Don’t Just Think, Act—Fortune Cookie Friday

As any small business owner or solopreneur knows, planning can save you from a lot of hardships—both financially and emotionally. You need to think Fortune-cookie-wisdom-Actcarefully about how opportunities and decisions might affect your business’s future success, your personal brand, and your loved ones.

But at some point, thinking must turn into action. This week’s fortune cookie message, “Don’t just think, act,” encourages us to get past inertia and make a move.

In my five years of working as a freelance writer, I’ve met other freelancers, solopreneurs, and small business professionals who obviously put a lot of thought into what they wanted to do. They’ve talked about their plans to start a blog, join a networking group, offer a new service, or launch a website; but then they failed to follow through with it.

Fear of rejection.

Fear of failure.

Fear of hard work.

Fear of imperfection.

Fear of the unknown.

All of those things can keep great ideas and great people from putting their thoughts into action.

Risks are ever present in small business and the world of freelancing. But when there’s far less to lose than there is to gain by moving forward, it’s time to act.

Over to you! When have you experienced—or seen others experience— overthinking and underdoing?

By Dawn Mentzer

Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ Post

 

Never Forget A Friend—Fortune Cookie Friday

I hadn’t expected it, but after starting my career as a freelance writer, my circle of friends evolved. Others who went from working for someone else to making aFortune cookie wisdom living through self-employment have told me they’ve experienced the same thing.

As you learn and grow as a solopreneur, your interests, needs, and perspectives change.

It makes sense that who you choose to spend time with and confide in will undergo some alterations. And friendships formed through our businesses can influence us in a big way—personally and professionally.

This week’s fortune, “Never forget a friend, especially if he owes you,” seems a bit cynical at face value.

But if you think more about it, when framed in a small business sense, it’s not. Friendship is about giving—and taking. It’s about balance.

But I know solopreneurs who, while they don’t have any qualms about lending an ear and helping hand, have difficulty asking for help or guidance in return when they need it.

That’s why I choose to see this week’s nugget of wisdom from takeout as a reminder that it’s OK to ask for reciprocity. It’s OK to not always be the strong one. It’s OK to ask for a little help from your friends.

Your turn! How have your friendships and circle of friends evolved since you’ve been self-employed?

 

By Dawn Mentzer

Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ Post

 

 

 

 

Advice. What We Ask For When We Already Know the Answer?—Fortune Cookie Friday

This week’s note of wisdom from takeout challenged me.Fortune Cookie Friday Small Business Advice

 

“Sometimes advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer.”

 

I usually equate asking for advice with needing guidance when I don’t know what to do or say in a particular situation. But after thinking about it a bit more, I suppose I have on occasion requested advice from other small business professionals when I pretty much knew how to proceed but needed to bolster my confidence.

 

Most times, we seek advice from people with more experience, authority, or knowledge than we have about something. So it makes sense that we could know the right action to take and still want advice.

 

Advice As Confirmation

As a solopreneur or small business owner, getting validation that we’re heading in the right direction from someone we respect and admire can…

 

  • Motivate us.
  • Drive us to accomplish.
  • Prevent us from procrastinating.

 

Consider Business Advice Carefully

When you ask other business professionals for advice, keep in mind they draw from their own frames of reference and experiences. They might very easily be able to relate to your unique circumstances, but in some instances they may not.

 

For example, if someone were to ask for my thoughts on what to tell an employee whose performance has been lackluster, I wouldn’t know how to best advise them. As a solopreneur, I don’t have any employees on payroll, and my assistant is a most capable, responsible independent contractor.

 

But that doesn’t mean you should discount advice when it doesn’t match what you were anticipating to hear. When receiving guidance that goes against what you were expecting—or hoping—to get, ask yourself these questions:

 

  • Why was I expecting something different?
  • Is it reasonable and rational?
  • What outcome can I envision by following that advice instead of what I was proposing to do?

 

Know that just because you ask for advice doesn’t mean you have to take it. Think it through. And do what you believe will ultimately be best for your small business.

 

Your turn! What types of advice do you ask for from other small business professionals? Who do you turn to for advice?

Like leftovers? Check out these other Fortune Cookie Friday posts:

Better Is The Enemy Of Good
Do You Dare
Do It With A Determined Heart

By Dawn Mentzer Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ post

“Recognition is the greatest motivator”—Fortune Cookie Friday Small Biz Wisdom

What motivates you to do your best?

 

You know, the thing that kicks you in the pants and makes you want to trudge onward in your small business despite setbacks, exhaustion, and naysayers?Fortune Cookie Fortune

 

Is it the lure of the dollar bill? Is it the satisfaction of building something from the ground up?

 

Is it recognition?

 

For the most part, I think this week’s fortune, “Recognition is the greatest motivator,” rings true for many solopreneurs and small business owners.

 

When I started out as a freelance writer in 2010, making big bucks wasn’t what drove me the most. Yes, I wanted to succeed. But as a realist, the financial component didn’t monopolize my thoughts. I certainly wanted to earn respectable income writing, but first and foremost, I aspired to become recognized in the market as a writer worth hiring.

