of an Entrepreneur – this path is not for everyone! And if you ARE a budding entrepreneur (mom’s included!) this interview is for you! Enjoy.
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Alissa: Are you feeling stuck in a job or career that doesn’t inspire you? Are you thinking about starting your own business but notice fear and resistance coming up? Do you wonder how women are faring in today’s entrepreneurial market? This week on Just for Women we’re going to talk to Susan Urquhart Brown author, business coach and entrepreneur who’s going to share with us her unique approach in being a total success creating a business and career of your own. Welcome to Just for Women: Dating, Relationships and Sex. I’m your host Alissa Kriteman. Today on the show I’m excited to talk about the part of us that wants direct, create, focus, produce results. You could say our masculine side. Susan Urquhart Brown is going to talk to us about her book, The Accidental Entrepreneur: Fifty Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me about Starting a Business.
Susan: The first thing is who are your competitors, what are they doing, figuring out your pricing structures and really being clear who your market is and are there enough of them to go around for all the other people who are also doing the same type of business. The time issue is a big one. It’s the same whether they’re working at a job or working in their own business. So the other choice is being a stay-at-home mom. So if they want to be working the time is always an issue. So for women with their business being very realistic answering the question “How much time are you willing to spend in your business?” We all develop patterns very, very young. That was our way of being safe, being comfortable and then they become ingrained and you can be in that grip of the pattern and not be able to see it. So that’s the healing is to really know what is the pattern that keeps coming up and then once you start recognizing it it starts dispelling the strength of that.
Alissa: Welcome to Just for Women, Susan.
Susan: Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Alissa: Am I saying your name correctly?
Susan: Yes you are. Perfectly.
Alissa: Okay. Great. So for those of you who don’t know Susan, she has her master’s degree in career development. She has 15 years experience in career consulting, program management, group facilitation and marketing. She runs a successful career counseling and entrepreneurial coaching business called Career Steps and as I said in the intro she just launched her new book, The Accidental Entrepreneur: Fifty Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me about Starting a Business. And I just saw Susan at a recent book signing in San Francisco at Stacey’s Books where, if you’re in the Bay area, her books are available. And she’s a fun, easygoing, totally dynamic woman so I’m really glad to have you on Just for Women this morning, Susan. Thank you.
Susan: Thank you.
Alissa: Let’s talk. Let’s just get right into it. It is kind of a crazy world we’re living in today, you know, global warming, war, [INAUDIBLE] gas prices, recession. Is now a good time to even think about being an entrepreneur?
Susan: Absolutely. Because for me since I’ve been doing this, since 1995, we’ve had a lot of ups and downs and recessions and so forth. And there is absolutely no security in the job workplace so I think it’s the perfect time to take the reins of your own career and move it into your own business. Because success is really an inside job and might as well be able to control the work that you do as opposed to working for someone else where you can get a pink slip any day there as well.
Alissa: I like that! Success is an inside job. What do you mean by that?
Susan: Well it’s the belief in yourself, trusting yourself, knowing that of course you need to have something to offer to the marketplace that they want. I mean you can’t just say “I’m an entrepreneur” and not have an idea behind it that’s viable of course. But once you have that it is really the success for the most part, that I’ve discovered for myself and the clients I work with, comes from inside you. That you believe you have a wonderful product to offer or service to offer and whatever you need to learn to do your business better you’re willing to do it. It’s internal motivation. Basically I think that’s a huge key. People who are not internally motivated would have a hard time being an entrepreneur so entrepreneurship is not for everybody. And so that’s why I call it an inside job.
Alissa: Interesting. That was one of the questions I had for you. Is being an entrepreneur for everyone? And you’re saying no and so clearly internal motivation. What are some of the other keys to knowing whether or not you’d make it as an entrepreneur?
Susan: I do have a list of ten traits. And I think the internal motivation I mentioned is really the key. The other key is actually the willingness to be a risk taker. Now this doesn’t mean a risk taker that just says, “Oh. This is going to work out.” I’m talking about calculated risks. Because that’s what I’ve discovered about most successful entrepreneurs that I interviewed for the book. Some of them might have leaped into it but they actually took a look at some of the parameters that would take to do it and based on, in some cases, careful planning and in other cases sort of quick looking at it, they’re willing to take the risk. So being a risk taker is really important. And besides the motivation, behind the motivation, is just keeping going, being persistent, persevering even when things aren’t going your way. Not folding when the first obstacle comes up, the first speed bump, let’s say, on your entrepreneurial journey. And then the other thing is having a pretty solid sense of yourself and confidence. Now I know everyone, including myself, is not confident every single moment of the day but to be confident in what their expertise is and confident that you can learn how to go out and get a customer, get a client, work with them. And also, as I said yesterday in my talk, is being willing to ask for help when you need it. There’s no point in being a lone wolf. Because no one has built a successful business all on their own. So I guess the other thing about someone that may not be successful as an entrepreneur is if they hold too much control without getting input or not looking out there what the marketplace is telling them and to change when it’s absolutely necessary. So those are a few things.
Alissa: Okay. And our marketplace is changing ever so rapidly now so I can see that now may be a little bit of a special time. Say we look at this list and we have an idea and we think “Wow! This is going to be amazing in the marketplace. I’m motivated…” I was thinking when you were talking it seems like, and I know this sounds like I airy-fairy thing to say, but I wonder if anyone has studied the zodiac signs of who entrepreneurs are and if they’re fire signs. You know what I’m saying?
Susan: That would be interesting. I don’t know. But that would be very interesting.
Alissa: I’m a Leo. What’s your sign?
Susan: Scorpio. Intense, but I think it’s water. I’m not an astrologist so can’t answer those questions.
Alissa: Okay, so say we’re ready, we’re ready to go, we’re all internally motivated, what are some of the things in our external world that we need to get prepared, ready to go in order to launch into the marketplace?
Susan: Well the first thing is doing market research in your field. Who are your competitors, what are they doing, figuring out your pricing structure so that it is competitive in the marketplace and really being clear who your market is. So that’s part of the market research. And are there enough of them, you know, and enough of them to go around for all the other people who are also doing the same type of business. So I’m a coach. Some people say coaches are a dime a dozen, you can find them on every corner. So if that’s what you’re passionate about doing, how are you going to be a coach? So figuring out what is your unique niche, what is the way you solve your problem for your clients and how can you put that out there. So the first step is market research, what’s going on. And the second step is how am I doing this in a very unique way and how can I let people know about that. And then the third one is looking at your finances, what do you need to get started and I usually recommend that when you’re first starting out that you have at least six months of living expenses so that you’re not counting on your business to pay your mortgage or your rent for the first start-up phase. So getting your finances in place and then writing a business plan. I know that sounds daunting. A business plan is like what would you like to…So I’d like to throw out there that anyone starting could just say, in one year from now I’m going to have a party to celebrate my success in business and what would I like to be celebrating? What are the goals I achieved? And set those and start from those and have those be your, the big goals you’re going for.
Alissa: It’s almost like a vision board. In my book I write about having a vision board, because you have to have your mind looking at where am I going? It’s the number one thing, I know for myself that grounds me and reminds me: Oh yeah. I might have had a bad day, I might have had a setback but that’s where I’m going. It’s a lot easier to have that keep going when you have something grounded like that.
Susan: Actually I did a vision board when I was thinking about writing the book and so I had that up in my office for quite a while. It works!
Alissa: See ladies? Have you always been an entrepreneur?
Susan: No I have not. I am by training an educator and so I was a schoolteacher for ten years and then I did training of teachers, curriculum development and I worked in educational non-profits. And before I leapt into entrepreneuring what I decided to do is I needed experience So since I decided I wanted to be a career coach, I went back to school. Because that’s how I built my confidence at least what I was doing I really knew a lot about. And then of course I discovered I learned so much more from the clients out there in the marketplace but at least I had a really great foundation to start with. So I’ve taught everything from pre-school through post-graduate.
Alissa: And what would you say you spend more of your time on? The career coaching or the entrepreneurial coaching?
Susan: Right now it’s about half and half. I have career transition clients and then I have the small business clients. And it kind of, you know like any business it kind of ebbs and flows. Sometimes I have all business and sometimes I have career. But a number of my career transition people actually end up deciding that they want to start a business. So they might start out that way, thinking they’re going to go out and get a job but then they decide to go solo. So it’s a mixture.
Alissa: They’re starting a business and they’re starting a big business and they’re starting a small business. You seem to be focused on people who want to start a small business. Talk a little bit about who actually would benefit from getting your book, The Accidental Entrepreneur.
Susan: So small business owners who are starting a, opening a store, kind of like they used to call Mom and Pop, but any type of retail establishment. Coaches, consultants, services of all kinds, like spa owners, massage dentists, doctors. Anyone who starts a private practice per se in the professions. Interestingly enough, the education is mostly focused on, of course, learning a craft but not so much on the business side. So a number of independent professionals really benefit from career coaching or this business coaching or this book. And internet. Any kind of internet business. I’ve worked with accounting bookkeepers, personal assistants service, fiduciaries. I mean it’s a whole lot of…if you think about the kind of business that is one person or a partnership and up to maybe ten employees. So that’s kind of the range.
Alissa: Now what do you have to say, do you have any tips, techniques, strategies for people who maybe have some of these positions, they’re already a dentist, they’re already running a spa but they notice they keep procrastinating, procrastinating. They have an idea, they want to take it to the next level. What do you suggest for people who notice they have all these great ideas but they just can’t seem to start to take the actions?
Susan: Well that’s actually where a coach is very helpful because when we work together…in fact my new clients actually that’s exactly the issue. They’re partners in their business together and they know what they want to do and they have their goals but that’s exactly their issue that you just described. So what we do is set their intention so that it’s an intention that’s exciting to them, that’s out of their comfort zone, that they know they really want to go for. And then I set what we call our “magicals” to make the magic happen and that’s to be very specific about what it is. So measurable. Have a measurable goal. Have it in a timeline. That’s a key. And often the timeline is when they’re going to call me. So if they know they have an appointment with me and they were going to do three things they get them done before they call me. So that really helps a lot. And then also a reminder of doing something about that goal every single day. So act on it daily and just remembering that a goal really gets them to that intention, to their dream. And then the “I” of the magic is inspire. And inspire others to help them, to support them, to remind them, it could be their partner. There’s a lot of little structures I use to help them to remember what it is they’re supposed to do. And then the last one is just confidence and commitment and what they agreed to do. So really getting the goals very specific in a timeline and someone to really be their cheerleader makes a huge, huge difference. “Remember what you said you wanted to do?” And also talking about what gets in their way, to help them move through that.
Alissa: Olympic athletes don’t get to where they’re going without a lot of help along the way. I missed the “a”…
Susan: The “a” is act on your to-do list daily. That really helps with the procrastination thing, even if you do one little thing. Do you know the rule of 21? Have you heard that?
Alissa: If you do something 21 times in a row it becomes a habit?
Susan: Exactly. So if you do something towards your goal every single day for 21 days it will be a habit and you’ll continue doing it.
Alissa: It’s like creating new habits. I read somewhere that the things we do in life are just bad habits and so we have to create new, healthy habits. And like you say, that must be where I heard that 21 times, got to stay on top of it. Great. We’re going to take a break to support our sponsors. I’m your host Alissa Kriteman. You’re listening to Just for Women, Dating, Relationships and Sex. We’re speaking with Susan Urquhart Brown on how you can get into the mix of being an entrepreneur or take a look at your career and see where else you might want to go. And we’ll be right back.
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Alissa: I’m your host Alissa Kriteman. You’re listening to Just for Women, Dating, Relationships and Sex. Today on the show we’re learning some great ways to approach becoming your own business owner, getting out there in the land of entrepreneurialship, what it takes, what are magical, all amazing things. Now I want to talk about what’s going on specifically for women in the entrepreneurial world. So, Susan on your website you have a great entrepreneurial quiz and you ask people if they’re committed to spending as much time as possible, doing whatever it takes to have the business be a success. And then I think about women who are mothers, have jobs, juggling a lot of things. Are there suggestions that you have for women in particular who want to be entrepreneurs?
Susan: Yes, the time issue is a big one. But it’s the same whether they’re working at a job or working at their own business. So the other choice is being a stay-at-home mom. So if they want to be working the time is always an issue. So for women with their business, choosing the amount, being very realistic answering the question. How much time are you willing to spend in your business? If it’s one hour a day they may consider a part time job working for someone else because one hour a day, it will be very difficult to start a successful business that way.
Alissa: What does it take? What does it take daily?
Susan: Well, to start a business most would say, if you say 100% of the time, you probably need about 60% of the time to be letting people know about your business. And then the other 40% could be actually doing it. Now if you’re a mom you have your kids, you have the family obligations and everything. So what I really recommend is doing a combination and starting their other, what they really want to grow, in a very small way. So that’s the think big, start small. And it’s going to be a different amount of time depending on what the mom’s doing. Also it makes a huge difference if they’re doing it from home which is so much easier. That creates a lot of flexibility. So they’re not away from their kids a long period of time. The kids are there, hopefully occupied while they’re working. It is juggling, it’s absolutely juggling. That’s where the inner motivation and the passion for doing this comes in as well.
Alissa: Are there resources that you know of for stay-at-home moms who want to also have their own business?
Susan: I don’t know of any that I could mention specifically. However, what I’ve noticed is online…actually there is an online group called mamasource that you’re invited to be a part of and moms can put in questions about their children, about juggling everything, there’s resources, there’s women-owned businesses, you can post your own business. So I think there’s a whole lot of online support. Things like that. Plus just being part of a moms group makes a huge difference. That’s one of the things I did for myself. And of course my kids are grown but I actually started a moms group in my neighborhood. And that made a big…I was entrepreneurial that way. I always initiated and started things if it wasn’t there I kind of created it if I wanted it. But there’s a lot of it out there. So I would say be part of a support group with other moms. And it also could be one that they start themselves about how do I market my business so they could meet every week. Another thing I did when I first started, there were four of us, another career counselor, a therapist and a body worker and we met for six years, once a month, and we just really supported each other. And that was a huge, huge help. So there are support, there really are things out there. So not being a lone wolf as a mom because that’s just going to cause burnout.
Alissa: Got it. Getting support. I know. I think sometimes for women it’s hard to reach out and ask but it’s really imperative. So, I have a question about femininity. I’ve interviewed a lot of people and I’m someone who sometimes…I’m pretty much an entrepreneur, I do my own things, I haven’t worked for somebody in like ten years and sometimes I can be kind of a bitch. I can be really edgy, I get into my direction, my do, do, do and I sometimes forget to be soft and kind and gentle. And so what do you suggest for women who maybe already have their own businesses, are fully running, maintaining small to mid-range business but notice they’re a little lost from their feminine touch or flow. Do you have any tips for that?
Susan: Well probably this may seem counter-intuitive but I would recommend taking a day off or two hours off or some amount of time that’s absolutely not connected with the business, to just kind of have a …they could all come to your spa, for example. To just have the time to unwind and just take a breath and revitalize or develop a practice of meditation in the morning or some time that it works, or five minutes in the middle of the day. Just taking a time for quiet reflection, to get back. Remember the inside self and when you’re out there like you were describing, that’s out there externally, making things happen. It’s a lot easier when you also go inside and have it come out more authentically and more from a place of calm. And if you’re out there doing, doing, doing the calm goes away. So to have a time for that quiet time and reflection for yourself to just breathe and take in and then you’re able to give. So you need to have that circulation of giving and receiving. So taking some time out for yourself and just getting back to really who you are and knowing who you are and why you’re doing this in the first place and actually being gentle and kind out there in the workplace, in the world is so appreciated. If you’re that person where if you have a kind word and you stop and listen, that makes such a huge difference to just about anybody.
Alissa: And I think we’re getting back to that, you know. There’s a lot of talk about this feminine revolution that’s happening and how women in the workplace have become men and it’s not natural and it’s not fun and I don’t like it when I get that way. But I’ve watched my mom and that’s how she was and it’s like we kind of learned those behaviors. And now what’s happening is women are taking a look at “I don’t want to be man. I don’t want to have to juggle the family and a job and be burned out and resentful and all of these things.” So it sounds as though what you’re saying is having unwind time, calm time, meditation time, exercise be one of those habits that you talked about in the beginning.
Susan: Exactly. In fact I’m glad you mentioned that because one of the things I do when people set goals is to have them also choose what are those daily actions that really support them in reaching…and it could be all the things we just mentioned. So that’s built in to their plan. Some people don’t like to meditate, so that won’t be for them, maybe they exercise…it’s like totally individual. For one guy he worked at home and he said, “You know, if I just make my bed in the morning I just am more productive.”
Alissa: Well it’s like a mind thing. Clear mind, clear action. So what are some of the issues that women, do you get a lot of women coming to you and are they for career counseling or are they entrepreneurs? And what are the issues they’re bringing?
Susan: I probably have more women who want to start their business or are in business coming to me. And what was the question again? It went out of my head.
Alissa: It’s what are the issues that they’re bringing to you as opposed to what men might be dealing with? So are there certain…
Susan: I think…well men deal with this too but I think that because of all the things that women do, not that men don’t do a lot too, but there’s just this generalized fear of failure. It’s just big. Like if I do this I’ll be a bag lady or something. Or if I do this I’ll be a horrible mom because I won’t be spending enough time with my kids when they really need me. And anything about fear. And also the other thing is often people around women are not like family perhaps, may not be supportive of them doing their own business, husbands may not be supportive and they may fall into that “well, maybe this isn’t a good idea.” So it’s their own fear and also fear kind of projected on them or close to them. And I know that that happens because that’s some of the things some of the women I’ve been working with have been dealing with. But really if you know that you really want to do this, if a person knows she really wants to do this, she can look at the people who are the kind of naysayers and just sort of thank them and realize they’re helping her in the way they know how to do it. Except it’s not a good idea for her to spend a lot of time around them. If it’s a husband that’s a little bit of a problem. But anyway, so in that case, to help dispel some of the fears which are sometimes like I said, false evidence appearing real, is just to find people that are supportive. So that’s where being again, back to the support group of other women doing their business, where they can really have a buddy, where they call and say “Hey will you just lend me an ear? I’m afraid of doing xyz. Can you just listen? You don’t have to fix me. I just want to hear myself talk.” And what usually happens is the answer is always in the problem and they usually come up with the answer themselves. So just that big fear comes up.
Alissa: I love that. False evidence appearing real. It’s really true and if you look into it there’s always a solution for something and sometimes those fears are from childhood, maybe automatic reactions and they’re really fodder for healing I would think.
Susan: Absolutely. You could call them patterns. We all develop patterns very, very young. And this isn’t just women, this is everyone. That was our way of being safe, being comfortable, being liked, because as a little kid we’re dependent on our family and so we all develop patterns. I mean this is around the world and then they become ingrained. I know I believe my pattern when it comes up and you can be in that…just kind of in the grip of the pattern and not be able to see it. And so that’s the healing, to really know what is the pattern that keeps coming up? And then once you start recognizing it, it starts dispelling the strength of that and you can move beyond it.
Alissa: Do you actually sit and work with people on actually discovering their unconscious patterns?
Susan: I’m starting to do that more.
Alissa: It’s almost like a psychology piece to it.
Susan: Right. It’s the personal and business. Everyone spends so much time on work that it’s a fine line between personal patterns that come up and the work. So to a degree I can do that but I also refer out to therapists and other people who specialize in that type of work.
Alissa: I can see how that would be really powerful because so much of the procrastination and the habitual actions avoiding business, I mean it comes from somewhere. I think it’s time for us as women who want to be empowered and look at ourselves and our lives and go and create these businesses and things that we want, to take a look at these things and not be so afraid and not be afraid to drop our ego and say, “Okay. I do that. It doesn’t work anymore. I’m going to do something else.” But really look at it. “Like, wow. That’s kind of a bad, nasty habit I have.” Okay, great. So wrapping up, what’s something you want to leave with women about getting out there and going for it? Because I know that when we hear about other women having success stories and that they can do it too, it’s really inspirational. So is there a particular success story you want to share as we wrap up here?
Susan: Let’s see. I’m trying to…well first of all I just want women to know just to feel encouraged and inspired that they can absolutely do this. Because I think if I can do it as a former schoolteacher who was afraid to tell anybody about what I was doing, let alone asking them to buy something from me, that I can go out, write a book and talk about it, having stepped out of my little box that I know they can do that. Another inspiring story is a client who started a business, a retail business that she’d never had any experience and she wanted to do it in the new town and it’s a women’s boutique and it’s kind of become the hub of this little town in Oregon. And so she kind of has a following of all the women that just love coming into the store because it has what I call “a something special feeling” when you walk in and it just feels inviting and you want to be there. So she creates that. So even in times like now when people might be saying “Well, I don’t need that other skirt. I don’t really need clothes.” they still want to come in and hang out with Donna in her store. They want the connection. So she’s creating community connection, having women feel beautiful, having a place to just come and enjoy, they don’t have to buy anything if they don’t want to and her store is very successful. She started from not knowing a thing about running a store.
Alissa: Exactly. And you know it’s interesting because I think sometimes we forget about that. We’re really selling love and connection and this feeling good about ourselves and we think it’s the gidget or the gadget but really ultimately it seems like, in the end, you want to have a good experience and you want to have something that you take home that you remember “Wow! That was really fun. This feels really good for me.” And as we move forward offering things like that into the world to remember that, especially now, that’s what people are looking for. Like you said, it’s not necessarily a bad time to go into it, it just has to be a smart, well thought out, what is it that people are needing right now? And I know for myself a lot of people need a lot of healing and so it’s a very interesting time to add that into the mix of what we’re offering to the world. So Susan how can we find you? What is your website and what are you offering there?
Susan: Okay. So my website address is www.careersteps123.com. I have a quarterly e-z steps newsletter that you can sign up for on the website. I do, as I said, career and small business coaching and I always offer a 20 minute free consult so absolutely feel free to give me a call and to see if there’s a match for us working together. And in June I have a special that I can, if anybody’s interested, on a three month coaching package. So there’s $100 off on three months of coaching.
Alissa: A hundred dollars off on three months of coaching? And then what does that look like? Do you get a weekly call?
Susan: Yes. I have an initial session in person and then it’s a weekly half hour and definitely goals and things to do in between times. Homework. The homework, ex-teacher homework.
Alissa: Now the in-person thing, women will be listening to this all over the planet and so…
Susan: So yes, and I do work with people at a distance on the telephone and via email.
Alissa: Okay great. And I guess if people wanted to get in gear and get Skype you could do a little video conferencing?
Susan: That’s true. I actually have Skype. I’ll have to get up to speed on it but I do have that.
Alissa: You just get a little camera. I know with my Mac book it’s built in, it’s amazing, I love doing little videos.
Susan: That’s absolutely possible too. A new idea. Thank you!
Alissa: Collaboration. I must be an entrepreneur. Susan, thank you so much for being on the show today. I really appreciate it. Your information’s been fabulous and inspiring. And listeners, remember please, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear your comments, any ideas you have about the show, things you want to hear, topics, questions, feel free to email me. And for text and transcripts of this show and other shows in the Personal Life Media network just visit our website at personallifemedia.com. Every show has text and transcripts so if you heard of something, want to get a name, get a website always available back on the show site at personallifemedia.com And also you can get a copy of my book, Alissa’s Four Cornerstones to Living Your Dreams, on Amazon. And I also have a special going this summer. When you buy your copy of Living Your Dreams I’ll give you a free half hour coaching session, just like Susan, to see if we might be a match to working together to fulfill all your dreams, relationship, love, career. I don’t have my niche quite yet but I think mostly women who contact me it’s about loving themselves and getting through any obstacles that are in the way and so we do some really deep, yummy work on that. All right. So thank you listeners again for listening to Just for Women, Dating, Relationships and Sex. I’m your host Alissa Kriteman. Always expanding your choices here on Just for Women. Tune in next week for more juicy news you can use.
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