 

Most startup business owners I know are driven by the desire to gain the confidence of their customers and prospective customers. They know that by delivering exceptional services and products, their businesses will grow and evolve. Increased recognition and respect (which leads to incrementally increasing financial success) drives them.

 

Dreams of fame and fortune might serve as the primary motivator for some of us, but most of us are a bit more professionally pragmatic. We realize aspiring for recognition is Step 1. The rest will follow over time, with patience, and after a lot of hard work.

 

Your turn! What motivates you to push forward in your business?

By Dawn Mentzer (a.k.a. The Insatiable Solopreneur™)

“Better Is The Enemy Of Good”—Fortune Cookie Friday Small Biz Wisdom

Complacency to remain “status quo” as a solopreneur or freelancer can mean a shorter shelf life for your small business.Fortune Cookie Friday

 

This week’s fortune cookie reading, “Better is the enemy of good,” reminds us of that.

 

Good is…well…good. But only by getting better can our businesses achieve respect and create greater demand for our services.

 

Good might get the contract, but better is the key to keeping a client for life.

 

Lots of other businesses are good. What are you going to do to be better—to give clients a reason to work with you rather than your competition?

 

Fortunately, striving for better doesn’t always require significant effort. Tweaking minor aspects of your M.O. can make a big difference in the perceived value of your services.

 

Doing business better and adding value can mean:

 

  • Reading one article a day that can strengthen your knowledge in your field or help you hone your skills.
  • Returning emails and phone calls more quickly.
  • Responding to inquiries from your website contact form within 8 business hours.
  • Never forgetting the personal touch when communicating with clients. Show you care by starting with sentiments like, “How was your weekend?” or “I hope all is well with you.” End on a note of, “Have a wonderful day,” and “Thanks again for the opportunity to work with you.”
  • Sending customers links to blog posts and articles relevant to a particular challenge they’re facing or a topic you’ve recently discussed with them.
  • Showing clients some love on social media by connecting with them on the channels you share and liking or sharing their content regularly.
  • Proactively suggesting projects that can either save them time, money, or make them more money.

 

Now the question: If better is the enemy of good, is best the enemy of better?

 

Endeavoring to be your best (not to be confused with the unattainable goal of perfection) will always take you farther on the road to success. But take care not to thwart your efforts to better yourself by comparing yourself too closely to your competition. Keep an eye on what your competitors are doing, but focus on developing your own unique value.

 

Good. Better. Best. Raising the bar is the enemy of ordinary.

 

Over to you! What do you do to continually better your business and raise its value to your clients?

Fortune Cookie Friday Small Biz Wisdom: Do You Dare?

What a fine specimen for this Fortune Cookie Friday’s nugget of takeout wisdom.Fortune Cookie Friday: Dare

 

 Fortune sides with him who dares.”

 

As solopreneurs and small business owners, we constantly meet opportunity. And with it, we face uncertainty and risk.

 

Going into business for yourself in and of itself stands as the perfect example of how opportunity, uncertainty, and risk are intertwined. To reap the rewards of opportunities, you sometimes need to put yourself out there and expose yourself to the possibility of not succeeding.

 

It’s scary. But, “Fortune sides with him who dares.”

 

To start and grow a business, you must dare to take some chances. If you don’t, you’ll find yourself at a severe disadvantage.

 

By “dare,” I mean you have to exit your comfort zone more than you care to.

 

Otherwise, you likely won’t:

 

  • Find as many potential clients.
  • Discover new ways to expand your offerings.
  • Learn crucial new business technology tools.
  • Significantly hone your skills and knowledge.

 

Don’t dare and you will get left behind and lost in the shuffle.

 

Do you dare…

 

  • Go to a networking function where you’ll know no one?
  • Talk with a competitor to see if you might form a collaborative partnership to serve more clients?
  • Invest dollars in a social media management tool?
  • Fly across the country to attend training?

 

True, there’s always the risk things won’t work out as well as you hope they will. But fortune favors those who dare with new perspectives—and new opportunities.

 

What have you dared to do lately to better your business? Dare to share it here!

 

By Dawn Mentzer (a.k.a. The Insatiable Solopreneur™)

Fortune Cookie Friday Small Biz Wisdom: You Become Known For Your Generosity

Today’s takeaway from takeout:

 

You become known for your generosity.

 

To give first rather than aim to get is a networking approach many—including myself—believe is the way to go.Fortune-Cookie-Friday

 

Let me clarify that a bit; I don’t mean you should give away your billable services or products. Goodness no! That’s not good for your bottom line nor is it fair to your paying customers. But giving in other ways can make you stand out and build trust. It can set you apart from your competition, draw prospects to you, and keep clients coming back.

 

In what ways can you give that will impress potential and existing clients?

 

  • Offer to introduce them to—or refer someone to them—who may be a good candidate to buy their products or services.
  • Follow them and their company on their social media channels.
  • Give them shout outs on social media (mention them, tag them and their company in a status update, like or comment on their recent posts).
  • Tell them about an online tool that can save them time or otherwise make their lives easier or streamline their business tasks.
  • Send them emails with links to an article you think they’ll find interesting or helpful.
  • Endorse them on LinkedIn or write recommendations.

 

The point is, be generous by showing you care enough to take the time to acknowledge you value them personally and professionally.

 

They’ll remember that—and they’ll remember you.

 

Have you been generous lately? Comment here and tell us how!

By Dawn Mentzer (a.k.a. The Insatiable Solopreur™)

Fortune Cookie Friday Small Biz Wisdom: A Perfect Statue Never Comes From a Bad Mold

This week’s nugget of “takeout” wisdom…

A perfect statue never comes from a bad mould.*Fortune Cookie Friday Business Wisdom

How does this apply to you in your small business?

Well, it stands to reason that your business will have its faults if you model it after another that’s significantly flawed. Everyone knows that, so I need not say more on that point.

But beware of trying to outright copy another business. Period. While you might find it tempting to create yourself in the image of a successful competitor who seems to be doing EVERYTHING right, you’ll lose.

Who is your small business brand anyway?
Trying to mold yourself into the exact likeness of a competitor will leave you frustrated—and a phony. You can’t be someone you’re not. Without your own brand persona and distinctive ways of doing things, you’re a copy. And copies are never as good as the original. You and your brand need to find your own voice and your own unique value proposition.

But know there’s nothing wrong with examining what others are doing well and incorporating those qualities and approaches into your own business. Don’t copy, but rather use what you’ve observed and learned to improve your ability to serve and connect with your customers.

A few examples:

• Craft your own unique referral rewards program.
• Consider actively using an online social media platform you’ve seen that your competitors are using with success.
• Refresh your website content (with your own unique content, of course).
• Start blogging.
• Pursue partnerships with complementary businesses (different than those whom your competition works with) that can help you expand your offerings.

It’s OK to emulate best practices, but it’s absolutely critical to make them your own.

Watch, learn, and apply them in your business in your own unique way so you’ll never be seen as a copy.

Chime in! How would you interpret this week’s fortune?

*Apparently the fortune cookie bakers are British.

Fortune Cookie Friday Small Business Wisdom: Do It With a Determined Heart

Another Fortune Cookie Friday, another opportunity to make practical use of those readily discarded nuggets of wisdom served as a side dish to shrimp loFortune Cookie Friday-Determined mein.

A person with a determined heart frightens problems away.

Determined, as defined my Merriam-Webster, means “having a strong feeling that you are going to do something and that you will not allow anyone or anything to stop you.”

Without a doubt, determination stands as a must-have trait for solopreneurs and small business owners.

But does it frighten problems away?

Problems don’t exactly have feelings or the capacity to think for themselves, so no; having a determined heart won’t scare them.

It won’t ward off unreasonable clients. It won’t take you from the seventh page to the first on a Google search. It won’t add more hours to the day when you don’t have enough time to get everything done. It won’t expand the reach of your Facebook page posts.

Staying determined, however, does make problems less intimidating and immobilizing.

A determined heart enables you to stand up to the many challenges you’ll face when starting, running, and growing a business. It drives you to think creatively and find ways around obstacles.

When determined, you have purpose. When you have purpose, you have your eye on the prize and won’t back down in the face of adversity.

No. Determination won’t frighten your problems away, but it will make you less afraid as you knock them out of your way.
Stay determined!

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By Dawn Mentzer
Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ post

Fortune Cookie Friday Small Business Wisdom: Push Yourself

After several readers inquired, Fortune Cookie Friday posts are back!Fortune Cookie Business Wisdom

What is Fortune Cookie Friday, you ask?

It’s the day when I crack open a fortune cookie and dig deep into the hidden meaning within to glean some small business wisdom.

And then I share it with you (of course).

Here it goes…

Get your goals high and you will always move forward.

(Yeah, sometimes I get lucky. Could this one be any more business appropriate?)

My interpretation from a solopreneur’s perspective: Keep reaching to keep motivated!

Goal-setting is so very important for even the smallest of businesses. Without it, you can become complacent—and, dare I say, lazy.

We need to strive to achieve something every day. We need to take steps toward our larger, overarching objectives. We need to maintain momentum.

“Getting your goals high” doesn’t mean setting yourself up for failure by aiming for the unattainable. It means endeavoring to go beyond your comfort zone so you have to stretch a little.

• Connect with someone on LinkedIn who you’ve perceived as out of your league.
• Write a blog post and ask someone else for constructive feedback.
• Seek out a speaking engagement where you can share your expertise in your field.
• Accept a type of project that you’re capable of but haven’t done before.

Personally and professionally, I find that pushing myself keeps me motivated. As a former gym rat, I equate it to doing “just one more set” on the squat rack.

Never settle for just enough.

By Dawn Mentzer
Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ post